Wednesday, September 09, 2009

THE CONVERTED ATHEIST


The experience of Edward Blackstock (1791-1852)

The name of my father was Samuel Blackstock. He was a native of
Scotland, born near Dumfries in 1752. When a young man, he and his
youngest brother removed to Halifax, in Yorkshire. He married Elizabeth
Ogden, of Denholme, Bradford. After their marriage my parents went to
reside at Manchester, where my father became a master cotton-spinner;
that trade was then in its infancy. The two younger children died early;
I was the third son, and born May 20th, 1791, at Oldham Road,
Manchester.

My father was a Presbyterian, and had me baptized after their
manner. They attended the ministry of Dr. Jack, of the Scotch Chapel in
Lloyd Street, until his decease.

I hope that both my parents were possessed of the grace of God. I
used to think my father very strict, and rather austere in his manner
towards me, but he was a good father and meant well; he set me a good
example, took me to chapel as soon as I could walk there, gave me good
advice, and did not spare the rod to spoil the child. Whilst under his roof
he never suffered me to use improper language, to play in the streets, or to associate with evil company.

My mother was an excellent mother, kind, tender, affectionate and
gentle to me. She gave me the best advice, and as far as lay in her power
restrained me from all evil. I was early taught Watts’s Hymns for
Children, and the Assembly’s Catechism. She made me read the Word
of God to her frequently, and would question me on what I had read,
explaining its meaning in a most serious manner, and commenting on the
lot of the righteous and the wicked with great solemnity. She told me I
was a sinner and needed a Saviour. Her conversations often affected me,
especially when she entered upon the sufferings and death of Jesus
Christ, and told of His kindness to many children whom she had
personally known. Young Josiah and Timothy were often dwelt upon by
her, together with other Scripture characters, my dear mother hoping by
such means as these instrumentally to allure me into the paths of wisdom,
and to deter me from the pursuit of evil. Her influence over me was
sufficiently powerful to alarm my natural conscience, and to awaken
those feelings of apprehension and anxiety which are so often mistaken
for the work of the Spirit.

I remember, between seven and eight years of age, when there was
a rumour of the French invasion, these fears prevailing to such an extent
that I used to pass many disturbed nights, terrified by the thoughts of
death and of judgment; the slightest appearance of any attack of illness,
or the tidings of the death of a neighbour, were sufficient to excite in me
the most dreadful terrors. But these were purely natural convictions;
there was nothing spiritual in them. There was no divine change
whatever wrought in my soul at that period. My parents, however,
thought otherwise. They had observed a change in my conduct and
feelings, and mistaking natural pliability of character, and the effect of
human argument and persuasion, for divine influence, they looked
forward with satisfaction and pleasure to my eventually becoming a
minister of the gospel, and laid plans for carrying out these views. My
father was then in prosperous circumstances, and expected like many
around him who had commenced business under less favourable
auspices, to rise in the world and to become affluent. I often overheard
him discussing with my mother their plans for my education, and heard
him express his intention of sending me in due time to the University of
Edinburgh for the completion of my ministerial studies.

About my ninth year, my dear mother was seized with a violent
attack of fever and suddenly carried off. Her death was a strange shock
to me. I was unable to comprehend it, and could not be brought to
believe that I should no more see her. I looked everywhere for her. I
remember, long after she was buried, when sent on an errand, that I used
to run like one frantic from street to street, hoping to find her, and crying as if my heart would break when she was nowhere to be found.

Her death was to me the beginning of sorrows. I loved her dearly, and up to
the moment of my writing this, I cannot think of her but with strong
emotion. Her loss, both to my sisters and to myself, was unspeakably
great.

My father shortly after married again. His second wife was much
his junior, and inferior to him in every respect. She was a widow with a
young family and treated her own children with great partiality, while we
were harshly used and made to feel her severity. To me she was the
instrument which God had ordained to alter the purposes which my
parents had had in view for my future prospects, and was the procuring
cause of much of my bitter suffering and misery.

My father’s marriage displeased all his friends, and it seemed to
stand in the way of his advancement, for he never prospered after it. And
it was a singular thing that, although both my father and mother were
personally unacquainted with this individual, my dear mother pointed her
out as the person who would fill her place; and she actually predicted
many events precisely as they afterwards occurred. My mother had then
a strong impression that her own death would shortly take place. This
impression, unhappily for us, was too soon verified.

Between the period from the death of my mother and the second
marriage of my father, an aunt (sister of my mother, married to a Mr.
Whitley, of Bingley, in Yorkshire) invited me to join their family. Her
husband was a very kind, feeling man, and from the first undertook to
receive me as one of his own family, to educate me with his own sons, to
procure employment for me when properly qualified, and to further my
prospects in life. Mr. Whitley being in prosperous circumstances and
appearing so favourably disposed towards me, I felt extremely grateful
for his kindness, and began to hope that a gleam of providential sunshine
was about to fall upon me. But, alas, my happiness was of short duration!

Before seven months were over my aunt became jealous of her husband’s
friendly feelings towards the young stranger, and apprehensive lest I
should reap advantages which she wished to be confined exclusively to
her own children. I perceived that her manner was changed towards me,
and I often had the mortification to overhear her urging my uncle to send
me back home. The second marriage of my father afforded an occasion
for strengthening her cause; and although her kind husband resisted her
arguments for a long while, she finally prevailed by unceasing
perseverance, and he most reluctantly yielded in the end to her request,
and I was sent home.

My uncle was of the Independent persuasion, a generous and a most
friendly man. He was like a father to me; I loved him much, and many a
secret tear did I shed in grateful memory of his kindness. “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away,
none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come”
(Isa. 57. 1).

On my return home I was sent to school, and when about eleven
years of age I obtained employment in a warehouse, and was afterwards
removed to a second, where my salary was higher, with the promise of
increase.

I now seemed in a fair way of advancing in the world, and I
confidently expected to make my way with credit and benefit to myself,
and I hoped that Providence was once more smiling upon my path. But
again disappointment followed.

