Page images

66 But

of, “ Well done, thou good and faithful servant ;enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

As for the vain judgments of men they are not to be regarded." For they kuo not the thoughts of the Lord neither understand they his counsel.” the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die ; and their departure is taken for misery. And their going from us to be utter destruction ; but they are in peace. For though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is thcre hope full of immortality. And having been a little ckastised, they shall be greatly rewarded; for God proved them, and found them worthy for himself.

As gold in the furnace hath he tried them; and hath received them as a burnt-offering. And in the time of their visitation, they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble. They shall judge the nations, and have dominion orer the people, and their Lord shall reign for ever. They that put their trust in him shall understand the truth ; and such as be faithful in love shall abide with him ; for grace and mercy is to his saints, and he hath care for his elect" “ But though the righteous be prevented with death, yet shall he be in rest."

I am apt to think therefore, that this minister was one of uncommon faith and love, and as he believed God, so he loved mankind, and wished thein to know the amazing riches of their Redeemer's love towards them; and when he had opeply delivered this testiinony, be was called to his rest.

Indeed if the enemies of this doctrine had been true propheis, I should have died and gone to hell long ago; for no sooner was it known I had embraced it, but some gave out that I would not live a year; but I have already lived eleven. One of my old friends desired me to take particular notice of what lie said, which he expressed in these words, “ Mind

In six months froin this time, you will turn Deist, and deny all revealed religion ; and

what I tell you.

in twelve months you will turn Atheist. deny the being of God, and abandon yourself to all kinds of open wickedness” Blessed be God, this has also proved false. And they generally seemed to agree to prophesy certain damnation to me whenever I should depart out of this world. But I trust this is equally false, " For I know whom I have believed, (or trusted) and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

But to return to my narrative :

Sometime after I returned back to Southcarolina, a Physician with whom I had been acquainted in Virginia, came to live in the parish where I was minister; and among his books I found the Everlasting Gospel, by Paul Siegvolk ; this was the second copy that had fell in my way, and I read a little more therein, but as yet had not the least thought that ever I should embrace his sentiments ; yet some of his arguments appeared very conclusive, and I could not wholly shake them off, but I concluded to let them alone, and net investigate the matter; and therefore I never gave the book even so mueh as one cursory reading, till with great difficulty I procured one in the city of Philadelphia, more than two years afterwards.

In the year 1779, I found myself much stirred up to exhort my fellow creatures to repent, believe, and obey the Gospel, and began to adopt a more open and general method of preaching than I had used for some years before ; having been deemed one of the most consistent Calvinists upon the continent, much upon the plan of Dr Gill, whom I esteemed almost as an oracle. But now my heart being opened, and viewing the worth of souls, I felt great compassion towards them, and invited them with all my might to fly for mercy to the arms of Christ, who died for them, and who was willing to save them. I was gradually led into this way of preaching, without considering any thing about its consistency with strict Calvinism, but finding myself ever happy and comfortable in my

own mind, and that this method of preaching wag highly useful, I continued to go in the same course.

About this time I began to find uncommon desires for the conversation and salvation of the poor negroes, who were very numerous in that part of the country ; but whom none of my predecessors, that I could learn, had ever taken pains to instruct in the principles of Christianity ; neither had any single slave, either man, or woman been baptized until that summer in the whole parish (which was very large) that I ever heard of.

The prejudices which the slaves had against Christianity ; on account of the severities practised upon them by professing Christians, both ministers and people, might be one principal reason why they could not be brought to attend to religious instruction. But they had no prejudice against me on the score, as I never had any thing to do with slavery, but on the contrary condemned it; and this being pretty generally known, operated so upon the minds of those poor creatures, that they shewed a disposition to attend my ministry, more than they had ever shewed to any other. But still I never had addressed them in particular, and indeed hardly any hopes of doing them good. But one evening seeing a number of them at the door of the house, where I was preaching. I found myself constrained as it were, to go to the door, and tell them, That Jesus Christ loved them, and died for them, as well as for us white people, and that they might come and believe in him and wel. come. And I gave them as warm and pressing an inpitation as I could, to comply with the glorious gospel. This short discourse addressed immediately to them, took greater effect than can well be imagined. There were about thirty from one plantation in the neighborhood present ; (besides others) these returned home, and did not even give sleep to their eyes, as they afterwards informed me, until they had settled every quarrel among themselves, and according to their form of marriage, bad married every

man to the woman with whom he lived; had restored whatever one had unjustly taken from another; and determined from that time to seek the Lord diligently. From that very evening they began copstantly to pray to the Lord, and so continued ; and he was found of them. I continued to inst: uct thein, and within three months from the first of June, I baptized more than thirty blacks belonging to that plantation, besides as many others, as in the whole made up one hundred, of which sixty-three were men, and thirtyseven were women, all which were born in Africa, or immediately descended from such as were natives of that unhappy country.

My preaching was not only useful to the poor slaves, but also to great numbers of the white people, of whom I baptized upon profession of repentance and faith in Christ, about one hundred and thirty-nine persons within the same space. This was a summer of great success, and I shall remember that happy season with pleasure while I live. Tbis summer I received some farther dawnings of the day of the general Restoration in my mind, for upon considering several Scriptures, such as these, “ He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied ; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant jastify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” Isai. Ii, 11. “ After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands”. Rev. vii. 9. I became fully persuaded that. the number of the finally saved would equal if not exceed the number of the lost. And I was so forcibly impressed with this new and very joyful discovery, that I not only conversed in that strain privately, but Loldly preached it in the congregation, which generally consisted of nearly a thousand persons upon Sun, days. Some of the people to whom I had mentioned something respecting the sentiment, thought that I was going at once lo declare myself in favor of the


Restoration. But that was as yet far from being the case ; though some of the arguments which I had glanced upon in that book, the Everlasting Gospel, would frequently present themselves to my mind in such a forcible manner that I could starcely withstand their evidence.

In the month of September I left Southcarolina, on a visit to my friends in Newengland, intending how. ever to return to my people again ;' but to prevent their being left destitute, I procured the Rev. Mr. Botsford to come and supply them, upon this condi. tion, that whenever I should return, he should resign the congregation to me again, if I required it. But he has remained the constant Pastor ever since. ' I theri travelled slowly through the continent, preached to the people, and conversing with my friends, to whom sometimes in private I proposed some of the arguments in favor of the general Restoration, which I had read in the Everlasting Gospel, on purpose to see what answers they could give ; and this I did especially to able Ministers : but to my surprise often found them quite at a stand, not knowing what to say. And some were almost ovērpowered with even the weak manper in which I was capable of holding forth the arguments in favor of the Restoration.--And, oftentiines the answers that some of the greatest men gave, were such as tended to increase my doubts respectiog endless misery, rather than to remove then. I remember once, that I asked the Rev. Mr. Manning, President of Rhode island College, and who was at that time one of my dearest friends, what was the strongest argument that he could use in favor of the doctrine of endless misery? He answered, That it was the nature of God to lay the greatest possible restraint upon sin, and therefore he had threatened it with endless punishment, as the highest restraint he could possibly lay

This argument is answered in the third dialogue. Thus after much seeking I could find no satisfaction in matter ; but still my doubts increasod. Notwithstanding, I withstood the doctrine of the

"pon it.

« PreviousContinue »