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AN EXTRACT OF THE REV. MR. JOHN WESLEY’S JOURNAL
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FROM SEPTEMBER 3, 1741, TO OCTOBER 27, 1743.
NUMBER JOURNAL FROM SEPTEMBER 3, 1741, TO OCTOBER 27, 1743. Sunday , September 6.
— Observing some who were beginning to use their liberty as a cloak for licentiousness, I enforced, in the morning, those words of St. Paul, (worthy to be written in the heart of every believer,) “All things are lawful for me; but all things are not expedient;” and, in the evening, that necessary advice of our Lord, “That men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” Mon. 7 . — I visited a young man in St. Thomas’s Hospital, who, in strong pain, was praising God continually. At the desire of many of the patients, I spent a short time with them in exhortation and prayer. O what a harvest might there be, if any lover of souls, who has time upon his hands, would constantly attend these places of distress, and, with tenderness and meekness of wisdom, instruct and exhort those on whom God has laid his hands, to know and improve the day of their visitation! Wed. 9 . — I expounded in Grayhound-Lane, Whitechapel, part of the one hundred and seventh Psalm. And they did rejoice whom “the Lord had redeemed, and delivered from the hand of the enemy.” Sat. 12 . — I was greatly comforted by one whom God had lifted up from the gates of death, and who was continually telling, with tears of joy, what God had done for his soul. Sun. 13 . — I met about two hundred persons, with whom severally I had talked the week before, at the French chapel, in Hermitage-Street, Wapping, where they gladly joined in the Service of the Church, and particularly in the Lord’s Supper, at which Mr. Hall assisted. It was more than two years after this, that he began so vehemently to declaim against my brother and me, as “bigots to the Church, and those carnal ordinances,” as he loved to term them. Fri. 18 . — I buried the only child of a tender parent, who, having soon finished her course, after a short sickness, went to Him her soul loved, in the fifteenth year of her age. Sun. 20 . — I preached in Charles-Square, Hoxton, on these solemn words, “This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” I trust God blessed his word. The scoffers stood abashed, and opened not their mouth. Mon. 21 . — I set out, and the next evening met my brother at Bristol, with Mr. Jones, of Fonmon Castle, in Wales; now convinced of the truth as it is in Jesus, and laboring with his might to redeem the time he had lost, to make his calling sure, and to lay hold on eternal life. Thur. 24 . — In the evening we went to Kingswood. The house was filled from end to end. And we continued in ministering the word of God, and in prayer and praise, till the morning. Sun. 27 . — I expounded at Kingswood, (morning and afternoon,) at Bristol, and at Baptist-Mills, the message of God to the Church of Ephesus, particularly that way of recovering our first love, which God hath prescribed, and not man: “Remember from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.” Tues. 29 . — I was pressed to visit Nicholas Palmer, one who had separated from us, and behaved with great bitterness, till God laid his hand upon him. He had sent for me several times, saying, he could not die in peace till he had seen me. I found him in great weakness of body and heaviness of spirit. We wrestled with God on his behalf; and our labor was not in vain: His soul was comforted; and, a few hours after, he quietly fell asleep. Thur . October 1. — We set out for Wales; but missing our passage over the Seven in the morning, it was sun-set before we could get to Newport.
We inquired there if we could hire a guide to Cardiff; but there was none to be had. A lad coming in quickly after, who was going (he said) to Lanissau, a little village two miles to the right of Cardiff, we resolved to go thither.
At seven we set out; it rained pretty fast, and there being neither moon nor stars, we could neither see any road, nor one another, nor our own horses’ heads; but the promise of God did not fail; he gave his angels charge over us; and soon after ten we came safe to Mr. William’s house at Lanissan. Fri . 2 . — We rode to Fonmon Castle. We found Mr. Jones’s daughter ill of the small-pox: But he could cheerfully leave her and all the rest in the hands of Him in whom he now believed. In the evening I preached at Cardiff, in the Shire-Hall, a large and convenient place, on, “God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” There having been a feast in the town that day, I believed it needful to add a few words upon intemperance: And while I was saying, “As for you, drunkards, you have no part in this life; you abide in death; you choose death and hell;” a man cried out vehemently, “I am one; and thither I am going.” But I trust God at that hour began to show him and others “a more excellent way.” Sat. 3 . — About noon we came to Ponty-Pool. A Clergyman stopped me in the first street; a few more found me out soon after, whose love I did not find to be cooled at all by the bitter adversaries who had been among them. True pains had been taken to set them against my brother and me, by men who “know not what manner of spirit” they “are of.” But instead of disputing, we betook ourselves to prayer; and all our hearts were knit together as at the first.
In the afternoon we came to Abergavenny. Those who are bitter of spirit have been here also, yet Mrs. James (now Mrs. Whitefield) received us gladly, as she had done aforetime. But we could not procure even two or three to join with us in the evening beside those of her own household. Sun. 4 . — I had an unexpected opportunity of receiving the holy communion. In the afternoon we had a plain, useful sermon, on the Pharisee and the Publican praying in the temple; which I explained at large in the evening, to the best dressed congregation I have ever yet seen in Wales. Two persons came to me afterwards, who were, it seemed, convinced of sin, and groaning for deliverance. Mon. 5 . — I preached in the morning at Ponty-Pool, to a small but deeply-attentive Congregation. Mr. Price conducted us from thence to his house at Watford. After resting here an hour, we hastened on, and came to Fonmon, where I explained and enforced those words, “What must I do to be saved?” Many seemed quite amazed, while I showed them the nature of salvation, and the Gospel way of attaining it. Tues. 6 . — I read Prayers and preached in Porth-Kerry church. My text was, “By grace are ye saved through faith.” In the evening, at Cardiff, I expounded Zechariah 4:7: “Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain.” The next morning we set out, and in the evening praised God with our brethren in Bristol. Thur . 8 . — I dined with C—— T——, greatly praising God for having done his own wise and holy will, in taking away “the desire of his eyes.”
In the evening I preached on, “Looking unto Jesus;” and many were filled with consolation. Fri. 9 . — The same Spirit helped our infirmities at the hour of intercession; and again, at Kingswood, in the evening. I was just laid down, when one came and told me, Howel Harris desired to speak with me at Bristol, being just come from London, and having appointed to set out for Wales at three in the morning. I went, and found him with Mr. Humphreys and Mr. S——. They immediately fell upon their favorite subject; on which when we had disputed two hours, and were just where we were at first, I begged we might exchange controversy for prayer. We did so, and then parted in much love, about two in the morning. Sat. 10 . — His journey being deferred till Monday, H. Harris came to me at the new room. He said, as to the decree of reprobation, he renounced and utterly abhorred it. And as to the not falling from grace,1. He believed that it ought not to be mentioned to the unjustified, or to any that were slack and careless, much less that lived in sin; but only to the earnest and disconsolate mourners. 2. He did himself believe it was possible for one to fall away who had been “enlightened” with some knowledge of God, who had “tasted of the heavenly gift, and been made partaker of the Holy Ghost;” and wished we could all agree to keep close, in the controverted points, to the very words of Holy Writ. 3. That he accounted no man so justified as not to fall, till he had a thorough, abiding hatred to all sin, and a continual hunger and thirst after all righteousness. Blessed be thou of the Lord, thou man of peace!
Still follow after peace and holiness. Thur. 15 . — I was preparing for another journey to Wales, which I had designed to begin on Friday; when I received a message from H. Harris, desiring me to set out immediately, and meet him near the New-Passage. I accordingly set out at noon; but, being obliged to wait at the water-side, did not reach Will-Creek (the place he had appointed for our meeting) till an hour or two after night. But this was soon enough; for he had not been there; nor could we hear any thing of him: So we went back to Mather, and thence in the morning to Lanmarton, a village two miles off, where we heard Mr. Daniel Rowlands was to be, and whom accordingly we found there. Evil-surmisings presently vanished away, and our hearts were knit together in love. We rode together to Machan, (five miles beyond Newport,) which we reached about twelve o’clock. In an hour after H.
Harris came, and many of his friends from distant parts. We had no dispute of any kind; but the spirit of peace and love was in the midst of us. At three we went to church. There was a vast congregation, though at only a few hours’ warning. After Prayers, I preached on those words in the Second Lesson, “The life which I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Mr. Rowlands then preached in Welsh, on Matthew 28:5: “Fear not ye; for ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.”
We rode afterwards to St. Bride’s in the Moors; where Mr. Rowlands preached again. Here we were met by Mr. Humphreys and Thomas Bissicks, of Kingswood. About eleven a few of us retired, in order to provoke one another to love, and to good works. But T. Bissicks immediately introduced the dispute, and others seconded him. This H.
Harris and Mr. Rowlands strongly withstood; but finding it profited nothing, Mr. Rowlands soon withdrew. H. Harris kept them at a bay till about one o’clock in the morning: I then left them and Capt. T. together.
