Records of the Life of the Rev. John Murray/Chapter VI.
Record continued from the September of 1770 to the Winter of 1774.
"Arm'd with the sword of Jesse's youthful son,
Engag'd with ardour in the freedom won
By Christ, the anointed God of earth and Heaven,
Dare nobly, Murray, tell the boon that's given."
Motto by a Friend.
BEHOLD me now entering upon a new stage of the journey of life, a professed preacher of the gospel. Of my inability for an undertaking so vast, I retained a continued, and depressing sense; but I determined to be as consistent, and as useful, as possible; I would be an assistant to my new friend in his agricultural and fishing employments; and, upon every returning Sunday, I would preach to him the truth, as it is in Jesus; (I had not the most remote idea of ever preaching any where, but in the house, which he had built;) and thus I should questionless be indulged with the retirement, which had been the prime object of my voyage. Thus consolatory were my reflections upon my passage to New-York; at which place I arrived about noon, upon the ensuing day. I inquired for the captain, delivered up my charge, took my baggage from the brig Hand-in-Hand, and secured a lodging, until I could obtain a passage back to the hospitable mansion I had left. But the day had not closed in, before a number of persons visited me, earnestly soliciting me to speak to them of the things of the kingdom! I was immeasurably astonished; totally a stranger in the city, I could scarcely believe I was not in a dream. The boatmen, however, having given an account of me on their arrival, the intelligence was wafted from one end of the city unto the other; and the people, being anxious to hear something new, and from a new preacher, became extremely importunate. I could not deny, that I had preached; but I gave the solicitors to understand, that I had absolutely engaged to return by the first opportunity, and that, of course, I was not at liberty to comply with their request. They promised they would insure me a speedy, and eligible conveyance, if I would consent to give them a discourse in the Baptist meeting-house; and it became impossible to resist their persuasions. The house was thronged, and the hearers so well satisfied, as to solicit, most earnestly, my continuance among them. But this I was not disposed to do; this I could not do; my word, my honour was engaged to my first American friend; and, when duty is seconded by inclination, perseverance becomes a matter of course. Upwards of a week elapsed, before the earnestly sought-for passage presented, during which period I frequently preached, and to crowded houses. I was gratified by the marked attention of many characters. Novelty is rarely destitute of attraction. Even the minister extended to me the hand of apparent friendship; which I accounted for upon a supposition, that he was ignorant of my testimony. I made use of the same scriptures, which he made use of; and he was not apprized, that I yielded them unqualified credence. I had no doubt, that, so soon as he should be informed, that I believed what I delivered, he would condemn, as much as he now appeared to approve. Yet some few there were, firm, unchanging friends, whose attachment to me, and my testimony, has to this moment continued unbroken. So soon, as an opportunity to return presented, I very cheerfully embraced it; and I felt my heart bound with pleasure, at the thought of that meeting, which, a few days before, I would have died to avoid. The charming retreat, in the gift of my friend, was, in my estimation, highly preferable to New-York, and all which it could bestow: and I longed most earnestly to quit the one, and return to the other. A number of friends accompanied me to the vessel, and we parted, with expressions of regret. A single day produced me again in the abode of genuine, Christian friendship; to which I was welcomed with every demonstration of heart-felt joy.
Here, then, I considered I had found a permanent home; that a final period was at length put to my wanderings; and, after all my apprehensive dread, from being drawn into the public character, now, that I had a prospect of sustaining this public character, in so private a manner, I was not only reconciled, but tranquillized, and happy. I had leisure to retrospect my past life, and I was filled with astonishment when I beheld all the various paths, which I had trod, ultimately leading me to a uniform contemplation of redeeming love; nor could I forbear exclaiming: Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty! just and true are thy ways, O, thou King of saints!
The winter now approached, and with hasty strides; my worthy friend was diligently gathering in the fruits of the earth. I was disposed to aid him, to the utmost of my abilities. He could not bear the thought of my labouring in the field. "Why need you? have you not enough to engage your attention, in the business, on which you are sent?" Believe me my friend, my employment, in your field, will not interrupt my reflections. I can study better in the field, than in the chamber; it requires but little study to deliver simple, plain, gospel truth; to pervert this truth, requires a vast deal of worldly wisdom. Let me, my dear sir, do as I please; I have fixed upon a plan, with which you shall be acquainted, when the labours of the day are closed. In the evening, when the cheerful fire blazed upon the hearth, and we were seated in the well-lighted parlour: "Come," said the good man, "now for your plan." I think, my dear sir, said I, I am at length convinced, that God in his providence has thought proper to appoint me, however unworthy, to the ministry of the new testament; and while persuaded, that our common Father has committed a dispensation of the gospel to me, and that a woe is pronounced against me, if I preach it not, it will be impossible I should remain silent: but knowing, as I do, something of the nature of man, and of the situation of preachers in general, I am, for myself, determined not to make a gain of godliness; I will make no provision for myself. I have abundance of cloathing; and as to food, I will eat of whatever is set before me, asking no questions, either for the sake of conscience, or appetite; and for my drink, nothing is so salutary for me, as cold water. I am persuaded, I shall not live long in this world; at least, I hope I shall not. I am alone in the world; I shall want but little here, 'nor want that little long.' I reject, then, with my whole soul I reject, the liberal offer, you so recently made me, of a fixed stipend. I will have no salary, I will have no collections, I will preach the gospel, freely. I will work in your fields, I will eat at your table, I will slake my thirst at the limpid stream, which furnishes your family; but you shall make no change in the order of your house, on my account. I will associate with your associates. I expect to meet them, at the table of my great Lord and Master, in mansions beyond the grave; and shall I hesitate to meet them, upon equal terms, in this lower world? I am pleased with your situation; with your house of worship; with your neighbours; with every thing I am pleased; and if that God, who brought me hither, will graciously vouchsafe to indulge me with the privilege of tarrying here, until I am liberated from this body of sin and death, I shall be still better pleased.
The good old gentleman could no longer suppress his feelings. He arose from his seat, caught me in his arms, essayed to speak, paused, and at length exclaimed: "O my God, is it possible? Why such, I have thought, ministers of Jesus Christ ought to be." But, my friend, I replied, every minister of Jesus Christ cannot live, as I can. I have no family, no home, no want. If I had a family, I should be worse than an infidel, not to make provision for my household; but God, by separating me from my beloved companion, and from my cherub boy, has enabled me to preach the gospel, freely. I never saw any man so delighted, and especially with my determination to continue with him. Dear, kind-hearted man, both he, and I, then believed, that death only could separate us. In a place, so remote from the world, I imagined I should enjoy, uninterruptedly, every wish of my heart; and again and again I felicitated myself in the prospect of finishing my weary life in this sweet, this calm retreat, unincumbered by care,—conferring, as well as receiving, benefits,—nobly independent,—possessing all, which the treacherous world could now bestow. Thus I went on,—pleased, and pleasing. I had leisure for converse with myself, with my bible, and my God. The letters of my Eliza were a source of mournfully pensive consolation,—they were multiplied,—and I had carefully preserved them. Many a time have I shed over them the private, the midnight tear; and reading them thus late, when I have fallen into a sweet slumber, I have met the lovely author in my dreams, and our meeting has been replete with consolation, with such high intercourse, as can only be realized in heaven. Our Sundays were indeed blessed holy-days; people began to throng from all quarters on horseback; some from the distance of twenty miles. I was at first pleased with this, so was my patron; but multiplied invitations to visit other places, saddened our spirits. I dreaded the thought of departing from home, and, in the fulness of my heart, I determined I would never accede to any request, which should bear me from a seclusion, so completely commensurate with my wishes. Alas! alas! how little do we know of ourselves, or our destination. Solicitations, earnest solicitations, poured in from the Jersies, from Philadelphia, and from New-York; and it became impossible to withstand their repeated and imposing energy.
The first visit I made, was to a village about eight miles from my late-found home. My patron accompanied me, and we were joyfully received, by a serious and respectable family, who embraced, with devout hearts, the truth, as it is in Jesus; and who were consequently saved from all those torturing fears, that had previously harrowed up their spirits, in the dread expectation of those everlasting burnings, which they believed awaited themselves, and their offspring. In this village, I one morning entered a house, and beheld a fond mother weeping over an infant, who lay sweetly sleeping in her arms. Sympathy for the sorrowing mother moistened my eye; and, supposing that her tears flowed from some domestic distress, or pecuniary embarrassment, I endeavoured to console her, by observing, that the world was very wide, and that God was an all-sufficient Father. "Alas! sir," she replied, "I never, in the whole course of my life, experienced a moment's anxiety from the dread of my children, or myself, suffering the want either of food, or raiment. No, sir, my fears are, that they will be sufferers, through the wasteless ages of eternity, in that state of torment, from whence there is no reprieve; and that they will continually execrate their parents, as the wretched instruments of bringing them into being. I have eight children, sir; and can I be so arrogant, as to believe, that all those children are elected to everlasting life?" But, my dear lady, you have reason to believe they will be saved, whether they be elected or not, because Christ Jesus is the Saviour of all men. This did not satisfy her. I took up the bible, which lay upon her desk, and the first scripture, which met my view, was the 127 Psalm. I glanced my eye upon the 3d verse of that Psalm: "Lo, children are the heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward." I did not recollect this passage; it was the first time it had met my particular observation; but it has ever since been right precious to my soul. I merely opened the bible, in the expectation of finding something to soothe a sorrowing mother, and this most pertinent passage broke upon me, with unequalled splendor. I was myself astonished, and presenting the sacred passage, I remarked: There, madam, God has sent you, for your consolation, this divine discovery. You have been unhappy, because you did not know, that your children were God's children, and that He loved them as well, yea, infinitely better, than you can pretend to love them. Nay, look at the passage, you see your children are the heritage of God, they are his reward; will He give His heritage to His adversary? or will He suffer him to seize any part thereof, if He has sufficient power to prevent it? Again and again, the fond mother perused the passage; gradually her countenance changed, and the clouds dispersed; a flood of tears burst from her eyes; she brightened up, and, pressing her babe to her maternal bosom, rapturously exclaimed: "Blessed, blessed God, they are not mine; they are thine, O Almighty Father; and thou wilt not be regardless of thine own!" I never saw more joy in consequence of believing, than I then beheld. Ten years afterwards, I again saw this parent, and asked her, what she thought of her children? Blessed be God, said she, they are God's children; and I have never had an unhappy moment respecting their future state, since my Redeemer has been graciously pleased to make known unto me his soul-satisfying truth. No, sir, my spirit is not now a sorrowing spirit.
Again a letter was handed me from New-York, earnestly entreating me to pay them a visit. Arrangements were made for my passage in the vessel, by which I received the solicitation. To a summons so pressing, I dared not turn a deaf ear. In fact, a revolution had taken place in my mind. It appeared to me, that I was highly reprehensible in thus withdrawing myself from the tour of duty, which seemed appointed for me; and I determined never to seek, directly or indirectly, for an open door, and never again to refuse entering any door, which providence should open. It is true, I never wished to receive an invitation; but I was aware, that the direction of me and my movements were in the hands of infinite wisdom; and promising my benevolent host, that I would return as soon as possible, I departed for New-York. My reception surpassed my expectations, and even my wishes. Many persons, anxious to detain me in their city, went so far, as to hand about a subscription-paper, for the purpose of building for me a house of public worship. It was completely filled in one day, when application was made to me to abide with them continually. I urged, my absolute promise given, and my inclination, prompting my return to Good Luck, the name of the place where my friend Potter dwelt. They were astonished at my determination to reside in such a place, when the city of New-York was opening its arms to receive me; but, on my repeating the circumstances, attendant upon my arrival there, they seemed disposed to acquiesce, and to acknowledge the good hand of God outstretched for my direction. The Baptist meeting-house was again open to me, and the congregations were very large; my friends multiplied very fast, and I became gradually attached to this city. Yet I ardently desired to return to the home of my choice, and, after spending a few weeks in New-York, I once more hailed my providential residence; numbers of warm-hearted friends accompanying me, as before, even to the vessel's side, where they offered up to heaven their most fervent prayers in my behalf. My heart was greatly affected, I was warmly attached to many in New-York. The family of Col. Drake, and many others, now no more, were very dear to me. I reached home in good health, and was received with great joy; even the servants seemed to participate the benevolence of their master. In fact, having nothing in the habitation of my friend to render me uneasy, my mind became more tranquil, than it had been for many years; and, at peace in my own breast, I consequently contributed to the happiness of all around me. Thus I continued in undisturbed repose, until a Baptist minister from New-Jersey, believing my sentiments precisely in unison with his own, conceived a strong affection for me. He solicited me to become a member of his church, that I might obtain a licence from their association. Of course, I declined his friendly offers; for I well knew, when he discovered I really believed the gospel, which I preached, uniting with his brethren, he would be as anxious to exclude me from his synagogue, as he now was to receive me. He pressed me, however, to visit him, which I did, accompanied by my patron, who, to his great mortification, was necessitated to leave me there. In this gentleman's pulpit I preached; I lodged in his house; and received from him every mark of attention, until my unbending refusal of all collections, and the partiality of his friends, visibly diminished his regards. I had calculated upon this change, and it did not therefore astonish me. He was, however, a warm-hearted man, and as sincere, as men in general are. In this place I was introduced to many worthy characters, who, as a part of the election, obtained a knowledge of the truth, as it is in Jesus; among the rest was a justice Pangburn, a venerable old gentleman, who had for many years been considered by his brethren, as an oracle. This gentleman heard me; conversed with me; and discovered, that my testimony was not in unison with the teaching, to which he had listened. He became sedulously intent upon detecting my errors, and he soon discovered I was wrong, and as soon, kindly endeavoured to set me right; but, as there was no other way of effectuating his wishes, but by the word of God,—for I refused all other authority,—he was soon convinced, upon searching the sacred writings for proofs of my heresy, that it was he himself, who had wandered from that precious truth once delivered to the saints. Without hesitation, he renounced his former views, and continued ever after an able, and zealous advocate for the truth, preached by Abraham. It was now noised abroad, that I was an erroneous teacher. The clergyman, who was so warmly attached to me, while he believed me a Calvinistic Baptist, now commenced a most inveterate adversary; and his opposition published more extensively my name, and peculiar tenets. Curiosity was excited, and I became the object of general inquiry. It is a melancholy truth, that esteem, and consequent friendship, are not generally so operative upon the human mind, as rancour and enmity: my experience is in unison with this observation. I hastened back to my calm retreat; alas! it was no longer my peaceful home,—for, although no change had taken place in the house of my friend, yet the influence of my clerical enemy pursued me. Opposition, however, begat opposition; and, while I was hated by the many, I was loved and caressed by the few. Solicitations to preach were multiplied from every quarter, and, although there was no abatement in the attachment of my patron, yet the estrangement of some individuals, in our vicinity, diminished the difficulty of accepting invitations, and I was induced to visit a few warm-hearted individuals, in the neighbourhood of my implacable foe. Upon my arrival there, I discovered a want, of which I had not until then been conscious: I wanted a horse. A single hint was sufficient: a horse was immediately procured, and, so ardent was the affection of my adherents, that I could not express a wish, which they were not eager to gratify; but my wishes were very much bounded, and my wants few and simple.
