Preached from Luke x. 38-42. The word of God was attended with power and energy upon the audience. Numbers were affected and concerned to obtain the one thing needful. And sundry that have given good evidences of being truly gracious, were much affected with a sense of their want of spirituality; and saw the need they stood in of growing in grace. And most that had been under any impressions of divine things in times past, seemed now to have those impressions revived.
In the afternoon proposed to have catechised in my usual method. But while we were engaged in the first prayer in the Indian language, (as usual,) a great part of the assembly was so much moved, and affected with divine things, that I thought it seasonable and proper to omit the proposing of questions for that time, and insist upon the most practical truths. And accordingly did so; making a further improvement of the passage of Scripture I discoursed upon in the former part of the day.
There appeared to be a powerful divine influence in the congregation. Sundry that I have reason to think are truly pious, were so deeply affected with a sense of their own barrenness, and their unworthy treatment of the blessed Redeemer, that they looked on him as pierced by themselves, and mourned, yea, some of them were in bitterness as for a first-born. - Some poor awakened sinners also appeared to be in anguish of soul to obtain an interest in Christ. So that there was a great mourning in the assembly; many heavy groans, sobs, and tears! and one or two persons newly come among us, were considerably awakened.
Methinks it would have refreshed the heart of any who truly love Zion's interest, to have been in the midst of this divine influence, and seen the effects of it upon saints and sinners. The place of divine worship appeared both solemn and sweet! and was so endeared by a display of the divine presence and grace, that those who had any relish of divine things, could not but cry, "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts!" - After public worship was over, numbers came to my house, where we sang and discoursed of divine things: and the presence of God seemed here also to be, in the midst of us.
While we were singing, there was one (the woman mentioned in my Journal of Feb. 9) who, I may venture to say, if I may be allowed to say so much of any person I ever saw, was "filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory," and could not but burst forth in prayer and praises to God before us all, with many tears, crying sometimes in English and sometimes in Indian, "O blessed Lord, do come, do come! O do take me away, do let me die and go to Jesus Christ! I am afraid if I live I shall sin again! O do let me die now! O dear Jesus, do come! I cannot stay, I cannot stay! O how can I live in this world! do take my soul away from this sinful place! O let me never sin any more! O what shall I do, what shall I do! dear Jesus, O dear Jesus," &c. - In this ecstasy she continued some time, uttering these and such like expressions incessantly. And the grand argument she used with God to take her away immediately, was, that "if she lived, she should sin against him."
When she had a little recovered herself, I asked her, if Christ was not now sweet to her soul? Whereupon, turning to me with tears in her eyes, and with all the tokens of deep humility I ever saw in any person, she said, "I have many times heard you speak of the goodness and the sweetness of Christ, that he was better than all the world. But O! I knew nothing what you meant, I never believed you! I never believed you! But now I know it is true!" or words to that effect. - I answered, And do you see enough in Christ for the greatest of sinners? She replied, "O! enough, enough! for all the sinners in the world if they would but come." And when I asked her, if she could not tell them of the goodness of Christ; turning herself about to some poor Christless souls who stood by, and were much affected, she said, "Oh! there is enough in Christ for you, if you would but come! O strive, strive to give up your hearts to him!" &c. And upon hearing something of the glory of heaven mentioned, that there was no sin in that world, &c. she again fell into the same ecstasy of joy, and desire of Christ's coming; repeating her former expressions, "O dear Lord, do let me go! O what shall I do, what shall I do! I want to go to Christ! I cannot live! O do let me die!" &c.
She continued in this sweet frame for more than two hours, before she was well able to get home. - I am very sensible there may be great joys, arising even to an ecstasy, where there is still no substantial evidence of their being well-grounded. But in the present case there seemed to be no evidence wanting, in order to prove this joy to be divine, either in regard of its preparatives, attendants, or consequents.
Of all the persons I have seen under spiritual exercise, I scarce ever saw one appear more bowed and broken under convictions of sin and misery (or what is usually called a preparatory work) than this woman. Nor scarce any who seemed to have a greater acquaintance with her own heart than she had. She would frequently complain to me of the hardness and rebellion of her heart. Would tell me, her heart rose and quarrelled with God, when she thought he would do with her as he pleased, and send her to hell notwithstanding her prayers, good frames, &c. That her heart was not willing to come to Christ for salvation, but tried every where else for help.
And as she seemed to be remarkably sensible of her stubbornness and contrariety to God, under conviction, so she appeared to be no less remarkably bowed and reconciled to divine sovereignty before she obtained any relief or comfort. Something of which I have before noticed in my Journal of Feb. 9. Since which time she has seemed constantly to breathe the spirit and temper of the new creature: crying after Christ, not through fear of hell as before, but with strong desires after him as her only satisfying portion; and has many times wept and sobbed bitterly, because (as she apprehended) she did not and could not love him. - When I have sometimes asked her, Why she appeared so sorrowful, and whether it was because she was afraid of hell? She would answer, "No, I be not distressed about that; but my heart is so wicked I cannot love Christ;" and thereupon burst out into tears. - But although this has been the habitual frame of her mind for several weeks together, so that the exercise of grace appeared evident to others, yet she seemed wholly insensible of it herself, and never had any remarkable comfort and sensible satisfaction till this evening.
This sweet and surprising ecstasy appeared to spring from a true spiritual discovery of the glory, ravishing beauty, and excellency of Christ: and not from any gross imaginary notions of his human nature; such as that of seeing him in such a place or posture, as hanging on the cross, as bleeding, dying, as gently smiling, and the like; which delusions some have been carried away with. Nor did it rise from sordid, selfish apprehensions of her having any benefit whatsoever conferred on her, but from a view of his personal excellency, and transcendent loveliness, which drew forth those vehement desires of enjoying him she now manifested, and made her long "to be absent from the body that she might be present with the Lord."
The attendants of this ravishing comfort, were such as abundantly discovered its spring to be divine, and that it was truly a "joy in the Holy Ghost." - Now she viewed divine truths as living realities; and could say, "I know these things are so, I feel they are true!" - Now her soul was resigned to the divine will in the most tender points; so that when I said to her, What if God should take away your* husband from you, (who was then very sick,) how do you think you could bear that? She replied, "He belongs to God, and not to me; he may do with him just what he pleases." Now she had the most tender sense of the evil of sin, and discovered the utmost aversion to it; longing to die that she might be delivered from it. Now she could freely trust her all with God for time and eternity. And when I questioned her, how she could be willing to die, and leave her little infant; and what she thought would become of it in that case? She answered, "God will take care of it. It belongs to him, he will take care of it." Now she appeared to have the most humbling sense of her own meanness and unworthiness, her weakness and inability to preserve herself from sin, and to persevere in the way of holiness, crying, "If I live, I shall sin." And I then thought I had never seen such an appearance of ecstasy and humility meeting in any one person in all my life before.
The consequents of this joy are no less desirable and satisfactory than its attendants. She since appears to be a most tender, broken-hearted, affectionate, devout, and humble Christian, as exemplary in life and conversation as any person in my congregation. May she still "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ."