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I experienced a real change of heart. It was that which I did not expect or look for ; for, as I have before said, I did not know any thing about the new birth in theory. So that this marvellous change was brought in me unexpectedly—and I am confident that I did not merely imagine it. If I had been theoretically orthodox, and had been looking for the forgiveness of my sins through Christ, or the new birth, there would have been more probability of my having been imposed upon by the enemy of all righteousness, in working on my imagination, and in my thinking that the thing had really taken place, which I so cagerly sought for. Nor did I imagine that I heard any audible voice, like the voice of a person speaking to me, and telling me my sins were forgiven. But I first realized this great change in my affections, which I have related—and how beautiful did God's ch acter then look to me, for the first time, and how I loved his children! I was then led out in my mind as I have stated, to behold, Jesus Christ as he is exhibited in the gospel. I did not first believe on Jesus Christ, and have my sins forgiven--and then love God because he had forgiven my sins, and I expected he would save me. No: if this be the way that God saves sinners, I am still without hope. But I first experienced this great and glorious change, whereby I loved God; and I then acted faith on the atonement, and saw the way of salvation through Christ.
From hence I am led, in reviewing my experience, to fall in with Mr. Fuller, in his views of saving faith -that it is a holy exercise, and have read him with great satisfaction on this subject, as I have also Dr. Bellamy, than whom, no writer bas, perhaps, more successfully shewn the dangers of that system, which in substance amounts to this : “ that a man's sins are forgiven him, if he really believes they are, or if he fully believes that Christ died for him in particular.". Now we may believe many things to be true, which are false, and it is to be feared that many in the great day will find that they have believed a lie, in thinking their
sins were forgiven. To say a person's sins are forgiven, before he loves God, is to say that he may be saved without love to God-for what will condemn a person when his sins are all forgiven !.And it also implies that we may have saving, justifying faith in Jesus Christ, without one particle of true love to God or the Divine law; and how does this agree with the scripture account of saving faith ? The bible says that “ faith works by love ;' and that “ faith without works is dead.” Repentance is before forgiveness, and true repentance, that is, a godly sorrow for sin, implies love to the Divine law. A person may have, and perhaps all sinners do have, at times, what is sometimes termed, a legal repentance, without true love to the Divine law-Judas, no doubt, had it but this is not the repentance “unto life, that needeth not to be repented of.” Let us be sure that we have a godly sorrow for sin.-It is the duty of all men this moment, to love God, consequently their duty to unfeignedly repent, for having transgressed the law-and it is their duty thus to believe on the Son that they may have life. But let them not, (to use a vulgar expression) get this story “ precisely wrong end foremost," and believe that God forgives their sins while they hate him, and then after they think he has forgiven them, shift ground, and love him merely because he has paid this attention to them !!
Public profession of religion-Misconstruction of the
subject of bearing the cross-Lukewarmness in Reli . gion Was taught the Arminian system of theology, &c. &c.
