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eyes; my qued. He gave the able to call
periments ; but he endeavoured various ways to deaden my affections for the things of God, and to blind my conscience to the danger I had before my eyes. To accomplish his designs in my destruction, he projected a scheme the most severe; and long was the contest; but God brought me off victorious.
Having been a restless wanderer after rest, groaning under the burden of a guilty conscience for many months, without any relief, I began to despair of ever finding mercy; at the same time my sins seemed more sinful and my darkness more visible. Hell appeared just before me, and devils more ready to pull me in, than grace was to save me. Fain would I have wept; but my sorrows were too big for tears. I carried my load of misery into the fields, to seek relief. There I cried aloud to God for help. I led to the silent shades, to hide me from the sight of man; and there, in prostration, sought to pour my sad complaints into the ear of my Redeemer. He beard my unutterable prayers. My heart began to melt at his approach ; the tears stood in my eyes ; my distress in part fled away; and I obtained ipfinitely more than I deserved. He gave me a distant hope that the welcome hour would come, when I should be able to call him my Lord and my God. Whatever I was now called to do, my heart was generally breathing its desires after God. I could not rejoice with those who had found what I would have given the whole world to possess. Sometimes I was in an agony of prayer to God, pleading the all-sufficient atonement of Jesus, and the promises made to penitents; and struggling, as well as I could, by faith, to enter into rest. It has sometimes seemed as if the invaluable pearl was just within my grasp, when unbelief suggested that this was reserved for some other time, or that I must have more sorrow before God would give me the longsought blessing. The moment I yielded to this suggestion, faith failed ; and my hope, for the present, was cut off. I generally saw it my privilege to plead with God for a present salvation, though my expectation seemed weak. Without the knowledge of God's favour, the whole world was to me a dreary wilderness. It was empty of every thing I wanted to make me happy. My daily complaint was, I sought him, but found him not; only I bad a hope which was often encouraged by the operation of his Spirit on my heart.
The word of God now became my companion. I often felt a thankful heart for the comfort and strength I derived fron the information therein given. Being sensible of my ignorance of the sacred oracles, I retired into private, and, having opened the Bible, I fell on my knees before God, and begged to understand its truths, and to have them applied to my soul. I was often led to read the Scripture with prayer, that it might be made spirit and life to me. Here I saw the nature of my disease; the cure held forth; faith as the condition of its application; the promises, to encourage me to lay hold; and the glorious effects which would follow. Afterwards I was seized
with horror of mind not to be expressed. In this sad plight I wandered about the common alone, and almost overcome with such apprehensions as a terrified imagination was then able to form.
Had I been able to disclose my wretched condition to my experienced father, I should have been strengthened in my resolution to forsake all for Christ, and should have reaped great advantage, by the instruction he would have given me; but shame prevailed with me to confine the knowledge of my state to my own breast.
It was not long before I began to stifle these convictions; but the impression they had made could not easily be effaced. An association with my old play-fellows assisted me greatly in procuring freedom from those fearful thoughts and sorrows I had felt. The vivacity of my spirit again returned, and I soon became as expert in foolish sport as any of my companions. Innumerable were the checks in my conscience, which I experienced whilst in this declining condition. My pleasures were generally embittered by keen remorse ; yet I still fought against God with all my might. I stretched out my hand, as far as I could, for many years, to grasp, if possible, every worldly delight; and my heart was prepared to work wickedness with all greediness. During this time I was not more sensible of my existence, than that I was destroying my soul. Many times, when I have been in the practice of sin, my conscience was all the time smiting me severely, and I was terrified with the fear of being suddenly cut off, and sent to hell. Often at night, when I have sought that rest which nature required, my frighted soul prevented sleep from closing my eyes ; and I have trembled with the fear of being in everlasting burning before the morning. When sleep has insensibly overcome me, I have been plunged into new scenes of torment; for I was frightened with dreams, and terrified with visions. These tortures of mind, whether sleeping or waking, were generally followed with a degree of seriousness for a time, when I made resolutions to watch and pray, and never yield to folly more; but my strength was soon proved to be perfect weakness.
