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REV. ZEBULON LLY, A.M.
COMPILED FROM HIS OWN WRITINGS.
BY EZRA STILES ELY, D. D.
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REV. ZEBULON ELY,
THE subject of these memoirs was born in Lyme, in the state of Connecticut, in the parish called the North Quarter, February 6th, A. D. 1759. His father, Ezra Ely, was a respectable husbandman; and his mother Sarah, whose maiden name was Sterling, was a Lady of superior education, for the times in which she lived: but providence removed her from her affectionate partner, two little daughters, and her only son, when he was an infant of four months.
In his childhood he discovered a fondness for books, but enjoyed no advantages above those which the public schools of his native state have uniformly presented to all her offspring, until he commenced a course of academical studies, under the tuition of an excellent instructor, the Rev. Elijah Parsons, of East Haddam. By his close application and upright behaviour he secured the friendship of that pious and sound divine ; and under his auspices, was able in nine months after he took the Latin grammar in hand, to enter Yale College.
În that institution he was distinguished as a Linguist, by obtaining the Dean's Bounty; and in the other attainments usually made in our higher seminaries of learning, he was excelled by few of his companions.
While in his junior year, in 1777, he began to write what he called Life's Review ;" and he continued the practice of recording his yiews, feelings, trials and mercies, at short intervals, until disabled by that disease which translated him to Heaven. He assigned as his reasons for keeping a diary, that it would be satisfactory to review past life, provided it should be filled up with usefulnes ; and
that if otherwise spent, it would be necessary to humble himself beOfore God, and supply him with the matter for supplication at the throne of
grace. While in College he began to feel a deep concern for the salvation of his immortal soul; and since the perusal of his reflections may be profitable to some who are soon to follow him to the world of spirits, he shall be permitted to speak, as from the grave, and tell how he agonized to enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
66 Oct. 4, 1777. Another day is gone, and where am I ? Nearer heaver or hell !God only knows. Yesterday was the Lord's day ; but alas ! it was stained with foul corruption. Oh, my wicked heart! I am a loathsome carcase, polluted wholly with sin:-á stupid wretch! a blind mortal. My being out of hell, sufficiently proves God mer-ciful. O that God would look upon me, and grant me some realizing sense of ĘTERNITY! for none have I had these several days past.
Turn thy face toward me, Great King, or I am eternally undone.I hope I have not committed the unpardonable sin; but I am not without fears, Should it be my turn to die this night, I should, indubitably, wake in exquisite torments. I cannot pray, although hell is gaping for me? Stupid, barren, forsaken! 56 Oct. 16, 1777.-Oh! what a hell of wickedness do I daily car
I fear I am in the swift road to eternal deseruction 0 that I could have some sense of my own wickedness. I am altogether a hypocrite, actuated entirely by self love, Merciful God, I know not what to ask ! destroy this supreme self-love, and substia love for thy glory, which shall increase to the end of life.”
After having been thus affected with dreadful apprehensions of the wrath of God, we find the youth, in November following, seduced from God by the business and gay amusements of life. Flashes of conviction, however, occasionally compelled him to say, “My Junior year will soon be spent, and unless I double my diligence, I am undone forever."
In July, 1778, he wrote the following solemn document.
“ In the presence of Almighty God, in presence of all the heavenly host, of all the holy angels, and saints who surround his throne, I'this evening most solemly give up myself, body and soul, with all my powers and faculties to God and his service; humbly entreating that he would make them subservient to his own glory. In consequence of this solemn dedication, I declare war with the flesh, and the devil, humbly imploring divine assistance, that I may overcome them, and to God be all the glory. I will renounce the way of sin, allow myself in no known evil, but strictly adhere to the precepts of Jesus Christ. I will strive to live a holy life, filling up my few remaining
moments, in devotion morning and evening, in the employments of God and religion; in striving to the last to support the cause of the blessed Redeemer; in all things aiming at his glory and the salvation of souls. Į do from this moment resolve to live a life of watchfulness and prayer, not thinking that these will save me; but assthey are the institutions of God, I will cheerfully comply with them, and all the duties of the like kind; esteeming it my inestimable privilege. I resolve to keep the sabbath holy, accounting it my delight; not doing my own business, but striving to be in the spirit on the Lords day, I resolve so soon as I shall think it consistent with the grace of God. bestowed on me, (which I humbly entreat God to grant quickly) to give myself up tò Almighty God publickly, before God, anegls, and men, to comply with that holy ordinance instituted by our blessed Saviour, who saith, this do in remembrance of me,' and as often
as ye do this, ye do shew forth the Lord's death until he come.' I will be careful in all my actions not to dishonor God, nor that sacred religion which I now profess before heaven and hope shortly to profess before all mankind; animated by that glorious saying of our Saviour, he that is ashamed to confess me before men him will I be ashamed to confess before my Father who is in heaven, and before all the holy angels. And whereas by the free grace of God, I am in some measure convinced that I have hitherto built
upon a sandy foundation and not on Christ, the rock of ages, the only solid foundation, but have been setting up my own righteousness, thinking I could be saved by my own good deeds, and have not been willing to give all glory to Christ, to whom belong all glory and praise throughout eternity, and trust alone in his salvation, which alone is sufficient, I declare my own righteousness filthy rags, renounce it, and whatever I have thought worthy of acceptation, and declare my hope and confidence in the blood of the Saviour, to whdm be glory for ever and ever,. Amen.
Well may angels esteem this their highest theme and saints break forth in loud Hallelujahs, and all creation be wrapt up in eterrel praise. Great God of Heaven, and all ye angels and saints who sursound his throne, I call, in humble confidence and most dread solemnity, I call you all to witness to this my solemn vow to serve the Lord, in whose awful presence I would set my name,
ZEBULON ELY. I have now given myself up to Almighty God! what then, I have given no more than was his before, and what I had no claim to. my soul, and to his service I have resigned it. He gave my body, and all my members, and to his glory may they be employed. And now, O righteous Father, I humbly intreat thee to accept of one, though a worm, though the vilest of mortals: yet may the precious blood of the Saviour wash me from my guilt. O most merciful Jehovah, I earnestly entreat thee to preserve me from all sin, and to save my immortal soul. Amen. Glory to God.”
Under date of August 7, 1778, he wrote, “Last evening Austin and myself went up into the library with Mr. Baldwin, where we had
prospect of the moon through a telescope. This naturally turned our thoughts on lofty subjects, and lead to a very serious conversation, in which we both frankly confessed the damnable state we were in. Among other things, Î made this observation, that it was uncertain whether we should ever enjoy another night, and it had like to have so proved with me this morning, for I was providentially snatched from the jaws of all devouring death, when struggling in the deep.”
He was bathing in salt water, near the Dragon bridge, east of New Haven, and being caught with the cramp had gone to the bottom twice. As he was at the point of descending to rise no more, a friend passed and extended to his eager grasp a slender cane, with which he was drawn to the shore.