« AnteriorContinuar »
conscious, that I was a stranger to that spiritual illumination and its consequent discoveries, and, of course, was yet in a dark and dangerous state. I must have known before this, that I was a sinner, and all things were not right with me, but nothing ever came home to my heart, so as to make a lasting inipression, till now. The impression followed me to bed-arose with me in the morning, and haunted me from place to place, till I resolved to forsake my sins, and try to save my soul.-But my resolution was made in my own strength, for I had. not yet learned how weak and
frail we are by nature, and that all our sufinafering is of God. o It may be worthy of remark, that my
distress, then, did not arise from a painful sense of any particular sin, or sins in general, but from a full persuasion, that I was a stranger to God and true religion, and was not prepared for death and judgment. The alteration, in my conduct, effected by these impressions on the mind, soon became visible to my benefactress, which was matter of great joy. And as she was the first I had ever known to be truly and experimentally acquainted with vital religion, and I was the first she had ever seen in her family, who was desirous
to be acquainted with the same, she was not willing I should go away, till the year was ended, to board any where else. Accordingly I spent the rest of the year there.
My religious concern continued, during my abode here, but not at all times alike. I went altogether on a legal, self-sufficient plan-I asked mercy of God, but not for grace to help in time of need. The consequence was, that the best resolutions I made, were too weak to bear the shock of temptation, and I was too often carried into such extravagancies from the right, that all my hopes were slain, and I had all my religion to begin afresh. I strove against sin and folly, but got no ground, because I strove in my own strength. Sometimes I seemed to stand fast, for a few days—and then be overtaken in a fault, which would throw me back again. I remember once, being in bad company, I acted so contrary to my resolutions, that, on reflection, I ran, and leapt, tore my hair, and cried out, like one distracted. The power of sin and natural inclination to indulge myself, as formerly, were so strong, and would make such violent struggles for gratification, that, at times, I was ready to give up the contes", and all farther efforts in religion. But this thought would immediately occur, Damnation will be the consequence-- This I could not bear, and therefore still resolved to strive, rather than burn in hell to all eternity. · I had never heard the gospel preached in all my life, nor had I an opportunity of hearing it. All the external helps, I had, were my landlady and Flavel's sermons. These sermons were explicit enough in pointing out the lost and helpless state of man-the necessity of divine aid, and of a better righteousness, than I could furnish:
yet I could not readily comprehend this, nor easily correct that legal bias, which is so natural to all men. I had no conception of being justified by the righteousness of Christ, or any other righteousness but my own. On these accounts, my religion continued in a state of fluctuation for a great while. I had religion enough to make me frequently uneasy—but never to make me happy. Sinning and repenting—-repenting and sinning was the round, in which I went for many months. Yet it was apparent that there was a change in my life, for the better.
This was the state, in which I was, at the conclusion of that year-when necessity obliged me to change my place of abode. I mentioned above, that my school here was
small, and the income about yl. and I found it would be still less, should I continue another year. So I looked out for a school some where else. Moon wished to employ me again, and I went there, with the prospect of having a greater number of pupils, than before. I now got a school of twelve or thirteen scholars, at twenty shillings per scholar, which was the usual price, in those days. I again boarded with Moon all that year.
Remembering how blind, careless and insensible Moon and the rest of his family were, respecting religion, when I lived there before, and, seeing no alteration for the better, I was concerned for their souls, and did what I could to make them sensible of the danger they were in :-But they made light of it-turned all off with a laugh
-imputing the whole to new-light cantwhich they supposed I had catched from Mrs. Cannon, the lady of whom I have spoken. Moon and his wife, being Church people, as they said, could listen to nothing but what came through that channel. But, in truth, they knew no more of the principles of the Church of England, than of any other--and this case is not peculiar to them, but is very common in the world.
I was myself, at that time, but little acquainted with the principles of the church. Nor did I understand the meaning of many scriptures, which I read, but I understood enough to know, that except we repent, we must perish-and except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. These truths I insisted on, in the family, and especially the necessity of being born again. This they did not deny, « We must all be born again," said they, “ but that is to be after we are dead.”
I wished to be better acquainted with the meaning of the scriptures. I wanted some instructor. I had not a single book in the world, nor was I able to buy any books, had I known of any for sale. But, by some means, I got hold of a little old book, in a smoky condition, which I found to be Russels seven sermons. I borrowed the book, and read the sermons again and again. This book was of much service to me; and I remember I was deeply imprest with the account of Francis Spira, which is given in one of the Sermons. But I still wanted helpin understanding the scriptures. I had never heard of any expositor, nor did I know there was any such in the universe: yet I thought it necessary there should be a book of that sort. Mentioning, perhaps,
18, I got is for say any bom