Eclectic Society

previously unpublished notes for

30 April 1787 - 22 June 1789

(see here for a list of members)

1787 Apr 30 Eclectics


30 April 1787
Question: What is the nature and extent of Christian Perfection?
Cecil Perfection:
1. Integrity
2. Advance
3. Future consummation
Woodd Abstract. Perfection, belonging to God only. Perfection in parts, in degree. Conformity to original standard, Adam. Deviation by sin in the intellectual and moral – restored by grace.
Scott Various senses of perfection. Devotedness to God. Consistency. Universality. Reference to the Redeemer. Proportion. Counteracting the natural spirit – as defective, or redundant. Ripeness. Habitude.
Abdy [blank]
Bacon What we cannot obtain – what we shall eventually; what we may obtain, what some do, what all must.
We shall obtain a full union to the will of God.
We may obtain devotedness, dependence.
Some do obtain anticipation.
We must obtain the root of all this.
Foster A perfection compatible with a fallen sinner:
1. when he approves the holy law of God – therefore abasement and self-abhorrence.
2. receiving Christ as proposed in the Gospel – for pardon, washing, etc.
3. longing after God and conformity to him.
4. giving glory to God for all – taking only sin and ignorance and misery
Bates Compendious description Philippians 3:3 of all that is necessary and attainable.
Lawson Perfection, imitation of God, God-likeness of Christ.
Bates Perfection must [be] in intention and aim.
14 May 1787
Question: How far Divine Providence influences men in the common concerns of life – and how far this [is] consistent with free will?
Woodd Acknowledged – yet mysterious.
Bacon Are any circumstances unimportant? Objections owing to partial views of God likening him to ourselves – we if taken up with great things, we neglect small – Scriptural history and promises prove it.
Lawson General and particular – the some to the Great God. Dispensations of providence, reduced by us to general laws but these laws have no place to him. Conditional decree Acts 27:39. [1]
Scott Universal – overruling. Analogy to the creation. Maximus in minimus. [2] Natural evil as tigers, poisons, etc. Three ways:
1. concurrence with natural powers.
2. a turn given without force.
3. what we call miraculous.
Use means of prayers. Influence over the minds of men – immediately, or by instruments. Actions arise from disposition and motive. Inferences: God’s appointment encourages the use of means. Happy believer – to whim all shall work for good. Ministers encouraged – all hearts and events in his hand.
Bates Inclination and will – distinct. Appointment and permission distinct.
27 May 1787
Question: In what sense and degree, do our prayers prevail with God?
Scott Prayer – important to prepare our minds – who we are – to whom we speak – and what we really want, and on what grounds.
Lawson Connection established between means and ends.
Cecil The divine character – his love and tenderness. Scr[Scripture] language accommodated – prayer taking hold of God’s promise – suited to our state, and to God’s goodness and greatness – instituted for this purpose. Jacob Genesis 32. Honours God, and is honoured by him – faith.
Bacon God’s appointment adapted to our situations and feelings. Answers often a simple child simply. But there is a higher state. (Particular answers: Abraham’s for Sodom; Jacob Genesis 28; Hezekiah) James and John. Acts 5. Luke 15:31. Answers to prayer in a compounding view, of our advance, exigence, and farther growth. By faith that it may be of grace.
Foster Reasoning hurtful. Prayer unburdens the mind – brings us near to God, and spiritualises the soul – gives acquaintance and reverence – testifies to the world that we depend upon him.
Pierson No human system exactly compares to the Bible, which speaks to us as poor, unworthy and helpless. Prayer founded in the nature of God and of man – and the relation of creatur[e] and Creator. How does prayer operate? Not physically – moral aptitude – duty – promise. Prayer an occasional cause. Petitions should be within the limits of the promise – and our circumstances. Some promises peculiar to the first age. Faith twofold:
1. miraculous, not to be expected. Moses’s rod.
2. saving faith. We may pray for what we cannot expect – intersession etc – submission to the Lord’s will – end spiritual. A sense of devotion, distinct from explicit prayer. Importunity encouraged, to treat God as a parent, avoiding subtlety. God immutable, yet speaks as repenting, and altering his purpose. The prayer of Moses, Let me alone. Necessity and non-existence of matter, may be proved, to reason, yet must be false and absurd. Prayer conditional to the promises. Christ[‘s] prayers to honour God. Speculations to the prejudice of prayer dishonours him. Prayer more important than hearing [sermons?].
11 June 1787
Question: What are, and what are not, distinguishing and essential characteristics of a gracious operation?
Pierson Christians to be known by their fruits. How to apply, that our feelings are gracious. The effects – not by intuition. Edwards how far defective. God the object of love a sin his relations. Question: assurance.
Scott No absolute certainty that any other person is truly converted. Too much stress laid upon terrors and comforts. Assurance always alike to be suspected. Is enmity removed? Love to the people of God.
Lawson Distinctions not necessary.
Clayton All enlargements of the human mind are from the Holy Spirit – Saul, Bezaleel. So spiritual gifts. Balaam. Preachers in modern times – Saving operations distinguishable. Romans 8. Question: concerning hope. Faith respects the promise, hope the matter of the promise. Conviction of unbelief. High thoughts of Christ in understanding and judgement. Love of the truth in the mystery, in its holiness and as humbling. Disinterestness. Devotion. Philanthropy.
Cecil Honest consciousness. Finding out myself to be a worm. Mortified spirit to the world. Glory in the Cross. Willing to be nothing, not talked of, not known. The reverence of a child, under correction. Hidden private source of religion. Up and down hill.
Bates Wrong things may be in a certain orderly course – treat all doubts as temptation and unbelief. Often good in theory, poor in practice. Supreme regard to the divine excelling essential to true religion. Humility and love combined. Symmetry. Universality.
25 June 1787
Question: What is to be understood by the plenary inspiration of Scripture?
Woodd Four sorts: Superintendency, plenary – super in elevation, suggestion
1. Characters – expedience, agreement – equality in manner
Clayton Long relations and discourses too important to be depended on by memory. Bring to remembrance all things. It is not you that speak but the Holy Ghost.
Abdy [blank]
Cecil The Bible – the standard – variety – harmony – sanctity – efficacy – inspiration necessary to secure from mistakes. Necessary in the devotional part. Sufficiency of ointment.
Foster God’s intention to instruct.
Pierson What is the end of revelation? Instruction. Inspiration includes either the suggestion, or the security from mistake.. Scripture style popular. God has not promised to preserve the Sc[Scripture] from corruption, Septuagint, Scripture early tampered with. Question: if every word inspired – Division of Scripture Historical – creation – human heart – Moses not only free from error, but has told us what he could not have otherwise told. Poetical – grand and simple – allegorical – Levitical institution, exactness, so in the Word of God – Preceptive and doctrinal Positive duties – inferences drawn. Prophecy. The matter important, the manner less so. We may expect difficulties of apparent inconsistency – some things which men would reject, as too low, and too high. Written for all mankind and for all ages.
Scott The three kinds of inspiration – no real inconsistency – infallible and free from mistake. Good men and heretics agree in tradition to the books of Scripture. Coincidence between prophecy and profane history and observations of men, families and nations. Character of God, and man – but contrary to our apprehensions. Experience. Efficacy. The writers bear testimony to each other. Different writers, all agree. Analogy of creation and providence – which extend to the smallest things. Some anomalous, some hurtful – to the Scripture. Cloak and parchments useful. [3] Some passages for cavillers to stumble.
Gambier Reasons for proposing the question, 2 Demoniacs – or one.
Lawson Evangelists witnesses – competent, upright.
9 July 1787
Question: How far may error be considered as innocent or criminal?
Woodd Error criminal, from wilful negligence, prejudice or opposition.
Bates Whatever is incomprehensible we must think of erroneously.
Error not chargeable when the means of knowledge not afforded.
What is not necessary to be known.
What is not injurious to the character of God.
Heart more in fault than the head.
Ignorance distinguishable from error.
Pierson In judging – consider:
1. Situation if means of information – if proposed plainly – if due capacity.
2. What are fundamental truths? What books inspired? Many things seen by some in the Bible – the sense of good men dubious. Infidels unfair in judging without preparation. Bacon’s Idola. [4] Indifference and carelessness. Keep on the safe side of the question. Be modest and diffident where opinion is contrary to that of wise and good men. Scepticism erroneous in itself. Subjects of religion sublime, and require attention and humility. Men not justly chargeable with consequences which they do not avow. Judicial error.
Lawson John 9:41
Scott Source of error – effects of error. All men criminal. Engrossed by business, pleasure and pride. Pride, makes the scholar set up for Teacher – refuses prayer – disdains the Bible description of man. Prejudice in favour of party novelty and antiquity. Darling sin.
Clayton Truth, conformity to the Bible standard.
23 July 1787
Question: What advantages may be deduced from Ministers determining the characters of men by marks, and which is the best way of doing it?
Bacon Difficult to discuss. Important for travellers to know whether in the right road, or how far. Many stick at this point. High characters of grace, excite admiration, desire, and stop the mouths of gainsayers. Difficult:
1. to distinguish the early working of grace, from stony ground hearers. The true believer burdened at setting out, not so Pliable. [5]
2. to distinguish a real Christian when in a backsliding sate.
3. between decay of activity and natural languor.
4. when under fierce temptation – the difficulty not in discerning the case or the remedy, as in the application.
5. concerning the unpardonable sin.
Woodd Difficulty from allowances to be made for education, habit, phraseology, from counterfeits. Ill effects of metaphysical language – instances in the love of God. Psalm 42. Character not to be determined by a single mark, but by the general tenor of the conduct.
Scott Marks necessary – but the most difficult part of the Minister, to describe and apply them. The enquiry not how he became a Christian, but whether he became one. A hypocrite be so outwardly blameless, that we ought to acknowledge. Graces concatenate; [6] when one there is all, when one wanting there is none. Seal, earnest first-fruits. Past experience, present consciousness – a character resulting from both. Conscientious – simple – humble – dependent. Distinguish between what is essential to Christianity, and what may be aimed at.
Clayton Self-examination implies marks. Not to be proposed as warrants for believing.
Abdy The knowledge of God, discovers us to ourselves. Isaiah 6. Desire of holiness, humility.
Cecil Ministers should show the people their proper characters. Plan rule measure, necessary. Care not to pluck up wheat with tares. Hearers may be classed – religious lions, bears, monkeys, mouse, casuist, asses braying – a regard to time and place. What the best of stating characters:
1. Scriptural
2. a variety yet with particularity
3. not too pressing personal
4. not equivocal
5. to come as sideways, like Nathan to David.
Bates Best method depends upon circumstances. At first upon generals – threshing, then winnowing – first doctrinal – then experimental.
6 August 1787
Question: What is the due observation of the Christian Sabbath, and whether Sunday Schools are likely to militate against it?
Cecil (Question introduced by Brother Cecil)
[Newton] (then Scott)
Scott The Lord’s day neglected – the day worst spent in the week – youth running together.
Bates Sabbaths of annexed obligation. Moral and positive.
Bacon A moral necessity for a Sabbath, therefore instituted in Paradise.
Sunday Schools at present useful, therefore good, and to be encouraged – though liable to be abused.
