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Pharisee and formalist, that part which has most of Christ in it will doubtless be a stumbling-block, and will, perhaps, appear weakness and folly. "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." 1 Cor. xiii, 11. I have set forth the follies and vanities of my youth, as well as the mistakes of my riper years; and so, in my Christian experience, you will find I have made many crooked paths, like a lone wanderer in a dark night, seeking for a lost home. When the sun has risen and dispelled the darkness of the night, he can then look back and see what a zig-zag course he has pursued, and that, perhaps, near some precipice or deep cavern, where he might have been dashed to pieces, or found a watery grave. How will such a one rejoice, when he considers the hairbreadth escapes he has made! How will he rejoice when he finds himself resting safely in the bosom of those he loves. Truly says the wise man, "The light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun.' If a transition from a state of darkness to a state of light be so desirable and important-if it made blind Bartimeus leap for joy, when he beheld the light of the natural sun, displaying the beauties of this world; would not that soul have infinitely greater reason to leap for joy, to have the sun of righteousness arise, with healing in his wings, and to have the rays of divine knowledge beaming forth from the Father of lights, into the sinner's dark un
derstanding! Although I never expect, like Bartimeus, to behold the beauties of nature, or the face of mortal man, even that of my own dear wife and children, yet I can say, like one of old, “one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.”
But let us now return to the hotel, where we returned from the morning prayer-meeting. I now ate my breakfast, well knowing the whisperings and remarks that were made about me by my associates, who knew not God, and desired not the knowledge of his ways. I then got ready and made my way to Pennsylvania, apprehensive of what reception I should meet with among some of my former acquaintances, if I made much ado about religion; not, perhaps, that they would speak reproachfully of religion, provided it met their notions of consistency and propriety. But I had an adversary to face, one that will never cease to tempt and allure from the path of rectitude and safety. I have often compared his devices and allurements to the whippowil, in his management with him who is a stranger to his wiles. If, in your strolls through the mountains or hills, you approach her nest, you will see her all at once, a few feet before you, begin to pitch heels over head, as if a wing and a leg had been broken by a fowler. If you follow her in her lofty tumblings, for a considerable distance at a time, thinking, at every step, you would seize her, thus she would lead you on, until she had drawn you sufficiently far
from her nest, when she would suddenly spread her wing and sail off, leaving you to laugh at your own folly. Having learned her devices, you would not be deluded by her again; neither could the grand adversary so easily take me the second time, by the same wiles. He was well aware that he could not
induce me to give up the race.
At a certain time, when Bonaparte invaded Russia, after he and his army had crossed a large river, he ordered every bridge, boat, or floating plank to be swept off, to prevent a retreat of himself or his men. It was therefore death or victory with them. So it was with me. I had swept off every bridge and plank, upon which the devil had so often and so very generously taken me back into his own dominions. But thanks be to our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave me this great victory of decision! To be thus decided, is half the battle. As the whippowil allured me from her nest, so the enemy of my soul endeavoured to turn my eye of faith from the cross of Christ, and set me to work on the very same principle upon which I went to work to do a heavy contract. He told me, that the harder I laboured the sooner I should earn salvation. Instead of making 1 me feel it to be a cross, heavy to be borne, and as being very humiliating, he began to set the springs of spiritual pride in motion, and whispered to me, the first night, that I could pray a great deal better than any of the mourners that came out with me. That night
also the bar-keeper, one of his agents, said that he had told one of his comrades that I knew much more about getting religion than those that were talking to me. To that my own proud heart willingly assented. And the next day, going home, I had another very active agent of his to drive for me. And, moreover, I think I rather courted some compliments from him, relative to the performances of the evening and morning previous. I prayed audibly, in his presence, before I went to bed. Captain,” said he, "you made a first-rate prayer last night." He also seemed to admire the earnestness I manifested. I then joined with him, rather ridiculing the ignorance of some people in trying to get religion, and so I went on till conviction had nearly left me. However, I could not be persuaded by men or devils that I had religion, until I knew for myself that I enjoyed it. I tarried at home for about ten days, did a certain amount of praying both night and day, and attended classmeeting in Greencastle. I believe there, for the first time, I made my determination known to them, and requested their prayers.
About this time I had business that called me to the city of Washington. I went there with my brother-in-law, from Indiana. We took lodgings at a boarding-house on Pennsylvania Avenue. In the morning, after breakfast, while my friend went out for two or three hours on business, I lay down upon my bed, after offering up a prayer to God. I
fell asleep and saw a vision, or had a dream, as follows: I thought I had come to my sight. I looked around the room, which seemed filled with a very bright and unnatural halo of light. The first thing I did, or thought I did, was to raise my hand before my eyes to prove whether it was a dream, or whether I had really been brought to my sight. I thought I saw my hand plainly; but to put it beyond doubt that it was not a dream, I thought I looked around the room again, and it appeared to be filled with heavenly light. I discovered the carpet, chairs, and other furniture in the room, and was fully convinced that I was in the city of Washington, and had been brought to my sight. But that I might have still further proof, I thought I went and raised up the front window of my room, cast my eye to one end of the avenue, and then to the other, and saw the capitol, while the negroes, carriages, and all, were passing lively before me, so that every doubt was put to flight. I did not seem to feel much joy or gratification in beholding the things of time and sense, for my whole soul was absorbed in the desire for spiritual light. I thought I then knelt down in the middle of the floor, and fervently prayed to God that this temporal sight might be the harbinger of spiritual light. While in this devotional exercise I awoke, and found my self in temporal and spiritual blindness and dark
Then I think I began for the first time to have a