Taking a cup—Getting to heaven—After breakfast— Wooden gallery—Mechanical habit—Reserved and gloomy—Last words—A long time—From the clouds—Ray of hope—Momentary chill—Pleasing anticipation.
’I was born in the heart of North Wales, the son of a respectable farmer, and am the youngest of seven brothers.
’My father was a member of the Church of England, and was what is generally called a serious man. He went to church regularly, and read the Bible every Sunday evening; in his moments of leisure he was fond of holding religious discourse both with his family and his neighbours.
’One autumn afternoon, on a week day, my father sat with one of his neighbours taking a cup of ale by the oak table in our stone kitchen. I sat near them, and listened to their discourse. I was at that time seven years of age. They were talking of religious matters. “It is a hard matter to get to heaven,” said my father. “Exceedingly so,” said the other. “However, I don’t despond; none need despair of getting to heaven, save those who have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost.”
’"Ah!” said my father, “thank God I never committed that—how awful must be the state of a person who has committed the sin against the Holy Ghost. I can scarcely think of it without my hair standing on end”; and then my father and his friend began talking of the nature of the sin against the Holy Ghost, and I heard them say what it was, as I sat with greedy ears listening to their discourse.
’I lay awake the greater part of the night musing upon what I had heard. I kept wondering to myself what must be the state of a person who had committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, and how he must feel. Once or twice I felt a strong inclination to commit it, a strange kind of fear, however, prevented me; at last I determined not to commit it, and, having said my prayers, I fell asleep.
’When I awoke in the morning the first thing I thought of was the mysterious sin, and a voice within me seemed to say, “Commit it”; and I felt a strong temptation to do so, even stronger than in the night. I was just about to yield, when the same dread, of which I have already spoken, came over me, and, springing out of bed, I went down on my knees. I slept in a small room alone, to which I ascended by a wooden stair, open to the sky. I have often thought since that it is not a good thing for children to sleep alone.
’After breakfast I went to school, and endeavoured to employ myself upon my tasks, but all in vain; I could think of nothing but the sin against the Holy Ghost; my eyes, instead of being fixed upon my book, wandered in vacancy. My master observed my inattention, and chid me. The time came for saying my task, and I had not acquired it. My master reproached me, and, yet more, he beat me; I felt shame and anger, and I went home with a full determination to commit the sin against the Holy Ghost.