Jonathan Edwards' diary begins on December 18, 17221 when he was 19 years of age. As far as to January 15th, it is written on two detached slips of paper, and the remainder in a book.
Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.
"This was the maxim of the wisest of men, and it was founded upon the most solid reason. This maxim has ever been considered as most important by all the possessors of true wisdom and piety, who have strenuously aimed at daily spiritual advancement. It has never been regarded without the greatest advantages, nor neglected without the most extensive injury. The views which were entertained of this lesson of spiritual wisdom by Jonathan Edwards are sufficiently apparent in all the extracts now presented from his Diary, and the advantages which he derived from its practice are equally manifest. He lived in the sight of God; he lived in the constant and faithful survey of his own heart and conduct, and he arose to the highest class of the followers of Christ, whose religion is eminently that of the heart. Let others pursue the same steps, and they will surely find the same precious results."2
See also Edwards' 70 Resolutions, which is frequently referenced in his diary.
December 18, 1722 Tuesday
This day made Resolution 35. The reason why I in the least question my interest in God's love and favor is:
- I cannot speak so fully to my experience of that preparatory work of which divines speak.
- I do not remember that I experienced regeneration, exactly in those steps, in which divines say it is generally wrought.
- I do not feel the Christian graces sensibly enough (particularly faith). I fear they are only such hypocritical outward affections which wicked men may feel as well as others. They do not seem to be sufficiently inward, full, sincere, entire, and hearty. They do not seem so substantial, and so wrought into my very nature, as I could wish.
- I am sometimes guilty of sins of omission and commission.
Lately I have doubted whether I do not transgress in evil speaking. This day, resolved, No.
December 19, 1722 Wednesday
This day made Resolution 36. Lately I have been very much perplexed by seeing the doctrine of different degrees in glory questioned, but now have almost gotten over the difficulty.
December 20, 1722 Thursday
This day somewhat questioned whether I had not been guilty of negligence yesterday and this morning, but resolved, No.
December 21, 1722 Friday
This day and yesterday, I was exceedingly dull, dry, and dead.
December 22, 1722 Saturday
This day, revived by God's Holy Spirit, affected with the sense of the excellency of holiness, felt more exercise of love to Christ than usual. Have also felt sensible repentance for sin, because it was committed against so merciful and good a God. This night made Resolution 37.
December 23, 1722 Sabbath night
Made Resolution 38.
December 24, 1722 Monday
Higher thoughts than usual of the excellency of Christ and his kingdom. Concluded to observe, at the end of every month, the number of breaches of resolutions, to see whether they increase or diminish, to begin from this day, and to compute from that the weekly account my monthly increase, and out of the whole, my yearly increase, beginning from new-year days.
December 26, 1722 Wednesday
Early in the morning yesterday was hindered by the headache all day, though I hope I did not lose much. Made an addition to Resolution 37 concerning weeks, months, and years.
Made Resolution 33.
December 29, 1722 Saturday
About sunset this day, dull and lifeless.
January 1, 1723 Tuesday
Have been dull for several days. Examined whether I have not been guilty of negligence today, and resolved, No.
January 2, 1723 Wednesday
Dull. I find, by experience, that, let me make resolutions and do what I will, with never so many inventions—it is all nothing and to no purpose at all without the motions of the Spirit of God; for if the Spirit of God should be as much withdrawn from me always, as for the week past, notwithstanding all I do, I should not grow, but should languish, and miserably fade away. I perceive, if God should withdraw His Spirit a little more, I should not hesitate to break my resolutions, and should soon arrive at my old state. There is no dependence on myself. Our resolutions may be at the highest one day, and yet, the next day we may be in a miserable, dead condition—not at all like the same person who resolved. So that it is to no purpose to resolve, except we depend upon the grace of God. For, if it were not for His mere grace, one might be a very good man one day, and a very wicked one the next. I find also by experience that there is no guessing out the ends of Providence, in particular dispensations towards me—any otherwise than as afflictions come as corrections for sin, and God intends when we meet with them, to desire us to look back on our ways, and see wherein we have done amiss, and lament that particular sin, and all our sins, before Him; knowing this, also, that all things shall work together for our good—not knowing in what way, indeed, but trusting in God.
January 5, 1723 Saturday evening
A little redeemed from a long, dreadful dullness associated with reading the Scriptures. This week, have been unhappily low in the weekly account—and what are the reasons of it? Abundance of listlessness and sloth. If this should continue much longer, I perceive that other sins will begin to discover themselves. It used to appear to me that I did not have much sin remaining; but now, I perceive that there are great remainders of sin. Where may it not bring me to, if God should leave me? Sin is not enough mortified. Without the influences of the Spirit of God, the old serpent would begin to rouse himself up from his frozen state, and would come to life again.
Resolved, that I have been negligent in two things:
- In not striving enough in duty
- In not forcing myself upon religious thoughts
January 6, 1723 Sabbath night
Much concerned about the improvement of precious time. Intend to live in continual mortification, without ceasing, and even to weary myself thereby as long as I am in this world, and never to expect or desire any worldly ease or pleasure.
January 7, 1723 Monday night
Made Resolution 40.
January 8, 1723 Tuesday
In the morning, had higher thoughts than usual of the excellency of Christ, and felt an unusual repentance of sin therefrom.
