Selections from Anne Cator Steele's Diary: 1732

[Wednesday] 2 February 1732

I was in a praying frame this morning but afterward thro worldly business I was out of humour and that is very unpleasant & unprofitable to me, sometime ago I dismissed a young man from Ringing telling him the Ringers were very wicked & so likely to draw him away to ye same, this evening I heard that he has turn’d it, & told that I said all church people was servants of the Devil &c and this they say was ye cause the doctor revil’d so against dissenters last Sabbath day my mind was perplex’d about it yet I could appeal to God who knows ye sincerity of my heart that I never spoke any thing like it or had any such thought.

[Thursday] 2 March 1732

I have great hope that God have indeed begin to work upon the souls of our children.

[Wednesday] 15 March 1732

Mr Grant and Betty Jones have lately made a sad rupture and every & one talks freely of it & I, being about to speak my mind, it came very suitable, the lord shall smite him or his day shall come to dye, or he shall descend into battell & perish the lord forbid that I should stretch forth my hand &c soon after news was bro’t that she is gon from her husband with Mr Grant this caused me a great many tho’ts to see what dishonourable acts persons may be guilty of after such great profession & more than ordinary pretentions to holyness. I tho’t on that let he that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall, that follow’d me How are the mighty fallen as tho’ he had not been anointed with oil and tho’ their actions have a long time look’d very bad yet I cannot but admire it should come to this pass, I see cause to admire the love and care of God for me.

[Friday] 17 March 1732

My tho’ts is almost continually employ’d about these dishonourable actions of Betty Joneses that came they shall come with weeping with supplycations will I lead them this gives me hopes she may yet be bro’t to repentence I had agreeable conversation with one I had that on my mind for his God doth instruct him to discretion & doth teach him but this day I have been busied about the things of this world & tho’ my tho’ts turn’d to many scriptures, yet they had but little abideance, the business of Mr Grant still being on my mind & that frequently God shall smite thee thou whited wall, I earnestly desire this evening that those tho’ts may be remov’d and that I may set in earnest to preparation work & I had some liberty in duty.

[Monday] 3 April 1732

That was on my mind thro’ viewing the fields (it being a very forward spring) every thing springing & looking as green as tho’ it was the beginning of May thus every one have seen the admirable kindness of God in his providence even to the very bruit beasts for thro’ the dry’th of the last year the earth did not bring forth so much to lay up for the cattle as usual & it have been such a mild winter that there have hardly been such a one in the age of a man, now we have pleasant rains and ye fields & the gardens looks beautiful if God so cloath the grass of ye field which today is and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more cloathe you O ye of little faith I had that on my mind as ye bridgroom rejoiceth over ye bride, so shall God rejoice over thee, after this I heard how bad Betty Jones should talk about her husband and she says she is assur’d he is a rejected person & that she is on the other side safe & all those who speak against her proceedings are deluded by Satan, with other things of ye like nature this made me very tho’tfull because it looks more to me like confidence then true assurance notwithstanding she pretends to have a warant from ye word of God for what she does, I tho’t on that they profess that they know God but in works they deny him being abominable & disobedient & unto every good work reprobate.

[Tuesday] 4 April 1732

Those things I find to lye as a burden upon my mind for I often look back & remember when I was first acquainted with Betty Jones how suitable her conversation [appear’d] & what an eminent Christian I took her to be how far her knowledge exceeded mine, but her falling in with those notions & her aquaintance with Mr Grant has bro’t great dishonour to the ways of God that came to my mind and now they sin more & more I was dejected, whether I ought to be so or not I can’t tell, for if indeed all my hopes of salvation is upon no better grounds than I fear hers is (without true repentance) what a sad condition may I yet be in if what I often think is well grounded hope should also be profan’d. I earnestly beg’d ye lord to search me & if I do decieve my self that he will make me senceable of it I beg to be preserv’d from carnal security [...]

