February 3rd.—Most unexpectedly favored with a call from Mr. S—. The Lord condescend to fix deeply in my soul his most encouraging conversation. May the Holy Remembrancer bring it back with power, in so far as it was God's truth.
February 11th.—Since Mr. S.— called upon me, my soul has been exceedingly exercised. His coming was unsought and unexpected, having had no communication with him for more than two years. His converse was addressed to me, and as much in point to my state as though in the habit of frequent fellowship. His aim was to show that I am looking more at my faith than its object—Christ; and am more anxious about frames and feelings than to be established in the knowledge of Him from whom all spiritual gifts come, with much more which, to my sorrow, I have forgotten. Oh, how blessedly did he discourse on the privileges of a believer in Jesus, and how much do I long to realize that living by faith which he described. Here is the question, Did the Lord send him with a message to me? If so, may the Holy Spirit open my heart to receive it. Was what he advanced the truth of God? If so, may the Holy Spirit seal it upon my heart. Is living upon Christ above and in all frames attainable? and is this the true life of faith? If so, the Lord bring me to it, in spite of sin, Satan, and myself.
But, then, most of the Christians I know, though more experienced than myself, seem to think we cannot properly realize interest in Christ when under desertion, temptation, the power of indwelling sin, or a sense of fresh-contracted guilt; and that being influenced by feeling produces the closest walking with God, the most tender conscience, and the greatest fear of sinning. Now this variety of opinion in the Lord's children exceedingly perplexes me, because they each point to the Bible, and there do seem passages to favor both. I have been much tossed about in this matter, the last three or four years, and was just lately leaving it more, desiring the Lord to lead me as would most promote His glory, and my close walking with Him, though certainly inclining to think the doubting path the most safe and humble. I am now, however, on the search again to know the Lord's mind; may He condescend to teach me, and allow me not to be deceived by Satan, unbelief, or creature opinion.*
* This page was endorsed, under date July 1839: "Oh that dear Mr. S— knew what I am now enjoying! It was a true report he brought of the land of promise, and now my feet have reached it, my eyes see it, and my mouth tastes its milk and honey."
February 18th.—Encouraged considerably to believe in and on the dear Lord Jesus as my Savior, because I think if I were not interested in Him, I should not have been brought to hang upon Him the whole weight of my soul's salvation. If this is the work of the Holy Spirit, may it be confirmed; if a fleshy confidence, may the Lord in mercy knock it out of me—cost me what it may.
February 26th.—Privileged yesterday with a most blessed assurance of my interest in the person and work of Jesus, and such confidence of my eternal security in Him, that I could sing with Toplady—
"More happy—but not more secure,
I desire to bless the Lord for this high favor, though last night and this morning, the enemy, together with my own unbelief, have thrust sore at me. The Lord enable me to trust firmly in Him, even though He hides His face.
February 28th.—Yesterday morning was favored to taste the joys of salvation by Jesus, and triumph in Him as my portion. But have since been sorely buffeted by Satan and unbelief, who join in telling me it is a fleshly faith which I am persuading myself into, and not the work of the Holy Spirit. These things are most bitter and trying—but still the Foundation is sure, and I trust I am fixed on it, and shall, to the confusion of my enemies, be made more than conqueror through the blood of the Lamb!
March 22nd.—I am much perplexed by the different opinions of real Christians—some urging to look to and trust in Jesus, without regard to feeling, and declaring this the way to stability and comfort. And others are continually directing me to what is felt within as a ground of comfort, and condemning the faith of the former as presumptuous. May the Holy Spirit be my Teacher! I desire to look to Him more constantly, and to pray Him to carry on His own work in my soul with power—let who will oppose. Afresh I fall helpless and ignorant on Jesus for salvation; and will He cast me out? Ah! no, no! "Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out!" "Lord, increase my faith."
March 25th, Sabbath.—This day last month, I was favored to mount upon the high places, and, while I sat in the house of God, to triumph in Him as the God of my salvation, rejoicing with exceeding joy to realize my interest in the person and work of Jesus, so that I thought I was keeping a Christmas Day in my soul, seeming to realize there the birth of Jesus as my Savior. How different this morning! I sat under the Word cold and insensible, feeling fully what I am in myself, and proving afresh that in "my flesh dwells no good thing." In this sad state I fly to Jesus as my only refuge. I expect to sit down at His table today. Oh that the depth of my sin and misery may be overcome by His rich grace, that with Mary I may weep at His dear feet, and love much, having much forgiven.
May 18th.—Most exceedingly distressed by my sins, and lately have been much fearing that I must be wrong, because of my unfruitfulness. I feel the need of Jesus's precious blood every hour—but it has seemed to me like esteeming it a light thing to be making such constant application, and yet again constantly defiling myself. May the dear sacred Spirit teach me out of His own Word, for I am in much confusion, and feel afraid of trusting any human author. I want a supply from the Fountain!
