TO THE READER
The Soul of Man hath a singular affection for its own Body, rejoicing in its Prosperity, and sympathizing with it in all its Maladies, Miseries, and Necessities. Hence if the Body be out of frame and tune, the Soul cannot be well at ease. As the most skilful Musician cannot make any pleasing melody upon an unstringed or broken Instrument. The blood and humours are the Souls Organs, by which it doth exert its actions. If these be well temper’d and kept in a balance, Ordinarily there is an inward calm serenity upon the Spirit. Ordinarily I say: For in some cases the most cheerful Temper may be broken down and overwhelmed either by the immediate impressions of God’s wrath upon the Soul, or the letting loose of those Bandogs of Hell to affright and terrifie it. This is no strange News to any one acquainted with the Scriptures, or the Records of the Church in its several Ages, or that hath been conversant with the most humble, serious and mortified Christians. Infinite Wisdom hath seen it fitting to keep his Saints from Hell for ever, by casting them as it were into Hell for a time. It being too much for the choicest Saints to have two Heavens, one in Earth and another in Glory. Flesh is kept from Putrefaction by powdring it in Salt and Brine: and Gold loseth nothing of its Worth by being melted in the Furnace. To wave the broken bones of David, the terrors and distractions of Heman, the groans, chatterings, mournings and pressing oppressions of Hezekiah; That Mirrour of Patience, Job, will tell us how much he suffered and that immediately too from God and his own God. He had as well as Father Abraham, an horrour of great darkness upon him. He was skared with Visions, terrified with Dreams, the poysoned Arrows of the Almighty were shot into his very Soul, the venom whereof drank up his spirits and made him choose Strangling wrather than Life. Possibly he had his Temptations to Self-murder as well as some others fearing God under horrour. Hence you need not wonder at their impatiency, and in their agonies that blasphemous expressions. When I have heard from the mouth of an eminent and holy Minister of Christ, that once counted himself a Reprobate, undone and to be damn’d for ever, and was no longer able to subsist under the weight and burden of Everlasting and Almighty Wrath, (and who indeed can, if God should let it out upon him?) That he hated God, yea hated him perfectly, because he was his Judge and Adversary, tho’ a most loving and tender-hearted Father to his Saints; When I read of miserable Spira’s wishing himself above God; I do not in the least strange at such intemperate expressions, considering that God, and their Enemy doth blow the Coals, and it may be dictate the very words to them.
Christian Reader, Persue such Instances as these, and this of a Now-glorified Soul presented to thee, with fear and trembling. How knowest thou but it may be thine own Case? Let him that stnadeth take heed lest he fall. The peace, the comforts, the quiet, the joys natural and spiritual, they are all from Grace; you have no longer a Lease of them, no longer term of injoying them than the good will and pleasure of him that dwelt in the burning Bush. If God revoke his own gifts, hide his face, let loose the Tempter, awaken that sleeping Fury in thy bosom, let down but the smallest drop of his Wrath into thy Conscience, thy foundations will be shaken, and the mountain of thy peace will be hurled into a gulf of dismal sorrows.
Learn then to hate Sin, all Sin bitterly and implacably, to avoid it universally and continually. Be humble and vile in thine own eyes, and walk humbly with thy God. Set upon a through Reformation. Because of Leviathan’s up-raising himself, the Mighty are afraid; by reason of breakings, the very Sinners purify themselves. God cautions Saints, and alarms Sinners by such flaming Beacons. If these things be done in the green Tree, what will not be done in the dry? Keep no Idol, and beware of making inward comfort an Idol. This provokes God to Jealousy. The Christian’s Life is not a life of Sense but of Faith. We walk by Faith, faith the Apostle, and not by sight. Faith closing with the precious Promises, feeding upon the All-sufficient Merits of an unseen Jesus, bringeth in through the holy Ghost, peace, that peace of God, which passeth al understanding into the Believer’s Soul. But then too, this Faith doth purify the Heart, expelleth all inward filth, conniveth, indulgeth not unto any the least sin; but puts the Soul upon skirmishing with it, and gets through the power of Christ, victory over it. Otherwise the troubles will return, as the Clouds after the Rain. The least briss in the Eye shall create grief. The least core of bitterness in the Wound shall cause it wrankle afresh. The smallest leak in the Ship, not seen, will sink it; and as multitudes have been killed with Swords and Canons, so others with Stillettoes and Needles, with what the injudicious Worldling calls a Peccadillo, lurking in the Soul.
Walk then, Christian Reader, in thine integrity. He that walketh uprightly walketh safely. Live still in dependance upon thy Crucified Lord. All thy springs are in him, all of thy streams are from him. With joy shall you draw waters of Consolations, reviving Cordials from the wounds of thy dear and dying Saviour. Hide thy self always in the clefts of that blessed Rock of Ages, and thou wilt find there as all the Saints have done in all Ages, and thou wilt find there as all the Saints have done in all Ages, a glorious high Throne of Sovereign Mercy for thy sanctuary. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and unto such will he reveal his Covenant. Love the Lord Jesus intirely, supremely and transcendently; and remember that such as love him shall be beloved and saved by him.
