Imatges de pàgina

times into his chamber, at other times, into the fields; but very frequently into the church-yard, near which his father lived. Occasionally, he spent no less than two or three hours amongst the graves, sometimes reading and sometimes praying. Nor was he, at those seasons, altogether destitute of Divine comfort: and it is highly probable, that had he then been favoured with the advantage of Christian fellowship, he would have retained the Divine impressions made upon his mind, and proceeded steadily in the way of holiness. But alas ! he had not a single companion that feared God; and hence, having none to direct him, and being ignorant of Satan's devices, he yielded gradually to one temptation after another, until he lost the form of godliness, as well as the degree of the power of it, which he had for a time possessed. Thus shorn of his strength, he was easily prevailed upon by two young men, with whom he became intimate to read such books, and converse upon such subjects, as had a powerful tendency to vitiate his mind. His relish for profane books was, of course, followed by a dislike to those of a religious description ; and his propensity to sin increased more than ever. In wrestling, running, leaping, foot-ball, dancing, and such like sports, he not on. ly delighted, but gloried. At the age of twenty he was so active that he seemed a compound of life and fire, and had such a flow of animal spirits; that he was never in his element unless when employed in such sports.

About this time four persons were balloted to serve in the militia, at the town of his nativity; and he engaged, for a trifling sum, to become a substitute for one of them. His parents, on being made acquainted with the rash step he had taken, were almost distracted with grief. The distress which they manifested gave him much uneasiness, and, at their desire, he attempted, but when it was too late, to break the engagement into which he had entered.

At the end of the year, the company was called off to Manchester, where they lay most of the winter. While in that place, Mr. Shadford was afflicted with a fever, during the progress of which he was horribly afraid of death; but soon after his recovery his convictions wore off. One night, when he was going to bed, he heard the drums beat to arms! He soon learned that an express had arrived for the company to which he belonged to march immediately to Liverpool; and that Thurot had landed at Carrickfergus, in Ireland. The company immediately

One day,

aşsembled, they marched all night, and arrived at Warrington about break of day, and at Liverpool the next evening. It does not, however, appear that the company embarked for Ireland; Thurot's putting into Carrickfergus having been found to be a matter of no serious consequence.

Misery being inseparable from sin, Mr. Shadford found, from experience, that “the way of transgressors is hard." being exceedingly provoked by one of his comrades, he twice swore by the name of God; a crime of which he had not formerly been guilty. “ Immediately,” saith he,“ I was, as it were, stabbed to the heart by a sword. I was sensible I had grievously sinned against God. I believe I never swore another oath afterFards."

About this time he was often tempted to put an end to his wretched, mortal life. So powerfully did this temptation operate, that he was afraid to stand near a deep river, lest he should throw himself into it. When on the edge of a rock, he trembled, and fearing lest he should cast himself down, was obliged to retreat suddenly. When on the front of a gallery, at church, he many times drew backward, from an apprehension that otherwise he should cast himself down headlong. It seemed as if Satan was permitted to wreak his malice upon him in an uncommon manner; but he was wonderfully preserved amidst such dreadful temptations. At other times, when at prayer, or walking alone meditating, God graciously visited him with the drawings of his Spirit.

Amidst all Mr. Shadford's wanderings from God, he still retained a strong affection for his parents; and hence, learning that his father was in distressing circumstances, he gave him all the money he had received in order to go into the militia. Very frequently, during his absence from home, when he heard the minister read in the church, “Honour thy father and thy mother," &c. with tears in his eyes, he said, “ Lord incline my heart to keep this law:") always believing that a curse would attend undutiful children.

When the company to which he belonged lay in Gainsborough, he went with a sergeant to the place where the Methodists frequently preached. Their intention in going there was not to receive profit to their souls, but to meet two young women, in order to walk with them in the afternoon. When they came to the place, they found the persons wbom they wished to meet:

but shortly after the preacher began, Mr. Shadford forgot those dissipated characters. “I was struck," saith he,“ with his (the preacher's) manner. He took out a hymn-book, and the people sung a hymn. After this, he began to pray extempore, in such a manner as I had never heard. I thought it a most excellent prayer. After this,' he took his little Bible out of his pocket, read over his text, and put it into his pocket again. I marvelled at this, and thought within myself, will he preach without a book

too ?"

