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Tuesday 10, I met the Stewards of the Lincolnshire Societies, who gave us an agreeable account of the work of God in every place.
Wednesday 11, I preached in a meadow at Misterton, to a larger congregation than ever met there before.
Thursday 12, At eight I preached at Clayworth, and at Rotherham in the evening. Here likewise was such a number of people assembled, as was never before seen in that town. Is not this one clear proof of the hand of God, that although the novelty of this preaching is over, yet the people flock to hear it in every place, far more than when it was a new thing?
Friday 13, In the evening I preached at Sheffield. În the morning I examined the members of the Society, and was agreeably surprised to find, that though none had visited them, since I did it myself, two years ago, yet they were rather increased than diminished in number, and many of them growing in grace.
Monday 16, I preached in the evening at Nottingham, and on Thursday afternoon reached London. From a deep sense of the amazing work which God has of late years wrought in England, I preached in the evening on those words, (Psalm cxlvii. 20.) He hath not dealt so with any nation : no, not even with Scotland or New-England. In both these God has indeed made bare his arm; yet not in so astonishing a manner as among us.
This must appear to all who impartially consider, 1, The number of persons on whom God has wrought : 2, The swiftness of his work in many, both convinced and truly converted in a few days : 3, The depth of it in most of these, changing the heart, as well as the whole conversation : 4, The clearness of it, enabling them boldly to say, “ Thou hast loved me, thou hast given thyself for me. 5, The continuance of it. God has wrought in Scotland and New-England, at several times, for some weeks or months together. But among us, he has wrought for nearly eighteen years together, without any observable intermission. Above all, let it be remarked, that a considerable number of the regular Clergy were en
gaged in that great work in Scotland ; and in New-England, above a hundred, perhaps, as eminent as any in the whole province, not only for piety, but also for abilities both natural and acquired: whereas in England there were only two or three inconsiderable Clergymen, with a few, young, raw, unlettered men ; and these opposed by well nigh all the Clergy, as well as Laity in the nation. He that remarks this must needs own, both that this is a work of God; and that he hath not wrought so in any other nation.
Monday 23, I was considering, what could be the reasons why the hand of the Lord ( who does nothing without a cause ) is almost entirely stayed in Scotland, and in a great measure in New-England ? It does not become us to judge peremptorily : but perhaps some of them may be these : 1, Many of them became wise in their own eyes : they seemed to think, they were the men, and there were none like them. And hence they refused God the liberty of sending by whom he would send, and required him to work by men of learning, or not at all : 2, Many of them were bigots, immoderately attached either to their own opinions or mode of worship. Mr. Edwards bimself was not clear of this. But the Scoteh bigots were beyond all others; placing Arminianism ( so called) on a level with Deism, and the Church of England with that of Rome. Hence they not only suffered in themselves and their brethren a bitter zeal, but applauded themselves therein : in shewing the same spirit against all who differed from them, as the Papists did against our forefathers : 3, With pride, bitterness, and bigotry, self-indulgence was joined : self-denial was little taught and practised. It is well if some of them did not despise, or even condemn all self-denial in things indifferent, as in apparel or food, as nearly allied to Popery. No marvel then that the Spirit of God was grieved. Let us profit by their example.
Tuesday 24, Goserving in that valuable book, Mr. Gillies's Historical Collections, the custom of Christian congregations in all ages, to sét apart seasons of solemn thanksgiving; I was amazed and ashamed that we had never done this, after all the blessings we had received. And
And many to whom I mentioned it, gladly agreed to set apart a day for that purpose.
Monday 30, I set out for Norwich, and came thither the next evening. As a large congregation was waiting, I could not but preach, though weary enough. The two following days, I spoke to each member of the Society : and on Fri. day, July 4, took horse again, though how I should ride five miles, I knew not. But God so strengthened both man and beast, that I reached Bury the same night, and London the next, far less tired, than when I set out from Norwich.
Monday 7, Was our first day of solemn thanksgiving, for the numberless spiritual blessings we have received. And I believe it was a day which will not soon be forgotten.
