Frances Barrett Ryland Diary: 1800

Lords day Jany 5 [1800]

I have devoted more time lately in perusing Dr Owen. I find it very instructive, may I feel increasingly impressed with the useful and important sentiments it contains, particularly would I remember that I carry about with me a body of sin and death. This is constant ground for deep humiliation. The greatest manifestation of the love of Jesus, nor the clearest discovery of his alsufficiency ought never to keep me from cultivating deep contritions of soul on account of sin, and especially whenever I draw near to God in prayer.

O that I could begin this year with increased vigour of soul. Unnumbered mercies have attended me through the year that is past though many of our dear and valuable friends have entered the world of Spirits, yet the arrows of death did not receive commission to enter our family, nor the families of our dear relatives, but O let my heart ever feel sympathy for the afflicted and bereaved. May a gracious God afford support to the Widows, and take the fatherless children under his special paternal care.

I met with a little accident this morning that prevented my going out; thro’ mercy I was not greatly [hurt] though some fears were excited being far gone in pregnancy – O that all I have, and am may be devoted to the Lord!

Lords day Jany 12 [1800]

Six years this day since we were received into fellowship with the Church in Broad-mead, during which time I trust the Lord has blessed his Servant for good to many, that are now his Joy, and shall hereafter be his crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord. May God graciously continue to bless him, and may the people of his charge be established in the faith of the gospel, and the word be applied with power to the hearts of poor perishing sinners. In this great work may I ever feel interested, feel the glory of Christ dear to me, and be instructed in prayer for the more abundant success of the Gospel. I have greatly to lament over the insensibility of my heart, when the importance and glory of the subjects treated on to-day were of so interesting a nature. “The great Mission of Christ is the work of Redemption, and his Suitableness and allsufficiency for the accomplishment of it.” I have had some little revival in prayer, this I esteem a token for good. God is faithful, he will not forsake the work of his own hands. O how greatly do I need the special influences of the holy Spirit in order to realise the reality of divine truth, and to be influenced by right motives in all I do!

Lords day Jany 19 [1800]

O that I had more spirituality of soul! but I am so dull and stupid, that alas I can neither desire nor mourn. If my heart was not very stupid indeed, the discourse my dear J. R. preached this morning would surely make me feel all alive for God, and my only concern would be that I might grow in a meetness for his Kingdom; there to contemplate his glory, and to admire and advance his unspeakable Excellencies! Surely the religion of Jesus is a blessed religion! But why is it that I feel this dear Redeemer no more precious! The only curse I know is the blinding & hardening nature of sin. Then how hateful, detestable, and abominable is moral evil! Lord subdue this body of sin and death, bring every thought into subjection to thy will, and stir up my soul to fervency in prayer that I may not let thee go without a blessing!

Lords day Jan. [26] [1800]

Through mercy my health and spirits are better – Attended divine Ordinances this morng and hope my heart felt earnest with God in prayer, I long to be more conformed to his will. O that my love to holiness may increase, because it is that attribute of the divine Character which dispel so much of the glory, dignity and excellency of his nature. Surely it is high time to awake out of sleep. I need the quickening influences of the Spirit more than ever, may the blessed God put his hand afresh to the work. – I have read part of Mr Fullers book “The gospel its own witness.”[1] There appears to me not much weight in his arguments, but they are so plain and self-evident that I should think no one who reads this work with attention but will discover the force of those truths he advances. His style and strength of reasoning are such that whoever peruses his publications with an unprejudiced mind are likely to derive from them no small degree of pleasure and advantage.

All our family through mercy are well, but many of our friends have been exercised with afflictions either personally or relatively. Poor Mr Morgan died last Monday leaving five children who are now orphans!

Lords day Feb. 2 [1800]

I felt much pleasure and satisfaction from the discourse my dear J. R. preached this morning. “There are many desires in a mans heart, but the council of the Lord that shall stand.” I experienced delight in drawing near to God in prayer on my return home. O that I could live constantly under the influence of these important truths which were delivered, but alas how soon the impressions wear off, and the meanest trifles of a temporal nature attract the attention. O for a spiritual frame of mind, a mind constantly reposing itself on God on the centre of its happiness and supreme delight! – O what dreadful effects have followed in consequence of the disaffections of the heart to God!

Lords day Feb. 9 [1800]

I had the privilege of sitting down at the Table of the Lord to-day, but it grieves me to think my mind was so stupidly insensible. Indeed I have had very little mental enjoyment through the Sabbath though I hope the power of indwelling sin is in a measure subdued, and brought into subjection to the will of Christ yet alas! to what a state has it reduced the mind, how few, and how languid are my desires after God in consequence of this contamination! – I have been perusing Mr Fullers excellent Book, “the gospel its own witness” and surely it has revived, and done my soul good.

Lords day Feb. 23 [1800]

Last Sabbath I felt so very indifferent both in body and mind that I knew not how to sit down either to read or write with composedness of mind. To-day through mercy I am better, and have not been destitute of some spiritual enjoyment. I was presented going out this morning by the sudden indisposition of our dear Jonathan. Thanks be unto God the fever has greatly abated, and we hope he is reviving – This affliction however shows me how very easy it is for the Lord but to touch our dearest earthly comforts and they intently become like the moth that is crushed. Disease only awaits his commission: but it is consoling to reflect that it is always under his immediate controul, and can hurt us no farther than to accomplish his own wise purpose.

