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RELATION OF EXPERIENCE – EARLIER ACCOUNT.

Richmond, Maine, 1842.

DEAR BROTHER JEWETT: - I have for a long time had an inclination to write to you to give an account of the dealings of God with my soul; but feeling myself inadequate to the task, my youth, my inexperience in writing, my own insufficiency with a sense of my nothingness, has kept me back. I hope you will pardon me for thus intruding upon you, while I shall attempt to write a few lines, hoping that the blessed God may lead me aright.

I was but seventeen, when it pleased God to call up my attention to consider upon my soul’s eternal concerns, how it stood between me and God. I fled first to the law, thinking to please him, and to make amends for my sins; but the more I did the worse I grew; my understanding was opened to see, that the law was broad and reached to the thoughts and intents of the heart. I died to any hopes of being saved upon that principle; for by the law is the knowledge of sin. I saw myself a sinner, lost and undone, “Lord be merciful to me a sinner,” was my cry. I saw God’s justice in my condemnation, and could not but say, he would be just to cast me off forever. But I was then ignorant of its being the work of God upon my soul, though so hoping; but I was afraid it was a deception. I thought, if I only knew it to be God’s work, how glad I should be. I prayed that I might not deceive myself or others. After I had indulged a little hope, a peace of mind, I durst not trust it, fearing there was some mistake about it; but blessed be God, he did not leave me, but gently led me by his Spirit to his word. At that time I heard a gospel minister preach, who told all of my feelings, and who brought to view those great and important truths contained in God’s word, and my mind as it was led into them, saw a beauty in them, that cannot be expressed in words. Oh, how I then rejoiced, for I saw things I never saw before; God’s sovereign choice in the salvation of sinners in Jesus Christ, he being the foundation, the author and finisher of our faith, our all and in all to his people. Being led into and believing in these precious truths, I felt to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, and so animated was I, that I felt like proclaiming it to the world. I made a public profession of religion in the spring of 1838, and joined what I then thought to be {and it was so in name} a Predestinarian Baptist church in Richmond, being baptized by the same man, under whose preaching I was led into the system of the Gospel, who at that time was their minister for a few weeks. My mind was soon established in the truth, having heard much of it before my conversion; and after God enlightened my mind, I was experimentally taught it in heart, whereby I learnt, that there is a great difference between head-knowledge and heart-understanding of the truth; as I knew one by education, so the other I knew by experience, being taught it by the revelation of Jesus Christ. I stood in defense of the truth as a private member in the church for three years and two months, and then left them, having stayed with them {even to a day} as long as I could.

My experience for three years was bitter, being made to drink the wormwood and gall to all intents and purposes. I was alone in the church; my mind sunk under these passages of scripture: “Truth is fallen in the street,” also “The godly man ceaseth, the faithful fail from among the children of men.” I felt it; I struggled, I toiled for life; “Will God forsake his people? Will he give his heritage to reproach?” The lamentations of Jeremiah were a support and comfort to me. I ate them all, they were words in season, I knew they were fulfilled at the present day. “Oh that my head were waters and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.” Neither could I complain. “Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins.” I was wounded, bruised, afflicted, tempted, distressed; yea, I starved in foreign lands; no comforter; I was as a dead man out of mind, as a broken vessel. I continued so for several months together, till God’s time came for my deliverance. This passage of scripture came with power to my mind. “Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone.” My duty was made plain at that time, and I was enabled by divine grace to relate to them plainly and boldly my experience and travail of mind from the time I joined them to that time; also that the church was not sound in the faith, neither were the Baptist churches in general; and that a separation must surely take place, even now had it begun in many places; also that the professed christian world was in an exceeding corrupt state, and that there was and had been for many years a gradual departure from the simplicity of the truth as it is in Jesus.

After this, in the summer of 1841, I joined the Old School Baptist Church in Bowdoinham and found a home at last in the truth. But as my mind was very weak and needed strengthening, and looking for nothing but death, the great Physician of souls had mercy on me. Hearing of a few despised brethren in Jay, about forty-five miles distant, I visited them, found them firm in the truth, a remnant according to the election of grace. I next attended the O.S. Baptist Association in Palermo, in September last. I then went to North Berwick in this state, and so on to Woburn in Massachusetts, found brethren in the truth, who comforted and encouraged me onwards. On my return home, being sensible of my duty, I was enabled to do it, making the first trial in November last, God has helped me thus far, when I expected nothing but to fall at the first onset. My mind is engaged in proclaiming gospel truth, I see nothing glorious in anything else, and I can say to the praise of almighty God, that it was of him I was taught it, and made willing to proclaim it even to this day. My desire is onward, feeling to press against opposition in holding up the sovereignty of Jehovah, eternal election in Jesus Christ, particular redemption, and the eternal salvation of all those, who were given in the covenant of redemption between the Father and Son ere time was; who are quickened in time by the special influence of God’s Holy Spirit, brought to a knowledge of the truth of their own character and of God’s character, and to a discovery of Jesus Christ by faith as their only hope of eternal blessedness; also to speak comfortably to Jerusalem, to cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished; to bind up the broken-hearted, to comfort the feeble-minded, and to relieve those who through fear of death are all their lifetime subject to bondage; to say to the righteous that it shall be well with him, but to the wicked that it shall be ill with him; also to say in the language of the prophet; Deliver thyself, O Zion, from the daughter of Babylon; strange children, whose mouth speaks lies, whose pastors speak peace to them to whom God hath not spoken peace; who compass themselves about with sparks of their own kindling and justify the wicked for a reward. Woe to them for their iniquities and abominations! It is but about thirteen months, since I left the N.S. Baptists, but it appears to me as though I had got into a new world. My mind has been free and at rest, as it respects them, ever since. But I do not expect to go through this world without trials and disappointments. It is the common lot of God’s people; chosen in the furnace of affliction; as partakers of Christ’s sufferings. My only hope is in God, he is my shield, my support, and I at times feel willing to endure all things for the elect’s sake, and to fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church. I have tried to preach in several different places among Old School Baptists, who love the truth for the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us and shall be with us forever, who are the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth; who think that a dispensation of the gospel is committed to me, which is to me an encouragement, as they should judge in the matter. And as I have an inclination to travel among and see O.S. Baptists, God may direct my steps into the West, willing to spend and be spent for the cause of Christ against antichrist, in holding up truth and exposing error. May God have mercy upon, and keep us all to the end.

Yours in the truth,
J.L. Purington.