Religious Experience
Jarena Lee,
A Coloured Lady,

Giving an account of her call to preach the Gospel.

Printed and Published for the Author.18361836

Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 18351835,
By Jarena Lee,
In the Office of the Clerk of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Jarena Lee.

“And it shall come to pass…that I will pour out my Spirit upon
all flesh; and your sons, and your daughters shall prophecy.”
INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that regMe is unmatched.Joel ii. 28.

I was born 1783-02-11February 11th, 1783, at Cape May, state
of New Jersey. At the age of seven years I was parted
from my parents, and went to live as a servant maid, with
a Mr. Sharp, at the distance of about sixty miles from
the place of my birth.

My parents being wholly ignorant of the knowledge of
God, had not therefore instructed me in any degree in this
great matter. Not long after the commencement of my
attendance on this lady, she had bid me do something respecting
my work, which in a little while after, she
asked me if I had done, when I replied, “Yes”—but this
was not true.

At this awful point, in my early history, the spirit of
God moved in power through my conscience, and told me
I was a wretched sinner. On this account so great was
the impression, and so strong were the feelings of guilt,
that I promised in my heart that I would not tell another

But notwithstanding this promise my heart grew
harder, after a while, yet the spirit of the Lord never
entirely forsook me, but continued mercifully striving with
me, until his gracious power converted my soul.

The manner of this great accomplishment, was as
follows: In the year 18041804, it so happened that I went with 1(2)v 4
others to hear a missionary of the Presbyterian order
preach. It was an afternoon meeting, but few were there,
the place was a school room; but the preacher was solemn,
and in his countenance the earnestness of his master’s
business appeared equally strong, as though he were
about to speak to a multitude.

At the reading of the Psalms, a ray of renewed conviction
darted into my soul. These were the words, composing
the first verse of the Psalms for the service:
“Lord, I am vile, conceived in sin,Born unholy and unclean.Sprung from man, whose guilty fallCorrupts the race, and taints us all.”

This description of my condition struck me to the
heart, and made me feel in some measure, the weight
of my sins, and sinful nature. But not knowing how to
run immediately to the Lord for help, I was driven of
Satan, in the course of a few days, and tempted to destroy

There was a brook about a quarter of a mile from the
house, in which there was a deep hole, where the water
whirled about among the rocks; to this place it was
suggested, I must go and drown myself.

At the time I had a book in my hand; it was on a
Sabbath morning, about ten o’clock; to this place I resorted,
where on coming to the water I sat down on the
bank, and on my looking into it; it was suggested, that
drowning would be an easy death. It seemed as if some
one was speaking to me, saying “put your head under, it
will not distress you”
. But by some means, of which I can
give no account, my thoughts were taken entirely from
this purpose, when I went from the place to the house
again. It was the unseen arm of God which saved me from
self murder.

But notwithstanding this escape from death, my mind
was not at rest—but so great was the labour of my spirit
and the fearful oppressions of a judgment to come, that
I was reduced as one extremely ill. On which account
a physician was called to attend me, from which illness I
recovered in about three months.

But as yet, I had not found him of whom Moses and the
prophets did write, being extremely ignorant: there being 1(3)r 5
no one to instruct me in the way of life and salvation as
yet. After my recovery, I left the lady, who during my
sickness, was exceedingly kind, and went to Philadelphia.
From this place I soon went a few miles into the country,
where I resided in the family of a Roman Catholic. But
my anxiety still continued respecting my poor soul, on
which account I used to watch my opportunity to read
in the Bible; and this lady observing this, took the Bible
from me and hid it; giving me a novel in its stead—which
when I perceived, I refused to read.

Soon after this I again went to the city of Philadelphia;
and commenced going to the English Church, the pastor
of which was an Englishman, by the name of Pilmore,
one of the number, who at first preached Methodism in
America, in the city of New York.

But while sitting under the ministration of this man,
which was about three months, and at the last time, it appeared
that there was a wall between me and a communion
with that people, which was higher than I could possibly
see over, and seemed to make this impression upon my
mind, this is not the people for you.

But on returning home at noon I inquired of the head
cook of the house respecting the rules of the Methodists,
as I knew she belonged to the society, who told me what
they were; on which account I replied, that I should not
be able to abide by such strict rules not even one year;—
however, I told her that I would go with her, and hear
what they had to say.

The man who was to speak in the afternoon of that day,
was the Rev. Richard Allen, since bishop of the African
Episcopal Methodists
in America.During the labors of
this man that afternoon, I had come to the conclusion,
that this is the people to which my heart unites, and it so
happened, that as soon as the service closed he invited such
as felt a desire to flee the wrath to come, to unite on
trial with them—I embraced the opportunity. Three
weeks from that day, my soul was gloriously converted to
God, under preaching, at the very outset of the sermon.
The text was barely pronounced, which was: “I perceive
thy heart is not right in the sight of God,”
when there
appeared to my view, in the centre of the heart one sin;
and this was malice, against one particular individual, who
had strove deeply to injure me, which I resented. At 1* 1(3)v 6
this discovery I said, “Lord I forgive every creature.” That
instant, it appeared to me, as if a garment, which had
entirely enveloped my whole person, even to my fingers
ends, split at the crown of my head, and was stripped away
from me, passing like a shadow, from my sight—when the
glory of God seemed to cover me in its stead.

