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Jan. 4, 1807.-Was favored with a spirit of prayer, beyond all my former experience. I was in great agony, and wrestled both for myself and others, with great power. God seemed to bow the heavens and come down, and open all his treasures, bidding me take what I would.
Jan. 6.—Was not favored with that sweet sense of pardon, which I usually find on occasions of fasting; but I had a quiet, peaceful, resigned frame, and felt none of those repining thoughts, which the absence of sensible comforts is apt to excite.
"Jan. 20.-Was amazingly assisted in prayer for myself, parents, friends, and a revival of religion.
"Jan. 21.-Was favored with the clearest views of the glory of heaven, as consisting in holiness, that I ever had.
"Jan. 29.-Never felt such longings after God, or such a desire to depart and be with Christ. My soul thirsted for more full communion with my God and Saviour. I do not now feel satisfied, as I used to, with the manifestations of the divine presence, but still feel hungry and craving.
"Feb. 2.-Was amazingly given up to wandering imaginations. If I attempted to pray, in a moment, my thoughts were in the ends of the earth, If I attempted to read the Bible, every verse almost afforded ground of doubt and cavilling. This fully convinced me that Satan is able to make me doubt even the existence of God.
"Feb. 18.-Was enabled to lie at Jesus' feet, and to wash them with the tears of contrition. No pleasure I have ever found in religion, superior to this.
"Feb. 20.-Resolved to spend the day in fasting, and had considerable assistance. Had clearer views of the majesty, purity, and holiness of God, than usual, and this made me abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
"Feb. 28.-Was favored with great enlargement in prayer. Seemed to be carried out of myself into the presence of God.
"March 2.-Seem to be declining; am less grateful, less fervent, than I was, and have less tenderness of spirit. Yet I am less apt to think much of myself, than I was, and
hope I am growing in humility. This seems the most lovely grace, and most becoming sinners.
"March 7.-Were it not for the promised help of my Saviour, I would think no more of preaching, but rather labor for daily bread.
"March 12.-Never appeared so exceedingly vile and loathsome to myself, as I did this day. It seemed as if I could not endure to be near myself. No words could ex
press any thing like the sense I had of my unworthiness. It seemed as if I could not, for shame, ask God to save me. I felt like sinking into the dust, in the idea that his pure eye was fixed upon me, and that saints and angels saw how vile I was.
"March 15.-Sabbath. Rose very early, and was favored with sweet fervency and communion with God in prayer. Went to bed, and lay till morning. Enjoyed great liberty in prayer, several times before meeting.
"March 17.-Was favored with a peculiar experience, this morning. I thought I knew that I could never heal myself before; but I was made to know it in a different manner now. I saw, with most convincing clearness, that neither I, nor all created beings, could do the least thing towards delivering me from my sinful nature. I saw that I depended entirely on the free mercy of God; and that there was no reason but his own good pleasure, why he should ever afford me that assistance. Felt, for the first time in my life, what the apostle meant by "groanings which cannot be uttered;" and my desires after holiness were so strong, that I was in bodily pain, and my soul seemed as if it would burst the bands, which confined it to the body."
"March 19."-[At the close of a day of fasting and prayer.]"I find, that, even when the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. No days are so fatiguing, as those which are spent in fervent and continual exercises of religion. It will not be so in heaven.
"March 26.-Spent the day in fasting and prayer. Was favored with near access to my Heavenly Father, and a realizing sense of his perfections. O, how sweetly was I enabled to praise and admire his love and goodness in his works!
"Feb.20-Resolved to spend the day in fasting, and had considerable assistance. Had clearer views of the majesty, purity, and holiness of God, than usual, and this made me abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
"March 31.-Spent this day fasting, but not in prayer; for I could not put up a single petition. Was entirely deserted, and was ready to say, surely it is in vain to seek after God. I could not see that I had advanced one step in holiness, and was ready to think I never should; yet could think of nothing else worth pursuing, or living for. Doubted whether it were possible that I should know any thing of true religion, and yet be so entirely barren.
"April 7.-In fasting and prayer was favored with much of a spirit of supplication. I now seem to be lifted above those discouraging, desponding doubts, which have for some time clogged my soul. No GOOD COMES OF DOUBTING, OR OF BROODING OVER OUR SINS.