January 9, 1723 Wednesday night
Decayed. I am sometimes apt to think that I have a great deal more of holiness than I really have. I find now and then that abominable corruption which is directly contrary to what I read of eminent Christians. I do not seem to be half so careful to improve time, to do everything quick, and in as short a time as I possibly can, nor to be perpetually engaged to think about religion, as I was yesterday and the day before, nor indeed as I have been at certain times, perhaps a year ago. If my resolutions of that nature, from that time, had always been kept alive and awake, how much better might I have been than I now am! How deceitful is my heart! I take up a strong resolution, but how soon it weakens!
January 10, 1723 Thursday
Recovering. It is a great dishonor to Christ, in whom I hope I have an interest, to be uneasy at my earthly state and condition, or when I see the prosperity of others and that all things go easy with them—the world is smooth to them, and they are very happy in many respects, and very prosperous, or are advanced to much honor—to grudge them their prosperity, or envy them on account of it, or to be in the least uneasy at it, to wish and long for the same prosperity, and to desire that is should ever be so with me. Wherefore, concluded always to rejoice in everyone's prosperity, and not to pretend to expect or desire it for myself; and to expect no happiness of that nature as long as I live; but to depend on afflictions, and to betake myself entirely to another happiness.
I think I find myself much more sprightly and healthy, both in body and mind, for my self-denial in eating, drinking, and sleeping. I think it would be advantageous every morning to consider my business and temptations, and the sins to which I shall be exposed on that day, and to make a resolution how to improve the day and avoid those sins; and likewise at the beginning of every week, month, and year.
I never knew before what was meant by not setting our hearts on those things. It is, not to care about them, nor to depend upon them, nor to afflict ourselves with the fear of losing them, nor to please ourselves with the expectation of obtaining them, or with the hopes of their continuance.
Made Resolution 41.
January 12, 1723 Saturday
I have this day solemnly renewed my baptismal covenant and self-dedication, which I renewed when I was taken into the communion of the church. I have been before God, and have given myself—all that I am and have—to Him; so that I am not, in any respect, my own. I can challenge no right in this understanding, this will, and these affections which are in me. Neither have I any right to this body, or any of its members—no right to this tongue, these hands, these feet—no right to these senses—these eyes, these ears, this smell, or this taste. I have given myself clear away, and have not retained anything as my own. I gave myself to God in my baptism, and I have been this morning to Him, and told Him that I gave myself wholly to Him. I have given every power to Him, so that, for the future, I'll challenge no right in myself in no respect whatsoever. I have expressly promised Him—and I do now promise Almighty God—that by His grace I will not. I have this morning told Him that I did take Him for my whole portion and felicity, looking on nothing else as any part of my happiness, nor acting as if it were; and His law for the constant rule of my obedience; and would fight with all my might against the world, the flesh, and the devil, to the end of my life; and that I did believe in Jesus Christ, and did receive Him as a Prince and Savior; and that I would adhere to the faith and obedience of the gospel, however hazardous and difficult the confession and practice of it may be; and that I did receive the blessed Spirit as my Teacher, Sanctifier, and only Comforter, and cherish all His motions to enlighten, purify, confirm, comfort, and assist me. This, I have done; and I pray God, for the sake of Christ, to look upon it as a self-dedication, and to receive me now as entirely His own, and to deal with me, in all respects, as such, whether He afflicts me or prospers me, or whatever He pleases to do with me, who am His. Now, henceforth, I am not to act, in any respect, as my own.
I shall act as my own if I ever make use of any of my powers to anything that is not to the glory of God, and do not make the glorifying of Him my whole and entire business, if:
- I murmur in the least at affliction
- I grieve at the prosperity of others
- I am in any way uncharitable
- I am angry because of injuries
- I revenge them
- I do anything purely to please myself
- I avoid anything for the sake of my own ease
- I omit anything because it is great self-denial
- I trust to myself
- I take any of the praise of the good that I do, or that God does by me
- I am in any way proud
This day, made Resolution 42 and Resolution 43. Whether or not any other end ought to have any influence at all on any of my actions, or whether any action ought to be any otherwise, in any respect, than it would be, if nothing else but religion had the least influence on my mind. Wherefore I make Resolution 44.
Query: Whether any delight or satisfaction ought to be allowed because any other end is obtained besides a religious one. I answer Yes, because if we only allow ourselves to rejoice when we have obtained a religious end, then we should never rejoice at the sight of friends; we should not allow ourselves any pleasure in our food, whereby the animal spirits would be withdrawn and good digestion hindered. But the query is to be answered thus: We never ought to allow any joy or sorrow but that which helps religion. Wherefore, I make Resolution 45.
The reason why I so soon grow lifeless and unfit for the business I am about is only because I have been used to allow myself to leave off for the sake of ease—and so I have acquired a habit of expecting ease; and therefore, when I think I have exercised myself a great while, I cannot keep myself to it any longer because I expect to be released, as my due and right. And then I am deceived, as if I were really tired and weary; whereas, if I did not expect ease, and was resolved to occupy myself by business as much as I could, I should continue with the same vigor at my business, without vacation time to rest. Thus I have found it in reading the Scriptures; and thus I have found it in prayer; and thus I believe it to be in getting sermons by heart, and in other things.
This week, the weekly account rose higher than ordinary. It is suggested to me that too constant a mortification and too vigorous application to religion may be prejudicial to health; but nevertheless, I will plainly feel it and experience it before I cease on this account. So long as my health is not impaired, it does not matter how tired and weary I am.
January 13, 1723 Sabbath day
I plainly feel that if I should continue to go on, as from the beginning of the last week hitherto, I should continually grow and increase in grace. After the afternoon meeting, made an addition to Resolution 45.
