Are you a Christian?
JOURNAL - FROM NOVEMBER 1, 1739, TO SEPTEMBER 3, 1741.
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Thursday , November 1, 1739. — I left Bristol, and, on Saturday, came to London. The first person I met with there, was one whom I had left strong in faith, and zealous of good works; but she now told me Mr. Molther had fully convinced her, she never had any faith at all; and had advised her, till she received faith, to be still, ceasing from outward works; which she had accordingly done, and did not doubt but in a short time she should find the advantage of it.
In the evening Mr. Bray, also, was highly commending the being still before the Lord. He likewise spoke largely of the great danger that attended the doing of outward works, and of the folly of people that keep running about to church and sacrament, “as I,” said he, “did till very lately.” Sun. 4 . — Our society met at seven in the morning, and continued silent till eight. One then spoke of looking unto Jesus, and exhorted us all to lie still in his hand.
In the evening I met the women of our society at Fetter-Lane; where some of our brethren strongly intimated that none of them had any true faith; and then asserted, in plain terms, 1. That, till they had true faith, they ought to be still; that is, (as they explained themselves,) to abstain from the means of grace, as they are called; the Lord’s Supper in particular. 2. That the ordinances are not means of grace, there being no other means than Christ. Wed. 7 . — Being greatly desirous to understand the ground of this matter, I had a long conference with Mr. Spangenberg. I agreed with all he said of the power of faith. I agreed, that “whosoever is” by faith “born of God doth not commit sin:” But I could not agree, either, that none has any faith, so long as he is liable to any doubt or fear; or, that till we have it, we ought to abstain from the Lord’s Supper, or the other ordinances of God.
At eight, our society met at Fetter-Lane. We sat an hour without speaking.
I observed everyday more and more, the advantage Satan had gained over us. Many of those who once knew in whom they had believed, were thrown into idle reasonings, and thereby filled with doubts and fears, from which they now found no way to escape. Many were induced to deny the gift of God, and affirm they never had any faith at all; especially those who had fallen again into sin, and, of consequence, into darkness; and almost all these had left off the means of grace, saying they must now cease from their own works; they must now trust in Christ alone; they were poor sinners, and had nothing to do but to lie at his feet.
Till Saturday, the 10th, I think I did not meet with one woman of the society who had not been upon the point of casting away her confidence in God. I then indeed found one, who, when many (according to their custom) labored to persuade her she had no faith, replied, with a spirit they were not able to resist, “I know that the life which I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me: And He has never left me one moment, since the hour He was made known to me in the breaking of bread.”
What is to be inferred from this undeniable matter of fact, — one that had not faith received it in the Lord’s Supper? Why, 1. That there are means of grace, that is, outward ordinances, whereby the inward grace of God is ordinarily conveyed to man; whereby the faith that brings salvation is conveyed to them who before had it not. 2. That one of these means is the Lord’s Supper. And, 3. That he who has not this faith ought to wait for it, in the use both of this, and of the other means which God hath ordained. Fri. 9 . — I showed how we are to examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith; and afterwards recommended to all, though especially to them that believed, true stillness, that is, a patient waiting upon God, by lowliness, meekness, and resignation, in all the ways of his holy law, and the works of his commandments.
All this week I endeavored also by private conversation to “comfort the feeble-minded,” and to bring back “the lame” which had been “turned out of the way,” if haply it might be healed. Mon. 12 . — I left London, and in the evening expounded, at Wycombe, the story of the Pharisee and the Publican. The next morning, a young gentleman overtook me on the road, and, after awhile, asked me if I had seen Whitefield’s Journals. I told him I had. “And what do you think of them?” said he. “Don’t you think they are d——n’d cant, enthusiasm from end to end? I think so.” I asked him, “Why do you think so?” He replied, “Why, he talks so much about joy and stuff, and inward feelings.
As I hope to be saved, I cannot tell what to make of it?” I asked, “Did you ever feel the love of God in your heart? If not, how should you tell what to make of it? Whatever is spoke of the religion of the heart, and of the inward workings of the Spirit of God, must appear enthusiasm to those who have not felt them; that is, if they take upon them to judge of the things which they own they know not.”
At four in the afternoon I came to Oxford, and to a small company in the evening explained the nature and extent of that salvation wherewith, “by grace, we are saved through faith.” The next evening I showed, what it is to believe; as well as, more largely, what are the fruits of true believing; from those words of the Apostle, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” Thur. 15 . — My brother and I set out for Tiverton. About eleven I preached at Burford. On Saturday evening I explained, at Bristol, the nature and extent of Christian perfection: And at nine in the morning preached at Bath, on, “I know that in me dwelleth no good thing.”
In the afternoon I exhorted four or five thousand people at Bristol, neither to neglect nor rest in the means of grace. In the evening I endeavored to lift up the hands that hung down, by declaring, “He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax.” Mon. 19 . — I earnestly exhorted those who had believed, to beware of two opposite extremes, — the one, the thinking while they were in light and joy, that the work was ended, when it was but just begun; the other, the thinking when they were in heaviness, that it was not begun, because they found it was not ended.
At eight I exhorted the society to wait upon God in all his ordinances; and in so doing to be still, and suffer God to carry on his whole work in their souls. In that hour he was pleased to restore his light to many that sat in darkness; two of whom, till then, thought he had quite “cast out their prayer, and turned his mercy from them.” Tues . 20 . — We set out, and on Wednesday, 21, in the afternoon, came to Tiverton. My poor sister was sorrowing almost as one without hope. Yet we could not but rejoice at hearing, from one who had attended my brother in all his weakness, that, several days before he went hence, God had given him a calm and full assurance of his interest in Christ. O may every one who opposes it be thus convinced that this doctrine is of God! Sat. 24 . — We accepted an invitation to Exeter, from one who came thence to comfort my sister in her affliction. And on Sunday, 25, (Mr. D. having desired the pulpit, which was readily granted both for the morning and afternoon,) I preached at St. Mary’s, on, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
Dr. W—— told me after sermon, “Sir, you must not preach in the afternoon.” “Not,” said he, “that you preach any false doctrine. I allow, all that you have said is true. And it is the doctrine of the Church of England.
But it is not guarded. It is dangerous. It may lead people into enthusiasm or despair.”
I did not readily see where the stress of this objection (so frequently started) lay. But upon a little reflection, I saw it plain. The real state of the case is this: — Religion is commonly thought to consist of three things, — harmlessness, using the means of grace, and doing good, as it is called; that is, helping our neighbors, chiefly by giving alms. Accordingly, by a religious man is commonly meant, one that is honest, just, and fair in his dealings; that is constantly at church and sacrament; and that gives much alms, or (as it is usually termed) does much good.
Now, in explaining those words of the Apostle, “The kingdom of God” (or true religion, the consequence of God’s dwelling and reigning in the soul) “is not meat and drink,” I was necessarily led to show, that religion does not properly consist in any or all of these three things; but that a man might both be harmless, use the means of grace, and do much good, and yet have no true religion at all. And sure it is, had God then impressed this great truth on any who before was ignorant of it, that impression would have occasioned such heaviness in his soul as the world always terms despair.
Again, in explaining those words, “The kingdom of God” (or true religion) “is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,” I insisted, that every follower of Christ ought to expect and pray for that “peace of God which passeth all understanding,” that “rejoicing in hope of the glory of God,” which is even now “unspeakable and full of glory;” and above all, (as being the very life and soul of religion, without which it is all dead show,) “the love of God, shed abroad in” his “heart by the Holy Ghost given unto him.” But all this is “enthusiasm from end to end,” to those who have the form of godliness, but not the power.
I know indeed there is a way of explaining these texts, so that they shall mean just nothing; so that they shall express far less of inward religion that the writings of Plato or Hierocles. And whoever “guards” them thus (but God forbid I should do it) will undoubtedly avoid all danger of either driving people into this despair, or leading them into this enthusiasm. Tues . 27 . — I writ 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 from either fearing God nor regarding man: So ignorant of the things of God, that they seemed but one remove from the beasts that perish; and therefore utterly without desire of instruction, as well as without the means of it. “Many last winter used tauntingly to say of Mr. Whitefield, ‘If he will convert Heathens, why does not he 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.’
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 intreated. 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 Savior. “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. But let Him that ‘feedeth the young ravens’ see to that. He hath the hearts of all men in his hand. If He put it into your heart, or into that of any of your friends, to assist in bringing this his work to perfection, in this world look for no recompense; but it shall he remembered In that day, when our Lord shall say, ‘Inasmuch as ye did it unto the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me.’” Wed. 28 . — We left Tiverton, and the next day reached Bristol. On Friday many of us joined in prayer, for one that was grievously tormented. She raged more and more for about two hours, and then our Lord gave her rest.
Five were in the same agony in the evening. I ordered them to be removed to the door, that their cries might neither drown my voice, nor interrupt the attention of the congregation. But after sermon, they were brought into the room again, where a few of us continued in prayer to God (being determined not to go till we had an answer of peace) till nine the next morning. Before that time, three of them sang praise to God: And the others were eased, though not set at liberty. Tues . December 4 . — I was violently attacked by some who were exceeding angry at those who cried out so; “being sure,” they said, “it was all a cheat, and that anyone might help crying out, if he would.” J. B. was one of those who were sure of this. About eight the next morning while he was alone in his chamber, at private prayer, so horrible a dread overwhelmed him, that he began crying out with all his might. All the family was alarmed. Several of them came running up into his chamber; but he cried out so much the more, till his breath was utterly spent. God then rebuked the adversary; and he is now less wise in his own conceit. Thur. 6 . — I left Bristol, and (after preaching at Malmsbury and Burford in the way) on Saturday, 8, came into my old room at Oxford, from which I went to Georgia. Here, musing on the things that were past, and reflecting, how many that came after me were preferred before me, I opened my Testament on those words, (O may I never let them slip!) “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.” Sun. 9 . — I expounded in the evening to a small, but deeply serious company, “There is one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus;” and exhorted them earnestly, to go straight to Him, with all their miseries, follies, and sins. Tues. 11 . — I visited Mrs. Plat; one who, having long sought death in the error of her life, was brought back to the great Shepherd of her soul, the first time my brother preached faith in Oxford. In the midst of sickness and pain, and the deepest want, she was calmly rejoicing in God. By this faith may I be thus saved! so as in the midst of heaviness, through manifold temptations, without raiment, or food, or health, or friends, to “rejoice with joy unspeakable.” Thur. 13 . — I had some hours’ conversation with a serious man, who offered many considerations to show, “that there are no unholy men on earth; and that there are no holy men; but that, in reality, all men are alike, there being no inward difference between them.”
I was at first in doubt, what could lead a man of learning and sense into so wonderful an opinion. But that doubt was soon cleared. He had narrowly observed those whom the world calls good men, and could not but discern, that the difference between them and others was merely external; their tempers, their desires, their springs of action, were the same. He clearly saw, although one man was a thief, a common swearer, a drunkard, and another not; although this woman was a liar, a prostitute, a Sabbath breaker, and the other clear of these things; yet they were both lovers of pleasure, lovers of praise, lovers of the present world. He saw self will was the sole spring of action in both, though exerting itself in different ways: And that the love of God no more filled and ruled the heart of the one, than of the other. Hence, therefore, he inferred well, “If these persons are holy, there are none unholy upon earth: Seeing thieves and prostitutes have as good a heart, as these saints of the world.” And whereas some of these said, “Nay, but we have faith; we believe in, and rely on, Christ:” It was easily replied, “Yea, and such a faith in Christ, such a reliance on Him, to save them in their sins, have nine in ten of all the robbers and murderers, of whom ye yourselves say, ‘Away with them from the earth.’” In the afternoon I was informed how many wise and learned men (who cannot, in terms, deny it, because our Articles and Homilies are not yet repealed) explain justification by faith. They say, 1. Justification is two-fold; the first, in this life, the second, at the last day. 2. Both these are by faith alone; that is, by objective faith, or by the merits of Christ, which are the object of our faith. And this, they say, is all that St. Paul and the Church mean by, “We are justified by faith only.” But they add, 3. We are not justified by subjective faith alone, that is, by the faith which is in us. But works also must be added to this faith, as a joint condition both of the first and second justification.
The sense of which hard words is plainly this: God accepts us both here and hereafter only for the sake of what Christ has done and suffered for us. This alone is the cause of our justification. But the condition thereof is, not faith alone, but faith and works together.
In flat opposition to this, I cannot but maintain, (at least, till I have a clearer light,) 1. That the justification which is spoken of by St. Paul to the Romans, and in our Articles, is not twofold. It is one, and no more. It is the present remission of our sins, or our first acceptance with God. 2. It is true that the merits of Christ are the sole cause of this our justification: But it is not true that this is all which St. Paul and our Church mean by our being justified by faith only; neither is it true, that either St. Paul or the Church mean by faith the merits of Christ. But, 3. By our being justified by faith only, both St. Paul and the Church mean, that the condition of our justification is faith alone, and not good works; inasmuch as “all works done before justification have in them the nature of sin.”
Lastly , That faith which is the sole condition of justification, is the faith which is in us, by the grace of God. It is “a sure trust which a man hath, that Christ hath loved him, and died for him.”
During my short stay here, I received several unpleasing accounts of the state of things in London; a part of which I have subjoined: — “MANY of our sisters are shaken: J——y C—— says that she never had faith. Betty and Esther H—— are grievously torn by reasonings; the former, I am told, is going to Germany. — On Wednesday night there are but few come to Fetter-Lane till near nine o’clock. And then, after the names are called over, they presently depart. It appears plain, our brethren here have neither wisdom enough to guide, nor prudence enough to let it alone. “Mr. B——n expounds much, and speaks so slightingly of the means of grace, that many are much grieved to hear him; but others are greatly delighted with him. Ten or fourteen of them meet at our brother Clark’s with Mr. Molther; and seem to consult about things, as if they were the whole body. These make a mere jest of going to church, or to the sacrament. They have much confounded some of our sisters; and many of our brothers are much grieved.”
In another letter, which I received a few days after this, were these words: — “Dec . 14, 1739. “THIS day I was told, by one that does not belong to the Bands, that the society would be divided. — I believe brother Hutton, Clark, Edmonds, and Bray, are determined to go on according to Mr. Molther’s directions, and to raise a church, as they term it; and I suppose above half our brethren are on their side. But they are so very confused, they do not know how to go on; yet are unwilling to be taught, except by the Moravians. “We long to see you; nay, even those would be glad to see you, who will not be directed by you. I believe, indeed, things would be much better if you would come to town,” Wed. 19. — I accordingly came to London, though with a heavy heart.
Here I found everyday the dreadful effects of our brethren’s reasoning and disputing with each other. Scarce one in ten retained his first love; and most of the rest were in the utmost confusion, biting and devouring one another. I pray God, ye be not consumed one of another. Mon. 24 . — After spending part of the night at Fetter-Lane, I went to a smaller company, where also we exhorted one another with hymns and spiritual songs, and poured out our hearts to God in prayer. Toward morning one of them was overwhelmed with joy and love, and could not help showing it by strong cries and tears. At this another was much displeased, saying, it was only nature, imagination, and animal spirits. — O thou jealous God, lay not this sin to her charge! And let us not be wise above what is written. Sun. 30 . — One came to me, by whom I used to profit much. But her conversation was now too high for me: It was far above, out of my sight.
My soul is sick of this sublime divinity. Let me think and speak as a little child! Let my religion be plain, artless, simple! Meekness, temperance, patience, faith, and love, be these my highest gifts: And let the highest words wherein I teach them, be those I learn from the book of God! Mon. 31 . — I had a long and particular conversation with Mr. Molther himself. I weighed all his words with the utmost care; desired him to explain what I did not understand; asked him again and again, “Do I not mistake what you say? Is this your meaning, or is it not?” So that I think, if God has given me any measure of understanding, I could not mistake him much.
As soon as I came home, I besought God to assist me, and not suffer “the blind to go out of the way.” I then wrote down what I conceived to be the difference between us, in the following words: — “As to faith, you believe, “1. There are no degrees of faith, and that no man has any degree of it, before all things in him are become new, before he has the full assurance of faith, the abiding witness of the Spirit, or the clear perception that Christ dwelleth in him. “2. Accordingly you believe, there is no justifying faith, or state of justification, short of this. “3. Therefore you believe, our brother Hutton, Edmonds, and others, had no justifying faith before they saw you. “4. And, in general, that that gift of God, which many received since Peter Bohler came into England, viz., ‘a sure confidence of the love of God’ to them, was not justifying faith. “5. And that the joy and love attending it were from animal spirits, from nature or imagination; not ‘joy in the Holy Ghost,’ and the real ‘love of God shed abroad in their hearts.’ “Whereas I believe, “1. There are degrees in faith; and that a man may have some degree of it, before all things in him are become new; before he has the full assurance of faith, the abiding witness of the Spirit, or the clear perception that Christ dwelleth in him. “2. Accordingly, I believe there is a degree of justifying faith (and consequently, a state of justification) short of, and commonly antecedent to, this. “3. And I believe our brother Hutton, with many others, had justifying faith long before they saw you. “4. And, in general, that the gift of God, which many received since Peter Bohler came into England, viz., ‘a sure confidence of the love of God to them,’ was justifying faith. “5. And that the joy and love attending it, were not from animal spirits, from nature or imagination; but a measure of ‘joy in the Holy Ghost,’ and of ‘the love of God shed abroad in their hearts.’ “As to the way to faith, you believe, “That the way to attain it is, to wait for Christ, and be still; that is, “Not to use (what we term) the means of grace; “Not to go to church; “Not to communicate; “Not to fast; “Not to use so much private prayer; “Not to read the Scripture; “(Because you believe, these are not means of grace; that is, do not ordinarily convey God’s grace to unbelievers; and, “That it is impossible for a man to use them without trusting in them;) “Not to do temporal good; “Nor to attempt doing, spiritual good. “(Because you believe, no fruit of the Spirit is given by those who have it not themselves; “And that those who have not faith are utterly blind, and therefore unable to guide other souls.) “Whereas I believe, “The way to attain it is, to wait for Christ and be still; “In using all the means of grace. “Therefore I believe it right, for him who knows he has not faith, (that is, that conquering faith,) “To go to church; “To communicate; “To fast; “To use as much private prayer as he can, and “To read the Scripture; “(Because I believe, these are ‘means of grace;’ that is, do ordinarily convey God’s grace to unbelievers; and “That it is possible for a man to use them, without trusting in them;) “To do all the temporal good he can; “And to endeavor after doing spiritual good. “(Because I know, many fruits of the Spirit are given by those who have them not themselves; “And that those who have not faith, or but in the lowest degree, may have more light from God, more wisdom for the guiding of other souls, than many that are strong in faith.) “As to the manner of propagating the faith, you believe (as I have also heard others affirm) “That we may, on some accounts, use guile: “By saying what we know will deceive the hearers, or lead them to think the thing which is not. “By describing things a little beyond the truth, in order to their coming up to it. “By speaking as if we meant what we do not. “But I believe, “That we may not ‘use guile’ on any account whatsoever; “That we may not, on any account, say what we know will, and design should, deceive the hearers; “That we may not describe things one jot beyond the truth, whether they come up to it, or no; and, “That we may not speak, on any pretense, as if we meant what indeed we do not. “Lastly, as to the fruits of your thus propagating the faith in England, you believe, “Much good has been done by it; “Many unsettled from a false foundation; “Many brought into true stillness, in order to their coming, to the true foundation; “Some grounded thereon who were wrong before, but are right now. “On the contrary, I believe that very little good, but much hurt, has been done by it. “Many who were beginning to build holiness and good works, on the true foundation of faith in Jesus, being now wholly unsettled and lost in vain reasonings and doubtful disputations; “Many others being brought into a false unscriptural stillness; so that they are not likely to come to any true foundation; “And many being grounded on a faith which is without works; so that they who were right before, are wrong now.” Tues . January 1, 1740 . — I endeavored to explain to our brethren the true, Christian, Scriptural stillness, by largely unfolding those solemn words, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Wednesday, 2, I earnestly besought them all to “stand in the old paths,” and no longer to subvert one anothers souls by idle controversies, and strife of words. They all seemed convinced. We then cried to God to heal all our backslidings: And he sent forth such a spirit of peace and love, as we had not known for many months before. Thur. 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 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. Mon. 7 . — I left Oxford. In the evening I preached at Burford; the next evening at Malmsbury: And on Wednesday, 9, I once more described the “exceeding great and precious promises” at Bristol. Sat. 12 . — I explained the former part of Hebrews 6, and many were “renewed again to repentance.” Sunday, 13, while the sacrament was administering at the house of a person that was sick in Kingswood, a woman, who had been before much tempted of the devil, sunk down as dead. One could not perceive by any motion of her breast, that she breathed; and her pulse was hardly discernible. A strange sort of dissimulation this! I would wish those who think it so, only to stop their own breath one hour, and I will then subscribe to their opinion. Mon. 14 . — I began expounding the Scriptures in order, at the new-room, at six in the morning; by which means many more attend the College prayers (which immediately follow) than ever before. In the afternoon I preached at Downing, four miles from Bristol, on, “God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son:” And on Tuesday, 15, at Sison, five miles from Bristol, on, “the blood” which “cleanseth us from all sin.”
