January 1st.—Today the outward cross is very heavy, and, with Jacob, we feel as if all these things were against us. Our temporal circumstances are very adverse—but "it is well." I feel so much dross that I need hot fire—dear Jesus, sit by as the Refiner, then it will not be too hot. I believe You do (though to me generally unseen) give patience, and enable us to journey on, anticipating rest above, not expecting it here.
January 14th.—The Lord knows how to put a nail in the right place in the process of flesh crucifixion; namely, through some carnal affection that is growing too strong! It will be inexpressibly painful to the flesh—but it is possible for the spirit to bow in submission, and see that it is in answer to prayer, while the flesh is struggling and suffering.
February 23rd.—Lord, appear for us, keep us from our own spirit, and direct us by Yours. Can it be so, that in this large town we are in, the midst of churches and chapels--and yet nowhere can we hear profitably? If it is from a captious, critical spirit, condescend, Lord, to convince us of it, and humble us for it. But if, as we think, the preaching is not sufficiently in the simplicity of the Gospel, and unaccompanied by the demonstration of the Spirit, condescend to hasten the dawn of a brighter day; and, in the meantime, favor us with the spirit of fervent supplication on this behalf.
April 17th.—I can say with David, "it is good for me that I have been afflicted," and I desire to record the faithfulness of my God with thanksgiving, for He has been mindful of my low estate, and visited me with His reviving mercy. "Bless the Lord, O my soul!" Trust Him evermore; walk in His strength; be willing to be nothing, that Christ may be all in all; and then will you find settled peace. But, oh, this being nothing--we take much discipline to bring us to it in reality; much emptying from vessel to vessel, much afflicting, much purging. How much have I had, and yet how self rises; and how do I seek something to glory in, or lean upon, beside Christ. Dear Jesus, bring me more and more into the simplicity of the Gospel, and let me lean more and more upon You.
May 4th.—I cannot describe the experiences of my mind; surely none of the Lord's people feel as I do. The greatness of Jehovah and my own insignificance contrasted, overwhelm me; and yet to Him alone, through Christ Jesus, can I go. I have no other refuge. "Out of the depths do I cry unto You, O Lord." "Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name." But still enable me patiently to endure temptations, and the hidings of Your face, because I have sinned against You.
May 6th.—My mind is relieved of its heavy burden by reading this evening 1 Cor. 1:18 to the end, from which I was led blessedly to see that Christ crucified was, indeed, the power and wisdom of God to those who believe. The preaching of the cross is to those who perish foolishness. How clear it is, that natural wisdom cannot understand the things of God; and wherever carnal wisdom exalts itself in the mind--it brings darkness, confusion, and distress. "Bless the Lord, O my soul," for light again shining on my path.
May 10th, Sabbath.—"Bless the Lord, O my soul," for a throne of grace, and for the access with which you have been favored to approach it this afternoon. Sweet indeed are the moments when enabled by the Eternal Spirit to pour out our soul in prayer and praise. "Oh, for a heart to praise my God" for this privilege of prayer.
June 25th.—I have been favored with much enjoyment under the preached Word. But, alas! after the sermon I have returned to my own sad place, and still carry my burden of unbelief and sin; my heart is very heavy, and I wonder how I could hear such truths, and not be comforted. All seemed to rejoice but me. But why do I wonder? I am sure the power must be of God, and not of man; and, without the weight taken off my soul by the Eternal Spirit, human efforts will avail nothing. May I then use the means in simple dependence on His blessing.
July 5th.—A dark, unbelieving, infidel heart; surely I am not born again, and have no part in the matter. To describe my feelings is impossible. The Bible, Christianity, God, Christ, Christians, are all to my mind enveloped in confusion, obscurity, and doubt. Awful state! the Lord condescend to deliver me; and, though in the depths of distress, yes, of infidelity, I must cry to Him as my only Refuge.
[Reader, mark the depths down into which some of the Lord's hidden ones have to descend, in order that thereafter they may have to testify, in common with the Psalmist—yes, and with the Psalmist's Lord too—"He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God."]
July 13th.—The sermon, last evening, was much blessed to my soul; I am now sure there is a heaven, a covenant God, a precious Savior, and a comforting, teaching Spirit. Oh, what a relief! Hope has again shed a ray or two on my path; and there seems a possibility I may yet see that good land. Ebenezer!
August 22nd.—From the various opinions and sentiments of people whom I believe to be Christians, added to my own ignorance and darkness--my mind has fallen into a most distressing state of confusion and perplexity. Never did I more feel the need of Divine teaching. I long for Jesus to say to me as He did to the disciples, "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom." May the Eternal Spirit be my Instructor. He alone teaches to profit, because He alone has access to the heart.
October 4th.—Crucifixion of the flesh and deadness to the world is what I pray for. But, when the Lord puts his hand to this work by embittering my enjoyments, putting quite out of my reach what I most anxiously wish for, keeping my purse in His own care, giving me enough only for my present needs, not desires, then my heart rebels, and my case seems hard; and I wonder why I am thus dealt with, thinking it impossible the Lord can intend my good.
November 8th, Sabbath.—Much deadness of soul lately, and much discovery of my extreme ignorance in Divine things. I long exceedingly for the Holy Spirit's teaching. I am sure He alone can reveal Jesus in my soul. To have the understanding informed will not satisfy. I want to feed upon Christ, to live upon Christ, to grow up into Christ, and to be rooted in Christ, esteeming all things but rubbish and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Him; instead of which, day after day passes, and I seem encrusted with earth and enveloped in carnality. I feel not this morning the spirit of the Sabbath. May the Lord come suddenly to His temple.
December 20th.—I have for the last two days welcomed bodily affliction, because by it the awful corruption of my nature seemed kept down. The past week has been a week of sin, temptation, and severe exercise, such as I could describe to no mortal. And as to my own feelings, my way has been hidden from the Lord, except as He has viewed it in a way of judgment. Sometimes I have felt, that though I may cry and shout, He has shut out my prayer from Him. And at other times, have had no inclination to approach the mercy-seat.
I fall at Your feet, O Immanuel--loathsome, corrupt, and abominable, crying for free, unmerited mercy. I come to You, O Almighty Spirit, begging for the sake of, and through, what Jesus has done and suffered, that You would be my Teacher, and, whatever it may cost--lead me into the truth, and reveal Christ in my soul the hope of glory. Before the Father, I fall self-condemned, having nothing to say why sentence should not be executed upon me—but that He so loved the world that He gave His own dear son to die for sinners (of whom I am the very chief), to whom, I pray Him, to look for a sacrifice to atone for my sins, and a perfect righteousness to cover my guilty soul, that so He may be well pleased with ME for His righteousness sake.
When will the day dawn and the shadows flee away? Lord, make me thankful for a faithful, searching ministry, and keep me from overestimating the instrument.