« PreviousContinue »
ings of others. Had it not been for the hedge and darkness which unsuspected tradition had thrown about me, I might have discovered the truth much sooner than I did.
The ordinances thought to be without scripture authority. --The interpretation of a dream showing the condition of the churches.-The attention of the Free-Will Baptists call. ed to the subject of baptism, and the society found to be what they had not hitherto professed. –The Spirit of God too frequently distrusted--Ministers of the Gospel should not prostitute their ministerial function, by light and trifling conversation.-Doubts as lo duty, remored by the vision of the night.
I now viewed that baptism by water and the sacrament in bread and wine, were without foundation in scripture, and they were but extracts of Jewish ordinances imposed on the people by the fictitious titles of gospel ordinances, ordinances of the house of God, gospel institutions, sacraments and names which I could not find once so mentioned in the New Testament records. Like the term Millennium, they were only invented to serve the false notions of men I could see that the disputes among christians about these and other things were very foreign to the truth of religion, and that they were so distinct that the one had nothing to do with the other.
At this time I could look upon the ordinances with a degree of indifference, as to the use of the sacraments with other things, my soul could say of them, “ Is there any taste in the white of an egg.” My mind was left to wonder that the people did not discover the substance and quit the shadow. But the elements themselves, though I viewed them like so many idols, they were not half so disagreeable to me as the wasting effect which they produce among christians. A question arose in my mind what shall I do,the brethren believe in these things? I thought to myself I will shun these things as often as possible, and when I cannot well shun them, I will partake of them, to please my brethren, but at the same time do away as far as possible, that zealous spirit which so much attends them. I thought that I could put up with every inconvenience on my own part, provided that a disagreement should not be effected among christians in the use of them.
Now the interpretaion of that part of my dream which related to having seen a garden, with the walls broken down, came to my mind. The interpretation was, that the garden represented the fallen condition of the church. This similitude was scriptural, and much to the purpose as my mind was impressed. The miserable condition of the wall and the state of the vineyard, or garden, is des
cribed, much as it appeared to ine, Isa. v, 5, 6,7. The broken vessels which I saw, représented the ministry, who ought to be like the flower pots, the treasure and beauty of the church, (see 2 Cor. iv, 7.) The vine which stood in the midst of the garden without injury save the loss of the fruit, represented Christ, (see John, xv, 1.) The fruit which was apparently rotten, represented to me the thousands of half-hearted christians, who are spoiled through tradition and a spiritless ministry. The brook which I saw in the way represented the waters of life, (see Ps. cx, 7). The agitated flood which I saw, represented the people, (see Rev. xvii, 15). The black ships of war which I saw, represented the different denominations which have been at war one with the other, for hundreds of years. The land which I saw beyond the waters represented the land of rest, the Spiritual Jerusalem, and the Lord God and the Lamb are the light of it, and this was that which was represented to me by the two lights. The ships which I saw, were all bound, as it seemed, to the pleasant land, and were all waiting for their passengers ; so it is with the different sects and parties among men, but my soul doth know that they float and rest on the bosom and in the spirit of an agitated world. They never will be able to conduct a single soul to the saint's rest, for, (as a body,) there is no real rest in all their ways. That part of my dream which related to my leaving a com.
pany, represented my withdrawing from the Free-will Baptist Church, which took place more than two years and a half from this time
-but as I had not the most distant idea of leaving this people I did not have the most distant notion that this was the thing signified; therefore, my mind drew the most unfavorable construction about it. I feared that it was to warn me of a future overthrow, by losing my religion and getting back into the world, which of course would be to quit society. At other times I thought it might signify a cessation of my public labors only. This last interpretation was something comforting, for if the will of God was so, nothing I thought could be more agreeable to me, than the thought that I never should preach again; I felt that I was employed by the Lord, and when he that called me, should say my work was done, my heart could say, Amen. But the thoughts of backsliding were dreadful to me, so that my mind was much troubled on account of my fears. The interpretation of this part of my dream was not given me, until more than twelve months after this time, and it was not fulfilled then; because I refused to comply with the leadings of the Spirit. During this time, my mind was much to a stand to know what to do; on the one hand, I was fearful of too much activity on my own part and so preach when I ought not, or I feared that through the treachery of my own mind, I might be hindered of doing that which the Lord would have me to do ; and nothing but an immediate revelation from God could serve to secure me from either of these evils, or satisfy my mind on these points. Accordingly the secret places were a witness to my fervent prayers and cries to God, firstly that I might be preserved from backsliding, secondly, that if it was my duty and his will that I should preach, that he would give me the clearest evidences of it: and then, if there should be found in me a disposition not to comply with his requirements, I besought him with tears flowing to the ground, that he would cut off all worldly prosperity, curse in basket and in store, and heap calamities upon me ; could that be the means of subduing that proud and disobedient disposition, of which I was naturally possessed; and be the only means of bringing me to do uis will. On the other hand, if it was not my duty to speak, I prayed that the Lord would give equal proofs of his will, and accomplish his will with me; if he would but save my soul alive. So it was with me when I began to be sensible of the spiritual lack of the church; my
mind was filled with a double depression of spirit, for I discovered, not only a lack in the church ; but I felt sensible of a lack in my own soul. Like a path-way before me, the spiritual eye of my mind plainly discovered the ground which I had not travelled over,
and an object which I had not travelled