TESTIMONY OF JOEL HUME (a Regular Baptist Elder)
The following Christian experience was related by Joel Hume (Regular Baptist) during a debate with Benoni Stinson (General Baptist) on the atonement. The debate was held in 1863 in the state of Indiana. The remarks were occasioned by Hume misunderstanding Stinson’s position on the Christian experience. Stinson later stated that the misunderstanding had brought forth a wonderful testimony, and that he had no disagreement with Hume on the experience of salvation. Whatever differences Regular and General Baptists had in 1863, they both held that salvation was a definite heartfelt experience with God.
"If I know anything about Christian experience, I will say that there was a time when I cared no more about my own soul than if I had had none. I had no desire to go to church, nor to read the Bible; I had no desire to hear any talk on that subject. I was not seeking the Saviour: I was running away from God—sinning against Him with a high hand and an outstretched arm; but I shall never forget, while I am allowed a place upon God’s footstool, the first serious thought that crossed my mind upon the subject of Christianity. I have heard men talk about agencies and instrumentalities in this grand work, but if there was any agency In my awakening to my condition as a sinner, it was the abominable practice of blaspheming the name of God. At that time I was working as a hand upon a steamboat. There I heard the most blasphemous oaths that ever disgraced humanity, and the thought occurred to my mind, what an awful wicked set of beings you are; and the next thought was, you are as bad as they. These men pour out all that is in them. while you conceal it up as filth. I ask you, friends, was I choosing—was I desiring? Surely not. But from that hour till the day I trusted in God, I was unable to see how God could be just and save sinners. I chose holiness and despised sin, and never shall I forget the last afternoon of the deep agony of my soul; it was in a paw-paw thicket, in the east end of this state. My soul feels deep interested when think upon that dark and gloomy evening. I left the spot with this conviction: hell is my portion; I am doomed and there is no mercy for such a rebel as you. I went to the little cabin in which I was living, and leaned against the wall and closed my eyes. O, Christian friends! if my tongue had been taken out by the roots, every breath would have gone up to God in prayer. Till then I was not seeking Christ, but he sought me and found me. Christ revealed Himself to me. I would say to every sinner, I care not what your names, if you live as Christians, have not these been some of your exercises?"
As printed in The Baptist Waymark, Vol. IV, No. 2, Mar-Apr 1996, p. 3 (Originally found in A Debate on the Doctrine of Atonement, Between Rev. Joel Hume...and Rev. Benoni Stinson, Cincinnati, OH: E. Morgan and Co., 1863, pp. 139-141)