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THE JOURNAL

of
John Wesley

With an Introduction by
HUGH PRICE HUGHES, M.A.

Appreciation of the Journal
by
AUGUSTINE BIRRELL, K.C.

Edited by
PERCY LIVINGSTONE PARKER
CHICAGO
MOODY PRESS
1951

© Copyright: Public Domain






EDITOR’S NOTE


WHEN JOHN WESLEY prepared his Journal for publication he prefaced it with the following account of its origin:

“It was in pursuance of an advice given by Bishop Taylor, in his Rules for Holy Living and Dying, that, about fifteen years ago, I began to take a more exact account than I had done before, of the manner wherein I spent my time, writing down how I had employed every hour.

“This I continued to do, wherever I was, till the time of my leaving England for Georgia. The variety of scenes which I then passed through induced me to transcribe, from time to time, the more material parts of my diary, adding here and there such little reflections as occurred to my mind.

“Of this Journal thus occasionally compiled, the following is a short extract: it not being my design to relate all those particulars which I wrote for my own use only, and which would answer no valuable end to others, however important they were to me.”

Rev. John Telford, one of Wesley’s biographers, says that “the earlier parts of the Journal were published in the interest of Methodism, that the calumny and slander then rife might be silenced by a plain narrative of the facts as to its founding, and its purpose. The complete Journals, still preserved in twenty-six bound volumes, have never been printed. Copious extracts were made by Wesley himself, and issued in twenty-one parts, the successive installments being eagerly expected by a host of readers.”

The published Journal makes four volumes, each about the size of the present book. But though I have had to curtail it by three-quarters I have tried to retain the atmosphere of tremendous activity which is one of its most remarkable features.

Mr. Birrell, in his “appreciation,” has focused in a very striking way the interest, actuality, and charm of Wesley’s Journal, and all I have had to do was to select those portions which best illustrate them.

The wonder is that it has not been done before. Edward FitzGerald once wrote to Professor Norton, “Had I any interest with publishers I would get them to reprint parts of it,” for he was a great lover of the Journal.

Writing to another friend about Wesley’s Journal, FirzGerald said, “If you don’t know it, do know it. It is curious to think of this diary running coevally with Walpole’s letters - diary - the two men born and dying too within a few miles of one another, and with such different lives to record. And it is remarkable to read pure, unaffected, undying English, while Addison and Johnson are tainted with a style which all the world imitated.”

Macaulay’s estimate of Wesley may also be recalled. Wesley, he said, was “a man whose eloquence and logical acuteness might have made him eminent in literature, whose genius for government was not inferior to that of Richelieu, and who, whatever his errors may have been, devoted all his powers in defiance of obloquy and derision, to what he sincerely considered as the highest good of his species.”

Wesley is one of the most strenuous ethical figures in history, and literature has no other such record of personal endeavor as that contained in these pages. To make that record accessible to every one is the object of this edition.







INTRODUCTION

BY THE REV. HUGH PRICE HUGHES, M.A.


He who desires to understand the real history of the English people during the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries should read most carefully three books: George Fox’s Journal, John Wesley’s Journal, and John Henry Newman’s Apologia pro Vita Sua.

As Lord Hugh Cecil has recently said in a memorable speech, the religious question cannot be ignored. It is the question; in the deepest sense it is the only question. It has always determined the course of history everywhere. In all ages the skeptical literary class has tried to ignore it, as the Roman historians, poets, and philosophers ignored Christianity until the time when Christianity became triumphant and dominant throughout the Roman Empire.

But, however much ignored or boycotted by literary men, the growth or decline of religion ultimately settles everything. Has not Carlyle said that George Fox making his own clothes is the most remarkable event in our history? George Fox was the very incarnation of that individualism which has played, and will yet play, so great a part in the making of modern England. If you want to understand “the dissidence of Dissent and the Protestantism of the Protestant religion,” read the Journal of George Fox.

Then came John Wesley and his “helpers.” They were the first preachers since the days of the Franciscan Friars in the Middle Ages who ever reached the working classes. In England, as in France, Germany, and everywhere else, the Reformation was essentially a middle-class movement. It never captured either the upper classes or the working classes. That explains its limitations.

As Dr. Rigg has shown, Wesley’s itineraries were deliberately planned to bring him into direct contact neither with the aristocracy nor with the dependent or poverty-stricken poor, but with the industrious self-supporting workmen in town and country. The ultimate result was that “the man in the street” became Methodist in his conception of Christianity, whatever his personal conduct and character might be. A profound French critic said, fifty years ago, that modern England was Methodist, and the remark applies equally to the United States and to our colonies. The doctrines of the Evangelical Revival permeated the English-speaking world.

Then Newman appeared on the scene and a tremendous change began. The Anglican Church revived, and revived in Newman’s direction. We witness today on every side the vast results of the Newman era. Many of these results are beneficial in the extreme; others cannot be welcome to those who belong to the schools of George Fox and John Wesley.

The whole future of the British Empire depends upon this question of questions - Will George Fox and John Wesley on the one hand, or John Henry Newman on the other, ultimately prevail? And the best way to arrive at the true inwardness of the issue is to read, ponder, and inwardly digest Wesley’s Journal and Newman’s Apologia.

It is a great advantage that Mr. Parker has secured permission to republish Mr. Augustine Birrell’s “Appreciation.” That brilliant writer demonstrates that there is no book in existence that gives you so exact and vivid a description of the eighteenth century in England as Wesley’s Journal. It is an incalculably more varied and complete account of the condition of the people of England than Boswell’s Johnston. As Mr. Birrell says, Wesley was himself “the greatest force of the eighteenth century in England. No man lived nearer the center than John Wesley. Neither Clive nor Pitt, neither Mansfield nor Johnson. No single figure influenced so many minds, no single voice touched so many hearts. No other man did such a life’s work for England.” Wesley has demonstrated that a true prophet of God has more influence than all the politicians and soldiers and millionaires put together. He is the incalculable and unexpected element that is always putting all the devices of the clever to naught.

I do not understand what Mr. Birrell means by saying that “as a writer Wesley has not achieved distinction. He was no Athanasius, no Augustine; he was ever a preacher.” It is true that Wesley’s main business was not to define metaphysical theology, but to cultivate friendly relations with Christians of all schools, and to save living men from sin. But he gave a deathblow to the destructive dogma of limited salvation with which the names of Augustine and Calvin will be forever associated.

No doubt, like Oliver Cromwell, Wesley was essentially a “man of action,” and he deliberately sacrificed the niceties of literary taste to the greater task of making Englishmen on both sides of the Atlantic real Christians. Even so, the style of some of his more literary productions is a model of lucidity and grace.

But my main point here is to echo Mr. Birrell’s final statement, that “we can learn better from Wesley’s Journal than from anywhere else what manner of man Wesley was, and the character of the times during which he lived and moved and had his being.” My co-religionists and all who love the most characteristic qualities of modern English life are under a deep debt of obligation to my friend Mr. Parker and His publishers for giving them an opportunity of studying the eventful eighteenth century of English history at its center and fountainhead.

The fact that this edition of the work has been condensed is no drawback. The Journal, as originally published, was itself condensed by Wesley….For popular purposes Mr. Parker’s edition will answer all important ends, and will give English readers for the first time an opportunity of reading in a handy form one of the most important, instructive, and entertaining books ever published in the English language.

Of course Mr. Parker alone is responsible for the selection of the portions of the Journal which appear in this volume.

HUGH PRICE HUGHES


 

 

 

AN APPRECIATION OF JOHN WESLEY’S JOURNAL

BY AUGUSTINE BIRRELL, KING’S COUNSEL


JOHN WESLEY, born as he was in 1703 and dying as he did in 1791, covers as nearly as mortal man may, the whole of the eighteenth century, of which he was one of the most typical and certainly the most strenuous figures.

He began his published Journal on October 14, 1735, and its last entry is under date Sunday, October 24, 1790, when in the morning he explained to a numerous congregation in Spitalfields Church “The Whole Armor of God,” and in the afternoon enforced to a still larger audience in St. Paul’s, Shadwell, the great truth, “One thing is needful,” the last words of the Journal being “I hope many even then resolved to choose the better part.”

Between those two Octobers there lies the most amazing record of human exertion ever penned or endured.

I do not know whether I am likely to have among my readers anyone who has ever contested an English or Scottish county in a parliamentary election since household suffrage. If I have, that tired soul will know how severe is the strain of its three weeks, and how impossible it seemed at the end of the first week that you should be able to keep it going for another fortnight, and how when the last night arrived you felt that had the strife been accidentally prolonged another seven days you must have perished by the wayside.

Contesting the Three Kingdoms

Well, John Wesley contested the three kingdoms in the cause of Christ during a campaign which lasted forty years.

He did it for the most part on horseback. He paid more turnpikes than any man who ever bestrode a beast. Eight thousand miles was his annual record for many a long year, during each of which he seldom preached less frequently than one thousand times. Had he but preserved his scores at all the inns where he lodged, they would have made by themselves a history of prices. And throughout it all he never knew what depression of spirits meant - though he had much to try him, suits in chancery and a jealous wife.

In the course of this unparalleled contest Wesley visited again and again the most out-of-the-way districts - the remotest corners of England - places which today lie far removed even from the searcher after the picturesque.

Today, when the map of England looks like a gridiron of railways, none but the sturdiest of pedestrians, the most determined of cyclists can retrace the steps of Wesley and his horse, and stand by the rocks and the natural amphitheaters in Cornwall and Northumberland, in Lancashire and Berkshire, where he preached his gospel to the heathen.


REV. JOHN WESLEY

Grandfather of John Wesley


REV. SAMUEL WESLEY

Father of John Wesley


Exertion so prolonged, enthusiasm so sustained, argues a remarkable man, while the organization he created, the system he founded, the view of life he promulgated, is still a great fact among us. No other name than Wesley’s lies embalmed as his does. Yet he is not a popular figure. Our standard historians have dismissed him curtly. The fact is, Wesley puts your ordinary historian out of conceit with himself.

How much easier to weave into your page the gossip of Horace Walpole, to enliven it with a heartless jest of George Selwyn’s, to make it blush with sad stories of the extravagance of Fox, to embroider it with the rhetoric of Burke, to humanize it with the talk of Johnson, to discuss the rise and fall of administrations, the growth and decay of the constitution, than to follow John Wesley into the streets of Bristol, or on to the bleak moors near Burslem, when he met, face to face in all their violence, all their ignorance, and all their generosity the living men, women, and children who made up the nation.

A Book of Plots, Plays and Novels

It has perhaps also to be admitted that to found great organizations is to build your tomb - a splendid tomb, it may be, a veritable sarcophagus, but none the less a tomb. John Wesley’s chapels lie a little heavily on John Wesley. Even so do the glories of Rome make us forgetful of the grave in Syria.

It has been said that Wesley’s character lacks charm, that mighty antiseptic. It is not easy to define charm, which is not a catalog of qualities, but a mixture. Let no one deny charm to Wesley who has not read his Journal. Southey’s Life is a dull, almost a stupid book which happily there is no need to read. Read the Journal, which is a book full of plots and plays and novels, which quivers with life and is crammed full of character.

Wesley’s Family Stock

John Wesley came of a stock which had been much harrassed and put about by our unhappy religious difficulties. Politics, business, and religion are the three things Englishmen are said to worry themselves about. The Wesleys early took up with religion. John Wesley’s great-grandfather and grandfather were both ejected from their livings in 1662, and the grandfather was so bullied and oppressed by the Five Mile act that he early gave up the ghost. Whereupon his remains were refused what is called Christian burial, though a holier and more primitive man never drew breath. This poor, persecuted spirit left two sons according to the flesh, Matthew and Samuel; and Samuel it was who in his turn became the father of John and Charles Wesley.

Samuel Wesley, though minded to share the lot hard though that lot was, of his progenitors, had the moderation of mind, the Christian conservatism which ever marked the family, and being sent to a dissenting college, became disgusted with the ferocity and bigotry he happened there to encounter. Those were the days of the Calf’s Head Club and feastings on the twenty-ninth of January, graceless meals for which Samuel Wesley had no stomach. His turn was for the things that are “quiet, wise, and good.” He departed from the dissenting seminary and in 1685 entered himself as a poor scholar at Exeter College, Oxford. He brought f 2 6s. with him, and as for prospects, he had none. Exeter received him.

During the eighteenth century our two universities, famous despite their faults, were always open to the poor scholar who was ready to subscribe, not to boat clubs or cricket clubs, but to the Thirty-nine Articles. Three archbishops of Canterbury during the eighteenth century were the sons of small tradesmen. There was, in fact, much less snobbery and money-worship during the century when the British empire was being won than during the century when it is being talked about.

Samuel Wesley was allowed to remain at Oxford, where he supported himself by devices known to his tribe, and when he left the university to be ordained he had clear in his pouch, after discharging his few debts, f 10 15s.He had thus made f 8 9s. out of his university, and had his education, as it were, thrown in for nothing. He soon obtained a curacy in London and married a daughter of the well-known ejected clergyman, Dr. Annesley, about whom you may read in another eighteenth-century book, The Life and Errors of John Dunton.

Wesley’s Mother

The mother of the Wesleys was a remarkable woman, though cast in a mold not much to our minds nowadays. She had nineteen children and greatly prided herself on having taught them, one after another, by frequent chastisements to - what do you think? to cry softly. She had theories of education and strength of will, and of arm too, to carry them out.

She knew Latin and Greek, and though a stern, forbidding, almost an unfeeling, parent, she was successful in winning and retaining not only the respect but the affection of such of her huge family as lived to grow up. But out of the nineteen, thirteen early succumbed. Infant mortality was one of the great facts of the eighteenth century whose Rachels had to learn to cry softly over their dead babes. The mother of the Wesleys thought more of her children’s souls than of their bodies.

A Domestic Squall

The revolution of 1688 threatened to disturb the early married life of Samuel Wesley and his spouse.

The husband wrote a pamphlet in which he defended revolution principles, but the wife secretly adhered to the old cause; nor was it until a year before Dutch William’s death that the rector made the discovery that the wife of his bosom, who had sworn to obey him and regard him as her over-lord, was not in the habit of saying Amen to his fervent prayers on behalf of his suffering sovereign. An explanation was demanded and the truth extracted, namely, that in the opinion of the rector’s wife her true king lived over the water. The rector at once refused to live with Mrs. Wesley any longer until she recanted. This she refused to do, and for a twelvemonth the couple dwelt apart, when William III having the good sense to die, a reconciliation became possible. If John Wesley was occasionally a little pig-headed, need one wonder?

