תמונות בעמוד

other hand, it is the means of many keeping silence who should at proper times give a word of exhortation; for having felt it a duty to speak, and feeling incompetent to preach, they say nothing at all. This was the case with me, for after having attended two meetings, and attempting to preach, I became discouraged, in this course, and never opened my mouth in public on the subject of religion for more than three years afterwards, as I have before hinted. To my shame be It spoken, I did not even pray in my family. Satan about this time obtained a strange advantage over me in another way, which tended more still to discourage me. Some one handed me a book entitled “No Cross no Crown;" written, if my memory serves me, by William Penn. I know not but the book is well enough, although I do not now recollect much about the contents, but at any rate either through my miskinderstanding, or some faults in the work itself, Satan made it a means of great injury to me. The inference which I drew from it was, that I must cross myself in every thing which I had a desire to do, without making any distinction between holy and unholy desires, or between that which the law of God forbid or required. Accordingly I had to take up my crossand deny myself, and not attend meeting the next Sabbath, for my heart had been much set upon it and I had a strong desire to attend, but my book said " No Cross no Crown," and as I did not feel willing to lose my crown, I took up my cross and went into the woods on Sabbath, and there remained all day !! I felt lamentably bad. But I thought the reason was that I did not faithfully bear the cross. My book said, “ No Cross no Crown,” so I thought I must do every thing which I did not want to do. Accordingly, although I did not want to leave the shade and go sit down in the sun, yet I must do it, for my book said, “ No Cross no Crown." Thus the Devil tempted me in the wilderness; and here I continued all day scorching in the sun, bearing the cross as I verily thought, in hopes of obtaining the crown. As night

came on I felt most miserably. I desired to return home-but this would not be bearing the cross: I must therefore continue there all night. Some how or other I obtained mitigation, so far as to start for home. (I suppose I abrogated the severity of the cross.) But I had not gone far before I thought I must turn about and go back, inasmuch as this would be the most disagreeable thing to me almost imaginable, and I drew the inference from the book, that I must not do one thing which was agreeable, but the cross consisted in doing every thing which was disagreeable. So I turned and run back, until by some means or other I obtained respite, so as again to return towards home : but I had not proceeded but a short distance before the Devil gave me orders to again wheel about and make my way once more into the woods, and in this way he kept me pacing back and forth perhaps twenty times before I got so far extricated as to get home—and I think then the only means whereby I obtained freedom froin the cross of tarrying in the woods all night, was by taking up another, almost as disagreeable ; which was to appear at the residence of my wife, whom I had just married, and where I expected to meet some of her relatives from a distance, whom I had never seen, clad in my shabby working apparel, with no handkerchief around my neck, with the addition also of turning my shirt collar under, so far out of sight that I appeared rather as if I had no shirt on at all! This was disagreeable


book said, “ No Cross no Crown," and I therefore concluded to bear it. This circumstance may appear to some too unutterably foolish to relate, but it is for this very purpose that I here mention it-to shew what consummate fools the Devil sometimes makes of young converts. I was at the same time that this happened, sincere, and would not for the world have done any thing offensive to God; but as I have before abserved, I was ignorant, and altogether unacquainted with Satan's devices, so that he easily obtained this advantage over me, in my tender state of inexa

to me,

perience in the Christian warfare. I had not learned to try the spirits by the unerring word of God. Notwithstanding this course, which the Devil led me on this day, appears so foolish, yet I believe it to be of the very same nature with all religious enthusiasm or fanaticism. What is the Shaker delusion but this ?Although some of it may appear at first view more plausible ; yet search it to the bottom and it is the same thing. And so with all fanatics, who have ever appeared on the stage. God overruled this day finally, to his own glory and my good; for, norwithstanding I did not then see through the delusion, yet some years after, when Douglass Farnum and his followers began their course of running round the chimney of the house, perhaps three hours on a stretch-crawling on the floor--sitting down under the table, like dogs, and numberless other bodily exercises and movements, not only disgraceful to them as men and women, but abominably so as professors of the Christian religion, I was prepared to reject it as a delusion of the Devil. This Farnum was a preacher of what is termed the Christian connexion, and for a while seemed successful as an instrument of a great revival of religion.

