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and that blessed Spirit having condescended to make use of you, Sir, in furthering this gracious manifestation in my soul, I hope that my ad. dressing these particulars to you will tend still further to encourage you in the ministry which you have received of the Lord Jesus; the efficacy of whose promised blessing (Matt. xxviii. 20) is to this day verified in every soul that is quickened by his word, and to whom his gospel is made the wisdom of God, and the power of God, to salvation. Thus those who are sent of God to preach, and those to whom their preaching is made profitable, may rejoice in the behalf of each other, as well as of themselves; and, together with all his church, the spiritual Zion, will have abundant cause to bless him for his faithfulness and truth to his covenant promises and engagements, and for his loving-kindness and tender mercies, displayed in the salvation of finners freely by gracc in Christ Jesus our Lord and only Saviour.
Were I to attempt to describe all that has passed within me, both before and since it pleased the blessed Spirit to give me an experience of his quickening power, it would only be taking up your time in endeavouring to do that which you have often done for me with ten times greater exactness than I could do it with myself; and which, while it proves you to be a scribe well infructed in the kingdom of heaven, has also been blessed. to my encouragement, feeing I was thus led in the footsteps of the flock. Suffice it therefore to fay, that I had been in a profession of religion for upwards of ten years before I knew any thing of what true religion was, but it was altogether a fleshly profession; for on leaving my friends in the country, by whom I had been brought up in a very regular manner, and coming to London, where already I had a brother, my desires so yearned after my relatives (than whom I believe none were ever more affectionate), that I gladly took every opportunity of being with him; and as he, with a companion of his, were earnestly seeking the way of salvation (and have not fought in vain), I readily associated with, and accompanied them to places of public worship, and I soon began to entertain a superstitious reverence for those places, osten walking bare-headed by them, especially the place where I received the sacrament of bread and wine. The doctrine of salvation by Jesus Christ, as a mediator, when first unfolded to my natural understanding, charmed me as a novelty; as such I adopted it into my opinions, and this pafled with me for conversion. I attended the preaching of those who mingled the law with the letter of the gofpel, and this often stirred up my legal conscience against me; then my aim was to appease it; and when conscience was quieted, either by the sense of guilt wearing off, or by performing dead
works, or-by any other means (no matter how), I was satisfied. I attended prayer and experience meetings, but never knew what it was to have access to God in prayer, nor ever expected any answer to my petitions, further than hoping all would be well at last. I could talk fluently on the doctrines of the gospel, and this served to nurse my pride. Nay, I remember I once went so far at one of these meetings as to fay that I could as soon be brought to believe that there was no Holy Ghost, as that I had not found him present with me, 'when, alas! I knew nothing of that blessed Spirit's quickening influence; no thing of the power of the kingdom of heaven ; nothing of the covenant of grace, nor of the love of God in Christ Jesus. I was bolstered in felfconfidence, daubed with untempered mortar, and vainly puffed up in my fleshly mind. After some years I heard Mr. Romaine preach, and then you, and sat under both for some time; but, though I had light enough to see that this preaching was different from what I had before attended, and believed it to be the truth, yet, as the excellency of the power is all of God, and not of man, I still remained a whole-hearted sinner. Thus I went on for years, conscience at times still reproving me; but, as I had only jumped into a profeffion at first in the bonds of natural affection, and as the charms of novelty had worn off, at length these bonds became weaker and weaker, I began to grow more re. miss, religion became wearisome to me, and then, for want of root, my profession withered'; as I had received no benefit from it, it could not hold me. I returned into the world and its pleasures again, and became as a tree twice dead, plucked up by the roots. Yet, as conscience would never be entirely quiet, I sometimes used to come to the chapel when the sermon was more than half over, and then crept in behind, ashamed to fhew my face; nor could I altogether leave off prayer, or at least attempting to pray; and there is one thought that would sometimes strike my mind, even in this dead season, which I have since considered as an indication that God had not altogether given me up to a reprobate mind; it was, that if my brother, or any other person whom I really believed to be a child of God, Tould backslide, or leave his ways and worship, it would have grieved me to the very heart to see it, both for his own fake, and for the honour and cause of God. In this dreary state I continued for, I believe, more than five years, and never knew what real peace was all the time. Added to this, my backsliding would cause all religion to ftink in the nostrils of those who knew not God, and had seen my former high profession, for a backslider I was, and still consider myself to have been, from the light and knowledge I had, although there was nothing of
a saving nature in it. I do not mean to say that my profession has been of no service at all, for I believe it has since pleased the blessed Spirit of God to far to make use of it, as to fhew me, experimentally, the difference between a forni of godliness and the power thereof, and, by the contrast, to make his own work more manifeft. Also, having learnt that salvation was only in Christ, I did not, when afterwards seeking it earnestly, fly to the letter of commandments to earn life by my own endeavours to keep them, though I have found that this sort of knowledge never destroyed the dominion of fin, nor that legal spirit that was within me, and for which I have often had occasion to loathe myself, as well as for my sinful nature. But herein appears the long-suffering of God in preserving me through this state of ignorance and fin to a future calling; and I have often thought it was (if I may use the expression) a double stretch of his great power to rescue me from the strong bands of fin and Satan, since it is declared that such as were in my case were further from the kingdom of heaven than publicans and harlots.
About four or five years ago it pleased the Lord to lay the guilt of fin upon my conscience as a burden too heavy for me to bear, so that I earnestly desired to flee from the wrath to come; at other times I felt my spirit drawn out in secret defires and breathings after God: and this bur