Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

look with pity on a poor, destitute, helpless being, commencing a journey through a world with which he was unacquainted. I entreated our God, in behalf of my suffering mother, and her helpless orphans, that He would constantly abide with them; and that he would vouchsafe an answer of peace to the many prayers, offered up in their behalf, by the husband and parent, now in glory. My mother was dumb; she saw the hand of God in this business, and she believed, that, as a sparrow falleth not to the ground without our heavenly Father, I could not thus leave my pleasant home, and wander I knew not whither, except the Lord directed. And, embracing me, when on the eve of my departure, she affectingly said; 'Go, my first-born, my ever beloved son; go, and may the God of your father be with you: Go, my darling son, on whom, while coming up from this wilderness, I fondly meant to lean; but God will not allow me to lean on any but himself: Go thou, ever dear to my heart, and may our God be still near you, to preserve you from the evil which is in the world. The prayers of your afflicted mother shall be continually offered up in your behalf; and oh! my son, although we part, never perhaps to meet again in this world, yet let us meet every day before that throne, whence we may expect grace to help in every time of need; let us be present in spirit, thus waiting upon the Lord. She then threw her fond, maternal arms around me, once more pressing me to that dear, that faithful bosom whence I drew my early nourishment. With tears of fond affection she bedewed my face, and again dropping upon her knees she once more lifted her streaming eyes to heaven in my behalf, when, starting up, she hastened to the retirement of her chamber, and instantly closed the door. I stood like a statue; I could not move; I was almost petrified by sorrow. But from this state of stupefaction I was roused by the burst of sorrow, and loud lamentations of my isters. I turned to the dear girls; I wept with them, and endeavored to give them that consolation which I did not inyself possess. But, hastening from this scene of sorrow, there was one pang, whicn I calculated to escape. The youngest child, a beautiful little boy, who bore the name of my father-sweet cherub -I dreaded seeing him, and determined to spare myself this torture; but, as I slowly, and pensively passed from the house, believing that what was worse than the bitterness of death had passed, this lovely little fellow crossed my path. Sweet innocent, thou wert playful as the frisking lamb of the pasture, totally ignorant of the agonies, which wrung the heart of thy brother. He ran to me, clung around my knees, and looking wishfully in my face, affectingly questioned-'Where are you going? I could not reply, I attempted to move on; he took hold of my garment; 'Let me go with you, brother?' He uttered these questions, in a voice so plaintive, that he pierced my very soul. Surely, had it been possible, I should even then have relinquished my purpose. It was with difficulty that I extricated myself from this supplicating infant. I would have hastened forward, but my trembling limbs re

fused their office; I caught him in my arms, I pressed him to my aching bosom, and but for a burst of tears, which came seasonably to my relief, the struggles of my heart must have choked me. I left him-yes, I left this youngest of my father's children, this dear object of my soul's affection, this infant charge, committed to my care, by an expiring father: I left him in the act of innocent supplication. I left him when I should, with a thousand times less of suffering, have quitted the clay-built tabernacle of my spirit; nor had I aught in prospect, to compensate the sorrows to which I voluntarily submitted!! Surely, there is a hand unseen, which governs the human being, and all his actions; I repeat, truly the way of man is not in himself. Few sufferings could surpass those which, upon this occasion, I endured: My bitterest enemy could not have censured me with more severity, than I censured myself; yet I passed on; no friend could urge my return with more energy, than did the emotions of my own afflicted heart; yet I passed on. True, I passed on slowly; a frame, enfeebled by mental agonies, is not moved without difficulty. I had sent my trunk on in the wagon, to the city of Cork, where I purposed to take passage for England; and with my staff in my hand, I passed on, my eyes fixed on the ground, not wishing to encounter any human eye: It was with much difficulty, I attained the summit of a steep acclivity, where, spent and weary, I sat me down. From this lofty eminence, in full perspective outspread before me, was the place from which I had departed; my eye eagerly ran over the whole scene. Upon a gentle ascent, directly opposite, embosomed in a thick grove of ash, sycamore, and fruit trees, appeared the lovely dwelling of my mother. Behind this eminence, still ascending, was outstretched that garden, in which, with great delight, I had so often labored; where I had planted herbs, fruits and flowers, in great variety; and where as my departure was in the month of June, they all flourished in high perfection. It was only during the preceding year, that I had added to my stock a large number of the best fruit trees, in the full expectation of reaping the reward of my labors, through many successive seasons. In those tall trees, the cuckoo, the thrush, and the blackbird built their nests; and at early dawn, and at closing eve, I have hung enraptured upon their melodious notes. My swimming eye passed from the garden to the house; there sat my weeping, my supplicating mother, at that moment, probably, uniting with her deserted children in sending up to heaven petitions for my safety. I turned to the right; there towered the stately mansion, I was bid to consider as my own; there dwelt the matron, who hoped I should have been unto her as a son, and who had cherished me as such; there dwelt the charming young lady, whose virtuous attachment might have constituted the solace of my existence. The tear of sorrow, the sigh of disappointinent, no doubt, bedewed their cheeks, and swelled their faithful bosoms! And, oh! I exclaimed, may the balm of peace, may the consolations of the Holy Spirit, be abundantly shed abroad in your hearts,