Clayton The sentiments of Paley on the institution of the Sabbaths – and the observance of the Christian Sabbath. Public worship of divine authority, abstinence from labour human.
Woodd Exodus 23:11,12 Political. Moral 4th command – Nehemiah 13:15. Observation in public, family and private worship.
20 August 1787
Question: How may we best treat Pharisees and Sadducees? – the children of pride and unbelief
[Newton] 1. Be gentle
2. Decline reasoning.
3. Strike at the heart and conscience.
4. Enclose them gradually by a train of questions – deduced from their relation to God, and dependence upon him as creatures.
5. Distinguish different sorts of each.
6. Observe our Lord’s method with both.
Scott Who are Sadducees? Deists. Socinians and professed reasoners upon revelation – likewise the retailers of such ware. External evidences. Internal. Pharisees two sorts: doers and talkers. Trust in themselves, despise others, saying, Stand by. Moral – formal and Gospel Pharisees. Enthusiastic. All their mistakes founded in a mistake concerning the Law of God – as holy, just and good.
Woodd To treat opponents with love, respect and meekness. Distinguish between the error and the person, between the merit and necessity of good works. To state the Gospel clearly, and prove the tendency of faith. Question the word condition.
Abdy Account of his preaching.
Foster Everyone to study and improve his talent.
Pierson Human reason formed for the overthrow of it. Keep close to Scripture, experience sand observation. Gospel Sadducees.
Bacon Concerning spirits. Reasoning with Sadducees, not on their own ground. If man be a whole in the present state he is a poor creature indeed – therefore we may suppose he is but a part.
3 September 1787
Question: How are we to use the world without abusing it?
Bates The world may be used. What is the use? What is the world? God’s and man’s world. The latter not to be meddled with. The former good, in season and measure.
Foster When we receive all from God – confess our unworthiness – when we employ it to go through it, not to rest in it.
Pierson The question, to be referred to the end, we are pilgrims and travellers. How to improve them that they may not be a clog to our future happiness. We should live in a state of sinners, of mortification. The danger of being attracted by worldly things. If man were not depraved, the world would be a different thing. Things lawful have a tendency to indispose the mind to our best interest.
Bacon No general rule can be drawn. A right spirit will be guided by experience. Some have talents for public life. A Christian should not be in the extreme of conformity. The calling and election to be kept in constant view.
Clayton A right frame of mind, requisite to a right use of the world. The creature under a curse, which is removed from believers. Use:
1. to assign to the world its proper subordination.
2. when the world is kept to its proper time, in himself and in his servants.
3. when there is a right application.
4. when we are so weaned form it as to be willing to leave it.
Goode Things of the world, good or bad, according to our disposition. Right use, when directed to the ends for which they are given. Abused when they unfit us for the path of duty, or give offence to the weak.
Woodd The world, sensitiverational, social care arising from these. Using implies enjoyment. Solomon 1 Kings 2.Our Lord’s example. Why not abuse – inexpediency – inconsistency in point of character. Christian indifference, not stupidity, nor cynical – but from the knowledge and possession of better things. The world expects a certain spirit and conduct from believers. How not abuse? Particulars, fable, equipage, etc.
Cecil Devotedness – of our Lord JC[Jesus Christ]. A Christian above the world has the possession of better things. Romans 12. How to use:
1. Integrity of intention.
2. Diligence of enquiry, from the Word of God – conscience, judgment of good men. The great evil in lawful things. Keep within the limits.
17 September 1787
Question: What is the use, abuse and cure of religious Shibboleths – phrases?
Scott Finished Salvation an improper term. So – first and second blessing etc; both name and thing.
Some, the expression Scriptural, but not rightly explained. Imperfection of words difficult to impress our own precise ideas to others. Technical terms to be often waved – for avoiding offence and obviating prejudice.
Some, though not Scriptural, important and necessary. Trinity. Imputed. Righteousness. Gospel. Offer.
Clayton Shibboleths, not to be absolutely and totally rejected – great and small. Creeds their use – yet often fail – exclude the honest – preclude farther progress in knowledge – settling some mistakes for nations and ages.
Minor Shibboleths. A stress laid upon them inconvenient. Over attention to small things before usefulness and comfort. Misrepresents the Lord and his religion.
Goode Different degree of spiritual knowledge.
Cecil There is a use of Shibboleth – to convey our ideas of Scripture. And to maintain doctrines. And to conciliate.
The abuse – when used as military terms, the partial language of a sect. Wesley’s hymns produce evil malignant tempers.
2. when made a badge. When they are made a measure of judgments. Difference between general and party terms. Nostrums narrow a man’s views and aims.
The cure, Love – a desire to win souls, will teach us to avoid grieving. Humility – a sense of the solemnity of the Gospel. Knowledge of one another – Junius with a cloven foot. [7] Not to notice them, if trivial – opposed if mischievous. Finished Salvation an Antinomian tendency.
Foster Situation to be considered. Whether in a strange or usual congregation.
1 October 1787
Question: What is the most useful style and manner of public and private address?
[Newton] He who spake as never man spake, has in this, as in other instances, left us an example that we should follow in his steps. His style perspicuous, he frequently uses illustrations, borrowed from the ordinary occasions of life, and accommodated to the lowest capacities – critical learning avoided, popular opinions not controverted if harmless. Known incidents improved and applied. His manner, simple, gentle, yet with authority and power – seldom severe, unless when speaking of hypocrites and deceivers in a public character.
The manner of private addresses, must be varied according to circumstances – such as the character, age, situation of the speaker and the person spoken to, and the nature of his case. A physician cannot well premedicate to a patient, till he as seen him, and observed the progress and symptoms of his disorder.
Woodd Style: simplicity, perspicacious and [?]dignified, [8] [not] [9] pompous, technical, enthusiastic, vulgar.
Manner – unity – useful – interesting. Truth and sense – not whim and fancy. Not too metaphorical. Question – (something to be observed concerning rational). Gravity and warmth.
Subject matter – Christ, in all his fullness.
Private address. Most frequent, least equivalent.
Foster Good Ministers advance in simplicity, as in years. Familiarity – joining ourselves as ranking with our hearers. Complains of want of faithfulness, in company.
Bacon Consider characters and circumstances – to superiors and elders with modesty. Not to speak with vanity and bitterness. Avoid singularity in expression and tone. Natural men are unsatisfied and uncertain. Ask, are they consistent with themselves? Contrast vices in pairs. Press enormities as proofs of depravity. Not allow disputes too much – nor fall into their spirit.
In public – of chief importance to fix the attention. Relations – imagery. Push reasoners to the utmost consequences of their principles.
Bates The mind has various handles – try to take hold of the right.
Scott Fortiter in re, suaviter in modo [10] [resolute in substance, gentle in manner]. Like a General who knows but one way of attacking. Not good to start objections, the heart already on the side of error. Religion agreeable to right reason but from the Scripture. It is good to ask questions step by step.
Cecil On private address. Matter – implies forethought – otherwise purpose of taking, without anything to say – useful – a need, etc. Familiar way, not always upon styles. A right disposition of heart. Worldly people can talk warmly of what is upon their mind. Gloomy introduction to discourse. The opposite, levity, still worse. Transition from the sanctuary to Bartholomew Fair. [11] Avoid canting, watching opportunities. Insinuation, working by sap. Make it a matter of prayer.
Abdy Visiting the sick – very difficult – when sent for – sympathy, tenderness.
15 October 1787
Question: What are the advantages and disadvantages of Religious Societies? [12]
  [a list of names without comments followed in this order: Newton, Cecil, Bacon, Abdy, Clayton, Scott, Woodd, Goode]
Bacon Not pleased formerly with societies of a religious kind, excepting our own.
Praying, speaking, extempore, select, and public societies.
Scott Malachi 3. [NB this mirrors JN’s very first tract in Liverpool] As iron sharpeneth iron – useful if rightly managed – in places where the Gospel is not statedly preached. Less necessary, and more likely to be hurtful, where Gospel ordinances are frequent. Should be formed of truly spiritual, humble people. Too many talkers. Danger of self-seeking. Meetings useful in a revival – formal in a time of prosperity. Ministerial meetings the best.
1. make critical hearers
2. make preachers
3. make superficial professors, too public
4. in general the most unfit the forwardest.
Clayton Experience meetings partial – selfish – sometimes railing – conference profitable if duly selected, and managed with humility and prudence.
Woodd Advantages – promoting union, information, candour, sympathy, encouragement.
Disadvantages – danger of disesteeming those who are not of the same class. Ostentation – the modest discouraged. Confession to a number, not worthy of confidence.
Goode Often tend to deceive men, into an opinion of their safe state.
Abdy Question – the usefulness and propriety of societies in the Establishment.
Cecil Societies for propagating the truth. For devotional exercises. Strength in union – can union be maintained by public ordinances. Brighthelmston[Brighton] story. Perhaps not. Advantage of social exhortation, warmth, strength, mutual watchfulness. Information concerning duty.
Disadvantages – difficulty of selection – encourage gossiping, idleness, superiority – formality.
B Concerning the [?uniting] [13] of separating the sexes.
29 October 1787
Question: To what extent is a Christian bound to be zealous in reproving and suppressing outward sin?
Woodd 1. In what sense bound? by the command – from love to God – to our neighbour – not to be partaker. Ministers especially bound.
2. Manner – Time, circumstances of the reprove and reproved.
3. In what instances – 4 sorts. Authoritative. Monitory – Daniel 2. By example. By power and restraint.
Goode If practicable, and probably to be useful with a consideration of ourselves and others.
Abdy Something must be required – or too much caution would prevent doing anything.
Cecil There are sins not scandalous. Family government, sinning by proxy. The church a larger family. Minsters in public or private. Some persons to be let alone. To other faithfulness. To use our power rather as Ecclesiastical than as civil.
Clayton Coercion not expedient.
Scott Reproof a mutual duty among professors. Suppression of immorality of great importance.
12 November 1787
Question: How are we to understand 1 Corinthians 7:20?
[Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.]
Bacon To quiet the minds of those who might question the importance of their calling though not unlawful. But not to confine them absolutely.
Goode Spoke well – all lawful situations equally suitable for glorifying God.
Three sorts of calling: Human – Natural. Peculiar appointment of God – trade etc; relations, Ministry.
Question: Am I able? Can I expect to be so well off for spirituals –
openings consistent with the will of God
a plain opportunity without infringement of present duty
leadings – inward – and providential
Some abilities and right motives not sufficient for a ministerial call.
Cecil Story of Mr Abingdon [14]
Foster Fastidiousness of life, relieved by information of usefulness to a dying person. Dangers of leaving calling improperly – the Lord leaves such for a season – may expose them to doubts of their sincerity.
Bates We know the inconveniencies and advantages of our present situation, but not those of a new one.
Clayton Jacob left Laban by command, otherwise might have been discouraged. Dinah, Rachel, Esau.
Scott The precept a counsel or general rule, allowing of many exceptions. Simplicity of intention, prayer, advice. The case of Balaam a providential opening. How far success in the Ministry may justify a change of situation.[15]
26 November 1787
Question: How may we best discover and rectify our particular defects?
Foster Apt to baptise our defects and admire them under a new name. Faithfulness of friends – censure of enemies.