That moment, though hundreds were present, I did leap to my feet, and declare that God, for Christ’s sake,
had pardoned the sins of my soul. Great was the ecstacy
of my mind, for I felt that not only the sin of malice was
pardoned, but all other sins were swept away together.
That day was the first when my heart had believed, and
my tongue had made confession unto salvation—the first
words uttered, a part of that song, which shall fill eternity
with its sound, was glory to God. For a few moments
I had power to exhort sinners, and to tell of the wonders
and of the goodness of him who had clothed me with his
salvation. During this, the minister was silent, until my
soul felt its duty had been performed, when he declared
another witness of the power of Christ to forgive sins on
earth, was manifest in my conversion.

From the day on which I first went to the Methodist
church, until the hour of my deliverance, I was strangely
buffetted by that enemy of all righteousness—the devil.

I was naturally of a lively turn of disposition; and during
the space of time from my first awakening until I
knew my peace was made with God, I rejoiced in the
vanities of this life, and then again sunk back into sorrow.

For four years I had continued in this way, frequently
labouring under the awful apprehension, that I could never be happy in this life. This persuasion was greatly
strengthened, during the three weeks, which was the last
of Satan’s power over me, in this peculiar manner: on
which account, I had come to the conclusion that I had
better be dead than alive. Here I was again tempted to
destroy my life by drowning; but suddenly this mode
was changed—and while in the dusk of the evening, as I
was walking to and fro in the yard of the house, I was
beset to hang myself, with a cord suspended from the
wall enclosing the secluded spot.

But no sooner was the intention resolved on in my
mind, than an awful dread came over me, when I ran 1(4)r 7
into the house; still the tempter pursued me. There
was standing a vessel of water—into this I was strongly
impressed to plunge my head, so as to extinguish the life
which God had given me. Had I have done this, I have
been always of the opinion that I should have been unable
to have released myself; although the vessel was scarcely
large enough to hold a gallon of water. Of me may it
not be said, as written by Isaiah, (chap. 65. verses 1, 2.)
“I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found
of them that sought me not.”
Glory be to God for his
redeeming power, which saved me from the violence of
my own hands, from the malice of Satan, and from eternal
death; for had I have killed myself, a great ransom
could not have delivered me; for it is written—“No murderer
hath eternal life abiding in him.”
How appropriately
can I sing— “Jesus sought me, when a stranger,Wandering from the fold of God;He to rescue me from danger,Interposed his precious blood.”
But notwithstanding the terror which seized upon me,
when about to end my life, I had no view of the precipice
on the edge of which I was tottering, until it was over,
and my eyes were opened. Then the awful gulf of hell
seemed to be open beneath me, covered only, as it were,
by a spider’s web, on which I stood. I seemed to hear
the howling of the damned, to see the smoke of the bottomless
pit, and to hear the rattling of those chains,
which hold the impenitent under clouds of darkness to
the judgment of the great day.

I trembled like Belshazzar, and cried out in the horror
of my spirit, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” That
night I formed a resolution to pray; which, when resolved
upon, there appeared, sitting in one corner of the
room, Satan, in the form of a monstrous dog, and in a
rage, as if in pursuit, his tongue protruding from his
mouth to a great length, and his eyes looked like two
balls of fire; it soon, however, vanished out of my sight.
From this state of terror and dismay, I was happily delivered
under the preaching of the Gospel as before related.

This view, which I was permitted to have of Satan, in
the form of a dog, is evidence, which corroborates in my 1(4)v 8
estimation, the Bible account of a hell of fire, which
burneth with brimstone, called in Scripture the bottomless
pit; the place where all liars, who repent not, shall have
their portion; as also the Sabbath breaker, the adulterer,
the fornicator, with the fearful, the abominable, and the
unbelieving, this shall be the portion of their cup.

This language is too strong and expressive to be applied
to any state of suffering in time. Were it to be thus
applied, the reality could no where be found in human
life; the consequence would be, that this scripture would
be found a false testimony. But when made to apply to
an endless state of perdition, in eternity, beyond the
bounds of human life, then this language is found not to
exceed our views of a state of eternal damnation.

During the latter part of my state of conviction, I can
now apply to my case, as it then was, the beautiful words
of the poet: “The more I strove against its power,I felt its weight and guilt the more;’Til late, I hear’d my Saviour say,‘Come hither soul, I am the way.’”
This I found to be true, to the joy of my disconsolate and
despairing heart, in the hour of my conversion to God.

During this state of mind, while sitting near the fire
one evening, after I had heard Rev. Richard Allen, as
before related, a view of my distressed condition so affected
my heart, that I could not refrain from weeping and
crying aloud; which caused the lady with whom I then
lived, to inquire, with surprise, what ailed me; to which
I answered, that I knew not what ailed me. She replied
that I ought to pray. I arose from where I was sitting,
being in an agony, and weeping convulsively, requested
her to pray for me; but at the very moment when she
would have done so, some person wrapped heavily at the
door for admittance; it was but a person of the house,
but this occurrence was sufficient to interrupt us in our
intentions; and I believe to this day, I should then have
found salvation to my soul. This interruption was,
doubtless, also the work of Satan.