About three they left off just where they began. Sat. 17 . — Going to a neighboring house, I found Mr. H. and T. Bissicks tearing open the sore with all their might. On my coming in, all was hushed; but Mrs. James, of Abergavenny, (a woman of candor and humanity,) insisted that those things should be said to my face. There followed a lame piece of work: But although the accusations brought were easily answered, yet I found they left a soreness on many spirits. When H. Harris heard of what had passed, he hated to stand in the gap once more; and with tears besought them all “to follow after the things that make for peace;” and God blessed the healing words which he spoke; so that we parted in much love, being all determined to let controversy alone, and to preach “Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
I preached at Cardiff at three, and about five set out thence for Fonmon Castle. Not withstanding the great darkness of the night, and our being unacquainted with the road, before eight we came safe to the congregation, which had been some time waiting for us. Sun. 18. — I rode to Wenvo. The church was thoroughly filled with attentive hearers, while I preached on those words, “Whom ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” In the afternoon I read Prayers and preached at Porth-Kerry: In the evening there was a great concourse of people at the Castle, to whom I strongly declared “the hope of righteousness which is through faith.” Mon. 19 . — I preached once more at Porth-Kerry, and, in the afternoon, returned to Cardiff, and explained to a large congregation, “When they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.” Tues. 20 . — At eleven I preached at the prison, on, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” In the afternoon I was desired to meet one of the honorable women, whom I found a mere sinner, groaning under the mighty hand of God. About six, at Mr. W.’s desire, I preached once more on those words, “Whom ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” Wed. 21. — I set out soon after preaching, and, about nine, came to Newport. A Clergyman, soon after I was set down, came into the next room, and asked aloud, with a tone unusually sharp, where those vagabond fellows were. Capt. T., without any ceremony, took him in hand; but he soon quitted the field, and walked out of the house. Just as I was taking horse, he returned, and said, “Sir, I am afraid you are in a wrong way; but if you are right, I pray God to be with you, and prosper your undertakings.”
About one I came to Callicut, and preached to a small, attentive company of people, on, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.” Between seven and eight we reached Bristol. Thur. 22 . — I called upon Edward W——, who had been ill for several days. I found him in deep despair. Since he had left off prayer, “all the waves and storms were gone over him.” We cried unto God, and his soul revived. A little light shone upon him, and, just as we sung, — Be thou his strength and righteousness, His Jesus and his all; his spirit returned to God. Fri. 23 . — I saw several others who were ill of the same distemper. Surely our Lord will do much work by this sickness. I do not find that it comes to any house without leaving a blessing behind it. In the evening I went to Kingswood, and found Ann Steed also praising God in the fires, and testifying that all her weakness and pain wrought together for good. Sat. 24 . — I visited more of the sick, both in Kingswood and Bristol; and it was pleasant work; for I found none of them “sorrowing as men without hope.” At six I expounded, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all;” and his light broke in upon us in such a manner, that we were even lost in praise and thanksgiving. Sun. 26 . — After the sacrament at All-Saints, I took horse for Kingswood; but before I came to Lawrence-Hill, my horse fell, and attempting to rise again, fell down upon me. One or two women ran out of a neighboring house, and when I rose, helped me in. I adore the wisdom of God. In this house were three persons who began to run well, but Satan had hindered them: But they resolved to set out again; and not one of them has looked back since.
Notwithstanding this delay, I got to Kingswood by two. The words God enabled me to speak there, and afterwards at Bristol, (so I must express myself still, for I dare not ascribe them to my own wisdom,) were as a hammer and a flame; and the same blessing we found at the meeting of the society; but more abundantly at the love-feast which followed. I remember nothing like it for many months. A cry was heard from one end of the congregation to the other; not of grief, but of overflowing joy and love. “O continue forth thy loving-kindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness unto them that are true of heart!”
The great comfort I found, both in public and private, almost everyday of the ensuing, week, I apprehend, was to prepare me for what followed: A short account of which I sent to London soon after, in a letter, the copy of which I have subjoined; although I am sensible there are several circumstances therein which some may set down for mere enthusiasm and extravagance. “DEAR BROTHER, “ALL last week I found hanging upon me the effects of a violent cold I had contracted in Wales: Not, I think, (as Mr. Turner and Walcam supposed,) by lying in a damp bed at St. Bride’s; but rather by riding continually in the cold and wet nights, and preaching immediately after. But I believed it would pass off, and so took little notice of it till Friday morning. I then found myself exceeding sick: And as I walked to Baptist-Mills, (to pray with Susanna Basil, who was ill of a fever,) felt the wind pierce me, as it were, through. At my return I found myself something better: Only I could not eat any thing at all. Yet I felt no want of strength at the hour of intercession, nor at six in the evening, while I was opening and applying those words, ‘Sun, stand thou still in Gibeon; and thou, moon, in the valley of Ajalon.’ I was afterwards refreshed, and slept well: So that I apprehended no farther disorder; but rose in the morning as usual, and declared, with a strong voice and enlarged heart, ‘Neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by love.’
About two in the afternoon, just as I was set down to dinner, a shivering came upon me, and a little pain in my back: But no sickness at all, so that I eat a little; and then, growing warm, went to see some that were sick.
Finding myself worse about four, I would willingly have lain down. But having promised to see Mrs. G——, who had been out of order for some days, I went thither first, and thence to Weaver’s Hall. A man gave me a token for good as I went along, ‘Ay,’ said he, ‘he will be a martyr too by and by.’ The scripture I enforced was, ‘My little children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not. But if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’ I found no want either of inward or outward strength. But afterwards finding my fever increased, I called on Dr. Middleton. By his advice I went home and took my bed: A strange thing to me who had not kept my bed a day (for five and thirty years) ever since I had the small-pox. I immediately fell into a profuse sweat, which continued till one or two in the morning. God then gave me refreshing sleep, and afterwards such tranquillity of mind, that this day, Sunday, NOVEMBER 1, seemed the shortest day to me I had ever known in my life. “I think a little circumstance ought not to be omitted, although I know there may be an ill construction put upon it. Those words were how so strongly impressed upon my mind, that for a considerable time I could not put them out of my thoughts, ‘Blessed is the man that provideth for the poor and needy: The Lord shall deliver him in the time of trouble. The Lord shall comfort him when he lieth sick upon his bed: Make thou all his bed in his sickness.’ “On Sunday night likewise I slept well, and was easy all Monday morning.
But about three in the afternoon the shivering returned much more violent than before. It continued till I was put to bed. I was then immediately as in a fiery furnace. In a little space I began sweating: But the sweating seemed to increase rather than allay the burning heat. Thus I remained, till about eight o’clock; when I suddenly awaked out of a kind of doze, in such a sort of disorder (whether of body or mind, or both) as I know not how to describe. My heart and lungs, and all that was within me, and my soul too, seemed to be in perfect uproar. But I cried unto the Lord in my trouble, and he delivered me out of my distress. “I continued in a moderate sweat till near midnight, and then slept pretty well till morning. On Tuesday, November 3, about noon I was removed to Mr. Hooper’s. Here I enjoyed a blessed calm for several hours, the fit not returning till six in the evening: And then in such a manner as I never heard or read of I had a quick pulse, attended with violent heat; but no pain, either in my head, or back, or limbs; no sickness, no stitch, no thirst.