June 10th.—Since Mr. S— called upon me, I have been much desiring the jubilee trumpet to be sounded in my soul—that is, I long to be brought into Gospel liberty. I believe some of the Lord's people are favored with it. But, for myself, I only seem to see it at a distance. Conversing with a minister on that subject which is my daily grief and perplexity—indwelling sin and its activity—he said, "What do you think of sanctification?" Having told him, he asked, "Do you think it has anything to do with the flesh?" I replied, "To subdue and mortify;" but he rejoined, "Do you expect the flesh made holy?" "Not in my judgment," I answered; "but I really begin to think I am expecting in my experience what my judgment disallows." "I thought so," said he, "and that was the reason I asked the question; remember that that which is born of the flesh is flesh—and ever will be!" He then showed that the believer's perfection is in Christ; that while in the body we shall never be free from sin. But while groaning on account of it, we may be enabled by the Holy Spirit to recognize interest in the covenant, and deliverance through Christ, as Rom. 7:24, 25. This seems just what I want, and, if for the Divine glory, I trust it will be given. During the above conversation, my mind was forcibly struck with the conviction that I had been looking for something from and in my flesh which the Word of God does not warrant me to expect; if so, may the Holy Spirit deliver me from this error. I feel exceedingly confused, and full of ignorance. Oh that He may condescend to teach me, and lead me to look straight out of self—to a glorious Christ!*
* I do now believe that the first blast of jubilee in my soul was on February 25th, preceding this memorandum, though here I do not seem yet to have fully recognized it as such—but events have quite proved it.
August 5th.—A Mr. P— preached. Great and marvelous are the heights and depths, lengths and breadths of God in Christ, into which he seems to have entrance. My soul listens and longs, wondering much that some of the Lord's dear ministers get so into the marrow and fatness, while others are always eating the bone. But "every man in his own order." Inasmuch as the things I am now hearing are the truth of God, insomuch may I—poor, sinful, hell-deserving creature as I am—be led into them.
My soul thirsts, longs intensely—to know more of a glorious Christ, and live more upon Him, for He is the bread of God. May the Holy Spirit breathe again upon my barren heart. Most Holy Comforter, most solemnly do I entreat You, as the Teacher of Your people, to lead me more deeply into heart acquaintance with divine truth, and into communion with a Triune Jehovah, making me lose all things outward, and count them as rubbish and dross in comparison with this. Oh, let me not continue on the surface—but bring me to swim in, and take large draughts of, the water of life. If your servant's ministrations are dictated by You, stamp them on, and root them in, my soul. If not, for the sake of a precious, glorious Christ, keep me from receiving them, and from all error. Oh, come, Divine Spirit, with demonstration and power, that "my faith may not stand in the wisdom of men."
August 7th.—Mr. P— is condemned as a mere letter-preacher by some. Methinks divine power did accompany his words to my soul. May the most Holy Spirit condescend to prove it by sealing the savor afresh home with unction upon my soul; or, if not His truth, taking it quite away. I want to be Spirit-taught, Spirit-led, Spirit-fed.
August 11th, Sabbath Morning.—I heard again last evening of some condemning Mr. P— as a letter-preacher; this takes me afresh to a throne of grace, to beg that the Holy Spirit will bear witness to His own truth in my soul, and not allow me to be deceived by any false light—but rather strip me of every atom of comfort I think I have received; instead of which, I have again this morning been wonderfully favored with inflowings of light, peace, and power, showing me that Mr. P— has told a little—but not one-half of the glories of a precious Christ, the boundless love of a covenant God, the sweet communion of the dear Comforter, and the stability and security of the everlasting covenant. Oh, these are indeed soul-strengthening, establishing truths! I feel them such, and, while others are caviling, I am in secret feasting and rejoicing. May many others of the Lord's dear people, be thus favored. Perhaps some heavy trial will follow these high enjoyments. The Lord give support and submission, and make me very, very thankful for what I now taste and handle of the word of life. Ebenezer! hitherto the Lord has helped me!
August 19th.—By reason of sinful yielding to worldly care, my mind has been brought into guilt and darkness. May the Lord deliver me—He alone can. May He bestow upon me that penitent, broken heart which I desire—but cannot procure. In fact, I find I must come to Him for all—sorrow for sin, pardon for sin, cleansing from pollution, deliverance from a guilty conscience, and the renewal of peace through the application of atoning blood. Yes even a longing desire for these things must be given, or I shall lie in cold and stupid apathy. So desperate is my case—one just fit for the intervention of a glorious Christ, who, by undertaking such objects and doings all for and in them, gets much honor to His great name. May He again appear for me and to me. Ah! I do believe He will, ungrateful wretch though I am.