The story of the fire at Epworth Rectory and the miraculous escape of the infant John was once a tale as well known as Alfred in the neat-herd’s hut, and pictures of it still hang up in many a collier’s home.

John Wesley received a sound classical education at Charterhouse and Christ Church, and remained all his life very much the scholar and the gentleman. No company was too good for John Wesley, and nobody knew better than he did that had he cared to carry his powerful intelligence, his flawless constitution, and his infinite capacity for taking pains into any of the markets of the world, he must have earned for himself place, fame, and fortune.

Coming, however, as he did of a theological stock, having a saint for a father and a notable devout woman for a mother, Wesley from his early days learned to regard religion as the business of his life, just as the young Pitt came to regard the House of Commons as the future theater of his actions.


“My Jack is Fellow of Lincoln”

After a good deal of heart-searching and theological talk with his mother, Wesley was ordained a deacon by the excellent Potter, afterward Primate, but then (1725) Bishop of Oxford. In the following year Wesley was elected a Fellow of Lincoln, to the great delight of his father. “Whatever I am,” said the good old man, “my Jack is Fellow of Lincoln.”

* * * *

Wesley’s motive never eludes us. In his early manhood, after being greatly affected by Jeremy Taylor’s Holy Living and Dying and the Imitatio Christi, and by Law’s Serious Call and Christian Perfection, he met “a serious man” who said to him, “Sir, you wish to serve God and go to heaven. Remember you cannot serve Him alone. You must therefore find companions or make them. The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.”

He was very confident, this serious man, and Wesley never forgot his message. “You must find companions or make them. The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.” These words forever sounded in Wesley’s ears, determining his theology, which rejected the stern individualism of Calvin, and fashioning his whole polity, his famous class meetings and generally gregarious methods.

Therefore to him it was given

Many to save with himself.

We may continue the quotation and apply to Wesley the words of Mr. Arnold’s memorial to his father:

Languor was not in his heart,

Weakness not in his word,

Weariness not on his brow.

If you ask what is the impression left upon the reader of the Journal as to the condition of England Question, the answer will vary very much with the tenderness of the reader’s conscience and with the extent of his acquaintance with the general behavior of mankind at all times and in all places.

No Sentimentalist

Wesley himself is no alarmist, no sentimentalist, he never gushes, seldom exaggerates, and always writes on an easy level. Naturally enough he clings to the supernatural and is always disposed to believe in the bona fidesof ghosts and the diabolical origin of strange noises, but outside this realm of speculation, Wesley describes things as he saw them. In the first published words of his friend, Dr. Johnson, “he meets with no basilisks that destroy with their eyes, his crocodiles devour their prey without tears, and his cataracts fall from the rocks without deafening the neighbouring inhabitants.”

Wesley’s humor is of the species donnish, and his modes and methods quietly persistent.

Wesley’s Humor

“On Thursday, May 20 (1742), I set out. The next afternoon I stopped a little at Newport Pagnell and then rode on till I over took a serious man with whom I immediately fell into conversation. He presently gave me to know what his opinions were, therefore I said nothing to contradict them. But that did not content him. He was quite uneasy to know ‘whether I held the doctrines of the decrees as he did’; but I told him over and over ‘We had better keep to practical things lest we should be angry at one another.’ And so we did for two miles till he caught me unawares and dragged me into the dispute before I knew where I was. He then grew warmer and warmer; told me I was rotten at heart and supposed I was one of John Wesley’s followers. I told him ‘No. I am John Wesley himself.’ Upon which

Improvisum aspris Veluti qui sentibus

anguem Presset---


he would gladly have run away outright. But being the better mounted of the two I kept close to his side and endeavored to show him his heart till we came into the street of Northampton.”

What a picture have we here of a fine May morning in 1742, the unhappy Calvinist trying to shake off the Arminian Wesley! But he cannot do it! John Wesley is the better mounted of the two, and so they scamper together into Northampton.

The England described in the Journal is an England still full of theology; all kinds of queer folk abound; strange subjects are discussed in odd places. There was drunkenness and cockfighting, no doubt, but there were also Deists, Mystics, Swedenborgians, Antiomians, Necessitarians, Anabaptists, Quakers, nascent heresies, and slow-dying delusions. Villages were divided into rival groups, which fiercely argued the nicest points in the aptest language. Nowadays in one’s rambles a man is as likely to encounter a grey badger as a black Calvinist.

England in Wesley’s Day

The clergy of the Established Church were jealous of Wesley’s interference in their parishes, nor was this unnatural - he was not a Nonconformist but a brother churchman. What right had he to be so peripatetic? But Wesley seldom records any instance of gross clerical misconduct. Of one drunken parson he does indeed tell us, and he speaks disapprovingly of another whom he found one very hot day consuming a pot of beer in a lone ale-house.

When Wesley, with that dauntless courage of his, a courage which never forsook him, which he wore on every occasion with the delightful ease of a soldier, pushed his way into fierce districts, amid rough miners dwelling their own village communities almost outside the law, what most strikes one with admiration, not less in Wesley’s Journal than in George Fox’s (a kindred though earlier volume), is the essential fitness for freedom of our rudest populations. They were coarse and brutal and savage, but rarely did they fail to recognize the high character and lofty motives of the dignified mortal who had traveled so far to speak to them.

The Mobs He Met

Wesley was occasionally hustled, and once or twice pelted with mud and stones, but at no time were his sufferings at the hands of the mob to be compared with the indignities it was long the fashion to heap upon the heads of parliamentary candidates. The mob knew and appreciated the difference between a Bubb Dodington and a John Wesley.

I do not think any ordinary Englishman will be much horrified at the demeanor of the populace. If there was a disturbance it was usually quelled. At Norwich two soldiers who disturbed a congregation were seized and carried before their commanding officer, who ordered them to be soundly whipped. In Wesley’s opinion they richly deserved all they got. He was no sentimentalist, although an enthusiast.

Where the reader of the Journal will be shocked is when his attention is called to the public side of the country - to the state of the gaols - to Newgate, to Bethlehem, to the criminal code - to the brutality of so many of the judges, and the harshness of the magistrates, to the supineness of the bishops, to the extinction in high places of the missionary spirit - in short, to the heavy slumber of humanity.

Wesley was full of compassion, of a compassion wholly free from hysterics and like exaltative. In public affairs his was the composed zeal of a Howard. His efforts to penetrate the dark places were long in vain. He says in his dry way: “They won’t let me go to Bedlam because they say I make the inmates mad, or into Newgate because I make them wicked.” The reader of the Journal will be at no loss to see what these sapient magistrates meant.

Wesley was a terriby exciting preacher, quiet though his manner was. He pushed matters home without flinching. He made people cry out and fall down, nor did it surprise him that they should.

* * * *

Ever a Preacher

If you want to get into the last century, to feel its pulses throb beneath your finger, be content sometimes to leave the letters of Horace Walpole unturned, resist the drowsy temptation to waste your time over the learned triflers who sleep in the seventeen volumes of Nichols, nay even deny yourself your annual reading of Boswell or your biennial retreat with Sterne, and ride up and down the country with the greatest force of the eighteenth century in England.

No man lived nearer the center than John Wesley. Neither Clive nor Pitt, neither Mansfield nor Johnson. You cannot cut him out of our national life. No single figure influenced so many minds, no single voice touched so many hearts. No other man did such a life’s work for England.

As a writer he has not achieved distinction, he was no Athanasius, no Augustine, he was ever a preacher and an organizer, a laborer in the service of humanity; but happily for us his Journals remain, and from them we can learn better than from anywhere else what manner of man he was, and the character of the times during which he lived and moved and had his being.


 

 

 

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH


“So fine an old man I never saw! The happiness of his mind beamed forth in his countenance. Every look showed how fully he enjoyed ‘the gay remembrance of a life well spent.’”

alexander knox of john wesley


Like the others of the Epworth family, John Wesley was small in stature. Barely five feet six and weighing only one hundred and twenty-two pounds, he was yet muscular and strong. Bright hazel eyes, fine features, an aquiline nose, a fine forehead, and a clear complexion combined to make his face arresting. Contemporaries have said that his eyes retained their bright and penetrating quality even to his last years. Meticulous as to personal appearance and habits, he never appeared other than neatly dressed - narrow plaited stock, coat with a small upright collar, and three-cornered hat. “I dare no more write in a fine style,” said he, “than wear a fine coat.” “Exactly so,” remarked Canon Overton, “but, then, he was particular about his coats. He was most careful never to be slovenly in his dress, always to be dressed in good taste….It is just the same with his style; it is never slovenly, never tawdry.”

Henry Moore, who lived with Wesley in his latter years, says that he never saw a misplaced book or a scrap of paper lying about in Wesley’s study. His exactness and punctuality made it possible for him to carry the tremendous burden of work that fell to his lot, and to do it with perfect poise. He carefully weighed the value of his time and was never hurried in mind or manner. “He had no time to mend anything that he either wrote or did. He therefore always did everything not only with quietness, but with what might be thought slowness.” (Henry Moore)

Himself a delightful companion, Wesley disliked having people around who were in a bad humor, and if he did find himself in such company, he did his utmost to soothe ruffled tempers. “Wherever Wesley went he diffused a portion of his own felicity. Easy and affable in his demeanor, he accommodated himself to every sort of company and showed how happily the most finished courtesy may be blended with the most perfect piety. In his conversation we might be at a loss whether to admire most his fine classical taste, his extensive knowledge of men and things, or his overflowing goodness of heart. While the grave and serious were charmed with his wisdom, his sportive sallies of innocent mirth delighted even the young and thoughtless; and both saw in his uninterrupted cheerfulness the excellency of true religion. No cynical remarks on the levity of youth embittered his discourses. No applausive retrospect to past times marked his present discontent. In him even old age appeared delightful, like an evening without a cloud; and it was impossible to observe him without wishing fervently, ‘May my latter end be like his!’” (Knox)

Once when Wesley and one of his itinerant preachers were taking lunch at a wealthy home, an incident occurred which showed the great man’s tact. The daughter of the house, a beautiful girl, was much impressed with Mr. Wesley’s preaching. While conversing with the young lady, Wesley’s itinerant noticed that she was wearing a number of rings; holding her hand up for Mr. Wesley to see, he said, “What do you think of this sir, for a Methodist’s hand?” (Wesley’s aversion for the wearing of jewelry was well known.) The girl blushed and no doubt felt ill at ease, but with characteristic poise Wesley only smiled and said, “The hand is very beautiful.” The young lady appeared at the next service without her gems, and became a devoted Christian.

Robert Southey, one of Wesley’s biographers, gives us a glimpse of his love for children. “I was in a house in Bristol where Wesley was. When a mere child, on running downstairs before him with a beautiful little sister of my own, whose ringlets were floating over her shoulders, he overtook us on the landing and took my sister in his arms and kissed her. Placing her on her feet again, he then put his hand upon my head and blessed me, and I feel as though I had the blessing of that good man upon me at the present moment.”

We are indebted to the daughter of Charles Wesley for the following glimpses of the man in his family relationships. She was aware that her famous uncle had been represented as stern and stoical. “It behooves a relative to render this justice to his private virtues and attest from experience that no human being was more alive to all the tender charities of domestic life than John Wesley. His indifference to calumny and inflexible perseverance in what he believed his duty have been the cause of this idea….”

His nephew was attracted in early life to an amiable girl of low birth. This was much opposed by his mother and her family, who mentioned it with concern to John Wesley. Finding that this was the chief objection, Wesley observed, “Then there is no family, but I hear the girl is good.” “Nor any fortune, either,” said the mother, “and she is a dawdle.” Wesley’s niece continues, “He made no reply, but sent my brother fifty pounds for his wedding dinner, and, I believe, sincerely regretted he was crossed in his inclination (as she married another). But he always showed peculiar sympathy to young persons in love."

In April, 1749, after the marriage of Charles Wesley to Miss Sarah Gwynne, daughter of a Welsh magistrate, his brother writes, “It was a solemn day, such as became the dignity of a Christian marriage.” At this time, John Wesley was himself looking forward to a happy marriage. During August of the previous year, while he was preaching at Newcastle, he had been nursed through a brief illness by Grace Murray, a widow thirty-two years of age and an outstanding Christian woman. She was a native of Newcastle, but had moved to London. There she met and married a sailor, the son of a prominent Scotch family. Sorrow over the death of her young child had led Mrs. Murray to hear the Methodist preachers. At first her husband strongly opposed her in her new belief, but she succeeded in winning him to the same faith.

After her husband’s death at sea in 1742, Grace Murray returned to Newcastle, where she later took charge of the Orphan House. Her willingness to expend herself in looking after the hundred members in her classes, meeting a “band” every day of the week, and traveling to the nearby hamlets to read and pray with people, called forth John Wesley’s high praise: “[She was] indefatigably patient and inexpressibly tender; quick, cleanly, and skillful; of an engaging behavior, and of a mild, sprightly, cheerful, and yet serious temper; while, lastly, her gifts for usefulness were such as he had not seen equaled.”

When he proposed to her in August, 1748, she answered, “This is too great a blessing for me; I can’t tell how to believe it. This is all I could have wished for under heaven.” Since she did not want to be separated from him, he took her with him on a trip through Yorkshire and Derbyshire, where “she was unspeakably useful both to him and to the societies.” But she remained for a time in John Bennet’s circuit, at Bolton. Bennet was also in love with Grace Murray, so much so that she wrote Wesley that she thought it her duty to marry Bennet. However, she later went to Ireland with Wesley and was not only a worker among the women - forming women’s bands, visiting the sick, and praying with the penitent - but was also an adviser to Wesley in matters of his own behavior. Daily his love and esteem for her increased, and when in Dublin they made definite plans to be married.

Back in England again, they found they could not lightly dismiss John Bennet and his concerns. Bennet presented himself to Wesley at Epworth saying that Grace Murray had sent him all Wesley’s letters. Being convinced then that she should marry Bennet, Wesley wrote her to that effect; but she vacillated again and declared that Wesley was the one she really loved. They might have married then, but Wesley wanted first to satisfy Bennet, gain Charles’ approval, and tell the Methodist societies of his plan. Charles Wesley was perturbed by the thought of his brother’s marrying one who had been a servant; he first hastened to persuade John from a course which he said would cause their preachers to leave them and the societies to be scattered. John assured him that he was not marrying Grace for her birth, but for her own worth. Unsuccessful in changing his brother’s mind, Charles determined to persuade the lady herself. Meeting her at Hineley Hill, he greeted her with, “Grace Murray, you have broken my heart!” He prevailed upon her to ride with him to Newcastle; there she fell at Bennet’s feet and begged forgiveness for treating him so badly. Within a week she married him.