Surely God is a present help in time of trouble. And he does ‘make all’ my ‘bed in’ my ‘sickness.’ “Wed . 4. — Many of our brethren agreed to seek God today by fasting and prayer. About twelve my fever began to rage. At two I dozed a little, and suddenly awaked in such a disorder (only more violent) as that on Monday. The silver cord appeared to be just then loosing, and the wheel breaking at the cistern. The blood whirled to and fro, as if it would immediately force its way through all its vessels, especially in the breast:
And excessive burning heat parched up my whole body, both within and without. About three, in a moment the commotion ceased, the heat was over, and the pain gone. Soon after it made another attack; but not near so violent as the former. This lasted till half-past four, and then vanished away at once. I grew better and better till nine: Then I fell asleep, and scarce awaked at all till morning. “Thur . 5. — The noisy joy of the people in the streets did not agree with me very well; though I am afraid it disordered their poor souls much more than it did my body. About five in the evening my cough returned, and soon after, the heat and other symptoms; but with this remarkable circumstance, that for fourteen or fifteen hours following, I had more or less sleep in every hour. This was one cause why I was never light headed at all, but had the use of my understanding, from the first hour of my illness to the last, as fully as when in perfect health. “Fri . 6. — Between ten and twelve the main shock began. I can give but a faint account of this, not for want of memory, but of words. I felt in my body nothing but storm and tempest, hail-stones and coals of fire. But I do not remember that I felt any fear, (such was the mercy of God!) nor any murmuring. And yet I found but a dull, heavy kind of patience, which I knew was not what it ought to be. The fever came rushing upon me as a lion, ready to break all my bones in pieces. My body grew weaker every moment; but I did not feel my soul put on strength. Then it came into my mind, ‘Be still, and see the salvation of the Lord. I will not stir hand or foot; but let him do with me what is good in his own eyes.’ At once my heart was at ease. ‘My mouth was filled with laughter, and my tongue with joy.’ My eyes overflowed with tears, and I began to sing aloud. One who stood by said, ‘Now he is light headed.’ I told her, ‘O no; I am not light-headed; but I am praising God; God is come to my help, and pain is nothing; glory be to God on high!’ I now found why it was not expedient for me to recover my health sooner: Because then I should have lost this experimental proof, how little every thing is which can befall the body, so long as God carries the soul aloft, as it were on the wings of an eagle. “An hour after, I had one more grapple with the enemy, Who then seemed to collect all his strength. I essayed to shake myself, and praise God as before, but I was not able; the power was departed from me. I was shorn of my strength, and became weak and like another man. Then I said, ‘Yet here I hold; lo, I come to bear thy will, O God.’ Immediately he returned to my soul, and lifted up the light of his countenance. And I felt, He rideth easily enough, whom the grace of God carrieth.’” I supposed the fit was now over, it being about five in the afternoon, and began to compose myself for sleep; when I felt first a chill, and then a burning all over, attended with such an universal faintness, and weariness, and utter loss of strength, as if the whole frame of nature had been dissolved. Just then my nurse, I know not why, took me out of bed, and placed me in a chair.
From Saturday, 7, to Sunday, 15, I found my strength gradually increasing, and was able to read Turretin’s “History of the Church,” (a dry, heavy, barren treatise,) and the Life of that truly good and great man, Mr. Philip Henry. On Monday and Tuesday I read over the “Life of Mr. Matthew Henry,” — a man not to be despised, either as a scholar or a Christian, though, I think, not equal to his father. On Wednesday I read over once again “Theoloria Germanica.” O how was it, that I could ever so admire the affected obscurity of this unscriptural writer! Glory be to God, that I now prefer the plain Apostles and Prophets, before him and all his Mystic followers. Thur. 19 . — I read again, with great surprise, part of the “Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius.” But so weak, credulous, thoroughly-injudicious a writer, have I seldom found. Friday , 20. I began Mr. Laval’s “History of the reformed Churches in France;” full of the most amazing instances of the wickedness of men, and of the goodness and power of God. About noon, the next day, I went out in a coach as far as the school in Kingswood; where one of the mistresses lay (as was believed) near death, having found no help from all the medicines she had taken. We determined to try one remedy more; so we poured out our souls in prayer to God. From that hour she began to recover strength, and in a few days was out of danger. Sun. 22 . — Being not suffered to go to church as yet, I communicated at home. I was advised to stay at home sometime longer; but I could not apprehend it necessary: And therefore, on Monday, 23, went to the new-room, where we praised God for all his mercies. And I expounded, for about an hour, (without any faintness or weariness,) on, “What reward shall I give unto the Lord for all the benefits that he hath done unto me? I will receive the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.”
I preached once everyday this week, and found no inconvenience by it. Sunday, 29. I thought I might go a little farther. So I preached both at Kingswood and at Bristol; and afterwards spent near an hour with the society, and about two hours at the love-feast. But my body could not yet keep pace with my mind. I had another fit of my fever the next day; but it lasted not long, and I continued slowly to regain my strength.
On Thursday, DECEMBER 3, I was able to preach again, on, “By their fruits ye shall know them;” and Friday evening on, “Cast thy bread upon the waters, and after many days thou shalt find it again.” Mon. 7 . — I preached on, “Trust ye in the Lord Jehovah, for in the Lord is everlasting strength.” I was showing, what cause we had to trust in the Captain of our salvation, when one in the midst of the room cried out, “Who was your captain the other day, when you hanged yourself? I know the man who saw you when you was cut down.” This wise story, it seems, had been diligently spread abroad, and cordially believed by many in Bristol. I desired they would make room for the man to come nearer.
But the moment he saw the way open, he ran away with all possible speed, not so much as once looking behind him. Wed . 9 . — God humbled us in the evening by the loss of more than thirty of our little company, who I was obliged to exclude, as no longer adorning the Gospel of Christ. I believed it best, openly to declare both their names and the reasons why they were excluded. We then all cried unto God, that this might be for their edification, and not for destruction. Fri. 11 . — I went to Bath. I had often reasoned with myself concerning this place, “Hath God left himself without witness?” Did he never raise up such as might be shining lights, even in the midst of this sinful generation?
Doubtless he has; but they are either gone “to the desert,” or hid under the bushel of prudence. Some of the most serious persons I have known at Bath are either solitary Christians, scarce known to each other, unless by name; or prudent Christians, as careful not to give offense, as if that were the unpardonable sin: And as zealous, to “keep their religion to themselves,” as they should be, to “let it shine before men.”
I returned to Bristol the next day. In the evening one desired to speak with me. I perceived him to be in the utmost confusion, so that for awhile he could not speak. At length, he said, “I am he that interrupted you at the new-room, on Monday: I have had no rest since, day or night, nor could have till I had spoken to you. I hope you will forgive me, and that it will be a warning to me all the days of my life.” Tues. 15 . — It being a hard frost, I walked over to Bath, and had a conversation of several hours with one who had lived above seventy, and studied divinity above thirty, years: Yet remission of sins was quite a new doctrine to him. But I trust God will write it on his heart.
I returned to Bristol the next day. Thursday , 17. We had a night of solemn joy, occasioned by the funeral of one of our brethren, who died with a hope full of immortality. Fri. 18 . — Being disappointed of my horse, I set out on foot in the evening for Kingswood. I catched no cold, nor received any hurt, though it was very wet, and cold, and dark. Mr. Jones, of Fonmon, met me there; and we poured out our souls before God together. I found no weariness, till, a little before one, God gave me refreshing sleep. Sun. 20 . — I preached once more at Bristol, on, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols;” immediately after which, I forced myself away from those to whom my heart was now more united than ever; and I believe their hearts were even as my heart. O what poor words are those: — “You abate the reverence and respect which the people owe to their Pastors!” Love is all in all; and all who are alive to God must pay this to every true Pastor: Wherever a flock is duly fed with the pure milk of the word, they will be ready (were it possible) to pluck out their eyes, and give them to those that are over them in the Lord.
I took coach on Monday, 21, and on Wednesday came to London. Thursday, 24. I found it was good for me to be here, particularly while I was preaching in the evening. The society afterwards met; but we scarce knew how to part, our hearts were so enlarged toward each other. Sat. 26 . — The morning congregation was increased to above thrice the usual number, while I explained, “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.” At Long-Lane likewise, in the evening, I had a crowded audience, to whom I spoke from those words, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out.” Sun. 27 . — After diligent inquiry made, I removed all those from the congregation of the faithful, whose behavior or spirit was not agreeable to the Gospel of Christ: Openly declaring the objections I had to each, that others might fear, and cry to God for them. Thur. 31 . — By the unusual overflowing of peace and love to all, which I felt, I was inclined to believe some trial was at hand. At three in the afternoon my fever came; but, finding it was not violent, I would not break my word, and therefore went at four and committed to the earth the remains of one who had died in the Lord a few days before; neither could I refrain from exhorting the almost innumerable multitude of people, who were gathered together round her grave, to cry to God, that they might die the death of the righteous, and their last end be like hers. I then designed to lie down; but Sir John G—— coming, and sending to speak with me, I went to him, and from him into the pulpit, knowing God could renew my strength. I preached, according to her request, who was now with God, on those words with which her soul had been so refreshed a little before she went hence, after a long night of doubts and fears: “Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon with draw itself. For the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.”
At the society which followed, many cried after God with a loud and bitter cry. About ten I left them, and committed myself into His hands, to do with me what seemed him good. Fri . January 1, 1742. — After a night of quiet sleep, I waked in a strong fever, but without any sickness, or thirst, or pain. I consented, however, to keep my bed; but on condition that every one who desired it, should have liberty to speak with me. I believe fifty or sixty persons did so this day; nor did I find any inconvenience from it. In the evening I sent for all the Bands who were in the house, that we might magnify our Lord together. A near relation being with me when they came, I asked her afterwards, if she was not offended. “Offended!” said she: “I wish I could be always among you. I thought I was in heaven.”