Although at this time, when my conviction was so
great, yet I knew not that Jesus Christ was the Son of
God, the second person in the adorable trinity. I knew 1(5)r 9
him not in the pardon of my sins, yet I felt a consciousness
that if I died without pardon, that my lot must inevitably
be damnation. If I would pray—I knew not how.
I could form no connexion of ideas into words; but I
knew the Lord’s prayer; this I uttered with a loud voice,
and with all my might and strength. I was the most
ignorant creature in the world, I did not even know that
Christ had died for the sins of the world; and to save
sinners. Every circumstance, however, was so directed
as still to continue and increase the sorrows of my heart,
which I now know to have been a godly sorrow which
wrought repentence, which is not to be repented of.
Even the falling of the dead leaves from the forests, and
the dried spires of the mown grass, showed me that I
too must die, in like manner. But my case was awfully
different from that of the grass of the field, or the wide
spread decay of a thousand forests, as I felt within me a
living principle, an immortal spirit, which cannot die,
and must forever either enjoy the smiles of its Creator, or
feel the pangs of ceaseless damnation.

But the Lord led me on; being gracious, he took pity
on my ignorance; he heard my wailings, which had entered
into the ear of the Lord of Sabaoth. Circumstances
so transpired that I soon came to a knowledge of
the being and character of the Son of God, of whom I
knew nothing.

My strength had left me. I had become feverish and
sickly through the violence of my feelings, on which
account I left my place of service to spend a week with a
coloured physician, who was a member of the Methodist
society, and also to spend this week in going to places
where prayer and supplication was statedly made for
such as me.

Through this means I had learned much, so as to be
able in some degree to comprehend the spiritual meaning
of the text, which the minister took on the Sabbath
morning, as before related, which was, “I perceive thy heart is not right in the sight of God.” INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that regMe is unmatched.Acts, chap. 8, verse 21.

This text, as already related, became the power of God
onto salvation to me, because I believed. I was baptized
according to the direction of our Lord, who said, as he
was about to ascend from the mount, to his disciples, 1(5)v 10
“Go ye into all the world and preach my gospel to every
creature, he that believeth and is baptized shall be

I have now passed through the account of my conviction,
and also of my conversion to God; and shall next
speak of the blessing of sanctification.

A time after I had received forgiveness flowed sweetly
on; day and night my joy was full, no temptation was
permitted to molest me. I could say continually with
the psalmist, that “God had separated my sins from me,
as far as the east is from the west.”
I was ready continually
to cry, “Come all the world, come sinner thou,All things in Christ are ready now.”

I continued in this happy state of mind for almost three
months, when a certain coloured man, by name William
, came to pay me a religious visit. He had been for
many years a faithful follower of the Lamb; and he had
also taken much time in visiting the sick and distressed
of our colour, and understood well the great things belonging
to a man of full stature in Christ Jesus.

In the course of our conversation, he inquired if the
Lord had justified my soul. I answered, yes. He then
asked me if he had sanctified me. I answered, no; and
that I did not know what that was. He then undertook
to instruct me further in the knowledge of the Lord respecting
this blessing.

He told me the progress of the soul from a state of
darkness, or of nature, was three-fold; or consisted in
three degrees, as follows:—First, conviction for sin.
Second, justification from sin. Third, the entire sanctification
of the soul to God. I thought this description
was beautiful, and immediately believed in it. He then
inquired if I would promise to pray for this in my secret
devotions. I told him, yes. Very soon I began to call
upon the Lord to show me all that was in my heart,
which was not according to his will. Now there appeared
to be a new struggle commencing in my soul, not
accompanied with fear, guilt, and bitter distress, as
while under my first conviction for sin; but a labouring
of the mind to know more of the right way of the Lord.
I began now to feel that my heart was not clean in his 1(6)r 11
sight; that there yet remained the roots of bitterness,
which if not destroyed, would ere long sprout up from
these roots, and overwhelm me in a new growth of the
brambles and brushwood of sin.

By the increasing light of the Spirit, I had found there
yet remained the root of pride, anger, self-will, with
many evils, the result of fallen nature. I now became
alarmed at this discovery, and began to fear that I had
been deceived in my experience. I was now greatly
alarmed, lest I should fall away from what I knew I had
enjoyed; and to guard against this I prayed almost incessantly,
without acting faith on the power and promises
of God to keep me from falling. I had not yet
learned how to war against temptation of this kind.
Satan well knew that if he could succeed in making me
disbelieve my conversion, that he would catch me either
on the ground of complete despair, or on the ground of
infidelity. For if all I had passed through was to go for
nothing, and was but a fiction, the mere ravings of a disordered
mind, that I would naturally be led to believe that there is nothing in religion at all.

From this snare I was mercifully preserved, and led to
believe that there was yet a greater work than that of
pardon to be wrought in me. I retired to a secret place,
(after having sought this blessing, as well as I could, for
nearly three months, from the time brother Scott had
instructed me respecting it,) for prayer, about four
o’clock in the afternoon. I had struggled long and hard,
but found not the desire of my heart. When I rose from
my knees, there seemed a voice speaking to me, as I yet
stood in a leaning posture—“Ask for sanctification.”
When to my surprise, I recollected that I had not even
thought of it in my whole prayer. It would seem Satan
had hidden the very object from my mind, for which I
had purposely kneeled to pray. But when this voice
whispered in my heart, saying, “Pray for santification,”
I again bowed in the same place, at the same time, and
said, “Lord sanctify my soul for Christ’s sake?” That
very instant, as if lightning had darted through me, I
sprang to my feet, and cried, “The Lord has sanctified
my soul!”
There was none to hear this but the angels
who stood around to witness my joy—and Satan, whose
malice raged the more. That Satan was there, I knew; 1(6)v 12
for no sooner had I cried out “The Lord has sanctified
my soul,”
than there seemed another voice behind me,
saying, “No, it is too great a work to be done.” But
another spirit said, “Bow down for the witness—I received
it—thou art sanctified!”
The first I knew of myself
after that, I was standing in the yard with my hands
spread out, and looking with my face toward heaven.

