Графични страници
PDF файл

I venture to follow the guidance of the monitor within, I was, alas! but too certain of receiving. A thousand thoughts, like a swarm of insects, buzzed around me, but no thought gave me peace. How exquisite was the torture, which at this moment I suffered. But the approach of evening roused me to a conviction of the necessity of moving: but whither should I go? that was the question. Suppose,' said my invisible monitor, 'you go to the tabernacle?' and, bursting into a flood of tears, I said, Yes, I will present myself among the multitude-yes, I will go; but how shall I meet the eye of any individual who has formerly known me? how dare I stand among the worshippers of that God whom I have so grossly offended? Yet I will go; and, with slow and mournful steps, I walked forward. The congregation had assembled. I entered, taking my stand under the gallery. I dared not raise my eyes; they were bathed in tears. Mr. Whitefield, in his usual energetic manner, addressed his audience; but no sound of consolation reached me. At last he said: 'But there may be, in some corner of this house, a poor, desponding, despairing soul, who, having sinned, greatly sinned against God and against himself, may be afraid to lift toward Heaven his guilty eye; he may, at this moment, be suffering the dreadful consequences of his wandering from the sources of true happiness; and possibly he may apprehend he shall never be permitted to return! If there be any one of this description present, I have to inform such individual that God is stili his loving Father; that He says, Returu unto me, my poor backsliding child, and I will heal your backslidings and love you freely. What message shall I return my Master from you, my poor, afflicted, wandering, weeping brother? shall I say, you are suitably penetrated by his gracious invitation, and that you would come with weeping and supplication; that you would fly with gratitude and prostrate yourself before Him, were you not so much injured by your wanderings; that you feel you are not able, and that you should blush to ask his assistance? Is this your message? poor, poor soul! never fear, your gracious Father will shortly send you every needful aid.' All this was said to me; at least, to my wondering spirit, it thus appeared; and I seemed as if expiring, amid the mingling emotions of regret, apprehension, and hope.

I left the tabernacle under these potent impressions; and, crossing Moorfields, I was overtaken by one of my old religious connexions, who, regarding me with wonder, said, 'Am I so happy as to see you, one of the many who were at the tabernacle this evening?? My reply was indicative of the sorrow of my heart. He proceeded to make many remarks, until, in the moment of separation, he said, Well, my friend, perhaps, you will go, from hence, into company where you will forget all that you have this evening heard.' My heart was very full; and from its abundance I said, No, never will I again mingle in circles calculated to efface impressions, which I will cherish to the latest hour of my existence. Let these tears, these fast-falling tears, evince my sincerity. My friend rejoiced in


the prospect of my returning to the path, from which I had wan dered; but he rejoiced with fear and trembling. He knew my connexions were numerous, and that my vivacity rendered me the life of those convivial circles, where I had so long figured. But the grace of God upheld me, and never, from that moment, did I unite with those associates, from which I was at first separated by necessity.

I was now an insulated being. I carefully avoided my former companions, and my religious connexions avoided me; thus I had now abundant leisure for reflection. Some time elapsed, before the change, which had taken place, reached the extremity of those circles, in which I had moved. Many who heard, lent no credence to a report, which they believed without foundation. The greater number of those laughter-loving beings, who had attached themselves to me, never having imbibed any religious sentiments, had not learned the habits of my former life. Many individuals called upon me as usual, and found me a different man from him whom they had been accustomed to see. A few suspecting the cause, sought to relieve my mind, by warm and liberal assurances of neverfailing friendshp; and they generously tendered the unlimited use of their purses! I made my acknowledgments; but assured them, the whole world, as a bribe, would be insufficient to lead me again into paths of folly. I was not, I said, unhappy because I no longer possessed ability to run the career of error, certainly not; my infelicity originated, from the consideration, that I had ever receded from the paths of peace. Some resented my remarks as a tacit insult upon themselves; others ridiculed me, and pronounced me under the influence of a strong delirium; and two or three, who still loved me too well to separate themselves from me, were, for a time, induced to reflect seriously upon their own situation: but these also, shortly disappeared; and of the numerous triflers, with whom I had so many months fluttered, not a single loiterer remained; and most devoutly did I render thanks to Almighty God, for extricating me from such associates. I boarded in the house of a very lively, vi vacious man; indeed, his whole family might have been denominated sons and daughters of mirth. This fact had been their principal recommendation to me, but it now added to the burden of my mind. I made inquiry after another lodging, but, on contemplating a removal, difficulties, to which I had not before recurred, stared me in the face. I was considerably in arrears to my host, and, as I must depart in a different state of mind, from that which I was in, when I became his lodger, and which had impressed him in my favor, I could not expect he would be very kindly disposed toward me. I was indebted to others, and my distresses seemed hourly to accumulate. Both present and future support were alike beyond any reach, and it appeared to me, I had attained the climax of misery. I closed my door, I prostrated myself before the God who had created me; again my sad, my sorrowing heart, revisited the home I had abandoned; stripped of its allurements, my mad