This night also, by the blessing of God, I slept well, to the utter astonishment of those about me, the Apothecary in particular, who said, he had never seen such a fever in his life. I had a clear remission in the morning; but about two in the afternoon, a stronger fit than any before; otherwise I had determined to have been at the meeting of the Bands: But good is the will of the Lord. Sun. 3 . — Finding myself quite free from pain, I met the Leaders, morning and afternoon; and joined with a little company of them in the great sacrifice of thanksgiving. In the evening, it being the men’s love-feast, I desired they would all come up. Those whom the room would not contain, stood without; while we all with one mouth sang praise to God. Mon. 4 . — I waked in perfect health. Does not God both kill and make alive? This day, I understand poor Charles Kinchin died! Cui pudor et justitiae soror, Incorrupta fides, nudaque veritas, Quendo ullum invenient parem? f46 I preached morning and evening everyday, for the remaining part of the week. On Saturday, while I was preaching at Long-Lane, a rude rout lift up their voice on high. I fell upon them without delay. Some pulled off their hats, and opened their mouth no more: The rest stole out one after another. All that remained were quiet and attentive. Sun. 10 . — I got a little time to see Mr. Dolman. Two years ago he seemed to be dying of an asthma; being hardly able to rise at eight o’clock in a morning, after struggling, as it were, for life. But from the time he came thither first, he rarely failed to be at the Foundery, by five o’clock. Nor was he at all the worse; his distemper being suspended, till within a very few days. I found him just on the wing, and full of love, and peace, and joy, in believing. And in the same spirit (as I afterwards understood) he continued, till God took him to himself. Mon. 11 . — I went twice to Newgate, at the request of poor R—— R— —, who lay there under sentence of death; but was refused admittance.
It was above two years before, that, being destitute and in distress, he applied to me at Bristol for relief I took him in; and employed him for the present, in writing and keeping accounts for me. Not long after I placed him in the little school, which was kept by the United Society. There were many suspicions of him during that time, as well as of his companion, Gwillam Snowde; but no proof appeared, so that, after three or four months, they quietly returned to London. But they did not deceive God, nor escape his hand. Gwillam Snowde was soon apprehended for a robbery, and, when condemned, sent for me, and said, nothing lay heavier upon him, than his having thus returned evil for good. I believe it was now the desire of poor R—— too, to tell me all that he had done. But the hour was past: I could not now be permitted to see or speak with him. So that he who before would not receive the word of God from my mouth, now desired what he could not obtain. And on Wednesday he fell a sacrifice to the justice of a long-offended God. O consider this, ye that now forget God, and know not the day of your visitation!
I heard of several today, who began to run well, but did not endure to the end. Men fond of their own opinions tore them from their brethren, and could not keep them when they had done; but they soon fell back into the world, and are now swallowed up in its pleasures or cares. I fear those zealots who took these souls out of my hands, will give but a poor account of them to God.
On Thursday and Friday, I visited the sick; by many of whom I was greatly refreshed. Monday, 18. We greatly rejoiced in the Lord at Long-Lane, even in the midst of those that contradicted and blasphemed.
Nor was it long before many of them also were touched, and blasphemies were turned to praise. Thur. 21 . — I again visited many that were sick, but I found no fear either of pain or death among them. One (Mary Whittle) said, “I shall go to my Lord tomorrow; but before I go, He will finish his work.” The next day she lay quiet for about two hours, and then opening her eyes, cried out, “It is done, it is done! Christ liveth in me! He lives in me:” And died in a moment. Fri. 22. — I met the society in Short’s-Gardens, Drury-Lane, for the first time. Saturday, 23. I called on another who was believed to be near death, and greatly triumphing over it. “I know,” said she, “that my Redeemer liveth, and will stand at the latter day upon the earth. I fear not death; it hath no sting for me. I shall live for evermore.” Mon. 25 . — While I was explaining at Long-Lane, “He that committeth sin is of the devil;” his servants were above measure enraged: They not only made all possible noise; (although, as I had desired before, no man stirred from his place, or answered them a word;) but violently thrust many persons to and fro, struck others, and brake down part of the house.
At length they began throwing large stones upon the house, which forcing their way wherever they came, fell down, together with the tiles, among the people, so that they were in danger of their lives. I then told them, “You must not go on thus; I am ordered by the Magistrate, who is, in this respect, to us the Minister of God, to inform him of those who break the laws of God and the King: And I must do it, if you persist herein; otherwise I am a partaker of your sin.” When I ceased speaking, they were more outrageous than before. Upon this I said, “Let three or four calm men take hold of the foremost, and charge a Constable with him, that the law may take its course.” They did so, and brought him into the house, cursing and blaspheming in a dreadful manner. I desired five or six to go with him to Justice Copeland, to whom they nakedly related the fact. The Justice immediately bound him over to the next Sessions at Guildford.
I observed when the man was brought into the house, that many of his companions were loudly crying out, “Richard Smith, Richard Smith!” who, as it afterward appeared, was one of their stoutest champions. But Richard Smith answered not; he was fallen into the hands of One higher than they. God had struck him to the heart; as also a woman, who was speaking words not fit to be repeated, and throwing whatever came to hand, whom He overtook in the very act. She came into the house with Richard Smith, fell upon her knees before us all, and strongly exhorted him never to turn back, never to forget the mercy which God had shown to his soul. From this time we had never any considerable interruption or disturbance at Long-Lane; although we withdrew our prosecution, upon the offender’s submission and promise of better behavior. Tues. 26 . — I explained, at Chelsea, the faith which worketh by love. I was very weak when I went into the room; but the more “the beasts of the people” increased in madness and rage, the more was I strengthened, both in body and soul; so that I believe few in the house, which was exceeding full, lost one sentence of what I spoke. Indeed they could not see me, nor one another at a few yards’ distance, by reason of the exceeding thick smoke, which was occasioned by the wildfire, and things of that kind, continually thrown into the room. But they who could praise God in the midst of the fires, were not to be affrighted by a little smoke. Wed. 27 . — I buried the body ofSARAH WHISKIN, a young, woman late of Cambridge; a short account of whom follows, in the words of one that was with her, during her last struggle for eternity: — “The first time she went, intending to hear Mr. Wesley, was January 3; but he was then ill. She went again, Tuesday, 5, and was not disappointed.
Wednesday, 13, she was sent for into the country; at which news she cried violently, being afraid to go, lest she should again be conformable to the world. With tears in her eyes, she asked me, ‘What shall I do? I am in a great strait.’ And being advised to commit her cause to God, and pray that his will might be done, not her own, she said she would defer her journey three days, to wait upon God, that He might show his will concerning her.
The next day she was taken ill of a fever; but being something better on Friday, she sent and took a place in the Cambridge coach, for the Tuesday following. Her sister asked her if she thought it was the will of God she should go. She answered, ‘I leave it to the Lord; and am sure He will find a way to prevent it, if it is not for my good.’ Sunday, 17, she was ill again, and desired me to write a note, that she might be prayed for. I asked what I should write. She answered, ‘You know what I want; a lively faith.’
Being better on Monday, 18, she got up, to prepare for her journey; though still desiring God to put a stop to it, if it was not according to his will. As soon as she rose from prayer she fainted away. When she came to herself she said, ‘Where is that Scripture of Balaam journeying, and the angel of the Lord standing in the way? I can bring this home to myself. I was just going this morning; and see, God has taken away all my strength.’ “From this hour, she was almost continually praying to God, that He would reveal himself to her soul. On Tuesday, 19, being in tears, I asked what was the matter. She answered, ‘The devil is very busy with me.’ On asking, ‘Who condemns you?’ she pointed to her heart, and said, ‘This; and God is greater than my heart.’ On Thursday, after Mr. Richards had prayed with her, she was much cheerfuller, and she could not doubt but God would fulfill the desire which he had given her. “Fri . 22. — One of her sisters coming out of the country to see her, she said, ‘If I had come to you, evil would have befallen me; but I am snatched out of the hands of the devil. Though God has not yet revealed himself to me, yet I believe, were I to die this night, before tomorrow I should be in heaven.’ Her sister saying, ‘I hope God will restore you to health;’ she replied, ‘Let Him do what seemeth Him good.’ “Sat . 23. — She said, ‘I saw my mother, and brother, and sister, in my sleep; and they all received a blessing in a moment.’ I asked if she thought she should die; and whether she believed the Lord would receive her soul.
Looking very earnestly, she said, ‘I have not seen the Lord yet; but I believe I shall see Him and live: Although these are bold words for a sinner to say. Are they not?’ “Sun . 24. — I asked her, ‘How have you rested?’ She answered, ‘Very well; though I have had no sleep; and I wanted none; for I have had the Lord with me. O let us not be ashamed of him, but proclaim Him upon the house-top; and I know, whatever I ask in the name of Jesus, according to his will, I shall have.’ Soon after she called hastily to me, and said, ‘I fear I have deceived myself: I thought the Amen was sealed in my heart; but I fear it is not. Go down and pray for me, and let Him not go, till He has given my heart’s desire.’ Soon after she broke out into singing, and said, ‘I was soon delivered of my fears; I was only afraid of a flattering hope; but if it had been so, I would not have let him go.’ “Her sister that was come to see her was much upon Her mind. ‘You,’ said she, ‘are in pain for her; but I have faith for this little child: God has a favor unto her.’ In the afternoon she desired me to write a bill for her. I asked, ‘What shall I write?’ She said, ‘Return thanks for what God has done for me, and pray that he would manifest himself to my relations also.
