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remained unawakened, untormented before the time; and, though I am now relieved, I feel horror in the committing it to paper. But I have this reason, among others, for doing it, that it may prove a mean to humble, and stir me up in a day of pride or unwatchfulness, and that I may never forget gratitude to my great Deliverer, who snatched me from the gaping mouth of such an horrible pit. My dear Savior, let me never forget this hour and power of dark. ness! And never think of mine, without wondering at thine! Mine was but a drop; thine an ocean! Mine I deserved; thine was for me!
It is a most mournful proof of the dead hardness of the impenitent heart of man when he can smile while deliverance from wrath remains an uncertainty. It is no less wonderful to think that the redeemed of the Lord are not always filled with rapturous triumph while on earth. O the patience, the kindness, the love, and the forbearance of the Almighty! What plagues hath sin introduced into the world! What glorious grace hath God manifested! I have to praise the Lord this day, that life and reason were both preserved.
I just now recollect, that in the midst of my anguish of soul, I thought I should be under the necessity of applying to spiritous liquors for relief from my tormented mind. But this I was preserved from putting in execution, excepting one time, about midnight, being so tormented. that I feared my bowels would rend me with the burning and boiling of the fired conscience. I rose, and took one glass of spirits; but, ah! This was but a poor relief. It had no effect, but rather sharpened my anguish. I then lighted a candle, and pored, with extreme horror, upon Psalm 1xxxviii. from v. 14. I perceived my case worded
there; but my hour being not yet come, it afforded no alleviation. This to me was, indeed, the hour and power of darkness. All the invention of popish tormentors could not have caused such an agony as I then felt. I thought I should be looked for in heaven by many of my friends, and not found; this thought also stung me to the quick. I believed God would make me the butt of his vengeance. When I felt the smallest impediment in a single breath, I trembled, as if the harbinger of death had appeared. The fidelity of God in the execution of his threatening was a tremendous truth. This moment my flesh shrinks, on identifying to my mind my then amazing horror.
I had as strong impressions of the felicity of heaven in the midst of this distress, as ever I had. This deepened. and enlarged my wound. I beheld the glories of heaven, as Dives may be supposed to have viewed the happiness of Lazarus, from the centre of hell.
The state of infants, and such as had not lived long enough to reject the gospel, appeared happiness. There was a possibility of their being recovered and pardoned, but all this was over with me.
I thought that I believed the Bible a true revelation from God, but I soberly believed it the highest presumption for me to receive any comfort from the truths recorded in it; because, having tasted of the powers of the world to come, and afterwards fed upon sin in a way as if preferring it to the chief good, I called this atrocious, and so it was. But ah! that I should have admit. ted the thought, that it overtopped the merit of the Mediator's righteousness; but I was led captive by, and bound under the sin of unbelief.
I believed Christ was once very friendly to me in months past, but this friendship I had disregarded and neglected; that now he would make me an example of his vengeance, and vindicate his injured goodness, by making me, in the judgment day, a spectacle of horror, shame, and dismay. To express the inward gnawing anguish, which uniformly succeeded these dismal apprehensions, is beyond the power of a human pen. I rejoice I now relate it as a past event.
Fierce as my chastisement was, it was short and slight, compared with what I justly merited. Three months was about the length of its sharpest continuance, and, even during that period, I had often intervals of quiet through the day; but, in general, I trembled when darkness overspread the heavens. The return of the evening, sweet to the husbandman, was like the shock of an earthquake to me. A person who never waded these deep waters, can have no more conception of them, than of the glory of the third heavens. No wonder that the multitude of the heavenly hosts made the air resound with their songs at the incarnation of the great DELIVERER of sinners from all this wrath. They felt for man! But the natural man pities not himself; saints are mourning for him, when he is laughing at them. May I ever recoil at the thought of offending such a God, such a Savior! May I ever possess a deep sense of the magnitude of divine mercy!
Let us now turn the leaf, and contemplate the dawning of a glorious day; the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, with healing under his wings.
Upon the evening of the twenty sixth day of Jannary, 1795, the Lord appeared as my deliverer. He commanded, VOL. I. 7
and darkness was turned into light. The cloud, which covered the mercy seat, fled away! Jesus appeared as he is! My eyes were not turned inward, but outward! The gospel was the glass in which I beheld him. When our Lord first visited Saul upon the highway, he knew in a moment that it was the Lord; so did I! Such a change of views, feelings, and desires, suddenly took place in my mind, as none but the hand of an infinite Operator could produce. Formerly, I had a secret fear, that it was presumption in me to receive the great truths of the gospel; now there appeared no impediment! I beheld Jesus as the speaker in his word, and speaking to me. When he said, "Come," I found no difficulty in replying, "Yes, Lord! thy pardoned rebel comes." If not the grace of God, what else could effect such a marvellous change? I chiefly viewed the atonement of Jesus as of infinite value, as a price paid for my redemption, and cheerfully accepted by the Father. I saw love in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all harmonizing in pardoning and justifying me. The sight humbled and melted my soul. Looking to what 1 felt, was no help to my comfort; it came directly from God, through his word.
The following evening, about nine o'clock, while sitting before the fire, writing to a reverend friend, I had such a charming, surprising view of sovereign, pardoning, redeem
g, unmerited mercy, that I was hardly able to bear it. "The great doctrines of redemption, as stated in the Bible, opened to my view in a way I never experienced before. Ì beheld a crucified Jesus nigh me in the word; I threw away the pen, and turned about to see this great sight! I looked steadfastly to the Lamb, suffering for me! So much was I overpowered with the magnitude of this discovery of
eternal, boundless love and grace in Christ, that I felt a difficulty in breathing."
This view of my redeeming God in Christ, completely swept away all the terrific horrors which had so loug brooded over my mind, leaving not a wreck behind, but filling me with a joy and peace more than human; truly divine. I sat pensive, at one time beholding the pit from whence I was redeemed; at another, the hope to which I was raised. My soul rushed out in wonder, love, and praise, emitted in language like this: "Wonderful mercy! Why me! What is this? Thanks be to God, who giveth me the victory through Jesus Christ, my Lord!" Shuddering at sin, as pardoned; abhorring it; wondering that ever I could have been guilty of such transgressions, I continued sitting wrapped up in silent wonder. For long after, when I thought of my hopes, I leaped for joy; I really had a glad heart. This visitation also created an extent of mildness and complacency in my temper, that I never felt before. I felt a burning love rising in my heart to all the brethren in Christ; with a strong sympathy for all such as were not born of the Spirit. I earnestly breathed after their incorporation into the family of Christ.
A light shone upon the scriptures, quite new to me. Passages, which formerly appeared hard to be understood, seemed plain as the A, B, C. Earthly crowns, sceptres, and thrones, appeared quite paltry in my eyes, and not worth desiring. I felt a complete contentment with my lot in life. I trembled to think of any abatement of my faith, love, and sensibility; it required resolution to be resigned to remain long in the world. Indeed, I could scarce admit the idea of long life. I feared the trials and vicissitudes connected with it, but was completely silenced