Thomas Scott.

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U't si quis Asellum
In cainpos doceat parentem currere frenis....HoR.
Vain man would be wise, though man be born of a

wild ass' colt.. ..Job, c. xi. v. 12.
"Who ten die th like him?. ...Job, c. xxxvi. v. 22.





1 825.

28?I00 A

J-J. C Sleight, Printer, Jamaica


If a book Jo not apologize tor itself, it is in vain for
the author to attempt it by a preface ; I shall, there -
tore, only declare the nature and intent of this publi-

Indeed, it contains little more than the history of my
heart, that forge of iniquity ; and my conscience, that
friendly, but too often neglected monitor. By men in
general, this latter is hated, because, as far as informed,
it boldly tells the truth : and their grand endeavour
seems to be, to lay it asleep, or to render it as insensible
as if seared with a hot iron. Through the deceitfulness
of the human heart, the allurements of the world, and
the artifices of Satan, this, at length, is commonly ac-
complished ; and in the mean time, they deafen them-
selves to its remonstrances, by living in a continual noise
and bustle. The conflict in my soul between these two
is here related ; and some account given of the artifices
which Satan, in confederacy with my heart, made use
of to keep my conscience quiet, and silence its remon-
strances ; and also of the means which the Lord em-
ployed to defeat this conspiracy, to give conscience its
due ascendancy, and to incline my before unwilling
heart to become obedient to its friendly admonitions ;
with the effect thereof upon my religious views and

As to the effect of this publication respecting my cha-
racter and worldly interest ; myself, and all that is dear


to me, I would leave in his hands, who causeth all to
work together for good, to them that love him, whom
he hath called according to his purpose. And he hath
so evinced his care over me, and goodness to me, in all
the concerns of my past life, that it were shameful, if
I did not most willingly cast all my care upon him for
the future. But, reader, the effect of it respecting thee,
I have much at heart ; and have had, and shall, I trust,
continue to have it much in my prayers.

If thou art a believing servant of God, I hope thou
wilt see cause to bless God in me, and wilt be establish-
ed and comforted thereby ; according to the fervent de-
sire of my soul, for all that love the Lord Jesus Christ
in sincerity. If thou art one, whose experience an-
swers in many things to what is related in the former
part of this narrative, as face answers to face in the wa-
ter, may the Lord, the Spirit who convinceth of sin,
alarm thy drowsy conscience, and bring thee under a
serious concern for thy precious soul, and its eternal in-
terests : may he incline thine heart diligently to use the
means here spoken of, as far as conscience evidences it
to be thy duty ; and may he bless the means for enlight-
ening thy mind with the knowledge of the truth as it is
in Jesus ; and guiding thy wandering feet into the ways
of peace. This, be assured, is my hearty prayer for
thee ; and with this prayer I commend this work unto
the Lord, that if it be his blessed will, he may employ
it as-an instrument for advancing his glory, and the sal-
vation of souls.


Weston. Underwood; Feh. 26. 1779.




About ten years have elapsed since the first publica-
tion of the ensuing narrative : In that space I have had
much opportunity of re-examining the Scriptures, and
of making observations, both in the world and in the
professing church ; as well as of getting a further mea-
sure of self knowledge. But I bless God, that upon a
revisal of The Force of Truth, in order to a second
edition, I see no cause to retract a single sentence, or to
propose any matter differently than before. If any one
should bestow the pains to compare this with the former
edition, he will indeed find several verbal alterations, in
which brevity, perspicuity, and precision alone have
been consulted : but he will not meet with a single va-
riation, which in any measure changes the meaning of
the passage. Had I materially altered my sentiments,
I would either have refused to concur in publishing a
second edition, or have fairly avowed that alteration :
but, on the contrary, I deem it incumbent upon me to
declare, that I am more than ever established in the
belief of all those doctrines that I before proposed, as
the leading truths of Christianity.


London, Chapel-street, March 31, 1789.




