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Friend was concerned to speak in a prophetic line,that the Lord would visit the youth, and pour forth of his Spirit upon them, and raise up Samuels for Himself. I thought she looked steadily towards me, and her words made a deep impression on me.
But endeavours were used that same evening to eradicate these impressions, which through weakness and frailty were but too successful; so that I feared I should never be able to stand my ground, and was almost persuaded to give over striving. But my gracious and good Lord still followed me with his loving-kindness, and at times created a hope that I might overcome the enemies of my own house: and in time, blessed be his holy Name, I felt strength to resist their wiles and insinuations ; — but alas ! I had many combats. .
I well remember a remarkable dream, which had a very great effect upon me:- I thought the enemy of all good came and attacked me violently, that we wrestled a considerable time, and I was in great conflict; he brought me to my knees, but still could not throw me down, and after much struggling he vanished. I awoke, and my shirt was as if dipped in water, from the agony of this conflict; though I was young, it made a great impression on me, and since that time I have seen my dream fulfilled. But for the interposition of the Lord's mercies, I should have been long since overthrown and become a cast-away: - great are His mercies, — He still continues to be long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth to poor rebellious man: striving by His good Spirit to draw him from sin and iniquity, and calling him as out of Egyptian darkness and bondage, to come into the glorious liberty of being his son ; — as is expressed in sacred writ, “Out of Egypt have I called my son." Though this alludes to our blessed Lord's coming out of Egypt, when his life was sought by Herod, it also may be applicable to mankind in general, in sin and in their natural state, which may be justly styled Egyptian darkness and bondage ; – to whom the call is, by the Spirit of our Lord Jesus, to come out of this sinful state, witness the new birth, and be baptized by His pure spiritual baptism, that of the Holy Ghost and fire; which purges the floor of the heart, brings into newness of life, and makes it a temple where acceptable prayer is offered up, by the power and excellent working of the pure Truth, which prepares every acceptable sacrifice in our devotion and religious exercises during our pilgrimage through this world.
Thus I went on, between hope and fear, the remainder of my apprenticeship; my frailties often precipitating me to the verge of ruin.
During this time I had a visitation from the Most High, by a fever and ague, which brought me very low; my former covenant appeared fresh in my remembrance, and I was now afraid to ask, because - before I did not perform. I continued for some time in a low condition, until infinite Goodness restored me once more to health, to try my fidelity ; but, to my shame and confusion, I ran into greater evils than ever : thus ungrateful and hardhearted, I could fully subscribe to that
declaration, “The heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked :" - I seemed running the full length of my chain.
My conviction and remorse were at times strong;. but company and the levity of my temper quenched these convictions, and I went on towards destruction, in rebellion and disobedience against the divine Monitor, which, in boundless mercy, still followed me.
I continued in this state until I was my own master; when, intending to pay a visit into Munster, to form acquaintances and follow some business, I prepared for my journey, equipped like a young man of the world, had a livery servant, and set forward in good spirits on my expedition. As I passed along, I called at Paddock, where Mary Peisley lived, to inquire after her health and that of the family: my uncle Samuel Neale accompanied me. We made some little stay there, and I found myself delighted with their instructive conversation : it sunk into my mind beyond what was common; and when we left the place, I remarked how pleasing such company and conversation were, compared with what was generally to be met with.
I pursued my journey to Limerick, where I stayed some days with my relation John Taverner : here I fell into very dissipated company, old acquaintances that I had in Dublin. From thence I proceeded to Cork, and on the road felt my mind impressed with solid reflections, which I have since thought preparatory to what soon followed; for I was conscious that my weakness and frailties were great, my time running swiftly away, and I was irresolute with respect to standing against temptation and the allurements of sin, and sin-pleasing pleasures. In this disposition I reached Cork, and there mingled with my old acquaintances, and got new
I remember being at a play one evening, up late that night, and lying pretty long next morning, which was First-day, an acquaintance asked me to go to meeting, and at the same time informed me there were strangers to be there, telling me who they were; I said I would, for at my worst state I generally attended meetings. So to meeting I went, and it was a memorable one to me: for in it my state was so opened to that highly favoured instrument in the Lord's hand, Catherine Payton (who with my beloved friend Mary Peisley were visiting the churches,) that all I had done seemed to have been unfolded to her in a wonderful manner. I was as one smitten to the ground, dissolved in tears, and without spirit. This was a visitation from the Most High, beyond all others that I had as yet witnessed; I was so wrought upon by the power and Spirit of the holy Jesus, that like Saul, I was ready to cry out; “Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do ?” I was almost ashamed to be seen, being so bedewed with tears, and slunk away from the meeting, to get into a private place. I joined company with a religious young man, and forsook my gay companions and associates, who beheld me with astonishment. The change was very rapid, and my doubts and fears respecting myself were very great, so that I could not trust myself in my former company, lest my innumerable frailties should prove too powerful for all my good resolutions. So I abode still and quiet, and kept near these messengers of glad tidings to me. I went with them to Bandon and Kinsale; and the same powerful dispensation of divine virtue followed me, breaking in upon me, and tendering my spirit in a wonderful manner, in public meetings as well as in private opportunities; which drew the attention and observation of many.
When I returned to Cork, I kept as private as I well could, and resolved to quit all my worldly pursuits, and follow the gentle leadings of that heavenly Light, which showed me the vanity of worldly glory, and that the pleasures of sin are but as for a moment.
Our beloved friends intended for the province meeting at Limerick, and took Kilcommon meeting in their way, whither they went: -I also went; and a considerable degree of concern grew in my mind, both by day and by night. Their company was precious to me, their conduct and conversation strengthening; and the inward manifestations of heavenly goodness vouchsafed, were my crown and rejoicing. My eyes were measurably opened to behold my insignificancy, rebellion and backsliding: I saw the perverseness of my nature, and that in me, as man, there dwelt no good thing. I thought I saw that if I missed the present opportunity of coming as out of Babylon, I was lost for ever: I was come to the length of my chain, my measure was full, and if I did not embrace the present