Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

and shut the door, I burst into tears; I would have given the world that I had never left England. I felt as if the hand of God was in the events which had brought me to this place, and I prayed most 'ardently that God would assist and direct me by his counsel. 1 presented myself before Him, as a man bowed down by calamity; a melancholy outcast, driven by repeated afflictions of body and of mind to seek refuge in private life; to seek solitude amid the wilds of America: "Thou knowest, said my oppressed spirit, thou knowest, O Lord, that if it had pleased thee, I would have preferred death, as the safest and most sure retreat; but thou hast not seen fit to indulge my wishes in this respect. In thy providence thou hast brought me into this new world; thou seest how I am oppressed by solicitations to speak unto the people the words of life; thou knowest that I am not sufficient for these things; thou God of my fathers, thou God of the stranger, look with pity upon the poor, lonely wanderer now before thee: O thou that sittest in the heavens, and rulest in the earth, and who assurest us that a hair of our head cannot fall, unnoticed by thee; O thou who kindly directest us, thy poor dependent creatures, to acknowledge thee in all their ways, and to make their requests known unto thee in every time of affliction, behold thy poor dependant, supplicating thee for thy kind direction and protection; if thou hast indeed put it into the heart of thy servant to demand of me, the meanest and weakest of all to whom thou didst ever give power to believe in the name of thy Son, to declare unto him and the people of this place the gospel of thy grace; O God! in mercy prepare me, prepare me for so vast an undertaking, and let thy presence be with me; strengthen me, O Lord, by thy mighty spirit. And if it be not thy pleasure thus to employ me,--for thou, O God wilt send by whom thou wilt send, graciously manifest thy will, that so I may not by any mcaus be drawn into a snare. Thou art the sinner's friend, thou art the only friend I have. To thee, O thou compassionate Father of my spirit, encouraged by thy gracious promises, I make application.. Pity, O pity the destitute stranger; leave me not, I most earnestly entreat thee, to my own direction.

Bob

Thus did I pray, thus did I weep through the greater part of the night; dreading more than death, even supposing death an object of dread, the thought of engaging as a public character. On the one hand, I discovered, that if there be a ruling power, a superintending providence, the account given by the extraordinary man under whose roof I reposed, evinced its operation; that, if the heart of the creature be indeed in the hand of the Creator, it was manifest that God had disposed the heart of this man to view me as His messenger, sent for the purpose of declaring the counsel of his peace to his creatures. On the other hand, I recollected, that the heart is deceitful above all things; that the devices of the adversary are manifold; and that, had it been the will of God that I should have become a promulgator of the gospel of his grace, he would have qualified me for an object of such infinite magnitude. If I tes

tified of Jesus according to the scriptures, I well knew upon what I must calculate; the clergy of all denominations would unite to oppose me. For I had never met with any individual of that order, either in the Church of Rome, or elsewhere, who were believers of the gospel that God preached unto Abraham, that, in Christ Jesus, all the families of the earth should be blessed; nor did they, as far as I had known, embrace the ministry of reconciliation, committed unto the apostles, namely, that God was, in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses; nor did they acknowledge the restitution of all things, testified by all God's holy prophets, ever since the world began. To these doctrines I supposed clergymen in this, as well as in the country I had left, united in their opposition; and, convinced that there were no enemies in the world more powerful than the clergy, 1 trembled at the thought of steinming the full tide of their displeasure. I was persuaded that people in general, being under the dominion of the clergy, would hate where they hated, and report what they reported. Acquainted in some measure with human nature, and with divine revelation, I was certain that if I appeared in the character of a real disciple of Christ Jesus; if I dared to declare the whole truth of God, all manner of evil would be said of me; and, although it might be falsely said, while the inventor of the slander would be conscious of its falsehood, the majority of those who heard would yield it credit, and I should become the victim of their credulity.

I knew how Mr. Relly had suffered in England, and the Apostles in Judea; and being a believer in the testimony of God, I was assured, if my doctrines were the same, my treatment would be similar. All this rose to my view, and the prospect was tremendous. Thus I passed the right, and the ensuing morning witnessed my indisposition both of body and mind. My good friend renewed his solicitations. Will you, sir, speak to me and to my neighbors of the things which belong to our peace?' Seeing only thick woods, the tavern across the field excepted, I requested to know what he meant by neighbors? O sir, we assemble a large congregation whenever the meeting-house is opened; indeed, when my father first settled here, he was obliged to go twenty miles to grind a bushel of corn; but there are now more than seven hundred inhabitants within that distance.' I was amazed; indeed everything I saw, and everything I heard, amazed me; nothing, except the religion of the people, resembled what I had left behind.

