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God in the world,” being under the curse of the Law.
"For all enthusiasts, when the fit is strong,
Indulge a volubility of tongue.” FENTON. In the long winter nights, as we sat at work together, he proved (in his way) that every man had original sin enough to damn a thousand souls; and a deal was said on that subject. A passage was quoted from the wise determination of the doctors of the Sorbonne, where they say that children inclosed in their mother's womb are liable to damnation if they die there unbaptized. Quotations were also made from some deep author who had asserted, that there
“infants in hell but a span long;” and that "hell was paved with infant sculls,” &c.
“ Thus feigning to adore, make thee,
Ordaining torments." As to morality, George assured us it was of no avail; that as for good works they were only splendid sins; and that in the best good work that any creature could perform, there was sin enough to sink the doer to the nethermost hell; that it was faith alone that did everything, without a grain of morality; but that no man could have one particle of this mysterious faith before he was justified; and justification was a sudden operation on the soul, by which the most execrable wretch that ever lived might instantaneously be assured of all his sins being pardoned; that his body from that very moment became the living temple of the Holy Ghost; that he had fellowship with
the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and, that Spirit was to be their constant and infallible guide :
“Whate'er men speak by this new light,
But spiritu'l eaves-droppers can hear.” BUTLER. My master very seldom heard any of these conversations, but my good mistress would sit down for hours together with her bible in her lap, from which she would read such scriptures as proved the necessity of living a good life, performing good works, &c.; she also did her best to confute the tenets of original sin, imputed righteousness, doctrine of the Trinity, &c. &c. Unfortunately the good woman had no great talents for controversy; however, George had a very tenacious memory, and employed all his thoughts on these subjects, so that John his younger brother, and I also (two competent judges no doubt) thought that he had the best of the arguments on these edifying subjects. "Nothing,” says Montaigne,"is so firmly believed as that which we least know;" for which reason Plato said, “ that it was more easy to satisfy his hearers, with discourses about the nature of the gods than of men.” About five months after George's conversion, John went to hear those only true ambassadors from heaven,
“ Who stroll and teach from town to town
With knowledge, and do still invite
These devil-dodgers happened to be so very powerful (that is, very noisy) that they soon sent John home crying out, he should be damn'd! he should be damn'd for ever!
But John soon got out of the damnable state, and assured us that all his sins were forgiven, merely by believing that he had passed from death into life, and had union and communion with God. He now became as merry as before he had been sorrowfu), and sang in Mr Wesley's strain,
“Not a doubt shall arise
To darken the skies, Nor hide for a moment my God from my eyes.” John sang to me, and said to me a deal in this wonderful strain, of which I did not comprehend one syllable.
His words were loose
It turn'd his brains to frenzy.” But these extraordinary accounts and discourses, together with the controversies between the mother and the sons, made me think they knew many matters of which I was totally ignorant. This created in me a desire for knowledge, that I might know who was right and who was wrong. But to my great mortification, I could not read. I knew most of the letters, and a few easy words, and I set about learning with all my might. My mistress would sometimes instruct me, and having three-halfpence per week allowed me by my mother, this money I gave to John (my master's youngest son) and for every threehalfpence he taught me to spell one hour. This was
done in the dark, as we were not allowed a candle after we were sent up stairs to bed.
I soon made a little progress in reading ; in the mean time I also went to the Methodist meeting. There, as “ enthusiasm is the child of melancholy," I caught the infection. The first that I heard was one Thomas Bryant, known in Taunton by the name of the Damnation Preacher (he had just left off cobbling soles of another kind.) His sermon frightened me most terribly. I soon after went to hear an old Scotchman, and he assured his congregation that they would be damned, and double damned, and treble damned, and damned for ever, if they died without what he called faith.
“ Conj'rers like, on fire and brimstone dwell,
SOAME JENYNS. This marvellous doctrine and noisy rant and enthusiasm soon worked on my passions, and made me believe myself to be really in the damnable condition that they represented; and in this miserable state I continued for about a month, being all that time unable to work myself up to the proper key.
At last, by singing and repeating enthusiastic amorous hymns, and ignorantly applying particular texts of scripture, I got
my imagination to the proper pitch, and thus was I born again in an instant, became a very great favourite of heaven,
“ And with my new invented patent eyes,
Peter PINDAR. I had angels to attend all my steps, and was as familiar with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as any old woman in Mr Wesley's connection; which, by the bye, is saying a great deal.
I am, dear sir, yours.
“No sleep, no peace, no rest
Upon their souls and eyes
Dark pictures and resemblances
O'er their distemper'd fancies go :
The gods above, the gods beneath;
BISHOP SPRAT. DEAR FRIEND, Ir is perhaps worth remarking, that what the Methodists call conviction of sin, being awakened, &c. is often a most dreadful state, and has the very same effect on such as have lived a very innocent life as it has upon the most notorious offenders; this conviction (as they call it) is brought about by the preachers heaping all the curses in the bible on the heads of the most virtuous as well as most vicious; for, say they, he who keepeth the whole law and of. fendeth but in one point, is as much in a state of damnation, as he that hath broken every one of the commandments, or committed robbery, murder, &c. so that they pour out every awful denunciation found in the bible, and many not found there, against all who have not the methodistical faith. This they call shaking the people over the mouth of hell, and they in reality believe
“ That cruel God, who form'd us in his wrath,
Young OFFICER'S TRIFLES.