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The Author becomes a happy husband, a happy father. He embraces 'the truth as it is in Jesus;' and from this, and other combining causes, he is involved in great difficulties. Death deprives him of his wedded friend, and of his infant son, and he is overtaken by a series of calamities.
Hail! wedded love! connubial friendship hail!
After six tedious months, from the morning of my Eliza's de parture from the mansion of her grandfather, had completed their tardy round, yielding to my unremitted importunities, she consented to accompany me to the altar. We were attended by William and his lady, with our dear Mrs. Allen; and I received, from the hands of our very dear brother, an inestimable treasure, which constituted me, in my own estimation, the happiest of human beings. As I had no house prepared, I gratefully accepted the kindness of this beloved brother, who invited us to tarry with him, until we could accommodate ourselves; and, if I except one unhappy misunderstanding, which took place soon after our marriage, no wedded pair were ever blessed with more unbroken felicity. The disagreement, to which I advert, would not have continued so long, but for the instigations of our brother Willian, who insisted upon my supporting what he called my dignity, which, as he said, could only be maintained by the submission of my wife. The quarrel, like the quarrels of most married people, originated in a mere trifle; but the question was, who should make the first conciliatory advances. For two days we did not exchange a single word!! William still imposingly urging me, never to surrender my prerogative! At length, unable to endure such a state of wretchedness, I told William, I would not live another hour in such a situation; he only ridiculed me for my folly, and bid me take the consequence. I, however, entered the chamber of my wife, and, extending my hand, most affectionately said: My soul's best treasure, let us no longer continue this state of mournful estrangement! for the world I would not thus live another day. Why, my love, our sorrows will arise, from a thousand sources; let us not render each other miserable. The dear girl burst into tears, and throwing her faithful arins around me, sobbed upon my bosom, with difficulty articulating, 'O! my precious friend, you have, as you always will have, the superiority. God for ever bless my faithful, my condescending husband.' From this moment we bade adieu to dissension of every description, successfully cultivating that harmony of disposition and augmenting confidence, which cannot fail of insuring domestic
felicity. We soon removed to a house of our own, and there, as I believe, enjoyed as much of happiness, as ever fell to the lot of humanity. Yet, although thus satisfied with each other, there were sources of inquietude, which created us some distress. I had heard much of Mr. Relly; he was a conscientious and zealous preacher, in the city of London. He had, through many revolving years, continued fathful to the ministry committed to him, and he was the theme of every religious sect. He appeared, as he was represented to me, highly erroneous; and my indignation against him, as has already been seen, was very strong. I had frequently been solicited to hear him, merely that I might be an ear witness of what was termed his blasphemies; but, I arrogantly said, I would not be a murderer of time. Thus I passed on for a number of years, hearing all manner of evil said of Mr. Relly, and believing all I heard, while every day augmented the inveterate hatred, which I bore the man, and his adherents.* When a worshipping brother, or sister, belonging to the communion, which I considered as honored by the approbation of Deity, was, by this deceiver, drawn from the paths of rectitude, the anguish of my spirit was indescribable; and I was ready to say, the secular arm ought to interpose to prevent the perdition of souls. I recollect one instance in particular which pierced me to the soul. A young lady, of irreproachable life, remarkable for piety, and highly respected by the tabernacle congregation and church, of which I was a devout member, had been ensnared; to my great astonishment, she had been induced to hear, and having heard, she had embraced the pernicious errors of this detestable babbler; she was become a believer, a firm, and unwavering believer of universal redemption! Horrible! most horrible! So high an opinion was entertained of my talents, having myself been a teacher among the Methodists, and such was my standing in Mr. Whitefield's church, that I was deemed adequate to reclaiming this wanderer, and I was strongly urged to the pursuit. The poor, deluded young woman was abundantly worthy our most arduous efforts. He, that converteth the sinner from the error of his
* In a letter addressed to Mr. Relly by Mr. Murray, long after he had removed to this country, he says: Often do I retrace, and with great astonishment, the time when I was filled with pious wrath against you, when I was immeasurably delighted to learn that my friend Mason had written in opposition to you. True, I had never seen your publications, but you had written them, and that was sufficient: nay, I was persuaded it would have been doing both God and man service to have killed you, and joyfully should I have held the clothes of any who had stoned you to death. How truly wonderful is the power and goodness of that God, who has made choice of such a person to spread that very testimony contained in the volumes you have written, contained in the volume of the Bible, through so many towns, cities and provinces; and with fervency of spirit and great devotion, to advocate that very gospel which before he persecuted. Truly it is the Lord's doings, and it is marvellous in my eyes.'-Letters and Sketches, ii. 212.