As to Scoffers and Mockers at such Relations, that Burlesque and Ridicule these great Instances of Divine Providence, I shall say nothing but that ‘tis the Sin of our Age, foretold 1600 Years ago, accomplished in our Days, and an Exercise for the present, and possibly for surviving Saints. Here is the Faith and Patience of Saints, to keep the Testimony of Jesus, and walk Evenly in his ways in the midst of thorns and precipices, and when they are reputed the Worlds Monsters, and the Drunkards Song for so doing. Laugh he that laughs last. The Saints are in heaviness through many Afflictions and Desertions for a little time; but Sinners shall be at last overwhelmed by them for evermore. Their joyful Comedy will have a most Tragick issue. Our blessed Lord hath inform’d his Disciples, that they should rejoice; that they should be sorrowful, but their Sorrow should be turned into Joy, and their Joy no man should take from them. But the wicked is driven away in his wickedness: Before the Pots can feel the thorns, God shall take them away as with a Whirl-wind, doth living and in his wrath.
Thy Soul-friend and Servant for Jesus sake.
London Feb. 3. 1681.
Methods and Malice
I Hannah Allen, the late Wife of Hannibal Allen Merchant, was born of Religious Parents; my Father was Mr. John Archer of Snelfton in Derby-shire, who took to Wife, the Daughter of Mr. William Hart of Uttoxeter Woodland in Stafford-shire, who brought me up in the fear of God from my Childhood; and about Twelve Years of Age, for my better Education sent me up to London in the Year 1650, to my Father’s Sister Mrs. Ann Wilson, the Wife of Mr. Samuel Wilson, Merchant, then Living in Aldermanbury, and after some time spent there, and at School, I being not well in Health, had a desire to go down for a time to my Mother, being a Widow, (my Father dying when I was very young) where I staid almost two Years. In which time and a little before my going down, it pleased God to work in me earnest breathings after the ways of God, but the enemy of my Soul striving to crush such hopeful beginnings in the bud, and cast in horrible blasphemous thoughts and injections into my mind, insomuch that I was seldom free day or night, unless when dead sleep was upon me. But I used to argue with my self to this purpose, Whether if I had a Servant that I knew loved me, and desired in all things to please me, and desire in all things to please me, and yet was so forced against his will to do that which was contrary to my mind, whether I would think ever the worse of him, seeing I knew what he did was to his grief. And by such thoughts as these, it pleased God to give me some support wherein his goodness did the more appear in my casting such thoughts into my mind; I being young, and also bearing this burthen alone, not so much as acquainting my Mother with it, but by degrees these Temptations grew to that height, that I was perswaded I had sinned the Unpardonable Sin: With these dreadful Temptations I privately conflicted for some Months, not revealing it (as I said) to any one, thinking with my self that never any was like me, and therefore was loath to make my Condition known: I would often in my thoughts wish I might change Conditions with the vilest Persons I could think of, concluding there was hopes for them though not for me: that Scripture in the 57. of Isa. the two last Verses, did exceedingly terrify me, but the wicked are like the troubled Sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace to the wicked, faith my God. In this sad and perplexed state, upon a Sabbath day, my Mother having been reading in the Family in one of blessed Mr. Bolton’s Books, and being ready to go with them to Church; I thought with my self, To what purpose should I go to hear the Word, since, as I thought, all means whatsoever for the good of my Soul were in vain, but the same time I carelessly turning over Mr. Bolton’s Book as it lay on the Table, lighted on a place that directly treated on my Case; which it pleased God so to bless, that I was so much comforted and strengthned, that I recovered for that time from my Despairing condition, and so continued for several years with good hopes of the love of God in Christ towards me, yet still continually assaulted with Temptations, but with less violence than before. After my abode in the Countrey almost two years with my mother, I returned to London to my Uncle and Aunt Wilson; by whom about a Year and four Months after, I was disposed of in Marriage to Mr. Hannibal Allen, but still lived with my Uncle and Aunt Wilson till after my Uncle dyed; and was about this time admitted to the Sacrament by Mr. Calamy with good approbation: And in the time of his Life, I was frequently exercised with variety of Temptations, wherein the Devil had the more advantage I being much inclined to Melancholy, occasioned by the oft absence of my dear and affectionate Husband, with whom I lived present and absent about eight Years; and soon after he went his last Voyage, I went into the Countrey to live with my Aunt Wilson, who was now a Widow, and returned to live at Snelston with my aged Mother, being Married again and living elsewhere; but in few Months after I heard of the death of my Husband (for he dyed beyond Sea) I began to fall into deep Melancholy, and no sooner did this black humour begin to darken my Soul, but the Devil set on with his former Temptations, which at first were with less violence and frequent intermissions, but yet with great struglings and fightings within me; as I would express it (to my Aunt) I am just as if two were fighting within me, but I trust the Devil will never be able to overcome me; then I would repeat several promises suitable to my condition, and read over my former experiences that I had writ down, as is hereafter expressed, and obligations that I had laid upon my self, in the presence of God, and would say, Aunt, I hope I write not these things in Hypocrisie, I never intended any Eye should see them; but the Devil suggesteth dreadful things to me against God, and that I am an Hypocrite. At the first I began to complain that I found not that comfort and refreshment in Prayer as I was wont to do, and that God withdrew his comforting and quickening Presence from me.
When I had seen the Bible, I would say, oh that blessed Book that I so delighted in once! The Devil was strongly assaulting my Faith, and I seemed ready to be overcome, I answered the Tempter within myself in the bitterness of my Spirit; Well, if I perish, God must deny himself.
See the difference betwixt the voice of Faith, and the Language of Despair. At another time I cannot be saved because God cannot deny himself; The truth is, it had been most of all worth the Publishing my Expressions in the time of my Combating with Sathan at the beginning of my Affliction, but those passages are most of all forgotten. One hour my hope was firm, and the next hour ready to be overwhelmed.
