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THE CONVICTS AT PORTLAND.

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for men and women stood on the stairs and landing besides.

We sang heartily, and after prayer I felt a little more at home than I had done on the previous evening; but it was not up to Cornwall yet! In my address I had liberty and power to hold the people, and we had some conversions that evening, and the following one also. My mason friend was greatly cheered and revived, and from this time began preaching himself, carrying on meetings in various cottages and farm places.

From there, I went on into Dorsetshire, and arrived at the vicarage to which I was going, rather late on Saturday night, very tired; so much so, that I was glad to go to bed as soon as possible. On Sunday morning I went to church. and preached to a large congregation, the words which God. gave me. On coming out, the vicar's wife said, "If I had sat up all night telling you about the people, you could not have preached more appropriately; indeed, I am sure that some of them will think that I told you what to say."

It was so, for this same lady was charged with telling me to put before some of the congregation things which her husband dared not! In the evening the church was crammed to excess, and the people were most attentive and eager. Some of them could scarcely restrain their feelings, so powerfully did the Word come home to them. At the conclusion of the service, I announced that I had come there to preach every night for the week, and would visit them during the day. Accordingly in the morning I called at several cottages, in one of which King George the Third used to attend a prayer-meeting with the country people.

In the afternoon I went to the convict prison at Portland. It was sad to look upon the prisoners clanking about in their chains, many of whom were employed in making a

road to the sea. I could not help saying to the chaplain, who was walking with me, "What a picture is that! It is exactly how Satan employs unbelievers to make their own road to hell. As such, they are condemned already, because they do not believe in Christ; and for the same reason, their sins not being pardoned, they are bound in chains."

"Well," said the chaplain drily, "that seems all clear and scriptural. Would you like to speak to them?"

"Yes," I said, "I should."

He then made a sign to the warder, who commanded that the convicts should give attention, and the order was at once obeyed.

Standing on the bank, I spoke to them as they were assembled before me; but instead of telling them of the devil and chains, as the chaplain expected, I spoke of God's love to sinners, and said that "chastisement and sorrows were not sent in anger, but in kindness. God is angry when the wicked are allowed to go on unpunished; but when punished in this world, it is not for expiation of sin (for only the blood of Jesus can do that), but for the purpose of awakening and humbling the transgressor, that he may with contrite heart return to the Lord, who alone is able to deliver us from sin and from Satan's power. 'It is good,' said the Psalmist, 'that I have been afflicted: before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept Thy word.""

Many of the men were so affected, that they sobbed aloud, and I could scarcely refrain from doing the same thing myself. After this I prayed that the word spoken might be blessed to those who had heard it, and then took my leave. It was not easy to dismiss this sad scene from my mind, nor have I ever lost the impression it made upon me.

We had a very good time that evening in the church, and there was much power and blessing. At the close of the service, I gave out that I would preach again the following

THE MILITARY VICAR.

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evening, and having no opportunity for an after-meeting, the word preached was left with prayer for a blessing on it.

The next morning there came an unexpected, as well as a most abrupt, opposition to the work; and no wonder, for it was not likely that Satan would permit it to go on smoothly. A vicar from the neighbourhood, who had formerly been a military man, and had still the commanding manner of such, presented himself, and tried to terrify my good and kind friend, the vicar. He told him that he had heard a great deal about me; that I was just like Starkie,* and preached the same doctrines; and that he was deputed by other clergymen to come and ask that my preaching might be stopped. Then he went on to say that I was nothing less than a Jesuit in disguise; and turning to me, he said, "Sir, you know you are!" I replied, begging his pardon, "I can assure you I am not. You must be altogether misinformed." But he said, again turning round, and sternly looking at me, "You know I am not mistaken or misinformed; your countenance betrays you!" I smiled at this, not knowing how my countenance looked. He was quite satisfied with himself, and rather more so because he thought he had succeeded in extracting a promise from the vicar that the services in question should be stopped.

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This officer-clergyman then went away, saying that he was quite convinced in his mind that I was a Jesuit, and nothing should ever dissuade him; this interview had confirmed his thoughts on the subject. My dear good friend was so afraid of that loud, overbearing man, that he consented to give up the services after that night.

Presently another clergyman, evidently in concert with

* A clergyman who had associated himself with H. J. Prince and some others, and founded the "Agapemone" at Spaxton, near Bridge.

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the former, called on the same errand. His more gentle manner and plausible words had greater effect, so that the vicar more than half decided to have no service, even on that evening.

Before he had fully made up his mind, it so happened that there came on a tremendous thunder-storm, accompanied with hail and vivid flashes of lightning. This was considered by him quite providential, and an indication that God wished the services stopped. When the sexton came over to the vicarage, a little before the service time, the vicar said, "Don't ring the bell for church to-night; it is of no use no one can possibly come out this weather!"

"Why, sir," said the sexton, "the church have been crammed full this half-hour. It's no use ringing the bell, sure, for we ain't got no room for no more people.”

"Now, that is remarkable," said the vicar. think, after all, the Lord would have us go on. you think?" he said, turning to me.

I replied, "Without doubt I think so. I cannot suppose that the Lord would send such men, in such a tone, to stop His work.”

"Well, then," said the vicar, "we will go on till the end of the week."

But this could not be; for in the morning, as soon as he had decided to stop the services, I sat down and wrote to a cousin of mine, in the neighbourhood (and the letter had gone), to get me the parish church for the next evening, and said, “I would come to her on a visit for a few days, as my preaching in this place was brought to an end."

I spoke that evening, and announced that I would do so again on Thursday. On the following day I went on this promised visit to another part of the county, and was not long in the company of my cousin, before I found out that she had been brought up in Evangelical doctrines, and

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PREACHING IN THE minster,

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hated Puseyism; but that she had never been converted. In the evening, we went to the Minster Church, the use of which she had obtained for me. There, I preached from the words, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." (I did not know then, as I do now, that this is a text for believers.) Accommodating it for my purpose, I made out that many people assented to evangelical doctrines, without yielding to them: that is, they heard the knocking, but did not open the door and receive the Saviour; therefore, they remained unsaved; and if they died like that, would be lost for ever!

When I first ascended the pulpit, which stood outside of a high chancel screen, I looked towards the nave, and saw it filled with high pews, which, as I thought, were for the most part empty; whereas, I could see that the choir and chancel, which was brightly lighted, was full of choir-men and boys, besides many people; so instead of turning my back upon the many in the lighted chancel, and addressing myself to the unseen few in the large dark nave, I turned round in the pulpit, and, looking through the screen, preached to those I could see. The people in the nave, however, were most attentive to hear; and after the sermon came up and asked me why I had turned my back on them, for they could not hear all I said. Evidently they had heard something which had interested them. Seeing so many were anxious, we invited those who wished for further help, or instruction, to come home with us. Many did so, and we held a kind of after-meeting, in which my cousin and several others found peace.

I could not promise to stay there any longer, having settled to return on Thursday to resume services in the church previously referred to. Accordingly I went back to a neighbouring town, where my good vicar had appointed to meet me. He did so, and, without delay, commenced

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