An invitation from Philadelphia being frequently, and earnestly repeated, I repaired to that city; a respectable circle of friends awaited me there. The Baptist minister invited me to his house, and his pulpit. He questioned me in private, and, in the course of our conversation, he frequently repeated: "Christ, in us, the hope of glory." I ventured to ask, Pray, sir, what do you understand by Christ, in us, the hope of glory? "Why, sir, in looking into my heart, I find something in it, which I had not some years ago." Do you, sir, call this something, Christ? "Undoubtedly." But, sir, all the angels of God worship Christ; all the ends of the earth are admonished to look unto Christ, and be saved; we are exhorted to trust in him at all times; and to believe, that there is no other name given under heaven, among men, whereby we can be saved. Now, my good sir, suffer me to ask, would it be safe for angels in heaven, or men upon earth, to worship that something, you have in your heart, which you had not there some years ago? would it be safe for all the ends of the earth, or any of the inhabitants of the world, to look to that something for salvation? could I, or any other person, trust, at all times, to that something? "Then, sir, if this be not Christ, what can the passage I have cited mean?" Certainly, sir, this cannot be the Christ, Paul preached. The Christ, Paul preached, was crucified; he was buried; he arose; he ascended; and the heavens must contain him, until the time of the restitution of all things. "But how then is it, that this Christ can be in us the hope of glory?" Why, sir, the Christian has no other hope of glory, than Jesus Christ, entered within the vail; and this Saviour is, in his heart, the object of his trust, confidence, and affection. You have, sir, as I understand, a beloved wife in Europe; but, although the Western ocean rolls between you, yet you may say, she is ever in your heart, and no one would be at a loss to understand you; but if you were to tell them, your conjugal affection was your wife, they would stare at you: and yet it would be as proper to say, your conjugal affection was your wife, as to say your love to God, or any other good, and proper propensity, was your Christ. No, my dear sir, these are not that Christ, the things of which, the Spirit of truth taketh, and showeth them to men, as the matter of their rejoicing. The Christ, of whom you speak, can be no other than the false Christ; that is, something which is called Christ, but is not Christ. The Christ, of whom you speak, as your hope of glory, was never seen by any body, and is itself nobody. It neither suffered for your sins, nor rose for your justification; and it is therefore most unworthy to be had in reverence. This conversation, as may be supposed, made this gentleman exceeding angry; and I was not a little surprised to hear him, although he immediately broke up the conference, insist upon my coming the ensuing day (Sunday), according to promise, to preach in his pulpit. The intelligence ran through the city, that I was to preach in the Baptist meeting-house, and numbers flocked to hear. I came, I entered the parlour of the Rev. gentleman; many of the members of his church were present, and a young candidate for the ministry. The gentleman, who invited me, and who repeated his invitation on parting with me, arose, and throwing upon me a most indignant glance, took the young gentleman by the hand, and led him into the meeting-house, which was adjoining to his dwelling, leaving me standing in his parlour. I now perceived, why he had insisted upon my coming to preach for him. But it was not wonderful; I had spoken contemptibly of his Christ, and he took rank among my inveterate foes; yet I had, among his connexions, a few friends, who, indignant at the treatment I had received, redoubled their caresses. There was at this time a small company, who assembled at a place, known by the name of Bachelor's-Hall; they were unacquainted with the truth I delivered; yet, willing to hear for themselves, they invited me to preach for them. Halting between two opinions, they solicited aid from a minister of another persuasion; and they requested me to hear him, to which I readily consented. The preacher selected his text, "Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world." He commenced his comment: "My friends, I shall undertake to prove, that Jesus never did, nor never will take away the sin of the world." I was astonished, and the persons, asking my attendance, were abashed. The preacher added: "It is impossible Christ can have taken away the sin of the world, for then all the world must be saved." This was unquestionable; I was exceedingly gratified, and the more, as this sermon, intended for my confusion, did much to establish that truth, of which, by the grace of God, I was a promulgator.
The combined efforts of the clergy in Philadelphia barred against me the door of every house of public worship in the city. Bachelor's-Hall was in Kensington. But at Bachelor's-Hall the people attended, and a few were enabled to believe the good word of their God. There was in the city, a minister of the Seventh-day Baptist persuasion; for a season he appeared attached to me, but soon became very virulent in his opposition. He told me, he passed on foot nine miles, upon the return of every Saturday, to preach. I asked him, how many his congregation contained? "About an hundred." How many of this hundred do you suppose are elected to everlasting life? "I cannot tell." Do you believe fifty are elected? "Oh no, nor twenty." Ten perhaps? "There may be ten." Do you think the non-elect can take any step to extricate themselves from the tremendous situation, in which the decrees of heaven have placed them? "Oh no, they might as well attempt to pull the stars from the firmament of heaven." And do you think your preaching can assist them? "Certainly not; every sermon they hear will sink them deeper, and deeper in damnation." And so, then, you walk nine miles every Saturday, to sink ninety persons out of a hundred deeper and deeper in never-ending misery!
Reports, injurious to my peace, were now very generally circulated; and although I expected all manner of evil would be said of me falsely, for his sake, whose servant I was, yet did the shafts of slander possess a deadly power, by which I was sorely wounded. Had the poisoned weapon been aimed by characters, wicked in the common acceptation of the word, it would have fallen harmless; nay, the fire of their indignation would have acted as a purifier of my name; but reports, originating from those, who were deemed holy and reverend—alas! their bite was mortal. Again I sighed for retirement, again I hastened to the bosom of my patron, and again my reception was most cordial. Yet, although so much evil was said of me, many, glancing at the source, made candid deductions, and were careful to proportion their acts of kindness to the magnitude of my wrongs. Invitations met me upon the road, and, wafted upon the wings of fame, I could enter no town, or village, which my name had not reached; in which I did not receive good, and evil treatment. The clergy and their connexions were generally inveterate enemies; while those, who had will and power to act for themselves, and chanced to be favourably impressed, were very warm in their attachments. Thus my friends were very cordial, and my enemies very malignant; and, as my enemies were generally at a distance, and my friends at my elbow, but for officious individuals, who brought me intelligence of all they heard, I might have gone on my way with abundant satisfaction. At Brunswick, which I had been earnestly solicited to visit, I was received into a most worthy family. The Rev. Mr. Dunham was of the Seventh-day Baptist persuasion; a man of real integrity, who, although he could not see, as I saw, threw open the doors of his meeting-house; conducted me into his pulpit; and discharged toward me, in every particular, the duty of a Christian. His neighbour, a clergyman, who was a First-day Baptist, exhibited a complete contrast to Mr. Dunham. He invited me, it is true, to his house; asked me to lodge there; we conversed together, prayed together, he appeared very kind, and much pleased, and I believed him my confirmed friend, until, leaving Brunswick, I called upon some, whose deportment to me was the reverse of what it had heretofore been. I demanded a reason; when they frankly informed me, that the Rev. Mr.——— had made such representations, as had destroyed all the pleasure, they had been accustomed to derive from my presence. This affected me beyond expression, a stranger as I was; and, suffering in the dread of what I had to expect, I turned from the door of those deceived persons, without uttering a word. I quitted their habitations forever; invidious remarks were made upon my silence; but of these I was careless; on other occasions I might have been affected, but treachery from a man, who had entertained me so hospitably, and who stood so high in the ranks of piety, shocked me beyond the power of utterance. Upon the afternoon of this day, on which I had been so deeply hurt, I was engaged to deliver my peaceful message in the pulpit of Mr. Dunham, in the vicinity of this perfidious man. Some time had elapsed since I had seen him, and I then met him upon the road; he advanced toward me with an extended hand, and a countenance expressive of Christian affection: "You are a great stranger, sir." Yes, sir, I am a stranger, and sojourner, in every place, as all my fathers were before me. "Well, how have you been, since I saw you?" Thanks be to God, I have been preserved, and owned, and blessed, notwithstanding the slanders of the adversary, and his agents. He saw he was detected, and he determined immediately to drop the mask. "Well, I will do all in my power to obstruct your progress, in every place." Had you, sir, made this declaration at an earlier period, I should at least have believed you an honest man. But to pass yourself upon me as my friend, my sincere friend, while you were aiming at me a vital stab! Oh sir, I am astonished at you. "And I am more astonished at you; do you not tremble, when you think, that God must have a quarrel with you? and that all His ministers in America hate you?" Sir, I do not believe my Creator is a quarrelsome Being, neither do I credit the information, that all God's ministers hate me; a minister of God is incapable of hating any human being. "But are you not confounded, when you consider, that you must be right, and we wrong; or you wrong, and all God's ministers right? Surely, it is more probable we should be all right, and you wrong, than you right, and we all wrong." I have no apprehensions upon this head; some one might have questioned, in the days of Elijah, when he was opposed by eight hundred and fifty prophets: "Do you not tremble to see all these holy, and reverend priests on one side, and you alone on the other? either they must be wrong, and you right, or you wrong, and they right." So in Jerusalem, our divine Master might have been asked: "Are you not appalled at beholding all the ministers of God, all the rulers of the people, in opposition? Either they must be wrong, and you right, or you wrong, and they right; and which, pray, is the most probable?" And the people might have been asked: "Have any of our rulers believed on him? He is a Devil, and mad, why hear ye him?" "I am astonished at your daring blasphemy, in comparing yourself either to Elijah, or Christ." Why, was not Elijah a man of like passions with us? and are we not taught to put on the Lord Jesus Christ? Who is it that asks, If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub? what ought the servants of his household to expect? Elijah is a member in the same body with me; but the Redeemer is still nearer; He is my head, the head of every man; He indulges me with the privilege of denying myself, my sinful self, and he allows me to acknowledge no other than his blessed self; that, thus standing in his name, I may stand in the presence of the Father, the Divinity, with exceeding joy; that, asking in the name of his immaculate humanity, I may be sure to receive, that my joy may be full. Nor can all that you, nor any one else can say, be able to shake me from this my strong hold. "Ay, perhaps you may be mistaken—you may be deceived." If I am deceived, I am deceived; but I will venture. "You know this is not the privilege of all, and therefore it may not be yours." I do not know, that this is not the privilege of all; but, if it be of any, it is of the believer; and, as I believe, it must be mine. They shall, said my divine Master, say all manner of evil of you, falsely. You, sir, have been in Brunswick, fulfilling this scripture; and I rejoice, that I have made the discovery. You can never deceive me again; but, as I am not naturally suspicious, others may obtain a lease of my good opinion, from which they will never, but upon the strongest conviction, be ejected. I left this good man beyond measure enraged; and, no doubt, believing he should really render God service, by doing me the most essential injury. I immediately repaired to the pulpit of my friend Dunham, where, preaching peace, I recovered my lost serenity; and it gladdened my heart to believe, that the inveterate enemy, with whom I had parted upon the road, was included in the redemption it was my business to proclaim.
But now again, my heart failed me—again I sickened at the prospect before me, and my whole soul, revolting from a continuance in public life, I once more fled to my beloved, my sequestered home. I sighed ardently for my emancipation. Of that God, who was, in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, I entertained not the smallest dread. But my coward spirit trembled before a combination of religious characters, headed by the clergy, and armed for my destruction. Their zeal was manifested by their industriously propagating a variety of evil reports. I would detail them, were they not so numerous. And, although all manner of evil had not yet been said of me, enough was said to implant a dread of some overwhelming termination. Thus my aversion to the path, into which I had been pressed, became more imposing. I was ready to say, Lord, send, by whom thou wilt send, and, in mercy, vouchsafe to grant me my final exit from those surrounding scenes, which embosom the retirement of my friend. Often have I wept, as I traversed the woods and groves of my patron, at the thought, that I could not be indulged with the felicity of passing the remainder of my days, amid those sylvan scenes; especially as it was the wish of the liberal master, that I should so do. I became apprehensive, that my trials, in this new world, would surpass those, which I had encountered in the old. These agonizing anticipations prostrated me before the throne of the Almighty, imploring his protection; and from this high communication with my Father God, my griefs have been assuaged and my wounded spirit healed. Urged by a strong sense of duty, I again visited Upper Freehold, to which place I had been repeatedly summoned. My acquaintance there was large and respectable, but it was the residence of a high-priest, who treated me roughly. I was asked to breakfast, at the house of one of his congregation, without the most remote hint, that I was to meet this great man; but I was hardly seated, when he was observed making his approaches; and, from some expressions of surprise, I was induced to believe he was totally unexpected. I was astonished to see so many assembled; but supposed, that curiosity to see the strange preacher, of as strange a doctrine, had drawn them together. I was, however, afterwards assured, that the plan had been previously concerted. Mr. Tennant entered. We were introduced to each other. He drew a chair into the midst of the circle; and, commanding into his countenance as much stern severity, as he could collect, he commenced his studied operations. "I want to know, sir, by what authority you presume to preach in this place?" Pray, sir, by what authority do you thus presume to question me? "I am, sir, placed here, by Almighty God, to look after the affairs of his church, and people; and I have a right to insist on knowing who, and what you are?" Well, sir, if you be placed here, as the vicegerent of Heaven, you should take care how you conduct; you have a great charge, and your responsibility is proportioned to its magnitude. But, sir, I am not assuming; I have no design upon your people; I am like a person in the time of harvest, who steps into the field, and binds up some sheaves, making no demand upon the proprietor of the grounds. I have never attempted to scatter your sheep, I have not even plucked a lock of their wool. I do not wish to govern, I only aim at being a help. "I do not like you a bit the better for all this stuff. I insist on knowing, whether you came in at the door?" I wish to know, sir, what door you mean? "I mean, the door of the church; all, who come not in at that door, are thieves and robbers." But, sir, I would know, what church you mean? The pope declares, there is no true church, save the one of which he is the head. The Episcopal bishop affirms, there is no true church, but that of which the king is the head. Do you, sir, mean either of these? "No, sir, I mean the true church. Did you come in at that door?" If, sir, you do not tell me, what you mean by the true church, how can I answer you respecting the door? "Sir, I will have no evasions. Did you, or did you not, come in at the door?" Jesus Christ says: 'I am the door; by me, if any man enter, he shall be saved.' Do you mean this door, sir? "No, sir, I mean the door of the church." Is not Jesus Christ the door of the church, sir? "No, sir." Well, sir, although there be many preachers, who have not entered at this door, you will not, I trust, esteem a preacher the less, for having the privilege to go in and out at this door. "Sir, I have nothing to do with this; I wish to know, whether you have church authority for preaching? that is, whether you came properly in at the door?" Sir, I have the same authority for preaching, which the apostle Paul had; he received his mission by the will of God, so have I. "Ay, sir, give us the same miracles Paul wrought, and we will believe you." If the power of working miracles were necessary to prove a right to preach the gospel, perhaps you, sir, would be also at a loss to prove your own right, either to preach, or thus to question a fellow creature. "Sir, you are a deceitful, hypocritical man. If you had come properly in at the door, I should have received you; but you are an impostor, I pronounce you an impostor." That is more than you know, sir, and, I add, more than I know myself; but, if we cannot agree about the church, and the door, blessed be God! we can agree in one fundamental point: While we were yet sinners, Christ Jesus died for us, and, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son. The old gentleman started from his seat, and, running round the apartment, exclaimed, in a loud and thundering voice, to those, who were without: "Come in, and hear gibberish, gibberish, gibberish." I was astonished, and when he had so far spent his rage, as to remain for one moment silent, I looked full in his face, and asked: Pray, sir, what language do you make use of? Is it possible, that you, a clergyman, highly distinguished, the head of the Presbytery, and now in the evening of life, should be so little acquainted with the scriptures, as to call the language of revelation, gibberish? "You know nothing about revelation; there never was an individual of the human race, that ever had any interest in Christ, or in God, until they had repentance and faith." Pardon me, sir; you do not believe this yourself. "I say, I do." Excuse me, sir; you certainly do not. "Give me leave to tell you, you have a great deal of impudence, thus to talk to me." Nay, sir, I do not wish to offend; I wish you to reconsider your assertion; I am confident, you do not believe it; and I am confident, you will have the goodness to own it, before I quit this apartment. "Let me tell you, young man, you have the greatest stock of assurance, I have ever met with in any young person. I tell you again, there never was an individual of the human race, who left this world without faith and repentance, who ever had any interest in Christ, or ever tasted happiness." Not one? "No, sir, not one." Oh! sir, I am sorry you compel me to make you retract this affirmation. Turning to the company, he required them to say, whether they did not think my insolence surpassed credibility? The company were silent, and, after a pause, I said: I know, sir, if you believe Calvinistic principles, you believe some infants may be eternally lost; but no Calvinist denies, that some infants are interested in Christ, and eternally blessed, although they passed out of time, without repentance or faith. "Sir, I never thought of infants." So I imagined; and it was therefore, sir, I took the liberty to say, you did not believe what you advanced. "But I believe it with respect to all, besides infants." No, sir, pardon me, you do not. Again he was exceeding angry, until I mentioned idiots. "I did not think of idiots." I believe, you did not; but, my good sir, would it not be as well, if you were always to think, before you speak? "Again I say, I am astonished at your impudence; I could not have believed a young man, like you, could have had so much impudence." I dare say, sir, you are disappointed; you expected to have met a timid, poor, destitute stranger, who would have been confounded by noise, and such cogent arguments, as gibberish, gibberish, repeatedly vociferated; you expected, I should not have dared to utter a syllable; you have been pleased to treat me very roughly; you know not, but you have been pouring vinegar into wounds already sore; you have, sir, been vexing the stranger; and without any provocation on my part. "Ay, ay, this is the language of all impostors."