My step-mother, anxious to have me removed from the paternal roof,
employed every argument with my father, until she finally succeeded in
persuading him to apprentice me to a trade. By this extraordinary step,
which greatly astonished all our friends, I was taken from a line of
business which I greatly liked, and in which there seemed a certain
prospect of success, and for which moreover I was considered specially
qualified, and bound in my fifteenth year to a man of whose character and
habits of life my father knew nothing. His wife alone was aware of the
kind of man into whose hands I was being committed. My father was the
dupe of her artifices, and I became (as I considered) the unhappy victim
of her misrepresentations. The decision was a dreadful blow to me. I
was grievously distressed and mortified, but there was no escape.

On September 9th, 1805, a day never to be erased from my memory,
I entered the dwelling of Mr.–––; there were three in-door apprentices
besides myself, all strangers to me. Mr. ––– I soon found to be a most
tyrannical and cruel master; he was of republican principles, an infidel,
an awful swearer, a bold blasphemer, and a drinking man. During the
whole period of my apprenticeship I worked sixteen hours daily, both
summer and winter. No rest was allowed us through the day but what
was necessary for swallowing our meals. Here I felt the weight of the
libertine’s arm, and was almost crushed beneath it. My three companions
had not been brought up as I had; I therefore seemed to live as in the
suburbs of hell.

Nothing that I could do seemed to satisfy or please my tyrannical
master, and although from the first I worked very diligently (after a few
months gaining for him by my labour thirty shillings, and latterly three
guineas a week), he would for the slightest fault or failure beat me
unmercifully, tear the hair off my head, and kick me until my body was
discoloured with bruises. His hard words and offensive epithets were
still more galling; yet I can now look back upon that period and solemnly
assert that I was to him a good and faithful apprentice.

The inhuman conduct of this man and his wife, for she was little better in her treatment of the apprentices as far as respected abusive
language, almost broke my heart. My mind was naturally sensitive, and
I suffered what I can never describe, in that worse than Egyptian
bondage. At times I was driven to meditate self-destruction, and one day
feeling my condition to be hopeless and beyond further possibility of
endurance, I hastened to a canal near the place, fully determined to put an
end to my miserable existence; but when I reached the spot, the thoughts
of eternity and judgment arrested me in my sinful act. The invisible hand
had interposed to save me from perdition.

During my earlier years, and for some time after I entered the
dwelling of Mr. –––, although unacquainted with real religion, I had been
kept by the restraining and favouring hand of God more orderly in my
general conduct than many. Also, I had the privilege of attending twice
every Sabbath on Dr. Jack’s ministry (a stipulation that my father had
made in binding me apprentice), and I have often promised God, under
the miseries which I had to endure, that if He would bring me through
this and that trouble, I would turn from evil, and serve Him all the days
of my life. But Ephraim’s “goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the
early dew it goeth away” (Hos. 6. 4.) Although in listening to Dr. Jack’s
discourses I have often trembled, like Felix, as he talked of death and
judgment, yet bad example, evil communications and a sinful nature were
not long in overturning all my best resolutions and undermining my
principles.

Before this period my father’s prospects had begun to decline. The
branch of trade in which he was engaged, and which had hitherto been so
successful, showed symptoms of the general depression complained of
in Manchester. The powerful friends, who in my mother’s lifetime had
willingly offered assistance in any difficulty, had, upon the second
marriage, all discontinued their intimacy; and when my father required to
be supported, none of his former friends offered their aid. My father
struggled against adversity as long as he was able, and finding it hopeless
to persevere, he made over his machinery and effects to his creditors by
a deed of assignment, and was then compelled by circumstances to enter
into the employment of the very persons with whom he had set out as
master cotton-spinner. He was in this way reduced to poverty, and had
to work for his living until he was upwards of seventy years of age, the
period of his decease.

I have already said that the influence of evil associates and evil
conversation began seriously to affect my principles. I think that from
this period, which was before I had served half my apprenticeship, I
gradually declined in morals and in the profession of religion, until I
ceased to preserve even the external form of it.

When about eighteen years of age I drank into a curious spirit of inquiry as to which was the right religion amongst the various sects
around me. I observed that they all drew, or pretended to draw, their
opinions from the Bible. I was naturally of an inquiring character and
fond of an argument, and I thought that I would pursue the investigation
in a deliberate manner. But as this spirit of inquiry proceeded less from
an honest desire for truth than from a speculative turn of mind, that which
began in the flesh soon ended there. I had by this time lost all desire – if
ever I really possessed any – for divine teaching. My resolution was to
think for myself or, in other words, to lean entirely to my own
understanding, and to sift all the opinions which I had received from early
education, whether parental or ministerial. The veneration in which I had
hitherto held religion and religious people had already begun to decline,
and a suspicion that my father had led me blindfold made me now resolve
to believe nothing which appeared to be beyond my natural
comprehension, or opposed to human reason, and to discard every
statement as unworthy of credit which could not be reduced to
mathematical demonstration.

I am fully convinced that infidelity lies at the bottom of every man’s
heart in the fall, and it would require no great foresight to predict the
issue of my newly-acquired sentiments.
Formerly, as stated before, I had made many attempts to become
religious, and had occasionally succeeded in effecting a change of
external deportment and in attending to the observance of certain forms
and duties; but finding these fits of religion invariably give way after a
short trial, and that I relapsed to my old ways and habits, I began to
entertain a suspicion that the ministers of religion had either wilfully
misled me, or knew very little about it themselves, and that their
statements of man’s having the power to turn to God and be saved must
be altogether erroneous.

Satan now prompted me to commence my search after truth at the
groundwork, and he set me to examine the doctrine of the ever-blessed
Trinity. Upon this point I had often been much perplexed. I had
consulted my father, and had attended a course of lectures by Dr. Jack on
the subject, but with no satisfaction or useful results. Therefore,
resolving to act upon my newly-adopted system (to withhold my assent
to that which was beyond the limits of human reason), I stumbled,
through pride, ignorance and unbelief, at the very threshold of divine
revelation, and denied that holy truth.

Upon the subject of election I was next assailed, the natural enmity
of the heart readily aiding in opposing a doctrine which placed the
salvation of man in the sovereign will and choice of Jehovah. My
froward, pharisaic mind at once learnt, not only to reject, but to revile that
doctrine. Arminianism suited me better; it held out a chance of salvation to every man, and I determined to abide by that creed. I never liked
Arminians and never associated with them; but their doctrines of freewill
and human merit are pleasing to the proud nature of man. Yet let me at
this time say that, whatever the Arminian heresy might do for others, it
led me rapidly into the depths of infidelity.

