JOHNATHAN EDWARD'S DIARY
PREFACE TO JONATHAN EDWARDS DIARY by Sereno Dwight, 1829.
BACK IN EAST WINDSOR WITH TRAVELS TO NORWICH AND BOSTON; May, 1723.
AFTER RECEIVING MASTER'S DEGREE AT YALE, Oct., 1723.
TUTOR AT YALE COLLEGE; Dec., 1724.
AT NORTHAMPTON PASTORATE; Sept., 1726.
PREFACE TO JONATHAN EDWARDS DIARY
Sereno Dwight, 1829
The diary of Mr. Edwards begins Dec. 18, 1722, when he was nineteen years of age. As far as to Jan. 15th, at night, it is written on two detached slips of paper; and the remainder in a book. [He mentions, Jan. 14th, his making the book, and annexing the loose papers to it.] As it commences abruptly, and as near as possible to the top of that paper; the beginning of it is undoubtedly lost; and it is not improbable, that as he originally wrote it, it may have reached back, at least to the period of his preparation for the ministry. It was intended, as will at once be perceived, for his own private use exclusively; and had it been with him at the close of life, it is not unlikely it might have been destroyed. Still, whatever is calculated to do good, and is perfectly consistent with an author's real reputation, may be published with honor, whatever his design might be while writing. The best of men, indeed, have thoughts, and opinions and feelings, which are perfectly proper and right in themselves, which yet it would be wholly improper for them to disclose to others. But a man of sound discretion, will take care that nothing of this nature is placed within the reach of accident. What Mr. Edwards wished to have concealed from every eye but his own, he wrote in short hand. And on one occasion, after having written to a considerable extent in that character, he adds this remark in his customary hand, "Remember to act according to Pro. 12:23, 'A prudent man concealeth knowledge.'"
The reader, while perusing the diary in its various parts, will, I think, be struck with it, as possessing the following characteristics. It consists of facts; and of solid thought, dictated by deep religious feeling: and not of the mere expressions of feelings, or of commonplace moral reflections, or exhortations. It was intended for his own eyes exclusively; and not chiefly for those of his friends and of the public. It is an exhibition of the simple thinking, feeling and acting of a man, who is unconscious how he appears, except to himself, and to God: and not the remarks of one, who is desirous of being thought humble, respecting his own humility. If we suppose a man of Christian simplicity, and godly sincerity, to bring all the secret movements of his own soul under the clear, strong light of heaven, and there to survey them with a piercing and an honest eye, and a contrite heart, in order to humble himself, and make himself better; it is just the account which such a man would write. In these respects, it is, with only here and there a solitary exception, wholly unlike any diary of modern times; and, as such, is, with here and there a solitary exception, the only diary of modern times, that ought ever to have been published.
BACK IN EAST WINDSOR WITH TRAVELS TO NORWICH AND BOSTON
Wednesday forenoon, May 1. Last night I came home, after my melancholy parting from New York.
I have always, in every different state of life I have hitherto been in, thought that the troubles and difficulties of that state were greater than those of any other state that I proposed to be in; and when I have altered, with assurance of mending myself, I have still thought the same, yea that the difficulties of that state are greater than those of that I left last. Lord, grant that from hence I may learn to withdraw my thoughts, affections, desires and expectations entirely from the world, and may fix them upon the heavenly state, where there is fullness of joy; where reigns heavenly, sweet, calm and delightful love without alloy; where there are continually the dearest expressions of this love; where there is the enjoyment of this love without ever parting; and where those persons, who appear so lovely in this world, will be inexpressibly more lovely, and full of love to us. How sweetly will those, who thus mutually love, join together in singing the praises of God and the Lamb. How full will it fill us with joy, to think that this enjoyment, these sweet exercises, will never cease or come to an end, but will last to all eternity. Remember after journeys, removals, overturnings and alterations in the state of my life, to reflect and consider, whether therein I have managed the best way possible respecting my soul; and before such alterations, if foreseen, to resolve how to act.
Thursday, May 2. — Afternoon. I observe this, that when I was at New York, when I meditated on things of a religious nature, I used to conceive of myself as walking in the fields at home; but now I am at home, I conceive of myself as walking in the fields, which I used to frequent at New York. I think it a very good way, to examine dreams every morning when I awake; what are the nature, circumstances, principles and ends of my imaginary actions and passions in them; in order to discern what are my prevailing inclinations, etc.
Saturday night, May 4. Although I have, in some measure, subdued a disposition to chide and fret, yet I find a certain inclination, which is not agreeable to Christian sweetness of temper and conversation: either too much dogmatism or too much egotism, a disposition to manifest my own dislike and scorn, and my own freedom from those which are innocent,, sinless, yea common infirmities of men, and many other such like things. O that God would help me to discover all the flaws and defects of my temper and conversation, and help me in the difficult work of amending them; and that he would grant me so full a measure of vital Christianity, that the foundation of all these disagreeable irregularities may be destroyed, and the contrary sweetnesses and beauties may of themselves naturally follow.
Sabbath morning, May 5. Made the 47th Resolution.
Monday morning, May 6. I think it best commonly to come before God three times in a day, except I find a great inaptitude to that duty.
Saturday night, May 11. I have been to blame, the month past, in not laying violence enough to my inclination, to force myself to a better improvement of time. Have been tardy with respect to the 47th Resolution. Have also been negligent about keeping my thoughts, when joining with others in prayer.
