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Mr. Rice had been accustomed for ten or fifteen years among the Peaks of Otter. In Kentucky both preachers and people, even those of them who were pious, assumed a new character, from the fact of their having been thrown into a new situation. And some time was necessary
for those who were of similar habits and sim ilar tempers to form a profitable acquaiņtance.
But with all these and similar allowances it must be remembered that the want of regular ordinances, particularly the want of regular Sabbath sanctification, the being removed from under the eye of those under whose inspection we formed our religious character, and the being not actually under the influence of the government and discipline of the church; these facts, wberever they exist, have a most unhappy influence upon both preacher and people-upon those who have made a profession of religion, and upon those wbo have never made any profession-and these were likely the causes which produced the effects of which Mr, Rice complained,
During the above, or immediately after the above transactions, Mr. Rice experienced a set of soul exerciscs, which he supposed were in a great measure peculiar to himself. When he preached abroad or prayed in bis family, his heart was more affected than usual. The truths of the gospel appeared to him to be valuables important, and excellent, but as soon as he stepped from the pulpit or rose from his knees, his mind was overcome with its usual gloom, and filled with sceptical doubts. His prayers, though they seemed ardent, were on re. flection considered by bim to be only the lamentations of despondency.
These exercises continued alternately for a considerable time, and affected his natural temper, which, though naturally not very irritable, became peevish and fretful. On a certain day he had preached some distance from home, but returning in the evening, found something amiss in his domestic concerns, and immediately felt his passion rising. This he was enabled to suppress by following a rule which he had long adopted, viz.—“To say nothing when angry.” He considerled anger as a species of madness, and a madman was, in his opinion, unfit either to speak or act. “I therefore,” says he, "withdrew to a solitary place, where, walking backwards and forwards, I did not disbelieve, but doubted the reality of my religion, and the religion of my fellow professors, the immortality of the soul, and a future state, nay, the truths of the scriptures and the very being of a God. I saw that such a creature as I was fit for nothing. It grieved me to think that I was the husband of a valuable woman-the father of a rising family of promising children and the minister of three congregations. I felt a disposition to exclude myself from human society, and hide in some cave among the mountains."
But the Lord, who will not suffer any of his people to Le tempted above what they are able to bear, did not allow him to be long thus oppressed. The first thing which struck his attention was a religious book, which he took up to divert bis mind for the moment. One of the first sentences which presented itself was, "all we with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord.” This in some measure dissipated the darkness of his mind, and he felt revived. But reading on he came to these words~"God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, to give the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” This filled his mind with sweet serenity, and banished every cloud and sceptical doubt. He at length laid down the book, and again retired to take another solitary walk. "But 0," says he, “how different were my views and exexercises from what I had experienced only a few minutes before. Some of the first views of the truths rerealed in these texts were as the dawning of the day, and as I continued to view these glorious objects they grew brighter till full day overspread my horizon. Divine truth itself had now more influence in convincing me of the truth of revelation than all the learned arguments taken from miracles, &c. &c. which I had ever read, ever produced. Though arguments of that kind have their use in their proper place, I trust these views had also a transforming influence on my mind so as to dispose me to devote myself to God more beartily, and more sweetly, and more entirely than I had ever done before, and I never felt a greater anxiety to spend and be spent for Christ in the work of the gospel minis, try.” See Ps. Jxxiii.
From this time, for about three years, he enjoyed more of the comforts of religion than he had ever enjoyed before in the same length of time, and enjoyed almost constantly an unshaken confidence of obtaining eternal salvation through the free grace and mercy of God. There was, within sight of his own house, a little eminence, in a pleasant grove, through which was an agreeable walk; there he used to retire, especially on evenings, for the purpose of meditation, prayer and praise; "and there,” says he, "I hope I enjoyed communion with God, even fellowship with the Father'and his Son Jesus Christ."
Before this gracious visitation he was frequently conscious of much being wrong within. He was sensible that be bad in a great measure backslidden in heart. This did not induce bim to despair of ever being restored, but he concluded that if ever he was brought again to enjoy the light of God's countenance it would probably be after sore convictions. Great, consequently, was bis astonishment, when he found himself so suddenly and so easily restored to the enjoyment of the light of God's countenance. God's ways are not our ways, nor are his thoughts our thoughts. See Is. lvii. 16–18.
A LITTLE REVIVING IN THE MIDST OF
During the secret exercises recorded in Chapter XI. Mr. Rice began to attend, according to his own account, more closely than ever he had done before, to the proper spirit, temper, and conduct of a minister of the gospel of Christ, as laid down in the New Testament. The result was the discovery of great deficiences in himself, and so far as he could be a proper judge of others, great deficiences also in his brethren in the ministry. Hence, in the
year 17-, he was led to write a kind of circular letter to his brethren in Kentucky, in which the character of the apostle Paul was held up as an example for the imitation of all invested with the office of the gospel ministry. This was not without its happy effects, The great and fundamental truths of the gospel were soon more clearly held forth, and more tenderly impressed on the minds of the people. On this commenced a small revival of religion in Mr. Rice's congregation, and in several other places adjoining. A number of professors appeared to be strengthened and comforted,-a number of hypocrites undeceived,
and a number of sinners were made to cry out, What shall we do to be saved? The awakening and seriousness continued for several months, adding a small number to the church on every