This began in Feb. 63. but it grew worse and worse upon me notwithstanding such means was used both by Physick and Journeys to several Friends for Diversion. The last Journey I took upon this account, was to a good Friend of mine, a Minister, Mr. John Shorthose, who was related to me by Marriage, who lived about Thirty Miles distance, where I still grew much worse, and my continual course there, was to be asking him Questions whether the truth of Grace could consist with such sins, for then I began to fear I was an Hypocrite, and that place I thought upon with much dread, in Job viii. 13. The Hypocrites hope shall perish; nor had I any case longer than I was thus discoursing with him, for though he often silenced my Objections, and I seemed for the present to be much satisfied, yet he was no sooner gone from me, but my troubles returned afresh, insomuch that his Wife would often send for him home when he was but gone into the Fields. While I was there the Devil would suggest something to this purpose to me, That when I was gone from him, he would torment me. After some stay there, I returned home again, where quickly I began to grow into deep Despair. It was my custom for several years before to write in a Book I kept for that purpose in Short-Hand, the Promises, together with my Temptations and other afflictions, and my experiences how God delivered me out of them, mixing therewith Prayer and Praises, which practice I continued till I was overwhelmed with despair, some few passages whereof are here inserted as they were written in my deep distress. This Book in my affliction I would oft say, would rise up in Judgment against me. As I was walking with my Cousin, Mrs. Shorthose, a Woman cursed and sware sadly; Ah, Cousin, said I, I have abhorred such Company all my Life, therefore I hope they shall not be my Companions to Eternity.
This being the 20th. Feb. 63.is a time of great trouble and bitter Melancholy, and one great cause is for want of the light of God’s Countenance; and for fear that if I should have any mercy shewed me, I should abuse it; and my wretchedly deceitful heart be drawn aside from God (for I am only fit for the School of Affliction;) and on the other hand, if God should send me some further trials, I should sink under them; and my Life be made a burthen to me.
But (Lord) sure this is the voice of my wretched and unbelieving heart; The Lord for Christ’s sake, fit me for what ever thou wilt do with me, that I may have power again Sin and Satan, and enjoy the light of thy Countenance, and then do with me what thou wilt: Oh that I might prevail with my Lord, for Christ’s sake, for graces suitable to every condition, and that I may be able to improve every mercy, and every affliction, to thy glory and the comfort of my poor Soul, and that I may be useful in my Generation and not be burthensom; Lord pity my state for Christ’s sake, who hath never left me in my trials.
The sixth of April 64. The truth is I know not well what to say, for as yet I am under sad Melancholy, and sometimes dreadful Temptations, to have hard thoughts of my dearest Lord (The least assenting to which by his grace I dread more than Hell it self) Temptations to impatience and despair, and to give up all for lost; and to close with the Devil and forsake my God, which the Almighty for Christ’s sake forbid: These Temptations were with dreadful violence. Besides, my Melancholy hath bad effects upon my body, greatly impairing my Health: Truly there is sometimes such a woful confusion and combating in my Soul, that I know not what to do; And now my earnest Prayer to my Lord is this, (which I trust for Christ’s sake he will not deny me, though I cannot beg it with such earnest affections as I should, yet I hope my heart is sincere) that for my sweet Redeemer’s sake he would preserve me from Sin and give me strength of Faith; and Self-denial and patience to wait upon him, and submit to him; and let him do with me what he pleaseth:
My God, I know thou hast (for ever adored be thy Majesty) appeared for me in many great and sore straits; for the Lord Jesus sake now appear in mercy for me; that I may have exceeding cause to bless thee for this thy mercy also, and give me an assurance that thou art mine, and that thou wilt never leave me, till thou hast brought me to thy Self in glory.
The 12th. Of May, 64. Still my time of great distress and sore trials continues, sometimes the Devil tempts me wofully to hard and strange thoughts of my dear Lord; which (through his mercy) I dread and abhor the assenting to more than Hell it self; in a word, every day at present seems a great burthen to me; My earnest Prayer is, ‘For the Lords sake, that if it be thy holy will, I might not perish in this great affliction which hath been of so long continuance, and is so great still notwithstanding means used, however for the Lords sake, let it be Sanctified to thy eternal good, and give me grace suitable to my condition, and strength to bear my burthen, and then do with me what thou wilt; I know not what to say; the Lord pity me in every respect and appear for me, in these my great straits both of Soul and Body; I know now what to do, I shall be undone; This I write to see what God will do with me, whether ever he will deliver me out of such a distress as this; that I may have cause to praise and adore his name in the Land of the Living; Lord comfort me and support me and revive me for Christ’s sake. (Page 17-18 Manuscript)
May 26th. 64. ‘ I desire (which the Lord help me to do) exceedingly to bless and praise thy Majesty that hath yet in some measure supported me under these dreadful trials and temptations, which do yet continue and have been woful upon me, for almost four Months together; For Christ’s sake pity my case, or else I know not what to do; and do not deny me strength to bear up under my burthen; and for the Lord’s sake grant, whatever thou dost with me, that one sin may not be in me, unrepented of or unmortified; Do with me what thou wilt as to the Creature, so thou wilt subdue my sins, and chain up Sathan, and smile upon my Soul; Lord, I know not what to do, only mine Eyes are up to thee, the Devil still keeps me under dreadful bondage, and in sad distress and wo, but blessed be my God, that he doth not lay upon me all afflictions at once; that my Child is so well, and that I have so many other mercies, which the Lord open my Eyes to see; especially that Christ is mine, for the Lord’s sake, and then I have enough.’
