Page images
PDF
EPUB

preserved.

I never gave any succinct account in writing, of the Lord's dealing with me, till very lately; for I was deterred, on the one hand, by the great difficulty of writing properly where self is concerned ; on the other, by the ill use which persons of corrupt and perverse minds are often known to make of such instances. The Psalmist reminds us that a reserve in these things is proper, when he says, " Come unto me, all you that fear God, and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul;” and our Lord cautions us not to “cast our pearls before swine.” The pearls of a Christian are, perhaps, his choice experiences of the Lord's power and love in the concerns of his soul; and these should not be at all adventures made public, lest we give occasion to earthly and grovelling souls, to profane what they cannot understand. These were the chief reasons of my backwardness; but, a few weeks since, 1 yielded to the judgment and request of a inuch respected friend, and sent him a relation at large, in a series of eight letters. The event has been, what I little expected; I wrote to one person,

my letters have fallen into many hands : amongst others, I find they have reached your notice; and instead of blaming me for being too tedious and circumstantial, which was the fault I feared I had committed, you are pleased to desire a still more distinct detail. As you and others of my friends apprehend my compliance with this request may be attended with some good effect, may proinote the pleasing work of praise to our adorable Redeemer, to confirm the faith of some or other of his people, I am willing to obey; I give up my own reasonings upon the inexpediency of so inconsiderable

but

a person as myself adventuring in so public a point of view. If God may be glorified on my behalf, and his children in any measure comforted or instructed by what I have to declare of his goodness, I shall be satisfied; and am content to leave all other possible consequences of this undertaking in his hands, who does all things well.

I must again have recourse to my memory, as I retained no copies of the letters you saw. So far as I can recollect what I then wrote, I will relate, but shall not affect a needless variety of phrase and manner, merely because those have been already perused by many. I may, perhaps in some places, when repeating the same facts, express myself in nearly the same words; yet I propose, according to your desire, to make this relation more explicit and particular than the former, especially towards the close, which I wound up hastily, lest my friend should be wearied. I hope you will likewise excuse me, if I do not strictly confine myself to narration, but now and then intersperse such reflections as may offer, while I am writing: and though you have signified your intentions of communicating what I send you to others, I must not, on this account, affect a conciseness and correctness which is not my natural talent, lest the whole should

appear dry and constrained. I shall therefore (if possible) think only of you, and write with that confidence and freedom which your friendship and candour deserve. This sheet may stand as a preface, and I purpose, as far as I can, to intermit many other engagements, until I have completed the task you have assigned me. In the mean time, I entreat the assistance of your prayers, that in this, and all my poor attempts, I may have a single eye to his glory, who was pleased to call me out of horrid dark. ness into the marvellous light of his gospel. I am, with sincere respect,

Dear Sir,

Your obliged and affectionate servant. JANUARY 12, 1763.

LETTER II.

REVEREND SIR, I can sometimes feel a pleasure in repeating the grateful acknowledgment of David, “O “ Lord, I am thy servant, the son of thine hand. “maid; thou hast loosed my hands.” The tender mercies of God towards me were manifest in the first moment of my life ;-I was born as it were in his house, and dedicated to him in my infancy. My mother (as I have heard from many) was a pious experienced Christian; she was a dissenter, in communion with the late Dr. Jennings. Í was her only child, and as she was of a weak constitution and a retired temper, almost her whole employment was the care of my education. . I have some faint remembrance of her care and instructions. At a time when I could not be more than three years of age, she herself taught ine English, and with so much success, (as I had something of a forward turn, that when I was four years old I could read with propriety in any common book that offered. She stored my memory, which was then very retentive, with many valuable pieces, chapters, and portions of scripture, catechisms, hymns, and poems. My temper, at that time, seemed quite suitable to her wishes: I had litile inclination to the noisy sports of children, but was best pleased when

in her company, and always as willing to learn as she was to teach me. How far the best education may fall short of reaching the heart, will strongly appear in the sequel of my history : yet, I think, for the encouragement of pious parents to go on in the good way of doing their part faithfully to form their children's minds, I may properly propose myself as an instance. Though in process of tine I sinned away all the advantages of these early impressions, yet they were for a great while a restraint upon me; they returned again and again, and it was very long before I could wholly shake them off; and when the Lord at length opened my eyes, I found a great benefit from the recollection of them. Further, my dear mother, besides the pains she took with me, often commended me with many prayers and tears to God; and I doubt not but I reap the fruits of these prayers to this hour.

My mother observed my early progress with peculiar pleasure, and intended from the first to bring me up with a view to the ministry, if the Lord should so incline my heart. In my sixth year I began to learn Latin; but, before I had time to know much about it, the intended plan of my education was broke short.-The Lord's designs were far beyond the views of an earthly parent; he was pleased to reserve me for an unusual proof of his patience, providence, and grace, and therefore over-ruled the purpose of my friends, by depriving me of this excellent parent, when I was something under seven years old. I was born the 24th of July, 1725, and she died the 11th of that month, 1732.

My father was then at sea, (he was a commander in the Mediterranean trade at that time :) he came home the following year, and soon after married again. Thus I passed into different hands. I was well treated in all other respects; but the loss of my mother's instructions was not repaired. I was now permitted to mingle with careless and profane children, and soon began to learn their ways. Soon after my father's marriage, I was sent to a boarding school in Esser ; where the imprudent severity of the master almost broke my spirit and relish for books. With him I forgot the first principles and rules of arithmetic, which my mother had taught me years before. I staid there two years ; in the last of the two a new usher coming, who observed and suited my temper, I took to the Latin with great eagerness: so that before I was ten years old, I reached and maintained the first post in the second class, which in that schocl read Tully and Virgil. I believe I was pushed forward too fast, and therefore not being grounded, I soon lost all I had learnt, (for I left school in my tenth year,) and when I long afterwards undertook the Latin language from books, I think I had little, if any advantage, from what I had learnt before.

My father's second marriage was from a family in Esser; and when I was eleven years old, he took me with him to sea.

He was a man of remarkable good sense, and great knowledge of the world; he took great care of my morals, but could not supply my mother's part. Having been educated himself in Spain, he always observed an air of distance and severity in his carriage, which over-awed and discouraged my spirit. I was always in fear when before him, and therefore he had the less influence. From that time, to the year 1742, I made several voyages, but with considerable intervals between, which were chiefly spent in the country,

« PreviousContinue »