I bless God that our congregation enlarge; our Societies increase; and that many souls are gathered in to Christ. We have likewise several Preachers raised out of these stones, who are blessed in their labours.
I went to a populous harbour, about a month ago, twenty leagues to the northward, called Bonavista, to enquire how they were affected towards hearing the gospel? They are willing that I should come and teach their children to read and write; and perhaps, by that means they will in time, be inclined to receive the gospel. Accordingly, I purpose going there in the Spring, to set up a school, and to preach as soon as I have any opportunity. God has cleared my way before me in a wonderful manner, since I have been in this land: particularly of late, by an awful judgment which he sent upon the three men who abused me on board a ship, in Trinity-Harbour, about five years ago. In a former account of this affair I observed that two of the sailors held me, while a third tarred me almost all over; and told me, if they saw me on shore the next day they would kill me.
In about a month one of them fell overboard, and was drowned in the harbour of St. John. Another of them coming to England the same winter, was killed by a fall. And he that tarred me, going up the Streights, by an accident got his death's-wound, and died on board the ship in great agonies of soul, on account of his abusing me. The whole ship's company was greatly alarmed on the occasion. The Captain said, he very clearly saw me stand by one of the sailors as he was furling the top gallant, while he who tarred me was below in the agonies of death, calling for mercy! This took such an effect on the Captain, that, when he returned to Newfoundland, he declared to the merchants in Trinity, that he would not abuse such a man as Mr. Hoskins, or any other Preacher of the gospel, for all the world. He also said, he could live no longer amongst such wickedness he was then a witness of. Accordingly he left the service immediately, and went home to England to live a retired life.
The report of that affair has well high spread all over this island: so that the merchants (the chief men of the island) that before threatened to send me out of the country, now will not hurt or molest me; but rather give me a passage in their boats to any harbour where I am going to preach. I have therefore now no excuse to decline labouring for God. Notwithstanding this, I find great backwardness. My flesh is ready to shrink from suffering. Lord help me to take up my cross, and follow thee!
Let me have an interest in your prayers, so you will greatly oblige your affectionate Brother in Christ.
Old Perlican, Newfoundland
Nov. 5, 1784