« VorigeDoorgaan »
checks God gave me stop me from embarking in this good work, though I had many. He cost me forty guineas; and when God unmasked the hypocrite, then I saw where the inward caution came from. Three chapels were opened about the same time not far from mine, and one set up an additional lecture, in order to keep the sheep from straying; but the inward anointing taught me that by these means I should see more clearly the hand of God, for where there is no opposition there is no salvation; and where a multitude of hands are employed in one work, it is not so easy to see the distinguishing approbation of the employer. Í must stand alone, and work alone, that I might not say a confederacy, nor rely on human aid. Paul's companions all forsook him at Nero's bar, that by him the preaching might be fully known; for Paul's doctrine was immediately from Christ, but theirs mediately from him.
After this blank of forty guineas loss, another borrowed three more, and another ten pounds, neither of which ever paid a mite again; and soon after thirty pounds were demanded for the follies of my youth, and another thirty pounds for rent for the chapel I had left, and thirty guineas more for a law-suit about a little meeting-house for which I had collected forty pounds to build at Sunbury, in Middlesex. All these blanks, at three years end, set me down just where I began; and all this time my income was only twenty-five pounds per quarter, and my children at one time nine in number, This sailing against wind and tide not only tried the faith of the debtor, but it exercised the faith of my poor creditors also; for, if I could not get on, they must go back; nevertheless, most of them exercised more patience than I could, though I could do no more than just keep the interest paid up. At length God enabled me to put out several little books, which were almost universally exclaimed against, both by preachers and professors, and by these means God sent them into all winds; so that I soon rubbed off one hundred, and soon after another, so that in a short time I had reduced my thousand pounds down to seven hundred. The booksellers, in general, would neither countenance nor circulate the works, being influenced, as I suppose, by some of their employers. But, as the workman began to be known, so the works spread; and what some despised others admired; and the doctrine that starved the self-sufficient fattened the poor in spirit. People who attended my ministry, coming from various parts of the country, often bought them, and sent them down among their friends. By these means they made their way
where I was not permitted to go myself. But it often happened that where they came the preachers warned the people much against them, which frequently excited the curiosity of some to read them; and, if they found any thing in them that suited their cases, they judged by the unction they felt. They are calculated, in some measure, to suit the earnest inquirer; the soul in bondage,
in the furnace, in the path of tribulation, or in the strong hold of Satan; and I have heard of them from Wales, from Scotland, from Ireland, from various parts of America, from Cadiz in Spain, from Alexandria in Egypt, and I believe from both the East and West Indies: and, as they fell into divers hands, I accordingly received various reports. Many vilifying and scurrilous letters from different parts; and, to counterbalance these, many letters of blessings to God, and thanks to the author; which, put together, make it to be the good old beaten path; “ by evil report and good report, as deceivers and yet true.” Beloved, farewell.
Thine to command,
W. H. S. S.
TO THE SPARROW ALONE,
Beloved in the Lord,
SINCE I sent off the last many fresh things have occurred to my mind. I concluded with the circulation of my books: and about that time I was invited to preach a weekly lecture in the city, by which means it pleased my God to bring me more publicly forth into the world; and as the chapel filled, and the people approved, of course my pedigree, my residence, my station in the camp, my family and fortune, were inquired into; and that at a time when some of my creditors wanted their money. In a short time after this demand a small number of gentlemen offered to lend me one hundred pounds, without either note of hand or interest; and, being a little from each of them, they took it as God prospered me, till all was cleared. But poor men's difficulties, like women's work, is never done, for soon after fifty pounds more was called in, besides many little debts which were contracted while the former sums were paying off; so that I was encompassed about with a whole crowd of creditors; and who can expect less who make themselves debtors to all? A gentleman of the city, who had a little house at Peckham, asked me to go on a week-day evening to preach in that neighbourhood, and to take a supper and bed at his house, which I agreed to; and, being without either purse or scrip, gold or silver, when I set off, I called on my invaluable and never-failing friend Mr. Baker, of Oxford street, and asked him if there was any of the chapel money in his hands? To my great comfort he told me, No; so I borrowed a few shillings and set off. But, that I might give vent to my grief, and bemoan my hard fate in secret, I called a coach and got in, the old man and the devil both following me; so we went all three together, like
the adulterous woman and her accusers; and to be sure I had not one sixpenny or shilling debt in all the world but what the devil set before me, together with various prisons for poor debtors; and aggravated my misery by setting before me the power of God to help me if he would, the wealth that he
and his hard dealings with those that loved him. I listened to mine enemy till I was in such a frame as Elisha was, when the forty children followed him, crying, Go up, thou bald head. But at length recollecting myself, I bantered the devil. I said, Satan, hast thou got any cash by thee? if thou hast, bring it; I do not care where you get it, bring it if you
have any, I will receive it, and thank God for it; but, if thou art as poor as myself, let my debts alone. The devil left me at this; “ Resist the devil,” says God, “ and he will flee from you;” and so he did, and my soul was delivered as a roe from the hand of the hunter, or as a bird from the hand of the fowler. When I came to the end of St. George's Fields I got out and walked the rest of the way, and that night had a glorious time in the Lord's work; Satan had for a season left me, and I returned in the power of the Spirit. I spent a comfortable evening with my friends, and had a most uncommon time in prayer by myself at going to bed, and a most sweet frame of meekness, gratitude, and godly sorrow, given me when in bed; and in the morning I arose sweetly becalmed and much resigned to the will of God. However, in