This is from Chapter II of the memoirs of Rev. David Rice, which were included in An Outline of the History of the Church in the State of Kentucky, During a Period of Forty Years by Robert Hamilton Bishop and published in 1824.
Having formed the resolution to persevere in seeking God in all the appointed means of his grace, Mr. Rice was careful not to lose the advantage which he had gained; knowing the treachery of his own heart, he committed it to writing, and daily carried it in his pocket, that he might always have a monitor at hand. This expedient appears to have been remarkably blest. From that time he was in a great measure preserved from his former occasional languor and indifference, and was enabled to persevere with a considerable degree of ardor and regularity in the use of the appointed means, till he was brought to discover the way of salvation through a Redeemer.
During this period he had a growing sense of the corruption of his own nature, particularly of his unbelief and hardness of heart. The two things which appeared to him the greatest wonders, were the goodness of God in the gift of his only begotten Son for the redemption of mankind, and his own ingratitude for so great a gift. He saw and felt that salvation was freely offered to him in the Gospel, and that nothing separated him from it but unbelief. "This unbelief," says he, "I viewed and felt as the greatest sin of my life, that it reflected dishonor on the greatest and best of beings, rejected the council of God against my own soul, refused the greatest and best gift of God to man, and bound the guilt of all my other sins on my conscience. I wondered that I was suffered to have a place on God's earth, to breathe his air, or enjoy any of the blessings of his providence."
He thus went for sometime with the sentence of death in his heart. To obtain relief he determined to spend the Sabbath in an old house on his father's plantation, in reading, meditation, and prayer. The day was spent in a kind of mixed exercise and mixed feeling. His wretched state was at one time the object of his meditations, and at others his mind dwelt with some considerable delight on the provisions made in the plan of salvation for perishing sinners.
|Christ in the Desert, Ivan Kramskol, 1872, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow;|
courtesy of Wikipedia
He sometimes thought he had a glimpse of the excellency and the preciousness of the way of salvation, and the wisdom of God in devising a method of grace that at once secured his own glory and the salvation of sinners. He saw at times so much of the beauty and excellency of the gospel plan, that his heart seemed ready to spring forward and embrace it. Then darkness and unbelief would again prevail.
He returned in the evening without having obtained any relief, and the two weeks which followed were the darkest and most distressing period of his whole life. He thought he was just on the point of being given up to the dominion of his own hardened and unbelieving heart. "I thought," said he, "I had these glimpses of punishment for my abuse of former privileges. I knew that as to outward conduct I had been more orderly than many, yet I viewed myself the most miserable sinner under heaven." No human needed now unfold unto him the import of "Cursed is everyone who continueth no in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." He felt, without the assistance of any comment, the force of the Apostle's exclamation, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death."
I am publishing a chapter of Rev. David Rice's memoirs every Monday.
To be continued...
Rev. David Rice (1733-1816) was my fifth great grandfather.
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Birth, Parentage, and First Convictions
Pray Together, Stay Together
Apostle of Kentucky