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the precipice, expecting every moment to launch away into the invisible world. While in this situation, I had a fair opportunity to look at the world with all its honours, in about their true colours, and to see how little service the approbation and praise of mortals was to a dying man-it made a lasting impression on my mind. I had also a most impressive view of the frailty of man and the uncertainty of human life and a sensible and deep impression was made on my mind that we ought to live like minute men for eternity, and to be always ready for the coming of the Lord. In short, it seemed as if the Lord in a manner tore me in pieces and held me up to my own view as before a mirror, that I might see how frail I was, and how completely dependant on him. I did not indeed have so clear a discovery of the native depravity and deceitfulness of my own heart, as I did at a subsequent period, yet I began to have very humiliating views of myself in this respect, which at that time brought me low before God. But I consider that my doctrinal ideas were a great hindrance to my making very swift progress in the study of this lesson.
2d. I can but notice the dealings of God in "crossing all the fair designs I had schemed, blasting my gourds and laying me low." I was determined to pursue my business and thus not only maintain myself and family, but also treasure up something" against a rainy day;" and at the same moment I received the wound in my hand was making calculations in my mind accordingly. But God designed another course for me and was not lacking for means to cause me to pursue it. I was obliged to desist. My hand was so injured that the idea of working at my trade was now altogether out of the question. Reader, if God has called you to preach the gospel, beware how you resist or choose your own ways in obeying the call. "In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy steps." If nothing else will do, judgments must come. O go before some dreadful thing come upon thee. Undoubtedly the pride of my heart had much influence with me
when I was so unwilling to give up my business, and throw myself into the hands of God, as a poor dependant creature for temporal as well as spiritual mercies. I naturally hated dependance, and could not bear the thought of receiving a farthing as a free gift. Besides; all ministers who did not maintain themselves, were considered in our country as hireling preachers. This reproach was hard for me to endure; not considering that it is really a reproach to a man who is called of God to leave all and devote himself unreservedly to the work of the ministry, to be so far entangled with the things of this world, as many are who work six days out of seven on their farms, at their trade, &c. But the Lord was determined that I should submit to his way, and although the rod was grievous for the time being, yet I trust I shall forever praise him in eternity for using it. "God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform," but he sees the end from the beginning, and leads his people forth, “in the right way that they may go to a city of habitation.”
3d. This dispensation almost (and I think I may say with propriety quite) cured me of all anxiety to become rich, or to be possessed of much of the riches of this world, and from that time to this, I have enjoyed that confidence in God for the supply of all my temporal wants which before I was in a great degree a stranger to. My friends have frequently offered to assist me in obtaining a house that I could call my own, and have repeatedly urged me to give my consent to a subscription's being circulated for that purpose, but I never felt liberty in my mind to acquiesce with their generous proposals, although I had every reason to believe that such an undertaking would succeed. I have not a word to say against other Christians possessing a house or lands, but for my own part I think such a course would not be expedient. Our blessed master had no where to lay his head; and Paul declares that he had no certain dwelling-place, and we should be willing rather to suffer with them, than that the ministry should be blamed. Besides, it
is best perhaps for Ministers to live in a continual state of dependance on God for temporal as well as spiritual mercies-they have thereby the opportunity of proving GoD every day, and of exercising faith in his promises. God threw me down on a sick bed, when I had no "goods in store," and when a wife and four children were dependant on me for their daily bread; but at the same time that he thus laid his hand upon me, he gave me sweet consolation by enabling me to trust in his promises and word; and although I was about nine months in this situation, yet I do not remember of ever having a single distressing thought on the subject, nor did I ever want for any good thing. And this confidence in God has generally been afforded me since; and although after my recovery, I taught a school for a few months, as I conceived it my duty, yet when I felt it my duty to give up all temporal business and devote my whole time to preaching the gos pel, and the work of the ministry, although I had no stated salary, yet I was enabled to cast myself into the hands of him whom I believed had called me to the work. And I will speak it to his glory forever-he has always taken care of me and my family, and supplied all our wants. I bless his name, and trust I shall ever continue to do so in time, and in the heavenly world above, for this scene of afflictions which he brought me through. While the Lord kept me on the verge of time, looking first into the eternal world which lay before me, and then at this world which I conceived I was just about leaving forever, I had such a view of the emptiness and vanity, and I may add, sinfulness of much which is called worship among the professed people of God,as I trust I shall never forget. O how much is there in the professional world that is highly esteemed among them, that is an abomination in the sight of Him who requires truth in the inward part. The pompous show of elegant meeting houses, polished preachers, (I mean not those who are like polished shafts-I wish there were more of such,) or in other words, a fashionable religion, looked to me at
that time, lighter than vanity when compared with the simplicity of the gospel which the world hate and despise. O may I never forget the views which I then had, and may they ever have a salutary influence through the sanctifying influences of the grace of God, in preserving me from those things which I then saw to be altogether insufficient to satisfy the soul in view of an awful and long eternity. Finally, my sickness and afflictions seemed to be really sanctified to me, and I humbly trust were the means in the hand of the Holy Spirit, in weaning me more from the world than I had been, and fitting me for farther usefulness in the blessed cause which I had espoused.
Extreme nervous weakness-Commenced preaching again -Commenced preaching in Providence-The Church in Cranston dissent from the Six Principle Baptists on account of the ordinance of laying on of handsView of that subject, &c.
I now found myself afflicted with a universal weakness of the nervous system, a complaint which I will not undertake to describe; as it would be useless to those who know what it is by experience, and as for thosewho do not thus understand it, they can never be convinced merely by the testimony of others. O how much unfeeling cruelty there is exercised towards nervous persons, by those who are ignorant of the nature of the disease; a disease, too, which is as much beyond the power of those to remedy who are its tortured subjects, as is a consumption of the lungs, or a contagious fever; and yet all the consolation which such afflicted souls get from the majority of mankind, is to be laughed in the face, and sneeringly to be called spleeny, &c. I have thought that God suffered me to be afflicted with this dreadful complaint, that I might
know how to pity, deal with, and have compassion on others, who were in the same situation. I suffered more than I can possibly describe, while confined for about nine months, almost as weak as a little child. The nervous complaint makes a grand fortress for the devil, and gives him a great advantage over those who are thus afflicted. One effect which it has always had on me, when overcome with it, is, that it produces a kind of uneasiness and restlessness, that is extremely disagreeable, if not gratified. I have spent hours almost innumerable, in walking the fields and groves, in the dark watches of the night, when any thing more than ordinary occurred to give me trouble. I knew this was not best for me, and could reason on the subject as well as ever; but still it would seem as if I could not govern myself. O how many times have I left my bed and pursued these solitary walks, and passed the time away in agony alone! But I will not undertake, as I before observed, to describe the effects of a nervous debilitation on him who is thus affected. I will only say, that although it does not bereave him of his reasoning powers, (for he can reason as conclusively as ever) yet it seems, if I may so speak, to unman him; it reduces him in some sense, to the state of a little child, and such a person ought to be dealt with accordingly. During the time of my confinement, I read as much as the state of my health would permit, reviewed my former studies of English grammar, mathematicks, &c. as I contemplated keeping school as soon as I should be able. God raised me up many kind friends, who were attentive to me in my afflictions, and all my temporal wants were supplied. In the spring of the year I moved my family into my father's house, and commenced teaching a small school, and also began again to preach a little. But I was extremely weak in body, and harrassed much in my mind, through the suggestions and temptations of the Devil. I determined, however, to endeayour to do my duty, if it should be made known to mo̟, let what would be the consequences,