April 14.-Spent this day in fasting and prayer. Was wholly deserted, except that I saw more of my natural depravity, and the consequent pollution of all my duties, than ever before. Saw more too of the glory and greatness of the work of redemption, than I had previously.
"April 22.-Spent this day in fasting and prayer. At first was stupid; but soon God was pleased to lift up the light of his countenance upon me, and visit me with his free Spirit. O, how infinitely glorious and lovely did God in Christ appear! I saw, I felt, that God was mine, and I his, and was unspeakably happy. Now, if ever, I enΙ joyed communion with God. He shone sweetly upon me, and I reflected back his beams in fervent, admiring, adoring love. Had a most ravishing view of the glories of heaven, of the ineffable delight, with which the Lord Jesus beholds the happiness which he has purchased with his own blood."
His state of mind in the immediate prospect of the ministry.
THE time now drew near, when Mr. Payson was to receive license, agreeably to Congregational usage, to preach the gospel. His spirituality appears to have increased, as that interesting era of his life approached. Most sensibly did he feel, that he was no longer his own, but bought with a price,' and 'called by grace to serve God in the gospel of his Son.' 'The world was crucified to him, and he to the world.' His piety was distinguished by more frequent acts of self-dedication to God
-not by short ejaculations, and a general surrender merely, but with great deliberation, attended by a minute survey of the relations of the creature to the Creator, and of the obligations recognized and assumed by such a consecration. Happily, one specimen of the manner in which he gave himself up, is preserved; and though it describes the secret dealings of the soul with its God, it is hoped that it will not be desecrated by being brought out to the light. If, however, the reader never felt the awe which is created by a consciousness of the divine presence; if he never experienced the emotions of an ancient pilgrim, when, preparing for a similar transaction, he exclaimed -"How dreadful is this place !" he is urgently requested to pause. If he is conscious of any other feelings, than those of profound solemnity, let him leave this chapter unread. In it he will find nothing, with which a mind, given to levity, or vanity, or pride, can possibly sympathize. If he ventures to proceed, he will be met, at the threshold-if not by 'a drawn sword in the hand of the Captain of the Lord's host'-by that which is scarcely less appalling to an earthly mind; and which will render almost equally appropriate the order addressed to Israel's leader : "Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy."
May 1, 1807. Having set apart this day for fasting and prayer, preparatory to the celebration of the Lord's Supper, I rose early and sought the divine presence and blessing, in which I was favored with fervency and freedom. My petition was, that I might be enabled to see my own character, contrasted with the purity of God, and his holy, just, and good law; that I might be assisted in renewing covenant with God, and in giving myself up to him, and that I might be favored with ministerial qualifications. After this, I drew up the following
CONFESSION AND FORM OF COVENANT.
O Thou High and Holy One, that inhabitest eternity, whose name alone is Jehovah; who art the one, great, eternal, ever-blessed God, before whom angels bow, and devils tremble, and in whose sight all the nations of the earth are less than nothing and vanity! Wilt thou graciously condescend, in thy sovereign and infinite goodness, to look down from thy throne of glory on me, the most unworthy of thy creatures, a poor, weak, sinful, vile, and polluted wretch, to behold me with mercy and compassion, and permit me, lying prostrate in the dust before thee, to address thee as my God, my Father, my Creator, my Benefactor, my Friend and Redeemer.
O Lord, I would come with a heart broken and contrite for sin, acknowledging myself unworthy of the least of all thy mercies, and deserving nothing at thine hand but everlasting banishment from thee and happiness. Encouraged by thine own gracious promises, I would come, and, with humble confidence, take hold on the hope set before me, even thine everlasting covenant, which is ordered in all things and sure. But, O God, what am I, that I should be called thy son, that I should call thee my Father, or that thou shouldst enter into covenant with me? I blush, and am ashamed even to lift up my face unto thee, O my Father; for I have sinned against thee, and am exceeding vile; vile beyond what language can describe, or thought conceive. My iniquities are gone over my head, they are increased even to the heavens; they are infinite in number, in degree and aggravation, and can be equalled only by thy mercies, which have been new every