Графични страници
PDF файл

other, without high-raised expectations, without fearful apprehensions. I was pleased with the wonders of my God, as I beheld them in the great deep; I was amazed at the variety of its inhabitants, yet how small a part could I trace. I was astonished at the number of birds, flitting over the ocean; and I thought, if provision was made for them, I had no reason for fear. On a brilliant moonlight evening, our ship struck on something, which threw us off our seats! What could it be? We were in the centre of the Western ocean. We soon discovered it was a sleeping whale ; we also beheld the water-spout, so often described, as a surprising phenomenon. Thus was my wondering mind beguiled of its sorWe saw a number of vessels on our way, some passing to the country we had left: my heart sighed, as they pursued their course, and I frequently, and audibly exclaimed, Dear native country, never more to be seen by me! nor was the exclamation unaccompanied by a tear.


We were, as it was supposed, within three days of New York, when we met a vessel, bound for England. Our merchant questioned the captain, respecting the state of public affairs in America. The Americans had, some time before, entered into the nonimportation agreement, and our merchant was anxious, on account of the goods he had on board. The captain assured him, they had given up the agreement in Philadelphia, but that they zealously adhered to it in New York. Our captain, therefore, received immediate orders to change the course of the vessel for Philadelphia; but when we had got near enough to this harbor to take a pilot, the pilot informed us, the reverse of the information we had received was the truth; upon which the merchant determined to go as far as the city, there obtain a certainty, and if so, to proceed to New York with all possible dispatch. We were a considerable time passing up the Delaware, and, upon a fine day, while we lay at anchor, the merchant proposed going on shore, for the purpose of obtaining corn and fruit.

It was in the month of September, when we arrived in the Delaware: the country, upon the banks of this fine river, exhibited a most enchanting appearance, especially to those, who had been for many weeks out of sight of land, and had never seen those shores before. As we drew near the land, the woods, seeming to grow out of the water, had to me a very uncommon appearance; but every thing, in this country, was uncommon. We went on shore, and ascending a gentle acclivity, when, entering into a small loghouse, I was astonished to see a woman preparing some excellent wild ducks for dinner; live in a log-house, and feed upon ducks! We passed into her garden, where, amid its rich variety, my attention was arrested by a large peach-tree, loaded with the best fruit, bending to the earth! I was beyond expression charmed and delighted, and my heart beat with grateful affection to the universal Parent, for giving the inhabitants of this new world thus liberally to enjoy. When we reached Philadelphia, I was amazed to behold

a city of such magnitude, in a country, which I had considered as a wilderness. The captain supposed it a disappointment to me, that we had not put into New York, as that was the place of my destination I requested him to make himself easy, as it was a matter of perfect indifference to me upon what part of the country I landed; and, if he could procure me a private lodging, I would go on shore in this city. This he told me he would do, but this he could not do, at least in the circle of his connexions. He then proposed my going, by land, to New York. This also I was willing to do, if he would let me know how. He would send and take me a place in the stage. The stage had been gone some time. He then proposed I should tarry in the vessel, and set out with him the next morning for New York, to which arrangement I agreed. The other passengers left us in Philadelphia. The water was smooth, and our passage pleasant, until we were, as was supposed, near Sandy-Hook; a dense fog then arose, which was sufficiently thick to prevent our seeing the end of our bowsprit. A sloop shot past us, and we inquired how far we were from Sandy-Hook? The answer was seventy miles, but we understood seven, and we pressed on, and in a few moments were in the midst of the breakers; the vessel struck upon the bar, but passed over, into a place we afterwards learned was called Cramberry Inlet. The fog now dispersed, and we discovered we were nearly on shore; our anchors, however, saved us; but we were greatly alarmed, and never expected to get off again. The sloop, with which we had spoken, entered this inlet before us, and was light. The captain proposed to engage this sloop to receive on board as much of our cargo, as she could contain; thus by lightening his vessel, to give himself the only probable chance of getting off. This was effectuated, and night coming on, the captain, with many apologies, requested me to lodge on ard the sloop, inasmuch as there were many valuable articles, which he was afraid to trust, without a confidential person. To this I readily consented, and taking my Bible, and my purse, I went on board the sloop. The plan of the captain was, supposing the morning should present no prospect of getting off, to deposit the remainder of his cargo upon the beach ; but, if they should get off, we were immediately to follow; the goods were to be replaced; and the sloop dismissed. I went not to bed, and when the morning dawned, just at high water, the wind blowing from the shore, they got off, making a signal for us to follow; and with all possible dispatch we prepared to obey, but the wind instantly shifting drove us back, and they proceeded on to New York, leaving us in the bay.

