« ПредишнаНапред »
king ample provision, both for me and the boatien, during our little voyage.
I retired to the cabin; I had leisure for serious reflections, and serious reflections crowded upon me. I was astonished, I was lost in wonder, in love and praise: I saw, as evidently as I could see any object visibly exhibited before me, that the good hand of God was in all these things. It is, I spontaneously exclaimed, it is the Lord's doings, and it is marvellous in my eyes. It appeared to me, that I could trace the hand of God, in bringing me, through a long chain of events, to such a place, to such a person, so evidently prepared for my reception; and, while I acknowledged the will of God, manifested respecting my public character, I at the same moinent distinguished the kindness of God evinced by his indulging me with a retirement so exactly suited to my wishes. The house was neat, the situation enchanting, it was on the margin of the deep, on the side of an extensive bay, which abounded with fish of every description, and a great variety of water-fowl. On the other side of this dwelling, after passing over a few fields, (which at that time stood thick with corn,) venerable woods, that seemed the coevals of time, presented a 'scene for contemplation fit, towering, majestic, and filling the devotional mind with a religious awe.' I reflected, therefore, with augmenting gratitude to my heavenly Father, upon the pressing invitation, he had put into the heart of his faithful ser vant to give me; and I determined to hasten back to this delightful retreat, where nothing, but the grandeur of simple nature, exhibited in the surrounding objects, and the genuine operations of the divine spirit on the heart of the hospitable master, awaited my approach.*
Cranberry Inlet,' says Mr. Thomas, in the account before referred to,' was situated about 60 miles east of Philadelphia. I say was—for it was entirely filled up with sand many years ago, and the beach is now as high at that place as at any other in the vicinity, though not so wide. 'I visited the house in which Potter lived and died. It is situated less than half a mile east of Good Luck. An addition has been built to it, and the appearance of the whole exterior is changed, but the interior remains as it was in the days of Potter.-It is a plain, substantial building. I have been invited to make it my home when next I visit the neighborhood.
The meeting-house stands in the edge of a beautiful wood. exterior presents an aged appearance; but the interior, constructed of the best cedar, manifests no signs of decay. The large square pew,' (of which Murray speaks) long occupied by Potter and his family, was removed about a year ago, and plain benches substituted. The pulpit has been somewhat cut down at either end. In other respects the building remains in its original state. It was left by will to John Murray, for the use of all denominations. By the mismanagement of the executor, it became necessary to sell a part of the estate, to pay certain demands against it—of the injustice of which, however, the heirs enter. tained no doubt. In disposing of the property contiguous to Good
I had not the least idea of tarrying in New-York a moment longer, than to see the captain, deliver up my charge, and receive my baggage, and I resolved to return, by the first opportunity, to my benevolent friend. And thus did I make up my mind: Well, if it be so, I am grateful to God, that the business is thus adjusted. If I must be a promulgator of these glad, these vast, yet obnoxious tidings, I shall however be sheltered in the bosom of friendship, in the bosom of retirement. I will employ myself on the grounds of my friend, thus earning my own support, and health will be a concomitant; while I will preach the glad tidings of salvation, free as the light of heaven. The business, thus arranged, I became reconciled to the will of the Almighty, and I commenced, with tolerable composure, another, and very important, stage of my various life.
Record continued from the September of 1770 to the winter of 1774.
'Armed with the sword of Jesse's youthful son,
Motto by a Friend.
BEHOLD me now entering upon a new stage of the journey of life, a professed preacher of the gospel. Of my inability for an undertaking so vast, I retained a continued and depressing sense; but I determined to be as consistent and as useful as possible; I would be an assistant to my new friend in his agricultural and fishing employments; and, upon every returning Sunday I would preach to him the truth as it is in Jesus. I had not the most remote idea of
Luck, no reservation of the meeting-house was made in the deed. It was subsequently purchased by the Methodist society, who have it now in possession. Should they hereafter evince an exclusive spirit in relation to its occupancy, their title may justly be called in question.