As thus, from scene to scene, my eager eye with tearful haste had wandered, my heart reiterated its unutterable agonies; and as I considered my situation as resembling that of the FATHER of mankind, when driven from the paradise, to which state of blessedness it was decreed he never was to return, I would gladly have laid me down and died: I would have given the world, had it been at my disposal, to have reinstated myself in the situation, and circumstances, I had so inconsiderately relinquished; but this was impossible, and this conviction-how terrible! I wept, I sobbed. Despair seemed taking up its residence in my bosom. I fled from the scene; again I turned; one more look; I wrung my hands in agony, and my heart spontaneously exclaimed: Dear, ever dear parent, once more farewell; dear, much loved sisters, brothers, and thou, sweet innocent, thou smiling, thoughtless, and therefore happy babe, once more farewell; and you, dear second parents, and thou sister of the friend of my soul, with the beauteous cherub, whose infantile caresses, while pouring into my ear the interesting tale, were as balin to my wounded spirit-farewell, Oh! farewell forever! and you, ye many kind, religious connexions, with whom I have often wept, and prayed, and joyed, and sorrowed, once more I bid you adieu; adieu ye flowery walks, where I have spent so many happy hours; ye thick embowering shades, reared by these hands, ye health-restoring herbs, ye sweet delicious fruits, ye fragrant flowers, receive my last farewell. Still I lingered-still I gazed around, and yet again, another look-'tis past, and I am gone forever. I turned from the view, and have never since beheld those charming scenes. I wonder much my agitated spirits had not induced a fever; but God preserved me, and leading my mind to the consideration of scenes beyond the present state, I was enabled to proceed, until I beheld, in perspective, the spires of the opulent city, which I was approaching. The opening prospect, with the additional sound of a fine ring of bells from Shannon steeple, a church standing on an eminence upon the river Lee, the bells of which are heard at an immense distance, gave a new tone to my mind. I had many friends in the city of Cork, and I endeavored to derive consolation from their unquestioned attachment. I had frequently preached in this city, and I had reason to suppose my labors had been acceptable. In the city of Cork, my paternal grandmother, with her daughter, my aunt Champion, and her children, still lived. My society would be sought, and I should again be engaged in preaching; these considerations lessened the weight of affliction, by which I had been sorely pressed. I arrived at the mansion of my grandmother some time before sunset, and I was very joyfully received; but when I had communicated my plan, the countenances both of my grandmother and my aunt, decidedly evinced their displeasure; they censured me with severity, and I keenly felt their rebukes. I assured them, I came not to solicit aid; and, rising from my chair, 1 bade them formally adieu, quitting their presence, and their house. The eldest daughter of my aunt, a very

