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crept to a retired part of the island, and here found a renewed liberty in prayer; daring to make no more resolves, he cast himself upon the Lord, to do with him as he should please. It does not appear that any thing new was presented to his mind, but that, in general, he was enabled to hope and believe in a crucified Saviour.
After this, the burthen was removed from his conscience, and not only his peace, but his health was gradually restored, when he returned to the ship. And though subject to the efforts and conflicts of sin, dwelling in him, he was ever after delivered from the power and dominion of it.
His leisure hours in this voyage were chiefly employed in acquiring Latin, which he had now almost forgotten. This desire took place from an imitation he had seen of one of Horace's Odes in a Magazine. In this attempt at one of the most difficult of the poets, he had no other help than an old English translation, with Castalio's Latin Bible. He had the edition in usum Delphini, and, by comparing the odes with the interpretation, and tracing such words as he understood from place to place by the index, together with what assistance he could get from the Latin Bible, he thus, by dint of hard industry, made some progress. He not only understood the sense of many odes, and some of the epistles, but "I began," says he, "to relish the beauties of the composition ; acquired a spice of what Mr. Law calls, 'classical enthusiasm ;' and, indeed, by this means I had Horace more ad unguem than some who are masters of the Latin tongue; for my helps were so few, that I generally had the passage fixed in my memory before I could fully understand its meaning.'
During the eight months they were employed upon the coast, Mr. N.'s business exposed him to innumerable dangers from burning suns, chilling dews, winds, rains, and thunder storms, in an open boat; and on shore, from long journeys through the woods, and from the natives, who in many places are cruel, treacherous, and watching opportunities for mischief. Several boats, during this time, were cut off, several white men poisoned, and from his own boat he buried six or seven people, with fevers; when going on shore, or returning, he was more than once overset by the violence of the surf, and brought to land half dead, as he could not swim. Among a number of such escapes, which remained upon his memory, the following will mark the singular providence that was over him :
On finishing their trade, and being about to sail to the West Indies, the only service Mr. N. had to perform in the boat, was to assist in bringing the wood and water from the shore. They were then at Rio Cestors. He used to go into the river, in the afternoon, with the sea-breeze, to procure his lading in the evening, in order to return on board in the morning with the land-wind. Several of these little voyages he had made; but the boat was grown old, and almost unfit for use; this service likewise was almost completed. One day, hav. ing dined on board, he was preparing to return to the river as formerly-he had taken leave of the captain-received his orders was already in the boat and just going to put off; in that instant the captain came up from the cabin, and called him on board again. Mr. N. went, expecting farther orders, but the captain said, " he had taken it into his head," (as he phrased it,) that Mr. N. should remain that day in the ship, and accordingly ordered another man to go in his room. Mr. N. was surprised at this, as the boat had never been sent away without him before. He asked the captain the reason of his resolution, but none was assigned, except as above, that so he would have it. The boat therefore went without Mr. N., but returned no more : it sunk that night in the river; and the person who supplied Mr. N.'s place was drowned! Mr. N. was much struck when news of the event was received the next morning The captain himself, though quite a stranger to religion, even to the denying a particular providence, could not help being affected; but declared, that he had no other reason for countermanding Mr. N. at that time, but that it came suddenly into his mind to detain him.
A short time after he was thus surprisingly preserved, they sailed for Antigna, and from thence to Charleston, in South Carolina. In that place there were many serious people ; but, at this time, Mr. N. was little capable of availing himself of their society, supposing that all who attended public worship were good Christians, and that whatever came from the pulpit must be very good. He had two or three opportunities, indeed, of hearing a minister of eminent character and gifts, whom, though struck with his manner, he did not rightly understand. Almost every day, wben business would permit, he used to retire into the woods and fields, (being his favourite oratories, and began to taste the delight of communion with God, in the exercises of prayer and praise; and yet so much in consistency prevailed, that he frequently spent the evening in vain and worthless company. His relish, indeed, for worldly diversions was much weakened; and he was rather a spectator than a sharer in their pleasures ; but he did not as yet see the necessity of absolutely relinquishing such society. It appears, that compliances of this sort, in his present circumstances, were owing rather to a want of light than to any obstinate attachment: as he was kept from what he knew to be sinful, he had, for the most part, peace of conscience; and his strongest desires were towards the things of God. He did not as yet apprehend the force of that precept, “ Abstain from all appearance of evil;" but he very often ventured upon the brink of temptation. He did not break with the world at once, as might have been expected, but was gradually led to see the inconvenience and folly of first one thing and then another, and as such to give them up.
