Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ At times conviction laid fast hold of me, and rendered me extremely unhappy. The light I had received, I know not how, would not suffer me to go into sin with that ease which I observed in other lads. One winter evening, I remember going with a number of other boy's to a smith's shop, to warm ourselves by his fire. Presently they began to sing vain songs. This appeared to me so much like revelling, that I felt something within me which would pot suffer me to join them, and while I sat silent in rather an unpleasant muse, those words sunk into my mind like a dagger, What doest thou here, Elijah?' :I immediately left the company, yet shocking to reflect upon, I walked home, murmuring in my heart against God, that I could not be let alone, and suffered to take my pleasure ļike other young people,

he, if a mountain should remove, why not a bird ? Ho thought, moreover, that this was a fit opportunity to try whether he had any faith, or not. Acovrdingly, he very gravely commanded the birds to appear before him; but they did not come. He was more concerned, however, for the loss of his birds, than for the want of faith : he thought that might come some time; but the birds would not!

At another time, he was climbing for a rook's nest, which was very high, and stood upon a small bough, of a kind of wood which was very apt to break. He sat some time on the arm of the tree, viewing the nest. He thought there was great danger of the bough breaking, and if it did, of his losing his life. The thought occurred, however, that God could prevent it's breaking. So he prayed to him to do so, and upon this presumption ventured up! The bough did not break; and supposing that his prayer was answered, he descended from the tree with a heart full of Pharisaical pride, supposing that he was one of the favourites of heaven!

Sych was the darkness and levity of his mind at that time; but he afterwards felt very differeut sensations, on reflecting on the divine patience and forbearance, which thus preserved him before he was effectually called by

divine grace.

“Sometimes I was very much affected, in thinking of the doctrines of Christianity, or in reading such books as Bunyan's Grace abounding to the Chief of Sinners, his Pilgrim's Progress, fc. fc. One day in particular, I took up Ralph Erskipe's Gospel Sonnets, and opening upon what be entitles, A Gospel Catechism for young Christians; or Christ All in All in our Complete Redemption; I read, and as I read ļ wept. Indeed I was almost overcome with weeping, so interesting did the doctrine of eternal salvation appear to me: yet there being no radical change in my heart, these thoughts passed away, and I was equally intent on the pursuits of folly as heretofore.

“ Yet I often felt a strange kind of regard towards good people, such of them especially as were familiar in their behaviour to young persons, and would sometimes talk to me about religion. I used to wish I had many thousand pounds, that I might give soape of it to those of them who were poor as to their worldly circumstances. ..“I was at times the subject of such convictions and affections, that I really thought myself converted; and lived under that delusion for a long time. The ground on which I rested that opinion was as follows:-One morning, I think about the year 1767, as I was walking alone, I began to think seriously what would become of my poor soul, and was deeply affected in thinking of my condition, I felt myself the slave of sin, and that it had such power over me, that it was in vain for me to think of extricating myself from it's thraldom, Till now, I did not know but that I could repent at any time; but now I perceived that my heart was wicked, and that it was not in me to turn to God, or to break off my sins by righteousness. I saw that if God would forgive me all the past, and offer me the kingdom of heaven, on condition of giving up my wicked pursuits, I should not accept it. This conviction was accompanied with great depression of heart. I walked sorrowfully along, repeating these words ;-Iniquity will be my ruin! Iniquity will be my ruin! While poring over my unhappy case, those words of the Apostle suddenly occured to my mind,

Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace.' Now the suggestion of a text of scripture to the mind, especially if it came with power, was generally considered by the religious people with whom I occasionally associated, as a promise coming immediately from God.* I therefore so understood it, and thought that God had thus revealed to me that I was in a state of salvation, and that therefore iniquity should not, as I had feared, be my ruin. The effect was, I was overcome with joy and transport. I shed, I suppose, thousands of tears as I walked along, and seemed to feel myself as it were in a new world. It appeared to me that I hated my sins, and was resolved to forsake thern. Thinking on my wicked courses, I remember using those words of Paul, 'Shall I continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid !'. I felt, or seemed to feel, the strongest indignation at the thought. But strange at it may appear, though my face that morning was, I believe, swoln with weeping, yet before night all was gone and forgotten, and I returned to my former vices with as eager a gust as ever. Nor do I remember that for more than half a year afterwards I had any serious thoughts about the salvation of niy soul. I lived entirely without prayer, and was wedded to my sins just the same as before, or rather was increasingly attached to them.

* See Remarks upon the Notion of Extraordinary Impulses and Impressions on the Imagination, indulged by many Professors of Religion. Sold by Button, price 2d,

“Some time in the following year, I was again walking by myself, and began to reflect upon my course of life, particularly upon my former hopes and affections, and how I had since forgotten them all, and returned to all my wicked ways. Instead of sin having no more dominion over me, I perceived that it's dominion had been increased. Yet I still thought that must have been a promise from God to me, and that I must have been a converted person, but in a backsliding state. And this persuasion was confirmed by another sudden impression, which dispelled my dejection, in these words ; 1 have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins.' This, like the former, overcarne my mind with joy. I wept much at the thoughts of having backslidden so long, but yet considered myself now as restored and happy. But this also was mere transient affection. ] have great reason to think that the great deep of my heart's depravity had not yet been broken up, and that all my religion was without any abiding principle.' Amidst it all, I still continued in the neglect of prayer, and was never that I recollect induced to deny myself of any sin, when temptations were presented. I now thought, however, surely I shall be better for the time to come. But, alas! in a few days this

« PreviousContinue »