Sophia Williams Diary: January-April 1813

[Friday] Janry 1st 1813

I desire to record with gratitude the gracious dealings of my gracious God towards me through another year, through his forbearance, and tender mercy I have been brought to the close of it and have been permitted to enter on another in circumstances of peace and comfort, the possession of a great many temporal blessings and richly indulged with religious priviledges. The past year I shall ever consider a memorable one of my life because in it I made a solemn a public profession of religion, and was honored with a name and a place amongst the people of God, with the excellent of the earth in whom is all my delight. O that I may ever keep in mind that the vows of God are upon me. But it will avail me but little to be within the pale of the Church unless I am also in the bonds of that covenant which is well ordered in all things and sure, or to have my name in the church book on earth, unless it is also inscribed in the Lambs book of life and engraven on the heart of Jesus our great high Priest who is now interceding for his people before the Throne. When I review my conduct during the past year I see much to lament and condemn, and very little to commend, I feel that I am the subject of many imperfections that I have many corruptions lurking in my heart, that if I am sanctified it is only in part, that my best performances my holiest duties are polluted by Sin. I feel that in my flesh dwelleth no good thing, but I desire to praise forever to praise the unmerited grace of God that has given me a sense and sight of this and that I have been led to Jesus as an all-sufficient Saviour. May I be enabled to magnify that grace more during this year than I did through the past, and may my conduct and conversation evince my gratitude. I still have to lament the shyness and backwardness I feel to talk on divine things. Why am I so backward to talk about that love which is the Theme of Angels Why ashamed to talk of that Saviour who was not ashamed to die for Sinners.

How many family mercies might I record that have been vouchsafed to us through the year past: how pleased I am that family worship has been attended too with great regularity and I hope fervency. I verily believe this is a greater security to a house than bolts and bars, and O how pleasing it is to view our preservation and every other favor as granted to us in answer to Prayer. I desire to be very thankful also that I had resolution given me, again to reject an offer made me by a man whom I highly esteem of being his Partner for life. I am well aware that my Parents would not approve, and therefore I did not hesitate what part to act, for it is my present resolution never to displease or hurt them by accepting the offers of any man they would not approve: I have not mentioned this circumstance to any earthly friend, but I have made it a matter of earnest Prayer to my heavenly friend and I rely on his gracious promise that it shall with all things work together for my good.[1] – O Lord I beseech thee to give me grace that the new year I have just entered upon may witness me more jealously engaged in thy service, more solicitously anxious to spread the savour of my Redeemer’s name all around. May Christ be more glorious in my eyes, and his name more precious to my heart than ever. May I be more watchful against temptation more circumspect in my conduct more spiritual in my conversation be enabled to guard against my besetting sins, and be evidently getting forward in my Journey to a better world, a happier country, where the cold of winter shall not wither us, nor the heat of summer scorch us.

[Monday] Janry 4th [1813]

The past Sabbath was a sad day with me but I trust not altogether unprofitable, a sense of my vileness and ingratitude, caused me to hang down my head, but I hope it led me to make renewed application to the great Physician who alone can heal the sin sick soul, Woman be thou healed of thine infirmity is still the cheering language of our compassionate Saviour. O for a strong faith to realize an interest in atoning blood.

[Monday] Janry 11 [1813]

Mr Mitchell a young man who has been six months at Warminster,[2] supplied Mr Edminsons place yesterday, he is a young man of superior talents, and I think if he is kept humble will make a useful labourer in the Lords vineyard, but great abilities and splendid talents as they tend to make a young minister popular, are frequently a snare to him. If the heart be not established with grace it will be lifted up with pride. His sermon in the evening from 146 Psalm “They shall speak of the glories of thy kingdom and talk of thy power,” was very applicable to me. Ought not Christians said he to be ashamed that their tongues are not more frequently employed in talking of the glories of the Redeemers Kingdom, of which they profess to be the subjects. Duty to God and to our dear creatures demanded this of us. Well I find those the most profitable kind of sermons that touch on my particular failings, though they are not always the most pleasing to my feelings, for I perhaps am too fond of being comforted: but still I am glad to be told of my faults and O may the Lord give me grace to reform what I feel to be so wrong.

“Fly my Tongue such guilty silence.”

[Sunday] Febry 14th [1813]

During the past month I think I have felt more than I ever did before that I am the subject of two different natures the flesh lusteth against the spirit O that the Spirit did more against the flesh. When I would do good evil is present with me, I have been almost tempted to conclude that I am still carnal sold under sin and to give up all for lost, my faith has been like a dormant principle in my breast instead of being operative and influential my will has not acquiesced in the divine disposals as it ought, why do I still so much wish for that which no doubt the Lord in mercy denies, I am no where promised that all my temporal wishes shall be gratified. I ought to be thankful that all the events of my life are under the control of infinite wisdom, but I am promised that if I humbly and patiently wait for the Lord he will be found of them that seek him. O my God grant me I beseech thee [the] light of thy countenance and the joys of thy Salvation, subdue my stubborn my rebellious will, engage my roving affections, sanctify my passions and purify my heart. “I want to be holy in all my thoughts, heavenly in all my desires and wholly conformed to thy will and pleasure,” to triumph and be happy in the absence of much desired earthly comforts. O that I could abide in Christ: in his doctrine, in his love, in his ways, feel that I am vitally united to him as to the living vine. O may I derive nourishment from him, strength from him, that I may go on more vigorously in his ways. May I not merely be alive but may I be growing, a flourishing plant of divine grace. Lord do thou bring me up from the horrible Pit of unbelief and despondency, and set my feet on a Rock and establish my goings and put a new song of Praise into my mouth even Salvation to our God.