They finished their voyage, and arrived in Liverpool. When the ship's affairs were settled, Mr. N. went to London, and from thence he soon repaired to Kent. More than seven years had now elapsed since his first visit: no views of the kind seemed more chimerical than his, or could subsist under greater discouragements; yet while he seemed abandoned to his passions, he was still guided by a hand that he knew not, to the accomplishment of his wishes. Every obstacle was now removed-he had renounced his former follies—his interest was established--and friends on all sides consenting. The point was now entirely between the parties immediately concerned ; and after what had passed, was easily concluded ; accordingly their hands were joined, February the 1st, 1750.
“ But, alas !" says he, “this mercy, which raised me to all I could ask or wish in a temporal view, and which ought to have been an animating motive to obedience and praise, had a contrary effect: I rested in the gift and forgot the giver. My poor narrow heart was satisfied. A cold and careless frame as to spiritual things, took place, and gained ground daily. Happy for me, the season was advancing; and in June I received orders to repair to Liverpool. This roused me from my dream; and I found the pains of absence and separation fully proportioned to my preceding pleasure.* Through all my following voyages, my irregular and excessive affections were as thorns in my eyes, and often made my other blessings tasteless and insipid. But he, who doth all things well, overruled this likewise for good; it became an occasion of quickening me in prayer, both for her and myself; it increased my indifference for company and amuse
* In writing to Mrs. Newton from St. Alban's, he inserts a prayer for his own health and that of Mrs. N., upon which he remarks as follows:
" This prayer includes all that I at that time knew how to ask for ; and had not the Lord given me more than I knew how to ask or think, I should now be completely miserable. The prospect of this separation was terrible to me as death: to avoid it, I repeatedly purchased a ticket in the lottery : thinking, Who knows but I may obtain a considerable prize, and be thereby saved from the necessity of going
to sea ? Happy for me, the lot, which I then considered as casual, was at thy disposal. The money, which I could not with prudence have spared at the time, was lost: all my tickets proved blanks, though I attempted to bribe thee, by promising, if I succeeded, to give a considerable part
to the poor. But these blanks were truly prizes. Thy mercy sent me to sea against my own will. To thy blessing, and to my solitary sea-hours, I was indebted for all my temporal comforts and future hopes.
I Thou wert pleased likewise to disappoint me, by thy providence, of some money, which I expected to receive on my marriage; so that, excepting our apparel, when I sailed from Liverpool on my first voyage, the sum total of my worldly inventory was seventy pounds in debt.”
ment; it habituated me to a kind of voluntary self-denial, which I was after wards taught to improve to a better purpose.”.
Mr. N. sailed from Liverpool, in August 1750, commander of a good ship. He had now the command and care of thirty persons : he endeavoured to treat them with humanity, and to set them a good example.* He likewise established public worship, according to the Liturgy of the church of England, officiating himself twice every Lord's day. He did not proceed farther than this while he continued in that occupation.
Having now much leisure, he prosecuted the study of Latin with good success. He remembered to take a Dictionary this voyage, and added Juvenal to Horace; and, for prose authors, Livy, Cæsar, and Sallust. He was not aware of the mistake of beginning with such difficult writers ; but, having heard Livy highly commended, he was resolved to understand him: he began with the first page, and made it a rule not to proceed to a second till he understood the first. Often at a stand, but seldom discouraged, here and there he found a few lines quite obstinate, and was forced to give them up, especially as his edition had no notes. Before, however, the close of that voyage, he informs us, that he could, with a few exceptions, read Livy almost as readily as an English author. Other prose authors, he says, cost him but little trouble, as in surmounting the former difficulty he had mastered all in one. In short, in the space of two or three voyages, he became acquainted with the best classics. He read Terence, Virgil, several pieces of Cicero, and the modern classics, Buchanan, Erasmus, and Casimir; and made some essays towards writing elegant Latin.