passions for travelling appeared in its native deformity; agonizing dread overtook me, and iny terrified imagination pointed out and anticipated a thousand horrors. Many devices were suggested to my forlorn mind, and death itself was presented as my last resort. But starting from an idea so impious, Let me, I exclaimed, at least avoid plunging into irremediable perdition. Thus I spent the day, and in the evening I attended the tabernacle. I considered myself, while there, as the most destitute individual in the whole assembly. I generally occupied a remote corner, my arms were folded, my eyes cast down, and my tears flowing; indeed, my eyes were seldom dry, and my heart was always full; for, at this period of my life, I rarely tasted any thing like consolation. Coming out of the tabernacle, one evening, a serious young man thus accosted me: 'Cheer up, thou weeping, sorrowing soul-be of good cheer, thy God will save thee.' I caught his hand; God bless you, my dear sir, whoever you are! but you do not know to whom you are speaking. Oh yes, I am speaking to a sinner, like myself.' No, no, I returned, the wide world does not contain so great a sinner, as myself; for, in the face of an education, calculated to eradicate every evil propensity; and of precepts, and examples, drawn from our most holy religion, which ought to have rendered me a uniform servant of the Most High; I have mingled in circles, consisting of the idle, the dissipated, and the profane; I have run the career of folly, and the anguish of my soul is a consequence of my manifold offences. The kind-hearted young man, strove to pour into my wounds the oil and wine of consolation. We walked together, quite through Moorfields; at his request, I promised to meet him at the tabernacle the ensuing evening, and I was greatly impatient for the appointed time. Passing Moorfields, agreeably to my engagements, I beheld a large congregation assembled to hear one of Mr. Wesley's preachers: I tarried until I saw the preacher mount the stage, but what where my emotions, when I recognised him of whom I was so fond, in the house of Mr. Little, and who first introduced me as a public speaker. I hastily withdrew from the place, terrified, lest his eye should meet mine; but my soul was tortured by the comparison of what I was, when I first saw him, with my present situation. I was this evening much affected; indeed, it was impossible for any child of sorrow to attend upon Mr. Whitefield, without feelings of the most impressive nature. I looked around for my companion of the past evening, but I saw him not; and I was pained by the disappointment. On my departing from the tabernacle, however, he again took my hand, assuring me, he was glad to see me, and repeating a verse of a hymn: We shall not always make our moan,' &c. which hymn, I had often sang, and of which I was very fond. I melted into tears; this man appeared to me as an angel of God, and most devoutly did I bless the Father of my spirit, for sending me such a comforter. I was in haste to unbosom myself to him, to make him acquainted with the extent of my errors; but this was a subject, upon which he did not seem in haste

to hear me. He, however, urged me to draw consolation from the promises of our God, which he pronounced all yea, and amen, in the Redeemer: He also expressed a wish to meet me, at the table of the Lord, upon the following Sunday; for this, my own heart ardently panted, and I engaged, if possible, to obtain a ticket of admittance. My concern for my very reprehensible aberrations, as they aff my spiritual interest, so completely occupied my mind that I had little leisure for reflection upon my pecuniary embarrassments, yet my circumstances were truly deplorable. I was in debt, without the means of making payment, nor had I any prospect of future support. 1 disdained to ask charity, and the business, of which I obtained a superficial knowledge in Ireland, was not encouraged in London. The friend, whom I first saw at the tabernacle, had continued a vigilant observer of iny conduct; he had frequently visited me, and my eyes convinced him I was no longer the gay, inconsiderate wanderer, but truly a man of sorrow. Compassionating my sufferings, he invited me to his pleasant home, and, in a voice of friendship, requested I would pour into his bosom all my griefs. I did so, and his resolution was instantly taken. To my great consolation, he engaged to procure me, immediately another lodging, to make my present landlord easy, and to procure for me, if I was willing, the means of future support; and this, without rendering me dependent, except upon my own regular efforts, and the Being who had called me into existence. Let the feeling heart judge of the indescribable transports which this conversation originated in my soul. Gratitude swelled in my bosom; I experienced all its sweet enthusiasm; and hardly could I control my impatience for the execution of a plan in every view so desirable. The lodging was immediately obtained; it was at the house of an old lady, in Bishopgate's street, where was appropriated solely to my use, a ncat and well-furnished apartment.

