"Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."--JOHN 3:3.

 

"Be ready always to give an answer, to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you."--1 PETER 3:16.

 

I was born in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, November 20th, 1795. Deprived of an earthly father, at the age of seven, I was left to the care of an affectionate mother (long since also dead), who prevailed on me to go through a course of catechetical instruction and to unite with the German Reformed Church, which I did, at fourteen. I cannot say that I had at that time any especial impressions of mind beyond common seriousness; at least I had no proper conviction of sin. In the course of study and confirmation through which I passed, there were things in and of themselves, useful and unobjectionable, but all failed to rouse the sensibilities of the soul to purpose. The result was, that though a "member of church," I [33] remained the same unawakened and unsaved sinner; and gradually settled down to the terrible and too general delusion of mere formality.

In 1826, I was prostrated by a severe illness, that baffled medical skill, and caused loss of speech, insensibility, and coldness of the lower extremities. All hopes of my recovery had left my family. But to their great surprise I was restored to health. Oh, the goodness of God! It was in that sickness I was made truly sensible of my wickedness and unfitness for death. As my strength renewed, my convictions increased--an unusual occurrence. Worldly pursuits and conversation now appeared irksome and insipid. I longed and sighed for something--I hardly knew what--no circumstances or employment could supply it. Reading, prayer, meditation, and great anxiety of mind brought no relief. The world lost its charms for me; friends forsook and opposed me in my distress, and slanderous persecution followed. I had trouble enough without these last--the heart knoweth its own bitterness. I spent months in this state between light and darkness.

One day, while reading of Christ, I became strangely affected, all of a sudden; my tears flowed copiously, and I could not utter a word. An inexpressible feeling sprung up in my soul. Still I did not understand or properly appreciate the blessing. [34]

About that time, the work of God began to revive in Lancaster County, light, knowledge, and true piety spreading, all to my inestimable advantage. I heard the gospel preached in earnestness and purity, and the related experiences of some of the dear children of God became food for my thoughts--their mental exercises often being similar to my own. The darkness over me had not disappeared, but the day was beginning to dawn. I was not yet able to say that I knew I loved the Lord because of His forgiving mercy in Christ. I longed for such a personal evidence.

Several months later, I was standing at the door of my dwelling, in deep study, great concern and heaviness of heart, when suddenly I was so overpowered by an emotion as to be scarcely sensible of my identity; all creation seemed changed--old things had passed away and become new--everything appeared beautiful. I now knew I loved God; I loved everybody, even my enemies.

After this, the blessed Bible was to me a new and unsealed book, revealing things so clearly, that I wondered I had not seen them before. The depravity of man, his spiritual darkness, and the new creation which must pass upon him, to fit him for the enjoyment of God and Heaven--these subjects interested me so deeply as to make me concerned for the [35] salvation of others, and I was prompted to offer admonition and advice. Proceeding step by step in this way, I was led to exhort publicly.

My call to the ministry I must pass by, and only add that I have endeavored to preach the gospel for nearly thirty years,--during the first eight years receiving no salary, and unconnected with a located church. In 1834, I took charge of a church, and ever since have been a member of the East Pennsylvania Eldership of the Church of God. Assigned limits forbid a narrative of the scenes and subjects of my experience--they are known to a faithful and covenant-keeping God, whom I still serve and who has brought me safe through sixty-two years. May He keep His unworthy servant the remnant of his days, to join the general assembly and church in the Kingdom of the blessed Redeemer, to whom, with the Father and the Spirit, be endless praise.

 

JAMES MACKEY.     

      Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. 

 

"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit."--John 3:8.

 

"Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it."--Luke 11:28. [36]

 

From: The Testimony of a Hundred Witnesses (1858) Compiled by J. F. Weishampel, Sr.

[THW 33-36]

 

 

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