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To the Rev. Mr. HUNTINGTON.
REV. AND DEAR SIR,
As I called upon you when I was sinking in the horrible pit, I thought it but meet and right, now the Lord hath proclaimed my enlargement, to inform you of it; and as I am persuaded you love to hear of the works of the Lord, and of the power and glory of his kingdom, I am encouraged to write the following account.
I was born of dissenting parents, who brought me up, as it is commonly called, in a religious way, therefore I kept close to my meeting from my youth up. When I came to the age of eighteen, I began to be very desirous of understanding the doctrines I had formerly heard preached when I
was in the country: and being now an apprentice in London, I had an opportunity of hearing various preachers, and generally went to hear those that were called sound Calvinists, believing such to be the ministers of Christ; but I was often confused in my judgment by some who were not clear, for I could see no harmony in their doctrines.
About three years ago, by the good providence of God, I was brought under you, where I soon got clear views of the doctrines of the gospel: but I found your preaching to be very contrary to flesh and blood; however, as it was agreeable to divine revelation, I know it was right.
About this time it pleased God to impress my mind with a full persuasion that I must be born again, and that if I died in my present state I could not be saved; this caused me to seek much to God in prayer, that he would bring about this good work. I was convinced of the vanity of my natural religion, and made sensible of my blindness and ignorance, and that all my knowledge of the doctrines of the gospel, without the power, was vain. I wished to be a weary and heavy laden sinner; for then, I thought, there might be great hopes of my salvation: but vainly thought that I had not been wicked enough ever to be loaded with guilt and bondage as some are.
I understood by your preaching, that I must pass under the rod before I could be brought into the bond of the covenant; from hence I expected
to have some great affliction of body, and likewise to see myself lost, and then God would reveal his Son in me, and all would be well; and thus I attended your ministry for a long time, earnestly begging the Lord to apply his word with power. And when you held forth encouragement to seeking souls, I found myself very happy, believing that I was one; but, alas! I was still a stranger to the rebellion of my nature, nor could I believe that I was such an enemy to God as you declared we all were, until about the month of April last, when it pleased God to begin a deep work on my soul. At first I was seized with a dismal gloominess of mind all day long, and at night with fearfulness and trembling, insomuch that it was often three or four hours before I could get my eyes to sleep after I went to bed. The Lord began to make manifest the thoughts of my heart, and to set my secret sins in order before me.
I had not been long in this state before a man, who had formerly made a profession of religion for many years, came into the room where I was at work, and he was in madness and black despair. Seeing such an awful sight added not a little to my heavy affliction: the threatenings and curses in the Bible began to wound me deeply, and my sin to appear exceeding sinful. Having Mr. Romaine's Life of Faith by me at that time, I frequently read it; one part of which in particular cut me to the quick, where he mentions many characters who have no faith, and amongst the
rest he brings in the formal professor, with gospel notions in his head, but no grace in his heart; and says it is a dangerous state, and confirms it by this passage, "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins;" from this I concluded I had been guilty of the great transgression.
One Monday evening, about that time, you was speaking of spiritual, and likewise of formal, prayer, and you said a person might take a form of prayer and read it by one who was given up to black despair, but it would be of no use; for, said you, there is a sin unto death, and no prayer will do for that. These words, a sin unto death, struck me with such horror that I went out of the chapel shaking like a leaf.
On the Thursday morning following, before I was up, I really thought I was in hell; all was black despair; I kept crying out, Is there no hope? Is there no hope? Something within answered as fast, No; no hope, no. How long I lay in that fit I cannot tell; but in the course of my trouble I had four or five more such, but none so bad as the first. Indeed I believe that these were the snares of death and the pains of hell, and I then believed that I was reserved in blackness of darkness unto the judgment of the great day; and Satan suggested, that if ever I went to hear you again, the sentence of condemnation would be so sealed home upon my conscience,