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nor was he loth to leave when the hour was up and the sign for closing given.
His last visit of inquiry was at the Methodist Episcopal church. He found a small house, occupied by a simple, plain, and solemn people. Their worship, though not imposing in its forms, was hearty and sin. cere. It not a little surprised him to witness, for the first time in his life, a congregation kneeling down in time of prayer. The conviction was wrought in his mind that this people were the people of God. Under the ministry of the Word, feelings were awakened which he had known nowhere else; and under the powerful reasonings and cogent appeals of the Rev. P. P. Sandford, the stationed minister, he was often made to feel that God truly was in that place. But it was more par: ticularly under the preaching of the Rev. Laban Clark, who succeeded Mr. Sandford, that he was led to realize fully his lost condition, and to feel the necessity of seeking salvation by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. On one occasion he left the church so overwhelmed with the consciousness of his guilt and wretchedness, that he almost bordered upon despair. The struggles of his soul were deep and powerful; and in the privacy of his closet, he wrestled and agonized before God. This was long before he had broken the secret of his heart even to his most intimate friends. He at length unburdened his mind to a pious young man of his acquaintance. By this young man he was taken to the prayer.meeting, then held at the house of Dr. Landon, a man of God now departed to his rest, but whose memory is like "ointment poured forth.” Here the young inquirer became more perfectly instructed in the way of salvation by faith, and was also a subject of special and earnest prayer.
He sought God sincerely and unreservedly, he prayed
earnestly and with many tears. There was no tie that he would not sunder, and no sacrifice that he would not make, if necessary, to secure the favor of his offended Lord. Yet his conversion was less sudden, and less strongly marked in its character, than that of many others. He was rather drawn with the cords of a man and with the bands of love," than driven by the thunders of the law; though each had their appropriate influence in leading him to the Savior. Nor was the evidence of his change either sudden or clear. Upon this point he remained for a long time in a state of most distressing uncertainty. From the consciousness of guilt he had been delivered; but the witness of his adoption was necessary to complete his joy.
It was not till the 5th of June, 1815, that he was enabled to rejoice in this long-sought blessing. On that day-a day ever memorable in his history-as he was returning from his private devotions, where he had been wrestling with God for the witness of the Spirit, light broke in upon his soul, and he could exclaim, “ Abba, Father," with an unwavering tongue. The power of the tempter was broken; his doubts were all gone. A divine assurance-the gift of the Holy Spirit-reigned in his soul, and filled him with unspeakable joy. His swelling heart, overflowing with emotion, gave vent to its transports, while he cried aloud:
" My God is reconciled,
His pard’ning voice I hear:
I can no longer fear;
And Father, Abba, Father, cry." But before obtaining this full assurance, he had pub. licly dedicated himself to Christ, by uniting with his church, and boldly advocating his cause. He joined the
Methodist society as a probationer in 1813. The circumstances are thus related by the venerable minister of God who seems to have been the principal instrument of his conversion: One day an apprentice-boy, in his blacksmith's garb, direct from his labor, called upon him, and made application to be received into the society. He appeared to be about sixteen years of age; was small in stature, bashful in his address, and the circumstances of his introduction were peculiar and somewhat disadvantageous. Yet there was something so unassuming and so winning in his manner, so sincere and so intelligent in his whole appearance and conversation, that a very favorable impression was made upon the mind of the preacher, and he admitted him as a probationer; at the same time giving him encouragement and counsel. On the following Wednes. day night, at their public prayer.meeting, when the leading members had prayed, and it was nearly time to dismiss the congregation, at the close of one of the prayers, a youthful voice, whose feminine tones were scarcely sufficient to fill the church, was heard some two-thirds down the aisle, leading in prayer. The prayer was feeling and appropriate, but short-so short as to be at the longest, comprised within a minute. As the preacher passed down the aisle, his blacksmith boy stood at the end of the seat, waiting to grasp his hand with Christian affection. On the next Wednesday eve. ning, the silvery tones of the same youthful voice were again heard, near the close of the meeting, leading in its devotions. At this time he prayed with more fervor, more compass of thought, and more self-possession; and yet his prayer was not more than a minute and a half. At the close of the meeting, as the official brethren gathered around the preacher, one inquired who that boy was; another said his forwardness must bo checked;
and a third, that he must be stopped altogther, preacher simply replied: “ Now, brethren, let that bog alone- here is something in him more than you are aware of;" and from that time no one questioned the right of the young blacksmith boy to officiate in the public prayer meetings.
Such were the public beginnings of one who in after years became eminent as a minister of the gospel, dis. tinguished alike for the ability and the success with which he preached “ Christ crucified.” Even the min. ister of God, who had cherished him as a lovely and promising youth, little realized the chain of causes he was setting in motion, and the results that would grow out of thein. He had gathered a chance jewel from among the cinders of the blacksmith's shop; but little did he comprehend the richness of its value, or the transcend. ent lustre its polished surface would assume. So often does God make “ the weak things” of earth praise him, and “the day of small things” to become glorious before him.
It is remarkable that the two eminent servants of God, who were mainly instrumental in his conversion, are still in the effective ranks, enjoying a green old age, cheered, loved and honored by their brethren who have grown up around them. The next preacher stationed in Troy was the Rev. Tobias Spicer. To the instructions of this eminently sound and judicious minister, as well as to those of the Rev. Messrs. Clark and Chichester, the young disciple was much indebted in his early Christian history. lle says (in his journal) that they seemed to labor less to excite a momentary feeling, than to produce a solid and permanent religious character; one that would be most likely to withstand the shocks of temptation, and to accumulate strength through every period of its future experience. Nor did he cease to
acknowledge his obligations to these men of God till his dying day. Well had it been for thousands of sincere and susceptible young men, could they have been favored with equally competent and judicious advisers. While the youthful character is in this transition state, the influences brought to bear upon it make a deep and generally ineffaceable impression; and, for weal or wo, will they continue to bring forth life-long results. The proper training of young converts, and especially of young men in the Christian church, is a work of as high moment in the magnitude of its results as that of the mere instrumentality of their conversion. For the want of sound Christian nurture, thousands cease to be of any account in the church, just at a point when their usefulness should be taking direction and acquiring character.
During the pastoral labors of Mr. Spicer in Troy, there was a very extensive work of God in the church; so extensive that the membership were increased from a hundred and seven to two hundred and fifty during the two years. The church edifice was small, plain, and unimposing; the membership were few in number, and
poor in worldly means—not many rich, not many great, not many noble were found among them. But they were devoted to God, and loved one another; and God put honor upon them, making them to abound in fruitfulness and joy. This revival, in an especial manner, awakened the zeal and called out the talents of young Levings. He had been converted at a time when no special revival was in progress; and the awakening and conversion of such multitudes seemed to fill him with astonishment and wonder, while at the same time it fired his own heart anew. He had already become an efficient teacher in the first sabbath-school established in Troy, and then sustained by the different denomina.