Go to the preaching. Leave but one with me.’ Soon after we were gone she rose up, called to the person that was with her, and said, ‘Now it is done; I am assured my sins are forgiven.’ The person answering, ‘Death is a little thing to them that die in the Lord;’ she replied with vehemence, ‘A little thing! It is nothing.’ The person then desiring she would pray for her, she answered, ‘I do: I pray for all. I pray for all I know, and for them I do not know: And the Lord will hear the prayer of faith.’ At our return, her sister kneeling by the bed-side, she said, ‘Are you not comforted, my dear, for me?’ Her speech then failing, she made signs for her to be by her, and kissed her, and smiled upon her. She then lay about an hour without speaking or stirring; till about three o’clock on Monday morning, she cried out, ‘My Lord and my God!’ fetched a double sigh, and died.” Fri . 29 . — Hearing of one who had been drawn away by those who prophesy smooth things, I went to her house. But she was purposely gone abroad. Perceiving there was no human help, I desired the congregation at Short’s Gardens, to join with me in prayer to God, that he would suffer her to have no rest in her spirit, till she returned into the way of truth. Two days after, she came to me of her own accord, and confessed, in the bitterness of her soul, that she had no rest, day or night, while she remained with them, out of whose hands God had now delivered her. Mon . February 1. — I found, after the exclusion of some, who did not walk according to the Gospel, about eleven hundred, who are, I trust, of a more excellent spirit, remained in the society. Thur. 4 . — A Clergyman lately come from America, who was at the preaching last night, called upon me, appeared full of good desires, and seemed willing to cast in his lot with us. But I cannot suddenly answer in this matter. I must first know what spirit he is of; for none can labor with us, unless he “count all things dung and dross, that he may win Christ.” Fri . 5 . — I set out, and with some difficulty reached Chippenham on Saturday evening; the weather being so extremely rough and boisterous, that I had much ado to sit my horse. On Sunday, about noon, I came to Kingswood, where were many of our friends from Bath, Bristol, and Wales. O that we may ever thus “love one another with a pure heart fervently!” Mon. 8 . — I rode to Bath; and in the evening explained the latter part of the seventh of St. Luke. Observing many noisy persons at the end of the room, I went and stood in the midst of them; but the greater part slipped away to that end from which I came, and then took heart, and cried aloud again. I paused, to give them their full scope; and then began a particular application to them. They were very quiet in a short time; and, I trust, will not forget it so soon as some of them may desire. Wednesday , 10, and the following days of this week, I spoke severally with all those who desired to remain in the United Society, to watch over each other in love. Mon. 15. — Many met together to consult on a proper method for discharging the public debt; and it was at length agreed, 1. That every member of the society, who was able, should contribute a penny a week. 2. That the whole society should be divided into little companies or classes, — about twelve in each class. And, 3. That one person in each class should receive the contribution of the rest, and bring it in to the stewards, weekly. Fri. 19 . — I went to Bath. Many threatened great things; but I knew the strength of them and their God. I preached on, “He shall save his people from their sins;” none disturbing or interrupting me. Sat. 20 . — I preached at Weaver’s Hall: It was a glorious time. Several dropped to the ground as if struck by lightning. Some cried out in bitterness of soul. I knew not where to end, being constrained to begin anew, again and again. In the acceptable time we begged of God to restore our brethren, who are departed from us for a season; and to teach us all, to “follow after the things that make for peace,” and the “things whereby one may edify another.” Sun. 21 . — In the evening I explained the “exceeding great and precious promises” which are given us: A strong confirmation whereof I read, in a plain artless account of a child, whose body then lay before us. The substance of this was as followers: — “JOHN WOOLLEY was for some time in your school; but was turned out for his ill behavior: Soon after he ran away from his parents, lurking about for several days and nights together, and hiding himself in holes and corners, that his mother might not find him. During this time he suffered both hunger and cold. Once he was three whole days without sustenance, sometimes weeping and praying by himself, and sometimes playing with other loose boys. “One night he came to the new-room. Mr. Wesley was then speaking of disobedience to parents. He was quite confounded, and thought there never was in the world so wicked a child as himself. He went home, and never ran away any more. His mother saw the change in his whole behavior, but knew not the cause. He would often get up stairs by himself to prayer, and often go alone into the fields, having done with all his idle companions. “And now the devil began to set upon him with all his might, continually tempting him to self-murder: Sometimes he was vehemently pressed to hang himself; sometimes to leap into the river: But this only made him the more earnest in prayer; in which, after he had been one day wrestling with God, he saw himself, he said, surrounded on a sudden with an inexpressible light, and was so filled with joy and the love of God, that he scarce knew where he was; and with such love to all mankind, that he could have laid himself on the ground, for his worst enemies to trample upon. “From this time his father and mother were surprised at him, he was so diligent to help them in all things. When they went to the preaching, he was careful to give their supper to the other children; and when he had put them to bed, hurried away to the room, to light his father or mother home.
Meantime he lost no opportunity of hearing the preaching himself, or of doing any good he could, either at home or in any place where he was. “One day, walking in the fields, he fell into talk with a farmer, who spoke very slightly of religion. John told him, he ought not to talk so; and enlarged upon that word of the Apostle, (which he begged him to consider deeply,) ‘Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.’ The man was amazed, caught the child in his arms, and knew not how to part with him. “His father and mother once hearing him speak pretty loud in the next room, listened to bear what he said. He was praying thus: —’Lord, I do not expect to be heard for my much speaking. Thou knowest my heart; thou knowest my wants.’ He then descended to particulars. Afterward he prayed very earnestly for his parents, and for his brothers and sisters by name; then for Mr. John and Charles Wesley, that God would set their faces as a flint, and give them to go on conquering and to conquer; then for all the other Ministers he could remember by name, and for all that were, or desired to be, true Ministers of Christ. “In the beginning of his illness his mother asked him if he wanted any thing. He answered, ‘Nothing but Christ; and I am as sure of him as if I had him already.’ He often said, ‘O mother, if all the world believed in Christ, what a happy world would it be! — And they may; for Christ died for every soul of man: I was the worst of sinners, and he died for me . O thou that callest the worst of sinners, call me! O, it is a free gift! I am sure I have done nothing to deserve it.’ “On Wednesday he said to his mother, ‘I am in very great trouble for my father; he has always taken an honest care of his family, but he does not know God; if he dies in the state he is in now, he cannot be saved. I have prayed for him, and will pray for him. If God should give him the true faith, and then take him to himself, do not you fear, — do not you be troubled: God has promised to be a father to the fatherless, and a husband to the widow. I will pray for him and you in heaven; and I hope we shall sing Hallelujah in heaven together.’ “To his eldest sister he said, ‘Do not puff yourself up with pride. When you receive your wages, which is not much, lay it out in plain necessaries.
And if you are inclined to be merry, do not sing songs; that is the devil’s diversion; there are many lies and ill things in those idle songs: Do you sing psalms and hymns. Remember your Creator in the days of your youth. When you are at work, you may lift up your heart to God; and be sure never to rise or go to bed without asking his blessing. “He added, ‘I shall die; but do not cry for me. Why should you cry for me? Consider what a joyful thing it is, to have a brother go to heaven. I am not a man; I am but a boy. But is it not in the Bible, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast ordained strength? I know where I am going: I would not be without this knowledge for a thousand worlds; for though I am not in heaven yet, I am as sure of it as if I was.’ “On Wednesday night he wrestled much with God in prayer. At last, throwing his arms open, he cried, ‘Come come, Lord Jesus! I am thine.
Amen and Amen!’ He said, ‘God answers me in my heart, Be of good cheer, thou hast overcome the world;’ and immediately after, he was filled with love and joy unspeakable. “He said to his mother, ‘That school was the saving of my soul; for there I began to seek the Lord. But how is it, that a person no sooner begins to seek the Lord, but Satan straight stirs up all his instruments against him?’ “When he was in agony of pain, he cried out, ‘O Savior, give me patience!
