« ZurückWeiter »
manner, having silenced my conscience, I partook of the ordinance, held my resolutions, and continued my devotions, such as they were, for a little space: but they were a weariness and a task to me; and temptations soon returning, I relapsed, my prayerbook was thrown aside, and no more thought of, till my conscience was again alarmed by the next warning, given for the celebration of the Lord's supper.
Then the same ground was gone over again, and with the same issue.
My goodness was like the morning dew, that passeth away; and loving sin, and disrelishing religious duties, as much as ever, I returned, as the sow that is washed to her wallowing in the mire.
With little variation, this was my course of life for nine years: but in that time I had such experience of my own weakness, and the superior force of temptation, that I secretly concluded reformation, in my case, to be impracticable. “Can the Etheopian change his skin, or the Leopard his spots ?” I was experimentally convinced, that I was equally unable, with the feeble barrier of
resolutions and endeavours, to stem the torrent of my impetuous inclinations, when swelled by welcome, suitable, and powerful temptations : and being ignorant, that God bad reserved this to himself, as his own work, and had engaged to do it for the poor sinner, who, feeling his own insufficiency, is heartily desirous to have it done by him ; I stified my convictions, as well as I could, and put off my repentance to a more convenient season.
But being of a reflecting turn, and much alone, my mind was almost constantly employed. Aware of the uncertainty of life, I was disquieted with continual apprehensions, that this more convenient season would never arrive ; especially, as, through ab unconfirmed state of health, I had many warnings, and near prospects of death, and eternity. For a long time I entertained no doubt, but that impenitent sinners would be miserable for ever in Hell: and, at some seasons, such amazing reflections upon this awful subject, forced themselves into my mind, that I was overpowered with them,
and my fears became intolerable. At such times, my extempore cries for mercy were so wrestling and persevering, that I was scarcely able to give over; though, at other times, I lived without prayer of any sort : yet, in my darkest hours, though my conscience was awakened to discover more and more sinfulness in my whole behaviour, there remained a hope, that I should one day repent and turn unto God. If this hope was from myself, it was a horrid presumption : but the event makes me willing to acknowledge a persuasion, that it was from the Lord : for, had it not been for this hope, I should probably have given way to temptations, which frequently assaulted me, of putting an end to my own life, in proud discontent with my lot in this world, and mad despair about another.
A hymn of Dr. Watts', in his admirable little book for children, entitled, “The allseeing God,” at this time fell in my way. I was much affected with it, and having committed it to memory, was frequently repeating it, and was thereby continually
reminded of my guilt and danger. Parents may from this inconsiderable circumstance be reminded, that it is of great importance to store their children's minds with such useful matter, instead of suffering them to be furnished with such corrupting trash, as is commonly taught them. They know not what use, God may make of these early rudiments of instruction in future life. At this period, though I was the slave of sin, yet, as my conscience was not pacified, nor my principles greatly corrupted, there seemed some hope concerning me: but at length Satan took a very effectual method of silencing my convictions, that I might sleep securely in my sins : and justly was I given over to a strong delusion to believe a lie, when I held the truth, that I did know, in unrighteousness. A Socinian comment on the Scriptures came in my way, and I gree
dily drank the poison, because it quieted my ; fears, and flattered my abominable pride.
The whole system coincided exactly with my inclinations, and the state of my mind, and approved itself to me. In reading this
exposition, sin seemed to lose its native ugliness, and, to appear a very small and tolerable evil; man's imperfect obedience seemed to shine with an almost divine excellency; and God appeared so entirely and necessarily merciful, that he could not make any of his creatures miserable, without contradicting his natural propensity. These things influenced my mind so powerfully, that I concluded, that notwithstanding a few little blemishes, I was, upon the whole, a very worthy creature.
Then further, the mysteries of the Gospel being explained away, or brought down to the level of man's comprehension, by such proud and corrupt, though specious reasonings ; by acceding to these sentiments, I was, in my own opinion, in point of understanding and discernment, exalted to a superiority above the general run of mankind; and amused myself with looking down with contempt upon such, as were weak enough to believe the orthodox doctrines. Thus I generally soothed my conscience; and, if at any time, I was uneasy at the apprehension, that I did not