Ann described in her diary the effect the revival had on her:
During the first sixteen years of my life, I very seldom felt any serious impressions, which I think were produced by the Holy Spirit. I was early taught by
my mother (though she was then ignorant of the nature of true religion) the importance of abstaining from those vices to which children are liable—as telling falsehoods, disobeying my parents, taking what was not my own, etc.
She also taught me, that if I were a good child, I should, at death, escape that dreadful hell, the thought of which sometimes filled me with alarm and terror. I therefore, made it a matter of conscience to avoid the
above-mentioned sins, to say my prayers night and morning, and to abstain from my usual play on the Sabbath, not doubting but that such a course of conduct would ensure my salvation.
At the age of twelve or thirteen, I
attended the academy at Bradford, where I was exposed to many more temptations than before, and found it much more difficult to pursue my pleasure, and found my mind completely occupied with what I daily heard were 'innocent
amusements.' My conscience reproved me, not for engaging in these amusements, but for neglecting to say my prayers and read my Bible, on returning from them; but I finally put a stop to its remonstrances, by thinking, that, as
I was old enough to attend balls, I was surely too old to say prayers. Thus were my fears quieted; and for two or three years I scarcely felt an anxious thought relative to the salvation of my soul, though I was rapidly verging
towards eternal ruin . . . I was surrounded with associates, wild and volatile like myself, and often thought myself one of the happiest creatures on earth
The first circumstance, which, in any measure, awakened me from
this sleep of death, was the following. One Sabbath morning, having prepared myself to attend public worship . . . I accidentally took up Hannah Mores Strictures on Female Education,
and the first words that caught my eye were, She that liveth in pleasure, is dead while she liveth.
They were written in italics, with marks of admiration; and they struck me to the heart. I stood for a few moments, amazed at the incident, and half inclined to think, that some invisible agency had directed my eye to these words. At first, I thought I would lead a different life, and be more serious and sedate; but at last I thought, that the words were not so applicable to me as I at first imagined, and resolved to think no more of them.
In the course of a few months (at the age of fifteen,) I met with Bunyan's Pilgrim Progress.
I read it as a Sabbath book, and was much interested in the story. I finished the book on a Sabbath, and it left this impression on my mind—that Christian, because he adhered to the narrow path, was carried safely through all his trials, and at last admitted into heaven. I resolved, from that moment, to begin a religious life; and in order to keep my resolution, I went to my chamber to pray for divine assistance. When I had done, I felt pleased with myself, and thought I was in a fair way for heaven. But I was perplexed to know what it was to live a religious life, and again had recourse to my system of words . . . (17-19).
Thus began a struggle which lasted for months. Ann would resolve to give up parties; the resolution would be broken. She would sometimes weep with a realization of her sins, but would then throw herself back into her active
From My Heart in His Hands by Sharon James, copyright 1998, Evangelical Press. All rights reserved.