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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; but, as soon as we left off, broke out again, with inexpressible vehemence: “Stony hearts, break! I am a warning to you. Break, break, poor stony hearts! Will you not break? What can be done more for stony hearts? I am damned that you may be saved. Now break, now break, poor stony hearts! You need not be damned, though I must.” She then fixed her eyes on the corner of the ceiling and said: “There he is: ay, there he is! come, good devil, come! Take me away. You said you would dash my brains out: come, do it quickly. I am yours. I will be yours. Come just now. Take me away.”

We interrupted her by calling again upon God, on which she sank down as before; and another young woman began to roar out as loud as she had done. My brother now came in, it being about nine o’clock. We continued in prayer till past eleven, when God in a moment spoke peace into the soul, first of the first tormented, and then of the other. And they both joined in singing praise to Him who had “stilled the enemy and the avenger.”

“Yonder Comes Wesley, Galloping”

Saturday, 27. - I was sent for to Kingswood again, to one of those who had been so ill before. A violent rain began just as I set out, so that I was thoroughly wet in a few minutes. Just as that time the woman (then three miles off) cried out, “Yonder comes Wesley, galloping as fast as he can.” When I was come, I was quite cold and dead and fitter for sleep than prayer. She burst out into a horrid laughter and said, “No power, no power; no faith, no faith. She is mine; her soul is mine. I have her and will not let her go.”

We begged of God to increase our faith. Meanwhile her pangs increased more and more so that one would have imagined, by the violence of the throes, her body must have been shattered to pieces. One who was clearly convinced this was no natural disorder said, “I think Satan is let loose. I fear he will not stop here.” He added, “I command thee, in the name of the Lord Jesus, to tell if thou hast commission to torment any other soul.” It was immediately answered, “I have. L---y C---r and S---h J---s.” (Two who lived at some distance, and were then in perfect health.)

We betook ourselves to prayer again and ceased not till she began, about six o’clock, with a clear voice and composed, cheerful look:

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.

Sunday, 28. - I preached once more at Bradford, at one in the afternoon. The violent rains did not hinder more, I believe, than ten thousand from earnestly attending to what I spoke on those solemn 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.”

Returning in the evening, I called at Mrs. J---‘s, in Kingswood. S---h J---s and L---y C---r were there. It was scarcely a quarter of an hour before L---y C---r fell into a strange agony; and presently after, S---h J---s. The violent convulsions all over their bodies were such as words cannot describe. Their cries and groans were too horrid to be borne, till one of them, in a tone not to be expressed, said: “Where is your faith now? Come, go to prayers. I will pray with you. ‘Our Father, which art in heaven.’” We took the advice, from whomsoever it came, and poured out our souls before God, till L---y C---r’s agonies so increased that it seemed she was in the pangs of death. But in a moment God spoke; she knew His voice, and both her body and soul were healed.

We continued in prayer till nearly one, when S---h J---‘s voice was also changed, and she began strongly to call upon God. This she did for the greatest part of the night. In the morning we renewed our prayers, while she was crying continually, “I burn! I burn! Oh, what shall I do? I have a fire within me. I cannot bear it. Lord Jesus! Help!” - Amen, Lord Jesus! when Thy time is come.

Tuesday, November 27. - I wrote Mr. D. (according to his request) a short account of what had been done in Kingswood and of our present undertaking there. The account was as follows:

“Few persons have lived long in the west of England who have not heard of the colliers of Kingswood; a people famous, from the beginning hitherto, for neither fearing God nor regarding man: so ignorant of the things of God that they seemed but one move from the beasts that perish; and therefore utterly without desire of instruction as well as without the means of it.

The Colliers of Kingswood

“Many last winter used tauntingly to say of Mr. Whitefield, ‘If he will convert heathens, why does he not go to the colliers of Kingswood?’ In spring he did so. And as there were thousands who resorted to no place of public worship, he went after them into their own wilderness, ‘to seek and save that which was lost.’ When he was called away others went into ‘the highways and hedges, to compel them to come in.’ And, by the grace of God, their labor was not in vain. The scene is already changed. Kingswood does not now, as a year ago, resound with cursing and blasphemy. It is no more filled with drunkenness and uncleanness and the idle diversions that naturally lead thereto. It is no longer full of wars and fightings, of clamor and bitterness, of wrath and envyings. Peace and love are there. Great numbers of the people are mild, gentle, and easy to be entreated. They ‘do not cry, neither strive’; and hardly is their ‘voice heard in the streets’; or, indeed, in their own wood; unless when they are at their usual evening diversion - singing praise unto God their Saviour.

“That their children too might know the things which make for their peace, it was some time since proposed to build a house in Kingswood; and after many foreseen and unforeseen difficulties, in June last the foundation was laid. The ground made choice of was in the middle of the wood, between the London and Bath roads, not far from that called Two Mile Hill, about three measured miles from Bristol.

“Here a large room was begun for the school, having four small rooms at either end for the schoolmasters (and, perhaps, if it should please God, some poor children) to lodge in. Two persons are ready to teach, so soon as the house is fit to receive them, the shell of which is nearly finished; so that it is hoped the whole will be completed in spring or early in the summer.

“It is true, although the masters require no pay, yet this undertaking is attended with great expense.”


 

 

 

Chapter 4. Preaching Incidents; Wesley's Labor Colony; Dispute with Whitefield; Curious Interruptions; The Mother of the Wesleys

Wesley’s Correspondents

1740. Thursday, January 3. - I left London and the next evening came to Oxford, where I spent the two following days in looking over the letters which I had received for the sixteen or eighteen years last past. How few traces of inward religion are here! I found but one among all my correspondents who declared (what I well remember, at that time I knew not how to understand), that God had “shed abroad his love in his heart” and had given him the “peace that passeth all understanding.” But who believed his report? Should I conceal a sad truth or declare it for the profit of others? He was expelled out of his society as a madman; and, being disowned by his friends and despised and forsaken of all men, lived obscure and unknown for a few months, and then went to Him whom his soul loved.

Monday, 21. - I preached at Hannam, four miles from Bristol. In the evening I made a collection in our congregation for the relief of the poor, without Lawford’s gate; who, having no work (because of the severe frost) and no assistance from the parish wherein they lived, were reduced to the last extremity. I made another collection on Thursday and a third on Sunday, by which we were enabled to feed a hundred, sometimes a hundred and fifty, a day, of those whom we found to need it most.

A Sermon and a Riot

Tuesday, April 1 (Bristol). - While I was expounding the former part of the twenty-third chapter of the Acts (how wonderfully suited to the occasion! though not by my choice), the floods began to lift up their voice. some or other of the children on Belial had labored to disturb us several nights before: but now it seemed as if all the host of the aliens had come together with one consent. Not only the court and the alleys, but all the street, upwards and downwards, was filled with people, shouting, cursing and swearing, and ready to swallow the ground with fierceness and rage. The mayor sent order that they should disperse. But they set him at nought. The chief constable came next in person, who was, till then, sufficiently prejudiced against us. But they insulted him also in so gross a manner as I believe fully opened his eyes. At length the mayor sent several of his officers who took the ringleaders into custody and did not go till all the rest were dispersed. Surely he hath been to us “the minister of God for good.”

Wednesday, 2. - The rioters were brought up to the court, the quarter sessions being held that day. They began to excuse themselves by saying many things of me. But the mayor cut them all short, saying, “What Mr. Wesley is, is nothing to you. I will keep the peace; I will have no rioting in this city.”

Calling at Newgate in the afternoon, I was informed that the poor wretches under sentence of death were earnestly desirous to speak with me; but that it could not be, Alderman Beecher having just then sent an express order that they should not. I cite Alderman Beecher to answer for these souls at the judgment seat of Christ.

Sunday, September 14 (London). - As I returned home in the evening, I had no sooner stepped out of the coach than the mob, who were gathered in great numbers about my door, quite closed me in. I rejoiced and blessed God, knowing this was the time I had long been looking for, and immediately spake to those that were next me of “righteousness, and judgment to come.” At first not many heard, the noise round about us being exceedingly great. But the silence spread farther and farther till I had a quiet, attentive congregation; and when I left them, they all showed much love and dismissed me with many blessings.

Preaching Incidents

Sunday, 28. - I began expounding the Sermon on the Mount, at London. In the afternoon I described to a numerous congregation at Kennington, the life of God in the soul. One person who stood on the mount made a little noise at first; but a gentleman, whom I knew not, walked up to him, and, without saying one word, mildly took him by the hand and led him down. From that time he was quiet till he went away.

When I came home I found an innumerable mob round the door who opened all their throats the moment they saw me. I desired my friends to go into the house; and then walking into the midst of the people, proclaimed, “the name of the Lord, gracious and merciful, and repenting him of the evil.” They stood staring one at another. I told them they could not flee from the face of this great God and therefore besought them that we might all join together in crying to Him for mercy. To this they readily agreed: I then commended them to His grace and went undisturbed to the little company within.

Tuesday, 30. - As I was expounding the twelfth of the Acts, a young man, with some others, rushed in, cursing and swearing vehemently; he so disturbed all near him that, after a time, they put him out. I observed it and called to let him come in, that our Lord might bid his chains fall off. As soon as the sermon was over, he came and declared before us all that he was a smuggler, then going on that work, as his disguise, and the great bag he had with him, showed. But he said he must never do this more, for he was now resolved to have the Lord for his God.

Wesley’s Labor Colony

Tuesday, November 25 (London). - After several methods proposed for employing those who were out of business, we determined to make a trial of one which several of our brethren recommended to us. Our aim was, with as little expense as possible, to keep them at once from want and from idleness, in order to which , we took twelve of the poorest and a teacher into the society room where they were employed for four months, till spring came on, in carding and spinning of cotton. And the design answered: they were employed and maintained with very little more than the produce of their own labor.

Friday, 28. - A gentleman came to me full of good-will, to exhort me not to leave the Church; or (which was the same thing in his account) to use extemporary prayer, which, said he, “I will prove to a demonstration to be no prayer at all. For you cannot do two things at once. But thinking how to pray and praying are two things. Ergo, you cannot both think and pray at once.” Now, may it not be proved by the salf-same 3 demonstration that praying by a form is no prayer at all? E.g. You cannot do two things at once. But reading and praying are two things. Ergo, you cannot both read and pray at once.” Q.E.D.

Dispute with Whitefield

1741. Sunday, February 1. - A private letter, written to me by Mr. Whitefield, was printed without either his leave or mine, and a great numbers of copies were given to our people, both at the door and in the Foundry itself. Having procured one of them, I related (after preaching) the naked fact to the congregation and told them, “I will do just what I believe Mr. Whitefield would, were he here himself.” Upon which I tore it in pieces before them all. Everyone who had received it, did the same. So that in two minutes there was not a whole copy left.

Saturday, March 28. - Having heard much of Mr. Whitefield’s unkind behavior, since his return from Georgia, I went to him to hear him speak for himself that I might know how to judge. I much approved of his plainness of speech. He told me that he and I preached two different gospels; and therefore he not only would not join with or give me the right hand of fellowship, but was resolved publicly to preach against me and my brother, wheresoever he preached at all. Mr. Hall (who went with me) put him in mind of the promise he had made but a few days before, that, whatever his private opinion was, he would never publicly preach against us. He said that promise was only an effect of human weakness, and he was now of another mind.

Monday, April 6. - I had a long conversation with Peter Bohler. I marvel how I refrain from joining these men. I scarcely ever see any of them but my heart burns within me. I long to be with them, and yet I am kept from them.

Thursday, May 7. - I reminded the United Society that many of our brethren and sisters had not needful food; many were destitute of convenient clothing; many were out of business, and that without their own fault; and many sick and ready to perish: that I had done what in me lay to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to employ the poor, and to visit the sick; but was not, alone, sufficient for these things; and therefore desired all whose hearts were as my heart:

1. To bring what clothes each could spare to be distributed among those that wanted most.

2. To give weekly a penny, or what they could afford, for the relief of the poor and sick.

My design, I told them, is to employ for the present all the women who are out of business, and desire it, in knitting.

To these we will first give the common price for what work they do; and then add, according as they need.

Twelve persons are appointed to inspect these and to visit and provide things needful for the sick.

Each of these is to visit all the sick within her district every other day and to meet on Tuesday evening, to give an account of what she has done and consult what can be done further.

Friday, 8. - I found myself much out of order. However, I made shift to preach in the evening; but on Saturday my bodily strength quite failed so that for several hours I could scarcely lift up my head. Sunday, 10. I was obliged to lie down most part of the day, being easy only in that posture. Yet in the evening my weakness was suspended while I was calling sinners to repentance. But at our love-feast which followed, beside the pain in my back and head and the fever which still continued upon me, just as I began to pray I was seized with such a cough that I could hardly speak. At the same time came strongly into my mind, “These signs shall follow them that believe” [Mark 16:17]. I called on Jesus aloud to “increase my faith” and to “confirm the word of his grace.” While I was speaking my pain vanished away; the fever left me; my bodily strength returned; and for many weeks I felt neither weakness nor pain. “Unto thee, O Lord, do I give thanks.”

Wesley at Northampton and Nottingham

Monday, June 8. - I set out from Enfield Chace for Leicestershire. In the evening we came to Northampton, and the next afternoon to Mr. Ellis’s at Markfield, five or six miles beyond Leicester.