Lords day Mar. 2 [1800]

We have received some very pleasing information from Northamption this week. Mr P. – who is in his 76 year is proposed as a candidate for B. My heart rejoices to hear of any one, especially at such an advanced age that is lively and fruitful in the ways of God, many others also are expected to unite themselves to the people of God by a public profession. O that the Lord may continue to bless his Servant in the work of the ministry by giving him such for his hire. May his hands be strengthened mightily in God! My dear J. R. discourse this morning was truly animating, it was of a practical nature from Heb. 12/1. My chief pain was to think I felt it no more as it was calculated deeply to impress the soul. I trust the Lord will bless it for good, and cause the labours of his Servant to be covered with success. This above every thing else wd be his Joy, to see the powerful application of Redemption in the salvation of poor perishing Sinners.

Lords day Mar. 16 [1800]

I have been more or less indisposed for these last two or three weeks. Through mercy I have recovered a little today, and have been seriously enquiring into the frame of my mind. Do I feel more devoted to the Lord? Is prayer esteemed a privilege? Is faith in [me a] more lively exercise? O that I would answer in the affirmative! God knoweth my heart, and my way is not hid from him – I want to feel more, and I want to do more for him, but alas! what an earthly polluted soul is mine! When I would do good evil is present with me. Yes it is a thought that ought always to make me mourn, and keep me humble that I carry about with me whether in public devotion or private retirement a “body of sin and death”! Ah it is this makes me that I can not do the things that I would – it is an evil ever present, this is my great burthen, and this it is that pain and wounds my heart!

Lords day May 4 [1800]

Through the kind interpositions of a gracious God I have been safely preserved in the hour of trial, and both myself and the dear child are living monuments of divine goodness – Monday morning April 14 about 10 minutes past twelve at night I was made happy in the birth of another daughter.[2] O for a grateful sense of the Lords goodness to be impressed on my heart, my health is better than usual, and I have had a very merciful recovery. Thus the blessed God is pleased to manifest his tender mercies, and O that I and the dear child he hath given me may be devoted to his fear and praise for ever. Amen.

Lords day July 7 [1800]

How hastily has two months fled away! What a number of mercies have I received from the hand of God in that time! We have finished a very agreeable visit to Mr and Mrs Mints of Portsmouth, and were kindly treated by a number of other friends. Since then my dear J R has spent 3 weeks in London, returned safely and in health last Thursday. Our dear children, and the rest of the family are through mercy as well as usual. O how great the Lords goodness, may he enable me to devote myself anew to him, and may his interest lay near my heart. We trust our young friend Mr P will be made very successful in doing good to the souls of his fellow creatures.[3] He appears very serious, and very faithful. I am not the only one by a great many who has found his ministry profitable. May the word of God be quick and powerful. The heart of a sinner will never close with Christ till his word comes like a two-edged sword and penetrates deeply. Then the soul that is thus wounded will weep in secret, and nothing short of the penitents prayer will suit him.

May the Lord bless our dear John, and each of the children with the fear and knowledge of himself.

Lords day Nov. 30 [1800]

This day the Church have united in sending an invitation to Mr P. to spend six months on probation with a view to be the Assistant Minister – May God succeed it if it shall be eventually for his glory.

In our family we have had new trials, but as a counterbalance we have also had many mercies. Dear little Frances has gone through the Vaccine Inoculation with but a slight degree of indisposition attending it. Betsy has been unwell with a cold, but our dear Jonathan has been in circumstances of danger through a violent fever – on Wednesday the 19 was seized with convulsions had two very alarming fits blessed be God the means used proved beneficial and through rich mercy he is now charmingly recovered!

Lords day Augst 7 [1800]

Today my dear J. R. is at Bratton, may his occasional labour be blessed. Mr P. preached this morning | I find his ministry a means of stirring me up to earnestness in prayer and a concern to glorify God by devoting all the power of my mind to him. I greatly need the holy Spirit to form my heart a right to impress every divine truth upon my mind, and to renew my soul unto his image. The felicity of the soul consists in its intire likeness to God, to his moral rectitude and purity – so far as I fall short of this so far am I from true happiness. O that I felt a proper abasement of soul, that I felt a Saviours love kindle a sacred flame through all the passions of my heart!

Lords day Septbr 21 [1800]

We have recently received letters from our dear friends in India. God has been abundantly good to them though in his infinite wisdom he has called them to lament the loss of dear Mr Grant who died about ten days after his arrival at Serampore. The Lords Judgments are a great deep, but he worketh all things after the council of his sovereign will and it is consoling to reflect, that he can neither be mistaken or frustrated in any dispensations he permits to take place, though to us they may often appear very dark and mysterious!

I greatly need a revival of the power of religion in my own soul. Alas too frequently I find a sad degree of stupidity in prayer, what a mercy that it is not always so. I hope never to rest in though I may draw some encouragement from past experience.


[1] The Gospel Its Own Witness (1799), by Andrew Fuller.

[2] Her third child, Frances Barrett Ryland; another daughter, Mary, would be born in 1803.

[3] Henry Page (1781-1833) would soon begin his duties as assistant pastor at Broadmead as well as secretary and tutor at Bristol Academy, 1802-1817. He was the son of John Page, Esq., a prominent member of the Broadmead church and sheriff of Bristol in 1795. After studying at Bristol for a time, Henry took an M.A. at Marischal College, Aberdeen, in 1800. He would later minister to the Baptist congregation in Worcester.