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tise again. In an hour's time I was called ; and; not being able to pump; I went to the helm, and steered the ship till midnight, excepting a small interval for refreshment. I had here leisure and convenient opportunity for reflection. I began to think of my former religious professions, the extraordinary turns of my life,—the calls, warnings, and deliverances I had met with the licentious course of my conversation, particularly my unparalleled effrontery in making the gospel history. (which I could not be sure was false, though I was not yet assured it was true) the constant subject of profane ridicule. I thought, allowing the Scripture premises, there never was or could be such a sinner as myself; and then comparing the advantages I had broken through, I concluded at first, that my sins were too great to be forgiven. The Scripture likewise seemed to say the same : for I had formerly been well acquainted with the Bible, and many passages, upon this occasion, returned
upon my memory; particularly those awful passages, Prov. i. 24-31, Heb. vi. 4, 5, 6: änd 2 Pet. ii. 20. which seemed so exactly to suit my case and character, as to bring with them a presumptive proof of a divine original.
Thus, as I have said, I waited with fear and impatience to receive my inevitable doom. Yet, though I had thoughts of this kind, they were exceeding faint and disproportionate: it was not till
after (perhaps). several years that I had gained some clear views of the infinite righteousness and grace of Christ Jesus my Lord, that I had a deep and strong apprehension of my state by nature and practice: and, perhaps, till then, I could not have borne the sight. So wonderfully does the Lord proportion the discoveries of sin and grace: for he knows our frame, and that if he were to put forth the greatness of his power, a poor sinner would be instantly overwhelmed, and crushed as a moth.
“ But, to return. When I saw, beyond al probability, that there was still hope of respite, and heard about six in the evening that the ship was freed from water, there arose a gleam of hope. I thought I saw the hand of God displayed in our favour. I began to pray: I could not utter the prayer of faith : I could not draw near to a reconciled God, and call him Father : my prayer was like the cry of the ravens, which yet the Lord does not disdain to hear. I now began to think of that Jesus whom I had so often derided : I recollected the particulars of his life, and of his death ; a death for sins not his own, but, as I remembered, for the sake of those, who, in their distress, should put their trust in him. And now I chiefly wanted evidence. The comfortless principles of infidelity were deeply riveted; and I rather wished than believed these things were real facts. You will please to observe, that I
collect the strain of the reasonings and exercises of my mind in one view; but I do not say that all this passed at one time. The great question now was, how to obtain faith. I speak not of an appropriating faith (of which I then knew neither the nature nor necessity), but how I should gain an assurance that the Scriptures were of divine inspiration, and a sufficient warrant for the exercise of trust and hope in God.
“ One of the first helps I received (in consequence of a determination to examine the New Testament more carefully) was from Luke xi. 13. I had been sensible, that, to profess faith in Jesus Christ, when, in reality, I did not believe his history, was no better than a mockery of the heartsearching God; but here I found a Spirit spoken of, which was to be communicated to those who ask it. Upon this I reasoned thus: If this book be true, the promise in this passage must be true likewise. I have need of that very Spirit, by which the whole was written, in order to understand it aright. He has engaged here to give that Spirit to those who ask: I must therefore pray for it; and, if it be of God, he will make good his own word. My purposes were strengthened by John vii. 17. I concluded from thence, that, though I could not say from my heart that I believed the Gospel, yet I would, for the present, take it for granted; and that, by studying it in this light, I should be more and more confirmed in it.
“ If what I am writing could be perused by our modern infidels, they would say (for I too well know their manner) that I was very desirous to persuade myself into this opinion.--I confess I was; and so would they be, if the Lord should shew them, as he was pleased to shew me at that time, the absolute necessity of some expedient to interpose between a righteous God and a sinful soul: upon the Gospel scheme, I saw, at least a peradventure of hope; but, on every other side, I was surrounded with black, unfathomable despair.”
The wind being now moderate, and the ship drawing nearer to its port, the ship's company began to recover from their consternation, though greatly alarmed by their circumstances. They found that the water having floated their moveables in the hold, all the casks of provision had been beaten to pieces by the violent motion of the ship, On the other hand, their live-stock had been washed overboard in the storm. In short, all the provisions they saved, except the fish lately caught on the banks for amusement, and a little of the pulse kind, which used to be given to the hogs, would have supported them but a week, and that at a scanty allowance. The sails, too, were mostly blown away; so that they advanced but slowly, even while the wind was fair. They imagined they were about a hundred leagues from ļand, but were in reality much further. Mr. N.'s
leisure was chiefly employed in reading, meditation on the Scriptures, and prayer for mercy and instruction.
Things continued thus for about four or five days, till they were awakened one morning by the joyful shouts of the watch upon deck, proclaiming the sight of land, with which they were all soon raised. The dawning was uncommonly beautiful; and the light, just sufficient to discover distant objects, presented what seemed a mountainous coast, about twenty miles off, with two or three small islands : the whole appeared to be the north-west extremity of Ireland, for which they were steering. They sincerely congratulated one another, having no doubt that if the wind continued, they should be in safety and plenty the next day. Their brandy, which was reduced to a little more than a pint, was, by the captain's orders, distributed among them; who added, “ We shall soon have brandy enough.” They likewise ate up the residue of their bread, and were in the condition of men suddenly reprieved from death.
But, while their hopes were thus excited, the mate sunk their spirits, by saying, in a graver tone, that he wished“ it might prove land at last.” If one of the common sailors had first said so, the rest would probably have beaten him. The expression, however, brought on warm debates, whether it was land or not: but the case was soon decided; for one of their fancied islands