My love for God's people now inclined' me to their company. I had of choice rather be a door keeper in the house of the Lord than to dwell in the tents of wickedness and sin. I felt a desire to be baptized
and make a public profession of religiou, because wisdom's ways were pleasant. I had no idea at that time of the numerous different denominations in the world, nor of the conflicting sentiments on theology, which existed among the professed people of God. do indeed recollect of hearing something said respecting the Six Principle and the Five Principle Baptists, but I had no conception of the difference, or in what it consisted. It will be hardly possible for the reader to imagine my ignorance on these topics at the time of my conversion. The Six Principle Baptists were the only professors with whom I was acquainted, as I have before hinted, and of those there were but very few in the region where I resided, who were also in appearance very low in religion. One of their preachers preached one sermon in a month, in the neighbourhood, or to speak, perhaps, as properly, repeated the same thing over so often; for although he appeared to be an honest, well-minded man, yet his talents were below mediocrity, naturally, besides which he was confined all the week working at the shoemaker'strade, which naturally occasioned a sameness in his discourses. I put, at this time, almost unlimited confidence in professors of religion, and particularly ministers, and supposed that whatever they · asserted must be correct. As I desired to make a profession of religion, I applied to the church nearest to me, which was that of the Six Principle Baptists,in Johnson, under the care of Elder S. I know not what would be required of me, in order to become a member, for as for relating experiences, I never had even heard of the thing, nor did I know what appellation to give to my own exercises, and knew not speculatively that there was such a doctrine in the bible as a change of heart; so that when I was asked a few days after I had experienced religion, how long it was since I met with a change, I answered about two months, alluding to the time I was first awakened. When, however, a few weeks after I was baptized, I heard an experience related, and a Christian describing the work of grace
on the heart, my mind in a moment was carried back to the time and place where I experienced the same. exercises, and then I kuew what was meant by a religious experience, or a change of heart, and felt assured that I had experienced it myself. When I was informed by the minister, in covenant meeting, that if I wished to join the church there was liberty for me to speak, I arose, but did not say one word. After standing mute a few moments I was asked a few questions, the import of which I do not remember, but I gave some kind of an answer, and was without hesitation admitted as a member of the church, and went forward the next day, (which I think was the 1st Sabbath in August, 1912,) in the ordinance of Baptism, received the imposition of hands, and partook of the Lord's supper. The imposition of hands on private members of the church is tenaciously held to by Six Principle Baptists, as an ordinance of the gospel. The very easy manner in which I was received into the church has since given me reason to believe that I should as readily have been received before I experienced religion, as I was at this time, if I had offered myself. Nothing but the watchful care of a gracious and merciful God prevented me. How many are there within the pales of the visible churches in christendom who have not got the wedding garment on ? O how dangerous. Such ones are generally fatally deceived. They please themselves with the idea that they have got religion, and are consequently deaf to the threatenings of God's law. If they pass on and maintain their external walk and profession in the world, yet how soon will they hear from the mouth of Christ, * I never knew you." But frequently, such, openly rebel, return like a dog to his vomit again, and then some people say they have fallen from grace!! I had now just passed the age of seventeen, and was married August the 16th, the next Sabbath following the one on which I was baptized. I felt a strong desire to speak to the people, and my young companions in particular, to try to persuade them to flee from the wrath
to come. I never had heard at that time of a confererre meeting, in which the people of God had the privilege to improve their gifts in exhortation, prayer, &c, but supposed that if I spoke at all I must preach. Accordingly, I gave out an appointment that I would preach Sabbath evening, the week after I was baptized! Strange to tell, I was approbated and encouraged in this, by the professors around me. This being an extraordinary circumstance, the people flocked in crowds to the meeting-house, to witness the novel
I have no recollection of what I said, only of warning them to beware of too much heat and engagedness in their political contentions. I was a poor ignorant boy, having never read but a very little in the bible, and had no distinct correct ideas, speculatively, of the doctrine it contained. I had the work of God, to be sure, on my soul, but what to denominate it, or how to express myself on one single point of scripture truth, I knew no more, perhaps, than a savage or Burman, who should be converted where the bible never had been seen, and the preaching of the gospel never had been heard. Notwithstanding this, I felt strongly impressed with the idea, that I must preach the gospel. I made another appointment the Sabbath following, and attended, which ended my preaching for the present. I have often lamented that I had not had proper instruction at that time to have improved my gift, in conference meetings, if there should have been opportunity, instead of attempting to preach : I might have kept along and grown in the improvement of my gift, and not have closed my lips in silence as I did, for more than three years follow. ing. But it was too much a fashion with the order of people with whom I had connected myself, to make preachers of almost all who opened their mouths in public, although they possessed nothing but exhortation gifts. This is a sad mistake. It is the means of putting many a one into the pulpit as expounders of the word, whom God never called there, and who have nothing but a gift of exhortation, And on the