It proved, upon examination, we had no provisions on board; we were, therefore, necessitated to lock up the vessel, and go on shore, in search of sustenance. It was the after part of the day before we could effectuate our purpose, when I went with the boatmen to a tavern, and leaving them there, pursued a solitary walk through the woods, which seemed to surround this place. My mind was

greatly agitated; I was now in the new world; and in just such a part of this new world, as had appeared so desirable in prospect. Here I was as much alone as I could wish, and my heart exclaimed: 0, that I had, in this wilderness, the lodging place of a poor wayfaring man; some cave, some grot, some place where I might finish my duys in calm repose.


As thus I passed along, thus contemplating, thus supplicating, I unexpectedly reached a small log-house, and saw a girl cleaning a fresh fish; I requested she would sell it to me. No, sir, you will find a very great plenty at the next house; we want this.' The next house, what, this? pointing to one in the woods. 'O no, sir, that is a meeting-house.' A meeting-house here in these woods? I was exceedingly surprised. You must pass the meeting-house, sir; and a little way farther on, you will see the other house, where you will find fish enough.' I went forward, I came to the door; there was indeed a large pile of fish of various sorts, and at a little distance stood a tall man, rough in appearance and evidently advanced in years: Pray, sir, will you have the goodness to sell me one of those fish? No, sir.' That is strange, when you have so many, to refuse me a single fish! I did not refuse you a fish, sir; you are welcome to as many as you please, but I do not sell this article; I do not sell fish, sir; I have them for taking up, and you may obtain them the same way.' I thanked him: But,' said he, 'what do you want of those fish?' I informed him, that the mariners, who belonged to the sloop at a distance, were at a tavern, and would be glad, I could procure them something for supper. 'Well, sir, I will send my man over with the fish ; but you can tarry here, and have some dressed for yourself.' No, sir, it is proper I should see how they are accommodated. 'Well, sir, you shall do as you please; but, after supper, I beg you would return, and take a bed with us, you will be better pleased here, than at a tavI gratefully thanked him, and cheerfully accepted his offer. I was astonished to see so much genuine politeness and urbanity, under so rough a form; but my astonishment was greatly increased on my return. His room was prepared, his fire bright, and his heart open. " Come,' said he, 'my friend, I am glad you have returned, I have longed to see you, I have been expecting you a long time.' I was perfectly amazed. What do you mean, sir? I must go on in my own way, I am a poor ignorant man, I neither know how to read, nor write; I was born in these woods, and my father did not think proper to teach me my letters. I worked on these grounds, until I became a man, when I went coasting voyages from hence to New York. I was then desirous of becoming a husband, but, in going to New York, I was pressed on board a man of war, and I was taken, in admiral Warren's ship to Cape Breton. I never drank any rum, so they saved my allowance; but I would not bear an affront, so if any of the officers struck me, I struck them again; but the admiral took my part, and called me his new-light man. When we reached Louisbourg, I ran away, and 'travelled barefooted


through the country, and almost naked, to New York, where I was known, and supplied with clothes and money, and soon returned to this place, when I found my girl married; this rendered me very unhappy, but I recovered my tranquillity and married her sister. I sat down to work; got forward very fast; constructed a sawmill; possessed myself of this farm, and five hundred acres of adjoining land. I entered into navigation, became the owner of a sloop, and have got together a large estate. 1 am, as I said, unable either to write or read, but I am capable of reflection; the sacred scriptures have been often read to me, from which I gather, that there is a great and good Being, to whom we are indebted for all we enjoy. It is this great and good Being, who hath preserved, and protected me, through innumerable dangers, and, as He had given me a house of my own, I conceived I could not do less than to open it to the stranger, let him be who he would; and especially, if a travelling minister passed this way, he always received an invitation to put up at my house, and hold his meetings here. I continued this practice for more than seven years, and, illiterate as I was, I used to converse with them, and was fond of asking them questions. They pronounced me an odd mortal, declaring themselves at a loss what to make of me: while I continued to affirm, that I had but one hope; I believed that Jesus Christ suffered death for my transgressions, and this alone was sufficient for me. At length my wife grew weary of having meetings held in her house, and I determined to build a house for the worship of God.