way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. Thus I thought, thus I said; and, swelled with a high idea of my wn importance, I went, accompanied by two or three of my Christian brethren, to see, to converse with, and if need were, to admonish this simple, weak, but, as we heretofore believed, meritorious female. Fully persuaded, that I could easily convince her of her errors, I entertained no doubt respecting the result of my undertaking. The young lady received us with much kindness and condescension, while, as I glanced my eye upon her fine countenance, beaming with intelligence, mingling pity and contempt grew in my bosom. After the first ceremonies, we sat for some time silent; at length I drew up a heavy sigh, and uttered a pathetic sentiment, relative to the deplorable condition of those, who live, and die in unbelief; and I concluded a violent declamation, by pronouncing, with great earnestness, He, that believeth not, shall be damned.
'And pray sir,' said the young lady, with great sweetness, 'Pray, sir, what is the unbeliever damned for not believing?'
What is he damned for not believing? Why, is he damned for not believing.
'But, my dear sir I asked what was that, which he did not believe, for which he was damned?'
Why, for not believing in Jesus Christ, to be sure.
'Do you mean to say, that unbelievers are damned, for not believing there was such a person as Jesus Christ?'
No, I do not; a man may believe there was such a person, and yet be damned.
'What then, sir, must he believe, in order to avoid damnation? Why he must believe that Jesus Christ is a complete Saviour. 'Well, suppose he were to believe, that Jesus Christ was the complete Saviour of others, would this belief save him?'
No, he must believe, that Christ Jesus is his complete Saviour; every individual must believe for himself, that Jesus Christ is his complete Saviour.
Why, sir, is Jesus Christ the Saviour of any unbelievers ? '
"Why, then, should any unbeliever believe, that Jesus Christ is his Saviour, if he be not his Saviour?'
I say he is not the Saviour of any one, until he believes.
'Then, if Jesus be not the Saviour of the unbeliever, until he believes, the unbeliever is called upon to believe a lie. It appears to me, sir, that Jesus is the complete Saviour of unbelievers; and that unbelievers are called upon to believe the truth; and that, by believing they are saved, in their own apprehension, saved from all those dreadful fears, which are consequent upon a state of conscious condemnation.'
No madam; you are dreadfully, I trust not fatally, misled. Jesus never was, never will be, the Saviour of any unbeliever.
'Do you think Jesus is your Saviour, sir ?'
I hope he is.
Were you always a believer, sir?' No, inadam.
'Then you were once an unbeliever; that is, you once believed, that Jesus Christ was not your Saviour. Now, as you say, he never was, nor never will be, the Saviour of any unbeliever; as you were once an unbeliever, he never can be your Saviour.'
He never was my Saviour till I believed.
'Did he never die for you, till you believed, sir?'
Here I was extremely embarrassed, and most devoutly wished myself out of her habitation; I sighed bitterly, expressed deep commiseration for those souls, who had nothing but head-knowledge ; drew out my watch, discovered it was late; and, recollecting an engagement, observed it was time to take leave.
I was extremely mortified: the young lady observed my confusion, but was too generous to pursue her triumph. I arose to depart; the company arose; she urged us to tarry; addressed each of us in the language of kindness. Her countenance seemed to wear a resemblance of the heaven which she contemplated; it was stamped by benignity; and when we bade her adieu, she enriched us by her good wishes.