Having thus abandoned those doctrines of grace which I had
received from childhood, and to the truth of which my natural,
unrenewed mind had assented, I at once degenerated in moral character,
and lost even moral perceptions. And, alas! I began to slight and despise
the Word of God, and to curse and swear.

For a period of some months I imbibed the worse than hellish
principles of Atheism; but the writings of a certain apostle of Deism
(who pretends to prove the Being of God from the existence of creatures)
falling in my way, I became a convert to his opinions, and remained a
Deist for five years. I now openly denied that the Bible was a Book of
divine revelation, and ventured to suppose that it had been put together
by a set of monks. I questioned whether Jesus Christ had ever lived upon
earth, and positively denied His being Deity. I had no regard for one
sentence in the divine Word, and I made a common jest of Bible saints.

I blasphemed the name of Jesus, denied that there was any sin in the
world, and believed neither in a judgment to come, nor in the doctrine of
eternal punishment. I thought that there was a God, but of His nature or
His attributes I could come to no definite opinion. I doubted whether
man had a soul, or whether there was a hereafter, but I concluded that if
it were so, God being merciful, all mankind would be happy. I flattered
myself that God was so good that He never would visit a soul with everlasting punishment for a few faults committed in this short life. I
fancied that God must necessarily be pleased with all His creatures, and
that there would be no devil and no hell. I acknowledged that in this
world there were vice and virtue; they appeared to me as the dark and
bright shades in the picture of human life. I supposed the dark to be
needful in heightening the effect of the bright ones, but I concluded that
the Deity was pleased with the whole as a whole. “Thou thoughtest that
I was altogether such an one as thyself” (Psa. 50. 21).

Having with much mental labour and ingenuity fabricated this
scheme, with which I was then pleased and not a little proud, I called
these my principles, and boasted that they would never be overthrown.
I praised virtue and censured vice, and yet mine was but a miserable kind
of virtue, for I frequented the theatre, fairs and races, and was guilty of
swearing, of telling falsehoods in jest, of blaspheming, and of associating
with evil companions. I longed for the pleasures of the world, and sighed
after its vain delights; and many follies that circumstances prevented me
from committing, I followed in my idle imagination.

At length my apprenticeship was ended, and with what delight did
I hail this freedom from restraint, and rejoice in the prospect of liberty to
swim unmolested through an imaginary ocean of pleasures! What
pictures had I drawn of this alluring, flesh-pleasing world! and what
schemes had I laid for its enjoyment! With all the eagerness of pursuit
I hurried after its pleasures, and I am now persuaded that had not an
unseen but mighty hand prevented, I should have gone far more deeply
into evil; but through the restraining power of God, I was kept entirely
from falling into the sin of unchastity, a mercy for which I desire to bless
God while I have a being.

Yet pleasure, sinful pleasure, was the god I then worshipped, and
although in the pursuit of it I experienced continual disappointment, and
my pride received repeated wounds, and my ambition many a
mortification, yet I still pursued the phantom; I constantly hoped at some
time or other to attain that happiness of which I was in search. But I was
seeking that which I believe no-one ever did find, or ever will find, in
this vain, transitory world; real contentment is not to be found in earthly
pleasures. A life spent in these pursuits is certain to end in
disappointment and vexation of spirit and, should sovereign mercy
prevent not, in death and in everlasting destruction. Sin is the honey of
worldly pleasure, and a holy and wise God has decreed that whoever
follows that shall sooner or later feel that he has acted the part of the
fool. And this I lived to prove.

About this time I had a dream, the impression of which I never
wholly lost, although at that time I was unable either to understand it, or
to profit by the warning. One night, as I slept, I dreamt that I was at Shudehill, Manchester. I thought it was about two o’clock in the
afternoon of the darkest and most gloomy day that I had ever seen. It
was deeply impressed on my mind that my death was at hand; and I
thought that I must first compose my own epitaph, and immediately
commenced it as I walked along. When I had completed it, an
apprehension seized me that the earth was about to open under my feet,
receive me, and close upon me for ever. In momentary expectation of
this event happening, I stepped slowly and cautiously, and full of anxiety
and terror.

The darkness was continually increasing, until it exceeded all that
I had ever seen – when in an instant, and as if by magic, that awfully
black and gloomy day was exchanged for the fairest and brightest that my
imagination had ever pictured: the sun shone in refulgent splendour, the
sky was a brilliant blue and cloudless; on each side, and before me, lay
beautiful green fields here and there studded with trees. The birds were
singing in the branches, and the whole scene appeared to me enchanting.
Before me, at some distance, stood what seemed like a church, and the
sun was shining pleasantly upon it. In the front of this building I
observed groups of persons who appeared to be foreigners; their skin was
a little tanned by the sun, but their features and forms were exquisitely
beautiful. Whether these persons were men or women I could not tell;
each was dressed in the oriental costume, with flowing robes, and they
all appeared united in love and harmony. Each held in either hand a large
basket of ripe purple grapes, and the bunches hung in clusters over the
sides of the baskets.

Suddenly, and with admirable softness and melody, they all burst
into a song! Their words, their music and their manner struck me as
rapturous and heavenly, and I was filled with admiring wonder and
esteem. I could not understand the language in which they spoke, it
being entirely new to me, but I thought, “Ah! you are the happy people;
you carry your heaven along with you. O that I were one amongst you!”
The feeling of admiration was so strong, and the desire to become one of
them so powerful, that the agitation produced in my mind awoke me. For
a long time during that night I lay and pined after that heavenly company.
I could not attempt to unfold the dream.

The next day, when at my usual occupation, I could not help musing
on its singularity, and wondering what it might portend. An aged saint,
who perceived a change in my countenance, made enquiries which led
me to relate to her my dream. She was greatly touched by it, and quitting
her seat came up close to me, and looking earnestly in my face, said,
“You are a Deist now, I think?” I replied that I was. “Mark my words,
now,” said she, “you will never die a Deist.” I was more affected by her
words than I was then willing to admit; but she lived to see them fulfilled, and to hear me relate what the Lord had done for my soul. My
account gave her great satisfaction and pleasure.