Sabbath-day morning, May 12. I have lost that relish of the Scriptures and other good books, which I had five or six months ago. Resolved, When I find in myself the least disposition to exercise good nature, that I will then strive most to feel good naturedly. At noon. — Observe to remember the meditations which I had at Westchester, as I was coming from New York; and those which I had in the orchard; and those under the oak tree. This day, and the last night, I read over and reviewed those reflections and remarks, which I find to be a very beneficial thing to me. — After the afternoon meeting. — I think I find in my heart to be glad from the hopes I have, that my eternity is to be spent in spiritual and holy joys, arising from the manifestation of God's love, and the exercise of holiness, and a burning love to him.
Saturday night, May 18. This week past, spent in journeying to Norwich, and the towns thereabouts. This day returned, and received a letter, from my dear friend, Mr. John Smith. — The last Wednesday, took up a resolution, to refrain from all manner of evil speaking for one week, to try it, and see the effect of it: hoping, if that evil speaking, which I used to allow myself in, and to account lawful, agreeably to the resolutions I have formed concerning it, were not lawful, or best, I should hereby discover it, and get the advantage of temptations to it, and so deceive myself, into a strict adherence to my duty, respecting that matter; — that that corruption, which I cannot conquer by main strength, I may get the victory of by stratagem. I find the effect of it already to be, to make me apt to take it for granted, that what I have resolved on this week, is a duty to be observed for ever.
I now plainly perceive what great obligations I am under, to love and honor my parents. I have great reason to believe, that their counsel and education, have been my making; though, in the time of it, it seemed to do me so little good. I have good reason to hope, that their prayers for me have been, in many things, very powerful and prevalent, that God has, in many things, taken me under his care and guidance, provision and direction, in answer to their prayers for me. I was never made so sensible of it, as now.
I think it the best way, in general, not to seek for honor, in any other way, than by seeking to be good, and to do good. I may pursue knowledge, religion, the glory of God, and the good of mankind, with the utmost vigor; but am to leave the honor of it entirely at God's disposal, as a thing with which I have no immediate concern; no, not although, by possessing that honor, I have the greater opportunity to do good.
Mem. To be particularly careful, lest I should be tardy in any point, wherein I have been negligent, or have erred, in days, weeks, months, or years past.
Sabbath-day morning, May 19. With respect to my journey last week, I was not careful enough, to watch opportunities of solemnly approaching to God, three times a day. The last week, when I was about to take up the Wednesday resolution, it was proposed to me, in my thoughts, to omit it until I got home again, because there would be a more convenient opportunity. Thus am I ready to look at any thing as an excuse, to grow slack in my Christian course. — At night. Concluded to add to my inquiries, as to the spending of time — at the beginning of the day, or the period, What can I do for the good of men? — and, at the end, What have I done for their good?
Tuesday morning, May 21. My conscience is, undoubtedly, more calm, since my last Wednesday resolution, than it was before.
Wednesday morning, May 22. Memorandum. To take special care of the following things: evil speaking, fretting, eating, drinking and sleeping, speaking simple verity, joining in prayer, slightiness in secret prayer, listlessness and negligence, and thoughts that cherish sin.
Saturday morning, May 25. As I was this morning reading the 17th Resolution, it was suggested to me, that if I were now to die, I should wish that I had prayed more, that God would make me know my state, whether it be good or bad, and that I had taken more pains and care, to see and narrowly search into that matter. Wherefore, Mem. for the future, most nicely and diligently to look into the opinions of our old divines, concerning conversion. This morning made the 48th Resolution.
Monday afternoon, May 27. Memorandum. Not only to keep from an air of dislike, anger and fretfulness, in discourse or conversation; but let me also have as much of an appearance of love, cheerfulness, and benignity, as may be, with a good grace. — These following things, especially to beware of, in order to the better observation of the 47th Resolution: distrust, discontent, uneasiness, and a complaining temper, self-opinion, self-confidence, melancholy, moroseness, slight antipathy, privacy, indolence, and want of resolution — to beware of any thing, in discourse or conversation, that savors of these.
Saturday night, June 8, at Boston. When I find myself listless and dull, and not easily affected by reading religious books, then to read my resolutions, remarks, reflections, etc. — One thing that would be of great advantage to me in reading to my profit, would be the endeavoring with all my might, to keep the image and picture of the thing in my mind, and be careful that I do not lose it, in the chain of the discourse.
Sabbath day, June 9, after the afternoon meeting. Mem. When I fear misfortunes, to examine whether I have done my duty; and at the same time, to resolve to do it, and let it go, and be concerned about nothing, but my duty and my sin.
Saturday morning, June 15, at Windsor. Have been to blame, this journey, with respect to strict temperance, in eating, drinking and sleeping, and in suffering too small matters to give interruption to my wonted chain of religious exercises. — Concluded to protract the Wednesday Resolution, to the end of my life.
Tuesday morning, June 18. Mem. To do that part, which I conveniently can, of my stated exercise, while about other business, such as self-examination, resolutions, etc., that I may do the remainder in less time.
Friday afternoon, June 21. I have abundant cause, O my merciful Father, to love thee ardently, and greatly, to bless and praise thee, that thou hast heard me in my earnest request, and so hast answered my prayer for mercy, to keep from decay and sinking. O, graciously, of thy mere goodness, still continue to pity my misery, by reason of my sinfulness. O, my dear Redeemer, I commit myself, together with my prayer and thanksgiving, into thine hand!
