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THE LIFE, LABOURS, TRAVELS, &o.
Having great cause to acknowledge the regard and protection of Divine Providence in the several stages of my life, I think it may be of service to others, to leave behind me the following account of my life and travels.
I was born on the third day of the third month, 1675, in Southwark, and descended of honest and religious parents, who were very careful of me, and brought me up in the fear of the Lord; and oftentimes counselled me to sobriety, and reproved me for wantonness; and that light spirit, which is incident to youth, they were careful to nip in the bud: so that I have cause to bless God, through Christ, on the behalf of my tender parents.
And I may not forget the dealings of God with me in my very tender years. When between eight and ten years of age, my father and mother sent me near two miles to school, to Richard Scoryer, in the suburbs of London. I went mostly by myself to the school; and many and various were the exercises I went through, by beatings and stonings along the streets, being distin
guished to the people, by the badge of plainness which my parents put upon me, of what profession I was: divers telling me, "it was no more sin to kill me than it was to kill a dog."
About this time the Lord began to work strongly on my mind by his grace, insomuch that I could not forbear reproving those lads who would take the name of the Lord God in their mouths in vain, reminding them of the third commandment, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain ;" and of Christ's saying, "every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judg ment;" for which I was mocked and derided by some, and others would sometimes refrain from such bad words when I reproved them.
One time I remember I was amongst some men, one of whom I had reproved, and he told the rest of it, and turned to me, and said, "that I was no christian," and asked me," when I said the Lord's prayer;" I asked him, if he said it. He said yes. I then asked him, how he could call God Father, and be so wicked as to swear and take God's name in vain; which I had heard him often do; and I told him what Christ said to the Jews, you are of your father the devil, because his works ye do;" and that those that did the devil's work could not truly call God Father, according to Christ's doctrine. So being convicted in their consciences that what I said was true, they were all silent, and wondered that I, being so young, should speak in such a manner; in which I remember I had great peace and good satisfaction: and from thenceforth these men let me alone.
Notwithstanding I hated to hear wicked words, I loved play exceedingly, being persuaded that there was no harm in that, if we used no bad words. One time I was at play at a neighbour's house with the children, and in the midst of my sport I was reached with strong conviction, insomuch that I could not forbear weeping. The children's mother observing that I wept, said,
why do you weep, Tommy ?" I told her I could not
tell, except it was because I was a naughty boy. "Oh!" said she," don't believe him, for that's the devil tells you so, for you are the best boy in all our street." But I knew I was told the truth by conviction, and that she was mistaken: for I plainly understood by clear conviction, and by the holy scriptures (which I had been trained up in the reading of) that I was too vain and wanton; for I loved music, dancing, and playing at cards, and too much delighted therein betimes, and was followed with the judgments of God therefor in the secret of my soul. What I did in those sports and games, I always took care to do out of the sight, and without the knowledge of my tender parents; for I was afraid of their reproofs and corrections, the which I was sure to have, if they had any intelligence of it.
I remember that, unknown to my parents, I had bought a pack of cards, with intent to make use of them when I went to see my relations in the country, where there was liberty in the family so to do, at a place called Woodford, about seven miles from London, where I got leave sometimes to go; and at the time called Christmas, I went to see them, and five miles on my way went to a meeting. at a town called Wanstead, at which meeting, a minister of Christ declared against the evil of gaming, and particularly of cards; and that the time which people pretend to keep holy, for Christ's sake, many of them spend mostly in wickedness, sports, and games; even some pretending to be religious; and, generally speaking, more sin and evil is committed in this time, than in the like space of time in all the year besides; so that the devil is served instead of honouring Christ. From this meeting at Wanstead, I went to the house of my relations, where the parson of the next parish lodged that night, who used to play cards with them sometimes; and the time drawing near that we were to go to our games, my uncle called to the doctor (as he called him), to me, and to my cousin, to come and take a game at cards; at which motion I had strong convictions upon me not to do it, as being evil; and I secretly cried to the Lord to keep me faithful to him; and lifting up my
eyes, I saw a bible lie in the window, at the sight of which I was glad. I took it, and sat down, and read to myself, greatly rejoicing that I was preserved out of the snare. Then my uncle called again, and said, "Come, doctor, you and I, my wife and daughter, will have a game at cards, for I see my cousin is better disposed." Then he looked upon me, and said, "He was better disposed also." So their sport for that time was spoiled, and mine in that practice for ever; for I never (as I remember,) played with them more, but as soon as I came home, offered my new and untouched pack of cards to the fire. And of this I am certain, the use of them is of. evil consequence, and draws away the mind from heaven and heavenly things; for which reason all christians ought to shun them as engines of Satan and music and dancing having generally the same tendency, ought therefore to be refrained from. The sentiments of the Waldenses, a people in great esteem among protestants, are worthy the consideration of all true protestants and christians; which were, "That as many paces, or steps, as a man or woman takes in the dance, so many paces or steps they take towards hell.”
I very well remember the work of God upon my soul, when I was about ten years of age; and particularly at a certain time when I had been rebelling against God and my parents, in vanity and lightness: and as I had of fended both, so I was corrected by both: for I had not only the anger of my parents, but the Lord frowned upon me, insomuch, that I trembled exceedingly, and was as though I heard a vocal voice say to me, "What will become of thee this night, if I should take thy life from thee?" At which I was amazed, and in great fear. Then I covenanted with God, that if he would be pleased to spare my life (for I thought God would have taken my life from me that very moment), I would be more sober, and mind his fear more than I had done before.
Nevertheless, I broke covenant with God my Maker, my adversary tempting me so to do, telling me I was but a child, and it was natural for children to be brisk and play, and that God would wink at my childhood and