The succeeding morning, this benevolent gentleman attended me to my late lodging, when inquiring the amount of my debt, I was answered, 'Not a penny.' I stood amazed. 'No,' said my goodnatured host, ‘not a penny. But pray what is the matter, where have you been, where are you going? O! dear, O! dear, these abominable Methodists have spoiled as clever a fellow, as ever broke bread; I suppose you think we are not good enough for you, and so you wish to leave us.' I was greatly affected. Excuse me, sir; I do not believe myself a whit better than you; but, sir, I am afraid of myself. Ah! you have no occasion: I am sorry you are going, upon my soul I am. You ought to stay and convert me.' Ah! sir, it is God, who must convert both you and me. We shed tears at parting; but our tears flowed from a different source. He wept, that he should no more be amused with the whim and frolic of a gay young man; I, that I had ever sojourned in his house. I was, however, suitably impressed by his kindness, although our intercourse from this moment entirely ceased. The following week, I obtained a situation, as one of the aids to an inspector of a broad

cloth manufactory; I was glad tɔ obtain employment at any rate. Yet it is a fact, I was never designed for a man of business. Nor was I fully satisfied with my associates; they were not in my way, and they, therefore, made me a subject of ridicule; this, to weak minds, is perhaps a species of persecution, of all others the most difficult to endure. I certainly suffered much from it; but, if I could obtain no satisfaction with them, I had the more, whenever I left them, which was upon the evening of every day, and the whole of Sunday. I was delighted by the consideration, that I was living by my own exertions, and in a way to discharge debts which were a heavy burden upon my mind. I lived frugally, retrenching every superfluity, and uniformly denying myself all, but the absolute necessaries of life; and I had very soon the felicity of knowing that I had no longer a creditor. This complete exoneration was followed by a newly revived and ecstatic hope, of being again admitted to my Father's house, from which, I once feared, I was eternally excluded: And I deemed myself happy, beyond expression happy, upon comparing myself with those, among whom I was compelled to live; who were posting, without concern, in what I deemed the road to ruin, from which I had, by divine favor, been mercifully drawn; my bosom swelled with the most delightful sensations, while I frequently exclaimed, Lord, why me? Why take me, and leave these poor, unfortunate beings to perish in a state of sin and misery? But such was the sovereign will and pleasure of my God; he would have mercy, on whom he would have mercy, and whom he would he hardened. Sometimes, indeed, my soul was sick with doubt and apprehension. When engaged in the work of self-examination, one evil propensity after another, which I had believed dead, seemed to revive in my bosom: I feared that my faith was all fancy; and that the hope which I encouraged, was the hope of the hypocrite, which would be as the giving up of the ghost. Upon these occasions, I experienced unutterable auguish, and my days and nights were, with very little intermission, devoted to sorrow. The distress, I so evidently suffered, endeared me to my religious connexions; every one of whom endeavored to administer consolation, encouraging me to cherish hope, from the consideration of my despair! My life was now more active than it had ever been, and my connexions more numerous. I was much occupied by business, yet my hours of devotion were sacred; I rose at four o'clock, in summer and winter. My meals consumed but a small portion of time. The moments, thus passed by others, were, by me, devoted to private prayer. My evenings were passed at the tabernacle, and when Mr. Whitefield preached, my soul was transported. I returned home exceedingly refreshed, and prostrating myself at the footstool of my Maker, I acknowledged with gratitude the tender mercies of my Redeemer, who had graciously separated me from those, who were murdering their time, and their precious souls; and my thanksgivings were reiterated to that God, who had mercifully rescued me from enormities so prodigious. Thus rolled

« ПредишнаНапред »