The loss of Grace Murray was Wesley’s deepest personal sorrow. The following letter reveals his heart:


“Leeds, October 7, 1749

“My dear Brother,---Since I was six years old, I never met with such a severe trial as for some days past. For ten years God has been preparing a fellow laborer for me by a wonderful train of providences. Last year I was convinced of it; therefore I delayed not, but, as I thought, made all sure beyond a danger of disappointment. But we were soon after torn asunder by a whirlwind. In a few months the storm was over; I then used more precaution than before and fondly told myself that the day of evil would return no more. But it too soon returned. The waves rose again since I came out of London. I fasted and prayed and strove all I could; but the sons of Zeruiah were too hard for me. The whole world fought against me, but above all my own familiar friend. Then was the word fulfilled, ‘Son of man, behold, I take from thee the desire of thine eyes at a stroke; yet shalt thou not lament, neither shall thy tears run down.’

“The fatal, irrevocable stroke was struck on Tuesday last. Yesterday I saw my friend (that was) and him to whom she is sacrificed. I believe you never saw such a scene. But ‘why should a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?’

“I am, yours affectionately,

“John Wesley”

Wesley did not see her again until 1788. Bennet separated from him shortly after his marriage, speaking bitterly of him and even accusing him of popery. He became pastor of a Calvinistic church at Warburton, where he died at the early age of forty-five.

Again we refer to Henry Moore for a word about the last meeting of Wesley and Mrs. Bennet: “The meeting was affecting; but Mr. Wesley preserved more than his usual self-possession. It was easy to see, notwithstanding the many years which had intervened, that both in sweetness of spirit, and in person and manners she was a fit subject for the tender regrets expressed in his verses. The interview did not continue long, and I do not remember that I ever heard Mr. Wesley mention her name afterward.”

Had Wesley married Grace Murray, he would have escaped the matrimonial disaster that overtook him when he married Mrs. Vazeille, wealthy widow of a London merchant. The most charitable construction that can be placed on her malicious, unreasonable behavior is that she was at times mentally unbalanced. She took papers and letters from his desk, changed the wording in his letters, then put them into the hands of his enemies or had them published in the newspapers. She is known to have driven a hundred miles in a jealous rage to see who was traveling with him. One of Wesley’s preachers, John Hampson, said, after observing one of her tantrums, “More than once she laid violent hands upon him, and tore those venerable locks…..”

One of Charles Wesley’s biographers, Jackson, states that Wesley’s letters to his wife show “the utmost tenderness of affection, such as few female hearts could have withstood; and justify the opinion that, had it been his happiness to be married to a person who was worthy of him, he could have been one of the most affectionate husbands that ever lived. Those who think that he was constitutionally cold and repulsive utterly mistake his character.”

Even in his domestic trials, the man who “did not remember to have felt lowness of spirits for one quarter of an hour since he was born” saw the bright side. He believed that even this worked out for his good: had Mrs. Wesley been a delightful companion, he says, he might have neglected his work at times to please her.

Always believing the best of his fellow men, he was many times sadly disappointed in their behavior. Incapable of malice, he was quick to forgive even his cruelest enemies.

Alexander Knox, among others, has proved that there was no taint of ambition, pride, selfishness, or personal gratification in Wesley’s motives. His ability to rule men Wesley himself considered a trust, and he never abused it.

Perhaps the best estimate of Wesley’s character and career was given by Bishop Asbury in his Journal: “When we consider his plain and nervous writings, his uncommon talent for sermonizing and journalizing….his knowledge as an observer; his attainments as a scholar; his experience as a Christian; I conclude his equal is not to be found among all the sons he hath brought up, nor his superior among all the sons of Adam he may have left behind.”


 

 

 

The Journal of John Wesley

 

Chapter 1. Wesley as a Missionary to Georgia


The first entry in Wesley's Journal is that of October 14, 1735. But the following letter, which Wesley published with the first edition of his Journal, precedes it, as it describes the incidents which led to the formation of the Holy Club and to the social activities from which, as the Journal shows, Methodism has evolved.

The letter was written from Oxford in 1732 to Mr. Morgan, whose son is mentioned. It runs thus:

Wesley Begins his Work

In November, 1729, at which time I came to reside at Oxford, your son [Mr. Morgan], my brother, myself, and one more agreed to spend three or four evenings in a week together. Our design was to read over the classics, which we had before read in private, on common nights, and on Sunday some book in divinity. In the summer following, Mr. M. told me he had called at the gaol to see a man who was condemned for killing his wife; and that, from the talk he had with one of the debtors, he verily believed it would do much good if anyone would be at the pains of now and then speaking with them.

This he so frequently repeated that on August 24, 1730, my brother and I walked with him to the castle. We were so well satisfied with our conversation there that we agreed to go thither once or twice a week; which we had not done long before he desired me to go with him to see a poor woman in the town, who was sick. In this employment too, when we came to reflect upon it, we believed it would be worth while to spend an hour or two in a week; provided the minister of the parish, in which any such person was, were not against it. But that we might not depend wholly on our own judgments, I wrote an account to my father of our whole design; withal begging that he, who had lived seventy years in the world and seen as much of it as most private men have ever done, would advise us whether we had yet gone too far and whether we should now stand still or go forward.

Origin of the Holy Club

In pursuance of [his] directions, I immediately went to Mr. Gerald, the Bishop of Oxford's chaplain, who was likewise the person that took care of the prisoners when any were condemned to die (at other times they were left to their own care); I proposed to him our design of serving them as far as we could and my own intention to preach there once a month, if the bishop approved of it. He much commended our design and said he would answer for the bishop's approbation, to whom he would take the first opportunity of mentioning it. It was not long before he informed me he had done so and that his lordship not only gave his permission, but was greatly pleased with the undertaking and hoped it would have the desired success.

Soon after, a gentleman of Merton College, who was one of our little company, which now consisted of five persons, acquainted us that he had been much rallied the day before for being a member of the Holy Club; and that it was become a common topic of mirth at his college, where they had found out several of our customs, to which we were ourselves utter strangers. Upon this I consulted my father again.

* * * *

Upon [his] encouragement we still continued to meet together as usual; and to confirm one another, as well as we could, in our resolutions to communicate as often as we had opportunity (which is here once a week); and do what service we could to our acquaintance, the prisoners, and two or three poor families in the town.

* * * *

Wesley Sails for America

1735. Tuesday, October 14. - Mr. Benjamin Ingham, of Queen College, Oxford; Mr. Charles Delamotte, son of a merchant, in London, who had offered himself some days before; my brother, Charles Wesley, and myself, took boat for Gravesend, in order to embark for Georgia.

Our end in leaving our native country was not to avoid want (God having given us plenty of temporal blessings) nor to gain the dung or dross of riches or honor; but singly this - to save our souls; to live wholly to the glory of God. In the afternoon we found the “Simmonds” off Gravesend and immediately went on board.

Friday, 17. - I began to learn German in order to converse with the Germans, six-and-twenty of whom we had on board. On Sunday, the weather being fair and calm, we had the morning service on quarterdeck. I now first preached extempore and then administered the Lord’s Supper to six or seven communicants.

Monday, 20. - Believing the denying ourselves, even in the smallest instances, might, by the blessing of God, be helpful to us, we wholly left off the use of flesh and wine and confined ourselves to vegetables food - chiefly rice and biscuit.

Tuesday, 21. - We sailed from Gravesend. When we were past about half the Goodwin Sands, the wind suddenly failed. Had the calm continued till ebb, the ship had probably been lost. But the gale sprang up again in an hour, and carried us into the Downs.

We now began to be a little regular. Our common way of living was this: From four in the morning till five each of us used private prayer. From five to seven we read the Bible together, carefully comparing it (that we might not lean to our own understandings) with the writings of the earliest ages. At seven we breakfasted. At eight were the public prayers. From nine to twelve I usually learned German, and Mr. Delamotte, Greek. My brother wrote sermons, and Mr. Ingham instructed the children. At twelve we met to give an account of one another what we had done since our last meeting, and what we designed to do before our next. About one we dined.

Life on Board

The time from dinner to four we spent in reading to those whom each of us had taken in charge, or in speaking to them severally, as need required. At four were the evening prayers; when either the second lesson was explained (as it always was in the morning), or the children were catechized and instructed before the congregation. From five to six we again used private prayer. From six to seven I read in our cabin to two or three of the passengers (of whom there were about eighty English on board), and each of my brethren to a few more in theirs.

At seven I joined with the Germans in their public service, while Mr. Ingham was reading between the decks to as many as desired to hear. At eight we met again to exhort and instruct one another. Between nine and ten we went to bed, where neither the roaring of the sea nor the motion of the ship could take away the refreshing sleep which God gave us.

Friday, 31. - We sailed out of the Downs. At eleven at night I was waked by a great noise. I soon found there was no danger. But the bare apprehension of it gave me a lively conviction what manner of men those ought to be who are every moment on the brink of eternity.

Saturday, November 1. - We came to St. Helen’s harbor, and the next day into Cowes road. The wind was fair, but we waited for the man-of-war which was to sail with us. This was a happy opportunity of instructing our fellow travelers.

Sunday, 23. - At night I was awakened by the tossing of the ship and roaring of the wind, and plainly showed I was unfit, for I was unwilling, to die.

Wednesday, December 10. - We sailed from Cowes, and in the afternoon passed the Needles. Here the ragged rocks, with the waves dashing and foaming at the foot of them, and the white side of the island rising to such a height, perpendicular from the beach, gave a strong idea of “Him that spanneth the heavens, and holdeth the waters in the hollow of His hand!”

1736. Thursday, January 15. - Complaint being made to Mr. Oglethorpe of the unequal distribution of the water among the passengers, he appointed new officers to take charge of it. At this the old ones and their friends were highly exasperated against us, to whom they imputed the change.

Saturday, 17. - Many people were very impatient at the contrary wind. At seven in the evening they were quieted by a storm. It rose higher and higher till nine. About nine the sea broke over us from stem to stern; burst through the windows of the state cabin, where three or four of us were, and covered us all over, though a bureau sheltered me from the main shock. About eleven I lay down in the great cabin and in a short time fell asleep, though very uncertain whether I should wake alive and much ashamed of my unwillingness to die. Oh, how pure in heart must he be, who would rejoice to appear before God at a moment’s warning! Toward morning, “He rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm” [Matt. 8:26].

Memorable Atlantic Storms

Friday, 23. - In the evening another storm began. In the morning it increased so that they were forced to let the ship drive. I could not but say to myself, “How is it that thou hast no faith?” being still unwilling to die. About one in the afternoon, almost as soon as I had stepped out of the great cabin-door, the sea did not break as usual, but came with a full, smooth tide over the side of the ship. I was vaulted over with water in a moment, and so stunned that I scarcely expected to lift up my head again till the sea should give up her dead. But thanks be to God, I received no hurt at all. About midnight the storm ceased.

Sunday, 25. - At noon our third storm began. At four it was more violent than before. At seven I went to the Germans. I had long before observed the great seriousness of their behavior. Of their humility they had given a continual proof by performing those servile offices for the other passengers, which none of the English would undertake; for which they desired and would receive no pay, saying, “it was good for their proud hearts,” and “their loving Saviour had done more for them.” And every day had given them an occasion of showing a meekness which no injury could move. If they were pushed, struck, or thrown down, they rose again and went away; but no complaint was found in their mouth. There was now an opportunity of trying whether they were delivered from the spirit of fear, as well as from that of pride, anger and revenge.

In the midst of the psalm wherewith their service began, the sea broke over, split the mainsail in pieces, covered the ship, and poured in between the decks, as if the great deep had already swallowed us up. A terrible screaming began among the English. The Germans calmly sang on. I asked one of them afterward, “Were you not afraid?” He answered, “I thank God, no.” I asked, “But were not your women and children afraid?” He replied, mildly, “No; our women and children are not afraid to die.”

Friday, 30. - We had another storm, which did us no other harm than splitting the foresail. Our bed being wet, I laid me down on the floor and slept soundly till morning. And, I believe, I shall not find it needful to go to bed (as it is called) any more.

Sunday, February 1. - We spoke with a ship of Carolina; and Wednesday, 4, came within soundings. About noon, the trees were visible from the masts and in the afternoon from the main deck. In the evening lesson were these words: “A great door, and effectual, is opened.” Oh, let no one shut it!

Thursday, 5. - Between two and three in the afternoon, God brought us all safe into the Savannah river. We cast anchor near Tybee Island, where the groves of pines, running along the shore, made an agreeable prospect, showing, as it were, the bloom of spring in the depth of winter.

Wesley Arrives in Georgia

Friday, 6. - About eight in the morning, we first set foot on American ground. It was a small uninhabited island, over against Tybee. Mr. Oglethorpe led us to a rising ground where we all kneeled down to give thanks. He then took boat for Savannah. When the rest of the people were come on shore, we called our little flock together to prayers.

Saturday, 7. - Mr. Oglethorpe returned from Savannah with Mr. Spangenberg, one of the pastors of the Germans. I soon found what spirit he was of and asked his advice with regard to my own conduct. He said, “My brother, I must first ask you one or two questions. Have you the witness within yourself? Does the Spirit of God bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God?” I was surprised, and knew not what to answer. He observed it and asked, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” I paused and said, “I know He is the Saviour of the world.” “True,” replied he; “but do you know He has saved you?” I answered, “I hope He has died to save me.” He only added, “Do you know yourself?” I said, “I do.” But I fear they were vain words.

Saturday, 14. - About one, Tomo Chachi, his nephew, Thleeanouhee, his wife Sinauky, with two more women, and two or three Indian children, came on board. As soon as we came in, they all rose and shook us by the hand; and Tomo Chachi (one Mr. Musgrove interpreted) spoke as follows:

“I am glad you are come. When I was in England, I desired that some would speak the great Word to me and my nation then desired to hear it; but now we are all in confusion. Yet I am glad you are come. I will go up and speak to the wise men of our nation; and I hope they will hear. But we would not be made Christians as the Spaniards make Christians: we would be taught, before we are baptized."

I answered, “There Is but One, He that sitteth in heaven, who is able to teach man wisdom. Though we are come so far, we know not whether He will please to teach you by us or no. If He teaches you, you will learn wisdom, but we can do nothing.” We then withdrew.

Thursday, 19. - My brother and I took boat, and passing by Savannah, went to pay our first visit in America to the poor heathens.

Begins His Ministry at Savannah

Sunday, March 7. - I entered upon my ministry at Savannah, by preaching on the epistle for the day, being the thirteenth of First Corinthians. In the second lesson (Luke 18) was our Lord’s prediction of the treatment which He Himself (and, consequently, His followers) was to meet with from the world. “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or friends, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.”

