Page images
PDF
EPUB

the greatest difficulties at first; they put upon the Lord; I grew vain and trifling in forth in a storm, and are often beaten back; my conversation ; and though my heart at length their voyage proves favourable, smote me often, yet my armour was gone, and they enter the port with a Tanescopie, a and I declined fast; and by the time I rich and abundant entrance. Some are hard arrived at Guinea, I seemed to have forbeset with cruisers and enemies, and obliged gotten all the Lord's mercies, and my own to fight their way through; others meet with engagements, and was (profaneness exceptlittle remarkable in their passage. Is it not ed) almost as bad as before. The enemy thus in the spiritual life? All true believers prepared a train of temptations, and I bewalk by the same rule, and mind the same came his easy prey; and, for about a month, things. The word of God is their compass; he lulled me asleep in a course of evil, of Jesus is both their polar star and their sun which, a few months before, I could not have of righteousness; their hearts and faces are supposed myself any longer capable. How all set Sion-ward. Thus far they are as one much propriety is there in the apostle's adbody, animated by one spirit; yet their ex. vice, “Take heed lest any of you be harderperience, formed upon these common princi-ed through the deceitfulness of sin.” 0, ples, is far from being uniform. The Lord, in who can be sufficiently upon their guard ! his first call, and his following dispensations, Sin first deceives, and then it hardens. I has a regard to the situation, temper, and was now fast bound in chains; I had little talents of each, and to the particular services desire, and no power at all to recover myself. or trials he has appointed them for. Though I could not but at times reflect how it was all are exercised at times, yet some pass with me: but, if I attempted to struggle through the voyage of life much more with it, it was in vain. I was just like Samsinoothly than others. But he “ who walk- son, when he said, “I will go forth and shake eth upon the wings of the wind, and mea- myself as at other times;" but the Lord was sures the waters in the hollow of his hand,” departed, and he found himself helpless in will not suffer any of whom he has taken the hands of his enemies. By the rememcharge, to perish in the storms, though, for brance of this interval, the Lord has often a season, perhaps, many of them are ready instructed me since, what a poor creature I to give up all hopes.

am in myself, incapable of standing a single We must not, therefore, make the experi- | hour without continual fresh supplies of ence of others, in all respects, a rule to our strength and grace from the fountain head. selves, nor our own, a rule to others; yet, At length the Lord, whose mercies are inthese are common mistakes, and productive finite, interposed in my behalf. My business of many more. As to myself, every part of in this voyage, while upon the coast, was to my case has been extraordinary. I have sail from place to place in the long-boat to hardly met a single instance resembling it. purchase slaves. The ship was at Sierra Few, very few, have been recovered from Leone, and I then at the Plantanes, the scene such a dreadful state ; and the few that have of my former captivity, where every thing I. been thus favoured, have generally passed saw might seem to remind me of my ingratithrough the most severe convictions; and tude. I was in easy circumstances, courted after the Lord has given them peace, their by those who formerly despised me. The future lives have been usually more zealous, lime trees I had planted were grown tall, and bright, and exemplary, than common. Now, promised fruit the following year; against as on the one hand, my convictions were which time I had expectations of returning very moderate, and far below what might with a ship of my own. But none of these have been expected from the dreadful review things affected me, till, as I have said, the I had to make; so, on the other, my first be- Lord again interposed to save me. He ginnings in a religious course were as faint visited me with a violent fever, which broke as can be well imagined. I never knew the fatal chain, and once more brought me that season alluded to, Jer. ii. 2. Rev. ii. 4. to myself. But, О what a prospect! I thought usually called the time of the first love. myself now summoned away. My past danWho would not expect to hear, that, after gers and deliverances, my earnest prayers such a wonderful unhoped-for deliverance, in the time of trouble, my solemn vows beas I had received, and, after my eyes were fore the Lord at his table, and my ungrateful in some measure enlightened to see things returns for all his goodness were all present aright, I should immediately cleave to the to my mind at once. Then I began to wish Lord and his ways, with full purpose of heart, that the Lord had suffered me to sink into and consult no more with flesh and blood! the ocean, when I first besought his mercy. But, alas! it was far otherwise with me: I For a little while I concluded the door of had learned to pray ; I set some value upon hope to be quite shut; but this continued not the word of God, and was no longer a liber- long. Weak, and almost delirious, I arose tine; but my soul still cleaved to the dust. from my bed, and crept to a retired part Soon after 'my departure from II of the island ; and here I found a renewed began to intermit, and grow slack in waiting liberty to pray. I durst make no more

