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hell: and at some seasons such amazing reflections upon this awful subject forced themselves into my mind, that I was overpowered by them, and my fears became intolerable. At such times my extemporary cries for mercy were so earnest and persevering, that I was scarcely able to give over; though at others I lived without
of any sort! Yet in my darkest hours, though my conscience was awakened to discover more and more sinfulness in my whole behaviour, there remained a hope that I should one day repent and turn unto God. If this hope were from myself, it was a horrid presumption; but the event makes me willing to acknowledge a persuasion that it was from the Lord: for, had it not been for this hope, I should probably have given way to temptations, which frequently assaulted me, to put an end to my own life, in proud discontent with my lot in this world, and in mad despair about another.
A hymn of Dr. Watts, (in his admirable little book for children,) entitled “The all-seeing God, at this time fell in my way: I was much affected with it, and having committed it to memory was frequently repeating it, and thus continually led to reflect on my guilt and danger.-Parents may
from this inconsiderable circumstance be reminded, that it is of great importance to store their children's memories with useful matter, instead of suffering them to be furnished with such corrupting trash as is commonly taught them. They know not what use God may make of these early rudiments of instruction in future life.
At this period, though I was the slave of sin, yet, my conscience, not being pacified, and my principles not greatly corrupted, there seemed some hope concerning me; but at length Satan took a very effectual method of silencing my convictions, that I might sleep securely in my sins: and justly was I given over to a strong delusion to believe a lie, when I held the truth that I did know in unrighteousness. I met with a Socinian comment on the Scriptures, and greedily drank the poison, because it quicted my fears and flattered my abominable pride. The whole system coincided exactly with my inclinations and the state of my mind.
mind. In reading this exposition, sin seemed to lose its native ugliness, and to appear a very small and tolerable evil; man's imperfect obedience seemed to shine with an excellency almost divine; and God appeared so entirely and necessarily merciful, that he could not make any of his creatures miserable without contradicting his natural propensity. These things influenced my mind so powerfully, that I was enabled to consider myself, notwithstanding a few little blemishes, as upon the whole a very worthy being. At the same time, the mysteries of the gospel being explained away, or brought down to the level of man's comprehension, by such proud and corrupt, though specious, reasonings; by acceding to these sentiments, I was, in my own opinion, in point of understanding and discernment, exalted to a superiority above the generality of mankind; and I pleased myself in looking down with contempt upon such as were weak enough to believe the orthodox doctrines. Thus I generally soothed my conscience: and if at any time I was uneasy at the apprehension that I did not thoroughly deserce eternal happiness, and was not entirely fit for heaven ; the same book afforded me a soft pillow on which to lull myself to sleep: it argued, and I then thought proved, that there were no eternal torments; and it insinuated that there were no torments except for notorious sinners, and that such as should just fall short of heaven would sink into their original nothing. With this welcoine scheme I silenced all my fears, and told my accusing conscience, that if I fell short of heaven I should be annihilated, and never be sensible of
By experience I am well acquainted with Satan’s intention, in employing so many of his servants to invent and propagate those pestilent errors, whether in speculation or practice, that have in all ages corrupted and enervated the
and powerful doctrine of the gospel; for they lead to forgetfulness of God and security in sin, and are deadly poison to every soul that imbibes them, unless a miracle of grace prevent.
Such on one hand are all the superstitious doctrines of popery:
purgatory, penances, absolutions, indulgences, merits of good works, and the acceptableness of will-worship and uncommanded observances; what are these but engines of the Devil to keep men quiet in their sins ? Man, resolved to follow the dictates of his depraved inclination, and not to bound his pursuits and enjoyments by the limits of God's holy law, catches at any thing to soften the horrible thought of eternal misery. This is the awakening reflection, God's sword in the conscience, which it is Satan's business by all his diabolical artifices, to endeavour to sheath, blunt, or turn aside; knowing that while this alarming apprehension is present to the soul, he can never maintain possession of it in peace.
By such inventions therefore as these, he takes care to furnish the sinner with that which he seeks, and to enable him to walk according to the course of this wicked world and the desires of depraved nature, without being disturbed by such dreadful thoughts. The same on the other hand, is the tendency of all those speculations of reasoning men, which set God's attributes at variance with each other; which represent the Supreme Governor as so weakly merciful, that he regards neither the demands of his justice, the glory of his holiness, the veracity of his word, nor the peaceable order and subordination of the universe; which explain away all the mysteries of the gospel; and represent sin, that fruitful root of evil,
that enemy of God, that favourite of Satan, as a very little thing scarcely noticed by the Almighty; and which, contrary to the Scriptures and universal experience and observation, would persuade us that man is not a depraved creature.
To these latter sentiments I acceded, and maintained them as long as I could; and I did it, most assuredly, because they soothed my conscience, freed me from the intolerable fears of damnation, and enabled me to think favourably of myself. For these reasons alone I loved and chose this ground: I fixed myself upon it, and there forti. fied myself by all the arguments and reasonings I could meet with. These things I wished to believe; and I had my wish, for at length I did most confidently believe them. Being taken captive in this snare by Satan, I should here have perished with a lie in my right hand, had not that Lord, whom I dishonoured, snatched me as a brand from the burning.
In this awful state of mind I attempted to obtain admission into Holy Orders! Wrapt up in the proud notion of the dignity of human nature, I had lost sight of the evil of sin, and thought little of my own sinfulness: I was filled with a selfimportant opinion of my own worth, and the depth of my understanding; and I had adopted a system of religion accommodated to that foolish pride; having almost wholly discarded mysteries from my