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Preaching under Difficulties

Sunday, 22.—The walls were mounted with cannon, and all things prepared for sustaining an assault. Meantime our poor neighbors, on either hand, were busy in removing their goods. And most of the best houses in our street were left without either furniture or inhabitants. Those within the walls were almost equally busy in carrying away their money and goods; and more and more of the gentry every hour rode southward as fast as they could. At eight I preached at Gateshead, in a broad part of the street near the popish chapel, on the wisdom of God in governing the world. How do all things tend to the furtherance of the gospel!

All this week the alarms from the north continued, and the storm seemed nearer every day. Many wondered we would still stay without the walls: others told us we must remove quickly; for if the cannon began to play from the top of the gates, they would beat all the house about our ears. This made me look how the cannons upon the gates were planted; and I could not but adore the providence of God, for it was obvious 1) they were all planted in such a manner that no shot could touch our house; 2) the cannon on Newgate so secured us on one side, and those upon Pilgrim Street gate on the other that none could come near our house, either way, without being torn in pieces.

On Friday and Saturday many messengers of lies terrified the poor people of the town, as if the rebels were just coming to swallow them up. Upon this the guards were increased and abundance of country gentlemen came in, with their servants, horses, and arms. Among those who came from the north was one whom the mayor ordered to be apprehended on suspicion of his being a spy. As soon as he was left alone he cut his own throat; but a surgeon, coming quickly, sewed up the wound, so that he lived to discover those designs of the rebels, which were thereby effectually prevented.

Sunday, 29.—Advice came that they were in full march southward, so that it was supposed they would reach Newcastle by Monday evening. At eight I called on a multitude of sinners in Gateshead to seek the Lord while He might be found. Mr. Ellison preached another earnest sermon, and all the people seemed to bend before the Lord. In the afternoon I expounded part of the lesson for the day—Jacob wrestling with the angel. The congregation was so moved that I began again and again and knew not how to conclude. And we cried mightily to God to send his Majesty King George help from His holy place and to spare a sinful land yet a little longer, if haply they might know the day of their visitation.

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