Thus ended my morning repast. I was very much hurt; yet I reaped advantage from this new trial. Returning to my lodgings, I experienced the most painful sensations; but the rebuff, I had received, operated as usual, it drew me nearer to my God, and, pouring out my heart in secret before the Father of my spirit, I obtained, what the favour of the clergy could never give—consolation and peace in believing.
My conduct at this breakfasting conference was represented in such a point of view, as increased the number of my friends; and clerical gentlemen, in this place and its environs, forebore direct attacks; but the tongue of the private slanderer was busily employed. A gentleman of C———, the Rev. Mr. S———, repeatedly attended my public labours; addressed me after preaching, continued some time in conversation with me, and appointed a day, on which he pressed me to dine with him. I accepted his politeness with gratitude, and was punctual to the time. Mr. S——— received me with manifest satisfaction; we were alone, and we passed many hours most pleasantly. Mr. S——— seemed solicitous, that I should view him, neither as a skeptic, nor a caviller, but simply an inquirer after truth. He asked me many questions, which I answered as clearly, as I was able; and he appeared sometimes satisfied, sometimes dissatisfied, and sometimes silenced. Upon the whole, his deportment was gentlemanly, and I could not forbear regarding him, as a sensible, illumined Christian. On my departure he urged me to consider his house my home, whenever I visited C———; waited on me while I mounted my horse, pressed my hand, and, with much apparent devotion, supplicated the blessing of heaven upon me. On recurring to my journal, I find my notice of this interview, concluded as follows:—Thus far am I brought on my way rejoicing; the Lord is my Sun and Shield, blessed be the name of my God! Yet no sooner was I out of view, than this same Mr. S——— ordered his horse, and posting to every respectable family in his parish, informed them, that, with all my cunning, he had outwitted me; that he had asked me to dine, and, by flattery and caresses, had thrown me off my guard, and obtained a complete knowledge of my principles. "Well, dear sir, and what are his principles?" O! truly shocking! horrid! most horrid! I dare not relate them, you shall not be contaminated by the recital; it would be dangerous in the extreme. Nor was this enough. Being a member of the Presbytery, he wrote a circular letter, addressing every leading associate, which effectually steeled all hearts, and, so far as his influence extended, barred every door against me. Calumnies of various descriptions were disseminated; rancour became uncommonly prolific; astonishing efforts were made to destroy my reputation; but God was with me, and his spirit was my never-failing support. In the midst of these fiery trials, I passed on: succeeding weeks and months rolled away, while my days were appropriated to my beloved home, to different parts of the Jersies, Philadelphia, New-York, and many of the intervening towns, scattered between those cities.
In the commencement of the Autumn, of 1773, I was strongly induced to journey as far as Newport, in Rhode-Island; and having dropped a tear, at parting with my faithful friend, I commended him to the care of heaven, and began my new tour of duty. The chilly mornings and evenings, of even the first autumnal month, gave me to experience the want of an outside garment. I was, however, determined not to solicit human aid; this, I believed, would be taking the business out of the hand of my Master. If God had sent me, he would put it into the hearts of his people to supply me; yet I did not calculate, that this want would be supplied, until I reached New-York. I believed I had in that city a friend, who would derive pleasure from administering to my necessities. But when I was preparing to leave Brunswick, a person entered the parlour, displayed a number of patterns, requested I would make a choice for a greatcoat; and asked, how long I should tarry in town? I told him, I should leave town early on the succeeding morning: "Well, sir," he returned, "your coat shall be ready." I asked, by whom he was sent? "Sir, I was ordered not to say by whom." It is very well, I know who sent you. "Do you, sir?" Yes, sir, it was God, my Father; who, having all hearts in his hand, has stimulated your employer. Early the following morning, the coat was brought home; I was deeply affected, and laying my hand upon it, I said: Henceforward thou shall be my monitor; whenever I feel my heart desponding, in silent, but persuasive language, thou shalt say: "Cast thy care upon God, for he careth for thee." It was not so much the supply of this pressing want, that pleased me, as the recognition of the immediate hand of paternal Deity, who thus vouchsafed to own, and bless my mission. On my arrival in New-York, I learned, to my great astonishment, that the friend, on whom my hopes of a winter garment had rested, was become my enemy! I was greatly pained, he was very dear to me; but a religious slanderer had been at his ear, and had prejudiced him against me. I lost him forever—alas! alas! how many such losses have I sustained, since I became a promulgator of the truth, as it is in Jesus.
Leaving New-York, I postponed my journey to Newport, passed through East Jersey, and stopped at Amboy, where I had many friends. Sitting one evening at tea with a lady, she complained, that her maid had quitted her, having been seduced from her duty, by a foot soldier. This immediately reminded me of Mrs. Trinbath, the poor unhappy lady, at whose house, in Cork, I had, in company with Mr. Whitefield, and others, been so splendidly entertained. I related the mournful tale, when the lady assured me, she knew the unhappy creature; she had seen her in Amboy, and that she was now in New-York, in a most wretched situation. I immediately conceived a hope, that, if I could obtain an interview with her, I might prevail upon her to return to her widowed mother, and to her children; and although her husband was no more, she might yet, in some measure, retrieve the past. Alas! alas! I did not calculate, that I was thus making provision for the most serious calamity, which, during my sojourn in this new world, had until then overtaken me. The following day, intent on my purpose, I took passage in the packet, for New-York; accompanied by the serjeant-major of the regiment, to which the fellow belonged, with whom this deluded woman lived. I asked him, if he knew such a person? Yes, he knew her, and she was in a very wretched condition. I sighed, from the inmost recesses of my soul, while I listened to his account of her manner of living. I begged to know, if I could see her. Yes, he could conduct me to her abode; but on our arrival, passing over the common, near the gaol, to the residence of this poor creature, we chanced to meet her infamous seducer, who, not having heard of the death of Mr. Trinbath, immediately concluded I was that injured husband, come to reclaim my wretched wanderer. Under this impression, he hastened home, and effectually secreted her, before we reached the door. I was disappointed, but I informed a poor creature in the house, that I would call, upon the ensuing day, at one o'clock, when I hoped I might obtain an interview. I was, the next day, punctual to the appointment; but, instead of the misguided woman, I received a letter, directed to Mr. Trinbath, entreating most earnestly, that I would not attempt to see her; that, after treating me as she had done, she never would see me more; and that, if I persisted in pursuing her, she would leave the city, and, taking with her her miserable children, they would all perish together, for she would, rather than meet my eye, suffer a thousand deaths. I was beyond measure shocked at this letter; I saw the absolute necessity of seeing and convincing her of her error; but how was this to be effectuated? I could devise no plan. I told the old woman, it was a most capital mistake; that I was not the person she supposed. O, said she, you need say nothing about that, sir; every body knows you are her husband, and every body pities you, poor gentleman, that you should have such a wife; but she has bad advisers, and I dare say, if you can see her and forgive her, (and every body says, if you did not intend to do so, you would never have sought her,) she will again be a very good woman. I was provoked beyond endurance; but every appearance of irritation was imputed to my disappointment, and consequent resentment. My soul was harrowed up by agonizing distress; unable to convince the old woman, I returned to my lodgings. My friends perceived the anguish of my spirit, for which they were well able to account; they, however, carefully avoided the subject. At last, not being able to control my emotions, I burst into tears. They were alarmed. "What is the matter?" I circumstantially related the whole story, and dwelt upon my sufferings, consequent upon my inability to see Mrs. Trinbath, and convince her of her mistake. My friends appeared relieved, and proposed my writing to her, and leaving my letter at her lodgings; she will see it is not the hand-writing of her husband. The propriety of this measure was obvious; I asked the gentleman, if he would accompany me? "Most gladly." I wrote immediately, labouring to convince this unfortunate woman of her error, and assuring her, that my friend, Mr. Trinbath, had been many years dead; that if she would but give me a meeting, for a single moment, she would acknowledge, she had nothing to fear from me. This letter was ineffectual; she was positive it was all a deception, and that, with a view of deceiving her, I had employed some other pen.
This story was a sweet morsel to my religious foes. It was painted in the most odious colours, and industriously exhibited. They declared, the woman was unquestionably my wife; and that, on account of the treatment she had received from her barbarous husband, she had preferred putting herself under the protection of a and a thousand other falsehoods, were circulating, through the city. My humane friends, at length, interfered; they solicited the commanding officer to oblige the fellow, with whom the woman lived, to produce her; she approached with dread apprehension; a large company was collected, spectators of the scene. She caught a glance, and exclaiming, in a tremulous accent, It is, it is he—immediately fainted. Curiosity, and humanity, combined to recover her; she was led into the parlour. I appeared full before her, entreating her to take a view of my face; she did so, and no words can express her confusion; her acknowledgments were repeated and copious; she did not recollect, ever to have seen me before. I was most happy in the result of this untoward business, which had nearly annihilated my anxiety respecting her restoration to her connexions. Indeed I was assured, no entreaties would procure her return to Cork. So many had witnessed an ecclaircissement, so honourable to me, that I fondly believed it would be attached to the narration; but alas! there was not a thousandth part of the pains taken to publish the truth, as had been taken to spread far and wide the slander; here it was the still voice of friendship; there it was Slander with her thousand tongues. None but God can tell, how much I have suffered, from the various trials, I have encountered. Again, I mournfully acknowledged, that my object in coming to America was not in any view obtained; that my grand desideratum appeared further and further from my reach; again I wished most ardently to be in England; yea, in the very scenes from which I had escaped, if I might thus be delivered, from the distracted situation, in which I was involved; and the more I contemplated the indignation, and power, of the clergy, the more frequently I exclaimed, Doubtless I shall one day perish by the hand of my enemy. Yet, in the darkest night of my affliction, my gracious God frequently vouchsafed to grant me peace, and joy, in believing that His almighty power was sufficient for me; and, in the pulpit, whatever was my previous situation, either mental, or corporeal, when engaged in the investigation of divine truth, I was not only tranquil, but happy: And this happiness I often enjoyed; for an ardent curiosity obliged the people every where to hear; and, when a pulpit could not be obtained, a private house, a court-house, a wood, answered the purpose; and I rejoiced, while contemplating the irradiations of divine truth, bursting through the dark clouds of prejudice, and with such imposing splendor, as could only be effectuated by Omnipotent power.soldier; that she had attended church, upon a lecture evening, and upon seeing me, her husband, in the pulpit, she had shrieked aloud, and fainted. This,
I received frequent and most pressing invitations to visit New-England. During my residence in New-York, I became known to many gentlemen of Connecticut; and I was requested to stop, and deliver my testimony in various places, along the road. I resumed my purpose of visiting Newport, determining to proceed thither with all possible dispatch. I had, however, promised to stop at a friend's house, in Milford, and at another's, in Guilford; at which places I preached to very large congregations; several strangers, having seen me elsewhere, recognised me, and entreated me to accompany them to their respective homes; but my object was Newport. Many individuals, from Norwich, departed from Guilford with me; they gave me to understand, that, having made part of my audience, on the preceding evening, they were extremely desirous I should proceed with them to Norwich. We passed the day very agreeably together, conversing with great freedom. About sunset, we reached New-London, where it was my resolution to bid my new associates adieu; but they so earnestly importuned me to go on, one gentleman in particular, that, accepting his proffered kindness, I was that night lodged in his hospitable dwelling. He soon became, and ever after continued, my steadfast friend. Many, in Norwich, received me with great kindness; a house of worship was provided; but it not being sufficiently spacious, the doors of the great meeting-house were thrown open, and never afterwards shut against me. Thus, in this instance, the zeal of the people has been sufficiently imposing, to prevail against ministerial opposition. The friends I obtained, in Norwich, were, in truth, inestimable; some individuals are not yet called home; they remain unwavering in the belief of the truth, as it is in Jesus; and in their affectionate attachment to its feeble advocate. At Norwich, I was solicited to preach in the meeting-house of Mr. Hart, of Preston; to which place many of my new friends accompanied me. Having passed the night at Preston, on the succeeding morning, I re-commenced my journey, with the Rev. Mr. H———, of Newport. The distance was between 30 and 40 miles; but as Mr. H——— was going home, he would not stop to dine on the road. In the course of the day, Mr. H——— thus questioned me: "Well, sir, I suppose you will preach in Newport?" Very likely, sir. "You have friends there, I presume?" No, sir, I do not know a single soul. "You have letters of recommendation, perhaps?" Not a line, sir. "Where then do you intend to go, and what do you intend to do?" I have laid no plans, sir. "I promise you, you shall not preach in my meeting." I should be very much surprised, if I did, sir. "And I suppose, you think you are called of God, to go to Newport?" I think it is not unlikely, sir. "I believe, you will find yourself mistaken." It is possible. "Suppose you should find no place to preach in, what would you do then?" Devote myself to private conversation. "But, suppose you could find no one to converse with?" Then I would turn about, and come back again. "But what would you think of your faith?" Call it fancy. But at present, I think I shall preach the gospel in Newport; and, although I am an utter stranger, knowing no one, nor known by any one; yet I expect, before I leave the place, to have many friends. "Ay, these are fine fancies, fine fancies indeed." Had you not better suspend your decision, until you witness the result? will it not then be full time to determine, whether it be faith, or fancy? "If it should not be, as I predict, I should not be ashamed to own my error; if it should, you ought to blush for your unwarrantable confidence. But, as it is not impossible, you may preach in that city, and that some of my people may be among the number of your hearers, I think I have a right to question you." If God will give me leave to preach to his people, I am content. "What do you mean by that, sir?" Your observation brought to my mind, what, on a certain occasion, a very distinguished servant of God said to his master, when he was told to go down and see what his people were doing. O lord, they are not my people, they are thy people. However, Moses was not settled on your plan. "Well, sir, I look upon my people to be God's people." You are perfectly right, sir, so indeed they are; and if I speak to them at all, I shall speak to them, in that character. "Well, sir, as you call yourself a preacher of the gospel, and may, as I have said, preach to my people; it is proper I should know what ideas you have of gospel. Tell me, sir, what is gospel?" I am happy in being able to give you a direct answer. The gospel, sir, is a solemn declaration, given upon the oath of Jehovah, that, in the Seed of Abraham, all the nations of the earth should be blessed. "Is that all you know of gospel?" Would it not, my good sir, require a very long time to inform mankind, who, and what, that Seed is; how, and in what manner all the nations of the earth are, and shall be blessed therein; and what blessings they are blessed with, in Christ Jesus? The apostle Paul, although he laboured more abundantly, than his brethren, found this vast, this important subject, abundantly sufficient for his whole life; and those, who are blessed in that Seed, will find the contemplation of that blessedness, which they shall be blessed with, in Him, sufficient to furnish a song, which, although never ending, will be ever new. "If such be your views, you know nothing at all of gospel." You could not so absolutely determine this matter, if you yourself were not acquainted with the meaning of the term, gospel. Tell me then, sir, if you please, what is gospel? "Why, sir, this is gospel: He, that believeth, shall be saved, and he, that believeth not, shall be damned." Indeed, sir, I had thought, the literal, simple meaning of the term gospel was, glad tidings. Which part of the passage, you have cited, is gospel, that which announces salvation, or that which announces damnation? "Well then, if you please, this is gospel: He, that believeth, shall be saved." Believeth what, sir? "That." What, sir? "That, I tell you." What, sir? "That, I tell you: He, that believeth, shall be saved." Believeth what, sir? What is he to believe? "Why that, I tell you." I wished, sir, to treat this investigation seriously; but, as you seem to be disposed to be rather ludicrous, we will, if you please, dismiss the subject. "No, sir, I do not mean to be ludicrous; I am very serious." Well, sir, if so, then I beg leave to ask, what is it I am to believe; the believing of which, will save me? "That Jesus Christ made it possible for sinners to be saved." By what means? "By believing." Believing what? "That." What? "That Jesus Christ made it possible for sinners to be saved." By what means is it possible sinners may be saved? "By believing, I tell you." But the devils believe; will their believing save them? "No, sir." Suppose I believe, that Jesus Christ made it possible to save sinners; will that save me? "No, sir." Then, sir, let me ask, what am I to believe, the believing of which will save me? "Why, sir, you must believe the gospel, that Jesus made it possible for sinners to be saved." But by what means? "By believing." Believing what? "That, I tell you."