After preaching I visited a young man, dangerously ill, who a day or two after cried out aloud, “Lord Jesus, thou knowest that I love thee! And I have thee, and will never let thee go:” And died immediately. Thur. 17 . — I preached at Kendalshire, six miles from Bristol, on, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” Sunday, 20, my heart was enlarged at Kingswood, in declaring, “Ye are saved through faith.”
And the woman who had been so torn of the devil last week, was now made partaker of this salvation; being above measure filled with the love of God, and with all peace and joy in believing. Mon. 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. Tues. 22 . — I preached at Bridge-Gate, six miles from Bristol: Thursday, 24, at Westerleigh, eight miles from thence. In the evening, at the new room, I expounded Exodus 14. And we found that God’s arm is not shortened, and rejoiced before him with reverence. I was a little surprised, in going out of the room, at one who catched hold of me, and said abruptly, “I must speak with you, and will. I have sinned against light and against love. I have sinned beyond forgiveness. I have been cursing you in my heart, and blaspheming God ever since I came here. I am damned; I know it; I feel it; I am in hell; I have hell in my heart.” I desired two or three, who had confidence in God, to join in crying to him on her behalf.
Immediately that horrid dread was taken away, and she began to see some dawnings of hope. Fri. 25 . — Another was with me, who after having tasted the heavenly gift, was fallen into the depth of despair. But it was not long before God heard the prayer, and restored to her the light of his countenance.
One came to me in the evening, to know if a man could not be saved without the faith of assurance. I answered, “1. I cannot approve of your terms, because they are not scriptural. I find no such phrase as either ‘faith of assurance’ or ‘faith of adherence’ in the Bible. Besides, you speak as if there were two faiths in one Lord. Whereas, St. Paul tells us, there is but one faith in one Lord. 2. By ‘Ye are saved by faith,’ I understand, ye are saved from your inward and outward sins. 3. I never yet knew one soul thus saved without what you call ‘the faith of assurance;’ I mean a sure confidence, that, by the merits of Christ, he was reconciled to the favor of God.” Sat. 26 . — I was strongly convinced, that if we asked of God, he would give light to all those that were in darkness. About noon we had a proof of it: One that was weary and heavy-laden, upon prayer made for her, soon finding rest to her soul. In the afternoon we had a second proof, — another mourner being speedily comforted. M——y D——n was a third, who about five o’clock began again to rejoice in God her Savior: As did M—— y H——y, about the same hour, after a long night of doubts and fears. Thur. 31 . — I went to one in Kingswood who was dangerously ill; as was supposed, past recovery. But she was strong in the Lord, longing to be dissolved and to be with Christ. Some of her words were, “I was long striving to come to my Savior, and I then thought he was afar off; but now I know he was nigh me all that time: I know his arms were round me; for his arms are like the rainbow, they go round heaven and earth.”
I had now determined, if it should please God, to spend some time in Bristol. But quite contrary to my expectation, I was called away, in a manner I could not resist. A young man, who had no thoughts of religion, had come to Bristol a few months before. One of his acquaintance brought him to me; he approved of what he heard, and for a while behaved well; but soon after, his seriousness wore off; he returned to London, and fell in with his old acquaintance: By some of these he was induced to commit a robbery on the highway; for which he was apprehended, tried, and condemned. He had now a strong desire to speak with me; and some of his words (in a letter to his friend) were, “I adjure him, by the living God, that he come and see me before I go hence.” Fri . February 1. — I set out, and on Sunday, 3, declared the grace of God at Newbury, from those words of the Prophet, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely.” And though the church was full of (chiefly) genteel, well-dressed people, they behaved as if they knew God was there. Mon . 4 . — I came to Reading, and met with a few still hungering and thirsting after righteousness. A few more I found at Windsor in the evening. The next afternoon I reached London. Wed. 6 . — I went to the poor young man who lay under sentence of death. Of a truth God has begun a good work in his soul. O may it be brought to perfection!
I think it was the next time I was there, that the Ordinary of Newgate came to me, and with much vehemence told me, he was sorry I should turn Dissenter from the Church of England. I told him, if it was so, I did not know it: At which he seemed a little surprised; and offered at something by way of proof, but which needed not a reply.
Our twentieth Article defines a true Church, “a congregation of faithful people, wherein the true word of God is preached, and the sacraments duly administered.” According to this account, the Church of England is that body of faithful people (or holy believers) in England, among whom the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments duly administered.
Who then are the worst Dissenters from this Church? 1. Unholy men of all kinds; swearers, Sabbath-breakers, drunkards, fighters, whoremongers, liars, revilers, evil-speakers; the passionate, the gay, the lovers of money, the lovers of dress, or of praise, the lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God: All these are Dissenters of the highest sort, continually striking at the root of the Church; and themselves belonging in truth to no Church, but to the synagogue of Satan. 2 . Men unsound in the faith; those who deny the Scriptures of truth; those who deny the Lord that bought them; those who deny justification by faith alone, or the present salvation which is by faith; these also are Dissenters of a very high kind: For they likewise strike at the foundation; and were their principles universally to obtain, there could be no true Church upon earth. Lastly, Those who unduly administer the sacraments; who (to instance but in one point) administer the Lord’s Supper to such as have neither the power nor the form of godliness. These, too, are gross Dissenters from the Church of England, and should not cast the first stone at others. Tues . 12 . — The young man who was to die the next day gave me a paper, part of which was as follows: — “As I am to answer to the God of justice and truth, before whom I am to appear naked tomorrow, “I came to Bristol with a design to go abroad, either as a surgeon or in any other capacity that was suiting. It was there that I unfortunately saw Mr. Ramsey. He told me, after one or two interviews, that he was in the service of Mr. John Wesley; and that he would introduce me to him, which he did. I cannot but say, I was always fond of the doctrine that I heard from him: However, unhappily I consented with Mr. Ramsey, and I believe between us we might take more than thirty pounds out of the money collected for building the school in Kingswood. “I acknowledge the justice of God in overtaking me for my sacrilege, in taking that money which was devoted to God. But he, I trust, has forgiven me this and all my sins, washing them away in the blood of the Lamb. “Feb. 12, 1739-40.GWILLAM SNOWDE.”
I knew not in the morning whether to rejoice or grieve, when they informed me he was reprieved for six weeks; and afterwards, that he was ordered for transportation. But known unto God are all his works! Wed. 20 . — I explained at Deptford the nature of Christian faith and salvation. Many seemed to receive the word with joy.
Others complained, “Thou bringest strange things to our ears;” though some of them had not patience to hear what this new doctrine was. Thur. 21 . — I had a long conference with those whom I esteem very highly in love. But I could not yet understand them on one point, — Christian openness and plainness of speech. They pleaded for such a reservedness and closeness of conversation as I could in no wise reconcile with St. Paul’s direction, “By manifestation of the truth” to commend “ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” Yet I scarce knew what to think, considering they had the practice of their whole Church on their side: Till I opened my Testament on these words, “What is that to thee? Follow thou me.” Tues. 26 . — Complaint was made again, (as indeed had been done before, and that not once or twice only,) that many of our brethren, not content with leaving off the ordinances of God themselves, were continually troubling those that did not, and disputing with them, whether they would or no. The same complaint was made the next night also, at the meeting of the society. I then plainly set before them the things they had done, expostulated the case with them, and earnestly besought them not to trouble or perplex the minds of their brethren any more; but at least to excuse those who still waited for God in the ways of his own appointment. Sat . March 1. — Many that were in heaviness being, met together, we cried to God to comfort their souls. One of these soon found that God heareth the prayer. She had before been under the physician’s hands; her relations taking it for granted she was “beside herself.” But the Great Physician alone knew how to heal her sickness. Mon. 3 . — I rode by Windsor to Reading, where I had left two or three full of peace and love. But I now found some from London had been here, grievously troubling these souls also; laboring to persuade them, 1. That they had no faith at all, because they sometimes felt doubt or fear. And, 2. That they ought to be still; not to go to church, not to communicate, not to search the Scriptures: “Because,” say they, “you cannot do any of these things without trusting in them.”
He then poured along like a rapid flood, overwhelming all before him.
Whereas now, He begins his influence to infuse, Secret, refreshing as the silent dews.
Convictions sink deeper and deeper. Love and joy are more calm, even, and steady. And God, in many, is laying the axe to the root of the tree, who can have no rest in their spirits till they are fully renewed in the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness. Wed. 12 . — I found a little time (having been much importuned) to spend with the soldier in Bridewell, who was under sentence of death. This I continued to do once a day; whereby there was also an opportunity of declaring the Gospel of peace to several desolate ones that were confined in the same place. Tues. 18 . — In the evening, just after I had explained, as they came in course, those comfortable words of God to St. Paul, “Be not afraid; but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee; for I have much people in this city,” — a person spoke aloud in the middle of the room, “Sir, I am come to give you notice, that, at the next Quarter Sessions, you will be prosecuted for holding a seditious conventicle.” Tues. 25 . — The morning exposition began at five, as I hope it will always for the time to come. Thursday, 27, I had an interview with Joseph Chandler, a young Quaker, who had sometimes spoke in their meeting, with whom I had never exchanged a word before; as indeed I knew him not either by face or name. But some had been at the pains of carrying him, as from me, a formal challenge to dispute; and had afterwards told him that I had declared, in the open society, I challenged Joseph Chandler to dispute; and he promised to come, but broke his word. Joseph immediately sent to know, from my own mouth, if these things were so. If those who probably count themselves better Christians had but done like this honest Quaker, how many idle tales, which they now potentially believe, would, like this, have vanished into air! Fri. 28 . — From these words, “Then was Jesus led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil,” I took occasion to describe that wilderness state, that state of doubts, and fears, and strong temptation, which so many go through, though in different degrees, after they have received remission of sins. Sat. 29 . — I spent another hour with one I had twice conversed with before; and with much the same effect. He asked wherein the doctrine I preach differed from the doctrine preached by other Ministers of the Church. I told him, “I hope not at all from that which is preached by many other Ministers. But from that which is preached by some, it differs thus:
I preach the doctrine of the Church, and they do not.” After he had long and zealously labored to prove, that all Ministers preached as I did, and there was no difference of doctrine at all; I was obliged to leave him abruptly; and should indeed have feared, that my time had been spent to small purpose, but for one piece of history which I then learned, viz., that he had gone to the Bishop, before his Lordship left Bristol, and informed him that I said in the public congregation, I had had a conference with the Bishop and twelve Clergymen, and had put them all to silence. Was his Lordship so informed? And could he believe even this? O Joseph Chandler, Joseph Chandler!
I think it was about this time, that the soldier was executed. For some time I had visited him everyday. But when the love of God was shed abroad in his heart, I told him, “Do not expect to see me any more. He who has now begun a good work in your soul, will, I doubt not, preserve you to the end.
But I believe Satan will separate us for a season.” Accordingly, the next day, I was informed that the commanding officer had given strict orders, neither Mr. Wesley, nor any of his people, should be admitted; for they were all Atheists. But did that man die like an Atheist? Let my last end be like his! Tues . April 1 . — 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 of Belial had labored to disturb us several nights before: But now it seemed as if all the host of the aliens were 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 naught. 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.” Wed . 2 . — The rioters were brought up to the Court, the Quarter Sessions being holden 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. Thur. 3 . — I went into the room, weak and faint. The scripture that came in course was, “After the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers.” I know not, whether God hath been so with us from the beginning hitherto: He proclaimed, as it were, a general deliverance to the captives. The chains fell off: They arose and followed Him. The cries of desire, joy, and love were on every side. Fear, sorrow, and doubt fled away. Verily thou hast “sent a gracious rain upon thine inheritance, and refreshed it when it was weary.”
On Good-Friday I was much comforted by Mr. T——’s sermon at All-Saints, which was according to the truth of the Gospel; as well as by the affectionate seriousness wherewith he delivered the holy bread to a very large congregation. May the good Lord fill him with all the life of love, and with all “spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus.”
At five, preaching on John 19:34, “A soldier pierced his side, and there came forth blood and water;” I was enabled to speak strong words, both concerning the atoning blood, and the living sanctifying water. Many were deeply convinced of their want of both; and others filled with strong consolation. Mon. 7 . — At the pressing instance of Howel Harris, I again set out for Wales. In the evening I preached “repentance and remission of sins,” at Lanvachas, three miles from the New-Passage. Tuesday, 8, I preached at Ponty-Pool, on, “By grace ye are saved, through faith:” And in the evening at Lanhithel, three miles from thence, on, “I know that in me dwelleth no good thing.” Wed. 9 . — After reading prayers in Lanhithel church, I preached on those words, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely.” In the afternoon Howel Harris told me how earnestly many had labored to prejudice him against me; especially those who had gleaned up all the idle stories at Bristol, and retailed them in their own country. And yet these are good Christians! These whisperers, tale-bearers, backbiters, evil-speakers! Just such Christians as murderers or adulterers. “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
In the evening I expounded, at Cardiff, the story of the Pharisee and Publican. The next day, Thursday, 10, after preaching thrice, I rode to Watford, five miles from Cardiff, where a few of us joined together in prayer, and in provoking one another to love and to good works. Fri. 11 . — I preached in Lantarnum church, on, “By grace ye are saved, through faith.” In the afternoon I preached at Penreul, near Ponty-Pool. A few were cut to the heart, particularly Mrs. A——d, who had some time before given me up for a Papist; Mr. E——s, the Curate, having averred me to be such, upon his personal knowledge, at her house in Ponty-Pool. I afterwards called, “O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord:” And there was a shaking indeed. Three or four came to me in such mourning as I had scarcely seen; as did a poor drunkard, between eleven and twelve, who was convinced by the word spoken on Tuesday. Sat. 12 . — After preaching at Lanvachas in the way, in the afternoon I came to Bristol, and heard the melancholy news, that, one of the chief of those who came to make the disturbance on the 1st instant, had hanged himself. He was cut down, it seems, alive; but died in less than an hour. A second of them had been for some days in strong pain; and had many times sent to desire our prayers. A third came to me himself, and confessed, he was hired that night, and made drunk on purpose; but when he came to the door, he knew not what was the matter, he could not stir, nor open his mouth. Mon. 14 . — I was explaining the “liberty” we have “to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,” when one cried out, as in an agony, “Thou art a hypocrite, a devil, an enemy to the Church. This is false doctrine. It is not the doctrine of the Church. It is damnable doctrine. It is the doctrine of devils.” I did not perceive that any were hurt thereby; but rather strengthened, by having such an opportunity of confirming their love toward him, and returning good for evil. Tues. 15 . — I received the following note: — “SIR, — This is to let you understand, that the man which made the noise last night is named John Beon. He now goes by the name of John Darsy. He is a Romish Priest. We have people enough here in Bristol that know him.” Sat. 19 . — I received a letter from Mr. Simpson, and another from Mr. William Oxlee, informing me that our poor brethren in Fetter-Lane were again in great confusion; and earnestly desiring that, if it were possible, I would come to London without delay. Mon. 21 . — I set out, and the next evening reached London. Wednesday, 23, I went to Mr. Simpson. He told me, all the confusion was owing to my brother, who would preach up the ordinances: “Whereas believers,” said he, “are not subject to ordinances; and unbelievers have nothing to do with them: They ought to be still; otherwise, they will be unbelievers all the days of their life.”
After a fruitless dispute of about two hours, I returned home with a heavy heart. Mr. Molther was taken ill this day. I believe it was the hand of God that was upon him. In the evening our society met; but cold, weary, heartless, dead. I found nothing of brotherly love among them now; but a harsh, dry, heavy, stupid spirit. For two hours they looked one at another, when they looked up at all, as if one half of them was afraid of the other; yea, as if a voice were sounding in their ears, “Take ye heed every one of his neighbor: Trust ye not in any brother: For every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbor will walk with slanders.”
I think not so few as thirty persons spoke to me in these two days, who had been strongly solicited, 1. To deny what God had done for their souls; to own they never had living faith. 2. To be still till they had it; to leave off all the means of grace; not to go to church; not to communicate; not to search the Scripture; not to use private prayer; at least, not so much, or not vocally, or not at any stated times. Fri. 25 . — My brother and I went to Mr. Molther again, and spent two hours in conversation with him. He now also explicitly affirmed, 1. That there are no degrees in faith; that none has any faith who has ever any doubt or fear; and that none is justified till he has a clean heart, with the perpetual indwelling of Christ, and of the Holy Ghost; and, 2. That every one who has not this, ought, till he has it, to be still: That is, as he explained it, not to use the ordinances, or means of grace, so called.