During my seven years’ hard bondage, I had acquired, from the
ill-treatment which has been already detailed, a dislike of my employer
and his household (with one exception) amounting to absolute hatred; so
that at the end of my apprenticeship, I determined for ever to renounce
all intercourse with any of the family. But, strange to say, in the turns of
God’s providence, my acquaintance was renewed with the eldest
daughter – the only person who had ever shown me kindness; and from
mutual preference and affection, we were shortly afterwards married.
She was in her nineteenth year, and a Deist like myself. Our awful
infidel principles were deeply rooted, and we both resolved to live and
die in them. Formalists, or hypocrites, there was no danger of our
becoming, for such was the hatred of my heart to the religion of Jesus
Christ and to His Person that nothing but the almighty power of God
could ever have brought me to profess that holy name. But God’s ways
are not our ways; He leads the blind in a way they know not. My dear
wife, by the converting grace of God, became eventually a highlyfavoured
Christian. She proved an excellent wife to me, my greatest
earthly comfort, and a shining vessel of God’s rich mercy.
At the period of our marriage (May 1814), “peace and plenty” was
the universal expectation; and having no stock in hand for commencing
life, we relied mainly on our mutual assiduity and industry. We
considered that we held our fortunes in our own hands, and in this
presumptuous confidence we had no anxious fears for the future, but
rather looked forward to the success of our diligent efforts, and to a life
of much happiness and enjoyment.

But God had a work to do in us that we knew not of, and therefore
He began “to dig about” us. During the first year and a half of our union,
His hand crossed us in so extraordinary and striking a manner, that to this
day I can affirm I have never witnessed anything to be compared to it
with any other persons. We were thwarted in our undertakings,
disappointed in our expectations, and driven from place to place. We
prospered in nothing. It is written, “The Lord hath rejected thy
confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them.” The hand of the Lord
was gone out against me, but I knew it not. In consequence of the
depression of the branch of the trade in which I was employed, I was
frequently without work, and we were often reduced to such straits and
difficulties as even to suffer from cold and hunger. My first child had to
endure many privations, which tried me exceedingly, and in those days
of ignorance and unbelief often made me ready to curse my hard fate.
My dear wife had typhus fever for four months, during which time
we appeared to be quite deserted by everyone. I was her only nurse, and had to sit by her side and watch the progress of the malady, until I
became so hopeless and wretched under the accumulated trials that my
health failed, and I longed for death as affording the only prospect of
relief. Yet, under all this severe chastisement, I remained firm and
unmoved in my opinions. I greatly felt for and pitied my wife and child,
but in all other respects my heart remained as hard as adamant. I can set
my seal to those lines of Mr. Kent:

“Judgments nor mercies e’er can sway
Their roving feet to wisdom’s way.”


It was shortly after my wife’s illness, viz. about the end of January
1816, that, on returning from my work one Saturday evening, I found that
a sum of money which we were expecting had not been received; this
disappointment, which I foresaw would inevitably involve us in
difficulties and privations during the ensuing week, so vexed and
exasperated me that I flew into a violent passion, rose from my seat and
uttered a dreadful volley of blasphemous oaths and curses.
Wonder, O heavens! and be astonished, O earth! In an instant –
swift as the lightning’s flash, and more terrible than the loudest thunder –
these words struck into my soul: “Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and
cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy
store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body. Cursed shalt thou be when
thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The Lord
shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest
thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish
quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast
forsaken Me” (Deut. 28. 16-20). Overwhelmed by the power of these
words I staggered – reeled – sank back into my chair, and burst into a
flood of tears. The Lord had opened my eyes to see, and my heart to
feel, that there was above me a holy, righteous, sin-hating, sin-avenging
God, and that if I lived and died as I was, I should be lost eternally. In
one moment my fabric of Deism was demolished.

“The voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The voice of the Lord
breaketh the cedars ... of Lebanon” (Psa. 29. 4, 5). For ever adored be
the name of Almighty God. Amen, Hallelujah!

I needed no man to tell me whose voice this was. The testimony
even of an angel from heaven would have been light, compared with the
power which I then felt in my heart and conscience. I well knew that this
was the voice of God, but I did not know that it was sent to bring about
my conversion in due time. In the words of Hab. 3. 16, “When I heard,
my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into
my bones, and I trembled in myself.” In an agony of terror, and without
uttering a word to my wife, I hurried out of the house and went into those very fields where lay the scene of my dream already related. My object
was to escape from the dwellings of man, and to shun his society. I had
the revelation of God’s wrath in my conscience, and I apprehended it to
be the beginning and foretaste of eternal damnation. I concluded that like
Cain, I was doomed to be a fugitive and a vagabond upon the earth
during an appointed period; and then to reap, in an eternal hereafter, the
bitter fruits and consequences of my wickedness. God made me drink
that night of the wine of astonishment; my sighs and groans, and even my
tears were abundant; for who can say, but such as have drunk of that cup,
how bitter it is.

A soul must have passed under a sense of God’s wrath to enter into
my feelings. I believe that God upheld me with one hand, whilst He
chastened me with the other. My horrible blasphemies stared me in the
face, and I feared that I had rushed on the thick bosses of Jehovah’s
buckler. Bless the Lord, O my soul, for saving me through that night; it
was one of anguish and agony to me, a night never to be erased from my
memory. My friends, sin brings sorrow sooner or later; this we all shall
find. How dreadful did sin appear to me now! I loathed and abhorred
myself, and concluded that I was abhorred of God. “Rejoice, O young
man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth,
and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but
know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee unto judgment.”
O solemn words! and in their experience how bitter!

Towards midnight I returned to my dwelling, slept a little, and
awoke under the same terrors. I was full of the fury of the Lord. I rose,
paced the room, sat down in astonishment, and wondered where all
would end. About noon I took up a book and read a few pages of Mr.
Newton’s preface to Cowper’s poems. I was surprised to find he
described the state in which I had been; but when he adds these words,
“Without God in the world,” like an arrow from the bow they entered my
heart, and I fell under the conviction of their truth. I saw that I had lived
without God in the world, and to this cause I ascribed all my miseries.
Again I sank in despair, and throwing down my book, I recommenced
pacing the room.