Mr. H——— could not but be conscious the ground he had taken was untenable. Had he answered in scripture language, that the truth to be believed, and which we make God a liar by not believing, was, that Christ had given himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time; that he had absolutely tasted death for every man; and that every man should be made alive in Christ Jesus, &c. &c. the inference was unavoidable, nor man, nor devil could undo, what God had done; the power exists not, which can set aside the decrees of God. If the Redeemer did not taste death for all; if He has not purchased all; then those, for whom He has not tasted death, whom He has not purchased, have no right to believe He has; and were they so to believe, they must indubitably believe a lie. But, finding the temper of Mr. H——— rise higher and higher, every time I repeated my question; I endeavoured to bring the matter to a conclusion, by observing, that I was astonished to find a master in Israel, and a writer too, either not able, or not willing, to answer a simple question, viz. what I am to believe is the foundation of my salvation? what I am to believe procures my justification in the sight of God? "And I am astonished at your blasphemy." This is in character, sir; men of your description were long since fond of fixing this charge on both the Master, and his witnesses; but, remember, sir, if I have blasphemed, it is only Mr. H———, whom I have blasphemed. "Well, sir, I believe I have gone too far; I will, if you please, take back the charge." With all my heart, sir. "I do not doubt, you may be admired in Newport a whole fortnight." That no doubt will be fourteen days longer, than you would wish. Arriving in sight of Newport, Mr. H——— said: "There, sir, is my meeting-house; at a little distance from thence is my dwelling-house, and my friends are ." Well, sir, I have no home, meeting-house, nor friend, in Newport. Yet, I repeat, before I leave that city, I expect to have more than one home, and many friends. "Well, now I think of it, there is one man, who has a little place, in which, possibly, you may get leave to preach; I will direct you to a man, who has some acquaintance with him." I will thank you, sir, to inform me where my horse may be taken care of; for myself, I have little concern. "I promise you, horse-keeping is very high in Newport." That, sir, is very sad tidings to me, for I promise you, my finances are very low. Some very bitter speeches were made; and I regretted, that I was so unfortunate, as to have taken the journey with Mr. H———. Your people, said I, are leavened with the leaven of the Pharisees, and you seem to be leavened with the leaven of Herod. "What do you mean by the leaven of Herod?" I mean the nature of Herod. "How does that apply?" Some persons urged our Master to fly, in consequence of Herod's seeking his life. Go, said He, tell that fox, I work to-day and to-morrow, &c. &c. Our Master denominated Herod a fox, for the purpose of giving an idea of his nature. What is a fox? a creature that lives upon the spoil; but he is dependent upon the secrecy of the night, and, we are told, in order the more effectually to cover his designs, he sometimes imitates the watch-dog, thus endeavouring to make it appear, he is defending the property of the husbandman, while, under the guise of watchful care for others, he is covertly acting for himself, till the morning dawns, till the light appears, and then his labour ends. This is the leaven of Herod, and it was of the nature of this insidious animal, that our Lord cautioned his disciples to beware. "Well, there is something ingenious in that, I confess." We reached the ferry a little before sunset, and on landing at Newport: "There," said Mr. H———, pointing to a small shop, "If you will call on that man, he will give you direction." I walked on, stopped at the door, and holding the bridle in my hand, asked the man behind the counter, if he would be so obliging as to inform me, which was the best inn for keeping horses? "Please to walk in, sir." I fastened my horse and entered the shop, and seeing the man look very gloomy, and hearing him sigh very bitterly, I concluded he must be under the pressure of some heavy calamity; and, as no woman appeared, I suspected the poor fellow must have lost his wife, and my sympathies were very powerfully excited. I was, however, solicitous about my horse, and again requested the requisite information. "Do not make yourself uneasy, sir, my little boy will be here in a few moments, when I will send him with your horse, and you will be so obliging as to tarry here, and drink tea; my wife is out of town, and of course things will not be so well, as if she were here." I was very much relieved by this intelligence, and sat down. "How far have you travelled to-day, sir?" From Preston, in Connecticut, sir. "Did you come alone, sir?" No, sir, I came in company with a Mr. H———, one of your Teachers; I parted with him at the ferry. "Did he not ask you to his house?" No, sir. "Well, sir, I hope you will believe, there is not another man in this town, who would have been so deficient; you must, however, tarry here to-night, and we will take especial care of your horse." You are very obliging, sir; but I had rather, if you please, attend to my horse myself. "Will you, sir, be so good, as to leave this matter to me, and take some refreshment yourself? You are a public character, and I have been accustomed to attend to public characters." How do you know I am a public character? there is nothing in my appearance, which indicates it. "The moment you came to my door, it seemed as if some one had said, The person who addresses you is a preacher; take kind notice of him; and I immediately determined to obey the impulse." This instance of providential care nearly overpowered me, I was the more affected by this bright manifestation, as it closed a very dark day. It spoke, to my wounded mind, the language of assurance; my Divine Master was with me, and had prepared the heart of this man to receive me, and this soothing consideration gave me inexpressible pleasure. Had I been in a clerical dress, or had the smallest vestige of those habiliments been discernible, I should have believed those externals had produced their effect. But, divested as I was, of every thing which could speak to the eye, I could not but greatly rejoice in this instance of recognising goodness, and my full soul glowed with fervent and devotional gratitude. My cup of tea was mingled with my tears; but they were tears of joy, of sacred rapture. It was like the priest leaving me, and the good Samaritan taking me up; and the oil and wine, thus poured into my lacerated bosom, was most salutary, truly refreshing.
My kind host summoned a number of his friends to pass the evening; they all appeared very gloomy, and I had sympathy for their situation. After being introduced, they continued for some time silent, and sighed in their turns very bitterly. Those sighs, however, although signs, were not proofs, of sorrow; it was the custom for very religious people to be very melancholy, and these were very religious people; so much so, that I afterwards discovered, there was no society in town, with which they could conscientiously associate. It was proposed, I should narrate my experiences, that they might judge if I were a child of God. I very readily accommodated myself to their wishes, and gave them a sketch of some memorable scenes in my life. When I closed, a profound silence, interrupted only by sighs, succeeded; at last, one affirmed, I was not a child of God, my experiences were not of the true kind, he could not go with me; a second pronounced, I was a child of God, for he felt me, as I proceeded. Being thus divided, they knew not on what to determine; at last, it was proposed to apply to Mr. D——— for his meeting-house. This was the very place, pointed out by Mr. H———. I knew his design was to ruin me, and therefore, without hesitation, I said I did not feel a freedom to speak in the proposed place. Well, would I preach in the room, in which we were sitting; many had so done, and why not me? This also I rejected, it was too much confined. They pronounced me very difficult; they did not believe, I should find any other place. I assured them, I was not anxious in this respect. If God had sent me, he would provide a place for me; if he had not, I was willing to return, whence I came. "Perhaps God has provided you a place, by directing us to make these offers." No, sir, if God had directed you to make these offers, and had thought proper I should deliver my message in either of the places mentioned, he would have disposed my heart to embrace them; but this I feel He has not done. They pronounced me very odd, and took their leave; but the master of the house, and one of his friends, conceiving there was something uncommon in me, my manner, and my matter, continued with me in conversation the greater part of the night, and, although I had travelled all the day, yet I found no inconvenience from this additional fatigue.
After breakfast, on the ensuing day, I walked round the town, and was much pleased with its situation; its harbour, and perspective views, delighted me, and, although a stranger, with only a few shillings in my pocket, my bosom was as tranquil, as if in my own residence, and master of thousands. Blessed be God! I have never yet experienced much solicitude about this world, or the gifts, which it has to bestow. It never entered into my head, or heart, that I should not be supplied with whatever was necessary for me; I had fared hard, and I could again accommodate myself to the vicissitudes of life—yea, and without a murmur. I continued perambulating the streets, until the hour of dining, when I returned to my lodgings. "Well, sir, the committee of Doctor S———'s meeting have been here, to engage you to supply their pulpit to-morrow,—Sunday,—and they will call for your answer in the evening." I was, I confess, astonished; but the evening produced the committee, and I acceded to their wishes. One of the gentlemen pressed me to return with him, and take up my abode at his house, during my continuance in Newport; I did so, and was soon domesticated in his family, which continued my occasional home for many, very many years. Doctor S——— was absent, and it was the business of the committee to supply the desk, till his return; my appearance was opportune, and the people were generally pleased. I was requested to publish a lecture for the next day. I did so, and the congregation was crowded, and attentive. I informed the audience, that I purposed tarrying in Newport two weeks, during which time I was ready to unite with them, in consulting the sacred writings, as often as they pleased; but if I delivered any more lectures, it must be in the evening; my reason for which was, that there were many labouring persons, who could not attend, without loss of time,—and loss of time, to them, was loss of property. I was then informed, that when Mr. Whitefield was last there, the parish had passed a vote against evening lectures. I replied: The parish has an indubitable right to adhere to their vote; but they must excuse me, if I thought it my duty to abide by my determination. The parish met, re-considered their vote, and requested me to preach in the evening. Here then I preached, every evening, until the Doctor's return; to whom my kind, honest host, requested me to accompany him on a visit, insisting upon my promising, that I would return with him. Simple man, because he, a hearer, was pleased, he conceived his minister would also be pleased, and that he would press me to abide at his house; I promised him, however, and he exulted in having gained his point. The Doctor received me with cool civility; asked me a great many questions; spoke of my pulpit talents, in the way I expected he would speak of them; and finally expressed regret, that he could not ask my assistance on the ensuing day,—Sunday,—as there were so many individuals, who would be offended. My friend was astonished. I was not. My friend observed, there was but one in the congregation, who was opposed to my preaching in their meeting-house; and, he added, if I did not preach, the people would be greatly disappointed. The Doctor would not hear him, and we parted, without my receiving even an invitation to repeat my call. My guileless host expressed great surprise. "So good a man as the Doctor; why, I imagined, he would have taken you into his arms, and never, if he could help it, have permitted you to lodge any where, but under his roof." From this moment, I had much to grieve me in Newport, for, although my friends were numerous, and my enemies but few, yet those few were uncommonly industrious.
On Monday morning, one of the committee, who had first engaged me to preach, called upon me at my lodgings; and informed me, there came, on Saturday night, from New-York, a Reverend divine, who had given me a most horrid character; he had said many things, which he hoped and believed were not true. Pray, sir, where is this good man? "He is, sir, at the house of Mr. Rogers, father of the Rev. Mr. Rogers." Will you, sir, call upon this gentleman with me? "Certainly, sir, but you had better first take breakfast." By no means, I may miss him, and I want to see him in your presence. We hurried off immediately, but alas! he had left town at break of day; he had just cast about firebrands, arrows, and death, and withdrawn from the investigation, upon which he had reason to calculate. The parade was full of people; the reports ran like wild fire; fame had blown the trumpet of slander, and, at the house of Mr. Rogers, many were assembled. I regretted, that the Rev. calumniator had flown; I wished to be tried in the presence of the people. I requested, however, that they would exhibit the charges, that had been lodged against me. They did so, and they consisted of the following items:—1st, I had formerly laboured for my living; 2dly, I was a married man; 3dly, I had children; 4thly, I had been a stage player; and 5thly, I had sung songs. Upon which I observed: Perhaps my denial of these charges may answer little purpose; yet, as in the presence of heaven, you will allow me to say, that, although I have made some unsuccessful attempts to obtain an honourable competency, yet I have, alas! and it is with extreme sorrow I make the declaration, I have, in this world, neither wife, nor child; I solemnly assure you, I never was an actor upon any stage; I acknowledge I have sung songs, I was once pronounced a good singer; yet I do not recollect, that I ever sang any bad songs, indeed I have been so long out of the habit of song-singing, that I do not remember what songs I have sung. I do not, however, admit, that if these charges could be substantiated, they ought to criminate me. It cannot be a crime to labour; "Six days shalt thou labour." The apostle Paul laboured with his own hands. Many of you are married men; many of you have children; many, in pursuit of business, quit for a season both wives and children; and if I had relinquished the stage for the life of a Religionist, it should be considered as a testimony in my favour. With regard to song-singing, while music makes a part, even of divine worship, a sentimental song could not be supposed detrimental to the interests of morality. I requested to know, if there were any other charges; and was answered with a murmur of applause, "none, sir, none." The tide now turned in my favour, and the people were astonished, that they had annexed the smallest consequence to those reports.
I had now in Newport a very respectable circle of friends, and the occurrence, thus briefly recorded, augmented their affectionate attentions. As a testimony how little they regarded it, they made a party to go out in a number of carriages, and pass the day upon the island; and most delightfully did we enjoy ourselves. We left town in the midst of the tumult; but those, who were present at the examination, mingling with their fellow citizens, gave them an account of what had passed, and it was generally considered, as a plan to bar their pulpit against me; this irritated them, and they determined it should not succeed. They dispatched a message to me; I could not be found. I returned in the evening, and received, by the sexton of Doctor S———'s meeting, an address, signed by a large number of influential characters, earnestly requesting I would, upon that evening, deliver a lecture. I consented; the bell announced my consent; the congregation assembled, and the house was very full. I selected my subject from Isaiah, "Who hath believed our report." I was divinely supported; my heart was very full; gratitude glowed in my bosom, gratitude to that Being, who had upon this, as well as upon many former occasions, so conspicuously appeared for me.
Among other valuable acquisitions, which crowned my labours in Newport, was the friendship of Mr. afterwards General Varnum, who gave me, upon the succeeding morning, a letter to Mr. N. Brown, of Providence, for which place I departed. Mr. Brown received me with much civility, and distinguished me by many acts of kindness. The Rev. Mr. Snow's meeting-house was thrown open; the congregations in Providence were large, I acquired many respectable friends, and my visit was truly pleasing. I contemplated extending my tour as far as Boston, but the season being far advanced, I postponed my purpose, and hastened back to my pleasant home. Visiting my friends upon the road, I did not reach the dwelling of my patron, until the winter was at the door. This enduring friend began to fear he should eventually lose me; and in truth the pressing calls, made upon me, allowed me but little leisure to tarry with him. In the course of this winter, I made many visits; but my little stock of money was nearly exhausted. Had I consented to the mode of collecting, then in practice, such was the zeal of my hearers, that I might have amassed large sums; but I had no family, I did not want money, I believed I should be less obnoxious as a preacher, if I levied no taxes upon the people; and I was ambitious of being able to ask, Whose ox, or whose ass have I taken? Still, as I proceeded, the rancour of the clergy pursued me; this pained me to the soul, and I have passed many agonized hours, originating from this inveterate source. I, however, veiled those scenes of sorrow from the eye of the many; in fact, when engaged in conversation, I so unreservedly enjoyed my friends, that I ceased, for the time being, to reflect upon my enemies or their enmity. I never left home, without increasing both the number of my friends and my enemies; and they were, individually and collectively, very much in earnest, while every attempt to oppose the progress of truth became, in the hand of God, subservient to the purpose of opening the eyes of the people.
