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THE EXPERIENCE OF MR. SPOONER.
[ Concluded from page 342.] AFTER this the inforiners disturbed our worship but oncea It when they kept silence till praver was ended. Then one of them, in a confident manner, began to cast several severe reflections; to which I was helped to reply. A short debate passed between us, on which they seemed alhamed, and in a confused manner they all quitred the place. From which time our meetings were not interrupted.
Perceiving they had got nothing by coming thus among us, and knowing that we had already forfeited as much, or more, than fome of our personal estates were worth, they had recourse to their main design, which was to strip us of our outward subftance, in order to enrich themselves. Accordingly, they went again to the justices at their next meeting, and laid a fresh ina' formation, by which means they obtained warrants for one huna dred pounds, fixty of which were laid upon me, Besides which, several other warrants were issued out for lesser fines.
Information thus given, and the warrants produced, occasioned no small consternation in the neighbourhood. Nothing but utter ruin was now expected, unless the course of law was stopped, or my goods secured. My neighbours discovered great concern, both for my person and family : Several, who were no way re. lated to me, were greatly afflicted, insomuch that it broke their natural rest : These blamed me at the same time for endangering my person and property, by continuing to keep open meetings, and refusing their counsel, which was to get my goods secured: And some of my dear chriftian friends were also ready to join in with them, chiding me for my rash unreasonable conduct, and telling me, that they could direct me to more safe, yet lawful methods. And, to say the truth, when it came to the trial, I had enough to do to silence the bold reasonings of my own flesh
Amidst the hurry and confusion of my mind, under these cire, cumstances, I constantly fought the Lord, for wisdom and prue dence to direct my affairs : deliring I might take especial heed of raih proceedings, knowing that he that believeth must not, in these cases, make haste. I had also some passages of Scripture strongly impressed on my spirit; from whence I firmly believed that the Lord would so bridle mine enemies, that they should not have their full designs against me; particularly Ila. xxxvii. 29. " I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou cameft." Such support and comfort these words afforded, that amidst all my fore rows I was ready to sing for joy,.
When God supports, who then cast' us down? ". His smiles are life, but death'attends bis frown. Vol. XIX. August 1796.
Wben the officers came to execute the warrant, I suffered them to enter my house without the least opposition; and when I read it, I spoke to this purpose, that I had done nothing to deserve such a seizure, yet, forasmuch as I made conscience not to con. form, or submit to the laws I lived under, I would quietly bear what God should permit them to do. I confess this was trying to me, who had always lived in great plenty of outward things, and who had relations of some account in the world, to see myself ftript of all my goods at once, which I had honestly provided, baving at the same time a family of small children about me: my neighbours also discovered great concern upon this occafion; but especially my wife, poor heart, burft into tears, to think that her house should be plundered, and all her goods seized and fold in her right; yet, after a while, the recovered herself, saying, that if it was the will of the Lord it should be so; she defired to submit. · My goods being thus seized, and an inventory taken, the officers gave us a strict charge, that nothing should be removed; they cried them the next market-day, at Litchfield, my wife was pre. fent at the time; "all sorts of cattle, hay, and household goods, to be sold very cheap, &c.” When they were at firft proclaimed, several ill-minded persons began to covet them, and offered to buy ; but, as God would have it, a terror soon fell on the minds of moft, and the people in general so discouraged one another, that not a single person appeared at the sale.
This enraged my adversaries so much the more, and put them upon driving all my cattle that were fit for the market, to Litch. field, which was about a mile distance. It was with great diffi. culty they forced them out of the field, and when they brought them to market, no man would buy them ; after which they drove them to another market, but sold them not there. *
Finding their hopes thus frustrated, they obtained leave of the justices to fetch my goods to Litchfield, and there sell them at their leisure, urging the shame and disgrace they should fall under in case they were not sold, and that Lawrence Spooner himfelf would laugh in their faces. Accordingly two of them came to my house, and giving me very lofty language, began to rifle the rooms, demanding the keys of the chests and coffers, which my wife, with some reluctance, delivered, to prevent their being broken in pieces. But when they had got possession of my ef. fects, they could not hire waggons to carry them away, though they proffered double the price of carriage ; at last indeed they procured two teams, which were very weak, and the ways being then bad, they were for some time by that means hindered; then they importuned a neighbour, who was no friend to Disfenters, to come over his ground, but prevailed not. Thus Providence pre.
* At lalt it pleased God to permit the bailiff of the hundred to parchase them.
vented their designs, till those men with whom they had agreed, refused carrying the goods at any rate.
Notwithstanding all these difficulties, they hoped, ere long, without fail to compass their end : in the mean while they drank exceeding hard: and one of them said, in the hearing of a person of credit, Come fill us a thousand jugs, we will have them all paid for, and boldly sang, “ One hundred pounds will buy a soul from hell, &c." My friends replied, it was best not to drink too hard, for they might not be able to accomplish their designs. He answered, although they had received no money as yet, they should hereafter ; adding, that the king would place a loyal subject in my house shortly, and then asked what would I do?'.
But I desire with awful reverence to mention the following circumstance: This fame person, either by excessive drinking, or, as some have thought, by a secret stroke from God, declined by little and little, drooping away, and soon died. Before he died, he was smitten with a wounded conscience, and almost in his last words said, “God forgive me; I have greatly injured those I have informed against, which troubles me more than any thing I have ever done in my life;" bidding those present to marķ his letter-on, saying, that divine vengeance would certainly fol. low him, and much more to the same purpose: this being noised abroad, it greatly daunted some daring sinners, and so awed the minds of all, that none durft buy any sort of goods belonging to me, nor come to fetch any thing out of my house.
