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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.
Thursday, Nov. 26. It is a most evil and pernicious practice in meditating on our afflictions, to ruminate on the aggravations of the affliction, and reckon up the evil circumstances thereof, dwelling long on the dark side ; it doubles and trebles the affliction. And so, when speak. ing of them to others as bad as we can, and use our eloquence to set forth our own troubles, we thus are all the while making new trouble, and feeding the old; whereas the contrary practice would starve our afflictions. If we dwelt on the light side of things in our thoughts, and extenuated them all that we possibly could when speaking of them, we should then think little of them ourselves; and the affliction would really, in a great measure, yanish away.
Thursday night, Dec. 12. If at any time I am forced to tell persons of that wherein I think they are sometimes to blame; for avoiding the important evil that would otherwise ensue, resolved not to tell it them in such a manner, that there should be a probability of their taking it as the effect of little, fretting, angry emotions of mind.
Dec. 31, at night. 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.
Wednesday, Jan. 1, 1724. Not to spend too much time in thinking even of important and necessary worldly business. To allow every thing its proportion of thought according to its urgency and importance.
Friday Jan. 10. [After short-hand notes) Remember to act according to Prov. xii. 23. A prudent man concealeth knowledge.
Monday, Feb. 3. Let every thing have the value now, that it will have on a sick-bed ; and frequently in my pursuits of whatever kind, let this come into my mind : “How much shall I value this on my deathbed ?”
Wednesday, Feb. 5. Have not in time past, in my prayers, insisted enough upon glorifying God in the world, and the advancement of the kingdom of Christ, the prosperity of the church, and the good of men. 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 earnest prayers of the whole church; and if my prayers should have some infuence, it would be but imperceptible and small."
Thursday, Feb. 6. More convinced than ever of the usefulness of religious conversation. I find by conversing on natural philosophy, I gain knowledge abundantly faster, and see the reasons of things much clearer, than in private study. Wherefore, resolved earnestly to seek at all times for religious conversation, and for those persons that I can with profit, delight, and freedom so converse with.
Sabbath day, Feb. 23. If I act according to my resolution, I shall desire riches no otherwise than as they are helpful to religion. But this 1 determine, as what is really evident from many parts of Scripture, that to fallen man they have a greater tendency to hurt 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.
Saturday night, June 6. This has been a remarkable week with me, with respect to despondencies, fears, perplexities, muļtitudes of cares and distraction of thought; 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 perpetual vexation of the world.
Tuesday, July 7. When I am giving the relation of a thing, let me abstain from altering, either in the matter or manner of speaking, so much, as that if every one afterward should alter as much, it would at ast come to be properly false.
Tuesday, Sept. 22. By a sparing diet, and eating what is light and easy of digestion, I shall doubtless be able to think more clearly; and shall gain time, Ist, By lengthening my life: 2dly, Shall need less time for digestion after meals; 3dly, Shall be able to study closer without wrong to my health ; 4thly, Shall need less time to sleep; 5thly, shall more seldom be troubled with the headache.
Sabbath day, Nov. 22. Considering that bystanders always espy some faults which we do not see, or at least are not so fully sensible of ourselves ; for there are many secret workings of corruption which escape our sight, and others only are sensible of; 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 blameworthy, unlovely, or unbecoming.
SECTION III. Some Account of his Conversion, Experience, and Religious Exercises,
written by himself. The foregoing extracts were written by Mr. Edwards when about twenty years of age, as appears by the dates. The judicious reader, therefore, keeping this in mind, will make proper allowance for some things which may appear like the productions of a young Christian, both as to the matter, and the manner of expression. And indeed, the whole being taken together, these apparent blemishes have their important use. For hereby all appears more natural and genuine ; while the strength of his resolution, the fervor of his mind, and a skill in discriminating divine things so seldom found even in old age, appear the more striking. A picture of human nature in its present state, though highly improved by grace, cannot be a true resemblance of the original, if it be drawn all light, and no shades. In this view we shall be forced to admire his conscientious strictness, his diligence and zeal, his deep experience in some particulars, and his accurate judgment respecting the most important parts of true religion, at so early an age. Here we have, not only the most convincing evidence of his sincerity in religion, and of his engaging in a life devoted to God in good earnest, so as to make religion his one great business; but also, through his great attention to this matter, how in many instances he acquired the judgment and experience of gray hairs.
