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Letter XIII

LETTER XIII.

Dear Sir,

TWT Y third voyage was shorter, and - less perplexed than either of the former. Before I sailed, I met with a young man who had formerly been a midshipman, and my intimate companion on board the Harwich. He was, at the time I first knew him, a sober youth, but I found too much success in my unhappy attempts to infect him with libertine principles. When we met at L ,

our acquaintance renewed upon the ground of our former intimacy. He had good sense, and had read many books—Our conversation frequently turned upon religion, and I was very desirous to repair the mischief I had done him. I gave him N 4 a plain a plain account of the manner and reason of my change, and used every argument to persuade him to relinquish his infidel schemes; and when I sometimes press'd him so close, that he had no other reply to make, he would remind me that I was the very first person who had given him an idea of his liberty. This occasioned me many mournful reflections. He was then going master to Guinea himself, but before his ship was ready, his merchant became a bankrupt, which disconcerted his voyage. As he had no farther expectations for that year, I offered to take him with me as a companion, that he might gain a knowledge of the coast, and the gentlemen, who employed me, pro-* mised to provide for him upon his return. My view in this was not so much to serve him in his business, as to have an oppor* tunity of debating the point with him at leisure, and I hoped, in the course of my

voyage, voyage, my arguments, example, and prayers, might have some good effect on him. My intention, in this step, was better than my judgment, and I had frequent reason to repent it. He was exceedingly profane, and grew worse and worse: I saw in him a most lively pictui e of what I had once been, but it was very inconvenient to have it always before my eyes. Besides, he was not only deaf to my remonstrances himself, but laboured all he could to counter-act my influence upon others. His spirit and pasiions were likewise exceeding high, so. that it required all my prudence and authority to hold him in any degree of restraint. He was as a sharp thorn in my side for some time; but, at length, I had opportunity, upon the coast, of buying a small vessel, which I supplied with a cargo from my own, and gave him the command, and sent him away to trade on the ship's account.

count. When we parted, I repeated and enforced my best advice. I believe his friendship and regard was as great as could be expected, where principles were so diametrically opposite; he seemed greatly affected when I left him, but my words had no weight with him ; when he found himself at liberty from under my eye, he gave a hasty loose to every appetite; and his violent irregularities, joined to the heat of the climate, soon threw him into a malignant fever, which carried him off in a few days. He died convinced, but not changed. The account I had from those who were with him was dreadful; his rage and despair struck them all with horror, and he pronounced his own fatal doom before he expired, without any appearance that he either hoped or ajked for mercy. I thought this awful contrast anight not be improper to give you, as a stronger view of the distinguish

ing goodness of God to me, the chief of sinners.

I left the coast in about four months, and sailed for St. Christopher's. Hitherto I had enjoyed a perfect state of health, equally in every climate, for several years; but, upon this passage, I was visited with a fever, which gave me a very near prospect of eternity: J have obtained liberty to inclose you three or four letters, which will more clearly illustrate the state and measure of my experience, at different times, than any thing I can say at present. One of them, you will find, was wrote at this period, when I could hardly hold a pen, and had some reason to believe I should write no more. I had not that itM^vpa. *, which is so desirable at a time when flesh and heart fail; but my hopes were greater than my fears, and I felt a silent composure of spirit,

# Full assurance.

which which enabled me to wait the event without much anxiety. My trust, though weak in degree, was alone fixed upon the blood and righteousness of Jesus, and those words, "he is able to save to "the uttermost," gave me great relief.— I was for a while troubled with a very singular thought; whether it was a temptation, or that the fever disordered my faculties, I cannot say; but I seemed not so much afraid of wrath and punishment, as of being lost and overlooked amidst the myriads that are continually entering the unseen world. What is my foul, thought I, amongst such an innumerable multitude of beings—And this troubled me greatly. Perhaps the Lord will take no notice of me. I was perplexed thus for some time, but at last a text of scripture, very apposite to the case, occurred to my mind, and put an end to the doubt, "The Lord knoweth