The informiers growing quite weary of this way of striving, some of the justices took me in hand, and were fully determined to have the warrant executed, especially as they had met with so much trouble in this affair, and I had never in person, or by others, fought any favor from them; my character, as an honest man, was alone in my favor; notwithstanding which, when they had heard that we still kept our meetings as usual, they threatened the constable, and at last I was summoned before them.
The next morning I set forth, attended by a christian friend; and as we rode along, spake to my companion as follows : “ Could we now see the heavens open, and God Almighty as sitting on a throne, governing all the world, and holding both men and devils.
in chains, saying to them, as to the sea, “ Hitherto fhall ye go - and no further, and here shall your proud waves be stayed,” how fearless should we be to-day of those persons before whom we are going to stand! Adding moreover, that although sense could not .. fee this, yet faith discerned it. And, through grace, of this truth we had a most convincing evidence ; for when we came to the place, the constable presented the warrant, saying, that I was there. Upon which the justices, after conlulting together, returned this answer, that he might take me home again, for they desired not to see me. " I returned with great admiration. And that very evening the fociety had appointed to meet, in order to take their leave of me, 3 H ?
he ne in this he jus being brimplained the who's themerak
expe&ting it would be a night of. se: row, and that I fould be Tent 10 prison the next morning. But the Lord made it a season of great comfort and joy, not only as I was so wonderfully re. stored, but also in sending a precious servant of his providentially among us, who preached that night from Jer. ix. 7." There, fore thus faith the Lord, Behold, I will melt ihem, and try them, for how shall I do for the daughter of my people?" He spake so affe&ționately and powerfully from the words, shewing God's gracious ends and designs in trying his people's faith and patience, that it greatly affected us all,
After these things had passed, my enemies, knew not what course to take, in order to hinder our meetings, and to revenge themselves on my person or goods. They were like men tied hand and foot, and could do me no more mischief; therefore from this time, through me:cy, we had relt: and so remarkable was the providence of God, ibit my adversaries themselves met with abundance of rouble throughout the whole of this profecution. The chief informer complained he loft by me; the conItable was charged with being bribed from a due execution of the warrants; and the justices were weavied in about two years per plexity in this affair, :So that I may lay with the Pfalmift, " In ihe net which they hid is their own foot taken; the Lord is 'known by the judgment which he executeth ; the wicked is Înared in the works of his own hands," Pfalm ix, 15, 16..
At lait Charles II. died, which put a stop to sufferings for the present, and although after two years they were revived, and I endured many 'hard ihings for conscience sake; yet after all the forms were over, and my enemies had done their utmost, I think I loft not, froin first to last, above thirty pounds, for which I had fo large a crop of experience, that I have the giearest reason to forgive them, and do heartily pray that God would not lay heir fin to their charge. Molt gladly would I serve the worst of my enemies, especially in what concerns their souls : This I find to be the very life of Christ, who always went about doing good, And the perfections of the glorious Deity, perhams, are not imi, table in any thing more than this; for "he causeth bis sụn to shine on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjus," Matt. y. 45.
In the midst of my trials I had many precious promises and secret supports and comforts from above, that strangers intermeddle not with; insomuch that I durft not have exchanged my condition with the greatest men in the world, who lived at ease, and were free from sufferings. And as I had the promises to stay and support me all along, so I have since seen them fulfilled in a way ! the least expected; I mean, in the Lord's blessing me abundantly wiih all sorts of temporal blessings, so that what I loft is more than made up: 'My cup is not only full, but it runneih pver. have found such a manifest difference in my temporal eftate, that it does not scem to be the same inherịtançe, bile oge
far more large and fruitful. I have enough, and enough of all kinds of earthly comforts, and perhaps something considerable to spare, notwithstanding my yearly expence; I mean, something wherewith I can fhew kindness to the Lord's ministers, and his poor people.
In short, my mind since these exercises has been more calm, comfortable, and composed, and I have had Christ Jesus my Sa. viour more constantly in my heart and eye than ever before ; so that I have come out of this wilderness leaning upon him, who, I hope and trust, will still guard and defend me from men and devils, and at last present me without fault before his Father, with exceeding joy.
LAWRENCE SPOONER, ! This excellent man lived several years after his sufferings ; and was not only an exemplary christian, but an useful minister. much known and valued in those parts. He died and was buried at Curburow, near Litchfield, where he was born, and in which place he had always dwelt,
llent man lived Christian, bue died and was bunich
THOUGHTS ON BEING WELL-DISPOSED. W H EREVER the genuine Gospel of Christ has been faith
VV fully preached for any considerable time, we may expect to find some lively witnesses of its being the power of God unto salvation. In most of these places likewise, we may look, with out disappointment, for a number of despisers and scoffers at real godliners, who set at nought all those that embrace the Truth as it is in Jesus. These seldom hear the Word of Life, except to oppose and mock at spiritual worshippers, and carry away something, if possible, to furnish them and their companions in folly, with matter of laughter and ridicule. .
But there are others, and in general not a few, of a very dif. ferent character, who attend the preaching of the Word, espe, cially on a Sunday; approve of what they hear, respect religious persons, and are ready to aslist the faithful servanis of God in Ipreading the glad Tidings of salvation. They will occasionally mix in religious company, join in conversation on divine things, and unite in the exercises of prayer and praise. From these and other hopeful appearances, they have been denominated WELLDISPOSED PERSONS.
It certainly becomes those who love the Lord Jesus in fincerity, to hope the best of every person, and especially where there is any a: pearance of a serious enquiry after Truth: And surely the Grace of God, where it is experienced in its life and power, will lead to this temper of mind. Yet it may be proper to ask, are these WELL-DISPOSED PERSONS, disposed to part wiih all their fios, even those which moft easily befet them? Are they willing to cut off their right hand fin, and pluck out that which seems to