N_[Newton] Reflection – comparison – trial.
Bacon We must first know our duties and situation. By taking notice of the inequalities of his conduct – disproportion of our powers. Examine success by our principles, how much owing to adventitious circumstances.
The cure depends upon cultivating a love for truth. Think of ourselves as we will, we are what we are. Get behind the screen. May judge by servants or children what Masters will not tell us. Improve seasons of disappointment.
Scott Examine – by the glass – the precept the example of Jesus.
Clayton The Law, Gospel, examples of eminent men, conversation with superior talents. Seasons of prayer – affliction, Joseph’s brethren. Looking to Jesus. 2 Corinthians 3 ult. [16] Diligence in hearing heart-searching preachers.
Woodd The deluded suspect not delusion. Hazael, David. [17] Simplifying our motives so much p year – agreeable situation etc. Enquire if the faults of others are not my own.
Remedy. By watching against first appearances, by determinately mortifying. Godly jealousy. The least specious and pleasing, take safest sides.
Goode Desire to know. Endeavour to know, that is, examine.
Cecil To remove – It must be our object to discover – diligence in enquiry and in prayer. We must not balance or commute. To know that he has a villain within, self. Beware of partiality of friends. Judgement of by-standers. Attend to Cobblers, Apelles [who corrected his painting on overhearing a cobbler’s criticism of the shoe]. Retirement. Men of business, should have time to post their accounts.
10 December 1787
Question: What is the nature and obligation of conjugal duties?
Woodd Love, fidelity, provision and protection – and assistance in spirituals.
Goode Divine appointment of subordination. Consult the Apostle – Ephesians, Colossians, etc.
Foster The extremes of severe authority, and servility.
Bacon Love with authority, more difficult than with submission. There must be occasionally a softening – authority as a remedy may prove worse than the disease. A general duty may be superseded by real or occasional circumstances. David and Shimei. [18]
Question: What method of coercion? Whether it be not better to leave some things to the woman. Something to be reserved.
Scott Scripture rules if observed, need not be modified. Fidelity forbids all wrong appearance. Love should be wise and for the good of the beloved. Tender, yet steadfast. As Christ the church, as men love their bodies, the prevalent good of the body. Immovable to what is sinful. The like rules will hold on the other side. Failure on one part not a release on the other. If we stretch our authority in all points we lose it. Though always allowed to exercise authority, not always bound.
Cecil Man responsible – when the wife speaks, I speak. Woman a tender thing. Not say I will government, but that I am governed, by an invariable law. Order set aside – by importunate flattery – fainting and hysterics, nicely timing – misrepresentation – equivocation. Cure – an absolute inflexible regard to the truth, Regard to the church a chief concern.
24 December 1787
Question: Parents and children
Woodd Duty of parents – dedication to God, instruction, example, provision, kindness, just authority.
Children – reverence, obedience, gratitude.
[…] [19] their children’s reason, affection, and attempt a sort of friendship. Study to please and oblige them – choose good company – not to overdo.
Clayton Parents’ objects – body and mind of their children, first seven years, mother, second fathers, 3 school – etc. Why Ministers’ children so often prove bad? Introduced to high acquaintance – public instruction superseding private.
Cecil Thoughts on strictness – care of servants. Subdue their wills. When to begin religious instruction. Care of converse in their presence.
Foster Begin early. Danger of improper reading.
Bacon What is the first thing children can understand? The parents’ authority – learnt in infancy by looks and tones. Not compel in things which you cannot command – Not – You shall say this, but you shall do this. Nothing so contrary to authority as contempt. Fond aunts, children receive sentiments more sideways, than direct.
The advantage of backrooms. The tone and spirit of the family. Grace before and after meat. Difference of genius and disposition of children, and how to address them suitably. Guard against their forming a low idea of servants. Lecture on a statue, as the mere figure of a man. [20] The duty of A to B when known, marks the duty of B to A.
Scott A oneness between parents and children – This instinct, regulates and gratifies, self-love. Two things committed to parents: a trust, an authority. Parents accountable to God, the church and the community. Example – kind, gentle, happy. Parents the first Magistrate in the family – to enforce rule, make peace, repress immorality, command attention to external worship. Correction by blows, chiefly to young children. Children owe gratitude, reverence, obedience in all things lawful – requital.


7 January 1788
Question: Masters and servants
Scott Disparity of states produced by the Fall. Slavery meliorating into service.
Masters’ duty. Choice, exercise of authority. Provision – examples.
It may be made a privilege, to live with a Christian.
Preference to religious servants – next to moral and orderly. Penalties - reproof or dismission. Unnecessary work on the Lord’s day. Engrossing their whole time. Authority in spirituals restraining sin, enjoying attendance on family and public worship. Provision for body and soul. Generous pay. Meekness in finding fault. Example – the main instruction.
Servants’ duty. Obedience, submission, fidelity.
Bacon Disparity – gives some image of divine government. All are servants in a degree, that is subject to the will of others. Liberty of servants with us in general too great.
Clayton Probable reasons of the servants’ degeneracy. Want of care to secure affection – want of restraining own tempers – want of regular arrangement of business. Expecting too much. Excessive suspicions. Instruction. Withholding of accommodation. Undue familiarity.
Cecil 1. Complain of religious servants who have no religion.
2. Faults when there is religion. Too high expectations on both sides. Stress upon notions – too little regard to relative duties. Inexperience of the state. The spirit of the family. Want of prayer.
21 January 1788
Question: Ministers and people
Woodd Duty of Ministers – personal and professional.
Spirit and character. 1 Timothy 3. If devoted – firm, and determined fortitude – disinterested – self-possession – renouncing ostentation, lucre.
Practice – with the one thing in view. Apt to teach – exemplary – attention to the whole of duty – not secularising – vigilance, consistency – to evidence his integrity – avoid giving offence.
Affability – humility – accessible to the poor. Servants of the church. Visiting where welcome. Question. Tenderness. Faithfulness.
In preaching. Truth, peace, simplicity, love. Avoid harshness – prudent accommodation.
Scott Ministers’ call – knowledge and experience of the truth – preference of the service to all others. Tim. [20] Am I a Christian? Are my aims and motives right? Have I a right earnestness of spirit? All gifts without energy and thriving in grace. Superficial religion, produces superficial preaching and professors. Walking with God like Enoch. Self-denial – to praise, profit. Beware of mistaking the exercise of gifts for personal religion. Public characteristic circumspect. Abridging ourselves. Anything, everything must be given up, rather than give offence. Usefulness after death. Things of most importance to be chiefly attended. An habitual aim to do good to souls. Nothing beneath us, if probable for usefulness. Preaching to be within Scriptural limits, as wide as Scripture, and proportionable – rightly dividing. [22] Not to be too much afraid of hurting weak feelings. To judge of our own gifts and turn.
Cecil [blank]
Foster Private reproof much neglected. Visiting the sick.
Bates The character of the preacher gives impression to his doctrine. Sympathy. The proper importance of gifts – call together the larger auditors. Clear views. Knowledge of human nature to preclude prejudice, and gain attention. Elocution.
Bacon Conversation. The first – gravity yet pleasant. The second – time. Excuse. Explain. If I may speak as I ought – otherwise my character – something of this might be proper from the pulpit.
Duties of hearers – of man to men – of Christian brethren – child to a parent – Something of a reverence to the character with love – to all faithful Ministers – particularly to our own Pastor. Maintenance and support. In proportion as his duty not to seek, it is theirs to make it up. To free him from embarrassment. Prayer for them. Attention and attendance. Candour, support by their example.
Clayton Personal religion in the reality, power and progress. Preparation – choice of subjects with prayer, aim for most good. And after preaching prayer for a blessing. In converse avoid nicety [23] about eating – marks of respects. It must be received, before it can be given out. No wisdom without retirement.
People not to run about – To vindicate his character.
NB If we keep a clear conscience, the Lord will give us a clear character.
4 February 1788
Question: Magistrates and people
Woodd 1. The nature of magistracy – of divine institution.
2. Their duty – in the sight of God, integrity – after the pattern of God’s government.
3. Their sphere – civil and moral actions. Religious in some respects.
Duty of subjects: Honour and reverence, obedience, submission, assistance, prayer, gratitude to God for the blessing of good government where afforded.
Scott Difficulties from circumstances and revolutions in human affairs. Government and subordination absolutely necessary for depraved creatures. Government from God, but not any particular mode. Duty to suit ourselves to our lot. Monarchical and by hereditary succession, seems least inconvenient. The end of government, social peace and happiness. Chief Magistrate, chief servant of the public: and united power best united to sinful man. Magistrates may promote religion, by example, influence, etc.
Subjects: What is not the duty of an individual – not to enquire into the right of the powers that now be. Nor to scrutinise the character of the Governors. Not to judge of the laws – unless contrary to God’s commands, then not to obey but to suffer patiently.
Positive – respect – not to flatter, but not to speak evil. Ministers properly called, may be faithful. Universal obedience to laws which are not sinful. Evil of smuggling – not to evade. Praying for them, and endeavouring to strengthen their hands.
Goode Magistracy, a trust from God and man – Israel, an exempt case, a theocracy. Other governments of other nations, not as equally appointed by God. One man, in one family. Though the office of God, the power dependent on the constitution.
Bates Government in different respects both of divine and human appointment. That all government is founded in compact, or visionary idea, and ruinous and big with sedition and discord. Whatever conduces to the good of man is of God. Heads of family – and branches – superior men. The extent of jurisdiction – how far in religion – difficult to draw the line between civil and religion. Inter-community. Atheist not to be tolerated – if so, any principle that has a proportionable tendency, to be in proportion not to be tolerated. Distinguish between opinions, and overt acts. Question. Is the Magistrate authorised to establish religion. Erroneous conscience binding. Establishment with a full toleration best.
Subjects – Scripture strong for passive obedience, and non-resistance.
Clayton Christ’s kingdom not of this world.
18 February 1788
Question: How to know and improve our particular talents as Ministers?
[Newton] An able  Minister of the New Testament has a competency in every branch – yet there is a diversity. Some more adapted to one manner – expository, argumentative, awakening, defensive, practical, experimental. Some as an eye, others as a hand or foot, in the body. Such differences observable in the Apostles, as in Paul and James. Like soldiers appointed to different posts all subservient to the safety and advantage of the whole.
To be known by the feelings of the mind, by the effect on others.
Improvement. No part to be neglected, but that to be more especially cultivated which seems most our own. Yet a danger of confining ourselves too much to one branch.
Goode Manner – whether written or extempore. Matter – comfort or terror. How the different bent should be known – how far followed or restrained.
Cecil 1st The importance of the question. Different talents for the same calling, no less than for different callings. Whitefield knew and followed his own talent. Bunyan. J Riland [24] might preach but will write. Question. Where does my strength lie? How to discover it? Be willing to discover.
By trial, by success. Enquire of the Lord. Walk humbly. Sometimes the discovery sudden. Attend to hints. Brother Reader. [25] Ministers right when in their element.
To improve your talent, use it. Beware of sloth. Be willing to do one thing. Fable of the salmon. [26] Make observation from life and manners. Follow simplicity, avoid a scientific way.
Foster The peculiar talents to be accommodated to the states of places and hearers.
