Thomas Rankin, methodist divine, and friend of John Wesley, was born in Dunbar, East Lothian, in 1735. His early home training gave his mind a religious bent, but, on the death of his father in 1753, he grew dissipated. Shortly afterwards a troop of dragoons, some of whom had come under the influence of methodist preachers, came to Dunbar, and held religious meetings in the morning and evening. The strangeness of the proceeding brought crowds to the services, and Rankin was greatly influenced by them. Removing to Leith, he heard Whitefield preach his farewell sermon at Orphan-house Yard, Edinburgh, and finally decided to become a preacher. Circumstances delayed the fulfilment of his design. After spending a few months in Charlestown, South Carolina, as agent for a firm of Edinburgh merchants, he was induced by a Wesleyan itinerant preacher in 1759 to visit some methodist societies in the north of England, and during this tour Rankin preached his first sermons. For two years he endured much mental trouble and uncertainty, and at Morpeth, in 1761, sought the counsel of Wesley. After another interview with Wesley in London, Rankin's doubts were removed, and in that year he was appointed to the Sussex circuit. For twelve years he moved through the country, at times accompanying Wesley himself (1769–70). Between the two a close friendship arose, Wesley in his letters always addressing Rankin as ‘My dear Tommy.’
Meanwhile Wesley had become dissatisfied with the conduct of his friends in America, and on 9 April 1773 Rankin left England, specially chosen and commissioned by his chief to reform American methodism. As ‘general assistant and superintendent,’ he called the first conference of American methodist societies in Philadelphia on 4 July 1773. But the jealousy of those whom he had supplanted and his own brusque manners rendered him unpopular, and after the disputes with the American colonies had begun, and there was considerable ill-feeling stirred against Englishmen, he prudently returned to England in October 1777.In England he resumed his old labours until 1783, when he retired from active work, and was appointed supernumerary of the London district. He was one of those who, after considerable dispute, and with some hesitation on Wesley's part, received ordination at the hands of Wesley in 1789. His uncompromising character again brought him into conflict with some of the methodist leaders, including Charles Wesley, but his sterling honesty was always recognised, if his defective education was never forgotten. The last years of his life were spent in London, where he died, 17 May 1810. He was buried near to Wesley in the City Road Chapel.
MR. THOMAS RANKIN.
WRITTEN BY HIMSELF.
Picture from the Arminian Magazine 1796.
In the year 1778 I wrote a short and imperfect account of my life in a letter to the Rev. Mr. John Wesley, which was published in the " Arminian Magazine," in the year 1779. Since that period I have resolved to enlarge that account, by continuing it down to the present time. I have always found narratives of the experience of good men attended with a permanent blessing to my own soul ; and particularly so when written in a plain and scriptural manner. I have often lamented that many excellent characters, both ministers and private Christians, *have gone to their eternal reward, and have left behind them little or no trace of the dealings of God with them. In some this has been occasioned by the want of ability ; and in others, an excess of diffidence and modesty has prevented the church of God from receiving that instruction and consolation which writings of this kind have afforded to thousands. It is this consideration alone which has determined me to enlarge the account of my life already published ; as also to add something on that part of which nothing, as yet, has been written. If one soul receive any lasting benefit, to God alone be all the glory !
I was born at Dunbar, in the shire of East Lothian. My parents feared God, and endeavoured to bring up their children in His fear; all of whom, except two daughters and myself, died young. We were early taught the principles of religion. My father used frequently in the evenings to catechise us, as also the servants. At school we were taught in the same way. By these means the fear of God was early implanted in my mind, so as to make me afraid of doing what other boys did without either fear or shame. While at school I paid close attention to my learning, and made some progress. After a season, I desired my father to let me learn arithmetic; and, this kind of learning being congenial to my turn of mind, I advanced as far in all the differ- ent branches as my master was capable of teaching me. I can say very little about religious impressions while at school ; only I remember that I loved to hear persons converse about religion, and to be in their company. At times I used private prayer, especially when the thoughts of death and judgment came into my mind. When about eleven or twelve years of age I was deeply affected at a sacramental occasion, being permitted to stay at the administration of the ordinance. When I saw the ministers and people receive the bread and wine, and heard the address from the former to the communicants, I frequently burst into tears. At the same time I thought, " If ever I live to be a man, I will be a minister ; for surely if any persons go to heaven, it must be the ministers of the Gospel." Those impressions often remained for days upon my mind, and led me to reading and private prayer, I believe it was about this time that there was a most tremendous storm of thunder and lightning, such as some of the oldest people had never seen before. This being in the night season made the awful scene more terrible. My sisters, with myself, cried, and prayed, and were in the utmost terror of mind. This solemn night made a deep impression upon me, and led me to prayer. The remarks my father made upon it served also to fix upon my mind the great importance of being prepared for death and judgment. It was about this time that my father had me taught music and dancing. I soon found that these things had a fatal tendency to obliterate the good impressions which from time to time I had found my mind affected with. Parents and guardians of youth are not sufficiently aware how soon young minds are ensnared and contaminated with what are called " genteel accomplishments." To such as have no savour of Divine things, the above remark may appear trifling, and they may sneer at it ; but I aver that young people are in the utmost danger from dancing and music : and I have often been astonished that any parents professing godliness should suffer their own children to be taught these things, or turn advocates for them in others. I repeat once more, that a dancing-school, unless conducted by a very peculiar master, who watches over the youth entrusted to him, will soon pave the way for such scenes as both parents and children (if the grace of God do not prevent) will have cause to mourn over when too late.
In the midst of these trifling amusements the Lord in mercy did not leave me to the depravity and vanity of my own corrupted heart. I was now thirteen yean of age, full of vivacity, with good health, and a remarkable flow of spirits. I had an extraordinary dream, which made a very deep impres- sion on my mind, the effects of which remained for a season. I dreamed that I was with some of my schoolfellows in a place which was open to the east, and I was looking towards the skies in that quarter, when all on a sudden the heavens were in a strange commotion; and soon after there appeared large balls of fire, flying from one end of the hemisphere to the other. I called upon my schoolfellows to behold the awful sight; and, while I was speak- ing to them, some of the balls of fire fell on the earth, and came very near us. We all then ran for our lives, with the balls of fire flying all around us ; when, at last, I thought I got into a house, and felt as if I was secured from all danger. Soon after this I awoke in great agitation, but thankful it was only a dream, and not what I imagined in my sleep, - the day of judgment.
The force of education, and a fear of my father, who was very severe in the government of his children, preserved me from many youthful follies, and from sin, both in word and deed. My constitutional sin was a proneness to anger when offended. I do not recollect that I ever began a quarrel with my schoolfellows, as I always dreaded my father's resentment, and the reproof, if not the chastisement, of my schoolmaster. But if I was affronted, my passion rose so high that I regarded no consequences. The moment my passion subsided, I was ashamed and condemned in my conscience ; and often resolved I would never be in a passion any more. The terror I was in lest it should come to my father's ears, made me always ready to make up matters with the boys. He saw in me too much of his own disposition ; and as he had suffered for it in his own mind, he was the more careful to guard me against its pernicious effects. Such was his strength of body, and un- daunted courage of mind, that at the time of the rebellion, in the year 1745, (when I was turned seven years old,) he offered to head a party of his townsmen, in order to attack a party of the rebels, who came to Dunbar for the sake of plunder. He had such love to His Majesty and to our happy constitu- tion, that he was ready to spill his blood in the defence of both. I have heard him say, when he laid the matter before the provost and principal men of the town, if they would have consented, and allowed him the townsmen he would have chosen, he would have secured all the plunder the rebels had taken, and made an end of the detachment.
When I was between sixteen and seventeen years of age, my father, after an illness of some months, died in peace. For some time after his death, my mind was seriously and deeply affected ; but, alas ! youthful company, and trifling amusements, gradu- ally drew my mind from the pursuit of those things that made for my present and eternal happiness. I heard my father's advice no more ; and the awe in which I stood of him being removed by his death, I indulged myself in greater liberties than I durst have done during his life. I began to be more fond of music and dancing ; and this led me into vain company, and meetings of young people of both sexes. My mother was too indulgent and fond of me, (as she never had any other son but myself,) and this made her authority but very light over me. Bless God, that I was mercifully preserved from open wickedness. I do not know that ever I swore an oath in my life; indeed, I felt an entire abhorrence to this vice, and I also detested it in others.
Soon after this, a troop of dragoons came to Dunbar; among whom there were ten or twelve pious men, with several of their wives. As soon as they were settled in the place, they hired a room, and met together for prayer and hearing the word of God every morning and evening. I did not know then, but I have been informed since, that those men were part of the religious soldiers who used to meet with John Haime and others in Germany. The news of soldiers meeting for prayer and praise, and reading the word of God, soon spread through the town: curiosity led many to attend their meetings, and I was one of that number. After a few weeks, some persons had Divine impressions made upon them : the place would scarcely contain the numbers that attended ; and it pleased God to make their conversation and prayers a real blessing to several souls. It was not long before several were enabled to testify that they had redemption in the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of all their sins. This soon spread abroad, and made a great noise in the town. As I loved their conversation and prayers, and continued to attend their meetings, I wished to have some conversation with them, that I might know what they meant by knowing their sins forgiven. I met with them and others ; but I could not understand them when they spoke of God's Spirit bearing witness with their spirits, that they were the children of God. They urged every scripture that occurred to their minds, to prove their point ; but my plea was, " that we might be in the favour of God, and not be assured that our sins were forgiven." I granted. "that some very peculiar holy people might be assured of the Divine favour; but that it was not the privilege of all the children of God." This, I thought, was supported by Scripture, and the expe- rience of some whose lives I had read ; as also con- firmed by the conversation of others, who, I thought, were the most pious persons in Dunbar. I believed the soldiers meant well, but that they were grossly mistaken. Their number, however, increased, and the persecution of the tongue increased also ; so that some who had been respectable characters had their names cast out as evil. I could not bear this, and determined not to frequent their meetings as I had done before. It was about this time that some of the Methodist preachers came from Newcastle and preached at Dunbar. This also being a new thing, many went to hear them, and I attended among the rest. I was pleased with all I heard ; but I do not remember that any particular impression was made upon my mind. After several of the preachers had paid a visit to the place, and many approved of them, Mr. William Darney came and preached also. His manner was such as gave a general disgust to many of the inhabitants ; and, young as I was, I joined the number. I thought, I never heard such non- sense, and such preaching about hell and damnation, from any minister in all my life.
About this time I was invited to the wedding of a farmer's daughter, whose family were intimate with my father while he lived, and the intimacy continued with my mother and myself after his death. I accordingly went, and, as usual, joined in the amuse- ments of the day. After I had danced several times, and was now engaged in a country dance, I was over- whelmed with such dread of mind, that, as soon as it was concluded, I walked out into the fields, (being in summer,) and felt distressed beyond measure. Several came out in search of me ; and when they found me, most earnestly entreated that I would go in and join the dance once more. My answer was, " No, I will dance no more this day ; and I believe I never shall dance more while I live." They asked, if I were well. I replied, I was; but was deter- mined that no entreaties should make me alter my resolution. I thank God that I have been enabled to keep my word to the present day.
It pleased God to carry on the work of His grace in the souls of those in whom it was begun, and their number increased; so that a society was formed, and class-meetings were established. At that time I did not understand the nature of class-meetings ; and therefore was ready to listen to the idle and foolish talking of those who said, " The soldiers had pardoned such and such a one, after they had con- fessed their sins to them." The ministers of the town had also begun to say several things from the pulpit, as well as in private, that were unfriendly to the meetings of the soldiers, and those who assembled with them. This was attended with unpleasant circumstances, and made several afraid to go to their meetings. While things were in this situation, I had occasion to call upon one who was joined to the society. She was a woman of good sense, and amiable in her manners, and had known me from a child. After the business was settled that I went about, she accosted me in a most kind and pleasing manner, by telling me she had not seen me for some time at their meetings, and asked me the reasons why I absented myself. I made a very improper excuse. I wanted to be gone ; for I felt her words to make a deep impression on my mind, and the force of truth made me very uneasy. The effects of this short conversation rested upon my mind for some time, as also the conversation of others who were members of the society. The short of the matter was this : I had a sincere desire to serve God and to save my soul, as also to be thought a religious young man ; but I had not learned to " sell all for the pearl of great price." I still wanted to mingle harmless amusements with the things of God ; and therefore I halted between two opinions, and trimmed between the world and the glorious liberty of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I now resolved to leave home, though much against my mother's will. I told her I could no longer bear to attend to that part of the business which obliged me to attend the public-houses to settle accounts with our customers. In short, I came to a determination to spend some time at Leith, two miles from Edinburgh. I had now an opportu- nity of sitting under the ministry of that pious preacher, Mr. Lindsay, of North Leith. His sermons were greatly blessed to me, and I began to see the plan of salvation with more clearness than ever I had done before. I had an uncle who lived in Edin- burgh ; and when I went to visit him, I had also an opportunity of hearing several excellent ministers preach the Gospel. These opportunities were not lost ; but still I remained an entire stranger to the knowledge of salvation by the remission of my sins. I went on in this manner for some months, till the sacra- ment was going to be administered, when I determined, for the first time, to go to the Lord's table. I waited on the minister with one of the elders, with whom I was acquainted. He proposed the usual questions to me previous to my admission to the ordinance. I replied as well as I could, and told him I had a sincere desire to love God, and walk in His commandments. I received the token, and attended on the sacrament accordingly. The ser- mons, exhortations at the table, and the administra- tion of the ordinance, were attended with a peculiar solemnity, and greatly blessed to my soul. I found such a happiness as I never had known before. This continued for some weeks, and I could truly say that private prayer and reading the word of God were my delight.