I remember I thought that I loved to be a member of Christ, and not anything distinct, but only a part, so as to have no separate interest or pleasure of my own.
Resolved, to endeavor fully to understand 1 Corinthians 7:29-32, and to act according to it.
January 14, 1723 Monday
About 10 o'clock in the morning made this book, and put these papers in it.3 The dedication which I made of myself to God last Saturday has been exceedingly useful to me. When reading Romans 8, I thought I had a more spiritual insight into the Scriptures than ever before.
Great instances of mortification are deep wounds given to the body of sin—hard blows which make him stagger and reel. We thereby get strong ground and footing against him; he is the weaker ever after, and we have easier work with him the next time. He grows cowardly, and we can easily cause him to give way, until at length we find it easy work with him, and can kill him at pleasure. While we live without great instances of mortification and self-denial, the old man keeps about where he was; for he is sturdy and obstinate, and will not stir for small blows. This, without doubt, is one great reason why many Christians do not sensibly increase in grace. After the greatest mortifications, I always find the greatest comfort. Wrote Resolution 63. Such little things as Christians commonly do will not evince much increase of grace. We must do great things for God.
It will be best, when I find that I have lost any former ancient good motions or actions, to take notice of it, if I can remember them.
January 15, 1723 Tuesday
About two or three o'clock
I have been all this time decaying. It seemed yesterday, the day before, and Saturday, that I should always retain the same resolutions to the same height. But alas! How soon do I decay! O how weak, how infirm, how unable to do anything of myself! What a poor, inconsistent being! What a miserable wretch, without the assistance of the Spirit of God! While I stand, I am ready to think that I stand by my own strength, and upon my own legs; and I am ready to triumph over my spiritual enemies, as if it were I myself that caused them to flee, when alas! I am but a poor infant, upheld by Jesus Christ—who holds me up, and gives me liberty to smile to see my enemies flee, when He drives them before me. And so I laugh, as though I myself did it, when it is only Jesus Christ who leads me along and fights, Himself, against my enemies. And now that the Lord has left me a little, how weak do I find myself! O let it teach me to depend less on myself, to be more humble, and to give more of the praise of my ability to Jesus Christ! The heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it (Jeremiah 17:9)?
The occasion of my decaying is a little melancholy. My spirits are depressed because I fear that I lost some friendship the last night; and, my spirits being depressed, my resolutions have lost their strength. I differ today from yesterday in these things: I do not resolve anything today half so strongly. I am not so perpetually thinking of renewing my resolutions as I was then. I am not half so vigorous as I was then; nor am I half so careful to do everything with vigor. Then, I kept continually working; but now, I do things slowly, and satisfy myself by thinking of religion in the mean time. I am not so careful to go from one business to another. I felt humiliation around sunset. What shall I do, in order that I may, with a good grace, fall into Christian discourse and conversation?
The next time I am in such a lifeless frame, I will force myself to go rapidly from one thing to another, and to do those things with vigor, in which vigor would ever be useful. The things which take off my mind, when bent on religion, are commonly some remarkable change or alteration—journeys, change of place, change of business, change of studies, and change of other circumstances; or something that makes me melancholy; or some sin.
January 17, 1723 Thursday
About three o'clock, overwhelmed with melancholy.
January 18, 1723 Friday night
Beginning to endeavor to recover out of the death I have been in for these several days.
January 20, 1723 Sabbath night
The last week I was sunk so low that I fear it will be a long time before I am recovered. I fell exceedingly low in the weekly account. I find my heart so deceitful that I am almost discouraged from making any more resolutions. Where have I been negligent in the week past, and how could I have done better to help the dreadful low estate in which I am sunk?
January 21, 1723 Monday
Before sunrise, answered the preceding questions thus: I ought to have spent my time in bewailing my sins, and in singing psalms—especially psalms or hymns of penitence; these duties being most suited to the frame I was in. I do not spend time enough in endeavoring to affect myself with the glories of Christianity.—Fell short in the monthly account. It seems to me, that I am fallen from my former sense of the pleasantness of religion.
February 5, 1723 Tuesday night
I have thought that this being so exceedingly careful, and so particularly anxious, to force myself to think of religion at all times, has exceedingly distracted my mind, and made me altogether unfit for that and everything else. I have thought that this caused the dreadful low condition I was in on the 15th of January. I think that I stretched myself further than I could bear, and so broke. But now it seems to me, though I know not why, that I do not do enough to prepare for another world. I do not seem to press forward, to fight and wrestle, as the apostles used to speak. I do not seem so greatly and constantly to mortify and deny myself, as the mortification of which they speak represents. Therefore, wherein ought I to do more in this way? I answer: I am again grown too careless about eating, drinking, and sleeping—not careful enough about evil-speaking.
February 16, 1723 Saturday
I do certainly know that I love holiness, such as the gospel prescribes.
For the time past of my life, I have been negligent, in that I have not sufficiently kept up that part of divine worship—singing the praise of God in secret and with company.
I have been negligent this month past in these three things:
- I have not been watchful enough over my appetites, in eating and drinking
- In rising too late in the morning
- In not applying myself with sufficient application to the duty of secret prayer
February 17, 1723 Sabbath day, near sunset
Renewedly promised that I will accept of God for my whole portion, and that I will be contented, whatever else I am denied. I will not murmur, nor be grieved, whatever prosperity upon any account I see others enjoy and I am denied. To this I have lately acted contrary.