Saturday morning, June 22. Altered the 36th Resolution, to make it the same with the Wednesday Resolution. If I should take special care, every day, to rise above, or not to fall below, or to fall as little as I possibly could, below what I was the day before, it would be of great advantage to me. — I take notice, that most of these determinations, when I first resolve them, seem as if they would be much more beneficial, than I find them.
Tuesday morning, June 25. Last Sabbath, at Boston, reading the 6th, 7th, and 8th verses of the 6th to the Ephesians, concluded that it would be much to my advantage, to take the greatest care, never to do any thing but my duty, and then to do it willingly, cheerfully, and gladly, whatever danger or unpleasant circumstances it may be attended with; with goodwill doing it, as to the Lord, not as pleasing man, or myself, knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord.
Saturday morning, June 29. It is best to be careful in prayer, not to put up those petitions, of which I do not feel a sincere desire: thereby, my prayer is rendered less sincere, less acceptable to God, and less useful to myself.
Monday noon, July 1. I find I am not careful enough, to keep out all thoughts, but religious ones, on the Sabbath. When I find the least uneasiness, in doing my duty, to fly to the 43d Resolution.
Wednesday night, July 3. I am too negligent, with respect to improving petty opportunities of doing good; thinking that the good will be very small, and unextended, and not worth the pains. Resolved, to regulate this, at that which is wrong, and what ought not to be. — Again confirmed, by experience of the happy effects of a strict temperance, with respect both to body and mind.
Thursday morning, July 4. The last night, in bed, when thinking of death, I thought if I was then to die, that, which would make me die, in the least degree fearfully, would be the want of a trusting and relying on Jesus Christ, so distinctly and plainly, as has been described by divines; my not having experienced so particular a venturing, and entirely trusting my soul on Christ, after the fears of hell, and terrors of the Lord, encouraged by the mercy, faithfulness and promises, of God, and the gracious invitations of Christ. Then, I thought I could go out of the world as much assured of my salvation, as I was of Christ's faithfulness, knowing that if Christ did not fail me, he would save me, who had trusted in him, on his word. At night. — Whenever things begin to seem in the least out of order, when things begin to feel uneasy within, or irregular without, then to examine myself, by the strictest examination. — Resolved, for the future, to observe rather more of meekness, moderation and temper, in disputes.
Friday morning, July 5. Last night, when thinking what I should wish I had done, that I had not done, if I was then to die; I thought I should wish, that I had been more importunate with God, to fit me for death, and lead me into all truth, and that I might not be deceived about the state of my soul. — In the forenoon, made the 50th Resolution.
Thursday night, July 11. This day, too impatient at the Church meeting. Snares and briars have been in my way this afternoon. It is good, at such times, for one to manifest good nature, even to one's disadvantage, and so as would be imprudent, at other times.
Saturday morning, July 13. Transferred the conclusion of June 9, to the Resolution No. 57; and the conclusion of May 27, to No. 58; and May 12, and July 11, to No. 59; and of July 4, at night, to No. 60; and of May 24, to No. 61; and of June 25, to No. 62; and, about noon, the Resolution of January 14, to No. 63. — In times past, I have been too free, in judging of the hearts of men, from their actions.
Thursday, July 18, near sunset. Resolved, to make sure of that sign, which the apostle James gives of a perfect man: James 3:2. "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able, also, to bridle the whole body."
Friday afternoon, July 19. 1 Peter 2:18. Servants, be subject to your masters, with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward: How then, ought children to honor their parents. — This verse, together with the two following, viz. "For this is thank-worthy, if a man, for conscience toward God, endure grief, suffering wrongfully; for what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently; but if, when ye do well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."
Saturday noon, July 20. Dr. Manton's sermon, on the 119th Psalm, pp. 140, 141, Of Evil-speaking, Use 2d. To them that either devise or receive reproaches. Both are very sinful. Hypocrites and men that put themselves into a garb of religion, are all for censuring, take a mighty freedom that way: these men bewray the rottenness of their hearts. — Alas, in our own sight, we should be the worst of men. The children of God do ever thus speak of themselves, as the least of saints, the greatest of sinners — "more brutish than any man" — "of sinners, whereof I am the chief." You rob them of the most precious treasure. He that robs thee of thy name, is the worst kind of thief. Pro. 22:1. "A good name is rather to be chosen, than great riches." — Object. But, must we, in no case, speak evil of another; or may we not speak of another's sin, in any case? — Solution 1. It is a very hard matter, to speak evil of another, without sin. — In one way or another, we shall dash upon the command: better let it alone. — If you speak of the failings of another, it should be with tenderness and grief; as when they are incorrigible, and likely to infect others; or, when it is for the manifest glory of God. — To them, that receive the slander; he is a slanderer, who wrongs his neighbor's credit, by upholding an ill-report against him.
Monday afternoon, July 22. I find, it would be desirable, on many accounts, always to endeavor, to wear a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking, in all companies, except it should so happen, that duty requires it otherwise. — I am afraid that I am now defective, in not doing whatever my hand finds to do, with my might, with respect to my particular affairs. Remember to watch, see and know how it is. Vid. Aug. 31. — I see there is danger of my being drawn into transgression by the power of such temptations, as the fear of seeming uncivil, and of offending friends. Watch against it. — I might still help myself, and yet not hurt myself, by going, with greater expedition, from one thing to another, without being quite so nice.
Tuesday afternoon, July 23. When I find those groanings which cannot be uttered, of which the Apostle speaks, and those soul-breakings for the longing it hath, of which the Psalmist speaks (Psa. 119:20), Resolved, to favor and promote them, to the utmost of my power, and not to be weary of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, and not to be weary of the repetitions of such earnestness.