It was about this time that I first heard that emi- nent servant of the Lord Jesus, Mr. George White- field. He was preaching his farewell sermon in the Orphan-House yard, in Edinburgh. I had often before had thoughts of hearing him ; but so many things had been said to me of him, that I was afraid I should be deceived. I heard him with wonder and surprise, and had such a discovery of the plan of salvation as I had never known before. I was aston- ished at myself that I should have listened to those idle tales, and thereby have been kept from hearing this burning and shining light, who had been instru- mental in the hands of God for the good of so many thousands of souls. When I understood he was going to leave Edinburgh, I was really distressed. I remembered more of that sermon than of all the sermons I ever had heard ; and had a discovery of the unsearchable riches of the grace of God in Christ Jesus ; as also how a lost sinner was to come to God, and obtain mercy through the Redeemer. From this time I was truly convinced of the necessity of a change of heart. I now sought the knowledge of salvation with my whole heart ; and the measure of happiness which I had for some time experienced made me to think I was in the Divine favour. I most sincerely desired to devote my soul and body to the glory of God ; when I was, all on a sudden, left in darkness. I began to examine myself, if I had given way to any known sin, or neglected any known duty. So far as I had light to discern, I knew not that I had done anything to cause the amazing change I now experienced. I was indeed very unhappy, and the following lines describe my feelings at that time :-
"Driven out from my God, I wander abroad;
Through a desert of sorrows I rove."
What to do, or where to go, I could not tell. I thought, " The way of duty is the way of safety, and here will I hold." I was greatly tempted to believe that all the happiness I had experienced was an entire delusion. Whether from pride or prudence, I cannot say, but I remained silent, and my sufferings were not small. The Lord well knew that it was not a little that would break a headstrong will, and bow a high and proud spirit ; and therefore I had cup after cup given me to drink, in order to embitter everything that had opposed, or might oppose, my salvation by grace alone. I mingled my food with weeping, and my complaints with groans that could not be uttered. " I bless Thee for the most severe; and let this stand the foremost, that my heart has bled."
The time was now drawing near for the sacrament to be administered again ; and when I thought of going to the table of the Lord, I was seized with extreme distress. After many painful reasonings, I thought, " Where can I go for ease to my wounded spirit but to Jesus the sinners' Friend ?" I determined, " If I perish, I will perish crying out for mercy." On the Sunday morning I was early at church, waiting upon God in His public ordinances. The subject preached upon was Heb. xii. 24 ; and the sermon was delivered with many tears and much power from on high. I had often heard Mr. Lind- say with much profit and pleasure, but never before felt what I did under this sermon. My heart was broken to pieces, and now it was that I had a strong hope that the Lord would reveal His love to my heart. I went to the table, and received the bread with a broken, melting, and expectant heart. When the wine was delivered into my hand, the cup being fall, a little was spilt on the floor ; and that very moment Satan suggested that '' Christ's blood was spilt for me in vain ! " I scarcely knew how I got the cup to my lips, or how I delivered it to the next person, according to custom. The horror of mind that seized me was inexpressible, and the violence of the temptation continued for several hours. All my pleasing hopes of pardon and peace passed away as a dream. As soon as I got home, I wrestled with God in mighty prayer ; but all was dark. Towards the evening a ray of light darted across the dreadful gloom ; and hope, with its cheering rays, began to spring up in my soul. I then saw that the dreadful suggestion, that Christ's blood was spilt for me in vain, was only a strong temptation from the powers of darkness. Hopes and fears alternately prevailed, and thus I went on for several weeks.
While I was in this state of mind, I was informed that Mr. Whitefield was expected to preach in the Orphan-House yard next Lord's day. I heard him every time he preached the ensuing week, both even- ing and morning. O, how precious was the word to my soul ! It was sweeter than honey, or the honeycomb. My expectations of Divine mercy rose superior to all my fears. I heard him at every opportunity, till he went to visit Glasgow, and other parts in the west of Scotland. I now saw as well as felt, that I had nothing to do but to come to God, through the Son of His love, and by faith to lay hold on the horns of the altar. I was now led to pray and expect every day and every hour, the moment would arrive when I might say, without a doubt, " My Beloved is mine, and I am His ! " O yes ! " My soul broke forth in strong desires the perfect bliss to prove." Sometimes I thought I was not ready to lay hold on eternal life. At last I began to reason thus : " Why are His chariot-wheels long in coming ? " It then was suggested to me, " Probably you are not one of the elect ; and you may seek, and seek in vain." I tasted no pleasant food, my sleep departed from me, and my flesh wasted from my bones ; till at last I sunk into despair. One morning, after breakfast, I arose and went into the garden, and sat down in a retired place, to mourn over my sad condition. I began to wrestle with God in an agony of prayer. I called out, " Lord, I have wrestled long, and have not yet pre- vailed : O, let me now prevail ! " The whole pas- sage of Jacob's wrestling with the Angel came into my mind ; and I called out aloud, " I will not let Thee go, unless Thou bless me ! " In a moment the cloud burst, and tears of love flowed from my eyes ; when these words were applied to my soul, many times over, "And He blessed him there." They came with the Holy Ghost, and with much assur- ance ; and my whole soul was overwhelmed with the presence of God every doubt of my acceptance was now gone, and all my fears fled away as the morning slides before the rising son. I had the most distinct testimony that all my sins were for- gotten through the blood of the covenant, and that I was a child of God, and an heir of eternal glory. What I now felt was very different from what I had experienced of the drawings of the love of God for several years past, and when I first partook of the sacrament. I had now no more doubt of my interest in the Lord Jesus Christ, than of my own existence. I could declare that the Son of man had still power on earth to forgive sins ; and that He had pardoned my sins, even mine. Now it was that
"Jesus all the day long
Was my joy and my song!"
And the cry of my soul was,
"O that all His salvation might see I
He has loved me, I cried.
He has suffered and died
To redeem such a rebel as me!"
How many times before, when under the most pain- ful distress of mind, I had wished I had never been born ! But now I could bless God that I ever had a being, and fully believed that I should live with God while eternal ages roll. Soon after, I was sent for by a lady, who, observing that I had been in tears, inquired what was the matter. I told her they were not tears of sorrow, they were tears of joy ; and then related to her what the Lord had done for my soul. She burst into tears herself, and told me she had been seeking that great blessing for years, but had not found it. She was so deeply affected with what I had told her, and by the power that attended the wordy that it was some time before she could inform me of the business she wished to consult me upon. I have reason to believe it was made an eter- nal blessing to her soul. As soon as I had finished a little writing which she wanted me to do for her, I went to prayer with her, and left her in tears. I could now look back, and survey the dealings of God with me, even from my childhood ; and understood a little of that scripture, " When the Comforter is come. He shall bring all things to your remem- brance, whatsoever I have said unto you." Those words were truly fulfilled in me, " I have girded him, although he has not known Me." How many times did I taste of His love, and how sweetly did the Lord draw me by the cords thereof ! But youthful vanities and youthful company choked the good seed. Now I saw why it was that the Lord laid His hand so heavily on my soul, and gave me to feel so keenly the distress of a wounded spirit. This embittered every creature and created thing to my mind, and made me completely willing to sell all for the pearl of great price. In a word, everything, the nearest and dearest connexions on earth, became entirely and totally indifferent to me, when they stood in opposition to the salvation of my soul. I was enabled to give up all, and I found all in my adorable Lord and Saviour.
"Great is the work, my neighbours cried.
And own'd the power Divine ;
Great is the work, my heart replied.
And be the glory Thine."
I now embraced an opportunity of writing to one of the young men belonging to the society in Dunbar, with whom I had had many disputes upon religious topics, and informed him what God had done for my soul. This soon spread through all the society, and afforded matter of praise to God in my behalf; but to others it was only, "Mr. Whitefield has made him religiously mad ! " This was no more than I expected ; and when it came to my ears, it gave me very little trouble. But I felt some concern, when I was informed that my mother, whom I sin- cerely loved, and sisters, were very much distressed on my account. But the providence of God soon took care for this also. I had paid very little atten- tion to my body, so that my health had suffered, till I was not able to attend to my business, and had all the appearance of a rapid consumption. The doctor, who had given me some medicines, and found I grew worse, advised me to remove to my native air. I did so; and when I came to Dunbar, my mother and sisters were in great distress to see me so reduced that walking a hundred yards would tire me. By the use of some simple and efficacious medicines, and the benefit of my native air, after the first week, I gained strength every day ; so that in six weeks' time, by the blessing of God, I was restored to my former health and strength. About ten or twelve days after I came to Dunbar, as I knew that many things were said to the minister of the parish con- cerning me, I waited upon him. He had known me from a child, and he was well acquainted with my parents. As soon as he was informed that I was in the house, he sent for me into his study, and desired me to take a seat opposite to him. After a few words about my health, I told him, that I supposed he had heard a variety of things concerning me. He replied, he had, and wished to converse with me himself about those things. I told him I was come on purpose; and then in all simplicity and godly sincerity informed him of my experience, and boldly declared what the Lord had done for my soul. He heard me with great attention, and when I had done, gave me several friendly counsels; he then arose from his seat, with tears in his eyes, and put his right hand on my head, and said, " My dear Tommy, I always loved you from a child, and I now love you more than ever : may God bless you, and keep you, and make you a blessing in your day and generation ! " After he had done, I thanked him, and he desired me to call upon him whenever I thought proper. My views and pursuits were now directed to one thing, - the glory of God, and the salvation of my own soul, and the souls of others. For some weeks indeed, while I remained ill, I thought of nothing but of dying, and going to heaven ; but now, being recovered, I felt such love to the souls of my fellow- creatures that I longed to tell everyone what God had done for my soul. My brethren of the society, to whom I had now united myself, rejoiced over me in the Lord ; and as soon as my health enabled me, they called upon me to pray in their class and prayer meetings.
It was at this time that thoughts arose in my mind, that I ought wholly to dedicate myself to God in preaching the Gospel. I had already gained some little knowledge of the Methodist economy; but however I loved the preachers and the people, I determined, if ever I preached the Gospel, it should be as a minister in the Church of Scotland ; and I had purposed to go to the college in Edinburgh, in order to prepare myself for the ministry. I now had some conversation with the minister of the parish on this head, and also with the Rev. Mr. Whitefield. The result was, I determined, whether I became a minister or not, to make it my one and only concern, to live to Him who had lived and died for me. I was enabled to do so, and to dedicate all my spare time to reading, prayer, and Divine improvement. The more I did this, however, the more the thoughts of preaching rested on my mind ; but I was called to pass through another school, very different from a college, before that period should arrive.
Being now perfectly recovered, and in some degree established in the ways of God, and my parent and other relations made sensible that the change wrought upon me was from God and not from man ; I was called, by the providence of God, to spend a little time longer in Leith. I soon got acquainted with some pious people, and we frequently met together for prayer and spiritual conversation. This was the case both in Edinburgh and Leith, and was attended with a blessing to my soul. At this time we had no regular society in Edinburgh, but there were a few who were united together in Mussel- borough, six miles from Edinburgh. Some pious dragoons, of the same regiment with those who first brought Methodism to Dunbar, were the instruments, under God, of bringing the same to Musselborough. Several of the inhabitants were awakened to a sense of their danger, and some were also brought to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were formed into a society, and the preachers visited them, as well as the society at Dunbar. I went to see them, whenever I had an opportunity, and we mutually partook of the blessing of the Lord. Thus I went on till the month of October, when the provi- dence of God opened a new scene to my view.
I had been disappointed in my expectations of going to the college ; and although the thoughts of preaching would frequently come to my mind, yet I saw no prospect of such a thing taking place. There was, at this time, an offer made to me, of taking a voyage to Charlestown, in South Carolina. I had a cousin in Edinburgh, who was in the mercantile line; and he and another gentleman offered to send several kinds of goods under my care, to dispose of them to the best advantage in that city, and to bring such returns as were most likely to answer the markets at home. As the prospect was flattering, and I understood the business, I entered into an agreement, and accordingly sailed for that place. The passage was long and tedious, but we came at last in safety to Charlestown. One particular inducement for me to undertake this voyage was, the captain was reported to be a pious man, and of an exemplary character. Another was, that as the prospect of dedicating myself to the work of the ministry was closed, I thought it my duty to employ my time and talents in a way that might tend to my worldly advantage. I had consulted my friends and relatives, and all of them seemed to approve of the step I now took. I always had a strong desire to see foreign countries; and now, I thought, I shall have this desire gratified. I did not properly consider that I was but young in the ways of God, and wanted more establishment therein. However, I had a lesson to learn, and the Lord permitted me to take this step, in order that I might in some measure learn it. Whenever the weather permitted, we had prayers morning and evening ; and all the officers, and ship's company, as well as passengers, regularly attended. This, in general, was performed by the captain ; and sometimes he called upon me to read and pray also. I had been mentioned to him as a religious young man; and he showed a particular regard for me, both in going out and coming home. He would several times call me into his state-room, so called, and con- verse with me about the things of God. I soon found that he had formerly experienced a real work of grace upon his soul. I also learned that it was not with him as in times past. It was not long after our arrival at Charlestown, that I had a sad proof that he had fallen from grace. His business exposed him to the company of some merchants and captains of ships, and I observed that he came to his ship several times intoxicated. I was very much grieved to see this, and I once took the liberty to hint it to him. As I was but young, and he upwards of forty, if not fifty years of age, I was afraid he would be offended ; but I found the contrary. He was much of a gentleman in his manners, very different from most sea-captains ; which made him receive what I said in a way I scarcely expected. He candidly confessed his being overtaken with liquor, and with tears lamented it ; but, alas ! his spiritual strength was departed from him, so that I saw him, at different times after this, overtaken in the same snare.
The vessel was at Charlestown several months before her cargo was discharged, and a fresh one on board of her. I had an opportunity of taking notice of the place, its inhabitants, and their conduct. The people appeared to be a dissipated and thoughtless generation. The little I saw in public, and what I observed in private companies, made me conclude, that the world, and the things thereof, engrossed their whole attention. The cheapness of rum, and the heat of the climate, were strong inducements for the inhabitants to love drink ; and many of them did so to excess. I also observed a very great profli- gacy of manners among the poor blacks, whether they were free or slaves. However, I found there were Lots, even in this Sodom. As I made it a point of conscience to attend the public worship every Lord's day, I observed the places pretty well filled, and the people seemed to hear with attention. The only minister I heard who seemed to speak home to the consciences of his hearers was a Baptist. I attended principally at his chapel, and had reason to bless God for the agreeable seasons I enjoyed under his ministry. I nevertheless found I was not at home, and I did not enjoy that depth of communion with God, either in public or private, which I had experienced before I left Edinburgh. I longed to leave the place ; and when the time came, I rejoiced at the thoughts of seeing my Christian friends in Leith, Edinburgh, and Dunbar, once more. We sailed from Charlestown in the month of February, and the vessel arrived at Leith about the middle of April. We had a very stormy passage; but our gracious Lord most mercifully preserved us. Our captain was ill most of the voyage ; and what was worse, he made himself too often so, by taking strong drink. He had truly been converted to God, and for years was a burning and a shining light ; but that fatal opinion, that he could not fall from grace, had been the bane of his spiritual happiness. He several times took me by the hand, and thanked me ; and then said, if God spared him to return home safe, he would go to sea no more.
The company that I was obliged to mingle with at Charlestown, on account of business, was far from pleasing to me ; and the want of more retirement was attended with loss to my spiritual happiness. On my return home, when I compared the state of my mind to that which I experienced before I left Britain, I found that my soul had suffered a real declension. On my knees, and with many tears, I cried to God to restore the joy of His salvation. My mind was much affected with this thought, that I had acted the part of Jonah, and had fled from the presence of the Lord, by making the prospect of gain one of the chief inducements for me to go this voyage ; and this was increased, when I reflected on the conviction, that I had so deeply felt, of giving up myself to the work of the ministry. It was then that the thoughts of preaching the Gospel returned upon me with double force.
Mr. Whitefield came to Edinburgh soon after my return from abroad ; and I had the pleasure of hear- ing him, evening and morning, for some days. The Lord, in mercy, made the word by him a great blessing to my soul ; so that I soon recovered all that peace and joy in believing which I had experi- enced twelve months before. My cup now ran over, and the joy of the Lord was my strength. I had now an opportunity of getting acquainted with several pious persons, to whom I was a stranger before I sailed for Carolina.
Mr. Wesley had paid several visits to Glasgow, at the kind solicitation of that good man. Dr. Gillies ; but no society was formed there for several years afterwards. As a society was formed at Dunbar in the latter end of the year 1755, and at Mussel- borough soon after, Mr. Wesley preached at both the above places in the years 1757 and 1759 ; and was much pleased to see the piety and zeal which the members of each society showed, as well as the con- gregations that attended. I was absent from Dunbar at the time of both his visits, and I had not the pleasure of seeing him for two years afterwards. In the year 1760 an opening was made for our preachers to visit Edinburgh and Aberdeen, with some other places in the north ; but it was not till the summer, 1761, that Mr. Wesley preached in the above cities. I came to Dunbar about the month of June, 1759". It was with great pleasure I met with my relatives and Christian friends, after an absence of near ten months. The Lord enabled me to improve the time and opportunities I now enjoyed, both to my own good, and the good of others. Now it was that I first got acquainted with my valuable friend Mr. Mather. For several years there was no regular preaching at Dunbar, only the preachers paid them a visit from Newcastle as often as they could. Mr. Mather's visit was attended with a great blessing to the society at Dunbar, as also to the society at Musselborough. I was greatly pleased, as well as profited, by his preaching and conversation. I never saw anyone before that appeared so dead to all below, and so much alive to God, as also so deeply engaged in His work. I embraced every opportunity of his company and conversation, and the more I saw and heard, the more my heart cleaved to him. I was with him at Musselborough, and stood before him when he preached out of doors, and he leaned on my shoulders, which I thought a very great honour ; although I did not admire the appearance of some who were preparing to throw dirt at him. I had not learned then what it was to go through showers of dirt, stones, and rotten eggs, which I experienced several years afterwards. From the conversation I had with Mr. Mather, I had a very great desire to visit the societies of Alnwick, New- castle, and Sunderland. In September I set off for Berwick, and from thence to Alnwick and Newcastle. I was greatly pleased, as well as profited, by all I saw or heard, whether in public, or with private indi- viduals. Now it was that I saw Methodism in its beauty, as it reflected its doctrine and discipline, as well as the Divine power that attended the word of God preached. My soul was greatly united to the people wherever I came ; and everyone I met with showed me kindness. While I was at Newcastle, in attending the preaching one Sunday afternoon, when Mr. Thomas Lee preached out of doors, he inquired who that young man was, that stood opposite to him, dressed in blue. As soon as he knew where I lodged, he sent for me, and showed me every mark of love and brotherly kindness. He said he was going to the north, in order to visit the societies in those parts, and desired me to go with him ; which I most willingly complied with. When we came to one of the country places where he was to preach, he desired me to meet the little congregation that even- ing. I told him, that I never attempted to preach, and begged to be excused. He then asked,' if I never had prayed or exhorted in public I told him, I had, sometimes, at our little prayer-meetings: then he replied, that I should certainly speak to the people that evening. I entreated him to excuse me : but all I said was in vain ; so that I was obliged to comply. I sung and prayed, and said something ; but in such confusion, that I do not remember one sentence I delivered. I was heartily glad when I had done, and told Mr. Lee that I hoped he would never ask me to speak or pray any more in public
After my return to Dunbar, I determined I would spend some time in the north of England. While at home, my time was principally spent in reading, meditation, and prayer. The Lord was now pre- paring me for that work unto which He was pleased afterwards to call me. I was assured that I grew in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Li the month of November, Mr. Shent, from Leeds, called at Dunbar, and preached several times. As I had been making up my mind for some time, I now saw my way clear to go with him to Newcastle. After staying a few days there, I went to visit Sunderland, and determined to spend some time in that place. There was something in the spirit and temper of the people that was very pleasing to me, and I soon got acquainted with some who were much devoted to God. My soul increased in the Divine life ; and if ever I was sensible of deep communion with God, it was now. I greatly loved the conversation of pious old professors, as I learned more from their experience of the work of Divine grace, than all that I ever conversed with before. To spend an hour with such, was truly pleasing to me ; and to this day I remember with gratitude the many useful lessons I then learned. I now saw the whole economy of Methodism in the most favourable light, - the class and band meetings, meeting of the society, body-bands, lovefeasts, &c., I saw the great utility of, and it gave me the utmost pleasure to conform to every part : the whole was calculated to promote the great end for which they were designed, - the glory of God in the salvation of souls. The preachers lodged at the house where I was, which afforded me frequent opportunities of instruction ; and although it is now almost forty-four years ago, yet I call to mind, with the utmost pleasure, the salutary effects of those interviews. It is with the most cordial satisfaction that I record the names of a Cownley, Hopper, Lowe, Rowell, Lee, Oddie, Hosmer, Olivers, and some others, whose names I do not at this time remember. I most unfeignedly thank God for the seasons I enjoyed with all of them. They have all run their race, and finished their course ; and as they were all burning and shining lights in their day and generation, they are now in the garner of God, where I believe I shall soon join them, with many others, to part no more for ever !
Before I came to Sunderland, I had, at times, a discovery of the remaining evil of my heart, which at seasons made me very uneasy. In reading the oracles of God, I was clearly convinced that the grand design of the Gospel was not only to bring sinners to enjoy a sense of the Divine favour, through our Lord Jesus Christ, but also to restore them to that holiness without which no man can enjoy God in eternal glory. After I came to Sunderland, I had a discovery of this important truth, in a more distinct and ample manner. I now began to seek this great salvation, as I had never done before ; and the more I sought it, the more my soul grew in grace, and in the knowledge of the adorable Saviour. It was also at this time that the thoughts of preaching began to operate with more force upon my mind. This led me to much prayer, that I might not deceive my own soul. As these thoughts occurred, I was deter- mined never to attempt any such thing, unless God should make it as plain to me as the sun at noon- day. Thus I spent the winter, and the early part of the spring, and most sensibly felt that my soul had gained ground in the heavenly race. My one desire was to please God, and to do the will of Heaven ; and I laboured to redeem the time, in the most earnest and useful manner. I frequently strove to put away the thoughts of preaching from my mind ; and the more I did so, the more would they return, and penetrate my heart.
As the spring approached, I frequently walked out into the fields ; and many a precious moment have I experienced in reading and prayer, at the side of a hedge, when none but the Holy One of Israel either saw or heard me. It was in one of those seasons that I was seized in a very uncommon manner. I ,had such a discovery of the deplorable state of the human race, by original and actual sin, that I almost fainted away. Words cannot express the view, as well as the feelings, I at that time had, which led me to more earnest prayer, searching the Scriptures, and walking more closely with God. Some time after this, as I was one evening meeting my class, and happy in my soul, I was all on a sudden seized with such horror, as I had never known from the time I knew the pardoning love of God. As soon as the meeting was finished, I went home, and retired to private prayer ; but all was darkness and painful distress. I found no intercourse with heaven, and faith and prayer seemed to have lost their wings. For five days and nights I went through such distress of soul as made sleep, and the desire of food, depart from me. I could attend to nothing but my painful feelings, and mourn and weep.
On the fifth day two friends called to see me, and we joined in prayer, and I found more liberty than I had experienced during the time of this painful distress. As soon as my friends were gone, I fell down on my knees, and continued in prayer till I went to bed, I now found a degree of sweetness, and communion with my Lord once more; and I closed my eyes with the pleasing sensation. I awoke very early next morning, and with such a change in my feelings, that I could scarce allow myself time to dress, before I fell upon my knees to praise God; and when on my knees, had such a view of the goodness and love of God, as almost overcame every power of body and soul. Soon after this, I had such a discovery made to the eye of my mind, of the dreadful state of all the human race, (who were without God, and without hope in the world,) that my knees smote together, and every joint trembled; while these words sounded in my ears, " Whom shall I send ? whom shall I send ? " My heart replied, "Lord, if I can be of any use, to pluck one of these from the jaws of ruin, here I am. send me." At that moment I felt such love for the souls of my fellow-creatures, as I never had done since I knew the pardoning love of God. A variety of scriptures were now applied to my mind, part of which were the following : - " Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence ; touch no unclean thing ; go ye out of the midst of her ; be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord. For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight ; for the Lord shall go before you, and the God of Israel shall be your reward ! " And, " They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament ; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever." My whole heart cried out, " Who am I,
Lord, or what is my father's house, that Thou shouldest employ such a poor, ignorant creature as I am ? " Then it was that these words came with power to my soul : " I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes ; even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in Thy sight."
If my cup, for some days, had been a cup of inward anguish and distress, it was now filled with joy unspeakable, and full of glory ! It was similar to the overwhelming power of Divine love, which I felt on that transporting morning, when the Lord brought my soul first out of darkness into His marvellous light. The only difference was in this,- I had such a deep discovery of the ruined and deplorable state of man, and of the unsearchable riches of Christ, as I then had no conception of. Such were my feelings, that I thought I could lay down my life, if I might but be anywise instrumental of saving one soul from everlasting ruin. It did not now enter into my mind to think about a genteel provision for the work of the ministry, or of being deeply learned in polite, literature, so as to acquire the applause of men ; but only how I might obtain the approbation of God, connected with the salva- tion of my own soul, and also of the souls of others. In short, my will was so lost in the will of God, that the whole cry of my heart was, " Thy will be done. Thy will be done."
When the overwhelming power of God in some measure subsided, I began to reason about my weak- ness, and unfitness in every respect for the work oi the ministry ; but how kind and gracious was the Lord, in conveying with power the following scrip- tures to my mind! - "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt con- demn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord." (Isai. liv. 17.) All the above solemn trans- action between God and my soul passed in the morn- ing between three o'clock and seven, when my mind settled into a sweet and heavenly calm. Such had been my ignorance and folly, that many times I had said in my mind, " I will never attempt to take a text, or stand up to preach the Gospel, unless God shall condescend to make my call as clear as the apostle Paul's was." The Lord therefore in great mercy took this method to remove all scruples from my mind, and to make it as clear as the sun at noon- day. Who would have thought, that, after such an abundant revelation of the will of God concerning me, I ever should have feared that I had deceived myself, and that the whole was a delusion ? But of this in its proper place. I now saw that all the past dealings of God, in the painful as well as the pleas- ing experience I had gone through, were intended to prepare my soul for this important period. When I was called down to breakfast, all the family observed the pleasing change in my countenance, but they remained strangers to the cause ; only I observed, that I was delivered from my painful exercise of mind, and was now exceeding happy in the enjoy- ment of the love and comfortable presence of God. Indeed, if ever I lived in the suburbs of heaven, it was this day, and for several days after. On the Saturday we expected the preacher ; and I could not help praying, in the simplicity of my heart, if what I had passed through was from God, that such a one might come. It was not his regular turn ; but the kind providence of heaven condescended to my igno- rance and weakness, in sending the very person I had prayed for, I now thought this was a token for good, and fully believed the whole I had gone through was indeed the work of the Lord. I took the first opportunity that offered to read to him the whole of the late transaction between God and my soul. As soon as I had done it, he replied, " This may be of God, and it may not be of Him ; but nothing certain can be said, or a proper judgment formed, till a trial is made." This was a wise and judicious manner of giving me his sentiments ; but it cast a damp on my mind, and exposed me to pain- ful reasonings. Nevertheless, matters were ordered so, that I went with one of the local preachers, and supplied his place on the Sabbath. I had occasion- ally given an exhortation before, but never ventured to take a text till this day ; so that this was the first sermon I ever preached. Several of the people took me by the hand when I came down from the pulpit ; but I was so ashamed, that I could not look any of them in the face. But this was not all : I had been led to think, if I really was called of God to preach, the Divine power would attend the word in a very remarkable manner, in the conviction and conversion of sinners. This arose from reading Messrs. Wesley's and Whitefield's Journals ; as also in hearing Mr. Whitefield myself. I did not know the meaning of that saying, " My time is not yet." Indeed, I con- cluded I had been mistaken, and had deceived myself ; and therefore I resolved to preach no more. In this resolution I returned from the place where I had preached to Sunderland, and was very much tempted and distressed. As soon as I came home, I retired to my room, and poured out my soul before God, most fervently beseeching Him that I might not be deceived, and thereby ruin my own soul. Those who have gone through the same fire and water will understand what I then felt. It was strongly suggested to my mind, that if ever I attempted to preach any more, Satan would tear me limb from limb ! I persevered in prayer till the sweat flowed from every pore, and till I could challenge all the powers of darkness, in the strength of the Lord, to hurt a single hair of my head.