I suspected that my religious brethren saw she had the advantage of me; and I felt that her remarks were indeed unanswerable. My pride was hurt, and I determined to ascertain the exact sentiments of my associates, respecting this interview. Poor soul, said I, she is far gone in error. True, said they; but she is, notwithstanding, a very sensible woman. Ay, ay, thought I, they have assuredly discovered, that she had proved too mighty for me. Yes, said I, she has a great deal of head knowledge; but yet she may be a lost, damned soul. I hope not, returned one of my friends; she is a very good young woman. I saw, and it was with extreme chagrin, that the result of this visit had depreciated me in the opinion of my companions. But I could only censure and condemn, solemnly observing, It was better not to converse with any of those apostates, and it would be judicious never to associate with them upon any occasion. From this period, I myself carefully avoided every Universalist, and most cordially did I hate them. My ear was open to the public calumniator, to the secret whisperer, and I yielded credence to every scandalous report, however improbable. My informers were good people; I had no doubt of their veracity; and I believed it would be difficult to paint Relly, and his connexions, in colors too black. How severely has the law of retaliation been since exercised in the stabs, which have been aimed at my own reputation! Relly was described, as a man black with crimes; an atrocious offender, both in principle and practice. He had, it was said, abused and deserted an amiable wife; and, it was added, that he retained in his house an abandoned woman; and that he not only thus conducted himself, but, publicly, and most nefariously, taught his hearers to dare the laws of their country, and their
God. Hence, said my informers, the dissipated and unprincipled, of every class, flock to his church; his congregation is astonishingly large, the carriages of the great, block up the street, in which his meeting-house stands, and he is the idol of the voluptuous of every description. All this, and much more was said, industriously propagated, and credited in every religious circle. Denominations, at variance with each other, most cordially agreed in thus thinking, and thus speaking of Relly, of his preaching, and of his practice. I confess I felt a strong inclination to see, and hear this monster, once at least; but the risk was dreadful! I could not gather courage to hazard the steadfastness of my faith; and for many years I persevered in my resolution, on no consideration to contaminate my ear by the sound of his voice. At length, however, I was prevailed upon to enter his church; but I detested the sight of him; and my mind, prejudiced by the reports to which I had listened respecting him, was too completely filled with a recollection of his fancied atrocities, to permit a candid attention to his subject, or his mode of investigation. I wondered much at his impudence, in daring to speak in the name of God; and I felt ured, that he was treasuring up unto himself wrath against the day of wrath. I looked upon this deluded audience with alternate pity and contempt, and I thanked God, that I was not one of them. I rejoiced, when I escaped from the house, and, as I passed home, I exclaimed, almost audibly: Why, O my God, was I not left in this deplorable, damnable state? given up, like this poor, unfortunate people, to believe a lie, to the utter perversion of my soul? But I was thus furnished with another proof of my election, in consequence of my not being deceived by this detestable deceiver; and, of course, my consolation was great.
About this time, there was a religious society established in Cannon-street, in an independent meeting-house, for the purpose of elucidating difficult passages of scripture. This society chose for their president a Mr. Mason, who, although not a clerical gentleman, was, nevertheless, of high standing in the religious world: frequent applications were made to him, in the character of a physician to the sinking, sorrowing, sin-sick soul. His figure was commanding, and well calculated to fill the minds of young converts with religious awe. When this company of serious inquirers were assembled, the president addressed the throne of grace, in a solemn and appropriate prayer, and the subject for the evening was next proposed. Every member of the society was indulged with the privilege of expressing his sentiments, for the space of five minutes; a glass was upon the table, which ran accurately the given term. The president held in his hand a small ivory hammer: when the speaker's time had expired, he had a right to give him notice by a stroke on the table, round which the members were seated. But, if he approved of what was delivered, it was optional with him to extend the limits of his term. When the question had gone round the table, the president summed up the evidences, gave his own