Yet, notwithstanding these declarations of our Lord - notwithstanding my own repeated experience - notwithstanding the experience of all the sincere followers of Christ whom I have ever talked with, read or heard of; nay, and the reason of the thing evincing to a demonstration that all who love not the light must hate Him who is continually laboring to pour it in upon them; I do here bear witness against myself that when I saw the number of people crowding into the church, the deep attention with which they received the Word, and the seriousness that afterward sat on all their faces; I could scarcely refrain from giving the lie to experience and reason and Scripture all together.

I could hardly believe that the greater, the far greater part of this attentive, serious people would hereafter trample under foot that Word and say all manner of evil falsely of him that spake it.

Monday, 15. - Mr. Quincy going for Carolina, I removed into the minister’s house. It is large enough for a larger family than ours and has many conveniences, besides a good garden.

Tuesday, 30. - Mr. Ingham, coming from Frederica, brought me letters, pressing me to go thither. The next day Mr. Delamotte and I began to try whether life might not as well be sustained by one sort as by variety of food. We chose to make the experiment with bread; and were never more vigorous and healthy than while we tasted nothing else.

“I Waked Under Water”

Sunday, April 4. - About four in the afternoon I set out for Frederica in a pettiawga - a sort of flat-bottomed barge. The next evening we anchored near Skidoway Island, where the water, at flood, was twelve or fourteen feet deep. I wrapped myself up from head to foot in a large cloak, to keep off the sandflies, and lay down on the quarterdeck. Between one and two I waked under water, being so fast asleep that I did not find where I was till my mouth was full of it. Having left my cloak, I know not how, upon deck, I swam around to the other side of the pettiawga, where a boat was tied, and climbed up by the rope without any hurt, more than wetting my clothes.

Saturday, 17. - Not finding as yet any door open for the pursuing our main design, we considered in what manner we might be most useful to the little flock at Savannah. And we agreed 1) to advise the more serious among them to form themselves into a sort of little society, and to meet once or twice a week, in order to reprove, instruct and exhort one another; 2) to select out of these a smaller number for a more intimate union with each other, which might be forwarded, partly by our conversing singly with each and partly by inviting them all together to our house; and this, accordingly, we determined to do every Sunday in the afternoon.

Monday, May 10. - I began visiting my parishioners in order, from house to house; for which I set apart the time when they cannot work because of the heat, namely, from twelve till three in the afternoon.

Thursday, June 17. - An officer of a man-of-war, walking just behind us with two or three of his acquaintance, cursed and swore exceedingly; but upon my reproving him, seemed much moved and gave me many thanks.

Tuesday, 22. - Observing much coldness in M ----‘s behaviour, I asked him the reason of it. He answered, “I like nothing you do. All your sermons are satires upon particular persons, therefore I will never hear you more; and all the people are of my mind; for we won’t hear ourselves abused.

“Besides, they say, they are Protestants. But as for you, they cannot tell what religion you are of. They never heard of such a religion before. They do not know what to make of it. And then your private behaviour: all the quarrels that have been here since you came, have been ‘long of you. Indeed there is neither man nor woman in the town who minds a word you say. And so you may preach long enough; but nobody will come to hear you.”

He was too warm for hearing an answer. So I had nothing to do but to thank him for his openness and walk away.

Talks to the Indians

Wednesday, 30. - I hoped a door was opened for going up immediately to the Choctaws, the least polished, that is, the least corrupted, of all the Indian nations. But upon my informing Mr. Oglethorpe of our design, he objected, not only the danger of being intercepted or killed by the French there; but much more, the inexpediency of leaving Savannah destitute of a minister. These objections I related to our brethren in the evening, who were all of opinion, “We ought not to go yet.”

Thursday, July 1. - The Indians had an audience; and another on Saturday, when Chicali, their head man, dined with Mr. Oglethorpe. After dinner, I asked the grey-headed old man what he thought he was made for. He said, “He that is above knows what He made us for. We know nothing. We are in the dark. But white men know much. And yet white men build great houses, as if they were to live forever. But white men cannot live forever. In a little time, white men will be dust as well as I.” I told him, “If red men will learn the Good Book, they may know as much as white men. But neither we nor you can understand that Book unless we are taught by Him that is above: and He will not teach you unless you avoid what you already know is not good.” He answered, “I believe that. He will not teach us while our hearts are not white. And our men do what they know is not good: they kill their own children. And our women do what they know is not good: they kill the child before it is born. Therefore He that is above does not send us the Good Book.”

Monday, 26. - My brother and I set out for Charleston, in order to his embarking for England; but the wind being contrary, we did not reach Port Royal, forty miles from Savannah, till Wednesday evening. The next morning we left it. But the wind was so high in the afternoon, as we were crossing the neck of St. Helena’s sound, that our oldest sailor cried out, “Now everyone must take care of himself.” I told him, “God will take care for us all.” Almost as soon as the words were spoken, the mast fell. I kept on the edge of the boat, to be clear of her when she sank (which we expected every moment), though with little prospect of swimming ashore against such a wind and sea. But “How is it that thou hadst no faith?” The moment the mast fell, two men caught it and pulled it into the boat; the other three rowed with all their might, and “God gave command to the wind and seas”; so that in an hour we were safe on land.

Fearless of Rains and Dews

Monday, August 2. - I set out for the Lieutenant Governor's seat, about thirty miles from Charleston, to deliver Mr. Oglethorpe's letters. It stands very pleasantly on a little hill with a vale on either side, in one of which is a thick wood; the other is planted with rice and Indian corn. I designed to have gone back by Mr. Skeen's, who has about fifty Christian negroes. But my horse tiring, I was obliged to return the straight way to Charleston.

I had sent the boat we came in back to Savannah, expecting a passage thither myself in Colonel Bull's. His not going so soon, I went to Ashley Ferry on Thursday, intending to walk to Port Royal. But Mr. Belinger not only provided me a horse, but rode with me himself ten miles, and sent his son with me to Cumbee Ferry, twenty miles farther; whence, having hired horses and a guide, I came to Beaufort (or Port Royal) the next evening. We took boat in the morning; but, the wind being contrary and very high, did not reach Savannah till Sunday, in the afternoon.

Finding Mr. Oglethorpe was gone, I stayed only a day at Savannah; and leaving Mr. Ingham and Delamotte there, set out on Tuesday morning for Frederica. In walking to Thunderbolt I was in so heavy a shower that all my clothes were as wet as if I had gone through the river. On which occasion I cannot but observe that vulgar error concerning the hurtfulness of the rains and dews of America. I have been thoroughly wet with these rains more than once, yet without any harm at all. And I have lain many nights in the open air and received all the dews that fell; and so, I believe, might anyone, if his constitution was not impaired by the softness of a genteel education.

Desires to Go Among the Indians

Tuesday, November 23. - Mr. Oglethorpe sailed for England, leaving Mr. Ingham, Mr. Delamotte, and me at Savannah, but with less prospect of preaching to the Indians than we had the first day we set foot in America. Whenever I mentioned it, it was immediately replied, “You cannot leave Savannah without a minister.”

To this indeed my plain answer was, “I know not that I am under any obligation to the contrary. I never promised to stay here one month. I openly declared both before, at, and ever since, my coming hither that I neither would nor could take charge of the English any longer than till I could go among the Indians.” If it was said, “But did not the trustees of Georgia appoint you to be minister of Savannah?” I replied, “They did; but it was not done by my solicitation: it was done without either my desire or knowledge. Therefore, I cannot conceive that appointment to lay me under any obligation of continuing there any longer than till a door is opened to the heathens; and this I expressly declared at the time I consented to accept of that appointment.”

But though I had no other obligation not to leave Savannah now, yet that of love, I could not break through: I could not resist the importunate request of the more serious parishioners, “to watch over their souls yet a little longer, till someone came who might supply my place.” And this I the more willingly did, because the time was not come to preach the gospel of peace to the heathens, all their nations being in a ferment; and Paustoobee and Mingo Mattaw having told me, in terms, in my own house, “Now our enemies are all about us, and we can do nothing but fight; but if the beloved ones should ever give us to be at peace, then we would hear the great Word.”

Wednesday, December 23. - Mr. Delamotte and I, with a guide, set out to walk to the Cowpen. When we had walked two or three hours, our guide told us plainly he did not know where we were. However, believing it could not be far off, we thought it best to go on. In an hour or two we came to a cypress swamp, which lay directly across our way; there was not time to walk back to Savannah before night, so we walked through it, the water being about breast high.

By the time we had gone a mile beyond it, we were out of all path; and it being now past sunset, we sat down, intending to make a fire and to stay there till morning; but finding our tinder wet, we were at a stand. I advised to walk on still; but my companions, being faint and weary, were for lying down, which we accordingly did about six o’clock; the ground was as wet as our clothes, which it being a sharp frost, were soon frozen together; however, I slept till six in the morning. There fell a heavy dew in the night which covered us over as white as snow. Within an hour after sunrise, we came to a plantation, and in the evening, without any hurt, to Savannah.


 

 

 

Chapter 2. Troubles in Georgia; Return to England; Peter Bohler; “I Felt my Heart Strangely Warmed”

Begins to Learn Spanish

1737. Friday, March 4. - I wrote the trustees for Georgia an account of our year’s expense, from March 1, 1736, to March 1, 1737; which, deducting extraordinary expenses, such as repairing the parsonage house and journeys to Frederica, amounted, for Mr. Delamotte and me, to f 44/4s. 4d.

Monday, April 4. - I began learning Spanish in order to converse with My Jewish parishioners; some of whom seem nearer the mind that was in Christ than many of those who called Him Lord.

Tuesday, 12. - Being determined, if possible, to put a stop to the proceedings of one in Carolina, who had married several of my parishioners without either banns or license and declared he would do so still, I set out in a sloop for Charleston. I landed there on Thursday, and related the case to Mr. Garden, the Bishop of London’s commissary, who assured me he would take care no such irregularity should be committed for the future.

Sunday, July 3. - Immediately after the holy communion, I mentioned to Mrs. Williamson (Mr. Causton’s niece) some things which I thought reprovable in her behavior. At this she appeared extremely angry; said she did not expect such usage from me; and at the turn of the street, through which we were walking home, went abruptly away. The next day Mrs. Causton endeavored to excuse her; told me she was exceedingly grieved for what had passed the day before and desired me to tell her in writing what I disliked; which I accordingly did the day following.

But first I sent Mr. Causton the following note:


Sir,

“To this hour you have shown yourself my friend; I ever have and ever shall acknowledge it. And it is my earnest desire that He who hath hitherto given me this blessing would continue it still.

“But this cannot be, unless you will allow me one request, which is not so easy a one as it appears: do not condemn me for doing, in the execution of my office, what I think it my duty to do.

“If you can prevail upon yourself to allow me this, even when I act without respect of persons, I am persuaded there will never be, at least not long, any misunderstanding between us. For even those who seek it shall, I trust, find no occasion against me, ‘except it be concerning the law of my God.’

“July 5, 1737.”

Wednesday, 6. - Mr. Causton came to my house, with Mr. Bailiff Parker and Mr. Recorder, and warmly asked, “How could you possibly think I should condemn you for executing any part of your office?” I said short, “Sir, what if I should think it the duty of my office to repel one of your family from the holy communion?” He replied, “If you repel me or my wife, I shall require a legal reason. But I shall trouble myself about none else. Let them look to themselves.”

Warrant for Wesley’s Arrest

Sunday, August 7. - I repelled Mrs. Williamson from the holy communion. and Monday, [July] 8, Mr. Recorder, of Savannah, issued out the warrant following:

“Georgia. Savannah ss.

“To all Constables, Tithingmen, and others, whom these may concern:

You, and each of you, are hereby required to take the body of John Wesley, Clerk:

“And bring him before one of the Bailiffs of the said town to answer the complaint of William Williamson and Sophia, his wife, for defaming the said Sophia, and refusing to administer to her the sacrament of the Lord’s supper in a public congregation without cause; by which the said William Williamson is damaged one thousand pound sterling; and for so doing, this is your warrant, certifying what you are to do in the premises. Given under my hand and seal the 8th day of August, Anno. dom. 1737.

Tho. Christie.

Tuesday, 9. - Mr. Jones, the constable, served the warrant, and carried me before Mr. Bailiff Parker and Mr. Recorder. My answer to them was that the giving or refusing the Lord’s supper being a matter purely ecclesiastical, I could not acknowledge their power to interrogate me upon it. Mr. Parker told me: “However, you must appear at the next Court, holden for Savannah.” Mr. Williamson, who stood by, said: “Gentlemen, I desire Mr. Wesley may give bail for his appearance.” But Mr. Parker immediately replied: “Sir, Mr. Wesley’s word is sufficient.”

Thursday, 11. - Mr. Causton came to my house and, among many other sharp words, said: “Make an end of this matter; thou hadst best. My niece to be used thus! I have drawn the sword and I will never sheath it till I have satisfaction.”

Soon after, he added: “Give the reasons of your repelling her before the whole congregation.” I answered: “Sir, if you insist upon it, I will; and so you may be pleased to tell her.” He said, “Write to her, and tell her so yourself.” I said, “I will”; and after he went I wrote as follows:


To Mrs. Sophia Williamson

At Mr. Causton’s request, I write once more. The rules whereby I proceed are these:

“’So many as intend to be partakers of the holy communion, shall signify their names to the curate, at least some time the day before.’ This you did not do.

“’And if any of these have done any wrong to his neighbors, by word or deed, so that the congregation be thereby offended, the curate shall advertise him that in any wise he presume not to come to the Lord’s table until he hath openly declared himself to have truly repented.’

“If you offer yourself at the Lord’s table on Sunday, I will advertise you (as I have done more than once) wherein you have done wrong. And when you have openly declared yourself to have truly repented, I will administer to you the mysteries of God. [1]

John Wesley

“August 11, 1737”


Mr. Delamotte carrying this, Mr. Causton said, among many other warm sayings: “I am the person that is injured. The affront is offered to me; and I will espouse the cause of my niece. I am ill used, and I will have satisfaction, if it be to be had in the world.”

Which way this satisfaction was to be had, I did not yet conceive; but on Friday and Saturday it began to appear; Mr. Causton declared to many persons that “Mr. Wesley had repelled Sophy from the holy communion purely out of revenge, because he had made proposals of marriage to her which she rejected, and married Mr. Williamson.”

The Jury’s Charge against Wesley

Tuesday, 16. - Mrs. Williamson swore to and signed an affidavit insinuating much more than it asserted; but asserting that Mr. Wesley had many times proposed marriage to her, all which proposals she rejected. Of this I desire a copy. Mr. Causton replied: “Sir, you may have one from any of the newspapers in America.”

