Page images

affected with the beauty and excellency of religion; a strong defire in and I and with fome measure of hope, that the Lord would make me a Chrif tian indeed.

About this time, the Lord was pleafed to vifit our family with the rod of affliction. My fifer was the first that died, then my mother, and afterwards two fervants. On the ninth day of my fifter's illness, the called the family together, and faid, "Weep not for me, for I am not afraid to die. I am



going to my Jefus, who will do more for me than any of you 66 can do." She then defired to be laid down, bidding us all. Farewell," and with a fmiling countenance dropt into etesnity. Thefe awful fcenes affected me much; a melancholy gloom hung over my mind, and I frequently wept in fecret. I was confcious I wanted fomething. The Spirit of the Lord. often flrove with nie, and melted me into tendernefs; but Iknew not the way of falvation, and had no one to take me by the hand, and lead me into the narrow path. Our unhappy minifter was a ftranger to God, and moft of his flock, I am afraid, were in the way to ruin.

When I was twelve years old, I threw off all seriousness, and became as wild as the rest of my fchool-fellows. From my fourteenth year, I was engaged in learning book-keeping, the mathematics, and aftronomy. Between the 17th and 18th year of my age, I left fchool, and entered upon business. But alas, I was fond of pleafure," and loved this world more than God: About this time the Methodists engaged the converfation of the inhabitants of Baltimore county, where L lived. I went along with others to hear them, but the place was fo crowded, I could not get in. However, from what I could understand,, I thought they preached the Truth, and durft not join with the multitude in perfecuting them. Not long after, the Holy Spirit began to firive again with me powerfully. One day I met a young man, who had been hearing the Methodists, and his ferious converfation was fo engaging and edifying, that I was conftrained to believe, that there was a reality in Religion; and that it was high time for me to feek

the Lord.

[ocr errors]

Reading in Ruffel's Sermons, that it was highly expedient for a penitent finner to make an exact eftimate of all his fins," I endeavoured to follow his advice; and upon a careful examination, found them to be innumerable. I now began to fee myfelf in the Gospel Glafs, and was deeply affected with the difcovery of my wretchednefs and loft eftate; and I promised a thorough amendment of life; but alas, my Repentance was like the morning dew, that quickly paffeth away; I was not truly humbled, and my Will rebelled against the Moft High. One day as I was crofling a rapid fream, a log on

which I had frequently gone, fuddenly gave way, and I was in the utmost jeopardy of being carried down the torrent. After ftruggling a while, with much difficulty I got out, altho much wounded among the fharp rocks. This question ftruck my mind with great weight, "What would have become of "your foul, if you had been drowned ?" I wept bitterly, and prayed to the Lord, under a fenfe of guilt. Nevertheless, my ftubborn heart was not yet willing to fubmit to God, tho I felt a little Hell within me.

In the month of May, 1772, as I was riding down a descent, over a large broad rock, the horse threw me. With the vio lent fall I loft my fenfes. Being alone, I know not how long I continued in that fituation. When I recovered, I found myself on my knees, with my hands and eyes raised to Heaven, and crying to God for mercy. It was ftrongly impreffed upon my mind, that if I had then died, my foul must have dropt into Hell. I praised God for my deliverance, and promised to ferve him all the days of my life. Before I arofe from my knees, all the pain was removed, and I felt nearly as well as ever I did in my life. I was fenfible of the drawings of God's Spirit, and, in a measure, faw the amiablenefs of Jefus; and was determined, through Grace, to follow him in the way of regeneration.

I now procured the beft religious books I could meet with; particularly the writings of Mr. Hervey, the Travels of True Godlinefs, Allein's Alarm, &c. for as yet I had not feen any of Mr. Wefley's publications. As I lived a retired life, I frequently read, prayed, and wept till after midnight; and often retired into the woods for prayer and meditation. My name began to be caft out as evil, although I was afhamed to let any one know the exercises of my mind; and in order to con ceal them, when in company, I have too often grieved the Holy Spirit, by joining in trifling converfation; for I was much afraid of being thought a hypocrite. However convictions still followed me, and I attended ftrictly to the duties of the family over which I was placed. As yet I had heard very few Methodist sermons, and the enemy ftrove hard to prevent me from going among thofe people.

