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sorrowful for the misfortune. She sent for a minister, too, a serious, pious, good man, and applied herself with such earnestness, by his assistance, to the work of sincere repentance, that I believe, and so did the minister too, that she was a true penitent; and, which is still more, she was not only so for the occasion, and at that juncture, but she continued so, as I was informed, to the day of her death.
It is rather to be thought of than expressed what was now my condition. I had nothing before me but death; and as I had no friends to assist me, I expected nothing but to find my name in the dead warrant, which was to come for the execution, next Friday, of five more and myself.
In the meantime my poor distressed governess sent me a minister, who at her request came to visit me. He exhorted me seriously to repent of all my sins, and to dally no longer with my soul ; not flattering myself with hopes of life, which, he said, he was informed there was no room to expect, but unfeignedly to look up to God with my whole soul, and to cry for pardon in the name of Jesus Christ. He backed his discourses with proper quotations of Scripture, encouraging the greatest sinner to repent, and turn from their evil way; and when he had done, he kneeled down and prayed with me.
It was now that, for the first time, I felt any real signs of repentance. I now began to look back upon my past life with abhorrence, and having a kind of view into the other side of time, the things of life, as I believe they do with everybody at such a time, began to look with a different aspect, and quite another shape, than they did before. The views of felicity, the joy, the griefs of life, were quite other things; and I had nothing in my thoughts but what was so infinitely superior to what I had known in life, that it appeared to be the greatest stupidity to lay a weight upon anything, though the most valuable in this world.
The word eternity represented itself with all its incomprehensible additions, and I had such extended notions of it that I know not how to express them. . Among the rest, how absurd did every pleasant thing look ! — I mean, that we had counted pleasant before - when I reflected that these sordid trifles were the things for which we forfeited eternal felicity.
With these reflections came in of mere course severe reproaches for my wretched behaviour in my past life; that I had forfeited all hope of happiness in the eternity that I was just going to enter into; and, on the contrary, was entitled to all that was miserable ; and all this with the frightful addition of its being also eternal.
I am not capable of reading lectures of instruction to anybody, but I relate this in the very manner in which things then appeared to me, as far as I am direct;
able, but infinitely short of the lively impressions which they made on my soul at that time; indeed, those impressions are not to be explained by words, or if they are, I am not mistress of words to express them. It must be the work of every sober reader to make just reflections, as their own circumstances may
and this is what every one at some time or other
may feel something of; I mean, a clearer sight into things to come than they had here, and a dark view of their own concern in them. But I go back to my own case.
The minister pressed me to tell him, as far as I thought convenient, in what state I found myself as to the sight I had of things beyond life. He told me he did not come as ordinary of the place, whose business it is to extort confessions from prisoners, for the further detecting of other offenders; that his business was to move me to such freedom of discourse as might serve to disburthen my own mind, and furnish him to administer comfort to me as far as was in his assured me, that whatever I said to him should remain with him, and be as much a secret as if it was known only to God and myself; and that he desired to know nothing of me, but to qualify him to give proper advice to me, and to pray to God for me.
This honest, friendly way of treating me unlocked all the sluices of my passions. He broke into my very soul by it; and I unravelled all the wickedness
of my life to him. In a word, I gave him an abridgment of this whole history ; I gave him the picture of my conduct for fifty years in miniature.
I hid nothing from him, and he in return exhorted me to a sincere repentance, explained to me what he meant by repentance, and then drew out such a scheme of infinite mercy, proclaimed from heaven to sinners of the greatest magnitude, that he left me nothing to say, that looked like despair, or doubting of being accepted ; and in this condition he left me the first night.
He visited me again the next morning, and went on with his method of explaining the terms of divine mercy, which according to him consisted of nothing more difficult than that of being sincerely desirous of it, and willing to accept it; only a sincere regret for, and hatred of, those things which rendered me so just an object of divine vengeance. I am not able to repeat the excellent discourses of this extraordinary man ; all that I am able to do, is to say that he revived my heart, and brought me into such a condition that I never knew anything of in my life before. I was covered with shame and tears for things past, and yet had at the same time a secret surprising joy at the prospect of being a true penitent, and obtaining the comfort of a penitent - I mean the hope of being forgiven ; and so swift did thoughts circulate, and so high did the impressions they had made upon me run, that I thought I could freely have gone out that minute to execution, without any uneasiness at all, casting my soul entirely into the arms of infinite mercy as a penitent.
The good gentleman was so moved with a view of the influence which he saw these things had on me, that he blessed God he had come to visit me, and resolved not to leave me till the last moment.
It was no less than twelve days after our receiving sentence before any were ordered for execution, and then the dead warrant, as they call it, came down, and I found my name was among them. A terrible blow this was to my new resolutions ; indeed my heart sank within me, and I swooned away twice, one after another, but spoke not a word. The good minister was sorely afflicted for me, and did what he could to comfort me, with the same arguments and the same moving eloquence that he did before, and left me not that evening so long as the prison-keepers would suffer him to stay in the prison, unless he would be locked up with me all night, which he was not willing to be.
I wondered much that I did not see him all the next day, it being but the day before the time
appointed for execution ; and I was greatly discouraged and dejected, and indeed almost sank for want of that comfort which he had so often, and with such success, yielded me in his former visits. I waited