We cannot be too careful to try all our impressions and exercises by the word of God. After this Sabbath which I spent in bearing the cross in the manner aforesaid, I grew more discouraged in endeavouring to attend any religious duty. No doubt but this was one grand design of the enemy in thus leading me on a wrong track, worrying me, and so tempting me to believe there was no enjoyment, in bearing the cross of Christ. How many does he thus deceive, whose hearts have never been changed. They are alarmed through fear of eternal punishment, and feel willing to do any thing to escape it, and thus he sets them at work as he did me; until they are satisfied there is no help or comfort in such exercises, and finally reject them as delusions, and with them the whole of religion also. But thanks be to God, who, with every temptation which his chil:

or old

dren meet with, he also makes a way for their escape. As I grew discouraged, I soon began to partake of the spirit of the world, and to settle down in lukewarmness. I was young and just married, and soon conceived the idea of obtaining something of this world's goods, for comfort “when a rainy day should come,” age should creep on, &c. About this time the brethren began to doctrinate me. I was warned to beware of Calvinism as a hydra-headed monster,” which, if he got his iron grasp once hold on me, would prove my ruin. As they had no writings of their own denomination on doctrinal subjects, I was supplied with books written by the Methodists. Calvinism was represented to me as being made up of sentiments like the following

That God was the sinful author of moral evil or sin. That men were bound, by irresistible decrees of fatality, to do just as they did, although they might be ever so willing to do differently. That the atonement was limited to a part of mankind. That God chained mankind, by his decrees ; like a person's being chained to a post or tree, and then commanded them to come to him; and because they did not come, condemned them for it to hell. That a part of mankind could not come to Christ, although ever so willing to

That a part must come, although ever so unwilling, and be compelled to go to heaven like a man dragged to prison, with his legs tied, contrary to his wishes. That those who were once converted must go to heaven, let them do as they would afterwards— and finally, that it made no difference what a person did after he was once converted, he must be saved, although he should live in sin all his days, and should not endure to the end ? Horrible picture thought I ; and so it really was. I was not told that there was any difference in the opinions of those who were denominated Calvinists, but that the above constituted the main pillars of the system; of all who were ranked under that head. This to be sure was dreadful heresy. I knew that God was holy, and could not be the sinful


author of moral evil. I know that man was a free moral agent, and that no decree of God hindered him from acting as he chose to act. I knew that the atonement was amply sufficient to save the whole world ; for the scripture was full on this point, and all were invited to come to Christ and be saved; and that if any were not saved, who lived under the gospel, it was because they obstinately rejected offered mercy. I knew also that the scripture declaration was, that those alone who endured to the end, should be saved, and that the promise was to none else. These ideas were clear in my mind as they now are ; and as they told ine these were Arminian ideas, I thought to be sure that Arminianism was a bible doctrine, (and so far it is,) and received it implicitly. They never told me that there were tens of thousands of Christians who were denominated Calvinists, that held to all these points as positively as Arminians did. That however, there were some who were so called, that believed in a particular atonement, or that limited it to the elect, and whose ideas of the decrees of God, and of the natural inability of man, did, indeed reduce the system of God's government in the moral world, to a kind of fatality, and made the creature like a stock or stone, or rather a mere machine; yet, there were others, who, notwithstanding they were called by the same name, yet believed altogether differently, viz :- That God's decrees do not rob the creature of his free moral agency, but that they established it. That all men always act just as they choose to act, all things considered, or they are not accountable. That the atone ment is general in its nature, and amply sufficient to save ten thousand times as many sinners as ever did or ever will exist, if they would only receive it by faith. That salvation is offered sincerely, and freely, and indiscriminately to all. That whosoever will come, may come and partake of the waters of life freely. That there is no extrinsic cause, or nothing out of the creature that hinders his coming to Christ, if he did not rejeet salvation, freely offered to him with all his heart.

« הקודםהמשך »