Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

other, as opportunity served, (though not without great interruptions) till I was 1 2 or 13. In this time I learned to read in the Bible, (though but indifferently) and to write a sorry scrawl, and acquired some knowledge of Arithmetic. With this small fund, I left school ; and my mother dying about this time, no farther care was bestowed on my education.

I now fell into the hands of my eldest brother. In his way, he was exceeding kind to me. He allowed me in all the indulgences a depraved nature, and an evil heart could desire. I mean, he was at no pains to correct my morals, or restrain ine from any of the vices of the times. I followed the way of my own heart, and walked in the sight of mine own eyes, not considering, as every one ought, that for all these things God would bring me into judgment. While with my brother, I was employed in three kinds of business. 1. In keeping and exercising race-horses for the turf. 2. In taking care of, and preparing gamecocks for a match and main. 3. In plough. ing, harrowing and other plantation work. The two first were then agreeable enough but the last, in which I was the most constantly employed, was very irksome. Thuis I continued, till about 17 years of age,

when I was allowed to quit the plough, and to betake myself to the business of a carpenter, with my second brother Yoseph. But he was fractious, and often had recourse to hard words and severe blows. These. I did not at all relish : but I continued to labour with him till the latter end of the year 1750, or 1751.

Before I proceed, I must take a little time to reflect on the danger of my situa. tion, at that period. During the 5 or 6 years, I continued with my brothers, I do not remember ever to have seen or heard any thing of a religious nature ; or that tended to turn my attention to the great concerns of eternity. I know, not, that I ever heard any, serious conversation respecting God and Christ, Heaven and Hell. There was a church, in the parish, within three miles of me, and a great many people attended it, every Sunday. But I went not once in a year. And if I had gone ever so often, I should not have been much the wiser : for the parish minister was but a poor preacher-very unapt to teach or even to gain the attention of an audience. Being very near-sighted, and preaching wholly by a written copy, he kept his eyes continually fixed on the paper, and so near, that what he said seemed rather addrest to the cushion, than to the congregation. Except at a time, when he might have a quarrel with any body--then he would straiten up, and speak lustily, that all might distinctly hear. I remember to have heard, he had once a quarrel with his clerk, and strove hard in vestry to turn the poor man out of his place ; but failed in the attempt. The next Sunday he had prepared a scolding for him, and did vilify him stoutly, right over his head. The clerk sat it out to the last; and as soon as the angry sermon ended, he rose up, according to custom, to sing a psalm. He wished to return the parson like for like, but was not allowed, there, to say any thing, but was contained within the lids of the Prayer-Book. However, to suit the discourse and pay the minister in kind, he gave out the 2d psalm, and with an audible voice, read the first stanza thus,

With restless and ungovern'd rage,

Why do the heathen storm ?
Why in such rash attempts engage,

As they can ne'er perform.

The parson saw what he was at, and or. dered another psalm. This is no fiction. And what is to be expected from such pastors,

In circumstances so unpromising, it is not very wonderful, that I remained ignorant of God, and careless about religion. I only copied the example of my elders and superiors ; and the example of such has great influence, especially a bad example. But so far were those, who ought to have set me a good example, and restrained me from the company, the conversation and the practice of the ungodly, from doings, that, acis by precept and example, I was directly led ALK into all these, and encouraged therein. Cards, racing, dancing, &c. which are still the favourite sport and diversion of the wicked and ungodly, were then much in vogue. In these I partook, as far as my time and circumstances would permit, as well on Sundays as any other day. In these I vainly sought my felicity, but never found.

The blessed author of my being, who made me for himself, and ordained that I should seek happiness in him, was forgotten--though, blessed be his goodness, he did not, even then, leave me without a witness, and I was less free from inward, than outward restraint. Conscience would check, and I had, at times, awful forebodings of a judgment to come. The thoughts of death were terrible, and every threatning dispensation gave great aların.

I was sensible I was not so good as I ought to be, and wished, at such seasons, that I were good. But what real goodness was, or how to attain unto it, I knew not, and therefore came to no settled purpose of go. ing in pursuit of it; but dismissed such uneasy sensations, as soon as I could. I so. totally neglected the means of religion, that, during those years, I do not remember, I ever retired for private prayer, or, in reality, prayed at all.

I was not contented with the small degree of learning I had acquired, and wished for more knowledge, especially in figures. My friends and acquaintance, I dare say, thought me a topping scholar-but I knew better. I had not gone far in Arithmetic, and was very superficial in the rules I had been hurried through. To understand figures well, we reckoned the height of learning. Philosophy, Rhetoric, Logic, &c. we never heard of. There were no books on such subjects among us. Arithmetic was all and all. To acquire this, I borrowed a plain book, in manuscript; and while the horse, with which I harrowed or ploughed, was grazing an hour or two at noon, I frequently spent the time in application to that book. And being now of an age for better discovering the nature of

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »