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Holy aspirations-gratitude to the Saviour-multiplied labors-Novel family scene-Danger averted—“ Curious frame"-flattery deprecated.—His marriage-Becomes sole pastor of the church-Retrospect of the year.
"Dec. 17, 1810.-I now commence the fourth year of my ministry. Whether I shall live to finish it, God only knows. O, that it may be spent to better purpose, than those, which are passed.
"Dec. 29.-Felt the blessed effects of casting all my cares upon him who careth for me. In family prayer, was most unusually drawn out towards God, and felt as much like an inhabitant of heaven, as I ever expect to feel here. All earthly objects were swallowed up; self appeared to be nothing, and God to be all in all. Felt as if my time on earth would be short. I was in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, and yet wishing to stay, that I might tell others what a precious Saviour he is. But the Lord's will be done. Welcome any
thing, which he pleases to send.
"Dec. 31.-Spent the day in visiting. In the evening met a number of Christian friends, and had a sweet season in conversing upon heaven. Our hearts seemed to burn within us, and it was a little foretaste of heaven.”
These quotations furnish pretty fair specimens of his religious feelings for several months; excepting those intervals, when he was greatly reduced and disheartened by sickness. On emerging from the darkness of such a season, he writes :
“Jan. 10, 1811.—This morning, God was pleased to return, and lift me out of the dust. The great comforts with which I was favored, some time since, rendered me proud; and I needed a season of darkness to humble me. Had much freedom, and some brokenness of heart, this
morning, in secret and family prayer, and some ability to plead with God not to forsake us. O, how sovereign and free is his grace !"
Under the same date, he writes to his mother :
"Last Sabbath was communion with us. I preached from Zech. III. 2. Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? What a just and striking description of every redeemed sinner! and what a glorious idea does it afford us of the work of redemption! To snatch a smoking brand from eternal burnings, and plant it among the stars in the firmament of heaven, there to shine like the sun foreverO, what a glorious work is this! a work worthy of God; a work, which none but God could perform. Such a brand am I. A brand, yet smoking with the half extinguished fires of sin; a brand, scorched and blackened by the flames of hell. What then do I owe to him, who entered the furnace of divine wrath, that he might bring me out! who spread himself over me as a shield from that fiery storm, which would have set me forth an example, like Sodom, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
"I have no heart to speak or write about any thing but Jesus; and yet I have little patience to write about him in our miserably defective language. O, for a language suitable to speak his praises, and describe his glory and beauty! But they cannot be described-they cannot be conceived, for "no man knoweth the Son, but the Father." What a wonderful idea does that text give us of the Son! Saints in heaven do not know him perfectly; even the angels do not. None but the Father is able to comprehend all his excellence. Yet various, great, unsearchable, infinite, as are his excellencies, they are all ours; our Saviour, our Head," our flesh and our bone." O, wonder!-how passing wonder is this! Methinks, if I could borrow, for a moment, the archangel's trump, and make heaven, earth, and hell resound with "Worthy is the Lamb, that was slain !" I could contentedly drop into nothing. But no-I should wish to live, and make them resound with his name through eternity. What a transporting thought, to spend an eternity in exalting God and the Lamb; in beholding their glory, and hearing them
extolled by all creatures-this is heaven indeed. To be swallowed up, and lost in God; to have our spirits embraced, wrapped up in his all-infolding Spirit; to forget ourselves, and think only of him; to lose, in a manner, own separate existence, and exist only in him; to have his glory all in all to us ;-this is, indeed, a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
About a month later, he gives this account of their spiritual prospects-"Our hopes of increasing attention be`gin to revive again. Some recent instances of conviction have taken place, and we have about thirty very serious inquirers. The church, too, are more roused, and we have as yet, had no scandals among us for the world to take hold of. I cannot but hope, that God designs to raise up a church here, which will shine bright; and be like a city set on a hill. Satan buffets them sorely; but the more he buffets them, the faster they grow. I hope yet, if God pleases, to see seated with us at the communion table. It would, I doubt not, rejoice your very heart."