Behold, reader, the beginning of a life so eminently holy and useful! Behold the views, the exercises, the resolutions of a man who became one of the greatest divines of his age; one who had the applause and ad
miration of America, Britain, Holland, and Germany, for his piety, judgment, and great usefulness. Behold here an excitement to the young, to devote themselves to God with great sincerity, and enter on the work of strict religion without delay, and more especially, those who are looking forward towards the work of the ministry. Behold then, ye students in divinity, our future preachers and writers, the most immediate and direct, yea, the only way to answer the good ends which you profess to seek. “Go, ye, and do likewise.”
It is to be lamented, that there is so much reason to think there are few instances of such early piety in our day. If the Protestant world abounded with young persons of this stamp; young men, preparing for the work of the ministry with such a temper, such exercises, and such resolutions, what a delightful prospect would this afford of the near approach of happier days than the church of God has ever yet seen! What pleasing hopes, that the great and merciful Head of the church was about to send forth laborers, faithful, successful laborers into his harvest; and bless his people with “pastors which shall feed them with knowledge and understanding !"
But if our youth neglect all proper improvement of the mind; are shy of seriousness and strict piety; choose to live at a distance from all ap-, pearance of it; and are given to carnal pleasures; what a gloomy prospect does this afford! If they who enter into the work of the ministry, from a gay, careless, and what may justly be called a vicious life, betake themselves to a little superficial study of divinity, and soon begin to preach; while all the external seriousness and zeal they put on, is only from wordly motives ; they being without any inward, experimental acquaintance with divine things, and even so much as any taste for true divinity; no wonder if the people perish for lack of spiritual knowledge.
But, as the best comment on the foregoing Resolutions and Diary ; and that the reader may have a more full and instructive view of Mr. Edwards's entrance on a religious life, and progress in it, as to the views and exercises of his mind; a brief account thereof is here inserted, which was found among his papers, in his own hand-writing; and which, it seems, was written near twenty years after, for his own private advantage.
“I had a variety of concerns and exercises about my soul from my childhood; but had two more remarkable seasons of awakening, before I met with that change by which I was brought to those new dispositions, and that new sense of things, that I have since had. The first time was when I was a boy, some years before I went to college, at a time of remarkable awakening in my father's congregation. I was then very much affected for many months, and concerned about the things of religion, and my soul's salvation; and was abundant in duties. I used to pray five times a day in secret, and to spend much time in religious talk with other boys; and used to meet with them to pray together. I experienced I know not what kind of delight in religion. My mind was much engaged in it, and had much self-righteous pleasure, and it was my delight to abound in religious duties. I with some of my school-mates joined together, and built a booth in a swamp, in a very retired spot, for a place of prayer. And besides, I had particular secret places of my own in the woods, where I used to retire by myself; and was from time to time much affected. My affections seemed to be lively and easily moved, and I seemed to be in my element when engaged in religious duties. And
I am ready to think, many are deceived with such affections, and such a kind of delight as I then had in religion, and mistake it for grace.
“But in process of time, my convictions and affections wore off; and I entirely lost all those affections and delights and left off secret prayer, at least as to any constant performance of it; and returned like a dog to his vomit, and went on in the ways of sin. Indeed I was at times very uneasy, especially towards the latter part of my time at college ; when it pleased God to seize me with a pleurisy, in which he brought me nigh to the grave, and shook me over the pit of hell. And yet, it was not long after my recovery, before I fell again into my old ways of sin. But God would not suffer me to go on with any quietness; I had great and violent inward struggles, till, after many conflicts with wicked inclinations, repeated resolutions, and bonds that I laid myself under by a kind of vows to God, I was brought wholly to break off all former wicked ways, and all ways of known outward sin; and to apply myself to seek salvation, and practice many religious duties; but without that kind of affection and delight which I had formerly experienced. My concern now wrought more by inward struggles and conflicts, and self-reflections. I made seeking my salvation the main business of my life. But yet, it seems to me I sought after a miserable manner; which has made me sometimes since to question, whether ever it issued in that which was saying; being ready to doubt, whether such miserable seeking ever succeeded. I was indeed brought to seek salvation in a manner that I never was before; I felt a spirit to part with all things in the world, for an interest in Christ. My concern continued and prevailed, with many exercising thoughts and inward struggles; but yet it never seemed to be proper to express that concern by the name of terror.