February 21, 1723 Thursday
I perceive that I never yet have adequately known what was meant by being weaned from the world, by not laying up treasure on earth, but in heaven, by not having our portion in this life, by making the concerns of another life our whole business, by taking God for our whole portion. I find my heart in great part yet adheres to the earth. O that it might be quite separated from thence. I find when I have power and reputation as others, I am uneasy, and it does not satisfy me to tell me that I have chosen God for my whole portion and that I have promised to rest entirely contented with Him.
February 23, 1723 Saturday
I find myself miserably negligent, and that I might do twice the business that I do, if I were set upon it. See how soon my thoughts of this matter will be differing from what they are now. I have been indulging a horrid laziness a good while and did not know it. I can do seven times as much in the same time now as I can at other times, not because my faculties are in better tune, but because of the fire of diligence that I feel burning within me. If I could but always continue so, I should not meet with one quarter of the trouble. I should run the Christian race much better, and should go out of the world a much better man.
March 2, 1723 Saturday
O how much more base and vile am I when I feel pride working in me, than when I am in a more humble disposition of mind! How much, how exceedingly much, more lovely is a humble than a proud disposition! I now plainly perceive it, and am really sensible of it. How immensely more pleasant is a humble delight than a high thought of myself! How much better do I feel when I am truly humbling myself, than when I am pleasing myself with my own perfections! O how much more pleasant is humility than pride! O that God would fill me with exceeding great humility, and that He would evermore keep me from all pride! The pleasures of humility are really the most refined, inward, and exquisite delights in the world. How hateful is a proud man! How hateful is a worm that lifts up itself with pride! What a foolish, silly, miserable, blind, deceived poor worm am I, when pride works.
I have lately been negligent as to reading the Scriptures. Notwithstanding my resolutions on Saturday was sennight, I have not been sedulous and diligent enough.
March 6, 1723 Wednesday, near sunset
Regarded the doctrines of election, free grace, our inability to do anything without the grace of God, and that holiness is entirely, throughout, the work of the Spirit of God, with greater pleasure than ever before.
March 7, 1723 Thursday
I think I now suffer from not forcing myself enough on religious thoughts.
March 24, 1723 Saturday night
I intend, if I am ever settled, to concert measures and study methods of doing good in the world, and to draw up rules of acting in this matter in writing, of all the methods I can possibly devise, by which I can in any respect do good.
March 31, 1723 Saturday night
This week I have been too careless about eating.
April 2, 1723 Monday morning
I think it best not to allow myself to laugh at the faults, follies, and infirmities of others.
April 7, 1723 Saturday night
This week I found myself so far gone that it seemed to me I should never recover more. Let God of His mercy return to me, and no more leave me thus to sink and decay! I know, O Lord, that without Your help I shall fall innumerable times—notwithstanding all my resolutions, how often soever repeated.
April 14, 1723 Saturday night
I could pray more heartily this night for the forgiveness of my enemies than ever before. I am somewhat apt, after having asked one petition over many times, to be weary of it; but I am now resolved not to give way to such a disposition.
May 1, 1723 Wednesday forenoon
Last night I came home, after my melancholy parting from New York.
I have always, in every different state of life I have hitherto been in, thought that the troubles and difficulties of that state were greater than those of any other state that I proposed to be in; and when I have altered, with assurance of mending myself, I have still thought the same, yea that the difficulties of that state are greater than those of that I left last. Lord, grant that from hence I may learn to withdraw thoughts, affections, desires, and expectations entirely from the world, and may fix them upon the heavenly state, where there is fullness of joy; where reigns heavenly, sweet, calm, and delightful love without alloy; where there are continually the dearest expressions of this love; where there is the enjoyment of this love without ever parting; and where those persons, who appear so lovely in this world, will be inexpressibly more lovely and full of love to us. How sweetly will those, who thus mutually love, join together in singing the praises of God and the Lamb. How full will it fill us with joy to think that this enjoyment, these sweet exercises, will never cease or come to an end, but will last to all eternity. Remember after journeys, removals, overturnings, and alterations in the state of my life, to reflect and consider, whether therein I have managed the best way possible respecting my soul; and before such alterations, if foreseen, to resolve how to act.
May 2, 1723 Thursday afternoon
I observe this, that when I was at New York, when I meditated on things of a religious nature, I used to conceive of myself as walking in the fields at home; but now I am at home, I conceive of myself as walking in the fields which I used to frequent at New York. I think it a very good way, to examine dreams every morning when I awake—what are the nature, circumstance, principles, and ends of my imaginary actions and passions in them—in order to discern what are my prevailing inclinations, etc.
May 4, 1723 Saturday night
Although I have, in some measure, subdued a disposition to chide and fret, yet I find a certain inclination which is not agreeable to Christian sweetness of temper and conversation: either too much dogmaticalness or too much egotism; a disposition to manifest my own dislike and scorn, and my own freedom from those which are innocent, sinless, yea common infirmities of men, and many other such like things. O that God would help me to discover all the flaws and defects of my temper and conversation, and help me in the difficult work of amending them; and that He would grant me so full a measure of vital Christianity that the foundation of all those disagreeable irregularities may be destroyed, and the contrary sweetnesses and beauties may of themselves naturally follow.
May 5, 1723 Sabbath morning
Made Resolution 47.
May 6, 1723 Monday morning
I think it best commonly to come before God three times in a day, except I find a great inaptitude to that duty.