“But by this time,” he observes, “the Lord was pleased to draw me nearer to himself, and to give me a fuller view of the pearl of great price, the inestimable treasure hid in the field of the Holy Scriptures; and for the sake of this I was made willing to part with all my newly-acquired riches. I began to think, that life was too short (especially my life,) to admit of leisure for such elaborate trifling. Neither poet nor historian could tell me a word of Jesus ; and I therefore applied myself to those who could. The classics were at first restrained to one morning in the week, and at length laid aside."
This his first voyage after his marriage lasted the space of fourteen months, through various scenes of danger and difficulty; but nothing very remarkable occurred; and, after having seen many fall on his right hand and on his left, he was brought home in peace, Nov. 2, 1751.
In the interval, between his first and second voyage, he speaks of the use he found in keeping a sort of diary, of the unfavourable tendency of a life of ease among his friends, and of the satisfaction of his wishes proving unfavourable to the progress of grace ; upon the whole, however, he seems to have gained ground, and was led into farther views of Christian doctrine and experience by Scougal's Life of God in the Soul of Man, Hervey's Meditations, and the Life of Colonel Gardiner. He seems to have derived no advantages from the preaching he heard, or the Christian acquaintance he made ; and though he could not live without prayer, he durst not propose it, even to his wife, till she first urged him to the mutual practice of it.
In a few months, the returning season called him abroad again, and he sailed from Liverpool, in a new ship, July 1752. “I never knew," says he, "sweeter or more frequent hours of Divine communion than in my two last voyages to Guinea, when I was either almost secluded from society on shipboard, or when
* I have heard Mr. Newton observe, that as the commander of a slave-ship, he had a number of women under his absolute command; and knowing the danger of his situation on that account, he resolved to abstain from flesh in his food, and to drink nothing stronger than water, during the voyage; that, by abstemiousness, he might subdue every improper emotion: and that, upon his setting sail
, the sight of a certain point of land was the signal for his beginning a rule, which he was enabled to keep.
+ Mr. N. had had an unexpected call to London ; and, on his return, when within a few miles of Liverpool, he mistook a marl-pit for a pond, and, in attempting to water his horse, both the horse and the rider plunged into it overhead. He was afterwards told, that, near that time, three persons had lost their lives by a mistake of the same kind.
on shore among the natives. I have wandered through the woods, reflecting on the singular goodness of the Lord to me, in a place where, perhaps, there was not a person who knew me for some thousand miles round. Many a time, upon these occasions, I have restored the beautiful lines of Propertius to the right owner; lines full of blasphemy and madness when addressed to a creature, but full of comfort and propriety in the mouth of a believer.
Sic ego desertis possim benè vivere sylvis,
Quò nulla humano sit via trita pede;
Lumen, et in solis tu mihi turba locis.
In desert woods, with thee, my God,
How happy could I be !
In solitude my company."
In the course of this voyage, Mr. N. was wonderfully preserved through many unforeseen dangers. At one time there was a conspiracy among his own people to become pirates, and take possession of the ship. When the plot was nearly ripe, they watched only for opportunity : two of them were taken ill in one day ; one of them died. This suspended the affair, and opened a way to its discovery. The slaves on board frequently plotted insurrections, and were sometimes
very brink of one when it was disclosed. When at a place called Mana, near Cape Mount, Mr. N. intended to go on shore the next morning to settle some business; but the surf of the sea ran so high, that he was afraid to attempt landing. He had often ventured at a worse time; but then feeling a backwardness which he could not account for, the high surf furnished a pretext for indulging it: he therefore returned to the ship without doing any business. He afterwards found, that, on the day he intended to land, a scandalous and groundless charge had been laid against him, which greatly threatened his honour and interest, both in Africa and England, and would perhaps have affected his life, had he landed. The person most concerned in this affair owed him about a hundred pounds, which he sent in a huff, and otherwise, perhaps, would not have paid it at all. Mr. N. heard no more of this accusation till the next voyage, and then it was publicly acknowledged to have been a malicious calumny, without the least shadow of a ground.
But, as these things did not occur every day, Mr. N. prosecuted his Latin, being very regular in the management of his time. He allotted about eight hours for sleep and meals, eight hours for exercise and devotion, and eight hours to his books; and thus, by diversifying his engagements, the whole day was agreeably filled up.