[Sunday] 30 April 1732

My desires was drawn out this morning I heard Mr Eastman from I am the living bread which came down from heaven[xi] but not so well as I desir’d partly thro a pain in my tooth I had a great desire there might be some adition to the church, & I had likewise some expectation of it and that was much on my mind said I not if thou wouldst believe thou shouldst see the Glory of God but my faith seemd very weak which I groand under in the ordinance being cast down by reason of my unbecomeing behaviour towards God and then being disapointed in my Expectation of hearing one speak their Experience that came to my mind O my Lord my sorrows are turned upon me & I have retained no strength I was in a melancholy sort of a frame, I heard Mr Eastman in the afternoon from give an account of stewardship for thou maist be no longer forward but I did not hear well in the evening I pourd out my soul to God & did hope God would answer.

[Thursday] 11 May 1732

I had some discourse with our man (Stephen Kent) he haveing a desire to speak his Experience next Sabbath day and this was very agreeable to me & I was engag’d to thankfullness and that was much on my mind and said the lord shall add to me another son, and nothing I do hope & believe God will add more to his Church in this place tho I see but little sign of it yet.

[Thursday] 18 May 1732

I was earnest with God this morning for the assistance of his Holy Spirit, in waiting on him in publick I heard Mr Chalk from < > open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.[xv] I heard diligently & after our man gave in his Experience to the satisfaction of the Church and I was affected & drawn out to love & thankfulness I heard pretty well in the afternoon & after had suitable discourse with some [...]

[Tuesday] 23 May 1732

[...] Mr Lacy of Portsmouth[xvi] came this evening whose company & convers was very agreeable.

[Saturday] 27 May 1732

[...] Cousen Sarah Etheridge being under a great deal of trouble last night William was hindered in his design of talking to Uncle, this day she manifested her desire and this evening they both talked with him in order to give in their Experience and he was willing all three of them should do it in the ensueing day Nany was troubled & seem’d very much cast down I cry’d to the lord on her account and that came to my mind I will not contend forever nor be wroth for the spirit should fail before me and the souls that I have made then I desir’d to know if God would subject her will & bring her into his house and that to him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the house of my God I had many tho’ts on the Eminency of a pillar hoping God has design’d her for some great work he having given her a good capacity I beg she may have love to God & a zeal for his Glory agreeable thereto.

[Saturday] 10 June 1732

I have been drawn out earnestly to desire assistance & direction for Nanny thinking she is willing God assisting & directing her to give in her experience tomorrow I have had very encouraging scriptures and have talk’d with her and found God have been very gracious to her in that way also that was on my mind Happy art thou O Israel who is like unto thee a people favourd by the lord and that who is a rock save our God and many other very suitable scriptures. I went with Nanny to Uncle Steels where I had great cause to rejoice in beholding the goodness of God to her my mind have been employ’d in writting letters to some of my relations, yet I have read my Experience which have been sweet in reviewing I beg strength for the ensueing day.

[Sunday] 11 June 1732

[...] I attended the ordinance of baptism on my two cousins Clemence & Sarah & was in a very agreeable frame having suitable Scriptures & desires to be prepard for the table of the lord [...] Nany Steele gave in her Experience to the full satisfaction of the Church by which I was greatly affected [...]

[Tuesday] 4 July 1732

This morning by writeing to & thinking on my relations, that was with me that you are in our hearts to die & live with you, Sister Betty comeing from Whitchurch and haveing seen Betty Jones there, she told me she spoke very much against me this being with some weight on my mind I as usual bro’t the case before the lord knowing if what she do say is true I have a mercyfull forgiveing God to go to that being with power – on my mind, deliver me from blood guiltiness O God thou God of my salvation and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteous Christ & his Gospel too, that came to my mind he that loveth pureness of heart for the Grace of his lips the King shall be his friend and if I can have the king of heaven for my friend as I sometimes hope I have what need those little things disquiet my mind that was on my tho’ts I delight to do thy will O God, yea thy Law is within my heart after this company & worldly things took up my tho’ts & time.

