Some Occasional Passages, Discourses and Letters of Col. John Barksteads as they were taken from his own mouth, or left behind him in writing under his own hand.
AFter Liberty was granted to some of his Relations and Friends to visit him in his imprisonment, very many of them did at several times repair to him; Those who first came to him were so affected with those choice Expressions which dropt from him, that like the Wo∣man of Samaria, they made it their work to invite and encou∣rage others to partake of the same Mercy with themselves: up∣on which many had the opportunity to hear him speak, and amongst them several sober and descreet Persons did commit to writing the things that were most remarkable which fell from him. And here we begin with what he spake to several Friends who came to visit him during the time of his impri∣sonment.
Having been, saith he, but a very little while off of my Watch, in that time giving way to a Parley with Flesh and Bloud, Sathan who is never idle was not now wanting, but put me for some hours to it, endeavouring to present to me the greatnesse of the Sufferings I was yet to go through, and my own weaknesse to go thorow them, I saw indeed my own weaknesse and inability, and taking the Bible to look for a word from whence I might get strength and encouragement, the Lord brought to me that place of Isaiah 26.3, 4. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he tru•teth in thee: And so v. 4. Trust ye in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength. And so v. 8. Yea in the way of thy Judgement O Lord have we waited for thee, the desires of our souls is to thy Name, and to the Remembrance of thee.
The Lord helped him by this word to conquer all his fears, which did arise from the sense of his own weaknesse and utter insufficiency to conflict with those difficulties and deaths which did now encounter him, neither was the Lord wanting in renewing his strength from other portions of his good Word, which upon the opening of his Bible his eye by Provi∣dence was still directed to, whereof hear him give his follow∣ing account.
Page 14When I was (sayes he) locked up in my lodging in the Tower alone, I began to consider what my present condition called for from me, and taking my Bible (my joy) I first pitched on this Scripture, Psalm 4. vers. 4. Stand in aw and sin not, commune with your own hearts upon your beds, and be still, and vers. 5. Offer the Sacrifice of Righteousnesse, and put your trust in the Lord. After some hours spent in Reading and Meditating upon these words, and finding not one syllable in which there was not an overflowing fulness as to me. At this time of my Affliction, I was lead forth in my Spirit abundantly to add more the goodnesse of the Lord to me, that I should so provi∣dentially pitch upon this Scripture; And now my heart being filled with ravishing Joys and Rejoycings, I looked a little further, and reading vers. 7. Thou hast put gladnesse in my Heart, more than in the time that their Corn, and their Wine encreased; I found that Scripture aboundantly made good to me, and can truly seal to this, that in all my full enjoyments of the Crea∣ture, I never had such Joy and Gladnesse in my heart as now, and that all the Afflictions, Cares and Torments I have met with are nothing to those sweet enjoyments that God hath given in through Christ; No no, there is more affliction in the least sin, then in the greatest of Sufferings, and that I can truly say there hath not one private thought past through me that I was sorry or wish I had not been so far engaged in this Glorious Cause, but I have rather admired the great love of Christ to me, that he should make choice of such a poor Crea∣ture as I am to be employed in his Work. I must further say, that the Lord hath made crooked things straight, and rough wayes plain, and hard and difficult things easie to me, through the Free and Rich Love of Christ; Oh he h•th made death nothing unto me now, but yet I have no strength of my own, no my strength lies in my weaknesse, and it is Christ alone that can renew my strength, which he doth daily, by setting upon my heart these following Scriptures, which have been a constant relief to me. The Lord is my Light and Salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Rock of my life, of whom should I be afraid, Psal. 28.14. Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy Heart, wait I say on the Lord. Psalm. 33.11. The Counsel of the Lord stands for ever, and the thoughts of his Heart to all Generations: Blessed be the Soul that hath the Lord for its inheritance, Psalm. 138. vers. 8. The Lord will perfect that which Page 15 concerneth me: the Mercies of the Lord endureth for ever, forsake not the works of thine own hands, Prov. 16. vers. 9. A mans heart de∣viseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps; in the day when I cryed thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul; commit thy wayes to the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established, Prov. 28. vers. 28. When the wicked arise, men hide themselves, but when they perish, the Righteous increase. But now thus saith the Lord that created thee O Jacob, and he that formed thee O Israel, fear not, I am he that blotteth out thy Transgressions for my own sake, and will not remember thy sins, Esaiah 63. vers. 9. In all their af∣flictions he was afflicted, and the Angel of his presence saved them in his love, and in his pitty he redeemed them, and he bare them, and carried them all the dayes of old, Lam. 3. vers. 24. and 126.96.36.199, 37. vers. 38. The Lord is my portion saith my soul, therefore will I hope in him; The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the souls that seeketh him, it is good that a man should both hope and qui∣etly wait for the Salvation of the Lord. Who is he that saith it com∣eth to passe when the Lord commandeth it not, out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good, Psal. 34.9. Oh fear the Lord ye his Saints, for there is no want to them that fear him, Psal. 11.22. Though hand joyne in hand the wicked shall not be unpuni∣shed, but the seed of the Righteous shall be delivered.