May 11, 1723 Saturday night
I have been to blame, the month past, in not laying violence enough to my inclination, to force myself to a better improvement of time. Have been tardy with respect to Resolution 47. Have also been negligent about keeping my thoughts when joining with others in prayer.
May 12, 1723 Sabbath day
I have lost that relish of the Scriptures, and other good books, which I had five or six months ago. Resolved, when I find in myself the least disposition to exercise good nature, that I will then strive most to feel good-naturedly.
Observe to remember the meditations which I had at West Chester, as I was coming from New York, and those which I had in the orchard, and those under the oak tree. This day, and the last night, I read over and reviewed those reflections and remarks, which I find to be a very beneficial thing to me.
After the afternoon meeting
I think I find in my heart to be glad from the hopes I have, that my eternity is to be spent in spiritual and holy joys, arising from the manifestation of God's love, and the exercise of holiness, and burning love to Him.
May 18, 1723 Saturday night
This week past, spent in journeying to Norwich and the towns thereabouts. This day returned, and received a letter from my dear friend, Mr. John Smith.
The last Wednesday, took up a resolution to refrain from all manner of evil speaking, for one week to try it and see the effect of it,hoping, if that evil speaking—which I used to allow myself in and to account lawful, agreeably to the resolutions I have formed concerning it—were not lawful, or best, I should hereby discover it, and get the advantage of temptations to it, and so deceive myself into a strict adherence to my duty, respecting that matter; that that corruption, which I cannot conquer by main strength, I may get the victory of by stratagem. I find the effect of it already to be, to make me apt to take it for granted that what I have resolved on this week is a duty to be observed forever.
I now plainly perceive, what great obligations I am under to love and honor my parents. I have great reason to believe that their counsel and education have been my making—though, in the time of it, it seemed to do me so little good. I have good reason to hope that their prayers for me have been, in many things, very powerful and prevalent, and that God has, in many things, taken me under His care and guidance, provision and direction, in answer to their prayers for me. I was never made so sensible of it as now.
I think it the best way, in general, not to seek for honor in any other way than by seeking to be good and to do good. I may pursue knowledge, religion, the glory of God, and the good of mankind with the utmost vigor; but am to leave the honor of it entirely at God's disposal, as a thing with which I have no immediate concern; no, not although, by possessing that honor, I have the greater opportunity to do good.
Memorandum. To be particularly careful, lest I should be tardy in any point wherein I have been negligent, or have erred, in days, weeks, months, or years past.
May 19, 1723 Sabbath day
With respect to my journey last week, I was not careful enough to watch opportunities of solemnly approaching to God three times a day. The last week, when I was about to take up the Wednesday Resolution, it was proposed to me, in my thought, to omit it until I got home again, because there would be a more convenient opportunity. Thus am I ready to look at anything as an excuse, to grow slack in my Christian course.
Concluded to add to my inquiries, as to the spending of time: at the beginning of the day, or the period, "What can I do for the good of men?" and at the end, "What have I done for their good?"
May 21, 1723 Tuesday morning
My conscience is, undoubtedly, more calm since my last Wednesday Resolution than it was before.
May 22, 1723 Wednesday morning
Memorandum. To take special care of the following things:
- Evil speaking
- Eating, drinking, and sleeping
- Speaking simple verity
- Joining in prayer
- Slightiness in secret prayer
- Listlessness and negligence
- Thoughts that cherish sin
May 25, 1723 Saturday morning
As I was this morning reading Resolution 17, it was suggested to me that if I were now to die, I should wish that I had prayed more that God would make me know my state, whether it be good or bad, and that I had taken more pains and care, to see and narrowly search into that matter. Wherefore:
Memorandum. For the future, most nicely and diligently to look into the opinions of our old divines concerning conversion.
This morning made Resolution 48.
May 27, 1723 Monday afternoon
Memorandum. Not only to keep from an air of dislike, anger, and fretfulness, in discourse or conversation, but let me also have as much of an appearance of love, cheerfulness, and benignity as may be with a good grace. These following things especially to beware of, in order to the better observation of Resolution 47—beware of anything in discourse or conversation that savors of these:
- Uneasiness and a complaining temper
- Slight antipathy
- Lack of resolution
June 8, 1723 Saturday night
At Boston. When I find myself listless and dull, and not easily affected by reading religious books, then to read my resolutions, remarks, reflections, etc. One thing that would be of great advantage to me, in reading to my profit, would be the endeavoring, with all my might, to keep the image and picture of the thing in my mind, and be careful that I do not lose it in the chain of the discourse.
June 9, 1723 Sabbath day, after the afternoon meeting
Memorandum. When I fear misfortune, to examine whether I have done my duty; and at the same time, to resolve to do it, and let it go, and be concerned about nothing, but my duty and my sin.
June 15, 1723 Saturday morning
At Windsor. Have been to blame, this journey, with respect to strict temperance, in eating, drinking, and sleeping, and in allowing too small matters to give interruption to my routine chain of religious exercises. Concluded to protract the Wednesday Resolution to the end of my life.
June 18, 1723 Tuesday morning
Memorandum. To do that part, which I conveniently can, of my stated exercise, while about other business, such as self-examination, resolutions, etc., that I may do the remainder in less time.
June 21, 1723 Friday afternoon
I have abundant cause, O my merciful Father, to love You ardently, and greatly, to bless and praise You, that You have heard me in my earnest request, and so has answered my prayer for mercy, to keep me from decay and sinking. O, graciously of Your mere goodness, still continue to pity my misery, by reason of my sinfulness. O, my dear Redeemer, I commit myself, together with my prayer and thanksgiving, into Your hand.