Some idea of the variety and amount of his labors may be collected from a single sentence, which is incidentally introduced into a letter, dated February 17-"I preach, or do what is, at least, as laborious, six nights in a week, besides talking, incessantly, a considerable part of every day." It is not improbable, that, to his private intercourse, not less than his public addresses, the rapid prosperity of religion is to be ascribed. His inventive genius seemed to delight in finding out as many ways, as possible, by which a religious influence might be brought to bear upon those, to whom he had access. Take the following domestic scene, as an illustration: it is unquestionably the offspring of his own pious ingenuity, for it bears as infallible marks of its parentage, as the description of it does of his pen.
"I will give you a little sketch of our family way of living, that you may adopt it if you please. In the first place, we have agreed, that, if either of us says a word, which tends in the least to the discredit of any person, the rést shall admonish the offender; and this has entirely
banished evil-speaking from among us. In the next place, we are careful, especially in the early part of the day, as at breakfast, to converse on nothing which is inconsistent with maintaining a prayerful frame. Christians, I believe, generally think they do pretty well, if they pray twice a day; but I see not why we are not just as much commanded to pray without ceasing, as to pray at all. We sometimes, however, allow our minds a little relaxation at dinner, by conversing on other subjects, than those which are strictly religious. At the beginning of evening, before the candles are brought in, if I am at home, which is not very often the case, we all sit down, and take a little tour up to heaven, and see what they are doing there. We try to figure to ourselves how they feel, and how we shall feel, and what we shall do; and often, while we are trying to imagine how they feel, our own feelings become more heavenly; and sometimes God is pleased to open to us a door in heaven, so that we get a glimpse of what is transacting there-and this fills us so full of impatience, that we can scarcely wait till death comes to carry us home. If we cannot get together before tea, for this purpose, we take a little time after prayers, before separating for the night; and, I assure you, it forms an excellent preparative for sweet sleep.-But enough of this, at present; if you like it, I will tell you more, by-and-by."
"We have been in great danger from fire. It was truly of the Lord's mercies, that we were not consu med, with a considerable part of the town. the water began to fail, and all hopes were over, the fire abated. I was so much fatigued by over exertion in removing our things, that I was miserably unwell for a fortnight, but am now recovered. Some acknowledge the goodness of God in sparing the town; but others are dreadfully hardened. One poor creature, as soon as the fire was extinguished, cried out, "Well, we have got it out, but no thanks to Payson, nor God neither." Another after meeting, the ensuing Sabbath, observed, that he "did not like this giving all the glory to God; but that man ought to have, at least, some part of the glory of putting out the fire." This
is, indeed, the natural language of every heart, but few like to express it so openly.
"I fear that religion is on the decline among us. There is still, however, considerable attention, and we have had a few remarkable instances of conversion.”
"March 1.-Had a most violent head-ache, and was almost distracted; yet was obliged to preach in the evening. Found many more present than I expected, and was unusually assisted, and the people were very solemn. Most gladly will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me; for when I am weak, then I am strong."
"MY DEAR Mother,
"Portland, March 25, 1811.
"Satan rages most violently against Christ's sheep, and I am almost constantly employed in trying to counsel and comfort them, under their manifold temptations. However, the more he rages, the faster they grow;' though I have had serious fears respecting some of them, that they would lose life, or reason, or both. I now find why my gracious Master has suffered me to be so griev ously tormented, in times past. How miserably qualified should I otherwise have been, to speak a word in season' to them that are weary!-Still I, I, I! nothing but I'sseven in half a page. Well, I don't care-I am writing to my mother, and I know she loves to hear about I; so I will proceed, and tell her about a half-sleeping, halfwaking dream, I had the other morning. If it does her as much good, as it did me, it won't be paper lost.
"After a curious kind of frame in sleep, I waked my self up with exclaiming-" Lord, why is it, that thou art never weary of heaping favors on ungrateful, perverse, stubborn wretches, who render thee only evil for good?" In a moment, he seemed to reply as powerfully, as if he had spoken with an audible voice-“Because I am never weary of gratifying my dear Son, and showing the greatness of my love to him. Till I am weary of him, and cease to love him, I shall never be weary of heaping favors on his friends, however unworthy."-These words, it is true, contain nothing more than an obvious truth;