He also expressly asserted, 1. That to those who have a clean heart, the ordinances are not a matter of duty. They are not commanded to use them: They are free: They may use them, or they may not. 2. That those who have not a clean heart, ought not to use them; (particularly not to communicate;) because God neither commands nor designs they should; (commanding them to none, designing them only for believers;) and because they are not means of grace; there being no such thing as means of grace, but Christ only.
Ten or twelve persons spoke to me this day also, and many more the day following, who had been greatly troubled by this new gospel, and thrown into the utmost heaviness; and, indeed, wherever I went, I found more and more proofs of the grievous confusion it had occasioned; many coming to me day by day, who were once full of peace and love; but were now again plunged into doubts and fears, and driven even to their wit’s end.
I was now utterly at a loss what course to take; finding no rest for the sole of my foot. These “vain janglings” pursued me wherever I went, and were always sounding in my ears. — Wednesday, 30, I went to my friend, (that was!) Mr. St——, at Islington. But he also immediately entered upon the subject, telling me, now he was fully assured, that no one has any degree of faith till he is perfect as God is perfect. I asked, “Have you then no degree of faith?” He said, “No; for I have not a clean heart.” I turned and asked his servant, “Esther, have you a clean heart?” She said, “No; my heart is desperately wicked: But I have no doubt or fear. I know my Savior loves me; and I love him: I feel it every moment.” I then plainly told her master, “Here is an end of your reasoning. This is the state, the existence of which you deny.”
Thence I went to the little society here, which had stood untainted from the beginning. But the plague was now spread to them also. One of them, who had been long full of joy in believing, now denied she had any faith at all; and said, till she had, she would communicate no more. Another, who said, she had the “faith that overcometh the world,” added, she had not communicated for some weeks; and it was all one to her whether she did or no; for a believer was not subject to ordinances.
In the evening, one of the first things started at Fetter-Lane was, the question concerning the ordinances. But I entreated we might not be always disputing; but rather give ourselves unto prayer.
I endeavored all this time, both by explaining in public those scriptures which had been misunderstood, and by private conversation, to bring back those who had been led out of the way; and having now delivered my own soul, on Friday, MAY 2, I left London; and lying at Hungerford that night, the next evening came to Bristol. Sun. 4 . — I preached in the morning at the school, and in the afternoon at Rose Green, on, “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Mon. 5 . — I expounded those words, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you:” And described the state of those who have forgiveness of sins, but have not yet a clean heart. Wed. 7 . — I prayed with a poor helpless sinner, who had been “all his lifetime subject to bondage.” But our Lord now proclaimed deliverance to the captive, and he rejoiced with joy unspeakable. All the next day his mouth was filled with praise, and on Friday he fell asleep. Thur. 8 . — I was greatly refreshed by conversing with several, who were indeed as little children, not artful, not wise in their own eyes, not doting on controversy and “strife of words,” but truly “determined to know nothing save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Fri . 9 . — I was a little surprised at some, who were buffeted of Satan in an unusual manner, by such a spirit of laughter as they could in no wise resist, though it was pain and grief unto them. I could scarce have believed the account they gave me, had I not known the same thing ten or eleven years ago. Part of Sunday my brother and I then used to spend in walking in the meadows and singing psalms. But one day, just as we were beginning to sing, he burst out into a loud laughter. I asked him; if he was distracted; and began to be very angry, and presently after to laugh as loud as he. Nor could we possibly refrain, though we were ready to tear ourselves in pieces, but we were forced to go home without singing another line. Tues. 13 . — In the evening I went to Upton, a little town five or six miles from Bristol, and offered to all those who had ears to hear, “repentance and remission of sins.” The devil knew his kingdom shook, and therefore stirred up his servants to ring bells, and make all the noise they could. But my voice prevailed, so that most of those that were present heard “the word which is able to save their souls.” Wed. 14 . — I visited one of our colliers, who was ill of the small-pox. His soul was full of peace, and a day or two after, returned to God that gave it. Sat. 17 . — I found more and more undeniable proofs, that the Christian state is a continual warfare; and that we have need every moment to “watch and pray, lest we enter into temptation.” Outward trials indeed were now removed, and peace was in all our borders. But so much the more did inward trials abound; and “if one member suffered, all the members suffered with it.” So strange a sympathy did I never observe before: Whatever considerable temptation fell on any one, unaccountably spreading itself to the rest, so that exceeding few were able to escape it. Sun. 18 . — I endeavored to explain those important words of St. Peter, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as if some strange thing happened unto you.” Mh xenizesqe th| en umin purwsei prov peirasmon umin ginomenh|, literally, “Marvel not at the burning in you which is for your trial.” Wed . 21 . — In the evening, such a spirit of laughter was among us, that many were much offended. But the attention of all was fixed on poor L— —a S——, whom we all knew to be no dissembler. One so violently and variously torn of the evil one did I never see before. Sometimes she laughed till almost strangled; then broke out into cursing and blaspheming; then stamped and struggled with incredible strength, so that four or five could scarce hold her: Then cried out, “O eternity, eternity! O that I had no soul! O that I had never been born!” At last she faintly called on Christ to help her. And the violence of her pangs ceased.
Most of our brethren and sisters were now fully convinced that those who were under this strange temptation could not help it. Only E——th B—— and Anne H——n were of another mind; being still sure, any one might help laughing if she would. This they declared to many on Thursday; but on Friday , 23, God suffered Satan to teach them better. Both of them were suddenly seized in the same manner as the rest, and laughed whether they would or no, almost without ceasing. Thus they continued for two days, a spectacle to all; and were then, upon prayer made for them, delivered in a moment. Mon. 26 . — S——a Ha——g, after she had calmly rejoiced several days, in the midst of violent pain, found at once a return of ease, and health, and strength; and arose and went to her common business. Sun . June 1. — I explained “the rest which remaineth for the people of God,” in the morning at Kingswood-school, and in the evening at Rose-Green, to six or seven thousand people. I afterwards exhorted our society, (the time being come that I was to leave them for a season,) to “pray always,” that they might not faint in their minds, though they were “wrestling not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places.” Mon. 2 . — I left Bristol, and rode by Avon and Malmsbury (where I preached in the evening) to Oxford. Two or three even here had not yet been persuaded to cast away their confidence: One of whom was still full of her first love, which she had received at the Lord’s table. Thur. 5 . — I came to London; where, finding a general temptation prevail, of leaving off good works, in order to an increase of faith, I began on Friday, 6, to expound the Epistle of St. James, the great antidote against this poison. I then went to Mr. S—— once again, to try if we could yet come to any agreement: But O, what an interview was there! He seriously told me, he was going to sell his living; only the purchaser did not seem quite willing to come up to his price. He would fain have proved to me the lawfulness of doing this; and in order thereto he averred roundly, 1. That no honest man can officiate as a Minister in the Church of England. 2. That no man can, with a good conscience, join in the Prayers of the Church; “because,” said he, “they are all full of horrid lies.” Mon. 9 . — A woman came to me from Deptford, sent (as she said) from God. I gave her the hearing: And she spoke great words and true. But I remembered, “Judge nothing before the time.” Wed. 11 . — I went with Mr. Ingham to Islington, purposely to talk with Mr. Molther. But they said, he was so ill, he could not be spoken to. In the evening I went to Fetter-Lane, and plainly told our poor, confused, shattered society, wherein they had erred from the faith. It was as I feared:
They could not receive my saying. However, I am clear from the blood of these men. Fri. 13 . — A great part of our society joined with us in prayer, and kept, I trust, an acceptable fast unto the Lord. Wed. 18 . — My brother set out for Bristol. At six I preached in Mary-le-bone-Fields, (much against my will, but I believed it was the will of God,) “repentance and remission of sins.” All were quiet, and the far greater part of the hearers seemed deeply attentive. Thence I went to our own society of Fetter-Lane: Before whom Mr. Ingham (being to leave London on the morrow) bore a noble testimony for the ordinances of God, and the reality of weak faith. But the short answer was, “You are blind, and speak of the things you know not.” Thur. 19 . — We discovered another snare of the devil. The woman of Deptford had spoke plain to Mr. Humphreys, ordering him not to preach, to leave off doing good, and, in a word, to be still. We talked largely with her, and she was humbled in the dust, under a deep sense of the advantage Satan had gained over her.
Wesley’s order.” “What,” said Mr. Acourt, “do you refuse admitting a person into your society, only because he differs from you in opinion?” I answered, “No; but what opinion do you mean?” He said, “That of election. I hold, a certain number is elected from eternity. And these must and shall be saved. And the rest of mankind must and shall be damned.
And many of your society hold the same.” I replied, “I never asked whether they hold it or no. Only let them not trouble others by disputing about it.” He said, “Nay, but I will dispute about it.” “What, wherever you come?” “Yes, wherever I come.” “Why then would you come among us, who you know are of another mind?” “Because you are all wrong, and I am resolved to set you all right.” “I fear your coming with this view would neither profit you nor us.” He concluded, “Then I will go and tell all the world, that you and your brother are false prophets. And I tell you, in one fortnight, you will all be in confusion.” Fri. 20 . — I mentioned this to our society, and, without entering into the controversy, besought all of them who were weak in the faith, not to “receive one another to doubtful disputations;” but simply to follow after holiness, and the things that make for peace. Sun. 22 . — Finding there was no time to delay, without utterly destroying the cause of God, I began to execute what I had long designed, — to strike at the root of the grand delusion. Accordingly, from those words of Jeremiah, “Stand ye in the way, ask for the old paths,” I took occasion to give a plain account, both of the work which God had begun among us, and of the manner wherein the enemy had sown his tares among the good seed, to this effect: — “After we had wandered many years in the new path, of salvation by faith and works; about two years ago it pleased God to show us the old way, of salvation by faith only. And many soon tasted of this salvation, ‘being justified freely, having peace with God, rejoicing in hope of the glory of God,’ and having his ‘love shed abroad in their hearts.’ These now ran the way of his commandments: They performed all their duty to God and man.
They walked in all the ordinances of the Lord; and through these means, which he had appointed for that end, received daily grace to help in time of need, and went on from faith to faith. “But, eight or nine months ago, certain men arose, speaking contrary to the doctrines we had received. They affirmed, that we were all in a wrong way still; that we had no faith at all; that faith admits of no degrees, and consequently weak faith is no faith; that none is justified till he has a clean heart, and is incapable of any doubt or fear. “They affirmed also, that there is no commandment in the New Testament, but ‘to believe;’ that no other duty lies upon us; and that when a man does believe, he is not bound or obliged to do any thing which is commanded there: In particular, that he is not subject to ordinances, that is, (as they explained it,) is not bound or obliged to pray, to communicate, to read or hear the Scriptures; but may or may not use any of these things, (being in no bondage,) according as he finds his heart free to it. “They farther affirmed, that a believer cannot use any of these as a means of grace; that indeed there is no such thing as any means of grace, this expression having no foundation in Scripture: And that an unbeliever, or one who has not a clean heart, ought not to use them at all; ought not to pray, or search the Scriptures, or communicate, but to ‘be still,’ that is, leave off these ‘works of the law;’ and then he will surely receive faith, which, till he is still, he cannot have. “All these assertions I propose to consider. The first was, that weak faith is no faith. “By weak faith I understand, 1. That which is mixed with fear, particularly of not enduring to the end. 2. That which is mixed with doubt, whether we have not deceived ourselves, and whether our sins be indeed forgiven. 3. That which has not yet purified the heart fully, not from all its idols.
And thus weak I find the faith of almost all believers to be, within a short time after they have first peace with God. “Yet that weak faith is faith appears, 1. From St. Paul, ‘Him that is weak in faith, receive.’ 2. From St. John, speaking of believers who were little children, as well as of young men and fathers. 3. From our Lord’s own words, ‘Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? — I have prayed for thee, (Peter,) that thy faith fail thee not.’ Therefore he then had faith.
Yet so weak was that faith, that not only doubt and fear, but gross sin in the same night prevailed over him. “Nevertheless he was ‘clean, by the word’ Christ had ‘spoken to him;’ that is, justified; though it is plain he had not a clean heart. “Therefore, there are degrees in faith; and weak faith may yet be true faith.” Mon. 23 . — I considered the second assertion, that there is but one commandment in the New Testament, viz., “to believe:” That no other duty lies upon us, and that a believer is not obliged to do any thing as commanded. “How gross, palpable a contradiction is this, to the whole tenor of the New Testament! every part of which is full of commandments, from St. Matthew to the Revelation! But it is enough to observe, 1. That this bold affirmation is shamelessly contrary to our Lord’s own words, ‘Whosoever shall break one of the least of these commandments, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven:’ For nothing can be more evident, than that he here speaks of more than one, of several commandments, which every soul, believer or not, is obliged to keep as commanded. 2. That this whole scheme is overturned from top to bottom, by that other sentence of our Lord, ‘When ye have done all that is commanded you, say, We have done no more than it was our duty to do.’ 3. That although to do what God commands us is a believer’s privilege, that does not affect the question. He does it nevertheless, as his bounden duty, and as a command of God. 4. That this is the surest evidence of his believing, according to our Lord’s own words, ‘If ye love me, (which cannot be unless ye believe,)’ keep my commandments.’ 5. at to desire to do what God commands, but not as a command, is to affect, not freedom, but independency. Such independency as St. Paul had not; for though the Son had made him free, yet was he not without law to God, but under the law to Christ: Such as the holy angels have not; for they fulfill his commandments, and hearken to the voice of his words: Yea, such as Christ himself had not; for ‘as the Father’ had given him ‘commandment,’ so he ‘spake.’” Tues. 24 . — The substance of my exposition in the morning, on, “Why yet are ye subject to ordinances?” was, “From hence it has been inferred, that Christians are not subject to the ordinances of Christ; that believers need not, and unbelievers may not, use them; that these are not obliged, and those are not permitted, so to do; that these do not sin when they abstain from them; but those do sin when they do not abstain. “But with how little reason this has been inferred, will sufficiently appear to all who consider, “1. That the ordinances here spoken of by St. Paul are evidently Jewish ordinances; such as, ‘Touch not, taste not, handle not;’ and those, mentioned a few verses before, concerning meats and drinks, and new moons, and Sabbaths. 2. That, consequently, this has no reference to the ordinances of Christ; such as, prayer, communicating, and searching the Scriptures. 3. That Christ himself spake, that ‘men’ ought ‘always to pray;’ and commands, ‘not to forsake the assembling ourselves together;’ to search the Scriptures, and to eat bread and drink wine, in remembrance of him. 4. That the commands of Christ oblige all who are called by his name, whether (in strictness) believers or unbelievers; seeing ‘whosoever breaketh the least of these commandments, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.’” In the evening I preached on, “Cast not away your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.” “Ye who have known and felt your sins forgiven, cast not away your confidence,1. Though your joy should die away, your love wax cold, and your peace itself be roughly assaulted: Though, 2. You should find doubt or fear, or strong and uninterrupted temptation; yea, though, 3. You should find a body of sin still in you, and thrusting sore at you that you might fall. “The first case may be only a fulfilling of your Lord’s words, ‘Yet a little while, and ye shall not see me.’ But he ‘will come unto you again, and your hearts shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.’ “Your being in strong temptation, yea, though it should rise so high as to throw you into an agony, or to make you fear that God had forgotten you, is no more a proof that you are not a believer, than our Lord’s agony, and his crying, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ was a proof that he was not the Son of God. “Your finding sin remaining in you still, is no proof that you are not a believer. Sin does remain in one that is justified, though it has not dominion over him. For he has not a clean heart at first, neither are ‘all things’ as yet ‘become new.’ But fear not, though you have an evil heart.
Yet a little while, and you shall be endued with power from on high, whereby you may ‘purify yourselves, even as He is pure;’ and be ‘holy, as He which hath called you is holy.’” Wed. 25 . — From those words, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” I took occasion to speak of the ordinances of God, as they are means of grace. “Although this expression of our Church, ‘means of grace,’ be not found in Scripture; yet, if the sense of it undeniably is, to cavil at the term is a mere strife of words. “But the sense of it is undeniably found in Scripture. For God hath in Scripture ordained prayer, reading or hearing, and the receiving the Lord’s Supper, as the ordinary means of conveying his grace to man. And first, prayer. For thus saith the Lord, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.’ Here God plainly ordains prayer as the means of receiving whatsoever grace we want; particularly that wisdom from above, which is the chief fruit of the grace of God. “Here, likewise, God commands all to pray, who desire to receive any grace from him. Here is no restriction as to believers or unbelievers; but, least of all, as to unbelievers: For such, doubtless, were most of those to whom he said, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you.’ “We know, indeed, that the prayer of an unbeliever is full of sin. Yet let him remember that which is written of one who could not then believe, for he had not so much as heard the Gospel, ‘Cornelius, thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.’” Thur. 26 . — I showed, concerning the Holy Scriptures, 1. That to search, (that is, read and hear them,) is a command of God. 2. That this command is given to all, believers or unbelievers. 3. That this is commanded or ordained as a means of grace, a means of conveying the grace of God to all, whether unbelievers (such as those to whom he first gave this command, and those to whom faith cometh by hearing) or believers, who by experience know, that “all Scripture is profitable,” or a means to this end, “that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.” Fri. 27 . — I preached on, “Do this in remembrance of me.” “In the ancient Church, every one who was baptized communicated daily.
So in the Acts we read, they ‘all continued daily in the breaking of bread, and in prayer.’ “But in latter times, many have affirmed, that the Lord’s Supper is not a converting, but a confirming ordinance. “And among us it has been diligently taught, that none but those who are converted, who have received the Holy Ghost, who are believers in the full sense, ought to communicate. “But experience shows the gross falsehood of that assertion, that the Lord’s Supper is not a converting ordinance. Ye are the witnesses. For many now present know, the very beginning of your conversion to God (perhaps, in some, the first deep conviction) was wrought at the Lord’s Supper. Now, one single instance of this kind overthrows the whole assertion. “The falsehood of the other assertion appears both from Scripture precept and example. Our Lord commanded those very men who were then unconverted, who had not set received the Holy Ghost, who (in the full sense of the word) were not believers, to do this ‘in remembrance of’ him.