Thursday 17, One spent the evening with us, who is accounted both a sensible and a religious man. What a proof of the fall! Even with all the advantages of a liberal education, this person, I will be bold to say, knows just as much of heart-religion, of Scriptural Christianity, the religion of love, as a child three years old of Algebra. How much then may we suppose a Turk or Heathen to know? Hardly more : Perhaps just as much.
Tuesday 22, To oblige a friendly gentlewoman I was a witness to her Will, wherein she bequeathed part of her estate to charitable uses ; and part, during his natural life, to her dog Toby.
I suppose, though she should die within the year, her legacy to Toby may stand good ; but that to the poor is null and void, by the statute of Mortmain !
Sunday 27, I buried the body of Ephraim Bonce a pattern to all that believed. But from the time he left off fasting and universal self-denial, in which none was more exemplary for some years, he sunk lower and lower, until he had neither the power, nor the form of religion left. In the beginning of his illness he was in black despair. But much prayer was made for him. Toward the close of it, it pleased God to restore to him the light of his countenance. So, I trust, his backsliding only cost him his life : And he may yet live with God for ever.
I was much affected about this time by a letter sent from a gentleman in Virginia. Part of it runs thus, “ The poor negro slaves here never heard of Jesus or his religion, till they arrived at the land of their slavery in America, whom their masters generally neglect, as though immortality was not the privilege of their souls in common with their own. These poor Africans are the principal objects of my compassion, and I think the most proper subject of your charity.
“ The inhabitants of Virginia are computed to be about 300,000 ; and the one half of them are supposed to be negroes. The number of these who attend on my ministry at particular times, is uncertain. But I think there are about three hundred, who give a stated attendance. And never have I been so much struck with the appearance of an assembly, as when I have glanced my eye on one part of the house, adorned (so it appeared to me) with so many black countenances, eagerly attentive to every word they heard, and some of them covered with tears. A considerable number of them, aboựt a hundred, have been baptized, after they had been fully instructed in the great truths of religion, and had evidenced their sense of them by a life of the strictest virtue. As they are not sufficiently polished to dissemble with a good grace, they express the sensations of their hearts, so much in the language of simple nature, and with such genuine indications of artless sincerity, that it is impossible to suspect their professions, especially when attended with a suitable behaviour.
66 Mr. Todd, minister of the next congregation, has nearly the same number under his care. And several of them also, he informs me, discover the same seriousness. Indeed there are multitudes of them in various parts, who are eagerly desirous of instruction. They have generally very little help to read : and yet to my agreeable surprise, sundry of them, by dint of application, in their very few
leisure hours, have made such a progress, that they are able to read their Bible, or a plain author, very intelligibly. But few of their masters will be at the expence of furnishing them with books. I have supplied them to the utmost of my ability. They are exceedingly delighted with Watts's songs. And I cannot but observe that the negroes, aboveall of the human species I ever knew, have the nicest ear for music. They have a kind of ecstatic delight in psalmody: Nor are there any books they so soon learn, or take so much pleasure in, as those used in that heavenly part of divine worship.”
Sunday, August 3, I dined with one who lived for many years with one of the most celebrated beauties in Europe. She was also proud, vain, and nice, to a very uncommon degree. But see the end! After a painful and nauseous disease, she rotted away above ground; and was so offensive for many days before she died, that scarcely any could bear to stay in the room.
Monday 4, Hearing my old friend, Mr. HS, was now a beggar and forsaken of all, I called (after a separation of sixteen years) at his lodgings, to offer him any service in my power. I was pleasingly surprised to find him reading the Bible! But still I am afraid all is not right. For the hand of God seems to be upon him still ; and his mind is so burried, he can settle to nothing. O what a pattern of holiness and stability of mind, was this very man, till he was stolen away by the men whose words are smoother than oil. But were they not to him Sery swords 2
Wednesday 6, I mentioned to the congregation another mean of increasing serious religion, which had been free quently practised by our forefathers, and attended with eminent blessings : Namely, the joining in a covenant to serve God, with all our heart and with all our soul. I explained this for several mornings following: And on Friday, many of us kept a fast unto the Lord, beseeching bim to give us wisdom and strength, to promise unto the Lord our God and keep it.