On Thursday and Friday was delivered out a list of twenty-six men, who were to meet as a grand jury on Monday, the twenty-second. But this list was called in the next day, and twenty-four names added to it. Of this grand jury (forty-four of whom only met), one was a Frenchman, who did not understand English; one a Papist, one a professed infidel, three Baptists, sixteen or seventeen other Dissenters, and several others who had personal quarrels against me and had openly vowed revenge.

To this grand jury, on Monday, 22, Mr. Causton gave a long and earnest charge “to beware of spiritual tyranny, and to oppose the new, illegal authority which was usurped over their consciences.” Then Mrs. Williamson’s affidavit was read; after which, Mr. Causton delivered to the grand jury a paper, entitled:

“A List of grievances, presented by the grand jury for Savannah, this day of August, 1737.”

This the majority of the grand jury altered in some particulars, and on Thursday, September 1, delivered it again to the court, under the form of two presentments, containing ten bills, which were then read to the people.

Herein they asserted, upon oath, “That John Wesley, clerk, had broken the laws of the realm, contrary to the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King, his crown and dignity.

“1. By speaking and writing to Mrs. Williamson against her husband’s consent.

“2. By repelling her from the holy communion.

“3. By not declaring his adherence to the Church of England.

“4. By dividing the morning service on Sundays.

“5. By refusing to baptize Mr. Parker’s child, otherwise than by dipping, except the parents would certify it was weak and not able to bear it.

“6. By repelling William Gough from the holy communion.

“7. By refusing to read the burial service over the body of Nathaniel Polhill.

“8. By calling himself Ordinary of Savannah.

“9. By refusing to receive William Aglionby as a godfather, only because he was not a communicant.

“10. By refusing Jacob Matthews for the same reason; and baptizing an Indian trader’s child with only two sponsors.” (This, I own, was wrong; for I ought, at all hazards, to have refused baptizing it till he had procured a third.)

Friday, September 2. - Was the third court at which I appeared since my being carried before Mr. P. and the Recorder.

I now moved for an immediate hearing on the first bill, being the only one of a civil nature; but it was refused. I made the same motion in the afternoon, but was put off till the next court-day.

On the next court-day I appeared again, as also at the two courts following, but could not be heard, because (the Judge said) Mr. Williamson was gone out of town.

The sense of the minority of the grand jurors themselves (for they were by no means unanimous) concerning these presentments may appear from the following paper, which they transmitted to the trustees:

To the Honorable the Trustees for Georgia.

“Whereas two presentments have been made: the one of August 23, the other of August 31, by the grand jury for the town and county of Savannah, in Georgia, against John Wesley, Clerk.

“We whose names are underwritten, being members of the said grand jury, do humbly beg leave to signify our dislike of the said presentments; being, by many and divers circumstances, thoroughly persuaded in ourselves that the whole charge against Mr. Wesley is an artifice of Mr. Causton’s, designed rather to blacken the character of Mr. Wesley than to free the colony from religious tyranny, as he was pleased, in his charge to us, to term it. But as these circumstances will be too tedious to trouble your Honors with, we shall only beg leave to give the reasons of our dissent from the particular bills…..”

Friday, October 7. - I consulted my friends as to whether God did not call me to return to England. The reason for which I left it had now no force, there being no possibility as yet of instructing the Indians; neither had I, as yet, found or heard of any Indians on the continent of America who had the least desire of being instructed. And as to Savannah, having never engaged myself, either by word or letter, to stay there a day longer than I should judge convenient, nor ever taken charge of the people any otherwise than as in my passage to the heathens, I looked upon myself to be fully discharged therefrom, by the vacating of that design. Besides, there was a probability of doing more service to that unhappy people in England, than I could do in Georgia, by representing, without fear or favor, to the trustees the real state the colony was in. After deeply considering these things, they were unanimous that I ought to go, but not yet. So I laid the thoughts of it aside for the present; being persuaded that when the time was come, God would “make the way plain before my face.”

Why Wesley left Georgia

Thursday, November 3. - I appeared again at the court, holden on that day; and again, at the court held Tuesday, November 22. On which day Mr. Causton desired to speak with me. He then read me some affidavits which had been made September 15, last past; in one of which it was affirmed that I then abused Mr. Causton in his own house, calling him liar, villain, and so on. It was now likewise repeated before several persons, which indeed I had forgotten, that I had been reprimanded at the last court, for an enemy to, and hinderer of, the public peace.

I again consulted my friends who agreed with me that the time we looked for was now come. And the next morning, calling on Mr. Causton, I told him I designed to set out for England immediately. I set up an advertisement in the Great Square to the same effect and quietly prepared for my journey.

Friday, December 2. - I proposed to set out for Carolina about noon, the tide then serving. But about ten, the magistrates sent for me and told me I must not go out of the province; for I had not answered the allegations laid against me. I replied, “I have appeared at six or seven courts successively, in order to answer them. But I was not suffered so to do, when I desired it time after time.” Then they said, however, I must not go, unless I would give security to answer those allegations at their court. I asked, “What security?” After consulting together about two hours, the recorder showed me a kind of bond, engaging me, under a penalty of fifty pounds, to appear at their court when I should be required. He added, “But Mr. Williamson too has desired of us that you should give bail to answer his action.” I then told him plainly, “Sir, you use me very ill, and so you do the trustees. I will give neither any bond nor any bail at all. You know your business, and I know mine.”

In the afternoon, the magistrates published an order, requiring all the officers and sentinels to prevent my going out of the province and forbidding any person to assist me so to do. Being now only a prisoner at large, in a place where I know by experience that every day would give fresh opportunity to procure evidence of words I never said and actions I never did; I saw clearly the hour was come for leaving this place: and as soon as evening prayers were over, about eight o’clock, the tide then serving, I shook off the dust of my feet and left Georgia, after having preached the gospel there (not as I ought, but as I was able) one year and nearly nine months.

Saturday, 3. - We came to Purrysburg early in the morning and endeavored to procure a guide to Port Royal, but none being to be had, we set out without one, an hour before sunrise. After walking two or three hours, we met with an old man who led us into a small path, near which was a line of blazed tees (that is, marked by cutting off part of the bark), by following which, he said, we might easily come to Port Royal in five or six hours.

Lost in the Woods

We were four in all; one intended to go to England with me, the other two to settle in Carolina. About eleven we came into a large swamp, where we wandered about till near two. We then found another blaze and pursued it till it divided into two; one of these we followed through an almost impassable thicket, a mile beyond which it ended. We made through the thicket again, and traced the other blaze till that ended too. It now grew toward sunset; so we sat down, faint and weary, having had no food all day, except a gingerbread cake, which I had taken in my pocket. A third of this we had divided among us at noon; another third we took now; the rest we reserved for the morning; but we had met with no water all the day. Thrusting a stick into the ground, and finding the end of it moist, two of our company fell a-digging with their hands, and, at about three feet depth, found water. We thanked God, drank, and were refreshed. The night was sharp; however, there was no complaining among us; but after having commended ourselves to God, we lay down close together and (I at least) slept till near six in the morning.

Sunday, 4. - God renewed our strength, we arose neither faint nor weary, and resolved to make one trial more, to find out a path to Port Royal. We steered due east; but finding neither path nor blaze, and the woods growing thicker and thicker, we judged it would be our best course to return, if we could, by the way we came. The day before, in the thickest part of the wood, I had broken many young trees, I knew not why, as we walked along; these we found a great help in several places where no path was to be seen; and between one and two God brought us safe to Benjamin Arieu’s house, the old man we left the day before.

In the evening I read French prayers to a numerous family, a mile from Arieu’s; one of whom undertook to guide us to Port Royal. In the morning we set out. About sunset, we asked our guide if he knew where he was; who frankly answered, “No.” However, we pushed on till, about seven, we came to a plantation; and the next evening, after many difficulties and delays, we landed on Port Royal island.

Wednesday, 7. - We walked to Beaufort, where Mr. Jones, the minister of Beaufort with whom I lodged during my short stay here, gave me a lively idea of the old English hospitality. On Thursday Mr. Delamotte came; with whom, on Friday, 9, I took boat for Charleston. After a slow passage, by reason of contrary winds and some conflict (our provisions falling short) with hunger as well as cold, we came thither early in the morning, on Tuesday, 13.

Farewell to America

Thursday, 22.--I took my leave of America (though, if it please God, not forever), going on board the "Samuel," Captain Percy, with a young gentleman who had been a few months in Carolina, one of my parishioners of Savannah, and a Frenchman, late of Purrysburg, who was escaped thence by the skin of his teeth.

Saturday, 24--We sailed over Charleston bar, and about noon lost sight of land.

The next day the wind was fair, but high, as it was on Sunday 25, when the sea affected me more than it had done in the sixteen weeks of our passage to America. I was obliged to lie down the greatest part of the day, being easy only in that posture.

Monday, 26.--I began instructing a Negro lad in the principles of Christianity. The next day I resolved to break off living delicately and return to my old simplicity of diet; and after I did so, neither my stomach nor my head much complained of the motion of the ship.


1738. Sunday, January 1.--All in the ship, except the captain and steersman, were present both at the morning and evening service and appeared as deeply attentive as even the poor people of Frederica did, while the Word of God was new to their, ears. And it may be, one or two among these likewise may "bring forth fruit with patience."

Monday, 2.--Being sorrowful and very heavy (though I could give no particular reason for it), and utterly unwilling to speak close to any of my little flock (about twenty persons), I was in doubt whether my neglect of them was not one cause of my own heaviness. In the evening, therefore, I began instructing the cabin boy; after which I was much easier.

I went several times the following days, with a design to speak to the sailors, but could not. I mean, I was quite averse to speaking; I could not see how to make an occasion, and it seemed quite absurd to speak without. Is not this what men commonly mean by, "I could not speak"? And is this a sufficient cause of silence, or no? Is it a prohibition from the Good Spirit? or a temptation from nature, or the evil one?

Saturday, 7.--I began to read and explain some passages of the Bible to the young Negro. The next morning, another Negro who was on board desired to be a hearer too. From them I went to the poor Frenchman, who, understanding no English, had none else in the ship with whom he could converse. And from this time, I read and explained to him a chapter in the Testament every morning.

The Voyage to England

Friday, 13.--We had a thorough storm, which obliged us to shut all close, the sea breaking over the ship continually. I was at first afraid but cried to God and was strengthened. Before ten, I lay down: I bless God, without fear. About midnight we were awakened by a confused noise of seas and wind and men’s voices the like of which I had never heard before. The sound of the sea breaking over and against the sides of the ship I could compare to nothing but large cannon, or American thunder. The rebounding, starting, quivering motion of the ship much resembled what is said of earthquakes.

The captain was upon deck in an instant. But his men could not hear what he said. It blew a proper hurricane; which beginning at southwest, then went west, northwest, north, and, in a quarter of an hour, round by the east to the southwest point again. At the same time the sea running, as they term it, mountain-high, and that from many different points at once, the ship would not obey the helm; nor indeed could the steersman, through the violent rain, see the compass. So he was forced to let her run before the wind, and in half an hour the stress of the storm was over.

Tuesday, 24.--We spoke with two ships, outward bound, from whom we had the welcome news of our wanting but one hundred and sixty leagues of the Land’s End. My mind was now full of thought; part of which I wrote down as follows:

"I went to America, to convert the Indians; but oh! who shall convert me? who, what is he that will deliver me from this evil heart of mischief? I have a fair summer religion. I can talk well; nay, and believe myself, while no danger is near; but let death look me in the face, and my spirit is troubled. Nor can I say, 'To die is gain!'

I have a sin of fear, that when I've spun

My last thread, I shall perish on the shore!

"I think, verily, if the gospel be true, I am safe: for I not only have given, and do give, all my goods to feed the poor; I not only give my body to be burned, drowned, or whatever God shall appoint for me; but I follow after charity (though not as I ought, yet as I can), if haply I may attain it. I now believe the gospel is true. ‘I show my faith by my works’ by staking my all upon it. I would do so again and again a thousand times, if the choice were still to make.

"Whoever sees me, sees I would be a Christian. Therefore ‘are my ways not like other men's ways.' Therefore I have been, I am, I am content to be, 'a by-word, a proverb of reproach.' But in a storm I think, 'What, if the gospel be not true? Then thou art of all men most foolish. For what hast thou given thy goods, thine ease, thy friends, thy reputation, thy country, thy life? For what art thou wandering over the face of the earth?--A dream! a cunningly devised fable!'

"Oh! who will deliver me from this fear of death? What shall I do? Where shall I fly from it? Should I fight against it by thinking, or by not thinking of it? A wise man advised me some time since, 'Be still and go on.’ Perhaps this is best, to look upon it as my cross; when it comes to let it humble me and quicken all my good resolutions, especially that of praying without ceasing; and at other times to take no thought about it, but quietly to go on ‘in the work of the Lord.’”

Lands at Deal

We went on with a small, fair wind, till Thursday in the afternoon; and then sounding, found a whitish sand at seventy-five fathom; but having had no observation for several days, the captain began to be uneasy, fearing we might either get unawares into the Bristol Channel, or strike in the night on the rocks of Scilly.

Saturday, 28. - Was another cloudy day; but about ten in the morning, the wind continuing southerly, the clouds began to fly just contrary to the wind, and, to the surprise of us all, sank so under the sun so that at noon we had an exact observation; and by this we found we were as well as we could desire, about eleven leagues south of Scilly.

Sunday, 29.--We saw English land once more; which, about noon, appeared to be the Lizard Point. We ran by it with a fair wind; and at noon the next day made the west end of the Isle of Wight.

Here the wind turned against us and in the evening blew fresh so that we expected (the tide being likewise strong against us) to be driven some leagues backward in the night; but in morning, to our great surprise, we saw Beach Head just before us, and found we had gone forwards near forty miles.

Toward evening was a calm; but in the night a strong north wind brought us safe into the Downs. The day before, Mr. Whitefield had sailed out, neither of us then knowing anything of the other. At four in the morning we took boat, and in half an hour landed at Deal; it was Wednesday, February 1, the anniversary festival in Georgia for Mr. Oglethorpe's landing there.

It is now two years and almost four months since I left my native country in order to teach the Georgian Indians the nature of Christianity. But what have I learned myself in the meantime? Why (what I the least of all suspected), that I who went to America to convert others was never myself converted to God. 1 “I am not mad,” though I thus speak; but "I speak the words of truth and soberness”; if haply some of those who still dream may awake and see that as I am, so are they.

