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