“From my childhood up, my mind had been full of objections against the doctrine of God's sovereignty, in choosing whom he would to eternal life, and rejecting whom he pleased ; leaving them eternally to perish, and be everlastingly tormented in hell. It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me. But I remember the time very well, when I seemed to be convinced, and fully satisfied, as to this sovereignty of God, and his justice in thus eternally disposing of men, according to his sovereign pleasure. But I never could give an account how, or by what means, I was thus convinced, not in the least imagining at the time, nor a long time after, that there was any extraordinary influence of God's Spirit in it; but only that now I saw further, and my reason apprehended the justice and reasonableness of it. However, my mind rested in it; and it put an end to all those cavils and objections. And there has been a wonderful alteration in my mind, with respect to the doctrine of God's sovereignty, from that day to this; so that I scarce ever have found so much as the rising of an objection against it, in the most absolute sense, in God's showing mercy to whom he will show mercy, and hardening whom he will. God's absolute sovereignty and justice, with respect to salvation and damnation, is what my mind seems to rest assured of, as much as of any thing that I see with iny eyes ; at least it is so at times. But I have often, since that first conviction, had quite another kind of sense of God's sovereignty than I had then. I have often since had not only a conviction, but a delightful conviction. The doctrine has very often appeared exceeding pleasant, bright, and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God. But my first conviction was not so.
“ The first instance that I remember of that sort of inward, sweet delight in God and divine things that I have lived much in since, was on reading those words, 1 Tim. i. 17, Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever, Amen. As I read the words, there came into my soul, and was as it were diffused through it, a sense of the glory of the Divine Being ; a new sense, quite different from any thing I ever experienced before. Never any words of Scripture seemed to me as these words did. I thought with myself, how excellent a Being that was, and how happy I should be, if I might enjoy that God, and be rapt up to him in heaven, and be as it were swallowed up in him forever! I kept saying, and as it were singing over these words of Scripture to myself; and went to pray to God that I might enjoy him, and prayed in a manner quite different from what I used to do; with a new sort of affection. But it never came into my thought, that there was any thing spiritual or of a saving nature, in this.
“From about that time, I began to have a new kind of apprehensions and ideas of Christ, and the work of redemption, and the glorious way of salvation by him. An inward, sweet sense of these things, at times, came into my heart; and my soul was led away in pleasant views and contemplations of them. And my mind was greatly engaged to spend my time in reading and meditating on Christ, on the beauty and excellency of his person, and the lovely way of salvation by free grace in him. I found no books so delightful to me, as those that treated of these subjects. Those words, Cant. ii. 1, used to be abundantly with me, I am the Rose of Sharon, and the Lily of the valleys. The words seemed to me sweetly to represent the loveliness and beauty of Jesus Christ. The whole book of Canticles used to be pleasant to me, and I used to be much in reading it, about that time; and found, from time to time, an inward sweetness, that would carry me away, in my contemplations. This I know not how to express otherwise, than by a calm, sweet abstraction of soul from all the concerns of this world ; and sometimes a kind of vision, or fixed ideas and imaginations, of being alone in the mountains, or some solitary wilderness, far from all mankind, sweetly conversing with Christ, and rapt and swallowed up in God. The sense I had of divine things, would often of a sudden kindle up, as it were, a sweet burning in my heart; an ardor of soul that I know not how to express.
“Not long after I first began to experience these things, I gave an account to my father of some things that had passed in my mind. I was pretty much affected by the discourse we had together; and when the discourse was ended, I walked abroad alone, in a solitary place in my father's pasture, for contemplation. And as I was walking there, and looking up on the sky and clouds, there came into my mind so sweet a sense of the glorious majesty and grace of God, that I know not how to express. I seemed to see them both in a sweet conjunction; majesty and meekness joined together; it was a sweet and gentle, and holy majesty; and also a majestic meekness; an awful sweetness; a high, and great, and holy gentleness.
* After this my sense of divine things gradually increased, and became more and more lively, and had more of that inward sweetness. The appearance of every thing was altered; there seemed to be, as it were, a calm, sweet cast, or appearance of divine glory, in almost every thing. God's excellency, his wisdom, his purity and love, seemed to appear in