As it has
pleased God in his providence to separate us at present, at some distance
from each other, so that I cannot have the privilege of verbal conversation
with you, I deem it not improper to hold some correspondence by means
of pen and paper.
I address you, sir,
as one whom I consider a friend, who I think will be willing to give advice
and instruction to one who sincerely wishes it. Wishing to reveal the
secrets of my heart to some friend from whom I may receive advice, I will
attempt to do the same to you, being confident that you will keep whatsoever
I may commit to you until you see or hear from me.
In taking a view
of my past life, I will go no further back than the spring of eighteen
hundred and nineteen, although I might mention feelings which I had a
year before that, were they not too hard to name.
Near the commencement
of the revival of nineteen my mind became impressed with the importance
of the things then called in question, and well had it been for me had
I then listened to the calls of the gospel, forsaken all, and followed
I was impressed
with a sense of my sins; I attended meeting after meeting, but all, I
fear, to no purpose until my feelings rose to such a height, that I lost
all hopes of mercy, or of ever obtaining the one thing needful. Despair
seized my whole soul; I concluded that I had sinned until it was too late
for me to be pardoned.
I forsook all meetings,
thinking that my destruction was sure, and that all the calls of mercy
would sink me deeper in everlasting misery. Night after night would I
lay my head on my pillow, and close my eyes in sleep, wishing that I might
never more open them in that world in which I should treasure up wrath
against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of
Thus I was for a
number of weeks with my feelings wrought up to the summit of terror and
despair indescribable; I cared not what I did. Other books were as agreeable
to me as the Bible, believing that all I read in that, and all the meetings
I attended and all other privileges would sink me deeper in the labyrinth
of woe. My feelings were wrought up to the highest pitch of despair, and
I was ready to curse the day in which I was born, if I did not in my heart
really do it. But they were of short duration for this time, for in a
few moments I relapsed into a state of stupidity and insensibility and
concluded my case was hopeless. I wanted to pray, but I thought it would
be mockery as my sins were unpardonable.
How easy it would
have been for Peter, or any other man with authority from God, to have
said, "Willard, repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ
for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy
Ghost, the Comforter, which shall lead you into all truth;" but instead
of such a comforting declaration saluting his ears from a servant of God,
he was left to believe he had committed the unpardonable sin.
This certifies that
the bearer, Mr. Willard Richards, is a young man of fair moral character,
and as such he is recommended in the capacity of a teacher, wherever he
may find employment.
E. W. Dwight, Pastor of the Church.
Richmond, October 30, 1821.