My mind continued subjected to the most torturing reflections. I could not bring myself to yield to the entreaties of Mr. Potter, and still I urged the necessity of departing, the moment the wind would answer. Mr. Potter was positive the wind would not change untii I had spoken to the people. Most ardently did I desire to escape the importunities of this good man. The idea of a crowd, making a public exhibition of myself, was, to my desolate, wo-worn mind, intolerable; and the suspense, in which I was held, was perfectly agonizing. I could not forbear acknowledging an un

[ocr errors]

common coincidence of circumstances. The hopes and fears of this honest man, so long in operation, yet he evinced great warmth of disposition, and was evidently tinctured with enthusiasm; but, after making every allowance for these propensities, it could not be denied, that an over-ruling Power seemed to operate, in an unusual and remarkable manner. I could not forbear looking back upon the mistakes, made during our passage, even to the coming in to this particular iniet, where no vessel, of the size of the brigHand-inHand,' had ever before entered; every circumstance contributed to bring me to this house. Mr. Potter's address on seeing me; his assurance, that he knew I was on board the vessel, when he saw her at a distance; all these considerations pressed with powerful conviction on my mind, and I was ready to say, If God Almighty has, in his providence, so ordered events, as to bring me into this country for the purpose of making manifest the savour of his name, and of bringing many to the knowledge of the truth; though. I would infinitely prefer death, to entering into a character, which will subject me to what is infinitely worse than death; yet, as the issues of life and death are not under my direction, am I not bound to submit to the dispensations of providence? I wished, however, to be convinced, that it was the will of God, that I should step forth in a character, which would be considered as obnoxious, as truly detestable. I was fully convinced, it was not by the will of the flesh, nor by the will of the world, nor by the will of the god of this world; all these were strongly opposed thereto. One moment, I felt my resolution give way; the path, pointed out, seemed to brighten upon me: but the next, the difficulties, from within and without, obscured the prospect, aud I relapsed into a firm resolution to shelter myself, in solitude, from the hopes, and fears, and the various contentions of men.

While I thus balanced, the Sabbath advanced. I had ventured to implore the God, who had sometimes condescended to indulge individuals with tokens of his approbation, graciously to indulge me, upon this important occasion; and that, if it were his will, that I should obtain the desire of my soul, by passing through life in a private character. If it were not his will, that I should engage as a preacher of the ministry of reconciliation, he would vouchsafe to grant me such a wind, as might bear me from this shore, before the return of another Sabbath. I determined to take the changing of the wind for an answer; and, had the wind changed, it would have borne on its wings full conviction, because it would have corresponded with my wishes. But the wind changed not, and Saturday morning arrived. Well,' said my anxious friend, 'now let me give notice to my neighbors.' No, sir, not yet; should the wind change in the middle of the afternoon, I must depart. No tongue can tell, nor heart conceive, how much I suffered this afternoon; but the evening come on, and it was necessary I should determine; and at last, with much fear and trembling, I yielded a reluctant consent. Mr. Potter then immediately dispatched his servants, on

6

[ocr errors]

horseback, to spread the intelligence far and wide, and they were to continue their information, until ten in the evening.

"

