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creatures miserable, without contradicting his natural propensity. These things influenced my mind so powerfully, that I was enabled to consider myself, notwithstanding a few little blemishes, as upon the whole a very worthy being. At the same time, the mysteries of the gospel being explained away, or brought down to the level of man's comprehension, by such proud and corrupt, though specious, reasonings; by acceding to these sentiments, I was, in my own opinion, in point of understanding and discernment, exalted to a superiority above the generality of mankind; and I pleased myself in looking down with contempt upon such as were weak enough to believe the orthodox doctrines. Thus I generally soothed my conscience: and, if at any time I was uneasy at the apprehension that I did not thoroughly deserve eternal happiness, and was not entirely fit for heaven; the same book afforded me a soft pillow on which to lull myself to sleep: it argued, and I then thought proved, that there were no eternal torments; and it insinuated that there were no torments except for notorious sinners, and that such as should just fall short of heaven would sink into their original nothing. With this welcome scheme I silenced all my fears; and told my accusing conscience, that if I fell short of heaven I should be annihilated, and never be sensible of my loss.
By experience I am well acquainted with Satan's intention, in employing so many of his servants to invent and propagate those pestilential errors, whether in speculation, or as reduced to practice, that have in all ages corrupted and enervated the pure and powerful doctrine of the gospel: for they
lead to forgetfulness of God and security in sin, and are deadly poison to every soul that imbibes them, unless a miracle of grace prevent. Such, on the one hand, are all the superstitious doctrines of popery, purgatory, penances, absolutions, indulgences, merits of good works, and the acceptableness of will-worship and uncommanded observanWhat are these but engines of the devil to keep men quiet in their sins? Man, resolved to follow the dictates of his depraved inclination, and not to bound his pursuits and enjoyments by the limits of God's holy law, catches at any thing to soften the horrible thought of eternal misery. This is the awakening reflection, God's sword in the conscience, which it is Satan's business, by all his diabolical artifices, to endeavour to sheath, blunt, or turn aside; knowing that, while this alarming apprehension is present to the soul, he can never maintain possession of it in peace. By such inventions therefore as these, he takes care to furnish the sinner with that which he seeks, and to enable him to walk according to the course of this wicked world, and the desires of depraved nature, without being disturbed by such dreadful thoughts. The same, on the other hand, is the tendency of all those speculations of reasoning men, which set God's attributes at variance with each other; which represent the Supreme Governor as so weakly merciful, that he regards neither the demands of his justice, the glory of his holiness, the veracity of his word, nor the peaceable order and subordination of the universe; which explain away all the mysteries of the gospel; and represent sin, that fruitful root of evil, that enemy of God, that favourite
of Satan, as a very little thing, scarcely noticed by the Almighty, and which, contrary to the scriptures, and to universal experience and observation, would persuade us that man is not a depraved
To these latter sentiments I acceded, and maintained them as long as I could: and I did it, most assuredly, because they soothed my conscience, freed me from the intolerable fears of damnation, and enabled me to think favourably of myself. For these reasons alone, I loved and chose this ground: I fixed myself upon it, and there fortified myself by all the arguments and reasonings I could meet with. These things I wished to believe: and I had my wish; for at length I did most confidently believe them. Being taken captive in this snare of Satan, I should here have perished with "a lie in my right hand," had not that Lord, whom I dishonoured, snatched me as a brand from the burning!
In this awful state of mind I attempted to obtain admission into holy orders! Wrapt up in the proud notion of the dignity of human nature, I had lost sight of the evil of sin, and thought little of my own sinfulness: I was filled with a self-important opinion of my own worth, and of the depth of my understanding: and I had adopted a system of religion accommodated to that foolish pride; having almost wholly discarded mysteries from my creed, and regarding with sovereign contempt those who believed them. As far as I understood such controversies, I was nearly a Socinian and Pelagian, and wholly an Arminian:* yet, to my shame be it
* Possibly some readers may not fully understand the import of these terms; and for their benefit I would observe, that the
spoken, I sought to obtain admission into the ministry, in a church whose doctrines are diametrically opposed to all the three; without once concerning myself about those barriers, which the wisdom of our forefathers has placed around her, purposely to prevent the intrusion of such dangerous heretics as I then was.
While I was preparing for this solemn office, I lived as before in known sin, and in utter neglect of prayer: my whole preparation consisting of nothing else than an attention to those studies, which were more immediately requisite for reputably passing through the previous examination.
Socinians consider Christ as a mere man, and his death merely as an example of patience, and a confirmation of his doctrine; and not as a real atonement satisfactory to divine justice for man's sins. They deny the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit, and do not admit that all Christians experience his renewing, sanctifying, and comforting influences; and they generally reject the doctrine of eternal punishments.-The Pelagians deny original sin, and explain away the scriptural history of the fall of man. They do not allow the total depravity of human nature, but account for the wickedness of the world from bad examples, habits, and education. They suppose men to possess an ability, both natural and moral, of becoming pious and holy, without a new creation or regeneration of the heart by the Holy Spirit: and they contend for the freedom of the will, not only as constituting us voluntary agents, accountable for our conduct, but as it consists in exemption from the bondage of innate carnal propensities; so that man has in himself sufficient resources for his recovery to holiness by his own exertions.-The Arminians deny the doctrines of gratuitous personal election to eternal life, and of the final perseverance of all true believers and numbers of them hold the doctrine of justification by works, in part at least; and verge in some degree to the Pelagian system, in respect of the first moving cause in the conversion of sinners. (5th Edit.)
Thus, with a heart full of pride and wickedness; my life polluted with many unrepented unforsaken sins; without one cry for mercy, one prayer for direction or assistance, or for a blessing upon what I was about to do; after having concealed my real sentiments under the mask of general expressions; after having subscribed articles directly contrary to what I believed; and after having blasphemously declared, in the presence of God and of the congregation, in the most solemn manner, sealing it with the Lord's supper, that I judged myself to be ' inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take that 'office upon me;' (not knowing or believing that there was a Holy Ghost;) on September the 20th, 1772, I was ordained a deacon.
For ever blessed be the God of all long-suffering and mercy, who had patience with such a rebel and blasphemer; such an irreverent trifler with his Majesty; and such a presumptuous intruder into his sacred ministry! I never think of this daring wickedness without being filled with amazement that I am out of hell; without adoring that gracious God, who permitted such an atrocious sinner to live, yea to serve him, and with acceptance, I trust, to call him father; and as his minister to speak in his name. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget "not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine ini"quities, and healeth all thy diseases; who re"deemeth thy life from destruction, who crowneth "thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies." May I fervently love, and very humbly and devotedly serve, that God, who hath multiplied his