It was about this time that I was more deeply convinced of the necessity of recovering the image of the blessed God. What by my exercise of mind about preaching, and the discovery of inbred sin, it might have been said,
"Commences now the agonizing strife,
Previous to nature's death, and second life!"
Sometimes I thought I would preach no more; but when I refrained, I was truly miserable. Through the mercy of God, wherever I went, the people received me with pleasure, and kindly soli- cited my return among them. But all this did not satisfy me : as I did not see the fruit of my labours, as I expected, I was much cast down and distressed. I did not then know that I bid not wisdom or grace sufficient to bear any remarkable success in my preaching. I was enabled, however, to go on my way, if not at all times rejoicing, yet with a pleasing hope I should yet see better days. Early in the spring, 1761, another local preacher with myself resolved to spend the ensuing summer in breaking up fresh ground : a blessing attended our labours, and we were encouraged to go on in the work of the Lord. In the beginning of June, Mr. Wesley being on his return from Scotland, and as I never had seen him, I was desirous to give him the meeting before he came to Sunderland. Accordingly, five or six friends set off from Sunderland, and being informed that Mr. Wesley was to preach at Morpeth at one o'clock, we set forward ; but when we came to Mor- peth, we found he had preached at twelve instead of one o'clock. We put up our horses, and hastened to the market-place, where he was giving out the last hymn. We were not too late, however, for the Divine blessing. As soon as I came near to hear the words of the hymn, I was so struck with the presence of God, that if I had not leaned on a friend's arm, I should have fallen to the ground. The words of the hymn were,
"Now, even now, the Saviour stands,
All day long He spreads His hands."
As I had read all Mr. Wesley's Works, and in particular his Journals, I had formed a very high opinion of him ; and the moment I distinctly saw him, and heard his voice, such a crowd of ideas rushed upon my mind, as words cannot express. The union of soul I then felt with him was inde- scribable.
I had long considered Mr. John Wesley as the father of the Methodists, under God. If Mr. Whitefield was rendered such a blessing to my soul, in my first acquaintance with God, and the things of eternity, I had since learned that Mr. Wesley had been a father to him and others, who afterwards had been burning and shining lights in their day and genera- tion. I could not help saying in my mind, " And is this the man who has braved the winter storm and summer's sun, and run to and fro throughout Great Britain and Ireland, and has crossed the Atlantic Ocean, to bring poor wretched sinners to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ ? " I looked at him with a degree of astonishment, and from my very soul could bless God that He had so highly favoured me, as to let me see this eminent servant of the King of kings and Lord of lords ! It was now that the foundation of that union was laid, which remained inviolate for thirty-one years, to the time he was called to his great and eternal reward ! I have a thousand times over blessed the God of heaven that ever I saw his face, or heard his voice ; and I shall continue to do so while life remains, and I hope to spend a glorious eternity with him.
As soon as the singing and prayer were concluded, I went to the friend's house where Mr. Wesley was to dine. We had the pleasure of his conversation for some little time, and after dinner rode on to Placey : he preached there at five o'clock, and then rode on to Newcastle. Mr. Wesley's company and conversation by the way made this one of the most pleasant rides that I ever had known. In the course of a few days, Mr. Wesley came to Sunderland, and I had the pleasure of hearing him, morning and evening, while he was there. His preaching was attended with a peculiar blessing to my soul, in giving me a more clear conception of purity of heart, and the way to obtain it, by faith alone ; but when he read some letters in the society, giving an account of the great work of God in London, and some other places, I was so deeply affected with a sense of inbred sin, that I was almost overwhelmed by it. For several years I had seen, and at seasons deeply felt, the need of purity of heart ; but now my soul was pierced with such keen convictions, as gave me no rest, night or day. In short, my heart was so laid open, and so completely dissected by the word and Spirit of God, that I was ready to cast away my confidence, seeing it so desperately wicked.
I wanted to open my mind to Mr. Wesley ; but the power of temptation shut my mouth, so that I could neither inform him of what I intended respect- ing my call to preach, nor the present experience of my soul. The Lord in great mercy preserved me from casting away my shield, and sinking in the deep waters, which at times appeared ready to swallow me up. However, I was not suffered to sink under the pressure of this burden. There were a few that were earnestly seeking the great salvation, deliver- ance from inbred sin ; and with them I associated. None of them appeared to me to labour under such deep distress, nor had such deep discoveries of the evils of their heart, as I laboured under. From what I heard of their experience, I was afraid to mention the whole of my feelings, lest I should stumble any of them. The Lord knew what He was preparing me for, and therefore He was pleased to give me to drink deeper of the painful cup, that I might know how to comfort and encourage others. I was also at this time strongly tempted to preach no more, till God had purified my heart, and brought me into this glorious liberty. When I gave way to this temptation, I was so much the more unhappy ; and therefore I still continued to preach, and the Lord was pleased to bless my labours. It was about this time that I had an opportunity of conversing with one who professed to love the Lord with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength. Her conversation was much blessed to my soul, and I saw the way of deliverance more clearly than I had done before.
After labouring as in the fire, from the month of June to September, the Lord gave me such a dis- covery of His love as I never had known before. I was meeting with a few Christian friends, who were all athirst for entire holiness, and after several had prayed, I also called on the name of the '' Deliverer that came out of Zion, to turn away ungodliness from Jacob." While these words were pronounced with my heart and lips, " Are we not, O Lord, the purchase of Thy blood ? let us then be redeemed from all iniquity," in a moment the power of God so descended upon my soul, that I could pray no more. It was
"That speechless awe which dares not move,
And all the silent heaven of love!"
I had many times experienced the power of redeem- ing love, and in such a manner as I scarce knew whether in the body or not. But this manifestation of the presence of my adorable Lord and Saviour was such as I never had witnessed before, and no words of mine can properly describe it. I can only say " that my soul was filled with serene peace unutter- able, and full of glory." It was such a heaven opened in my heart as I never expected to experi- ence on this side eternity. The language of my heart every moment was, " O, what has Jesus done for me ! O, what has Jesus done for me !" Soon after, some of the friends present asked, if I had received the blessing of purity of heart. I replied, " I cannot tell what the Lord hath done for me ; but this I can say, I never felt such a change, through all the powers of my soul, as I now feel !" When we parted, I left them all in tears ; but most were tears of joy. Yet, as I had no particular scripture applied, I durst not say that the blood of Christ had cleansed me from all sin. I longed to retire into private, and to pour out my whole heart and soul to my blessed Deliverer ! O, what an evening did I experience ! The windows of heaven were opened, and the skies poured down righteousness, .and great was my glorying in God my Saviour,
When the overwhelming power of Divine love began to subside a little, and I had no more such manifestations as I had had the first evening of my great deliverance, Satan began to suggest I had not received purity of heart. So far the tempter would allow, that I had received a very great blessing ; but not deliverance from inbred sin. Having none to converse with who were established in that glorious liberty, and therefore a stranger to Satan's devices, I was ready to conclude I might be indeed mistaken." By these subtle suggestions, I was led into hurtful reasonings, and this made way for doubts concerning the glorious work which God had wrought in my soul. However, I still enjoyed liberty, and I felt nothing contrary to love arise in my heart. When I opened my mind to one of the preachers, and told him a little of my experience, he asked me if I thought God had delivered me from the remains of the carnal mind. I replied, " I cannot tell, only I enjoy such a liberty as I never did enjoy since I have known the pardoning love of God." He en- couraged me to go forward, and to expect the witness of what the Lord had done for me,
I saw my great business was to keep close to God, and continue my meetings with those few who wished to be all devoted to the Lord Jesus.
In the beginning of October I wrote to Mr. Wesley, and informed him of what had passed in my soul ; as also what I had gone through for near two years, concerning my call to preach. He soon answered my letter, and closed it with these words, " You will never get free of all those evil reasonings, till you give yourself wholly up to the work of God ! " Soon after this I went up to London, and embraced the first opportunity of waiting upon Mr. Wesley : he spoke to me as a father to a son, and advised me to decline all thoughts of temporal con- cerns, and to go into a Circuit. The importance of the work appeared to be such as made me tremble. He desired me to consider the conversation, and call upon him again. In the mean time, I embraced every opportunity of meeting with those whom I ob- served were all in earnest for deliverance from inbred sin. The kind providence of God soon brought me acquainted with some of the most excellent of the earth, several of whom had been brought into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. With such I constantly associated, and their prayers and conversa- tion were a great blessing to my soul. The Lord removed all my doubts and evil reasonings, and by His grace I knew I loved the Lord my God with all my soul, mind, and strength. Li short, I was not ashamed to declare, that I assuredly knew, that the Lord Jesus had purified my heart by faith in His blood, and that I felt nothing contrary to the pure love of God. What seasons of refreshment did I find in the select band, and other private meetings at this time ! My soul was like a watered garden from day to day, and my cup was running over. I no longer felt reluctance to go out as a poor despised Methodist preacher; whereas, before this period, I really thought I could have chosen death as soon. I therefore embraced the opportunity of waiting upon Mr. Wesley again, and told him I was willing to labour where he thought proper. He told me, " that Mr. Murlin, who was then in the Sussex Circuit, was going down to Norwich, and that I should go and supply his place;" and I accordingly went.
Sevenoaks, in Kent, was the first place I preached at. I had paid a very particular attention to the manner of Mr. Wesley, as also of Mr. Maxfield, when preaching in London. I took notice of the pointed and close applications they made to the con- sciences of the people. As I had them for a pattern, I endeavoured to tread in their steps. I enforced, as well as I could, a free, full, and present salvation. The Lord soon set to His seal, so that some were stirred up to expect pardon, and others deliverance from the remains of the carnal mind. The goodness of God was manifested in a peculiar manner, with respect to my own soul ; for I had not been a week in the Circuit, before I had such a discovery of my call to preach, as confirmed all my former experience. The preaching had not been above three years in this little Circuit, and one preacher supplied the whole. I therefore attended to the discipline of the societies, as well as preaching to them ; and as all the societies were but small, I always met them, by speaking to every member after I had done preaching. This I did the first time I went round the Circuit ; and I soon saw the salutary effects thereof. I knew the state of every member: and this enabled me to address them in public and private accordingly. It pleased God first to visit some in Sevenoaks with a sense of pardon, as also of the virtue of the all- cleansing blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. When I mentioned this as I went round the Circuit, the flame broke out in such a manner as was never seen or felt among them before.
At my third or fourth visit, upwards of twenty found peace with God, and several others were en- abled to testify that the blood of Christ had cleansed them from all sin. Now it was that I saw the arm of the Lord made bare, and the fruit of my labours, when God had prepared my soul, by many tempta- tions and many blessings, to bear the same. O the wisdom and goodness of God in His dealings with His creatures !
Every day some one or another was brought to the knowledge of God ; others filled with His pure love, and several awakened to a sense of their lost and undone state.
In one of those meetings at Ewehurst Cross, it pleased God to visit Mr. Richardson, who was then curate of the parish. A few months after, he came to London, and laboured as a clergyman in con- nexion with Mr. Wesley, and was a burning and a shining light, till called to his eternal reward. That memorable day, when the Lord visited Mr. Richardson's soul, was such a one as I had never seen. From twelve to twenty persons in the two little societies of Northiam and Ewehurst were brought to the knowledge of God. I was engaged almost the whole of the day in praying and speaking to the people. I was so filled with the love of God, that I scarcely slept the whole night ; and yet I got up in the morning as a giant refreshed with wine.
I went to the Conference held at Leeds in July, 1762, where I was appointed to the Sheffield Circuit, and had for my companions John Nelson, William Ingill, and James Clough. The Sheffield Circuit at that time extended to Leicester on the south, and beyond Barnsley in the north. The work of the Lord prospered, but particularly in Sheffield and Rotherham. . Many were added to the society, and several brought to know the justifying and sanctify- ing influences of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Derby, Nottingham, Leicester, with several other places, partook of the revival.
At the next Conference, in London, the Fund for the old preachers was first set on foot. I was appointed to labour the ensuing year, 1763, in the Devonshire Circuit, which took in Somerset as well as Devon. My fellow-labourers were Nicholas Manners and William Menithorp. We soon began to see some fruit of our labour. Except Tiverton and Collumpton, the societies were but small, as were the congregations also. We preached a free, full, and present salvation. In some places we saw the fruit of our labours ; but not without opposition from those that were with- out, as well as others that were within. Where we introduced preaching, we had a great deal of tumult and confusion, and also in some of the old societies, particularly in the city of Exeter. However, in most of the societies there was an increase of num- ber ; in others, many were savingly brought to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. We had a very remarkable work in the little society of North- moulton, both for grace and number. The doctrine, and the witnesses of purity of heart, gave much offence to a well-meaning man, who was a school, master and local preacher. He gave way to a very improper spirit, which hurt the work, and grieved the spirits of many, as well as myself. How much hurt will one jarring string cause in a society, and sometimes in a Circuit ! There was one thing which had an unhappy effect on the minds of some in that society, and in other societies of the Circuit. Mr. Menithorp was obliged to leave the Circuit; the preacher who came in his place neither understood nor loved the Methodist doctrines or discipline, and therefore the discontented found a kind of refuge in him ; which hurt the work in several places, and greatly pained my mind. Nevertheless, we had such a revival of the work of God as had not been known for years.