Giving an account of the state of the author's mind
and conscience, previous to, and at the commence-
ment of that change, whereof he purposes to give

Notwithstanding that I was not educa-
ted in what is commonly considered as igno-
rance of God and religion ; yet, until the
sixteenth year of my age, I do not remem-
ber that I ever was under any serious con-
viction of my being a sinner, in danger of
wrath, or in need of mercy ; nor did I ever,
during this part of my life, that I recollect,
offer one hearty prayer to God in secret.
Being alienated from God, through the ig-
norance that was in me, I lived without him
in the world ; and as utterly neglected to
pay him any voluntary service, as if I had
been an atheist in principle.


But about my sixteenth year I began to
see that I was a sinner; a leper in every
part, " there being no health in me ;" out
of many external indications of inward
depravity, conscience discovered, and re-
proached me with one ; and I was, for the
first time, disquieted with apprehensions of
the wrath of an offended God. My attend-
ance at the Lord's table being expected
about the same time, (though I was very
ignorant of the meaning and end of that sa-
cred ordinance,) this circumstance, united
with the accusations of my conscience,
brought an awe upon my spirits, and inter-
rupted my before undisturbed course of sin.

Being, however, an utter stranger to the
depravity and helplessness of fallen nature,
I had no doubt but I could amend my life
whenever I pleased. Previous, therefore,
to communicating, I set about an unwilling
reformation ; and procuring a form of pray-
er, I attempted to pay my secret addresses
to the Majesty of Heaven. In this manner
having silenced my conscience, I partook of
the ordinance, held my resolutions, and con-


tinued my devotions, such as they were, for
a little space : but they were a weariness
and a task to me ; and temptations soon re-
turning, I relapsed; my prayer book was
thrown aside, and no more thought of, till
my conscience was again alarmed by the
next warning given for the celebration of
the Lord's supper. Then the same ground
was gone over again, and with the same
issue. My goodness was like the morning
dew, that passeth away ; and loving sin, and
disrelishing religious duties as much as ever.
I returned, as the sow that is washed, to her
wallowing in the mire.

With little variation, this was my course
of life for nine years : but in that time I had
such experience of my own weakness, and
the superior force of temptation, that I se-
cretly concluded reformation in my case to
be impracticable. "Can the Ethiopian
change his skin, or the leopard his spots?"
I was experimentally convinced that I was
equally unable, with the feeble barrier of
resolutions and endeavours, to stem the tor-
renl of my impetuous inclinations, when


swelled by welcome, suitable, and powerful
temptations ; and being ignorant that God
had reserved this to himself as his own
work, and had engaged to do it for the poor
sinner, who, feeling his own insufficiency, is
heartily desirous to have it done by him ; I
stifled my convictions as well as I could, and
put off my repentance to a more convenient

But being of a reflecting turn, and much
alone, my mind was almost constantly em-
ployed. Aware of the uncertainty of life.
I was disquieted with continual apprehen-
sions, that this more convenient season^
would never arrive ; especially, as through
an unconfirmed state of health, I had man\
warnings, and near prospects of death and
eternity. For a long time I entertained no
doubt, but that impenitent sinners would be
miserable for ever in hell ; and at some sea-
sons such amazing reflections upon this aw-
ful subject forced themselves into my mind,
that I was overpowered with them, and my
fears became intolerable. At such times
my extempore cries for mercy were so wrest-


ling and persevering, that I was scarcely
able to give over ; though at other times I
lived without prayer of any sort ; yet, in
my darkest hours, though my conscience
was awakened to discover more and more
sinfulness in my whole behaviour, there re-
mained a hope that I should one day repent,
and turn unto God. If this hope was from
myself, it was a horrid presumption, but the
event makes me willing to acknowledge a
persuasion that it was from the Lord ; for
had it not been for this hope, I should pro-
bably have given way to temptations, which
frequently assaulted me, of putting an end to
my own life, in proud discontent with my lot
in this world, and mad despair about another.
A hymn of Dr. Watts', in his admirable
little book for children, entitled, " The All-
Seeing God," at this time fell in my way :
I was much affected with it, and having com-
mitted it to memory, was frequently repeat-
ing it, and was thereby continually remind-
ed of my guilt and danger. Parents may
from this inconsiderable circumstance be re-
minded, that it is of great importance to