I now ran into the house and told them what had happened
to me, when, as it were, a new rush of the same
ecstasy came upon me, and caused me to feel as if I
were in an ocean of light and bliss.

During this, I stood perfectly still, the tears rolling in
a flood from my eyes. So great was the joy, that it is
past description. There is no language that can describe
it, except that which was heard by St. Paul, when
he was caught up to the third heaven, and heard words
which it was not lawful to utter.

My Call to Preach the Gospel.

Between four and five years after my sanctification, on
a certain time, an impressive silence fell upon me, and I
stood as if some one was about to speak to me, yet I had
no such thought in my heart. But to my utter surprise
there seemed to sound a voice which I thought I distinctly
heard, and most certainly understood, which said to
me, “Go preach the Gospel!” I immediately replied
aloud, “No one will believe me.” Again I listened, and
again the same voice seemed to say—“Preach the Gospel;
I will put words in your mouth, and will turn your
enemies to become your friends.”

At first I supposed that Satan had spoken to me, for I
had read that he could transform himself into an angel of
light, for the purpose of deception. Immediately I went
into a secret place, and called upon the Lord to know if
he had called me to preach, and whether I was deceived
or not; when there appeared to my view the form and 2(1)r 13
figure of a pulpit, with a Bible lying thereon; the back of
which was presented to me as plainly as if it had been a
literal fact.

In consequence of this, my mind became so exercised,
that during the night following, I took a text, and preached
in my sleep. I thought there stood before me a great
multitude, while I expounded to them the things of religion.
So violent were my exertions, and so loud were my
exclamations, that I awoke from the sound of my own
voice, which also awoke the family of the house where I
resided. Two days after, I went to see the preacher in
charge of the African Society, who was the Rev. Richard
, the same before named in these pages, to tell him
that I felt it my duty to preach the gospel. But as I
drew near the street in which his house was, which was
in the city of Philadelphia, my courage began to fail me;
so terrible did the cross appear, it seemed that I should
not be able to bear it. Previous to my setting out to go
to see him, so agitated was my mind, that my appetite
for my daily food failed me entirely. Several times on
my way there, I turned back again; but as often I felt
my strength again renewed, and I soon found that the
nearer I approached to the house of the minister, the
less was my fear. Accordingly, as soon as I came to the
door, my fears subsided, the cross was removed, all things
appeared pleasant—I was tranquil.

I now told him, that the Lord had revealed it to me,
that I must preach the gospel. He replied, by asking,
in what sphere I wished to move in? I said, among the
Methodists. He then replied, that a Mrs. Cook, a Methodist
lady, had also some time before requested the
same privilege; who it was believed, had done much
good in the way of exhortation, and holding prayer meetings;
and who had been permitted to do so by the verbal
license of the preacher in charge at the time. But as
women preaching, he said that our Discipline knew
nothing at all about it—that it did not call for women
preachers. This I was glad to hear, because it removed
the fear of the cross—but not so sooner did this feeling
cross my mind, than I found that a love of souls had in a
measure departed from me; that holy energy which
burned within me, as a fire, began to be smothered. This
I soon perceived.

2 2(1)v 14

O how careful ought we to be, lest through our by-laws
of church government and discipline, we bring into disrepute
even the word of life. For as unseemly as it may
appear now-a-days for a woman to preach, it should be
remembered that nothing is impossible with God. And
why should it be thought impossible, heterodox, or improper,
for a woman to preach? seeing the Saviour died
for the woman as well as the man.

If the man may preach, because the Saviour died for
him, why not the woman? seeing he died for her also.
Is he not a whole Saviour, instead of a half one? as those
who hold it wrong for a woman to preach, would seem
to make it appear.

Did not Mary first preach the risen Saviour, and is not
the doctrine of the resurrection the very climax of Christianity
—hangs not all our hope on this, as argued by St.
? Then did not Mary, a woman, preach the gospel?
for she preached, the resurrection of the crucified Son of

But some will say, that Mary did not expound the
Scripture, therefore, she did not preach, in the proper
sense of the term. To this I reply, it may be that the
term preach, in those primitive times, did not mean exactly
what it is not made to mean; perhaps it was a
great deal more simple then, than it is now:—if it were
not, the unlearned fishermen could not have preached the
gospel at all, as they had no learning.

To this it may be replied, by those who are determined
not to believe that it is right for a woman to preach,
that the disciples, though they were fishermen, and ignorant
of letters too, were inspired so to do. To which I
would reply, that though they were inspired, yet that inspiration
did not save them from showing their ignorance
of letters, and of man’s wisdom; this the multitude soon
found out, by listening to the remarks of the envious Jewish
priests. If then, to preach the gospel, by the gift of
of heaven, comes by inspiration solely, is God straitened;
must he take the man exclusively? May he not, did he
not, and can he not inspire a female to preach the simple
story of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of our Lord,
and accompany it too, with power to the sinner’s heart.
As for me, I am fully persuaded that the Lord called me
to labour according to what I have received, in his vineyard.
If he has not, how could he consistently bear testimony 2(1)v 15
in favour of my poor labours, in awakening and
converting sinners?

