The next thing, I shall notice is my call to the ministry, which was a wonder to many in my own country, but most of all to myself. I believe that the first moving of God in my soul for the work of the ministry was when I was baptised by that dear man of God, William Gadsby, of Manchester. I had for several years been convinced of baptism, but had tried all in my power to satisfy my mind without attending to it; for felt such a reluctance to leave the Independent church, the members of which had proved themselves such kind friends to me. I thought it would seem like base ingratitude to leave them after all their kindness; and as I did not, at that time, know any Baptist church with which to unite myself, I thought it my duty to abide where I was. Some time after this, Mr. Gadsby came to Manchester to supply the Baptist chapel of which he is now the pastor, and I went to hear him. I think I shall never forget the first time I heard him. When I got into the chapel I thought to myself, What a poor, gloomy, miserable place this is! And as the people came in, I felt such a hatred rise up in my heart against them as I never felt against any people before. Nay, so much so, that I was just ready to take up my hat and walk out, when Mr. Gadsby got into the pulpit. I was struck with surprise to see so poor and mean-looking a fellow (as I thought him) attempt to preach. I despised him in my very soul, and thought he looked like an ignorant fool that had not common
sense. He arose and gave out a hymn, but it was in so drawling a way that I verily believed he could not read. O how the devil rose up in my heart! I even wished that some one or other would raise a disturbance in the chapel, for I thought I could kick him out of it with all the pleasure in the world. My prejudice was so strong that, when he went to prayer, I do believe that I actually hated the sound of his voice. He appeared to me to stutter and stammer as though he could hardly get a word out of his mouth. My soul boiled with rage, and I called myself a thousand fools for coming to hear such a fool. When he had finished his prayer, which was very short, I thought to myself, Poor creature! thou canst never preach, I'm sure; and I felt a secret pleasure in the hope that when he had read his text he would be obliged to tell the people that he could not preach. The words of his text were, "A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things;" and he was so long in reading them, that I dropped my head down and thought I would try to go to sleep. He then made a little pause, and I looked up to see what he was about, and he was looking all around the chapel, and rolling his eyes in such a way that I really thought him crazy. The first words he spoke were, "Perhaps you will be ready to say that, according to our sentiments, we cannot find a good man upon earth. But by the help of God we will, or we will ransack the Bible from Genesis to Revelation." O how my prejudice was knocked down at a blow! My soul melted like wax before the sun, and I exclaimed, "God bless thee! The Lord help thee to find the good man!" He first showed that by nature no man was good, and O the depths he entered into in showing man's lost and ruined condition! But when he came to describe the good man as he stood in Christ, and the good things which were then brought forth out of his heart, my soul was so overcome that I cried out in my feelings, "Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou
diest, I will die" (Ruth i.16). My very soul was knit to him, as closely as Jonathan's to David, and my ears were nailed to the doorpost. I had never heard my ins and outs, my ups and downs, my days and nights, my sorrows and joys, so opened up before. Had he been in my very soul, he could not have opened it up more plainly. From that day I attended the Baptist Chapel, and O the heavenly times I had when Mr. Gadsby was supplying, for he was not at that time their settled pastor.
The next time, if I recollect right, that he came to supply I was baptised, being the only candidate. O the sight I had of the Lord Jesus Christ when I went down into the water! By precious faith I saw Him sunk in deep waters where there was no standing, and all the waves and billows of Divine wrath overwhelming Him for my poor soul. I can never describe the solemnity, humility, holy wonder, adoration, self-abasement and godly contrition that I felt whilst I stood in the water. Dear Mr. Gadsby, whilst standing in the water, before he baptised me, offered up a short petition to God; and before he concluded, placing his hand upon my shoulder, he begged the Lord to bless me, defend me, stand by me, uphold me, and protect me; and what was amazingly astonishing to me, he finished by begging God to raise me up as an instrument in His hands for His own glory, and the cause of truth. I believed and felt in my very soul, whilst in the water, that God heard and answered every word that flowed out of his mouth; and my soul was so swallowed up in glory, that for a time I did not know whether I was in the body or out of the body. O the difficulty I had, when I came up out of the water, to refrain from telling the whole congregation what I had seen and felt of the preciousness of my dear Lord and Saviour! After this I was not like the same man. I had no rest nor peace but in reading, searching and praying over the Word of God at every opportunity which my employment would admit of, morning noon and night. O what a spirit of prayer I felt that God would open my understanding to understand the Scriptures; and how
many times did those blessed words of David come into my soul with power, "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous thing's out of Thy law" (Psalm cxix. 18).
[The Mercies of A Covenant God, "An Account of the Lord's Wonderful Dealings with John Warburton," 1859; reprint, 1976, pp. 51-54. Scanned by Jim Duvall.]
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