In London Again

Wednesday, February 1. - After reading prayers and explaining a portion of Scripture to a large company at the inn, I left Deal and came in the evening to Feversham.

I here read prayers and explained the second lesson to a few of those who were called Christians, but were indeed more savage in their behavior than the wildest Indians I have yet met with.

Friday, 3. - I came to Mr. Delamotte’s, at Blendon, where I expected a cold reception. But God had prepared the way before me; and I no sooner mentioned my name than I was welcomed in such a manner as constrained me to say: “Surely God is in this place, and I knew it not! Blessed be ye of the Lord! Ye have shown more kindness in the latter end than in the beginning.”

In the evening I came once more to London, whence I had been absent two years and nearly four months.

Many reasons I have to bless God, though the design I went upon did not take effect, for my having been carried into that strange land, contrary to all my preceding resolutions. Hereby I trust He hath in some measure “humbled me and proved me, and shown me what was in my heart” [Deut. 8:2]. Hereby I have been taught to “beware of men.” Hereby I am come to know assuredly that if “in all our ways we acknowledge God, he will,” where reason fails, “direct our path” by lot or by the other means which He knoweth. Hereby I am delivered from the fear of the sea, which I had both dreaded and abhorred from my youth.

Hereby God has given me to know many of His servants, particularly those of the Church of Herrnhut [the Moravians]. Hereby my passage is opened to the writings of holy men in the German, Spanish, and Italian tongues. I hope, too, some good may come to others hereby. All in Georgia have heard the Word of God. Some have believed and have begun to run well. A few steps have been taken toward publishing the glad tidings both to the African and American heathens. Many children have learned “how they ought to serve God” and to be useful to their neighbor. And those whom it most concerns have an opportunity of knowing the true state of their infant colony and laying a firmer foundation of peace and happiness to many generations.

Saturday, 4. - I told my friends some of the reasons which a little hastened my return to England. They all agreed it would be proper to relate them to the trustees of Georgia.

Accordingly, the next morning I waited on Mr. Oglethorpe but had not time to speak on that head. In the afternoon I was desired to preach at St. John the Evangelist’s. I did so on those strong words, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature” [II Cor. 5:17]. I was afterward informed many of the best in the parish were so offended that I was not to preach there any more.

Monday, 6. - I visited many of my old friends, as well as most of my relations. I find the time is not yet come when I am to be “hated of all men.” Oh, may I be prepared for that day!

Wesley Meets Peter Bohler

Tuesday, 7. - (A day much to be remembered.) At the house of Mr. Weinantz, a Dutch merchant, I met Peter Bohler, Schulius Richter, and Wensel Neiser, just then landed from Germany. Finding they had no acquaintance in England, I offered to procure them a lodging and did so near Mr. Hutton’s, where I then was. And from this time I did not willingly lose any opportunity of conversing with them while I stayed in London.

Wednesday, 8. - I went to Mr. Oglethorpe again but had no opportunity of speaking as I designed. Afterward I waited on the board of trustees and gave them a short but plain account of the state of the colony; an account, I fear, not a little differing from those which they had frequently received before, and for which I have reason to believe some of them have not forgiven me to this day.

Sunday, 12. - I preached at St. Andrew’s, Holborn on “Though I give all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” [I Cor. 13:3]. Oh, hard sayings! Who can hear them? Here, too, it seems, I am to preach no more.

Friday, 17. - I set out for Oxford with Peter Bohler, where we were kindly received by Mr. Sarney, the only one now remaining here of many who, at our embarking for America, were used to “take sweet counsel together” and rejoice in “bearing the reproach of Christ.”

Saturday, 18. - We went to Stanton Harcourt. The next day I preached once more at the castle in Oxford, to a numerous and serious congregation.

All this time I conversed much with Peter Bohler, but I understood him not; and least of all when he said, “My brother, my brother, that philosophy of yours must be purged away.”

Monday, 20. - I returned to London. On Tuesday I preached at Great St. Helen’s on “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” [Luke 9:23].

Sunday, 26. - I preached at six, at St. Lawrence’s; at ten, in St. Catherine Cree’s Church; and in the afternoon, at St. John’s, Wapping. I believe it pleased God to bless the first sermon most, because it gave most offense; being, indeed, an open defiance of that mystery of iniquity which the world calls “prudence,” grounded on those words of St. Paul to the Galatians, “As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ” [Gal. 6:12].

Monday, 27. - I took coach for Salisbury and had several opportunities of conversing seriously with my fellow travelers.

Tuesday, 28. - I saw my mother once more. The next day I prepared for my journey to my brother at Tiverton. But on Thursday morning, March 2, a message that my brother Charles was dying at Oxford obliged me to set out for that place immediately. Calling at an odd house in the afternoon, I found several persons there who seemed well-wishers to religion, to whom I spake plainly; as I did in the evening both to the servants and strangers at my inn.

Wesley’s Four Resolutions

With regard to my own behavior, I now renewed and wrote down my former resolutions.

1. To use absolute openness and unreserve with all I should converse with.

2. To labor after continual seriousness, not willingly indulging myself in any the least levity of behavior, or in laughter; no, not for a moment.

3. To speak no word which does not tend to the glory of God; in particular, not to talk of worldly things. Others may, nay, must. But what is that to thee? And,

4. To take no pleasure which does not tend to the glory of God; thanking God every moment for all I do take, and therefore rejecting every sort and degree of it which I feel I cannot so thank Him in and for.

Saturday, March 4. - I found my brother at Oxford, recovering from his pleurisy; and with him Peter Bohler; by whom, in the hand of the great God, I was, on Sunday, the fifth, clearly convinced of unbelief, of the want of that faith whereby alone we are saved.

Immediately it struck into my mind, “Leave off preaching. How can you preach to others, who have not faith yourself?” I asked Bohler whether he thought I should leave it off or not. He answered, “By no means.” I asked, “But what can I preach?” He said, “Preach faith till you have it; and then, because you have it, you will preach faith.”

Accordingly, Monday, 6, I began preaching this new doctrine, though my soul started back from the work. The first person to whom I offered salvation by faith alone was a prisoner under sentence of death. His name was Clifford. Peter Bohler had many times desired me to speak to him before. But I could not prevail on myself so to do; being still, as I had been many years, a zealous asserter of the impossibility of a deathbed repentance.

Incidents on the Manchester Road

Tuesday, 14. - I set out for Manchester with Mr. Kinchin, fellow of Corpus Christi, and Mr. Fox, late a prisoner in the city prison.

About eight, it being rainy and very dark, we lost our way; but before nine, came to Shipston, having ridden over, I know not how, a narrow footbridge, which lay across a deep ditch near the town. After supper I read prayers to the people of the inn and explained the second lesson; I hope not in vain.

The next day we dined at Birmingham; and, soon after we left it, were reproved for our negligence there, in letting those who attended us go without either exhortation or instruction, by a severe shower of hail.

In the evening we came to Stafford. The mistress of the house joined with us in family prayer. The next morning one of the servants appeared deeply affected, as did the hostler, before we went. Soon after breakfast, stepping into the stable, I spoke a few words to those who were there. A stranger who heard me said, “Sir, I wish I were to travel with you”; and when I went into the house, followed me and began abruptly, “Sir, I believe you are a good man, and I come to tell you a little of my life.” The tears stood in his eyes all the time he spoke; and we hoped not a word which was said to him was lost.

At Newcastle, whither we came about ten, some to whom we spoke at our inn were very attentive; but a gay young woman waited on us, quite unconcerned: however, we spoke on. When we went away, she fixed her eyes and neither moved nor said one word but appeared as much astonished as if she had seen one risen from the dead.

Coming to Holms Chapel about three, we were surprised at being shown into a room where a cloth and plates were laid. Soon after two men came in to dinner, Mr. Kinchin told them, if they pleased, that gentleman would ask a blessing for them. They stared and, as it were, consented; but sat still while I did it, one of them with his hat on. We began to speak on turning to God, and went on, though they appeared utterly regardless. After a while their countenances changed, and one of them stole off his hat; laying it down behind him, he said that all we said was true; but he had been a grievous sinner and not considered it as he ought; but he was resolved, with God’s help, now to turn to Him in earnest. We exhorted him and his companion, who now likewise drank in every word, to cry mightily to God that He would “send them help from his holy place.”

Late at night we reached Manchester.

Companions on Horseback

Friday, 17. - Early in the morning we left Manchester, taking with us Mr. Kinchin’s brother, for whom we came, to be entered at Oxford. We were fully determined to lose no opportunity of awakening, instructing, or exhorting any whom we might meet with in our journey. At Knutsford, where we first stopped, all we spake to thankfully received the word of exhortation. But at Talk-on-the-hill, where we dined, she with whom we were was so much of a gentlewoman that for nearly an hour our labor seemed to be in vain. However, we spoke on. Upon a sudden, she looked as one just awakened out of a sleep. Every word sank into her heart. Nor have I seen so entire a change both in the eyes, face, and manner of speaking of anyone in so short a time.

About five, Mr. Kinchin riding by a man and woman double-horsed, the man said, ”Sir, you ought to thank God it is a fair day; for if it rained, you would be sadly dirty with your little horse.” Mr. Kinchin answered, “True; and we ought to thank God for our life, and health, and food, and raiment, and all things.” He then rode on, Mr. Fox following, the man said, “Sir, my mistress would be glad to have some more talk with that gentleman.” We stayed, and when they came up, began to search one another’s hearts. They came to us again in the evening, at our inn at Stone, where I explained both to them and many of their acquaintance who were come together, that great truth-–godliness hath the promise both of this life and of that which is to come.

Tuesday, 21. - Between nine and ten we came to Hedgeford. In the afternoon one overtook us whom we soon found more inclined to speak than to hear. However, we spoke and spared not. In the evening we overtook a young man, a Quaker, who afterward came to us, to our inn at Henley, whither he sent for the rest of his family, to join with us in prayer; to which I added, as usual, the exposition of the second lesson. Our other companion went with us a mile or two in the morning; and then not only spoke less than the day before but took in good part a serious caution against talkativeness and vanity.

An hour after we were overtaken by an elderly gentleman who said he was going to enter his son at Oxford. We asked, “At what college?” He said he did not know, having no acquaintance there on whose recommendation he could depend. After some conversation, he expressed a deep sense of the good providence of God; and told us he knew God had cast us in his way in answer to his prayer. In the evening we reached Oxford, rejoicing in our having received so many fresh instances of that great truth, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” [Prov. 3:6].

Preaches in Oxford Castle

Thursday, 23. - I met Peter Bohler again, who now amazed me more and more by the account he gave of the fruits of living faith - the holiness and happiness which he affirmed to attend it. The next morning I began the Greek Testament again, resolving to abide by “the law and the testimony”; I was confident that God would hereby show me whether this doctrine was of God.

Monday, 27. - Mr. Kinchin went with me to the castle, where, after reading prayers and preaching on “It is appointed unto men once to die,” we prayed with the condemned man, first in several forms of prayer and then in such words as were given us in that hour. He kneeled down in much heaviness and confusion, having “no rest in” his “bones, by reason of” his “sins." After a space he rose up, and eagerly said, “I am now ready to die. I know Christ has taken away my sins; and there is no more condemnation for me.” The same composed cheerfulness he showed when he was carried to execution; and in his last moments he was the same, enjoying a perfect peace, in confidence that he was “accepted in the Beloved.”

Sunday, April 2. - Being Easter day, I preached in our college chapel on “The hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the son of God: and they that hear shall live” [John 5:25]. I preached in the afternoon, first at the castle, and then at Carfax, on the same words. I see the promise, but it is afar off.

Believing it would be better for me to wait for the accomplishment of it in silence and retirement, on Monday, 3, I complied with Mr. Kinchin’s desire and went to him at Dummer, in Hampshire. But I was not suffered to stay here long, being earnestly pressed to come up to London, if it were only for a few days. Thither, therefore, I returned, on Tuesday, 18.

Talks with Bohler

I asked P. Bohler again whether I ought not to refrain from teaching others. He said, “No; do not hide in the earth the talent God hath given you.” Accordingly, on Tuesday, 25, I spoke clearly and fully at Blendon to Mr. Delamotte’s family of the nature and fruits of faith. Mr. Broughton and my brother were there. Mr. Broughton’s great objection was he could never think that I had not faith, who had done and suffered such things. My brother was very angry and told me I did not know what mischief I had done by talking thus. And, indeed, it did please God then to kindle a fire, which I trust shall never be extinguished.

On Wednesday, 26, the day fixed for my return to Oxford, I once more waited on the trustees for Georgia; but, being straitened for time, was obliged to leave the papers for them, which I had designed to give into their own hands. One of these was the instrument whereby they had appointed me minister of Savannah; which, having no more place in those parts, I thought it not right to keep any longer.

P. Bohler walked with me a few miles and exhorted me not to stop short of the grace of God. At Gerard’s Cross I plainly declared to those whom God gave into my hands the faith as it is in Jesus: as I did next day to a young man I overtook on the road and in the evening to our friends at Oxford. A strange doctrine, which some who did not care to contradict yet knew not what to make of; but one or two, who were thoroughly bruised by sin, willingly heard and received it gladly.

In the day or two following, I was much confirmed in the “truth that is after godliness” by hearing the experiences of Mr. Hutchins, of Pembroke College, and Mrs. Fox: two living witnesses that God can (at least, if He does not always) give that faith whereof cometh salvation in a moment, as lightning falling from heaven.

Monday, May 1. - The return of my brother’s illness obliged me again to hasten to London. In the evening I found him at James Hutton’s, better as to his health than I expected; but strongly averse to what he called “the new faith.”

This evening our little society began, which afterward met in Fetter Lane.

Wednesday, 3. - My brother had a long and particular conversation with Peter Bohler. And it now pleased God to open his eyes so that he also saw clearly what was the nature of that one true living faith, whereby alone, “through grace, we are saved.”

Thursday, 4. - Peter Bohler left London in order to embark for Carolina. Oh, what a work hath God begun since his coming into England! Such a one as shall never come to an end till heaven and earth pass away.

Sunday, 7. - I preached at St. Lawrence’s in the morning, and afterward at St. Katherine Cree’s Church. I was enabled to speak strong words at both; and was therefore the less surprised at being informed that I was not to preach any more in either of those churches.

Sunday, 14. - I preached in the morning at St. Ann’s, Aldersgate; and in the afternoon at the Savoy Chapel, free salvation by faith in the blood of Christ. I was quickly apprised that at St. Ann’s, likewise, I am to preach no more.

