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little hope from human wisdom and power alone; he had read so many well attested instances, in which God had conferred singular honour and favours upon his praying servants, and found his own spirit so much improved and animated by devotion, that he resolved to continue instant in prayer. I have reason to believe, from some hints in his diary, that besides his stated devotion, he seldom set himself to study, compose, or write letters of importance, without previous prayer. Before he went to visit persons, whom he suspected to be in an unconverted state, who were dangerously ill, in spiritual distress, or mourning the death of their friends, he asked wisdom of God to conduct his conversation and prayers with them, in the most useful manner. It was observed above, that in early life, before he went journies, he spent some time in serious reflection, on the various scenes, labours, temptations and dangers, through which he was likely to pass, and spread them before the Lord; and after his return, reviewed the several stages and events of his journies with suitable devotion. To this may be added, that when he travelled with any of his pupils, or intimate friends, he was solicitous that his conversation with them might be edifying. He endeavoured to lead them into pious, useful reflections on the various objects and occurrences of their journey. To prevent the stagnation of good discourse, each of them mentioned some text of scripture at their entrance on every particular stage, which was to be the subject of their meditation and discourse by the way. Once, before he entered on a long journey of several weeks, he drew up a short plan, how a journey might be religiously conducted; and communicated it to his fellow travellers, Thus was he desirous to lead them forward with him in his journey to the heavenly world. It hath Likewise been observed above, that he kept the returns of his birth day, and new year's day with peculiar solemnity; and I will now insert some specimens of his reflections and resolutions on those days.
"June 26, 1728, Since God hath been pleased to spare my life, and bring me to another remarkable period of it, I do hereby, with the greatest solemnity, 1. Acknowledge his goodness in continuing it to me. It hath been conducted and supported by wonderful mercy; and I leave it upon record to his glory, that hitherto the Lord, my God, hath helped me. 2. I confess my guilt and unworthiness, which I have been recollecting and lamenting before him, and humbly cast myself
on his forgiving mercy, and on the powerful mediation of my blessed Redeemer, as the only things, which can give me foundation of hope. 3. I would thankfully and chearfully renew the dedication of myself to his service, and would hambly resolve, by his gracious assistance, to spend the next year of my life in more ardent devotion, in more important and resolute studies, in more vigorous attempts for public usefulness, than I have ever yet known. 4. I humbly refer to him the disposal of all events; particularly to determine as to the continuance of my life. I think, if I have any reason to desire it may be lengthened out, next to securing brighter evidences of my title to eternal glory by my faithful obedience, it is, that I may be able to do good in the world. O my God, accept of my humiliations and my vows. Grant me thy favourable presence in life and death, and chuse for me what thou pleasest; for I am fully determined, that, from this time forward, I will have no will of my own in opposition to thine.”
On another of these days, having laid down a plan of study, business and improvement of time, he adds, "I am far from imagining that by such a manner of spending my time, attended with the most diligent care to avoid all kinds of evil, both of flesh and spirit, I can recommend myself to the divine favour, and procure the pardon of my sins, without the mercy of God and the blood of the Redeemer; but by such a conduct I hope I may glorify him, promote my usefulness in life and so secure the tranquillity of my own soul; and, if I am enabled to do this, I think I need not be very solicitous about any events of life which may befall me; but may chearfully resign myself to that gracious providence, which I have found hitherto so ready to take care of me. O God, thou art witness, this day is witness, and this paper is witness, that I am heartily grieved for all the instances, in which I have offended thee, and that it is my sincere desire to return to thee, in the way of repentance, faith and holy obedience. May I be kept near to thee, from the beginning of the year, to the end thereof, if thy providence sees fit to continue my life! May I from this remarkable day date the most happy change in my temper and behaviour, that I may be as active in the business of life, as I have been negligent and remiss; and do as much to please and serve thee, as I have in time past, done to offend thee! Or if I die, may I die to the Lord, and get above this body of sin and death, which has long given me such painful exercise!” His reflections on another birth-day are these: "Having, through amazing mercy, completed another year of my
life, I have been recollecting the goodness of my God to How shall I excite, how shall I express, the sense I ought to have of it! Blessed, for ever blessed, be the name of the Lord! In his name would I rejoice all the day long, and set up my banners with unutterable pleasure. I have been praising him, and would praise him, that he hath made me a man, a christian, a minister, a tutor, an author; and hath heaped numberless blessings upon me under these characters, and as a husband, a father, and a friend also. Late mercies, by no means to be forgotten, are great assistance in my ministry, wonderful communications of light and love to my soul, especially in some instances of secret meditation; carrying me on thus far with my Family Expositor; raising up some hopeful youths, who are now just appearing in the world; adding to me the friendship of some excellent persons, and giving me to see the prosperity of his gospel, in some remarkable instances, both at home and abroad. These things impress my heart. Oh, may they melt it more and more in love! My God, I own thy goodness. I record it, that I am thine. Thou, that knowest my heart, knowest, that thy service is the delight of my days. Eternal praises to thy name for it! My times are in thy hand. To thee do I chearfully refer it, whether I shall end the year now begun, in thy service on earth, or in thy presence in heaven. I leave my soul with thee through Christ, and having done that, find no difficulty in committing all my temporal interests to thee, and intrusting thee with all my relative concerns."