For these two days I had made an experiment which I had been so often and earnestly pressed to do - speaking to none concerning the things of God unless my heart was free to it. And what was the event? Why, 1.) that I spoke to none at all for fourscore miles together; no, not even to him that traveled with me in the chaise, unless a few words at first setting out; 2.) that I had no cross either to bear or to take up, and commonly, in an hour or two, fell fast asleep; 3.) that I had much respect shown me wherever I came, everyone behaving to me as to a civil, good-natured gentleman. Oh, how pleasing is all this to flesh and blood! Need ye “compass sea and land” to make “proselytes” to this?

Sunday, 14. - I rode to Nottingham and at eight preached at the market place, to an immense multitude of people on “The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” [John 5:25]. I saw only one or two who behaved lightly, whom I immediately spoke to; and they stood reproved. Yet, soon after, a man behind me began aloud to contradict and blaspheme; but upon my turning to him, he stepped behind a pillar and in a few minutes disappeared.

In the afternoon we returned to Markfield. The church was so excessively hot (being crowded in every corner), that I could not, without difficulty, read the evening service. Being afterward informed that abundance of people were still without who could not possibly get into the church, I went out to them and explained that great promise of our Lord, “I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely” [Hos. 14:4]. In the evening I expounded in the church on her who “loved much, because she had much forgiven.”

Monday, 15. - I set out for London, and read over in the way that celebrated book, Martin Luther’s comment on the Epistle to the Galatians. I was utterly ashamed. How have I esteemed this book, only because I heard it so commended by others; or, at best, because I had read some excellent sentences occasionally quoted from it! But what shall I say, now I judge for myself? now I see with my own eyes? Why, not only that the author makes nothing out, clears up not one considerable difficulty; that he is quite shallow in his remarks on many passages, and muddy and confused almost on all; but that he is deeply tinctured with mysticism throughout and hence often dangerously wrong.

An Ox in the Congregation

Friday, July 10. - I rode to London and preached at Short’s Gardens on “the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” [Acts 3:6]. Sunday, 12. While I was showing, at Charles’ Square, what it is “to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God” [see Micah 6:8], a great shout began. Many of the rabble had brought an ox, which they were vehemently laboring to drive among the people. But their labor was in vain; for in spite of them all, he ran round and round, one way and the other, and at length broke through the midst of them clear away, leaving us calmly rejoicing and praising God.

Saturday, 25 (Oxford). - It being my turn (which comes about once in three years), I preached at St. Mary’s, before the University. The harvest truly is plenteous. So numerous a congregation (from whatever motives they came) I have seldom seen at Oxford. My text was the confession of poor Agrippa, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” [Acts 26:28]. I have “cast my bread upon the waters.” Let me “find it again after many days!” [Eccles. 11:1].

Wednesday, August 26 (London). - I was informed of a remarkable conversation at which one of our sisters was present a day or two before: a gentleman was assuring his friends that he himself was in Charles Square when a person told Mr. Wesley to his face that he, Mr. Wesley, had paid twenty pounds already on being convicted for selling Geneva; and that he now kept two popish priests in his house. This gave occasion to another to mention what he had himself heard, at an eminent Dissenting teacher’s, namely, that it was beyond dispute Mr. Wesley had large remittances from Spain in order to make a party among the poor; and that as soon as the Spaniards landed, he was to join them with twenty thousand men.

Wesley at Cardiff

Thursday, October 1. - We set out for Wales; but missing our passage over the Severn in the morning, it was sunset before we could get to Newport. We inquired there if we could hire a guide to Cardiff; but there was none to be had. A lad coming in quickly after, who was going (he said) to Lanissan, a little village two miles to the right of Cardiff, we resolved to go thither. At seven we set out: it rained pretty fast, and there being neither moon nor stars, we could neither see any road, nor one another, nor our own horses’ heads; but the promise of God did not fail; He gave His angels charge over us. Soon after ten we came safe to Mr. William’s house at Lanissan.

Friday, 2. - We rode to Fonmon castle. We found Mr. Jones’s daughter ill of the smallpox; but he could cheerfully leave her and all the rest in the hands of Him in whom he now believed. In the evening I preached at Cardiff in the shire-hall, a large and convenient place, on “God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his son” [I John 5:11]. There having been a feast in the town that day, I believed it needful to add a few words upon intemperance: and while I was saying, “As for you, drunkards, you have no part in this life; you abide in death; you choose death and hell,” a man cried out vehemently, “I am one; and thither I am going.” But I trust God at that hour began to show him and others “a more excellent way.”

Sunday, November 22 (Bristol). - Being not suffered to go to church as yet [after a serious fever], I communicated at home. I was advised to stay at home some time longer, but I could not apprehend it necessary. Therefore, on Monday, 23, went to the new room, where we praised God for all His mercies. And I expounded, for about an hour (without any faintness or weariness), on “What reward shall I give upon the Lord for all the benefits that he hath done unto me? I will receive the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord” [see Ps. 116:12, 13].

I preached once every day this week and found no inconvenience by it. Sunday, 29. I thought I might go a little farther. So I preached both at Kingswood and at Bristol and afterward spent nearly an hour with the society, and about two hours at the love feast. But my body could not yet keep pace with my mind. I had another fit of my fever the next day; but it lasted not long, and I continued slowly to regain my strength.

A Curious Interruption

Monday, December 7. - I preached on “Trust ye in the Lord Jehovah; for in the Lord is everlasting strength” [Isa. 26:4]. I was showing what cause we had to trust in the Captain of our salvation, when one in the midst of the room cried out, “Who was your captain the other day, when you hanged yourself? I know the man who saw you when you were cut down.” This wise story, it seems, had been diligently spread abroad and cordially believed by many in Bristol. I desired they would make room for the man to come nearer. But the moment he saw the way open, he ran away with all possible speed, not so much as once looking behind him.

Saturday, 12. - In the evening one desired to speak with me. I perceived him to be in the utmost confusion so that for awhile he could not speak. At length, he said, “I am he that interrupted you at the new room, on Monday. I have had no rest since, day or night, nor could have till I had spoken to you. I hope you will forgive me and that it will be a warning to me all the days of my life.”

Wesley’s Congregation Stoned

1742. Monday, January 25 (London). - While I was explaining at Long Lane, “He that committeth sin is of the devil” [I John 3:8], his servants were above measure enraged: they not only made all possible noise (although, as I had desired before, no man stirred from his place or answered them a word); but violently thrust many persons to and fro, struck others, and broke down part of the house. At length they began throwing large stones upon the house, which, forcing their way wherever they came, fell down, together with the tiles, among the people, so that they were in danger of their lives. I then told them, “You must not go on thus; I am ordered by the magistrate, who is, in this respect, to us the minister of God, to inform him of those who break the laws of God and the King: and I must do it if you persist herein; otherwise I am a partaker of your sin."

When I ceased speaking they were more outrageous than before. Upon this I said, “Let three or four calm men take hold of the foremost and charge a constable with him, that the law may take its course.” They did so and brought him into the house, cursing and blaspheming in a dreadful manner. I desired five or six to go with him to Justice Copeland, to whom they nakedly related the fact. The justice immediately bound him over to the next sessions at Guildford.

I observed when the man was brought into the house that many of his companions were loudly crying out, “Richard Smith, Richard Smith!” who, as it afterwards appeared, was one of their stoutest champions. But Richard Smith answered not; he was fallen into the hands of One higher than they. God had struck him to the heart; as also a woman, who was speaking words not fit to be repeated and throwing whatever came to hand, whom He overtook in the very act. She came into the house with Richard Smith, fell upon her knees before us all, and strongly exhorted him never to turn back, never to forget the mercy which God had shown to his soul. From this time we had never any considerable interruption or disturbance at Long Lane; although we withdrew our persecution upon the offender’s submission and promise of better behavior.

Tuesday, 26. - I explained at Chelsea the faith which worketh by love. I was very weak when I went into the room; but the more “the beasts of the people” increased in madness and rage, the more was I strengthened, both in body and soul; so that I believe few in the house, which was exceedingly full, lost one sentence of what I spoke. Indeed they could not see me, nor one another at a few yards distance, by reason of the exceedingly thick smoke, which was occasioned by the wildfire, and things of that kind, continually thrown into the room. But they who could praise God in the midst of the fires were not to be affrighted by a little smoke.

Monday, February 15. - Many met together to consult on a proper method for discharging the public debt; it was at length agreed 1) that every member of the society, who was able, should contribute a penny a week; 2) that the whole society should be divided into little companies or classes - about twelve in each class; and 3) that one person in each class should receive the contribution of the rest and bring it in to the stewards weekly.

Friday, March 10. - I rode once more to Pensford at the earnest request of serious people. The place where they desired me to preach was a little green spot near the town. But I had no sooner begun than a great company of rabble, hired (as we afterwards found) for that purpose, came furiously upon us, bringing a bull, which they had been baiting, and now strove to drive in among the people. But the beast was wiser than his drivers and continually ran either on one side of us or the other, while we quietly sang praise to God and prayed for about an hour. The poor wretches, finding themselves disappointed, at length seized upon the bull, now weak and tired after having been so long torn and beaten both by dogs and men; and, by main strength, partly dragged, and partly thrust, him in among the people.

A Bull in the Congregation

When they had forced their way to the little table on which I stood, they strove several times to throw it down by thrusting the helpless beast against it, who, of himself, stirred no more than a log of wood. I once or twice put aside his head with my hand that the blood might not drop upon my clothes; intending to go on as soon as the hurry should be over. But the table falling down, some of our friends caught me in their arms, and carried me right away on their shoulders; while the rabble wreaked their vengeance on the table, which they tore bit from bit. We went a little way off, where I finished my discourse without any noise or interruption.

Sunday, 21. - In the evening I rode to Marshfield and on Tuesday, in the afternoon, came to London. Wednesday, 24. I preached for the last time in the French chapel at Waping on “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” [John 8:31].

Thursday, 25. - I appointed several earnest and sensible men to meet me, to whom I showed the great difficulty I had long found of knowing the people who desired to be under my care. After much discourse, they all agreed there could be no better way to come to a sure, thorough knowledge of each person than to divide them into classes, like those at Bristol, under the inspection of those in whom I could most confide. This was the origin of our classes at London, for which I can never sufficiently praise God; the unspeakable usefulness of the institution having ever since been more and more manifest.

Friday, April 9. - We had the first watch night in London. We commonly choose for this solemn service the Friday night nearest the full moon, either before or after, that those of the congregation who live at a distance may have light to their several homes. The service begins at half an hour past eight and continues till a little after midnight. We have often found a peculiar blessing at these seasons. There is generally a deep awe upon the congregation, perhaps in some measure owing to the silence of the night, particularly in singing the hymn with which we commonly conclude:


Hearken to the solemn voice,

The awful midnight cry!

Waiting souls, rejoice, rejoice,

And feel the Bridegroom nigh.

Sunday, May 9. - I preached in Charles Square to the largest congregation I have ever seen there. Many of the baser people would fain have interrupted, but they found, after a time, it was lost labor. One, who was more serious, was (as she afterwards confessed) exceedingly angry at them. But she was quickly rebuked by a stone which lit upon her forehead and struck her down to the ground. In that moment her anger was at an end, and love only filled her heart.

Wednesday, 12. - I waited on the Archbishop of Canterbury with Mr. Whitefield, and again on Friday; as also on the Bishop of London. I trust if we should be called to appear before princes, we should not be ashamed.

Wesley Was “the Better Mounted”

Monday, 17. - I had designed this morning to set out for Bristol but was unexpectedly prevented. In the afternoon I received a letter from Leicestershire, pressing me to come without delay and pay the last office of friendship to one whose soul was on the wing for eternity. On Thursday, 20, I set out. The next afternoon I stopped a little at Newport-Pagnell and then rode on till I overtook 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 doctrine 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 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.

A Big Crowd at Newcastle

Observing the people, when I had done, gaping and staring upon me with the most profound astonishment, I told them, “If you desire to know who I am, my name is John Wesley. At five in the evening, with God’s help, I design to preach here again.”

At five, the hill on which I designed to preach was covered from the top to the bottom. I never saw so large a number of people together, either at Moorfields or at Kennington Common. I knew it was not possible for the one half to hear, although my voice was then strong and clear; and I stood so as to have them all in view, as they were ranged on the side of the hill. The Word of God which I set before them was, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely” [Hos. 14:4]. After preaching, the poor people were ready to tread me under foot, out of pure love and kindness. It was some time before I could possibly get out of the press. I then went back another way than I had come; several got to our inn before me, by whom I was vehemently importuned to stay with them at least a few days; or, however, one day more. But I could not consent, having given my word to be at Birstal, with God’s leave, on Tuesday night.

Wesley on His Father’s Tombstone

Saturday, June 5. - It being many years since I had been in Epworth before, I went to an inn in the middle of the town, not knowing whether there were any left in it now who would not be ashamed of my acquaintance. But an old servant of my father’s, with two or three poor women, presently found me out. I asked her, “Do you know any in Epworth who are in earnest to be saved?” She answered, “I am, by the grace of God; and I know I am saved through faith.” I asked, “Have you then the peace of God? Do you know that He has forgiven your sins?” She replied, “ I thank God I know it well. And many here can say the same thing.”