I had no children, and I knew I was beholden to Almighty God for every thing which I possessed; and it seemed right, I should appropriate a part of what he had bestowed, for his service. My neighbors offered their assistance. But no, said I ; God has given me enough to do this work, without your aid, and, as he has put it into my heart to do, so will I do. And who, it was asked, will be your preacher? I answered, God will send me a preacher, and of a very different stamp from those who have heretofore preached in my house. The preachers we have heard are perpetually contradicting themselves but that God, who has put it into my heart to build this house, will send one who shall deliver unto me his own truth; who shall speak of Jesus Christ and his salvation. When the house was finished, I received an application from the Baptists; and I told them, if they could make it appear that God Almighty was a Baptist, the building should be theirs at once. The Quakers, and Presbyterians, received similar answers. No, said I, as I firmly believe, that all mankind are equally dear to Almighty God, they shall all be equally welcome to preach in this house, which I have built. My neighbors assured me, I never should see a preacher, whose sentiments corresponded with my own; but my uniform reply was, that I assuredly should. I engaged, the first year, with a man, who I greatly disliked; we parted, and, for some years we have had no stated minister. My friends often ask me, 'Where is the preacher of whom you spake ?' And my constant reply has been, He will

by and by make his appearance. The moment I beheld your vessel on shore, it seemed as if a voice had audibly sounded in my ears, There, Potter, in that vessel, cast away on that shore, is the preacher you have been so long expecting. I heard the voice, and I believed the report; and when you came up to my door, and asked for the fish, the same voice seemed to repeat: Potter, this is the man, this is the person, whom I have sent to preach in your house!'

I was astonished, immeasurably astonished at Mr. Potter's narrative; but yet I had not the smallest idea it could ever be realized. I requested to know, what he could discern in my appearance, which could lead him to mistake me for a preacher ? 'What,' said he, could I discern, when you were in the vessel, that could induce this conclusion? No, sir, it is not what I saw, or see, but what I feel, which produces in my mind a full conviction.'

But, my dear sir, you are deceived, indeed you are deceived; I never shall preach in this place, nor any where else.

'Have you never preached? can you say you have never preached? I cannot, but I never intend to preach again.

'Has not God lifted up the light of his countenance upon you? Has he not shown you his truth?'

I trust he has.

'And how dare you hide this truth? Do men light a candle to put it under a bushel? If God has shown you his salvation, why should you not show it to your fellow-men? But I know that you will; I am sure God, Almighty has sent you to us for this purpose; I am not deceived, I am sure I am not deceived.'

I was terrified, as the man thus went on; and I began to fear, that God, who orders all things according to the counsel of his own will, had ordained, that thus it should be, and my heart trembled at the idea. I endeavored, however, to banish my own fears, and to silence the warm-hearted mar by observing, that I was in the place of a supercargo; that property to a large amount had been entrusted to my care; and that the moment the wind changed, I was under the most solemn obligations to depart.

'The wind will never change, sir, until you have delivered to us, in that meeting-house, a message from God.'

Stil I was resolutely determined never to enter any pulpit as a preacher; yet, being rendered truly unhappy, I begged I might be shown to my bed. He requested I would pray with them, if I had no objection. I asked him how he could suppose I had any objection to praying. The Quakers, he said, seldom prayed; and there were others, who visited him, who were not in the habit of praying. I never propose prayer, sir, lest it should not meet with the approbation of those with whom I sojourn; but I am always pleased when prayer is proposed to me. I prayed, and my heart was greatly enlarged and softened. When we parted for the night, my kind host solemuly requested that I would think of what he had said. Alas! he need not to have made this request; it was impossible to banish it from my mind. When I entered my chamber,

« ПредишнаНапред »