Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

tually assist him to prevail upon W. to do the fatal deed. That agent was ardent spirits, the universal stimulus to crime. He accordingly gave them to him, not in such quantities as completely to intoxicate him, but moderately -only enough to destroy what little conscience he had, and yet leave him, in a considerable degree, the possession of his faculties.

the

After he had drunk the rum, he went and lay down to sleep in the skirts of a wood, where they expected to commit the murder. In a little while, another man, who had been employed to assist in this work, came and awoke him up, and said to him: "If we mean to do any thing, we had better do it now." W. accordingly rose, and they went together. When they came to their victim, Jack shot at him; and then his accomplice took gun, and beat him over the head till he was dead. Two persons were hung for this crime; and W. was sentenced to the State prison for a long time. whom they had killed was a very bad man; afterwards said, that was no cloak for him. When W. came to the prison, he was very ignorant. He did not know his own age accurately, and he could not read. There was, in that prison, however, a very faithful chaplain; who, knowing that the Bible alone could be the means of reforming the miserable convicts, always placed that book before them immediately. When they could not read, he used to teach them.

The man

but, as W.

I have been told that this course has been taken to teach them. The first lesson was the first word in the Bible-I-n. "That word is In," the teacher would say to the pri soner in his cell. "Can you see how many letters there are in it ?"

"Two," the prisoner would reply, after examining it. "Yes," answers the teacher: "the first letter is called i; the second, n. These letters are very common in the

Bible, and in all reading. See if you can find another n, any where on this page."

The prisoner then would look very attentively along the lines, until he found the letter required. If he made a mistake, and found an m or an r instead, the teacher would explain the difference, and call his attention more He would also exfully to the true form of the n. plain the difference between the capital and small i, and shew his pupil that he must expect to find the small i generally. He would then leave him, asking him to find as many of these letters as he could before the teacher should come again.

The next lesson would be the next word the; and thus the pupil would go on slowly, spelling his way until he had learned to read for himself. The attempt was proposed to W., and he commenced it; and although considerably advanced in life, he made no little progress in his work. He soon was able to read correctly; and, as the truths of the word of God came home to his mind, they produced their usual effects there. They led him to see his sins, and to feel them: and they led him to come to the Saviour for pardon. His whole character was changed. But I must allow him to describe this change in his own words.

These words were taken down by the same gentleman whom I have mentioned before. He visited him in prison; and, after first conversing with him in regard to the crime for which he had been committed, asked him,

66

"Well, W., how do this and all your other sins now appear to you ?”

"Very great,” he said. "When I first began to reflect in my cell, I saw my sins so great, that I felt I could not be forgiven. I was sitting down one day at my work in the prison, and the chaplain came along and asked me my crime. I told him.

66 6

'That,' said he, ́ is one of the greatest crimes: but, then, you may remember David's sin; and he was forgiven. Let your crime be as great as it will, pray to God, and cast yourself on your Saviour, and you shall soul.'

find rest to your

“He told me also, that if I could not read, he would visit me in my cell, and put me in the way. I shall ever love him: while God gives me breath, I shall love the chaplain; for he put me in the way to save my soul. He made me promise him faithfully that I would go to God, and try to find mercy: and yet, Master, I had a doubt in my heart—my sins were so heavy-whether I should be forgiven. The chaplain soon left me; and I went into my cell, and poured out my heart to God, to

have mercy on me.

The more I prayed, the more miserable I grew. Heavier and heavier were my sins.

[ocr errors]

"The next day Mr. B. came; and I asked him to read a chapter to me. As God would have it, he turned to the 55th chapter of Isaiah. It said, Every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters! and he that hath no money, come ye, buy wine and milk, without price!' He read along to where the Prophet says, 'Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.'

"I found this gave me great encouragement to go on to pray, to see if I could find relief from all my troubles -the load of sin that was on my heart. I thought, and prayed; and, the more I prayed, the more wretched I sins appeared to be.

grew; the heavier

my

66

"A night or two after that, the chaplain came to my cell, and asked me how I felt. I told him my sins were greater than I could bear-so guilty-so heavy. He asked me if I thought praying would make my sins any less. I gave him no answer. He soon left me; and I went again to prayer. I was almost fit to expire. In all my sorrows, I had not a right sorrow. was because I had sinned against man.

66

[ocr errors]

My sorrow

The Sunday following, just after I had carried my dinner into my cell, I put my dinner down and went to prayer. I rose; and, just as I rose from my prayer, the chaplain was at the door. We are all guilty creatures,' he said to me; ' and we cannot be saved except God, for Christ's sake, will save us. If we pray, and go to God, we must go in the name of Jesus Christ: if we expect to be saved, we must be saved through the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ.' Then I picked up encouragement.

"The sins which you have committed,' he went on, are against your fellow-creatures; but they are much more against God.' Now, I never knew before that they were against God. When the chaplain left me, I went to prayer again. I could eat nothing that day. I did not eat a mouthful.

6

“I recollected, at that time, that a Minister had told me, whenever I had a chapter read, to have the 51st Psalm. I could not see any body to get to read it, and how to find it I did not know; and the Sunday following, before the keeper unlocked the door, I rose up and went to prayer; and I prayed, O Lord! thou knowest I am ignorant, brought up in ignorance. Thou knowest my bringing up. Nothing is too hard for Thee to do. May it please Thee, O Lord, to shew me that chapter, that I may read it with understanding! I rose from prayer; and went to my Bible, and took it up. I began the First

Psalm, and turned over and counted every psalm; and it appeared to me that God was with me; and I counted right to the 51st Psalm. I could read a little; and I begun to spell, H-a-v-e m-e-r-c-y &c.' I looked over the psalm, and spelt it, and read it; and then put the Bible down, and fell upon my knees, and prayed: ‘Have mercy upon me, O God! according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions! Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquities, and cleanse me from my sins! for my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight; that Thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and clear when Thou judgest.'

“When I came to the words, 'Deliver me from bloodguiltiness,' I was struck dumb. I could not say any more at that time. I fell upon my knees, and prayed to God to have mercy upon me for Christ's sake. But I only grew more and more miserable. The load of my

sins was heavier and heavier.

"All that I had ever done, came plain and open in my sight, and I was led to see that I must perish: there was no help for me: all my sin was upon my own head."

Such is the miserable criminal's account of the suffering to which he was brought, by the sense of guilt which the Bible was the means of fastening upon his soul. He continued in this state for some time; until at last, as he himself describes it, one day, when he was praying in his cell, his burden of guilt was removed. He felt that he might hope for pardon through Jesus Christ. The relief which this feeling brought over his mind seems to have been almost indescribable. Every thing wore a new aspect: even the gloomy prison seemed a cheerful and happy place. His expressions of joy would appear almost extravagant to any person not sufficiently acquainted

« AnteriorContinuar »