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learned to be industrious and frugal, by which means they have been enabled to live in credit, to provide something for their children, and to support them selves in their old age.”.
The foregoing extracts, which, regarded in contact with the preceding Memoirs, are at least curious and characteristically illustrative, may suitably enough terminate with a tissue of rhapsody, which shews in a very significant manner the shifting nature of certain men's minds, and proves what indeed has long been well known, that persons who lightly rush to one extreme are always the more likely to rebound to the other.
“ When I look into my Memoirs I shudder to see what I have done. I have wantonly treated of, and sported with the most solemn and precious truths of the gospel. O God, lay not this sin to my charge! Other infidels have obscured, as much as they were able, the external evidences of Christianity: but I made a thrust at its vital part. There are many thousands who never had time or opportunity, or who have been, somehow or other, prevented from investigating the external evidences of the Christian religion, who yet are as much assured of its divine authority as they are of their own existence. They know that Christ is come in the flesh; that they are born of God; that they are passed from death into life ; that they were once blind, that now they see; that old things are done away, and all things are become new; that they were once miserable, but are now happy; they once were without God in the world, but now by that faith which is the operation of God, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, by this precious faith, they can say my Father and my God. They can call Christ Lord by the Holy Ghost. They know what is the communion of saints, and often sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, and are filled with the fulness of God; and they know that when this earthly tabernacle is dissolved they have a building, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
“ It was this internal evidence which made the martyrs triumph in the midst of the flames; and this evidence, neither the pretended friends, nor the open enemies of Christianity, will ever be able to destroy. Christianity, without this, is a body without a soul. And all those who endeavour to invalidate this internal evidence, are blind, knowing nothing ; are false spies that bring an evil report of the good land; they are in the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity, and have neither part nor lot in the matter; and, sooner or later, they will be found to be fighters against God.
• Jesus, vouchsafe a pitying ray,
To glorious happiness!
Let me depart in peace.' " I suppose you are ready to ask, how it was possible for me, who once was enlightened, and had tasted the good work of God, and the powers or the world to come; how it was possible for me to sink into ignorance, blindness, and infidelity? Ah, my friend, nothing is more easy. As a real Christian is one that has been called out of darkness into marvellous light; so, as long as his eye is single, his soul is full of light, and he walks in the light, as God is in the light, and in him there is no darkness at all; yet, if he turn back again into Egypt, he will again be involved in Egyptian darkness. The sun of righteousness will no longer shine upon him. Adam, as soon as he dis. obeyed his God, at once lost his favour and likeness, and sunk into a state of darkness and ignorance, and attempted to hide himself from the all-seeing eye amongst the trees. And when a renewed soul falls again into a course of sin, he is at last smitten with blindness, and he gropes but cannot find the door. The candle of the Lord no more shines upon his head. They are blind, and cannot see afar off ; and have forgot that they were purged from their sins. They will curse and swear that they know not the man. As they did not like to retain the knowledge of God, he gives them over to blindness and hardness of heart. They have quenched the spirit, and done despite unto it. They no longer know the things which belong to their peace, they being hid from their eyes. They have eyes that see not, and ears that hear not.
“ This evidence I have attempted to invalidate. God be merciful to me a sinner !
• Jesus, let thy pitying eye,
Call back a wandering sheep:
Would fain like Peter weep.
On me all long-suffering shewn,
And break my heart of stone.' “I have, in my Life, said that the Methodists have driven people out of their mind, made them commit suicide, &c. But I solemnly declare, that I never knew an instance of the kind from my own personal knowledge. I have seen it asserted in pamphlets wrote against them, and also in newspapers, and I have been told that such things have happened; and upon such kind of evidence I have shamefully followed others in relating those stories after them.
" In finding fault with the Methodist preachers for endeavouring to awaken all such as were never con. verted, every one may see that in blaming them I also blamed the prophets, Christ and his apostles, and also the Church of England, and most other reformed
churches. The Methodist preachers often tell their hearers, in the words of our church, in her 9th article, • That every man is far gone from original righteousness; is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit ; and therefore every person born into the world deserveth God's wrath and damnation. What the Methodists mean by conviction for sin is the same as our church has set down in the communion service : We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us; and the burthen is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; for thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee in newness of life. That which dis. pleases the infidels and pretended Christians on this head is, the Methodists insist on the necessity of feeling what we repeat, lest we be found solemn mockers of God.
“ In the scripture this conviction is called, being pricked to the heart, under which sinners are constrained to inquire, What shall we do to be saved ?'
God be merciful to me a sinner,' &c. And under this conviction David roared for the disquietude of his soul, and watered his bed with his tears. Jeremiah saith, ‘Be not a terror to me.' In another place God says, 'I
will make thee a terror to thyself.' Solomon says, “The spirit of a man may sustain his (bodily) infirmities; but a wounded spirit who can bear? This is what is intended by a contrite spirit, a broken heart, &c.
So that what I have pointed out as a dreadful state is, I presume, quite scriptural ; and must be, more or less, felt by every person before he will see the necessity of coming to Christ for pardon and salvation ; before he can be born again, or converted; or before he can be justified, as St Paul says, and as our church says also, ' before he ever can be changed
by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit ; before he can perfectly love God, or worthily magnify his holy name.'
“ But as an infidel I cared for none of these things, and so ridiculed them all. The remembrance of which has in reality been to me grievous, and the burthen intolerable! May Almighty God make all the inventors, and other wanton · relaters of such stories, feel, before it is too late, the same sorrow and sincere repentance! And may they also obtain mercy through the all-atoning blood of Christ, who forgiveth all manner of sins and blasphemies of such as truly repent and unfeignedly believe his holy gospel.”
It is only necessary to add, that Mr Lackington retired from the bookselling business with a competent fortune, the reward of his own ingenuity, industry, and tact in the way of cheap reprinting, in 1798, leaving Mr George Lackington, a third cousin,
at the head of the firm. He took up his residence at Thornbury, in Gloucestershire, in the neighbourhood of his father-in-law, Mr Turton, a respectable attorney-atlaw, of Alvestone, about three miles from Thornbury. He subsequently purchased two estates in Alvestone, on one of which there was a genteel house, in which he made various improvements, and took up his abode, keeping a carriage and living in great respectability. Within a year of the appearance of his “Confessions,” he erected a small chapel on his premises, in which ministers of the Wesleyan Methodists connection regularly officiated; and ultimately he became himself a local preacher of that body, and held forth in his turn in the neighbouring villages. His time was now chiefly occupied in visiting the sick, distributing religious tracts, relieving the distressed poor, and preaching; and he spared no pains to convince all his acquaintances, that the manner in which he had spent his time in London was far from affording him pleasure on reflection. He also expressed great sorrow for the manner in which he had spoken of the