Sunday, January 1, 1738: All in the ship (except the captain and the steersman) were present both at the morning and the evening service, and appeared as deeply attentive as even the poor people of Frederica did, while the Word of God was new to their ears. And it may be one or two among these likewise may ‘bring forth fruit with patience’.
Mon 2 Jan 1738: Being sorrowful and very heavy (though I could give no particular reason for it) and utterly unwilling to speak close to any of my little flock (about twenty persons), I was in doubt whether my neglect of them was not one cause of my own heaviness. In the evening, therefore, I began instructing the cabin-boy, after which I was much easier.
I went several times the following days with a design to speak to the sailors, but could not. I mean, I was quite averse from speaking—I could not see how to make an occasion, and it seemed quite absurd to speak without. Is not this what men commonly mean by, ‘I could not speak’? And is this a sufficient cause of silence, or no? Is it a prohibition from the good Spirit? Or a temptation from nature or the evil one?
Fri 6 Jan 1738: I ended the abridgment of Mr. de Renty’s life. O that such a life should be related by such a historian! Who by inserting all, if not more than all the weak things that holy man ever said or did, by his commendation of almost every action or word which either deserved or needed it not, and by his injudicious manner of relating many others which were indeed highly commendable; has cast the shade of superstition and folly over one of the brightest patterns of heavenly wisdom.
Sat 7 Jan 1738: I began to read and explain some passages of the Bible to the young Negro. The next morning another Negro who was on board desired to be a hearer too. From them I went to the poor Frenchman, who, understanding no English, had none else in the ship with whom he could converse. And from this time I read and explained to him a chapter in the Testament every morning.
Sun 8 Jan 1738: In the fullness of my heart I wrote the following words:
By the most infallible of proofs, inward feeling, I am convinced:
1. Of unbelief, having no such faith in Christ as will prevent my heart from being troubled; which it could not be if I believed in God, and rightly believed also in him [i.e., Christ].
2. Of pride, throughout my life past, inasmuch as I thought I had what I find I have not.
3. Of gross irrecollection, inasmuch as in a storm I cry to God every moment, in a calm, not.
4. Of levity and luxuriancy of spirit, recurring whenever the pressure is taken off, and appearing by my speaking words not tending to edify; but most, by my manner of speaking of my enemies.
‘Lord save, or I perish!’ Save me,
1. By such a faith as implies peace in life and in death.
2. By such humility as may fill my heart from this hour for ever with a piercing, uninterrupted sense, Nihil est quod hactenus feci, having evidently built without foundation.
3. By such a recollection as may cry to thee every moment, especially when all is calm, Give me faith or I die; give me a lowly spirit; otherwise Mihi non sit suave vivere.
4. By steadiness, seriousness, sobriety of spirit, avoiding as fire every word that tendeth not to edifying, and never speaking of any who oppose me, or sin against God, without all my own sins set in array before my face.
This morning, after explaining those words of St. Paul, ‘I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God’, I exhorted my fellow-travellers with all my might to comply with the Apostle’s direction. But leaving them afterwards to themselves, the seriousness they showed at first soon vanished away.
On Monday 9 Jan 1738, and the following days, I reflected much on that vain desire which had pursued me for so many years, of being in solitude in order to be a Christian. I have now, thought I, solitude enough. But am I therefore the nearer being a Christian? Not if Jesus Christ be the model of Christianity. I doubt indeed I am much nearer that mystery of Satan which some writers affect to call by that name. So near that I had probably sunk wholly into it had not the great mercy of God just now thrown me upon reading St. Cyprian’s Works. ‘O my soul, come not thou into their secret!’ ‘Stand thou in the good old paths.’
Fri 13 Jan 1738: We had a thorough storm, which obliged us to shut all close, the sea breaking over the ship continually. I was at first afraid; but cried to God and was strengthened. Before ten I lay down, I bless God, without fear. About midnight we were awaked by a confused noise of seas and wind and men’s voices, the like to which I had never heard before. The sound of the sea breaking over and against the sides of the ship I could compare to nothing but large cannon or American thunder. The rebounding, starting, quivering motion of the ship much resembled what is said of earthquakes. The captain was upon deck in an instant. But his men could not hear what he said. It blew a proper hurricane; which beginning at south-west, then went west, north-west, north, and in a quarter of an hour round by the east to the south-west point again. At the same time the sea running (as they term it) mountain high, and that from many different points at once, the ship would not obey the helm; nor indeed could the steersman, through the violent rain, see the compass. So he was forced to let her run before the wind, and in half an hour the stress of the storm was over.