In 1764 the Conference was in Bristol, and I was appointed assistant preacher for Cornwall. I had no sooner given my consent, than my heart was filled with the Divine Presence, and a conviction that I should see such a year as I had never done since I was an itinerant preacher. All the time I remained in Bristol, before I set out for my Circuit, I enjoyed such communion with God as I had not done in all the former part of the Conference. In this happy frame of mind I continued till I reached Redruth. I had little or no acquaintance with those who were to be my fellow-labourers, except two of them ; one of whom I could truly depend on, as a man whose soul was wholly in the work of God. As soon as I had time to converse a little with our friends, I found that brother Brammah and his wife had not been idle the few days they had been in Redruth before me. The first evening I preached, the Lord was pleased to give me an earnest of what He was about to do in this town, as well as in all the Circuit. Ten or twelve were awakened under that sermon.
I looked upon this as a token for good, and I believed we should see glorious days of the Son of man. The whole county was one Circuit ; but we were obliged to divide it into two : three preachers supplied the west, and three the eastern part. My companions in the west were Messrs. Brammah and Stevens: those in the east were Messrs. Oldham, Darney, and Whitehead, who were truly alive to God, and they were blessed to the people wherever they preached. Brother Whitehead was only come out, at this Conference, on trial. Brother Darney had preached for years: he had been eccentric in his manner of labouring in the Connexion, and Mr. Wesley, with my brethren, thought I might be able to cure him. For a season he behaved pretty well, and was ready to be advised ; but he relapsed into his former conduct, and advanced opinions in public contrary to the Methodist doctrine and discipline ; so that we were obliged to call in a young man to labour in his place, and dismiss him from the Cir- cuit, and that by Mr. Wesley's express approbation. The greatest hurt he did was in the society at Plymouth-Dock, where he nearly divided the people. My other fellow-labourers were steady, and alive to God, and much blessed in their labours. The work of God more or less prospered in every society in the county. In two or three months hundreds were added to the societies in the west, and many savingly brought to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ ; many backsliders were restored, and a most wonderful change took place in every parish where the Gospel was preached. Most of the country vil- lages were like Eden, and as the garden of the Lord ! It was not uncommon for ten or twenty to find peace with God in one day, or at one sermon or lovefeast, in many places.
After preaching two or three nights in Redruth, I joined about forty, young and old, to the society ; and many of them had found a clear sense of the love of God previous to their becoming members. Indeed the Spirit was poured out from on high, and great was our glorying in God our Saviour.
Before I left the country, we had joined near a thousand to the different societies, most of whom were joined to the Lord in one spirit ; and some hundreds were enabled to love God with all their hearts. Such a work of Divine grace I had never been witness to before ; but these were only drops before the shower, when compared with the number of young persons who were deeply wrought upon, and some children also.
When the time drew near to leave the Circuit, my feelings were such as words cannot describe. The parting was deeply affecting, and in particular with my Redruth friends, who wept and mourned, as one for his first-born. Nine out of ten of those friends are gone to their eternal reward; and I hope to meet them
"On yonder happy plains,
Where love in endless triumph reigns."
The Conference was this year, 1765, held at Man- chester, for the first time. The ride was long, and the weather extremely hot, which afflicted me and my companions not a little. The heat was very great during the Conference, so that I was seized with fever, which confined me eight weeks at Port- wood-hall, near Stockport, Mr. and Mrs. Mayer, with their kind son, paid all the attention to me in their power. My life was in great danger ; but, by the blessing of God and the judicious treatment of the apothecary, the fever took a favourable turn, and I began to recover.
During my affliction, my hope was full of a glori- ous immortality, and I felt a desire to depart and be with Christ, which appeared to me to be far better than to live any longer on earth. The Lord, how- ever, saw fit to protract my life ; and as soon as I was able to travel, I set out for my Circuit. I was ap- pointed to spend part of the year in the Newcastle, and part in the Dales, Circuit.
The good air of the north had a salutary effect on my health ; so that in a few weeks I was able to go through my accustomed labour. My fellow-labourers were Messrs. Robertshaw and Ellis: they were worthy, steady, and useful men. We laboured in love, and had some degree of prosperity in the Cir- cuit ; but not equal to what I had seen in Cornwall.
At the next Conference, held at Leeds, I was stationed for the Epworth Circuit. I had for my companions Messrs. Brammah and Harrison. I was remarkably well in my health when I came into the Circuit ; but I had not been above two months in it, when I was seized with the fever and ague. The disorder hung about me all the ensuing year, so that my labours were rendered a burden to me. Nevertheless, the work of the Lord revived, and we saw the fruits of our labours among the people.
I went to the Conference held in London, 1767. Our friends in the Epworth Circuit having written to Mr. Wesley for me to remain with them another year, he complied with their request. My journey to London, and back to Epworth, was useful to my health ; so that I had no return of my ague the ensuing year. I had abundant reason also to bless the Lord, that I saw more fruit of my labours the second year, than I had done the first. My fellow- labourers were earnest and useful men; and we went on hand in hand in love, and the blessing of the Lord attended our steps.
The following Conference was held at Bristol, where I was appointed to labour among my friends in the west of Cornwall once more. Mr. Wesley visited Cornwall this autumn, and his visit was ren- dered a blessing to many. A peculiar circumstance took place this year, which I cannot pass over in silence. Among the young people who were brought to the knowledge of God when I was in Cornwall before, there was a young woman in St. Ives, about fourteen or fifteen years of age, amiable for her years, both in sense, person, and piety : she then lived with an old lady, a relation, whose fortune she would have possessed, had she survived her. When the young woman heard I was appointed to Cornwall again, she said, "Mr. Rankin is come to preach my funeral sermon;" and so it happened ; but she was taken from the evil to come. Having formed a connexion with a young gentleman who was a stranger to vital religion, she was so sensible of the snare that lay before her, that she several times told me, she believed the Lord would prevent their marriage. She had suffered loss in her soul on this account; but the Lord in mercy gave her repentance before she was seized by the illness which terminated in her death. I believe I shall meet her spirit in heaven. I mention the above to show the danger which pious young persons are in from forming connexions with those who do not walk in the paths that lead to glory.
When I had gone round the Circuit, I found cause for mourning over several, who had once run well, but who had turned aside from the holy command- ment delivered unto them. I determined to do all in my power to call the wanderers back. My fellow- labourers were zealous, and alive to the Lord ; and we saw some fruit by a little revival in some places. Some few that were eminently useful, four years ago, had suffered loss ; but it pleased God to stir them up once more. Upon the whole, we had a pleasant and profitable year; but not to be compared with the former.
The Conference for 1769 was held in Leeds. I was stationed for the London and Sussex Circuits. Near the latter end of March I set off from the city to meet Mr. Wesley at Birmingham, in order to accom- pany him in his tour through the kingdom. Mr. Helton went with him also. Mr. Wesley's plan and design were, if, in any place which he visited, there was any particular Divine influence upon the congre- gation or society, to leave one of us there for a few days, and then we were to meet him again at a place appointed.
Mr. Wesley preached in a variety of places ; but nothing very particular took place till we reached Manchester. Here there was the appearance of a revival among the people, and Mr. Wesley left me for a few days that I might endeavour to promote it. I found it a time to be remembered. I had not experienced such a season since I left London. The power and presence of God were among the people in a very wonderful manner. I afterwards met Mr. Wesley at Bolton, on his way to Glasgow. We had long and tiresome rides, and slept several times at inns by the way. Mr. Wesley left me to spend a few days at Glasgow, after he had gone for Edin- burgh; and I hope my labours among the people were not in vain. After I had done preaching, and met the society on the Sunday evening, ten or twelve came to speak to me, and to request they might be admitted into the society. On my way to meet Mr. Wesley at Perth, my mare fell with me, and cut her knees so much, that I was obliged to go to Edin- burgh. " What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter ! " This accident made me visit Dunbar sixteen or eighteen days sooner than I should have done ; where, to my great surprise, I found my mother on her death-bed. I attended her in her last moments ; and I sincerely hope I shall meet her in that day when the Lord maketh up His jewels. She had always been a tender and indulgent parent to me; and her best interests, present and eternal, always lay near my heart. I could not help admiring the hand of Providence that had arrested me on my journey, by the misfortune which befell my mare, that I might once more see my mother before she died. Near the time of my mother's death, one of the most amiable members of the society died also. She was a sensible and pious woman : I preached a funeral sermon both for her and my mother.
Mr. Wesley soon came to Dunbar ; and my much- esteemed friend Dr. Hamilton did all in his power to make his visit agreeable. Mr. Wesley desired me to spend a week or two more at Dunbar, and then to follow him into England, and I afterwards joined him at Leeds. Mr. Helton was left behind in the north, as he could not bear the long journeys.
The Conference was in London in 1770 ; and after it was concluded, Mr. Wesley expressed a desire for me to accompany him to the west of England. We had many refreshing seasons in different places ; but we had one in Redruth that exceeded them all. Here the windows of heaven were, as it were, opened, and the skies poured down righteousness. I believe there was not a dry eye in the whole congregation. I do not remember that we had such a remarkable season in all our journey ; although we had many displays of the power and love of God.
Mr, Wesley returned by Bristol; and after his full time was spent in that city, and the places adjacent, he set off for Portsmouth, and I returned to London with Mrs. Wesley, where I remained for the rest of the year.
In the latter end of October the account arrived of the death of that venerable servant of God, Mr. Whitefield. Mr. Wesley preached his funeral sermon at Tottenham-Court chapel, on the Sunday morning, and at the Tabernacle in the evening. It was one of the most awful and solemn sights which I ever beheld. The man I greatly loved was now gone to his eternal reward ; and he who preached his funeral sermon is also now gone, and has joined him, and the whole assembly and church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven. A little while, and we shall all meet, to part no more for ever. Of all the men I ever knew, the above two eminent servants of God claimed my deepest regard and warmest affection.
When the time of the Conference drew near, I found a desire to spend a little more of my life with my friends in Cornwall : this desire met with Mr. Wesley's entire approbation; so that at the Con- ference in Bristol, 1771, I was stationed for the west once more. I did not, however, see the days which I had formerly seen in those parts ; and I could only pray, " Lord, let Thy kingdom come." I could truly appeal to the Searcher of hearts, that the prosperity of His kingdom was more to me than the whole world ; yea, than life itself. I continued to labour till the Conference drew near, and then went, with some of my companions in the vineyard of my Lord, to Leeds, where it was, according to rotation, held. Here I met with Mr. Webb, who had lately arrived from America. Mr. Wesley had been dissatisfied with the conduct of those who superintended the rising work there; and while I was in London he had frequently mentioned this to me. I had made it matter of much prayer, and it appeared to me that the way was opening for me to go. When the work in America came before the Conference, Mr. Wesley determined to appoint me superintendent of the whole; and I chose my much-esteemed friend and brother Shadford to accompany me to that conti- nent. I had proved his uprightness, piety, and use- fulness in several Circuits, where he had laboured with me, and I knew I could depend upon him. It was settled that we should sail in the spring, and in the mean time, that I should labour in the York Circuit. I went accordingly, and remained in those parts from the Conference till about the latter end of March. During the time I spent in this Circuit, I considered deeply and with much prayer the import- ance of the work which lay before me. It had dwelt upon my mind, more or less, for some years ; and the nearer the period arrived, the greater it appeared to me. The thoughts of leaving Mr. Wesley, as well as my brethren, whose counsel and advice were always at hand, and ready on every trying occasion, was no small exercise to my mind. I was about to bid adieu to my relatives, and to one whom I loved as my own soul, and who afterwards was my partner in life for nineteen years ; but the consideration of the work of God, and the prosperity of Zion, swallowed up every other concern. I rode to Birmingham to receive my last instructions from Mr. Wesley. The interview was pleasing and affecting, as well as instructive, which I hope to remember to my latest breath. I went from Birmingham to London, where I spent a few days, and prepared some little matters for my voyage. After taking a solemn and affec- tionate leave of my friends in London, I went on for Bristol, from whence the ship was to sail for Phila- delphia. I found my much-esteemed friend Mr. Paw- son, with Mr. Allen, at Bristol, who laid themselves out to make everything easy and comfortable to us during our voyage. Mr. and Mrs. Webb had taken care to arrange all things respecting our provisions ; and my business was to take care of what books and clothes we should want for our future use and ac- commodation. For what remains, and of the five years I spent abroad, till my return to London, in the beginning of June, 1778, I refer the reader to my journal during that period.
An Extract of Mr, Rankin's Journal, during the space of near five Years' Residence in North America; with some cursory remarks on the Natural History of the Country,
On Good Friday, April the 9th, 1773, I em- barked on board the " Sally," Captain Young, com- mander, bound from Bristol to Philadelphia. My fellow-passengers were, Mr. and Mrs. Webb, Messrs. Shadford, Yerbury, and Rowbotham. Besides the ship's company, we had several steerage passengers and indented servants. The wind was fair from Pill, and soon brought us down to the Isle of Lundy, where our pilot left us.
Saturday, 10th. - The wind favoured us, so that we made good way down the Bristol Channel. All the passengers were extremely sick. We began, how- ever, to have morning and evening prayers in the cabin, desiring all who possibly could to attend ; and the Lord favoured us with His blessing. Sunday and Monday, the wind blowing fresh from the north- west, we soon got clear of the land ; but all the passengers continued to be more or less sick, so that we could not observe that regularity in Divine worship which we desired.
Tuesday, 13th. - We spent some time this morn- ing in exhortation as well as prayer, and had most of the sailors and steerage passengers present. The Lord was in the midst of us, and attended our meeting with power from on high. Wednesday and Thursday, the wind blew very hard, and the sea ran high, the ship rolled much, which made it very uneasy to most of the passengers, and deprived them of sleep. We called upon the Lord, and found Him a very present help in time of need.