The preacher spoke much against drunkenness, swearing, &c. but Mr. S. thought he had not been guilty of such sins. At last he spoke very close against pleasure-takers, and proved that such are dead while they live. “I thought,” saith Mr. S. “ if what he says be true, I am in a dreadful condition. I thought again, this must be true, for he proves it from the word of God. Immediately I found a kind of judgment-seat set up in my conscience, where I was tried, cast, and condemned; for I knew I had been seeking happiness in the pleasures of the world, and in the creature all my days; not in the Creator and Redeemer of my soul, the only central point of bliss. I reyolved over and over what I had heard, as I went from preaching: and resolved, " If this bę Methodist preaching, I will come again ;' for I received more light from that single sermon than from all that ever I had heard in my life before."

(To be continued.)



Sometimes the despondence fortified by the suspension of religious comfort, is darkened by the gloom of erroneous doctrine. The wretched individual begins to apprehend that he is predestinated to wrath and anguish everlasting : that, if not expressly created for the purpose of being rendered miserable, at least he is " passed over” in the dispensation of redeeming mercy: that he is virtually reprobated, being designedly excluded by the sovereign will of God from the number of those whom the Almighty is supposed specially to have elected to be the sole partakers of his converting grace. To alleviate alarms excited by misrepresentations of the revealed counsel of the Most High, may be an object sometimes attainable by that ingenuity of inconsistent explanation, which, even while under the pressure of difficulties, it is constrained to prụne the exterior branches of an unsubstantial system, labours to guard the trunk from attack.To subdue them, the axe must be laid to the root: the false doctrine must be manifested to be false. To the fervent piety and the practical holiness of numbers of our Christian brethren, who conceive themselves to read in the word of God the tenets in question, my testimony, however unimportant, I rejoice to bear.. But compelled, as I have repeatedly been, to know the terrors which those tenets have produced, it seems an act of duty, in addressing persons exposed to similar terrors, not to withhold my deliberate conviction, that the tenets are destitute of scriptural support: and that the detached passages of Holy Writ whence they are deduced, fairly admit, when considered in themselves, and clearly demand, when taken in conjunction with the rest of Scripture, a very different interpretation. For the present purpose, it may be sufficient to refer the desponding sufferer to some plain passages of the Divine Word, which teach that salvation, in every respect unattainable but through our Lord Jesus Christ, is through him open to every man: and that on every man of rational faculties, the free mercy of God bestows, for the sake of the great Redeemer, a portion of antecedent grace so far influencing the will, the understanding, and the heart, as, without intrenching on moral agency, to enable him, if diligent in the application of grace received, to obtain through the blood of the cross an inheritance among the saints. “Have I any pleasure that the wicked should die ? saith the Lord God, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way, and live. Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die?” Can we frame to the imagination any sense, in which these words could be uttered without delusion, if there were any person not actually enabled by divine grace, in will no less than in every other requisite faculty, to turn unto God? The Lord is not willing that any should perish; but that all should come to repentance.

God our Saviour will have all men to be saved. Jesus tasted death for every man: gave himself a ransom for all; is the propitiation for the sins of the


whole world. Could any one of these declarations have been made, if there had been a single individual actually or virtually

passed over,” in the plan of redemption; unconditionally ex. cluded from the possibility of obtaining salvation through Jesus Christ ; unblessed with that preventing influence on his will, without which he must remain incapable of profiting by the Redeemer's death ; tantalized by offers of mercy, with which he is left morally incompetent to close ? Would our Lord have commanded his disciples to “ preach the gospel to every creature,” if there had been a single person to whom it must necessarily have been preached in vain ? 'And must it not necessarily have heen preached in vain to the man, had such there been, whom God had not freed by the antecedent operation of his grace upon the will, from all impossibility of believing? Is it possible that redemption can be general, if election renders it necessarily partial? Is it true that all men may be saved, if God bestows only on certain select individuals the preventing grace without which no man can be saved ? Is it not trifling to affirm that all may be saved if they will;" while without the preventing grace of God, said to be bestowed on the elect, no man can " will ? Are these conclusions to be evaded by a verbal distinction; by replying that it is not a “natural” but a "moral” impossibility which precludes thuse who are not of the number of the elect from salvation ? As though an impossibility would be the less an impossibility, if it should arise from a moral cause! As though the most essential parts of a man's nature were not the moral constitution which he brings into the world! I forbear to accumulate scriptural passages similar in import to those which have been produced. The views which God has disclosed of his own attributes, and the universal tenor of his word, are altogether at variance with the opinions which it has been here requisite to withstand. Fear not, ye mourners. Every man may become one of God's elect. Go forth and prosper. The way of salvation, unbarred to the whole world, lies before you. Enter it, pursue it, in the strength of your God.

« AnteriorContinua »