Page images

us 14486.2

bift of
Wm. S. Perry,


[L. S.] Be it remembered, That on the 13th day of June, 1829, and in the fifty-third year of the Independence of the United States of America, RAY POTTER, of said District, deposited in this Office the title of a book the right whereof he claims as proprietor, in the following words, viz.

"Memoirs of the life and religious experience of Ray Potter, Minister of the Gospel, Pawtucket. Published with a design to magnify the grace of God in shewing mercy to the chief of sinners, and to illustrate the glorious doctrines of the gospel, by giving a circumstantial account of the travel of the author's mind, into that view of the doctrine of Christ, which he considers to be the truth. The subject being generally treated argumentatively, with frequent doctrinal inferences drawn from experience. Written by himself.

"He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye."-Deut. xxxii, 10.

In conformity to an act of Congress of the United States, entitled "An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts and books to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the time therein mentioned, and also to an Act entitled" An Act supplementary to an An Act entiled "An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts and books to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the time therein mentioned, and extending the benefit thereof to the arts of designing, engraving and etching historical or other prints."


BENJAMIN, COWELL, Clerk of the Rhode-Island District.


Ir occurred to me a few days before my book was out of press, that it would be proper enough for me to obtain testimonials from a few of my neighbours, in respect to my moral and religious character, and prefix it to the work. I first thought that I would obtain a certificate from the church under my care; but on reflection, concluded that it might be inferred that they were interested to blindness in my favour; and that it would be more proper to obtain something from those with whom I was not particularly connected in church capacity. I accordingly mentioned the subject to Mr. Bosworth Walker and Mr Wm. Allen, members of the Association Baptist Church in this village; and they readily handed the following, with the remark, that many more signatures might be obtained if necessary. It is my duty, however, here to remark, that some of these gentlemen do not agree with me, in my theological sentiments.

Their signatures are very gratefully received, and I trust, with those who know them, will be considered worthy of attention.

"The undersigned having been acquainted with the Rev. RAY POTTER for several years, some of us intimately, take pleasure in bearing testimony to the excellence of his character. We say without hesitation, or fear of contradiction, that during his resídence in this place, his moral and his Christian character have been in all respects, as far as human observation can extend, unimpeachable. He has uniformly sustained the character of an honest, conscientious, zealous, and faithful religious teacher; and The appears to have the good will and respect of all denominations among us.


Pawtucket, June 4, 1829."

In respect to the characters and standing in society of these gentlemen, it might not be improper to mention that Oliver Stark

weather, Esq. is a member of the Aassociation Baptist Church in this Village, has been for many years in the Senate of Mass. and was also one of the late electors of President of the United States.

Benjamin Fessenden-a Unitarian Clergyman. William Allen, Isaac Wilkinson, Archibald Kennedy, Joseph Hood, Bosworth Walker, and Willian Chaffee, members of the Association Baptist Church in this Village, and may be ranked with the most influential and leading members.

Otis Tiffany-Post Master.

C. Darling Attorney at Law,

David Bucklin-one of the Selectmen of the Town.

All of the above, excepting Mr. Fessenden, have been my neighbours for about eight years-Mr. Fessenden some three or four years.


MANY consider it impracticable and beneath their dignity to publish the memoirs of their life themselves, while living. But why so? I think it sometimes expedient, and a duty. Great and good men have frequently done it. It may be answered that though great men have seen fit to do it, and in so doing they have benefitted mankind, yet that is no reason that an obscure individual, like myself, should undertake it. To which I answer; that although I may not be a great man, yet I am very sure that God has done great things for me; and most certainly it should be the design of all Christians, not to endeavour to shew themselves great, but to magnify the name of the Lord God; and never perhaps did grace have more to do than in bringing me to submit to the reign and government of Christ. But there is something in my life, which more than any other one thing urged me to the following publication: And that is, after my conversion, I was taught and received the Arminian system of doctrines; became a very strong one, (or perhaps to speak more consistently a very weak one) and preached it some time; when a gracious God took me in hand and drove me out of it, brought me to see its errors and to give it up. Since which I feel an inexpressible desire that others, who are now in the same situation, may see their mistake, renounce their errors, and embrace the whole truth. Feeling this anxiety, it seemed to me probable if I were to write my experience and exercises, and state how I had been led step by step, and draw argumentative inferences from my experience, it might be the means of doing good, especially with my old acquaintances and Arminian brethren, and that this plan would be more likely to do good than any other-for it is difficult to get the attention of many people to doctrinal subjects, where the treatise is exclusively so. My prayer to God is, that in pursuing the course which I have, I may be the means of doing some good.

To the learned, if any should ever chance to cast their eyes on the following pages, I would just remark that the author makes no pretensions to refined literature, or profound erudition. By perusing the following pages it will be seen that his privileges to obtain it (however desirable)

have been so circumscribed, as to render it naturally impossible. It is required of a man in this respect according to that which he hath: not according to that which he hath not; if therefore I write in the best style of which I am capable, he that despiseth on this account, has yet with all his knowledge "one thing" to learn before he is fit for heaven: And that is humility. It may be immediately answered that if I cannot write elegantly and in lofty style, I have no right to address the public from the press. I take the liberty to dissent from this opinion; I write sufficiently elegant to make common people understand what I mean, and if the learned cannot understand me, they may ask the illiterate to teach them; besides I have one powerful objection to much of the preaching and writing, on the great and glorious subject of religion, in these days; if I may so speak, it flies so high that it passes over the heads of the great majority, who ought to be instructed. Some, indeed, of erudition, make good use of their learning, in making the truths of the gospel appear plain to hearers and readers, of ordinary attainments; but many appear to gratify their own vanity and ambition of being considered great in the use of language, and a style that nothing short of a collegiate education would prepare a hearer to comprehend. And thus we see the wisdom and goodness of God, in committing the invaluable treasure of the glorious gospel of the blessed God, frequently to those, who, in expressing themselves,must do it in ordinary language, and in a plain, unvarnished style. Of this fact I think we have had ample demonstration in the preaching and writings of John Bunyan, and others of a similar character, whose works have flown down to succeeding generationswarning, instructing, and cheering multitudes on their way; while the laboured productions of thousands, who have, in their writings, principally sought for literary fame, have either been buried in oblivion, or read with satisfaction but by a few solitary individuals; and by those rather for amusement than for profit.

I would by no means be understood as declaiming against human learning, but rather the bad use which is frequently made of it. Be the reader ever so learned, yet if he love the truth, I am well assured that he will greatly rejoice that the grace of God has reigned victorious over me, one of the most stubborn and obstinate sinners that perhaps ever raised an arm against its progress, and will admire the wisdom, power, goodness and mercy

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