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a Deacon. Forever blessed be the God of 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 ministy! I never think of this daring wickedness, without being filled with amazement, that I am out of Hell; without adoring that gracious God, who permitteth 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. "Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is with me, bless his holy name: Praise the Lord O my soul, and forget not all his benefits; who forgiveth all thy sin, and healeth all thy infirmities; who saveth thy life from destruction, and crowneth thee with mercy and loving kindness." May I love much, and very humbly and devotedly serve that God, who has multiplied his mercies, in abundantly pardoning my complicated provocations!
My views in entering into the ministry, as far as I can ascertain them, were these three. 1. A desire of a less labo.
rious, and more comfortable way of procuring a livelihood, than otherwise I had the prospect of. 2. The expectation of more leisure to employ in read. ing, of which I was inordinately fond. And 3. A proud conceit of my abilities, and a vain-glorious imagination, that I should some time distinguish and advance myself in the literary world. These were my ruling motives in taking this bold step; motives as opposite to those, which should have influence therein, as pride is opposite to humility; ambition to contentedness in low estate, and a willingness to be the least of all, and the servant of all; as opposite as love of self, of the world, of filthy lucre, and slothful ease, is opposite to the love of God, and of souls, and of the laborious work of the ministry. Mine, therefore, be the shame of this heinous sin, and to God be all the glory of overruling it for good, I trust, both to unworthy me, and to his dear people, the church, which he has purchased with his own blood.
My subsequent conduct was suitable to these motives. No sooner was I
fixed in a curacy, than with close application I sat down to the study of the learned languages, and such other matters, as I considered most needful, in order to lay the foundation of my future advancement. And I would, I were now as diligent in serving God, as I was then in serving self and ambition! I spared no pains; I shunned, as much as I well could, all acquaintance and diversions; and I retrenched upon my usual hours of sleep, that I might keep more closely to this business. minister, I attended just enough to the public duties of my station to support a a decent character, which I deemed subservient to my main design; and from the same principle, I aimed at morality in my outward deportment, and affected seriousness in my conversation. As to the rest, I still lived in the practice of what I knew to be sinful, and in the entire neglect of all secret religion. If ever inclined to pray, conscious guilt stopped my mouth, and I seldom went farther than "God be merciful unto me." However, perceiving that my Socinian principles were very disreputable: and
being conscious from my own experience, that they were unfavorable to morality, I concealed them in a great measure both for my credit's sake, and from a desire I entertained subservient to my main design, of successfully inculcating the practice of the moral duties upon those to whom I preached. My studies, indeed, lay very little in divinity; but this little all opposed that part of my scheme, which respected the punishment of the wicked in the other world; and therefore, (being now re moved at a distance from those authors, whence I had imbibed my sentiments, and from those reasonings I had learned to defend them,) I began gradually to be shaken in my former confidence, and once more to be under some apprehensions of eternal misery. Being also statedly employed, and with the appearance of solemnity in the public worship of God, whilst I neglected and provoked him in secret; my conscience clamorously reproached me with base hypocrisy, and I began to conclude, that if eternal torments were reserved for any sinners, I certainly should be one of the
number. And now again I was filled with anxious fears and terrifying dreams; especially, as I was continually meditating upon what might be the awful consequences, should I be called hence by sudden death. Even my close application to study could not soothe my conscience, nor quiet my fears: and under the affected air of cheerfulness, I was truly miserable.
This was my state of mind when the change, I am about to relate, began to take place. How it commenced, in what manner, and by what steps it proceeded, and how it was completed, will be the subject of the second part of this work. This first part I shall conclude by observing, that though I was staggered in my favorite sentiment before mentioned, and in my views of the person of Christ, was verging towards Arianism; yet in my other opinions, I was more confirmed than ever. What those opinions were, I have already in brief declared; and they will occur again, and be more fully explained, as I proceed to relate the manner in which I was constrained to renounce them one after