Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of Mr Wesley, and his adherents, my principles were against me. They did not believe any man could be pious, who believed the doctrine of predestination. I remember, some time after the death of my father, sitting with Mr. Wesley in the house of my mother and conversing on this truly interesting subject; I ventured to re mark, that there were some good men, who had given their suffrage in favor of the doctrine of election, and I produced my father, as an instance, when, laying his hand upon my shoulder, with great earnestuess, he said : “My dear lad, believe me, there never was a man in this world, who believed the doctrine of Calvin, but the language of his heart was, “I may live as I list.' It was, as I have before observed, generally believed, that I inherited the principles of my father. The Methodists in London were afraid of me, and I was afraid of them; we therefore, as if by mutual consent, avoided each other; my wish to attach myself to Mr. Whitefield was still paramount in my bosom, but Mr. Whitefield was not at home, and it was unfortunate for me that he was not. Every day I was more and more distinguished; but it was by those, whose neglect of me would have been a mercy: by their nominal kindness I was made to taste of pleasures, to which I bad before been a stranger, and those pleasures were eagerly zested. I became what is called very good company, and I resolved to see, and become acquainted with life; yet I determined, my knowledge of the town, and its pleasures, should not affect my standing in the religious world. But I was miserably deceived; gradually, my foriner babits seemed to fade from my recollection. To my new connexions I gave, and received from them, what I then believed pleasure, without alloy. Of music, and dancing, I was very fond, and I dolighted in convivial parties; Vauxhall, the playhouses, were charming; I had never known life before. It is true, my secret Mentor sometimes embittered my enjoyments; the precepts, the example of my father stared me in the face; the secret sigh of my bosom arose, as I mournfully reflected on what I had lost. But I had not sufficient resolution to retrace my steps; indeed I had little leisure, I was in a perpetual round of company; I was intoxicated with pleasure; I was invited into one society, and another, until there was hardly a society in London, of which I was not a member.

How long this life of dissipation would have lasted, had not my résources failed, I know not. I occasionally encountered one and another of my religious connexions, who seriously expostulated with me; but I generally extorted from them a laugh, which ultimately induced them to shun ine. I had an interview with Ms. Barnstable, a preacher in Mr. Wesley's connexion, and questioning him respecting many whom I had known, he informed me that Mr. Trinbath, at whose house I had passed so delightful an evening with Mr. Whitefield, in the city of Cork, was no more! His beautiful wife had quitted her husband, her children, and her mother, and accompanied a private soldier to America !!!* Her doating

* See Chap. Vi. T. W

husband, thus cruelly deceived, lost first his reason, and afterwards, his life. Mr. Barnstable inquired what had become of me so long; and, after severely admonishing me, he pronounced upon me an anathema, and quitted me. It will be supposed I was not much pleased with him, and assuredly, I was at variance with myself; and above all, I was grievously afflicted for the misfortunes and death of the once happy Trinbath. It has often been a matter of astonishment to me, how, after such a religious education as I had received; after really, vitally entering into the spirit of the life ta which I was from infancy habituated; after feelingly bearing my public testimony against the follies and the dissipation of the many, I should so entirely renounce a life of serious piety, and embrace a life of frolic, a life of whim! It is also wonderful, that thus changed, I proceeded no further; that I was guilty of no flagrant vices; that I was drawn into no fatal snares. Many were the devices employed to entangle me; which devices I never deliberately sought to avoid. Doubtless I was upheld by the good hand of God; for which sustaining power my full soul offers its grateful orisons.

I pursued this inconsiderate, desiructive course upwards of a year, never permanently reflecting where I was, or how I should terminate my career. My money was nearly exhausted; but this was beneath my consideration : and, as I have said, serious reflection was arrested by large circles of friends successively engaging me, either abroad or at home, in town or in the country. Thus did my life exhibit a constant tissue of folly and indiscretion. But the time of my emancipation drew near; a demand, which I had barely sufficient to answer, was made upon me by my tailor: I started, and stood for some time motionless. The money, which I believed would never be expended, was already gone. I saw no method of recruiting my finances, and I stood appalled, when, at this distressing moment a gay companion broke in upon me; he was on his way to the club: there was to be grand doings: John Wilkes, esquire, was that night to become a member. I instantly forgot everything of a gloomy nature, and went off as light as a feathered inhabitant of the air. I never was fond of the pleasures of the bottle; of social pleasures, no one more so: and that I might enjoy society with an unbroken zest, I have frequently thrown the wine under the table, rejoicing that I thus preserved my reason.

