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William Romaine's Experience

"God's dealings with me have been wonderful, not only for the royal sovereignty of His richest grace, but also for the manner of His teaching, on which I cannot look back without adoring my meek and lowly Prophet.  He would have all the honour (and He well deserves it) of working out and also of applying His glorious salvation.  When I was in trouble and soul-concern He would not let me learn of man (many years ago I chose my motto, 'Cease ye from man').  I went everywhere to hear, but no one was suffered to speak to my case.  The reason of this I could not tell then, but I know it now.  The Arminian Methodists flocked about me and courted my acquaintance, which became a great snare unto me.  By their means I was brought into a difficulty which distressed me several years.  I was made to believe that part of my title to salvation was to be inherent – something called holiness in myself, which the grace of God was to help me to.  And I was to get it by watchfulness, prayer, fasting, hearing, reading, sacraments, &c., so that after much and long attendance on those means, I might be able to look inward, and be pleased with my own improvement, finding I was grown in grace, a great deal holier and more deserving of heaven now than I had been.  I do not wonder now that I received this doctrine.  It was sweet food to a proud heart.  I feasted on it, and to work I went.  It was hard labour and sad bondage, but the hopes of having something to glory in of my own kept up my spirits.  I went on day after day, striving, agonizing (as they called it), but still found myself not a bit better.  I thought this was the fault, or that, which being amended, I should certainly succeed; and therefore set out afresh, but still came to the same place.  No galley-slave worked harder, or to less purpose.  Sometimes I was quite discouraged, and ready to give all up; but the discovery of some supposed hindrance set me to work again.  Then I would redouble my diligence, and exert all my strength.  Still I got no ground.  This made me often wonder, and still more when I found out at last that I was going backward.  Methought I grew worse.  I saw more sin in myself instead of more holiness, which made my bondage very hard, and my heart very heavy.  The thing I wanted, the more I pursued it, flew farther and farther from me.  I had no notion that this was divine teaching, and that God was delivering me from my mistake in this way, so that the discoveries of my growing worse were dreadful arguments against myself; and now and then a little light would break in and show me something of the glory of Jesus; but it was a glimpse only, gone in a moment.  As I saw more of my heart, and began to feel more of my corrupt nature, I got clearer views of Gospel grace; and, in proportion as I came to know myself, I advanced to the knowledge of Christ Jesus.  But this was very slow work; the old leaven of self-righteousness, christened holiness, stuck close to me still, and made me a very dull scholar in the school of Christ.  But I kept on making a little progress, and, as I was forced to give up one thing and another on which I had some dependence, I was at last stripped of all, and neither had, nor could see, where I could have aught to rest my hopes that I could call my own.  This made way for blessed views of Jesus.  Being now led to very deep discoveries of my own legal heart, of the dishonour I had put upon the Saviour, of the despite I had done to the Spirit of grace by resisting and perverting the workings of His love: these things humbled me; I became very vile in mine own eyes; I gave over striving; the pride of free-will, the boast of mine own words, were laid low.  And, as self was debased, the Scriptures became an open book, and every page presented the Saviour to new glory.  Then were explained to me those truths which are now the joy and very life of my soul."