Some time after, Mr. F. A. came into our County. I went to hear him one evening. The place was much crowded, however I got to the door, and liftened with attention. The word was sweeter than honey, or the honey-comb; I could have tarried there till the rifing of the fun. I returned home with gladnefs, fully perfuaded that he was a fervant of GOD., I followed him to another preaching-place: the difcourfe penetrated to the centre of my foul, and all the fecret operations of my heart were laid open. I was ready to cry out, "How "does this ftranger know me fo well ?" My father was troubled

We fat up

troubled on my account, and came to fee me. talking till near midnight. "I have no objection," said he, "to your being religious; but why do you turn from the "Church ?" I replied, "I have no intention of leaving the Church, but the cafe is really this, it is impoffible for any one in these times to be truly ferious, but they will be called Methodists, and their names will be caft out as evil."

[ocr errors]


In April, 1773, my brother John was taken dangerously ill, fo that his life was defpaired of. One Lord's-day, many friends came to fee him, expecting every moment he would breathe his laft. I was greatly concerned on account of his foul, having much reafon to fear he was not prepared for a happy eternity. I went round to the back-part of the bed, and kneeling down, earneftly befought the Lord to have mercy upon him, and fpare him. When I arofe from my knees, perceiving his lips were moving, I put my ear clofe to his mouth (to all appearance he was juft dying) and heard him say, Lord, thou knoweft I am unprepared to die; have mercy "upon me, and raife me up again, and give me a longer fpace, " and I will ferve thee. Thy Spirit has often ftrove with me, but I have rejected thee, &c." He thus continued pleading with the Lord a confiderable time. We both knew the moment when the Lord answered our prayer, and granted him a gracious reprieve. I immediately informed our weeping friends, that they need not be uneafy, for the Lord would reffore him again. The diforder inftantly turned, he fell into a doze, and within a few days was able to walk about the room. After his recovery, I converfed with him on the subject, and he told me, That he faw Death ;-that he was fummoned to appear in the world of fpirits;- and that if he had died at that time, Hell was his doom ;-but the Lord had lengthened his days on condition that they were devoted to his fervice. Some time after he experienced an entire change of heart, and enjoyed the favour and bleffing of God for near three years, when he died a happy witness of perfect love.

After the recovery of my brother, the Lord was pleased to exercise me with affliction; and I was brought nigh unto the grave. During my illnefs, I was in a very ftrange way; I Jay on my bed finging praifes to God, without any fear of Death. I felt my mind perfectly easy. I thought if I died, I fhould go to Heaven. I was even willing to die, although I did not know that my fins were forgiven; but I felt a strong hope that the Lord would fave me. Who can tell what ftate my foul was then in ?

In the month of Auguft following, it pleased the Lord to take my father to himfelt. From my earliest knowledge, I do not remember to have heard an oath in the family, although it confifted of about twenty perfons. And it was a rare thing


[ocr errors]