resolves, but cast myself before the Lord, to do | boats in the same time were cut off; several with me as he should please. I do not re- white men poisoned, and, in my own boat, member that any particular text, or remark- I buried six or seven people with fevers. able discovery, was presented to my mind; When going on shore, or returning from it, but in general I was enabled to hope and in their little canoes, I have been more than believe in a crucified Saviour. The burden once or twice overset by the violence of the was removed froin my conscience, and not surf, or break of the sea, and brought to land only my peace, but my health was restored; half dead (for I could not swim.) An account I cannot say instantaneously, but I recovered of such escapes as I still remember, would from that hour; and so fast, that when I re- swell to several sheets, and many more I have turned to the ship, two days afterwards, I perhaps forgot; Ishall only select one instance, was perfectly well before I got on board. as a specimen of that wonderful providence And from that time, I trust, I have been de- which watched over me for good, and which, livered from the power and dominion of sin; I doubt not, you will think worthy of notice. though, as to the effects and conflicts of sin When our trade was finished, and we were dwelling in me, I still“ groan, being burden- near sailing to the West Indies, the only reed." I now began again to wait upon the maining service I had to perform in the boat, Lord; and thouyh I have often grieved his was to assist in bringing the wood and water Spirit, and foolishly wandered from him from the shore. We were then at Rio Cessince, (when, alas! shall I be more wise ?) tors. I used to go into the river in the afteryet his powerful grace has hitherto preserv- noon, with the sea breeze, procure my loaded me from such black declensions as this I ing in the evening, and return on board in :have last recorded; and I humbly. trust in the morning, with the land wind. Several his mercy and promises, that he will be my of these little voyages I had made; but the guide and guard to the end.

boat was grown old, and almost unfit for use. My leisure hours in this voyage were This service likewise was almost completed. chiefly employed in learning the Latin lan- One day having dined on board, I was preguage, which I had now entirely forgot. This paring to return to the river, as formerly; I desire took place from an imitation I had had taken leave of the captain, received his seen of one of Horace's odes in a magazine. orders, was ready in the boat, and just goI began the attempt under the greatest dis- ing to put off, as we term it; that is, to let advantages possible; for I pitched upon a go our ropes and sail from the ship. In that poet, perhaps the most difficult of the poets, instant, the captain came up from the cabin, even Horace himself, for my first book. I and called me on board again. I went, exhad picked up an old English translation of pecting further orders; but he said he had him, which, with Castalio's Latin Bible, were taken it in his head” (as he phrased it,) all my helps. I forgot a Dictionary; but I that I should remain that day in the ship, would not therefore give up my purpose. I and accordingly ordered another man to go had the edition in usum Delphini, and by in my room. I was surprised at this, as the comparing the Odes with the interpretation, boat had never been sent away without me and tracing the words, I could understand before; and asked him the reason. He could froin one place to another, by the index, with give me no reason, but as above, that so he the assistance I could get from the Latin would have it. Accordingly, the boat went Bible; in this way, by dint of hard industry, without me, but returned no more. She sunk often waking when I might have slept, I that night in the river, and the person who made some progress before I returned, and had supplied my place was drowned. I was not only understood the sense and meaning much struck when we received news of of many Odes, and some of the Epistles, the event the next morning. The captain but began to relish the beauties of the com- himself, though quite a stranger to religion, position, and acquire a spice of what Mr. so far as to deny a particular providence, Law calls classical enthusiasm. And, indeed, could not help being affected; but he deby this means, I had Horace more ad un- clared, that he had no other reason for counguem than some who are masters of the Latin termanding me at that time, but that it tongue; for my helps were so few, that I ge- came suddenly into his mind to detain me. nerally had the passage fixed in my memory, I wonder I omitted it in my ejght letters, as before I could fully understand its meaning. I have always thought it one of the most ex

My business in the long-boat, during the traordinary circumstances of my life. I am, eight months we were upon the coast, ex- dear sir, your humble servant. posed me to innumerable dangers and perils, January 21, 1763. from burning suns, and chilling dews, winds, rains, and thunder-storms, in the open boat; and on shore, from long journeys through the woods, and the temper of the natives, who

