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Hopeful gives an Account of himself.
was that think
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bours were sick; or, 5. If I heard the bell toll for some that were dead; or, 6. If I thought of dying myself; or, 7. If I heard that sudden death happened to others; 8. But especially when I thought of myself, that I must quickly come to judgment.
Chr. And could you at any time, with ease, get off the guilt of sin, when by any of these ways it came upon you?
HOPE. No, not I; for then they got faster hold of my conscience : and then, if I did but think of going back to sin (though my mind was turned against it) it would be double torment to me.
Chr. And how did you do then?
HOPE. I thought I must endeavour to mend my life ; for else, thought I, I am sure to be damned.
Chr. And did you endeavour to amend ?
HOPE. Yes; and fled not only from my sins, but sinful company too, and betook me to religious duties, as praying, reading, weeping for sin, speaking truth to my neighbours, &c. These things did 1, with many other, too much here to relate.
CHR. And did you think yourself well then?
Hope. Yes, for a while ; but at the last my trou. ble came tumbling upon me again, and that over the neck of all my reformation. ..
Chr. How came that about, since you were now reformed ?
HOPE. There were several things brought it upon me, especially such sayings as these “ All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags :-By the works of the law no man shall be justified :—When ye have done all these things, say, We are unprofitable:" Isa. lxiv. 6. Gal. ii. 16. Luke xvii. 10. with many more such like. From whence I began to reason with myself thus :-if all my righteousnesses are as filthy rags; if by the deeds of the law no man can be justified; and if, when we have done all, we are unprofitable-then it is but a folly to think of heaven by the law. I further thought thus :-ifa,
· Hopeful gives an Account of himself.
man runs a hundred pounds into the shopkeeper's debt, and after that shall pay for all that he shall fetch-yet if this old debt stands still in the book uncrossed, for that the shopkeeper may sue him, and cast him into prison till he shall pay the debt.
CHR. Well, and how did you apply this to yourself?
HOPE. Why, I thought with myself, I have by my sins run a great way into God's book, and that my now reforming will not pay off that score; therefore I should think still, under all my present amendments, “ But how shall I be freed from that damnation that I brought myself in danger of by my foriner transgressions."
Chr. A very good application :--but pray go on.
HOPE. Another thing that hath troubled me, even since my late amendments, is, that if I look narrowly into the best of what I do now, I still see sin, new sin, mixing itself with the best of what I do: so that now I am forced to conclude, that notwithstanding my former fond conceits of myself and duties, I have committed sin enough in one day to send me to hell, though my former life had been faultless.
Chr. And what did you do then?
HOPE. Do! I could not tell what to do, till I broke my mind to Faithful; for he and I were well acquainted: and he told me, that unless I could obtain the righteousness of a man that never had sinned, neither my own, nor all the righteousness of the world, could save me'.
1 Here is the touchstone to try whether conviction and conversion are from the Spirit of truth, or not. Many talk of conviction and conversion work, who are yet whole in heart, and strong in confidence of a righteousness of their own, or of being made righteous by themselves, instead of looking solely to, and trusting wholly in, the infinitely perfect and everlastingly glorious righteousness of the God-man, Christ Jesus, and desiring to be clothed in that, and found in him. All conviction and conversion short of this, leaves the soul destitute of evangelical righteousness, of hope, and of heaven.
Hopeful gives an Account of himself.
Chr. And did you think he spake true? · Hope. Had he told me so when I was pleased and satisfied with mine own amendment, I had called him fool for his pains; but now, since I see mine own infirmity, and the sin which cleaves to my best performance, I have been forced to be of his opinion.
. Chr. But did you think, when at first he suggested it to you, that there was such a man to be found, of whom it might justly be said, that he never committed sin ?
Hope: I must confess the words at first sounded strangely; but, after a little more talk and company with him, I had full conviction about it.
Chr. And did you ask him what man this was, and how you must be justified by him? Rom. iv. Col. i. Heb. x. 2 Pet. 1.
Hope. Yes, and he told me it was the Lord Jesus, that dwelleth on the right hand of the Most High: and thus, said he, you must be justified by him even by trusting to what he hath done by himself in the days of his flesh, and suffered when he did hang on the tree. I asked him, further, how that man's righteousness could be of that efficacy to justify another before God? And he told me he was the mighty God, and did what he did, and died the death also, not for himself, but for me, to whom his doings and the worthiness of them should be imputed, if I believed on him.
CHR. And what did you do then ?
HOPE. I made my objections against my believing, for that I thought he was not willing to save me.
Chr. And what'said Faithful to you then?
Hope. He bid me go to him, and see. Then I said it was presumption. He said, No, for Į was invited to come. (Matt. xi. 28.) Then he gave me a book of Jesus's inditing, to encourage me the more freely to come; and he said, concerning that book, that every jot and tittle thereof stood firmer than
heaven and earth. (Matt. xxiv. 35.) Then I asked
Chr. And did the Father reveal the Son to you?
HOPE. Not at first, nor second, nor third, nor fourth, nor fifth, no, nor at the sixth time neither.
Chr. What did you do then? :
HOPE. I believed that that was true which hath been told me, to wit, that without the righteousness of this Christ, all the world could not save me: 'and therefore, thought I with myself, if I leave off I die, and I can but die at the throne of grace. And
Hopeful gives an Account of himself.
withal this came into my mind, “ If it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, and will not tarry.” Hab. i. 3. So I continued, until the Father shewed me his Son.
Chr. And how was he revealed unto you?
Hope. I did not see him with my bodily eyes, but with the eyes of my understanding, (Eph. i. 18, 19.). and thus it was :-One day I was very sad, I think ... sadder than at any one time of my life ; and this sadness was through a fresh sight of the greatness and vileness of my sins. And as I was then looking for nothing but hell, and the everlasting damnation of my soul, suddenly, as I thought, I saw the Lord Jesus look down from heaven upon me, saying, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Acts xvi. 30, 31.
But I replied, “ Lord, I am a great, a very great sinner:" and he answered, “ My grace is sufficient for thee.” Then I said, “ But, Lord, what is believing ?” And then I saw from that saying, “ He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst,” John vi. 35. that believing and coming was all one; and he that came, that is, ran out in his heart and affections after salvation by Christ, he indeed believed in Christ. Then the water stood in mine eyes, and I asked fur. ther, “ But, Lord, may such a great sinner as I am, be indeed accepted of thee, and be saved by thee?" And I heard him say, “ And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." John vi. 37. Then I said, " But how, Lord, must I consider of thee in my coming to thee, that my faith may be placed aright upon thee?". Then he said, “ Christ came into the world to save sinners :-he is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes : he died for our sins, and rose again for our justification : he loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood: he is Mediator betwixt God and us : he ever