After this I writ no more, but this and much more I writ before my last Journey aforesaid, for by that time I came back, I soon after fell into deep Despair, and my language and condition grew sadder than before. Now little to be heard from me, but lamenting my woful state, in very sad and dreadful Expressions; As that I was undone for ever; that I was worse than Cain or Judas; that now the Devil had overcome me irrecoverably; that this was what he had been aiming at all along; Oh the Devil hath so deceiv’d me as never any one was deceived; he made me believe my condition was good when I was a cursed Hypocrite.
One night, I said there was a great clap of Thunder like the shot of a Piece of Ordnance, came down directly over my Bed; and after that the same night, a while after, I heard like the voice of two Young Men singing in the Yard, over against my Chamber; which I said were Devils in the likeness of Men, singing for joy that they had overcome me; and in the morning as Iwas going to rise, that Scripture in the 10th. of Heb. and the last words of the 26th. Verse, was suggested to me from Heaven (as I thought) Their remains no more Sacrifice for sin. And this delusion remained with me as an Oracle all along; that by this miracle of the Thunder and the Voice and the Scripture, God revealed to me that I was Damned: When my Aunt asked me, Do you thing God would work a Miracle to convince you that you are rejected? it is contrary to the manner of God’s proceedings; we do not read of such a thing in all the Scripture.
My Answer was, Therefore my condition is unparalell’d, there was never such an one since God made any Creature either Angels or Men, nor never will be to the end of the world.
One night as I was sitting by the fire, all of a sudden I said I should dye presently; whereupon my Aunt was called; to whom I said, Aunt, I am just dying, I cannot live an hour if there were no more in the world; in this opinion I continued a great while, every morning saying, I should dye before night, and every night, before morning: when I was thus in my dying condition, I often begged earnestly of my Aunt to bring up my Child strictly, that if it were possible, he might be saved, though he had such a Mother.
Many places of Scripture I would repeat with much terrour, applying them to my self; as Jer. vi. 29, 30. The bellows are burnt, the lead is consumed of the fire; the Founder melteth in vain. Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord hath rejected them; Ezek. xxiv. 13. In thy filthiness is lewdness, because I have purged thee and thou wast not purged; thou shalt not be purged from my filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee: Luke xiii. 24. Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many I say unto you, will seek to enter in and shall not be able: This last Scripture I would express with much passionate weeping, saying, This is a dreadful Scripture, I sought, but not in a right way; for the Devil blinded mine eyes, I sought to enter but was not able.
When both my inward and such outward distempers grew to such a height, my Aunt acquainted my Friends at London with my condition, for at London I had formerly had four loving Uncles, my Father’s brethren; two whereof were then living, and a Brother of my own, that was set up in his Trade: These advised to send me up to London; there being the best means both for Soul and Body; in order to which Mrs. Wilson sent to intreat my Mother to accompany me to London; (for at that time she could not leave her Family so long) who accordingly came, but she found it a hard work to perswade me to this Journey; for I said I should not live to get to the Coach, but I must go and dye by the way to please my friends: I went up in the Tamworth Coach, so that it was Twenty two Miles thither, Tuesday was the day we set forwards on; and on that day in particular, the Devil had suggested to me (the Friday before) that I must dye and be with him; and this the more confirmed me in my fear: My Aunt went with me that days journey, which was first to Tamworth on Horse-back, and from thence Nine Miles farther in the Coach to Nun-Eton, which was a long journey, for one so week and ill as I was. My Aunt complaining of weariness; Ah, said I, but what must I do, that must have no rest to all eternity: The next morning I would fain have returned back with my Aunt, but there we parted, and I went forward with my Mother, and a very sad Journey my Mother had with me, for every Morning she had no small trouble to perswade me to rise to go on my Journey; I would earnestly argue against it, and say, I shall surely dye by the way, and had I not better dye in bed? Mother, do you think people will like to have a dead Corps in the Coach with them? but still at last my Mother with much patience and importunity prevailed with me: As I passed along the way, if I saw a Church, as soon as I cast mine eyes upon it, it was presently suggested to me, that’s a Hell-house with a kind of indignation; and this I thought was form my self, and therefore never spoke of it till after my recovery, for I thought if it had been known how vile I was, I must have been put to some horrible death: When I saw any black Clouds gather, or the Wind rise (as we went along) I presently concluded that some dreadful thing would fall out to shew what an One I was.
When I came to London, I went to my Brother’s House in Swithens-lane, where my Mother staid with me about three Weeks or a Month, in which time I took much Physick of one Mr. Cocket a Chymist that lived over the way, but still I was, as I thought, always dying; and I yet wearying my Mother with such fancies and stories; One Evening my Mother said to me, Well, if you will believe you shall be saved if you dye not this night, I will believe all that you say to be true if you do dye this night; to this she agreed, and in the night about one a Clock (as we thought) the Maid being newly gone out of the Chamber to Bed, but left a Watch-light burning, we both heard like the hand of a Gyant, knock four times together on the Chamber door, which made a great noise ( the Door being Wainscot;) then said I, You see, Mother, though I dyed not to night the Devil came to let you know that I am damn’d; my Mother answered, but you see he had no power to come into the Chamber.