To count it all joy, when I have occasions of great self-denial; because, then I have a glorious opportunity of giving deadly wounds to the body of sin, and of greatly confirming, and establishing the new creature. I seek to mortify sin, and increase in holiness. These are the best opportunities, according to Jan. 14.
To improve afflictions, of all kinds, as blessed opportunities of forcibly bearing on, in my Christian course, notwithstanding that which is so very apt to discourage me, and to damp the vigor of my mind, and to make me lifeless; also, as opportunities of trusting and confiding in God, and getting a habit of so doing, according to the 57th Resolution; and as an opportunity of rending my heart off from the world, and setting it on heaven alone, according to Jan. 10, and the 43d and 45th Resolutions; and according to Jan. 12, Feb. 17, and 21, and May 1. — To improve them, also, as opportunities to repent of, and bewail my sin, and abhor myself, and as a blessed opportunity to exercise patience, to trust in God, and divert my mind from the affliction, by fixing myself in religious exercises. Also, let me comfort myself, that it is the very nature of afflictions, to make the heart better; and, if I am made better by them, what need I be concerned, however grievous they seem, for the present.
Wednesday night, July 24. I begin to find the success of my striving in joining with others, in the worship of God; insomuch, that there is a prospect, of making it easy and delightful, and very profitable, in time. Wherefore, Resolved, not to cease striving, but to continue it, and redouble it.
Thursday morning, July 25. Altered, and anew established the 8th Resolution. Also, established my determination of April 1. — Memorandum. At a convenient time, to make an alphabet of these Resolutions and Remarks, that I may be able to educe them, on proper occasions, suitable to the condition I am in, and the duty I am engaged in.
Friday afternoon July 26. To be particularly careful to keep up inviolably, a trust and reliance, ease and entire rest, in God, in all conditions, according to the 57th Resolution; for this, I have found to be wonderfully advantageous to me. — At night. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this, all my life long: viz. with the greatest openness, of which I am capable, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: — all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance, according to Dr. Manton's 27th Sermon, on the 119th Psalm.
Saturday forenoon, July 27. When I am violently beset with temptation, or cannot rid myself of evil thoughts, to do some sum in arithmetic, or geometry, or some other study, which necessarily engages all my thoughts, and unavoidably keeps them from wandering.
Monday afternoon, July 29. When I am concerned how I shall prepare any thing to public acceptance, to be very careful that I have it very clear to me, to do what is duty and prudence in the matter. — I sometimes find myself able to trust God, and to be pretty easy when the event is uncertain; but I find it difficult, when I am convinced beforehand, that the event will be adverse. I find that this arises, 1. From my want of faith to believe that that particular advantage will be more to my advantage, than disadvantage: 2. From the want of a due sense of the real preference of that good, which will be obtained, to that which is lost: 3. From the want of a spirit of adoption.
Tuesday night, July 30. Have concluded to endeavor to work myself into duties by searching and tracing back all the real reasons why I do them not, and narrowly searching out all the subtle subterfuge of my thoughts, and answering them to the utmost of my power, that I may know what are the very first originals of my defect, as with respect to want of repentance, love to God, loathing of myself, — to do this sometimes in sermons. — Vid. Resolution 8. Especially, to take occasion therefrom, to bewail those sins of which I have been guilty, that are akin to them; as for instance, from pride in others, to take occasion to bewail my pride; from their malice, to take occasion to bewail the same in myself: when I am evil-spoken of, to take occasion to bewail my evil speaking: and so of other sins. Mem. To receive slanders and reproaches as glorious opportunities of doing this.
Wednesday afternoon, July 31. After afflictions, to inquire what I am the better for them; what good I have got by them; and what I might have got by them. — Never, in the least, to seek to hear sarcastic relations of others' faults. Never to give credit to any thing said against others, except there is very plain reason for it; nor to behave in any respect otherwise for it.
Sabbath morning, Aug. 4. Concluded at last, at those times when I am in the best frames, to set down the aspirations of my heart, as soon as I can get time.
Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 6. Very much convinced of the extraordinary deceitfulness of the heart, and how exceedingly affection or appetite blinds the mind, and brings it into entire subjection. There are many things which I should really think to be my duty, if I had the same affections, as when I first came from New York; which now I think not so to be. How doth appetite stretch the reason, to bring both ends together.
Wednesday forenoon, Aug. 7. To esteem it as some advantage, that the duties of religion are difficult, and that many difficulties are sometimes to be gone through in the way of duty. Religion is the sweeter, and what is gained by labor is abundantly more precious, as a woman loves her child the more for having brought it forth with travail; and even to Christ Jesus himself his mediatorial glory, his victory and triumph, the kingdom which he hath obtained, how much more glorious is it, how much more excellent and precious, for his having wrought it out by such agonies.
Friday afternoon, Aug. 9. With respect to the important business which I have now on hand, [Perhaps the preparation of a public exercise for the college commencement, when he received his Master's Degree.] Resolved, To do whatever I think to be duty, prudence and diligence in the matter, and to avoid ostentation; and if I succeed not, and how many disappointments soever I meet with, to be entirely easy; only to take occasion to acknowledge my unworthiness; and if it should actually not succeed, and should not find acceptance, as I expected, yet not to afflict myself about it, according to the 57th Resolution. At night. — One thing that may be a good help towards thinking profitably in times of vacation, is, when I find a profitable thought that I can fix my mind on, to follow it as far as I possibly can to advantage. — I missed it, when a graduate at College, both in point of duty and prudence, in going against a universal benevolence and good nature.
