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MR. JOHN NELSON,
PREACHER OF THE GOSPEL.
AN ACCOUNT OF GOD'S DEALINGS WITH HIM, FROM
WRITTEN BY HIMSELF.
Blessed be God, even the FATHER of our LORD JESUS CHRIST,
Lord, thou hast led the Blind by a way that he knew not. Isaiah
TO WHICH IS ADDED,
A BRIEF MEMOIR OF HIS LIFE AND DEATH,
Never before published.
Printed by Nuttall, Fisher, & Dixon.
having transcribed it, several of my friends saw it, and begged it might be printed; which I refused at that
Some time after, Mr. Thornton of Leeds, a very particular friend of mine, desiring to see it, thought, as my' CASE' had been a means of stirring up many to hear the word, this might be of use to comfort some who were in trouble; and so advised me to put it to the press without delay. But I still declined it, till he, shewing it to several of my friends, who were of the same opinion, I at last complied.
What is wrong, may the Lord pardon! And that no one may be hurt by me, or any thing I have written or preached, is the sincere prayer of their unworthy servant, for CHRIST's sake.
MR. JOHN NELSON.
JOHN NELSON, was born in the parish of Birstal, in the West-Riding of the county of York, in October, 1707, and brought up a mason, as was my father before me. When I was between nine and ten years old, I was horribly terrified with the thoughts of death and judgment, whenever I was alone. One Sunday night, as I sat on the ground by the side of my father's chair, while he was reading the twentieth chapter of the Revelation, the word came with such light and power to my soul, that it made me tremble, as if a dart was shot at my heart. I fell with my face on the floor, and wept till the place was as wet where I lay, as if water had been poured thereon. As my father proceeded, I thought I saw every thing he read about, though my eyes were shut, and the sight was so terrible, I was about to stop my ears, that I might not hear, but I durst not; for as soon as I put my fingers in my ears, I pulled them back again. When he came to the eleventh verse, the words made me cringe, and my flesh seemed to creep on my bones, while he said, " And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat thereon, from whose face the earth and the heavens fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things that were written in the books, according to their works." Oh what a scene was opened to my mind! It was as if I had seen the Lord JESUS CHRIST sitting on his throne, with the twelve apostles below him; and a large book open at his left hand; and, as it were, a bar fixed about ten paces from the throne, to which the children of Adam came up; and every one, as he approached, opened his breast, as quick as a man could open the bosom of his shirt. On one leaf of the book was written the character of the children of God; and on the other, the character of those that should not enter into the kingdom of heaven. I thought neither the
the LORD, nor the apostles, said any thing; but every soul, as he came up to the bar, compared his conscience with the book, and went away to his own place; either singing, or else crying and howling. Those that went to the right hand were but like the stream of a small brook; but the others were like the flowing of a mighty river.
GOD had followed me with convictions ever since I was ten years old; and whenever I had committed any known sin, either against God or man, I used to be so terrified afterwards, that I shed many tears in private; yet when I came to my companions, I wiped my face, and went on again in sin and folly. But, Oh the hell I found in my mind when I came to be alone again! and what resolutions I made! Nevertheless, when temptations came, my resolutions were as a thread of tow that had touched the fire.
When I was about sixteen, I heard a sermon in our own church, which deprived me of rest in the night; nor durst I sin as I had done before for many days. But, alas! I looked the wrong way; for I watched those that were older and more learned than myself, and what they did, I thought I might safely do; so I turned back to sin and folly. O, what evil do the old and learned do to those who are young and unlearned! When their lives are corrupt, they are certainly the most accursed beings on the earth. How many times have their example hardened my heart, and encouraged me in the broad way! Surely they are a curse to their own children and servants, as well as to their ignorant and unlearned neighbours.
When I was turned a little of sixteen, my father was taken ill, which I thought was for my wickedness; yet at that time, vile as I was, I prayed earnestly that God would spare him for the sake of my mother and the young children, and let me die in his stead; but the Lord would not regard my prayer. 'Three days before he died, he said to my mother, "Trouble not thyself for me; for I know that my peace is made with God, and he will provide for thee and the children." I was greatly surprised at his words, wondering how he could know his peace was made with God.
In one of my times of trouble I was in a stable, and falling into a slumber, I dreamt I prayed that God would make me happy. But I thought, what will make me happy? I also dreamt that I beheld Jeremiah the prophet standing on a large rock, at the west gate of Jerusalem. His countenance was grave, and with great authority he reproved the elders and magistrates of the city; for which they were enraged, and pulling him down, cast him on a dunghill, where the butchers poured forth the blood of their slain beasts; and I imagined 1 saw them tread him under their feet; but his countenance never changed, neither did he cease to cry out, "Thus saith the Lord, if ye will not repent, and give glory to my name, I will bring destruction on you and your city." He seemed so composed and so happy, while he lay on the dunghill, and while they were treading him under their feet, that I said in my dream, "O God! make me like Jeremiah." And though it was but a dream, it left such an impression on me, as if I had seen it with my eyes. And since then, thou, Lord, in a small measure, hast given me a taste of his cup.
When I was about nineteen, I found myself in great danger of falling into scandalous sins; and I prayed, I believe, twenty times for God to preserve me, and give me a wife, that I might live with her to his glory. He heard my prayer, and delivered me out of many dangerous temptations; for which I praise his holy Name.
The first time I ever saw my wife was at Tonge, where I was going to build the new church. I did not know who she was, nor where she came from; but, at first sight, I said in my mind, "That is the woman I asked of God in prayer;" and I fully determined, if I got married, I would live to his glory. But what are resolutions when made in our own strength! For though I believe God gave me the most suitable wife that I could have had, in every respect; yet for some years after we were married, I did not live to his glory, for I loved pleasures more than God: yet many times, when I had been shooting a whole day, and had got the creatures I pursued, I was quite un