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O that I may “koow him, whom to know 2right is life eternal.” One morning I arose very early from my bed, and retired, intending secretly to call upon the Lord, and accordingly proceeded toward the woodland. As I was walking slowly along, there appeared to me a light like the sun. It was one of the lights which I had seen in my dream several weeks before. My mind felt an immediate confidence in God, and if an angel had met me in the
way, and told me that the hand of the Lord was with me, I should not have believed it the more. When the light appeared to me, it reflected light, life and power to my mind, and inspired me to trust only and entirely in God. As soon as I recognized the light which I had seen in my dream, the light disappeared, leaving me with a faint recollection that I had had a singular dream, but I could not recollect any thing more of it, than that which related to the light, which I had just seen. The light was attended with such power to my mind, that I did not advance one step further, but I turned instantly on my heel and travelled a quick pace back to my house, and the first persons I met with I told them the Lord was with me, and that I had not one doubt of it. I told them also, that sometime since I had seen in a vision of the night, things which had been fulfilled, and that in the course of my life I should see it all fulfilled, though it was out of my power to recollect but little of the vision then. My
soul was now at perfect peace with God and with man.
I now recognized every feature of my mind, to be that which I enjoyed when I was about twelve or thirteen years of age. At this time I had lost all confidence in myself and had confidence in God, and felt to wait for him without a doubt.
There was quite a religious stir in the neigborhood at This time, there had been ma. ny meetings in the place, though as yet I had not attended but one meeting. So it was I believe, that in the period of a few months, there was not a family in the neighborhood, but what experienced something of the grace of God. But no sooner than the work had become general, the different denominations began, (as they generally do,) to contend about their tenets, and the neighborhood was left to experience those disagreeable and disgraceful divisions which generally arise a: mongst the different sectaries about church order, baptism, communion, &c.
During the 8th month, there was a church formed in the vicinity by a people who would not at that time receive any name, but they since call themselves Free-will Baptists. For mvself I had no particular or deep acquaintance with any denomination about me at this tiine, I therefore stood as it were by myself forsometime,whilst there was little else to be heard but “lo here" and " lo there is Christ.” Whilst many were running up and down to this and the other society, to find a
home, as they were pleased to call it, my mind began to be tried upon the subject of water baptism. Many were every few days going forward in that ordinance, and, as they pretended, were led thereto by the Spirit of God; but for myself, I could not find the Spirit to give me any instruction in the matter.I felt a great desire to do all that was duty, and all I was waiting for was to feel duty as well as others. I did not think to dispute the ordinance, (so called) and though I had not read the scriptures enough to dispute the rite or to advocate for it, yet the frequent use of baptism among all denominations with whom I was acquainted, answered to confirm my unwary mind and to put the ceremony beyond suspicion. I therefore concluded that bap. tism must be right; and accordingly I besought the Lord to make known my duty: But what surprised me was, that death and darkness attended such supplication. On being asked by some, why I did not go forward in baptism, I frankly mentioned my lack of revelation on that point-telling them that there was not the least impulse of the Spirit leading that way; and where the Spirit did not lead I thought it was not my duty to act, because others did, nor to be baptised because others were baptised. Some said that I had not ought to wait for the leadings of the Spirit, because the scriptures were plain on the point of baptism. They added too, that I had delayed my duty too long already, and that I
had ought to be baptised and join to some society ; which if I would do, they doubted not but that I should find a blessing in so doing. Sometime after this I went forward in baptism, but instead of feeling the approbation of the Spirit of God, I only brought more death and darkness upon myself than I had before, for I had not received that blessing in baptism which others pretended to receive. I felt the approbation of my own mind so far as to say, if it is a duty, I have done it. After I was baptised I felt in my mind that I would stand by myself, but being solicited to join society, after some diffidence and delay I attached myself to the society since called Free-willBaptist; but my choice was not conducted by a sound understanding in the scriptures, but like nine-tenths of the people who attach themselves to societies, I had not as yet read scripture enough to compare scripture with scripture, so as to be capable of divining for myself. I have frequently had occasion to notice the many who do as I did; they make up their faith or creed from a few passages of scripture more ingeniously selected by the preacher, than understood by them; and without suspecting the multitude in error they attach themselves to society. The consequence frequently is much trouble for their inconsiderateness, that is, if they are persons who are determined to know the truth for themselves. Otherwise they may become very blind and zealous in their way, and like the
ox, they can labor only at the one end of the yoke; and for this, their only and best reason is, because they have not been taught and traditioned on the other.
Not long after I attached myself to society several of the members in society came forward and began to labor in the ministry.This was trying to me, because my mind was exercised as to the same work. But as there were several of them now began, I concluded that my feelings as well as theirs must be imposed upon; therefore I resolved in my own mind, to hold my peace. I not only felt determined to desist myself, but I opposed the others until all my sweetness of mind was gone, in an unusual degree. My meditation be came unpleasant-my comforts fled from me, and prayer became ineffectual.
My mind was barren for some weeks and my mouth was so shut up, that it seemed as if I never should say any thing upon the subject of religion again. After this I was troubled by the vision of the night. I thought the sentence of everlasting misery was passed upon me, and as quick as thought I imagined myself sinking into misery as into a pit. It seemed as if my mind was left to realize all the horror it was capable of undergoing, whilst the dreadful accent was realized, GONE, GONE, FOREVER GONE! No one can possibly imagine the sensation of my heart during the vision--though it was short, yet it was painful. I awoke immediately, and it seemed as