Sunday, 6. - A little before the service began, I went to Mr. Romley, the curate, and offered to assist him either by preaching or reading prayers. But he did not care to accept of my assistance. The church was exceedingly full in the afternoon, a rumor being spread that I was to preach. But the sermon on “Quench not the Spirit” [I Thess. 5:19] was not suitable to the expectation of many of the hearers. Mr. Romley told them one of the most dangerous ways of quenching the Spirit was by enthusiasm; and enlarged on the character of an enthusiast in a very florid and oratorical manner. After sermon John Taylor stood in the churchyard and gave notice as the people were coming out, “Mr. Wesley, not being permitted to preach in the church, designs to preach here at six o’clock.”

Accordingly at six I came and found such a congregation as I believe Epworth never saw before. I stood near the east end of the church, upon my father’s tombstone, and cried, “The kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” [Rom. 14:17].

“Let Them Convert the Scolds”

Wednesday, 9. - I rode over to a neighboring town to wait upon a justice of peace, a man of candor and understanding; before whom (I was informed) their angry neighbors had carried a whole wagonload of these new heretics. But when he asked what they had done, there was a deep silence; for that was a point their conductors had forgotten. At length one said, "Why they pretended to be better than other people; and besides, they prayed from morning to night.” Mr. S. asked, “But have they done nothing besides?” “Yes, sir,” said an old man, “an’t 5 please your worship, they have convarted my wife. Till she went among them, she had such a tongue! And now she is as quiet as a lamb.” “Carry them back, carry them back,” replied the justice, “and let them convert all the scolds in the town.”

Saturday, 12. - I preached on the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith. While I was speaking, several dropped down as dead and among the rest such a cry was heard of sinners groaning for the righteousness of faith as almost drowned my voice. But many of these soon lifted up their heads with joy and broke out into thanksgiving, being assured they now had the desire of their soul - the forgiveness of their sins.

I observed a gentleman there who was remarkable for not pretending to be of any religion at all. I was informed he had not been at public worship of any kind for upwards of thirty years. Seeing him stand as motionless as a statue, I asked him abruptly, “Sir, are you a sinner?” He replied, with a deep and broken voice, “Sinner enough”; and he continued staring upward till his wife and a servant or two, who were all in tears, put him into his chaise and carried him home.

Sunday, 13. - At seven I preached at Haxey on “What must I do to be saved?” Thence I went to Wroote, of which (as well as Epworth) my father was rector for several years. Mr. Whitelamb offering me the church, I preached in the morning on “Ask, and it shall be given you”; in the afternoon, on the difference between the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith. But the church could not contain the people, many of whom came from far and, I trust, not in vain.

At six I preached for the last time in Epworth churchyard (planning to leave the town the next morning) to a vast multitude gathered together from all parts, on the beginning of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. I continued among them for nearly three hours, and yet we scarcely knew how to part. Oh, let none think his labor of love is lost because the fruit does not immediately appear! Nearly forty years did my father labor here, but he saw little fruit of all his labor. I took some pains among this people too, and my strength also seemed spent in vain; but now the fruit appeared. There were scarcely any in the town on whom either my father or I had taken any pains formerly but the seed, sown so long since, now sprang up, bringing forth repentance and remission of sins.

Death of Wesley’s Mother

I left Bristol in the evening of Sunday, July 18, and on Tuesday came to London. I found my mother on the borders of eternity. But she had no doubt or fear nor any desire but (as soon as God should call) “to depart and be with Christ.”

Friday, 23. - About three in the afternoon I went to my mother and found her change was near. I sat down on the bedside. She was in her last conflict, unable to speak but I believe quite sensible. Her look was calm and serene, and her eyes fixed upward while we commended her soul to God. From three to four the silver cord was loosing, and the wheel breaking at the cistern; and then without any struggle, or sign, or groan, the soul was set at liberty. We stood round the bed and fulfilled her last request, uttered a little before she lost her speech: “Children, as soon as I am released, sing a psalm of praise to God.”

Sunday, August 1. - almost an innumerable company of people being gathered together, about five in the afternoon, I committed to the earth the body of my mother, to sleep with her fathers. The portion of Scripture from which I afterward spoke was: “I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” [Rev. 20:11, 12]. It was one of the most solemn assemblies I ever saw or expect to see on this side eternity.

We set up a plain stone at the head of her grave, inscribed with the following words:




Here lies the Body

of

MRS. SUSANNAH WESLEY,

the youngest and last surviving daughter of

dr. samuel annesley.

_______


In sure and steadfast hope to rise,

And claim her mansion in the skies,

A Christian here her flesh laid down,

The cross exchanging for a crown.


True daughter of affliction, she,

Inured to pain and misery,

Mourn’d a long night of griefs and fears,

A legal night of seventy years.


The Father then reveal’d His Son,

Him in the broken bread made known;

She knew and felt her sins forgiven,

And found the earnest of her heaven.


Meet for the fellowship above,

She heard the call, “Arise, my love!’

“I come,” her dying looks replied,

And lamblike, as her Lord, she died.

Mrs. Wesley as Preacher

I cannot but further observe that even she (as well as her father, and grandfather, her husband, and her three sons) had been, in her measure and degree, a preacher of righteousness. This I learned from a letter, written long since to my father, part of which I have here subjoined:

February 6, 1711-12

“___As I am a woman, so I am also mistress of a large family. and though the superior charge of the souls contained in it lies upon you; yet, in your absence, I cannot but look upon every soul you leave under my care as a talent committed to me under a trust by the great Lord of all the families both of heaven and earth. And if I am unfaithful to Him or you in neglecting to improve these talents, how shall I answer unto Him, when He shall command me to render an account of my stewardship?

“As these, and other such like thoughts, made me at first take a more than ordinary care of the souls of my children and servants, so - knowing our religion requires a strict observation of the Lord’s day, and not thinking that we fully answered the end of the institution by going to church unless we filled up the intermediate spaces of time by other acts of piety and devotion - I thought it my duty to spend some part of the day in reading to and instructing my family: and such time I esteemed spent in a way more acceptable to God than if I had retired to my own private devotions.

“This was the beginning of my present practice. Other people’s coming and joining with us was merely accidental. Our [1] lad told his parents: they first desired to be admitted; then others that heard of it begged leave also: so our company increased to about thirty, and it seldom exceeded forty last winter.

“But soon after you went to London last, I lit on the account of the Danish missionaries. I was, I think, never more affected with anything; I could not forbear spending [1] good part of that evening in praising and adoring the divine goodness for inspiring them with such ardent zeal for His glory. For several days I could think or speak of little else. At last it came into my mind, Though I am not a man nor a minister, yet if my heart were sincerely devoted to God and I was inspired with a true zeal for his glory, I might do somewhat more than I do. I thought I might pray more for them and might speak to those with whom I converse with more warmth of affection. I resolved to begin with my own children; in which I observe the following method: I take such a proportion of time as I can spare every night to discourse with each child apart. On Monday, I talk with Molly; on Tuesday, with Hetty; Wednesday, with Nancy; Thursday, with Jacky; Friday, with Patty; Saturday, with Charles; and with Emily and Suky together on Sunday.

She Speaks to Two Hundred

“With those few neighbors that then came to me, I discoursed more freely and affectionately. I chose the best and most awakening sermons we have. And I spent somewhat more time with them in such exercises, without being careful about the success of my undertaking. Since this, our company increased every night; for I dare deny none that ask admittance.

“Last Sunday I believe we had above two hundred. And yet many went away for want of room to stand.

“We banish all temporal concerns from our society. None is suffered to mingle any discourse about them with our reading or singing. We keep close to the business of the day; and when it is over, all go home.

“I cannot conceive, why any should reflect upon you because your wife endeavors to draw people to church and to restrain them from profaning the Lord’s day by reading to them, and other persuasions. For my part, I value no censure upon this account. I have long since shaken hands with the world. And I heartily wish I had never given them more reason to speak against me.

“As to its looking particular, I grant it does. And so does almost anything that is serious, or that may any way advance the glory of God or the salvation of souls.

“As for your proposal of letting some other person read: alas! you do not consider what a people these are. I do not think one man among them could read a sermon, without spelling a good part of it. Nor has any of our family a voice strong enough to be heard by such a number of people.


“But there is one thing about which I am much dissatisfied; that is, their being present at family prayers. I do not speak of any concern I am under, barely because so many are present; for those who have the honor of speaking to the Great and Holy God need not be ashamed to speak before the whole world; but because of my sex. I doubt if it is proper for me to present the prayers of the people to God. Last Sunday I would fain have dismissed them before prayers; but they begged so earnestly to stay, I durst not deny them.

How the Wesleys Were Brought up

For the benefit of those who are entrusted, as she was, with the care of a numerous family, I cannot but add one letter more, which I received many years ago:

July 24, 1732

“To the Rev. Mr. Wesley,

“In St. Margaret’s Churchyard, Westminster.”

“Dear Son,

“According to your desire, I have collected the principal rules I observed in educating my family; which I now send you as they occurred to my mind, and you may (if you think they can be of use to any) dispose of them in what order you please.

“The children were always put into a regular method of living, in such things as they were capable of, from their birth; as in dressing, undressing, changing their linen, and so on. The first quarter commonly passes in sleep. After that, they were, if possible laid into their cradles awake and rocked to sleep; and so they were kept rocking till it was time for them to awake. This was done to bring them to a regular course of sleeping, which at first was three hours in the morning and three in the afternoon; afterward two hours, till they needed none at all.

“When turned a year old (and some before), they were taught to fear the rod and to cry softly; by which means they escaped abundance of correction they might otherwise have had; and that most odious noise of the crying of children was rarely heard in the house, but the family usually lived in as much quietness as if there had not been a child among them.

“As soon as they were grown pretty strong, they were confined to three meals a day. At dinner their little table and chairs were set by ours, where they could be observed; and they were suffered to eat and drink as much as they would but not to call for anything. If they wanted aught, they used to whisper to the maid which attended them, who came and spoke to me; and as soon as they could handle a knife and fork, they were set to our table. They were never suffered to choose their meat, but always made to eat such things as were provided for the family.

“Mornings they had always spoon-meat; sometimes at nights. But whatever they had, they were never permitted to eat, at those meals, of more than one thing; and of that sparingly enough. Drinking or eating between meals was never allowed, unless in case of sickness, which seldom happened. Nor were they suffered to go into the kitchen to ask anything of the servants, when they were at meat: if it was known they did, they were certainly beaten, and the servants severely reprimanded.

“At six, as soon as family prayers were over, they had their supper; at seven, the maid washed them; and, beginning at the youngest, she undressed and got them all to bed by eight, at which time she left them in their several rooms awake; for there was no such thing allowed of in our house as sitting by a child till it fell asleep.

“They were so constantly used to eat and drink what was given them that when any of them was ill there was no difficulty in making them take the most unpleasant medicine: for they durst not refuse it, though some of them would presently throw it up. This I mention to show that a person may be taught to take anything, though it be never so much against his stomach.

“Conquer the Child’s Will”

“In order to form the minds of children, the first thing to be done is to conquer their will and bring them to an obedient temper. To inform the understanding is a work of time and must with children proceed by slow degrees as they are able to bear it: but the subjecting the will is a thing which must be done at once; and the sooner the better. For by neglecting timely correction, they will contract a stubbornness and obstinacy which is hardly ever after conquered; and never, without using such severity as would be as painful to me as to the child. In the esteem of the world they pass for kind and indulgent, whom I call cruel, parents, who permit their children to get habits which they know must be afterward broken. Nay, some are so stupidly fond as in sport to teach their children to do things which, in a while after, they have severely beaten them for doing.

“Whenever a child is corrected, it must be conquered; and this will be nor hard matter to do if it be not grown headstrong by too much indulgence. And when the will of a child is totally subdued and it is brought to revere and stand in awe of the parents, then a great many childish follies and inadvertences [1] may be passed by. Some should be overlooked and taken no notice of, and others mildly reproved; but no willful transgression ought ever to be forgiven children without chastisement, less or more, as the nature and circumstances of the offense require.

“I insist upon conquering the will of children betimes, because this is the only strong and rational foundation of a religious education; without which both precept and example will be ineffectual. But when this is thoroughly done, then a child is capable of being governed by the reason and piety of its parents, till its own understanding comes to maturity and the principles of religion have taken root in the mind.

“I cannot yet dismiss this subject. As self-will is the root of all sin and misery, so whatever cherishes this in children insures their after-wretchedness and irreligion; whatever checks and mortifies it promotes their future happiness and piety. This is still more evident if we further consider that religion is nothing else than the doing the will of God and not our own: that the one grand impediment to our temporal and eternal happiness being this self-will, no indulgencies of it can be trivial, no denial unprofitable. Heaven or hell depends on this alone. So that the parent who studies to subdue it in his child works together with God in the renewing and saving a soul. The parent who indulges it does the devil's work, makes religion impracticable, salvation unattainable; and does all that in him lies to damn his child, soul and body forever.

They Had Nothing They Cried For

“The children of this family were taught, as soon as they could speak, the Lord’s Prayer, which they were made to say at rising and bedtime constantly; to which, as they grew bigger, were added a short prayer for their parents and some collects; a short catechism and some portion of Scripture, as their memories could bear.