This period of my life had so much of variety, and yet so much of sameness, that a picture of a week would be nearly a complete exhibition of all my deviations. Suffice it to say, that I plunged into the vortex of pleasure, greedily grasping at enjoyments, which both my habits and my circumstances should have taught me to shun. Upon this subject I do not love to dwell. If possible, I would erase it from my recollection : and yet I derive abundant satisfaction from the manifestation of Divine Goodness, so strikingly exemplified through the whole of my wanderings, in preserving me, by the strong arm of the Almighty, from numerous evils to which, in the society I frequented, and in the city where I resided, I was hourly exposed. But, as I said, necessity, imperious necessity compelled me to pause; and it was, in truth, a blessed necessity. Had I been inclined to forget that my whole stock was expended, the frequent calls made upon me for monies which I could not pay, would have constituted a uniform and impressive memena to. Niy embarrassments were soon rumored abroad ; and although I had many friends, who appeared to regard inoney as little as myself, wlio, declaring they could not exist without me, insisted upon iny being of their parties, yet a consciousness of dependence rendered me wretched, while indirect remarks, thrown out by some individuals, served to increase my wretchedness. Easter holydays are, in England, days of conviviality. Parties of pleasure were everywhere forming. My connexions were hastening to my favorite retreat, Richmond: inclination led me to join them: but they ei. ther were not, or I suspected they were not, as usual, warm in their solicitations, and I declined a less importunate invitation. I, however, took a solitary walk, and I met reflection on the way. I had in the world but one half-penny, and a mendicant, asking alms, crossed my path; I gave him my half-penny, and walked on, till, passing out of the city, I advanced into the fields. I began to feel exhausted ; and, under the wide spreading shade of a tree, I sat mo down. I continued, for some time, in a state of fixed despair, regardless of life and every:hing which it had to bestow. The eye of retrospection ran over past scenes: I remembered my father's house, and the plenty which, particularly at this season, reigned there. This was nearly the anniversary of his death ; the mournful scene passed in review before me; bis paternal advice, his paternal prayers flashed upon my soul; the eye of my mind dwelt upon the family I had deserted. Oh! could they now behold me! Would they not be gratified? I hoped they would. Their pity would have pained me most exquisitely. Still my emotions were not of an ameliorating description: my heart was indurated, and, had I possessed the means, I should have proceeded in the path of destruction. At length I seemed awakened to a full sense of the horrors of my situation ; my heart tlırobbed with anguish as I spontaneously exclaimed: Am I the son of such a man, the son of such parents ? am I that pious youth so much, and by so many admired ? am I the preacher, who at so early a period preached to others, drawing tears froin the eyes of those who heard me? And is it thus my journey to England terminates ? am I now alone and unfriended, without an extricating hand to save me? Whither, ah! whither shall I go, and what step is now to be taken ? At this moment the voice of consolation vibrated upon my mental ear: 'Imitate the prodigal of old, Arise, and go unto your Father ; say, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight; Iam no longer worthy to be called thy son: but beseech Him, nevertheless, to receive you into his service. This counsel, proceeding from a quarter from which I had not for a long season heard, deeply affected me, and bitterly did I weep, in the dread of that refusal, which, should