Friday, 19. - My brother had a second return of his pleurisy. A few of us spent Saturday night in prayer. The next day, being Whitsunday, after hearing Dr. Heylyn preach a truly Christian sermon (on “They were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” “And so,” said he, “may all you be, if it is not your own fault”), and assisting him at the holy communion (his curate being taken ill in the church), I received the surprising news that my brother had found rest to his soul. His bodily strength returned also from that hour. “Who is so great a God as our God?”

I preached at St. John’s, Wapping at three and at St. Bennett’s, Paul’s Wharf, in the evening. At these churches, likewise, I am to preach no more. at St. Antholin’s I preached on the Thursday following.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I had continual sorrow and heaviness in my heart.

Wednesday, May 24. - I think it was about five this morning that I opened my Testament on those words, “There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, even that ye should be partakers of the divine nature” [II Peter 1:4]. Just as I went out, I opened it again on those words, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God” [Mark 12:34]. In the afternoon I was asked to go to St. Paul’s. The anthem was, “Out of the deep have I called unto Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice. Oh, let Thine ears consider well the voice of my complaint. If Thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who may abide it? For there is mercy with Thee; therefore shalt Thou be feared. O Israel, trust in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his sins.”

“I Felt My Heart Strangely Warmed”

In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.

I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me. I then testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart. But it was not long before the enemy suggested, “This cannot be faith; for where is thy joy?” Then was I taught that peace and victory over sin are essential to faith in the Captain of our salvation; but that, as to the transports of joy that usually attend the beginning of it, especially in those who have mourned deeply, God sometimes giveth, sometimes withholdeth, them according to the counsels of His own will.

After my return home, I was much buffeted with temptations, but I cried out, and they fled away. They returned again and again. I as often lifted up my eyes, and He “sent me help from his holy place.” And herein I found the difference between this and my former state chiefly consisted. I was striving, yea, fighting with all my might under the law, as well as under grace. But then I was sometimes, if not often, conquered; now, I was always conqueror.

Thursday, 25. - The moment I awakened, “Jesus, Master,” was in my heart and in my mouth; and I found all my strength lay in keeping my eye fixed upon Him and my soul waiting on Him continually. Being again at St. Paul’s in the afternoon, I could taste the good word of God in the anthem which began, “My song shall be always of the loving-kindness of the Lord: with my mouth will I ever be showing forth thy truth from one generation to another.” Yet the enemy injected a fear, “If thou dost believe, why is there not a more sensible change? I answered (yet not I), “That I know not. But, this I know, I have ‘now peace with God.’ And I sin not today, and Jesus my Master has forbidden me to take thought for the morrow.”

Wednesday, June 7. - I determined, if God should permit, to retire for a short time into Germany. I had fully proposed, before I left Georgia, so to do if it should please God to bring me back to Europe. And I now clearly saw the time was come. My weak mind could not bear to be thus sawn asunder. And I hoped the conversing with those holy men who were themselves living witnesses of the full power of faith, and yet able to bear with those that are weak, would be a means, under God, of so establishing my soul that I might go on from faith to faith, and from “strength to strength.”

[The next three months Wesley spent in Germany visiting the Moravians.]

Wesley Preaches in Newgate Gaol

Sunday, September 17. (London). - I began again to declare in my own country the glad tidings of salvation, preaching three times and afterward expounding the Holy Scripture, to a large company in the Minories. On Monday I rejoiced to meet with our little society, which now consisted of thirty-two persons.

The next day I went to the condemned felons in Newgate and offered them free salvation. In the evening I went to a society in Bear Yard and preached repentance and remission of sins. The next evening I spoke the truth in love at a society in Aldersgate Street: some contradicted at first, but not long; nothing but love appeared at our parting.

Friday, November 3. - I preached at St. Antholin’s; Sunday, 5, in the morning, at St. Botolph’s, Bishopsgate; in the afternoon, at Islington; and in the evening, to such a congregation as I never saw before, at St. Clement’s, in the Strand. As this was the first time of my preaching here, I suppose it is to be the last.

Sunday, December 3 (Oxford). - I began reading prayers at Bocardo (the city prison), a practice which had been long discontinued. In the afternoon I received a letter, earnestly desired me to publish my account of Georgia; and another, as earnestly dissuading me from it “because it would bring much trouble upon me.” I consulted God in His Word, and received two answers: the first, Ezekiel 33:2 - 6; the other, “Thou therefore endure hardship, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” [II Tim. 2:3].

Tuesday, 5. - I began reading prayers and preaching in Gloucester Green workhouse; and on Thursday, in that belonging to St. Thomas’s parish. On both days I preached at the castle. At St. Thomas’s was a young woman, raving mad, screaming and tormenting herself continually. I had a strong desire to speak to her. The moment I began she was still. The tears ran down her cheeks all the time I was telling her, “Jesus of Nazareth is able and willing to deliver you.”

Monday, 11. - Hearing Mr. Whitefield was arriving from Georgia, I hastened to London from Oxford; and on Tuesday, 12, God gave us once more to take sweet counsel together.


 

 

 

Chapter 3. Field-Preaching; "All the World my Parish"; Whitefield; Wales; Experience with Demons

Wesley Begins Field-preaching

1739. March 15. - During my stay [in London] I was fully employed, between our own society in Fetter Lane and many others where I was continually desired to expound; I had no thought of leaving London, when I received, after several others, a letter from Mr. Whitefield and another from Mr. Seward entreating me, in the most pressing manner, to come to Bristol without delay. This I was not at all forward to do.

Wednesday, 28. - My journey was proposed to our society in Fetter Lane. But my brother Charles would scarcely bear the mention of it; till appealing to the Oracles of God, he received those words as spoken to himself and answered not again: “Son of man, behold, I take from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet shalt thou not mourn or weep, neither shall thy tears run down” [Ezek. 24:16]. Our other brethren, however, continuing the dispute, without any probability of their coming to one conclusion, we at length all agreed to decide it by lot. And by this it was determined I should go.

Thursday, 29. - I left London and in the evening expounded to a small company at Basingstoke, Saturday, 31. In the evening I reached Bristol and met Mr. Whitefield there. I could scarcely reconcile myself at first to this strange way of preaching in the fields, of which he set me an example on Sunday; I had been all my life (till very lately) so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order that I should have thought the saving of souls almost a sin if it had not been done in a church.

April 1. - In the evening (Mr. Whitefield being gone) I began expounding our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount (one pretty remarkable precedent of field-preaching, though I suppose there were churches at that time also), to a little society which was accustomed to meet once or twice a week in Nicholas Street.

Monday, 2. - At four in the afternoon, I submitted to be more vile and proclaimed in the highways the glad tidings of salvation, speaking from a little eminence in a ground adjoining to the city, to about three thousand people. The Scripture on which I spoke was this (is it possible anyone should be ignorant that it is fulfilled in every true minister of Christ?): “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” [see Isa. 61:1, 2;Luke 4:18, 19].

Sunday, 8. - At seven in the morning I preached to about a thousand persons at Bristol, and afterward to about fifteen hundred on the top of Hannam Mount in Kingswood. I called to them, in the words of the evangelical prophet, “Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters;.…come, and buy wine and milk without money and without price” [Isa. 55:1]. About five thousand were in the afternoon at Rose Green (on the other side of Kingswood); among whom I stood and cried in the name of the Lord, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” [John 7:38].

Tuesday, 17. - At five in the afternoon I was at a little society in the Back Lane. The room in which we were was propped beneath, but the weight of people made the floor give way; so that in the beginning of expounding, the post which propped it fell down with a great noise. But the floor sank no farther; so that, after a little surprise at first, they quietly attended to the things that were spoken.

Monday, May 7. - I was preparing to set out for Pensford, having now had leave to preach in the church, when I received the following note:

Sir,

“Our minister, having been informed you are beside yourself, does not care that you should preach in any of his churches.” - I went, however; and on Priestdown, about half a mile from Pensford, preached Christ our “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.”

Tuesday, 8. - I went to Bath, but was not suffered to be in the meadow where I was before, which occasioned the offer of a much more convenient place, where I preached Christ to about a thousand souls.

Wednesday, 9. - We took possession of a piece of ground near St. James’s churchyard, in the Horse Fair, Bristol, where it was designed to build a room large enough to contain both the societies of Nicholas and Baldwin Street and such of their acquaintance as might desire to be present with them, at such times as the Scripture was expounded. And on Saturday, 12, the first stone was laid with the voice of praise and thanksgiving.

The First Methodist Building

I had not at first the least apprehension or design of being personally engaged either in the expense of this work or in the direction of it, having appointed eleven feoffees on whom I supposed these burdens would fall, of course; but I quickly found my mistake. First, with regard to the expense: for the whole undertaking must have stood still had not I immediately taken upon myself the payment of all the workmen; so that before I knew where I was, I had contracted a debt of more than a hundred and fifty pounds. And this I was to discharge as I could, the subscriptions of both societies not amounting to one quarter of the sum.

And as to the direction of the work, I presently received letters from my friends in London, Mr. Whitefield in particular, backed with a message by one just come from thence, that neither he nor they would have anything to do with the building, neither contribute anything toward it, unless I would instantly discharge all feoffees and do everything in my own name. Many reasons they gave for this; but one was enough, namely, “that such feoffees always would have it in their power to control me; and, if I preached not as they liked, to turn me out of the room I had built.” I accordingly yielded to their advice, and calling all the feoffees together canceled (no man opposing) the instrument made before, and took the whole management into my own hands. Money, it is true, I had not, nor any human prospect or probability of procuring it; but I knew “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof,” and in His name set out, nothing doubting.

Sunday, 13. - My ordinary employment in public was now as follows: Every morning I read prayers and preached at Newgate. Every evening I expounded a portion of Scripture at one or more of the societies. On Monday, in the afternoon, I preached abroad, near Bristol; on Tuesday, at Bath and Two Mile Hill alternately; on Wednesday, at Baptist Mills; every other Thursday, near Pensford; every other Friday, in another part of Kingswood; on Saturday in the afternoon, and Sunday morning, in the Bowling Green (which lies near the middle of the city); on Sunday, at eleven, near Hannam Mount; at two, at Clifton; and at five, on Rose Green. and hitherto, as my days so my strength hath been.

Wesley’s Living Arguments

Sunday, 20. - Seeing many of the rich at Clifton Church, my heart was much pained for them and I was earnestly desirous that some even of them might “enter into the kingdom of heaven.” But full as I was, I knew not where to begin in warning them to flee from the wrath to come till my Testament opened on these words: "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” [Mark 2:17]; in applying which my soul was so enlarged that methought I could have cried out (in another sense than poor vain Archimedes), “Give me where to stand, and I will shake the earth.” God’s sending forth lightning with the rain did not hinder about fifteen hundred from staying at Rose Green. Our Scripture was, “It is the glorious God that maketh the thunder. The voice of the Lord is mighty in operation; the voice of the Lord is a glorious voice” [see Ps. 29:3, 4]. In the evening He spoke to three whose souls were all storm and tempest, and immediately there was a great calm.

During this whole time I was almost continually asked, either by those who purposely came to Bristol to inquire concerning this strange work, or by my old or new correspondents, “How can these things be?” And innumerable cautions were given me (generally grounded on gross misrepresentations of things) not to regard visions or dreams, or to fancy people had remission of sins because of their cries, or tears, or bare outward professions. To one who had many times written to me on this head, the sum of my answer was as follows:

“The question between us turns chiefly, if not wholly, on matter of fact. You deny that God does now work these effects; at least, that He works them in this manner. I affirm both, because I have heard these things with my own ears and have seen with my eyes. I have seen (as far as a thing of this kind can be seen very many persons changed in a moment from the spirit of fear, horror, despair, to the spirit of love, joy, and peace; and from sinful desire, till then reigning over them, to a pure desire of doing the will of God. These are matters of fact whereof I have been, and almost daily am, an eye- or ear-witness.

“What I have to say touching visions or dreams, is this: I know several persons in whom this great change was wrought in a dream, or during a strong representation to the eye of their mind, of Christ either on the cross or in the glory. This is the fact; let any judge of it as they please. And that such a change was then wrought appears (not from their shedding tears only, or falling into fit, or crying out; these are not the fruits, as you seem to suppose, whereby I judge, but) from the whole tenor of their life, till then many ways wicked; from that time holy, just, and good.

“I will show you him that was a lion till then and is now a lamb; him that was a drunkard and is now exemplarily sober; the whoremonger that was who now abhors the very ‘garment spotted by the flesh.’ These are my living arguments for what I assert, namely, ‘that God does now, as aforetime, give remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost even to us and to our children; yea, and that always suddenly as far as I have known, and often in dreams or in the visions of God.’ If it be not so, I am found a false witness before God. For these things I do, and by His grace, will testify.”

Beau Nash Argues with Wesley

Tuesday, June 5. - There was great expectation at Bath of what a noted man was to do to me there; and I was much entreated not to preach because no one knew what might happen. By this report I also gained a much larger audience, among whom were many of the rich and great. I told them plainly the Scripture had concluded them all under sin - high and low, rich and poor, one with another. Many of them seemed to be a little surprised and were sinking apace into seriousness, when their champion appeared and, coming close to me, asked by what authority I did these things.

I replied, “By the authority of Jesus Christ, conveyed to me by the (now) Archbishop of Canterbury, when he laid hands upon me and said, ‘Take thou authority to preach the gospel.’” He said, “This is contrary to Act of Parliament: this is a conventicle.” I answered, “Sir, the conventicles mentioned in that Act (as the preamble shows) are seditious meetings; but this is not such; here is no shadow of sedition; therefore it is not contrary to that Act.” He replied, “I say it is: and beside, your preaching frightens people out of their wits.”

“Sir, did you ever hear me preach?” “No.” “How, then, can you judge of what you never heard?” “Sir, by common report.” “Common report is not enough. Give me leave, Sir, to ask, is not your name Nash?” “My name is Nash.” “Sir, I dare not judge of you by common report: I think it not enough to judge by.” Here he paused awhile and, having recovered himself, said, “I desire to know what this people comes here for”: on which one replied, “Sir, leave him to me: let an old woman answer him. You, Mr. Nash, take care of your body; we take care of our souls; and for the food of our souls we come here.” He replied not a word, but walked away.

As I returned, the street was full of people, hurrying to and from and speaking great words. But when any of them asked, “Which is he?” and I replied, “I am he,” they were immediately silent. Several ladies following me into Mr. Merchant’s house, the servant told me there were some wanted to speak to me. I went to them and said, “I believe, ladies, the maid mistook: you wanted only to look at me.” I added, “I do not expect that the rich and great should want either to speak with me or to hear me; for I speak the plain truth - a thing you hear little of and do not desire to hear.” A few more words passed between us, and I retired.

