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bounds of duty to hear the word. Whenever I could hear an evening sermon, or attend a letter-reading--for Mr. Whitefield read letters publicly—it set me above earth; and when I had heard the conclusion of a sermon, which I now and then did by trespassing upon the time appointed for leaving work a few minutes, precipitately climbing the Artilleryground gates, and runing on the full stretch to the tabernacle, I almost envied the congregation who appeared to me to be all enjoyment. Though I could seldom attend preaching, I could on a Wednesday evening reach the class, a detached company of the society who met together to relate christian experience, - and here also, I often lost my burden, obtained a blessing, and found others, as well as myself felt the briars and thorns of the wilderness.
The Rev. Mr. Green, an occasional assistant to Mr. Whitefield, who subsisted by teaching a school; was hearing some of his scholars read one day in the fourteenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians: he was led to reflect npon the mode of prophesying mentioned in that chapter, and he thought it justified the order observed by the quakers. He proposed to a venerable friend the institution of a meeting in a similar way. Monday evenings were the times appointed for holding these meetings. He began as usual, and after following a short sermon with singing an hymn, he sat down and gave liberty to any one who was disposed to speak of the work of grace upon his heart, or to deliver a short exhortation. The meeting was crowded; it began late and held long. I could therefore enjoy my share of it. Several young men made their appearance on these occasions, and discovered good natural abilities; among these I may particularly mention, the Rev. Mr. Spencer,* the late Rev. Peter Sampson,' of Truro, in Cornwall, and the late Rev. Mr. West, a very popular preacher in London. These I was very intimately acquainted with, but there were others whom ! do not mention, whose ministerial talents were first discovered in this exercise. Animated with a degree of zeal, I stood up one evening after many struggles with myself upon the propriety of the attempt. My appearance was singular. I stood upon a form, a meagre youth of eighteen and meanly apparelled. I introduced myself in the words of the Psalmist, “ Come and hear all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.” I found much enlargement, and from that time became one of the speakers. What I had to say was kindly received.
* Mr. W. subjoins in a note--Mr. Spencer, by diligence in study, and perseverance in grace, has acquired and sustained the character of an eminent scholar and able minister. He was in the curacy of Bradford between twenty and thirty years, and now resides in the adjacent parish of Wingfield, of which he is the esteemed rector. Mr. Crouch, vice-president of Edmund-hall, and several evangelical clergymen, were educated by him,
I now employed part of the Lord's days in visiting the sick, and many companies of young people meeting together immediately after the hour of eight of the clock in the evening, whose business preventing them from attending the public ministry. I was encouraged to exercise my talents among them, by exhorting and expounding the scriptures. Thus my very small intervals from secular employ were occupied in spiritual services. By this means I became known pretty largely, and was unexpectedly brought into a large sphere.
Though thus encouraged, I had no idea of being disengaged from secular employ. I had formed my own plan of life, little thinking that it was contrary to the will of God, and that he had a different design in view. By this time my sister had become a spiritual
companion to me, and walked with me in all the ordinances of the gospel. I had designed to live with her, and by every means in my power, to make her life comfortable. We frequently contemplated the mutual happiness we should enjoy when I came out of my apprenticeship. But her health rapidly declined, she became unable to get her bread, and in a month after I came out of my time, I had her to bury. This was'a sore affliction to me.
Attention to her in her latter days, interrupted the course I have above described. The tenderest affection subsisted between us, and instead of laboring for her future subsistence, I had to work out a debt contracted for her support in months past; and augmented by her funeral.
I was frequently solicited to appear more publicly, bnt recoiled at the idea. It was hinted by many that Providence did not intend to continue me in the employ of a Water-gilder. Mr. Green used some arguments to excite my attention to the ministry, which made me think that the Lord at some time or other, might employ me in his work, but I never expected higher preferment than to be a local preacher.--Mr. Sampson above mentioned, called
upon me one day, and used earnest solici
tation with me to supply a congregation alternately with himself and others at Cheshunt, in Hertfordshire. . After some debate upon the motion, I then consented to submit to the trial of my acceptance. I was then desired to cast in my labors at Gravesend, with which request I complied, endeavouring that my time for business might suffer as little encroachment as possible. My constitution was very weak, and I struggled under a great share of indisposition, which God graciously carried me through. But on the reflection, I am astonished that I was so supported. My relation continued very
churlish to me, cramped me in my wages, and made
uncomfortable. I continued with him nine months only, after I was out of my apprenticeship, and by hard work and hard fare, was nearly able to say, I owe no man any thing but love. He came one. morning into the shop, when there was not the least cause to find fault, and in a violent outrage, in which he used infamous language, insisted that I should do no more work. I have reason to think he did not mean as he said, but I replied I would take him at his word, that his usage had worn out my spirits, and I would cast myself upon God. He burlesqued the idea of Providence, read my destiny to be most
my life very