Here the precept is clear. And to these he delivered the elements with his own hands. Here is example equally indisputable.” Sat. 28 . — I showed at large, 1. That the Lord’s Supper was ordained by God, to be a means of conveying to men either preventing, or justifying, or sanctifying grace, according to their several necessities. 2. That the persons for whom it was ordained, are all those who know and feel that they want the grace of God, either to restrain them from sin, or to show their sins forgiven, or to renew their souls in the image of God. 3. That inasmuch as we come to his table, not to give him any thing, but to receive whatsoever he sees best for us, there is no previous preparation indispensably necessary, but a desire to receive whatsoever he pleases to give. And, 4. That no fitness is required at the time of communicating, but a sense of our state, of our utter sinfulness and helplessness; every one who knows he is fit for hell, being just fit to come to Christ, in this as well as all other ways of his appointment. Sun. 29 . — I preached in the morning at Moorfields, and in the evening at Kennington, on Titus 3:8, and endeavored at both places to explain and enforce the Apostle’s direction, that those “who have believed, be careful to maintain good works.” The works I particularly mentioned were, praying, communicating, searching the Scriptures; feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, assisting the stranger, and visiting or relieving those that are sick or in prison. Several of our brethren, of Fetter-Lane, being met in the evening, Mr. Simpson told them I had been preaching up the works of the law; “which,” added Mr. V——, “we believers are no more bound to obey, than the subjects of the King of England are bound to obey the laws of the King of France.” Wed . July 2 . — I went to the society; but I found their hearts were quite estranged. Friday, 4. I met a little handful of them, who still stand in the old paths; but how long they may stand God knoweth, the rest being continually pressing upon them. Wednesday, 9. I came to an explanation once more with them all together; but with no effect at all. Tuesday, 15.
We had yet another conference at large, but in vain; for all continued in their own opinions. Wed. 16 . — One desired me to look into an old book, and give her my judgment of it: Particularly of what was added at the latter end. This, I found, was, “The Mystic Divinity of Dionysius;” and several extracts nearly allied thereto, full of the same “super-essential darkness.” I borrowed the book, and going in the evening to Fetter-Lane, read one of those extracts, to this effect: — “The Scriptures are good; prayer is good; communicating is good; relieving our neighbor is good; but to one who is not born of God, none of these is good, but all very evil. For him to read the Scriptures, or to pray, or to communicate, or to do any outward work, is deadly poison. First, let him be born of God. Till then let him not do any of these things. For if he does, he destroys himself.”
After reading this twice or thrice over, as distinctly as I could, I asked, “My brethren, is this right, or is it wrong?” Mr. Bell answered immediately, “It is right; it is all right. It is the truth. In this we must all come, or we never can come to Christ.” Mr. Bray said, “I believe our brother Bell did not hear what you read, or did not rightly understand.”
But Mr. Bell replied short, “Yes, I heard every word; and I understand it well. I say, it is the truth; it is the very truth; it is the inward truth.”
Many then labored to prove, that my brother and I laid too much stress upon the ordinances. To put this matter beyond dispute, “I,” said Mr. Bowes, “used the ordinances twenty years; yet I found not Christ. But I left them off only for a few weeks, and I found him then. And I am now as close united to him as my arm is to my body.”
One asked, whether they would suffer Mr. Wesley to preach at Fetter-Lane. After a short debate, it was answered, “No: This place is taken for the Germans.” Some asked, whether the Germans had converted any soul in England: Whether they had not done us much hurt, instead of good; raising a division of which we could see no end: And whether God did not many times use Mr. Wesley for the healing our divisions, when we were all in confusion. Several roundly replied, “Confusion! What do you mean? We were never in any confusion at all.” I said, “Brother Edmonds, you ought not to say so; because I have your letters now in my hands.”
We continued in useless debate till about eleven. I then gave them up to God. Fri . 18 . — A few of us joined with my mother in the great sacrifice of thanksgiving; and then consulted how to proceed with regard to our poor brethren of Fetter-Lane: We all saw the thing was now come to a crisis, and were therefore unanimously agreed what to do. Sun. 20 . — At Mr. Seward’s earnest request, I preached once more in Moorfields, on the “work of faith,” and the “patience of hope,” and the “labor of love.” A zealous man was so kind as to free us from most of the noisy, careless hearers, (or spectators rather,) by reading, meanwhile, at a small distance, a chapter in the “Whole Duty of Man.” I wish neither he nor they may ever read a worse book; though I can tell them of a better, — the Bible.
In the evening I went with Mr. Seward to the Love-Feast in Fetter-Lane; at the conclusion of which, having said nothing till then, I read a paper, the substance whereof was as follows: — “About nine months ago certain of you began to speak contrary to the doctrine we had till then received. The sum of what you asserted is this: — “1. That there is no such thing as weak faith: That there is no justifying faith where there is ever any doubt or fear, or where there is not, in the full sense, a new, a clean heart. “2. That a man ought not to use those ordinances of God, which our Church terms ‘means of grace,’ before he has such a faith as excludes all doubt and fear, and implies a new, a clean heart. “You have often affirmed, that to search the Scriptures, to pray, or to communicate, before we have this faith, is to seek salvation by works; and that till these works are laid aside, no man can receive faith. “I believe these assertions to be flatly contrary to the word of God. I have warned you hereof again and again, and besought you to turn back to the Law and the Testimony. I have born with you long, hoping you would turn. But as I find you more and more confirmed in the error of your ways, nothing now remains, but that I should give you up to God. You that are of the same judgment, follow me.”
I then, without saying any thing more, withdrew, as did eighteen or nineteen of the society. Tues. 22. — Mr. Chapman, just come from Germany, gave me a letter from one of our (once) brethren there; wherein, after denying the gift of God, which he received in England, he advised my brother and me, no longer to take upon us to teach and instruct poor souls; but to deliver them up to the care of the Moravians, who alone were able to instruct them. “You,” said he, “only instruct them in such errors, that they will be damned at last;” and added, “St. Peter justly describes you, who ‘have eyes full of adultery, and cannot cease from sin;’ and take upon you to guide unstable souls, and lead them in the way of damnation.” Wed. 23 . — Our little company met at the Foundery, instead of Fetter-Lane. About twenty-five of our brethren God hath given us already, all of whom think and speak the same thing; seven or eight and forty likewise, of the fifty women that were in Band, desired to cast in their lot with us. Fri . August 1. — I described that “rest” which “remaineth for the people of God.” Sunday, 3. At St. Luke’s, our parish church, was such a sight as, I believe, was never seen there before: Several hundred communicants, from whose very faces one might judge, that they indeed sought Him that was crucified. Mon. 4 . — I dined with one who told me, in all simplicity, “Sir, I thought last week, there could be no such rest as you described; none in this world, wherein we should be so free as not to desire ease in pain. But God has taught me better. For on Friday and Saturday, when I was in the strongest pain, I never once had one moment’s desire of ease; but only, that the will of God might be done.”
In the evening many were gathered together at Long-Lane, on purpose to make a disturbance; having procured a woman to begin, well known in those parts, as neither fearing God nor regarding man. The instant she broke out, I turned full upon her, and declared the love our Lord had for her soul. We then prayed that He would confirm the word of his grace.
She was struck to the heart; and shame covered her face. From her I turned to the rest, who melted away like water, and were as men that had no strength. But surely some of them shall find who is their “rock and their strong salvation.” Sat. 9 . — Instead of the letters I had lately received, I read a few of those formerly received from our poor brethren who have since then denied the work of God, and vilely cast away their shield. O who shall stand when the jealous God shall visit for these things? Sun. 10 . — From Galatians 6:3, I earnestly warned all who had tasted the grace of God,1. Not to think they were justified, before they had a clear assurance that God had forgiven their sins; bringing in a calm peace, the love of God, and dominion over all sin. 2. Not to think themselves any thing after they had this; but to press forward for the prize of their high calling, even a clean heart, thoroughly renewed after the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness. Mon. 11 . — Forty or fifty of those who were seeking salvation desired leave to spend the night together, at the society-room, in prayer and given thanks. Before ten I left them, and lay down. But I could have no quiet rest, being quite uneasy in my sleep, as I found others were too, that were asleep in other parts of the house. Between two and three in the morning I was waked, and desired to come down stairs. I immediately heard such a confused noise, as if a number of men were all putting to the sword. It increased when I came into the room and began to pray. One whom I particularly observed to be roaring aloud for pain was J—— W——, who had been always, till then, very sure that “none cried out but hypocrites:” So had Mrs. S——ms also. But she too now cried to God with a loud and bitter cry. It was not long before God heard from his holy place. He spake, and all our souls were comforted. He bruised Satan under our feet; and sorrow and sighing fled away. Sat. 16 . — I called on one who, being at Long-Lane on Monday, the 4th instant, was exceeding angry at those that “pretended to be in fits,” particularly at one who dropped down just by her. She was just going “to kick her out of the way,” when she dropped down herself, and continued in violent agonies for an hour. Being afraid, when she came to herself, that her mother would judge of her as she herself had done of others, she resolved to hide it from her. But the moment she came into the house, she dropped down in as violent an agony as before. I left her weary and heavy laden, under a deep sense of the just judgment of God. Sun. 17 . — I enforced that necessary caution, “Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall.” Let him that is full of joy and love, take heed lest he fall into pride; he that is in calm peace, lest he fall into desire; and he that is in heaviness through manifold temptations, lest he fall into anger or impatience.
I afterwards heard a sermon, setting forth the duty of getting a good estate, and keeping a good reputation. Is it possible to deny (supposing the Bible true) that such a Preacher is a “blind leader of the blind?” Tues. 19 . — I was desired to go and pray with one who had sent for me several times before, lying in the New Prison, under sentence of death, which was to be executed in a few days. I went; but the gaoler said, Mr. Wilson, the Curate of the parish, had ordered I should not see him. Wed. 20 . — I offered remission of sins to a small serious congregation near Deptford. Toward the end, a company of persons came in, dressed in habits fit for their work, and labored greatly either to provoke or divert the attention of the hearers. But no man answering them a word, they were soon weary, and went away. Thur. 21 . — I was deeply considering those points wherein our German brethren affirm we err from the faith, and resenting how much holier some of them were than me, or any people I had yet known. But I was cut short in the midst by those words of St. Paul, ( 1 Timothy 5:21,) “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things, without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” Fri. 22 . — I was desired to pray with an old hardened sinner, supposed to be at the point of death. He knew not me; nor ever had heard me preach. I spoke much; but he opened not his mouth. But no sooner did I name “the Savior of sinners,” than he burst out, “The Savior of sinners indeed! I know it: For he has saved me. He told me so on Sunday morning. And he said, I should not die yet, till I had heard his children preach his Gospel, and had told my old companions in sin, that he is ready to save them too.” Sat. 23 . — A gentlewoman (one Mrs. C——) desired to speak with me, and related a strange story: — On Saturday, the 16th instant, (as she informed me,) one Mrs. G., of Northampton, deeply convinced of sin, and therefore an abomination to her husband, was by him put into Bedlam. On Tuesday she slipped out of the gate with some other company; and after awhile, not knowing whither to go, sat down at Mrs. C.’s door. Mrs. C., knowing nothing of her, advised her the next day to go to Bedlam again; and went with her, where she was then chained down, and treated in the usual manner — This is the justice of men! A poor highwayman is hanged; and Mr. G. esteemed a very honest man! Thur. 28 . — I desired one who had seen affliction herself to go and visit Mrs. G. in Bedlam; where it pleased God greatly to knit their hearts together, and with his comforts to refresh their souls.
Disputes being now at an end, and all things quiet and calm, on Monday, SEPTEMBER 1, I left London, and the next evening found my brother at Bristol, swiftly recovering from his fever. At seven, it pleased God to apply those words to the hearts of many backsliders, “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Adam? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.” ( Hosea 11:8.) Wed. 3 . — I met with one who, having been lifted up with the abundance of joy which God had given her, had fallen into such blasphemies and vain imaginations as are not common to men. In the afternoon I found another instance, nearly, I fear, of the same kind: One who, after much of the love of God shed abroad in her heart, was become wise far above what is written, and set her private revelations (so called) on the self-same foot with the written word. She zealously maintained, 1. That Christ had died for angels as well as men. 2. That none of the angels kept their first estate; but all sinned, less or more. 3. That by the death of Christ three things were effected: One part of the fallen spirits were elected, and immediately confirmed in holiness and happiness, who are now the holy angels; another part of them, having more deeply sinned, were reprobated, who are now devils; and the third part, allowed a farther trial; and in order thereto, sent down from heaven, and imprisoned in bodies of flesh and blood, who are now human souls. — In the evening I earnestly besought them all to keep clear of vain speculations, and seek only for the plain, practical “truth, which is after godliness.” Thur. 4 . — A remarkable cause was tried: Some time since, several men made a great disturbance during the evening sermon here, behaving rudely to the women, and striking the men who spake not to them. A Constable standing by, pulled out his staff, and commanded them to keep the peace.
Upon this one of them swore he would be revenged; and going immediately to a Justice, made oath, that he (the Constable) had picked his pocket, who was accordingly bound over to the next Sessions. At these, not only the same man, but two of his companions, swore the same thing.
Fri. 5 . — Our Lord brought home many of his banished ones. In the evening we cried mightily unto him, that brotherly love might continue and increase. And it was according to our faith. Sat. 6 . — I met the Bands in Kingswood, and warned them, with all authority, to beware of being wise above that is written, and to desire to know nothing but Christ crucified. Mon. 8 . — We set out early in the morning, and the next evening came to London. Wednesday, 10. I visited one that was in violent pain, and consumed away with pining sickness; but in “every thing giving thanks,” and greatly “rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.” From her we went to another, dangerously ill of the small-pox, but desiring neither life nor ease, but only the holy will of God. If these are unbelievers, (as some of the still brethren have lately told them,) I am content to be an unbeliever all my days. Thur. 11 . — I visited a poor woman, who, lying ill between her two sick children, without either physic, or food convenient for her, was mightily praising God her Savior, and testifying, as often as she could speak, her desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ. Sun. 14 . — 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 exceeding 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. Tues. 16 . — Many more, who came in among us as lions, in a short space became as lambs; the tears trickling apace down their cheeks, who at first most loudly contradicted and blasphemed. I wonder the devil has not wisdom enough to discern that he is destroying his own kingdom. I believe he has never yet, any one time, caused this open opposition to the truth of God, without losing one, or more, of his servants, who were found of God, while they sought Him not. Wed. 17 . — A poor woman gave me an account of what, I think, ought never to be forgotten. It was four years, she said, since her son, Peter Shaw, then nineteen or twenty years old, by hearing a sermon of Mr. Wh——y’s, fell into great uneasiness. She thought he was ill, and would have sent for a physician; but he said, “No, no. Send for Mr. Wh——.”
He was sent for, and came; and after asking her a few questions, told her, “The boy is mad. Get a coach, and carry him to Dr. M——. Use my name. I have sent several such to him.” Accordingly, she got a coach, and went with him immediately to Dr. M——’s house. Then the Doctor came in, the young man rose and said, “Sir, Mr. Wh—— has sent me to you.”
The Doctor asked, “Is Mr. Wh—— your Minister?” and bid him put out his tongue. Then, without asking any questions, he told his mother, “Choose your Apothecary, and I will prescribe.” According to his prescriptions they, the next day, blooded him largely, confined him to a dark room, and put a strong blister on each of his arms, with another over all his head. But still he was as “mad” as before, praying, or singing, or giving thanks continually: Of which having labored to cure him for six weeks in vain, though he was now so weak he could not stand alone, his mother dismissed the Doctor and Apothecary, and let him be “beside himself” in peace. Thur. 18 . — The prince of the air made another attempt in defense of his tottering kingdom. A great number of men having got into the middle of the Foundery began to speak big, swelling words; so that my voice could hardly be heard, while I was reading the eleventh chapter of the Acts. But immediately after, the hammer of the word brake the rocks in pieces: All quietly heard the glad tidings of salvation; and some, I trust, not in vain. Mon. 22 . — Wanting a little time for retirement, which it was almost impossible for me to have in London, I went to Mr. Piers’s, at Bexley; where, in the mornings and evenings, I expounded the Sermon on the Mount; and had leisure during the rest of the day for business of other kinds. On Saturday, 27, I returned. Sun. 28 . — I began expounding the same scripture 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. Tues. 30 . — As I was expounding the twelfth of the Acts, a young man, with some others, rushed in, cursing and swearing vehemently; and 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. Sun . October 5. — I explained the difference between being called a Christian, and being so: And God overruled the madness of the people, so that after I had spoke a few words, they were quiet and attentive to the end. Mon. 6 . — While I was preaching at Islington, and rebuking sharply those that had made shipwreck of the faith, a woman dropped down, struck, as was supposed, with death, having the use of all her limbs quite taken from her: But she knew the next day, she should “not die, but live, and declare the loving-kindness of the Lord.” Tues. 14 . — I met with a person who was to be pitied indeed. He was once a zealous Papist; but, being convinced he was wrong, cast off Popery and Christianity together. He told me at once, “Sir, I scorn to deceive you, or any man living: Don’t tell me of your Bible: I value it not: I do not believe a word of it.” I asked, “Do you believe there is a God? And what do you believe concerning Him?” He replied, “I know there is a God; and I believe him to be the soul of all, the Anima Mundi: If he be not rather, as I sometimes think is more probable, the To Pan the whole compages of body and spirit, every where diffused. But farther than this, I know not:
All is dark; my thought is lost. Whence I come, I know not; nor what or why I am; nor whither I am going: But this I know, I am unhappy: I am weary of life: I wish it were at an end.” I told him, I would pray to the God in whom I believed, to show him more light before he went hence; and to convince him, how much advantage every way a believer in Christ had over an infidel. Sun. 19 . — I found one who was a fresh instance of that strange truth, “The servants of God suffer nothing.” His body was well-nigh torn asunder with pain: But God made all his bed in his sickness: So that he was continually giving thanks to God, and making his boast of His praise.
At five, I besought all that were present, to “be followers of God, as dear children; and to walk in love, as Christ also loved us, and gave himself for us.” Many who were gathered together for that purpose, endeavored by shouting to drown my voice: But I turned upon them immediately, and offered them deliverance from their hard master. The word sunk deep into them, and they opened not their mouth. Satan, thy kingdom hath suffered loss. Thou fool! How long wilt thou contend with Him that is mightier than thou? Mon. 20 . — I began declaring that “Gospel of Christ” which “is the power of God unto salvation,” in the midst of the publicans and sinners, at Short’s Gardens, Drury-Lane. Wed. 22 . — I spent an hour with Mr. St——. O what piqanologia, “persuasiveness of speech,” is here! Surely, all the deceivableness of unrighteousness. Who can escape, except God be with him? Thur . 23 . — I was informed of an awful providence. A poor wretch, who was here last week, cursing and blaspheming, and laboring with all his might to hinder the word of God, had afterwards boasted to many, that he would come again on Sunday, and no man should stop his mouth then. But on Friday God laid his hand upon him, and on Sunday he was buried.