In my wanderings up and down among men, preaching
according to my ability, I have frequently found families
who told me that they had not for several years been to a
meeting, and yet, while listening to hear what God would
say by his poor coloured female instrument, have believed
with trembling—tears rolling down their cheeks, the
signs of contrition and repentence toward God. I firmly
believe that I have sown seed, in the name of the Lord,
which shall appear with its increase at the great day of
accounts, when Christ shall come to make up his jewels.

At a certain time, I was beset with the idea, that soon
or late I should fall from grace, and lose my soul at last.
I was frequently called to the throne of grace about this
matter, but found no relief; the temptation pursued me
still. Being more and more afflicted with it, till at a certain
time when the spirit strongly impressed it on my
mind to enter into my closet, and carry my case once
more to the Lord; the Lord enabled me to draw nigh
to him, and to his mercy seat, at this time, in an extraordinary
manner; for while I wrestled with him for the
victory over this disposition to doubt whether I should
persevere, there appeared a form of fire, about the size of
a man’s hand, as I was on my knees; at the same moment,
there appeared to the eye of faith a man robed in a
white garment, from the shoulders down to the feet; from
him a voice proceeded, saying: “Thou shalt never return
from the cross.”
Since that time I have never doubted,
but believe that God will keep me until the day of redemption.
Now I could adopt the very language of St.
, and say that nothing could have separated my soul
from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. From
that time, 18071807 until the present, 18331833, I have not yet
doubted the power and goodness of God to keep me from
falling, through sanctification of the spirit and belief of
the truth.

My Marriage

In the year 18111811, I changed my situation in life, having
married Mr. Joseph Lee, Pastor of a Coloured Society 2(2)r 16
at Snow Hill, about six miles from the city of Philadelphia.
It became necessary therefore for me to remove.
This was a great trial at first, as I knew no person at
Snow Hill, except my husband; and to leave my associates
in the society, and especially those who composed
the band of which I was one. Not but those who have
been in sweet fellowship with such as really love God,
and have together drank bliss and happiness from the
same fountain, can tell how dear such company is, and
how hard it is to part from them.

At Snow Hill, as was feared, I never found that agreement
and closeness in communion and fellowship, that I
had in Philadelphia, among my young companions, nor
ought I to have expected it. The manners and customs
at this place were somewhat different, on which account
I became discontented in the course of a year, and began
to importune my husband to remove to the city. But
this plan did not suit him, as he was the Pastor of the Society,
he could not bring his mind to leave them. This
afflicted me a little. But the Lord soon showed me in a
dream what his will was concerning this matter.

I dreamed that as I was walking on the summit of a
beautiful hill, that I saw near me a flock of sheep, fair
and white, as if but newly washed; when there came
walking toward me, a man of a grave and dignified countenance,
dressed entirely in white, as it were in a robe,
and looking at me, said emphatically, “Joseph Lee must
take care of these sheep, or the wolf will come and devour
When I awoke, I was convinced of my error,
and immediately, with a glad heart, yielded to the right
way of the Lord. This also greatly strengthened my
husband in his care over them, for fear the wolf should by
some means take any of them away. The following
verse was beautifully suited to our condition, as well as
to all the little flocks of God scattered up and down this
“Us into Thy protection take,And gather with Thine arm;Unless the fold we first forsake,The wolf can never harm.”

After this, I fell into a state of general debility, and in
an ill state of health, so much so, that I could not sit up;
but a desire to warn sinners to flee the wrath to come,
burned vehemently in my heart, when the Lord would 2(2)v 17
send sinners into the house to see me. Such opportunities
I embraced to press home on their consciences the
things of eternity, and so effectual was the word of exhortation
made through the Spirit, that I have seen them fall
to the floor crying aloud for mercy.

From this sickness I did not expect to recover, and
there was but one thing which bound me to earth, and
this was, that I had not as yet preached the gospel to the
fallen sons and daughters of Adam’s race, to the satisfaction
of my mind. I wished to go from one end of the
earth to the other, crying, “Behold, behold the Lamb!”
To this end I earnestly prayed the Lord to raise me up,
if consistent with his will. He condescended to hear my
prayer, and to give me a token in a dream, that in due
time I should recover my health. The dream was as
follows: I thought I saw the sun rise in the morning,
and ascend to an altitude of about half an hour high, and
then become obscured by a dense black cloud, which continued
to hide its rays for about one third part of the
day, and then it burst forth again with renewed splendour.

This dream I interpreted to signify my early life, my
conversion to God, and the sickness, which was a great
affliction, as it hindered me, and I feared would forever
hinder me from preaching the gospel, was signified by
the cloud; and the bursting forth of the sun, again, was
the recovery of my health, and being permitted to preach.

I went to the throne of grace on this subject, where the
Lord made this impressive reply in my heart, while on
my knees: “Ye shall be restored to thy health again, and
worship God in full purpose of heart.”

This manifestion was so impressive, that I could but
hide my face, as if some one was gazing upon me, to
think of the great goodness of the Almighty God to my
poor soul and body. From that very time I began to
gain strength of body and mind, glory to God in the
highest, until my health was fully recovered.