LETTER XI. are, in many places, cruel, treacherous, and DEAR SIR,—A few days after I was thus 'vatching opportunities for mischief. Several | wonderfully saved from an unforeseen danger,

we sailed for Antigua, and from thence pro- done; yet, through the over-ruling goodness ceeded to Charleston, in South Carolina." In of God, while I seemed abandoned to myself, this place there are many serious people; and blindly following my own passions, I but I knew not how to find them out. "In- was guided, by a hand that I knew not, to deed, I was not aware of a difference; but the accomplishment of niy wishes. Every supposed that all who attended public wor- obstacle was now removed. I had renounced ship were good christians. I was as much my former follies, my interest was establishin the dark about preaching, not doubting but ed, and friends on all sides consenting, the whatever came from the pulpit must be very point was now entirely between ourselves, good. I had two or three opportunities of and after what had passed, was easily conhearing a dissenting minister, named Smith, cluded. Accordingly, our hands were joined wiro, by what I have known since, I believe on the first of February 1750. to have been an excellent and powerful The satisfaction I have found in this union, preacher of the gospel; and there was some- you will suppose, has been greatly heightenthing in his manner that struck me; but Ied by reflections on the former disagreeable did not rightly understand him. The best contrasts I had passed through, and the words that men can speak are ineffectual, views I have had of the singular mercy and till explained and applied by the Spirit of providence of the Lord in bringing it to pass. God, who alone can open the heart

. It If you please to look back to the beginning pleased the Lord for some time, that I should of my sixth letter, I doubt not but you will learn no more than what he enabled me to allow that few persons have known more, collect from my own experience and reflec- either of the misery or happiness, of which tion. My conduct was now very inconsist- human life (as considered in itself) is capaent. Alinost every day, when business would ble. How easily, at a time of life when I permit, I used to retire into the woods and was so little capable of judging (but a few fields (for these, when at hand, have always months more than seventeen,) might my afbeen my favourite oratories;) and I trust I fections have been fixed where they could began to taste the sweets of communion with have met with no return, or where success God, in the exercises of prayer and praise, would have been the heaviest disappointment. and yet I frequently spent the evening in The long delay I met with was likewise a vain and worthless company. Indeed, my mercy; for, had I succeeded a year or two relish for worldly diversions was much sooner, before the Lord was pleased to change weakened, and I was rather a spectator than my heart, we must have been mutually una sharer in their pleasures; but I did not as happy, even as to the present life. Surely yet see the necessity of an absolute forbear- goodness and mercy have followed me all ance. Yet, as my compliance with custom my days. and company was chiefly owing to want of But alas! I soon began to feel that my light, rather than to an obstinate attachment, heart was still hard and ungrateful to the and the Lord was pleased to preserve me God of my life. This crowning mercy, from what I knew was sinful, I had, for the which raised me to all I could ask or wish most part, peace of conscience, and my in a temporal view, and which ought to have strongest desires were towards the things of been an animating motive to obedience and God. As yet I knew not the force of that praise, had a contrary effect. I rested in precept, “ Abstain from all appearance of the gift, and forgot the giver. My poor narevil,” but very often ventured upon the brink row beart was satisfied. A cold and careof temptation; but the Lord was gracious to less frame, as to spiritual things, took place, iny weakness, and would not sufler the ene- and gained ground daily. Happy for me, my to prevail a rainst me. I did not break the season was advancing, and in June I rewith the world at once (as might, in my ceived orders to repair to I.

This case, have been expected,) but I was gradu- roused me from my dream. I need not tell ally led to see the inconvenience and folly you, that I found the pains of absence and of one thing after another, and, when I saw separation fully proportioned to my precedit, the Lord strengthened me to give it up. ing pleasure. It was hard, very hard, to part, But it was some years before I was set quite especially as conscience interfered, and sugat liberty from occasional compliance in gested to me how little I deserved that we many things in which, at this time, I dare by should be spared to meet again. But the Lord no means allow myself.

supported me. I was a poor faint idolatrous We finished our voyage, and arrived in creature; but I had now some acquaintance L- When the ship's affairs were set- with the way of access to a throne of grace, tled, I went to London, and from thence (as by the blood of Jesus, and peace was soon you may suppose) I soon repaired to kent. restored to my conscience. Yet, through all More than seven years were now elapsed the following voyave, my irregular and exsince my first visit. No views of the kind cessive ailections were as thorns in my eyes, could seem more chimerical, or could subsist and often made my other blessings tasteless under great discouragements, than mine had and insipid. But He, who doth all things

well, over-ruled this likewise for good. It couraged; here and there I found a few lines became an occasion of quickening me in quite obstinate, and was forced to break in prayer, both for her and myself; it increased upon my rule, and gave them up, especially my indifference for company and amusement; as my edition had only the text, without any it habituated me to a kind of voluntary self- notes to assist me. But there were not denial, which' I was afterwards taught to many such; for, before the close of that voy, improve to a better purpose.