From the coast he went to St. Christopher's, where he met with a great disappointment: for the letters, which he expected from Mrs. N., were by mistake forwarded to Antigua. Certain of her punctuality in writing, if alive, he concluded by not hearing from her, that she was surely dead. This fear deprived him of his appetite and rest, caused an incessant pain in his stomach, and, in the space of three weeks, he was near sinking under the weight of an imaginary stroke. "I felt,” says he, “some severe symptoms of that mixture of pride and madness, commonly called a broken heart ; and, indeed, I wonder that this case is not more common. How often do the potsherds of the earth presume to contend with their Maker! and what a wonder of mercy is it that they are not all broken! This was a sharp lesson, but I hope it did me good ; and when I had thus suffered some weeks, I thought of sending a small vessel to Antigua. I did so, and she brought me several packets, which restored my health and peace, and gave
me a strong contrast of the Lord's goodness to me, and of
unbelief and ingratitude towards him.”
In August, 1753, Mr. N. returned to Liverpool : after that voyage, he continued only six weeks at home, and, in that space, nothing very memorable occurred.
We now follow Mr. N. in his third voyage to Guinea : it seems to be the shortest of any that he had made, and which is principally marked by an account of a young man, who had formerly been a midshipman, and his intimate companion on board the Harwich. This youth, at the time Mr. N. first knew him, was sober, but afterwards sadly infected with Mr. N.'s then libertine principles. They met at Liverpool, and renewed their former acquaintance: as their conversation frequently turned upon religion, Mr. N. was very desirous to recover his companion, to whom he gave a plain account of the manner and reasons of his own change, and used every argument to induce him to relinquish his infidelity. When pressed very close, his usual reply was, that Mr. N. was the first person who had given him an idea of his liberty, which naturally occasioned many mournful reflections in the mind of his present instructor. This person was going master to Guinea himself; but, meeting with a disappointment, Mr. N. offered to take him as a companion, with a view of assisting him in gaining future employment; but, principally, that his arguments, example, and prayers, might be attended with good effect. But his companion was exceedingly profane; grew worse and worse; and presented a lively, but distressing picture, continually before Mr. N.'s eyes, of what he himself had once been. Besides this, the man was not only deaf to remonstrance himself, but laboured to counteract Mr. N.'s influence upon others; his spirit and passions were likewise so exceedingly high, that it required all Mr. N.'s prudence and authority to hold him in any degree of restraint.
At length Mr. N. had an opportunity of buying a small vessel, which he supplied with a cargo from his own ship: he gave his companion the command of it; and sent him away to trade on the ship's account. When they parted, Mr. N. repeated and enforced his best advice: it seemed greatly to affect his compavion at the time; but when he found himself released from the restraint of his instructor, he gave a loose to every appetite; and his violent irregularities, joined to the heat of the climate, soon threw him into a malignant fever, which carried him off in a few days. He seems to have died convinced, but not changed: his rage and despair struck those who were about him with horror : and he pronounced his own fatal doom before he expired, without any sign that he either hoped or asked for mercy.- I trust the reader will deem the features of this awful case (though a digression from the principal subject) too instructive to be omitted.
Mr. N. left the coast in about four months, and sailed for St. Christopher's, Hitherto, he had enjoyed a perfect and equal state of health in different climates for several years. But in this passage he was visited with a fever, which gave him a very near prospect of eternity: he was, however, supported in a silent composure of spirit by the faith of Jesus, and found great relief from those words, "He is able to save to the uttermost." He was for a while troubled, whether by a temptation, or by the fever disordering his faculties, that he should be lost or overlooked amidst the myriads that are continually entering the unseen world ; but the recollection of that Scripture,
" the Lord kinoweth them that are his,' put an end to his doubts. After a few days, however, he began to amend, and by the time they arrived in the West Indies, he was perfectly recovered.
In this way he was led for about the space of six years: he had learnt something of the evil of his heart—had read the Bible over and over-had perused several religious books—and had a general view of Gospel truth: but his conceptions still remained confused in many respects, not having, in all this time, met with one acquaintance qualified to assist his inquiries.
On his arrival at St. Christopher's, he found a captain of a ship from London,