Thou hast given me patience, but give me more. Give me thy love, and pain is nothing: I have deserved all this, and a thousand times more; for there is no sin but I have been guilty of.’ “A while after he said, ‘O mother, how is this? If a man does not do his work, the masters in the world will not pay him his wages. But it is not so with God; he gives me good wages, and yet I am sure I have done nothing to gain them. O it is a free gift; it is free for every soul, for Christ has died for all.’ “On Thursday morning his mother asked him how he did: He said, ‘I have had much struggling tonight, but my Savior is so loving to me, I do not mind it; it is no more than nothing to me.’ “Then he said, ‘I desire to be buried from the Room; and I desire Mr. Wesley would preach a sermon over me, on those words of David, (unless he thinks any other to be more fit,) Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now I have kept thy word.’ “I asked him, ‘How do you find yourself now?’ He said, ‘In great pain, but full of love.’ I asked him, ‘But does not the love of God overcome pain?’ He answered, ‘Yes! pain is nothing to me: I did sing praises to the Lord in the midst of my greatest pain; and I could not help it.’ I asked him, if he was willing to die: He replied, ‘O yes, with all my heart.’ I said, ‘But if life and death were set before you, what would you choose then?’ He answered, ‘To die, and to be with Christ: I long to be out of this wicked world.’ “On Thursday night he slept much sweeter than he had done for some time before. In the morning he begged to see Mr. John Wesley. When Mr. Wesley came, and, after some other questions, asked him what he should pray for; he said, that God would give him a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within him. When prayer was ended, he seemed much enlivened, and said, ‘I thought I should have died today: But I must not be in haste; I am content to stay. I will tarry the Lord’s leisure.’ “On Saturday, one asked, if he still chose to die: He said, ‘I have no will; my will is resigned to the will of God. But I shall die: Mother, be not troubled; I shall go away like a lamb.’ “On Sunday he spoke exceeding little. On Monday his speech began to falter: On Tuesday it was gone; but he was fully in his senses, almost continually lifting up his eyes to heaven. On Wednesday, his speech being restored, his mother said, ‘Jacky, you have not been with your Savior tonight:’ He replied, ‘Yes, I have.’ She asked, ‘What did he say?’ He answered, ‘He bid me not he afraid of the devil; for he had no power to hurt me at all, but I should tread him under my feet.’ He lay very quiet on Wednesday night. The next morning;, he spent in continual prayer; often repeating the Lord’s Prayer, and earnestly commending his soul into the hands of God. “He then called for his little brother and sister, to kiss them; and for his mother, whom he desired to kiss him: Then (between nine and ten) he said, ‘Now let me kiss you;’ which he did, and immediately fell asleep. “He lived some months above thirteen years.” Sun. 28 . — In the evening I set out for Wales. I lay, that night, about six miles from Bristol; and preached in the morning,MARCH 1, to a few of the neighbors. We then hastened to the passage; but the boat was gone half an hour before the usual time: So I was obliged to wait till five in the afternoon. We then set out with a fair breeze; but when we were nearly half over the river, the wind entirely failed. The boat could not bear up against the ebbing tide, but was driven down among the rocks, on one of which we made shift to scrabble up; whence, about seven, we got to land.
That night I went forward about five miles, and the next morning came to Cardiff. There I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Jones, of Fonmon, still pressing on into all the fullness of God. I rode with him to Wenvo. The church was thoroughly filled, while I explained the former part of the Second Lesson, concerning the barren fig-tree; and the power of the Lord was present both to wound and to heal.
I explained, in the evening, at Fonmon, though in weakness and pain, how Jesus saveth us from our sins. The next morning, at eight, I preached at Bolston, a little town four miles from Fonmon. Thence I rode to Lantrissent; and sent to the Minister, to desire the use of his church. His answer was, he should have been very willing, but the Bishop had forbidden him. By what law? I am not legally convicted, either of heresy or any other crime. By what authority, then, am I suspended from preaching? By bare-faced arbitrary power.
Another Clergyman immediately offered me his church; but, it being too far off, I preached in a large room, spent a little time with the society in prayer and exhortation, and then took horse for Cardiff. Thur. 4 . — About noon I preached at Lanissan, and was afterward much refreshed in meeting the little earnest society. I preached at Cardiff, at seven, on, “Be not righteous over much,” to a larger congregation than before; and then exhorted the society to fear only the being over-wicked, or the falling short of the full image of God. Fri . 5 . — I talked with one who used frequently to say, “I pray God, I may never have this new faith. I desire that I may not know my sins forgiven, till I come to die.” But as she was, some weeks since, reading the Bible at home, the clear light broke in upon her soul: She knew all her sins were blotted out, and cried aloud, “My Lord, and my God!”
In the evening I expounded, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” We afterwards admitted several new members into the society, and were greatly comforted together. Saturday, 6, I left Cardiff, and, about eight in the evening, came to Bristol. Wed. 10 . — I was with a gentlewoman whose distemper has puzzled the most eminent Physicians, for many years; it being such as they could neither give any rational account of, nor find any remedy for. The plain case is, she is tormented by an evil spirit, following her day and night. Yea, try all your drugs over and over; but at length it will plainly appear, that “this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” Fri. 12 . — I read part of Dr. Cheyne’s “Natural Method of curing Diseases;” of which I cannot but observe, it is one of the most ingenious books which I ever saw. But what epicure will ever regard it? for “the man talks against good eating and drinking!”
Our Lord was gloriously present with us at the watch-night; so that my voice was lost in the cries of the people. After midnight, about a hundred of us walked home together, singing, and rejoicing, and praising God. Fri . 19 . — I rode once more to Pensford, at the earnest request of several serious people. The place where they desired me to preach, was a little green spot, near the town. But I had no sooner begun, than a great company of rabble, hired (as we afterwards found) for that purpose, came furiously upon us, bringing a bull, which they had been baiting, and now strove to drive in among the people. But the beast was wiser than his drivers; and continually ran either on one side of us, or the other, while we quietly sang praise to God, and prayed for about an hour. The poor wretches, finding themselves disappointed, at length seized upon the bull, now weak and tired, after having been so long torn and beaten, both by dogs and men; and, by main strength, partly dragged and partly thrust him in among the people. When they had forced their way to the little table on which I stood, they strove several times to throw it down, by thrusting the helpless beast against it; who, of himself, stirred no more than a log of wood. I once or twice put aside his head with my hand, that the blood might not drop upon my clothes; intending to go on, as soon as the hurry should be a little over. But the table falling down, some of our friends caught me in their arms, and carried me right away on their shoulders; while the rabble wreaked their vengeance on the table, which they tore bit from bit. We went a little way off, where I finished my discourse, without any noise or interruption. Sun. 21 . — In the evening I rode to Marshfield; and on Tuesday, in the afternoon, came to London. Wednesday, 24. I preached, for the last time, in the French chapel at Wapping on, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” Thur. 26 . — I appointed several earnest and sensible men to meet me, to whom I showed the great difficulty I had long found of knowing the people who desired to be under my care. After much discourse, they all agreed, there could be no better way to come to a sure, thorough knowledge of each person, than to divide them into classes, like those at Bristol, under the inspection of those in whom I could most confide. This was the origin of our classes at London, for which I can never sufficiently praise God; the unspeakable usefulness of the institution having ever since been more and more manifest. Wed . 31 . — My brother set out for Oxford. In the evening I called upon Ann Calcut. She had been speechless for some time; but almost as soon as we began to pray, God restored her speech: She then witnessed a good confession indeed. I expected to see her no more. But from that hour the fever left her; and in a few days she arose and walked, glorifying God. Sun . April 4. — About two in the afternoon, being the time my brother was preaching at Oxford, before the University, I desired a few persons to meet with me, and join in prayer. We continued herein much longer than we at first designed, and believed we had the petition we asked of God. Fri. 9 . — We had the first watch-night in London. We commonly choose for this solemn service the Friday night nearest the full moon, either before or after, that those of the congregation who live at a distance, may have light to their several homes. The service begins at half an hour past eight, and continues till a little after midnight. We have often found a peculiar blessing at these seasons. There is generally a deep awe upon the congregation, perhaps in some measure owing to the silence of the night, particularly in singing the hymn, with which we commonly conclude, — Hearken to the solemn voice, The awful midnight cry!
Waiting souls, rejoice, rejoice, And feel the Bridegroom nigh.
April 16 . — (Being Good Friday.) I was desired to call on one that was ill at Islington. I found there several of my old acquaintance, who loved me once as the apple of their eye. By staying with them ‘but a little, I was clearly convinced, that was I to stay but one week among them, (unless the providence of God plainly called me so to do,) I should be as still as poor Mr. St. — I felt their words, as it were, thrilling through my veins.
So soft! so pleasing to nature! It seemed our religion was but a heavy, coarse thing; nothing so delicate, so refined as theirs. I wonder any person of taste (that has not faith) can stand before them! Sun. 18 . — In the afternoon, one who had tasted the love of God, but had turned again to folly, was deeply convinced, and torn, as it were, in pieces, by guilt, and remorse, and fear; and even after the sermon was ended, she continued in the same agony, it seemed, both of body and soul. Many of us were then met together in another part of the house; but her cries were so piercing, though at a distance, that I could not pray, nor hardly speak, being quite chilled every time I heard them. I asked, whether it were best to bring her in, or send her out of the house. It being the general voice, she was brought in, and we cried to God, to heal her backsliding. We soon found we were asking according to his will. He not only bade her “depart in peace,” but filled many others, till then heavy of heart, with peace and joy in believing. Mon. 19 . — At noon I preached at Brentford, and again about seven in the evening. Many who had threatened to do terrible things were present; but they made no disturbance at all. Tuesday , 20, was the day on which our noisy neighbors had agreed to summon all their forces together: A great number of whom came early in the evening, and planted themselves as near the desk as possible. But He that sitteth in heaven laughed them to scorn. The greater part soon vanished away; and to some of the rest, I trust his word came with the demonstration of his Spirit.