age, I could (with a few exceptions) read While I remained in England, we corres- Livy from end to end, almost as readily as ponded every post; and all the while I used an English author. And I found, in surthe sea afterwards, I constantly kept up the mounting this difficulty, I had surmounted practice of writing two or three times a week all in one. Other prose authors, when they (if weather and business permitted, though came in my way, cost me little trouble. In no conveyance homeward offered for six or short, in the space of two or three voyages, eight months together. My packets were I became tolerably acquainted with the best usually heavy; and as not one of them at classics (I put all I have to say upon this any time miscarried, I have to the amount subject together;) I read Terence, Virgil

, of nearly two hundred sheets of paper now and several pieces of Cicero, and the modern lying in my bureau of that correspondence. classics, Buchanan, Erasmus, and Cassimir

. I mention this little relief I had contrived to At length I conceived a design of becoming soften the intervals of absence, because it Ciceronian myself, and thought it would be had a good effect beyond my first intention. a fine thing indeed to write pure and elegant It habituated me to think and write upon a Latin. I made some essays towards it

, but great variety of subjects; and I acquired, in- by this time, the Lord was pleased to draw sensibly, a greater readiness of expressing me nearer to himself, and to give me a fuller myself, than I should have otherwise attain view of the "pearl of great price,” the ed. As I gained more ground in religious inestimable treasure hid in the field of the knowledge, my letters became more serious, holy scriptures; and, for the sake of this, I and, at times, I still find an advantage in was made willing to part with all my newly looking them over, especially as they remind acquired riches. I began to think that life me of many providential incidents, and the was too short (especially my life) to admit state of my mind at different periods in these of leisure for such elaborate trifling. Neither voyages, which would otherwise have esca- poet nor historian could tell me a word of ped my memory.

Jesus, and I therefore applied myself to those I sailed from L in Angust 1750, who could. The classics were at first recommander of a good ship. I have no very strained to one morning in the week, and at extraordinary events to recount from this length quite laid aside. I have not looked period, and shall, therefore, contract my me into Livy these five years, and I suppose moirs, lest I become tedious; yet I am will. I could not well understand him. Some ing to give you a brief sketch of my history passages in Horace and Virgil I still admire, down to 1755, the year of my settlement in but they seldom come in any way. I prefer my present situation. I had now the con- Buchanan's Psalms to a whole shelf of Elzemand and care of thirty persons; I endea- virs. But thus much I have gained, and voured to treat them with humanity, and to more than this I am not solicitous about, so set them a good example. I likewise es- much of the Latin as enables me to read any tablished public worship, according to the useful or curious book that is published in liturgy, twice every Lord's day, officiating that language. About the same time, and myself. Farther than this I did not proceed, for the same reason that I quarrelled with while I continued in that employment. Livy, I laid aside the mathematics. I found

Having now much leisure, I prosecuted they not only cost me much time, but enthe study of the Latin with good success. I grossed my thoughts too far: my head was remembered a dictionary this voyage, and literally fill of schemes. I was weary of procured two or three other books; but still cold contemplative truths, which can neither it was my hap to choose the hardest. I ad- warm nor amend the heart, but rather tend ded Juvenal to Horace; and, for prose au- to aggrandize self. I found no traces of this thors, I pitched upon Livy, Cæsar, and Sal- wisdom in the life of Jesus, or the writings lust. You will easily conceive, Sir, that I of Paul. I do not regret that I have had had hard work to begin (where I should some opportunities of knowing the first prinhave left off) with Horace and Livy. I was ciples of these things; but I see much cause not aware of the difference of style; I had to praise the Lord, that he inclined me to heard Livy highly commended, and was re- stop in time; and that whilst I was “spendsolved to understand him. I began with the ing my labour for that which is not bread," first page, and laid down a rule, which I he was pleased to set before me “wine and seldoin departed from, not to proceed to a milk, without money and without price." second period till I understood the first, and My first voyage was fourteen months

I was often at a stand, but seldom dis- I through various scenes of danger and dui.