Saturday morning, Aug. 10. Transferred my determination of July 23, to the 64th Resolution, and that of July 26, to the 65th. About sunset. — As a help against that inward shameful hypocrisy, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; also to confess to God, and open the whole case to him, when it is what concerns religion, and humbly and earnestly implore of him the help that is needed; not in the least to endeavor to smother over what is in my heart, but to bring it all out to God and my conscience. By this means, I may arrive at a greater knowledge of my own heart. — When I find difficulty in finding a subject of religious meditation, in vacancies, to pitch at random on what alights to my thoughts, and to go from that to other things which that shall bring into my mind, and follow this progression as a clue, till I come to what I can meditate on with profit and attention, and then to follow that, according to last Thursday's determination.
Sabbath afternoon, Aug. 11. Resolved always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it; as, for instance, sometimes I argue with myself, that such an act of good nature, kindness, forbearance or forgiveness, etc. is not my duty, because it will have such and such consequences: yet when I see others do it, then it appears amiable to me, and I wish I had done it, and see that none of these feared inconveniences follow.
Monday morning, Aug. 12. The chief thing, that now makes me in any measure to question my good estate, is my not having experienced conversion in those particular steps, wherein the people of New England, and anciently the Dissenters of Old England, used to experience it. Wherefore, now resolved, never to leave searching, till I have satisfyingly found out the very bottom and foundation, the real reason, why they used to be converted in those steps.
Tuesday morning, Aug. 13. Have sinned, in not being careful enough to please my parents. Afternoon. — I find it would be very much to my advantage, to be thoroughly acquainted with the Scriptures. When I am reading doctrinal books, or books of controversy, I can proceed with abundantly more confidence: can see on what footing and foundation I stand.
Saturday noon, Aug. 17. Let there, in the general, be something of benevolence in all that I speak.
Tuesday night, Aug. 20. Not careful enough in watching opportunities of bringing in Christian discourse with a good grace. Do not exercise myself half enough in this holy art; neither have I courage enough to carry it on with a good grace. Vid. Sept. 2.
Saturday morning, Aug. 24. Have not practiced quite right about revenge; though I have not done any thing directly out of revenge, yet, I have perhaps, omitted some things, that I should otherwise have done, or have altered the circumstances and manner of my actions, hoping for a secret sort of revenge thereby. I have felt a little sort of satisfaction, when I thought that such an evil would happen to them by my actions, as would make them repent what they have done. To be satisfied for their repenting, when they repent from a sense of their error, is right. But a satisfaction in their repentance, because of the evil that is brought upon them, is revenge. This is in some measure, a taking the matter out of God's hands when he was about to manage it, who is better able to plead it for me. Well, therefore, may he leave me to boggle at it. — Near sunset. I yet find a want of dependence on God, to look unto him for success, and to have my eyes unto him for his gracious disposal of the matter: for want of a sense of God's particular influence, in ordering and directing all affairs and businesses, of whatever nature, however naturally, or fortuitously, they may seem to succeed; and for want of a sense of those great advantages that would follow therefrom: not considering that God will grant success, or make the contrary more to my advantage; or will make the advantage accruing from the unsuccessfulness more sensible and apparent; or will make it of less present and outward disadvantage; or will some way, so order the circumstances, as to make the unsuccessfulness more easy to bear; or several, or all of these. This want of dependence, is likewise for want of the things mentioned, July 29. — Remember to examine all narrations, I can call to mind; whether they are exactly according to verity.
Wednesday night, Aug. 28. When I want books to read; yea, when I have not very good books, not to spend time in reading them, but in reading the Scriptures, in perusing resolutions, reflections, etc., in writing on types of the Scripture, and other things, in studying the languages, and in spending more time in private duties. To do this, when there is a prospect of wanting time for the purpose. Remember as soon as I can, to get a piece of slate, or something, whereon I can make short memorandums while traveling.
Thursday, Aug. 29. Two great Quaerenda with me now are: How shall I take advantage of all the time I spend in journeys? and how shall I make a glorious improvement of afflictions.
Saturday night, Aug. 31. The objection, which my corruptions make against doing whatever my hands find to do with my might, is, that it is a constant mortification. Let this objection by no means ever prevail.
Sabbath morning, Sept. 1. When I am violently beset with worldly thoughts, for a relief, to think of death, and the doleful circumstances of it.
Monday afternoon, Sept. 2. To help me to enter with a good grace, into religious conversation; when I am conversing on morality, to turn it over by application, exemplification or otherwise, to Christianity. Vid. Aug. 28 and Jan. 15. — At night. There is much folly, when I am quite sure I am in the right, and others are positive in contradicting me, in entering into a vehement, or long debate upon it.
Saturday, Sept. 7. Concluded no more to suffer myself to be interrupted, or diverted from important business, by those things, from which I expect, though some, yet but little profit.
Sabbath morning, Sept. 8. I have been much to blame, for expressing so much impatience for delays in journeys, and the like.
Sabbath evening, Sept. 22. To praise God, by singing Psalms in prose, and by singing forth the meditations of my heart in prose.
Monday, Sept. 23. I observe that old men seldom have any advantage of new discoveries, because they are beside the way of thinking to which they have been so long used. Resolved, if ever I live to years, that I will be impartial to hear the reasons of all pretended discoveries, and receive them if rational, how long soever I have been used to another way of thinking. My time is so short, that I have not time to perfect myself in all studies: Wherefore resolved, to omit and put off, all but the most important and needful studies.