Fri. 23 . — I spent an agreeable hour with Mr. Wh ——. I believe he is sincere in all he says concerning his earnest desire of joining hand in hand with all that love the Lord Jesus Christ. But if (as some would persuade me) he is not, the loss is all on his own side. I am just as I was: I go on my way, whether he goes with me or stays behind. Sun. 25 . — At five I preached in Ratcliffe-Square, near Stepney, on, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” A multitude of them were gathered together before I came home, and filled the street above and below the Foundery. Some who apprehended we should have but homely treatment, begged me to go in as soon as possible; but I told them, “No: Provide you for yourselves; but I have a message to deliver first.” I told them, after a few words, “Friends, let every man do as he pleases; but it is my manner, when I speak of the things of God, or when another does, to uncover my head;” which I accordingly did; and many of them did the same. I then exhorted them to repent and believe the Gospel.
Not a few of them appeared to be deeply affected. Now, Satan, count thy gains. Mon. 26 . — I called on one who was sorrowing as without hope for her son, who was turned again to folly. I advised her to wrestle with God for his soul; and in two days he brought home the wandering sheep, fully convinced of the error of his ways, and determined to choose the better part. Sat . May 1. — One called, whom I had often advised not to hear them that preach smooth things: But she could not believe there was any danger therein, seeing we were all, she said, children of God. The effects of it which now appeared in her were these: — 1. She was grown above measure wise in her own eyes: She knew every thing as well as any could tell her, and needed not to be “taught of man.” 2. She utterly despised all her brethren, saying, they were all in the dark; they knew not what faith meant. 3. She despised her teachers, as much, if not more, than them; saying, they knew nothing of the Gospel; they preached nothing but the Law, and brought all into bondage who minded what they said. “Indeed,” said she, “after I had heard Mr. Sp — I was amazed; for I never since heard you preach one good sermon. And I said to my husband, ‘My dear, did Mr. Wesley always preach so?’ And he said, ‘Yes, my dear; but your eyes were not opened.’” Thur. 6 . — I described that falling away, spoken of by St. Paul to the Thessalonians, which we so terribly feel to be already come, and to have over spread the (so-called) Christian world. One of my hearers was highly offended at my supposing any of the Church of England to be concerned in this; but his speech soon betrayed him to be of no Church at all, jealous and orthodox as he was. So that after I had appealed to his own heart, as well as to all that heard him, he retired with confusion of face. Sat. 8 . — One, of Fetter-Lane, mentioning a letter he had received from a poor man in Lincolnshire, I read and desired a copy of it; part of which is as follows: — Samuel Meggot to Richard Ridley. “BROTHER, May 3, 1742. “ I HAVE now much communion with thee, and desire to have more:
But till now I found a great gulf between us, so that we could not one pass to the other. Therefore thy letters were very death to me, and thou wast to me as a branch broke off and thrown by to wither. Yet I waited, if the Lord should please to let us into the same union we had before. So the Lord hath given it. And in the same I write; desiring it may continue until death. “I wrote before to thee and John Harrison, ‘Be not afraid to be found sinners,’ hoping you would not separate the Law from the Spirit, until the flesh was found dead. For I think our hearts are discovered by the Law, yea, every tittle, and condemned by the same. Then are we quickened in the Spirit. Justice cannot be separated from mercy; neither can they be one greater than the other. ‘Keep the commandments;’ ‘and I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter.’ Mark that! ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee; arise, take up thy bed, and walk.’ Here is work before mercy, and mercy before work. — So then, through the Law by faith our heart is pure. — Beware, therefore, of them who, while they promise you liberty, are themselves the servants of corruption. O dead faith, that cannot always live pure!
Treacherous Judas, that thus betrayest thy Master! “Let the Law arraign you, till Jesus Christ bring forth judgment in your hearts unto victory. Yea, let your hearts be open wide, receiving both, that the one may confirm the other. So thou livest so much in the Son’s righteousness, that the Law saith, ‘I have fought against thee.’ This is faith that thus conquers the old man, in putting him off, and putting on Christ. Purify your hearts by faith: So shall the temple of God be holy, and the altar therein; that spiritual sacrifices may be offered, acceptable to the Lord. Now, if any man be otherwise minded, let him be ashamed. For if there lives any of our self in us, that one branch of nature, that one member, shall cause the whole man to burn everlastingly. Let as many as know not this perfection, which is by Jesus Christ, press forward by faith till they come to the experimental knowledge of it. “But how many souls have I seen washed, and turned again to the wallowing in their sins! O that Lamb! How is he put to an open shame again, who had once reconciled them to the Father! “Now I would write a little of the travail of my own soul. I thought myself right long since; but when the light of life came, I saw myself ready to die in my sins. I had faith; but I had it by knowledge, and not in power: Yet by this faith I had great liberty.
Nevertheless this faith kept my heart corrupt, and the whole man of sin alive. My way of proceeding was thus: Sometimes I was overtaken in a fault, and so was put to a stand a little. But as soon as I could, I would wipe myself by knowledge, saying, ‘Christ died for sinners.’ I was right so far, and no farther. He died for sinners:
But not to save him that continues in his sins. For whomsoever he cleanses, they are clean indeed; first sinners, then saints, and so they remain. By and by I was overtaken again: And the oftener I was over taken, the stronger I thought myself in the Lord. Yea, for my corruption’s sake I was forced to get more knowledge, or else I should have been condemned. So I arrived at such a pitch of knowledge, (that is, of notional faith,) that I could crucify Christ with one hand, and take pardon with the other; so that I was always happy. Here was the mystery of iniquity, conceived in my heart. For it led me to this; if I was to take of any man’s goods, I would say or think, ‘I am a sinner to myself; but Christ died for me; so his righteousness is mine.’ And farther, I could not see, but if I was to kill a man, yet I should be pure. So great a friend to sin and the devil was I, that I would have made sin and the devil to become the righteousness of God in Christ; yea, that I began to love him, whom the Lord hath reserved for everlasting fire. “So I holden Christ without, and the devil within. This is a mystery, that I should feel myself safe and pure, and yet the devil to be in me. Judge who gave me this purity, and taught me to be thus perfect in Christ! But ere long that began to break forth in action, which I had conceived in my heart. But it was the Lord’s will I should not go far, before I was again brought under the Law.
Then did I stand stripped and naked of that knowledge. I wish all who are so deceived as I was, were brought under the Law, that they might learn what it is to come to Jesus Christ. And I wish them not to pass from under the Law, till they clearly see the end of the Law come into their hearts. “The Law being mixed with faith, makes it quick; and powerful.
Then shall he be called a child of God; who cannot sin, because his seed remaineth in him. “Thou writest, Jesus makes it manifest to thee, that thou art a great sinner. That is well; and if more, it would be better for thee.
Again, thou sayest, since thou first receivedst a full and free pardon for all thy sins, thou hast received so many fresh pardons, that they are quite out of count. And this, thou sayest, is spoken to thy own shame and thy Savior’s praise. Come, my brother, let us both be more ashamed. Let us see where we are, and what we are doing to the Lamb. We are not glorifying him: (Let us not mistake ourselves thus:) We are crucifying him afresh. We are putting him to an open shame, and bringing swift damnation on our own heads. “Again, thou sayest, though thy sins be great and many, yet the Savior’s grace is greater. Thou sayest right; or else, how should we have been cleansed? But his great cleansing power does not design that we should become foul again; lest he call us away in our uncleanness, and we perish for ever. For it will not profit us, that we were once cleansed, if we be found in uncleanness. “Take heed to thyself, that the knowledge that is in thee deceive thee not. For thou writest so to my experience, that I can tell thee as plain how thou art, or plainer than thou canst thyself. Thou sayest, after thou hast done something amiss, thou needest not to be unhappy one moment, if thou wilt but go to thy Savior. Is not this the very state I have mentioned? O that that knowledge was cast out! So shouldest thou always do the things that please the Father. O, my dear brother, how art thou bewitched by the deceiver of thy son! Thou art a stranger to the Savior, who is gone to heaven to give repentance to his people and remission of sins. I am afraid the devil is thy savior; more of him is manifest in thee than of Christ. He tells thee, thou art pure and washed; but he cozens thee; yea, his deceitfulness cries out for vengeance; yet he would be a Christ or a God. “Thou sayest, thou hast need of remission of sins everyday. Yes, so thou hast, and more. Thou hast need every moment; so shouldest thou be clean; for this every moment should be eternity to thy soul. Thou thankest God that he hath provided such a High-Priest for thee. Let him be thine; so shalt thou be ruled by him every moment. What? Is he such a Savior as can cleanse us from sin, and not keep us in the same? Judge where thou art. Thou and I and many more were once made pure. And we were pure while we believed the same, and were kept by the Father for his own name’s sake. But how long did we thus believe? Let every man judge himself. “Now, my brother, answer for thyself. Dost thou believe that thou must always have this heart, which is corrupted through and through with sin? I say, dost thou believe thy heart must be thus unpure? If thou dost, the same doctrine must be preached to thee which was at first: ‘Ye must receive the Holy Ghost;’ that is, thou must be brought to the first remission; and there thou wilt see Jesus laid slain in thy heart. This thy first purity I will acknowledge, and none else. I believe the foundation of life was once in thee. But many together with thee have fallen away. Thou hearest how I acknowledge thee, and where, and no where else.
