Introductory Note:

These portions of John Woolman’s journal from 1774-1776 offer a glimpse of the Christ-formed thoughts and intentions behind John’s outward actions. You will notice the antique style of writing. These words are 250 years old, but their usefulness for life with God is timeless.

I hope that you will find your vision renewed and your intentions fortified by this portrait of a balanced and beautiful, vibrant life with God.

Grace Pouch
Content Manager

Excerpt from Journal of John Woolman

The next morn­ing soon after I awoke a fresh and liv­ing sense of divine love was spread over my mind, in which I had a renewed prospect of the nature of that wis­dom from above which leads to a right use of all gifts both spir­i­tu­al and tem­po­ral, and gives con­tent there­in. Under a feel­ing there­of I wrote as follows.…

Remem­ber then — O my soul! — the qui­etude of those in whom Christ gov­erns, and in all thy pro­ceed­ings feel after it.
Does he con­de­scend to bless thee with his pres­ence? To move and influ­ence to action? To dwell in thee and walk in thee? Remem­ber then thy sta­tion as a being sacred to God, accept of the strength freely offered thee, and take heed that no weak­ness in con­form­ing to expen­sive, unwise, and hard-heart­ed cus­toms, gen­der­ing to dis­cord and strife, be giv­en way to. Does he claim my body as his tem­ple and gra­cious­ly grant that I may be sacred to him? Oh! that I may prize this favour and that my whole life may be con­formable to this character.
Remem­ber, O my soul, that the Prince of Peace is thy Lord, that he com­mu­ni­cates his unmixed wis­dom to his fam­i­ly, that they, liv­ing in per­fect sim­plic­i­ty, may give no just cause of offense to any crea­ture, but may walk as he walked.

An exer­cise hav­ing at times for sev­er­al years attend­ed me in regard to pay­ing a reli­gious vis­it to Friends on the east­ern shore of Mary­land, such was the nature of this exer­cise that I believed the Lord moved me to trav­el on foot amongst them, that by so trav­el­ling I might have a more live­ly feel­ing of the con­di­tion of the oppressed slaves, set an exam­ple of low­li­ness before the eyes of their mas­ters, and be more out of the way of temp­ta­tion to unprof­itable famil­iar­i­ties. The time now draw­ing near in which I believed it my duty to lay my con­cern before our Month­ly Meet­ing, I per­ceived in con­ver­sa­tion with my beloved friend John Sleep­er that he was under a con­cern to trav­el the same way, and also to trav­el on foot in the form of a ser­vant amongst them, as he expressed it. This he told me before he knew aught of my exercise.

We, being thus drawn the same way, laid our exer­cise and the nature of it before Friends, and obtain­ing cer­tifi­cates we set off the 6th day, 5th month, 1766, and were at meet­ings with Friends at Wilm­ing­ton, Duck Creek, Lit­tle Creek, and Moth­erkills, my heart being sundry times ten­dered under the divine influ­ence and enlarged in love toward the peo­ple amongst whom we travelled.…

Here I was renewed­ly con­firmed in my mind that the Lord, whose ten­der mer­cies are over all his works and whose ear is open to the cries and groans of the oppressed, is gra­cious­ly mov­ing on the hearts of peo­ple to draw them off from the desire of wealth and bring them into such a hum­ble, low­ly way of liv­ing that they may see their way clear­ly to repair to the stan­dard of true right­eous­ness, and not only break the yoke of oppres­sion, but know him to be their strength and sup­port in a time of out­ward affliction.

Tak­en from The Jour­nal and Major Essays of John Wool­man, by John Wool­man, edit­ed by Phillips P. Moul­ton. Friends Unit­ed Press, 2001.

Pho­to by Erik-Jan Leusink on Unsplash

Text First Published January 1774 · Last Featured on November 2021

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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