I think it was in the January of 1773, that a most importunate solicitation drew me to Philadelphia; and, having frequently visited that city, I had many opportunities with strangers, collected there. Many bore with them to their respective homes, such an account of my doctrine and my manner, as excited much curiosity. I was repeatedly and earnestly urged to proceed to Maryland; an eminent physician, by repeated letters, reiterated his solicitations. A sense of duty imperiously insisted, upon my accepting every invitation of the kind, to the extent of my power, and I consequently determined upon an immediate commencement of my journey to Maryland; accordingly my horse was produced at the door, when it occurred to me, that I had no money. Well, and what then? said I. "You will not think of a journey in such circumstances?" said cold-hearted Prudence. I certainly will. "But how are you to get through a strange country, in which you have no acquaintance?" For shame, is this a time for these remarks? Do you not know, that God Almighty can, at all times, and in every place, open the heart; and that, if He be disposed to do any thing with me, or by me, he will most assuredly bring me on my way? "But had you not better let your friends in this city know your circumstances? They will unquestionably make provision for you." But this would be leaning upon an arm of flesh; it would be making provision for myself. "What will you do at the first stage? you will not be able to purchase any thing, either for yourself, or your horse." If I meet with no support, I will return immediately; by this I shall know, if it be the will of God I should proceed. "And will you really go on in this way?" Most assuredly, and I was on the point of mounting my horse, when a gentleman crossed the street. "Are you going out of town, sir?" Yes, sir. "How far, pray, and which way?" To Maryland, sir, to visit a place, which, as I am told, is eighty miles from this city. "Are you going alone, sir?" I am, sir. "I wish I had known of your determination one hour since, I would certainly have accompanied you part of the way." Well sir, you can do that now; if you please, I will wait an hour. "Will you? then I will get ready as soon as possible." The gentleman was punctual; in less than an hour he was on horseback; and we commenced our journey together. We passed on to Chester, delighted with our ride, and dined luxuriantly, at one of the best inns in the country. Here I expected my fellow traveller would quit me; and prudence again questioned: "Will you not either return, or make known your situation?" I will do neither; I will trust in the Lord, and stay upon the God of my salvation. Our horses were ordered out, again we proceeded together, and our conversation was interesting, animated, delightful. In the middle of the afternoon, we made a second stage; here, said my companion, I had determined to leave you, but I find I am not able, I must proceed. We went on until evening, when we put up at the house of a friend of my fellow traveller, in Newark. This town contained an academy, in the hall of which I afterwards preached. We spent the night most agreeably, and although I expected to pursue the residue of my journey alone, my slumbers were unbroken through the night, and I arose happy in the thought, that I was enabled to cast my care upon God.
Here my friend, after commending me to the protection of Heaven, bade me adieu. I tarried until breakfast was over, when I requested my horse: it was brought to the door. I took the bridle in my hand. Prudence again was ready with her expostulations: "Well, and what are you to do now? you have been thus far brought on by an obliging friend; you have fifty miles more to ride, through a country, not an individual in which you have ever seen, and you have not a penny in your pocket." Again, I say, am I not here, as in Philadelphia, under the care of that beneficent Being, who holds the universe in His hand? I will go on. Just as I raised my foot to the stirrup, the master of the house appeared. "One word, sir, if you please, step in for a moment." I once more entered the hospitable dwelling. "You will, I hope, excuse me, sir; but, ever since I left my bed this morning, I have been strongly excited to do, what however I am afraid to mention, and what I had concluded I would not venture to do. But when I saw you in the act of mounting your horse, I could no longer withstand an irresistible impression, which impels me to ask your acceptance of this trifle:"—putting into my hands abundantly sufficient to bring me to the end of my journey. "You may not want this, sir; but you may meet with some individual, who does." Could my spirit, at this moment, forbear ecstatic prostration before the throne of my God, my Father? This was manifestly another instance of the interposition of my Divine Master. It was He, who has the hearts of all in His hand, that had thus disposed the heart of this man. I could not forbear felicitating him on being appointed to distribute. I communicated to him my real circumstances, while tears of pleasure gushed into his eyes. He would then have made an addition to the gratuity; but this I resolutely refused: I had enough for my present purpose, and more than enough would have been burdensome. I went on from this place, with inexpressible delight, my soul warmly disposed to magnify the Lord, and to trust Him at all times, not being afraid. My faith, by these manifestations thus invigorated and renewed, I rejoiced in the good pleasure of my God; my way was made clear before me, and I nothing doubted, that my journey would be crowned with success. This day was indeed a happy day, I shall certainly never, so long as memory shall continue its office, recur to it without the most pleasurable emotions.
Upon the evening of this memorable day, I arrived at the end of my journey, and I was received by the physician, whose letter of earnest solicitation had brought me thus far, with many demonstrations of joy. I was, however, greatly surprised, to find a person, who I understood was master of a large fortune, plain, if not penurious, both in his house, furniture, and apparel; but, if I was disappointed by the appearance of the man and his dwelling, I was abundantly more so, by his conversation, from which I learned, that he had been imposed upon by the accounts he had received of me; he had been made to believe I was, for matter and manner, a second Whitefield. My heart sunk, as I reflected what I had to expect, from a gentleman thus circumstanced. I beheld before me a self-righteous Calvinist; and I believed, when he discovered (as I was determined he immediately should) the amount of my testimony, he would sincerely repent, that he had summoned me to his abode, and that I should, in consequence, have much to suffer. The house afforded no spare bed, and, of course, I lodged, I cannot say slept with my host. The whole night was devoted to conversation, and I embraced the first pause to inform him, that I once viewed the Deity, and the creature man, precisely as they now appeared to him; but that a complete revolution had been wrought in my mind. Sir, I once believed the faithful Creator had called into existence by far the greatest number of human beings, with no other intention, than to consign them to endless misery, rescuing only a few respected persons, from a state of sin and suffering. You will, my dear sir, probably regret that you have invited me hither, when I inform you, that the Christ, in whom I trust, and the gospel, which I preach, is not the Christ, of whom you expected to hear, nor the gospel, you supposed I should preach. The Christ, in whom I formerly confided, was a partial Saviour; but the Christ, in whom I now trust, is the Saviour of the world. The gospel, you have been accustomed to hear, and which you expected I should preach, is a partial gospel, conveying the glad tidings of eternal life in Christ Jesus, only to an elected few. The gospel, I preach, is glad tidings to every individual of the human race; assuring them that, in Christ, the promised seed, all the nations, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. I fear, sir, that, not being accustomed to the ministry of the reconciliation, committed to the apostles, to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses; that, when all mankind like sheep had gone astray, the Lord, the offended God, laid upon Jesus the iniquities of us all, that he might put them away by the sacrifice of himself, that they might thus, as a mill-stone, be cast into the depths of the sea, and be found no more at all; that Jesus, thus performing the will of God, the world may ultimately behold him in his true character, as the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world; thus becoming the Saviour of all men,—not in, but from their sins. I fear, my good sir, that when you hear me thus preaching the gospel, which God himself preached to Abraham, and which he testified by the mouth of all his holy prophets ever since the world began, your disappointment will be grievous. I know, sir, you have not been accustomed to hear of Universal Love, of boundless compassion; and these sounds may make you as angry, as they have made many of our brethren in every age. Here I made a full pause, continuing for a few moments in painful suspense. I was, however, soon relieved. "No, sir, you have nothing to fear from me; for although the things, of which you speak, have never entered into my head or heart, yet, give me leave to assure you, it will never give me pain to know, that God's ways are not as my ways, nor his thoughts as my thoughts. My mind is so far from revolting at the tidings you bear, that nothing would give me more unutterable joy, than to be assured of their truth." Thus was my mind exonerated from a weight of dread apprehension. I asked him, what assurance he could either wish for, or expect? "Nothing more than a 'Thus saith the Lord.'" I continued, through the residue of the night, preaching the gospel, according to the scriptures; and it pleased Almighty God so to furnish my mind with testimonies, drawn from the sacred volume, that I went on, from Genesis to Revelations, until the morning dawned upon us. But a brighter morning dawned upon the long-benighted mind of my wondering hearer; he exhibited, what he said he experienced, rapture before unknown. He was, indeed, as one, brought out of darkness, into marvellous light, and from the power of satan, unto God. I never before saw so great a change, wrought in so short a time. He gave me a sketch of his life, which had been employed in seeking to accumulate riches, and righteousness. The former he had gained, but the latter he had not; and he was constrained to confess, that if the wealth, he had taken such unwearied pains to obtain, and to keep, were no better in the sight of man, than his righteousness was in his own estimation, and in the estimation of his God, he had been all his life labouring in vain, and spending his strength for naught. By commerce, and the practice of physic, the Doctor had acquired a fortune of forty thousand pounds sterling; yet from the appearance of the man, we should have concluded his resources extremely limited. His offspring were only one son, and one daughter; his wife was no more; his son a prodigal; his daughter a married woman, in eligible circumstances, and of a most amiable character. The Doctor was far advanced in life, and although he had been uniformly employed in getting and hiding money, yet he was so religious a man, as to part with four hundred pounds sterling toward building a meeting-house; and he was greatly mortified, at not being able to obtain permission for me to preach therein, though he went so far, as to assure those, who had the care of the house, that he would put it in complete repair, if he might be indulged with the pleasure of hearing who he pleased in the pulpit, when it was not otherwise occupied. But the Presbytery had given orders, that no person should be admitted, into any of their meetings, without a letter of licence, first had and obtained from that body. "So," said the Doctor, "let God send, by whom He will send, the sent of God can obtain no admission; but those, whom the Presbytery think proper to send, must be admitted every where! Is not this rank priestcraft?" But although the doors of every house of worship, in that neighbourhood, were shut against us, many private houses were devoted to us, and the Doctor was indefatigable in striving to spread abroad the savour of the Redeemer's name. His soul was so highly wrought, by the discoveries he had made, that he most ardently desired to make all men acquainted with the grace, in which they stood.
The Doctor was a man of uncommon abilities; his mind was highly cultivated; I never knew a finer speaker. He was well acquainted with the religion of the world, and, possessing a happy facility of manifesting his knowledge, when it pleased God to show him his salvation,—when he had power given him to believe with his heart the word of God, which giveth life unto all men,—from the abundance of his believing heart, his mouth became full of the praises of his God; and wherever he went, so often as opportunity offered, he delighted to magnify the name of the Redeemer: spreading far, and wide, to the utmost of his abilities, the truth as it is in Jesus, the glad tidings of the gospel. Every body, who knew the man, was astonished; for, strange to tell, he became liberal; liberal of that, with which he had heretofore found it so difficult to part; he could part with his money; and, among numerous instances of his generosity, I myself was an example. He saw my vestments were rather worn, they could not last always, and he ordered me a complete suit of superfine broadcloth. I looked at the Doctor, at his garments, much worse than mine. I am really astonished, said I. "Not more than I am myself, sir. I have for a whole year been perfectly aware, that I wanted raiment, yet I could not find it in my heart to purchase even those articles of which I stood in most need; but, sir, I do indeed behold my former self with detestation. I continued with the Doctor for several weeks; he accompanied me from place to place, enjoying abundantly more, than the world could give, or take away; and his numerous connexions were partakers of his felicity. For myself I had rich opportunities of preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and my pleasures were proportioned to the satisfaction, which I was instrumental in communicating. But it became necessary I should return to Philadelphia, and the Doctor was exceedingly affected; yet, previous to my final departure, I had engaged to preach at an Episcopalian church, at some distance, where it was believed a large concourse of people would be assembled. But on Saturday evening, the wind being north-west, brought on so severe a frost, that the ensuing day, Sunday, February 14th, 1773, was by far the coldest day I had ever experienced. I was however determined to keep my appointment, and I rode six miles on horseback, accompanied by a gentleman, who had conceived for me the strongest affection, and we derived so much pleasure, from the divine subjects, which engaged our attention, that we hardly adverted either to the severity of the day, or the distance; and my fellow traveller, in the fulness of his heart, declared, did it depend upon him, we would ride on till the close of time, and then leap into eternity together. The cold, however, was sufficiently piercing to compel us to assemble in the school-house, instead of the church, where a large chimney, and a blazing hearth, hardly kept us from freezing; yet was my own heart, and the hearts of many of my hearers, warmed by that fire of divine love, enkindled by the word, and spirit of our God; which spirit graciously vouchsafed to take of the things of Jesus, and show them unto us, giving us not only peace, but joy, unspeakable joy, in believing. I proposed departing for Philadelphia, on the following Monday; but the Doctor, and his friends, prevailed upon me to tarry a day or two longer, in which time he laboured hard to persuade me to continue with him. "Only," said he, "consent to abide here, and I will very cheerfully build for you as handsome a church, as any in the country, and it shall be your own. I will devote ten, of the forty thousand pounds, which I possess, to this purpose. I thanked him, most cordially, for his flattering offer; but added, that the tender of his whole estate would be no temptation to me to accept a permanent residence. My mind was, at that time, solemnly impressed by a conviction, that I was sent out to preach the gospel; and that, as the servant of God, I must neither loiter by the way, nor seek to evade the spirit of my commission. An imposing sense of duty compelled me to say, that, so long as I was able, I would submit to the will of my Master. Upon the night previous to my departure, we had little sleep. We expatiated with pleasing wonder upon the mysterious ways of heaven, and we poured out our souls in prayer to that God, who, having brought us together, had caused us to drink into one spirit. The morning came, when, after commending ourselves to God, and to the word of his grace, I was on the point of departing, in the same manner I had left Philadelphia, yet, without even the vestige of apprehension. But the Doctor, taking me by the hand, essayed to articulate; but was necessitated to pause for self-possession, when he said: "God forever bless you, and be with you; and wherever you go, make your way plain before you; and, if we never meet again in this world, (for I am an old man you know) I rejoice in the assurance, that we shall meet in the presence of God, our Saviour, and spend an eternity together." He then put into my hand gold sufficient, abundantly sufficient, to bear my expenses even to the dwelling of my patron. "You may want this upon the road," said he, "take it as a memento of friendship." I am, dear sir, amazed at your liberality. "I also am amazed—It is the Lord's doings, and truly, it is marvellous in my eyes." Thus closed my visit to my worthy friend, after I had promised, that, if it should so please God, I would cheerfully visit him again.
On my return, being earnestly solicited, I preached in the hall of the academy at Newark; and I once more reposed under the roof of that hospitable man, who was made the instrument of administering to my necessities, on my way. At Wilmington too, I delivered my message; and elevated by an excursion, which had been so greatly blessed, I returned to Philadelphia in perfect health, and high spirits. During the residue of the spring, the whole of the succeeding summer, and a part of the autumn, until October 1773, my time was divided between Pennsylvania, the Jersies, and New-York. My friends were to be found among every class of people, from the highest to the most humble, and almost every day increased the number, both of my friends, and enemies. The clergy continued a phalanx of opposition. One good man stumbled upon a most ingenious device. A Mr. Still, a Baptist priest, wrote a most elaborate letter, in which he charged me with many crimes, assuming as facts, those reported crimes, which my soul abhorred. This letter he read in every company, in which he mixed; sent copies of it to New-England, and various other parts of the country; giving those, to whom he made his communications, to understand, that he had forwarded this letter to me, although I never saw it, and was indebted for an account of its contents, to some worthy individuals, who were among the number of those, to whom it was read. Thus did this man industriously essay to prejudice the minds of the people, trusting that their hatred of me, and my testimony, would, if possible, be commensurate with his own; and thus, at his righteous tribunal, I was tried, and condemned, and, as far as he could prevail, executed, without being suffered to plead in my own defence, or even furnished with a copy of the allegations against me. Had I not reason to supplicate: Grant me, O my God! patient resignation, and the divine light of thy countenance. Yet the character, priest, and adversary, did not always prove synonimous: A clergyman, upon a memorable evening, entered a house of public worship, in which I was promulgating The Truth as it is in Jesus. He presented himself with a determination to oppose me; but, quitting the church, and entering my lodgings, he folded me in his arms, exclaiming (while his eye glistened with pleasure,) "If this be heresy, may I so worship the God of my fathers, during the residue of my days." Nor was this a solitary instance; Mr. Duchee, minister of the established church of Philadelphia, Mr. Tretard, of New-Rochelle, Mr. Gano, of New-York, Mr. Tyler, Episcopalian minister of Norwich, were among the number of those, who, if they were not fully with me in sentiment, have uniformly discharged toward me the duty of Christian friends. My opportunities of observing uncommon characters were multiplied. I regret, that the limits, I have prescribed to myself, will not permit me to dwell upon the life and virtues of Thomas Say, of Philadelphia; a man, who, it may be said, re-visited this world, after being privileged with more than a bird's-eye view of another. Anthony Benezet might also claim many pages. Christopher Marshall; the celebrated Mrs. Wright, and her uncommon family; many shades of departed friends flit before me, but I must hasten from the now-beatified group, and pursue the sometimes rugged path, over which the journey of life hath conducted me.