[Wednesday] 5 July 1732

This morning my tho’ts was again deeply employ’d about the many grievous things that Betty Jones laid to my charge. This bro’t me in a humble manner to cry to the lord, begging him to search me & try me; and if there is any truth in what she say’th that I may be made senceble of it, and that he would pardon me, and her to and make her sencible of her evel and humble for it, if it be his will, that was on my mind as with a sword in my bones mine enimies reproach me &c and soon after that came thou also hast lifted me high above them that are rose up against me and this I found to engage my heart to love and thankfulness and that came thou hast not dealt so with any nation and I can see that the lord have favour’d worthless me in a very peculiar & distinguishing maner. I had convers with some young ones suitable and some with one that vex’d me afterwards and so doth most times if I suffer myself to talk of worldly things.

[Sunday] 9 July 1732

There were three to be baptized, Nany Steele being one; I desir’d some suitable scripture, and that came with power, “And they shall walk with me in white for they are worthy,” this was very agreeable to me.

[Friday] 21 July 1732

I have still some remains of trouble upon my mind thro those hard speeches given out by Mr Grant and Betty Jones. I had that much on my mind and my servant Job shall pray for you for him will I accept and that and the lord turn’d the captivity of Job when he pray’d for his friends I had many tho’ts on this one way & the other sometimes enquiring with myself if twas my duty to go to desire their praise which did I know I could willingly do but considering the bitterness of their words, and how far they seems from reconcilation I think it the other way for my desires are very much drawn out to pray for them and I hope I can truely call them friends for if they had never laid so many things to my charge I had never examin’d myself so often nor so often beg’d the lord to search me nor would I have known I had been guilty of so many sins and humbled for them & watchful against them as I have been on this occasion, then well may it be said all things shall work together for good to them that love God &c[xxxii] [...]

[Monday] 24 July 1732

My tho’ts was taken up about Mr Grant and Betty Jones hearing they have both embrac’d Sabelian notions and it seems he saith he wonders he should be so long in the dark concerning this thing this & his writing against some sermons of Mr Belbins all which I have been reading have employ’d my time, that came to me there are three that bare record in heaven the father the word and the holy Ghost and these three are one.

[Tuesday] 25 July 1732

My mind was employ’d about this notion and I was enabl’d to cry to the lord & had suitable scriptures as I proceeded [...]

[Wednesday] 26 July 1732

I be not yet got over those perplexing tho’ts about the above-named notion I earnestly beg of God it may prove for his Glory & the confirmation of my faith in God the father son & holy spirit three persons yet but one Eternal God I had that on my mind I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation that will come upon all the world to try them that dwel upon the earth, I read great part of the day & did hope I understood.

[Thursday] 21 September 1732

This day Mr Steele receiv’d a letter from several ministers in London desireing him to send them word what Character Mr Grant have in this country I had many tho’ts about it and in the evening my desires were drawn out that he may be directed by God in that matter.

[Tuesday] 10 October 1732

[...] I read a letter which Betty Jones sent to a neighbour wherein she says she don’t know but she shall come home in a little time, I beg of God as he have been pleas’d to reduce her to this so he would be pleas’d to bring her a penitent [...]

[Thursday] 12 October 1732

[...] then Uncle spoke something concerning the melancholy occassion about which we was met which was to excommunicate those two persons [a farmer and his maid] that have privatly continued in a course of wickedness for a considerable time and is now broke out to the great scandal & reproach of Religion for it has very much opponed the mouths of the prophane & it have been a great grief to those that are truely pious there was several spent time in prayer and then they was proceeded against by the unanimous consent of the Church and Mason was sent to them to let them know it [...]

[Thursday] 26 October 1732

I was bad in my head all night, and so it continueth thro’ which I am a poor stuppid creature yet by hearing Mr Grant did exclaim very much against us I was stird up to pray & spread the case before the lord and that came to my mind it may be the lord will requite good for his cursing this day [...]