store their children's minds with such useful
matter, instead of suffering them to be fur-
nished with such corrupting trash, as is com-
monly taught them. They know not what
use God may make of these early rudiments
of instruction in future life. At this period,
though I was the slave of sin, yet as my con-
science was not pacified, nor my principles
greatly corrupted, there seemed some hope
concerning me ; but at length Satan took a
very effectual method of silencing my con-
victions, that 1 might sleep securely in my
sins : and justly was I given over to a strong
delusion to believe a lie, when I held the
truth that I did know in unrighteousness.
A Socinian comment on the Scriptures came
in my way, and 1 greedily drank the poison
because it quieted my fears, and nattered
my abominable pride. The whole system
coincided exactly with my inclinations, and
the state of my mind, and approved itself to
me. In reading this exposition, sin seemed
to lose its native ugliness, and appear a very
small and tolerable evil ; man's imperfect
obedience seemed to shine with an almost


divine excellency ; and God appeared so
entirely and necessarily merciful, that he
could not make any of his creatures mise-
rable, without contradicting his natural pro-
pensity. These things influenced my mind
so powerfully, that 1 concluded that not-
withstanding a few little blemishes, I was,
upon the whole, a very worthy creature.
Then farther, the mysteries of the Gospel
being explained away, or brought down to
the level of man's comprehension by such
proud and corrupt, though specious reason-
ings ; by acceding to these sentiments, I
was in my own opinion, in point of under-
standing and discernment, exalted to a su-
periority above the general run of mankind ;
and amused myself with looking down with
contempt upon such as were weak enough
to believe the orthodox doctrines. Thus I
generally soothed my conscience : and if at
any time I was uneasy at the apprehension
that I did not thoroughly deserve, and was
not entirely fit for heaven, the same book
afforded me a soft pillow, on which to lull
Biyself to sleep ; it argued, and T thought


it proved, that there were no eternal tor-
ments ; and insinuated, that there were no
torments except for notorious sinners ; and
that such as should fall just short of heaven,
would sink into their original nothing. With
this welcome scheme I silenced all my fears,
and told my accusing conscience, that if I fell
short of heaven, I should be annihilated,
and never be sensible of my loss.

By experience, I am well acquainted with
Satan's intention, in employing so many of
his servant's to invent those pestilent errors,
whether in speculation or practice, that have
in all ages corrupted and enervated the pure
and powerful doctrine of the Gospel; for
they lead to forgetfulness of God, and secu-
rity in sin, and are deadly poison to every
soul that imbibes them, unless a miracle of
grace prevent. Such, on one hand, are all
the superstitious doctrines of popery, pur-
gatory, penances, absolutions, indulgences,
merits of good works, and the acceptable-
ness of will-worship, and uncommanded ob-
servances ; what are these but engines of
the devil, to keep men quiet in their sins ?


Man, resolved to follow the dictates of his
depraved inclination, and not to bound his
pursuits and enjoyments within the limits
of God's holy law, catches at any thing to
soften the horrible thought of eternal misery.
This is the awakening reflection, God's
sword in the conscience, which 'tis Satan's
business, by all his diabolical artifice, to en-
< leavour to sheath, blunt, or turn aside ; know-
ing, that whilst the alarming apprehension
is present to the soul, he can never maintain
his possession of it in peace. By such in-
ventions, therefore, as these, he takes care
to furnish the sinner with that which he
seeks for, and to enable him to walk accord-
ing to the course of this wicked world, and
the desires of depraved nature, withotit be-
ing disturbed by such dreadful thoughts.
The same, on the other hand, is the ten-
dency of all those speculations of reasoning
men, which set God's attributes at variance
with each other ; which represent the Su-
preme Governor so weakly merciful, as
neither to regard the demands of his justice,
the glory of his holiness, the veracitv of his


word, nor the peaceable order and subordi-
nation of the universe ; which explain away
all the mysteries of the Gospel ; and repre-
sent sin, that fruitful root of evil, that ene-
my of God, that favourite of Satan, as a
very little thing, scarce noticed by the Al-
mighty ; and which, contrary to Scripture,
and universal experience and observation,
would persuade us, that man is not a de-
praved creature.