'Thomas Potter died nearly forty years ago. His grave, at the east end of the meeting-house, was pointed out to me by one of the oldest inhabitants in the neighborhood. Owing to inattention and the sandy nature of the soil, it was long ago levelled with the adjacent ground. It was enclosed soon after his burial-but the fence was broken down some twenty years ago-and two posts and a rail, very much decayed, are all that remain. The oak of which Murray speaks, ('Sketches,' vol, i. p. 336) no longer exists. I have obtained permission to re-inclose the grave, and erect a tomb-stone to his memory.' T. W.
ever preaching anywhere but in the house which he had built; and thus I should questionless be indulged with the retirement which had been the prime object of my voyage. Thus consolatory were my reflections upon my passage to New York; at which place I arrived about noon, upon the ensuing day. I inquired for the captain, delivered up my charge, took my baggage from the brig Handin-hand, and secured a lodging, until I could obtain a passage back to the hospitable mansion I had left. But the day had not closed in before a number of persons visited me, earnestly soliciting me to speak to them of the things of the kingdom! I was immeasurably astonished; totally a stranger in the city, I could scarcely believe 1 was not in a dreain. The boatman, however, having given an account of me on their arrival, the intelligence was wafted from one end of the city unto the other; and the people being anxious to hear something new, and from a new preacher, became extremely importunate. I could not deny that I had preached ; but I gave the solicitors to understand that I had absolutely engaged to return by the first opportunity, and that of course I was not at liberty to comply wit eir request. They promised they would insure ine a speedy and eligible conveyance, if I would consent to give them a discourse in the Baptist meeting-house; and it became impossible to resist their persuasions. The house was thronged, and the hearers so well satisfied, as to solicit, most earnestly, my continuance among them. But this I was not disposed to do; this I could not do; my word, my honor was engaged to my first American friend; and, when duty is seconded by inclination, perseverance becomes a matter of course. Upwards of a week elapsed, before the earnestly sought-for passage presented, during which period I frequently preached, and to crowded houses. I was gratified by the marked attention of many characters. Novelty is rarely destitute of attraction. Even the minister extended to me the hand of apparent friendship; which I accounted for upon a supposition, that he was ignorant of my testi:nony. I made use of the saine scriptures, which he made use of; and he was not apprized, that I yielded them unqualified credence. I had no doubt, that, so soon as he should be informed, that I believed what I delivered, he would condemn, as much as he now appeared to approve. Yet some few there were, firm, unchanging friends, whose attachment to me, and my testimouy, has to this moment continued unbroken. So soon as an opportunity to return presented, I very cheerfully embraced it; and I felt my heart bound with pleasure, at the thought of that meeting, which a few days before, I would have died to avoid. The charming retreat, in the gift of my friend, was, in my estimation, highly preferable to New York, and all which it could bestow: and I longed most earnestly to quit the one, and to return to the other. A number of friends accompanied me to the vessel, and we parted, with expressions of regret. A single day produced me again in the abode of genuine, Christian friendship; to which I was welcomed with every demonstration of heart-felt joy.
Here, then, I considered I had found a permanent home; that a final period was at length put to my wanderings; and after all my apprehensive dread, from being drawn into the public character, now, that I had a prospect of sustaining this public character, in so private a manner, I was not only reconciled, but tranquillized, and happy. I had leisure to retrospect my past life, and I was filled with astonishment when I beheld all the various paths, which I had trod, ultimately leading me to a uniform contemplation of redeeming love; nor could I forbear exclaiming, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty! just and true are thy ways, O thou King of saints!
