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ness while engaged in secret prayer. His own account, as given in after years, is characteristic of the man. "One day," he says, "about sunrise, in the month of May, I was in a corner of the fence praying, when, I humbly trust, my sins were pardoned, and God, for Christ's sake, accepted me. Before that time I had frequently had sweet intimations of the goodness and mercy of the Lord. My heart was tender, and I felt as if I could love God and his people; but yet, until that morning, my mind was not at rest. Then everything seemed changed. Nature wore a new aspect as I arose and went with cheerfulness to my work, although I did not then know whether I had received all that I should look for in conversion. I never had such alarming views of my condition as some have experienced. My mind was gradually opened, and although I had led a moral life, I firmly believed that my heart must be changed. I do not remember the precise day of my conversion, though the scene, as it occurred that morning, has ever been deeply printed on my memory."

Such is his own simple narrative of that most important event in his history. And now the Spirit whispered, "Go thou and preach the kingdom of God;" but his natural diffidence, no less than what he deemed his totally inadequate education, prevented him from making known to the Church his impressions upon the subject. But he preached, nevertheless. Following the plough or feeding cattle, clearing the land or gathering in the harvest, his mind was intently occupied with subjects for the pulpit. The farm was his theological seminary. There he mused and meditated upon what he had heard on the preceding Sabbath, or read in the intervals of his toil. He made skeletons of sermons, and accustomed himself to the sound

of his own voice by proclaiming to the trees of the forest the glad tidings of salvation. He was appointed leader of a class, and by slow degrees, and after many struggles, acquired sufficient confidence to speak to the members a few words of exhortation. The little flock there in the wilderness were edified, and seconded the motion of the Spirit that the pulpit was the appropriate place for their youthful leader. He was himself satisfied of the fact, and devoted all his leisure to the diligent perusal of the Bible and the writings of Wesley and Fletcher; but he could not bring himself to ask for a license to preach. He shrunk from the fearful responsibility. The preachers who visited that region invited him again and again to exhort publicly, and to commence the exercise of those gifts with which they knew him to be endowed, but in vain.

"How ready is the man to go

Whom God has never sent;
How backward, timorous, and slow
God's chosen instrument!"

On reaching his twentieth year, as if to hedge up his way completely from what he nevertheless felt to be the path of duty, he married. This event, it is thought, was hastened, with a view of relieving himself from the prospect of the itinerant ministry; for very few of those who thus sought the lost sheep of the house of Israel were encumbered with families, and the reception into an Annual Conference of a married preacher was in those days an event almost unprecedented. But his marriage brought no rest to his mind. The impression of duty was not to be shaken off. Mental darkness and dejection of spirits overwhelmed him. He became unfitted for business, and

was signally unsuccessful in the management of his worldly affairs. Unasked for, a license to exhort was put into his hands, with the hope that it would induce him to go forward in the path of duty; but he made no use of it, and it served only to increase his distress by silently reminding him of what the Church expected and of his own delinquency. After a sermon on the ensuing Christmas-day, the preacher publicly requested him to come forward and conclude the service with an exhortation. Mr. Roberts declined, and ran out of the house. A few days after, the preacher he was a local preacher, holding an office somewhat similar to that of Ananias, who was sent to open the eyes of Saul of Tarsus-sent to him, in writing, what he called a vision of the night. "I thought," said he, “I had got free from this region of misery and woe, and was admitted into the world of spirits. I beheld there bright thrones, and one in an exalted station, on which was placed a crown dazzling with brightness. It was fixed near those of the prophets, apostles, martyrs, and eminent ministers of the gospel. I drew nigh to behold it, and was informed it was for you.

"I thought the Saviour commanded that you should be brought forward to see what was here in reservation for you. In a short time a seraph fulfilled the high command, and you were placed in presence of the great King. The Saviour fixed his eyes upon you, which kindled in your heart a burning love to him, causing you to neglect everything else. Overcome by the divine presence, you fell at the glorious feet of the Saviour and poured out a flood of gratitude. He said to you, 'Son, thou art ever with me. All this glory shall be thine, yet the way thereto is not only difficult, but contrary to flesh and blood.' I thought

you replied, 'Make known to me the way, and in thy strength will I walk therein.' He then said, 'Go quickly forth among the crowds of earth, and let love and pity raise thy voice aloud to inform them that I am willing to save the chief of sinners from hell and from a dreadful eternity."

In the course of the dream various objections are made by him for whom this bright throne was prepared: his unfitness for so great a work, his lack of gifts, his unholiness, his dread of criticism, his pride. By the ingenious dreamer these are all overruled, and shown to be mere delusions of the enemy; and the conclusion is the utterance, by the hitherto disobedient prophet, of Paul's memorable words "Woe is me if I preach not the gospel!"

Frequently in after life was the good bishop wont to advert to the dream of the local preacher; and, now that he is seated upon that throne, and wears that dazzling crown, is it unlawful to suppose that this reminiscence of the past may form an ingredient in his cup of perfect bliss?

Soon after, at a watch-night, he gave his first public exhortation, having journeyed some six or seven miles on foot for the purpose of being present. He was clad

in the garb of a backwoodsman; but his discourse, says one who was privileged to hear it, "was worthy of gray hairs and broadcloth." In fact, the whole congregation were perfectly amazed at the eloquence of his appealits propriety of language and its force of argument. He preached his trial sermon from the words of the prophet, “O Lord, revive thy work," and was recommended to the Baltimore Conference as a suitable person to be received as a travelling preacher. He did not attend the meeting

of that body, having, as he conceived, done his duty by consenting that his application should be forwarded, and, with a mind at rest, he awaited the result. The responsibility was now thrown from his own shoulders; and if the Conference had declined to receive him, he would have taken their decision as the voice of God and rejoiced, for, as yet, he dreaded the sacrifices, the trials, and the toils of an itinerant life. Such, indeed, had nearly been the result. On the presentation of his name, objections were made to his reception. Most of the leading members of the body were single men, and young Roberts had a wife. The few who were acquainted with him stated his qualifications and eulogized his talents. They knew Mrs. Roberts also, and were satisfied that she would be no hindrance to her husband in the work of the ministry; but the prejudice against receiving married preachers was so strong that but a bare majority voted for his reception, and he was appointed as junior preacher on the Carlisle Circuit.

As is the case with regard to most of the early Methodist preachers, there are but few memorials of the labours of this young itinerant. "He was powerful and popular from the beginning," is the brief but comprehensive testimony of one who knew him well. At the various appointments on his circuit, he was, as a preacher, exceedingly popular. The more intelligent portions of the people of all denominations attended upon his ministry. As a singular peculiarity, it is stated that this tended rather to intimidate than to encourage him; and, at one of his Sabbath appointments, seeing the multitudes flocking to the house where he was expected to preach, his heart failed him, and he hid himself away until long after the time for commencing worship. He then dragged himself into the church, where

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