“O be my will so swallowed up in thine

That I may do thy will in doing mine.”

During the past month one of our Members was openly reproved by our Pastor before the Church for having a little before dishonored his Christian profession by committing the sin of drunkenness and thereby giving the enemies of Religion cause of triumph, he manifested a Christian Spirit by confessing his fault and taking all the blame and shame of it to himself. I felt for him and I trust he will from this time be more watchful and more prayerful which are the best antidotes against temptation, and may it lead me to be jealous over myself, suspicious of my own strength and be not high minded but fear.

[Sunday] Febry 21 [1813]

I desire to be truly thankful that as often as the Sabbath returns, I am not prevented by indisposition or any other cause from repairing to the Sanctuary of my God, that sacred place where I have found it good to be, Lord I do esteem a day in thy Courts, better than a thousand elsewhere. As the worship of the Almighty God is the noblest worth in which rational creatures even engage so it is their highest priviledge. O how delightful it is to meet with the Saints in the Temple, and unbosom all our sorrows to our heavenly father, to lament before him our manifold departures from him, to entreat his grace, to enable us to glorify him more and more. My unworthiness is so great that I should not dare to approach were it not for the justifying righteousness of my Redeemer, in which God accepts his people as perfect, the happiest moments I have ever enjoyed have been those when I could triumph in their righteousness, in how I could hope that I was arrayed in it. How quickly am I indulged with religious priviledges, how much have I to answer for: I once more on the past day, commemorated the death of Christ, truly it is a refreshing ordinance to the Soul. Lord I bless thee for all these helps in the way to the Kingdom, if the Streams are so refreshing what must the fountain be, what must be the delights of those who are now sat down at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in the heavenly world – and see the Saviour face to face! I must put off mortality before I shall know what the intent of their bliss is. They were once in the Wilderness where I now am and wrestled hard with Sins and doubts and fears, but they conquered through the blood of the Lamb, well I hope to gain the victory in the same way. The Captain of my Salvation will bring all his followers home to himself

“Through troops of foes he will lead me on

To victory and the victors Crown.”

[Wednesday] March 31st [1813]

A kind Providence has permitted me to return this day to my Father’s house after an absence of five weeks, during which time my feelings have been very differently exercised: I have witnessed the dangerous illness with which one of my friends was visited, and oh! that returning health may be accompanied with saving grace. When I left home the language of my heart was, Lord if thy presence go not with me carry me not up hence, and the Lord did fulfil the desire of my Soul; I have found his presence with me, I have been by grace enabled to cast my care on him. I have been frequently pained to hear the holy name I love dishonored and have felt the loss of my accustomed religious priviledges.

“My heart was oft in pain to hear

Wretches affront the Lord above

’Tis that great God whose powers I fear

That heavenly father whom I love.”

But I am now restored to all again and I do wish my gratitude could keep pace with my mercies, and that I could improve my priviledges more. I rejoice to find that the cause of Christ is going on at Bratton, to hear that there are some bleating round the fold, showing their faces set Zionward: may the Lord take them by the hand and lead them on and make the path of duty plain before them.

During my absence the Church chose two more deacons, and my dear Father is one of them, may he have wisdom and grace given him from above to enable him to discharge the duties of his office to the divine glory and the good of the Church. I esteem it a much greater honor to be the daughter of a man of usefulness in the church of the living God than to be the Child of any of the great men of the World or the greatest Emperor that ever ruled. To be able with filial, humble confidence to call the Almighty God my father infinitely surpasses all the titles & honors of this world. If Children then heirs, says the Apostle, heirs of God & joint heirs with Christ, and who can tell all that this includes, rather what it does not include for all the exceeding great and precious promises of God are yea and Amen in Christ.

[Monday] April 5th [1813]

I arose early yesterday morning and surely the desire of my Soul was to the Lord and to the remembrance of him. I went several times to the Sanctuary and during part of the day found it good for me to draw near to God. But I lament that at other times my mind was pained with distracted thoughts and distressing cares. Oh when shall I be in that sweet, composed state of mind that the Psalmist was when he exclaimed, “Surely I have behaved and quieted myself as a child that is weaned of his mother, my Soul is even as a weaned child.” Oh that I could keep the things of time and sense in their proper place, and live above the World while I am in it

“Pleas’d with all the Lord provides

Wean’d from all the World besides.”

A Christian as one observes should always keep heaven in his eye, and the earth under his feet: and how much happier I should be if I could continually practice it. There are seasons when my Soul mounts upwards, but I want it to abide there.

“But earth & sin will drag me down

When I attempt to fly

Lord send thy strong attractive power

To raise and fix me high.”

Mr Butcher supplied the place of our Pastor, he is a very acceptable, likeable man.


[1] Whether her first suitor, mentioned above, proposed to her is unclear, but in this instance, Williams has clearly received a marriage proposal by an unnamed individual and has rejected it. Williams is joining several other women in these volumes, including Anne Steele, Mary Steele, Elizabeth Coltman, and Jane Attwater, who rejected suitors.

[2] Joseph Mitchell, Baptist minister at Warminster, where he remained as pastor into the 1820s.