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sight. But, O my merciful God ! leave me not, I beseech thee, for a single moment; for without thee, I can do nothing. O, make thy strength perfect in my weakness, that the world may see that thine is the power, and that, therefore, thine ought to be the glory. Thus my heart prayed, while supplicating tears bedewed my face.
I felt, however, relieved and tranquillized, for I had power given me to trust in the name of the Lord; to stay upon the God of my salvation. Immediately upon my return to the company, my boatmen entered the house : “ The wind is fair, sir.” Well, then, we will depart. It is late in the afternoon, but no matter, I will embark directly ; I have been determined to embrace the first opportunity, well knowing the suspense the captain must be in, and the pain attendant thereon. Accordingly, as soon as matters could be adjusted, I set off; but not till my friend, taking me by the hand, said : “ You are now going to NewYork; I am afraid you will, when there, forget the man, to whom your Master sent you. But I do beseech you, come back to me again as soon, as possible.” The tears gushed into his eyes, and, regarding me with a look, indicative of the strongest affection, he threw his arms around me, repeating his importunities, that I would not unnecessarily delay my return. I was greatly affected, reiterating the strongest assurances, that I would conform to his wishes. Why should I not? said I ; what is there to prevent me? I do not know an individual in New. York; no one knows me; what should induce me to tarry there ? " Ah, my friend," said he, “ you will find many in New York, who will love and admire you, and they will wish to detain you in that city. But you have promised you will return, and I am sure you will perform your promise ; and in the mean time, may the God of heaven be with you.” Unable to reply, I hurried from his door ; and, on entering the vessel, I found the good old man had generously attended, to what had made no part of my care, by making ample provision, both for me and the boatmen, during our little voyage.
I retired to the cabin; I had leisure for serious reflections, and serious reflections crowded upon me. I was astonished, I was lost in wonder, in love, and in praise ; I saw, as evidently as I could see any object, visibly exhibited before me, that the good hand of God was in all these things. It is, I spontaneously exclaimed, it is the Lord's doings'! and it is marvellous in my eyes.
It appeared to me, that I could trace the hand of God, in bringing me, through a long chain of events, to such a place, to such a person, so evidently prepared for my reception; and, while I acknowledged the will of God, manifested respecting my pub
lic character, I at the same moment distinguished the kindness of God, evinced by his indulging me with a retirement so exactly suited to my wishes. The house was neat, the situation enchanting, it was on the margin of the deep, on the side of an extensive bay, which abounded with fish of every description, and a great variety of water fowl. On the other side of this dwelling, after passing over a few fields, (which at that time stood thick with corn,) venerable woods, that seemed the coevals of time, presented a 'scene for contemplation fit, towering majestic, and filling the devotional mind with a religious awe.' I reflected, therefore, with augmenting gratitude to my heavenly Father, upon the pressing invitation, he had put it into the heart of his faithful servant to give me ; and I determined to hasten back to this delightful retreat, where nothing, but the grandeur of simple nature, exhibited in the surrounding objects, and the genuine operations of the divine spirit on the heart of the hospitable master, awaited my approach.
I had not the least idea of tarrying in New-York a moment longer, than to see the captain, deliver up my charge, and receive my baggage, and I resolved to return, by the first opportunity, to my benevolent friend. And thus did I make up my mind : Well, if it be so, I am grateful to God, that the business is thus adjusted. If I must be a promulgator of these glad, these vast, yet obnoxious tidings, I shall however be sheltered in the bosom of friendship, in the bosom of retirement. I will employ myself on the grounds of my friend, thus earning my own support, and health will be a concomitant; while I will preach the glad tidings of salvation, free as the light of heaven. The business, thus arranged, I became reconciled to the will of the Almighty, and I commenced, with tolerable composure, another, and very important stage of my various life.
Record continued from the September of 1770 to the Winter of 1774.
66 Arm'd with the sword of Jesse's youthful son,
Motto by a Friend. EHOLD me now entering upon a new stage of the journey of life,
a professed preacher of the gospel. Of my inability for an undertaking so vast, I retained a continued, and depressing sense; but I
determined to be as consistent, and as useful, as possible ; I would be an assistant to my new friend in his agricultural and fishing employments; and, upon every returning Sunday, I would preach to him the truth, as it is in Jesus; (I had not the most remote idea of ever preach-ing any where, but in the house, which he had built ;) and thus I should questionless be indulged with the retirement, which had been the prime object of my voyage. Thus consolatory were my reflections upon my passage to New-York ; at which place I arrived about noon, upon the ensuing day. I inquired for the captain, delivered up my charge, took my baggage from the brig Hand-in-Hand, and secured a lodging, until I could obtain a passage back to the hospitable mansion I had left. But the day had not closed in, before a number of persons visited me, earnestly soliciting me to speak to them of the things of the kingdom! I was immeasurably astonished; totally a stranger in the city, I could scarcely believe I was not in a dream. The boatmen, however, having given an account of me on their arrival, the intelligence was wafted from one end of the city unto the other; and the people, being anxious to hear something new, and from a new preacher, became extremely importunate. I could not deny, that I had preached; but I gave the solicitors to understand, that I had absolutely engaged to return by the first opportunity, and that, of course, I was not at liberty to comply with their request. They promised they would insure me a speedy, and eligible conveyance, if I would consent to give them a discourse in the Baptist meeting-house ; and it became impossible to resist their persuasions. The house was thronged, and the hearers so well satisfied, as to solicit, most earnestly, my continuance among them. But this I was not disposed to do; this I could not do; my word, my honour was, engaged to my first American friend; and, when duty is seconded by inclination, perseverance becomes a matter of course. Upwards of a week elapsed, before the earnestly sought-for passage presented, during which period I frequently preached, and to crowded houses. I was gratified by the marked attention of many characters. Novelty is rarely destitute of attraction. Even the minister extended to me the hand of apparent friendship; which I accounted for upon a supposition, that he was ignorant of my testimony. I made use of the same scriptures, which he made use of ; and he was not apprized, that I yielded them unqualified credence. I had no doubt, that, so soon as he should be informed, that I believed what I delivered, he would condemn, as much as he now appeared to approve. Yet some few there were, firm, unchanging friends, whose attachment to me, and
my testimony, has to this moment continued unbroken. So soon, as an opportunity to return presented, I very cheerfully embraced it; and I felt my heart bound with pleasure, at the thought of that meeting, which, a few days before, I would have died to avoid. The charming retreat, in the gift of my friend, was, in my estimation, highly preferable to New-York, and all which it could bestow : and I longed most earnestly to quit the one, and return to the other. A number of friends accompanied me to the vessel, and we parted, with expressions of regret. A single day produced me again in the abode of genuine, Christian friendship; to which I was welcomed with every demonstration of heart-felt joy.