In the fifteenth year of my age my desires for salvation were excited by motives opposite to fear and terror. The drawings of the Father engaged my affections. Private prayer was food to my soul. My delight in the exercise of this duty was greater than ever. I immediately deserted the society, and avoided the presence, of those who were the most likely to tempt me again to forsake my God. I kept close to God in prayer; I watched and strove against sin, and endeavoured to maintain a becoming seriousness in every part of my conduct. I found both pleasure and profit in attending on the means of grace; and was often delighted with a hope of attaining a clear sense of my acceptance in the Beloved. Thus I continued for several weeks ; till one evening, I saw at a distance my old companions at play. While I stood gazing at them, I felt a strong inclination to take a nearer view, and in a few seconds I was among them. Lost to thought, unmindful of what I was about, I had the painful surprise of seeing myself a partaker of their sins. No sooner did I get home
reflections. The greatest satisfaction that the succeeding day brought me was, to find myself able to say,
“ Men, and fiends, and angels, gaze;
I am, I am out of hell !”
I had not till now so fully learned the amazing power of sin when once submitted to. From this time I was drawn by slow degrees to my former course of life.
Towards the eighteenth year of my age, I did not only feel a stronger bent to sin, but a greater boldoess in the practice of it. I was now more wretched than ever. If I looked up to heaven, I saw offended justice, and deserved wrath; if I looked on earth, I saw my own disgrace; if I looked at myself, all was dark. Still I was more convioced of the need of constant watchfulness over all my words, thoughts, desires, and actions, as well as of frequent and fervent prayer, in order to preserve the most lively convictions of the want of salvation. After a remissness in any part of my duty, I have often been awakened to a sense of deep distress, by a view of the declining state of my mind; and I found, to my grief, how sin had crept in, my concern was deadened, and my desires were cooled. I suddenly rose from my couch of ease, and wrestled with God in the prevailing name of the great Mediator, to quicken my soul afresh, and never suffer me to loiter, but to lead me forward with a mighty hand, till I had by faith laid hold upon the hope set before me. The gracious Saviour, who pitied, while he heard me mourning, seldom delayed to show me the tokens of his compassion. While I was thus groaning for redemption, even the forgiveness of my sins, I was often cast down, by reasoning with the enemy of my soul. It appeared at these times as unlikely for me to be favoured with a manifestation of God's love, as for me to ascend to heaven in Elijah's chariot. At one time, in particular, I reasoned myself into despair. It was strongly suggested, that, if God had ever designed to blot out my numberless transgressions, and to release my miserable and condemned soul by a sense of pardoning love, he would have fulfilled my earnest desire before that time; that he was completely happy in himself, and delighted in making all happy whom he designed for salvation ; and, therefore, as I continued miserable, when I knew that God was able to turn my hell to heaven in a moment, I began to draw the sad conclusion, that I was consigned over to eternal torment. The result of these painful thoughts was a fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which would devour me. I felt something of what damned spirits suffer. My thoughts became dreadful. The whole frame of nature was shaken, and began to sink beneath the burden, while my poor tormented soul was en
veloped in a cloud of dark despair. I thought now that it was in vain to strive any longer.
When I was thus about to abandon all hope, a thought quickly darted into my mind, once more to entreat God, of his infinite mercy, to give me one proof of his design concerning me. While I was going to the private spot, which, if it could speak, would witness to many hundreds of my groans, the vehement cry of my soul was,
“Who can resolve the doubt,
That tears my anxious breast ?
Or number'd with the blest ?”
