Page images
PDF
EPUB

freely to converse, that I had never been addicted to profane swearing so much as many young people. He replied, “ You are no better for that." I was surprised, and thought him a strange professor of religion ; but the more I examined the Scriptures, and pondered upon the state of my heart, the more I was convinced of the truth of his statement. The words of James confounded me : James ii. 10. " Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."

I now saw that I had nothing to hope from the law, on the ground of negative or positive holiness ; for I had offended in many points, and of course was under its dreadful curse.

“Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them." Gal. iii. 10.

I saw myself justly condemned; but was never willing to be damned. I rather prayed many times a day for mercy, and consulted the word of God, hoping

“ To light on some sweet promise there,
“ Some sure support against despair.”

me.

I kept a Testament in a drawer under the bench at which I wrought, and embraced every convenient op portunity to find in it something to relieve my troubled conscience; but it all seemed in battle array against

I used to retire many times in a day to plead for mercy, and spent my evenings, when there was no meeting, in prayer and reading the Bible ; but “ refuge failed me." It was a wet season, and the water ran down the streets abundantly, and as I walked abroad I frequently said to myself, the grace of God runs as freely as this water, but not for me.

At length, one evening, as I was searching the Scrip.

tures, I read this passage, Ps. ix. 9, 10. • The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” It seemed peculiarly applicable and precious. My burden instantly left me, and I viewed myself as if in a new world. I immediately walked out into the yard. The moon shedding her mild radiance upon the earth, and the stars trembling in the firmament, shone with a lustre to me before unseen, and indeed all the objects around me seemed to be praising the Lord. For a few moments I thought I could join them in the delightful service; but suddenly a cloud came over my mind, and I was again involved in gross darkness. I considered what I had just experienced as a mere delusion, and was about to yield to utter despair; but thought I would repair once more to the Bible. The first words that struck my eye on opening this blessed book, were, Ps. xxvii. 14. “Wait on the Lord : be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

My soul was now filled with joy to overflowing. Sleep departed from my eyes. I spent a considerable part of the night in sweet meditation, in praise, in prayer. My views were now entirely changed. Christ was very precious, and I loved to dwell in contemplation on his character, offices, work, &c. The Bible now seemed full of consolation, and became more and more interesting to me. Christians were highly prized, and I sought to be in their company as often as possible.

I soon began to think of making a public profession of religion. The sentiments of the Baptists seemed to

B

me to accord with the Bible ; but as the gentleman with whom I lived was of a different opinion, and belonged to the Congregational Church, I had much opposition to encounter. Books on the other side of the baptismal controversy were loaned me, persons of talent employed to reason with me, and considerable hostility manifested towards the denomination in favour of whose particular views it was evident, notwithstanding every exertion, I was leaning."

How differently ought people to conduct with a newly converted person! They should give him the Bible, and be willing to trust him with it. Mr. Davis continues, " In addition to these things, I knew not of a single relative who was a Baptist; but I could not resist the impression of duty which rested on my mind, and finally offered myself for admission to the Baptist Church in Worcester, then under the pastoral care of the Rev. William Bentley, and was received as a candidate for baptism.

In April, 1813, I was baptized. I threw my change of raiment out of my chamber window, and conveyed it away in a secret manner, for fear of the family; but in the ordinance itself, I enjoyed a great degree of happiness.

A hymn from Goddard's collection, now the 34th in the Young Christian's Companion, or 205, Baptist Select Hymns, was sung by my request.

1. “ Now thou exalted Prince of peace,

Behold the subjects* of thy grace
Drawn by thy pleasing cords of love
In wisdom's ways they sweetly move.

* Others were baptized at the same time.

2. “When in the water they descend,

There may they meet the sinner's Friend
Smiling from yonder blissful throne,

Sending immortal blessings down.
3. “O may they find beneath the wave,

That Christ is in the liquid grave;
May they sink deep in love divine,

And feel the death of self and sin.
4. “When from the honoured stream they rise

And view the pleasant op'ning skies,
May the bright beams of light appear,
Proving the Lord is truly here."

When in the water, my pastor told me, after he had said Amen, to hold my breath until he had raised me from the water ; but I understood him to direct me to say, Amen. This supposed direction I followed. As I was sinking beneath the waves, I cried Amen; and to this day, (more than fifteen years having elapsed) I still feel to say Amen to that solemn deed.

Soon after my baptism I left Mr. Goddard, and engaged in the business of painting, with Mr. William Rice, a member of the Baptist Church.

In a very few weeks, I began to have a very strong impression of duty to preach the gospel of Christ ; but as I was, but sixteen years of age, and had attended school but fourteen weeks since I was ten years old, my youth, inexperience, and illiteracy, seemed to present insuperable objections to my entrance on só solemn and responsible a work. Still I could not shake off the impression.

The command of Christ occurred with great frequency and force to my mind, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Other passages opened to my understanding as suitable themes of

[ocr errors]

discourse, and I often imagined myself surrounded by my fellow men, and actually engaged in proclaiming to them “ the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

My mind was so completely absorbed in contemplation, that I was often unfitted for business.

One circumstance, at length, led Brother Rice, who was apprehensive that I had trials in relation to the subject of preaching, to dismiss me. He employed me to hoe some cucumbers, which he had taken great pains to preserve, as it was a year of scarcity for that kind of vegetable. I hoed them all up with the weeds! Seeing what I had done, he accosted me thus : 6 Brother Gustavus, it is of no use—I hold that, he that the Son makes free is free indeed. If you stay here one or two years, you will preach, and your trade will be of no use to you or to me, and I think you had better quit." We parted that day, but with the utmost good feelings on both sides. I am certain that I had not one unpleasant feeling towards him ; nor did I perceive the least indication of any on his part towards me.

My impression was now deepened that I must preach at some future period, and I thought that the best thing for me would be to prepare for it as fast as possible. But what, I asked, can I do? I had no funds, I had no relatives who, I could hope, would assist me to obtain an education with a view to the ministry in the Baptist denomination, and I had no one to tell me that there were benevolent societies in existence to assist indigent young men like me.

I finally resolved to go into a book-bindery, as I thought the employment in such an establishment would furnish me with an opportunity to read, and store my barren mind with useful knowledge, I accordingly en

« PreviousContinue »