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Parentage–Birth-Childhood - Youth, fc. I was born in Cranston, R. I. about five miles west of Providence, June 22, 1795, where I resided until I was about twenty-five years of age. My father's name was Andrew, and my mother's maiden name was Nancy Remington, born in the town of East-Greenwich, R. I. My father is yet alive,* but my mother is no more; she died in hope of a blessed immortality, almost two years since, having numbered about sixtyfive years on earth. My parents were poor, but according to the general acceptation of the term, I believe they always maintained an irreproachable moral character. They however lived, according to their own testimony, by far the greater portion of their days, without God and religion in the world. My mother, I believe, was brought to the knowledge of the truth about sixteen years since, near the time that God called me by his grace, and ever after was a burning and shining light in the church, a mother in Israel, and finished her course with joy. My father lived still longer in a state of alienation from God, it being but about eight years since the Holy Spirit convinced him that he was a lost and undone sinner, notwithstanding all his claims to what the world are pleased to term a moral life. He is now, I hope, at rest in a
Since the above was written, my father has deceased. His last
end was peace.
better world. My parents being destitute of religioni themselves, were incapacitated to give their children religious instruction, consequently I never received any from them in the days of my childhood or youth, nor do I recollect that ever any person on earth conversed with me personally, in order to call my attention to the great concerns of eternity, and the salvation of my soul, until God arrested me by his powerful Spirit, and translated me, as I hope, into the kingdom of his Son. But my parents gave good instruction so far as they had travelled themselves, and also enforced precept by their own example, for which I have reason to bless God; for I believe it was in consequence of their labours to hold up to my view in the days of my childhood what the world term dishonesty, together with all external wickedness and immorality in such disgusting colours ; that the loathing it seemed to be coeval with my existence. For notwithstanding I have found myself to be one of the greatest sinners that ever the world bore up, yet I cannot recollect the time when I did not look on what is generally termed dishonesty with the utmost ab-horrence. I remember when but a child, of being greatly distressed while with my mother, as she was gathering some very small brush, about as large as my little fingers, for fear it was stealing.
One day, when about seven years old, as it was a fashionable thing with my play-mates, I thought I would use profane language, and not be so singular. But it seemed impossible. I uttered one or two oaths, when I became so panic-struck with the thought of taking the name of God in vain, that I abandoned it forever. Indeed I was preserved generally speaking from outbreaking sins and open wickedness in the days of my childhood and youth, which in itself was a mercy of God, and a blessing for which I ever should be thankful; yet nevertheless I turned this mercy, (as I am sure to do all others, unless prevented by divine grace) into a curse, which would certainly have ruined my soul forever, if God had not interposed with the arm
of his power and all conquering grace, and rescued me from impending ruin. I say I turned it into a curse. I mean I was one of the proudest Pharisees that ever lived, admiring and trusting in myself, while I condemned without mercy every deviation in others from my rules of self-righteousness. O how little did I then think that my heart was as a cage of unclean birds-deceitful above all things and desperately wicked—that I was entirely destitute of holiness, or that love to God and man, which the law requires; and that it was altogether owing to the restraining grace of God, that I differed from the vilest out-breaking sinner on earth. I now see plainly, that nothing short of an omnipotent, all-wise God, could ever have convinced me of these things, and all the talk about mere moral suasion being sufficient to bring such proud. obstinate, self-righteous, and self-conceited wretches as I was, to the knowledge of the truth, now sounds to me like idle tales. As it respects my natural feelings, they were easily moved. I was easily irritated, and on the other hand, I was too easily persuaded. Good nature, moving address, and pleasant words, were to me almost irresistible, and I know not into which of these weaknesses and foolish extremes I was most frequently thrown. The power of sympathy with me was always strong. I was easily moved with the sufferings of my fellow beings, and although extremely irritable, and easily excited, yet I never to my recollection inflicted a blow on one of my playmates or companions in youth, And this not because I feared being vanquished, (for I reigned king among them in wrestling, on which I valued myself) but becanse my natural feelings revolted at the sight of suffering and distress; and it is impossible for me to describe my sensations and pain, whenever I witnessed any two engaged in bruising each other.
I was naturally of a lively turn of mind, and excessively so, except at times or intervals, when I was almost overwhelmed in melancholy and dejection. I always had a thirst after reading. At a very tender
age my parents were frequently under the necessity of using their authority in compelling me to leave my books at a late hour, and retire to my bed. History was my delight. It was a great mercy that I possessed this taste for books, for without it, I should not have attained a common school education, as my privileges for obtaining it were quite limited. My parents being poor, and having a large family, it became indispensibly necessary that I should be put to labour as soon as my age would possibly permit. I however generally made a shift, after having worked through the summer for wages, to obtain a place in the winter where I could be allowed my board and the privilege of going to school for what I could do independently of my school hours. I pursued my studies closely when I had opportunity, rising at 4 o'clock in the winter season, and devoting the hours between this and sunrise, to English grammar, so that I might attend to other branches in school. In this way quired a tolerable English education, was considered qualified to teach a school myself, which I engaged in at different times, with general satisfaction, and was also employed for about three years as clerk of a manufacturing establishment in my native town. My father however being a mechanic himself, and considering it an indispensible duty binding on himself to give all his sons a trade, I accordingly commenced working with him at the carpentering business, and acquired a knowledge of that art. I was therefore a carpenter and the son of a carpenter-but how unlike Him, who was the reputed son of Joseph, and who undoubtedly worked at the humble occupation himself!
I was much taken up with politics at a very early age, was extremely tenacious of my principles, and vehement in declaiming, when quite a boy, against those political men and measures which were averse to the predilections of my childhood, and against which my earliest prejudices had been excited, from hearing the conversation of my relatives and friends.