Wed 1 Feb 1738: At four in the morning we took boat, and in half an hour landed at Deal; it being Wednesday, February 1, the anniversary festival in Georgia for Mr. Oglethorpe’s landing there.
It is now two years and almost four months since I left my native country in order to teach the Georgian Indians the nature of Christianity. But what have I learned myself in the meantime? Why (what I the least of all suspected), that I who went to America to convert others, was never myself converted to God. ‘I am not mad’, though I thus speak, but ‘I speak the words of truth and soberness’; if haply some of those who still dream may awake, and see that as I am, so are they.
Are they read in philosophy? So was I. In ancient or modern tongues? So was I also. Are they versed in the science of divinity? I too have studied it many years. Can they talk fluently upon spiritual things? The very same could I do. Are they plenteous in alms? Behold, I gave all my goods to feed the poor. Do they give of their labour as well as of their substance? I have laboured more abundantly than they all. Are they willing to suffer for their brethren? I have thrown up my friends, reputation, ease, country; I have put my life in my hand, wandering into strange lands; I have given my body to be devoured by the deep, parched up with heat, consumed by toil and weariness, or whatsoever God should please to bring upon me. But does all this (be it more or less, it matters not) make me acceptable to God? Do all I ever did or can know, say, give, do, or suffer, justify me in his sight? Yea, or ‘the constant use of all the means of grace’?—which nevertheless is meet, right, and our bounden duty. Or that ‘I know nothing of myself,’ that I am, as touching outward, moral righteousness, blameless? Or (to come closer yet) the having a rational conviction of all the truths of Christianity? Does all this give me a claim to the holy, heavenly, divine character of a Christian? By no means. If the oracles of God are true, if we are still to abide by ‘the law and the testimony’, all these things, though when ennobled by faith in Christ they are holy, and just, and good, yet without iti are ‘dung and dross’, meet only to be purged away by ‘the fire that never shall be quenched’.
This then have I learned in the ends of the earth, that I am ‘fallen short of the glory of God’; that my whole heart is ‘altogether corrupt and abominable’, and consequently my whole life (seeing it cannot be that ‘an evil tree’ should ‘bring forth good fruit’); that ‘alienated’ as I am ‘from the life of God’, I am ‘a child of wrath’, an heir of hell; that my own works, my own sufferings, my own righteousness, are so far from reconciling me to an offended God, so far from making any atonement for the least of those sins, which ‘are more in number than the hairs of my head’, that the most specious of them need an atonement themselves or they cannot abide his righteous judgment; that ‘having the sentence of death’ in my heart, and having nothing in or of myself to plead, I have no hope, but that of being justified freely ‘through the redemption that is in Jesus’; I have no hope, but that if I seek I shall find Christ and ‘be found in him, not having my own righteousness, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.’
If it be said that I have faith (for many such things have I heard, from many miserable comforters), I answer, So have the devils—a sort of faith; but still they are strangers to the covenant of promise. So the apostles had even at Cana in Galilee, when Jesus first ‘manifested forth his glory’; even then they, in a sort, ‘believed on him’; but they had not then ‘the faith that overcometh the world’. The faith I want is, ‘a sure trust and confidence in God, that through the merits of Christ my sins are forgiven, and I reconciled to the favour of God’. I want that faith which St. Paul recommends to all the world, especially in his Epistle to the Romans; that faith which enables everyone that hath it to cry out, ‘I live not, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’ I want that faith which none can have without knowing that he hath it (though many imagine they have it who have it not). For whosoever hath it is ‘freed from sin’; ‘the whole body of sin is destroyed’ in him. He is freed from fear, ‘having peace with God through Christ, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God’. And he is freed from doubt, ‘having the love of God shed abroad in his heart through the Holy Ghost which is given unto him’; which ‘Spirit itself beareth witness with his spirit, that he is a child of God’.