Monday, 1. - I received a pressing letter from London (as I had several others before), to come thither as soon as possible, our brethren in Fetter Lane being in great confusion for want of my presence and advice. I therefore preached in the afternoon on these words: “I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” [Acts 20: 26, 27]. After sermon I commended them to the grace of God, in whom they had believed. Surely God hath yea a work to do in this place. I have not found such love, no, not in England; nor so childlike, artless, teachable, a temper as He hath given to this people.

Yet during this whole time I had many thoughts concerning the unusual manner of my ministering among them. But after frequently laying it before the Lord and calmly weighing whatever objections I heard against it, I could not but adhere to what I had some time since written to a friend, who had freely spoken his sentiments concerning it. An extract of that letter I here subjoin that the matter may be placed in a clear light.

“All the World My Parish”

“You say, you cannot reconcile some parts of my behavior with the character I have long supported. No, nor ever will. Therefore I have disclaimed that character on every possible occasion. I told all in our ship, all at Savannah, all at Frederica, and that over and over, in express terms, ‘I am not a Christian; I only follow after, if haply I may attain it.’

* * * *

“If you ask on what principle I acted, it was this: ‘A desire to be a Christian; and a conviction that whatever I judge conducive thereto that I am bound to do; wherever I judge I can best answer this end, thither it is my duty to go.’ On this principle I set out for America; on this I visited the Moravian church; and on the same am I ready now (God being my helper) to go to Abyssinia or China, or whithersoever it shall please God, by this conviction, to call me.

“As to your advice that I should settle in college, I have no business there, having now no office and no pupils. And whether the other branch of your proposal be expedient for me, namely, ‘to accept of a cure of souls,’ it will be time enough to consider when one is offered to me.

“But, in the meantime, you think I ought to sit still; because otherwise I should invade another’s office, if I interfered with other people’s business and intermeddled with souls that did not belong to me. You accordingly ask, ‘How is it that I assemble Christians who are none of my charge, to sing psalms, and pray, and hear the Scriptures expounded?’ and think it hard to justify doing this in other men’s parishes, upon catholic principles?

“Permit me to speak plainly. If by catholic principles you mean any other than scriptural, they weigh nothing with me; I allow no other rule, whether of faith or practice, than the holy Scriptures. but on scriptural principles, I do not think it hard to justify whatever I do. God in Scripture commands me, according to my power, to instruct the ignorant, reform the wicked, confirm the virtuous. Man forbids me to do this in another’s parish; that is, in effect, to do it at all, seeing I have now no parish of my own, nor probably ever shall. Whom then shall I hear, God or man?

* * * *

“I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation. This is the work which I know God has called me to; and sure I am that His blessing attends it. Great encouragement have I, therefore, to be faithful in fulfilling the work He hath given me to do. His servant I am, and, as such, am employed according to the plain direction of His Word, ‘As I have opportunity, doing good unto all men’; and His providence clearly concurs with his Word; which has disengaged me from all things else, that I might singly attend on this very thing, ‘and go about doing good.’”

Susanna Wesley and her Son

Wednesday, 13. - After receiving the holy communion at Islington, I had once more an opportunity of seeing my mother, whom I had not seen since my return from Germany.

I cannot but mention an odd circumstance here. I had read her a paper in June last year, containing a short account of what had passed in my own soul, till within a few days of that time. She greatly approved it, and said she heartily blessed God, who had brought me to so just a way of thinking. While I was in Germany a copy of that paper was sent (without my knowledge) to one of my relations. He sent an account of it to my mother, whom I now found under strange fears concerning me, being convinced “by an account taken from one of my own papers that I had greatly erred from the faith.” I could not conceive what paper that should be; but, on inquiry, found it was the same I had read her myself. How hard is it to form a true judgment of any person or thing from the account of a prejudiced relater! yea, though he be ever so honest a man: for he who gave this relations was one of unquestionable veracity. And yet by his sincere account of a writing which lay before his eyes, was the truth so totally disguised that my mother knew not the paper she had heard from end to end, nor I that I had myself written.

Thursday, 14. - I went with Mr. Whitefield to Blackheath, where were, I believe, twelve or fourteen thousand people. He a little surprised me by desiring me to preach in his stead; which I did (though nature recoiled) on my favorite subject, “Jesus Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.”

I was greatly moved with compassion for the rich that were there, to whom I made a particular application. Some of them seemed to attend, while others drove away their coaches from so uncouth a preacher.

Sunday, 17. - I preached at seven in Upper Moorefields to (I believe) six or seven thousand people, on, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.”

At five I preached on Kennington Common to about fifteen thousand people on those words, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth’ [Isa. 45:22].

Monday, 18. - I left London early in the morning and the next evening reached Bristol and preached (as I had appointed, if God should permit) to a numerous congregation. My text now also was “look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth” [Isa. 45:22]. Howell Harris called upon me an hour or two after. He said he had been much dissuaded from either hearing or seeing me by many who said all manner of evil of me. “But,” said he, “as soon as I heard you preach, I quickly found what spirit you were of. And before you had done, I was so overpowered with joy and love that I had much ado to walk home.”

Sunday, 24. - As I was riding to Rose Green, in a smooth, plain part of the road, my horse suddenly pitched upon his head, and rolled over and over. I received no other hurt than a little bruise on one side; which for the present I felt not, but preached without pain to six or seven thousand people on that important direction, “Whether ye eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” [see I Cor. 10:31].

Talks with Whitefield

Friday, July 6. - In the afternoon I was with Mr. Whitefield, just come from London, with whom I went to Baptist Mills, where he preached concerning “the Holy Ghost, which all who believe are to receive”; not without a just, though severe, censure of those who preach as if there were no Holy Ghost.

Saturday, 7. - I had an opportunity to talk with him of those outward signs which had so often accompanied the inward work of God. I found his objections were chiefly grounded on gross misrepresentations of matter of fact. But the next day he had an opportunity of informing himself better: for no sooner had he begun (in the application of his sermon) to invite all sinners to believe in Christ, than four persons sank down close to him, almost in the same moment. One of them lay without either sense or motion. A second trembled exceedingly. The third had strong convulsions all over his body, but made no noise unless by groans. The fourth, equally convulsed, called upon God with strong cries and tears. From this time, I trust, we shall all suffer God to carry on His own work in the way that pleaseth Him.

Friday, 23. - On Friday, in the afternoon, I left Bristol with Mr. Whitefield, in the midst of heavy rain. But the clouds soon dispersed so that we had a fair, calm evening and a serious congregation at Thornbury.

Tuesday, 17. - I rode to Bradford, five miles from Bath, whither I had been long invited to come. I waited on the minister and desired leave to preach in his church. He said it was not usual to preach on the weekdays; but if I could come thither on a Sunday, he should be glad of my assistance. Thence I went to a gentleman in the town who had been present when I preached at Bath and, with the strongest marks of sincerity and affection, wished me good luck in the name of the Lord. But it was past. I found him now quite cold. He began disputing on several heads and at last told me plainly that one of our own college had informed him they always took me to be a little crack-brained at Oxford.

However, some persons who were not of his mind, having pitched on a convenient place (called Bear Field, or Bury Field), on the top of the hill under which the town lies; I there offered Christ to about a thousand people, for “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” Thence I returned to Bath and preached on “What must I do to be saved?” to a larger audience than ever before.

I was wondering the “god of this world” was so still; when, at my return from the place of preaching, poor R---d Merchant told me he could not let me preach any more in his ground. I asked him why; he said, the people hurt his trees and stole things out of his ground. “And besides,” added he, “I have already, by letting thee be there, merited the displeasure of my neighbors.” O fear of man! Who is above thee, but they who indeed “worship God in spirit and in truth”? Not even those who have one foot in the grave! Not even those who dwell in rooms of cedar and who have heaped up gold as the dust and silver as the sand of the sea.

Press-gang Disturbs the Sermon

Saturday, 21. - I began expounding, a second time, our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. In the morning, Sunday, 22, as I was explaining, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” to about three thousand people, we had a fair opportunity of showing all men what manner of spirit we were of: for in the middle of the sermon the press-gang came and seized on one of the hearers (ye learned in the law, what becomes of Magna Charta, and of English liberty and property? Are not these mere sounds, while, on any pretense, there is such a thing as a press-gang suffered in the land?), all the rest standing still and none opening his mouth or lifting up his hand to resist them.

Monday, September 3 (London). - I talked largely with my mother, who told me that, till a short time since, she had scarcely heard such a thing mentioned as the having forgiveness of sins now, or God’s Spirit bearing witness with our spirit: much less did she imagine that this was the common privilege of all true believers. “Therefore,” said she, “I never durst ask for it myself. But two or three weeks ago, while my son Hall was pronouncing those words, in delivering the cup to me, ‘The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee,’ the words struck through my heart and I knew God for Christ’s sake had forgiven me all my sins.”

I asked whether her father (Dr. Annesley) had not the same faith and whether she had not heard him preach it to others. She answered that he had had it himself; and had declared, a little before his death, that for more than forty years he had had no darkness, no fear, no doubt at all of his being “accepted in the Beloved.” But that, nevertheless, she did not remember to have heard him preach, no, not once, explicitly upon it: whence she supposed he also looked upon it as the peculiar blessing of a few, not as promised to all the people of God.

The New Name of Methodism

Sunday, 9. - I declared to about ten thousand, in Moorfields, what they must do to be saved. My mother went with us, about five, to Kennington, where were supposed to be twenty thousand people. I again insisted on that foundation of all our hope, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved.” From Kennington I went to a society at Lambeth. The house being filled, the rest stood in the garden. The deep attention they showed gave me a good hope that they will not all be forgetful hearers.

Sunday, 16. - I preached at Moorfields to about ten thousand, and at Kennington Common to, I believe, nearly twenty thousand, on those words of the calmer Jews to St. Paul, “We desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against” [Acts 28:22]. At both places I described the real difference between what is generally called Christianity and the true old Christianity, which, under the new name of Methodism, is now also everywhere spoken against.

Sunday, 23. - I declared to about ten thousand, in Moorfields, with great enlargement of spirit, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” [Rom. 14:17]. At Kennington I enforced to about twenty thousand that great truth, “One thing is needful.” Thence I went to Lambeth and showed (to the amazement, it seemed, of many who were present) how “he that is born of God doth not commit sin” [1 John 3:9].

Monday, 24. - I preached once more at Plaistow and took my leave of the people of that place. In my return, a person galloping swiftly rode full against me and overthrew both man and horse, but without any hurt to either. Glory be to Him who saves both man and beast!

An Accident and a Long Sermon

Thursday, 27. - I went in the afternoon to a society at Deptford and thence, at six, came to Turner’s Hall, which holds (by computation) two thousand persons. The press both within and without was very great. In the beginning of the expounding, there being a large vault beneath, the main beam which supported the floor broke. The floor immediately sank, which event occasioned much noise and confusion among the people. But two or three days before, a man had filled the vault with hogsheads of tobacco. So that the floor, after sinking a foot or two, rested upon them, and I went on without interruption.

Sunday, October 7. - About eleven I preached at Runwick, seven miles from Gloucester. The church was much crowded, though a thousand or upwards stayed in the churchyard. In the afternoon I explained further the same words, “What must I do to be saved?” I believe some thousands were then present, more than had been in the morning.

Between five and six I called on all who were present (about three thousand) at Stanley, on a little green near the town, to accept of Christ as their only “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” I was strengthened to speak as I never did before; and continued speaking nearly two hours: the darkness of the night and a little lightning not lessening the number, but increasing the seriousness, of the hearers. I concluded the day by expounding part of our Lord's Sermon on the Mount to a small, serious company at Ebly.

Wesley in Wales

Monday, 15. - Upon a pressing invitation, some time since received, I set out for Wales. About four in the afternoon I preached on a little green at the foot of the Devauden (a high hill, two or three miles beyond Chepstow) to three or four hundred plain people on “Christ our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” After sermon, one who I trust is an old disciple of Christ, willingly received us into his house: whither many following, I showed them their need of a Saviour from these words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” In the morning I described more fully the way to salvation - “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved”; and then, taking leave of my friendly host, before two came to Abergavenny.

I felt in myself a strong aversion to preaching here. However, I went to Mr. W--- (the person in whose ground Mr. Whitefield preached) to desire the use of it. He said, with all his heart - if the minister was not willing to let me have the use of the church: after whose refusal (for I wrote a line to him immediately), he invited me to his house. About a thousand people stood patiently (though the frost was sharp, it being after sunset) while, from Acts 28:22, I simply described the plain, old religion of the Church of England, which is now almost everywhere spoken against, under the new name of Methodism.

Friday, 19. - I preached in the morning at Newport on “What must I do to be saved?” to the most insensible, ill-behaved people I have ever seen in Wales. One ancient man, during a great part of the sermon, cursed and swore almost incessantly; and, toward the conclusion, took up a great stone, which he many times attempted to throw. But that he could not do. - Such the champions, such the arms against field-preaching!

At four I preached at the Shire Hall of Cardiff again, where many gentry, I found, were present. Such freedom of speech I have seldom had as was given me in explaining those words, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” At six almost the whole town (I was informed) came together, to whom I explained the six last beatitudes. But my heart was so enlarged I knew not how to give over, so that we continued three hours.

Saturday, 20. - I returned to Bristol. I have seen no part of England so pleasant for sixty or seventy miles together as those parts of Wales I have been in. And most of the inhabitants are indeed ripe for the gospel.

“A Terrible Sight”

Tuesday, 23. - In riding to Bradford I read over Mr. Law’s book on the new birth. Philosophical, speculative, precarious; Behemish, void, and vain!

Oh, what a fall is there!

At eleven I preached at Bearfield to about three thousand, on the spirit of nature, of bondage, and of adoption.

Returning in the evening, I was exceedingly pressed to go back to a young woman in Kingswood. (The fact I nakedly relate and leave every man to his own judgment of it.) I went. She was nineteen or twenty years old, but, it seems, could not write or read. I found her on the bed, two or three persons holding her. It was a terrible sight. Anguish, horror, and despair above all description appeared in her pale face. The thousand distortions of her whole body showed how the dogs of hell were gnawing her heart. The shrieks intermixed were scarcely to be endured. But her stony eyes could not weep. She screamed out, as soon as words could find their way, “I am damned, damned; lost forever! Six days ago you might have helped me. But it is past. I am the devil’s now. I have given myself to him. His I am. Him I must serve. With him I must go to hell. I will be his. I will serve him. I will go with him to hell. I cannot be saved. I will not be saved. I must, I will, I will be damned!” She then began praying to the devil. We began:

Arm of the Lord, awake, awake!

She immediately sank down as sleep;