“They were very early made to distinguish the Sabbath from other days, before they could well speak or go. They were as soon taught to be still at family prayers and to ask a blessing immediately after, which they used to do by signs, before they could kneel or speak.

“They were quickly made to understand they might have nothing they cried for and instructed to speak handsomely for what they wanted. They were not suffered to ask even the lowest servant for aught without saying, ‘Pray give me such a thing’; and the servant was chid 7 if she ever let them omit that word. Taking God’s name in vain, cursing and swearing, profaneness, obscenity, rude, ill-bred names were never heard among them. Nor were they ever permitted to call each other by their proper names without the addition of brother or sister.

“None of them were taught to read till five years old, except Kezzy, in whose case I was overruled; and she was more years learning than any of the rest had been months. The way of teaching was this: The day before a child began to learn, the house was set in order, everyone’s work appointed them, and a charge given that none should come into the room from nine till twelve, or from two till five; which, you know, were our school hours. One day was allowed the child wherein to learn its letters; and each of them did in that time know all its letters, great and small, except Molly and Nancy, who were a day and a half before they knew them perfectly; for which I then thought them very dull; but since I have observed how long many children are learning the hornbook, I have changed my opinion.

“But the reason why I thought them so then was because the rest learned so readily; and your brother Samuel, who was the first child I ever taught, learned the alphabet in a few hours. He was five years old on February 10; the next day he began to learn, and as soon as he knew the letters, began at the first chapter of Genesis. He was taught to spell the first verse, then to read it over and over, till he could read it offhand without any hesitation, so on to the second, and so on, till he took ten verses for a lesson, which he quickly did. Easter fell low that year, and by Whitsuntide he could read a chapter very well; for he read continually and had such a prodigious memory that I cannot remember ever to have told him the same word twice.

Keeping the Wesley Children in Order

“What was yet stranger, any word he had learned in his lesson he knew wherever he saw it, either in his Bible or any other book; by which means he learned very soon to read an English author well.

“The same method was observed with them all. As soon as they knew the letters, they were put first to spell, and read one line, then a verse; never leaving till perfect in their lesson, were it shorter or longer. So one or other continued reading at schooltime, without any intermission; and before we left school, each child read what he had learned that morning; and ere we parted in the afternoon, what they had learned that day.

“There was no such thing as loud talking or playing allowed of; but everyone was kept close to his business for the six hours of school: and it is almost incredible what a child may be taught in a quarter of a year by a vigorous application, if it have but a tolerable capacity and good health. Every one of these, Kezzy excepted, could read better in that time than the most of women can do as long as they live.

“Rising out of their places or going out of the room was not permitted, unless for good cause; and running into the yard, garden, or street without leave was always esteemed a capital offense.

“For some years we went on very well. Never were children in better order. Never were children better disposed to piety or in more subjection to their parents till that fatal dispersion of them, after the fire, into several families. In those days they were left at full liberty to converse with servants, which before they had always been restrained from; and to run abroad and play with any children, good or bad. They soon learned to neglect a strict observation of the Sabbath and got knowledge of several songs and bad things, which before they had no notion of. The civil behavior which made them admired when at home by all which saw them, was, in great measure, lost; and a clownish accent and many rude ways were learned which were not reformed without some difficulty.

“When the house was rebuilt, and the children all brought home, we entered upon a strict reform; and then was begun the custom of singing Psalms at beginning and leaving school, morning and evening. Then also that of a general retirement at five o’clock was entered upon; when the oldest took the youngest that could speak, and the second the next, to whom they read the Psalms for the day and a chapter in the New Testament; as, in the morning, they were directed to read the Psalms and a chapter in the Old: after which they went to their private prayers, before they got their breakfast, or came into the family. And, I thank God, the custom is still preserved among us.

Susanna Wesley’s “By-laws”

“There were several by-laws observed among us, which slipped my memory, or else they had been inserted in their proper place; but I mention them here because I think them useful.

“1. It had been observed that cowardice and fear of punishment often led children into lying till they get a custom of it which they cannot leave. To prevent this, a law was made that whoever was charged with a fault of which they were guilty, if they would ingenuously confess it and promise to amend, should not be beaten. This rule prevented a great deal of lying and would have done more if one in the family would have observed it. But he could not be prevailed on and therefore was often imposed on by false colors and equivocations; which none would have used (except one), had they been kindly dealt with. And some, in spite of all, would always speak truth plainly.

“2. That no sinful action, as lying, pilfering, playing at church, or on the Lord’s day, disobedience, quarreling, and so forth, should ever pass unpunished.

“3. That no child should ever be chid or beaten twice for the same fault; and that if they amended, they should never be upbraided with it afterwards.

“4. That every signal act of obedience, especially when it crossed upon their own inclinations, should be always commended and frequently rewarded according to the merits of the cause.

“5. That if ever any child performed an act of obedience or did anything with an intention to please, though the performance was not well, yet the obedience and intention should be kindly accepted; and the child with sweetness directed how to do better for the future.

“6. That propriety be inviolably preserved and none suffered to invade the property of another in the smallest matter, though it were but of the value of a farthing or a pin; which they might not take from the owner without, much less against, his consent. This rule can never be too much inculcated on the minds of children; and from the want of parents or governors doing it as they ought proceeds that shameful neglect of justice which we may observe in the world.

“7. That promises be strictly observed; and a gift once bestowed, and so the right passed away from the donor, be not resumed but left to the disposal of him to whom it was given; unless it were conditional and the condition of the obligation not performed.

“8. That no girl be taught to work till she can read very well; and then that she be kept to her work with the same application, and for the same time, that she was held to in reading. This rule also is much to be observed; for the putting children to learn sewing before they can read perfectly is the very reason why so few women can read fit to be heard and never to be well understood.”

______________

Wednesday, December 1 (Newcastle). - We had several places offered on which to build a room for the society; but none was such as we wanted. And perhaps there was a providence in our not finding any as yet; for by this means I was kept at Newcastle, whether I would or no.

Saturday, 4. - I was both surprised and grieved at a genuine instance of enthusiasm. J--- B---, of Tunfield Leigh, who had received a sense of the love of God a few days before, came riding through the town, hallooing and shouting and driving all the people before him; telling them God had told him he should be a king and should tread all his enemies under his feet. I sent him home immediately to his work and advised him to cry day and night to God that he might be lowly in heart, lest Satan should again get an advantage over him.

Mr. Stephenson and Wesley

Today a gentleman called and offered me a piece of ground. On Monday an article was drawn wherein he agreed to put me into possession on Thursday, upon payment of thirty pounds.

Tuesday, 7. - I was so ill in the morning that I was obliged to send Mr. Williams to the room. He afterward went to Mr. Stephenson, a merchant in the town, who had a passage through the ground we intended to buy. I was willing to purchase it. Mr. Stephenson told him, “Sir, I do not want money; but if Mr. Wesley wants ground, he may have a piece of my garden, adjoining to the place you mention. I am at a word. For forty pounds he shall have sixteen yards in breadth, and thirty in length.

Wednesday, 8. - Mr. Stephenson and I signed an article, and I took possession of the ground. But I could not fairly go back from my agreement with Mr. Riddel: so I entered on his ground at the same time. The whole is about forty yards in length; in the middle of which we determined to build the house, leaving room for a small courtyard before, and a little garden behind, the building.

Monday, 13. - I removed into a lodging adjoining to the ground where we were preparing to build; but the violent frost obliged us to delay the work. I never felt so intense cold before. In a room where a constant fire was kept, though my desk was fixed within a yard of the chimney, I could not write for a quarter of an hour together without my hands being quite benumbed.

Newcastle's First Methodist Room

Monday, 20. - We laid the first stone of the house. Many were gathered from all parts to see it; but none scoffed or interrupted while we praised God and prayed that He would prosper the work of our hands upon us. Three or four times in the evening, I was forced to break off preaching that we might pray and give thanks to God.

Thursday, 23. - It being computed that such a house as was proposed could not be finished under f 700, many were positive it would never be finished at all; others, that I should not live to see it covered. I was of another mind; nothing doubting but, as it was begun for God's sake, He would provide what was needful for the finishing it.


 

 

 

Chapter 5. Wesley Refused Sacraments at Epworth; Cornwall and the Scilly Isles; Natural Amphitheater at Gwennap; Wesley in Danger


1743. Saturday, January 1. - Between Doncaster and Epworth I overtook one who immediately accosted me with so many and so impertinent questions that I was quite amazed. In the midst of some of them, concerning my travels and my journey, I interrupted him and asked, “Are you aware that we are on a longer journey; that we are traveling toward eternity?” He replied instantly, “Oh, I find you! I find you! I know where you are! Is not your name Wesley? ‘Tis pity! ‘Tis great pity! Why could not your father’s religion serve you? Why must you have a new religion?” I was going to reply, but he cut me short by crying out in triumph, “I am a Christian! I am a Christian! I am a Churchman! I am a Churchman! I am none of your Culamites”; as plainly as he could speak; for he was so drunk he could but just keep his seat. Having then clearly won the day, or as his phrase was, “put them all down,” he began kicking his horse on both sides and rode off as fast as he could.

Wesley Refused the Sacrament at Epworth

In the evening I reached Epworth. Sunday, 2. At five I preached on “So is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” About eight I preached from my father’s tomb on Hebrews 8:11. Many from the neighboring towns asked if it would not be well, as it was sacrament Sunday, for them to receive it. I told them, “By all means: but it would be more respectful first to ask Mr. Romley, the curate’s leave.” One did so, in the name of the rest; to whom he said, “Pray tell Mr. Wesley, I shall not give him the sacrament; for he is not fit.”

How wise a God is our God! There could not have been so fit a place under heaven where this should befall me first as my father’s house, the place of my nativity, and the very place where, “according to the straitest sect of our religion,” I had so long “lived a Pharisee”! It was also fit, in the highest degree, that he who repelled me from that very table, where I had myself so often distributed the bread of life, should be one who owed his all in this world to the tender love which my father had shown to his, as well as personally to himself.

Tuesday, 22. - I went to South Biddick, a village of colliers seven miles southeast of Newcastle. The spot where I stood was just at the bottom of a semicircular hill, on the rising sides of which many hundreds stood; but far more on the plain beneath. I cried to them in the words of the prophet, “O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!” [Ezek. 37:4]. Deep attention sat on every face; so that here also I believe it would be well to preach weekly.

Wesley and the Cock-fighter

Wednesday, 23. - I met a gentleman in the streets cursing and swearing in so dreadful a manner that I could not but stop him. He soon grew calmer; told me he must treat me with a glass of wine; and that he would come and hear me, only he was afraid I should say something against fighting of cocks.

April 1. (Being Good Friday.) - I had a great desire to visit a little village called Placey, about ten measured miles north of Newcastle. It is inhabited by colliers only, and such as had been always in the first rank for savage ignorance and wickedness of every kind. Their grand assembly used to be on the Lord’s day; on which men, women, and children met together to dance, fight, curse and swear, and play at chuck ball, spanfarthing, or whatever came next to hand. I felt great compassion for these poor creatures from the time I heard of them first; and the more, because all men seemed to despair of them.

Between seven and eight I set out with John Healy, my guide. The north wind, being unusually high, drove the sleet in our face, which froze as it fell and cased us over presently. When we came to Placey, we could very hardly stand. As soon as we were a little recovered I went into the square and declared Him who “was wounded for our transgressions” and “bruised for our iniquities.” The poor sinners were quickly gathered together and gave earnest heed to the things which were spoken. And so they did in the afternoon again, in spite of the wind and snow, when I besought them to receive Him for their King; to “repent and believe the gospel.”

Wesley in Seven Dials

Sunday, May 29. - I began officiating at the chapel in West Street, near the Seven Dial, of which (by a strange chain of providences) we have a lease for several years. I preached on the gospel for the day, part of the third chapter of St. John; and afterwards administered the lord’s Supper to some hundreds of communicants. I was a little afraid at first that my strength would not suffice for the business of the day, when a service of five hours (for it lasted from ten to three) was added to my usual employment. But God looked to that: so I must think; and they that will call it enthusiasm may. I preached at the Great Gardens at five to an immense congregation on “Ye must be born again"”[John 3:3]. Then the leaders met (who filled all the time that I was not speaking in public); and after them, the bands. At ten at night I was less weary than at six in the morning.

Sunday, July 10 (Newcastle). - I preached at eight on Chowden Fell on “Why will ye die, O house of Israel?” [Ezek. 33:11]. Ever since I came to Newcastle the first time, my spirit had been moved within me at the crowds of poor wretches who were every Sunday in the afternoon sauntering to and fro on the Sandhill. I resolved, if possible, to find them a better employ; and as soon as the service at All Saints was over, walked straight from the church to the Sandhill and gave out a verse of a Psalm. In a few minutes I had company enough, thousands upon thousands crowding together. But the prince of this world fought with all his might lest his kingdom should be overthrown. Indeed, the very mob of Newcastle, in the height of their rudeness, have commonly some humanity left. I scarcely observed that they threw anything at all; neither did I receive the least personal hurt: but they continued thrusting one another to and fro and making such a noise that my voice could not be heard: so that, after spending nearly an hour in singing and prayer, I thought it best to adjourn to our own house.

