The Christian Experience
of Elder Peyton S. Nance
Written by Himself, in 1840.

Trigg Co., Ky., June 2, 1840.

BROTHER BEEBE:- I have been a reader of the Signs of the Times, if I mistake not, from the second volume to the present; and I can say I have often been refreshed and instructed from reading the interesting communications and editorial matter contained in your valuable paper. Although I have been so much favored, and have often made remittances to you, I have never written anything for publication. Having at this time to write on business, and my sheet being not quite filled up, I will attempt to give you the reason of the hope that is in me, and this I desire to do in meekness and fear.

Like all the rest of mankind, I was born in sin; and grew up in the same until my twenty-ninth year, before I had for the first time bowed my knees to pray to God for salvation. I at that time believed that I could, in part at least, save myself. My father had furnished me with a copy of the New Testament, and had sent me to school, when a boy, to learn to read. I believed there was a reality in the Christian religion, and I intended at some future day to secure it. Why did I not leave off my sins during that length of time, as I believed I could, and do good, that God should look on me with complacency and I should be saved? The reason was because I loved sin. Why did I not seek the Lord as the only Savior of poor lost sinners? Because I did not feel my need of him; and because the Lord had not then sought me. On the fourth Sunday of February 1823, I went to the Meeting-house in sight of which I had been born and raised, in Henry Co., Va., as unconcerned perhaps as I ever was; but before I left the place, something touched my heart which threw me into such confusion that I hid myself behind the door, that others might not see my situation. I at that time became willing to leave off my sins and try to do what I had long thought I could and would do. To work I went, and after a while I thought I had made considerable advancement in the work of reformation. About this time I began to notice the emotions of my heart. If I had ever before seen the corrupt fountain from whence all my wicked actions proceeded, I have no recollection of it. I was so blinded by the god of this world that nothing, short of the Spirit of God could teach me what I was. My reformation took wings, and left me a poor condemned sinner. I went many days mourning my situation, for I could not see how God could be just and save me. I thought I was farther from God than any other person could be; or, in other words, that I stood between every other being and hell. I felt that I had no friend in heaven nor on earth; but if I went to hell, I felt that I wished to go praying to God for mercy. I saw indeed that there was a beauty in holiness. At length I sat down and read several chapters in the Epistle to the Hebrews, until I came to the tenth chapter and the 16th and 17th verses, viz: "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." There was more sweetness in these verses, to me, than in all I had ever before read; but that sweetness all belonged to those to whom it was applied; for I could not at that time think it applied to me. I laid my book down and went to ploughing, but had not been at work long when a question was applied to my mind so sensibly that I answered, Yes, Lord. Three times the question came, and three times was answered in the same words, Yes, Lord. My burden of guilt left me, and I have since often thought that I was at that time like a hollow gum that was swept out clean. For several hours it seemed to me that all was well; but yet I did not take that for the religion of Jesus. It came at such an unexpected time, and in a manner so unlooked for, that I did not for some time confess with my mouth what I now hope and believe the Lord had wrought in my heart. Some time after this, it pleased God to visit my poor soul, as I trust, with intimations of his love, and also with a view of the plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. I then believed and for a while rejoiced; but it was not long before I was afraid I was mistaken. From that day to the present I have my hopes and fears alternately; and if I am not a Christian I never expect to be; for I look for no more change until death, not however disputing the power of God.

Believe me your brother and friend in tribulation.


Signs of the Times, Vol. 8, No. 16, August 15, 1840, page 125.

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