Chapter 17: Start of the Search
You will perceive that I was now in a most wretched and Miserable State, the most unhappy of Mortals. I wished that I was anything but a Man professing a Soul of Priceless Value.
I was in this miserable state many Months, sinning and repenting, having Aimless wishes, hoping something but knowing not what. I was full of fears, not knowing when Judgement would be passed upon me. When eating my meals I thought I was only Fattening for the Slaughter. O the Fearful state of that Soul - that expects Execution, the Warrant already signed - at times, while sitting alone, expecting the Bailiff at the Door - me trembling and the cold sweat running down me. O the Efficacy of a Guilty Conscience!
Well, this State of things continued for some time, as I said, Months. Well, one Sunday I attended Chapel as usual. We had a Supply, a Stranger from a distance, preaching to us. He said:-
"Why, some of you here are worse than Beasts. Beasts, after their manner, will give God thanks! But you, to whom God has given much more than Beasts, never say thank you for all that he has given you!" "That is true of me", says I to myself" Now crowded into my mind all my Stupidity and Unthankfulness that I had manifested in my life; but especially my Ingratitude against the Lord - remembering my Prayer to the Lord when I left London, the Vow I made saying "If God would be with me and give me a Place, where I would have Food and Clothing, then God should be my God and I would serve him!" These thoughts, I say, fixed themselves in my Mind, so that I could think nothing else.
In making for home, when I got there I went straight upstairs to my Room, full of mortification, and thought about this Matter. Presently I saw a great light in the midst of Heaven. The shape was a Triangle of such Brilliancy and Softness that I said; "Surely God is in that Light!" For it seemed to me that it penetrated through Air, Earth, and Sea and through all Creation. It seemed to say to me;-
"When you left London you asked me for food and Raiment, and that I have given you. You might have asked for more and I might have given it you. But where is your Promise of service? What hast thou done?" Oh, the Shame and confusion that possessed me. I wanted to hide myself from that Glory, and bury myself in a Mousehole, or anywhere from the Glory of that Light, for no creature could behold it! "Oh", I thought, "I wonder that God does not sweep us all away, seeing how we have injured and dishonoured him.
When I came to myself and considered the Vision, and the goodness of God shewn therein, I thought:- "Could not such a God find out a Way to save such a Sinner as me?" "No", I thought, "it would tarnish his Glory"' I thought:- "I would rather be damned than do that!" But then "Is there no way to be saved?" "Well", I said, "If I am to be saved I must have a Saviour that is as High as God and Low as Man. But where is such a one to be found?"
Hitherto I had only been playing 'Hide and seek' about Religion, as it were; but now my whole Soul was taken up with the Question "What must I do to be saved?" After seeing that Glory and Awful Holiness of God, which I have so imperfectly described, I said;- "No Sinner could stand before that Glory and live! But how is that to be done? I must have a Righteousness that will stand before that Glory without blinking - and where is that to be found?" Although I had read the Scripture from my youth many times over (for I delighted to read them and had them, as we say 'at my fingers Ends') and had heard many hundred Sermons, yet, when it came to the Point, 'I must have a Saviour and a great one too, or I be lost' that put me to the Staggers, and I said:- "O Miserable Sinner that I am. Woe is me that I have sinned. Woe, Woe" Never had I such a pressing Business on my hands before. Everything had to give way to it. My sinful haunts were forsaken, my whole mind and thought were taken up about a Saviour!