‘While I was on board the vessel, it appears to me that I died. I went through the excruciating pains of the separating of soul and body, as completely as ever I shall again. And such a separation must soon take place. I was immediately conveyed to the gates of Heaven, and was going to pass in; but was told by one that I could not enter then, but in process of time, if I would behave as he directed, on the set time I should have admittance.
It appeared to me that my feet stood on a firm foundation. I stood there for the space of about a half hour. In this time there appeared to be a continual flow of people, as we suppose they die; and none stopped, but all passed off, one way or the other.
Just at my left hand, there appeared to be the opening of a great gulch, and the greater part of the grown people seemed to pass off there. Once in a while, one passed through the gate into the Holy City.
One person appeared, with whom I had been intimately acquainted, and it appeared to me that I knew him as well as ever I did. It was Doctor Matthews [and whether I saw him or not, he died, as I afterwards learned. While I was sick on board the ship].
The one that talked with me told me about the Revolutionary War, and showed me the British vessels in the harbor of Boston, as plainly as I saw them when they came. And during the first year of that war, I was down there in General Putnam's regiment, and I went on Roxbury hill to see the shipping in the Harbor. They looked exactly as they had been shown to me many years before.
This transition, as I firmly believe, from life to death and from death to life, which took place nearly sixty years ago, is as fresh in my mind now as it was then. Not many days have passed from that time to this, which have not brought the interesting scenes I then witnessed, clearly to view in my mind. But I never dared to say anything about it for a great many years afterwards, for fear of being ridiculed. But about the [last of February or first of January 1763], peace was declared between England, France, and Spain, and the people rejoiced exceedingly because of it.
I told them we should have another war soon. They asked me why I thought so. I told them the British had settled peace with their foreign enemies, but they could not long live in peace, and they would come against us next. I never told my own wife, nor any other person, of what happened to me on board the vessel, as above related, for nearly thirty years afterwards.’