For six years from this time I continued to receive
from above, such baptisms of the Spirit as mortality
could scarcely bear. About that time I was called to
suffer in my family, by death—five, in the course of about
six years, fell by his hand; my husband being one of the
number, which was the greatest affliction of all.

I was now left alone in the world, with two infant children,
one of the age of about two years, the other six 2* 2(3)r 18
months, with no other dependence than the promise of
Him who hath said—“I will be the widow’s God, and a
father to the fatherless.”
Accordingly, he raised me up
friends, whose liberality comforted and solaced me in my
state of widowhood and sorrows. I could sing with the
greatest propriety the words of the poet: “He helps the stranger in distress,The widow and the fatherlessAnd grants the prisoner sweet release.”
I can say even now, with the Psalmist, “Once I was
young, but now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous
forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”
I have ever
been fed by his bounty, clothed by his mercy, comforted
and healed when sick, succoured when tempted, and
every where upheld by his hand.

The Subject of my Call to Preach Renewed

It was now eight years since I had made application
to be permitted to preach the gospel, during which time
I had only been allowed to exhort, and even this privilege
but seldom. This subject now was renewed afresh
in my mind; it was as a fire shut up in my bones. About
thirteen months passed on, while under this renewed impression.
During this time, I had solicited of the Rev.
Bishop Richard Allen
, who at this time had become
Bishop of the African Episcopal Methodists in America,
to be permitted the liberty of holding prayer meetings in
my own hired house, and of exhorting as I found liberty,
which was granted me. By this means, my mind was
relieved, as the house was soon filled when the hour appointed
for prayer had arrived.

I cannot but relate in this place, before I proceed further
with the above subject, the singular conversion of a
very wicked young man. He was a coloured man, who
had generally attended our meetings, but not for any
good purpose; but rather to disturb and to ridicule our
denomination. He openly and uniformly declared that
he neither believed in religion, nor wanted any thing to
do with it. He was of a Gallio disposition, and took the
lead among the young people of colour. But after a 2(3)v 19
while he fell sick, and lay about three months in a state
of ill health; his disease was a consumption. Toward
the close of his days, his sister who was a member of the
society, came and desired me to go and see her brother,
as she had no hopes of his recovery, perhaps the Lord
might break into his mind. I went alone, and found him
very low. I soon commenced to inquire respecting his
state of feeling, and how he found his mind. His answer
was, “O tolerable well,” with an air of great indifference
I asked him if I should pray for him. He answered in a
sluggish and careless manner, “O yes, if you have time.”
I then sung a hymn, kneeled down and prayed for him,
and then went my way.

Three days after this, I went again to visit the young
man. At this time there went with me two of the sisters
in Christ. We found the Rev. Mr. Cornish, of our denomination,
labouring with him. But he said he received
but little satisfaction from him. Pretty soon, however,
brother Cornish took his leave; when myself, with
the other two sisters, one of which was an elderly woman
named Jane Hutt, the other was younger, both coloured,
commenced conversing with him, respecting his eternal
interest, and of his hopes of a happy eternity, if any he
had. He said but little; we then kneeled down together
and besought the Lord in his behalf, praying that if mercy
were not clear gone forever, to shed a ray of softening
grace upon the hardness of his heart. He appeared now
to be somewhat more tender, and we thought we could
perceive some tokens of conviction, as he wished us to
visit him again, in a tone of voice not quite as indifferent
as he had hitherto manifested.

But two days had elapsed after this visit, when his
sister came, for me in haste, saying, that she believed her
brother was then dying, and that he had sent for me. I
immediately called on Jane Hutt, who was still among us
as a mother in Israel, to go with me. When we arrived
there, we found him sitting up in his bed, very restless
and uneasy, but he soon laid down again. He now wished
me to come to him, by the side of his bed. I asked
him how he was. He said, “Very ill”; and added, “Pray
for me, quick?”
We now perceived his time in this
world to be short. I took up the hymn-book, and opened
to a hymn suitable to his case, and commenced to sing.
But there seemed to be a horror in the room—a darkness 2(4)r 20
of a mental kind, which was felt by us all; there being
five persons, except the sick young man and his nurse.
We had sung but one verse, when they all gave over singing,
on account of this unearthly sensation, but myself.
I continued to sing on alone, but in a dull and heavy manner,
though looking upon to God all the while for help.
Suddenly, I felt a spring of energy awake in my heart,
when darkness gave way in some degree. It was but a
glimmer from above. When the hymn was finished, we
all kneeled down to pray for him. While calling on the
name of the Lord, to have mercy on his soul, and to grant
him repentance unto life, it came suddenly into my mind
never to rise from my knees until God should hear prayer
in his behalf, until he should convert and save his soul.

Now, while I thus continued importuning heaven, as I
felt I was led, a ray of light, more abundant, broke forth
among us. There appeared to my view, though my eyes
were closed, the Saviour in full stature, nailed to the
cross, just over the head of the young man, against the
ceiling of the room. I cried out, “brother look up, the
Saviour is come, he will pardon you, your sins he will
My sorrow for the soul of the young man was
gone; I could no longer pray—joy and andrapture made
it impossible. We rose up from our knees, when lo, his
eyes were gazing with ecstacy upward; over his face
there was an expression of joy; his lips were clothed in
a sweet and holy smile; but no sound came from his
tongue; it was heard in its stillness of bliss; full of hope
and immortality. Thus, as I held him by the hand, his
happy and purified soul soared away, without a sigh or a
groan, to its eternal rest.