Here, then, I considered I had found a permanent home ; that a final period was at length put to my wanderings; and, after all my apprehensive dread, from being drawn into the public character, now, that I had a prospect of sustaining this public character, in so private a manner, I was not only reconciled, but tranquillized, and happy. I had leisure to retrospect my past life, and I was filled with astonishment when I beheld all the various paths, which I had trod, ultimately leading me to a uniform contemplation of redeeming love; nor could I forbear exclaiming: Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty! just and true are thy ways, O, thou King of saints !
The winter now approached, and with hasty strides; my worthy friend was diligently gathering in the fruits of the earth. I was disposed to aid him, to the utmost of my abilities. He could not bear the thought of my labouring in the field. “Why need you ? have you not enough to engage your attention, in the business, on which you are sent?”. Believe me my friend, my employment, in your field, will not interrupt my reflections. I can study better in the field, than in the chamber; it requires but little study to deliver simple, plain, gospel truth ; to pervert this truth, requires a vast deal of worldly wisdom. Let me, my dear sir, do as I please, I have fixed upon a plan, with which you shall be acquainted, when the labours of the day are closed. In the evening, when the cheerful fire blazed upon the hearth, and we were seated in the well-lighted parlour : “Come," said the good man,
now for your plan.” I think, my dear sir, said I, I am at length convinced, that God in his providence has thought proper to appoint me, however unworthy, to the ministry of the new testament; and while persuaded, that our common Father has committed a dispensation of the gospel to me, and that a woe is pronounced against me, if I preach it not, it will be impossible I should remain silent : but knowing, as I do, something of the nature of man, and of the situation of preachers
in general, I am, for myself, determined not to make a gain of godliness; I will make no provision for myself. I have abundance of cloathing; and as to food, I will eat of whatever is set before me, asking no questions, either for the sake of conscience, or appetite ; and for my drink, nothing is so salutary for me, as cold water. I am persuaded, I shall not live long in this world , at least, I hope I shall not. I am alone in the world ; I shall want but little here, nor want that little long. I reject, then, with my whole soul I reject, the liberal offer, you so recently made me, of a fixed stipend. I will have no salary, I will have no collections, I will preach the gospel, freely. I will work in your fields, I will eat at your table, I will slake my thirst at the limpid stream, which furnishes your family ; but you shall make no change in the order of your house, on my account.
I will associate with your associates. I expect to meet them, at the table of my great Lord and Master, in mansions beyond the grave ; and shall I hesitate to meet them, upon equal terms, in this lower world? I am pleased with your situation ; with your house of worship; with your neighbours ; with every thing I am pleased ; and if that God, who brought me hither, will graciously vouchsafe to indulge me with the privilege of tarrying here, until I am liberated from this body of sin and death, I shall be still better pleased.
The good old gentleman could no longer suppress his feelings. He arose from his seat, caught me in his arms, essayed to speak, paused, and at length exclaimed : “O my God, is it possible? Why such, I have thought, ministers of Jesus Christ ought to be.” But, my friend, I replied, every minister of Jesus Christ cannot live, as I can. I have no family, no home, no want. If I had a family, I should be worse than an infidel, not to make provision for my household ; but God, by separating me from my beloved companion, and from my cherub boy, has enabled me to preach the gospel, freely. I never saw any man so delighted, and especially with my determination to continue with him. Dear, kind-hearted man, both he, and I, then believed, that death only could separate us.* In a place, so remote from the world, I imagined I should enjoy, uninterruptedly, every wish of my heart; and again and again I felicitated myself in the prospect of finishing my weary life in this sweet, this calm retreat, unincumbered by care-conferring, as well as
* If the reader wishes to peruse a delineation of the feelings of the subject of this biography, upon visiting this delightful retreat, after the demise of its philanthropic owner, with a sermon, preached upon the occasion, he may see both in the Eleventh Letter, Vol. I. of the “ Letters and Sketches of Sermons,” recently published by the now departed preacher.