Scott Difficulty to know what is not our talent, from our pride. Follow nature and avoid affectation or imitation.
1. Pay little regard to the judgment of partial junior friends. Look rather to our superiors. Take it for granted that our friends mean more than we they say when we[?they] disapprove.
2. Take notice of censurers.
3. Avoid enemies. Question. Whether the natural talent should be cultivated or restrained.
Clayton Genius leads not only to an art, but the part of an art. Perhaps we know not our talent, as Moses wist not that his face shone. [27]
Woodd We often overestimate our talents, by the pleasure we feel in exercising – by not comparing with superiors. Patience and perseverance necessary in making the trial. Utility of the discovery – prevents his exercising and overvaluing himself.
Bacon Whether in town or in country – whether resident or occasional. If eminent in one particular way – a change now and then may be proper. Peculiar talents compounded of natural ability, temper, and experience. If a good memory – imagination, reasoning turn, comprehension – application should be different. If energy and strength, to defend. If gentle to dissuade. So experience will give a tincture. All strong energies require restraint.
3 March 1788 [incorrectly written as 1787]
Question: Has JC[Jesus Christ] prescribed any particular rules for the government of the NT[New Testament] church?
[Newton] The Christians in Jerusalem, a church – the appointment of deacons, occasional.
If the first forms were the best for those circumstances, they can only be best in similar circumstances – and therefore seem to have been different, in different places in the Apostle’s times. Corinthians seem to have been without pastors. Timothy and Titus – superior ordaining officers – not unlike the spiritual part of a Bishop’s function. Great wisdom and goodness observable in the precepts of the New Testament, in avoiding such strict limits as might be oppressive to tender consciences. In prayer, not how long, or how often, etc. In exact form of church government hardly practicable in all ages and circumstances.
Good men, think they see their own plans. A minute attention to little things, narrows the spirit, and diverts the attention from points of more importance.
All the members spoke well, and seem in the main agreed, that there is no express determinate form, binding upon the consciences of all. But that the Scripture account should be attended to, and kept in view – nothing admitted contrary to it. The great Canons are that all be done decently and in order, in charity and to edification.
Moderate episcopacy obtained, as the churches increased – a Presiding Presbyter.
Separation not allowable for trifles – so all churches say. Tenderness to those who differ.
17 March 1788
Question: What are the most trying seasons in a believer’s experience?
[Newton] The general terms of the question should properly include, what is common to all believers, and to them only. Varieties in experience, as in features. All alike, yet each one an original.
I speak for myself –
1. Conviction
2. When evils supposed dead, revive
3. Till the determination is fixed for God, and an end put to halting between two opinions
4 When an easy besetting temptation is long contending for victory
5. The vast difference between judgment and attainment – between the closet and the public – two ways: sometimes in private, humble, spiritual – then carried away. Or in public favoured with liberty, in private all confusion. In the morning devoted to the Lord – before night afraid to own him, and ashamed of his servants though we love them.
Woodd Trials – of an infidel kind – not always proper to be spoken of – respecting personal interest – slackness of spirit.
Gambier Similar perplexity – especially respecting conduct. Bunyan. A false recollection.
Pattrick Unfaithfulness
Abdy Chief trial – of the fleshly kind – often blasphemous thoughts. Trials of Ministers adapted to the state of their hearers.
Goode Sceptical doubts. After great trials, great comforts, horrid doubts concerning the most important points.
Bacon Any trial too much for me. Some prevail by their strength – some by suitableness – suddenness – others by the slow and gradual manner – by being perpetual like an itching – by being equivocal – as zeal or mildness – by suspicion – by contrary [?]assaults [28] – in lawful things – cases of Job, and our Lord exposed to Satan. The terrible depths of soul trouble, the greatest trials. A strong impression becomes a leading principle (How do you know a constant answer with some) prevented the disciples form understanding the plainest words. Temptations from figurative language.
Clayton Doctrinal difficulties – experimental – practical – when obliged to act – yet cannot approve my own conduct. Providential – acquisition or loss – new relations or the loss of them.
Scott What are the most difficult and dangerous circumstances?  Extremes of all sorts – Poverty – how to provide and support Christian character. Riches and prosperity – Scripture, experience, observation as Minsters. If neglected, reviled – unacceptable. Despondency. Ill temper. If popularity, more dangerous. Soul exercises – but Paul in more danger from abundance of revelations. Caveat to young Ministers.
Cecil The most trying time that is made so. Tyranny of besetting sin. The life of mere faith, to stand without a prop, like Habakkuk. [29] The drying up of springs – within doors and without. Destitution good but severe teaching. Sapping the foundation. Question experience joys of the dying, of martyrs. Necessity of standing sometimes alone, and against good men. When substantial reasons for conduct, cannot be explained. To act as a spiritual man in a dead spirit. The refusal of proposed temporal advantage. That is best for a man, which is best for his soul and his ministry.
31 March 1788
Question: What doctrines of Christianity are, or are not essential to salvation?
Woodd Infants, idiots, heathens – Cornelius. Question: Whether the knowledge of any doctrine be absolutely necessary.
Scott Heathens not condemned for not believing what they never heard, but for evil in nature and practice. New birth essential. Few if any instances of it without revelation. Many were Christians under disadvantageous circumstances. Grace progressional. Disposition in man to receive error, because it soothes conscience, suits prejudice, and flatters pride.
Goode The Gospel a comprehensive system every part necessary on the part of God. But to us some things which we may, and some which we never can fully understand. Gospel compared to a machine – the great parts visible, the minute beyond us. Difficult for us to collect a system even from the Scripture. All error from a want of humility.
Abdy What are the things that accompany salvation, and what is necessary to produce them?
Add[?] Effect often put for the cause, which is simply divine power.
Foster Repentance and faith
Clayton Gospel – not proposed to our opinion. Reasons for shifting off doctrines:
1st Honour of human intellect
2. liberality
3. Supposed innocence of [?]mental/mortal [30] errors.
Importance of truths – the truth
1. depravity
2. satisfaction
3. influence
Cecil All believers receive the same truths, but more or less explicitly.
14 April 1788
Question: What reasons will justify a Minister’s removal?
Bacon Caution and patience requisite. Circumstances may be known only to himself. Want of suitableness, Great danger.
Clayton Not to gratify avarice or vanity. Disagreement not always sufficient cause – exemplary patience and prudence.
Cecil Not for more money – if this is apprehended by those whom he leaves, and those whom he is going to. Not for ease – not for more popularity. Not for my own will, or the will of my family. Reasons must be assigned with limitation and not a precedent for all.
1. situation causing want of health
2. want of character
3. rejection of the message
4. want of usefulness qu [31]
5. If one door is shut up and another clearly opened.
What is the Minister’s character – devotedness.
Scott Reasons to justify ourselves, or to condemn ourselves. Minister’s disposition. Calling – and feeding. Difference of situation some require especial gifts and experience. Conscientious difficulties. Some places schools for a young Minister’s instruction. A Curate more at liberty. Very scanty maintenance.
Woodd In what cases he may not – in what he may, in what cases he ought to leave his place.
28 April 1788
Question: If the lot is proper for a Christian and in what cases?
[Newton] In Old Testament under a theocracy the reasons why the Unitas fratrum [Moravians] use it.
Scott 1. Whether lawful? possibly
2. Whether expedient? Consult Scripture, reason, friends. Wait farther openings for light.
3. Abuse of the lot – Lottery – Insurance different. Gaming of all sorts wrong – to determine of truth, or of trifles wrong.
Woodd The use of the lot savours of superstition and enthusiasm. Infringes the simplicity of dependence.
Foster If a lot, it should be a present concern – on what is in itself lawful – a point of importance – where Scripture and reason afford no light. In choice of Ministers.
Bacon Circumstances in life not so important as we are apt to think them. But chiefly the attention and dependence of the mind.
12 May 1788
Question: What rule should a Minister observe in accepting gifts?
Foster Some receive them who ought not – some by their wives. Causes partiality in the Minister’s opinion.
Bacon Samuel – gifts. People often faulty in the other way.
Bates Ministers ought to be upon the reserve.
Clayton Minister to take care that he is not bought by gifts.
Woodd [blank]
Scott Our Lord and his Apostles received gifts, and supplies. More acceptable to a good Minister, for the sake of the giver than of the gift. Ministers ought not to receive for irregular service. Careful how they receive where relations are not friendly, or from inferior relations. And from those to whom they are sure they have done no good.
Abdy Legacy. Laying up for children. Ministers bound to benevolence.
Cecil If the Minister’s character is free from suspicion from the love of gain.
We are not to prescribe how we will be provided for. Thankful for opportunity to preach, for provision, without being bribed or intimidated. Yet the character must be preserved.
26 May 1788
Question: What the advantages and disadvantages of a sociable disposition?
Woodd Sociability belongs to our nature and to our happiness – learn humility, candour, kindness, knowledge of the heart. Beware of the extreme. We are born neither for study nor for trifling.
N[ewton] Information. Benevolence. Influence. Conduct.
Scott Gives access – good will. Opportunity of speaking.
Disadvantages – loss of time – abates reverence of Minister’s character. Connivance and conformity. Encouragement of false professors.
Goode Advantageous or otherwise according to the choice of company.
Abdy Example of our Lord – sociable yet often retired.
Foster The social temper leads us to the learned and the rich – robs of time and thoughts for the pulpit.
Cecil Appeal to experience and fact – holy zeal – with simplicity. Holy violence act against constitution and inclination.
Clayton Minister becomes News Courier – exposed to flattery.
Bacon Abuse no argument against the proper use of social disposition.
9 June 1788
Question: How far music may be subservient to true devotion?
[summary] Scientific music not subservient but hurtful, and therefore not expedient. It too much occupies the mind in performance or in hearing. The effects mechanical. Tends to give a ceremonial Judaizing cast to worship, and to hurt the simplicity of the Gospel. It substitutes a dead carcass for the living power of religion.
In private, it is ensnaring without great care, and may insensibly steal away the heart and consume much precious time. [32]
23 June 1788
Question: What are the general benefits of baptism? [f53 of ms]
[summary] The high sentiments of the Fathers and the Papists in this Article, have tinctured some expressions in our Liturgy, on this subject. A contrary extreme very prevalent at present – many consider baptism as a mere ceremonial. And that of infants the Baptists (so called) deem a nullity.
Baptism, includes a recognition and profession of the principal points of Christian doctrine, expressed or implied in the form of administration. Like circumcision is the seal of the covenant. Applied to the same subjects (infants) not by direct command, but silently by the Apostle’s example and practice, like the change of the Sabbath from the 7th to the first day of the week. John’s baptism different from the Christian.
Useful to the child – admitting him within the pale – preparing a ground for persuasion and admonition in future – and may be many ways useful to parents.
But it is a mark of Christian profession, an act of obedience to our Lord – and therefore aims at his glory. This would be sufficient, though no direct benefit to the infant could be assigned.
23 June 1788
Question: What are the general benefits of baptism?
[NB this is a different record to the previous entry of identical date but is on f54 of the ms]
[summary] A divine institution, if conscientiously observed, must be beneficial.