Friday, 16th. - The wind shifted about to the north, and blew a pleasant gale. The ship glided sweetly along, and kept her proper course. We now settled our plan how we should divide our time in future. In the morning before breakfast we had public prayer, for all the passengers and ship's com- pany. At twelve o'clock we spent half an hour in singing and prayer among ourselves. At six o'clock in the evening we did the same ; and at eight we had all on board the ship to attend the evening service. This practice we were enabled to continue as long as we were on our passage to America.
Sunday, 18th. - The weather was pleasant, and we had the cabin full at morning prayer. Captain Webb added a word of exhortation, and it was attended with the Divine blessing. At eleven o'clock Mr. Shadford preached on the quarter-deck. Passen- gers and sailors paid the deepest attention ; and surely it will not all be as water spilt on the ground.
At seven o'clock we concluded the Lord's day with exhortation, singing, and prayer ; and I found much liberty and enlargement of heart. We were led out in earnest prayer for our friends and Christian brethren in England, as also that God would open a great and an effectual door for the spreading of His Gospel among those to whom His mercy and provi- dence were now sending us. Indeed, we felt the gracious influence of the Divine presence so amongst us, that we could scarcely conclude. The Lord did indeed open the windows of heaven, and the skies poured down righteousness.
Sunday, 26th. - The wind continued to blow fresh at north-west all this day, so that we made a good stretch to the west-south-west. After spending some time in reading and prayer, with profit and pleasure, I preached to all who could attend ; and some felt the power of the word to alarm and quicken their dead souls. Mr. Webb gave an exhortation at six o'clock, and we concluded the day with praise and mutual prayer. Upon the whole, this day was spent in an agreeable manner. Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever ! Monday and Tuesday, the wind was fair, and it blew a pleasant gale ; which enabled us to proceed a good way westward. We continued our usual exercises, morning, noon, and night, to all who could attend.
Saturday, May 1st. - We are now come more than half way towards Philadelphia. All on board are well, and no accident of importance has befallen any one. The praise and glory we will ascribe unto Thee, Thou Fountain of all happiness, and God of all consolation ! My soul this day longed for more close and deep fellowship with God, and breathed her wishes to the skies.
Monday 10th. - The wind was rather contrary all last night as well as to-day, so that we advanced but slowly on our way : the weather, however, was plea- sant which made our sleep and time more agreeable. Our public and private devotions were attended with a Divine blessing this day. I found occasion for all the grace bestowed, to bear with the peevishness of some, and the ignorance of others. It is a great thing to be enabled at all times to speak the truth in lore, so as to do good, and to hare the approbation of God and our own hearts. To do and suffer the will of God contains more of Christianity than I have sometimes been aware of.
Tuesday, 11th. - I was much exercised with a violent headache all this day, as also divers inward temptations. May I ever be enabled to say, '' Welcome cross, as well as crown ! "
Wednesday and Thursday, the weather continued pleasant, and the wind a little more favourable. I was refreshed with rest, but more abundantly so by the presence of God, both in public and private.
"His presence makes our paradise.
And where He is, is heaven."
Sunday, 16th. - Early this morning it began to blow hard at south-west. The motion of the ship made several of my fellow-passengers sick. After our morning reading and prayer, I preached from Rom. vi. 23. I found a measure of freedom ; but still preaching on board a ship is rather uncomfort- able. At six o'clock in the evening, brother Webb closed the day with exhortation and prayer. The word seemed to lay hold on some of their hearts, and they began to show it by their tears. May the God of love have mercy upon their souls ! About ten days ago, several of the indented servants were taken ill of a fever, and were for some time delirious. Having some medicines on board, I treated them as Dr. Tissot prescribes, in his " Advice to the People ; " and it pleased God that they all soon recovered. I attended them with food, as well as medicine ; and now that they were better, and able to attend Divine service, I discovered that my poor labours had not been in vain in the Lord.
Friday, 21st. - It is just six weeks since we sailed from Pill, and so far the Lord hath conducted us. " The Lord liveth, and blessed be the Rock of my salvation."
Monday, 31st. - We sounded this evening, and for the first time found ground, at near fifty fathoms. We concluded the day with hearty prayer and praise to God for all His favours towards us.
Tuesday, June 1st. - We were enabled to lie mostly west all last night, and we were favoured with a fine breeze, so that we advanced swiftly towards the land. Between eight and nine in the morning, we saw it, and soon after a pilot- boat, which came alongside, and put a pilot on board a little after dinner. By the wind we were driven to the leeward of Cape May, on the Jersey shore. We beat up to the windward all the afternoon, in order to open the way, that we might have a fair wind up the Delaware river. As we drew nearer the shore, the pleasing view of the green trees, and many of them towering high above the rest, made the prospect delightful. None can conceive, but those who have experienced it, the sensations that arise in the breast on seeing the land, after some weeks of viewing nothing but the sea and open firmament. I believe we all felt grateful to the God of all our mercies, and most earnestly prayed that He would go with as to a strange land and among a strange people. The prospect was charming and delightfully pleasant on both sides of the river. The spreading trees, and the great variety of shades, heightened the scene ; with the addition now and then of a plantation, with large orchards of peach and apple trees, as also large fields of Indian com. Indeed, I never beheld such a lovely prospect in any part of my life before. We came to anchor late in the evening, opposite Chester, about sixteen miles below Philadelphia, after a run of above one hundred miles from six in the morning. I felt but poorly most of the day, for want of rest the last night, occasioned by my tooth-ache returning with redoubled violence. I was enabled to look to God, and in some degree to live to Him. My cry was to be wholly devoted to Him who had done so much for my soul, and that the remainder of my days might be wholly consecrated to His glory.
Friday and Saturday, I was employed in getting our trunks and boxes on shore. I preached on Friday evening for the first time, and afterwards met the leaders of classes and bands. Upon the whole, I have reason to be thankful for what of the Divine presence I have felt this day, as well as in His service this evening. Saturday evening, Mr. Shadford gave a warm exhortation to all who attended. I found the want of more retirement since I came on shore. My soul cannot live without it.
As I am now, by the providence of God, called to labour for a season on this continent, do Thou, O Holy One of Israel, stand by Thy weak and ignorant servant! Show Thyself glorious in power, and in Divine majesty. Let Thine arm be made bare, and stretched out to save, so that wonders and signs may be done in the name of the holy child Jesus. From what I see and hear, and so far as I can judge, if my brethren who first came over had been more atten- tive to our discipline, there would have been, by this time, a more glorious work in many places of this continent. Their lovefeasts, and meetings of society, were laid open to all their particular friends; so that their number did not increase, and the minds of our best friends were thereby hurt.
Sunday, 13th. - Brother Asbury preached in the morning at seven o'clock, from Ruth ii. 4. During the sermon I was led to reflect on the motives which induced me to leave my native land, and Christian friends and brethren, and cross the Atlantic ocean, to a land and people unknown. I could appeal to God, with the utmost sincerity of heart, I had only one thing in view. His glory the salvation of souls, connected with my own. In a moment the cloud broke, and the power of God rested upon my soul, and every gloom fled away, as morning shades before the rising sun. I had then faith to believe, that I should see His glory, as I had seen it in the sanctuary. At six o'clock in the afternoon I preached from Judges iii. 20. After preaching, I met the society. The Lord was in the midst, as a flame of fire among dry stubble. Great was our rejoicing in the God of our salvation. Blessed be God, sorrow may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning ! This has indeed been a day of the Son of man, both to my own soul, and the souls of many others. The praise, Lord, will I ascribe unto Thee !
Monday, 14th. - ^Brother Asbury preached at five o'clock in the morning, and I preached in the even- ing. The Lord was in the word, and crowned it with His Divine blessing. I spoke my mind freely and fully to the society, and I trust not in vain. One thing struck me a good deal this day. I was really surprised at the extravagance of dress which I beheld, and in particular among the women. I very well remember I observed to a friend, that " if God had a love for the inhabitants of this city. He would surely send some sore chastisement upon them." Little did I think then of the unhappy war that followed, in the calamities of which the people of New York had a large share. Indeed, the pride of dress, and luxury of every kind, had risen to a great height. I could not help taking notice of it when I met the society, and earnestly entreated them not to conform to this world.
Monday and Tuesday, I had an opportunity of conversing with many of the members of the society in private ; and had reason to bless God, that I found several deeply awakened to a sense of inbred sin, and earnestly seeking entire deliverance from the last remains thereof. Others, who had been resting in good desires, were cut to the heart, and cried out with tears, " What shall I do to be saved ? " Some also I found, who were newly awakened, and desired to be admitted into the society.
Sunday, July 4th. - I preached in the morning at seven. Blessed be God, I found freedom and ten- derness, to apply the word in a particular manner to those who were groaning for pardon of sin and for purity of heart. Brother Asbury preached in the evening a home Methodist sermon, and the Lord crowned it with a Divine blessing. We concluded the day with a general lovefeast. The people spoke with life and Divine liberty, and in particular some of the blacks. The Lord was present indeed, and the shout of the King of Glory was heard in the camp of Israel.
Wednesday, / Thursday, and Friday, we had our first little Conference. There were present seven preachers, besides brothers Boardman and Pilmore, who were to return to England. The amount of all the members in the different societies did not exceed one thousand one hundred and sixty. From the wonderful accounts I had heard in England, and during our passage, I was led to think there must be some thousands awakened, and joined as members of our societies ; but I was now convinced of the real truth. Some of the above number, I also found afterwards, were not closely united to us. Indeed, our discipline was not properly attended to, except at Philadelphia and New York ; and even in those places it was upon the decline. Nevertheless, from the accounts I heard, there was a real foundation laid of doing much good, and we hoped to see greater things than these. The preachers were stationed in the best manner we could, and we parted in love ; and also with a full resolution to spread genuine Methodism, in public and private, with all our might. It was thought proper that I should spend a little more time at New York, and brother Shadford at Philadelphia.
For some days past I have felt the Redeemer's presence in a most sensible manner; but still I want more life, light, and love: I want to be entirely devoted to God, and to walk before Him as Enoch and Abraham did.
Saturday, I met the children at four, the band- leaders a little after seven, and the bands at eight o'clock in the evening. The presence of the Lord was in the midst ; but I wanted to see more freedom and openness among the people : when this should be the case, I hoped we should have a greater blessing.
Sunday, 15th. - Mr. Pilmore preached in the morning, and I supplied the evening. I met the society afterwards, and spoke my mind plainly of some things which tended to hinder the work of God and in which I sincerely desired to see an amendment. If love and harmony do not prevail among leaders and people, it is impossible for the work to prosper among them. A party spirit has greatly hindered the work of God in this city : I long to see it torn up by the very roots.
Sunday, 29th. - I preached at the usual hours, morning and evening, and afterwards met the society. In some good degree, this has been a Sab- bath of rest to my soul. Blessed for ever be the name of the Lord for all His mercies. I long to be holy in life, and in all manner of conversation. I was assisted by the labours of brother Pilmore the ensu- ing week ; having returned from a journey in the coun- try. He preached with more life and Divine power this week than he has done since I landed at Phila- delphia. Blessed be God that he is returning to that simplicity of spirit that made him so useful when he first came over to America. Whatever we lose, let us never lose that simplicity which is at- tended with life, light, and love, and with power from on high. If ever a Methodist preacher loses this temper of mind, the glory is departed from him. I went through some close inward exercises this week ; but out of all the Lord delivered me.
Sunday, September 12th. - Brother Pilmore and I divided the labours of the day. The rainy weather made our congregations thin; but those who did attend found it good to be there. For some days past my soul has intensely breathed after full con- formity to the blessed God. I can truly say, " As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so my heart panteth after the living God." Thou that knowest all things knowest that I desire to love Thee with all my soul, mind, and strength. Hasten, Lord, the moment when there shall be nothing in my soul but Thy pure love alone.
Sunday, 26th. - I preached in the morning at seven, and in the evening at the usual time. I found more liberty in the morning than I expected. After breakfast I went to St. Paul's, as I always have done, to public worship. After service was over, I retired to my room to wrestle with God in private prayer. My soul for several hours was indeed in the garden. I did indeed drink a little of that cup. Towards evening I felt a degree of liberty of soul, and the word was attended with some power from on high. O, how I long to see the work of God break out on the right hand and on the left ! " If I forget thee, Jerusalem, let my right arm forget its cunning," and let me be bereaved of my only joy !
Monday, October 4th. - I began visiting all the classes, previous to my leaving New York for a sea- son. Upon the whole, I had reason to be thankful, and to bless God for what He had done for many of their souls. Brother Boardman divided the labours of this week with me ; which, indeed, was a blessing to the people, as well as to my poor tried mind and feeble body.
Sunday, 10th. - Brother Boardman preached this morning, and I in the evening. I found a measure of liberty, but abundantly more in the lovefeast which followed. The Lord did sit as a refiner's fire on many hearts. I would fain hope that our gra- cious God is reviving His work in the hearts of the people. Indeed, from the testimony of many this evening, I had reason to believe that the great Head of the church was better to us than all my fears. I hear no particular complaint of any member ; and I find several have of late found peace with God, while others are greatly stirred up to seek all the mind that was in Christ Jesus. I also gave notes of admission to several new members. My own soul breathed after entire conformity to her living Head. My cry was, " Give me, O Lord, constant union and deep fellowship with Thee. O, let me bear the image of the blessed Jesus, and fill me with all the fulness of God."
Thursday, 28th. - We set off early in the morning, and reached Charlestown to dine, and crossed the great river Susquehannah, at the lower ferry, about four o'clock. We then set off for a Mr. Dellam's, at Swan-Creek, where we met with a friendly and hearty welcome, both from him and his wife. I had not found myself so well, no, not for several months, as I found for these few days past, and especially since I left Philadelphia. We had a most pleasant journey for man and beast. If I had not crossed several large rivers before, I should have been a good deal surprised in crossing the Susquehannah. Where we crossed, I have reason to believe it was eight times broader than the river Thames at Lon- don-bridge. Indeed, several of the rivers that I have already crossed are grand beyond conception. The river Delaware, and Hudson's river, as well as the Susquehannah, are grand sights. The large trees on the sides, and the islands in the midst, form a pleasing prospect.