[Wednesday] 6 December 1732

This day John Leach is gon with a cart to fetch Betty Jones from Whitchurch on which my tho’ts have been employ’d she saying she would never return again that came to my mind they that walk in pride he is able to abase I have desird of God that this disappointment may be for the good of her soul & that I may not have the least desire to Triumph over any in affliction that was on my mind and thou standest by faith be not high-minded but fear I was in a suitable praying frame this evening and that was on my mind Remember now what Balak King of Moab consulted & what Balam answer’d that ye may know the Righteousness of the lord.

[Sunday] 10 December 1732

[...] ’Tis very cold frosty weather & my affections to divine things are too much so for I could not be earnest with God in my morning duty I heard Uncle from the same 119 Psm 11 vers but my mind was wandering I heard John Kent the last from Psm 84 11, but hearing something just before about Betty Jones so ruffl’d me that I could not hear without a great deal of wandring yet the applycation was very agreeable I could apply it to myself with comfort in the evening I was in a thankfull adoring frame for many mercys that I can now with admiration view all still coming from the hand of my bountiful God my never failing portion.

[Monday] 11 December 1732

This morning I was confirm’d of the truth of what I heard yesterday that Betty Jones who went from her husband ye 15 of March and he haveing never seen her since til now she is bro’t home have but 5 weeks to recon. she being with child by Mr Grant this took up my tho’ts the greatest part of the night and day for tho her ways of late have look’d very bad yet still I hop’d she had some good in her and that she was not a whore yet I have oft desir’d if it was so God would be pleas’d to discover it and now I see cause to praise God who hath answer’d my desire in that and many other things I bless the lord who alone hath preserv’d me from falling into such great & heinous sins being by nature no better then others.

[Sunday] 17 December 1732

My tho’ts was oft turning to those dishonourable actions that those that did profess Godlyness have lately commited & that did come to my mind for men abhor’d the offering of the lord[xxxix] and I tho’t men would abhor our Religion thro’ the wicked practices of some for Betty Jones is very bold and will not own this wickedness which she have been guilty of to be any sin.

[Wednesday] 10 January 1733

I had comfortable rest and was better for which I desir’d to be truely thankfull in looking back I find I have been talking of that disturbance raise’d in time past by Mr Grant & Betty Jones and now I see what Cause I have to admire the wisdom of God and his great kindness towards me all along in that ruffling affair not knowing what to think of their conduct mainly and yet not willing to think them wicked persons, and yet they now appears to be such except they repent and tis said they vindicate themselfs notwithstanding their adultry, I was in a suitable praying frame this evening.

Text: Anne Cator Steele's diary consists of three extant manuscript volumes: vol. 2 (13 July 1730-36), STE 2/1/1; vol. 5 (1749-52), STE 2/1/2; and vol. 6 (1753-27 June 60), STE 2/1/3. For a more complete accounting of ACS’s diary, including numerous selections, see John Broome, A Bruised Reed: The Life and Times of Anne Steele (Harpenden, Hertfordshire: Gospel Standard Trust Publications, 2007). Among the individuals in the above entries is John Lacy (1700-81) began preaching at the Baptist congregation in Meeting-house Alley, Portsmouth, in 1731 and was officially installed as pastor on 8 July 1732, just a few weeks after his visit to Broughton. He would remain as pastor of the Portsmouth church until his death in 1781, being succeeded by Joseph Horsey, father of Elizabeth Horsey Saffery (see her diary below). Other individuals include Henry Steele’s daughter, Clemence (d. 1766), married Thomas Etheredge (d. 1752), a deacon in the church. Their daughter, Sarah (d. 1791), married John Kent (1707-96), assistant pastor to both Henry Steele and William Steele III at the Broughton church. Her sister, Clemence, married a Mr Collings of Devizes on 8 May 1732; she was baptised with Sarah on 11 June 1732. Also Elizabeth Benham, sister of William Steele III, and her family lived at Whitchurch and attended the Baptist church there. All were technically ‘cousins’ of ACS. See Broome, Bruised Reed, pp. 69, 80-1.