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237. For the causes, I conceived they were principally two: of which two I also was deeply convinced all the time this trouble lay upon me. The first was, for that I did not, when I was delivered from the temptation that went before, still pray to God to keep me from temptations that were to come; for though, as I can say in truth, my soul was much in prayer before this trial seized me, yet then I prayed only, or at the most, principally for the removal of present troubles, and for fresh discoveries of His love in Christ, which I saw afterwards was not enough to do; I also should have prayed that the great God would keep me from the evil that was to come.
238. Of this I was made deeply sensible by the prayer of holy David, who, when he was under present mercy, yet prayed that God would hold him back from sin and temptation to come; 'Then,' saith he, 'shall I be upright, I shall be innocent from the scaps great transgression' (Psalms 19:13). By this very word was I galled and condemned, quite through this long temptation.
13 Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then shall I be blameless, and I shall be innocent and clear of great transgression. AMP
239. That also was another word that did much condemn me for my folly, in the neglect of this duty (Hebrews 4:16), 'Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.' This I had not done, and therefore was suffered thus to sin and fall, according to what is written, 'Pray that ye enter not into temptation.' And truly this very thing is to this day of such weight and awe upon me, that I dare not, when I come before the Lord, go off my knees, until I entreat Him for help and mercy against the temptations that are to come; and I do beseech thee, reader, that thou learn to beware of my negligence, by the affliction that for this thing I did for days, and months, and years, with sorrow undergo.
16 Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]. AMP
240. Another cause of this temptation was, that I had tempted God; and on this manner did I do it. Upon a time my wife was great with child, and before her full time was come, her pangs, as of a woman in travail, were fierce and strong upon her, even as if she would have immediately fallen in labour, and been delivered of an untimely birth. Now, at this very time it was that I had been so strongly tempted to question the being of God, wherefore, as my wife lay crying by me, I said, but with all secrecy imaginable, even thinking in my heart, Lord, if thou wilt now remove this sad affliction from my wife, and cause that she be troubled no more therewith this night, and now were her pangs just upon her, then I shall know that thou canst discern the most secret thoughts of the heart.
241. I had no sooner said it in my heart, but her pangs were taken from her, and she was cast into a deep sleep, and so she continued till morning; at this I greatly marvelled, not knowing what to think; but after I had been awake a good while, and heard her cry no more, I fell to sleeping also. So when I waked in the morning, it came upon me again, even what I had said in my heart the last night, and how the Lord had showed me that He knew my secret thoughts, which was a great astonishment unto me for several weeks after.
242. Well, about a year and a half afterwards, that wicked sinful thought, of which I have spoken before, went through my wicked heart, even this thought, Let Christ go if He will; so when I was fallen under guilt for this, the remembrance of my other thought, and of the effect thereof, would also come upon me with this retort, which also carried rebuke along with it, Now you may see that God doth know the most secret thoughts of the heart.
243. And with this, that of the passages that were betwixt the Lord and His servant Gideon fell upon my spirit; how because that Gideon tempted God with his fleece, both wet and dry, when he should have believed and ventured upon his words, therefore the Lord did afterwards so try him, as to send him against an innumerable company of enemies; and that too, as to outward appearance, without any strength or help (Judges 6; 7). Thus He served me, and that justly, for I should have believed His word, and not have put an scaps if upon the all-seeingness of God.
6:1 BUT THE Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian for seven years.
2 And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of Midian the Israelites made themselves the dens which are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds.
3 For whenever Israel had sown their seed, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the east came up against them.
4 They would encamp against them and destroy the crops as far as Gaza and leave no nourishment for Israel, and no ox or sheep or donkey.