Upon the 10th of October, 1773, I embarked on board the Hum-Bird, captain Lawton, for Newport, which place we reached at early breakfast, and where I was received in a manner comporting with my most sanguine wishes. Belcher, Warner, Otis, Newton, Wright, Wanton, Waterhouse, Ellery, &c. &c. these all received me with open arms; but having reason to believe, much confusion would result, from an attempt to open the doors of the meeting-house, in which Dr. S——— officiated, I sent the Doctor an assurance, that I would no more enter his pulpit. The Governour granted the state-house to the solicitations of my friends, and became himself one of my audience. I preached also in the meeting-house of Mr. Kelly, and at the prison. The congregations were crowded, and attentive. Newport contains a synagogue, and the many Jews, collected there, pressed to hear. Mr. Lopez, an opulent gentleman among the Jews, celebrated as well for humanity, as for mercantile knowledge, met me at the door of the state-house, and, pressing my hand, said: "God Almighty be with you, sir, and bless and preserve you wherever you go, giving you good success always." He would have added; but his overflowing heart evidently denied him utterance. The Jews were generally pleased. They declared, they had never before heard so much in favour of Christianity. Poor hearts! they would see the things, which belong to their peace, if the appointed time of the Father were come; in this their day they are hidden from their eyes: but the day of the Lord cometh, when whatever is hidden shall be revealed.
I was solicited to take up my abode at Newport, and assured, if I would so do, a place of public worship should be erected for my accommodation. These good people learned, that I had been necessitated to part with my horse, for the purpose of defraying the expenses, attendant upon re-printing specimens of apostolic preaching, selected from the writings of Mr. Relly; and they insisted upon purchasing me another. Nor was this all; they helped me on my way, contributing abundantly, by private gratuities, to the relief of my necessities. Mr. Ward, secretary to the then province of Rhode-Island, with many others, were, upon this my second visit, added to the number of my friends. A member of Dr. S———'s church informed me, it was affirmed, I had absolutely said, all men should be saved. I assured him, I had never said, all men should be saved; I had said, Jesus was and is the Saviour of all men; and that, in the fulness of time, he would gather together all things into one,—bringing in his antient people, the Jews, and with them the fulness of the Gentiles,—causing all flesh to come and worship before him,—and making of Jew and Gentile One new man, so making peace; and that all the kingdoms of the world should become the kingdoms of God and of His Christ. I publicly invited any individual in Newport, who had aught to say against the testimony I delivered, to meet me in an open manner, the bible in his hand; and if the arguments he should produce were more consistent with the sacred writings, I would upon the spot, in the most unreserved manner, acknowledge and renounce my errors.
Quitting Newport, I took passage for East-Greenwich. A fellow passenger told me, he had been informed I had said: Our sins were laid upon the Devil; and that there was nothing for us to do; and he wished to know, if I believed either the one or the other? Certainly not, I replied; it was not the Devil, but the Redeemer, on whom the Lord laid the iniquities of us all. I assured him, we had many things in our various characters to perform, to which it was our bounden duty to attend; and that those, who continued in offences, would be experimentally able to say, "Truly, the way of the transgressor is hard;" for, assuredly, they would be chastised with many stripes. My appearance at East-Greenwich was welcomed by Mr. Varnum, and others. Several gentlemen, whom I had not before known, called upon me at Mr. Varnum's; among these was Dr. Hawkins, who questioned me, and appeared satisfied with my answers; he introduced me to his friends, Mr. Green, &c. &c. I preached, in the court-house, to a crowded audience. The superior court was then in session; the judges and the lawyers were among my hearers. I was labouring under great indisposition, but God was with me. Esquire Casey took me to his house, where I was met by judge Potter for the purpose of conversation. He said, he had never been pleased with pulpit exhibitions, because they were so replete with contradictions, and he was determined to sift me thoroughly. We passed the night together; he performed what he had proposed, with candour, and appeared satisfied with the result. At parting, he earnestly wished me success, and prayed that I might be preserved from the power of the priest, and the flatterer. This gentleman continued to evince great affection for me; he seemed to understand and feel the power of the gospel;—I had not seen his superior. At this period, I was desirous of extending my tour as far as Boston: but, notwithstanding the repeated manifestations of divine protection, with which I had been favoured, a reluctance to venturing on untried scenes was gradually pervading my spirit, and I was again ready to ask, What am I to do in Boston? Yet I added: O! my unbelieving heart, who shall deliver me from this body of sin and death? Blessed be God, who is faithful. Passing an hour at Mrs. Green's, I was introduced to a lady from Boston, a Mrs. Hubbard; she questioned me upon the doctrine of reprobation, particularly that passage, which expressly asserts, "Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated." My answers were so much to her satisfaction, that she gave me a pressing invitation to her house in Boston; and as I contemplated a journey thither, she prayed me to take a letter to Mr. Hubbard, and to make his dwelling my abode, during my continuance in the metropolis of Massachusetts. From East-Greenwich I proceeded to Pawtuxet, delivering my message in their house of worship; and from thence I repaired to Providence, where I was received by those, who had before bade me welcome, with continued kindness. Immediately on my arrival, a summons to pass the evening with the Rev. Mr. Snow was presented me; I delayed not to attend him, and I was accompanied by Mr. Binney, a young gentleman of great promise. Mr. Snow's parlour was nearly filled by the members of his church and congregation. A long and solemn pause succeeded the usual ceremonies of introduction; Mr. Snow at length broke silence by observing:—"We are, sir, perfectly aware, that by far the greater part of the town are anxious to hear you; and, as our house is the most convenient, we presume application will be made for its use. But, since you were last here, a few of our members have heard strange reports respecting you: (viz.) That you believe all mankind will finally be saved; and that the new birth is not in us, but in Christ. I have, therefore, thought proper to call together several of my church, that they may have an opportunity of speaking to you, and determining whether they think proper to open their doors. Do you, sir, believe that all mankind will be saved?" I believe, Jesus Christ is the Saviour of all men; that, by the grace of God, he tasted death for every man; that he is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; and that God was, in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses. "Well, and do you believe, that all are saved?" Not as unbelievers; they, who believe not, are damned. "How then are they interested in Jesus?" Precisely as they were in the first Adam. But all are not interested in Jesus, as they were in the first Adam." How then doth it appear, that as, by the offence of one man, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men to justification of life? "And do you, sir, believe that, in consequence of this, all will be finally happy?" Do you, sir, believe all who learn of the Father will be happy? "O yes." And do you believe all will be taught of God, and come to Jesus, and be saved? "No, indeed." Do ministers in general believe this? "No, we know they do not." Why then do they pray for it? Do they not pray, that God would hasten the happy time, when he shall bring in his antient people, the Jews, and with them the fulness of the Gentiles; that all the kingdoms of the world may become the kingdoms of God and of His Christ; that they may all be taught of God from the least unto the greatest? For this, and much more, clergymen repeatedly pray: and can we suppose they are dealing hypocritically with their God? are they such monsters of impiety, as to solicit, for what, they believe the Almighty had determined, before the foundation of the world, he would never grant? A profound pause succeeded; after which, I was asked: "Do you, sir, believe the New Birth is in us, or in Christ?" He, who is born of God, sinneth not. But if we say, we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. He, who is born of God, is a new creature; all old things are passed away, and all things are become new: a good man, out of the good treasury of his heart, bringeth not forth good and evil, but good, only good. I conceive, therefore, that to be born again, or, as it may be rendered, to be born anew, or born from above, alludes to the birth of the human family in the person of Christ Jesus, we being members of his body. Hence the sacred record decidedly pronounces: Created anew in Christ Jesus. "Well, that is scripture, to be sure." Are we Christ Jesus? "No, certainly." Then, can being created anew, in Christ Jesus, be understood as being created anew in ourselves? A part of the company discovered great bitterness; others were more calm. I requested them to observe, that, if they reported me as a heretic, they must remember they smote me through Paul's skirts, for I had delivered no sentiments of my own fabrication; I had merely rehearsed in their ears the unadulterated language of revelation: I therefore begged, I might be honestly reported. One gentleman declared, that, whether I deemed it honest, or not, he should report me as a heretic. I then insisted, he should declare, what heresy was. He said, I was against the gospel. I requested, he would say, what gospel was? He replied, it was whatever was found in the new testament. I appealed to the company, whether this was either fair, or true? whether there were not many particulars in the new testament, which were not gospel? and whether the gospel was not preached to Abraham? or whether the gospel was not God's good sayings, or glad tidings to all people? Whether I had said any thing contrary to this, or proposed any way of salvation, beside Christ Jesus? or whether I had privily strove to bring in such a damnable doctrine, as to deny the Lord who bought them? They were all dumb. At length Mr. Snow said: "Well, my friends, you know the reason of my calling you together, and you can now determine respecting Mr. Murray's again entering our pulpit. I would have you freely deliver your sentiments. One said, the people wished to hear, and there was no house so convenient as theirs; he could see no reason why I should not preach. Another objected. His conscience would not allow him to consent. A third remarked, the people would go to hear me, preach where I would; suppose I was wrong, I could not contaminate the house; for his part, he did not see that I had said any thing, which had been proved erroneous; that he most devoutly blessed God he had been present, for he had received more light, than he had ever before enjoyed; and many united their acknowledgments with his. I assured them, it was my solemn determination to preach nothing but Christ Jesus, and him crucified for every human being. Finally, they determined to open their doors for my reception: and thus, by permission of minister, and people, I again and again addressed a vast multitude from the pulpit of the Rev. Mr. Snow, of Providence, and my hearers appeared serious and attentive.
During my continuance in Providence, I became acquainted with Doctor Huse of that place, a very uncommon man, and, as it appeared to me, of a very luminous intellect. Bidding me God speed, he added: "Sir, I rejoice, that you dare be honest; how long you will continue so, I know not. At present, you are boldly facing danger, and without fear. Continue, I beseech you, to declare unmixed truth, although all men should be against you." On the 26th of October, 1773, I took a seat in the stage for Boston. Late upon the evening of that day, we reached town. I had a letter from Mrs. Hubbard, and another for a gentleman, a major Paddock: but I was unwilling to disturb strangers at an hour so improper for a first introduction, and the old question recurred: "What are you to do now?" The passengers, one after another, were dropped; I remained alone in the coach, and the coachman civilly questioned: "Where will you be set down, sir?" Can you recommend to me, a decent tavern? While he deliberated, a son of Mrs. Hubbard accosted him: "Is Mr. Murray in the coach?" "Yes, sir." He approached the door. "My mother, sir, has written to my father respecting you, and we have been looking out for you with great impatience." All was immediately settled; and thus was I met, in Boston, by the good providence of God, while my throbbing heart exclaimed: To the Lord belongeth mercy; and praise, and thanksgiving, are his righteous due.
By Mr. Hubbard I was received with great kindness, he was an innocent, honest man, and his family were truly friendly. Upon the ensuing morning I delivered my letter to Major Paddock, whose reception of me was such, as a stranger ought to expect, coolly civil; he, however, introduced me to Mr. Williams, a respectable, philanthropic gentleman, strongly attached to the writings of Jacob Bhemen. To Mr. Williams I have most gratefully to acknowledge a series of important, and essential obligations. Measures were soon in train for the purpose of procuring a place, in which I might be allowed to deliver my testimony; but every effort was ineffectual, until the following Saturday, October 30th. In this interval, I received from Mr. Thomas Handasyde Peck, a polite invitation to dine. Mr. Peck was a very respectable man, and his lady a most valuable woman; they were unwearied in contributing, to the utmost of their abilities, to the relief of the sons and daughters of sorrow. Ranking among the admirers of Mr. Whitefield, they possessed eminently the characteristic of his adherents,—they were abundantly less bigoted than other Religionists. In the agreeable family of Mr. Peck, I passed a most delightful day; I related to them the manner of my coming to the house of my patron, and I sketched for them the dealings of God with me, since he had called me forth. They listened with silent astonishment; and when I had finished, they praised God in my behalf. They were evidently pained, that I could not obtain a place in which to preach; and they added, if no other could be procured, they would open their own doors for this purpose. There were in Boston at this period a few individuals, who were immeasurably attached to the writings of Jacob Bhemen. Those persons looked down with pity on all those they had left behind, who were such infidels, as not to ascribe honour and glory to the inspired pages of this writer. I could not forbear experiencing great satisfaction from the consideration, that Jesus Christ was made unto me wisdom. The adherents of Bhemen enjoyed their philosophical divinity very highly, delighting to wrap themselves about in a mysterious garment of unintelligible jargon. But thus it must ever be. Error will prevail, until the appointed time of the Father shall usher the benighted mind into the clear shining of the full meridian of Divine Revelation.
At the house of Major Paddock I met a member of Mr. Stillman's church, who seemed to conceive there would be little difficulty in overthrowing my plan; to whom I observed, that if any individual would unite with me in searching the scriptures, I would, supposing there were not found in the book of God more positive assertions of final, and universal Redemption, than of final Reprobation, pledge myself immediately to surrender my present soul-satisfying views. "No one," he replied, "could take pleasure in the destruction of mankind." Why, do not you, sir? "No, sir." Why, sir? "I wonder you should ask such a question." Why, sir, why should you not take pleasure in that, in which God takes pleasure? "God does not take pleasure in destruction, sir." What, sir, and make individuals on purpose to destroy them? and Almighty too—Ruling in Heaven above, and in earth beneath, as seemeth in his sight good? Do you dare say, if you had power, no fellow creature should be lost; and dare you suppose, that He, who hath all power, both in heaven and in earth, hath not so much love as you, a finite being? Will He say to you, Love your enemies, do good to those, who hate you, and pray for those, who despitefully use you,—and will He not do likewise? shall the disciple be above his Master, and the servant above his Lord? He answered with a sigh: "I cannot argue with you, sir, that last observation has weight." Ah, sir! I continued, would that every individual were more intimately acquainted with that most elevating subject, the love of God to man, the never-beginning, never-ending love of God to man. This, sir, is a species of knowledge, which doth not puff up; but it lifts up, as on eagles' wings, ever mounting, never tiring, but still discovering, new wonders, through the wasteless ages of eternity. But man, poor, fallen man, who in his present state is enmity against God, is ever measuring the love and compassion of Deity, by his own scanty rule. Nay, by a rule, which he would blush to acknowledge. I have frequently said, that there is not a person of character upon this continent, who would bear to be delineated, whatever character he sustains, as he thinks and speaks of the Most High. What father would choose to be supposed deficient in providing, to the extent of his power, every requisite aid for the beings he has been instrumental in introducing into existence? It is confessed by all, that God is Almighty; that he is a sovereign; that he can do, and will do, as he pleases; and that no power can resist his will. It is also said, That he willeth not the death, the eternal death, of the sinner; that he willeth, that man should be saved; that he hath appointed, and therefore sends out his servants to warn mankind, to call them to eternal blessedness, to persuade them to come, that all things are now ready. All this looks like love in God. But we are informed, the people, called, have no knowledge of God; that they are enmity against God, and that, not from a persuasion that God was, in Christ, reconciling them to himself, but because they do not know this, and therefore do not believe it; that no man can come unto the Father, but by Jesus; that no man can come unto Jesus, except the Father draw him; and that all, who learn of the Father, come unto Jesus; and all, who come unto him, he will in no wise cast out. Are multitudes cast out forever? Then it is because they were not taught of God; for if they had learned of the Father, they would have come unto Jesus, and he would in no wise have cast them out. But did God attempt to teach them, and, finding it beyond his power, did he finally give them up? But is not God almighty? Yes, but he did not choose to stretch forth his Omnipotent arm. Why? Because if he had, they must be saved, and he would leave them to the freedom of their own will. Did He not know the consequence would be their eternal damnation? O yes; but this is perfectly right; for, when he called, they would not hear. Did he intend they should hear? We have nothing to do with that. Merciful God! lift up the light of thy irradiating countenance upon the benighted family of man.