Wesley’s Horses Give Trouble

Monday, 18. - I set out from Newcastle with John Downes, of Horsley. We were four hours riding to Ferry Hill, about twenty measured miles. After resting there an hour we rode softly on; and, at two o'clock, came to Darlington. I thought my horse was not well; he thought the same of his, though they were both young and were very well the day before. We ordered the hostler to fetch a farrier, which he did without delay; but before the men could determine what was the matter, both the horses lay down and died.

I hired a horse to Sandhutton and rode on, desiring John Downes to follow me. Thence I rode to Boroughbridge on Tuesday morning and then walked on to Leeds.

Monday, August 22, 1743 (London). - After a few of us had joined in prayer, about four I set out, and rode softly to Snow Hill; where, the saddle slipping quite upon my mare’s neck, I fell over her head, and she ran back into Smithfield. Some boys caught her and brought her to me again, cursing and swearing all the way. I spoke plainly to them, and they promised to amend. I was setting forward when a man cried, “Sir, you have lost your saddle-cloth.” Two or three more would needs help me to put it on; but these, too, swore at almost every word. I turned to one and another and spoke in love. They all took it well and thanked me much. I gave them two or three little books, which they promised to read over carefully.

Before I reached Kensington, I found my mare had lost a shoe. This gave me an opportunity of talking closely, for nearly half an hour, both to the smith and his servant. I mention these little circumstances to show how easy it is to redeem every fragment of time (if I may so speak), when we feel any love to those souls for which Christ died.

Wesley Goes to Cornwall

Friday, 26. - I set out for Cornwall. In the evening I preached at the cross in Taunton, on, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” A poor man had posted himself behind in order to make some disturbance: but the time was not come; the zealous wretches who “deny the Lord that bought them” had not yet stirred up the people. Many cried out, “Throw down that rascal there; knock him down; beat out his brains”: so that I was obliged to entreat for him more than once or he would have been but roughly handled.

Saturday, 27. - I reached Exeter in the afternoon; but as no one knew of my coming, I did not preach that night, only to one poor sinner at the inn; who, after listening to our conversation for a while, looked earnestly at us and asked whether it was possible for one who had in some measure known “the power of the world to come,” and was “fallen away” (which she said was her case), to be “renewed again to repentance.” We besought God in her behalf and left her sorrowing, yet not without hope.

Sunday, 28. - I preached at seven to a handful of people. The sermon we heard at church was quite innocent of meaning: what that in the afternoon was, I know not; for I could not hear a single sentence.

From church I went to the castle, where were gathered together (as some imagined) half the grown persons in the city. It was an awful sight. So vast a congregation in that solemn amphitheater! And all silent and still while I explained at large and enforced that glorious truth, “Happy are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” [see Ps. 31:1].

Monday, 29. - We rode forward. About sunset we were in the middle of the first great pathless moor beyond Launceston. About eight we were got quite out of the way; but we had not got far before we heard Bodmin bell. Directed by this we turned to the left and came to the town before nine.

Tuesday, 30. - In the evening we reached St. Ives. At seven I invited all guilty, helpless sinners who were conscious they “had nothing to pay” to accept of free forgiveness. The room was crowded both within and without; but all were quiet and attentive.

Wednesday, 31. - I spoke severally with those of the society, who were about one hundred and twenty. Nearly a hundred of these had found peace with God: such is the blessing of being persecuted for righteousness’ sake! As we were going to church at eleven, a large company at the market place welcomed us with a loud huzza: wit as harmless as the ditty sung under my window (composed, one assured me, by a gentlewoman of their own town),


Charles Wesley is come to town,

To try if he can pull the churches down.


In the evening I explained “the promise of the Father.” After preaching, many began to be turbulent; but John Nelson went into the midst of them, spoke a little to the loudest, who answered not again but went quietly away.

The Cornish Tinners

Saturday, September 3. - I rode to the Three-cornered Down (so called), nine or ten miles east of St. Ives, where we found two or three hundred tinners, who had been some time waiting for us. They all appeared quite pleased and unconcerned; and many of them ran after us to Gwennap (two miles east), where their number was quickly increased to four or five hundred. I had much comfort here in applying these words, “He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor” [Luke 4:18]. One who lived near invited us to lodge at his house and conducted us back to the Green in the morning. We came thither just as the day dawned.

I strongly applied those gracious words, “I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely,” to five or six hundred serious people. At Trezuthan Downs, five miles nearer St. Ives, we found seven or eight hundred people, to whom I cried aloud, “Cast away all your transgressions; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” After dinner I preached again to about a thousand people on Him whom “God hath exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour.” It was here first I observed a little impression made on two or three of the hearers; the rest, as usual, showing huge approbation and absolute unconcern.

Friday, 9. - I rode in quest of St. Hilary owns, ten or twelve miles southeast of St. Ives. And the Downs I found, but no congregation - neither man, woman, nor child. But by that I had put on my gown and cassock, about a hundred gathered themselves together, whom I earnestly called “to repent and believe the gospel.” And if but one heard, it was worth all the labor.

Saturday, 10. - There were prayers at St. Just in the afternoon, which did not end till four. I then preached at the Cross to, I believe, a thousand people, who all behaved in a quiet and serious manner.

At six I preached at Sennan, near the Land’s End; and appointed the little congregation (consisting chiefly of old, grey-headed men) to meet me again at five in the morning. But on Sunday, 11, a great part of them were got together between three and four o’clock: so between four and five we began praising God; and I largely explained and applied, “I will heal their backslidings; I will love them freely.”

We went afterwards down, as far as we could go safely, toward the point of the rocks at the Land’s End. It was an awful sight! But how will these melt away when God shall arise to judgment! The sea between does indeed “boil like a pot.” “One would think the deep to be hoary.” But “though they swell, yet can they not prevail. He hath set their bounds, which they cannot pass” [see Ps. 104:8].

Between eight and nine I preached at St. Just, on the green plain near the town, to the largest congregation (I was informed) that ever had been seen in these parts. I cried out, with all the authority of love, “Why will ye die, O house of Israel?” The people trembled and were still. I had not known such an hour before in Cornwall.

In the Scilly Isles

Monday, 12. - I had had for some time a great desire to go and publish the love of God our Saviour, if it were but for one day, in the Isles of Scilly; and I had occasionally mentioned it to several. This evening three of our brethren came and offered to carry me thither if I could procure the mayor’s boat, which, they said, was the best sailer of any in the town. I sent, and he lent it me immediately. So the next morning, Tuesday, 13, John Nelson, Mr. Shepherd, and I, with three men and a pilot, sailed from St. Ives. It seemed strange to me to attempt going in a fisher-boat, fifteen leagues upon the main ocean, especially when the waves began to swell and hang over our heads. But I called to my companions, and we joined together in singing lustily and with a good courage:


When passing through the watery deep,

I ask in faith His promised aid;

The waves an awful distance keep,

And shrink from my devoted head;

Fearless their violence I dare:

They cannot harm - for God is there.


About half an hour after one, we landed on St. Mary’s, the chief of the inhabited islands.

We immediately waited upon the Governor, with the usual present, namely, a newspaper. I desired him, likewise, to accept of an “Earnest Appeal.” The minister not being willing I should preach in the church, I preached, at six, in the streets to almost all the town and many soldiers, sailors, and workmen on, “Why will ye die, O house of Israel?” It was a blessed time so that I scarcely knew how to conclude. After the sermon I gave them some little books and hymns, which they were so eager to receive that they were ready to tear both them and me to pieces.

For what political reason such a number of workmen were gathered together and employed at so large an expense to fortify a few barren rocks, which whosoever would take, deserves to have them for his pains, I could not possibly devise: but a providential reason was easy to be discovered. God might call them together to hear the gospel, which perhaps otherwise they might never have thought of.

At five in the morning I preached again on “I will heal their backslidings; I will love them freely.” And between nine and ten, having talked with many in private and distributed both to them and others between two and three hundred hymns and little books, we left this barren, dreary place and set sail for St. Ives, though the wind was strong and blew directly in our teeth. Our pilot said we should have good luck if we reached the land; but he knew not Him whom the winds and seas obey. Soon after three we were even with the Land’s End, and about nine we reached St. Ives.

Remarkable Service at Gwennap

Tuesday, 20. - At Trezuthan Downs I preached to two or three thousand people on the “highway” of the Lord, the way of holiness. We reached Gwennap a little before six and found the plain covered from end to end. It was supposed there were ten thousand people, to whom I preached Christ our “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” I could not conclude till it was so dark we could scarcely see one another. And there was on all sides the deepest attention; none speaking, stirring, or scarcely looking aside. Surely here, though in a temple not made with hands, was God worshiped in “the beauty of holiness.”

Wednesday, 21. - I was awakened between three and four by a large company of tinners who, fearing they should be too late, had gathered round the house and were singing and praising God. At five I preached once more on “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” They all devoured the Word. Oh, may it be health to their soul and marrow unto their bones!

We rode to Launceston that day. Thursday, 22. As we were riding through a village called Sticklepath, one stopped me in the street and asked abruptly, “Is not thy name John Wesley?” Immediately two or three more came up and told me I must stop there. I did so; and before we had spoken many words, our souls took acquaintance with each other. I found they were called Quakers: but that hurt not me, seeing the love of God was in their hearts.

A Mob at Wednesbury

Thursday, Oct. 20. - After preaching to a small, attentive congregation (at Birmingham), I rode to Wednesbury. At twelve I preached in a ground near the middle of the town, to a far larger congregation than was expected, on “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever” [Heb. 13:8]. I believe everyone present felt the power of God: and no creature offered to molest us, either going or coming; but the Lord fought for us, and we held our peace.

I was writing at Francis Ward’s, in the afternoon, when the cry arose that the mob had beset the house. We prayed that God would disperse them; and it was so: one went this way, and another that; so that, in half an hour, not a man was left. I told our brethren, “Now is the time for us to go”; but they pressed me exceedingly to stay. So, that I might not offend them, I sat down; though I foresaw what would follow. Before five the mob surrounded the house again in greater numbers than ever. The cry of one and all was “Bring out the minister; we will have the minister.”

I desired one to take their captain by the hand and bring him into the house. After a few sentences interchanged between us, the lion became a lamb. I desired him to go and bring one or two more of the most angry of his companions. He brought in two who were ready to swallow the ground with rage; but in two minutes they were as calm as he. I then bade them make way that I might go out among the people.

As soon as I was in the midst of them, I called for a chair; and standing up, asked, “What do any of you want with me?” Some said, “We want you to go with us to the justice.” I replied, “That I will, with all my heart.” I then spoke a few words, which God applied; so that they cried out, with might and main, “The gentleman is an honest gentleman, and we will spill our blood in his defense.” I asked, “Shall we go to the justice tonight, or in the morning?” Most of them cried, “Tonight, tonight”; on which I went before, and two or three hundred followed; the rest returning whence they came.

The night came on before we had walked a mile, together with heavy rain. However, on we went to Bentley Hall, two miles from Wednesbury. One or two ran before to tell Mr. Lane they had brought Mr. Wesley before his worship. Mr. Lane replied, “What have I to do with Mr. Wesley? Go and carry him back again.” By this time the main body came up and began knocking at the door. A servant told them Mr. Lane was in bed. His son followed and asked what was the matter. One replied, “Why, an’t please you, they sing psalms all day; nay, and make folks rise at five in the morning. And what would your worship advise us to do?” “To go home,” said Mr. Lane, “and be quiet.”

Wesley in Danger

Here they were all at a full stop, till one advised to go to Justice Persehouse at Walsal. All agreed to this; so we hastened on and about seven came to his house. But Mr. P--- likewise sent word that he was in bed. Now they were at a stand again; but at last they all thought it the wisest course to make the best of their way home. About fifty of them undertook to convoy me. But we had not gone a hundred yards when the mob of Walsal came, pouring in like a flood, and bore down all before them. The Darlaston mob made what defense they could; but they were weary as well as outnumbered: so that in a short time, many being knocked down, the rest ran away and left me in their hands.

To attempt speaking was vain; for the noise on every side was like the roaring of the sea. so they dragged me along till we came to the town; where seeing the door of a large house open, I attempted to go in; but a man, catching me by the hair, pulled me back into the middle of the mob. They made no more stop till they had carried me through the main street, from one end of the town to the other. I continued speaking all the time to those within hearing, feeling no pain or weariness. at the west end of the town, seeing a door half open, I made toward it and would have gone in; but a gentleman in the shop would not suffer me, saying they would pull the house down to the ground. However, I stood at the door, and asked, “Are you willing to hear me speak?” Many cried out, “No, no! knock his brains out; down with him; kill him at once.” Others said, “Nay, but we will hear him first.” I began asking, “What evil have I done? Which of you all have I wronged in word or deed?” And continued speaking for above a quarter of an hour, till my voice suddenly failed: then the floods began to lift up their voice again; many crying out, “Bring him away! bring him away!”

In the meantime my strength and my voice returned, and I broke out aloud in prayer. And now the man who just before headed the mob turned and said, “Sir, I will spend my life for you: follow me, and not one soul here shall touch a hair of your head.” Two or three of his fellows confirmed his words and got close to me immediately. At the same time, the gentleman in the shop cried out, “For shame, for shame! Let him go.”