AFTER RECEIVING MASTER'S DEGREE AT YALE
Thursday forenoon, Oct. 4, 1723. Have this day fixed and established it, that Christ Jesus has promised me faithfully, that, if I will do what is my duty, and according to the best of my prudence in the matter, that my condition in this world shall be better for me than any other condition whatever, and more to my welfare, to all eternity. And, therefore, whatever my condition shall be, I will esteem it to be such; and if I find need of faith in the matter, that I will confess it as impiety before God. Vid. Resolution 57, and June 9.
Sabbath night, Oct. 7. Have lately erred, in not allowing time enough for conversation.
Friday night, Oct. 12. I see there are some things quite contrary to the soundness and perfection of Christianity, in which almost all good men do allow themselves, and where innate corruption has an unrestrained secret vent, which they never take notice of, or think to be no hurt, or cloak under the name of virtue; which things exceedingly darken the brightness, and hide the loveliness, of Christianity. Who can understand his errors? O that I might be kept from secret faults!
Sabbath morning, Oct. 14. Narrowly to observe after what manner I act, when I am in a hurry, and to act as much so, at other times, as I can, without prejudice to the business.
Monday morning, Oct. 15. I seem to be afraid, after errors and decays, to give myself the full exercise of spiritual meditation: — Not to give way to such fears.
Thursday, Oct. 18. To follow the example of Mr. B. who, though he meets with great difficulties, yet undertakes them with a smiling countenance, as though he thought them but little; and speaks of them, as if they were very small.
Friday night, Nov. 1. When I am unfit for other business, to perfect myself in writing characters. [He probably refers to short-hand characters. See Friday, Jan. 10.]
Friday afternoon, Nov. 22. For the time to come, when I am in a lifeless frame in secret prayer, to force myself to expatiate, as if I were praying before others more than I used to do.
Tuesday forenoon, Nov. 26. It is a most evil and pernicious practice, in meditations on afflictions, to sit ruminating on the aggravations of the affliction, and reckoning up the evil, dark circumstances thereof, and dwelling long on the dark side: it doubles and trebles the affliction. And so, when speaking of them to others, to make them as bad as we can, and use our eloquence to set forth our own troubles, is to be all the while making new trouble, and feeding and pampering the old; whereas, the contrary practice, would starve our affliction. If we dwelt on the bright side of things in our thoughts, and extenuated them all that we possibly could, when speaking of them, we should think little of them ourselves, and the affliction would really, in a great measure, vanish away.
Friday night, Nov. 29. As a help to attention in social prayer, to take special care to make a particular remark, at the beginning of every petition, confession, etc.
Monday morning, Dec. 9. To observe whether I express my kind of fretting emotion, for the next three weeks.
Thursday night, Dec. 12. If, at any time, I am forced to tell others wherein I think they are somewhat to blame; in order to avoid the important evil that would otherwise ensue, not to tell it to them so, that there shall be a probability of their taking it as the effect of little, fretting, angry emotions of mind. — Vid. Aug. 28. When I do want, or am likely to want, good books, to spend time in studying mathematics, and in reviewing other kinds of old learning; to spend more time in visiting friends, in the more private duties of a pastor, in taking care of worldly business, in going abroad and other things that I may contrive.
Friday morning, Dec. 27. At the end of every month, to examine my behavior, strictly, by some chapter in the New Testament, more especially made up of rules of life. — At the end of the year, to examine my behavior by the rules of the New Testament in general, reading many chapters. It would also be convenient, some time at the end of the year, to read, for this purpose, in the book of Proverbs.
Tuesday night, Dec. 31. Concluded never to suffer, nor express any angry emotions of mind, more or less, except the honor of God calls for it in zeal for him, or to preserve myself from being trampled on.
1724. Wednesday, Jan. 1. Not to spend too much time in thinking, even of important and necessary worldly business, and to allow every thing its proportion of thought, according to its urgency and importance
Thursday night, Jan. 2. These things established. — That time gained in things of lesser importance is as much gained in things of greater; that a minute gained in times of confusion, conversation, or in a journey, is as good as a minute gained in my study, at my most retired times; and so in general that a minute gained at one time, is as good as at another.
Friday night, Jan. 3. The time and pains laid out in seeking the world, is to be proportioned to the necessity, usefulness, and importance of it, with respect to another world, together with the uncertainty of succeeding, the uncertainty of living, and of retaining; provided, that nothing that our duty enjoins, or that is amiable, be omitted, and nothing sinful or unbecoming be done for the sake of it.
Friday, Jan. 10. (After having written to a considerable extent, in shorthand, which he used, when he wished what he wrote to be effectually concealed from every one but himself, he adds the following.) Remember to act according to Pro. 12:23, A prudent man concealeth knowledge.
Monday, Jan. 20. I have been very much to blame, in that I have not been as full, and plain and downright, in my standing up for virtue and religion, when I have had fair occasion, before those who seemed to take no delight in such things. If such conversation would not be agreeable to them, I have in some degree minced the matter, that I might not displease, and might not speak right against the grain, more than I should have loved to have done with others, to whom it would be agreeable to speak directly for religion. I ought to be exceedingly bold with such persons, not talking in a melancholy strain, but in one confident and fearless, assured of the truth and excellence of the cause.