Yet on Sunday, the 26th, while I was enforcing that great question with an eye to the spiritual resurrecting “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” the many-headed beast began to roar again. I again proclaimed deliverance to the captives; and their deep attention showed that the word sent to them, did not return empty. Mon. 27 . — The surprising news of poor Mr. S——d’s death was confirmed. Surely God will maintain his own cause. Righteous art thou, O Lord! Sat . November 1. — While I was preaching at Long-Lane, the storm was so exceeding high, that the house we were in shook continually: But so much the more did many rejoice in Him whom the winds and the seas obey; finding they were ready to obey his call, if He should then require their souls of them. Mon. 3 . — We distributed, as every one had need, among the numerous poor of our society, the clothes of several kinds, which many who could spare them had brought for that purpose. Sun . 9 . — I had the comfort of finding all our brethren that are in Band, of one heart and of one mind. Mon. 10 . — Early in the morning I set out, and the next evening came to Bristol.
I found my brother (to supply whose absence I came) had been in Wales for some days. The next morning I inquired particularly into the state of the little flock. In the afternoon we met together to pour out our souls before God, and beseech Him to bring back into the way those who had erred from his commandments.
I spent the rest of the week in speaking with as many as I could, either comforting the feeble-minded, or confirming the wavering, or endeavoring to find and save that which was lost. Sun. 16 . — After communicating at St. James’s, our parish church, with a numerous congregation, I visited several of the sick. Most of them were ill of the spotted fever; which, they informed me, had been extremely mortal; few persons recovering from it. But God had said, “Hitherto shalt thou come.” I believe there was not one with whom we were, but recovered. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday , I visited many more, partly of those that were sick or weak, partly of “the lame” that had been “turned out of the way;” having a confidence in God, that He would yet return unto every one of these and leave a blessing behind Him. Thur. 20 . — My brother returned from Wales. So, early on Friday, 21, I left Bristol, and on Saturday, in the afternoon, came safe to London. Tues. 25 . — 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. Fri. 28 . — A gentleman came to me full of goodwill, 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 self-same 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.
In the afternoon I was with one of our sisters, who, for two days, was believed to be in the agonies of death, being then in travail with her first child: But the pain, she declared, was as nothing to her; her soul being filled, all that time, with “joy unspeakable.” Mon . December 1. — Finding many of our brethren and sisters offended at each other, I appointed the several accusers to come and speak face to face with the accused. Some of them came almost everyday this week.
And most of the offenses vanished away. Where any doubt remained, I could only advise them each to look to his own heart; and to suspend their judgments of each other, till God should “bring to light the hidden things of darkness.” Fri. 12 . — Having received many unpleasing accounts concerning our little society in Kingswood, I left London, and after some difficulty and danger, by reason of much ice on the road, on Saturday evening came to my brother at Bristol, who confirmed to me what I did not desire to hear. Sun. 14 . — I went to Kingswood, intending, if it should please God, to spend some time there, if haply I might be an instrument in his hand, of repairing the breaches which had been made, that we might aging with one heart and one mouth, glorify the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mon. 15 . — I began expounding, both in the morning and evening, our Lord’s Sermon upon the Mount. In the daytime I labored to heal the jealousies and misunderstandings which had arisen, warning every man, and exhorting every man, “See that ye fall not out by the way.” Tues. 16 . — In the afternoon I preached on, “Let patience have her perfect work.” The next evening Mr. Cennick came back from a little journey into Wiltshire. I was greatly surprised when I went to receive him, as usual, with open arms, to observe him quite cold; so that a stranger would have judged he had scarce ever seen me before. However, for the present, I said nothing, but did him honor before the people. Fri. 19 . — I pressed him to explain his behavior. He told me many stories which he had heard of me: Yet it seemed to me, something was still behind:
So I desired we might meet again in the morning. Sat. 20 . — A few of us had a long conference together. Mr. C—— now told me plainly, he could not agree with me, because I did not preach the truth, in particular with regard to elections. We then entered a little into the controversy; but without effect. Sun . 21 . — In the morning I enforced those words, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another.” Three of our sisters I saw in the afternoon, all supposed to be near death, and calmly rejoicing in hope of speedily going to Him whom their souls loved.
At the love-feast which we had in the evening at Bristol, seventy or eighty of our brethren and sisters from Kingswood were present, not with standing the heavy snow. We all walked back together, through the most violent storm of sleet and snow which I ever remember; the snow also lying above knee-deep in many places. But our hearts were warmed, so that we went on, rejoicing and praising God for the consolation. Wed. 24 . — My brother set out for London. Thursday, 25 I met with such a case, as I do not remember either to have known or heard of before. L— —a Sm——, after many years’ mourning, was filled with peace and joy in believing. In the midst of this, without any discernible cause, such a cloud suddenly overwhelmed her, that she could not believe her sins were ever forgiven her at all; nor that there was any such thing as forgiveness of sins.
She could not believe that the Scriptures were true; nor that there was any heaven or hell, or angel, or spirit, or any God. One more I have since found in the same state. So sure it is, that all faith is the gift of God; which the moment he withdraws, the evil heart of unbelief will poison the whole soul. Fri. 26 . — I returned early in the morning to Kingswood, in order to preach at the usual hour. But my congregation was gone to hear Mr. C— —, so that (except a few from Bristol) I had not above two or three men, and as many women, the same number I had had once or twice before.
In the evening I read nearly through a treatise of Dr. John Edwards, on “The Deficiency of Human Knowledge and Learning.” Surely, never man wrote like this man! At least, none of all whom I have seen. I have not seen so haughty, overbearing, pedantic a writer. Stiff and trifling in the same breath; positive and opinionated to the last degree, and of course treating others with no more good manners than justice. But above all, sour, ill-natured, morose without a parallel, which indeed is his distinguishing character. Be his opinion right or wrong, if Dr. Edwards’s temper were the Christian temper, I would abjure Christianity for ever. Tues. 30 . — I was sent for by one who had been a zealous opposer of “this way.” But the Lover of souls now opened her eyes, and cut her off from trusting in the multitude of her good works: So that, finding no other hope left, she fled, poor and naked, to the blood of the covenant, and, a few days after, gladly gave up her soul into the hands of her faithful Redeemer.
At six, the body of Alice Philips being brought into the room, I explained, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” This was she whom ever her master turned away the last year, for receiving the Holy Ghost. And she had then scarce where to lay her head. But she hath now an house of God, eternal in the heavens. Wed. 31 . — Many from Bristol came over to us, and our love was greatly confirmed toward each other. At half an hour after eight, the house was filled from end to end, where we concluded the year, wrestling with God in prayer, and praising him for the wonderful work which he had already wrought upon earth.
January 1, 1741. — I explained, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” But many of our brethren, I found, had no ears to hear; having disputed away both their faith and love. In the evening, out of the fullness that was given me, I expounded those words of St. Paul, (indeed of every true believer,) “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Sat. 3 . — The bodies of Anne Cole and Elizabeth Davis were buried. I preached before the burial, on, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord:
Even so saith the Spirit; for they rest from their labors, and their works do follow them.” Sometime after Elizabeth Davis was speechless, being desired to hold up her hand, if she knew she was going to God, she looked up, and immediately holden up both her hands. On Wednesday, I had asked Anne Cole, whether she chose to live or die. She said, “I do not choose either: I choose nothing. I am in my Savior’s hands; and I have no will but his. Yet I know, he will restore me soon.” And so he did, in a few hours, to the paradise of God. Sun. 4 . — I showed the absolute necessity of “forgetting the things that are behind,” whether works, sufferings, or gifts, if we would “press toward the mark for the prize of our high calling.”
In the evening, all the Bands being present, both of Bristol and Kingswood, I simply related what God had done by me, for them of Kingswood in particular; and what return many of them had made, for several months last past, by their continual disputes, divisions, and offenses; causing me to go heavily all the day long. Wed. 7 . — I found another believer, patiently waiting for the salvation of God; desiring neither health, not ease, nor life, nor death; but only that His will should be done. Thur. 8 . — I expounded the twenty-third Psalm; and many were led forth by the waters of comfort: Two especially, who never knew till then, that their “iniquities were forgiven and their sin covered.” Sun. 11 . — I met with a surprising instance of the power of the devil.
While we were at the room, Mrs. J——s, sitting at home, took the Bible to read; but on a sudden threw it away, saying, “I am good enough; I will never read or pray more.” She was in the same mind when I came; often repeating, “I used to think I was full of sin, and that I sinned in every thing I did; but now I know better: I am a good Christian; I never did any harm in my life; I don’t desire to be any better than I am.” She spoke many things to the same effect, plainly showing, that the spirit of pride, and of lies, had the full dominion over her. Monday, 12. I asked, “Do you desire to be healed?” She said, “I am whole.” “But do you desire to be saved?”
She replied, “I am saved; I ail nothing; I am happy.” Yet it was easy to discern, she was in the most violent agony, both of body and mind; sweating exceedingly, notwithstanding the severe frost, and not continuing in the same posture a moment. Upon our beginning to pray, she raged beyond measure; but soon sunk down as dead. In a few minutes she revived, and joined in prayer. We left her for the present in peace. Mon. 12 . — In the evening our souls were so filled with the spirit of prayer and thanksgiving, that I could scarce tell how to expound, till I found where it is written, “My song shall be always of the loving-kindness of the Lord. With my mouth will I ever be showing thy truth, from one generation to another.”
All this day, Mrs. J——s was in a violent agony, till, starting up in the evening, she said, “Now they have done. They have just done. C—— prayed, and Humphreys preached.” (And indeed so they did.) “And they are coming hither as fast as they can.” Quickly after they came in. She immediately cried out, “Why, what do you come for? You can’t pray. You know you can’t.” And they could not open their mouths; so that, after a short time, they were constrained to leave her as she was.
Many came to see her on Tuesday; — to every one of whom she spoke, concerning either their actual or their heart sins, and that so closely, that several of them went away in more haste than they came. In the afternoon Mr. J—— sent to Kingswood for me. She told him, “Mr. Wesley won’t come tonight; he will come in the morning. But God has begun, and he will end the work by himself. Before six in the morning I shall be well.” And about a quarter before six the next morning, after lying quiet awhile, she broke out, “Peace be unto thee;” (her husband;) “peace be unto this house.
The peace of God is come to my soul. I know that my Redeemer liveth.”
And for several days her mouth was filled with His praise, and her “talk was wholly of his wondrous works.” Thur. 15 . — I went to one of our brothers, who, being (as was supposed) struck with death, was rejoicing with joy unspeakable. His mouth overflowed with praise, and his eyes with tears, in hope of going soon to Him he loved. Mon. 19 . — I found, from several accounts, it was absolutely necessary for me to be at London. I therefore desired the society to meet in the evening; and having settled things in the best manner I could, on Tuesday set out, and on Wednesday evening met our brethren at the Foundery. Thur. 22 . — I began expounding where my brother had left off, viz., at the fourth chapter of the first Epistle of St. John. He had not preached the morning before; nor intended to do it any more. “The Philistines are upon thee, Samson.” But the Lord is not “departed from thee.” He shall strengthen thee yet again, and thou shalt be “avenged of them for the loss of thy eyes.” Sun. 25 . — I enforced that great command, “As we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men:” And in the evening, those solemn words, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” Wed. 28 . — Our old friends, Mr. Gambold and Mr. Hall, came to see my brother and me. The conversation turned wholly on silent prayer, and quiet waiting for God; which, they said, was the only possible way to attain living, saving faith. Sirenum voces, et Circes pocula nosti? f34 Was there ever so pleasing a scheme? But where is it written? Not in any of those books which I account the Oracles of God. I allow, if there is a better way to God than the scriptural way, this is it. But the prejudice of education so hangs upon me, that I cannot think there is. I must therefore still wait in the Bible way, from which this differs as light from darkness. Fri . 30 . — I preached in the morning, on, “Then shall they fast in those days;” and in the afternoon spent a sweet hour in prayer with some hundreds of our society. Sun . February 1 . — A private letter, wrote to me by Mr. Whitefield, having been printed without either his leave or mine, great numbers of copies were given to our people, both at the door and in the Foundery 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. Every one who had received it, did the same. So that in two minutes there was not a whole copy left. Ah! poor Ahithophel! Ibi omnis effusus labor f35 Wed. 4 . — Being the general Fast-Day, I preached in the morning on those words, “Shall I not visit for these things, saith the Lord? Shall not my son be avenged on such a nation as this?” Coming from the service at St. Luke’s, I found our house so crowded, that the people were ready to tread one upon another. I had not designed to preach; but seeing such a congregation, I could not think it right to send them empty away; and therefore expounded the parable of the barren fighter. O that it may at length bear fruit!
From hence I went to Deptford, where many poor wretches were got together, utterly void both of common sense and common decency. They cried aloud, as if just come from “among the tombs:” But they could not prevail against the Holy One of God. Many of them were altogether confounded, and, I trust, will come again with a better mind. Tues. 10 . — (Being Shrove-Tuesday.) Before I began to preach, many men of the baser sort, having mixed themselves with the women, behaved so indecently, as occasioned much disturbance. A Constable commanded them to keep the peace: In answer to which they knocked him down.
Some who were near seized on two of them, and, by shutting the doors, prevented any farther contest. Those two were afterwards carried before a Magistrate; but on their promise of better behavior, were discharged. Thur. 12 . — My brother returned from Oxford, and preached on the true way of waiting for God: Thereby dispelling at once the fears of some, and the vain hopes of others; who had confidently affirmed that Mr. Charles Wesley was still already, and would come to London no more. Mon. 16 . — While I was preaching in Long-Lane, the host of the aliens gathered together: And one large stone (many of which they threw) went just over my shoulder. But no one was hurt in any degree: For thy “kingdom ruleth over all.”
All things now being settled according to my wish, on Tuesday, 17, I left London. In the afternoon I reached Oxford, and leaving my horse there, set out on foot for Stanton-Harcourt. The night overtook me in about an hour, accompanied with heavy rain. Being wet and weary, and not well knowing my way, I could not help saying in my heart, (though ashamed of my want of resignation to God’s will,) O that thou wouldest “stay the bottles of heaven;” or, at least, give me light, or an honest guide, or some help in the manner thou knowest! Presently the rain ceased; the moon broke out, and a friendly man overtook me, who set me upon his own horse, and walked by my side, till we came to Mr. Gambold’s door. Wed. 18 . — I walked on to Burford; on Thursday to Malmsbury; and the next day to Bristol. Saturday, 21. I inquired, as fully as I could, concerning the divisions and offenses which, notwithstanding the earnest cautions I had given, began afresh to break out in Kingswood. In the afternoon I met a few of the Bands there; but it was a cold uncomfortable meeting. Sunday, 22. I endeavored to show them the ground of many of their mistakes, from those words, “Ye need not that any man teach you, but as that same anointing teacheth you;” — a text which had been frequently brought in support of the rankest enthusiasm. Mr. Cennick, and fifteen or twenty others, came up to me after sermon. I told them they had not done right in speaking against me behind my back. Mr. C——, Ann A——, and Thomas Bissicks, as the mouth of the rest, replied, they had said no more of me behind my back than they would say to my face; which was, that I did preach up man’s faithfulness, and not the faithfulness of God.
In the evening was our love-feast in Bristol: In the conclusion of which, there being mention made that many of our brethren at Kingswood had formed themselves into a separate society I related to them at large the effects of the separations which had been made from time to time in London; and likewise the occasion of this, namely, Mr. C——’s preaching other doctrine than that they had before received. The natural consequence was, that when my brother and I preached the same which we had done from the beginning, many censured and spoke against us both; whence arose endless strife and confusion.
T—— B—— replied, why, we preached false doctrine; we preached that there is righteousness in man. I said, “So there is, after the righteousness of Christ is imputed to him through faith. But who told you that what we preached was false doctrine? Whom would you have believed this from, but Mr. C——?” Mr. C—— answered, “You do preach righteousness in man. I did say this: And I say it still. However, we are willing to join with you; but we will also meet apart from you: For we meet to confirm one another in those truths which you speak against.”
I replied, “You should have told me this before, and not have supplanted me in my own house, stealing the hearts of the people, and, by private accusations, separating very friends.” He said, “I have never privately accused you.” I said, “My brethren, judge;” and read as follows: — TO THE REV. MR. GEORGE WHITEFIELD. “My Dear Brother, Jan. 17, 1741. “THAT YOU might come quickly, I have written a second time. “I sit solitary, like Eli, waiting what will become of the ark. And while I wait, and fear the carrying of it away from among my people, my trouble increases daily. How glorious did the Gospel seem once to flourish in Kingswood! — I spake of the everlasting love of Christ with sweet power. But now brother Charles is suffered to open his mouth against this truth, while the frightened sheep gaze and fly, as if no shepherd was among them. It is just as though Satan was now making war with the saints in a more than common way. O pray for the distressed lambs yet left in this place, that they faint not! Surely they would, if preaching would do it: For they have nothing whereon to rest, (who now attend on the sermons,) but their own faithfulness. “With Universal Redemption, brother Charles pleases the world:
Brother John follows him in every thing. I believe no Atheist can more preach against Predestination than they: And all who believe Election are counted enemies to God, and called so. “Fly, dear brother. I am as alone: I am in the midst of the plague. If God give thee leave, make haste.”
Mr. C—— stood up and said, “That letter is mine: I sent it to Mr. Whitefield; and I do not retract any thing in it, nor blame myself for sending it.”
Perceiving some of our brethren began to speak with warmth, I desired he would meet me at Kingswood on Saturday, where each of us could speak more freely, and that all things might sleep till then. Tues . 24 . — The Bands meeting at Bristol, I read over the names of the United Society, being determined that no disorderly walker should remain therein. Accordingly, I took an account of every person, 1. To whom any reasonable objection was made. 2. Who was not known to and recommended by some, on whose veracity I could depend. To those who were sufficiently recommended, tickets were given on the following days. Most of the rest I had face to face with their accusers; and such as either appeared to be innocent, or confessed their faults and promised better behavior, were then received into the society. The others were put upon trial again, unless they voluntarily expelled themselves. About forty were by this means separated from us; I trust only for a season. Sat. 28 . — I met the Kingswood Bands again, and heard all who desired it at large: After which, I read the following paper: — “By many witnesses it appears, that several members of the Band Society in Kingswood have made it their common practice to scoff at the preaching of Mr. John and Charles Wesley: That they have censured and spoken evil of them behind their backs, at the very time they professed love and esteem to their faces: That they have studiously endeavored to prejudice other members of that society against them; and, in order thereto, have belied and slandered them in divers instances. “Therefore, not for their opinions, nor for any of them, (whether they be right or wrong,) but for the causes above mentioned, viz., for their scoffing at the word and Ministers of God, for their tale-bearing, backbiting, and evil-speaking, for their dissembling, lying, and slandering: “I, John Wesley, by the consent and approbation of the Band Society in Kingswood, do declare the persons above mentioned to be no longer members thereof. Neither will they be so accounted, until they shall openly confess their fault, and thereby do what in them lies, to remove the scandal they have given.”