As I hurried to and fro, the name of “Jesus Christ” seemed to pass
through my mind. It was repeated – I heard no vocal sound, it was a
loud, internal whisper through my soul. It came continuously for the
space of about two hours – “Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ!”
Arrested by the words, I marvelled why that name should so powerfully
and incessantly vibrate through my soul! – that name which during five
years I had so wickedly derided, so awfully blasphemed! Still, the name
passed through my soul, and with such power and light as recalled the
hidden malice of my heart against the Lord Jesus, and the evil thoughts that I had indulged in towards Him. And yet I felt inspired by a secret
drawing towards that holy name; and a glimmering hope arose, that if
ever deliverance should be wrought for one so lost and vile as I, that
deliverance would come from Jesus Christ. My hope was the faintest
that can be imagined: but I believe all this was a divine impression; and
I have since judged, that from this hour I was a quickened soul.

Were I in Manchester I could go to the very spot where God’s
arrows first pierced my heart, and where this singular visitation was
experienced by me. The slight relief which I had obtained was not
lasting, for when the name [of Jesus Christ] was no longer repeated, my
fears returned. I now eagerly wished to see a Bible. I had not possessed
one of my own for years, and had scarcely read any part of the
Scriptures, but I now ardently longed to possess them. That very
afternoon (it was Sunday) we were visited by a friend who had been at
school with my wife, and who had continued her friendship when we
were deserted by almost all others; I therefore felt that I could address
her on the subject of my solicitude, and the more readily as she was
considered a highly moral character, and a constant attendant at St.
Clement’s Church. [About this time, Gadsby’s friend, William Nunn,
became minister there.] On my wife leaving the room, I went towards
her, and with the terrors of hell in my conscience, and anguish in my
countenance, “O my friend,” I said, “I feel that I am one of the greatest
sinners in the town – but God has stopped me! Do you think there can
be any mercy for such a sinner as I am? O how much I desire to see a
Bible!” Our friend looked alarmed; she drew back her chair, and never
uttered a word. I believe my haggard, agitated appearance terrified her.

My wife returned, and they conversed together a while, the young lady
occasionally glancing towards me with a look expressive of surprise and
pity; she soon took her leave.

That evening and all the next day I was in deep mire, where there is
no standing. On the next evening, when I returned from my employment,
my wife met me with a contemptuous smile, saying, “What is going to be
done now? Miss F––– has been here, and brought you a new Bible.” I
took it, with no comment beyond, “O has she?” But if ever gratitude
arose in any heart, it was excited in mine by the kindness of that present.
Many a prayer did I put up to God for the salvation of her soul. I wrote
to her occasionally after I left Manchester, and her memory (for she is
now deceased) will be ever dear to me; but whether she reaped any
benefit from my prayers I never had any means of ascertaining. The
taunting of my dear wife on delivering the Bible did not surprise me; I
was aware of her state of mind, although she was ignorant of mine. I
therefore made no reply, but with my candle and my Book retired to an
upper room. There, alone, and in a most solemn manner, I kissed the
Bible, and with tears and with inexpressibly-deep feelings, I
endeavoured, for the first time in my life, to pour out my soul unto God,
as far as I can remember, in these words:

“O God, I am a great sinner; I have no religion, and know not what
religion is, or what is truth. I am quite blind to the knowledge of the
things written in this Book which I now hold in my hand, and which I
believe to be Thy Book. O God, open my blind eyes; and if Thou canst
show mercy to such a sinful wretch as I am, O God, show mercy unto
me!”

I then sat down and read the first chapter of Matthew, with the
intention of proceeding through the Evangelists. I read in a most careful
and solemn manner, believing every word I read to be the truth of God
as firmly as though I had heard an angel proclaim it from heaven. I
found the Word of God to be “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any
twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit,
and of the joints and marrow ... a discerner of the thoughts and intents of
the heart,” and that all things were “naked and opened unto the eyes of
Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4. 12, 13). I felt I had a soul, and
that my heart was laid open before the all-searching eye of God. The
sword of the Spirit cut me up effectually; and as I knew not my interest
in the promises, every chapter I read seemed more or less to condemn
me.

When I came to the 11th chapter of Matthew, 25th verse: “I thank
Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these
things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes,”
the words immediately arrested my attention. I laid down my Book, exclaiming aloud, “Why, Election is true! the doctrine of election is a
Bible truth!” Human powers had all failed to convince me of this; and
now the first truth that was shown me from reading the Word of God was
election. I clearly saw that there was a chosen people, and that this
people would be eternally saved; but then followed the agonizing
thought, that they would be in heaven, and I might be in hell. Yet this
apprehension only increased the vehemence of my supplications; for as
I read that few would be saved, I became the more urgent that
peradventure I might find myself among that number. The truth of
election was thus no hindrance to me; it cut down my pride, and made me
tremble, but it never had any tendency to stop my cry or produce despair.
I believe that election, when it is received in the power of God, operates
to humble the sinner, and cause him to cry aloud for mercy; to stimulate
him to diligence in supplication – not to induce apathy and sloth; to raise
to hope rather than sink to despondency.

From this time until my deliverance (a period of three or four
months), I believe I was not suffered to lose five minutes of my leisure.
The grace of God engaged me in self-examination, reading, hearing or
prayer – the last particularly. I often prayed mentally while my hands
were occupied. This was the Lord’s doing, and He shall have the glory.
These words often sounded in my ears: “Flee from the wrath to come”
(Matt. 3. 7); and, “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay
thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed”
(Gen. 19. 17). I can truly say the world was little to me then; for, to use
the language of John Bunyan, “All my concern was about saving or
damning.”

I was strongly impelled to kneel down and try to pray. Formerly, in
the days of my ignorance, I had uttered many a fine orison [prayer] to the
moon, but now I could scarcely find words to pour out the feelings of my
heart; yet assuredly the Holy Ghost interceded for me with groanings that
could not be uttered. In these consist the life of prayer, for they are those
spiritual throes or pangs which, according to the promise, must needs
bring deliverance.