Baptism a seal of profession, and an initiation into the visible church – instead of circumcision and therefore for infants though without express command – as there is no command for the change of the Sabbath.
The simplicity corresponds with the genius of the Gospel – a test of obedience – a symbol – a relief to the anxiety of parents.
It has been held too high, which has led others to the contrary extreme.
7 July 1788
Question: How far public protest against sin from the pulpit will excuse silence in the parlour?
[summary] There is a medium between silently conniving at sin, and casting pearls away where they will not be received. But general preaching will not apply to all particular cases.
Silence is sometimes the most proper and effectual protest – but the eyes may speak.
Reproof should be upon sure ground, usually in secret, always in love, much depends upon season and circumstances.
Faithfulness so called is sometimes scolding. And gentleness sinks into timidity. Yet the Christian should be a gentleman, and not harsh or rude.
21 July 1788
Question: [blank] [33]
4 August 1788
Question: [blank]
18 August 1788
Question: What is the Scriptural idea of hypocrisy? and in what sense applied to the Pharisees?
[summary] The unconverted of 2 sorts: those who pretend to religion and those who do not.
Of the former some deceive themselves – others are more gross wearing a cloak to deceive and impose upon others – long prayers and widow’s houses. [34]
A principle of integrity not in the heart by nature, therefore where found, implanted by Grace, like the leaven will work its way.
The two sorts of hypocrites illustrated by two sorts of traders, the careless and the fraudulent.
In strictness – all who profess religion, and are not believers in Christ, are hypocrites – though there are degrees.
They who are not hypocrites, are yet chargeable with hypocrisy.
1 September 1788
Question: How far a Minister should be explicit in reproving peculiar errors and sins of his congregation?
Scott Introducing the subject – allowance to be made for constitution, habit, and some difference in private judgment. Whether by direct attack, or to insinuate. Reasons in favour of the direct attack:
1. Scriptural precedents
2. Self – not willing to apply unless the words are spoken home.
Gambier Plain declaration against plain sins – more sharply and sensibly – gently and gradually in things of wrong tendency that are not so determinately wrong.
Woodd [blank]
Goode Allow what is good.
Cecil How I begun at St John’s. Let a man act according to present light; if right he will be confirmed – if wrong experience will show. Assault and sap both to be used – enter by any or every avenue. Both may be used to no good effect – subtlety – harshness. Not only to be used, but well used. Simplicity necessary.
Moving the ground of mistakes. Ministers are fishermen. Eel spear – baits – hooks and nets to be used on different occasions. Best mode of attack which arises from the subject.
Foster An honest man must and will be explicit – but to be watchful over temper. Preaching upon patience in a passion. Liable to spit our venom upon those whom we dislike, or who dislike us. Character or weight of the preacher to be considered. Take care of ourselves when we attempt to reprove others.
15 September 1788
Question: What is the nature of pride, and wherein does the guilt of it consist?
[Newton] It is the root and essence of our apostasy, or spirit of independence and rebellion, derived from Satan.
Gambier Want of a sense of dependence – over self-estimation.
Cecil Caesar, Cicero, Cato/ Self exaltation. Christian a pheasant, game cock, peacock, turkey cock. [35]
Pride universal. Lofty, creeping pride. Exorbitancy. Tortoise and eagle. Unteachableness the tutor of cruelty and oppression. Intoxication. Signature I.
Foster Pride would direct God to order all things for our exaltation. Pride is treason, an acting of the King. Case of Herod. We lament pride, and are immediately proud of our lamentation. Proud of distinction – as Paul who was the only one taken up into the third heaven.
Scott Pride springs from ignorance or forgetfulness:
1. Who made thee to differ?
2. On whom we depend for the continuance and exercise.
3. For what end bestowed. The proud a tax gatherer who pockets what ought to be paid into the treasury.[nb for pl]
4. Forget how little our much is. Pride a want of taste.
5. Forget the real value of things. Grace compared with gifts.
6. Forget ourselves – how poor in the sight of God. Pride the opposite to faith and obedience and submission.
Woodd Pride in castle-building. Ingratitude, envy, anger and fruits of pride.
29 September 1788
Question: What are the Lord’s usual methods to mortify pride in his people and especially in his Ministers?
[Newton] Humility the opposite to pride. How formed – by a discovery of God and of ourselves – and a hope of mercy, without which the knowledge of ourselves would produce despair. Prone to be forgetful of these things after we know them – or to remember them with coldness and inattention. So far as this is the case, pride revives.
Methods and provisions for counteracting it. I speak chiefly for myself.
1. Recollection of state of ignorance, so St Paul, my own, not less singular – the extreme of:
1.1 wickedness – sensuality, profaneness
1.2 misery, in the Harwich, and the Plantanes
2. Recollection of backslidings. So Aaron when his two sons died. [36]
3. a wild imagination
4. Difference between what I appear to be, and what I am – teaching others, but not myself. Between pulpit and closet – The talk of plain people who seem really to have, what I only speak of.
Bacon Three sorts of humility: constitutional, speculative, gracious. A creature to be proud, most inconsistent. Sickness, afflictions, etc, helps to promote humility, where they do not harden. Pride a bladder. Self-despair from disappointment in the pursuits of our own, respecting happiness – tend to humble. It is not in knowledge, ambition, wealth or show – these tend to make revelation desirable. A sense of mercy answers all wants – makes humility genuine and grateful.
Clayton A state of doubts and fears respecting our [own] [37] personal interest, humbling. Looking to the standard. Comparison with others, by reading and observing the lives of good men. Afflictions and temptations not only a general and public, but a private school.
Ministers – pulpit mortifications. Fickleness of their people – the apparent unprofitableness of their labours – few awakened – many walking disorderly. Remarks both of friends, and of enemies.
Woodd Sermons, prayers, praises, all tainted with evil. Sudden changes of frames. Incompetence to resist small temptations. Disappointment of expected commendation. Humiliating seasons in the pulpit – either confusion, or talking as by rote. Rising of corruption immediately after preaching. Too often by awful falls. Nothing will do unless sanctified. Ice may be broken by force, but can only be melted by heat.
Goode Humility without a name among the heathen – therefore a Scriptural grace – promoted by taking away the objects of our pride, by the Cross of Christ, which shows sin and love in the strongest light.
Gambier By making what we are proud of the occasion of disquiet.
Cecil A Christian soon put into a school. Thorns in the flesh – suited to prick the bladder of pride. Preach to ten stupid people – a large congregation – what is doing between me and the people – foolish commendation mortifying. Being left to our natural powers, an auctioneer – sometimes not able to do that. Stripping a man of his ornaments. Besetting sin. The prudent act foolishly. Clear and judicious hearers. Seeing my own face in another man’s glass.
Scott Begin comfortably, elated, checked at once and left in the dark. Acquaintance with superior characters. Disappointment. Use of instituted means. Pride must be felt as wickedness and misery.
13 October 1788
[ms f63: this appears to be Newton’s planning for the Question on 27 October 1788 –
it would tally with the fact that questions had to be proposed a fortnight in advance]
Question: How far is an erroneous conscience binding?
[Newton?] Natural conscience evil, because blind, prejudiced and partial. Its dictates cannot make wrong to be right – but may extenuate. Thus what Paul did was, ignorantly. [38]
A man cannot be bound to kill the servants of God, because he means thereby to do him service, indeed there is no sincere intention of serving him.
The oath of the 40 men to kill Paul, was it binding? [39]
A miserable state, when the light of the mind is darkness – and men must sin, whether they act from conscience or not.
True Christians in smaller points, may be mistaken, yet perhaps they are bound. Romans 14. That is wrong to me, however right, when I do against my judgment.
A scrupulous conscience burthensome to oneself, hurtful to others.
13 October 1788
[ms f64: this and the previous entry carry the same date]
Question: In what sense and to what extent, are we to eat and drink etc, to the glory of God?
Woodd A set off, with respect to samples.
Bacon The form of the text speaks universal attention and obedience. Expresses privilege, people in every situation may glorify God. Religion too often in generals. We should try ourselves by particulars.
Lawson Characteristic difference, between man and brute, atheist and believer.
Scott More harm done by abuse of liberty, than by little scruples. We act for the glory of God, in exhibiting the Gospel character. Example as a master of a family, or a visitant – not to give or cause offence. Things lawful, allowable, expedient. Regard to health and constitution, in eating and drinking. Spiritual taste to be habitually in exercise.
Gambier We glorify God by thankful receiving.
Cecil One thing I do. Religion must be taken up universally.
27 October 1788 [ms f65]
Question: Transferred from p 63 [see first entry for 13 Oct – How far is an erroneous…].
The causes, obligations, engagements and cure, of an erroneous conscience?
Scott Conscience, not a distinct faculty, an act of the practical judgment on our own conduct – depends upon our knowledge. Causes of an erroneous conscience:
1. unavoidable want of information
2. weakness of capacity
3. More frequently from the depraved state of the heart – indisposition, inattention, pride, reason, own reason, discoveries, ect. Corrupt affections, self-interest.
Engagements how far binding? Not when afterwards seen unlawful. Obligation remains till ignorance is removed.
Cure: humility, watchfulness, prayer, searching the Scripture, social intercourse with different parties.
Gambier Prejudice of education or connection. Interest – partial views of a subject, extremes, false maxims, hasty conclusion. Engagements depend upon Ifs. Case of the Bereans. [40]
Bacon Two rules of different length cannot be both right, but may be both wrong. Thus […] [41] judgment and affection, a wrong done by others, displeases, by ourselves wounds conscience. Conscience cannot make wrong right, but may make right wrong.
10 November 1788
Question: In what sense may we understood[understand], that God does all for his own glory?
Bacon The expression liable to misconstruction. The excellency of the display of perfection, depends upon the excellency of the character. Question xxx[sic]. Will the phrase signify, according to his own glory.
Clayton In a relative sense. Things disposed that God appears worthy of himself, acting out his own character.
Scott Conceive of the deity alone – before creation. It pleased him to exercise and display his perfection to intelligences. Their duty according to their capacity, to contemplate and approve – and it is their happiness. It fills the soul – and all its powers. Equally so in creation, redemption, and providence. Divine perfections, a union – though surveyed by us, [42] by piecemeal. Sovereignty connected with wisdom, goodness, etc. All his works right to holy creatures – many appear wrong to sinners. Cleared by Scripture, perceived when light is imparted to the soul. Faith not reason. A plan revealed of a great building, but encumbered with scaffolding. [43]
Foster A mistake in arguing from man to God.
24 November 1788
Question: What is the use and abuse of the passions in religion?
Clayton Two extremes on the subject – God has a right to the homage of our whole nature. He is the proper object of our passions as Creator, Preserver and Redeemer. [44] The passions needful to engage attention in enquiries, and pursuits. Passions subdued and regulated by religion. Isaiah 11 – passions in our Saviour’s conduct.
Abuse, when passions form our opinions; they are the source of will – worship – attack men to men or books, systems or parties, of modes of worship. Abuse, in reforming – when expressed in cruel, or pridicous [45] expressions. If rested in, without real holiness, religious dissipation. When lead to the neglect of relative duties. When they degenerate – as zeal into anger – and between the sexes. Substituting feeling for faith.
