« PreviousContinue »
ring with some persons, when they answered me in a very discouraging manner. My reply to them was, that I should refer the matter to Christ. I thought that I turned from them and walked into a large field. I had not been there long, as I thought, before I saw a man making toward me. When he had come within about twenty rods, I saw that he was encompassed with a light from head to foot. As he seemed to advance nearer to me, his garment (which was a long loose robe) shone with brightness, and appeared to be as white as snow.
His garment appeared so fine that it seemed to be without a thread. His countenance appeared to be the fountain of love, and a refulgent glory beamed from every pore of his face. As he approached me I discovered no change in his address, nor in gesture-heaven and divine love was clearly understood to be the very feature and passion of his soul ; there was nothing affected in his countenance, yet I was effected with love in the most powerful manner, his very countenance was heaven, and conspired to make heaven in all about him. When I speak of that love which I felt, and saw in the heavenly vision, suffer me to speak in language something like the nature of what I felt. O, THE ALMIGHTY POWER OF LOVE !! When he came near I knew it was Christ; I fell to the ground in adoration, whilst 'I adapted the language of Thomas, «My Lord and my
God! My Lord and my God!" In pronouncing these words I awoke and behold it was a dream ! But my soul was so overcome with the power of love, I yet repeated several times, loudly, “ My Lord, and my God.” Such were my views of the Saviour, that I could not feel contented to think that one of my fellow men should be a stranger to him. When I thought of the beauty and love there was in Christ, I sometimes threw down the tool with which I was labouring, with impatience, at the thought that there was many who did not sensate the love of Christ. I would often recognize myself after I had been sitting some time, and again engage in business from which I had been drawn by the intenseness of my mind; at other times my mind was so drawn out in anxiety in the things of God, that when I was travelling in the fields, or in the highway, my heart felt such a drawing that my body was so wrought upon, that I often found myself engaged in a quick pace, as if I was in great haste. Some people who were not acquainted with me when they heard me preach, supposed that I was crazy. My wife frequently would observe to me that if I did not quit my study, she feared that I should lose my reason. In a time when my mind was so tempted to disbelieve in God, &c. I was moved to fear for myself, lest my mind should be injured by its exercise--but under the exercise of faith and love, I had nothing to fear, for the exercise of the Spirit of God, is to his children the best of reason, though they may appear foolish or deranged to the world.
Though my mind was again clothed in confidence to God, there was yet a very great desire in my mind to know the will of God concerning me, and to know what was the cause of so much division among christians—this was a point with me yet undecided, and until I knew this, and knew what ceremonial worship God did require of his children, I was in fear lest I should not do his will. Such were my fears on the subject of baptism, communion and other things, that I said nothing about them when preaching, but always preached repentance ioward God, and faith in Christ, in this I was attended with no fears, believing that the devil, if he would, might say repent.
I often thought of the children of Israel, and of the privileges which they enjoyed, and exclaimed in my mind, O, that I had Moses to go before me, how faithful would I then live! If I could see the miracles which he wrought, then I would have no doubtshow me a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, that I may move when the cloud moves, and rest when the cloud rests; and pass through the Red Sea as the children of İsrael did let the Lord give an evidence of his will as he did when he gave the law upon Mount Sinai, and I shall be without these corroding fears. Should the Lord
speak to me, thought I, as he did to the holy men of old, or as he spoke to Samuel twice, and again twice, then I might know duty, and should be rid of these disputes and janglings, which now fill the world, about the meaning of scripture.
I had now been attached to society a little more than one year, and though I read the scriptures, I had not read them thinking to find any thing to confute the notion of the ordinances. I now began to discover things which I might have discovered before, had not tradition placed them beyond the reach of suspicion. I had by this time found that the notion of the Millennium was but a notion and, as I thought, it was without any scripture foundation. As I had heard much of the Millennium, I did not doubt that the notion was correct. Therefore I was induced to examine the scriptures, not doubting it, nor thinking to confound it, but to ascertain the time if possible, when the day should commence. But to my great surprise when I had believed in the notion, and had examined the scriptures to support it, I could find nothing from Genesis to Revelation, that gave me the least reason to believe there would ever be such a day. I discovered that the passages of scripture in the prophesies which related to the coming of the Messiah, and the illumination of God's Spirit with the work of grace on the heart, were misconceived and applied to a Millennium. Many teachers, I saw, were now ready to deny the regenerating power of God, and like the Jews, they were looking for a Saviour, or for a dispens. ation to come, by which the christian was induced to miss the object of the gospel, fulness and privilege which he might enjoy in his own soul. When I found that the word Millennium was not to be found in the scriptures, but that it was man's invention to serve their dark and blind notion about spiritual things, I was ready to avoid the blind explanations of these and to seek a Millennium (so called) in my own heart. I now began to read scripture without the least degree of prejudice; feeling that as I had been imposed upon by the false notions of others, I thought that I would give myself to the reading of the scriptures. From the example of others, I had been taught to reverence the bible as the word of God, and the only rule of faith and practice. But when I read in the scriptures, it was there said of the Word of God, that the Word was made flesh, and that in the beginning was the Word, and that the Word was in the beginning with God, and that the word was God. Again I understood by the scriptures, that the Word of God was quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, and was the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart ; and furthermore I understood that the worlds were framed by the Word of God.