Shortly after this I read in John 3. 3: “Jesus answered and said unto
him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he
cannot see the kingdom of God.” Through the divine power, these words
laid fast hold of me, and I received them into my heart; and although
unable clearly to comprehend what it was to be “born again,” yet I
believed that work to be a mysterious, spiritual change which must be
wrought in a man before he could see or enter into the kingdom, of God.
This conviction produced a strong desire that the Lord would effect this
work in me; and in a very simple but urgent manner I often prayed that
I might be born again.

“Daily we groan and mourn
Beneath the weight of sin;
We pray to be new born,
Yet know not what we mean:
We think it something very great,
Something that’s undiscovered yet.”


These were my feelings.

A few days after, on reading that passage in John 14. 6, a divine
power applied them to my mind: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the Way, the
Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” Light
came with this scripture, showing that there was but one door leading to
the Father, and that door was Christ. I felt sure that no sinner, whether
Jew or Gentile, could approach God the Father in any other way; that a
sinner might as easily scale the walls of heaven; that all must bend and
stoop to Christ, entering into life by Him alone, or be damned without
remedy: I saw there was no middle path. What God taught me in that
hour was decisive, nor has He ever suffered me to swerve from it. I still
look upon that passage as a most remarkable text in Scripture. It was
followed by, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye
shall receive, that your joy may be full.”

Previously to my receiving these Scriptures I had not dared to
mention the name of Christ in my prayers. Now, not only was Christ
prominently set before me as the door by which I might find access to the
Father; but I was distinctly enabled to see that had I but faith in His
name, I should yet succeed: nay, that weak as was my little faith, and
many as were my fears, yet if I carried Jesus Christ with me in all my
approaches to the Father, I should prevail.

The blind popish priest carries his silver cross before him; the Spirit
of God now taught me to present Jesus Christ. The name of Jesus Christ
from this period was first and last, and often pleaded in all my attempts
at prayer, and will I trust through the mercy of God for ever be, while I
am an inhabitant of earth. But how to plead by faith in the name of Jesus
is a holy art for which we continually need the fresh teachings and
leadings of the Holy Spirit.

Thus the Lord the Spirit led me steadily onward. I had conflicts,
bondage and fears; a holy vehemence and wrestling in prayer was given
to me, such as I would that I had at this day! But underneath this work
of supplication, the work of conviction was at the same time being
carried on daily and hourly. My heart sins seemed to come upon me like
an armed troop, my outward sins appeared too many and too great for
forgiveness, and the terrors of God set themselves in array against me.
The arrows of the Almighty were in me, the poison whereof drank up my
spirit. I doubted, desponded, and often almost despaired of mercy, and I thought the day would come when God would cut me off, and doom me
to eternal death; the fear of this drove me to cry and even roar for
deliverance; with David I ejaculated, Attend to “the words of my
roaring.”

After about five weeks passed in this state of mind, I went for the
first time to a place of worship. It was Cannon Street Chapel. As I
arrived at the door, they were singing, “Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly
Dove.” My heart joined, but my courage failed me; as I stood thus
hesitating, a gentleman came up. The pew-opener invited us to enter; my
companion complied and, ashamed to refuse, I followed him; but as I put
my foot on the threshold, these words fell upon my spirit: “Two men
shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” This
almost made my hair stand erect, for I felt as if the hand of God was
leading me in. I hung down my head from fear and sorrow at the
remembrance of my horrid sins and blasphemies, and was so confused
that I heard nothing of the service until the preacher rose to read his text:
“Will ye also be His disciples?” (John 9. 27.) The words entered my
mind with great power; they so dissolved my heart that I wept like Mary
at the Master’s feet. “O blessed Lord,” I ejaculated, “how gladly would
I be Thy disciple if Thou wouldst receive me!” Of the sermon I could
understand not one sentence; but after I knew the Lord, I was at no loss
to account for this circumstance, for it was then evident to me that the
preacher himself was out of the secret.

Here follows a long account of the death of his little boy.
We disposed of nearly all we possessed in order to lay the dear
child’s body in the grave.

It was on March 5th, 1816, that he died, after eight days’ illness.
This dispensation was greatly sanctified to me. It deepened my
convictions, detached me from the world, and enlarged my spiritual
desires. “What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and
lose his own soul; or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
These were the words which now followed me continually, and turned
me away from all objects but one – the salvation of my soul.
On March 10th, 1816, I began to attend Dr. Jack’s chapel for the
first time since the days of my apprenticeship. My father still went there.
Dr. Jack was a good man, but it was not the will of God to make his
preaching useful to me.

About the same time I likewise attended the evening service at the
chapel of Mr. William Roby. I was at once arrested by his plainness of
speech, and by his honest, persevering and fervent zeal for the souls of
men. Mr. Roby was an alarming and, according to the light he possessed,
a most faithful preacher. I listened eagerly to every word, for up to this period my fears were stronger than my hopes. But, for my own part, I
gained from his preaching nothing but condemnation, and some little
instruction. Yet his honest dealing suited me well; flattery and
temporising I abhorred. By the grace of God I was ardently longing for
salvation, and the enlightening, comforting and sanctifying influences of
the Holy Ghost. These were the mercies for which day and night I
besought the Lord, and begged that the Spirit would intercede for me
with “groanings which cannot be uttered.” My soul was set in the right
way, but I did not know it. Occasionally these words struck me, “He
healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” I certainly
then had a broken heart and a contrite spirit; I dared not take to myself
the comfort of that passage, but I continued to watch and wait.

At chapel I was tempted with wandering thoughts, but the Lord
enabled me to pray against them, and made His strength perfect in my
weakness, so that I rarely lost one word, for I watched the testimony as
a man between life and death. Yet, during several weeks, I seemed to
learn nothing beyond what God had Himself taught me; and I considered
this as an unfavourable symptom of my case. The first sermon that was
ever much blessed to me was from a stranger.