An honest butcher, who was a little farther off, said it was a shame they should do thus; and he pulled back four or five, one after another, who were running on the most fiercely. The people then, as if it had been by common consent, fell back to the right and left, while those three or four men took me between them and carried me through them all. But on the bridge the mob rallied again: we therefore went on one side, over the milldam, and thence through the meadows; till, a little before ten, God brought me safe to Wednesbury; I having lost only one flap of my waistcoat and a little skin from one of my hands.

His Presence of Mind

I never saw such a chain of providences before, so many convincing proofs that the hand of God is on every person and thing and overruling all as it seemeth Him good.

The poor woman of Darlaston, who had headed that mob and sworn that no one should touch me, when she saw her followers give way, ran into the thickest of the throng and knocked down three or four men, one after another. But many assaulting her at once, she was soon overpowered and had probably been killed in a few minutes (three men keeping her down and beating her with all their might) had not a man called to one of them, “Hold, Tom, hold!” “Who is there?” said Tom: “what, honest Munchin? Nay, then, let her go.” So they held their hand and let her get up and crawl home as well as she could.

From the beginning to the end I found the same presence of mind as if I had been sitting in my own study. But I took no thought for one moment before another; only once it came into my mind that if they should throw me into the river, it would spoil the papers that were in my pocket. For myself, I did not doubt but I should swim across, having but a thin coat and a light pair of boots.

The circumstances that follow, I thought, were particularly remarkable: 1) that many endeavored to throw me down while we were going downhill on a slippery path to the town; as well judging, that if I was once on the ground, I should hardly rise any more. But I made no stumble at all, nor the least slip till I was entirely out of their hands. 2) That although many strove to lay hold on my collar or clothes, to pull me down, they could not fasten at all: only one got fast hold of the flap of my waistcoat, which was soon left in his hand; the other flap, in the pocket of which was a bank note, was torn but half off. 3) That a lusty man just behind struck at me several times with a large oaken stick, with which if he had struck me once on the back part of my head, it would have saved him all further trouble. But every time the blow was turned aside, I know not how; for I could not move to the right hand or left.

“What Soft Hair He Has”

4) That another came rushing through the press and, raising his arm to strike, on a sudden let it drop and only stroked my head, saying, “What soft hair he has!” 5) That I stopped exactly at the mayor’s door, as if I had known it (which the mob doubtless thought I did), and found him standing in the shop [his presence giving] the first check to the madness of the people. 6) That the very first men whose hearts were turned were the heroes of the town, the captains of the rabble on all occasions, one of them having been a prizefighter at the bear-garden.

7) That from first to last, I heard none give a reviling word, or call me by any opporbious name whatever; but the cry of one and all was: “The preacher! the preacher! the parson! the minister!” 8) That no creature, at least within my hearing, laid anything to my charger, either true or false; having in the hurry quite forgotten to provide themselves with an accusation of any kind. And, lastly, that they were as utterly at a loss what they should do with me, none proposing any determinate thing only “Away with him! Kill him at once!”

By how gentle degrees does God prepare us for His will! Two years ago a piece of brick grazed my shoulders. It was a year after that the stone struck me between the eyes. Last month I received one blow, and this evening two; one before we came into the town and one after we had gone out; but both were as nothing: for though one man struck me on the breast with all his might, and the other on the mouth with such force that the blood gushed out immediately, I felt no more pain from either of the blows than if they had touched me with a straw.

It ought not to be forgotten that when the rest of the society made all haste to escape for their lives, four only would not stir, William Sitch, Edward Slater, John Griffiths, and Joan Parks: these kept with me, resolving to live or die together; and none of them received one blow but William Sitch, who held me by the arm from one end of the town to the other. He was then dragged away and knocked down; but he soon rose and got to me again. I afterward asked him what he expected when the mob came upon us. He said, “To die for Him who had died for us”: and he felt no hurry or fear but calmly waited till God should require his soul of him.

Wesley’s Defenders

I asked J. Parks if she was not afraid when they tore her from me. She said, “No; no more than I am now. I could trust God for you, as well as for myself. From the beginning I had a full persuasion that God would deliver you. I knew not how; but I left that to Him, and was as sure as if it were already done.” I asked if the report was true that she had fought for me. She said, “No; I knew God would fight for His children.” And shall these souls perish at the last?

When I came back to Francis Ward’s I found many of our brethren waiting upon God. Many also whom I never had seen before came to rejoice with us. And the next morning, as I rode through the town in my way to Nottingham, everyone I met expressed such a cordial affection that I could scarcely believe what I saw and heard.

The Sleepy Magistrates’ Proclamation

I cannot close this head without inserting as great a curiosity in its kind as, I believe, was ever yet seen in England; which had its birth within a very few days of this remarkable occurrence at Walsal.

“Staffordshire

“To all High Constables, Petty Constables, and other of his Majesty’s Peace Officers, within the said County, and particularly to the Constable of Tipton [near Walsal]:

Whereas, we, his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the said County of Stafford, have received information that several disorderly persons, styling themselves Methodist preachers, go about raising routs and riots, to the great damage of his Majesty’s liege people, and against the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King:

“These are, in his Majesty’s name, to command you and every one of you, within your respective districts, to make diligent search after the said Methodist preachers, and to bring him or them before some of us his said Majesty’s Justices of the Peace, to be examined concerning their unlawful doings.

“Given under our hands and seals, this day of October, 1743

“J. Lane

“W. Persehouse”

N.B. - The very justices to whose houses I was carried and who severally refused to see me!

Saturday, 22. - I rode from Nottingham to Epworth, and on Monday set out for Grimsby: but at Ferry we were at a full stop, the boatmen telling us we could not pass the Trent; it was as much as our lives were worth to put from shore before the storm abated. We waited an hour; but, being afraid it would do much hurt if I should disappoint the congregation at Grimsby, I asked the men if they did not think it possible to get to the other shore. They said they could not tell; but if we would venture our lives, they would venture theirs. So we put off, having six men, two women, and three horses in the boat.

Wesley Nearly Drowned

Many stood looking after us on the riverside; [when we reached] the middle of the river, in an instant the side of the boat was under water and the horses and men rolling one over another. We expected the boat to sink every moment, but I did not doubt of being able to swim ashore. The boatmen were amazed as well as the rest; but they quickly recovered and rowed for life. And soon after, our horses leaping overboard, the boat was lightened, and we all came unhurt to land.

They wondered what was the matter I did not rise (for I lay alone in the bottom of the boat), and I wondered too, till upon examination I found that a large iron crow, which the boatmen sometimes used, was (none knew how) run through the string of my boot, and was pinning me down that I could not stir. If the boat had sunk, I should have been safe enough from swimming any further.

The same day and, as near as we could judge, the same hour, the boat in which my brother was crossing the Severn, at the New Passage, was carried away by the wind and in the utmost danger of splitting upon the rocks. But the same God, when all human hope was past, delivered them as well as us.

Methodism on the Stage

Monday, 31. - We set out early in the morning, and in the evening came to Newcastle.

Wednesday, November 2. - The following advertisement was published:


FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR. ESTE.

By the Edinburgh Company of Comedians, on Friday, November 4, will be acted a Comedy, called,

THE CONSCIOUS LOVERS;

To which will be added a Farce, called,

TRICK UPON TRICK, OR METHODISM DISPLAYED

On Friday, a vast multitude of spectators were assembled in the Moot Hall to see this. It was believed there could not be less than fifteen hundred people, some hundreds of whom sat on rows of seats built upon the stage. Soon after the comedians had begun the first act of the play, on a sudden all those seats fell down at once, the supporters of them breaking like a rotten stick. The people were thrown one upon another, about five foot forward, but not one of them hurt. After a short time the rest of the spectators were quiet, and the actors went on. In the middle of the second act, all the shilling seats gave a crack, and sank several inches down. A great noise and shrieking followed, and as many as could readily get to the door, went out and returned no more. Notwithstanding this, when the noise was over, the actors went on with the play.

In the beginning of the third act the entire stage suddenly sank about six inches: the players retired with great precipitation; yet in a while they began again. At the latter end of the third act, all the sixpenny seats, without any kind of notice, fell to the ground. There was now a cry on every side; it being supposed that many were crushed in pieces. But, upon inquiry, not a singe person (such was the mercy of God!) was either killed or dangerously hurt. Two or three hundred remaining still in the hall, Mr. Este (who was to act the Methodist) came upon the stage and told them that for all this he was resolved the farce should be acted. While he was speaking, the stage sank six inches more; at this he ran back in the utmost confusion, and the people as fast as they could out the door, none staying to look behind him.

Which is most surprising - that those players acted this farce the next week - or that some hundreds of people came again to see it?


 

 

 

Chapter 6. First Methodist Conference; Pressgangs and Mobs; Wesley's Protest against Ungodliness

The First Conference

1744. Monday, June 18. - I left Epworth; and on Wednesday, 20, in the afternoon, met my brother in London.

Monday, 25, and the five following days we spent in conference with many of our brethren (come from several parts), who desire nothing but to save their own souls and those who hear them. And surely, as long as they continue thus minded, their labor shall not be in vain in the Lord.

The next day we endeavored to purge the society of all that did not walk according to the gospel. By this means we reduced the number of members to less than nineteen hundred. But number is an inconsiderable circumstance. May God increase them in faith and love!

Friday, August 24. - (St. Bartholomew's day.) I preached, I suppose the last time, at St. Mary's [Oxford]. Be it so. I am now clear of the blood of these men. I have fully delivered my own soul.

The Beadle came to me afterwards and told me the Vice-Chancellor had sent him for my notes. I sent them without delay, not without admiring the wise providence of God. Perhaps few men of note would have given a sermon of mine the reading if I had put it into their hands; but by this means it came to be read, probably more than once, by every man of eminence in the University.

Wesley’s Chancery Bill

Thursday, December 27. - I called on the solicitor whom I had employed in the suit lately commenced in chancery; and here I first saw that foul monster, a chancery bill! A scroll it was of forty-two pages, in large folio, to tell a story which needed not to have taken up forty lines! and stuffed with such stupid senseless, improbable lies (many of them, too, quite foreign to the question) as, I believe, would have cost the compiler his life in any heathen court of either Greece or Rome. And this is equity in a Christian country! This is the English method of redressing other grievances!

1745. Saturday, January 5. - I had often wondered at myself (and sometimes mentioned it to others) that ten thousand cares, of various kinds, were no more weight and burden to my mind than ten thousand hairs were to my head. Perhaps I began to ascribe something of this to my own strength. And thence it might be that on Sunday, 13, that strength was withheld, and I felt what it was to be troubled about many things. One and another hurrying me continually, it seized upon my spirit more and more till I found it absolutely necessary to fly for my life, and that without delay. So the next day, Monday, 14, I took horse and rode away from Bristol.

Between Bath and Bristol I was earnestly desired to turn aside and call at the house of a poor man, William Shalwood. I found him and his wife sick in one bed, and with small hopes of the recovery of either. Yet (after prayer) I believed they would “not die, but live, and declare the loving-kindness of the Lord.” The next time I called he was sitting downstairs, and his wife able to go abroad.

As soon as we came into the house at Bristol, my soul was lightened of her load, of that insufferable weight which had lain upon my mind, more or less, for several days. On Sunday, several of our friends from Wales and other parts joined with us in the great sacrifice of thanksgiving. And every day we found more and more cause to praise God and to give Him thanks for His still increasing benefits.

Monday, February 18. - I set out with Richard Moss from London for Newcastle.

Wesley’s Effective Letter

Sunday, March 3. - As I was walking up Pilgrim Street, hearing a man call after me, I stood still. He came up and used much abusive language, intermixed with many oaths and curses. Several people came out to see what was the matter; on which he pushed me twice or thrice and went away.

Upon inquiry, I found this man had signalized himself a long season by abusing and throwing stones at any of our family who went that way. Therefore I would not lose the opportunity, but on Monday, 4, sent him the following note:

Robert Young,--I expect to see you, between this and Friday and to hear from you that you are sensible of your fault; otherwise, in pity to your soul, I shall be obliged to inform the magistrates of your assaulting me yesterday in the street.

“I am,

“Your real friend,

John Wesley”

Within two or three hours, Robert Young came and promised a quite different behavior. So did this gentle reproof, if not save a soul from death, yet prevent a multitude of sins.

Saturday, April 6. - Mr. Stephenson, of whom I bought the ground on which our house is built, came at length, after delaying it more than two years, and executed the writings. So I am freed from one more care. May I in everything make known my request to God!

Press Gang and Methodists

Wednesday, June 19 (Redruth). - Being informed here of what had befallen Mr. Maxfield, we turned aside toward Crowan churchtown. But in the way we received information that he had been removed from thence the night before. It seems that the valiant constables who guarded him, having received timely notice that a body of five hundred Methodists was coming to take him away by force, had, with great precipitation, carried him two miles further to the house of one Henry Tomkins.

Here we found him, nothing terrified by his adversaries. I desired Henry Tomkins to show me the warrant. It was directed by Dr. Borlase, and his father, and Mr. Eustick, to the constables and overseers of several parishes, requiring them to “apprehend all such able-bodies men as had no lawful calling or sufficient maintenance”; and to bring them before the aforesaid gentlemen at Marazion, on Friday, 21, to be examined whether they were proper persons to serve his Majesty in the land-service.

