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LIFE OF PRESIDENT EDWARDS.
cxix, 20, That I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be weary of earnestly endeavouring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.
65. Resolved, Very much to exercise myself in this, all long, viz. 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 every thing, and every circumstance, according to Dr. Manton's Sermon on the 119th Psalm. July 26, and Aug. 10, 1723.
66. Resolved, That I will endeavour always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.
67. Resolved, After afflictions, to enquire, What I am the better for them; What good I have got by them; and, What I might have got by them.
68. Resolved, To confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23, and August 10, 1723.
69. Resolved, Always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.
70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak. Aug. 17, 1723.
Those, who have read the preceding Resolutions, will not need to be apprised, that they discover in the writer a knowledge of his own heart, of the human character, and of the secret springs of human action, as well as a purity, conscientiousness and evangelical integrity, very rarely found in any individual. His obvious intention and rule was, to refer every voluntary action, and every course of conduct, habitually and immediately to the eye of Omniscience; to live as always surrounded by his presence; and to value nothing in comparison with his approbation, and, what of At this early course accompanied it, that of his own conscience. period, he had begun to remember, that he was immortal, that he was soon to enter on a stage of existence and action, incomparably more expanded and dignified than the present, and that nothing here had any ultimate importance, except as it had a bearing on his own welfare, and that of others, in that nobler state of being. These Resolutions are, perhaps, to persons of every age, but especially to the young, the best uninspired summary of christian duty, the best directory to high attainments in evangelical virtue, which They are, also, the mind of man has hitherto been able to form. in the highest degree interesting, as disclosing the writer's own character; and no one will wonder that the youth, who, in his nineVOL. I.
teenth year, could, in the presence of God, deliberately and solemnly form the first Resolution :-"Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, ON THE WHOLE; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence ;— to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general,-whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever :"—should have attained to an elevation and energy of virtue rarely witnessed in this fallen world.
THE Diary of Mr. Edwards begins Dec. 18, 1722, when he As far as to Jan. 15th, at night, it is was nineteen years age. written on two detached slips of paper; and the remainder in a book.* As it commences abruptly, and as near as possible to the top of that paper; the beginning of it is undoubtedly lost; and it is not improbable, that, as he originally wrote it, it may have reached back, at least to the period of his preparation for the ministry. It was intended, as will at once be perceived, for his own private use exclusively; and had it been with him at the close of life, it is not unlikely it might have been destroyed. Still, whatever is calculated to do good, and is perfectly consistent with an author's real reputation, may be published with honour, whatever his design might be while writing. The best of men, indeed, have thoughts, and opinions and feelings, which are perfectly proper and right in themselves, which yet it would be wholly improper for them to disclose to others. But a man of sound discretion, will take care that nothing of this nature is placed within the reach of accident. What Mr. Edwards wished to have concealed from every eye but his own, he wrote in short hand. And on one occasion, after having written to a considerable extent in that character, he adds this remark in his customary hand, "Remember to act according to Prov. xii, 23, A prudent man concealeth knowledge."
The reader, while perusing the Diary in its various parts, will, I think, be struck with it, as possessing the following characteristics. It consists of facts; and of solid thought, dictated by deep religious feeling and not of the mere expressions of feeling, or of commonplace moral reflexions, or exhortations. It was intended for his own eyes exclusively; and not chiefly for those of his friends and of the public. It is an exhibition of the simple thinking, feeling and acting, of a man, who is unconscious how he appears, except to himself, and to God: and not the remarks of one, who is desirous of being thought humble, respecting his own humility. If we suppose a man of christian simplicity, and godly sincerity, to bring all the secret movements of his own soul under the clear, strong light of
*He mentions, Jan, 14th, his making the book, and annexing the loose papers to it.
heaven, and there to survey them with a piercing and an honest eye, and a contrite heart, in order to humble himself, and make himself better; it is just the account which such a man would write. In these respects, it is, with only here and there a solitary exception, wholly unlike any Diary of modern times; and, as such, is, with here and there a solitary exception, the only Diary of modern times, that ought ever to have been published.
DIARY. DECEMBER, 1722.
Dec. 18. This day made the 35th Resolution. The reason why I, in the least, question my interest in God's love and favour, is,-1. Because I cannot speak so fully to my experience of that preparatory work, of which divines speak:-2. I do not remember that I experienced regeneration, exactly in those steps, in which divines say it is generally wrought:-3. I do not feel the christian graces sensibly enough, particularly faith. I fear they are only such hypocritical outside 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.-4. Because 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.
Dec. 19. This day made the 36th Resolution. Lately, I have been very much perplexed, by seeing the doctrine of different degrees in glory questioned; but now have almost got over the difficulty.
Dec. 20. This day somewhat questioned, whether I had not been guilty of negligence yesterday, and this morning; but resolved, No.
Dec. 21, Friday. dull, dry and dead.
This day, and yesterday, I was exceedingly
Dec. 22, 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 the 37th Resolution.
Sabbath-night, Dec. 23. Made the 38th Resolution.
Monday, Dec. 24. 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.
Wednesday, Dec. 26. Early in the morning yesterday, was
hindered by the head-ache all day; though I hope I did not lose much. Made an addition to the 37th Resolution, concerning weeks, months and years. At night; made the 33d Resolution. Saturday, Dec. 29. About sunset this day, dull and lifeless. 1722-23. Tuesday, Jan. 1. Have been dull for several days. Examined whether I have not been guilty of negligence to-day; and resolved, No.
Wednesday, Jan. 2. 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 on 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.
Saturday evening, Jan. 5. A little redeemed from a long dreadful dulness, about 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; and, if this should continue much longer, I perceive that other sins will begin to discover themselves. It used to appear to me, that I had not 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 up himself 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; and in not forcing myself upon religious thoughts.
Sabbath, Jan. 6. At 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.