I had no rest through the night. What should I say, or how address the people? Yet I recollected the admonition of our Lord: Take no thought, what you shall say; it shall be given you, in that same hour, what you shall say.' Ay, but this promise was made to his disciples. Well, by this, I shall know if I am a disciple. If God, in his providence, is committing to ine a dispensation of the gospel, He will furnish me with matter, without my thought or care. If this thing be not of God, He will desert me, and this shall be another sign; on this, then, I rested. Sunday morning succeeded; my host was in transports. I was-I cannot describe how I was. I entered the house; it was neat and convenient, expressive of the character of the builder. There were no pews; the pulpit was rather in the Quaker mode; the seats were constructed with backs, roomy, and even elegant. I said there were no pews; there was one large square pew, just before the pulpit; in this sat the venerable man and his family, particular friends, and visiting strangers. In this pew sat, upon this occasion, this happy man, and, surely, no man, upon this side of heaven was ever more completely happy. He looked up to the pulpit with eyes sparkling with pleasure; it appeared to him, as the fulfilment of a promise long deferred; and he reflected, with abundant consolation, on the strong faith, which he had cherished, while his associates would tauntingly question, Well, Potter, where is this minister, who is to be sent to you?" He is coming along, in God's own good time.' 'And do you still believe any such preacher will visit you?' 'O yes, assuredly.' He reflected upon all this, and tears of transport filled his eyes; he looked round upon the people, and every feature seemed to say, 'There, what think you now?' When I returned to his house, he caught me in his arms, 'Now, now, I am willng to depart; Oh, my God! I will praise thee; thou hast granted me my desire. After this truth I have been seeking, but I have never found it, until now; I knew, that God, who put it into my heart to build a house for his worship, would send a servant of his own to proclaim his own gospel. I knew he would; 1 knew the time was coine, when I saw the vessel grounded; I knew you were the man, when I saw you approach iny door, and my heart leaped for joy.' Visitors poured into the house; he took each by the hand. This is the happiest day of my life,' said the transported man: There, neighbors, there is the minister God promised to send me; how do you like God's minister; I ran from the company, and prostrating myself before the throne of grace, besought my God to take me, and do with me whatever he pleased. I am, said I, I am, O Lord God, in thine hand, as clay in the hand of the potter. If thou, in thy providence, hast brought me into this new world to make known unto this people the grace and the blessings of the new covenant; if thou hast thought proper, by making choice of so weak an instrument, to confound the wise; if

6

thou hast peen pleased to show to a babe, possessing neither wisdom nor prudence, what thou hast hid from the wise and prudent, —be it so, O Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight. But, O my merciful God! leave me not, I beseech thee, for a single moment; for without thee, 1 can do nothing.. O, make thy strength perfect in my weakness, that the world may see that thine is the power, and that, therefore, thine ought to be the glory. Thus my heart prayed, while supplicating tears bedewed my face.

I felt, however, relieved and tranquillized, for I had power given me to trust in the Lord; to stay upon the god of my salvation. Immediately upon my return to the company, my boatmen entered the house: The wind is fair, sir.'* Well, then, we will depart. It is late in the afternoon, but no matter, I will einbark directly; I have been determined to embrace the first opportunity, well knowing the suspense the captain must be in, and the pain attendant thereon. Accordingly, as soon as matters could be adjusted, I set off; but not till my old friend, taking me by the hand, said: 'You are now going to New York; I am afraid you will, when there, forget the man, to whom your Master sent you. But I do beseech you, come back to me again as soon as possible."

The tears gushed into his eyes, and, regarding me with a look, indicative of the strongest affection, he threw his arms around me, repeating his importunities, that I would not unnecessarily delay my return. I was greatly affected, reiterating the strongest assurances that I would conform to his wishes. Why should I not? said I; what is there to prevent me? I do not know an individual in New York; no one knows me; what should induce me to tarry there? 'Ah, my friend,' said he, 'you will find many in New York, who will love and admire you, and they will wish to detain you in that city. But you have promised you will return, and I am sure you will perform your promise; and in the mean time, may the God of heaven be with you.' Unable to reply, I hurried from his door; and on entering the vessel, I found the good old man had generously attended, to what had made no part of my care, by ma

*The Rev. A. C. Thomas, of Philadelphia, in an account published by him of a visit to this place in the fall of 1832, indulges in the following reflections:- Were all these circumstances the result of chance? No. The confidence of Potter that the vessel he saw enter the Inlet containing the minister of whose coming, in due season, he had not the shadow of doubt-his solemn conviction that Murray was the man, and that the wind would not change until the message from God was delivered-these things, considered in connexion with the result, firmly persuade me that the directing hand of Divine Providence is visible in the whole train of events. Let others believe differently, if they canI cannot.'

To this Mr. Thomas adds :-'I must not forget to mention, that several aged persons with whom I conversed, remembered having heard the circumstances related by Murray in his 'Life'-but time was rapT. W. idly defacing the impression.'

« ПредишнаНапред »