Monday, Feb. 3. Let every thing have the value now which it will have on a sick bed: and frequently, in my pursuits of whatever kind, let this question come into my mind, "How much shall I value this on my deathbed?"
Wednesday, Feb. 5. I have not, in times past, in my prayers, enough insisted on the glorifying of God in the world, on the advancement of the kingdom of Christ, the prosperity of the Church and the good of man. Determined that this objection is without weight, viz. That it is not likely that God will make great alterations in the whole world, and overturnings in kingdoms and nations, only for the prayers of one obscure person, seeing such things used to be done in answer to the united prayers of the whole church; and that if my prayers should have some influence, it would be but imperceptible and small.
Thursday, Feb. 6. More convinced than ever, of the usefulness of free, religious conversation. I find by conversing on natural philosophy, that I gain knowledge abundantly faster, and see the reasons of things much more clearly than in private study: wherefore, earnestly to seek, at all times, for religious conversation; for those, with whom I can, at all times, with profit and delight, and with freedom, so converse.
Friday, Feb. 7. Resolved, If God will assist me to it, that I will not care about things, when, upon any account, I have prospect of ill-success or adversity; and that I will not think about it any further than just to do what prudence directs to for prevention, according to Phil. 4:6, "Be careful for nothing;" to 1 Pet. 5:7, "Cast all your care upon God, for he careth for you;" and again, "Take no thought for the morrow;" and again, "Take no thought, saying, What shall I eat, and what shall I drink, and wherewithal shall I be clothed: seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you."
Saturday night, Feb. 15. I find that when eating, I cannot be convinced in the time of it, that if I should eat more, I should exceed the bounds of strict temperance, though I have had the experience of two years of the like; and yet, as soon as I have done, in three minutes I am convinced of it. But yet, when I eat again, and remember it, still while eating, I am fully convinced that I have not eaten what is but for nature, nor can I be convinced that my appetite and feeling is as it was before. It seems to me that I shall be somewhat faint if I leave off then; but when I have finished, I am convinced again, and so it is from time to time. — I have observed that more really seems to be truth, when it makes for my interest, or is, in other respects, according to my inclination, than it seems, if it be otherwise; and it seems to me, that the words in which I express it are more than the thing will properly bear. But if the thing be against my interest, the words of different import seem as much as the thing will properly bear. — Though there is some little seeming, indecorum, as if it looked like affectation, in religious conversation, as there is also in acts of kindness; yet this is to be broke through.
Tuesday, Feb. 18. Resolved, To act with sweetness and benevolence, and according to the 47th Resolution, in all bodily dispositions, — sick or well, at ease or in pain, sleepy or watchful, and not to suffer discomposure of body to discompose my mind.
Saturday, Feb. 22. I observe that there are some evil habits, which do increase and grow stronger, even in some good people, as they grow older; habits that much obscure the beauty of Christianity: some things which are according to their natural tempers, which, in some measure, prevails when they are young in Christ, and the evil disposition, having an unobserved control, the habit at last grows very strong, and commonly regulates the practice until death. By this means, old Christians are very commonly, in some respects, more unreasonable than those who are young. I am afraid of contracting such habits, particularly of grudging to give, and to do, and of procrastinating.
Sabbath, Feb. 23. I must be contented, where I have any thing strange or remarkable to tell, not to make it appear so remarkable as it is indeed; lest through the fear of this, and the desire of making a thing appear very remarkable, I should exceed the bounds of simple verity. When I am at a feast, or a meal, that very well pleases my appetite, I must not merely take care to leave off with as much of an appetite as at ordinary meals; for when there is a great variety of dishes, I may do that, after I have eaten twice as much as at other meals, is sufficient. If I act according to my resolution, I shall desire riches no otherwise, than as they are helpful to religion. But this I determine, as what is really evident from many parts of Scripture, that to fallen man, they have a greater tendency to hurt religion.
Monday, March 16. To practice this sort of self-denial, when at sometimes on fair days, I find myself more particularly disposed to regard the glories of the world, than to betake myself to the study of serious religion.
Saturday, May 23. How it comes about I know not, but I have remarked it hitherto, that at those times, when I have read the Scriptures most, I have evermore been most lively and in the best frame.
TUTOR AT YALE COLLEGE
Saturday night, June 6. This week has been a very remarkable week with me, with respect to despondencies, fears, perplexities, multitudes of cares, and distraction of mind: it being the week I came hither to New Haven, in order to entrance upon the office of Tutor of the College. I have now, abundant reason to be convinced, of the troublesomeness and vexation of the world, and that it never will be another kind of world.
Tuesday, July 7. When I am giving the relation of a thing, remember to abstain from altering either in the matter or manner of speaking, so much as that, if every one, afterwards, should alter as much, it would at last come to be properly false.
Tuesday, Sept. 2. By a sparingness in diet, and eating as much as may be, what is light and easy of digestion, I shall doubtless be able to think more clearly, and shall gain time; 1. By lengthening out my life; 2. Shall need less time for digestion, after meals; 3. Shall be able to study more closely, without injury to my health; 4. Shall need less time for sleep; 5. Shall more seldom be troubled with the headache.
Saturday night, Sept. 12. Crosses of the nature of that, which I met with this week, thrust me quite below all comforts in religion. They appear no more than vanity and stubble, especially when I meet with them so unprepared for them. I shall not be fit to encounter them, except I have a far stronger, and more permanent faith, hope and love.