The winter now approached, and with hasty strides; my worthy friend was diligently gathering in the fruits of the earth. I was disposed to aid him, to the utmost of my abilities. He could not bear the thought of my laboring in the field. Why need you? have you not enough to engage your attention, in the business on which you are sent?' Believe me, my friend, my employment, in your field, will not interrupt my reflections. I can study better in the field, than in my chamber; it requires but little study to deliver simple, plain, gospel truth; to pervert_this_truth, requires a vast deal of worldly wisdom. Let me, my dear Sir, do as I please; I have fixed upon a plan, with which you shall be acquainted, when the labors of the day are closed. In the evening, when the cheerful fire blazed upon the hearth, and we were seated in the well-lighted parlor: Come,' said the good man, now for your plan.' I think, my dear sir, said I, I am at length convinced, that God in his providence has thought proper to appoint me, however unworthy, to the ministry of the New Testament; and while persuaded that our comnion Father has committed a dispensation of the gospel to me, and that a wo is pronounced against me, if I preach it not, it will be impossible I should remain silent: but knowing, as I do, something of the nature of man, and of the situation of preachers, in general, I am, for myself determined not to make a gain of godliness; I will make no provision for myself. I have abundance of clothing; and as to food, I will eat of whatever is set before me, asking no questions, either for the sake of conscience, or appetite; and for my drink, nothing is so salutary for me, as cold water. I am persuaded, I shall not live long in this world; at least, I hope I shall not. I am alone in the world; I shall want but little here, nor want that little long.' I reject, then, with my whole soul, I reject, the liberal offer, you so recently made me, of a fixed stipend. I will have no salary, I will have no collections, I will preach the gospel, freely. I will work in your fields, I will eat at your table, I will slake my thirst at the limpid stream which furnishes your family; but you shall make no change in the order of your house, on my account. I will associate with your associates. I expect to meet them, at the table of my great Lord and Master, in mansions beyond the grave; and shall I hesitate to meet them, upon equal
terms, in this lower world? I am pleased with your situation; with your house of worship; with your neighbors; with everything I am pleased; and if that God, who brought me hither, will graciously vouchsafe to indulge me with the privilege of tarrying here, until I am liberated from this body of sin and death, I shall be still better pleased.
The good old man could no longer suppress his feelings. He arose from his seat, caught me in his arms, essayed to speak, paused, and at length exclaimed, 'O my God, is it possible? Why such, I have thought ministers of Jesus Christ ought to be.' But, my friend, I replied, every minister of Jesus Christ cannot live, as I can. I have no family, no home, no want. If I had a family, I should be worse than an infidel, not to make provisions for my household; but God, by separating me from my beloved companion, and my cherub boy, has enabled me to preach the gospel, freely. I never saw any man so delighted, and especially with my determination to continue with him. Dear, kind-hearted man, both he, and I, then believed, that death only could separate us. In a place, so remote from the world, I imagined I should enjoy, uninterruptedly, every wish of iny heart; and again and again I felicitated myself in the prospect of finishing my weary life in this sweet, this calm retreat, unincumbered by care,-conferring, as well as receiving, benefits,-nobly independent,-pos. sessing all which the treacherous world could now bestow. Thus I went on,-pleased, and pleasing. I had leisure for converse with myself, with my Bible, and my God. The letters of my Eliza were a source of mournfully pensive consolation,-they were multiplied,—and I had carefully preserved them. Many a time have I shed over them the private, the midnight tear; and reading them thus late, when I had fallen into a sweet slumber, I have met the lovely author in my dreams, and our meeting has been replete with consolation, with such high intercourse, as can only be realized in heaven. Our Sundays were indeed blessed holy days; people began to throng from all quarters on horseback; some from the distance of twenty miles. I was at first pleased with this; so was my patron; but multiplied invitations to visit other places, saddened our spirits. I dreaded the thought of departing from home, and, in the fulness of my heart, I determined I would never accede to any request, which should bear me from a seclusion, so completely commensurate with my wishes. Alas! alas! how little do we know of ourselves, or our destination. Solicitations, earnest solicitations, poured in from the Jersies, from Philadelphia, and from New York; and it became impossible to withstand their repeated and imposing energy.
*Thomas Potter died not far from the year 1790. The feelings of Mr. Murray, in visiting this retreat after the death of that highly benevolent individual, and his account of the character of his friend, may be found in a note in the seventh chapter of this work. T. W.