Goode Passions inferior and should be subservient to the intellect – otherwise deceived us. The abuse, cause the partial and improper exercise of them. Natural passions may be mistaken for religious affections.
Gambier A want of one passion, connected with the want of another – without passion without virtue; without fear, without [gun]powder – if without desire, without activity likewise.
Foster Three abuses. Precipitate judgments. Passions confuse judgment. Alienate the judgment from the truth.
Cecil Like fire and water. Good servants and bad master. Character of a man who has passion – like a ship without a rudder. Transient effects – compared dram drinking sign of a bad spiritual constitution. Like a maimed man, has not all his organs – can hear, or taste, cannot see. Censorious – can see, or not hear – no settled attention. Passion does not love the Yoke. Passion prevents a tender conscience. Liable to snap at baits. Passion – the Methodists.
A man without passion. A judicious [46] writer, preacher – clear but dry – drowsy – he wants a spring – or sails. A man of fitness or man of coldness. Private Christians – children therefore passions. Ministers should be Apostles therefore warmth, zeal.
Scott Without passion – like a ship becalmed. Mere reason, without appetite, would hardly persuade us to eat. The word and work of God designed to affect our passions; Israel at the Red Sea – all passionate, joy and gratitude. Land flood – believer a river. David bringing up the heart, in their joy forgot to look into the law. All redundances of passions above knowledge, and regard to present duty, is an abuse.
8 December 1788
Question: How to distinguish between useful and speculative knowledge, in religion?
[Newton] 1. The one humbling – the other puffeth up. Difference between speculations on the divine nature or perfections, and the views of Isaiah or Job.
2. The one leads to certainty, the other to scepticism.
3. The one enlarges, the other contracts the mind, engages its strength, to a single point, which like a sucker from a tree, impoverishes the stock. Instance, the Millennium writers, etc. From hence nostrums.
4. The one warms and comforts – the other is uninteresting – has no tendency to support us in trouble, or to teach us how to help others.
Speculation, like moonlight. It has its brightness, but shows nothing at a distance or with distinctness. Its beams convey no heat; we may freeze to death under them.
Useful knowledge like the light of the sun, affords an extensive prospect, presents every object properly defined, cheers the mind and makes it fruitful in every good work.
Foster [blank]
Cecil [blank]
Scott The subject matter of knowledge, should be useful – the manner, the effect. Faith receives God’s Word, speculation says, Why? intrudes into things not seen. Useful knowledge applies to fact, our state and the state of the world.
2. The manner of knowing.
3. True knowledge experimental, the person perhaps cannot reason or argue, but can see and feel. Humbling – willing to learn – patient of contradiction. Three sorts of people: some all speculation and no grace; some much knowledge and little grace; some much grace, but little knowledge. Most of us, have more speculative, than practical.
Clayton Objective knowledge – God’s revelation. Subjective knowledge, this may be speculative when little things are most attended to – either in private or in preaching. Speculation produces no devotion. Difference between knowledge and wisdom – one, acquaintance with things, the other a disposition to apply them.
Woodd All knowledge useful, when sanctified, not otherwise.
Goode Truth can only be mere speculation if considered out of its proper place, and importance. What does not belong to our duty, station and peace, when too much time is taken up, is wrong. To enquire of things beyond our present comprehension.
Gambier Were we perfect, every branch of our knowledge might be useful – but as fallen, some may be hurtful. Revealed truths not proposed in vain. The temptations of some from their passions, of others from their reasoning.
Robinson How far is a known truth to engage speculation? Few truths though revealed, quite plain. Question. How far to be pursued. All useful knowledge to be obtained by prayer. The end for which we should study. Ministers have some peculiar call.
Bacon True knowledge is a sense of our obligations and happiness, connects our final end, with our present duty. Speculations, mischievous, trifling visionary – unattainable – not our own concern – or to the disadvantage of present duty. Causes of a speculative temper: idleness, impertinent curiosity, vanity, pride, habit, Satan.
The ill consequences – the effects strengthen the causes – produce a littleness of mind. Cure – attend to the weakness of human reason. Consider, what has been already done. Carry a few plain texts in your hand, then walk between two walls. Keep up a sense of God, and duty – we are men of business and have no time for trifling.
Foster Useful knowledge produces peace, the other litigation. One for plain people – the other only for wise folks. True knowledge affects all the faculties, takes hold of the whole soul. The useful connected with other graces, the other solitary. The one rests on facts – the other wearies itself about the modes. Application, lawyer and heir reading the same will.
Cecil Speculating owing to a want of judgment, or a want of piety. Merchants and misers will not speculate, Knowledge, like the lading of a ship, which depends upon her size. Truths like drugs, not all equally useful – but all have their usefulness.
22 December 1788
Question: What is the proper treatment [47] of serious conscientious men, who have imbibed error?
  Could not attend – on account of my dear child’s extreme illness. [48]


5 January 1789
Question: What are the marks of a vain-glorious spirit, and the cure?
[summary] Glorying in ourselves is vain indeed, because not founded in truth, leads to disappointment, for others expect us to think of them, and will not think of us as we wish. It includes, discontent, falsehood, hypocrisy, idolatry, and in a word, treason. For what have we that we have not received, and abused?
It appears in Ministers. When he affects importance, loves to talk much of himself, his service, sufferings or usefulness. Is forward to display his gifts, or envious at the gifts or success of others. Is sanguine on appointment to a high office – Moses was not so – Exodus 4 – longs to be noticed and talked of. Pursues singularities, nostrums, or even mischief rather than be concealed. Considers reputation more than utility. Dislikes a small sphere. And if he cannot obtain respectable applause, will solicit and be pleased with that which is contemptable.
Our attainment here is rather in lamenting, what we are, than in thinking we are what we ought to be.
The cure and relief lies in a sight of God and of ourselves as Isaiah 6. A deep impression of the doctrine of the Cross. This made Paul count his former gold, but dross.
This spirit disgusts the Judicians, is a bar to real usefulness, and interrupts communion with God, in whose view the [Greek: probably ‘better by far’] of man, an abomination, but dwells with the lowly and contrite spirit. It makes the conduct various, inconstant, suspicious, censorious and invidious.
19 January 1789
Question: What the distinction between flattery and Scriptural courtesy? – and the proper manner of rebuking flattery?
Cecil Difficult to draw the line.
Scott Courtesy, is condescenscious. A disposition to be pleased – an unwillingness to give pain. An injudicious mode of praising, which is not flattery – but has bad effects.
Goode Flattery by whom or to whom offered. Whether with or without design. Love thinketh no evil. Reproof by silence and neglect.
Foster Friendliness of mind, operates different way, according to cases.
Woodd Courtesy, an amiable manner of general conduct. An honest confession of the love of flattery. A preference to the company of those who often say kind things. Story of a gun.
Bacon Saying, what we hope, may remind what people ought to be. A kind of favourable manner of speaking to those who are discouraged.
Cecil Commend in order to blame.
2 February 1789
Question: What advantages from enemies?
N[ewton] To gain information of our faults.
To put us upon our guard in conduct. [49]
Woodd To enquire, Why are they our enemies?
To learn how our characters stand in the world, to teach us humility, to review the principles and aims of our conduct – to prove the truth of Scripture – give us opportunity of exemplifying the Christian character. Some graces, like the rainbow, only seen in the cloud.
Foster The use Christ made of his enemies. To silence and disappoint hem – to go on steadily – reward good for evil – pray for murderers.
Bacon Constrained silence of enemies, a strong commendation.
Cecil Enemies as a hedge. Unsuitable friendships. Make us prefer the Lord’s people. Give us proof of the Lord’s providence and care. What our enemies will allow us, we may perhaps allow to ourselves. The opposition of some, from their known character, give hope that in what they oppose, we are right. When they charge us with what is false, or trivial, a good sign – warn us what we should avoid. Pride showed up by slander.
Scott Enemies drive us from the world. But hurt us, is they make us angry or take us off from our work, make us discouraged and discontented. Enemies permitted for instruction or correction.
Clayton Enemies may perfect our understanding as preachers, and free us from prepossessions – to determine or purify our motives.
Gambier Exercise and strengthen our graces – make us see the evil of what is wrong, which we overlook in friends.
[16 February] 1789
[no date shown, but probably 16 February 1789,
re the appointment of Abraham Thomas Clarke as the SPCK’s first missionary to India]
Question: The best method of propagating the Gospel in the East India? [50]
Cecil The good man, can only expect to make others good. The high and more excellent way. Character of a missionary in Grant’s letter – a trusting, waiting man, whose plan is to give up the world. The Lord is his master, counsellor, and support. General rules: benevolence, abstraction, patient waiting. To avoid all suspicious appearances. To receive hints whether from friends or enemies. Not to descend to nice[precise] and curious points – nostrums, and Shibboleths. To seek and cultivate peace. Sole dependence upon God.
N[ewton] [blank]
Gambier To labour for the Gospel, not for a particular church. Paul at Lystra. [51] Caution against hastily receiving professors.
Scott To live is Christ. Expect temptation, bribes and threats. Preach much about regeneration and conversion. Christ the centre, but there is a large circumference. Different modes of address, in different circumstances and to different characters ­­– decent or profligate, wise or ignorant – the careless to be reminded that they are accountable. Avoid all controversy. Not to start objections. Not to confine too much to a single point.
Foster It requires much grace to be a Christian, more for a Minister, most for a Missionary. Probably the people of Bengal have a very bad impression of Christianity. Disappointments to a man good first, before he does good to others. Renounce the thoughts of gain. Study St Paul.
Bacon People suspicious of strangers, especially of teachers. A decided character never made without a sacrifice. Advisable to have something to do, to excuse from company. Use earnestness. Giving everything its due proportion. Food as they are able to bear it, after the example of our Lord.
Woodd Stories of Comandez and another and of Mr Swartz. [52]
2 March 1789
Question: On what ground hath a sinner a right to the title of Saint?
Scott From prevailing disposition – and from privileges. By nature we can do nothing of ourselves, from proper principles, and aims.
1. Communication of life by the Spirit of Christ. Separation from the spirit of the world – from the guilt and love of sin. The usurper and throned, but still has a party. Are new creatures, forsake what they once loved – and pursue what they once slighted. A begun meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. Christian compared to an exotic, which does not flourish as in its proper clime and soil. The title:
1. as it appears to ourselves, depends upon the consciousness of our change and desires. What constitutes a Christian and what a Christian ought to aim at, are different questions, or
2. As it appears to others. Small seeds look alike, and so their first shoots.
Clayton Ground before God – and in our own consciences. Before men – attachment to the truth – a true worship – uniform obedience – without reserve. A saint approves the whole preceptive will of God. [53]
Gambier 1. By union with Christ
2. By their profession of holiness
3. By a suitable practice
Foster [blank]
Bacon A child – is a man born
Cecil When do the angels rejoice over a sinner? When he receives a new character – A new creation, and a new constitution, passing from death to life – having received Christ, has a right to all the blessings of Grace. When is this known? not by notions – gifts – success – (a mere electrical conductor) – nor by the moving of the passions – great revelations – great commendations. Natural life an analogy. A difference between a living and  a dead person – spiritual faculties, a taste, a walking – a real root – and real fruit – an overabundance of blossoms, no sure sign of fruitfulness. Humility, modesty.