June 22, 1723 Saturday morning
Altered Resolution 36 to make it the same with the Wednesday Resolution. If I should take special care every day to rise above, or not to fall below, or to fall as little as I possibly could below, what I was the day before, it would be of great advantage to me. I take notice that most of these determinations, when I first resolve them, seem as if they would be much more beneficial than I find them.
June 25, 1723 Tuesday morning
Last Sabbath, at Boston, reading Ephesians 6:6-8, concluded that it would be much to my advantage, to take the greatest care, never to do anything but my duty, and then to do it willingly, cheerfully, and gladly, whatever danger or unpleasant circumstances it may be attended with; with good-will doing it, as to the Lord, not as pleasing man, or myself; knowing that whatsoever good thing any man does, the same shall he receive of the Lord.
June 29, 1723 Saturday morning
It is best to be careful in prayer, not to put up those petitions of which I do not feel a sincere desire—thereby my prayer is rendered less sincere, less acceptable to God, and less useful to myself.
July 1, 1723 Monday noon
I find I am not careful enough to keep out all thoughts but religious ones on the Sabbath. When I find the least uneasiness in doing my duty, to fly to Resolution 43.
July 3, 1723 Wednesday night
I am too negligent, with respect to improving petty opportunities of doing good, thinking that the good will be very small and unextended, and not worth the pains. Resolved, to regulate this as that which is wrong and what ought not to be. Again confirmed by experience of the happy effects of a strict temperance, with respect both to body and mind.
July 4, 1723 Thursday
The last night, in bed, when thinking of death, I thought if I was then to die, that which would make me die in the least degree fearfully, would be the absence of a trusting and relying on Jesus Christ, so distinctly and plainly, as has been described by divines; my not having experienced so particular a venturing, and entirely trusting my soul on Christ, after the fears of hell, and terrors of the Lord, encouraged by the mercy, faithfulness, and promises of God, and the gracious invitations of Christ. Then I thought I could go out of the world, as much assured of my salvation as I was of Christ's faithfulness, knowing that if Christ did not fail me, He would save me who had trusted in Him on His word.
Whenever things begin to seem to be in the least out of order, when things begin to feel uneasy within, or irregular without, then to examine myself by the strictest examination.
Resolved, for the future to observe rather more of meekness, moderation, and temper in disputes.
July 5, 1723 Friday
Last night, when thinking what I should wish I had done that I had not done, if I was then to die; I thought I should wish that I had been more importunate with God to fit me for death, and lead me into all truth, and that I might not be deceived about the state of my soul.
Made Resolution 50.
July 11, 1723 Thursday night
This day, too impatient at the church meeting. Snares and briers have been in my way this afternoon. It is good at such times for one to manifest good nature, even to one's disadvantage, and so as would be imprudent at other times.
July 13, 1723 Saturday morning
Transferred the following conclusions:
- June 9 to Resolution 57
- May 27 to Resolution 58
- May 12 and July 11 to Resolution 59
- July 4, at night, to Resolution 60
- May 24 to Resolution 61
- June 25 to Resolution 62
- The resolution of January 14, about noon, to Resolution 63
In times past, I have been too free in judging of the hearts of men from their actions.
July 18, 1723 Thursday, near sunset
Resolved, to make sure of that sign which the apostle James gives of a perfect man:
James 3:2 If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able, also, to bridle the whole body.
July 19, 1723 Friday afternoon
1 Peter 2:18 "Servants, be subject to your masters, with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward"—how then ought children to honor their parents! This verse, together with the two following: "For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God" (1 Peter 2:19-20).
July 20, 1723 Saturday noon
Dr. Manton's Sermon 23, on Psalm 119 (pp. 140-141), of evil-speaking:
Use 2. To them that either devise or receive reproaches; both are very sinful. …
Hypocrites, and men that put themselves into a garb of religion, are all for censuring, take a mighty freedom that way; these men betray the rottenness of their hearts. … Alas! In our own sight we should be the worst of men. The children of God do ever thus speak of themselves as "the least of saints," "the greatest of sinners," "more brutish than any man," "of sinners, whereof I am the chief." …
You rob them of the most precious treasure. He that robs you of your name is the worst kind of thief. Proverbs 22:1 "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches." …
Object. But must we in no case speak evil of another; or may we not speak of another's sin in any case?
Solution 1. It is a very hard matter to speak evil of another without sin. …
In one way or another, we shall dash upon the command: better let it alone. …
If you speak of the failings of another, it should be with tenderness and grief; as when they are incorrigible and likely to infect others, or when it is for the manifest glory of God. …
To them that receive the slander, he is a slanderer, who wrongs his neighbor's credit by upholding an ill report against him.4
July 22, 1723 Monday afternoon
I find it would be desirable, on many accounts, always to endeavor to wear a benign aspect and air of acting and speaking, in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires it otherwise.
I am afraid I am now defective in not doing whatever my hand finds to do with my might, with respect to my particular affairs. Remember to watch, see, and know how it is. Vid. Aug. 31.
I see there is danger of my being drawn into transgression by the power of such temptations, as the fear of seeming uncivil and of offending friends. Watch against it.
I might still help myself, and yet not hurt myself, by going with greater expedition from one thing to another, without being quite so fastidious.
July 23, 1723 Tuesday afternoon
When I find those groanings which cannot be uttered, of which the apostle speaks (Romans 8:26), and those soul-breakings for the longing it has, of which the psalmist speaks (Psalm 119:20). Resolved, to favor and promote them to the utmost of my power, and not to be weary of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, and not to be weary of the repetitions of such earnestness.