Wednesday, Sept. 30. It has been a prevailing thought with me, to which I have given place in practice, that it is best sometimes to eat or drink when it will do me no good, because the hurt, that it will do me, will not be equal to the trouble of denying myself. But I have determined to suffer that thought to prevail no longer. The hurries of commencement, and diversion of the vacancy, have been the occasion of my sinking so exceedingly, as in the three last weeks.
Monday, Oct. 5. I believe it is a good way, when prone to unprofitable thoughts, to deny myself and break off my thoughts, by keeping diligently to my study, that they may not have time to operate to work me to such a listless frame. I am apt to think it a good way, when I am indisposed to reading and study, to read of my own remarks, the fruit of my study in divinity, etc., to set me agoing again.
Friday, Nov. 6. Felt sensibly, somewhat of that trust and affiance, in Christ, and with delight committing of my soul to him, of which our divines used to speak, and about which, I have been somewhat in doubt.
Tuesday, Nov. 10. To mark all that I say in conversation, merely to beget in others, a good opinion of myself, and examine it.
Sabbath, Nov. 15. Determined, when I am indisposed to prayer, always to premeditate what to pray for; and that it is better that the prayer should be of almost any shortness, than that my mind should be almost continually off from what I say.
Sabbath, Nov. 22. Considering that bystanders always copy some faults, which we do not see ourselves, or of which, at least, we are not so fully sensible; and that there are many secret workings of corruption, which escape our sight, and of which, others only are sensible: Resolved, therefore, that I will, if I can by any convenient means, learn what faults others find in me, or what things they see in me, that appear any way blame-worthy, unlovely, or unbecoming.
Friday, Feb. 12, 1725. The very thing I now want, to give me a clearer and more immediate view of the perfections and glory of God, is as clear a knowledge of the manner of God's exerting himself with respect to spirits and mind, as I have of his operations concerning matter and bodies.
Tuesday, Feb. 16. A virtue, which I need in a higher degree, to give a beauty and luster to my behavior, is gentleness. If I had more of an air of gentleness, I should be much mended.
Friday, May 21. If ever I am inclined to turn to the opinion of any other sect: Resolved, Beside the most deliberate consideration, earnest prayer, etc., privately to desire all the help that can possibly be afforded me from some of the most judicious men in the country, together with the prayers of wise and holy men, however strongly persuaded I may seem to be, that I am in the right.
Saturday, May 22. When I reprove for faults, whereby I am in any way injured, to defer, till the thing is quite over and done with; for that is the way both to reprove aright, and without the least mixture of spirit or passion, and to have reproofs effectual, and not suspected.
Friday, May 28. It seems to me, that whether I am now converted or not, I am so settled in the state I am in, that I shall go on in it all my life. But, however settled I may be, yet I will continue to pray to God, not to suffer me to be deceived about it, nor to sleep in an unsafe condition; and ever and anon, will call all into question and try myself, using for helps, some of our old divines, that God may have opportunities to answer my prayers, and the Spirit of God to show me my error, if I am in one.
Saturday night, June 6. I am sometimes in a frame so listless, that there is no other way of profitably improving time, but conversation, visiting, or recreation, or some bodily exercise. However it may be best in the first place, before resorting to either of these, to try the whole circle of my mental employments.
Nov. 16. When confined at Mr. Stiles', I think it would be of special advantage to me, with respect to my truer interest, as near as I can in my studies, to observe this rule. To let half a day's, or at most, a day's study in other things, be succeeded, by half a day's, or a day's study in Divinity.
One thing wherein I have erred, as I would be complete in all social duties, is in neglecting to write letters to friends. And I would be forewarned of the danger of neglecting to visit my friends and relations, when we are parted.
When one suppresses thoughts that tend to divert the run of the mind's operations from religion, whether they are melancholy, or anxious, or passionate, or any others; there is this good effect of it, that it keeps the mind in its freedom. Those thoughts are stopped in the beginning, that would have set the mind agoing in that stream.
There are a great many exercises that, for the present, seem not to help, but rather impede religious meditation and affections, the fruit of which is reaped afterwards, and is of far greater worth than what is lost; for thereby the mind is only for the present diverted; but what is attained is, upon occasion, of use for the whole lifetime.
AT NORTHAMPTON PASTORATE
Sept. 26, 1726. 'Tis just about three years, that I have been for the most part in a low, sunk estate and condition, miserably senseless to what I used to be about spiritual things. 'Twas three years ago, the week before commencement; just about the same time this year, I began to be somewhat as I used to be.
Jan. 1728. I think Christ has recommended rising early in the morning, by his rising from the grave very early.
Jan. 22, 1734. I judge that it is best, when I am in a good frame for divine contemplation, or engaged in reading the Scriptures, or any study of divine subjects that, ordinarily, I will not be interrupted by going to dinner, but will forego my dinner rather than be broke off.
April 4, 1735. When at any time, I have a sense of any divine thing, then to turn it in my thoughts, to a practical improvement. As for instance, when I am in my mind, on some argument for the truth of religion, the reality of a future state, and the like, then to think with myself, how safely I may venture to sell all, for a future good. So when, at any time, I have a more than ordinary sense of the glory of the saints in another world; to think how well it is worth my while to deny myself, and to sell all that I have for this glory, etc.
May 18. My mind at present is never to suffer my thoughts and meditations, at all to ruminate.
June 11. To set apart days of meditation on particular subjects; as sometimes, to set apart a day for the consideration of the greatness of my sins; at another, to consider the dreadfulness and certainty of the future misery of ungodly men; at another, the truth and certainty of religion; and so, of the great future things promised and threatened in the Scriptures.