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For FEBRUARY 1796. ఉదయం 0 7-+90047444
The Experience of Mr. John BOYLE. I WAS born at Whitehaven in Cumberland, in the year 1768. I My father was a native of Scotland, and had been brought up in the fear of the Lord, as far back as I can remember, I frea quently observed, that when he came into the house he took up the Bible, and after reading awhile he began to weep and fall down upon his knees. The religious deportment of my father inclined me to believe, that there were a Being, though to me invisible, who made all things, who superintended all things, who took notice of the actions of mankind, and who would, at some certain period, reward or punish them according to their works. My mojher being a native of the Isle of Man, I was sent to that Illand when about fix years of age, to live with my grandfather. This removal affected me greatly, as I saw none but strange faces, most of whom spoke a language which I did not understand; which for some time induced me to look upon myself as in a state of banishment, and 'caused me to turn my attention to the things of Eternity. Soon after I was sent to school, and became acquainted with my neighbours and their lana guage ; but in proportion as I increased in knowledge; my religi. ous impressions lessened, and I lost my desires for heaven and happiness. Nevertheless at times, I was greatly alarmed when I heard of the death of any person, and prayed that I might not die till I returned home to my father in England, to be instructed in the way to Heaven. : D
About this time the Methodist Preachers visited the Ifle of Man and preached to the people, which occasioned much conversation about them and their doctrine. My grandfather being prejudiced against them, affirmed that they were the false prophets mentioned in the scriptures; and as he was one of the heads of the parish, his declaration was the more regarded; and although I was but a child, yet I imbibed an aversion to the Methodists, which was removed by hearing a dispute one day between my grandfather and some of the most illiterate persons of our parish, who had lately embraced the Methodist principles; they defended their doctrine with such strong proofs from the Bible, that my grandfather was confounded, and not able to anfwer them. From that time I began to entertain favourable sentiments of the Metho. Vol. XIX. Feb. 1796.
dists, and thought they were in the right way to Heaven; notwith standing this conviction faftened upon my mind, yet I rebelled against it to such a degree, that whenever I went to hear them, I did all the mischief in my power.
When I was fourteen years old, I returned to Whitehaven ; my father was then a widower, and had lost all his seriousness, It was now time for me to learn some business, and accordingly I went to a cabinet-maker and house joiner. But I was now as great a stranger to my native place, as though I had never seen it before, and being unacquainied with the people, I bad time for reflection, and began to entertain serious thoughts about death and eternity. But as I had no religious friend to instruet me in the way which I was desirous of walking in, and being ignorant of the things belonging to my peace, I soon became truly miserable. I stayed about a year with my master, and then resolved to con tinue with him no longer, because I imagined that the unhappiness of my mind was occafioned by a dislike to my bufiness. · From Whitehaven I went to Maryport, being determined to be a hip-wright. But here I found no relief; my inward uneasi. ness incieafed more and more, tillat length I thought that strangling was better than such a life of wretchedness. It was on a Thurfday when I got to Maryport; I soon found a master, who set me to work next day, but on Saturday I left him, and returned to Whitehaven. I was now in such confusion of mind, that I knew not what to do; but at length resolved to go to sea, hoping to find happiness upon that element. But here my situation was worse than ever, for scarce any thing was to be heard or seen but extreme wickedness. Sometimes I asked the failors, “ Do you ever pray ? ” “ Pray! (said they) Our prayers and swearing are just the same! for when we pray, we think of no good; and when we swear, we think of no harm!" I was soon weary of a sea-faring life, and resolved to quit it, as soon as Providence should open a way for ine. After being fix months at sea, I went to the Isle of Man, and from thence to Liverpool, where I got employment with a person reputed to be a Methodist.
Thé distress of my soul still continued, and notwithftanding the burden of fin was intolerable, yet I never had the courage to open my mind to any person. The man with whom I worked, who was reported to be a Methodist, I soon discovered, had no real religion, but was just like the rest of the world; and as it was not till some time after, that I learned, he did not belong to the Methodist fociety, I supposed that all the Methodifts in Liver. pool were like him; and as the salvation of my soul was now my only concern, I returned to the Isle of Man, intending to join the Methodists there, because I knew them to be a holy people. . After being in the lfland fome time, I went to work with two men belonging to the society, They soon observed that I had some good impreffions, and spoke freely to me; and I presently learned from their conversation, that they enjoyed the Blessing
which I greatly longed to obtain, namely, the peace and love of God, accompanied with a consciousness that the Lord had for. given all their lins, I now attended the preaching constantly, till at last one of the men invited me to a class-meeting, and desired me to call next Sunday at his house. Accordingly I went about the time appointed, but he was gone to the meeting, and I return. ed home in great distress, and began to read and pray. Next day I acquainted my other companion with the disappointment I had met with, and he directed me to call upon him the ensuing Sunday; which I did accordingly, but was again too late. How ever, after a sharp consliet with myself, I took courage and .went to the house where the class met: although I did not know the nature of the meeting, yet I fuppofed they assembled together for religious exercises. After being some time in the room, one of them gave out a hymn, and prayed ; and then they spoke of the dealings of the Lord with their fouls. I heard their conversation with astonishment, and my conscience bore witnefs to the Truth. It seemed to me, that they were all going in the way that leads to happiness and heaven, while I was in the utmost danger of finking into Hell. My ánguish of mind was so great that I wept aloud, and yet I grieved because I could not grieve enough for my sins.
When the meeting concluded, one of the brethren encouraged me to continue seeking the Lord, and that I was not far from the kingdom, if I persevered in the way of repentance. For some time, the only thing I could pray for was, that I might fee and feel my fins : the Lord answered me in this matter, and gave me such a discovery of them that I despaired of obtaining mercy, ann! even feared that the day of Grace was past, and that I was guilty of the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost. My affliction did not arise so much from the terrors of hell, but because I had sinned against the Lord, and could not conceive how it was possible for a juft and holy God to forgive me, since he had said in his Word, “ That the wages of sin is death.” Some of my friends exhorted me to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and all would be well; but this embarrassed me more than ever, because I had no clear ideas of the nature and method of believing with the heart unto righteousness. I did believe, with all my heart; that I was a guilty, hell-deserving (inner; but I could not believe that my sins were forgiven ; because I felt the guilt and burden of thein upon my conscience ; and I was altogether at a loss, how to be lieve on Christ in fuch a manner as to obtain through him the pardon of all my transgressions. But in the midst of all my per. plexities and temptations, I still continued to call on the Name of the Lord..
I continued in the Island a few months, and then went to Liverpool again, where I diligently attended the preaching and prayer-meelings, but durft not meet in class, because I looked upon myself as too vile and worthless a sinner. For some time I