Thomas Boston was a Puritan, and at the age of 22 (I think), he wrote a little journal that was published after his death and titled, ‘The Art of Man-Fishing’. Very early in part two he gives what he believes to be evidences of his own salvation.
Thomas Boston is brutally honest with himself, both in his own failures and in his fruit.
I ask that as you read the quotes in the coming week that you be introspective and honest as well.
Here is the second quote.
2. I feel help in duty from the Spirit
I know not what I should pray for; but the Spirit helpeth my infirmities (Rom. 8:26). Many times I have gone to prayer very dead, and have come away with life; I have gone with a drooping and fainting heart, and come away rejoicing; with an heart closed, and have come away with an heart enlarged, and have felt enlargement both as to words and affections; and this hath made me both thankful and more vile in mine own eyes, that God should have done so with the like of me (1 Chr. 29:14).
He that hath sense and feeling hath life; but I have sense and feeling; ergo, I have life (Eph. 4:19). My sins are a burden to me (Matt. 11:28). Lord, thou knowest my omissions and commissions, the sins of my thoughts and of my life, the sins of my youth, and above all, that which is my daily trouble, an evil, backsliding and base heart, which I find deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). This body of sin and death makes me to groan, and long to be rid of it (Rom. 7:24). And what a load it was to me this day, God knows. I feel God’s presence, which makes me to rejoice sometimes; at other times again I feel his absence. Thou, O Lord, hidest thy face, and I am troubled (Ps. 30:7). His smiles are sweet as honey from the comb, and his frowns are bitter as death to my soul.
He in whom there is heat hath life; but I have a heat in my soul; ergo, I have life. I find a threefold flame, though weak, in my heart.
1. A flame of love to Christ (Rom. 5:5)
My soul loves him above all; and I have felt my love to Christ more vigorous within this short while than for a considerable time before. Lord, put fuel to this flame.
I have a love to his truths that I know, what God reveals to me of his word (Ps. 119:19). I find sometimes his word sweeter to me than honey from the comb (Ps. 19:10). It comforts and supports me. I cannot but love it; it stirs me up, and quickens my soul when dead.
I love his commands, though striking against my corruptions (Rom. 7:22).
I love the promises, as sweet cordials to a fainting soul, as life from the dead to one trodden under foot by the apprehensions of wrath, or the prevailing of corruption.
I love his threatenings as most just; my soul heartily approves them. If any man love not the Lord Jesus, let him be anathema, maranatha. The least part of truth, that God makes known to me, I love; and, by grace, would endeavour to adhere to.
I love those in whom the image of God does appear; though otherwise mean and contemptible, my heart warms towards them (1 John 3:14).
I love his work, and am glad when it thrives (Rom. 1:8), though alas! there is little ground for such gladness now.
I love his ordinances (Ps. 84:1) and what bears his stamp; though all this be but weak, I love his glory, that he should be glorified, come of me what will.
2. I find in my heart a flame of desires after the righteousness of Christ (Matt. 5:6)
My soul earnestly desires to be stript naked of my own righteousness, which is as rags, and to be clothed and adorned with the robe of his righteousness. This wedding garment my soul affects; so shall I be found without spot, when the Master of the feast comes in to see the guests. My soul is satisfied, and acquiesces in justification by an imputed righteousness, though, alas! my base heart would fain have a home-spun garment of its own sometimes.
I also find in my heart a flame of desires after communion with him (Ps. 42:1). When I want it my soul though sometimes careless, yet, at other times, cries out, O that I knew where I might find him! I have found much sweetness in communion with God, especially at the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, in prayer and meditation, hearing the word faithfully and seriously preached, and in preaching it myself, when the candle of the Lord shines on my tabernacle; then was it a sweet exercise to my soul.
I endeavour to keep it up when I have it, by watching over my heart and sending up ejaculations to God. When I want it, I cry to him for it, though, alas! I have been a long time very careless. Sometimes my soul longs for the day, when my minority shall be over-past and I be entered heir to the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away; to be quit of this evil world; to be dissolved, and to be with Christ, which is best of all; especially at three times.
(a) When I get more than ordinarily near God, when my soul is satisfied as with marrow and fat, when my heart is nobilitated, and tramples on the world.
(b) When I am wrestling and groaning under the body of sin and death, the evil heart: then fain would I be there, where Satan cannot tempt, and sin cannot enter; yea, when I have been much forsaken, at least as to comfort (Diary, August 2, 1696, where is the most eminent instance of it).
(c) When I preach, and see the gospel hath not success, but people are unconcerned, and go on in their abominations.