To count it all joy, when I have occasions of great self-denial; because, then, I have a glorious opportunity of giving deadly wounds to the body of sin, and of greatly confirming and establishing the new creature. I seek to mortify sin, and increase in holiness. These are the best opportunities, according to January 14.
To improve afflictions of all kinds as:
Blessed opportunities of forcibly bearing on in my Christian course, notwithstanding that which is so very apt to discourage me, and to dampen the vigor of my mind, and to make me lifeless
Opportunities of trusting and confiding in God, and getting a habit of so doing, according to Resolution 57
Opportunities to repent of and bewail my sin, and abhor myself
A blessed opportunity to exercise patience, to trust in God, and divest my mind from the affliction by fixing myself in religious exercises
Also, let me comfort myself that it is the very nature of afflictions to make the heart better; and, if I am made better by them, what need I be concerned, however grievous they seem for the present.
July 24, 1723 Wednesday night
I begin to find the success of my striving in joining with others in the worship of God; insomuch that there is a prospect of making it easy and delightful, and very profitable, in time. Wherefore, resolved not to cease striving, but to continue it and reinforce it.
July 25, 1723 Thursday morning
Altered and reestablished Resolution 8; also established my determination of April 1.
Memorandum. At a convenient time, to make an alphabet of these Resolutions and Remarks, that I may be able to educe them on proper occasions suitable to the condition I am in, and the duty I am engaged in.
July 26, 1723 Friday
To be particularly careful to inviolably keep up a trust and reliance, ease and entire rest in God in all conditions, according to Resolution 57; for this I have found to be wonderfully advantageous to me.
Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long: with the greatest openness of which I am capable, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to Him—all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and everything and every circumstance, according to Dr. Manton's 27th Sermon, on Psalm 119.
July 27, 1723 Saturday forenoon
When I am violently beset with temptation, or cannot rid myself of evil thoughts, to do something in arithmetic, or geometry, or some other study, which necessarily engages all my thoughts, and unavoidably keeps them from wandering.
July 29, 1723 Monday afternoon
When I am concerned how I shall prepare anything to public acceptance, to be very careful that I have it very clear to me to do what is duty and prudence in the matter.
I sometimes find myself able to trust God and to be pretty easy when the event is uncertain, but I find it difficult when I am convinced beforehand that the event will be adverse. I find that this arises:
- From my lack of faith, to believe that that particular advantage will be more to my advantage than disadvantage
- From the lack of a due sense of the real preference of that good which will be obtained to that which is lost
- From the lack of a spirit of adoption
July 30, 1723 Tuesday night
Have concluded to endeavor to work myself into duties by searching and tracing back all the real reasons why I do them not, and narrowly searching out all the subtle subterfuges of my thoughts, and answering them to the utmost of my power, that I may know what are the very first origins of my defect—as with respect to lack of repentance, love to God, loathing of myself—to do this sometimes in sermons (e.g., Resolution 8). Especially, to take occasion therefrom to bewail those sins of which I have been guilty, that are akin to them; as for instance, from pride in others, to take occasion to bewail my pride; from their malice, to take occasion to bewail my evil speaking, and so of other sins.
Memorandum. To receive slanders and reproaches as glorious opportunities of doing this.
July 31, 1723 Wednesday afternoon
After afflictions, to inquire what I am the better for them, what good I have gained by them, and what I might have gained by them.
Never in the least to seek to hear sarcastic relations of others' faults. Never to give credit to anything said against others, except there is very plain reason for it; nor to behave in any respect otherwise for it.
August 4, 1723 Sabbath morning
Concluded at last, at those times when I am in the best frames, to set down the aspirations of my heart as soon as I can get time.
August 6, 1723 Tuesday afternoon
Very much convinced of the extraordinary deceitfulness of the heart, and how exceedingly affection or appetite blinds the mind and brings it into entire subjection. There are many things which I should really think to be my duty, if I had the same affections as when I first came from New York; which now I think not to be so. How appetite stretches the reason to bring both ends together.
August 7, 1723 Wednesday forenoon
To esteem it as some advantage that the duties of religion are difficult and that many difficulties are sometimes to be gone through in the way of duty. Religion is the sweeter, and what is gained by labor is abundantly more precious, as a woman loves her child the more for having brought it forth with travail; and even to Christ Jesus Himself His mediatorial glory, His victory and triumph, the kingdom which He has obtained, how much more glorious is it, how much more excellent and precious for His having wrought it out with such agonies.
August 9, 1723 Friday
With respect to the important business which I have now in hand,5 resolved, to do whatever I think to be duty, prudence, and diligence in the matter, and to avoid ostentation; and if I succeed not, and how many disappointments soever I meet with, to be entirely easy; only to take occasion to acknowledge my unworthiness; and if it should actually not succeed, and should not find acceptance, as I expected, yet not to afflict myself about it, according to Resolution 57.
One thing that may be a good help towards thinking profitably in times of vacation is when I find a profitable thought that I can fix my mind on, to follow it as far as I possibly can to advantage. I missed it when a graduate at college, both in point of duty and prudence, in going against a universal benevolence and good nature.
August 10, 1723 Saturday
As a help against that inward shameful hypocrisy, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; also to confess to God and open the whole case to Him when it is what concerns religion, and humbly and earnestly implore of Him the help that is needed; not in the least to endeavor to smother what is in my heart, but to bring it all out to God and my conscience. By this means I may arrive at a greater knowledge of my own heart.
