Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Evangelist

Early History

page 85

Early History.

Religious Impressions.—From the highly spiritual and intellectual attainments of his parents, it might naturally be expected that his early education would be attended with no common advantages; this was the fact. They constantly and fervently commended him to God, and manifested equal diligence in training bim up for God. Prayer excited to exertion, and exertion again was encouraged by prayer. Their prayers were not forgotten, and their efforts did not remain without effect. In the progress of childhood, he was in several instances, the subject of strong religious impressions. This was particularly true some years before he went to college, during a powerful revival of religion in his father's congregation. He, and two other lads of his own age, who had the same feelings as himself, erected a booth in a very retired spot in a swamp, for an oratory; and resorted to it regularly for social prayer. He was obviously the subject of a saving change at a very early age.

His views and feelings during childhood and youth are best stated in his own words. “Not long after I first began to experience these things,” he says, “I gave an account to my father of some things that had passed in my mind; I was pretty much affected by the discourse we had together; and when the discourse was ended I walked abroad alone, in a solitary place in my father's pasture, for contemplation. As I was walking there and looking upon the sky and clouds, there came into my mind so sweet a sense of the glorious majesty and grace of God, as I know not how to express. I seemed to see them both in a sweet conjunction; majesty and meekness joined together. It was a sweet, and gentle, and holy majesty: and also a majestic meekness; an awful sweetness; a high, and great, and holy gentleness. After this my sense of divine things increased and became more and more lively, and had more of that inward sweetness. The appearance of every thing was altered. Scarce any thing among all the works of nature, was so sweet to me as thunder and lightning; formerly nothing had been so terrible to me. Before, I used to be uncommonly terrified with thunder, and to be struck with terror when I saw a thunder storm rising; but now, on the contrary, it rejoiced me.—I felt God, if I may so speak, at the first appearance of a thunder storm; and used to take the opportunity, at such times, to fix myself in order to view the clouds, and see the lightning play, and hear the majestic and awful voice of God's thunders, which oftentimes was exceedingly entertaining, leading me to sweet contemplations of my great and glorious God.

“I felt then great satisfaction as to my good estate; but that did not content me. I had vehement longings of soul after God and Christ, and after more holiness, wherewith my heart seemed to be full and ready to break. I often felt a mourning and a lamenting in my heart, that I had not turned to God sooner, that I might have had more time to grow in grace. I felt a burning desire to be, in every thing, a complete christian. It was my con-page 86tinual strife, day and night, and constant inquiry, how I should be more holy, and live. more holily, and more becoming a child of God and a disciple of Christ. The heaven I desired was a heaven of holiness; to be with God, and to spend my eternity in divine love and holy communion with Christ.

“On January 12, 1723, I made a solemn dedication of myself to God, and wrote it down; giving myself, and all I had to God; so be for the future in no respect my own; and to act as one who had no right to myself, in any respect. And solemnly vowed to take God for my whole portion and felicity.”

Thus deep, decided, and powerful were the operations of divine grace upon the mind of this youthful servant of Christ. Personal examination seems to have been considered by him as a pleasing, as well as a momentous exercise. It was in these early years of his life, and under the closest application to reading, study, and prayer, that those correct views were formed, which afterwards expanded into his “Treatise on Religious Affections.”