These latter sentiments I acceded to, and
maintained as long as I could ; and I did it,
most assuredly, because they soothed my
conscience, freed me from the pressing fears
of damnation, and enabled me to think fa-
vourably of myself. For these reasons alone
I loved, and chose this ground ; I fixed my-
self upon it, and there I fortified myself with
all the arguments and reasonings I could
meet with. These things I wished to be-
lieve ; and I had my wish ; for at length I
did most confidently believe them. Being
taken captive in this snare by Satan, 1 should
here have perished, with a lie in my ri^ht


hand, had not that Lord, whom I dishonour-
ed, snatched me as a brand from the burning.
In this state of mind I attempted to ob-
tain admission into holy orders. Wrapt up
in the proud notion of the dignity of human
nature, I had lost sight of the evil of sin, and
thought little of my own sinfulness ; I was
filled with a self-important opinion of my
own worth, and the depth of my understand-
ing ; I had adopted a system of religion, ac-
commodated to that foolish pride, having al-
most wholly discarded mysteries from my
creed, and regarding with sovereign con-
tempt those who believed them. As far as
I understood those controversies, I was near-
ly a Socinian, and a Pelagian, and wholly an
Arminian ; yet, to my shame be it spoken, I
sought to obtain admission into the ministry,
in a church whose doctrines are diametri-
cally opposed to all the three ; without once
concerning myself about those barriers,
which the wisdom of our forefathers have
placed about her, purposely to prevent the
intrusion of such dangerous heretics as I
then was.


Whilst I was preparing for this solemn
office, I lived, as before in known sin, and
in utter neglect of prayer : my whole pre-
paration consisting of nothing else but an
attention to those studies which were more
immediately required, for my reputably
passing through the previous examination.

And thus after some difficulty, with a heart
full of pride, and all manner of wickedness,
my life being polluted with many unrepent-
ed, unforsaken sins, without one cry for mer-
cy, one prayer for direction, or assistance
in, or a blessing upon what I was about to
do ; after having concealed my real senti-
ments under the mask of general expres-
sions; after having subscribed articles di-
rectly contrary to my then belief; and after
having blasphemously declared in the pre-
sence of God and of the congregation, in the
most solemn manner, scaling it with the
Lord's supper, that I judged myself to be in-
wardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take this
office upon me, (not knowing or believing
that there was a Holy Ghost,) on September
the 20th, 1772,1 was ordained n deacon. For


over blessed be the God of all long suffer-
ing and mercy, who had patience with such
a rebel and blasphemer, such an irreverent
trifler with his majesty, and such a presump-
tuous intruder into his sacred ministry ! I
never think of this daring wickedness with-
out being filled with amazement that I am
out of hell ; without adoring that gracious
God, who permitteth such an atrocious sin-
ner to live, yea, to serve him, and with ac-
ceptance, I trust, to call him father, and as
his minister to speak in his name. " Praise
the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within
me, bless his holy name ; Praise the Lord, O
my soul, and forget not all his benefits ; who
forgiveth all my sins, and healeth all thy in-
iirmities ; who saveth thy life from destruc-
tion, and crowneth me with mercy and loving
kindness." May I love much, and very
humbly and devotedly serve that God who
has multiplied his mercies, in abundantly
pardoning my complicated provocations !

My views in entering into the ministry,
as far as I can ascertain them, were these
three : 1. A desire of a less laborious, and


more comfortable way of procuring a liveli-
hood, than otherwise I had a prospect of. —
2. The expectation of more leisure to em-
ploy in reading, of which I was inordinately
fond. — And, 3. A proud conceit of my
abilities, and a vain glorious imagination,
that I should some time distinguish and ad-
vance myself in the literary world. These
were my ruling motives in taking this bold
step : motives as opposite to those which
should have influence therein, as pride is
opposite to humility ; ambition to content-
edness in a low estate, and a willingness to
be the least of all, and the servant of all ;
as opposite as love of self, of the world, of
filthy lucre, and slothful ease, is opposite to
the love of God, and of souls, and of the la-
borious work of the ministry. Mine, there-
fore, be the shame of this heinous sin ; and
to God be all the glory of overruling it for
good, I trust both to unworthy me, and to
his dear people, the church, which he hath
purchased with his own blood.

