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influence on religion, and greatly abated my zeal, and the fervors of devotion, ren. dered me vain and trifling in my life and conversation; and, I fear, would have carried me quite away, had I continued longer in that place you will not wonder to have heard me, from the pulpit, speak so repeatedly and pointedly against such companies and diversions, when you recollect how severely I have suffered by their fatal influence, and therefore spake from personal and sasi experience. :
It was in the spring, 1762, when I quitmy school, and began to prepare for an immediate entrance into Holy Orders. Not in the Presbyterian, as first intended, but in the Church of England --I first obtained a title to a parish--next waited on the Governor of Virginia, and then on the Rev. -Mr. William Robinson, the Bishop of London's Commissary. From both I obtained such papers as were necessary to carry to the Bishop-I had all things ready in May, and agreed for my passage with a William Ashburn, Captain of a Ship, called the Everton—but, by one hindrance and another, I did not sail for England till some time in the October following.
When I entered on the languages, I have already said, my intention was to be a Presbyterian Minister and before I proceed in my narrative, I think it proper to shew why I changed my first intention, and took orders in the Church of England.
My first awakening to any sense of reli. gion, was by means of a Presbyterian, and all the years, I had lived, since I made a profession, were among the people of that denomination till I went to learning. Indeed, I knew of no other people, that had any real appearance of religion ; and my sentiments, for want of a more liberal education, were exceedingly contracted. I scarcely thought there was any religion but among the Presbyterians I imbibed all their tenets—and became such a rigid Cal. vinist, that I condemned all men and books, which said any thing against Election and Predestination. I had contracted a preju.. dice against the Church of England, not only on account of the loose lives of the Clergy, and their cold and unedifying manner of preaching, but also by reading some books, and especially a book, called the dissenting gentleman's answer to Mr. White's three Letters. By these and other means, I was much set against the Prayer Book, and, indeed, against any public form of prayer. But after I acquired some greater degree of knowledge, both of men and books, my
ideas and sentiments became less and less confined. I began to think more freely, and take a larger view of things. I read the writings of several churchmen, with which I was highly pleased, delighted, and edific ed. Hervey became my favorite author. In him I found the same pious breathings, and evangelical doctrines, as I had read in the works of Presbyterians ; I learned also, that the two most zealous and indefatigable ministers in Europe, Wesley and Whitfield, were members of the Church of England. Those, and many other things, too tedious to mention, caused me to judge more favourably of the Church than I had done I saw that a man might be as pious and useful in that Church, as in any other : yea, all things considered at that time, I thought he night be more useful. The Prayer Book I had not examined, but had catched up a few scraps and detached sentences out of it, which were said to be objectionable, and which I thought were jusily so. But, on mature consideration, and examination of the book on a larger scale, I saw, or thought I saw, that most of the objections were ill founded. There were, indeed, some words in some of the offices, which I thought had been better omitted, or differ. ently exprest and I think so still. But upon the whole, I thought it contained an excellent system of doctrine and public worship-equal to any other in the world. I do not know that I thought it better than the Presbyterian, but equally as good. The doctrinal articles I considered the same in substance, in both churches ; and the different modes of worship, I thought not at all essential. The church of England, in Article 17, appeared Calvinistic, but not so pointed as the Confession of Faith. And I had began to doubt a good deal respecting the decrees of Predestination and Election.
These tenets did not appear so reconcileable to the divine attributes, as I might once think. Upon the whole, I thought the church of England no way inferior to the Presbyterian. My mind hung in a state of equilibrium between the two, respecting their theory. I then considered the advantages and disadvantages which might arise from my choice of this side or that. On the side of the church of England, I saw several disadvantages, for the present, I saw it would be attended with great expence in making a voyage to England that I should be exposed to much peril and danger from the sea, and from the enemy; (it being in time of war ::)-all which expence, peril and danger might be avoided, by taking orders among the Presbyterians. But this present and temporal inconvenience, was ballanced by the prospect of a more permanent support hereafter, in case of success. I saw the Presbyterian Minister dependant on annual subscriptions-a mode of support very precarious in itself, and which subjects the Minister to the caprice of so many people, and tends to bind his hands and hinder his usefulness. For these reasons, since the revolution, I never would accept of an annual subscription-I chose rather to have nothing, than to be continually exposed to the whims of the multitude.
To all this I add, that the general prejudice of the people, at that time, against dissenters, and in favour of the church, gave me a full persuasion, that I could do more good in the church than any where else. This gave a very decided preference in favour of taking orders in the Church. I therefore sold my patrimony* (about 300 acres of Land)-put my life in my hand, and embarked for Great Britain, (as I said) in the month of October 1762.
In the ship, in which I sailed, were three passengers, besides myself: one of whom,
* This patrimony had but lately fallen to him, by the death of his brother.