"them ** them that are his." In about ten days, beyond the hopes of those about me, I began to amend, and, by the time of our arrival in the Weft Indies, I was perfectly recovered.—I hope this visitation was made useful to me. > Thus far, that is, for about the space of six years, the Lord was pleased to lead me in a secret way—I had learnt something of the evil of my heart; I had read the Bible over and over, with several good books, and had a general view of the gospel-truth. But my conceptions were,' in many respects, confused; not having, in all this time, met with one acquaintance who could assist my enquiries. But, upon my arrival at St. Christopher's, this voyage, I found a Captain of a ship from London, whose conversation was greatly helpful to me. He was, and

is, a member of Mr. B It's church, i

man of experience iti the-:things of God, . -. and

and of a lively communicative turn. We discovered each other by some casual expressions in mixed company, and soon became (so far as business would permit) inseparable. For near a month, we spent every evening together on board each other's ship alternately, and often prolonged our visits till towards day-break. I was all ears; and what was better, he not only informed my understanding, but his discourse inflamed my heart.—He encouraged me to open my mouth in social prayer he taught me the advantage of Christian converse; he put me upon an attempt to make my profession more public, and to venture to speak for God. From him, or rather from the Lord, by his means, I received an increase of knowledge: my conceptions became clearer and more evangelical, and I was delivered from a fear which had long troubled me, the fear of relapsing

into my former apostacy. But now I began to understand the security of the covenant of grace, and to expect to be preserved, not by my own power and holiness, but by the mighty power and promise of God, through faith in an unchangeable Saviour. He likewise gave me a general view of the state of religion, with the errors and controversies of the times (things to which I had been entirely a stranger), and finally, directed me where to apply in London for further instruction.: with these new-acquired advantages, I left him, and my passage homewards gave me leisure to digest what I had received; I had much comfort and freedom during those seven weeks, and my sun was seldom clouded. I arrived

safe in L August 1754.

My stay at home was intended to be but short, and, by the beginning of November\ I was again . ready for the sea;

but

( ) but the Lord saw fit to over-rule my design. During the time I was engaged in the slave trade, I never had the least scruple as to its lawfulness; I was, upon ihe whole, satisfied with it, as the appointment Providence had marked out for me; yet it was, in many respects, far from eligible. It is, indeed, accounted a genteel employment, and is usually yery profitable, though to me it did not prove so, ' the Lord seeing that a large increase of wealth would not be good for me. However, I considered myself as a sort of. Goaler or Turnkey; and I was sometimes shocked with an employment that was perpetually conversant with chains, bolts, and shackles. In this view I had osteTf petitioned, in my prayers^ that the Lord (in his own time) would be pleased to fix me in a more humane calling,. and. (if it might be) place me where I might have more frequent converse with his people and ordinances, and be freed from those long separations from home, which very often were hard to bear: my prayers were now answered, though in a way I little expected. I now experienced another sudden unforeseen change of life: I was within two days of sailing, and, to all appearance, in good health as. usual; but, in the afternoon, as I was sitting with Mrs. ******, by ourselves drinking tea, and talking over past events, I was in a moment seized with a fit, which deprived me of sense and motion, and left me no other sign of life, than that of breathing.—I suppose it was of the apoplectic kind—It lasted about an hour, and, when I recovered, it left a pain and dizziness in my head, which continued with such symptoms, as induced the physicians to judge it would not be safe or prudent for me to proceed on the voyage. Accordingly, by the advice of my friend, O to

to whom the ship belonged, I resigned the command the day before she sailed: and thus I was unexpectedly called from that service, and freed from a share of the future consequences of that voyage, which proved extremely calamitous. The person who went in my room, most of the officers, and many of the crew, died, and the vessel was brought home with great difficulty.

As 1 was now disengaged from business,

t left L , and spent most of the

following year at London and in Kent. But I entered upon a new trial.—You will easily conceive, that Mrs. ****** was not an unconcerned spectator, when I lay extended, and, as she thought, expiring, upon the ground. In effect, the blow that struck me reached her, in the same instant: she did not indeed immediately feel it, till her apprehensions on my account began to subside; but as I grew

better, better, she became worse: her surprize threw her into a disorder, which no physicians could define, or medicines remove. Without any of the ordinary symptoms of a consumption, she decayed almost visibly, till she became so weak, that me could hardly' bear any one to walk across the room she was in. I was placed sor about eleven months, in what Dr. Toung calls the

*'—dreadful post of observation, *' Darker every hour." It was not till after my settlement in' my present station, that the Lord was pleased to restore her by his own handy when all hopes from ordinary means were at an end. But before this took place, I have some other particulars to mention, which must be the subject of the following sheet, which I hope will be the last on this subject from,

Your affectionate servant,

February I, 1763.

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