Soon after this my Mother returned home into the Countrey and left me in my Brother’s house, who was a young Man unmarried, and had only a Man and a Maid, and he much abroad himself about his occasions; and now my opinion of Dying suddenly began to leave me, therefore I concluded that God would not suffer me to dye a natural death; but that I should commit some fearful abomination, and so be put to some horrible death: One day my Brother going along with me to Doctor Pridgeon, as we came back, I saw a company of Men with Halberds, Look, Brother, said I, you will see such as these (one of these days) carry me to Newgate: to prevent which I studied several ways to make away my self, and I being so much alone, and in a large solitary House, had the more liberty to endeavour it; first I thought of taking Opium that I might dye in my Sleep, and none know but what I dyed naturally, (which I desired my Child might not be disgraced by my untimely end, ) and therefore sent the Maid to several Apothecaries shops for it, some said they had none, others said it was dangerous and would not sell it her: Once she had got some, and was coming away with it; the Master of the Shop coming in, asked what she had, and when he knew, he took it from her; (this the Maid told me( When I had sent her up and down several days, and saw she could get none, I then got Spiders and took one at a time in a Pipe with Tobacco, but never scarce took it out, for my heart would fail me; but once I thought I had been poysoned; in the night awaking out of my sleep, I thought I felt death upon me, (for I had taken a Spider when I went to Bed) and called to my brother and told him so, who presently arose and went to his friend an Apothecary, who came and gave me something to expel it; the next day my Uncles and Brother (considering the inconveniency of that lonesome House) removed me to Mr. Peter Walker’s House, a Hosier at the Three Crowns in Newgate-Market; (whose Wife was my Kinswoman) who received me very courteously, though I was at that time but an uncomfortable Guest.
In the time I was at my Brother’s, I had strange apprehensions that the Lights that were in Neighbouring houses were apparitions of Devils, and that those Lights were of their making; and if I heard the voice of People talk or read in other houses, I would not be perswaded but that it was Devils like Men, talking of me, and mocking at my former reading, because I had proven such a Hypocrite.
As for the time I was at my Cousin Walker’s, I refer your Ladyship to them, or any Friend else that may assist you; only I have here set down several passages, as they came to my mind which passed there, which your Ladyship may make use of as You please.
One time while I lay at my Cousin Walker’s, having promised a Friend that was very important to me to go to a Sermon with her; about two or three days after, the Devil began to terrifie me for making that promise, and suggested to me, that I had much better break it than keep it, for I had enough Sermons to answer for already; and sitting in great distress, contriving how I might put off my going, the Devil found me out a place on the top of the House, a hole where some boards were laid, and there I crowded in my self, and laid a long black Scarf upon me, and put the boards as well as I could to hide me from being found, and there intended to lye till I should starve to death; and all the Family and others concluded I had stolen out at the Door unknown to them to go lose my self in some Wood, which I much talked of; but when I had lain there almost three days, I was so hungry and cold, it being a very sharp Season, that I was forced to call as loud as I could, and so was heard and released from that place.
While she was at Mr. Walker’s house, a Minister being desired to come and discourse with her, did come; and finding her in a more dejected state than any he ever saw, did oft visit her, and perceiving little visible good effect of his conferences with her, proposed to Preach a Sermon to her, that might suit her condition, hoping God might bless that Ordinance to her, that she might hear the voice of Joy and Gladness, that so the bones that God had broken might rejoice; she consented to hear his Sermon, and when upon the day appointed he came to dispence the word, he found her writing the ensuing Lines to dissuade him.
This is to beseech you as you would detract a few scalding drops of the fury of the Almighty from my poor miserable and ever to be abhorred Soul to all Eternity, that you cease your study upon any subject on my account, and likewise your Prayers, and instead of that pray to God to rid the World immediately of such a Monster, who am not only guilty of all the sins of the Devil, but likewise of such crimes as he is not capable of, which you will say is incredible, but woe and alas ‘tis true.
This is all she had written, the Minister coming in unexpectedly prevented what she further intended to write. Afterwards the Minister invited her to his House, where she was above a Week, but very loath to engage in any Duty: The Minister’s Wife did sometimes importune her to pray with her, but could not prevail, she always excusing herself from her unfitness to take the holy and reverend Name of God within her polluted lips; Dead Dog, Damn’d Wretch, she dare to speak to the great God; she expressed so great an awe and dread of the glorious and fearful Name of God, as discovered much grace in her most desponding state, to them that conversed with her. Some years after her recovery, she returning to London, came to the aforesaid Minister and his Wife, declaring to them God’s great Goodness to her in manifesting himself to her Soul, and returned hearty thanks to them for their tenderness to her in her dejected state. From his observation of the ground of her Trouble, he advises all Christians to mortifie inordinate Affection to lawful things. Col. 3.5.
I would say that Pashurs doom belonged to me, that I was Major-Missabih (Jerem. 20. 3.), a Terrour to my self and all my Friends; that I was a Hell upon Earth, and a Devil incarnate; for that which I prayed against in hypocrisie, God had brought upon me in reality: for I used to have frequently in my Prayers such an expression as this (apprehending the vileness of my Nature) if God should leave me to my self, I should be an Hell upon Earth, a Terrour to my self and all my Friends; and because this was in Hypocrisy, therefore God had brought it upon me in reality.
Sometimes when they had told me I had been Prayed for, I would say, they did not pray for; for the Scripture said, That they who had sin’d the sin unto death, were not to be Prayed for: And when a good Friend of mine Mr. Blake came daily and unweariedly to see me; I would Ask him, Why he yet came, seeing I rejected his Counsel; And, Christ bid his Messengers shake the dust of their Feet off against such. I would say Because I have built my Fabrick upon the Sand so high, therefore my fall is so dreadful: When I was told of some that were possest with the Devil and were by Prayer dispossest, I would reply, What tell you me of Possession, I cared not if I were possest with a Thousand Devils, so I were not a Devil to my self: When some had told me that I had been Prayed for, I would Answer, I was the less beholding to them, for it would but sink me deeper into Hell. I would often say, I was a thousand times worse than the Devil, for the Devil had never committed such Sins as I had; for I had committed worse Sins than the Sin against the Holy-Ghost: some would answer, The Scripture speaks not of worse sins, and can you be guilty of greater Sins than the Scripture mentions? Yes, said I, My sins are so great, that if all the Sins of all the Devils and Damned in Hell, and all the Reprobates on Earth were comprehended in one man; mine are greater; There is no word comes so near the comprehension of the dreadfulness of my Condition; as that, I am the Monster of the Creation: in this word I am much delighted.