It was endorsed by the steward of Sir John St. Aubyn with the names of seven or eight persons, most of whom were well-known to have lawful callings and a sufficient maintenance thereby. But that was all one: they were called “Methodists”; therefore, soldiers they must be. Underneath was added, “A person, his name unknown, who disturbs the peace of the parish.”

A word to the wise. The good men easily understood this could be none but the Methodist preacher; for who “disturbs the peace of the parish” like one who tells all drunkards, whoremongers, and common swearers, “You are in the high road to hell”?

When we came out of the house, forty or fifty myrmidons stood ready to receive us. But I turned full upon them and their courage failed, nor did they recover till we were at some distance. Then they began blustering again and throwing stones; one of which struck Mr. Thompson’s servant.

Friday, 21. - We rode to Marazion. (Vulgarly called Market-jew.) Finding the justices were not met, we walked up St. Michael’s Mount. The house at the top is surprisingly large and pleasant. Sir John St. Aubyn had taken much pains, and been at a considerable expense, in repairing and beautifying the apartments; and when the seat was finished, the owner died!

About two, Mr. Thompson and I went into the room where the justices and commissioners were. After a few minutes, Dr. Borlase stood up and asked whether we had any business. I told him, “We have.” We desired to be heard concerning one who was lately apprehended at Crowan. He said, “Gentlemen, the business of Crowan does not come on yet. You shall be sent for when it does.” So we retired and waited in another room, till after nine o’clock. They delayed the affair of Mr. Maxfield (as we imagined they would) to the very last. About nine he was called. I would have gone in then; but Mr. Thompson advised to wait a little longer. The next information we received was that they had sentenced him to go for a soldier. Hearing this, we went straight to the commission chamber. But the honorable gentlemen were gone.

They had ordered Mr. Maxfield to be immediately put on board a boat and carried for Penzance. We were informed that they had first offered him to a Captain of a man-of-war that was just come into the harbor. But he answered, “I have no authority to take such men as these, unless you would have me give him so much a week to preach and pray to my people.”

Reading the Riot Act

Saturday, 22. - We reached St. Ives about two in the morning. At five I preached on “Love your enemies”; and at Gwennap, in the evening, on “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

We heard today that as soon as Mr. Maxfield came to Penzance, they put him down into the dungeon; and that the mayor being inclined to let him go, Dr. Borlase had gone thither on purpose and had himself read the Articles of War in the court and delivered him to one who was to act as an officer.

Saturday, 29. - I preached at St. Just again and at Morva and Zennor on Sunday, 30. About six in the evening, I began preaching at St. Ives, in the street, near John Nance’s door. A multitude of people were quickly assembled, both high and low, rich and poor; and I observed not any creature to laugh or smile, or hardly move hand or foot. I expounded the gospel for the day, beginning with, “Then drew near all the publicans and sinners for to hear him” [Luke 15:1]. A little before seven came Mr. Edwards from the mayor and ordered one to read the proclamation against riots. I concluded quickly after; but the body of the people appeared utterly unsatisfied, not knowing how to go away. Forty or fifty of them begged they might be present at the meeting of the society; and we rejoiced together for an hour in such a manner as I had never known before in Cornwall.

Tuesday, July 2. - I preached in the evening at St. Just. I observed not only several gentlemen there who I suppose never came before, but a large body of tinners, who stood at a distance from the rest; and a great multitude of men, women, and children beside, who seemed not well to know why they came. Almost as soon as we had done singing, a kind of gentlewoman began. I have seldom seen a poor creature take so much pains. She scolded, and screamed, and spit and stamped, and wrung her hands, and distorted her face and body all manner of ways. I took no notice of her at all, good or bad, nor did almost anyone else. Afterward I heard she was one that had been bred a Papist; and when she heard we were so, rejoiced greatly. No wonder she would be proportionately angry when she was disappointed of her hope.

Mr. Eustick, a neighboring gentleman, came just as I was concluding my sermon. The people opening to the right and left, he came up to me and said, “Sir, I have a warrant from Dr. Borlase, and you must go with me.” Then, turning around, he said, “Sir, are you Mr. Shepherd? If so, you are mentioned in the warrant too. Be pleased, sir, to come with me.” We walked with him to a public house near the end of the town. Here he asked me if I was willing to go with him to the doctor. I told him, just then, if he pleased. “Sir,” said he, “I must wait upon you to your inn; and in the morning, if you will be so good as to go with me, I will show you the way.” So he handed me back to my inn and retired.

Wesley Seized for a Soldier

Wednesday, 3. - I waited till nine; but no Mr. Eustick came. I then desired Mr. Shepherd to go and inquire for him at the house wherein he had lodged; he met him, coming, as he thought, to our inn. But after waiting some time, we inquired again and learned he had turned aside to another house in the town. I went thither and asked, “Is Mr. Eustick here?” After some pause, one said, “Yes,” and showed me into the parlor. When he came down he said, “O sir, will you be so good as to go with me to the doctor’s?” I answered, “Sir, I came for that purpose.” “Are you ready, sir?” I answered, “Yes.” “Sir, I am not quite ready. In a little time, sir, in a quarter of an hour, I will wait upon you. I will come to William Chenhall’s.”

In about three quarters of an hour he came, and finding there was no remedy, he called for his horse and put forward toward Dr. Borlase’s house; but he was in no haste, so that we were an hour and a quarter riding three or four measured miles. As soon as we came into the yard he asked a servant, “Is the doctor at home?” upon whose answering, “No, sir, he is gone to church,” he presently said, “Well, sir, I have executed my commission. I have done, sir; I have no more to say.”

About noon Mr. Shepherd and I reached St. Ives. After a few hours’ rest, we rode to Gwennap. Finding the house would not contain one fourth of the people, I stood before the door. I was reading my text when a man came, raging as if he had just broken out of the tombs; and, riding into the thickest of the people, seized three or four, one after another, none lifting up a hand against him. A second (gentleman, so called) soon came after, if possible more furious than he, and ordered his men to seize on some others, Mr. Shepherd in particular. Most of the people, however, stood still as they were before and began singing a hymn.

Upon this Mr. B. lost all patience and cried out with all his might, “Seize him, seize him. I say, seize the preacher for his Majesty’s service.” But no one stirring, he rode up and struck several of his attendants, cursing them bitterly for not doing as they were bidden. Perceiving still that they would not move, he leaped off his horse, swore he would do it himself, and caught hold of my cassock crying, “I take you to serve his Majesty.” A servant taking his horse, he took me by the arm, and we walked arm in arm for about three quarters of a mile. He entertained me all the time with the “wickedness of the fellows belonging to the society.” When he was taking breath, I said, “Sir, be they what they will, I apprehend it will not justify you in seizing me in this manner and violently carrying me away, as you said, to serve his Majesty.” He replied, “I seize you! And violently carry you away! No, sir, no. Nothing like it. I asked you to go with me to my house, and you said you were willing; and if so, you are welcome; and if not, you are welcome to go where you please.” I answered, “Sir, I know not if it would be safe for me to go back through this rabble.” “Sir,” said he, “I will go with you myself.” He then called for his horse, and another for me, and rode back with me to the place from whence he took me.

Dramatic Scenes at Falmouth

Thursday, 4. - I rode to Falmouth. About three in the afternoon I went to see a gentlewoman who had been long indisposed. Almost as soon as I sat down, the house was beset on all sides by an innumerable multitude of people. A louder or more confused noise could hardly be at the taking of a city by storm. At first Mrs. B. and her daughter endeavored to quiet them. But it was labor lost. They might as well have attempted to still the raging of the sea. They were soon glad to shift for themselves and leave K. E. and me to do as well as we could. The rabble roared with all their throats, “Bring out the Canorum! Where is the Canorum?” (an unmeaning word which the Cornish generally use instead of Methodist).

No answer being given, they quickly forced open the outer door and filled the passage. Only a wainscot partition was between us, which was not likely to stand long. I immediately took down a large looking glass which hung against it, supposing the whole side would fall in at once. When they began their work with abundance of bitter imprecations, poor Kitty was utterly astonished and cried out, “O sir, what must we do?” I said, “We must pray.” Indeed at that time, to all appearance, our lives were not worth an hour’s purchase. She asked, “But, sir, is it not better for you to hide yourself? to get into the closet?” I answered, “No. It is best for me to stand just where I am.” Among those without were the crews of some privateers which were lately come into harbor. Some of these, being angry at the slowness of the rest, thrust them away and, coming up all together, set their shoulders to the inner door and cried out, “Avast, lads, avast!” Away went all the hinges at once, and the door fell back into the room.

I stepped forward at once into the midst of them and said, “Here I am. Which of you has anything to say to me? To which of you have I done any wrong? To you? Or you? Or you?” I continued speaking till I came, bareheaded as I was (for I purposely left my hat that they might all see my face) into the middle of the street and then raising my voice said, “Neighbors, countrymen! Do you desire to hear me speak?’” They cried vehemently, “Yes, yes. He shall speak. He shall. Nobody shall hinder him.” But having nothing to stand on and no advantage of ground, I could be heard by few only. However, I spoke without intermission and, as far as the sound reached, the people were still; till one or two of their captains turned about and swore that not a man should touch me.

Mr. Thomas, a clergyman, then came up and asked, “Are you not ashamed to use a stranger thus?” He was soon seconded by two or three gentlemen of the town and one of the aldermen; with whom I walked down the town, speaking all the time, till I came to Mrs. Maddern’s house. The gentlemen proposed sending for my horse to the door and desired me to step in and rest the meantime. But, on second thought, they judged it not advisable to let me go out among the people again: so they chose to send my horse before me to Penryn and to send me thither by water, the sea running close by the back door of the house in which we were.

I never saw before, no, not at Walsal itself, the hand of God so plainly shown as here. There I had many companions who were willing to die with me: here, not a friend but one simple girl, who likewise was hurried away from me in an instant as soon as ever she came out of Mrs. B.’s door. There I received some blows, lost part of my clothes, and was covered over with dirt: here, although the hands of perhaps some hundreds of people were lifted up to strike or throw, yet they were one and all stopped in the midway; so that not a man touched me with one of his fingers, neither was anything thrown from first to last; so that I had not even a speck of dirt on my clothes. Who can deny that God heareth prayer, or that He hath all power in heaven and earth?

“I am John Wesley”

I took boat at about half an hour past five. Many of the mob waited at the end of the town, who, seeing me escaped out of their hands, could only revenge themselves with their tongues. But a few of the fiercest ran along the shore, to receive me at my landing. I walked up the steep narrow passage from the sea, at the top of which the foremost man stood. I looked him in the face and said, “I wish you a good night.” He spake not nor moved hand or foot till I was on horseback. Then he said, “I wish you were in hell,” and turned back to his companions.

As soon as I came within sight of Tolcarn (in Wendron parish), where I was to preach in the evening, I was met by many, running as it were for their lives and begging me to go no further. I asked, “Why not?” They said, “The churchwardens and constables and all the heads of the parish are waiting for you at the top of the hill and are resolved to have you: they have a special warrant from the justices met at Helstone, who will stay there till you are brought.” I rode directly up the hill and observing four or five horsemen, well dressed, went straight to them and said, “Gentlemen, has any of you anything to say to me?__I am John Wesley.”

One of them appeared extremely angry at this, that I should presume to say I was “Mr. John Wesley.” And I know not how I might have fared for advancing so bold an assertion but that Mr. Collins, the minister of Redruth (accidently, as he said) came by. Upon his accosting me and saying he knew me at Oxford, my first antagonist was silent, and a dispute of another kind began: whether this preaching had done any good. I appealed to matter of fact. He allowed (after many words), “People are the better for the present”; but added, “To be sure, by and by they will be as bad, if not worse than ever.”

When he rode away, one of the riders said, “Sir, I would speak with you a little; let us ride to the gate.” We did so, and he said, “Sir, I will tell you the ground of this. All the gentlemen of these parts say that you have been a long time in France and Spain and are now sent hither by the Pretender; and that these societies are to join him.” Nay, surely “all the gentlemen in these parts” will not lie against their own conscience!

I rode hence to a friend’s house, some miles off, and found the sleep of a laboring man is sweet. I was informed there were many here also who had an earnest desire to hear “this preaching,” but they did not dare; Sir ___ V___n having solemnly declared, nay, and that in the face of the whole congregation as they were coming out of the church, “If any man of this parish dares hear these fellows, he shall not come to my Christmas feast!”

Saturday, 6. - I rode with Mr. Shepherd to Gwennap. Here also we found the people in the utmost consternation. Word was brought that a great company of tinners, made drunk on purpose, were coming to do terrible things. I labored much to compose their minds, but fear had no ears; so that abundance of people went away. I preached to the rest on “Love your enemies.” The event showed this also was a false alarm, an artifice of the devil, to hinder men from hearing the Word of God.

Wesley Pushed from a High Wall

Sunday, 7. - I preached, at five, to a quiet congregation, and about eight, at Stithians. Between six and seven in the evening we came to Tolcarn. Hearing the mob was rising again, I began preaching immediately. I had not spoken a quarter of an hour before they came in view. One Mr. Trounce rode up first and began speaking to me, wherein he was roughly interrupted by his companions. Yet, as I stood on a high wall and kept my eyes upon them, many were softened and grew calmer and calmer; which some of their champions observing, went round and suddenly pushed me down. I lit on my feet without any hurt; finding myself close to the warmest of the horsemen, I took hold of his hand and held it fast while I expostulated the case. As for being convinced, he was quite about it: however, both he and his fellows grew much milder, and we parted very civilly.

