Jane Attwater Diary: Selections from 1775

[Wednesday] 25 January 1775 [at Sarum]

[After hearing a sermon by Rev. Collins of Devizes concerning congregational singing (which he opposed), she writes that it] much disgusted me whether its owing to his narrow way of thinking or my own perversity I know not but I cannot but think yt praise is a part of worship [...] we know that we are all partakers of ye Bounties of his providence for it is in him we live move & have our Being – & then I think ye 2nd Objection might be easily answered by asking whether there is not as much Religion in a tune where there is true musick as in one yt has nothing of yt kind in it if we are to sing forth praise it might be done in a better manner only by repeating ye words tho I am aware yt there is melancholly musick as well as lively – but I fancy some of our difficult people woud find more fault were ye recitatives &c to be brought into vogue yn they now do but to be serious in a lively noble tune where there is ye true spirit of musick free from a light & foolish air – I think such a sort of musick tends to exalt the mind to a delightful extasy & wn ye humble soul can look forward with a well grounded hope of a happy Immortality tis a sweet tho faint prelibation of those inexpressible joys wch are laid up for the people of God & may well be term’d ye noblest part of worship. May those who are ingaged in it consider the importance of their work & reherse his praise with awe profound “Let knowledge lead the song nor mock him with a solemn sound upon a thoughtless, tongue” (Watts). If I know anything of Religion wch I sometimes fear I do not I think this has been ye happy means of raising my heart & affections nearer to God yn many other means has been but perhaps tho may only proceed from Immagination God grant yt I may not deceive myself but may I be lead to a true knowledge of myself & of ye Lord Jesus Christ.

[Saturday] 24 June 1775

22 years has run their hasty flight since first I entered a helpless stranger into Life Divine Benificence care & mercy has still appeard for me I have been highly favourd by providence O may repeated mercies still rise to my view & may repeated praise be paid to my kind Benefactor – may cheerful hope & trust for mercies be in him ye giver of all things. My conscious heart tells me how much I have misemproved the past year – ye close of every one of those little spaces of time I look back with painful regret and my feeble wish is faintly wn considering ye importance of ye thing I may say faintly aspire yt if I am spared another year I may spend it in a better manner but alas I may with too much propriety say “another & another & ye last are copies of ye dull defective past” my heart asks still shall I thus go on see & bewail my faults yet not amend – see my dangerous situation yet not strive as I ought to alter it. Almighty God thou alone art sufficient to inable me to act aright O do thou give me grace & inable me to begin this year with thee accept my humble thanks for all thy mercies past continue ym as far as consistent with thy will & be my guide through every varying scene in all do thou undertake for me & may every dispensation be overruled by thee so yt it may termanate for thy glory & my eternal good I can cheerfully commend myself & all my concerns into thy hand be thou always with me to support direct & comfort me as I grow in years may I so & far more abundantly grow in grace & in ye knowledge of Jesus ye blessed & only redeemer may I live in a constant preparation for death & Eternity & wn ye final period shall arrive yt shall put an end to my fleeting time do thou give me a happy entrance into ye realms of everlasting felicity above preserve my dear friends particularly my dear mother & may I if consistent with thy blessed will be inabled to rejoice in ye conclusion of ye insueing year of being bless’d with my dear earthly parent to thy care & keeping O God I now most earnestly desire to commend myself and Friends bless us & do us good for ye sake of Jesus the Exalted Saviour & may I hope my Saviours Interests with thee ye Father to whom with holy Majesty & ye Ever Blessed Spirit be renderd everlasting praises Amen.

[Sunday] 20 August 1775

[After hearing a sermon by Rev. Philips on church discipline] [...] The intent of the sermon I believe was to shew wt church discipline is & how it is to be performd, – great many oddities I wish my dear & much valued Friend would study his discourses enough for ym to be judicious & above ridicule – I am grieved to hear so many unstudied things & unguarded expressions proceed from him whom I love & reverance & for whom I woud wish others to retain ye same regard – but how does he expose the Sacred truths to ridicule by his many unstudied Expressions pray he be kept from such levity for ye future & deliver alone ye word of Soberness & Truth came home quite dissatisfied with myself & my Entertainment.

[Sunday] 1 October 1775

[After a conversation about baptism, Attwater writes that her mother] [...] spoke much of ye duty of being Baptized asked me wt could be my reasons for not submitting to yt ordinance said there was but little required to be said if we was sound in our belief of ye necessary truths I told her thought every one ought to experience a deep unfeigned sorrow for sin a true love to God & his ways – I do not find in my heart that deep conviction of & sorrow for sin as I think a true Christian do neither yt Love yt ardent affection to Christ ye blessed & only Mediator & Redeemer my heart is too much ingrossd by the vanity of life I cannot but own yt I see it as a duty on all who possess to believe in Jesus I know there is no other name given under Heaven whereby I can be saved in him I trust or I wd desire to trust alone in him for Salvation – I think those yt live in ye neglect of this duty deprive yourselves of a great & invaluable priviledge for where should they grow but in ye house of God – yt is a Clime wch suits ye new nature of his people & ye soul wch will by ye blessing of ye great ruler – produce in ym valuable Fruits – Instruct me O thou my maker guide & Influence me by thy blessed Spirit & shew me wt I ought to do deliver me from every sinful motive subdue every sinful power & passion enable me rightly to examine myself & shew me ye path in which I should [go].

[Thursday] 5 October 1775

[After attending the Music Festival at the Salisbury Cathedral, where she hears Handel’s Messiah, she writes] [...] Ye musick was noble & ye words more so & if ye hearts of ye musicians & their auditors where rightly ingaged in it twas a noble performance but as to my self I have no just reason to complain – If ye faint sounds wch ye best of mortals can give to his praise is so delightful & on Earth so much tending to exalt ye mind what are those anthems wch are sung above where perfect harmony resides & where discord knows no place? May I whilst in ye journey of Life be fitted for yt blest abode & at last have an abundant Entrance through Jesus ye blessed Messiah who reigns triumphant above & who will Crown his people with the mild beams of comforting Strengthnings & Sanctifying grace here and at last with glory in the regions of never ending Felicity.