I now closed his eyes, straightened out his limbs, and
left him to be dressed for the grave. But as for me, I was
filled with the power of the Holy Ghost—the very room
seemed filled with glory. His sister and all that were in
the room rejoiced, nothing doubting but he had entered
into Paradise; and I believe I shall see him at the last
and great day, safe on the shores of salvation.

But to return to the subject of my call to preach.
Soon after this, as above related, the Rev. Richard Williams
was to preach at Bethel Church, where I with
others were assembled. He entered the pulpit, gave out
the hymn, which was sung; and then addressed the throne
of grace; took his text, passed through the exordium, 2(4)v 21
and commenced to expound it. The text he took is in INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that regMe is unmatched.Jonah. 2d chap. 9th verse,—“Salvation is of the Lord.”
But as he proceeded, to explain, he seemed to have lost
the spirit; when in the same instant, I sprang, as by an
altogether, supernatural impulse, to my feet, when I was
aided from above to give an exhortation on the very text
which my brother Williams had taken.

I told them that I was like Jonah; for it had been then
nearly eight years since the Lord had called me to preach
his gospel to the fallen sons and daughters of Adam’s
race, but that I had lingered like him, and delayed to go
at the bidding of the Lord, and warn those who are as
deeply guilty as were the people of Ninevah.

During the exhortation, God made manifest his power
in a manner sufficient to show the world that I was called
to labour according to my ability, and the grace given
unto me, in the vineyard of the good husbandman.

I now sat down, scarcely knowing what I had done,
being frightened. I imagined, that for this indecorum,
as I feared it might be called, I should be expelled from
the church. But instead of this, the Bishop rose up in
the assembly, and related that I had called upon him
eight years before, asking to be permitted to preach, and
that he had put me off; but that he now as much believed
that I was called to that work, as any of the
preachers present. These remarks greatly strengthened
me, so that my fears of having given an offence, and made
myself liable as an offender, subsided, giving place to a
a sweet serenity, a holy joy of a peculiar kind, untasted
in my bosom until then.

The next Sabbath day, while sitting under the word of
the gospel, I felt moved to attempt to speak to the people
in a public manner, but I could not bring my mind
to attempt it in the church. I said, “Lord, anywhere but
Accordingly, there was a house not far off which
was pointed out to me, to this I went. It was the house
of a sister belonging to the same society with myself.
Her name was Anderson. I told her I had come to hold
a meeting in her house, if she would call in her neighbours.
With this request she immediately complied.
My congregation consisted of but five persons. I commenced
by reading and singing, a hymn, when I dropped
to my knees by the side of a table to pray. When I arose
I found my hand resting on the Bible, which I had not 2(5)r 22
noticed till that moment. It now occurred to me to take
a text. I opened the Scripture, as it happened, at the
INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that regMe is unmatched.141st Psalm, fixing my eye on the 3d verse, which reads:
“Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, keep the door
of my lips.”
My sermon, such as it was, I applied wholly
to myself, and added an exhortation. Two of my congregation
went much, as the fruit of my labour this time.
In closing I said to the few, that if any one would open a
door, I would hold a meeting the next sixth-day evening;
when one answered that her house was at my service.
Accordingly I went, and God made manifest his power
among the people. Some wept while others shouted for
joy. One whole seat of females, by the power of God,
as the rushing of a wind, were all bowed to the floor at
once, and screamed out. Also a sick man and woman
in one house, the Lord convicted them both; one lived,
and the other died. God wrought a judgment—some
were well at night, and died in the morning. At this
place I continued to hold meetings about six months.
During that time I kept house with my little son, who was
very sickly. About this time I had a call to preach at a
place about thirty miles distant, among the Methodists,
with whom I remained one week, and during the whole
time, not a thought of my little son came into my mind;
it was hid from me, lest I should have been diverted from
the work I had to do, to look after my son. Here by the
instrumentality of a poor coloured woman, the Lord
poured forth his spirit among the people. Though, as I
was told, there were lawyers, doctors, and magistrates
present to hear me speak, yet there was mourning and
crying among sinners, for the Lord scattered fire among
them of his own kindling. The Lord gave his handmaiden
power to speak for his great name, for he arrested
the hearts of the people, and caused a shaking amongst
the multitude, for God was in the midst.