beautiful young lady, and as good as beautiful, whose heart was formed for pity and for tenderness, followed me down stairs, and entreated me to continue with them; but her well-designed interference was ineffectual. I had been severely censured, and I could not bear it; I could have borne it better, if it had been unmerited. I left my lovely cousin in tears, nor did I again see, or hear from any individual of the family, until one evening after I had preached in the Methodist Church, my grandmother advanced, took my hand, and requested I would attend her home. I confess I was delighted with her condescension; for my mind had greatly suffered from the reflection, that I had given pain to the dear and respectable mother of my deceased father. I accompanied her home, and we passed a happy evening together; both my grandmother and my aunt, addressed me in strains the most soothing; they poured into my lacerated mind the oil and wine of consolation; they confessed themselves convinced, that the good hand of God was in my removal. 'You are,' said the pious lady, 'you are, my dear child, under the guidance of an Omnipotent Power; God has designed you for himself; you are a chosen instrument to give light to your fellow men; you are, I perceive, ordained to turn many from darkness unto light, from the power of Satan, unto God, and the Lord will be with you, The God of your father will bless you, and make your way prosperous before you; look no more, then, to what you have left behind, but look forward in faith, always remembering, that God's works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful; preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions. Do not, I say, reflect upon yourself; I confess, I was wrong in censuring you; God's way is in the great deep, we ought to acquiesce in all the dispensations of our Creator. You, my dear son, are as clay in his hand; God is as the potter, who will do with you as seemeth good in his sight. Who can resist his will?' Thus did this dear lady speak peace to a mind, that had not, for a long season, received such strong consolation.

I was urged, while in the city of Cork, to relinquish my purpose of going to England. The Methodists solicited me to repair to Limerick, where a preacher was much wanted; but nothing could seduce my thoughts from my native island. I frequently mixed in company where religious disputes ran very high. The doctrine of election, and final perseverance were severely reprobated: but election, and final perseverance, were fundamentals in my creed, and were received by me as the doctrines of God. Yet I was aware that an attempt to defend principles so obnoxious, would subject me to the censure and ill treatment of religious enemies, and I had experienced, that religious enemies were the most to be dreaded: yet, as I could not be silent, and as I dared not dissemble, I contented myself with observing, that I had been accustomed to hear my respectable father speak in favor of those doctrines. But although, in my public labors, I never asserted aught that could expose me to censure, yet I was more than suspected of Calvinism, and conse

quent resentments were enforced against me. My residence in the city of Cork was thus rendered unpleasant, and my impatience to embark for England was augmented. I was, however, obliged to continue two weeks longer, during which period I endeavored to live as retired as possible, avoiding controversy, and devoting my time to my grandmother and a few select friends. It was during my protracted residence in this city, that the celebrated Mr. George Whitefield arrived there, upon a visit. Of Mr. Whitefield I had heard much, and I was delighted with an opportunity of seeing, hearing, and conversing with so great a man. He was the first Calvinistic Methodist I had ever heard, and he became very dear to me: I listened with transport. The principles early inculcated upon my mind were in full force, and for Mr. Whitefield I conceived a very strong passion. He appeared to me something more than human: I blushed, at the view of myself, as a preacher, after I had attended upon him; yet I had the temerity to preach in pulpits which he had so well filled! and I secretly resolved to enter into connexion with him, if I should be so happy as to meet him, after my arrival in London. I had many delightful opportunities in private circles with this gentleman; he was a most entertaining companion. But, as Mr. Wesley marked him with a jealous eye, he dispatched, by way of escort, two of his preachers, in whom he particularly confided, who diligently followed the great man from place to place he was of course upon every occasion, closely watched; and his facetious observations and frequent gaiety, were, by these spies severely censured, as descriptive of unbecoming levity. In fact, every art was called into action, to prevent the affections of the people wandering from one reformer to another; yet, while gentlemen in connexion with Mr. Wesley, were continually upon the alert against Mr. Whitefield, he himself evinced not the smallest inclination for opposition, or even defence; he appeared perfectly content with the enjoyments of the day, rather preferring a state of independence, to an intimate connexion with any sect or party. His choice, at that time, was decidedly the life of an itinerant, and he then evidently shrunk from the cares and embarrassments attached to the collecting, building, and repairing churches. And never, I believe, did any man in public life enjoy more: he was the admiration of the many, and an object of the warmest affection in those social circles in which it was his felicity to mingle. The pleasures of the table were highly zested by Mr. Whitefield, and it was the pride of his friends to procure for him every possible luxury. The pleasure I derived from this gentleman's preaching, from his society, and from the society of his friends, contributed to lessen the weight of melancholy which depressed my spirits on my departure from home. I recollect an evening passed with him at the house of one of Mr. Wesley's preachers, who had wedded a beautiful young lady of family and fortune, only daughter of a Mrs., who possessed a very large estate, kept her chariot, her city and her country house, and entertained much company. Many persons

« ПредишнаНапред »