At this they seemed a little shocked at first; but Mr. C——, T—— B—— , and A—— A——, soon recovered, and said, they had heard both my brother and me many times preach Popery. However, they would join with us if we would; but that they would not own they had done any thing amiss.
I desired them to consider of it yet again, and give us their answer the next evening.
The next evening,MARCH 1, they gave the same answer as before.
However, I could not tell how to part; but exhorted them to wait yet a little longer, and wrestle with God, that they might know his will concerning them. Fri. 6 . — Being still fearful of doing any thing rashly, or contrary to the great law of love, I consulted again with many of our brethren, concerning the farther steps I should take. In consequence of which, on Saturday, 7, all who could of the society being met together, I told them, open dealing was best; and I would therefore tell them plainly what I thought (setting all opinions aside) had been wrong in many of them, viz., “1. Their despising the Ministers of God, and slighting his ordinances; 2. Their not speaking or praying when met together, till they were sensibly moved thereto; and, 3. Their dividing themselves from their brethren, and forming a separate society. “That we could not approve of delaying this matter, because the confusion that was already, increased daily. “That, upon the whole, we believed the only way to put a stop to these growing evils was, for every one now to take his choice, and quit one society, or the other.”
T—— B—— replied, “It is our holding Election is the true cause of your separating from us.” I answered, “You know in your own conscience it is not. There are several Predestinarians in our societies both at London and Bristol; nor did I ever yet put any one out of either because he holden that opinion.”
He said, “Well, we will break up our society, on condition you will receive and employ Mr. C—— as you did before.”
I replied, “My brother has wronged me much. But he doth not say, ‘I repent.’” Mr. C—— said, “Unless in not speaking in your defense, I do not know that I have wronged you at all.”
I rejoined, “It seems then nothing remains, but for each to choose which society he pleases.”
Then, after a short time spent in prayer, Mr. C—— went out, and about half of those who were present, with him. Sun. 8 . — After preaching at Bristol, on the abuse and the right use of the Lord’s Supper, I earnestly besought them at Kingswood to beware of offending “in tongue,” either against justice, mercy, or truth. After sermon, the remains of our society met, and found we had great reason to bless God, for that, after fifty-two were withdrawn, we had still upwards of ninety left. O may these, at least, hold “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace!”
I will shut up this melancholy subject with part of a letter wrote by my brother about this time: — “If you think proper, you may show Brother C—— what follows.” — (N. B. I did not think it proper then.) “My dearest brother John C, — in much love and tenderness I speak. You came to Kingswood upon my brother’s sending for you. You served under him in the Gospel as a son. I need not say how well he loved you. You used the authority he gave you, to overthrow his doctrine: You every where contradicted it; (whether true or false is not the question;) but you ought first to have fairly told him, ‘I preach contrary to you. Are you willing, notwithstanding, that I should continue in your house gainsaying you? If you are not, I have no place in these regions. You have a right to this open dealing. I now give you fair warning: Shall I stay here opposing you, or shall I depart?’ “My brother, have you dealt thus honestly and openly with him? No; but you have stolen away the people’s heart from him. And when some of them basely treated their best friend, God only excepted, how patiently did you take it! When did you ever vindicate us, as we have you? Why did you not plainly tell them, ‘You are eternally indebted to these men. Think not that I will stay among you, to head a party against my dearest friend — and brother, as he suffers me to call him, having humbled himself for my sake, and given me (no Bishop, Priest, or Deacon) the right hand of fellowship. If I hear that one word more is spoken against him, I will leave you that moment, and never see your face more.’ “This had been just and honest, and not more than we have deserved at your hands. I say we; for God is my witness, how condescendingly loving I have been toward you. Yet did you so forget yourself, as both openly and privately to contradict my doctrine; while, in the mean time, I was as a deaf man that heard not, neither answered a word, either in private or public. “Ah, my brother! I am distressed for you. I would, — but you will not receive my saying. Therefore I can only commit you to Him who hath commanded us to forgive one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven us.” Sun. 15 . — I preached twice at Kingswood, and twice at Bristol, on those words of a troubled soul, “O that I had wings like a dove; for then would I flee away, and be at rest.”
One of the notes I received today was as follows: — “A person whom God has visited with a fever, and has wonderfully preserved seven days in a hay-mow, without any sustenance but now and then a little water out of a ditch, desires to return God thanks. The person is present, and ready to declare what God has done both for his body and soul. For the three first days of his illness, he felt nothing but the terrors of the Lord, greatly fearing lest he should drop into hell; till after long and earnest prayer, he felt himself given up to the will of God, and equally content to live or die.
Then he fell unto a refreshing slumber, and awaked full of peace and the love of God.” Tues . 17 . — From these words, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” I preached a sermon (which I have not done before in Kingswood-school since it was built) directly on Predestination. On Wednesday (and so every Wednesday and Thursday) I saw the sick in Bristol: Many of whom I found were blessing God for his seasonable visitation. In the evening I put those of the women who were grown slack, into distinct Bands by themselves; and sharply reproved many for their unfaithfulness to the grace of God: Who bore witness to his word, by pouring upon us all the spirit of mourning and supplication. Thur . 19 . — I visited many of the sick, and among the rest, J—— W—— who was in grievous pain both of body and mind. After a short time spent in prayer, we left her. But her pain was gone: Her soul being in full peace, and her body also so strengthened, that she immediately rose, and the next day went abroad. Sat. 21 . — I explained, in the evening, the thirty-third chapter of Ezekiel:
In applying which, I was suddenly seized with such a pain in my side, that I could not speak. I knew my remedy, and immediately kneeled down.
In a moment the pain was gone: And the voice of the Lord cried aloud to the sinners, “Why will ye die, O house of Israel?” Mon. 23 . — I visited the sick in Kingswood: One of whom surprised me much. Her husband died of the fever some days before. She was seized immediately after his death; then her eldest daughter; then another and another of her children, six of whom were now sick round about her, without either physic, money, food, or any visible means of procuring it.
Finding all things now, both at Kingswood and Bristol, far more settled than I expected, I complied with my brother’s request, and setting out on Wednesday, 25, the next day came to London. Sat. 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, 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. Mon. 30 . — I fixed an hour everyday for speaking with each of the Bands, that no disorderly walker might remain among them, nor any of a careless or contentious spirit. And the hours from ten to two, on everyday but Saturday, I set apart for speaking with any who should desire it. Wed . April 1. — At his earnest and repeated request, I went to see one under sentence of death in the New Prison. But the keeper told me, Mr. Wilson (the Curate of the parish) had given charge I should not speak with him. I am clear from the blood of this man. Let Mr. Wilson answer for it to God. Sat. 4 . — I believed both love and justice required that I should speak my sentiments freely to Mr. Wh——, concerning the letter he had published, said to be in answer to my Sermon on Free Grace. The sum of what I observed to him was this, 1. That it was quite imprudent to publish it at all, as being only the putting of weapons into their hands, who loved neither the one nor the other. 2. That if he was constrained to bear his testimony (as he termed it) against the error I was in, he might have done it by publishing a treatise on this head, without ever calling my name in question. 3. That what he had published was a mere burlesque upon an answer, leaving four of my eight arguments untouched, and handling the other four in so gentle a manner, as if he was afraid they would burn his fingers: However, that, 4. He had said enough of what was wholly foreign to the question, to make an open (and probably, irreparable) breach between him and me:
Seeing “for a treacherous wound, and for the betraying of secrets, every friend will depart.” Mon. 6 . — I had a long conversation with Peter Bohler. I marvel how I refrain from joining these men. I scarce ever see any of them but my heart burns within me. I long to be with them; and yet I am kept from them. Tues. 7 . — I dined with one who had been a professed Atheist for upwards of twenty years. But coming some months since to make sport with the word of God, it cut him to the heart. And he could have no rest day nor night, till the God whom he had denied spoke peace to his soul.
In the evening, having desired all the Bands to meet, I read over the names of the United Society; and marked those who were of a doubtful character, that full inquiry might be made concerning them. On Thursday, at the meeting of that society, I read over the names of these, and desired to speak with each of them the next day, as soon as they had opportunity.
Many of them afterwards gave sufficient proof, that they were seeking Christ in sincerity. The rest I determined to keep on trial, till the doubts concerning them were removed. Fri. 10. — In the evening, at Short’s Gardens, I read over, in order to expound, the eighth chapter to the Romans. But thoughts and words crowded in so fast upon me, that I could get no farther than the first verse:
Nor indeed, than that single clause, “Who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Tues. 14 . — I was much concerned for one of our sisters, who, having been but a few times with the still brethren, was on a sudden so much wiser than her teachers, that I could neither understand her, nor she me. Nor could I help being a little surprised at the profound indifference she showed, who a few days before would have plucked out her eyes, had it been possible, and given them to me. Wed . 15. — I explained at Grayhound-Lane, the latter part of the fourth chapter to the Ephesians. I was so weak in body, that I could hardly stand; but my spirit was much strengthened.
I found myself growing sensibly weaker all Thursday; so that on Friday, 17, I could scarce get out of bed, and almost as soon as I was up, was constrained to lie down again. Never the less I made shift to drag myself on, in the evening, to Short’s Gardens. Having, not without difficulty, got up the stairs, I read those words, (though scarce intelligibly, for my voice too was almost gone,) “Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate.”
In a moment both my voice and strength returned: And from that time, for some weeks, I found such bodily strength, as I had never done before, since my landing in America. Mon . 20 . — Being greatly concerned for those who were tossed about with divers winds of doctrine, many of whom were again entangled in sin, and carried away captive by Satan at his will; I besought God to show me where this would end, and opened my Bible on these words, “And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil nor any thing that they had taken to them. David recovered all.” Tues . 21 . — I wrote to my brother, then at Bristol, in the following words: — “AS YET I dare in no wise join with the Moravians: 1. Because their general scheme is mystical, not scriptural; refined in every point above what is written; immeasurably beyond the plain Gospel. 2. Because there is darkness and closeness in all their behavior, and guile in almost all their words. 3. Because they not only do not practice, but utterly despise and decry, self-denial and the daily cross. 4. Because they conform to the world, in wearing gold and gay or costly apparel. 5. Because they are by no means zealous of good works, or at least only to their own people: For these reasons (chiefly) I will rather, God being my helper, stand quite alone than join with them: I mean till I have full assurance, that they are better acquainted with ‘the truth as it is in Jesus.’” Fri . May 1. — I was with one who told me, she had been hitherto taught of man; but now she was taught of God only. She added, that God had told her not to partake of the Lord’s Supper any more; since she fed upon Christ continually. O who is secure from Satan transforming himself into an angel of light?
In the evening I went to a little love-feast which Peter Bohler made for those ten who joined together on this day three years, “to confess our faults one to another.” Seven of us were present; one being sick, and two unwilling to come. Surely the time will return, when there shall be again Union of mind, as in us all one soul! Sat. 2 . — I had a conversation of several hours with P. Bohler and Mr. Spangenberg. Our subject was, a new creature; Mr. Spangenberg’s account of which was this: — “The moment we are justified, a new creature is put into us. This is otherwise termed, the new man. “But notwithstanding, the old creature or the old man remains in us till the day of our death. “And in this old man there remains an old heart, corrupt and abominable. For inward corruption remains in the soul as long as the soul remains in the body. “But the heart which is in the new man is clean. And the new man is stronger than the old; so that though corruption continually strives, yet while we look to Christ it cannot prevail.”
I asked him, “Is there still an old man in you?” He said, “Yes; and will be as long as I live.” I said, “Is there then corruption in your heart?” He replied, “In the heart of my old man there is: But not in the heart of my new man.” I asked, “Does the experience of your brethren agree with yours?” He answered, “I know what I have now spoken is the experience of all the brethren and sisters throughout our Church.”
A few of our brethren and sisters sitting by, then spoke what they experienced. He told them, (with great emotion, his hand trembling much,) “You all deceive your own souls. There is no higher state than that I have described. You are in a very dangerous error. You know not your own hearts. You fancy your corruptions are taken away, whereas they are only covered. Inward corruption never can be taken away, till our bodies are in the dust.’
Was there inward corruption in our Lord? Or, cannot the servant be as his Master? Sun. 3 . — I gave the scriptural account of one who is “in Christ a new creature,” from whom “old things are passed away,” and in whom “all things are become new.” In the afternoon I explained at Mary-le-bone-Fields, to a vast multitude of people, “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good. And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? “The devil’s children fought valiantly for their master, that his kingdom should not be destroyed. And many stones fell on my right hand and on my left.
But when I began to examine them closely, what reward they were to have for their labor, they vanished away like smoke. Wed. 6 , was a day on which we agreed to meet for prayer and humbling our souls before God, if haply he might show us his will concerning our re-union with our brethren of Fetter-Lane. And to this intent all the men and women Bands met at one in the afternoon. Nor did our Lord cast out our prayer, or leave himself without witness among us. But it was clear to all, even those who were before the most eagerly desirous of it, that the time was not come. 1. Because they had not given up their most essentially erroneous doctrines; and, 2. Because many of us had found so much guile in their words, that we could scarce tell what they really holden, and what not. Thur. 7 . — 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.
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 their district, every other day:
And to meet on Tuesday evening, to give an account of what they have done, and consult what can be done farther.
This week the Lord of the harvest began to put in his sickle among us. On Tuesday our brother Price, our sister Bowes on Wednesday, today our sister Hawthorn, died. They all went in full and certain hope, to Him whom their soul loved. Fri. 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 scarce 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.” 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.” Thur. 14 . — Hearing that one was in a high fever, of whom I had for some time stood in doubt, I went to her, and asked how she did. She replied, “I am very ill, — but I am very well. O I am happy, happy, happy! for my spirit continually rejoices in God my Savior. All the angels in heaven rejoice in my Savior. And I rejoice with them, for I am united to Jesus.”
She added, “How the angels rejoice over an heir of salvation! How they now rejoice over me! And I am partaker of their joy. O my Savior, how happy am I in thee! “ Fri. 15 . — I called again. She was saying as I came in, “My Beloved is mine; and He hath cleansed me from all sin. O how far is the heaven above the earth! So far hath He set my sins from me. O how did He rejoice, when ‘He was heard in that He feared!’ He was heard, and He gained a possibility of salvation for me and all mankind. It is finished: His grace is free for all: I am a witness: I was the chief of sinners, a backsliding sinner, a sinner against light and love: But I am washed: I am cleansed.”
Yet I shall more abundantly rejoice when we stand before the Lord; you and I, and all the other children which He hath given you.”
In the evening I called upon her again, and found her weaker, and her speech much altered. I asked her, “Do you now believe? Do not you find your soul in temptation?” She answered, smiling and looking up, “There is the Lamb: And where he is, what is temptation? I have no darkness, no cloud. The enemy may come; but he hath no part in me.” I said, “But does not your sickness hinder you?” She replied, “Nothing hinders me. It is the Spirit of my Father that worketh in me: And nothing hinders that Spirit.
My body indeed in weak and in pain: But my soul is all joy and praise.” Sat. 16 . — I mentioned this to Peter Bohler. But he told me, “There is no such state on earth. Sin will and must always remain in the soul. The old man will remain till death. The old nature is like an old tooth: You may break off one bit, and another, and another; but you can never get it all away: The stump of it will stay as long as you live; and sometimes will ache too.” Mon. 18 . — At the pressing instance of my brother, I left London, and the next evening met him at Bristol. I was a little surprised when I came into the room, just after he had ended his sermon. Some wept aloud; some clapped their hands; some shouted; and the rest sang praise; with whom (having soon recovered themselves) the whole congregation joined. So I trust, if ever God were pleased that we should suffer for the truth’s sake, all other sounds would soon be swallowed up in the voice of praise and thanksgiving. Wed. 20 . — I spent most of the morning in speaking with the new members of the society. In the afternoon I saw the sick; but not one in fear, neither repining against God. Thur. 21 . — In the evening I published the great decree of God, eternal, unchangeable, (so miserably misunderstood and misrepresented by vain men that would be wise,) “He that believeth shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned.” Sat. 23 . — At a meeting of the Stewards of the society, (who receive and expend what is contributed weekly,) it was found needful to retrench the expenses; the contributions not answering thereto. And it was accordingly agreed to discharge two of the Schoolmasters at Bristol; the present fund being barely sufficient to keep two Masters and a Mistress here, and one Master and a Mistress at Kingswood. Mon. 25 . — Having settled all the business on which I came, I set out early, and on Tuesday called at Windsor. I found here also a few, who have peace with God, and are full of love both to Him and to one another. In the evening I preached at the Foundery, on, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” Fri. 29 . — I spent an hour with poor Mr. M——e. His usual frown was vanished away. His look was clear, open, and composed. He listened to the word of reconciliation with all possible marks of deep attention, though he was too weak to speak. Before I went, we commended him to the grace of God, in confidence that our prayer was heard: To whom, at two in the morning, he resigned his spirit, without any sigh or groan. Tues . June 2 . — I spoke plainly to Mr. Piers, who told me he had been much shaken by the still brethren. But the snare is broken: I left him rejoicing in hope, and praising God for the consolation. Thur . 4 . — I exhorted a crowded congregation, not to “receive the grace of God in vain.” The same exhortation I enforced on the society: (About nine hundred persons:) And by their fruits it doth appear that they begin to love one another, “not in word” only, “but in deed and in truth.” Fri. 5 . — Hearing that a deaf and dumb man near Marienborne, had procured a remarkable letter to be wrote into England, I asked James Hutton, if he knew of that letter; and what the purport of it was. He answered, Yes; he had read the letter; but had quite forgot what it was about. I then asked Mr. V——, who replied, The letter was short, but he did not remember the purport of it. Sun. 7 . — I preached in Charles’-Square, on, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.” A violent storm began about the middle of the sermon:
But these things move not those who seek the Lord. So much the more was his power present to heal; in so much that many of our hearts danced for joy, praising “the glorious God that maketh the thunder.” Mon. 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; every one behaving to me, as to a civil, good-natured gentleman. O how pleasing is all this to flesh and blood! Need ye “compass sea and land,” to make “proselytes” to this? Wed. 10 . — I preached in the morning, on the inward kingdom of God.
In the afternoon we came to J—— C——n’s, about ten miles beyond Markfield; a plain, open-hearted man, desirous to know and do the will of God. I was a little surprised at what he said: “A few months since there was a great awakening all round us: But since Mr. S—— came, three parts in four are fallen as fast asleep as ever.” I spoke to him of drawing people from the Church, and advising them to leave off prayer. He said, there was no Church of England left; and that there was no scripture for family prayer, nor for praying in private at any other particular times; which a believer need not do. I asked, what our Savior then meant by saying, “Enter into thy closet and pray.” He said, “O! that means, Enter into the closet of your heart.”
