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Yea, it seemed as if they would have torni her limb from limb, and deprived her of every member..And those, which they could not tear off, shall not escape their resentment. Of consequence I could not escape. I became a principal butt-a great eye sore -for to the church I still clave, and ever intend to cleave as long as I live. You may be sure I have been well battered ; and others have, in some measure, shared my fate. In good and candid truth, such a spirit has prevailed, and doth yet prevail, to increase and establish that novel institution, that the reputation of no man, however holy and useful he may be, has been too sacred, to escape the lashes of malignant tongues.
Who can account for such a conduct among the professors of that religion, which enjoins, to speak evil of no man? and saith, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm. I sincerely wish to lay the most charitable construction on their conduct to me and others. It may be, they are misled, and hurried on by false and furious zeal. Surely they do not mean to do such execrable things, knowing them to be so. It may be, that, often hearing their own party, their own modes, rules and principles so highly applauded, and all
others vilified, they have conceived a notion, that when they are venting the most shameful Nander against any, who are not of their party, they are acting right, and doing no more than they ought to do. I dare say, this may be the case, and I wish it mayas I would willingly excuse them, as much as I can, and retain the best opinion of my fellow-creatures the case will admit of.
But, by this time, you wish to know what crimes they lay to my charge. Why they have revived the old charge of incon. stancy--however this is so evidently misapplied, that it is not much insisted on yet it goes down with some classes. But the most potent charge is, that I have an itching palm, and am a great money sweeper. And indeed almost all their charges center in this one. I sweep, it seems, fifteen or twenty pound for a single sermon, &c. &c. But you know me better, and will believe me, when I tell you, that I have swept so little for all my labors in the gospel, that, for these thirteen years, I may say, with the apostle, these hands of mine have administered to my necessities, and to those that are with me. In all my travels and preachings before the revolution, I never received a single farthing-nor since, except when I
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have undertaken to supply a vacant parish statedly—but this has seldom happened : and once I was complimented with about ten dollars in Carolina. Funeral sermons I have generally preached gratis, and marriages have not been very considerable.
But however ill founded those sweeping charges have been, yet the malignant effects of this surprising conduct of my enemies to defame and depreciate my character, preachings and writings, are very apparent. Let aspersions, sly insinuations, and slanderous reports be ever so groundless, yet, when they come from a great number, and are often repeated, as well from the pulpit as in private, they are apt to make undue impressions on vulgar minds, and alienate the affections of the people from the injured person. This is realized in my own case ; for I have found the minds of the people, in my own parish, and in other places, so alienated from me, by such means, that my usefulness, at pre-' sent, seems to be at an end.
When I now go to places, where formerly some hundreds used to attend my sermons, I can scarcely get forty hearers ; and, perhaps, the minds of most of those are so stuffed with prejudice, and they hear in such a cautious and captious way, that
little good can be expected. I say, they hear in a cautious and captious way-for you must know I am accused of preaching bad doctrine-at least such a thing is insinuated by some, and others are more pointed in contradicting the truths I advance, and have advanced for more than thirty years. But it is truly laughable to hear doctrines established and taught by the greatest divines, for so many centuries, now condemned as execrable, by those, who never studied divinity in their lives, nor never read any system of theology whatever. Imputed righteousness, is what I particularly refer to.
In my own parish also, I have the mortification to behold those, who were once my near and dear friends, yea my children in the gospel, fall off from me, and join with my most notorious enemies. Instead of crowded churches, as formerly, my hearers seldom exceed, on Sundays, one hundred and fifty, and, for the most part, hardly half that number. The communicants have decreased ten-fold. Love and harmony are gone—so that I have little satisfaction at communion seasons. In a word, there appears such a degree of shyness, coldness and disaffection among the people, and they look so strange at me,
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that I can take no satisfaction in the company of any, except a few of the old standards. In this uncomfortable situation, I often call to mind better days, and with great sensibility repeat those lines in the 42d psalm :
'Tis with a mournful pleasure now,
I think on ancient days;
And all our work was praise.
I before observed, that if I did err in giving countenance to the Methodists, on their first coming to Virginia, they have since sufficiently punished me for it-and by this time, I think you are of the same mind.
But though I can attribute the too general coolness of professions to me, both here and elsewhere, to nothing so much as the machinations of the Methodists—yet that almost universal inattention to religion, which now prevails, in this state, must be traced to some other source. Human nature is strangely indisposed to all things holy and divine; and, at present, many things abound, which have a tendency to confirm that aversion, and render men more and more indifferent about religious matters. Some of the staunch disciples of