60 on.

I never

culty, but nothing very remarkable; and as still more so in African voyages, as these I intend to be more particular with regard to ships carry a double proportion of men and offithe second, I shall only say that I was pre- cers to most others, which made my departserved from every harm; and having seen ment very easy; and, excepting the hurry of many fall on my right hand and on my left, trade, &c. upon the coast, which is rather I was brought home in peace, and restored occasional than constant, afforded me abunto where my thoughts had been often direct- dance of leisure. To be at sea in these cired, November 2, 1751.-I am, your's, &c. cumstances, withdrawn out of the reach of January 22, 1763.

innumerable temptations, with opportunity and a turn of mind disposed to observe the wonders of God in the great deep, with the

two noblest objects of sight, the expanded LETTER XII.

heavens, and the expanded ocean, continual

ly in view; and where evident interpositions DEAR SIR,—I almost wish I could recall of Divine Providence, in answer to prayer, my last sheet, and retract my promise. I occur almost every day; these are helps to fear I have engaged too far, and shall prove quicken and confirm the life of faith, which, a mere egotist. What have I more that can in a good measure, supply to a religious sailor deserve your notice? However, it is some the want of those advantages which can be satisfaction that I am now writing to yourself only enjoyed upon the shore. And, indeed, only; and I believe, you will have candour though my knowledge of spiritual things (as w excuse, what nothing but a sense of your knowledge is usually estimated) was, at this kindness could extort from me.

time, very small, yet I sometimes look back Soon after the period where my last closes, with regret upon those scenes. that is, in the interval between my first and knew sweeter or more frequent hours of disecond voyage after my marriage, I began vine communion than in my two last voyages to keep a sort of diary, a practice which I to Guinea, when I was either almost secludhave found of great use. I had, in this in-ed from society on ship-board, or when on terval, repeated proofs of the ingratitude and shore among the natives. I have wandered evil of my heart. A life of ease, in the midst through the woods, reflecting on the singular of my friends, and a full satisfaction of my goodness of the Lord to me, in a place where, wishes, was not favourable to the progress perhaps, there was not a person who knew of grace, and afforded cause of daily humilia- him for some thousand miles round me. tion. Yet, upon the whole, I gained ground. Many a time, upon these occasions, I have I became acquainted with books, which gave restored the beautiful lines of Propertius to me a further view of christian doctrine and the right owner; lines full of blasphemy and experience, particularly Scougal's Life of madness, when addressed to a creature, but God in the Soul of Man, Hervey's Medita- full of comfort and propriety in the mouth tions, and the Life of Colonel Gardiner. As of a believer. to preaching, I heard none but of the common sort, and had hardly an idea of any better; nei Sic ego desertis possim bene vivere sylvis ther had I the advantage of christian acquaint

Quo nulla humano sit via trita pede ;

Tu mihi curarum requies, in nocte velatra ance; I was likewise greatly hindered by a

Lumen, et in solis tu mihi turba loeis. cowardly reserved spirit; I was afraid of being thought precise ; and, though I could not live

PARAPHRASED. without prayer, I durst not propose it, even to In desert woods with thee, my God, my wife, till she herself first put me upon it;

Where human footsteps never trod, so far was I from those expressions of zealand

How happy could I be! love, which seemed so suitable to the case of

Thou my repose from care, my light

Amidst the darkness of the night, one who has had much forgiven. In a few

In solitude my company. months the returning season called me abroad again, and I sailed from L in a new

In the course of this voyage, I was wondership, July 1752.

fully preserved in the midst of many obvious A sea-faring life is necessarily excluded unforeseen dangers. At one time there was from the benefit of public ordinances and a conspiracy a mongst my own people to turn christian communion; but, as I have ob- pirates, and take the ship from me. When served, my loss upon these heads was at this the plot was nearly ripe, and they only time but small. In other respects, I know waited a convenient opportunity, two of those not any calling that seems more favourable, concerned in it were taken ill one day ; one or affords greater advantages to an awaken- of them died, and he was the only person I ed mind, for promoting the life of God in the buried while on board. This suspended the soul, especially to a person who has the com- affair, and opened the way to its discovery, mand of a ship, and thereby has it in his or the consequence might have been fatal. power to restrain gross irregularities in The slaves on board were likewise frequentothers, and to dispose of his own time; and ly plotting insurrections, and were sometimes

« PreviousContinue »