15 March 1789
Question: What are the critical turns in the experience of Christians and Ministers?
Foster When taken notice of. Whatever distinguishes. When he has discovered some of his former mistakes – instance in the transition from Arminianism and Calvinism. New connections, particularly marriage. When errors and heresies are started. Persecution, and its opposite peace and prosperity.
Clayton Time of settlement. Marriage. Controversy.
Cecil Tincture of the first connection. Time of removal – especially for a better thing. All times critical – though some eminently so. In youth, women, vanity – old age, positiveness, great acquaintance. When embroiled with his people. Opposition and division. When authors if they have published mistakes. When nibbling after nostrums, and peculiarities. When taken by a flattering friendship.
Scott Chiefly in private life. The mould in which professors are first cast. When separated from the Minister first made useful. When the first fervour of affections begins to subside. In his endeavours to help and instruct others – has been too busy, then becomes stuck. A new situation. Transition from a layman to a Minister. When the discovery of a mistake, leads a man to fix upon a particular point. When he sees he is not likely to keep his standing.
Gambier Discouragement for want of usefulness.
Abdy Danger of hurting the temper by opposition.
30 March 1789
Question: What is it to be crucified to the world, and the world to us?
Cecil Deadness to the things of the world – leaving what others relish – seeing the world in a new light. Gradual mortification. A superior taste. Distinction of false crucifixion – between God’s world, and man’s world.
Scott Psalm 131 – the knowledge of the Cross – a worldly spirit, idolatry. If crucified, beggars and Lords will be equal to us, in point of dependence, fear or favour. Not only crucified to determined evil, but to the appearance of it – or, what brings us under its power. Implies violence and pain and lingering.
Clayton Some content with a separation from the world, in their creed, or modes of worship. To assign the world its proper place in our judgment and affections – to part with some of it, when called in providence.
Woodd Man in innocence spiritual – sin made a void in the heart, which the world and the creature have filled up. This earthly life, is crucified – what is all the world to a dying man? Nature averse to self-denial – many struggles. Supports must come from things either beyond the world, or above it – avoid all things that might make death more bitter. A martyr not only willing to die, but wishes to die honourably. To give up the world when duty calls, honourably. If Moses had had a flesh pot of Egypt in his tent. [54] Compared with eternity we have nothing to give up – only our example will have influence.
Abdy [blank]
Gambier God has so provided, it is not necessary to sin, [55] to obtain any real pleasure.
13 April 1789
Question: What may and must the Christian do, more than others?
[summary] He is a privileged man and may aim at great things – to burn and shine to exemplify the power of grace, in humility, meekness, forgiveness, benevolence, spirituality and dependence upon God.
He must and ought to distinguish himself from the common group of professors. By attention to his thoughts and secret sins. By circumspect conduct considering tendency of things, so as not to strengthen the prejudices of the ignorant. Universality of obedience. Delight in the Lord and his ways. Perseverance in doing good under discouragements. Fight against darling propensities. Rest and rejoice in God as his portion. Submit to be deemed a fool or a hypocrite by the world. He neither derives from the world, nor appeals to it. Neither courts its smiles, nor fears its frowns. [56] Tender in things doubtful or indifferent. Do all for good and renounce all dependence and complacence in self.
Some when convinced they cannot be saved by their doing, will do nothing. They will do much from false principles, while they suppose them true, but no longer.
The Christian must have patience, with God, with man, with himself.
27 April 1789
Eclectic 1789 Apr 27 RJ journa
Reading Johnson’s journal [57]
11 May 1789
Question: What is the Scriptural idea of self-denial?
[Newton] Self a Hydra [58], many heads, principally three:
1. Self-importance – Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylon. A fine contrast in David and Solomon, building the Temple.
2. Self dependence – Sennacherib, Benhadad. Contrast Asa and Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 14:11 and 20:12. [59]
3. Self-indulgence – ease – sloth – pleasure – all to be denied, when in competition with the will, cause and service of God. [60]
Self-denial – refusal of gratification – not absolutely, but to answer a sufficient end – and likely to promote that end. [?] [61] has not such a tendency.
Avoiding of sin, and sinful tempers – of all excess – what may be hurtful – when passions are too strong. Submitting to disagreeable things for the sake of usefulness.
Foster Self-denial, absolutely necessary to us, not to angels. In every faculty, because all are depraved. The Scrip[Scripture] the rule – to regulate the will, understanding, etc; the particular branches innumerable.
Bacon Enters into every circumstance and connection. A stranger – traveller – soldier – racer – all imply self-denial. Must have an object for compensation – Moses – a scrupulous self-denial induces moroseness, censoriousness, petulance. A constant attention to little things forms a littleness of mind.
Cecil Self – the state of fallen nature. This must be denied – as exorbitant, idolatrous, and base – for he that would rise to the stars, will sink to the mire – unsettled and various, disobedient – insatiable. Self always demanding, grace denies. Many feel the disease, who know not the cure. Therefore call in Satan to cast out Satan. Scriptural self-denial, has no quarrel with the lawful use of God’s creatures. But this to be held with restriction. Mistakes of penuriousness for abstemiousness. [62] Indolence for peace, and the contrary. Self compounds, changes sentiments to retain practice. Denial of self – allows no toleration – it is universal and permanent. A spiritual Hannibal, [63] against righteous self, against sinful self.
Scott Every man denies himself, in favour of his leading desire. Self-denial consists in devoting to God, and sacrificing everything that stands in the way. Self-gratification, dependence and glorying.
Woodd Self a Proteus. [64] General, particular, abstract self-denial – that is a mental – respecting the intellect, will, affections, imagination. Soldiers and travellers endure much for a trivial object, compared with the believers. Consider what will produce the most good. When man will not deny himself, God will often deny that man.
Goode Deny in all sinful, in all that may have a tendency to sin – may be hurtful to others – damping our spirits Godward.
Abdy We are all much clearer in the view, than conscientious in the practice of self-denial.
Clayton Our moral relation to God, destroyed by sin, while our natural relation as creatures continues. Self exalts itself above God, above his providence – his will, his glory. It would subvert and destroy all who withstand. In the person of Christ we see human nature restored to its proper state, and from him we derive a like spirit. To act from conscience contrary to the desire of our friends.
25 May 1789
Question: What are those worldly concerns with which a Minister should not entangle himself?
Cecil What sort of a man should a Minister be? A man of God. Devoted to the cause of the Gospel. Aim high – and many specious things will become trivial. Magistracy improper, embroiling, and causing enmity. Politicssecular business as buildings etc; trade temporal and spiritual. Science. Amusement. A kind interference in other people’s affairs. Helping others in prosecuting trifles. A holy ambition the great cure of these evils.
Scott Many things may be safe, if kept in due subordination. Business may be necessary for a maintenance – but it should be a private and retired way. School – takes up time, tries temper, etc. Mem[Memo]. Will-making. Arbitration. Preferment – hunting – chapel traffic. [65] Guardianships.
Woodd Minister should appear to have but one point in view.
Goode Pupils – occasion, effect – call.
Gambier Necessity of avocations to some persons. Pupils help to speak plainly. A good master a relief to parents. Observation, useful to preaching.
Foster Anything lawful for a Christian, may be so occasionally to a Minister, if his spirit be right. Whom do I serve? What is my end?
Bacon The world allows and even expects a difference in Ministers. An answer of our Lord, broader than the question proposed.
8 June 1789
Question: Difference between moral and evangelical orthodox, and the grounds?
Woodd Election – personal – a general.
Effectual calling – a baptism, regeneration.
Justification – a future declaration that we have fulfilled the terms of the New Covenant.
Sanctification – the work of grace wholly. The A_[Arminians] ascribed to common assistance.
Perseverence – A[Arminsians] wholly discard it as a covenant grace.
Good works – following justification – heaps of methods of talking.
Causes – ignorance of the law of God – and the evil of sin. When they seem to come near, not in earnest.
Cecil Differ in kind – cannot explain can have no communion with saints has communion with the world.
Notions without life. No contrite heart – no great object in view – nor depend on the influence. Are at home, and not pilgrims and strangers upon earth.
Lamentation – that when some of these come near us in sentiment, we should come so near them in practice.
Scott Mentioning Gospel truths will not a[be] sufficient to make a Gospel Minister.
The right man, has seen the excellency of the divine character, law, sin, repentance. Others without light and life.
Clayton Three kinds of knowledge:
1. saving
2. acquired
3. gifted knowledge.
Defective – will not [be] renewed – affections not spiritually fixed – conscience not purified.
Gambier Effects of the supposed new law – lower and higher walks of virtue.
22 June 1789
Question: What is the nature, and the guilt of covetousness?
[summary] It is a desire of more than the wisdom and will of God, have seen fit to assign us. It is not a natural, but an acquired passion, when money is loved for its own sake. This is the extrance [66] of covetousness – but formed gradually. Nemo repente fuit turpissimus. [67]
The sources: independence of spirit, distrust, self-gratification, pride.
The effects: ingratitude, rebellion towards God, a denial of his wisdom and goodness. To others – envy, oppression, dishonesty. To himself – discontent, impatience, narrowness, the loss of feeling and compassion.
Symptoms: If a man goes out of his proper line for advantage. A disposition for laying up and adding to the hoard. Sparing at home, while careless or profuse if at free-cost.
Covertousness – [a single comment on the final page]
[1] Acts 27:39 And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship.
[2] maximus in minimus: James Hervey, Meditations and Contemplations: ‘sure we shall have the utmost reason to acknowledge that the adored Maker is – maximus in minimus ­– greatly glorious even in his smallest works’
[3] cloak and parchments – Paul in 2 Timothy 4:13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.
[4] Sir Francis Bacon, Novum Organum Scientiarum, 1620 – proposed 4 ‘Idols’ which he felt misled the mind’s objective reasoning
[5] In John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Pliable sets out on the journey with Christian but gives up at the Slough of Despond.
[6] concatenate: link together as in a chain
[7] Junius – Franciscus Junius the Elder (1545-1602), a respected French Reformer, but nevertheless suspected by some. Cecil refers to Junius when describing how William Bromley Cadogan’s views of a fellow-clergyman changed once he understood his message: ‘Thus men will talk, till they are further instructed; and absurdly resolve all the faithful and fervent efforts of a sound, solid, and evangelical minister… Prejudice having jaundiced their minds, they are ready to believe every thing but the truth. Like an old papist I have somewhere read of, who standing among the hearers of the celebrated protestant reformer, Junius, crept towards him with an anxious countenance, and drew aside his gown. “What is the matter, friend?” said Junius. “Nothing, nothing”, replied he – “I am now satisfied – but I heard that you had a cloven foot.”’ Memoirs of Cadogan, 1798.
[8] these three qualities of style were written in Byrom shorthand – thanks to Tim Underhill for transcribing them
[9] the ms has a blot here, ‘not’ therefore assumed
[10] Fortiter in re, suaviter in modo: resolute in substance, gentle in manner, first quoted in the writings of the Jesuit, Claudio Acquaviva: Industriae ad curandos animae morbos [Curing the illnesses of the soul], 1600
[11] Bartholomew Fair: from 1133 this fair was held annually over the feast of St Bartholomew’s at Smithfields. Initially a merchants’ cloth fair, its income contributing to the priory and hospice which became St Bartholomew’s Hospital,  it degenerated into what was termed a ‘funfair’ of unruly conduct until it was finally brought to an end in 1855.