My subsequent conduct was suitable to
these motives. No sooner wa« I fixed in a


curacy, than with close application I sat
down to the study of the learned languages,
and such other matters as I considered most
needful, in order to lay the foundation of my
future advancement. And would I were
now as diligent in serving God, as I was then
in serving self, and ambition! I spared no
pains ; I shunned, as much as I well could,
all acquaintance and diversions ; and I re-
trenched upon my usual hours of sleep, that
I might keep more closely to this business.
As a minister, I attended just enough to the
public duties of my station to support a de-
cent character, which I deemed subservient
to my main design : and from the same prin-
ciple I aimed at morality in my outward de-
portment, and affected seriousness in my
conversation. As to the rest, I still lived
in the practice of what I knew to be sinful,
and in the entire neglect of all secret reli-
gion : If ever inclined to pray, conscious
guilt stopped my mouth, and I seldom went
farther than " God be merciful unto me."
However, perceiving that my Socinian prin-
ciples were very disreputable ; and beinir


conscious from my own experience, thai
Lhej were unfavourable to morality, I con-
cealed them, in ;» great measure, both for
my credit's sake, and from a desire 1 enter-
tained, subservient to my main design, of
successfully inculcating the practice of the
moral duties upon those to whom I preach-
ed. IMv studies, indeed, lay very little in
divinity, but tins little all opposed that part
of my scheme which respected the punish-
ment of the wicked in the other world ; and
therefore, (being now removed at a distance
from those authors whence 1 had imbibed
m\ sentiments, and from whose reasonings
I had learned to defend them,) I began gra-
dually to be shaken in my former confi-
dence, and once more to be under some ap-
prehensions oi' eternal misery. Being also
statedly employed, and with the appearance
of solemnity, in the public worship o( God,
whilst I neglected and provoked him in se-
cret j my conscience clamourous!) re-
proached me w ith base hypocrisy, and 1 bc-
gan to conclude, that if eternal torments
were reserved for aw sinners, I certa-inlv


should be one of the number. And now a-

gain I was tilled with anxious fears and ter-
rifying alarms; especially, as I wus continu-
ally meditating upon what might be the aw-
ful consequence, should I be called hence
by sadden death. Even my close applica-
tion to study could not sooth my conscience,
nor quiet my fears: under the alFected air
of cheerfulness, 1 was truly miserable.

This was my state of mind when the
change I am about to relate, began to take
place. How it commenced, in what man-
ner, and by what steps it proceeded, and
how it was completed, will be the subject of
the second part of this work. This first
part I shall conclude by observing, that
though I was staggered in my favourite sen-
timent before mentioned, and in my views of
the person of Christ, was verging toward
Arianism ; yet in my other opinions I was
more confirmed than ever. What those
opinions were, I have already in brief decla-
red ; and they will occur again, and be more
fully explained, as I proceed to relate the
manner in which I was constrained to re-


nounce them, one after another, and to ac-
cede to those that were directly contrary
thereto. Let it suffice to say, that I was brim
full of proud self sufficiency, very positive,
and very obstinate : and being situated in
the neighbourhood of some of those whom
the world calls methodists,* I joined in the
prevailing sentiment, held them in sovereign
contempt, spoke of them in derision, de-
claimed against them from the pulpit, as
persons full of bigotry, enthusiasm, and spi-
ritual pride ; laid heavy things to their

* Methodists, as a stigma of reproach, was first appli-
ed to Mr. Wesley, Mr. Whitfield, and their follower? ;
to those who, though professing an attachment to our
established church, and disclaiming the name of Dissen-
ters* were not conformists in point of parochial order,
hut had separate seasons, places, and assemblies for wor-
ship. The term has since been extended by many to
all persons, whether clergy or laity, who preach or pro-
fess the doctrines of the reformation, as expressed in the
articles and liturgy of our church. For this fault they
must all submit to bear the reproachful name alike, es-
pecially the ministers ; nor will the most regular and
peaceable compliance with the injunctions of the ru-
bric, exempt them from it, if they avow the authorized,

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Online LibraryThomas ScottThe force of truth : an authentic narrative → online text (page 1 of 9)