« AnteriorContinuar »
MY FINAL RECOVERY TO THE TRUTH.
Stupidity of my mind and heart.—Conviction of danger.
Final resolution.—Change of feeling.--Elements of this change.-Improper encouragement.
I HAD acquired, about this time, a healthy appetite. I used no drink but water, and cannot say that I desired any other. It had a far better relish than any stimulating drink formerly had. I had, moreover removed most of the excitants usually taken with our food. In short, I found myself in these respects, for once a free man. Whether this had any thing to do with my escape from error, 1 cannot say; but the fact should be noticed.
At the same time I had not only become convinced of the general correctness of the religious doctrines commonly called evangelical; but I had also learned that there is such a thing as a belief of the head which does not affect the heart; for it is with the heart alone, that man “ believeth
unto righteousness.” I had, it is true, my hours of doubt; and distressing ones, too, some of them were ; but on the whole I assented to christian truth; and though I received it as a choice of difficulties, still I received it.
Things went on thus for some time. I was occasionally reminded by some event of Providence or the inquiry of some anxious or solicitous friend, that all was not right; but the conviction, like the morning dew, soon disappeared. Every reflection on the subject and on my existing state, deepened the impression that my heart was far from being in subjection to the law of God;—that I was, in short, “ without hope and without God in the world.”
At this time I attended church, but it was only to doze away the time, or else to make the sermon and prayers a mere intellectual exercise. If I drew near to God with my mouth, and honored him with my lips, my heart was still far from him.
Nor did I see any bright prospect. All was becoming gloomy. Life was passing on, and though industriously employed, I had reason to think I enjoyed as much leisure as I could reasonably expect to enjoy at any future period. If my heart was ever to be softened by Divine grace, why not now? If I was ever to be aroused from my stupidity, why not immediately? If I ever intended to set
about the work of repentance, why should I longer delay it ?-Such thoughts occasionally passed through my mind, but
“ As from the bird the sky no trace retains,
so my convictions were evanescent and powerless.
I am not aware that any fear of positive punishment, either bere or hereafter, had much weight
My distress arose chiefly from the following considerations.
The work of redemption had been achieved at an astonishing price; and a world of glory, which I was in danger of losing, laid open to an erring race. Created with faculties which I might bring to the service of God, and endowed with the capacity of loving and enjoying as well as approving ExcELLENCE, I was yet entirely without a relish for this excellence, and daily and hourly growing more and more indifferent, and thus shutting myself more and more effectually out of heaven. Receiving by means of conduct which was morally unexceptionable, the smiles and a measure of the approbation of my fellow men, I felt that I was rapidly hastening to a world where mere morality will only serve as a light to show us the greatness of our eternal loss.
These, so far as I recollect the progress of my
mind, were some of the motives that weighed
Positive punishment, I thought, might come, but I could not at that time bring myself to fear it, so much as negative misery, or the loss of happiness.*
All this while, I had a few friends who labored with me occasionally, to induce me to seek for Divine aid. Sometimes we sought this aid in company; and I tried to believe the truth of the promise respecting only “two or three” when gathered together. But all to no purpose. I went on.How many prayers ascended before the Eternal Throne in my behalf, or whether my friends prayed for me in their closets at all, I have no means of ascertaining. Some of them were men who labored as well as prayed, and prayed as well as labored; and it is highly probable that they were often and earnestly at the mercy seat, on my behalf.
Protracted meetings were occasionally held in the region of country where I resided; and at length one was appointed in the very neighborhood
* Perhaps I ought here to say, that the fear of positive punishment has been every day deepening from that time to the present. Perhaps it is owing to the fact, that I every day see it to be more just; and more accordant with a PERFECT CHARACTER in God, as well as with the works of nature,
where I was. I kept about my business. My friends urged me to go to meeting; but I refused. Yet this very refusal led to important reflections; and my conscience was at length roused.
I attended the meeting, but it was as usual, to hear and not to hear; or rather to hear and not to feel. I saw that a crisis was approaching. I must give up all hope of a cordial reconciliation to God, in the way of the Gospel, and like the devils believe only to tremble; or I must go at once to the Savior. The latter, as I thought, I was unable to do; for there was still much human pride remaining, as was evinced in the desire I felt to do the work myself. There seemed to be some necessary preparation to make, in the first place.
It was resolved, at length, to give up business, give up attendance on public worship, and betake myself to prayer and reflection. Accordingly one morning I shut myself up in my room, determined not to go out of it again till the great point was settled, and I had declared either for God or against him.
Here the ghosts of former skepticism appeared and beset me. What was to be done? Read I could not ; prayer was still more impossible. I walked the room. Not a particle of religious sensibility seemed to remain. My heart was