« PreviousContinue »
INTERESTING EXPERIENCE OF EUTYCHUS. Extrafted from a Letter to the Rev. A. D. of Airdrie, and by
him communicated 10 the Editor.
T SHALL attempt to answer your questions respecting my
views of religion at different periods of my life.-First, you enquire what views I had of religion, before I was brought to a serious confideration of my itate? Here, my answer might be very short, for I may truly say, I never had any serious thoughts about it.
In my early years, when under the inspection of my parents, I had more the appearance of religion, than I had for a great while after; for they ftudied, both by precept and example, to recommend it to me, and I, in some meafure, was obliged to obey, and to imitate. But this was a burden to me ; for I had neither knowledge of God, nor of myself, and I had certainly less thought of serious things than most who are brought up in a land of gospel light. Yet sometimes, when I was afflicted, I shewed an apparent desire to seek God. --Sometimes, I had convictions of sin, when hearing the word preached or read; but had an art of ftifling convictions, or of dismiffing them till a more convenient feason, thinking that it was as yet too soon to trouble myself with religion. I saw no beauty nor comeliness in Chriit; and was as ignorant of the nature and necessity of regeneration as Nicodemus possibly could be : yea, so ignorant of the extent of the holy law of God, that I thought I could enter into life by keeping the commandments. When at any time I was obliged to confess that in some things I had failed, I then had recourse to the mercy of God, think
ing he would not fail to Thew mercy to one who had done fo much as I had.
From the time I left my father's house, when I was about fifteen years of age, till I'was thirty; I lived, I may say, entirely prayerless. When challenged by conscience for noglecting family worship, I excused myself,-.-I was bashful and had not a talent of utterance : nay, I even sheltered myself under what our Lord says, “ When thou prayest enter into thy closet:" this passage I perverted to excuse myself from the duties of the closet, for I thought I had none. Conicience sometimes sharply reproved me when I heard others worshipping God in their families ; but I was not slack in concluding they were hypocrites, and that I had even a better heart than they. Thus I lived a child of wrath, and an heir of hell; mocking at religion, and foolishly thinking that my saying, “ God have mercy on me,” when I was on the brink of eternity, would be sufficient for my salvation. “I flattered myself in mine own eyes, until mine iniquity was found to be hateful.”
You enquire what it was that first brought me seriously to consider my ways? &c. About a year before sin was any trouble to me, I was much tempted to kill myself, without any reason. Temptations of this kind darted in upon me suddenly, and, as I thought, with a drawing power, which · made me fhun every thing that might be helpful to me in accomplishing the horrid deed. I trusted my own strength, and it was a miracle of mercy, that I was not left to feel how little strength I had. “ But the Lord's strong arm up, held me, though I knew him not.” After being about a year much tempted to self-murder, and trying many filly methods to remove the temptation, my sins then began to appear quite different from what they had ever done before. I then began to think, and to read more seriously; but I found Sin every where spoken against. After one fin, another appeared, till I was led to believe, that there never had been such a monster of sin in the world, and that there was no pardon for me. Then I thought I had good reason to do that, which I was before so much tempted to do without a reason. I sometimes thought I was not elected, elfe I could not have committed such fins; and at other times that I had committed the fin unto death. I believed the latter so firmly for some time, that, from a kind of principle of honesty, I did not desire the prayers of others, which I would otherwise have been glad of. I now from necessity began to pray, an exercise I was formerly ashamed of, or could not
have conveniency for, as I made myself believe. I think Satan told me I should not pray, for the prayers of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, and I was only doing what would make my punishment the greater. Here I was in a dreadful situation, I thought I had no friend either in heaven or in earth. Hell was nearly begun within ne I even sometimes had the time appointed to make a deiperate leap into it; for every book I took in my hand, I scarcely opened it, but something dreadful stared me in the face. In the time of my security I saw little against me; now I saw nothing for me, but curses and woes. For a considerable time I durst not open the New Testament for horrid blafphemies that crowded into my mind against the Saviour. There were certain passages of scripture that brought me into fearful confusion and horror, such as the following: “ If we fin wilfully after we have received the knowledge “ of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for fin. “ If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the finner " and the ungodly appear?--- It is not of him that willeth, “ nor of him that runneth:---and, he hath mercy on whom “ he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth, &c.” Indeed, I saw every thing against me, and whether I thought on God, or on myself, I was now greatly troubled.
So far as I can recollect, it was in January 1791, that I began to be troubled about my sins, and seriously concerned what I Thould do to be saved. For though the thoughts which troubled me about a year before this, were strange and alarming, they were not attended with conviction of fin. I was under awful despair from the above mentioned time till August following, and in such a dismal situation during that time, that I hardly ever thought of finding mercy. Though I read of great finners finding mercy through Christ, I saw fomething about myself, worse than in any I had read of; and would have given the world, had it been in my power, for a heart to mourn for fin and repent, as I heard of others mourning and repenting. I now law that I did not only want power, but willingnels; and I have great reason to praise his blessed name, that he did not leave me to think I had repented, and take that to build my hope upon. Little did I think, in that dismal situation, when I found Satan and strong corruptions within me, pushing me on to immediate and endless misery, that the strong chain of the new covenant, as Mr. Boston expreffes it, was what alone kept me back. About the month of August above mentioned, Proyideace put some books into my hand, which were blessed