About noon the next day it ceased. But first I had resolved, God being my helper, not only to preach it to all, but to apply the Word of God to every single soul in the ship; and if but one, yea, if not one of them will hear, I know ‘my labour is not in vain’.
I no sooner executed this resolution than my spirit revived, so that from this day I had no more of that fearfulness and heaviness which before almost continually weighed me down. I am sensible one who thinks the being in orco, as they phrase it, an indispensable preparative for being a Christian, would say I had better have continued in that state, and that this unseasonable relief was a curse, not a blessing. Nay, but who art thou, O man, who in favour of a wretched hypothesis thus blasphemest the good gift of God? Hath he not himself said, ‘This also is the gift of God, if a man have power to rejoice in his labour’? Yea, God setteth his own seal to his weak endeavours, while he thus ‘answereth him in the joy of his heart’.
Tue 24 Jan 1738: We spoke with two ships, outward bound, from whom we had the welcome news of our wanting but 160 leagues of the Land’s End. My mind was now full of thought, part of which I writ down as follows:
I went to
to convert the Indians; but
Oh! who shall convert me? Who, what is he that will deliver me from this evil
heart of unbelief? I have a fair summer religion. I can talk well; nay, and
believe myself, while no danger is near: but let death look me in the face, and
my spirit is troubled. Nor can I say, ‘To die is gain!’ America
I have a sin of fear, that when I’ve spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore!
I think verily, if the gospel be true, I am safe. For I not only have given, and do give, all my goods to feed the poor; I not only give my body to be burned, drowned, or whatever God shall appoint for me, but I follow after charity (though not as I ought, yet as I can) if haply I may attain it. I now believe the gospel is true. ‘I show my faith by my works,’ by staking my all upon it. I would do so again and again a thousand times, if the choice were still to make. Whoever sees me sees I would be a Christian. Therefore ‘are my ways not like other men’s ways’. Therefore I have been, I am, I am content to be, ‘a by-word, a proverb of reproach’. But in a storm I think, ‘What if the gospel be not true?’ Then thou art of all men most foolish. For what hast thou given thy goods, thy ease, thy friends, thy reputation, thy country, thy life? For what art thou wandering over the face of the earth? A dream, ‘a cunningly devised fable’? O who will deliver me from this fear of death! What shall I do? Where shall I fly from it? Should I fight against it by thinking, or by not thinking of it? A wise man advised me some time since, ‘Be still and go on.’ Perhaps this is best, to look upon it as my cross; when it comes, to let it humble me, and quicken all my good resolutions, especially that of praying without ceasing; and at other times to take no thought about it, but quietly to go on ‘in the work of the Lord’.
We went on with a small, fair wind, till Thursday in the afternoon, and then sounding, found a whitish sand at seventy-five fathom. But having had no observation for several days, the Captain began to be uneasy, fearing we might either get unawares into the
Channel, or strike in the night on the rocks of Scilly.
Sat 28 Jan 1738: Was another cloudy day; but about ten in the morning (the wind continuing southerly) the clouds began to fly just contrary to the wind, and to the surprise of us all sunk down under the sun, so that at noon we had an exact observation; and by this we found we were as well as we could desire, about eleven leagues south of Scilly.
Sun 29 Jan 1738: We saw English land once more, which about noon appeared to be the Lizard Point. We ran by it with a fair wind, and at noon the next day made the west end of the
Isle of Wight.
Here the wind turned against us, and in the evening blew fresh, so that we expected (the tide being likewise strong against us) to be driven some leagues backward in the night; but in the morning, to our great surprise, we saw Beachy Head just before us, and found we had gone forwards near forty miles.
Toward evening was a calm; but in the night a strong north wind brought us safe into the
The day before Mr. Whitefield had sailed out, neither of us then knowing
anything of the other.