I would say, Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall: I once thought my self to stand, but am miserably fallen.
When I was forc’d to be present at Duty, I would often stop my Ears, my Carriage was very rugged and cross, contrary to my natural temper; Here I practised many devices to make away my self, sometimes my Spiders (as before) sometimes endeavouring to let my self blood with a pair of sharp sizers, and so bleed to death; once when the Surgeon had let me blood, I went up into a Chamber and bolted the Door to me, and took off the Plaister and tyed my Arm, and set the Vein a bleeding again; which Mrs. Walker fearing, ran up stairs and got into the Chamber to me, I seeing her come in, ran into the Leads, and there my Arm bled upon the Wall; Now (said I) you may see there is the blood of a Cursed Reprobate.
I pleased my self, often, with contriving how to get into a Wood and dye there; and one morning I cunningly got out from my Cousins and went into Smithfield, where I walked up and down a great while, and knew not what to do; at last I tried not to hire a Coach but liked not the men there; then I went into Aldersgate-street, and asked a Coach-man what he would take to carry me to Barnet, (for then I meant to go into a Wood) but the man upon some small occasion sadly Cursed and Swore, which struck some Terrour into me, what thought I, must such as this be my Companions for ever? and so went away from him; and found one with a good honest look, and with him I agreed; and was to give him Eight Shillings; who carryed me a good way beyond High-Gate, and as I went along, I thought, am I now going to Converse with Devils? with such like Thoughts as these I was discouraged from going on; and called to the Coach-man, and prayed him to drive back again, and told him it was only a Melancholy Fancy: By these and several other ways I thought to put an End to my Life; but the watchful Eye of the Lord always graciously prevented me.
When I heard any dreadful thing cryed about the Streets in Books; I would say, Oh what fearful things will be put out of me ere long ia Books! I would say, I should be called Allen that Cursed Apostate. When I had tryed many ways to make away my self, and still saw God prevented my designs; I would say to my self; Well, I see it cannot be, it must not be; God will have me come to some fearful End; and its fit it should be so, that God may glorifie himself upon such a wretched Creature.
As I was going along the Streets, a Godly Minister passing by me; Oh, thought I, with what horrour shall I see that face at the great day! so would I think by many others of Gods people that I knew, either Relations or otherwise; I said, I exceedingly wondred that such a Pious man as I heard my Father was, should have such a Child.
I used to say, I would change conditions with Julian, and that he was a Saint in comparison of me; Nay, That the Devil himself was a Saint compared with me; I would say, That the hottest place in Hell must be mine; nay, did you know me, you would say it were too good for me; tho’ I poor Creature cannot think so.
When I complained of those dreadful Sins I said I was guilty of; some would Ask me, If I would be glad to be rid of ‘em, and to be in another condition? Yes, said I, so had the Devils; who do you think would not be happy? but I cannot desire it upon any other Account. I would say, I now saw that my Faith was only a Fancy, and that according to an Expression of Mr. Baxters in a Book of his; That the Love I formerly had to God, was Carnal and Diabolical.
I would say to my Cousin Walker, Tho’ I am a damned Reprobate, yet from me believe (for sometimes the Devil speaks Truth) that there is a God, and that his Word is true, and that there is a Devil, and that there is an Hell; which I must find by woful Experience.
I would often Ask my Cousin Walker, What those that came to visit me, thought of my Condition? he would Answer, Very well; I much wondred at it; and would do what I could to discourage ‘em from coming; yet if at any time I thought they neglected me, I would be secretely troubled; as afterward I said.
I was wont earnestly to Enquire whether it was possible that the Child of such a Mother as I could be saved; yet I would say I was without Natural Affection; that I loved neither God nor Man; and that I was given up to work all manner of wickedness with greediness; We see no such thing by you, would some say; I would Answer, I, but it is in my heart; Why doth it not break out in Act? say they, It will do ere long; said I.
The Devil would bring many places of Scripture to my mind, especially Promises; as I said, to Jear me with them, because once I thought I delighted in them; but was miserably mistaken; which did much terrifie me.
I would with Dread think with my self, if the men of Beth-she-meth were so destroyed, I Sam. vi. 19. but for looking into the Ark, what will be my Condemnation that have so often meddled with the Holy Ordinances of God, as the Word and Sacraments; and now proved to be only a Cursed Hypocrite, and nothing to do with them; I thought with my self then, I would not partake of the Sacrament of the Lords Supper for a thousand worlds.
When any Friend desired me to go to hear the Word of God; I would earnestly beg of them to let me alone, saying, I had Sermons enough to Answer for already, and that it would add to my great Account; if they offer’d to compel me to go, I would desire them to let me alone, and I would go with them the next time, if I lived till then; but my aim was to make away my self jut before the time came, for I thought I had better go to Hell sooner, than hear the Word still, and thereby encrease my Torment, and heap up wrath against the Day of wrath, as I often exprest it.
I would sometimes say to my Cousin Walker, will you not pity me, that must as sure as that there is a God, for ever burn in Hell; I must Confess I am not to be pitied, for did you know me, you would abhor me, and say Hell was too good for me; yet however pity me as I am your fellow-Creature; and once thought my self not only a Woman but a Christian, and tho’ I was such a dreadful wretch as now it appears; yet I did not know it, I verily thought my self in a good condition; and when you see me come to my horrible End, which I am sure will be ere long; tho’ you must loath me, yet I say, pity me.