Upon the evening of October 30th, 1773, I preached for the first time in Boston, in the hall of the Factory. My hearers were attentive, and, after I had closed, several individuals addressed me, and with apparent kindness invited me to visit them at their houses. On the succeeding evening, (Sunday,) I again preached at the hall; the congregation was too large for the place. My subject was Zechariah ix. 9. The people were more affectionate, than the preceding evening; many solicited me to tarry, and assured me, that a better place should be provided for my accommodation. On Monday evening, November 1st, I preached to a select number at Mr. Peck's, who seemed to have the power of God among them. In consequence of a pressing solicitation from this gentleman, I took up my lodging in his hospitable mansion; thus goodness and mercy continually followed me. From my beloved friend Binney, I received repeated and affectionate letters, and I trusted this young gentleman would become an able advocate for the Redeemer.
A Mr. Little, of Newburyport, united his earnest solicitations with a number of gentlemen, who importunately urged me to visit that place. I dared not refuse; and, parting with my affectionate friends in Boston, I accompanied Mr. Little and others in the stage for Newburyport. On our arrival, inquiries were made at the coach-side, if I were there; and on being answered in the affirmative, a crowd collected. Mr. Parsons, the Presbyterian minister, a venerable looking gentleman, immediately visited me, and asked me many questions. Where I came from? what clergymen I was acquainted with? and what credentials I could produce? During his inquiries he discovered, as it appeared to me, some uneasiness at the idea of my preaching in his pulpit: I therefore hastened to inform him, that I was no priest, nor approved of by gentlemen of that order; that I professed myself somewhat acquainted with the salvation, wrought out by Jesus Christ, and that, wherever his providence called me, I was willing to speak well of the name of the Redeemer; but, I added, that I had great reluctance in speaking in any place in opposition to the wishes of the officiating minister. Mr. Parsons replied: The house was not his, it was the property of the people, and when it was not occupied, they had an indubitable right to invite who they pleased. Speaking of my call to preach, whether ordinary, or extraordinary, I observed I had both; when he petulently asked: "Pray, can you speak with tongues?" It is possible I may, sir, with tongues that you may not understand. However, your question is as much against you, as against me. Jesus says, among the many signs, that shall follow those who believe, they shall heal the sick by laying hands upon them, and if they take up any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them. From these evidences, sir, perhaps it would be as hard for you to prove yourself even a believer, as for me to prove myself a preacher, sent of God.
While we were yet conversing, the bell was rung, and a large congregation assembled, among which Mr. Parsons himself attended; and I selected, for my subject, Isaiah lv. 10, 11. Agreeably to his earnest request, Mr. Little was my host; and upon the ensuing morning, (Saturday,) in consequence of a very polite invitation, I breakfasted with Mr. Parsons, and I was received by him, and his, very cordially; his countenance brightened upon me, and he requested me to preach again in his church on that day: Nor was this all; he walked with me to the pulpit, and sat with me there, while I preached preparatory to the communion, upon John xv. 12. On the ensuing day (Sunday) by the request of Mr. Marsh, who was indisposed, I preached, both morning and evening, at his church. Several friends visited me at Mr. Little's, and we closed the day with prayer. I was rather surprised to learn, that I lodged, at Mr. Little's, upon the very same bed, in which Mr. Whitefield had reposed; and that I had preached in the pulpit, before which he was entombed. I continued in Newburyport, passing my time most pleasantly, a second Sunday; I preached, morning and evening, in the pulpit of Mr. Marsh; I gave frequent lectures there, and in the meeting-house of Mr. Parsons, who always sat in the pulpit with me, and frequently entertained me most hospitably at his house. His lady appeared to merit a rank among the most accomplished of women; she was highly social, sentimental, and pleasant. The circle of my friends in Newburyport was very respectable. Upon a lecture evening, after I had closed, an old, grey-headed man, a member of Mr. Parsons's church, quitting his seat, addressed the congregation, and in a loud voice said: "My friends, this is a servant of the living God, who is come from a far country, to proclaim the glad tidings of salvation. We have too long been in darkness; yea, our tongues have cleaved to the roofs of our mouths, and this man is sent to animate and renew our faith." Many blessed God, they had seen and heard me; and all this I imputed to a want of knowledge, relative to the extent of the glad tidings I promulgated. The Grace, Union, and Membership, upon which I expatiated, were admitted by every Calvinist, but admitted only for the elect; and when I repeated those glorious texts of scripture, which indisputably proclaim the redemption of the lost world,—as I did not expressly say, My brethren, I receive these texts in the unlimited sense, in which they are given,—they were not apprized, that I did not read them with the same contracted views, to which they had been accustomed. When they became assured of the magnitude and unbounded result, which I ascribed to the birth, life, and death of the Redeemer, their doors were fast closed against me. For myself, I was in unison with Mr. Relly, who supposed the gradual dawn of light would eventually prove more beneficial to mankind, than the sudden bursting of meridian day. Thus I was contented with proclaiming the truth, as it is in Jesus, in scripture language only,—leaving to my hearers deductions, comments, and applications.
While I continued at Newburyport, numerous solicitations poured upon me, from various quarters; but, in haste to return to Philadelphia, I could only comply with the urgent importunities of several gentlemen from Portsmouth, to which place I journeyed on the 10th of November, 1773. I was received at Portsmouth with most flattering marks of kindness. The pulpit of the separate minister, Mr. Drown, then recently deceased, was thrown open to me; the congregations were large; my adherents were truly respectable, and I was earnestly urged to take up my residence among them. The meeting-house of Mr. Drown being too small, I was invited into the pulpit of Dr. L———, in which I preached, two clergymen occupying seats therein. In Portsmouth I received many marks of friendship; my necessities were sought out, and removed; and the names of Clarkson, Morrison, Hart, and Drown, son of the deceased minister, were, on that first visit, among my most partial friends. I returned to Newburyport, accompanied by Mr. Morrison and Mr. Drown, and again delivered my testimony in the pulpits of the Rev. Mr. Parsons and Mr. Marsh. Mr. Parsons requested I would write to him from Philadelphia; and on Wednesday, November 17th, I returned to Boston, where I learned, that a spirit of inquiry was in operation among my friends; that their bibles were in their hands; and that they were diligently employed in searching the scriptures, to find whether these things were indeed so. Upon the evening of the 18th, I preached in the mansion of my venerable friend, Mr. Peck; and I was distinguished by him, and his lady, with even parental kindness: Mrs. Peck entreating me to inform my mother, that I had found, in the new world, a second maternal friend. It was upon this occasion, that I audibly exclaimed: O God! thou hast still continued my God, and my guide; let me not forget to render praises unto Thee.
At the period of which I am speaking, there were in Boston a number of Deists, who attended my labours. Their leader gave me frequent invitations to visit him; he summoned his friends, with whom he united in expressing his abhorrence of the character of the Apostle Paul. To this gentleman I dwelt upon the respectable proofs, by which the authenticity of scripture was supported, and I took leave to observe, that he must have received the character of Paul from his enemies; that Paul was indubitably a learned man, brought up at the feet of Gamaliel; that he was celebrated as an orator; and that his morals were unimpeached. It was true, he was said to have advocated a most comfortless doctrine,—to have affirmed, that a few were elected to everlasting life; while, by the same irreversible decree, countless millions were consigned to remediless and never-ending misery. But, I added, sirs, believe it not; for, verily, the doctrine, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, was uniformly proclaimed by our great Apostle. The doctrine of election is questionless to be found in the pages of this evangelical writer; but reprobation is not a necessary consequence of election, nor does it appear in the writings of the Apostle to the Gentiles. A governour is elected by a commonwealth, a council, senators, representatives are elected; but are the people therefore consigned to perdition? Thus I went on, and my little audience with lifted hands exclaimed: "This plan is worthy of a God; and we felicitate you, dear sir, as the ambassador of Deity." The hall of the Factory, and the dwelling of my friend being too small for the increasing congregation, Mr. Peck proposed I should publish a lecture in the meeting-house of Mr. C———, of which he was the principal support. I at first declined this proposal; but his repeated, and earnest solicitations, produced me in Mr. C———'s pulpit. In the hall of the Factory also, I again delivered my message; and on Friday, November 26th, I preached at Faneuil-Hall: my subject, John viii. 36: If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. The principal gentlemen of the town were among my audience, who heard me with great seriousness. After lecture, many took me by the hand, and, urging me to return to them speedily, prayed, in the warmest manner, for my success, as a gospel promulgator. This was the last night of my abode in Boston, on my first visit. I passed it at Mr. Peck's, accompanied by some friends, and we devoted it to scriptural investigations. My continuance in Boston was strongly urged; but I was under the necessity of departing, and devotional prayers for my safety, success, and speedy return, were reiterated—such are my Credentials. I left Boston on Saturday, November 27; reaching Providence upon the evening of that day, where, again and again, I delivered my testimony in the pulpit of the Rev. Mr. Snow. Departing thence, on the Tuesday following, accompanied by my dear young friend, Mr. Binney, for East-Greenwich, I met some very dear friends, and, as iron sharpeneth iron, so was my countenance brightened, and my spirit soothed and cheered.
From this period, November 30th, until the close of January, 1774, when I reached my lodging-place, at the house of my patron, I moved slowly on, preaching glad tidings in various places, friends and enemies still multiplying. At New-London my opportunities of preaching were repeated, and the number of my treasures proportionably augmented; Hertell, Whey, Trueman, these were of the true circumcision, who worshipped God in the spirit, rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and having no confidence in the flesh; and my orisons were daily offered up to the God of all consolation, that the number of such genuine believers might be increased. I delight to dwell upon the days I have passed in New-London. Deshon, Wheat, Saltonstall, Packwood, Law, Huntington, Champlin, Hubbard, &c. &c. very pleasant have ye been unto me. May the blessing of God descend upon your children's children, to the latest generation.
One capital difficulty, which has encompassed me in my progress through this younger world, has been the extreme reluctance of inquirers to receive their answers in scripture language. Standing alone, I have sought to wrap myself about, or rather to intrench myself in the sacred testimony of my God; and for this I have been accused of prevarication, equivocation, and what not? merely because I have not generally chosen to garb my sentiments in my own words. For example: The interrogator commences with a great many compliments, and then follows: "Do you believe all men will finally be saved?" I believe, it is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. "But do you yourself believe, that all mankind will finally be saved?" God hath included all in unbelief, that he may have mercy upon all. "But will all be finally saved?" God hath spoken of the restitution of all things, by the mouth of all his holy prophets, since the world began. "But still you do not answer my question." Why, sir, for any thing I know, the authors, I have cited, mean, by their words, precisely the same as I do. I adopt their language, because I conceive it my own ideas better than any set of phrases I could press into my service. This mode, however, has rarely given satisfaction. Persons dare not, in an unqualified manner, deny the validity of scripture testimony; they can only assert, it does not mean as it speaks, and they earnestly repeat the question: "Do you believe," &c. &c. While my responses are drawn from the sacred streams, flowing in the book of God, from Genesis to Revelations, still they importunately, sometimes clamorously demand: "But do you take those scriptures, as they are spoken?" To which I can only reply: I have no reason to believe, that, by saying one thing, and meaning another, men, so upright, have formed a plan to deceive me. An attempt has then been made to prove the texts in question did not, could not, mean as they spake. To which I have answered: Multitudes are on your side; many have laboured to prove God a liar; but I have never yet heard any argument, sufficiently potent, to convince me that He is so.
On the ninth of April, in this year, I received from the church and Oh, Adam, what hast thou done? My bosom swells to rapture, upon the reflection, that I had frequent opportunities of visiting those criminals, and of preaching to them peace, through the fountain opened in the side of the second Adam. The poor creatures seemed much affected. The proclamation of the tender mercies of the Redeemer was more effectual, than all the terrors of Mount Sinai. Departing from New-York, about the 20th of July, I passed, by short stages, through Connecticut and Rhode-Island, visiting my friends in various directions, and deriving inexpressible satisfaction from beholding their order, their zeal, and the magnitude of their faith. On the 16th of August, the governour of Rhode-Island sent me a passage of scripture, soliciting me to take it for my subject: It may be found, Mark xiv. 10. The governour attended, and after I had closed, took my hand with much cordiality, and expressed himself well satisfied, and truly grateful.in Portsmouth, New-Hampshire, worshipping in the separate meeting-house, a solemn, and affectionate call, to take upon me the pastoral charge of that people; but I was not then convinced I ought to accept an establishment in any place. I passed the spring, and the early part of the summer of 1774, in Pennsylvania, the Jersies, and New-York with persons, who had drank into the same spirit with myself; with my revered friend, and father, with the Mounts, and Pangburns of those happy days. Blessed be God, I have indeed enjoyed richly the consolations of friendship. In Philadelphia I was present at the heart-rending trial of some malefactors, which resulted in their receiving sentence of death; and I could not forbear exclaiming:
September 14th, 1774, I again reached Boston. My friends had long been expecting me, and I was received with demonstrations of heart-felt joy. Through the greatest part of this autumn, I continued preaching in the hall of the factory, in the mansion of my venerable friend, and at Faneuil-Hall. Once I attempted to preach in Masons'-Hall; but the throng, and consequent confusion were so great, that I was necessitated to desist, even after I had worded my text: and finally, the congregations still augmenting, I yielded to the pressing solicitations of the proprietors of Mr. C———'s meeting-house, and repeatedly delivered my testimony there. On the 31st of October, a gentleman, by the name of Sargent, called upon me from Gloucester, urging me to accompany him to his place of residence. My engagements would not allow my immediate attendance, but I gave my word for an early compliance with his wishes. November 2d, Wednesday evening, I named as the subject of my public lecture, Luke 13th, from the 24th to the 30th. After I had closed, a clergyman, of a respectable appearance, whom I had never before seen, ascended the stairs of the pulpit, and addressed the people to the following effect: "My friends, you have heard a great deal said, (for what purpose I know not,) which is calculated to lead you astray from the true meaning of the text. The passage refers to the general judgment, and to nothing else; and all, that has been said, can only originate wrong ideas of the scriptures; for how can it be, that the Jews should be intended by those, who were shut out? When did the Jews see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God? or how is it possible, that, if they should thus behold them, they could ever be happy? It is not possible, that any person, who dies in a state of unbelief, should ever be happy to all eternity: and therefore, my brethren, I would exhort you to take care you are not led astray by the words of man's wisdom, and the cunning craftiness of men, whereby they lay in wait to deceive. O! it is very dangerous to give heed to such things." Thus the gentleman proceeded, earnestly warning the people, and then paused. Again I arose, saying: Now, this is well; I like this. How infinitely preferable to secret calumny; no bush-fighting here. And, so much am I gratified by this ingenuous manner of dealing with me, that it is with extreme reluctance I find it necessary to dissent from him in opinion. Yet I must beg leave to observe: In the first place, the gentleman must assuredly be wrong, in supposing the passage in question refers to the general and final judgment. Do but attend to the concluding verse: There are last, which shall be first, and first, which shall be last. Surely, the text would not be thus worded, if the last judgment were designed. The parable of the ten virgins illustrates this passage. Then turning to the 11th of Romans, I pointed out some particulars, which are generally passed unnoticed; and when I read, "for God hath included them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all, my opponent, rising, looked over my shoulder, evidently to ascertain, if I had given the genuine reading of the text; upon which a lawyer, in the assembly, exclaimed: "I advise you, sir, to retire, and read your Bible." I begged, we might not be interrupted; and I affirmed, that my antagonist was entitled to my cordial thanks, and that I devoutly wished his example might be generally influential. I then proceeded to show, that it was possible an individual might pass out of time, ignorant of God, and yet be taught of God in that great day, when the books should be opened. I read the last part of the 22d Psalm, making a few remarks thereon; and, after exhorting the audience to follow the example of the Bereans, I paused for a reply. The gentleman affirmed, I had given an erroneous view of the parable of the ten virgins; that it pointed out the visible church; and that the foolish virgins were the hypocrites: and he admonished the people to beware of false teachers, &c. &c. To which I replied, by presuming the gentleman did not recollect, that the foolish virgins seemed to be equally a part of the kingdom of heaven, with the wise virgins, otherwise he would not so liberally have consigned them to the Devil. He would have us believe, the kingdom of heaven is the visible church; such are the sentiments of His Holiness at Rome; but, having abjured one Pope, I trusted we should not again be brought into subjection to principles, the propriety of which our hearts refused to acknowledge.