Between five and six we came to Ogbrook, where Mr. S——n then was. I asked Mr. Greaves, what doctrine he taught here. He said, “The sum of all is this: ‘If you will believe, be still. Do not pretend to do good; (which you cannot do till you believe;) and leave off what you call the means of grace; such as prayer, and running to church and sacrament.’” About eight, Mr. Greaves offering me the use of his church, I explained the true Gospel stillness; and in the morning, Thursday, 11, to a large congregation, “By grace are ye saved through faith.”
In the afternoon we went on to Nottingham, where Mr. Howe received us gladly. At eight the society met as usual. I could not but observe, 1. That the room was not half full, which used, till very lately, to be crowded within and without. 2. That not one person who came in used any prayer at all; but every one immediately sat down, and began either talking to his neighbor, or looking about to see who was there. 3. That when I began to pray, there appeared a general surprise, none once offering to kneel down, and those who stood, choosing the most easy, indolent posture which they conveniently could. I afterward looked for one of our Hymn-books upon the desk; (which I knew Mr. Howe had brought from London;) but both that and the Bible were vanished away; and in the room lay the Moravian hymns and the Count’s sermons.
I expounded, (but with a heavy heart,) “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved;” and the next morning described (if haply some of the secure ones might awake from the sleep of death) the fruits of true faith, “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
In the evening we came to Markfield again, where the church was quite full, while I explained, “All we like sheep have gone astray;... and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Sat. 13 . — In the morning I preached on those words, “To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted to him for righteousness.” We then set out for Melbourn, where, finding the house too small to contain those who were come together, I stood under a large tree, and declared Him whom “God hath exalted to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance unto Israel, and remission of sins.”
One of our company seemed a little offended when I had done, at “a vile fellow, notorious all over the country for cursing, swearing, and drunkenness; though he was now gray headed, being near four-score years of age.” He came to me, and catching me hold by the hands, said, “Whether thou art a good or a bad man, I know not; but I know the words thou speakest are good. I never heard the like in all my life. O that God would set them home upon my poor soul!” He then burst into tears, so that he could speak no more. Sun. 14 . — I rode to Nottingham again, 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.” 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 excessive hot, (being crowded in every corner,) that I could not, without difficulty, read the Evening Service. Being afterwards 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 backsliding: I will love them freely.” In the evening I expounded in the church, on her who “loved much, because she had much forgiven.” Mon. 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. To instance only in one or two points: — How does he (almost in the words of Tauler) decry reason, right or wrong, as an irreconcilable enemy to the Gospel of Christ! Whereas, what is reason (the faculty so called) but the power of apprehending, judging, and discoursing? Which power is no more to be condemned in the gross, than seeing, hearing, or feeling. Again, how blasphemously does he speak of good works and of the Law of God; constantly coupling the Law with sin, death, hell, or the devil; and teaching, that Christ delivers us from them all alike. Whereas, it can no more be proved by Scripture that Christ delivers us from the Law of God, than that he delivers us from holiness or from heaven. Here (I apprehend) is the real spring of the grand error of the Moravians.
They follow Luther, for better for worse. Hence their “No works; no Law; no commandments.” But who art thou that “speakest evil of the Law, and judgest the Law?” Tues. 16 . — In the evening I came to London, and preached on those words, ( Galatians 6:15,) “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” After reading Luther’s miserable comment upon the text, I thought it my bounden duty openly to warn the congregation against that dangerous treatise; and to retract whatever recommendation I might ignorantly have given of it. Wed. 17 . — I set out, and rode slowly toward Oxford; but before I came to Wycombe my horse tired. There I hired another, which tired also before I carne to Tetsworth. I hired a third here, and reached Oxford in the evening. Thur. 18 . — I inquired concerning the exercises previous to the degree of Bachelor in Divinity, and advised with Mr. Gambold concerning the subject of my sermon before the University; but he seemed to think it of no moment: “For;” said he, “all here are so prejudiced, that they will mind nothing you say.” I know not that. However, I am to deliver my own soul, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.
I found a great change among the poor people here. Out of twenty-five or thirty weekly communicants, only two were left. Not one continued to attend the daily Prayers of the Church. And those few that were once united together, were now torn asunder, and scattered abroad. Mon. 22 . — The words on which my book opened at the society, in the evening, were these: — “Ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. But ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: And what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance?” ( Malachi 3:7,13,14.) Wed. 24 . — I read over, and partly transcribed, Bishop Bull’s Harmonia Apostoltca. The position with which he sets out is this: “That all good works, and not faith alone, are the necessarily previous condition of justification,” or the forgiveness of our sins. But in the middle of the treatise he asserts, “That faith alone is the condition of justification:” “For faith,” says he, “referred to justification, means all inward and outward good works.” In the latter end, he affirms, “that there are two justifications; and that only inward good works necessarily precede the former, but both inward and outward, the latter.” Sat. 27 . — I rode to London, and enforced, in the evening, that solemn declaration of the great Apostle, “Do we then make void the Law through faith God forbid. Yea, we establish the Law.” Sun. 28 . — I showed in the morning at large, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty;” liberty from sin; liberty to be, to do, and to suffer, according to the written word. At five I preached at Charles’-Square, to the largest congregation that, I believe, was ever seen there, on, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” As soon as I had done, I quite lost my voice. But it was immediately restored, when I came to our little flock, with the blessing of the Gospel of peace; and I spent an hour and half in exhortation and prayer, without any hoarseness, faintness, or weariness. Mon. 29 . — I preached in the morning, on, “Ye are saved through faith.”
In the afternoon I expounded, at Windsor, the story of the Pharisee and Publican. I spent the evening at Wycombe, and the next morning, Tuesday, 30, returned to Oxford. Thur . July 2. — I met Mr. Gambold again; who honestly told me, he was ashamed of my company; and therefore must be excused from going to the society with me. This is plain dealing at least! Sat. 4 . — I had much talk with Mr. V——, who allowed, 1. That there are many (not one only) commands of God, both to believers and unbelievers; and, 2. That the Lord’s Supper, the Scripture, and both public and private prayer, are God’s ordinary means of conveying grace to man. But what will this private confession avail, so long as the quite contrary is still declared in those “Sixteen Discourses,” published to all the world, and never yet either corrected or retracted? Mon. 6 . — Looking for a book in our College Library, I took down, by mistake, the Works of Episcopius; which opening on an account of the Synod of Dort, I believed it might be useful to read it through. But what a scene is here disclosed! I wonder not at the heavy curse of God, which so soon after fell on our Church and nation. What a pity it is, that the holy Synod Of Trent, and that of Dort, did not sit at the same time; nearly allied as they were, not only as to the purity of doctrine which each of them established, but also as to the spirit wherewith they acted; if the latter did not exceed! Thur. 9 . — Being in the Bodleian Library, I light on Mr. Calvin’s account of the case of Michael Servetus; several of whose letters he occasionally inserts; wherein Servetus often declares in terms, “I believe the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God.” Mr. Calvin, however, paints him such a monster as never was, — an Arian, a blasphemer, and what not: Besides strewing over him his flowers of “dog, devil, swine,” and so on; which are the usual appellations he gives to his opponents. But still he utterly denies his being the cause of Servetus’s death. “No,” says he, “I only advised our Magistrates, as having a right to restrain heretics by the sword, to seize upon and try that arch-heretic. But after he was condemned, I said not one word about his execution!”
Fri. 10 . — I rode to London, and preached at Short’s-Gardens, on, “the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” 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,” a great shout began. Many of the rabble had brought an ox, which they were vehemently laboring to drive in 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. Mon. 13 . — I returned to Oxford, and on Wednesday rode to Bristol. My brother, I found, was already gone to Wales; so that I came just in season; and that, indeed, on another account also; for a spirit of enthusiasm was breaking in upon many, who charged their own imaginations on the will of God, and that not written, but impressed on their hearts. If these impressions be received as the rule of action, instead of the written word, I know nothing so wicked or absurd but we may fall into, and that without remedy. Fri. 17 . — The school at Kingswood was thoroughly filled between eight and nine in the evening. I showed them, from the example of the Corinthians, what need we have to bear one with another, seeing we are not to expect many fathers in Christ, no, nor young men among us, as yet.
We then poured out our souls in prayer and praise, and our Lord did not hide his face from us. Sun. 19 . — After preaching twice at Bristol, and twice at Kingswood, I earnestly exhorted the society to continue in the faith, “enduring hardship, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.” On Monday (my brother being now returned from Wales) I rode back to Oxford. Wed. 22 . — At the repeated instance of some that were there, I went over to Abingdon. I preached on, “What must I do to be saved?” Both the yard and house were full. But so stupid, senseless a people, both in a spiritual and natural sense, I scarce ever saw before. Yet God is able, of “these stones, to raise up children to Abraham.” Fri. 24 . — Several of our friends from London, and some from Kingswood and Bristol, came to Oxford. Alas! how long shall they “come from the east, and from the west, and sit down in the kingdom of God,” while the children of the kingdom will not come in, but remain in utter darkness! Sat . 25 . — 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.” I have “cast my bread upon the waters.” Let me “find it again after many days!”
In the afternoon I set out, (having no time to spare,) and on Sunday, 26, preached at the Foundery, on the “liberty” we have “to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” Mon. 27 . — Finding notice had been given, that I would preach in the evening at Hackney, I went thither, and openly declared those glad tidings, “By grace are ye saved through faith.” Many, we heard, had threatened terrible things; but no man opened his mouth. Perceive ye not yet, that “greater is He that is in us, than he that in the world?” Tues. 28 . — I visited one that was going heavily and in fear “through the valley of the shadow of death.” But God heard the prayer, and soon lifted up the light of his countenance upon her: So that she immediately broke out into thanksgiving, and the next day quietly fell asleep. Fri. 31 . — Hearing that one of our sisters (Jane Muncy) was ill, I went to see her. She was one of the first women Bands at Fetter-Lane; and, when the controversy concerning the means of grace began, stood in the gap, and contended earnestly for the ordinances once delivered to the saints. When, soon after, it was ordered, that the unmarried men and women should have no conversation with each other, she again withstood to the face those who were “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Nor could all the sophistry of those who are, without controversy, of all men living the wisest in their generation, induce her either to deny the faith she had received, or to use less plainness of speech, or to be less zealous in recommending and careful in practicing good works. In so much that many times, when she had been employed in the labor of love, till eight or nine in the evening, she then sat down and wrought with her hands till twelve or one in the morning; not that she wanted any thing herself, but that she might have to give to others for necessary uses.
From the time that she was made Leader of one or two Bands, she was more eminently a pattern to the flock: In self-denial of every kind, in openness of behavior, in simplicity and godly sincerity, in steadfast faith, in constant attendance on all the public and all the private ordinances of God. And as she had labored more than they all, so God now called her forth to suffer. She was seized at first with a violent fever, in the beginning of which they removed her to another house. Here she had work to do which she knew not of. The master of the house was one who “cared for none of these things.” But he observed her, and was convinced. So that he then began to understand and lay to heart the things that bring a man peace at the last.
In a few days the fever abated, or settled, as it seemed, into an inward imposthume; so that she could not breathe without violent pain, which increased day and night. When I came in, she stretched out her hand and said, “Art thou come, thou blessed of the Lord? Praised be the name of my Lord for this.” I asked, “Do you faint, now you are chastened of him?”
She said, “O no, no, no; I faint not; I murmur not; I rejoice evermore.” I said, “But can you in every thing give thanks?” She replied, “Yes; I do, I do.” I said, “God will make all your bed in your sickness.” She cried out, “He does, he does; I have nothing to desire; he is ever with me, and I have nothing to do but to praise him.”
In the same state of mind, though weaker and weaker in body, she continued till Tuesday following; when several of those who had been in her Band being present, she fixed her eyes upon them, and fell into a kind of agonizing prayer, that God would keep them from the evil one. But in the afternoon, when I came, she was quite calm again, and all her words were prayer and praise. The same spirit she breathed when Mr. Maxfield called the next day; and soon after he went, she slept in peace. — “A mother in Israel” hast thou been, and thy works shall praise thee in the gates!” Sat . August 1. — I had a long conversation with Mr. Ingham. We both agreed, 1. That none shall finally be saved, who have not, as they had opportunity, done all good works; and, 2. That if a justified person does not do good, as he has opportunity, he will lose the grace he has received; and if he “repent” not, “and do the former works,” will perish eternally. But with regard to the unjustified, (if I understand him,) we wholly disagreed. He believed it is not the will of God, that they should wait for faith in doing good. I believe, this is the will of God; and that they will never find him, unless they seek him in this way. Sun. 2 . — I went, after having been long importuned by Dr. Deleznot, to the chapel in Great Hermitage-Street, Wapping. Mr. Meriton (a Clergyman from the Isle of Man) read prayers. I then preached on these words in the former Lesson, “Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself?
Because he hath humbled himself, I will not bring this evil in his days:” And took occasion thence to exhort all unbelievers, to use the grace God had already given them; and in keeping his Law, according to the power they now had, to wait for the faith of the Gospel. Fri. 7 . — The body of our sister Muncy being brought to Short’s-Gardens, I preached on those words, “Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.” From thence we went with it to the grave, in St. Giles’s church-yard, where I performed the last office in the presence of such an innumerable multitude of people as I never saw gathered together before. O what a sight it will be when God saith to the grave, “Give back;” and all the dead, small and great, shall stand before him! Wed. 12 . — I visited one whom God is purifying in the fire, in answer to the prayers of his wife, whom he was just going to beat, (which he frequently did,) when God smote him in a moment, so that his hand dropped, and he fell down upon the ground, having no more strength than a new-born child. He has been confined to his bed ever since; but rejoices in hope of the glory of God. Fri. 14 . — Calling on a person near Grosvenor-Square, I found there was but too much reason here for crying out of the increase of Popery; many converts to it being continually made, by the gentleman who preaches in Swallow Street, three days in every week. Now, why do not the champions who are continually crying out, “Popery, Popery,” in Moorfields, come hither, that they may not always be fighting “as one that beateth the air?” Plainly, because they have no mind to fight at all; but to show their valor without an opponent. And they well know, they may defy Popery at the Foundery, without any danger of contradiction. Wed. 19 . — The scripture which came in turn to be expounded, was the ninth chapter to the Romans. I was then constrained to speak an hour longer than usual; and am persuaded most, if not all who were present, saw that this chapter has no more to do with personal, irrespective predestination, than the ninth of Genesis. Thur. 20 . — A Clergyman having sent me word, that if I would preach in the evening on the text he named, he would come to hear me, I preached on that text, Matthew 7:15. And strongly enforced the caution of our Lord, to “beware of false Prophets;” that is, all Preachers who do not speak as the Oracles of God. Tues. 25 . — I explained, at Chelsea, the nature and necessity of the new birth. One (who, I afterwards heard, was a Dissenting Teacher) asked me when I had done, “Quid est tibi nomen?” And on my not answering, turned in triumph to his companions, and said, “Ay, I told you he did not understand Latin!” Wed. 26 . — I was informed of a remarkable conversation, at which one of our sisters was present a day or two before; wherein 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, viz., 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. Sun. 31 . — I began my course of preaching on the Common Prayer. Tuesday, SEPTEMBER 1. I read over Mr. Whitefield’s account of God’s dealings with his soul. Great part of this I know to be true. O “let not mercy and truth forsake thee! Bind them about thy neck! Write them upon the table of thy heart!” Thur. 3 . — James Hutton having sent me word, that Count Zinzendorf would meet me at three in the afternoon, I went at that time to Gray’s-Inn Walks. The most material part of our conversation (which I dare not conceal) was as follows: — To spare the dead I do not translate: — Z. Cur Religionem tuam mutasti?
W. Nescio me Religionem meam mutasse. Cur id sentis? Quis hoc tibi retulit?
Z. Plane tu. Id ex epistola tua ad nos video. Ibi, Religione, quam apud nos professus es, relicta, novam profiteris.
W. Qui sic? Non intelligo.
Z. Imo, istic dicis, “Vere Christianos non esse miseros peccatores.”
Falsissimum. Optimi hominum ad mortem usque miserabilissimi sunt peccatores. Siqui aliud dicunt, vel penitus impostores sunt, vel diabolice seducti. Nostros fratres meliora docentes impugnasti. Et pacem volentibus, eam denegasti.
W. Nondum intelligo quid velis.
Z. Ego, cum ex Georgia ad me scripsisti, te dilexi plurimum. Tum corde simplicem te agnovi. Iterum scripsisti. Agnovi corde simplicem, sed turbatis ideis. Ad nos venisti. Idea tuaetum magis turbatoe erant et confusae. In Angliam redisti. Aliquandiu post, audivi fratres nostros tecum pugnare. Spangenbergium misi ad pacem inter vos conciliandam. Scripsit mihi, “Fratres tibi injuriam intulisse.”
Rescripsi, ne pergerent, sed et veniam a te peterent. Spangenberg scripsit iterum, “Eos petiisse; sed te gloriari de iis, pacetm nolle.” Jam adveniens, idem audio.
W. Res in eo cardine minime vertitur. Fratres tui (verum hoc) me male tractarunt. Postea veniam petierunt. Respondi, “Id supervacaneum; me nunquam iis succensuisse: Sed vereri, 1. Ne falsa docerent. 2. Ne prave viverent.” Ista unica, est, et fuit, inter nos quaestio.
Z. Apertius loquaris, W. Veritus sum, ne falsa docerent, 1. De fine fidei nostrae (in hac vita) scil. Christiana perfectione. 2. De mediis gratice, sic ab Ecclesia nostrd dictis.
Z. Nullam inhoerentem perfectionem in hac vita agnosco. Est hic error errorum. Eum per totum orbem igne et gladio persequor, conculco, ad internecionem do. Christus est sola Perfectio nostra. Qui perfectionem inhoerentem sequitur, Christum denegat.
W. Ego vero credo, Spiritum Christi operari perfectionem in vere Christianis.
Z. Nullimode. Omnis nostra perfectio est in Christo. Omnis Christiana perfectio est, fides in sanyuine Christi. Est tota Christiana perfectio, imputata, non inhaerens. Perfecti sumus in Christo, in nobismet nunquam perfecti.
W. Pugnamus, opinor, de verbis. Nonne omnis vere credens sanctus est?
Z. Maxime. Sed sanctus in Christo, non in se.
W. Sed, nonne sancte vivit?
Z. Imo, sancte in omnibus uivit.
W. Nonne et cor sanctum habet?
W. Nonne, ex consequenti, sanctus est in se?
Z. Non, non. In Cristo tantum. Non sanctus in se. Nullam omnino habet sanctitatem in se.
W. Nonne habet in corde suo amorem Dei et proximi, quin et totam imaginem Dei?
Z. Habet. Sed haec sunt sanctitas legalis, non Evangelica. Sanctitas Evangelica est fides.
W. Omnino lis est de verbis. Concedis, credentis cor totum esse sanctum et vitam totam: Eum amare Deum toto corde, eique servire totis viribus. Nihil ultra peto. Nil aliud volo per Perfectio vel Sanctitas Christiana.