Monday, 8. - I preached at five on “Watch and pray,” to a quiet and earnest congregation. We then rode on to St. Ives, the most still and honorable post (so are the times changed) which we have in Cornwall.

Tuesday, 9. - I had just begun preaching at St. Just, when Mr. E. came once more, took me by the hand, and said I must go with him. To avoid making a tumult, I went. He said I had promised last week not to come again to St. Just for a month. I absolutely denied the having made any such promise. After about half an hour, he handed me back to my inn.

Riot Act and a Sermon

Wednesday, 10. - In the evening I began to expound (at Trevonan, in Morva), “Ho! every one that thirsteth, come yet to the waters.” In less than a quarter of an hour, the constable and his companions came and read the proclamation against riots. When he had done, I told him, “We will do as you require: we will disperse within an hour”; and went on with my sermon. After preaching, I had designed to meet the society alone. But many others also followed with such earnestness that I could not turn them back: so I exhorted them all to love their enemies as Christ hath loved us. They felt what was spoken.

Thursday, 25. - I came back safe, blessed be God, to Bristol. I found both my soul and body much refreshed in this peaceful place. Thursday, August 1, and the following days, we had our second Conference, with as many of our brethren that labor in the Word as could be present.

Pelted by the Mob at Leeds

Monday, September 9. - I left London, and the next morning called on Dr. Doddridge at Northampton. It was about the hour when he was accustomed to expound a portion of Scripture to young gentlemen under his care. He desired me to take his place. It may be the seed was not altogether sown in vain.

Thursday, 12. - I came to Leeds, preached at five, and at eight met the society; after which the mob pelted us with dirt and stones a great part of the way home. The congregation was much larger next evening; and so was the mob at our return, and likewise in higher spirits, being ready to knock out all our brains for joy that the Duke of Tuscany was Emperor. What a melancholy consideration is this! that the bulk of the English nation will not suffer God to give them the blessings He would, because they would turn them into curses. He cannot, for instance, give them success against their enemies; for they would tear their own countrymen in pieces: He cannot trust them with victory, lest they should thank Him by murdering those that are quiet in the land.

Great Excitement at Newcastle

Wednesday, 18. - About five we came to Newcastle, in an acceptable time. We found the generality of the inhabitants in the utmost consternation; news being just arrived that, the morning before, at two o’clock, the Pretender had entered Edinburgh. A great concourse of people were with us in the evening, to whom I expounded the third chapter of Jonah, insisting particularly on that verse, “Who can tell, if God will return, and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?”

Thursday, 19. - The mayor (Mr. Ridley) summoned all the householders of the town to meet him at the townhall; and desired as many of them as were willing to set their hands to a paper importing that they would, at the hazard of their goods and lives, defend the town against the common enemy. Fear and darkness were now on every side; but not on those who had seen the light of God’s countenance. We rejoiced together in the evening with solemn joy, while God applied those words to many hearts, “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified” [Matt. 28:5].

Friday, 20. - The mayor ordered the townsmen to be under arms and to mount guard in their turns, over and above the guard of soldiers, a few companies of whom had been drawn into the town on the first alarm. Now also Pilgrim Street gate was ordered to be walled up. Many began to be much concerned for us, because our house stood without the walls. Nay, but the Lord is a wall of fire unto all that trust in Him.

I had desired all our brethren to join with us this day in seeking God by fasting and prayer. About one we met and poured out our souls before Him; and we believed He would send an answer of peace.

Wesley’s Letter to the Mayor

Saturday, 21. - The same day the action was, came the news of General Cope’s defeat. Orders were now given for the doubling of the guard and for walling up Pandon and Sally Port gates. In the afternoon I wrote the following letter:

“To the Worshipful the Mayor of Newcastle.

Sir,--My not waiting upon you at the town hall was not owing to any want of respect. I reverence you for your office’sake; and much more for your zeal in the execution of it. I would to God every magistrate in the land would copy after such an example! Much less was it owing to any disaffection to his Majesty King George. But I knew not how far it might be either necessary or proper for me to appear on such an occasion. I have no fortune at Newcastle: I have only the bread I eat and the use of a little room for a few weeks in the year.

“All I can do for his Majesty, whom I honor and love - I think not less than I did my own father - is this, I cry unto God day by day, in public and in private, to put all his enemies to confusion: and I exhort all that hear me to do the same; and, in their several stations, to exert themselves as loyal subjects; who, so long as they fear God, cannot but honor the King.

“Permit me, Sir, to add a few words more, out of the fullness of my heart. I am persuaded you fear God and have a deep sense that His Kingdom ruleth over all. Unto whom, then (I may ask you), should we flee for succor, but unto Him whom, by our sins, we have justly displeased? O Sir, is it not possible to give any check to these overflowings of ungodliness? To the open, flagrant wickedness, the drunkenness and profaneness which so abound even in our streets? I just take leave to suggest this. May the God whom you serve direct you in this and all things! This is the daily prayer of, Sir,

“Your obedient servant, for Christ’s sake,

“J.W.”

Preaching under Difficulties

Sunday, 22. - The walls were mounted with cannon, and all things prepared for sustaining an assault. Meantime our poor neighbors, on either hand, were busy in removing their goods. And most of the best houses in our street were left without either furniture or inhabitants. Those within the walls were almost equally busy in carrying away their money and goods; and more and more of the gentry every hour rode southward as fast as they could. At eight I preached at Gateshead, in a broad part of the street near the popish chapel, on the wisdom of God in governing the world. How do all things tend to the furtherance of the gospel!

All this week the alarms from the north continued, and the storm seemed nearer every day. Many wondered we would still stay without the walls: others told us we must remove quickly; for if the cannon began to play from the top of the gates, they would beat all the house about our ears. This made me look how the cannons upon the gates were planted; and I could not but adore the providence of God, for it was obvious 1) they were all planted in such a manner that no shot could touch our house; 2) the cannon on Newgate so secured us on one side, and those upon Pilgrim Street gate on the other that none could come near our house, either way, without being torn in pieces.

On Friday and Saturday many messengers of lies terrified the poor people of the town, as if the rebels were just coming to swallow them up. Upon this the guards were increased and abundance of country gentlemen came in, with their servants, horses, and arms. Among those who came from the north was one whom the mayor ordered to be apprehended on suspicion of his being a spy. As soon as he was left alone he cut his own throat; but a surgeon, coming quickly, sewed up the wound, so that he lived to discover those designs of the rebels, which were thereby effectually prevented.

Sunday, 29. - Advice came that they were in full march southward, so that it was supposed they would reach Newcastle by Monday evening. At eight I called on a multitude of sinners in Gateshead to seek the Lord while He might be found. Mr. Ellison preached another earnest sermon, and all the people seemed to bend before the Lord. In the afternoon I expounded part of the lesson for the day - Jacob wrestling with the angel. The congregation was so moved that I began again and again and knew not how to conclude. And we cried mightily to God to send his Majesty King George help from His holy place and to spare a sinful land yet a little longer, if haply they might know the day of their visitation.

The Blasphemous Troops

Tuesday, October 8. - I wrote to general Husk as follows:

“A surly man came to me this evening, as he said, from you. He would not deign to come upstairs to me, nor so much as into the house; but stood in the yard till I came, and then obliged me to go with him into the street, where he said, ‘You must pull down the battlements of your house, or tomorrow the General will pull them down for you.’

“Sir, to me this is nothing. But I humbly conceive it would not be proper for this man, whoever he is, to behave in such a manner to any other of his Majesty’s subjects, at so critical a time as this.

“I am ready, if it may be for his Majesty’s service, to pull not only the battlements, but the house down; or to give up any part of it, or the whole, into your Excellency’s hands.”

Saturday, 26. - I sent Alderman Ridley the following letter:

Sir,--The fear of God, the love of my country, and the regard I have for his Majesty King George, constrain me to write a few plain words to one who is no stranger to these principles of action.

“My soul has been pained day by day, even in walking the streets of Newcastle, at the senseless, shameless wickedness, the ignorant profaneness, of the poor men to whom our lives are entrusted. The continual cursing and swearing, the wanton blasphemy of the soldiers in general, must needs be a torture to the sober ear, whether of a Christian or an honest infidel. Can any that either fear God, or love their neighbor, hear this without concern? especially if they consider the interest of our country, as well as of these unhappy men themselves. For can it be expected that God should be on their side who are daily affronting Him to His face? And if God be not on their side, how little will either their number, or courage, or strength avail?

“Is there no man that careth for these souls? Doubtless there are some who ought so to do. But many of these, if I am rightly informed, receive large pay and do just nothing.

“I would to God it were in my power, in any degree, to supply their lack of service. I am ready to do what in me lies to call these poor sinners to repentance, once or twice a day (while I remain in these parts), at any hour, or at any place. And I desire no pay at all for doing this; unless what my Lord shall give at His appearing.

* * * *

Having myself no knowledge of the General, I took the liberty to make this offer to you. I have no interest herein; but I should rejoice to serve, as I am able, my King and country. If it be judged that this will be of no real service, let the proposal die and be forgotten. But I beg you, Sir, to believe that I have the same glorious cause, for which you have shown so becoming a zeal, earnestly at heart; and that therefore I am, with warm respect,

“Sir,

“Your most obedient servant.”

Sunday, 27. - I received a message from Mr. Ridley that he would communicate my proposal to the General and return me his answer as soon as possible.

Having now delivered my own soul, on Monday, November 4, I left Newcastle. Before nine we met several expresses, sent to countermand the march of the army into Scotland; and to inform them that the rebels had passed the Tweed and were marching southward.

Bonfires Everywhere

Tuesday, 5. - In the evening I came to Leeds and found the town full of bonfires, and people shouting, firing guns, cursing and swearing, as the English manner of keeping holidays is. I immediately sent word to some of the magistrates of what I had heard on the road. This ran through the town, as it were, in an instant: and I hope it was a token for good. The hurry in the streets was quashed at once - some of the bonfires indeed remained; but scarcely anyone was to be seen about them but a few children warming their hands.

Thursday, 7. - I rode to Stayley Hall, in Cheshire, after many interruptions in the way by those poor tools of watchmen, who stood with great solemnity at the end of almost every village. I preached there on Mark 1:15, and rode on to Bradbury Green.

Friday, 8. - Understanding that a neighboring gentleman, Dr. C., had affirmed to many that Mr. Wesley was now with the Pretender, near Edinburgh, I wrote him a few lines. It may be he will have a little more regard to truth, or shame, for the time to come.


 

 

 

Chapter 7. Severe Weather; Ireland; Wesley's Protest against Lawlessness

Wesley and Faith-healing

1746. Monday, March 17. - I took my leave of Newcastle and set out with Mr. Downes and Mr. Shepherd. But when we came to Smeton, Mr. Downes was so ill that he could go no further. When Mr. Shepherd and I left Smeton, my horse was so exceedingly lame that I was afraid I must have lain by too. We could not discern what it was that was amiss; and yet he would scarcely set his foot to the ground. By riding thus seven miles, I was thoroughly tired, and my head ached more than it had done for some months. (What I here aver is the naked fact: let every man account for it as he sees good.) I then thought, “Cannot God heal either man or beast, by any means, or without any?” Immediately my weariness and headache ceased, and my horse’s lameness in the same instant. Nor did he halt any more either that day or the next. A very odd accident this also!

Friday, May 30 (Bristol). - I lit upon a poor, pretty, fluttering thing, lately come from Ireland and going to be a singer at the playhouse. She went in the evening to the chapel, and thence to the watch night, and was almost persuaded to be a Christian. Her convictions continued strong for a few days; but then her old acquaintance found her, and we saw her no more.

Sunday, July 6 (London). - After talking largely with both the men and women leaders, we agreed it would prevent great expense, as well of health as of time and of money, if the poorer people of our society could be persuaded to leave off drinking of tea. We resolved ourselves to begin and set the example. I expected some difficulty in breaking off a custom of six-and-twenty years’ standing. And, accordingly, the three first days my head ached more or less all day long, and I was half asleep from morning till night. The third day, on Wednesday, in the afternoon, my memory failed almost entirely. In the evening I sought my remedy in prayer. On Thursday morning my headache was gone. My memory was as strong as ever. And I have found no inconvenience, but a sensible benefit in several respects, from that very day to this.

Thursday, 17. - I finished the little collection which I had made among my friends for a lending-stock: it did not amount to thirty pounds; which a few persons afterwards made up fifty. And by this inconsiderable sum, above two hundred and fifty persons were relieved in one year.

Wesley Encounters Severe Weather

1747. Tuesday, February 10 (London). - My brother returned from the north, and I prepared to supply his place there. Sunday, 15. I was very weak and faint; but on Monday, 16, I rose soon after three, lively and strong, and found all my complaints were fled away like a dream.

I was wondering, the day before, at the mildness of the weather; such as seldom attends me in my journeys. But my wonder now ceased: the wind was turned full north and blew so exceedingly hard and keen that when we came to Hatfield, neither my companions nor I had much use of our hands or feet. After resting an hour, we bore up again through the wind and snow, which drove full in our faces. But this was only a squall. In Baldock Field the storm began in earnest. The large hail dro