Tes he would say, if I thought it was true I would pity you, but I do not believe it. I used to say, God could not save me, and the reason I gave was; that God could not deny himself.
I found within my self ( as I apprehended) a scorning and jeering at Religion, and them that profest it, and a despising of ‘em, when I came to the heighth of my distemper, the struggling and fighting that was in me continually at first (while I combated with Satan) left me: When I complained how vile I was, my Friends would tell me, It was not I, but the Devils Temptations, I would Answer, No, it is from my self; I am the Devil now, the Devil hath now done his work, he hath done tempting of me; he hath utterly overcome me; Then why are you so troubled? would some say; I would Answer; Have I not cause to be troubled, (think you) that am assuredly given up to the Devil and Eternally Damn’d. I would write in several places on the walls with the point of my Sizers, Woe, Woe, Woe and alass to all Eternity; I am undone, undone for ever, so as never any was before me.
Upon some sudden occasion I would sometimes smile, but when I did; I would exceedingly check my self, and be the more troubled afterwards.
Mr. Walker endeavoured to get Mr. Baxter to come to me, but he still missed of him when he came to Town; No, (said I) God will not let Mr. Baxter come to such a Wretch as I am; but I had then a secret desire to see him, rather than any one else. And to my best remembrance my Cousin Walker told me that he asked me if I would believe better of my self, if Mr. Baxter told me my new condition was safe; and that I answered, Yes.
When another Christian Friend Mr. Mason, brought me acquainted with any of Gods people, I would say, Alass Mr. Mason, you’l dearly repent this; and how must I Curse you in Hell for all that you did in kindness to me.
What is here writ of Mr. Blake and Mr. Mason, is but to hint what may be said of my Carriage towards them.
The next Spring which was in May, 1665. My Aunt Wilson came up to London, being restless in her mind till she saw me; when I heard that my Aunt was come to High-Gate to her Brother’s House, and did not come to London till Monday, I often said I hoped to have seen my Aunt before I dyed; but now I shall not; this fire within me, will kindle and burn me before Monday; on Monday my Aunt came, I being taken with the first sight of her, went with her to dinner to a Friends house (Mr. Hatt’s House, who afterwards Married her) in the Old-Fury; but was at my old Language still every Day, That the Fire would kindle within me and burn me: the Sickness then encreasing, my Aunt resolved to take me down again into the Countrey, which I was very glad of; for there I thought I should live more privately, and be less disturbed; (for so I accounted of the kind visits of Friends.) A week before Midsummer we set forward toward Darby-Shire, and an uncomfortable Journey we had, for by the way I would not eat sufficient to support Nature; when I was come to Snelftone again, I was where I would be; for there I could do what I pleased, with little opposition; there I shunned all Company tho’ they were my near Relations; nor could I endure to be present at Prayer, or any other part of Gods Worship, nor to hear the sound of reading, nor the sight of a Book or Paper; tho’ it were but a Letter, or an Almanack.
The Lady Baker was pleased to write me several Letters which I would not so much as look on, nor hear read by others, one being brought me, and I prest much to receive it, tore it in pieces. Nay I would strike the Horn-book out of my Childs hand; but that would trouble me as soon as I had done it: I would with I had never seen Book, or learned letter; I would say it had been happy for me if I had been born blind; daily repeating my accustomed Language, that I was a Cursed Reprobate and the Monster of the Creation.
One Sabbath-day being disturbed about some small trifle, I fell into a violent passion; weeping even to roaring, and cry’d out, I was made to be damn’d, God made me to that very end, to shew the power of his Justice more in me than in any other Creature.
My Aunt sometimes would tell me; that my expressions were so dreadful she knew not how to bear them; I would answer roundly, but what I must do then, that must feel them; I would often say to my Aunt, Oh, you little know what a dismal dark condition I am in; Methinks I am as dark as Hell it self: my Aunt would say, Cousin, would you but believe you were melancholy it might be a great means to bring you out of this Condition; Melancholy, I would say, I have Cause to be Malancholy, that am as assuredly Damn’d as that there is a God; and no more hopes of me than of the Devils; I have more Cause to be Melancholy than they have, it’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. Heb. x. vers. 31.
My Aunt would persuade me to seek God in the use of means, from that Argument of the resolution of the four Lepers, in the 2 King. vii. 4. I would Answer with scorn, I have heard that often enough.
One fit my humour was such, that when Friends would have argued with me about my condition, I would not speak, but only give them some short scornful Answer and no more; but I would be sometimes in one temper and sometimes in another; my Aunt would take the advantage of my best humour, to talk with me then, and the main thing she designed in most of her Arguments with me was, to convince me of the fallacy and delusion that was in my Opinion; That it was so infallibly revealed to me that I was Damn’d; but alas all took no place with me; but when she began to speak with me of such things, I would generally sling away in a great fume, and say; Will you not let me alone yet, methinks you might let me have a little quiet while I am out of Hell; this was almost my daily practice while I was with my Aunt: I was usually very nimble in my Answers, and peevishly pertinacious to please my own cross humour.
My Aunt told me she believed God would not have exercised me so with Afflictions from my Child-hood, if he intended to reject me at last; I answer’d, Do you not remember what Mr. Calamy used to say, That unsanctified Afflictions par-boyle the Soul for hell; Oh, said I, that I had gone to hell as soon as I had been born, (seeing I was born to be damned) and then I had not had so many sins to have answer’d for, then I should not have and all that know me; and my Torments in Hell would have been far less.