November 3d, I repaired to Gloucester, and was received by a few very warm-hearted Christians. The mansion-house—the heart, of the then head of the Sargent family, with his highly accomplished, and most exemplary lady, were open to receive me. I had travelled from Maryland to New-Hampshire, without meeting a single individual, who appeared to have the smallest idea of what I esteemed the truth, as it is in Jesus; but to my great astonishment, there were a few persons, dwellers in that remote place, upon whom the light of the gospel had more than dawned. The writings of Mr. Relly were not only in their hands, but in their hearts. Four years previous to this period, an Englishman, a Mr. Gregory, had brought with him those obnoxious pages, and loaned them to this small circle of Gloucesterians, by whom they had been seized with avidity; the Father of their spirits rendered them luminous to their understandings; and it was in consequence of their admiration of Mr. Relly, that, observing in the papers of the day, an individual malignantly arraigned, as a preacher of Relly's Gospel, they delayed not to dispatch earnest solicitations for my presence among them. In Gloucester, therefore, I passed my time most agreeably, until November 12th. The clergyman of the principal meeting-house, being confined by illness, I was visited by the deacons and elders of his church, and by them conducted to his house, after which I obtained permission to preach in his pulpit, which I several times did; my subjects 1 Cor. xi. 26. The good Samaritan. Isaiah xxviii. 16, &c. Every day, and every evening was appropriated to the expounding of the scriptures, in the spacious and well filled parlour of my new, and highly respectable friend; and I had reason to believe, that God most graciously crowned my labours in this place, by giving to some brighter views, and inducing others to search the scriptures for themselves. Every morning commenced, and every day closed, with prayer; and, with glad hearts, we delighted to hymn the praises of a redeeming God. Taking a most affectionate leave of those very dear friends, on Saturday morning, accompanied by Mr. Sargent, I returned to Boston. Upon the evenings of Sunday, and Wednesday, I again occupied the pulpit of Mr. C———; and upon the evening of Wednesday, the audience were incommoded by a profusion of water, thrown over them, and an egg was aimed at me in the pulpit, which however happened to miss me. On Thursday a piece of slander was published in the paper of the day, over the signature of Mr. C———. He had before declared, he would print no more in the newspaper, so had I; but, although he had forfeited his word, I did not think proper to follow his example, and I therefore addressed the following letter, to his private ear.
Some time since, being under the disagreeable necessity of replying to a dull repetition of your abusive slanders; and being persuaded, right or wrong, you would have the last word, I assured the public I would write no more in newspapers, so did you; but your brilliant example shall never influence me to undertake the vindication of my veracity, by convincing the world I can lie. But as, in the close of your last performance, you informed me and the public, that, if I thought myself wronged, what had been asserted should be proved to my face, before as large an auditory as I pleased; I now, sir, take leave to say, I do think myself most cruelly wronged, and I should rejoice in an opportunity of vindicating myself at the bar of the impartial public; yes, I should rejoice to see a very large audience collected: but, as I suppose we shall not be able to procure any place, but the meeting-house in School-street, I shall expect, if you be an honest man, to meet you there. You commend a certain gentleman, who recently spoke to me in that house—so do I. He did not, like Solomon's fool, cast about firebrands, arrows, and death, and say, Am I not in sport? he spake above-board, fair, and openly. I should be glad you would come and do likewise—only I request you will let me know in writing, by the bearer, when you will do this piece of common justice, to the cruelly, and most unwarrantably treated,
This letter enraged him, and he sent it back, declaring he would have nothing to do with me. But on the following Sunday evening, when I repaired, as usual, to the meeting-house to preach, Mr. C——— was upon the stairs of the pulpit, with a number of his violent adherents, for the purpose of barring me out. Making no resistance, I requested the gentleman might be heard with patient attention; and silence being obtained, Mr. C——— entered the pulpit, and declaimed for a long time, with great bitterness; accusing me of preaching damnable doctrines, though he had never heard me preach; but so he had been informed, asserting, that I was one of Relly's followers, and Relly believed all mankind would be saved; and Relly was a blasphemer, and denied the atonement; and I was a Deist, and it was dangerous to allow me to speak: for I said once, in his hearing, that God loved the Devil's children: and then, raising his voice, he vociferated, "It is a lie, a lie, a lie, it is a damnable lie." Thus he went on alternately crying out against me, and against Mr. Relly, damning my preaching, and his writings, and exhorting the people to avoid me, &c. &c. When he had concluded, he quitted the pulpit, and was passing out of the house as speedily as possible. I requested him to stop; but, observing he was rapidly departing, I urged the people to give me an opportunity of having justice done me, by detaining my accusing adversary, that I might defend myself in his presence; and Mr. C——— was accordingly led into a pew. I informed the audience, that I did indeed labour under great difficulty. The person, to whom I was about to reply, was an old gentleman, and a clergyman, both of which characters were indubitably entitled to respect. Yet truth was, in my opinion, abundantly superior to every other consideration; it was beyond all price; a gem, with which its possessor should never part. I should therefore take leave to say, Mr. C——— was very right, and very wrong. Right in condemning damnable doctrines; wrong in charging me with preaching those doctrines. Mr. C———, I said, reminded me of Nero, who, to be revenged upon the Christians, caught the city of Rome on fire, and charged the Christians with that atrocious deed. Mr. C——— had dressed me in bear's skins, and then set the dogs at me. He affirms, that I preach damnable doctrines! Suffer me to ask, What are damnable doctrines? Peter says, There shall arise false teachers among you, as there were false prophets among the people, who shall privily bring in damnable doctrines, even denying the Lord, who bought them. I appeal to this audience. Did I ever deny the Lord, who bought you? On the contrary, have I not borne constant testimony to this purchase? Did you ever hear me say, It made no difference, whether a man lived a good, or a bad life; was a believer, or an unbeliever? Surely, it is highly inconsistent to rank me with the Deist, who utterly disowns the Redeemer, when I am arraigned at this bar for believing there is no God out of Christ, and that he, who is God, our Saviour, is all, and in all. Mr. Relly is three thousand miles from this metropolis, Mr. C——— has neither seen nor heard him. Blasphemy, of which Mr. C——— accuses him, is no where to be found in his writings. These writings, give me leave to say, will live, and be held in admiration, when ten thousand such characters as Mr. C———'s and mine, will be consigned to oblivion. Thus I went on. Mr. C——— again advanced to the pulpit; reiterated what he had before asserted, without regarding a syllable which I had uttered, until at length he interrogated: "Does God love all the people in the world as well as Peter and Paul?" Suffer me, sir, first to ask you one question, which, if you will answer, then I will reply to yours. Did God love Peter, and Paul, as well before they believed as afterwards? "God loved Peter, and Paul, from the foundation of the world." Again, and again, I repeated my question, but could not obtain a direct answer. The people from the galleries called out, "Why do you not say yes, or no?"—but he refused thus to commit himself, and of course I dropped the inquiry. Again he returned to the charge. "Does God love all the people in the world, as well as Peter, and Paul?" Yes, sir, I believe He does, as well as He loved those Apostles before they believed. "Do you believe God loves all the people in the world?" Yes, sir, I do. Then, again, he proceeded most violently, and, that the heresy might be confirmed, he once more questioned: "Do you believe, that God loves all the Devil's children, as well as his own beloved ones?" No, indeed; I do not think God loves any of the Devil's children. "There, there, now he is hiding again." Suffer me, sir, to ask, What is it constitutes the character of the wicked man? "That is nothing to the purpose."
Again I ask, what is it constitutes the character of the wicked man? Here several individuals tremulously asked: "Why do you not answer the question? we are all concerned in it, we are seeking information." "Suppose I cannot; let some one else answer, and, if I like it, I will agree to it." No answer was given, and Mr. C——— resumed his declamation, affirming, I had said, God loved the Devil's children. I denied the charge, and was again accused of hiding, when I besought the attention of the people, while I explained myself. What are we to understand by a father, and a child, but begetter and begotten? Can you, Mr. C———, or can any one present, presume to say, that the bodies, or the souls of mankind, were begotten by the Devil? Is not God the Father of the spirits of all flesh? Is not God the Maker of our frames? and doth not the Apostle say, we are all His offspring? If it be confessed, we all died in Adam, we were of course in Adam; and if we were in Adam, we were what Adam was. But the Evangelist Luke affirms, that Adam was the son of God. We will next inquire, Who are the children of the Devil, and who are the children of God? I humbly conceive, Christ Jesus himself has put the matter beyond dispute, in the ever memorable parable of the Tares of the field, and our obligation to the Redeemer, for explaining it so clearly to his disciples, is indeed immeasurable. I then repeated the parable, and the explanation; and proved from thence, that the abominations of the earth were the children of the Devil, because produced by him; that the iniquities of the people were the tares, sowed by the adversary; that our nature was the good seed, which Jesus sowed. A holy God could not love sin, and, of course, could love no child of the Devil: but men, being his offspring, He once loved them as his own, and having loved His own, He loved them unto the end; that He had proved this to all men, in the Gift of his Son; God so loved the world, that He gave them his Son. Mr. C——— interrupted: "Nine tenths of all you have said is nothing at all to the purpose:" and again, in terms the most violent, he renewed his accusation, that I was all the time hiding. A voice from the gallery exclaimed: "If he be hiding, why do you not hunt him out of the bush?" Mr. C——— at length tauntingly said: "Come, come, leave off hiding, and tell the people, in plain english, that God loves them all." To which I answered: I will, sir, in as plain english, as I can command;—and then, addressing the congregation, I thus delivered the genuine sentiments of my soul: I am commissioned to say, to every individual before me, that God loves you, and that you are not to accept this declaration upon my bare word; you have the word of a God, who cannot lie; who proclaims Himself loving unto every man; who has given you proof positive of His love. His love has been greatly manifested in your birth; in rearing you from infancy; in guarding you through the devious paths of childhood, and youth; and preserving you from ten thousand dangers, to which you have been exposed. His gracious providence, in so plentifully providing for you, is a proof of His love. Your civil, and religious liberties, are blessed proofs of the love of your God. These particulars announce the love of Deity, to every individual, as a Creator, and Preserver. Yet these manifestations may be considered as merely temporal: But, blessed be the holy name of Jehovah! I am authorized to add, and in plain english too, that God loves the soul, which emanates from Himself, and that He has proved this love by the gift of His son. God so loved the world, that He gave them His son. To us a child is born, to us a Son is given. God has evinced His love, by giving us, in this son, Reconciliation, Regeneration, a new Head, a new Heart, a right Spirit. Here your Creator so loved you, as to give you Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption. In Christ Jesus, God has so loved you, as to bless you with all spiritual blessings. Every individual should believe this, since it is nothing more than an accomplishment of the promise, of the oath of Jehovah, which he swear unto Abraham, saying: And in thy Seed shall all the nations, all the families of the earth, be blessed. Such are the glad tidings, which the God, who loved you before the foundation of the world, hath commanded us to proclaim to every one of you; such are the glad tidings, which you ought to believe. If your heart tell you, It is not so, believe it not, it is an heart; he, that trusteth such a heart, is a fool. If the Devil tell you, It is not so, believe him not, he was a liar from the beginning. If your ministers tell you, You ought not to believe this good report, trust them not; they take part with the Devil, and your unbelieving hearts. The Devil would persuade you, not to believe these glorious truths, because, if you were delivered from his usurpation, you would henceforward serve your Creator without fear. The arch fiend is solicitous to retain you in bondage; his utmost efforts are in requisition to prevent you from believing, that God has so loved you, as to purchase you with the price of blood, of the precious blood of the Lamb of God; he would prevent you from believing, that you are bought with such a price, lest, thus believing, you should render yourselves living sacrifices, holy, and acceptable to God. But, let God be true, and every man a liar. Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price, and the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, if One died for all, then were all dead; and that He died for all, that they, who live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him, who died for them, and rose again.
All the time I was speaking, Mr. C——— was kicking my legs, or pulling the skirts of my garment, ever and anon vociferating: "Have done, have done; you have said enough; quite enough," &c. &c. Sometimes he stood up close to my side, shouldering me as hard as he was able. The congregation noticed his behaviour, and it did not give them pleasure. For myself, I had much cause for gratitude to my divine Master: 1st, that he was pleased to give me words; and 2dly, that he did not suffer me to lose my self-command. No, not for an instant. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
My next evening lecture was uninterrupted; but, on the succeeding Sunday evening, the throng was so prodigious, that it was with much difficulty I reached the pulpit; and when entered, I was nearly suffocated by the strong effluvia, arising from the asafœtida, with which the tools of the adversary had wet the pulpit and the pulpit cloth, plentifully sprinkling the whole house with the same noxious drug. For some moments I was so much overpowered, as to induce an apprehension, that it would be impossible I should proceed; but the God of my life was abundantly sufficient for me. The demons of confusion were, however, not quite satisfied; many stones were violently thrown into the windows; yet no one received any other injury, than the alarm, which was created. At length, a large rugged stone, weighing about a pound and a half, was forcibly thrown in at the window behind my back; it missed me. Had it sped, as it was aimed, it must have finished me. Lifting it up, and waving it in the view of the people, I observed: This argument is solid, and weighty, but it is neither rational, nor convincing. Exclamations, from various parts of the house, were echoed, and re-echoed: "Pray, sir, leave the pulpit, your life is at hazard." Be it so, I returned, the debt of nature must be paid, and I am as ready, and as willing, to discharge it now, as I shall be fifty years hence. Yet, for your consolation, suffer me to say, I am immortal, while He who called me into existence has any business for me to perform; and when He has executed those purposes, for which He designed me, He will graciously sign my passport to realms of blessedness. With your good leave, then, I will pursue my subject, and while I have a—Thus saith the Lord—for every point of doctrine which I advance, not all the stones in Boston, except they stop my breath, shall shut my mouth, or arrest my testimony. The congregation was, as I have said, astonishingly large; but order and silence were gradually restored, and I had uncommon freedom in the illustration, and defence of those sacred truths, which will be ultimately triumphant. Two or three succeeding lecture evenings were unmolested, when the business of stoning me in the pulpit, was again resumed; my friends were in terror, and, after I had closed, forming a strong phalanx around me, they attended me home. Many religious people were violent in their opposition; they insisted that I merited the severest punishment; that the old discipline for Heretics ought to be put in force, and I was thus furnished with abundant reason to bless God for the religious liberty of the country of my adoption, else racks and tortures, would have been put in operation against me, nor would these holy men, moved by the spirit, have stopped short of my destruction. Yet was the charge of heresy never proved against me. I was never silenced either by reason or scripture—I had called upon men every where, clergymen, or laymen, to step forward, and convict me of error; promising, solemnly promising, immediately upon conviction, to relinquish the obnoxious tenet, whatever it might chance to be, and to adopt that better way, which would, in such an event, become luminous before me. Truth, and gratitude, originates the confession, that in all circumstances, I have hitherto had reason to bless the God of my life, who hath promised He will be with me to the end of the world, and that all things shall work together for good. Amen, and amen.
- If the reader wishes to peruse a delineation of the feelings of the subject of this biography, upon visiting this delightful retreat, after the demise of its philanthropic owner, with a sermon, preached upon the occasion, he may see both in the Eleventh Letter, Vol. I. of the "Letters and Sketches of Sermons," recently published by the now departed preacher.Editor.
- Nearly the whole of this conversation was published in the first volume, Letter Fourth, of "Letters, and Sketches of Sermons." Instead of the letter A, the letter H...., which was the original and true initial, is now substituted.
- Many of the descendants of this exemplary couple are among the most opulent dwellers in this town. It is reported, that they are marching forward in the luminous path of their excellent ancestors; that they uniformly extend to the children of adversity a munificent and extricating hand; and, although their voices did not gladden the sick chamber of the preacher, yet he rejoiced in their prosperity, and in that large portion of benevolence, ascribed to them by the echoing tongue of fame.