On going as usual to Lloyd Street Chapel one Sunday morning, I
was disappointed to see the pulpit occupied by a person of small stature
and insignificant appearance. From so weak an instrument I expected to
derive little benefit, but the Lord says, “Look not on the height of his
stature,” and again, “The Lord seeth not as man seeth”; and so it proved.
The subject of the discourse was the parable of the publican and
pharisee. The preacher first described the religion of the pharisee, a
religion which my soul abhorred; he then entered into the state and
feelings of the publican, and thus came into mine. As he detailed and
traced out the character, he deeply interested me; but when he uttered,
“God be merciful to me a sinner,” who can tell with what almighty power
those words entered my soul! Such was the divine light, that I was
conscious I had an immortal soul; I saw the glorious majesty of God
displayed, and I felt the mighty rays of the Sun of righteousness
penetrating me. I seemed prostrate and humbled in the very dust, and
feelingly shrank beneath the power that was in operation. It showed me
that I was a very great sinner, and yet it greatly raised my hope of being
saved. It made mercy sweet, Christ precious, and heaven desirable. It
loosened my soul from earth and elevated it to God.

The visitation was so solemn, so blessed and so ecstatic that I can
never hope to describe it. Hiding my face with my hands I leant forward,
and with all the powers of my soul I silently adored the God of heaven
for the mercy so wonderfully displayed towards me. From that hour to
this I have firmly believed that the power of a gracious God, as put forth in the soul of man, is mightier than in aught else under heaven! The rest
of the service passed unheeded; and at its close, seeking a secluded spot
I there in private poured out my praises and thanksgivings.

“To Him the poor lift up their eyes,
Their faces feel the heavenly shine;
A beam of mercy from the skies,
Fills them with light and joy divine.”


My reflection as I walked homewards was, “Men and brethren, there is
a solemn reality in the religion of Christ Jesus! O for more of its vital
power, that I may bring forth fruits meet for repentance!”
I had both comfortings and castings down. Dr. Jack, I heard, was
attacked with sudden illness, and having a strong regard for him as a man
of God, I felt my heart much drawn out, and I was led to pray for his
recovery, and for spiritual blessings on his soul. The Lord in answer to
my prayer sent this text: “We know that we have passed from death unto
life, because we love the brethren.”

But a new temptation again spread darkness over my skies. The
adversary of my soul charged me with having committed the
unpardonable sin. What this meant I knew not, but concluded that it
pointed to some of my awful blasphemies against the name of Jesus and
His Word, which might well be unpardonable. Only those who have
passed through this temptation will understand the suffering of it. The
hope which I had received now fled, and doubts and fears overwhelmed
me. Again I was a wretched vessel tossed on the sea of divine wrath.
The impending curse of it seemed to extend even to my food, and I
dreaded to eat lest there should be a curse there; when one day at dinner,
the tears falling on my plate, this passage was sent with a comforting
power to my soul: “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven
unto men.” I did not then receive a sense of pardon of sin, but I felt
satisfied that the unpardonable sin, whatever it might be, I had not
committed. Still, this great relief was not effectual to restrain those
doubts and fears which arose, as many of my dreadful sins presented
themselves in array before me.

Mr. Roby’s ministry was, as I have already said, a very searching
one: and as I preferred this kind of faithful dealing, I quitted Dr. Jack;
but I was much cut up and condemned, and continually followed by these
and other similar Scriptures: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and
all the nations that forget God” (Psa. 9. 17). “Upon the wicked He shall
rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the
portion of their cup” (Psa 11. 6). “When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed
from heaven ... in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not
God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1.
7, 8). Such words as the above were like a twoedged sword; they
appeared to cleave the soul and spirit asunder. But the following passage
came in a different way: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the
unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him turn unto the Lord, and He
will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly
pardon” (Isa. 55. 7). The Lord, however, kept me sighing and groaning,
and crying for mercy; and I gave Him no rest, for the avenger of blood
was close behind me.

In the state of mind which I have just narrated, I continued for about
four months from the eventful night of my awakening. I had now come
to the conclusion that I had stood as long as I was able under the floods
of revealed wrath. That evening, as usual, I went to hear Mr. Roby.
Strange and mingled feelings filled my mind, and I had a strong
presentiment that I should that night know the worst! that I should either
hear the voice of mercy and forgiveness, or receive my dreadful doom!
I expected, or rather feared, that God would give the preacher a
testimony by which my damnation would be for ever sealed. Under these
impressions, and trembling in every limb, I took a seat away from the
people, and against the wall, and there awaited my final sentence.
As the service proceeded, I anxiously watched for the text, which I
had persuaded myself would be full of the wrath of God, and all levelled
at me. It was in Acts 4. 12: “Neither is there salvation in any other.”
These words brought me some relief. Mr. Roby commenced his
discourse in a very serious manner, and then proceeded to the inward
evidences of being in a state of grace. I was all breathless attention; and
as he brought forward many evidences, and dwelt upon them in
succession, my conscience bore me witness, and I solemnly said (within
myself), “I know that – and I have felt that – and that.” And as I could
respond to what he described, my fears began to subside, and hope
gradually to rise higher and higher.

But now, on a sudden, a terrible blast from the powers of hell
poured in upon me, and swept away my hope, and all the ministerial
comfort which I had received. It was suggested, “All that is only what
Mr. Roby says”; and knowing I durst not build upon a human, or even upon an angelic testimony, I immediately sank fathoms deep into what
Jonah calls the belly of hell, ejaculating, “It is all over with me now! I
am lost! lost for ever! I shall rise no more!” But, blessed be God for His
unspeakable mercy, with the rapidity of the lightning’s flash, and before
my astonished mind could realise the transition, the dear Lord Jesus
Christ entered my very heart and soul, revealing to me His Person as the
Son of God in human flesh, His presence, His atoning blood, His
righteousness, His salvation, and His everlasting love to my soul. The
power and energy of this manifestation, legions of devils could never
have withstood! I saw Satan fall from the expectation of his prey like
lightning, and this passage came with a mighty, saving efficacy: “For
Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth”
(Rom. 10. 4). It was instantly followed by this: “Or ever I was aware, my
soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib.”

My heart was so filled with the glories of Christ, that He seemed for
an instant to withdraw Himself, as though the revelation would overcome
me; but feeling His absence, I cried out, “Return, return, O Shulamite;
return, return, that I may look upon Thee” (Song 6. 13). He again
entered my soul with His train of graces; He took His seat upon the
throne of my heart, and swaying His sceptre over me, He drew my soul
a willing and delighted captive, in holy triumph at His chariot wheels.
Pardon for all the black scroll of my offences was now sealed upon my
conscience, under the power of the blood of sprinkling; I saw by faith
His righteousness, and He covered my soul with it. His salvation was
stamped upon my heart, and the love of God was powerfully shed
abroad. Magnificent grace opened her treasures, and I sensibly felt its
overflowing tide pouring into my bosom. The chief of sinners was
dazzled by its glories, and vanquished by its all-conquering power.
Doubts and fears were swept away by the rich streams of covenant
mercy; and the mighty love of God came in these words, “Yea, I have
loved thee with an everlasting love.”

I saw nothing with my bodily eyes, but with the eye of faith I beheld
and gazed upon my glorious Redeemer. The blessed Spirit then enabled
me, for the first time in my life, to cry “Abba, Father.” Yes, and I felt
that God was my Father! Who can describe the solace, the joy of this
assurance? I seemed another being! The Sun of righteousness shone
blessedly upon my soul; the guilt, and condemnation of all my dreadful
sins were removed – of this I had not the shadow of a doubt. Silently,
but fervently, I now adored the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. My
soul broke out in strains before unknown to me: “Bless the Lord, O my
soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name.” Contrition,
brokenness of spirit, repentance, humility, faith, hope, love and the fear
of the Lord were all awakened. My sackcloth was taken off, the veil was removed. I sat as in a heavenly place, possessing joy unspeakable and
full of glory. This was the Lord’s doing, and without any instrument. I
had heard nothing of the sermon beyond what I have stated.
My cup was now full, and I longed for the moment of dismission,
that I might pour out before the Lord the overflowing of my ecstatic soul.
The preacher gave out that beautiful hymn of Dr. Watts:

“Not all the blood of beasts,
On Jewish altars slain.”


This called up my attention; and, unknown to myself, I sang so loud that
the people turned to look; but no-one there knew anything of me or of my
joys.

As soon as possible I escaped from the crowd, eager to find some
retired spot, where, far from the abodes of men, I might feel alone with
God. My year of jubilee was come. The Son had made me free, and I
was free indeed! He had released me from the bonds of sin, the world,
Satan, conscience, wrath and law. I thought of the lame man healed by
Peter at the Beautiful gate of the temple, who, “leaping up stood, and
walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and
praising God” (Acts 3. 8). I thought of David, and felt as he did, when
he danced before the ark of God with all his might. My soul praised the
Lord in adoring gratitude, and I called upon all His works to assist me in
glorifying His holy name: “Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from
the heavens: praise Him in the heights. Praise ye Him, all His angels:
praise ye Him, all His hosts. Praise ye Him, sun and moon: praise Him,
all ye stars of light. Praise Him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters
that be above the heavens” (Psa. 148. 1-4).

I thought that God had never shown so much mercy to anyone
before; I judged myself to be the chief sinner of the human race, and His
mercy appeared to me then so wonderful, and so astonishingly great, that
I concluded there must be much joy in heaven over me as a repenting
sinner. The Lord had not to say then, “My son, give Me thine heart”; it
was His, He had taken it (I had almost said) by storm. Christ had made
me willing in the day of His power, and how He rode in triumph through
my soul! The universe, as the handywork of God, claimed my
admiration; but I clearly saw that man’s sin had tainted everything
earthly. I could now view the world in its true light, and despise its vain
and delusive pleasures, which no longer possessed attractions for me;
that dream was ended, God had revealed Himself as my Father, I felt His
love in my heart; He was my All in all; and I looked up to Him as being
mine, with exceeding joy. No more wrath, no clouds, no storms, no
frowns now; but all was peace between God and my soul. Jesus was
sensibly present with me; His power and love were great, His smiles gracious, and His sensible embraces of a poor, prodigal son were to me
a heaven of heavens. O how precious was Jesus then to me!
The Comforter was come, and, dove-like, He sat brooding upon my
spirit, and all was communion, love and peace. I seemed to be brought
to another world, where all things were new and delectable. I felt certain
of going to heaven, for heaven was opened unto me, and there seemed
but a step between my soul and ultimate glory. I loved God’s servants
and His children, but was raised above the fear of men or devils. The
work of God wrought upon my soul was between Him and me; I never
submitted it to any man’s judgment; human opinion is of no weight
whatever after the inward powerful testimony of the Holy Ghost: “For I
know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day
upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in
my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes
shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter
is found in me?” (Job 19. 25-28.)

And once for all, I would solemnly protest before all men that I
highly prize the saving power of the Holy Ghost. A soul indulged with
these divine and heaven-sent influences (the effects of which, as a
witness for God, I have endeavoured to describe) is raised above
everything terrestrial, and while under that influence he cannot envy the
great their greatness, the rich their riches, kings their crowns, or the
children of this world their vanities: he bids this dull earth roll, nor feels
her idle whirl; for,

“Believing, we rejoice
To see the curse remove;
We bless the Lord with cheerful voice,
And sing His bleeding love!”


That was a night long to be remembered by me, never, I hope, to be
quite forgotten, though, alas, I am prone to overlook the mercies of the
Lord in days that are past. I returned home late, but felt it prudent to say
nothing to my wife, who was then a Deist, and rendered much
circumspection necessary on my part. I could have told her what great
things God had done for me, that I was no longer a distressed sinner,
quaking under fears of deserved wrath, but a pardoned, justified soul,
walking and talking with God, and in perfect peace with Him. But the
Lord gave me discretion.

This was the time of my espousals; it lasted about six months. I was
then twenty-five years of age. During all that period I never
communicated to a human being what the Lord had done for me; and
before I had exchanged one word with any Christian on the subject of
experience, I had written an account of the Lord’s gracious dealings with my soul; so that no man could say, “It was borrowed.” That manuscript
I have by me now. I desire to be thankful to my heavenly Father for thus
keeping me from opening my case to any individual until the time of love
was over; had it been otherwise I might have “fallen among thieves.”
Shortly after what I have related on the night when my soul was
delivered, I had two promises given me above all the rest. I received
them when in secret communion with God, and with such power and
abundant light, savour and unction that I felt as happy as I could desire
to be on earth: “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore
with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31. 3). “The eternal God
is thy Refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33. 27).
O how precious these promises seemed to my soul! That was to me as
the hill Mizar.

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