I now returned home, found all well; no harm had come to my child,
although I left it very sick. Friends had taken care of it which was of
the Lord. I now began to think seriously of breaking up housekeeping,
and forsaking all to preach the everlasting Gospel. I felt a strong desire
to return to the place of my nativity, at Cape May, after an absence of
about fourteen years. To this place, where the heaviest cross was to be
met with, the Lord sent me, as Saul of Tarsus was sent to Jerusalem, to
preach the same gospel which he had neglected and despised before his
conversion. I went by water, and on my passage was much distressed by
sea sickness, so much so that I expected to have died, but such was not
the will of the Lord respecting me. After I had disembarked, I proceeded 2(5)v 23
on as opportunities offered, toward where my mother lived. When within
ten miles of that place, I appointed an evening meeting. There were
a goodly number came out to hear. The Lord was pleased to give me
light and liberty among the people. After meeting, there came an elderly
lady to me and said, she believed the Lord had sent me among them;
she then appointed me another meeting there two weeks from that night.
The next day I hastened forward to the place of my mother, who was
happy to see me, and the happiness was mutual between us. With her
I left my poor sickly boy, while I departed to do my Master’s will. In
this neighborhood I had an uncle, who was a Methodist, and who gladly
threw open his door for meetings to be held there. At the first meeting
which I held at my uncle’s house, there was, with others who had come
from curiosity to hear the coloured woman preacher, an old man, who
was a deist, and who said he did not believe the coloured people had any
souls—he was sure they had none. He took a seat very near where I
was standing, and boldly tried to look me out of countenance. But as I
laboured on in the best manner I was able, looking to God all the while,
though it seemed to me I had but little liberty, yet there went an arrow
from the bent bow of the gospel, and fastened in his till then obdurate
heart. After I had done speaking, he went out, and called the people
around him, said that my preaching might seem a small thing, yet he believed
I had the worth of souls at heart. This language was different
from what it was a little time before, as he now seemed to admit that coloured
people had souls, as it was to these I was chiefly speaking; and unless
they had souls, whose good I had in view, his remark must have been
without meaning. He now came into the house, and in the most friendly
manner shook hands with me, saying, he hoped God had spared him
to some good purpose. This man was a great slave holder, and had been
very cruel; thinking nothing of knocking down a slave with a fence stake,
or whatever might come to hand. From this time it was said of him that
he became greatly altered in his ways for the better. At that time he was
about seventy years old, his head as white as snow; but whether he became
a converted man or not, I never heard.

The week following, I had an invitation to hold a meeting at the Court
House of the County
, when I spoke from the INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that regMe is unmatched.53rd chap. of Isaiah, 3d verse.
It was a solemn time, and the Lord attended the word; I had life and liberty,
though there were people there of various denominations. Here
again I saw the aged slaveholder, who notwithstanding his age, walked
about three miles to hear me. This day I spoke twice, and walked six
miles to the place appointed. There was a magistrate present, who showed
his friendship, by saying in a friendly manner, that he had heard of
me; he handed me a hymnbook, pointing to a hymn which he had selected.
When the meeting was over, he invited me to preach in a schoolhouse
in his neighbourhood, about three miles distant from where I then was.
During this meeting one backslider was reclaimed. This day I walked
six miles, and preached twice to large congregations, both in the morning
and evening. The Lord was with me, glory be to his holy name. I next
went six miles and held a meeting in a coloured friend’s house, at eleven
o’clock in the morning, and preached to a well behaved congregation of
both coloured and white. After service I again walked back, which was
in all twelve miles in the same day. This was on Sabbath, or as I sometimes 2(6)r 24
call it, seventh-day; for after my conversion I preferred the plain
language of the quakers. On fourth day, after this, in compliance with an
invitation received by note, from the same magistrate who had heard me
at the above place, I preached to a large congregation, where we had a
previous time: much weeping was heard among the people. The same
gentleman, now at the close of the meeting gave out another appointment
at the same place, that day week. Here again I had liberty, there was a
move among the people. Ten years from that time, in the neighbourhood
of Cape May, I held a prayer meeting in a school house, which was
then the regular place of preaching for the Episcopal Methodists; after
service, there came a white lady of the first distinction, a member of the
Methodist Society, and told me that at the same school-house, ten years
before, under my preaching, the Lord first awakened her. She rejoiced
much to see me, and invited me home with her, where I staid till the next
day. This was bread cast on the waters, seen after many days.

From this place I next went to Dennis Creek meeting house, where at
the invitation of an elder, I spoke to a large congregation of various and
conflicting sentiments, when a wonderful shock of God’s power was felt,
shown everywhere by groans, by sighs, and loud and happy amens. I
felt as if aided from above. My tongue was cut loose, the stammerer
spoke freely; the love of God, and his service, burned with a vehement
flame within me—his name was glorified among the people.

But here I feel myself constrained to give over, as from the smallness of
this pamphlet I cannot go through with the whole of my journal, as it
would probably make a volume of two hundred pages; which, if the Lord
be willing, may at some future day be published. But for the satisfaction
of such as may follow after me, when I am no more, I have recorded how
the Lord called me to his work, and how he has kept me from falling from
grace, as I feared I should. In all things he has proved himself a God of
truth to me; and in his service I am now as much determined to spend
and be spent, as at the very first. My ardour for the progress of his cause
abates not a whit, so far as I am able to judge, though I am now something
more than fifty years of age.

As to the nature of uncommon impressions, which the reader cannot
but have noticed, and possibly sneered at in the course of these pages,
they may be accounted for in the way: It is known that the blind have
the sense of hearing in a manner much more acute than those who can
see: also their sense of feeling is exceedingly fine, and is found to detect
any roughness on the smoothest surface, where those who can see can find
none. So it may be with such as I am, who has never had more than
three months schooling; and wishing to know much of the way and law
of God, have therefore watched the more closely, the operations of the
Spirit, and have in consequence been led thereby. But let it be remarked
that I have never found that Spirit to lead me contrary to the Scriptures of
truth as I understand them. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of
God are the sons of God.”
INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that regMe is unmatched.Rom. viii, 14.

I have now only to say, May the blessing of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost, accompany the reading of the poor effort to speak
well of his name, wherever it may be read. Amen.