for him to correct either children or fervants, notwithstanding we flood in the highest reverence of him. I often vifited him during his illness, which was long and tedious; and he was much delighted with my company. I have great reafon to believe that he died in the Lord. The care of the family now devolving upon me, and the fettlement of my father's bufinefs, I was furrounded with many difficulties and troubles, which were no help to the affairs of my foul. The enemy ftrove hard to drive away all my good defires; but ftill I attended conftantly to fecret devotion. I contracted an intimacy with the new parish minifter, who was a very clever man, of a moral character, and much refpected in the neighbourhood. I conftantly attended upon his ministry, and frequently converfed with him on religious fubjects. He told me, the Methodists carried matters too far ;-that a man could not know his fins were forgiven ;-and all that we could attain to, was a hope fpringing from an upright life. This doctrine exactly tallied with my experience, and was food for my fallen nature. I imbibed his fentiments and spirit, and began to feek after literary qualifications for the miniftry of the Church; and for this purpose applied myself to reading and ftudy, often cons fulting my new counsellor. But the Spirit of the Lord, at times, ftrove very powerfully, and I was frequently afraid that all was not well with me, efpecially when I was under Methodist Preaching. To these people I was drawn, but it was like death to me; for I thought, I had rather ferve God in any way than among them; at the fame time fomething within told me that they were right. Being greatly agitated in mind, I at laft concluded to give up my former purfuits, to turn all my attention to the improvement of my worldly property, and to ferve God in a private manner. In confequence of this refolution, I fet out in full purfuit of business, expecting to accumulate riches in abundance.

If at

During the time of my felf-fecure state, I had the form of Godliness, attended the church conftantly, and fometimes went to hear the Methodists: I fafted once a week, prayed frequently, frictly regarded the Sabbath, reproved open fin, and denied myself of what the world calls pleasure. The way that I was now in, feemed fo perfectly right in my own eyes, that I thought, moft certainly I should go to Heaven. any time I was overtaken in a fault, I endeavoured to mend my pace, and prayed more frequently. I cannot fay, I was entirely free from doubts; for often under the Methodist Preaching, my poor foundation was terribly fhaken; and it was feveral days before I could recover my hope. Sometimes I was tempted to think that the Methodists were a deluded people, and almoft refolved to hear them no more. I ftood, in a manner, between the children of God, and the children of


the world; when I was with the former, I endeavoured to confute them; but when in company with their enemics, I pleaded the caufe of the Methodists.


One day I happened to meet with a zealous Methodist exhorter; he afked if I was born again. I answered, that I hoped I was. "Do you know (faid he) that your fins are. forgiven?" No, I replied, neither do I expect that knowledge in this world. "I perceive (continued he) that you are in the broad road to hell, and if you die in this state, you will be damned." I pleaded, that the tree is known by its fruit, and that our Lord condemns rafh judgment; and afked him, What have you seen or known of my life, that induces you to judge me in this manner? And to prevent his reply, I turned my back upon him. But, however, I could not forget the words of the pious young man, for they were as fpears running through me.

In this ftate I continued till June, 1775. One evening I went to rest as ufual, and flept till day-break. Just as I awoke, I was alarmed by an awful voice, that to my appre henfion feemed as loud as thunder, "Awake, finner! for you "are not prepared to die!" I was fmitten with convictions in a manner I had not known before, and inftantly farting from my pillow, cried out, "Lord, have mercy on my foul!" This was about the commencement of the late unhappy war, and that day there was a general Review near my house, at the fight of which I had promifed myfelf much fatisfaction. But my mind was now engaged in matters of much greater importance, and inftead of attending upon the Review, I spent the time in folitude. For feveral days I laboured under fuch diftreffes, as no one can form an idea of, but those who have paffed through fimilar exercifes of foul.

On the Tuesday following I went to the Preaching. Returning home about nine o'clock at night, I alighted from my horfe in a lonely wood, and bowed my knees before the Lord. I was perfectly fenfible of the prefence of two different fpirits, who were ftriving with me. The good Spirit represented to my mind the beauties of Religion, the bleffednefs of the righ teous, and the neceffity of receiving Jefus Chrift the Lord, by faith, in order to my foul's Salvation. On the other hand, the evil Spirit fet forth Religion in a moft odious garb; and the world, its pleafures and gratifications, in brilliant colours; alluring me, that all thefe things fhould be mine, if I would give up my notions, and ferve him. At length I began to ilagger, and yielded to the reafonings of the Enemy. The tenderness of my confcience abated, and penitent tears va nifhed away; but I ftill continued on my knees in a kind of meditation, and at laft cried out, "Lord, fpare me one year more; and by that time I can put my worldly affairs in fuch


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »