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pardon and justification, except the cerning doctrine ;-both parties beblood and righteousness of a cruci-ing in all matters of importance of fied Saviour, God manifested in the the same sentiments: they conflesh; or who expects to be made tended only about discipline and meet for the inheritance of the saints ceremonies, till the introduction of in light, in any other way than by Arminianism gave occasion to the being born again, created anew, Calvinists being denominated Docconverted and sanctified by the trinal Puritans. To this period all divine power of the Holy Ghost. our church-writers were CalvinistiSome time in November, 1777, I cal in doctrine; and even after that was, by a then unknown friend, time many might be mentioned, furnished with a considerable num- who were allowed friends to the ber of books, written in general by Church of England, that opposed the old divines, both of the Church those innovations, and agreed in of England and of the Dissenters. doctrine with every thing above And, to my no small surprise, I stated. Let it suffice, out of many, found that those doctrines which to recommend the works of Bishop are now deemed novel inventions, Hall, especially his Contemplations and are called Methodistical, are in on the Life of Jesus, a book not these books every where discoursed easily to be prized too highly; and of as known and allowed truths; Dr. Reynold's works. To these no and that the system which, despis- true friend of the Church of Enging to be taught by men, and unac-land can reasonably object, and in quainted with such authors, I had general, I believe and teach nofor near three years together been thing but what they plainly taught hammering out for myself, with no before me. small labour and anxiety, was to be The outlines of my scheme of found ready made to my hand in doctrine were now completed; but every book I opened. I had been so taken up with doc
I do not wonder that the mem- trinal inquiries, that I was still, in bers of the Church of England are a great measure, a stranger to my generally prejudiced against the own heart, and had little experience writings of Dissenters; for I have of the power of the truths I had been so myself to an excessive de- embraced. The pride of reasoning, gree. We imbibe this prejudice and the conceit of superior discernwith the first rudiments of instruc- ment, had all along accompanied tion, and are taught by our whole me; and, though somewhat broken, education to consider it as meri- had yet considerable influence. torious; though no doubt it is a Hitherto, therefore, I had prejudice of which every sincere thought of hearing any person inquirer after truth ought to be preach; because I did not think any afraid, and every pretended in-one, in the circle of my acquaintquirer ashamed; for how can we ance, capable of giving me such determine on which side truth lies, information as I wanted. But, beif we will not examine both sides? ing at length convinced that Mr. N. Indeed, it is well known to all those had been right, and that I had been who are acquainted with the church-mistaken in the several particulars histories of those times, that till in which we had differed, it occurred the reign of James I. there were no to me that, having preached these controversies between the establish- doctrines so long, he must undered Church and the Puritans, con- stand many things concerning them
to which I was a stranger. Now, | pleasure in their company, to value therefore, though not without much their counsels, and with pleasure to remaining prejudice, and not less attend their ministry.
in the character of a judge than of Thus, I trust, the old building a scholar, I condescended to be his which I had purposed to repair, hearer, and occasionally to attend was pulled down to the ground, and his preaching, and that of some the foundation of the new building other ministers:-and I soon per- of God laid aright: "Old things ceived the benefit; for from time passed away, behold all things were to time the secrets of my heart were become new." "What things were discovered to me, far beyond what gain to me, those I have counted I had hitherto noticed; and I sel-loss for Christ." My boasted readom returned from hearing a sermon son I have discovered to be a blind without having conceived a meaner guide, until humbled, enlightened, opinion of myself; without having and sanctified by the Spirit of God: attained to a further acquaintance my former wisdom, foolishness: and with my deficiencies, weaknesses, that when I thought I knew much, corruptions, and wants; or without | I knew nothing as I ought to know. being supplied with fresh matter Since this period, every thing I for prayer, and directed to greater have experienced, heard, or read, watchfulness. I likewise learned and every thing I observe around the use of experience in preaching, me, confirms and establishes me in and was convinced that the readiest the assured belief of those truths way to reach the hearts and consci- which I have received; nor do I in ences of others, was to speak from general any more doubt whether my own. In short, I gradually saw they be from God, than I doubt more and more my need of instruc- whether the sun shines, when I see tion, and was at length brought to its light, and am warmed with its consider myself as a very novice in refreshing beams. I see the powerreligious matters. Thus I began ex-ful effects of them continually among perimentally to perceive our Lord's those to whom I preach; I experimeaning, when he says, "Except ence the power of them daily in my ye receive the kingdom of God as own soul: and, while by meditating a little child, ye shall in no wise on and "glorying in the cross of enter therein." For though my Christ, I find the world crucified proud heart is continually rebelling, unto me, and I unto the world," and would fain build up again the by preaching Jesus Christ and him former Babel of self-conceit, yet I crucified, I see notoriously immoral trust I have from this time, in my persons "taught by the saving grace settled judgment, aimed and prayed of God to deny ungodliness and to be enabled to consider myself as worldly lusts, and to live soberly, a little child, who ought simply to righteously, and godly in this presit at the Master's feet, to hear his sent world," being examples to such words with profound submission, as before they were a scandal to. and wait his teaching with earnest And now, by this change, the desire and patient attention. From consequences of which I so much this time I have been enabled to dreaded, what have I lost, even in consider those persons, in whom respect of this present world?—Inknowledge has been ripened by deed, I have lost some degree of years, experience, and observation, favour, and I escape not pity, cenas fathers and instructors, to take sure, scorn, and opposition; but the
Lord is introducing me to a new to me be the shame, not only of all my and far more desirable acquaint- other sins, but also of my proud and ance; even to that of those whom perverse opposition to his purposes the Holy Spirit hath denominated of love towards me. But all this the excellent of the earth; nay, the was permitted, that my high spirit Lord the Spirit condescends to be and proud heart being at length my Comforter. In general I enjoy humbled and subdued, "I might an established peace of conscience, remember, and be confounded, and through the blood of sprinkling, and never open my mouth any more, continual application to the hea- because of my shame, now that the venly Advocate; with a sweet con- Lord is pacified to me for all that I tent, and "that peace of conscience have done."
which passeth all understanding," And now, as in the presence of in" casting all my cares upon him the heart-searching Judge, I have who careth for me:" and I am not given, without one wilful misrepreleft utterly without experience of sentation, addition, or material omisthat "joy which is unspeakable and sion, a history of the great things full of glory." These the world God hath done for my soul; or, if could not give me, were I in favour that suit not the reader's view of it, with it; of these it cannot deprive a history of that change which hath me by its frowns. My desire hence-recently taken place in my religious forth, God knoweth, is to live to his sentiments and conduct, to the surglory, and by my whole conduct and prise of some, and perhaps the disconversation" to adorn the doctrine pleasure of others, among my former of God my Saviour," and "to show friends. The doctrines I have emforth his praises, who hath called braced are, indeed, charged with me out of darkness into his marvel- being destructive of moral practice, lous light;" to be in some way or and tending to licentiousness: but other useful to his believing people, though I know that my best righteand to invite poor sinners who "are ousnesses are as filthy rags, yet, I walking in a vain show, and disquiet-trust, I may return thanks to God, ing themselves in vain," to "taste and see how gracious the Lord is, and how blessed they are who put their trust in him."
"Now would I tell to sinners round,
that by his grace he hath so upheld me since this change took place, that I have not been permitted to disgrace the cause in which I have embarked, by any immoral conduct:
My rejoicing," in this respect, "is this, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, Thus hath the Lord led me, a but by the grace of God, I have my poor blind sinner, in a way that I conversation in the world." I can knew not;-" he hath made dark-confidently avow, that the belief of ness light before me, crooked things these doctrines hath a quite constraight," and hard things easy, and trary effect upon me. I most earnhath brought me to a place of which estly desire, aim, endeavour, and I little thought when I set out; and pray to be enabled to love God, and having done these things for me, I keep his commandments, without believe, yea, I am undoubtedly sure, partiality and without hypocrisy;" he will never leave me nor forsake and so to demean myself as by To him be the glory of his well-doing, to put to silence the undeserved and long-resisted grace: ignorance of foolish men." That I
fall so very far short in every thing, stated. This will appear from the is not the effect of my new doctrines, following considerations::but of my old depraved nature and 1. My religious opinions had deceitful heart." Create in me a been for many years directly conclean heart, O God, and renew a trary to it. Being always of a reright spirit within me!" flecting turn of mind, I entertained exceedingly high notions of the power of human reason; and I had,
Observations on the preceding Nar- upon reasoning principles, embraced
a system of religion, which both soothed my conscience and flatterMy design in writing this account ed my self-conceit. After some of myself, and my religious inqui- trivial alterations, I seemed to myries and change of sentiments, was self, upon mature deliberation, to this: I considered myself as a sin- have come to a settled determinagular instance of a very unlikely tion, and had bestowed considerable person, in an uncommon manner, pains in making myself acquainted being led on from one thing to an- with those arguments and interpreother, to embrace a system of doc- tations of Scripture, by which that trine which he once heartily de- system is usually defended; and spised. As I assuredly believe that I had ranked together many of this change hath been effected those plausible objections and high under the guidance and teaching charges, which are commonly of the Holy Spirit, so I hoped that brought by reasoning men against a circumstantial relation of it might the doctrines and characters of the be an encouragement and comfort Calvinists. But I was in a great to those who know and love the measure a stranger to what the Lord, and from them levy a tribute Calvinists could say for themselves; of gratitude and praise to our gra- because I. thought the matter too cious God: and that it also might plain to bear an argument, and be instrumental, by the convincing therefore did not think their anSpirit, to awaken others to a serious swers worth reading. In short, review of their religious sentiments; very few have been recovered from to put them upon the same earnest that abyss of error (for so I must inquiry after the truth as it is in Je- call it) into which I had been persus; and to influence them to the dili- mitted to sink. Full of confidence gent use of the same blessed means, in my cause, and in the arguments in which the Lord directed me to with which I was prepared to supbe found. I would therefore now port it, I was eager to engage in offer a few observations on the pre- controversy with the Calvinists, and ceding narrative and may the Lord entertained the most sanguine hopes guide both the writer and every of victory. In this confidence I frereader of these pages, to the saving quently harangued against them knowledge of the truth, and into the from the pulpit, and spared not to ways of peace and righteousness. charge upon them consequences I. It must be evident to every both absurd and shocking. Yet, unprejudiced reader of this Narra- after much, very much anxious dilitive, that, at the time this change gent inquiry, I have embraced, as commenced, I was humanly speak- the sacred truths of God's unerring ing a most unlikely person to em- word, every doctrine of this despised brace the system of doctrine above system!
2. My natural spirit and temper fortune, a narrow precarious inwere very unfavourable to such a come, and no expectations, except change. Few persons have ever from such friends as my conduct been more self-sufficient and posi- might procure or continue to me. tive in their opinions than I was. I had unexpectedly contracted an Fond to excess of entering into acquaintance with some of those, argument, I never failed on these whose favour goes a great way tooccasions to betray this peculiarity wards a man's advancement in life; of my character. I seldom acknow- nor was I insensible to the advanledged or suspected myself mis- tages to be hoped for, from cultitaken; and scarcely ever dropped vating, by a compliant behaviour, an argument, till either my reason- their kind and friendly regard to ings or obstinacy had silenced my me. At the same time, I was no opponent. A certain person once stranger to the opinion which the said of me, that I was like a stone world entertain of those who preach rolling down a hill, which could these disreputable doctrines; and neither be stopped nor turned: this could not but conclude, that emwitness was true; but those things bracing them would probably dewhich are impossible with man, are prive me of these prospects of preeasy with God. I am evidently ferment. But, as the result of both stopped and turned: man, I diligent inquiry, I was assuredly am persuaded, could not have done convinced that it was my indispenit; but this hath God wrought, and sable duty to profess and preach I am not more a wonder to others them, and that by so doing alone, I than to myself. Indeed, I carried could ensure to myself the favour the same obstinate positive temper of a better Friend than any here into my religious inquiries; for I below: and thus, while fully aware never gave up one tittle of my sen- all along how unfavourable, accordtiments till I could defend it no ing to human probability, it would longer; nor ever submitted to con- prove to my worldly interests, I at viction till I could no longer resist. length deliberately embraced them. The strong man armed with my 4. My regard to character was natural pride and obstinacy, with no trifling security against such a my vain imaginations and reason- change of sentiment. I was ambiings, and high thoughts, had built tiously and excessively fond of that himself many strong holds, and kept honour which cometh from man; his castle in my heart; and, when and considered the desire of praise One stronger than he came against as allowable, nay, laudable. By him, he stood a long siege: till, this motive was I urged on to a being by superior force driven from very diligent prosecution of my one to another, and all his armour, studies, even beyond what natural in which he trusted, being at length inclination led me to; and my whole taken from him, he was constrained conduct was influenced by, my whole to recede. So that the Lord having conversation was tinctured with, made me willing in the day of his this vain-glorious aim. On the power, I was forced to confess, "O other hand, with approbation and Lord, thou art stronger than I, and self-complacency, I had been achast prevailed." customed to hear the most con
3. My situation in life rendered temptuous and opprobrious epithets such a change improbable. I had liberally bestowed on those peran increasing family, no private sons, to whom I have now joined