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

I venture to follow the guidance of the monitor within, I was, alas! but too certain of receiving. A thousand thoughts, like a swarm of insects, buzzed around me, but no thought gave me peace. How exquisite was the torture, wluich at this niornent I suffered. But the approach of evening roused me to a conviction of the necessity of moving: but whither should I go? that was the question. Suppose,' said my invisible monitor, you go to the tabernacle?' and, bursting into a flood of tears, I said, Yes, I will present myself among the multitude-yes, I will go; but how shall I meet the eye of any individual who has formerly known me? how dare I stand among the worshippers of that God whom I have so grossly offended? Yet I will go; and, with slow and mournful steps, I walked forward. The congregation had assembled. I entered, taking my stand under the gallery. I dared not raise my eyes; they were bathed in tears. Mr. Whitefield, in his usual energetic manner, addressed his audience; but no sound of consolation reached me. At last he said: “But there may be, in some corner of this house, a poor, desponding, despairing soul, who, having sinned, greatly sin. ned against God and against himself, may be afraid to lift toward Heaven his guilty eye; he may, at this moment, be suffering the dreadful consequences of his wandering from the sources of true happiness; and possibly he may apprehend he shall never be permitted to return! It'there be any one of this description present, I have to inform such individual that God is still his loving Father; that He says, Returp unto me, my poor backsliding child, and I will heal your backslidings and love you freely. What message shall I return my Master from you, my poor, afflicted, wandering, weeping brother? shall I say, you are suitably penetrated by his gracious invitation, and that you would come with weeping and supplication; that you would fly with gratitude and prostrate yourself bofore Hiin, were you not so much injured by your wanderings; that you feel you are not able, and that you should blush to ask his assistance? Is this your message ? poor, poor soul! never fear, your gracious Father will shortly send you every needful aid.' All this was said to me; at least, to my wondering spirit, it thus appeared ; and I seemed as if expiring, amid the ningling emotions of regret, apprehension, and hope.

I left the tabernacle under these potent impressions; and, crossing Moorfields, I was overtaken by one of my old religious connexions, who, regarding me with wonder, said, * Am I so happy as to see you, one of the many who were at the tabernacle this evening?' My reply was indicative of the sorrow of my heart. He proceeded to make many remarks, until, in the moment of separation, he said,

Well, my friend, perhaps, you will go, from hence; into company where

you will forget all that you have this evening heard.' My heart was very full; and from its abundance I said, No, never will I again mingle in circles calculated to efface impressions, which I will cherish to the latest hour of my existence. Let these tears, these fast-falling tears, evince my sincerity. My friend rejoiced in

[ocr errors]

the prospect of my returning to the path, from which I had wan: dered; but he rejoiced with fear and trembling. He knew my connexions were numerous, and that my vivacity rendered me the life of those convivial circles, where I had so long figured. But the grace of God upheld me, and never, from that moment, did I unite with those associates, from which I was at first separated by necessity.

I was now an insulated being. I carefully avoided my former companions, and my religious connexions avoided me; thus I had now abundant leisure for reflection. Some time elapsed, before the change, which had taken place, reached the extremity of those circles, in which I had moved. Many who heard, lemt no credence to a report, which they believed without foundation. The greater number of those laughter-loving beings, who had attached themselves to me, never having imbibed any religious sentiments, brad not learned the habits of my former life. Many individuals called upon me as usual, and found me a different man from him whom they had been accustomed to see. A few suspecting the cause, sought to relieve my mind, by warm and liberal assurances of neverfailing friendshp; and they generously tendered the unlimited use of their purses! I made my acknowledgments; but assured them, the whole world, as a bribe, would be insufficient to lead me again into paths of folly. I was not, I said, unhappy because I no longer possessed ability to run the career of error, certainly not; my infelicity originated, from the consideration, that I had ever receded from the paths of peace. Some resented my remarks as a tacit insult upon themselves; others ridiculed me, and pronounced me under the influence of a strong delirium; and two or three, who still loved me too well to separate themselves from me, were, for a time, induced to reflect seriously upon their own situation : but these also, shortly disappeared ; and of the numerous triflers, with whom I had so many months fluttered, not a single loiterer remained ; and most devoutly did I render thanks to Almighty God, for extricating me from such associates. I boarded in the house of a very lively, vivacious man; indeed, his whole family might have been denominated sons and daughters of mirth. This fact had been their principal recommendation to me, but it now added to the burden of my mind. I made inquiry after another lodging, but, on contemplating a removal, difficulties, to which I had not before recurred, stared me in the face. I was considerably in arrears to my host, and, as I must depart in a different state of mind, from that which I was in, when I became his lodger, and which had impressed him in my favor, I could not expect he would be very kindly disposed toward me. I was indebted to others, and my distresses seemed hourly to accumulate. Both present and future support were alike beyond iny reach, and it appeared to me, I had attained the climax of misery. I closed my door, I prostrated myself before the God who had created me; again my sad, my sorrowing heart, revisited the home I had abandoned; stripped of its allurements, my mad

« AnteriorContinuar »