While I was upon my knees, pressed down with a load of distress, I felt a degree of power to utter my complaints, and to plead with God to grant me this one request, that, if it was his gracious design that I should go forward, and his kind intention to give me the blessing I sought for, he would, as soon as I rose from prayer, direct my eyes to some portion of Scripture particularly adapted to my case ; that my terrifying fears of perdition might either be heightened, or give place to a hope of mercy. This method, I believe, was equally daring and presumptuous ; but He, who was more merciful than I could then believe, knew the cause of this rash and imprudent way of inquiry. I immediately went, in a doubtful manner, to execute this unwarrantable scheme. With a trembling heart I took up the New Testament, and opened it at a venture. My eyes were prepared, with the utmost eagerness, to meet the first words that should appear; which proved to be that remarkable passage, “ Remember Lot's wise.” Great was my amazement. No sooner did I see the words, than their full meaning was manifested to my understanding. God saw me lingering in the plain, on the fatal point of turning back, and in astonishing compassion discovered this fearful monument of his displeasure, which suggested this truth : “ Take warning by this example. She looked back, and was consumed. An imitation of her conduct must unavoidably pull down the provoked vengeance of the same God upon thy own soul. She had the engagement of God's faithfulness and power to bring her as safely as her husband to Zoar, had she gone forward as did he. Thou hast the same God to assure thee, in his word, that if thou go forward, seeking Him, he will be found of thee. He will enable thee to lay hold upon the hope set before thee. And take this as a token that God is mindful of thee, that he is about thy path, and none of thy sorrows or wants are hidden from him ; and bis pleasure is, that thou proceed with all care and diligence, in full confidence of attaining all the desire of thy heart."
I was almost overcome with a sense of God's condescending mercy ; and felt such a conviction of bis tender regard, that my fears and dreadful apprehensions fled suddenly away. I now set forward most vigorously in the delightful hope of soon finding Him for whom my soul languished. That which most affected and distressed me was, the more diligent and
earnest I was in seeking the knowledge of God by the remission of my sins, the more distant it appeared from me, and the more difficult to be obtained. The desperate wickedness of my heart became more obvious and detestable, and the burden of it intolerable ; and I was unable to overcome the persuasion, that my condition was like that of Esau, who carefully sought with tears of bitterness his father's blessing, but shed his tears, and uttered his vehement cries in vain. I feared, that all my tears, and groans, and prayers, would prove like his. But it was suggested, " Is there not some hidden idol in my heart, that I am unwil. ling to sacrifice, which holds me thus in miserable bondage ? " I found that there was in me sin enough to damn me; and I was convinced that there was nothing I would not part with to obtain the one thing needful. I saw that all sin must be hated and forsaken, self renounced, every idol sacrificed ; that God would have all the heart, or none; and that if I retained any thing in myself to lean upon, God would not receive me, because it prevented an entire reliance upon the Redeemer.
Being led to think that the secret cause of my continued distress was in myself, and being shocked with the danger of remaining ignorant of it, I begged of the Searcher of my heart, day after day, to teach me wbat I knew not concerning myself; to show me what occasioned the continuance of his hot displeasure ; seeing I must either know it, and give it up, or be for ever ruined by it. The Lord graciously heard my prayer; and I was repeatedly alarmed by new discoveries of those evils of which I had little or no conviction before. This increasing sense of the corruption of the heart increased the sorrows of my mind, as I beheld myself banished farther than ever from the happiness I sought. Every hope of being made a partaker of the riches of grace in Christ was nearly swallowed up in this view of my own wickedness. Yet I wanted, if God would enable me to bear the sight, to know the worst of myself, that I might be compelled, as it were, by the greatest necessity, to cry the more earnestly for grace to abound to me the chief of sinners. My best righteousness was as filthy rags; my wisdom was foolishness; my strength was as helpless infancy; my whole heart was sick, and all that was within me was poisoned by sin. That self-ignorance which forms the most fatal and delusive security to thousands, who are yainly seeking comfort in their sins, was rent away from me; so that, though I was, to my own conception, fully prepared for the vengeance of eternal fire, yet this proved the blessed means of my escape, by making me flee to the only help found in heaven or earth for a lost sinner, even to Jesus, the adorable Redeemer. Towards the end of this long and dark night of sora row, my heart went more intensely after Him whom I was impatient to enjoy. My importunities were breathed more fervently to heaven, for the long-expected blessing of forgiveness. I durst not, I could not rest, till could confidently proclaim,
“ My God is reconciled,