Z. Sed haec non est sanctitas ejus. Non magis sanctus est, si magis amat, neque minus sanctus, siminus amat.
W. Quid? Nonne credens, dum crescit in amore, crescit pariter in sanctitate?
Z. Nequaquam. Eo momento quo justificatur, sanctifcatur penitus. Exin, neque magis sanctus est, neque minus sanctus, ad mortem usque.
W. Nonne igitur Pater in Christo sanctior est Infante recens nato!
Z. Non. Sanctificatio totalis ac Justificatio in eodem sunt instanti; et neutra recipit magis aut minus.
W. Nonne vero credens crescit indies amore Dei? Num perfectus est amore simulac justificatur?
Z. Est. Non unquam ereseit in amore. Dei. Totaliter amat eo momento, sicut totaliter sanetificatur.
W. Quid itaque vult Apostolus Paulus, per, “Renovamur de die in diem?” Z. Dicam. Plumbum sw in aurum mutetur, est aurum primo die, et secundo, et tertio. Et sic renovatur de die in diem. Sed nunquam est mayis aurum, quam primo die.
W. Potavi, crescendum esse in gratia!
Z. Certe. Sed non in sanctitate. Simulac justificatur quis, Pater, Fililus et Spiritus Sanctus habitant in ipsius corde. Et cor ejus eo momento oeque purum est ac unquam erit. Infans in Christo tam purus corde est quam Pater in Christo. Nulla est discrepantia.
W. Nonne justiJicati erant Apostoli ante Christi mortem?
W. Nonne vero sanctiores erant post diem Penteeostes, quam ante Christi mortem?
W. Nonne eo die impleti sunt Spiritu Sancto?
Z. Erant. Sed istud donum Spiritus, sanctitatem ipsorum non respexit.
Fuit donum miraculorum tantum.
W. Fortasse te non capio. Nonne nos ipsos abnegantes, magis magisque mundo morimur, ac Deo vivimus?
Z. Abnegationem omnem respuimus, conculcamus. Facimus credentes omne quod volumus et nihil ultra. Mortificationem omnem ridemus.
Nulla purificatio praecedit perfectum amorem.
W. Quce dixisti, Deo adjuvante, perpendam. f36 TheLETTER referred to by the Count was written August 8, preceding. It was as follows, excepting two or three paragraphs, which I have omitted as less material: — JOHN WESLEY, A PRESBYTER OF THE CHURCH OF GOD IN ENGLAND, TO THE CHURCH OF GOD AT HERNHUTH IN UPPER LUSATIA. 1. IT may seem strange, that such an one as I am should take upon me to write to you. You I believe to be dear children of God, through faith which is in Jesus. Me you believe (as some of you have declared) to be “a child of the devil, a servant of corruption.” Yet whatsoever I am, or what so ever you are, I beseech you to weigh the following words; if haply God, who “sendeth by whom he will send,” may give you light thereby; although “the mist of darkness” (as one of you affirms) should be reserved for me for ever. 2. My design is, freely and plainly to speak whatsoever I have seen or heard among you, in any part of your Church, which seems not agreeable to the Gospel of Christ. And my hope is, that the God whom you serve, will give you thoroughly to weigh what is spoken; and if in any thing “ye have been otherwise minded” than the truth is, “will reveal even this unto you.” 3. And First, With regard to Christian salvation, even the present salvation which is through faith, I have heard some of you affirm,
(1.) That it does not imply the proper taking away our sins, the cleansing our souls from all sin, but only the tearing the system of sin in pieces.
(1.) That it does imply liberty from the commandments of God, so that one who is saved through faith, is not obliged or bound to obey them, does not do any thing as a commandment, or as a duty. To support which they have affirmed, that there is no command in the New Testament but to believe; that there is no duty required therein, but that of believing; and that to a believer there is no commandment at all.
(2.) That it does imply liberty to conform to the world, by talking on useless, if not trifling subjects; by joining in worldly diversions in order to do good; by putting on of gold and costly apparel, or by continuing in those professions, the gain of which depends on ministering hereto.
(3.) That it does imply liberty to avoid persecution, by not reproving even those who sin in your sight; by not letting your light shine before those men who love darkness rather than light; by not using plainness of speech, and a frank, open carriage to all men. Nay, by a close, dark, reserved conversation and behavior, especially toward strangers. And in many of you I have more than once found (what you called, “being wise as serpents”) much subtlety, much evasion and disguise, much guile and dissimulation.
You appeared to be what you were not, or not to be what you were. You so studied “to become all things to all men,” as to take the color and shape of any that were near you. So that your practice was indeed no proof of your judgment; but only an indication of your design, nulli laedere os; and of your conformity to that (not scriptural) maxim, Sinere mundum vadere ut vult: Nam vult vadere. f41 I reply, 1. If this be all you mean, why do you not say so explicitly to all men? 2. Whether this be all, let any reasonable man judge, when he has read what is here subjoined.] This objection then stands in fall force, the fact alleged being rather defended than denied.
The joining in worldly diversions in order to do good, (another charge which cannot be denied,) I think would admit of the same defense, viz., “That there are other things as bad.”] What miserable work is here! Because trade relates to the Magistrate, am I not to consider whether my trade be innocent or sinful? Then, the keeper of a Venetian brothel is clear. The Magistrate shall answer for him to God!] 5. Secondly, With regard to that faith through which we are saved, I have heard many of you say, “A man may have justifying faith and not know it.” Others of you, who are now in England, (particularly Mr. Molther,) I have heard affirm, that there is no such thing as weak faith; that there are no degrees in faith; that there is no justifying faith, where there is ever any doubt; that there is no justifying faith without the plerophory of faith, the clear, abiding witness of the Spirit; that there is no justifying faith, where there is not, in the full, proper sense, a new or clean heart; and that those who have not these two gifts, are only awakened, not justified. 6. Thirdly, As to the way to faith, here are many among us, whom some of your brethren have advised (what it is not to be supposed they would as yet speak to me, or in their public preaching) not to use those ordinances which our Church terms “means of grace,” till they have such a faith as implies a clean heart, and excludes all possibility of doubting.
They have advised them, till then, not to search the Scriptures, not to pray, not to communicate; and have often affirmed, that to do these things, is seeking salvation by works; and that till these works are laid aside, no man can receive faith; for, “No man,” say they, “can do these things without trusting in them: If he does not trust in them, why does he do them?” 7. To those who answered, “It is our duty to use the ordinances of God,” they replied, “There are no ordinances of Christ, the use of which is now bound upon Christians as a duty, or which we are commanded to use. As to those you mention in particular, (viz., prayer, communicating, and searching the Scripture,) if a man have faith, he need not; if he have not, he must not use them. A believer may use them, though not as enjoined; but an unbeliever (as before defined) may not.” 8. To those who answered, “I hope God will through these means convey his grace to my soul,” they replied, “There is no such thing as means of grace; Christ has not ordained any such in his Church. But if there were, they are nothing to you; for you are dead; you have no faith; and you cannot work while you are dead. Therefore, let these things alone till you have faith.” 9. And some of our English brethren, who are joined with yours, have said openly, “You will never have faith till you leave running about to church and sacrament, and societies.” Another of them has said, (in his public expounding,) “As many go to hell by praying as by thieving.” Another, “I knew one, who, leaning over the back of a chair, received a great gift. But he must kneel down to give God thanks: So he lost it immediately. And I know not whether he will ever have it again.” And yet another, “You have lost your first joy: Therefore you pray: That is the devil. You read the Bible: That is the devil. You communicate: That is the devil.” 10. Let not any of you, my brethren, say, “We are not chargeable with what they speak.” Indeed you are: For you can hinder it, if you will.
Therefore, if you do not, it must be charged upon you. If you do not use the power which is in your hands, and thereby prevent their speaking thus, you do, in effect, speak thus yourselves. You make their words your own; and are, accordingly, chargeable with every ill consequence which may flow therefrom. 11. Fourthly, With regard to your Church, you greatly, yea, above measure, exalt yourselves and despise others. “The Lord has such a peculiar hand in the several constitutions of religion, that one ought to respect every one of them.” I cannot possibly: I cannot respect, either the Jewish (as it is now) or the Roman religion. You add, “A Church (I will not examine whether there are any in this present age, or whether there is no other beside ours) is, a congregation of sinners who have obtained forgiveness of sins. That such a congregation should be in an error, cannot easily happen.”
I find no reason, therefore, to retreat any thing which is advanced on this or any of the following heads.] I have scarce heard one Moravian brother, in my life, own his Church to be wrong in any thing.
I have scarce heard any of you (I think not one in England) own himself to be wrong in any thing.
Many of you I have heard speak of your Church, as if it were infallible; or, so led by the Spirit, that it was not possible for it to err in any thing.
Some of you have set it up (as indeed you ought to do, if it be infallible) as the judge of all the earth, of all persons (as well as doctrines) therein: And you have accordingly passed sentence upon them at once, by their agreement or disagreement with your Church.
Some of you have said, that there is no true church on earth but yours; yea, that there are no true Christians out of it. And your own members you require to have implicit faith in her decisions, and to pay implicit obedience to her directions. 12. Fifthly, You receive not the ancient, but the modern Mystics, as the best interpreters of Scripture: And in conformity to these, you mix much of man’s wisdom with the wisdom of God: You greatly refine the plain religion taught by the letter of Holy Writ, and philosophize on almost every part of it, to accommodate it to the Mystic theory. Hence you talk much, in a manner wholly unsupported by Scripture, against mixing nature with grace, against imagination, and concerning the animal spirits, mimicking the power of the Holy Ghost. Hence your brethren zealously caution us against animal joy, against natural love of one another, and against selfish love of God; against which (or any of them) there is no one caution in all the Bible. And they have, in truth, greatly lessened, and had well-nigh destroyed, brotherly love from among us. 13. In conformity to the Mystics, you likewise greatly check joy in the Holy Ghost, by such cautions against sensible comforts, as have no tittle of Scripture to support them. Hence also your brethren here damp the zeal of babes in Christ, talking much of false zeal, forbidding them to declare what God hath done for their souls, even when their hearts burn within them to declare it, and comparing those to uncorked bottles, who simply and artlessly speak of the ability which God giveth. 14. Hence, Lastly, it is, that you undervalue good works, (especially works of outward mercy,) never publicly insisting on the necessity of them, nor declaring their weight and excellency. Hence, when some of your brethren have spoken of them, they put them on a wrong foot; viz., “If you find yourself moved, if your heart is free to it, then reprove, exhort, relieve.” By this means you wholly avoid the taking up your cross, in order to do good; and also substitute an uncertain, precarious inward motion, in the place of the plain written word. Nay, one of your members has said of good works in general, (whether works of piety or of charity,) “A believer is no more obliged to do these works of the Law, than a subject of the King of England is obliged to obey the laws of the King of France.” 15. My brethren, whether ye will hear, or whether ye will forbear, I have now delivered my own soul. And this I have chosen to do in an artless manner, that if any thing should come home to your hearts, the effect might evidently flow, not from the wisdom of man, but from the power of God. August 8, 1740.
Thus have I declared, and in the plainest manner I can, the real controversy between us and the Moravian brethren; an unpleasing task, which I have delayed, at least, as long as I could with a clear conscience. But I am constrained at length nakedly to speak the thing as it is, that I may not hinder the work of God.
I am very sensible of the objection which has so often been made, viz., “You are inconsistent with yourself. You did tenderly love, highly esteem, and zealously recommend these very men: And now you do not love or esteem them at all. You not only do not recommend them, but are bitter against them; nay, and rail at them, before all the world.”
My first acquaintance with the Moravian brethren began in my voyage to Georgia. Being then with many of them in the same ship, I narrowly observed their whole behavior. And I greatly approved of all I saw.
Therefore I unbosomed myself to them without reserve.
From February 14, 1735, to December 2, 1737, being with them (except when I went to Frederica or Carolina) twice or thrice everyday, I loved and esteemed them more and more. Yet a few things I could not approve of.
In February following I met with Peter Bohler. My heart clave to him as soon as he spoke. And the more we conversed, so much the more did I esteem both him and all the Moravian Church: So that I had no rest in my spirit till I executed the design which I had formed long before: Till, after a short stay in Holland, I hastened forward, first to Marienborne, and then to Hernhuth.
In September, 1738, soon after my return to England, I began the following letter to the Moravian Church. But being fearful of trusting my own judgment, I determined to wait yet a little longer, and so laid it by unfinished: — “My Dear Brethren, “ I CANNOT but rejoice in your steadfast faith, in your love to our blessed Redeemer, your deadness to the world; your meekness, temperance, chastity, and love of one another. I greatly approve of your Conferences and lands; of your method of instructing children; and, in general, of your great care of the souls committed to your charge. “But of some other things I stand in doubt, which I will mention in love and meekness. And I wish that, in order to remove those doubts, you would on each of those heads, First, Plainly answer, whether the fact be as I suppose; and, if so, Secondly, Consider whether it be right. “Do you not wholly neglect joint fasting? “Is not the Count all in all? Are not the rest mere shadows; calling him Rabbi; almost implicitly both believing and obeying him? “Is there not something of levity in your behavior? Are you, in general, serious enough? “Are you zealous and watchful to redeem time? Do you not sometimes fall into trifling conversation? “Do you not magnify your own Church too much? “Do you believe any who are not of it to be in Gospel liberty? “Are you not straitened in your love? Do you love your enemies and wicked men as yourselves? “Do you not mix human wisdom with divine; joining worldly prudence to heavenly? “Do you not use cunning, guile, or dissimulation in many cases? “Are you not of a close, dark, reserved temper and behavior? “Is not the spirit of secrecy the spirit of your community? “Have you that childlike openness, frankness, and plainness of speech, so manifest to all in the Apostles and first Christians?”
It may easily be seen that my objections, then, were nearly, the same as now. Yet I cannot say my affection was lessened at all, till after September, 1739, when certain men among us began to trouble their brethren, and subvert their souls. However, I cleared the Moravians still, and laid the whole blame on our English brethren.
But from November 1st, I could not but see (unwilling as I was to see them) more and more things which I could in no wise reconcile with the Gospel of Christ. And these I have set down with all simplicity, as they occurred in order of time: Believing myself indispensably obliged so to do, both in duty to God and man.
Yet do I this, because I love them not? God knoweth; yea, and in part I esteem them still: Because I verily believe, they have a sincere desire to serve God; because many of them have tasted of his love, and some retain it in simplicity; because they love one another; because they have so much of the truth of the Gospel, and so far abstain from outward sin; and, lastly, because their discipline is, in most respects, so truly excellent. “But why then are you bitter against them?” I do not know that I am. Let the impartial reader judge. And if any bitter word has escaped my notice, I here utterly retract it. “But do not you rail at them?” I hope not. God forbid that I should rail at a Turk, infidel, or heretic. To one who advanced the most dangerous error, I must say no more than, “The Lord rebuke thee.” But I would point out what those errors were; and, I trust, in the spirit of meekness.
In this spirit, my brethren, I have read, and endeavored to consider, all the books you have published in England, that I might inform myself whether, on farther consideration, you had retracted the errors which were advanced before. But it does by no means appear that you have retracted any of them: For, waiving the odd and affected phrases therein; the weak, mean, silly, childish expressions; the crude, confused, and indigested notions; the whims, unsupported either by Scripture or sound reason; yea, waiving those assertions which, though contrary to Scripture and matter of fact, are, however, of no importance; those three grand errors run through almost all those books, viz., Universal Salvation, Antinomianism, and a kind of new-reformed Quietism. 1. Can Universal Salvation be more explicitly asserted than it is in these words? — “By this his name all can and shall obtain life and salvation.” (Sixteen Discourses, p. 30.) This must include all men, at least; and may include all devils too.
Again, “The name of the wicked will not be so much as mentioned on the great day.” (Seven Discourses, p. 22.) And if they are not so much as mentioned, they cannot be cond escend. 2. How can Antinomianism, that is, making void the Law through faith, be more expressly taught than it is in these words? — “To believe certainly, that Christ suffered death for us: This is the true means to be saved at once: “We want no more. For the history of Jesus coming into the world, ‘is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;’ the bare historical knowledge of this.” (Sixteen Discourses, p. 57.) “There is but one duty, which is that of believing.” (Ibid., p. 193.) “From any demand of the Law, no man is obliged now to go one step, to give away one farthing, to eat or omit one morsel.” (Seven Discourses, p. 11.) “What did our Lord do with the Law? He abolished it.” (Ibid., p. 33.) “Here one may think, — This is a fine sort of Christianity, where nothing good is commanded, and nothing bad is forbid. But thus it is.” (Ibid., p. 34.) “So one ought to speak now. All commands and prohibitions are unfit for our times.” (Ibid.) 3. Is not the very essence of Quietism (though in a new shape) contained in these words? — “The whole matter lies in this, that we should suffer ourselves to be relieved.” (Sixteen Discourses, p. 17.) “One must do nothing, but quietly attend the voice of the Lord.” (Ibid., p. 29.) “To tell men who have not experienced the power of grace, what they should do, and how they ought to behave, is as if you should send a lame man upon an errand.” (Ibid., p. 70.) “The beginning is not to be made with doing what our Savior has commanded. For whosoever will begin with doing, when he is dead, he can do nothing at all; but whatever he doeth in his own activity, is but a cobweb; that is, good for nothing.” (Ibid., pp. 72, 81.) “As soon as we remain passive before him as the wood which a table is to be made from, then something comes of us.” (Seven Discourses, p. 22.)
O my brethren, let me conjure you yet again, in the name of our common Lord, “if there be any consolation of love, if any bowels and mercies,” remove “the fly” out of “the pot of ointment;” separate “the precious from the vile!” Review, I beseech you, your whole work, and see if Satan hath gained no advantage over you. “Very excellent things” have been “spoken of thee, O thou city of God.” But may not “He which hath the sharp sword with two edges” say, Yet, “I have a few things against thee?”
O that ye would repent of these, that ye might be “a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.”
Three things, above all, permit me, even me, to press upon you, with all the earnestness of love.
Secondly, With regard to your discipline, that ye “call no man Rabbi, Master,” Lord of your faith. “upon earth.” Subordination, I know, is needful; and I can show you such a subordination, as in fact answers all Christian purposes, and is yet as widely distant from that among you, as the heavens are from the earth.
Thirdly, With regard to your practice, that ye renounce all craft, cunning, subtlety, dissimulation; wisdom, falsely so called; that ye put away all disguise, all guile out of your mouth; that in all “simplicity and godly sincerity” ye “have your conversation in this world;” that we use “great plainness of speech” to all, whatever ye suffer thereby; seeking only, “by manifestation of the truth,” to “commend” yourselves “to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” June 24, 1744.