May the Eternal Spirit reveal His own truth in my soul, and daily establish me more in it—that I may discern things that differ. Soul-agony, horror, and bondage have been long my portion. But I do believe there is in this life a realizing of solid peace, through knowledge of saving interest in the everlasting covenant, union to Christ as a living Head, and in receiving out of His fullness all needful supplies. To this I much long to be brought. If I am wrong, may the Holy Spirit undeceive me at any cost; if right, lead me onward, onward, until grace shall be crowned with glory; and I, even I, through sovereign mercy, be brought to swim in the ocean of love to all eternity. "Perplexed—but not in despair."
October 5th.—I have just witnessed the death of a neighbor's child. I trust her end was peace. She was most conscious she was dying; she kissed her friends, and wished them all good-bye, and was constantly in prayer for mercy, which I hope she found through that dear Savior on whom she called. May the Lord sanctify the stroke to the family, and to us also. Death has come very near!
October 7th.—My mind dwells much on the death-bed scene I lately witnessed; the dear child's incessant cry of "Lord, have mercy on me," was very striking, as also the earnestness with which she once said, "I believe He will," and ejaculated, "Amen, amen, amen," to every sentence of petition which fell from those around her. I trust it was the work of the Holy Spirit on her soul, and that she is in the presence of dear Jesus. She is a beauteous corpse; never but once did I see death in so lovely a form. The Lord awaken the dear parents by this visitation. I am much distressed about my own death, fearing I should die out of Christ; or, if I am indeed built upon Him, that He shall be absent when I come to the confines of mortality. Oh, dearest Savior, increase my faith, speak comfortably to my heart now, and be with me manifestly in my last struggle. "Bochim!"['weeping' Judges 2:5]
October 30th.—Found much sweetness this morning from Isaiah 49:23, "those who put their hope in Me will not be put to shame," and Psalm 31:22, "In my alarm I had said, "I am cut off from Your sight." But You heard the sound of my pleading when I cried to You for help." The Lord be praised for these divine dewdrops. Lord, increase faith and patience.
December 3rd.—Arose this morning heavy and sin-burdened—but favored at family worship with near access, wrestling faith, and a sense of pardoning love. Wonderful! wonderful! Who is a pardoning God like You? "Truly, to the Lord our God belong forgivenesses, though I have sinned against Him." My naughty, carnal nature is very active today. What a monster of iniquity—and a monument of mercy! Surely I am, as the apostle says, am "example"--that none may despair!
This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"--and I am the worst of them! But I received mercy because of this, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate the utmost patience as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life." 1 Timothy 1:15-16
December 11th, Morning.—The former part of last night quite sleepless. "Lord, all my desire is before You, and my groaning is not hidden from You." Oh, deal not with me according to my sins—which are known to You. But condescend manifestly to appear for my deliverance. Oh, renew former mercies.
Evening.—Is it vain to expect the Lord's special guidance in matters of providence? The conversation of a Christian friend this evening seemed almost to intimate as much, and that we must be guided by circumstances. But my own experience says, the Lord does notice the most trivial of His people's affairs, by means of which He communes with them. I desire, however, still to wait, watch, and pray. I am sure I shall be no loser by that. The conversation of our friend, being an old Christian, has certainly added to my burden. But here, again, is fresh occasion to go to a footstool of mercy for teaching and relief. Few, I think, have such conflicts. I suppose they must have stronger faith. The Lord grant special mercy in the special time of need.
December 12th.—Much comforted today with views of precious Jesus, as my dear, almighty Savior, engaged to do all for and in me. Faint indeed are these glimpses compared with what I desire—but are they not pledges of more? I verily believe they are, and that, though a vile, hell-deserving sinner, I shall shout—Victory through the blood of the Lamb! and join the ransomed throng in casting at His dear feet our blood-bought crowns. Who should louder sing than I?
December 24th, Christmas Eve.—Shall I see another on earth? Why—oh, why do I wish it? Have strong reason to believe that the Lord has sent the messenger of death to begin sapping the foundation of my tabernacle, and soon I shall fall a prey to a painful and fatal disease—cancer. I am most uneasy. I feel too much clinging to life, and much shrinking from the furnace which I think is being prepared for me. May my dearest Jesus appear for me, conforming my will to His, and separating my affections more from earthly objects, to which they seem to cling faster since I have had the prospect of leaving them. No one yet knows my forebodings, or the ground of them.
I have much mystery in my outward path—contrary, most contrary, to flesh and sense. The Lord prepare me for all His will, and manifest in its development that it is all covenant love to me, though I verily believe that henceforth sorrow and suffering are my appointed portion—I mean outward. I feel inclined to name this dark place "JEHOVAH JIREH"—the Lord will provide. If prompted by the Spirit the Comforter, I am sure I shall see it fulfilled, though it may be through the destruction of all my fleshly projects. If spared to see another Christmas Eve, which I do not now expect, I think I cannot spend it in more dejection than I have done this. But, "why are you cast down, O my soul? hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him!" A little gleam darts through the gloom. Oh, yes; I hope "I shall yet praise Him."*
* The event has proved fully that this was of the Lord.