[12] This question mirrors the first tract Newton wrote, in 1756 while still in Liverpool: Some Thoughts on the Advantages and Expediency of Religious Associations, Humbly offered To all Practical Christians. See here.
[13] ms difficult to read
1787 Oct 15 Fn13
[14] Basil Woodd, A Family Record: “I went to Bentinck chapel, and called on my dear friend Mr. Abington, (who had prayed earnestly for us,)…” 10 April 1789. The ‘Abingdon’ whom Cecil mentions is probably Leonard Joseph Abington (1763-1842), born into a musical family. His mother was converted through George Whitefield. Apprenticed for 7 years as wood carver at the age of 12, by 1794 he was listed as ‘bass singer and musician, member of Long Acre Society, Choral Fund and Surrey Chapel Society’. He ended his life as pastor of Ringstead Particular Baptist Church. Perhaps Cecil was referring here to an early desire of Abington’s to enter the ministry.
[15] Thomas Scott is quoted by his son as having said: 'I had at this time many instructors as to my style of preaching; and some at the Lock board assumed rather a higher tone of authority: while others were disposed to counsel me as the messengers of Ahab did Michaiah (I Kings 22:13,14).  But I disposed of the dictating instruction very shortly.  "Gentlemen," I said, "you possess authority sufficient to change me for another preacher, whenever you please; but you have no power to change me into another preacher."  The vexations, however, which I continually experienced, often overcame for a time my patience and fortitude.  On one occasion they led me to say to my wife, "Whatever be the consequence, I will quit this situation; for I shall never have any peace in it."  She promptly answered, "Take heed what you do: if you leave your station in this spirit, you will perhaps soon be with Jonah in the whale's belly."  The check was seasonable, and procured by acquiescence.' John Scott, The Life of the Rev Thomas Scott, 1822, p236
[16] ‘ult’: to the end of the chapter
[17] 2 Kings 8:7-15 Benhadad trusted Hazael; 1 Samuel 27 Achish trusted David – neither suspected they were being deluded.
[18] 2 Samuel 16:5-13 Shimei threw stones and cursed David as he passed through Bahurim.
[19] ms illegible
[20] John Bacon, RA, was well qualified as a sculptor to use an illustration of a statue.
[21] perhaps an example from the life of Timothy was given
[22] 2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
[23] nicety: precision (being fussy)
[24] John Riland (1736-1822), perpetual curate, St Mary’s, Birmingham, who entered the public debate on prostitution following the publication of Martin Madan’s Thelypthora, which advocated polygamy. On 27 March 1781 Newton wrote to Thomas Robinson of Leicester: ‘I could wish Mr Riland cured of his Thelypthora-mania.’ see here
[25] A pure guess – perhaps Thomas Reader (1725-1794), Independent minister who, after some problems as an Independent minister in Newbury, became tutor at Western Academy, when it moved from Bridport to Taunton in 1780 – he fared better as a tutor than as a pastor; his brother Simon (bap. 1727-1789) was tutor at Wareham.
[26] Aesop’s Fable describes a fisherman who caught a large salmon using bait of a single hair, through frequently yielding in gentle patience until the fish was worn out.
[27] Exodus 34:29 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.
[28] ms not quite clear
[29] Habbakuk 3:17,18 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. (this is the text Newton saved for decades to preach on at his wife’s funeral)
[30] ms difficult to read – either ‘mental’ or ‘mortal’
[31] ‘qu’ usually stands for ‘question’ in these notes
[32] Newton to William Cowper, 20 May 1780: ‘Last week I had a mind to try what music could do towards making me happy, and not having opportunity like Solomon of getting men singers and all kind of instruments of my own, I went to St Paul’s, and heard what must be very fine to be sure, because it was Handel’s, and because so many wiser folks than myself came to hear it. But I could not help saying to myself, Is this All? Possibly much of the little All was lost upon me for want of taste to discern and relish the mysteries and combinations of harmony; however my ear was a little wearied rather than satisfied at last. I had however two pleasures - I was glad when after an hour’s waiting it began, and I was glad when it ended, for three hours musical happiness was as much as I could well manage.’
Ecclesiastes 2:8 ... I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts.
[33] The Newtons left London on 8 July 1788 to visit friends in Olney, Bedford and Northampton, but particularly William Cowper and Mary Unwin who had moved to Weston Underwood. They returned on 15 August 1788.
[34] Mark 12:38-40 And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.
[35] This last sentence was inserted between Gambier and Cecil – it is unclear where it was intended to be, but it certainly sounds like Cecil.
[36] Leviticus 10:1-3
[37] a large blot on the ms obscures what is assumed to be ‘own’
[38] Newton quotes this point in a footnote in his Letters to a Wife: ‘The reader may perhaps wonder, as I now do myself; that, knowing the state of the vile traffic to be as I have here described, and abounding with enormities which I have not mentioned, I did not, at the time, start with horror at my own employment, as an agent in promoting it. Custom, example, and interest, had blinded my eyes. I did it ignorantly; for, I am sure, had I thought of the slave trade then, as I have thought of it since, no considerations would have induced me to continue in it. Though my religious views were not very clear, my conscience was very tender, and I durst not have displeased God by acting against the light of my mind.’
[39] Acts 23:11-13 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.  And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.  And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.
[40] Acts 17:10,11 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
[41] the ms has a large blot here, possibly concealing a word
[42] ms ‘though surveyed by us by us’
[43] Newton’s 37th sermon in his series Messiah (on Revelation 11:15): ‘A building advances by degrees (I Corinthians 3:9; Ephesians 2:20-22), and while it is in an unfinished state, a stranger cannot, by viewing its present appearance, form an accurate judgment of its design, and what the whole will be, when completed. For a time, the walls are of unequal height, it is disfigured by rubbish, which at the proper season will be taken away; and by scaffolding, which, though useful for carrying on the building, does not properly belong to it, but will likewise be removed when the present temporary service is answered. But the architect Himself proceeds according to a determinate plan, and His idea of the whole work is perfect from the beginning. It is thus the Lord views His people in the present life. He has begun a good work in them, but as yet every part of it is imperfect and unfinished; and there are not only defects to be supplied, but deformities and encumbrances that must be removed. Many of the dispensation and exercises, which contribute to form their religious character, do not properly belong to that work which is to abide, though they have a subservience to promote it. When that which is perfect is come, the rest shall be done away.’
[44] these three attributes were written in Byrom shorthand – thanks to Tim Underhill for transcribing them
[45] pridicious: not a word in common use, but perhaps an adjective deriving from ‘pride’, which Johnson defines as ‘inordinate self-esteem’
[46] Cecil has a play on words here with ‘judicious’ following ‘without passion’ – ‘Judica Sunday’ is Passion Sunday, from Judica me, Deus (Psalm 43:1: Judge me, O God…)
[47] ‘the proper treatment’ was written in Byrom shorthand – thanks to Tim Underhill for transcribing this
[48] Newton’s niece, Betsy Catlett, whom he had adopted as his daughter, became seriously ill with ‘a nervous fever’, of which she almost died.
A similar question was raised on 1 March 1790: How to conduct ourselves towards suspicious characters. The notes Newton took, after remarking that there was a difference between ‘suspicious’ and ‘suspected’ were:
  • What good may I do him?
  • What harm may I do him?
  • What harm may he do me?
See here
[50] In 1787 David Brown sent a ‘Proposal for Establishing a Protestant Mission in Bengal’ to Newton and to Simeon. Newton urged Wilberforce, who was writing on this point to the Archbishop, to request the nomination of a missionary himself, for ‘Such men as the plan describes, as the service requires, are not likely to be pitched upon, if you are not consulted’. Brown, Chambers and Grant had written to the SPCK on 7 March 1788 to ask for Thomas Lloyd to join them, but he declined to go. Newton then approached Abraham Thomas Clarke, whom he had known as a youth in his Olney days, to suggest he offered himself for Bengal. Clarke was accepted by the SPCK later that year as their first English missionary to India. This prompted Newton to confide in Wilberforce, 16 February 1789, ‘I esteem it a great honour, in being made the instrument of procuring a man, who I verily believe, will prove, a suitable, useful and comfortable colleague to Mr Brown’. Clark left for India on the Houghton, Capt James Monro in April, arriving in Madras on 3 September 1789.
[51] Acts 14:19-22
[52] Christian Frederick Schwartz (1726-1798), Lutheran Missionary at Tiruchinapally and Tanjore
[53] ‘the preceptive will of God’ is the will of God for man to follow his precepts, as revealed through the Law
[54] Exodus 16:3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. (e.g. also Numbers 11:1-6)
[55] ms: ‘not it is not necessary to sin’
[56] e.g. Newton’s Messiah sermon No. 18 on Isaiah 50:6 – ‘the Christian who deserves the name… neither courts the smiles of men, nor shrinks at the thought of their displeasure.’
[57] Richard Johnson (1755–1827) went to Botany Bay as chaplain to the First Fleet of convicts, arriving in New South Wales in January 1788. His first service, held on 3 February, is commemorated annually in Richard Johnson Square, Sydney. Johnson’s text, Psalm 116:12, What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? is inscribed on a monument there. A later journal and correspondence can be read at Lambeth Palace Library, MS Moore/1 ff7-95.
Moore1 RJ
[58] Hydra: a many-headed serpentine water monster in Greek and Roman mythology
[59] 2 Chronicles 14:11 And Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let no man prevail against thee.
and 20:12 [And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court And said… ] O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.
[60] John Bacon, in his notes taken at the Eclectic Society meetings, quotes Newton on this point as having said:
‘Self is a Hydra of many head[s]: Self-importance, self-complacence, self-dependence and self-interest.
1. Self-importance – if God makes him useful he may consider himself as a necessary part of the movement and he wonders people can go to hearing one else.
Complacency, or the shame of failing – ‘I have been much straitened today’ often is meant to imply that usually he is more skilful etc.
Relying on our own stores – we should always rise with a view that without God’s keeping we shall ruin ourselves and the influence we have in the Church of God – if we were to ask only one thing and be sure to attain it, it should be well if we asked for a spirit of dependence – a man who neglects means has too much self-confidence. Moses, after all his patience, he spoke once unadvisedly with his lips and for that he was excluded the promised land.’
[61] ms dificult to read
1789 May 11 Fn61
[62] mistakes of penuriousness for abstemiousness: mistakes of being stingy for exercising moderation
[63] Hannibal (247-183 BC), was a great Carthaginian general (whose tactics are still studied by military generals today)
[64] Proteus: a Greek mythological god of the sea, who constantly changed his shape to telling the truth.
[65] chapel traffic: chapel business
[66] extrance: exit – the sense is, the end result of covertousness
[67] Nemo repente fuit turpissimus: No one ever became thoroughly bad in one step. (Juvenal)

Princeton University: CO192
Church Mission Society: Acc 770Z1 (John Bacon's Eclectic Society notes)
KJV reproduced by permission of Cambridge University Press, the Crown’s patentee in the UK
Timothy Underhill, Cambridge