When I find difficulty in finding a subject of religious meditation in vacancies, to pitch at random on what alights to my thoughts, and to go from that to other things which that shall bring into my mind, and follow this progression as a clue, until I come to what I can meditate on with profit and attention, and then to follow that, according to last Thursday's determination.
August 11, 1723 Sabbath afternoon
Resolved always to do that which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it; as for instance, sometimes I argue with myself that such an act of good nature, kindness, forbearance, or forgiveness, etc. is not my duty, because it will have such and such consequences; yet when I see others do it, then it appears amiable to me, and I wish I had done it, and see that none of these feared inconveniences follow.
August 12, 1723 Monday morning
The chief thing that now makes me in any measure to question my good estate is my not having experienced conversion in those particular steps wherein the people of New England, and anciently the dissenters of Old England, used to experience it. Wherefore, now resolved, never to leave searching until I have satisfyingly found out the very bottom and foundation, the real reason, why they used to be converted in those steps.
August 13, 1723 Tuesday
Have sinned in not being careful enough to please my parents.
I find it would be very much to my advantage to be thoroughly acquainted with the Scriptures. When I am reading doctrinal books or books of controversy, I can proceed with abundantly more confidence, and can see on what footing and foundation I stand.
August 17, 1723 Saturday noon
Let there, in general, be something of benevolence in all that I speak.
August 20, 1723 Tuesday night
Not careful enough in watching opportunities of bringing in Christian discourse with a good grace. Do not exercise myself half enough in this holy art; neither have I courage enough to carry it on with a good grace (e.g., September 2).
August 24, 1723 Saturday
Have not practiced quite right about revenge; though I have not done anything directly out of revenge, yet I have perhaps omitted some things that I should otherwise have done; or have altered the circumstances and manner of my actions, hoping for a secret sort of revenge thereby. I have felt a little sort of satisfaction when I thought that such an evil would happen to them by my actions as would make them repent what they have done. To be satisfied for their repenting, when they repent from a sense of their error, is right. But a satisfaction in their repentance—because of the evil that is brought upon them—is revenge. This is in some measure a taking the matter out of God's hands when He was about to manage it, who is better able to plead it for me. Well, therefore, may He leave me to boggle at it.
I yet find a lack of dependence on God, to look to Him for success, and to have my eyes unto Him for His gracious disposal of the matter; for lack of a sense of God's particular influence in ordering and directing all affairs and businesses, of whatever nature, however naturally, or fortuitously, they may seem to succeed; and for lack of a sense of those great advantages that would follow therefrom; not considering that God will grant success or make the contrary more to my advantage, or will make the advantage accruing from the unsuccessfulness more sensible and apparent, or will make it of less present and outward disadvantage, or will some way so order the circumstances as to make the unsuccessfulness more easy to bear, or some or all of these combined. This lack of dependence is likewise for lack of the things mentioned in July 29.
Remember to examine all narrations I can call to mind, whether they are exactly according to verity.
August 28, 1723 Wednesday night
When I want books to read—yea, when I have not very good books—not to spend time in reading them, but in reading the Scriptures, in perusing Resolutions, Reflections, etc., in writing on types of the Scripture, and other things; in studying the languages, and in spending more time in private duties. To do this when there is a prospect of lacking time for the purpose. Remember, as soon as I can to get a piece of slate or something whereon I can make short memorandums while traveling.
August 29, 1723 Thursday
Two great inquiries with me now are:
- How shall I make advantage of all the time I spend in journeys?
- How shall I make a glorious improvement of afflictions?
August 31, 1723 Saturday night
The objection which my corruptions make against doing whatever my hands find to do with my might is that it is a constant mortification. Let this objection by no means ever prevail.
September 1, 1723 Sabbath morning
When I am violently beset with earthly thoughts for a relief, to think of death and its doleful circumstances.
September 2, 1723 Monday
To help me to enter with a good grace into religious conversation; when I am conversing on morality, to turn it over by application, exemplification, or otherwise, to Christianity. e.g., August 28 and January 15.
There is much folly when I am quite sure I am in the right and others are positive in contradicting me, in entering into a vehement or long debate upon it.
September 7, 1723 Saturday
Concluded no more to allow myself to be interrupted or diverted from important business by those things from which I expect, though some, yet but little, profit.
September 8, 1723 Sabbath morning
I have been much to blame for expressing so much impatience for delays in journeys, and the like.
September 22, 1723 Sabbath evening
To praise God by singing psalms in prose and by singing forth the meditations of my heart in prose.
September 23, 1723 Monday
I observe that old men seldom have any advantage of new discoveries because they are beyond the way of thinking to which they have been so long used. Resolved, if ever I live to years, that I will be impartial to hear the reasons of all pretended discoveries and receive them if rational, how long soever I have been used to another way of thinking.
My time is so short that I have not time to perfect myself in all studies; wherefore resolved, to omit and put off all but the most important and needful studies.
Taken and edited from The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1, Chapter 4.
- ^Edwards used the Julian Calendar.
- ^Quotation from https://ccel.org/ccel/edwards/works1/works1.i.iv.html.
- ^He refers to slips of paper on which the first part of the diary was written, as far as Jan. 15, at night.
- ^Thomas Manton, Sermon 23 in Works of Thomas Manton, Volume 6.
- ^Perhaps the preparation of a public exercise for the college commencement, when he received his Master's degree.