The Spiritual Travels of Nathan Cole When I saw Mr. Whitefield, come upon the Scaffold he lookt almost angelical; a young, Slim, slender, youth before some thousands of people with a bold undaunted Countenance, and my hearing how God was with
I was born Feb. 15th 1711 and born again Octo 1741-
When I was young I had very early Convictions, but after I grew up I was an Arminian until I was near 30 years of age; I intended to be saved by my own works such as prayers and good deeds.
George Whitefield at Middletown (Oct. 23, 1740)
Now it pleased God to send Mr. Whitefield into this land; and my hearing of his preaching at Philadelphia, like one of the Old Apostles, and many thousands flocking to hear him preach the Gospel; and great numbers were converted to Christ, I felt the Spirit of God drawing me by conviction. I long to see and hear him, and wished he would come this way. I heard he was come to New York and the Jerseys and great multitudes flocking after him under great concern for their Souls which brought on my Concern more and more hoping soon to see him but next I heard he was at Long Island, then at Boston and next at Northampton.
Then on a Sudden, in the morning about 8 or 9 of the Clock there came a messenger and said Mr. Whitefield preached at Hartford and Weathersfield yesterday and is to preach at Middletown this morning at ten of the Clock. I was in my field at Work. I dropt my tool that I had in my hand and went home to my wife telling her to make ready to go and hear Mr. Whitefield preach at Middletown, then run to my pasture for my horse. I with my wife soon mounted the horse and went forward as fast as I thought the horse could bear, and when my horse got much out of breath I would get down and put my wife on the Saddle and bid her ride as fast as she could and not Stop or Slack for me except I bade her and so I would run untill I was much out of breath, and then mount my horse again, and so I did several times to favour the horse; we improved every moment to get along as if we were fleeing for our lives; all the while fearing we should be too late to hear the Sermon, for we had twelve miles to ride double in little more than an hour and we went up and by the upper housen parish.
And when we came within about half a mile or a mile of the Road that comes down from Hartford Weathersfield and Stepney to Middletown, on high land before me I saw a Cloud of fogg rising; I first thought it came from the great River [the Connecticut River], but as I came nearer the Road, I heard a noise something like a low rumbling thunder and presently found it was the noise of Horses feet coming down the Road and this Cloud was a Cloud of dust made by the Horses feet; it arose some Rods into the air over the tops of Hills and trees, and when I came within about 20 rods of the Road, I could see men and horses Slipping along the Cloud like shadows and as I drew nearer it seemed like a steady Stream of horses and their riders, scarcely a horse more than his length behind another, all of a Lather and foam with sweat, their breath rolling out of their nostrils every Jump, every horse seemed to go with all his might to carry his rider to hear news from heaven for the saving of Souls. It made me tremble to see the Sight, how the world was in a Struggle, I found a Vacance between two horses to Slip in mine and my Wife said how our Cloaths will be all spoiled see how they look, for they were so Covered with dust, that they looked almost all of a Colour Coats, hats, Shirts, and horses.
We went down in the Stream but heard no man speak a word all the way for 3 miles but every one pressing forward in great haste and when we got to Middletown old meeting house there was a great Multitude it was said to be 3 or 4,000 of people Assembled together; we dismounted and shook off our Dust; and the ministers were then Coming to the meeting house. I turned and looked towards the Great River and saw the ferry boats Running swift backward and forward bringing over loads of people and the Oars Rowed nimble and quick, every thing, men horses and boats seemed to be Struggling for life. The land and banks over the river looked black with people and horses all along the twelve miles I saw no man at work in his field, but all seemed to be gone.
When I saw Mr. Whitefield, come upon the Scaffold he lookt almost angelical; a young, Slim, slender, youth before some thousands of people with a bold undaunted Countenance, and my hearing how God was with him every where as he came along it Solemnized my mind, and put me into a trembling fear before he began to preach; for he looked as if he was Cloathed with authority from the Great God; and a sweet sollome solemnity sat upon his brow. And my hearing him preach, gave me a heart wound; By Gods blessing my old Foundation was broken up and I saw that my righteousness would not save me; then I was convinced of the doctrine of Election and went right to quarreling with God about it; because that all I could do would not save me; and he had decreed from Eternity who should be saved and who not...
**William and Mary Quarterly, XXXIII, No. 1 (Jan. 1976) 2-3.