The Revealing of Christ To Richard Dore
I remember going up Duke Street into Smithfield, and a temptation darted four times into my mind: “What, a young man like you, to mope about religion! It is time enough yet! You had better not begin with it too soon! Wait till you are married; then you will have nothing else to attend to.” When I got into Smithfield, I cried like a child, and thought I was going foolish, for I could not conceive what had possessed me. Yet was I still forced to go on with religion, through dread of hell.
Before this, I had heard of Mr. Huntington, and thought I must go to his chapel at least once, and did so on a Wednesday evening. I remembered when I first went to London having heard of his building a chapel, and had cursed and said, “What do they want with more chapels? We have chapels enough.” Yet there was I, not long afterwards, brought to the same place. And I thought, “O if they knew my heart, they would all rise and turn me out.” But God intended to show me what I was, that He might make His love known to me. This was a gloomy night indeed. I understood nothing, but thought I must go again.
Sunday passed over, and still something hindered me. Then I made up my mind I must go the Sunday following. That morning a friend wrote to ask me to his marriage. “Well,” I thought, “if you can’t be married without me, you need not be married at all.” So I took no notice, and went to the chapel. What was said, I know not, for I understood nothing at all; but I thought Mr. Huntington was preaching against me, and saw what a wretch I was. I went again the same day, both in the afternoon and evening, but still knew no more what was said than if I had not been there; yet my terrors afterwards cannot be told.
As I walked through London that night, the very elements looked awful. It was not a fortnight since the devil had told me it was too soon to be religious; now he told me it was too late. I had most fearful thoughts. “It is too late to repent now; you have sinned away the day of grace, and now it is all over.” I did not know what the day of grace meant, but, supposing I must certainly be lost, I began to say to myself, “I will go to my old acquaintances, and make myself merry the little time I have to live, and then must be damned along with them,” for I was certain they would all be lost – that I was sure of. So I went to the room where seven or eight young fellows, of whom I was ringleader, used to meet. I went in and found only the landlady and child. I walked once round the room, and said, “Is no one here?” and went out again. I walked about twenty yards from the door, along Oxford Street, and could almost show to this day the very stone I was standing on. It was a bright, cold night in March. The stars shone with uncommon lustre. I looked up, and, “Dear me,” I said, “the stars are brighter than I ever knew them in my life before.”
Just then a ray of light came directly down into my soul. O it was a marvellous thing! It came as it were from the east into my heart. “Lord,” I said, “there is a Man in the heavens whom I love, and I know He loves me by what I feel.” I had never heard of such a thing as a man in the heavens. I had heard of angels and seraphim there, never of a man. I was never so surprised in my life. I put up my two hands, a little way apart, and said, “I wish the elements would open, just so wide, that I might see Him.” It filled my heart with praise. I ran on, blessing God for the preaching I had that day heard, though I had not understood it. I was before so afraid of the devil that I dared not look behind me; now I thought I feared him no more than some straws which I remember seeing in my way. A sweet peace followed me till I reached my own door, and then left me. Yet the power of it has never left me to this day; I can never forget it. It was the very same joy I feel now.
I thought next morning I would tell the man of it, who had first brought me to hear Mr. Huntington; but, as soon as he began to speak, I saw at once, though I was but just born, that he knew nothing. From that time it has been like fire and tow in my heart, a continual conflict; yet this ray of light has never been taken away, and never shall.
This lasted me a long time, but many fears began to come back, and as the feeling and remembrance of it wore off in a measure, I became gradually more and more miserable. Now and then I had some revivals. One Saturday morning, not long afterwards, I was reading the first chapter of Revelation, which was most sweet and delightful. This Man in the heavens, whom I loved, dwelt upon my spirit, and while I was reading the description of Christ which is given in that chapter, all I had felt before came afresh. John saw “One like unto the Son of man.” I knew this was the Man I had wished the heavens might open to let me see. The description of Him made me so happy, that my bowels moved towards Him.
What a glory did I see in it!
“His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire … His voice as the sound of many waters … out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” This so melted my heart that I sat and cried for joy. The Lord has said that His people shall see His glory; and in this reading of Revelation 1, I had a flash of His glory, though it only lasted about half an hour. It made the tears to boil out of my eyes. How sorry I was to lose it so soon; yet I always think it was so beautiful. That same Jesus has now “the keys of hell and of death.”
Now, I had to be scourged by my old shop-mates. They began to sneer at me, and wrote up in the shop, in great letters, “Dore turned from his evil ways, such a day and month, and in such a year of our Lord.”
When I was leaving them to go to chapel, as I passed between the benches at which they worked, one would mock, and say, “Remember me,” and another, “Pray for me.” I used to be quite glad when I had got out and shut the door upon them. I would say to them, “Don’t you think, if I were not happier now than when with you, I would go back? To be sure I would.”
I used to think it very strange, when I got to chapel, after working all day with men who laughed at me, to hear all my secret exercises told me by the preacher. I thought, “Certainly, he must be a very clever man.” Had I told any beforehand, I should have thought Mr. Huntington must have heard all from them. But I had not, and I had no notion of such a thing as the Holy Spirit teaching His servant what to say.
What happiness I had at first! I would run with such delight to chapel. All I wanted to know was whether my sins were forgiven. Mr. Huntington used to tell us, it was not good to be without that knowledge; but all I wanted was to be happy. He used to say, “Life is the best thing,” but I thought, “Love is the best thing,” and I was resolved to seek after nothing else. But God, by sharp trials, made me to learn knowledge in my own defence.