Sunday, 31st. - I preached this morning at eleven o'clock, where many had come from the country around. Such a season I have not seen since I came to America. The Lord did indeed make the place of His feet glorious. The shout of a King was heard in our camp. From brother Waters 's I rode to Bush chapel, and preached at three o'clock. There also the Lord made bare His holy arm among the numbers who attended. From the chapel I rode to brother Dellam's, and preached at six o'clock; and we concluded the day with prayer and praise. This has indeed been a day of the Son of man. To Thy name, O Lord, be the praise and glory !
Monday, November 1st. - I rode from brother Del] am' s to Bush chapel, and preached at ten o'clock. From thence I rode to Deer-Creek, and preached at three, and afterwards met the society. The flame of Divine love went from heart to heart, and great was our glorying in God our Saviour. I spent the evening in praise and prayer with many of our friends, who had come to attend the Quarterly Meeting.
Wednesday, 3d. - After breakfast we finished the rest of our temporal business, and spent some time with the local preachers and stewards. At ten o'clock our general lovefeast began. It was now that the heavens were opened, and the skies poured down Divine righteousness. The inheritance of God was watered with the rain from heaven, and the dew thereof lay upon their branches. The Lion of the tribe of Judah got Himself the victory in many hearts. I had not seen such a season as this since I left my native land. Now it was that the Lord, burst the cloud, which had at times rested upon my mind ever since I landed at Philadelphia. O Lord, my soul shall praise Thee, and all that is within me shall bless Thy holy name. I sincerely hope that many will remember this day throughout the annals of eternity.
Philadelphia, Sunday, December 19th. - Brother Pilmore preached morning and evening. As he and brother Boardman are soon to depart for Great Britain, I thought it was highly proper they should preach as often as they could while they were with us.
Saturday, 25th. - We had a happy Christmas- day. Many praised God for the consolation. For six weeks past we have had such weather as I never saw in England or Scotland. Scarce a cloud to be seen in the sky. In general there was a small hoar-frost in the night, and clear sunshine all the day. The roads were now as dry as if it had been midsummer.
Sunday, 26th. - Brother Pilmore preached his fare- well sermon in the evening, and we concluded the day with a general lovefeast. The presence of the Holy One of Israel was in the midst, and many rejoiced in hope of the glory of God. Next day he set off for New York, from whence brother Boardman and he were to sail for England. Yet a little while, and we shall meet to part no more. The ensuing week being the close of the year, I hope it was employed and improved to the glory of God.
Sunday, January 30th, 1774. - This day was most intensely cold indeed. I never felt the like of it in all my life. The Delaware was frozen over, so that yesterday numbers came from the Jersey shore over to Philadelphia on the ice to market. Such a strange sight I never beheld before. To see a river, a mile broad, thus frozen over, and such numbers of people passing and repassing on the ice, was quite new to me. Few, comparatively speaking, attended the word, through the violence of the cold.
Sunday, February 6th. - The weather being a little more moderate, more attended the morning and evening service than last Sunday. I felt my body as if bruised all over, by the effects of the cold last week. We were enabled, however, to keep up our meetings, and could bless God for the consolation. I was enabled, also, to attend all our meetings the ensuing week, and to bless the name of the Lord for His mercy towards us.
Sunday, March 6th, New York. - I was better this morning, and preached now, and in the evening. The congregations were large, and the presence of the Holy One of Israel was in the midst. Surely I shall yet have pleasure in this city, to compensate for all my pain. I went through the duties of the ensuing week with pleasure. I observe that the labours of my fellow-labourer brother Shad ford have not been in vain. The spirit of love seems to increase among the people.
Sunday, May 22d. - I found freedom to declare the word of the Lord this day ; and I trust the seed sown will produce some fruit to the glory of God. We concluded the evening with a general lovefeast, in which meeting the Lord's presence was powerfully felt by many persons. Many declared, with great freedom of speech, what God had done for their souls. Some of the poor black people spoke with power and pungency of the loving kindness of the Lord. If the rich in this society were as much devoted to God as the poor are, we should see wonders done in this city. Holy Jesus, there is nothing impossible with Thee !
Monday, 23d. - After preaching in the morning, I prepared for my journey to Philadelphia, in order to meet my brethren in our second little Conference. I found great freedom to speak to my fellow-pas- sengers, both in the stage and in the passage-boats. In this respect I was enabled to redeem the time, and the Lord helped me to be faithful to the souls of my fellow-sinners. In these passage-boats, where there are sometimes thirty, forty, or fifty passengers, there are good opportunities of speaking a word for God. The bread that is then cast upon the waters may be seen after many days.
Wednesday, 25th. - Our little Conference began ; and ended on Friday, the 27th. We proceeded in all things on the same plan as in England, which our Minutes will declare. Everything considered, we had reason to bless God for what He had done in about ten months. Above a thousand members are added to the societies, and most of these have found peace with God. We now labour in the provinces of New York, the Jerseys, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. We spoke our minds freely one to another in love; and whatever we thought would further the work, we most cheerfully embraced it. We had now more than seventeen preachers, who were to be employed the ensuing year, and upwards of two thousand members, with calls and openings into many fresh places. We stationed the preachers as well as we could, and all seemed to be satisfied.
Thursday, September 1st. - I rode to New-Mills, and preached to a large number in the Baptist meeting-house. Here, also, is the beginning of good days. On Friday I rode to Mount-Holy, and preached in the Presbyterian meeting-house, to an attentive congregation. I found profit and pleasure at this opportunity.
Here I met with Mr. John Brainerd, brother and successor to that great and good man, Mr. David Brainerd, missionary to the Indians. I spent an agreeable hour with him after preaching. But, alas, what an unpleasing account did he give me of the remains of his most excellent brother's labours, as well as his own, among the Indians ! When his brother died, a little above twenty years ago, he succeeded him in the mission. At that time there were a large company of Indians who regularly attended the preaching of the word, and above sixty who were communicants. They were now reduced to a small number who attended his ministry, and not above ten or twelve who were proper to be admitted to the Lord's table. I asked him the reason of this declension. Some, he observed, were dead, and died happy in the Lord ; others had grown careless and lukewarm ; and many had wandered back among the unawakened Indians, some of whom had turned again to their heathenish customs. There were also some who had given way to the love of spirituous liquors, from which they had once been wholly delivered ; so that the gold was become dim, and the most fine gold changed.
Philadelphia, Sunday, October 2d. - I preached to a large attentive congregation this evening. I found much liberty and enlargement of soul in declaring the words of the living God. O, when will the Lord arise, and mightily shake the hearts and consciences of the people in this city ? The judgments of God are spreading abroad in these lands ; and a most portentous cloud hangs over these provinces. From the appearance of things, one would think that every person would turn from their sins unto the living God ; but, strange to tell, with many, wickedness seems to abound more and more. What shall the end of these things be ? I have endeavoured to warn the people, and to lead than to a proper improvement of the present alarming tokens. From the first of my coming here, it has always been impressed on my mind. that God has a controversay with the inhabitants of the British colonies ; and so I said to some in my first visit to New York. It will he seen shortly whether my fears and views were properly founded or not.
Monday, 3lst. - I met brother Williams who had come from Virginia to he present at our Quarterly Meeting. Brothers Shadford, Duke, and Webster were present also. They had come from different parts of the Circuit, and our meeting together was a time of lore. I preached in the evening with pleasure and satisfaction.
Tuesday, November 1st. - Being the Quarterly Meeting, we had our general lovefeast in the fore- noon ; and we finished the business of the Circuit after dinner. In the evening we had our watch- night. This was a day to be remembered; and I hope it will be by some to all eternity. The heavens were opened, and the skies poured down righteous- ness. The Lord spoke to many hearts with a mighty voice ; and the shout of the King of glory was heard in our camp. Blessed be the name of our God for ever and for evermore!
Monday, 7th. - We rode to Henry- Waters, near Deer-Creek, where we intended holding our Quarterly Meeting for Baltimore and Kent Circuit on the eastern shore.
Tuesday, 8th. - When I arose this morning my mind was much oppressed, but I was enabled to look to Jesus. After an early breakfast we spent about two hours in the affairs of the Circuits. At ten our general lovefeast began. There were such a number of whites and blacks as never had attended on such an occasion before. After we had sung and prayed, the cloud burst from my mind, and the power of the Lord descended in such an extraordinary manner as I had never seen since my landing at Philadelphia. All the preachers were so overcome with the Divine presence, that they could scarce address the people ; but only in broken accents saying, " This is none other than the house of God, and the gate of heaven ! " When any of the people stood up to declare the loving kindness of God, they were so overwhelmed with the Divine presence, that they were obliged to sit down, and let silence speak His praise. Near the close of our meeting I stood up, and called upon the poor people to look towards that part of the chapel where all the blacks were. I then said, " See the number of the black Africans who have stretched out their hands and hearts to God ! " While I was addressing the people thus, it seemed as if the very house shook with the mighty power and glory of Sinai's God. Many of the people were so overcome, that they were ready to faint and die under His almighty hand. For about three hours the gale of the Spirit thus continued to breathe upon the dry bones ; and they did live the life of glorious love ! As for myself, I scarcely knew whether I was in the body or not ; and so it was with all my brethren. We did not know how to break up the meeting or part asunder. Surely the fruits of this season will remain to all eternity.
For some time past my mind has been much affected, and my spirit not a little pressed down, at the prospect of public affairs in this country. Matters look extremely gloomy ; and what the end of these things will be, who can tell ? This I am fully certain of, that, to all human appearance, this land will become a field of blood. My soul laments that so few seem to lay it to heart, or turn to the Hand that shakes the rod over them. Most appear to put their trust in man, and make flesh their arm ; but, alas ! their hearts do not cleave to the living God.
Tuesday, May 16th, 1775. - The preachers came together from their different Circuits, and next day we began our little Conference. We conversed together, and concluded our business in love. Mr. Stringer spent some time with us. We wanted all the advice and light we could obtain respecting our conduct in the present critical situation of affairs. We all came unanimously to this conclusion, to follow the advice that Mr. Wesley and his brother had given us, and leave the event to God. We had abundant reason to bless God for the increase of His work last year. We had above a thousand added to the different societies, and they had increased to ten Circuits. Our joy in God would have been abundantly more, had it- not been for the pre- parations of war that now rung throughout this city (Philadelphia).
Wednesday, June 7th. - I spent an agreeable hour with Mr. John Brainerd, at Mount-Holy. He gave me a fuller account than he had done before of the Indians under his care ; and from what he said, I am more fully convinced of what I have thought before, that none can do good among those outcasts of men, comparatively speaking, but those, and those alone, who are peculiarly raised up and called by God to that work. His brother, David Brainerd, was such a one ; and such must all be who will be of use in the conversion of the Indians.
Thursday, 16th. - I returned to Philadelphia, where I spent ten days with profit and pleasure. I do not know when I found more liberty, either in public or private, than I did at this season. The Lord enabled me to speak from the heart ; and I trust it went to the hearts of many. All this week we had alarm upon alarm, by the accounts we received from New-England.
Sunday, 25th. - I was enabled to deliver my soul this evening to all who heard me. I felt conviction that I was clear of the blood of all who have heard me in this city. The time may come when some may call to mind what they have heard, and bring forth fruit to the glory of God. Even so, come. Lord Jesus, come quickly !
Thursday, July 20th. - I rode to the chapel at the forks of Gunpowder-Falls, and preached to a numerous congregation. This being the day set apart for a general fast, by the Congress, throughout all the British provinces, all the serious part of the inhabitants paid a particular attention to the same. I endea- voured to open up and enforce the cause of all our misery, I told them that the sins of Great Britain and her colonies had long called aloud for vengeance; and in a peculiar manner the dreadful sin of buying and selling the souls and bodies of the poor Africans, the sons and daughters of Ham. I felt but poorly when I began to preach; but the Lord was my strength, and enabled me to speak with power, and to meet the society afterwards. After the service was over, I rode to Mr. Gough's, at Perry-Hall. He and his wife had, by the mercy of God, lately found a sense of the Divine favour, and now cheer- fully opened their house and hearts to receive the ministers and children of God. I spent a most agreeable evening with Mr. and Mrs. Gough, and the rest of the family. A numerous family of the servants were called in to prayer and exhortation ; so that with them and the rest of the house we had a little congregation. The Lord was in the midst, and we praised Him with joyful lips. The simplicity of spirit discovered by Mr. and Mrs. Gough was truly pleasing. At every opportunity he was declaring what the Lord had done for his soul; still wondering at the matchless love of Jesus, who had plucked him as a brand from the burning. A gentleman in Bristol, who had died some years ago, left Mr. Gough an estate, in money, houses, and land, to the value of upwards of sixty or seventy thousand pounds. In the midst of all this he was miserable ; nor did he ever find true felicity till he found it in the love of God his Saviour. that he may live to be an ornament to the religion of Jesus Christ, both by example and precept !
Monday, June 17th, 1776. - I set out for Lees- burgh ; and after preaching at several places by the way, I came there on Friday. I called at Mr. Fair- fax's, (a relation of old Lord Fairfax.) a gentleman of large estate, and who of late has been savingly brought to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was over at Baltimore at our little Conference ; and at the lovefeast that followed, he spoke of what God had done for his soul, with such simplicity and unction from on high, as greatly affected everyone who heard him. May he live to be an ornament to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus !
Sunday, 30th. - I was greatly pleased at the arrival of brother Shadford this morning. His coming strengthened my hands in God. I preached at the chapel a little way from brother Burshan's, at ten o'clock. I felt poorly both in body and mind ; but the Lord stood by me, and enabled me to speak with a degree of power and Divine pungency. After preaching I met the society, and we found the presence of the Lord to be with us. After dinner I observed to brother Shadford, that I feared I should not have strength to preach in the afternoon. A little rest, however, refreshed me, and at four o'clock I went to the chapel again. I preached from Rev. iii. 8. Towards the close of the sermon, I found an uncom- mon struggle in my breast, and in the twinkling of an eye my soul was so filled with the power and love of God, that I could scarce get out my words. I scarce had spoken two sentences, while under this amazing influence, before the very house seemed to shake, and all the people were overcome with the presence of the Lord God of Israel. Such a scene my eyes saw, and ears heard, as I never was witness to before. Through the mercy and goodness of God, I had seen many glorious displays of the arm of the Lord, in the different parts of His vineyard, where His providence had called me to labour ; but such a time as this I never, never beheld. Numbers were calling out aloud for mercy, and many were mightily praising God their Saviour ; while others were in an agony for full redemption in the blood of Jesus. Soon, very soon, my voice was drowned amidst the pleasing sounds of prayer and praise. Husbands were inviting their wives to go to heaven with them, and parents calling upon their children to come to the Lord Jesus : and what was peculiarly affecting, I observed in the gallery appropriated for the black people, almost the whole of them upon their knees ; some for themselves, and others for their distressed companions. In short, look where we would, all was wonder and amazement. As my strength was almost gone, I desired brother Shadford to speak a few words to them. He attempted so to do, but was so overcome with the Divine presence, that he was obliged to sit down ; and this was the case, both with him and myself, over and over again. We could only sit still, and let the Lord do His own work. For upwards of two hours the mighty out- pouring of the Spirit of God continued upon the congregation. As many of them had come from far, we, with the greatest difficulty and the most earnest persuasions, got them to depart, between seven and eight o'clock in the evening. Some of them had to ride ten, and others sixteen, miles to their habitations. Such a day of the Son of man my eyes never beheld before. From the best accounts we could receive afterwards, upwards of fifty were awakened, and brought to the knowledge of a pardoning God that day; besides many who were enabled to witness that the blood of Jesus had cleansed them from all sin.
Tuesday, August 27th. - Our Quarterly Meeting began as usual with our lovefeast, and ended with our watch-afternoon. Truly this was a day of the Son of man, and great was our glorying in God our Saviour. In the lovefeast, the flame of Divine love ran from heart to heart, and many were enabled to declare the great things which the Lord had done for their souls. Early in the morning, some of our kind friends came and told me that they were informed a company of the militia, with their officers, intended to come and take me and the other preachers up. Some of our good women came, and with tears would have persuaded me to leave the place, and go to some other friend's house for safety. I thanked them for their love, and was obliged to them for their kind attention to my personal safety; but I added, "I am come hither by the providence of God, and I am sent on an errand of love to the souls that shall attend ; and thus engaged in my Lord's work, I fear nothing, and will abide the consequences, be they what they will." I had retired a little by myself, when one and another came to my room-door, and begged I would not venture out to preach, for the officers and their men were come. I felt no perturba- tion of mind, but was perfectly calm and collected. I told our friends, their business was to pray, and mine to deliver the message of God. Soon after, I went to the arbour, which was fitted up for preaching, and then I beheld the officers and soldiers in the skirts of the congregation. After singing, I called all the people to lift up their hearts to God, as the heart of one man. They did so indeed. When we arose from our knees, most of the congregation were bathed in tears ; and I beheld several of the officers and their men wiping their eyes also. I had not spoken ten minutes in preaching, when a cry went through, all the people, and I observed some of the officers, as well as many of the soldiers, trembling as they stood. I concluded my sermon in peace; and the other preachers prayed and exhorted after me, till the conclusion of the service. I was informed afterwards by some of our friends, that some of the officers said, " God forbid that we should hurt one hair of the head of such a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ, who has this day so clearly and power- fully shown us the way of salvation." They departed to their own homes, and we spent the evening in peace and love. This afternoon, and in particular in the evening, I had a strong impulse upon, and presentiment in my mind, that there had been an engagement between the British and American troops, I mentioned it to one of the preachers, and added, " We shall soon hear whether this be of God or not"
Wednesday, we set off early on our way for Phil- adelphia, and reached Newcastle, on the Delaware river, on Thursday afternoon. About ten o'clock that evening an express arrived, that there had been a general engagement on Long Island, near New York, and that some thousands of the American troops were cut to pieces. After preaching by the way, I came in safety to Philadelphia on Saturday forenoon.
Sunday, December 1st. - I preached at New-Mills, to one of the most attentive, as well as the largest, congregations that I ever saw in that place. After spending a few days, I purposed returning to Phila- delphia, in order to settle some matters respecting the books ; and then to return to the Jerseys again, in my way to New York, on purpose to spend some time there, as they had been without a regular preacher for some months. But herein I was dis- appointed, as the noise and tumult occasioned by the British army marching through this province, and the American army retiring before them, threw every thing into confusion, and made it unsafe for me to travel. I was therefore obliged to tarry, and spend my time among the different societies in that neigh- bourhood. This whole month was spent in battles and skirmishes between the British troops and the Americans. It is not my intention to give a detail or my judgment, of these matters : suffice it to say, that the business belongs to the historian.
I remember an old planter, Mr. Joshua Owings, of Garrison-forest, about sixteen miles from Balti- more, telling me one day when at his house, among other anecdotes, that when a young man, he and another white man, with two young Indians, fre- quently went a hunting together at the proper season. Frederick county, which joins that of Baltimore, was then but very thinly inhabited ; and, being in many places rough and hilly, was a proper retreat for wild beasts of different kinds. One day they came to a place where one of the Indians told his companions, they were almost sure to find a bear. They had not searched long before they found one in a kind ol small cave in a large rock. One of the Indians spied some light at the farther end of the hole, and told them the bear had two entrances to his retreat. They agreed for two to remain below, and two to mount the rock above ; a white man and an Indian at each place. This was done accordingly, and they soon found that the Indian conjectured rightly. The two that were above had not been long there before the bear, who had seen them below, clambered up to the top of the rock, and just as his breast was clear of the hole, one of the Indians let fly an arrow and pierced his gullet. Up he bounced, and over the rock he went, but soon the Indian lodged another arrow in his back. He had not run four hundred yards before he halted, and rolled himself, being apparently in great agony. It was not long before he expired; and when they cut out the arrows, they observed that which entered his gullet had found its way to, and lodged itself in, the animal's heart, which so soon put a period to his life. This is a proof of the address of the Indians in such matters, and how soon they could be an overmatch for such creatures without the use of the gun. Nearly at the same time they found another in his hole; and the question was, who would undertake to shoot the bear where he lodged, as they were sure he would not come out. The difficulty was, whoever attempted it, the person must creep some way into the hole, and should he only wound him, he would be in danger of being torn to pieces. After some dispute, one of the Indians determined to despatch him. He crept in, and then fired his piece, and roared aloud to pull him out. The hole being full of smoke, the rest could see nothing ; but as soon as the smoke cleared away they got him out ; but his fears were in vain, for poor bruin lay completely dead at the end of his retreat. There is one thing a little remarkable of this creature : no person, either white man or Indian, ever killed a she-bear with young. It is generally supposed, that after conception the she-bears hide themselves in the most secret places till after they have brought forth their young.
In the beginning of June, 1778, I once more had the happiness of meeting my dear friends in London. For some time I was in a new world. The happiness I enjoyed was unspeakable, and the Lord owned my poor labours with a blessing. The pleasure I experienced in seeing my brethren once more, was beyond what words can describe. I was stationed for London, where I laboured for two years in concert with my valuable friend Mr. Pawson ; and I trust our labours were not in vain.
At the Conference in Bristol, in 1783, I requested Mr. Wesley to appoint me as a supernumerary for London. He acceded to my request. My brethren there have kindly proportioned my labours to my strength; for which I feel truly obliged to them.
Should it please God that they should come to my years, I hope they will meet the same kind returns from their brethren. My only desire is to spend my few remaining days to the best of purposes. I have many mercies to praise my Lord for. I haye bread to eat, and am enabled to owe no man anything but love. Thus hath my Lord graciously dealt with His unworthy creature. I earnestly desire to love Him more, and to be fully prepared for whatever His Divine providence has prepared for me. I have many times, for several years past, looked forward with a gust of joy at the pleasing prospect of soon joining my dear friends who have gone before. Tfes, in those glorious realms,
"Where Jonathan his David meets.
Our souls shall soon embrace I"
I thank my God for the Christian friends I now enjoy on
earth ; but some of my dearest and most beloved have gained the peaceful shore
of eternal repose. To those happy climes I wish to bend my course with more
alacrity and joy.
July 31st, 1808. In this disposition Mr. Rankin continued to labour in the London Circuit till a few months previous to his departure. He generally preached once or twice every Lord's day, and occasionally on week-day evenings. He likewise met a class, attended the leaders' and preachers' meetings, and the meeting for the penitents, on Saturday evenings; at that meeting he generally prayed, and frequently exhorted.
For many weeks previous to his death, several of his friends saw that his constitution was fast breaking; but had the happiness at the same time to discern in him a more than usually growing meetness for heaven. His love of souls continuing unabated, he preached as often as he was able, and his last ministrations were more acceptable and profitable to the people even than the preceding. Peculiarities he certainly had, which sometimes prevented his being as useful as otherwise he would have been; but they were such as consisted in him with great devotedness to, and deep communion with, God.
Mr. Griffith, who knew him well and long, says, " I always found him, after his confinement to the house, under a very blessed influence of the Holy Spirit, calmly confident towards God his heavenly Father, through the atonement, resigned to His all- wise disposal, and thankful for His benefits. At one time he said, ' Here I am, in the enjoyment of many comforts, and favoured with many kind attentions, of which many of God's children are destitute. What am I, Lord, and what my father's house, that Thou shouldest show me such favours? ' "
The following account by Mr. Benson, which reaches till within three days of his death, will be found highly interesting and edifying. How encouraging is it to those soldiers of Christ who have 'not yet put off their harness, to see an aged brother triumph through Christ over the king of terrors !
" Wednesday evening, May 9th," says Mr. Benson, " among many other things, he said, * I long to publish with my latest breath His love and guardian care.' I said, " I doubt not but you will publish it to the last.' He replied, " It is what I have prayed for, for many years.' He then broke out in praise" O glory, glory for ever, glory be to God for all His goodness! I have here a comfortable bed to lie on, kind friends about me who love me, and all the blessings I could have, together with the grace of God, and hopes of glory! I have just been desiring Mrs. Hovatt to read that hymn, some of the lines of which are,
" the infinite cares, and temptations, and snares,
Thy hand hath conducted me through;
the blessings bestow'd by a bountiful God,
And the mercies eternally new ! "
Speaking of the Methodist society, he said, " I did not immediately join the people when awakened and convinced. I hesitated some time; but, glory be to God, that He inclined me to cast in my lot among them. But I had some thoughts of becoming a minister in the Church of Scotland at that time.' I said, ' You have been much more useful among the Methodists.' " Yes,' replied he, " both you and I have, than we should have been anywhere else; but I have been very unfaithful to the grace of God.' " We have all too great reason,' I answered, " to make that confession; but when we see so many beginning in the Spirit, and ending in the flesh, we have very great cause for thankfulness that we have been kept by the power of God in the good way: and how many dangers has God brought you through by sea and land! ' " Yes,' said he, " I have been lashed to the pump when the waves have gone over me, endeavouring to keep the ship from sinking, and all the passengers from going to the bottom. Then I was wandering from God; but He brought me back. That,' observed he, " was before I was a preacher.'
" Saturday evening. May 12th. - When I called, I found he was so weak, and that so many had called upon him, that I did not go up to see him. Finding, however, that I had been there, be sent his servant to desire I would go back and pray with him; which I was prevented from doing. On Monday I called again, and found him very much weaker indeed, but perfectly resigned to the will of God, and patiently waiting till his change should come. He desired his daughter-in-law to tell me what had been determined about the service to be performed at his funeral ' Let my name " said he, ' be written in the dust; but if anything can be said on the occasion of my death that may benefit the living, let it be done " Is there any particular text,' I asked, " which you would wish to be spoken from on the occasion ? ' After pausing a little, he said, " As a general subject, I know none more suitable than 1 Peter i 3, Blessed,' &c.; " but let my name be written in the dust " As he expressed a desire for more consolation, I said, " I hope you will not reason about that: leave it entirely to the Lord. He has for many years enabled you to show your faith by your works, by living to Him in whom you believe; and your state cannot now be affected by your feeling a greater or less measure of consolation. Your whole reliance must be on the word and promise of Him who will never leave those that trust in Him. The mercy, truth, and faithfulness of God, in Christ, must be the ground of your confidence" He then quoted those lines,
'While Jesu's blood," &c.
" A most blessed hymn,' said I; " and observe what follows: -
" Fix'd on this ground," &c.
At this he seemed to be greatly comforted. " I some- times think," said I, " we are not sufficiently thankful that the Lord has kept us so many years in the way.
Since I passed over the mountains with you from Cumberland to Newcastle, in the latter end of the year 1765, how many have we known to turn aside to the right and to the left! but we have been kept, and have neither brought any dishonour upon the Gospel, nor been stumbling-blocks in the way of any. And now you will soon join the wise and good collected out of all nations,' &c. 'Delightful con-sideration! ' replied he. " Our chief felicity,' said I, " shall be the vision and enjoyment of God; and what wonder that the holy Scriptures give us this view of future happiness? For surely the vision we shall then have of a Being infinitely amiable, and loving us infinitely, must be infinitely transporting.' We then joined in prayer, and were refreshed indeed. He was affected and filled with consolation, and, when I rose from my knees, took me by the hand, and said,
"Lo, God is here, let us adore," &c."
In this humble, resigned, and happy frame of spirit he continued till, on May 17th, 1810, he finished his course with joy, after having faithfully served God in his generation.
From the foregoing narrative, the judicious reader will form a tolerably correct idea of Mr. Rankin's character; the most striking traits of which are sincerity, steadiness, and sobriety. We highly respect the memory of a man who, in various and trying situations of life, both at home and abroad, maintained for upwards of fifty years an unblemished character. This, through Divine grace, did Mr. Rankin. In short, he was a man truly devoted to God his Saviour; and in death witnessed a good confession.