When my Grandmother had told me of the depths of the Mercy of God in Christ: I would answer with indignation; What you do tell me of a Christ; it had been better for me if there had never been a Saviour, then I should have gone to Hell at a Cheaper Rate.
Towards Winter I grew to Eat very little (much less than I did before) so that I was exceeding Lean; and at last nothing but Skin and Bones; (a Neighbouring Gentlewoman, a very discreet Person that had a great desire to see me, came in at the back-door of the House unawares and found me in the Kitchen, who after she had seen me, said to Mrs. Wilson, She cannot live, she hath death in her face) I would say still that every bit I did Eat hastned my Ruin; and that I had it with a dreadful Curse; and what I Eat encreased the Fire within me, which would at last burn me up; and I would now willingly live out of Hell as long as I could.
Thus sadly I passed that Winter, and towards Spring I began to eat a little better.
This Spring in April, 1666. my good Friends Mr. Shorthose and his Wife, whose Company formerly I much delighted in, came over, and when I heard they were come and were at their Brothers house, half a mile off, and would come thither the Fryday after; Ah, says I, that I dreaded, I cannot endure to see him, nor hear his voice; I have told him so many dreadful Lyes; (meaning what I had formerly told him of my experiences, and, as I thought, infallible evidences of the Love of God towards me; and now believed my self to be the vilest Creature upon Earth) I cannot see his face; and wept tenderly, wherewith my Aunt was much affected, and promised that when he came he should not see me; (I would have seen neither of them, but especially my He-Cousin) On the Fryday, soon after they came in, they asked for me, but my Aunt put them off till after Dinner, and then told them, she had engaged her word they should not see me, and that if she once broke her promise with me, I would not believe her hereafter; with such persuasions she kept them from seeing me, but not satisfied them; for that Night Mr. Shorthose was much troubled, and told his Wife if he had thought they must not have seen me, he would scarce have gone to Snelftone; the next day they Supped at Mr. Robert Archer’s House, Mrs. Wilson’s Brother that then lived in the same Town, where my Aunt Supped with them; at the Table something was said of their not seeing Mrs. Allen, but after Supper Mr. Shorthose and his Wife stole away from the Company to Mrs. Wilsons, where they came in at the back-side of the House suddenly into the Kitchen where I was; but assoon as I saw them, I cryed out in a violent manner several times; Ah, Aunt Wilson Hast thou serv’d me so! and ran into the Chimney and took up the Tongs; No, said they, You Aunt knows not of our coming; What do you do here? said I, We have something to say to you, said they, but I have nothing ot say to you, said I, Mr. Shorthose took me by the hand and said, Come, come, lay down those Tongs and go with us into the Parlour, which I did, and there they discoursed with me, till they had brought me to so calm and friendly a temper, that when they went, I accompanied them to the door and said; Methinks I am loth to part with them; Mr. Shorthose having so good encouragement, came the next day again, being Sabbath day after Dinner, and prevailed with me to walk with him into an Arbour in the Orchard, where he had much discourse with me, and amongst the rest he entreated me to go home with them; which after long persuasions both from him and my Aunt, I consented to, upon this condition, that he promised me, he would not compel me to any thing of the Worship of God, but what he could do by persuasion; and that week I spent with them, where I spent that Summer; in which time it pleased God by Mr. Shorthose means to do me much good both in Soul and Body; he had some skill in Physick himself, and also consulted with Physicians about me; he kept me to a curse of Physick most part of the Summer, except when the great heat of the Weather prevented, I began much to leave my dreadful expressions concerning my condition, and was present with them at duty; and at last they prevailed with me to go with them to the publick Ordinance, and ot wak with them to visit Friends, and was much alter’d for the better.
A Fortnight after Michaelmas my Aunt fetch’d me home again to Snelfton, where I had passed that Winter much better than formerly, and was pretty conformable and orderly in the Family; and the next Summer was much after the same manner, but grew still something better; and the next Winter likewise still mending though but slowly, till the Spring began, and then I changed much from my retiredness, and delighted to walk with Friends abroad.
And this Spring it pleased God to provide a very suitable Match for me, one Mr. Charles Hatt, a Widdower living in Warwickshire; with whom I live very comfortably, both as to my inward and outward man, my husband being one that truly fears God.
As my Melancholy came by degrees, so it wore off by degrees, and as my dark Melancholy bodily distempers abated, so did my spiritual Maladies also, and God convinced me by degrees; that all this was from Satan, his delusions and temptations, working in those dark and black humors, and not from my self, and this God cleared up to me more and more; and accordingly my love to, and delight in Religion, increased; and it is my desire that, left this great Affliction should be a stumbling block to any, it may be known, (seeing my Case is publish’d) that I evidently perceive that God did it in much mercy and faithfulness to my Soul; and though for the present it was a bitter Cup, yet that it was but what the only wife God saw I had need of according to that place, 1 Pet. i. 6. Tho now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold Temptations. Which Scripture did much comfort me under my former Afflictions in my first Husbands days.
These Promises which are her set down were great supports and refreshments to me in the time of my various Temptations and Afflictions all along, till I fell into deep despair, for from my Child-hoodGod exercised me with manifold Trials.
Isaiah, xliii. I, 2.
But now thus saith the Lord that Created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, fear not for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy Name, thou art mine. Vers. 2. When thou passest through the Waters, I will be with thee, and through the Rivers and Malice Baffled.
James v. 11.
Behold we count them happy which Endure; ye have heard of the Patience of Job, and have seen the End of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy.
I John, iv. 4.
Ye are of God, little Children; and have overcome them, because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the World.