"Jan. 1, 1726-7. Last night I was seriously reflecting upon the year which I am come to the conclusion of; and I now look forward to the year which I am entered upon. I see many necessities, which can only be supplied by divine bounty; - many duties which I shall be utterly unable to perform without the communications of divine grace; and many uncertain events, which I cannot make myself easy about, any other way than by referring them to the divine care. Nothing therefore can be more reasonable, thar to renew the dedication of myself to the service of God this morning. Accordingly I have done it in secret prayer; and, in order to confirm the impression of it upon my heart, I now repeat it by the writing of my hand. To thee, O glorious and eternal God, the creator, preserver, and ruler of all; to thee, the invariable Father of lights, and overflowing fountain of all good, do I devote my unworthy soul. In dependence on the atonement X
and intercession of thy dear son, and on the powerful assistance of thine almighty grace, I humbly renew my covenant with thee. I call thee to record upon my soul, that I am grieved and ashamed to think how wretchedly I have been alienated from thee; and I do now seriously determine, that I will endeavour in every action of life, to approve myself in thy sight, and to behave as thy faithful servant. To thee do I consecrate all that I am, and have, all my time, worldly possessions, the powers of my soul and the members of my body. And, because it may be of use to specify some particulars comprehended in this general engagement, I would especially resolve, to be more careful in the improvement of my time, to redeem it from unnecessary sleep, useless visits, impertinent discourse, idle speculations, negligence in business, excessive recreations; and to watch over my actions, words, thoughts, and affections, answerably to these engagements. I will endeavour to conquer pride in my heart, and with the most vigorous resolution, restrain all the appearances of it. I will endeavour to behave with constant kindness and complaisance, prudence and gravity. I will labour after greater ardour in devotion, and use all proper means to attain it; especially preparing my heart, praying for thy spirit, keeping up ejaculatory prayer and using the assistance of scripture. I will be watchful for opportunities of doing good both to the bodies and souls of my fellow-creatures, and consider all my time and worldly possessions as given me principally for this purpose. In subservience to these general resolutions, I would particularly engage, to maintain a constant dependence on thy grace and frequent self-examination; to record remarkable appearances, and to recover from the first declension. I beg that thy grace may enable me to fulfil these engagements. All the unknown events of the year, do I put into thy hands; leaving it to thee to determine, whether I shall be healthy or sick, rich or poor, honoured or dishonoured, surrounded with friends or deprived of them; successful in business, or incapable of it, or disappointed in it; in a word, whether I shall live or die; only let me be thy servant. Whithersoever thou leadest, I will follow; whatsoever thou takest, I will resign; whatsoever thou layest upon me, I will patiently bear. Only let thy grace be sufficient for me; and then call me to what services or sufferings thou pleasest."
"Jan. 1, 1727-8. I have been reviewing and renewing the surrender I made of myself to God, this day twelve-month. I have formed my rules for devotion, self-examination and a
pious life in a more particular manner, than I had before done; and I do by this writing, solemnly renew my covenant with God; and determine, by his grace, that I will maintain, as far as possible, a constant sense of God upon my soul, from day to day and hour to hour; and that not a day nor an hour of this new year shall be 'entirely thrown away. I know not what this year may bring forth. Thou mayest perhaps remove me to some settlement, where I shall have greater opportunities of service; and to this prospect, I would give up all my delightful enjoyments here. On the other hand, if thou shalt disappoint any of the schemes that are or may be formed for this purpose, I shall chearfully continue here, or follow wherever thy providence shall lead; though it be ever so contrary to my present views and inclinations. Nay, shouldst thou see fit to remove me by death this year, as thou hast many of my friends the last, I will by no means dispute thy wise and gracious disposal. Behold, thy servant is in thy hand; do with me as seemeth good in thy sight. Only secure me from falling into sin, and violating my engagements. Keep me thy faithful servant, and chuse, as thou pleasest, in what condition, in what place, in what world, I shall serve thee."
"Jan. 1733-4. I took some time for extraordinary meditation and prayer this day; in which I endeavoured to consider myself as the steward of God, and shortly to give an account; the subject I had been insisting upon in public. I charged myself before him, with the many talents I have received from his hands, and humbled myself before him for the misimprovement of them. Particularly, the powers of my soul; that my understanding hath been no more cultivated, no more employed in the contemplation of the highest and noblest object; that my memory hath been stored with so many trifles; that my affections have been fixed too fondly upon things seen and temporal, but cold and dead to my Father and God, to my dear Redeemer and to that eternal state of glory, which is so well worthy my most ardent and vigorous pursuit; that my conscience hath been no more reverenced and consulted, as the vicegerent of God, and that the dictates of it have been in so many instances over-borne. As to my bodily powers, I humbled myself before God, that my senses have not been more the means of leading me to admire that God, who formed the organs in so surprising a manner and hath so