And herein I have communion with thee in my spirit, and hope it will continue to the end.”
And is poor Samuel Meggot himself now fallen into the very same snare against which he so earnestly warned his friend? Lord, what is man! Sun . 9 . — I preached in Charles-Square to the largest congregation I have ever seen there. Many of the baser people would fain have interrupted; but they found, after a time, it was lost labor. One, who was more serious, was (as she afterwards confessed) exceeding angry at them. But she was quickly rebuked, by a stone which light upon her forehead, and struck her down to the ground. In that moment her anger was at an end, and love only filled her heart. Wed. 12 . — I waited on the Archbishop of Canterbury with Mr. Whitefield, and again on Friday; as also on the Bishop of London. I trust if we should be called to appear before princes, we should not be ashamed. Mon. 17 . — I had designed this morning to set out for Bristol; but was unexpectedly prevented. In the afternoon I received a letter from Leicestershire, pressing me to come without delay, and pay the last office of friendship to one whose soul was on the wing for eternity. On Thursday , 20, I set out. The next afternoon I stopped a little at Newport-Pagnell, and then rode on till I overtook a serious man, with whom I immediately fell into conversation. He presently gave me to know what his opinions were; therefore I said nothing to contradict them. But that did not content him; he was quite uneasy to know, whether I holden the doctrine of the decrees as he did; but I told him over and over, “We had better keep to practical things, lest we should be angry at one another.”
And so we did for two miles, till he caught me unawares, and dragged me into the dispute before I knew where I was. He then grew warmer and warmer; told me I was rotten at heart, and supposed I was one of John Wesley’s followers. I told him, “No, I am John Wesley himself.” Upon which, — Improvisam aspris veluti gui sentibus anguem Pressit, — f48 he would gladly have run away outright. But, being the better mounted of the two, I kept close to his side, and endeavored to show him his heart, till we came into the street of North Hampton. Saturday, 22. About five in the afternoon, I reached Donnington-Park.
Miss Cowper was just alive. But as soon as we came in, her spirit greatly revived. For three days we rejoiced in the grace of God, whereby she was filled with a hope full of immortality; with meekness, gentleness, patience, and humble love, knowing in whom she had believed. Tues. 25 . — I set out early in the morning with John Taylor; (since settled in London;) and Wednesday, 26, in the evening, reached Birstal, six miles beyond Wakefield.
John Nelson had wrote to me some time before: But at that time I had little thought of seeing him. Hearing he was at home, I sent for him to our inn; whence he immediately carried me to his house, and gave me an account of the strange manner wherein he had been led on, from the time of our parting at London.
He had full business there, and large wages. But from the time of his finding peace with God, it was continually upon his mind, that he must return (though he knew not why) to his native place. He did so, about Christmas, in the year 1740. His relations and acquaintance soon began to inquire, what he thought of this new faith; and whether he believed there was any such thing as a man’s knowing that his sins were forgiven: John told them point-blank, that this new faith, as they called it, was the old faith of the Gospel; and that he himself was as sure his sins were forgiven, as he could be of the shining of the sun. This was soon noised abroad; more and more came to inquire concerning these strange things: Some put him upon the proof of the great truths which such inquiries naturally led him to mention; and thus he was brought unawares to quote, explain, compare, and enforce, several parts of Scripture. This he did at first, sitting in his house, till the company increased so that the house could not contain them. Then he stood at the door, which he was commonly obliged to do in the evening, as soon as he came from work. God immediately set his seal to what was spoken; and several believed, and therefore declared, that God was merciful also to their unrighteousness, and had forgiven all their sins.
Mr. Ingham, hearing of this, came to Birstal, inquired into the facts, talked with John himself, and examined him in the closest manner, both touching his knowledge and spiritual experience; after which he encouraged him to proceed; and pressed him, as often as he had opportunity, to come to any of the places where himself had been, and speak to the people a God should enable him.
But he soon gave offense, both by his plainness of speech, and by advising people to go to church and sacrament. Mr. Ingham reproved him; but finding him incorrigible, forbad any that were in his societies to hear him.
But being persuaded, this is the will of God concerning him, he continues to this hour working in the day, that he may be burdensome to no man; and in the evening “testifying the truth as it is in Jesus.”
I preached, at noon, on the top of Birstal-Hill, to several hundreds of plain people; and spent the afternoon in talking severally with those who had tasted of the grace of God. All of these, I found, had been vehemently pressed, not to run about to church and sacrament, and to keep their religion to themselves; to be still; not to talk about what they had experienced. At eight I preached on the side of Dewsbury-Moor, about two miles from Birstal, and earnestly exhorted all who believed, to wait upon God in his own ways, and to let their light shine before men. Thur. 27 . — We left Birstal, and on Friday, 28, came to Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
I read, with great expectation, yesterday and today, Xenophon’s “Memorable things of Socrates.” I was utterly amazed at his want of judgment. How many of these things would Plato never have mentioned!
But it may be well that we see the shades too of the brightest picture in all heathen antiquity.
We came to Newcastle about six; and, after a short refreshment, walked into the town. I was surprised: So much drunkenness, cursing, and swearing, (even from the mouths of little children,) do I never remember to have seen and heard before, in so small a compass of time. Surely this place is ripe for Him who “came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Sat. 29 . — I was informed that one Mr. Hall had been there about a year before, and had preached several times; but I could not learn that there was the least fruit of his labor; nor could I find any that desired to hear him again, nor any that appeared to care for such matters. Sun. 30 . — At seven I walked down to Sandgate, the poorest and most contemptible part of the town; and, standing at the end of the street with John Taylor, began to sing the hundredth Psalm. Three or four people came out to see what was the matter; who soon increased to four or five hundred. I suppose there might be twelve or fifteen hundred, before I had done preaching; to whom I applied those solemn words, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: The chastisement of our peace was upon him; and by his stripes we are healed.”
Observing the people, when I had done, to stand gaping and staring upon me, with the most profound astonishment, I told them, “If you desire to know who I am, my name is John Wesley. At five in the evening, with God’s help, I design to preach here again.”
At five, the hill on which I designed to preach was covered, from the top to the bottom. I never saw so large a number of people together, either in Moorfields, or at Kennington-Common. I knew it was not possible for the one half to hear, although my voice was then strong and clear; and I stood so as to have them all in view, as they were ranged on the side of the hill.
The word of God which I set before them was, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely.” After preaching, the poor people were ready to tread me under foot, out of pure love and kindness. It was some time before I could possibly get out of the press. I then went back another way than I came; but several were got to our inn before me; by whom I was vehemently importuned to stay with them, at least, a few days; or, however, one day more. But I could not consent; having given my word to be at Birstal, with God’s leave, on Tuesday night.
Some of these told me, they were members of a religious society, which had subsisted for many years, and had always gone on in a prudent, regular manner, and been well spoken of by all men. They likewise informed me what a fine library they had; and that the Steward read a sermon every Sunday. And yet how many of the publicans and harlots will go into the kingdom of heaven before these! Mon . 31 . — About three I left Newcastle. I read over today the famous Dr. Pitcairn’s Works; but I was utterly disappointed by that dry, sour, controversial book. We came in the evening to Boroughbridge, where, to my great surprise, the mistress of the house, though much of a gentlewoman, desired she and her family might join with us in prayer.
They did so likewise between four and five in the morning. Perhaps even this seed may bring forth fruit. Tues . June 1. — As we were riding through Knaresborough, not intending to stop there, a young man stopped me in the street, and earnestly desired me to go to his house. I did so. He told me, our talking with a man, as we went through the town before, had set many in a flame; and that the sermon we gave him, had traveled from one end of the town to the other.
While I was with him, a woman came and desired to speak with me. I went to her house, whither five or six of her friends came; one of whom had been long under deep conviction. We spent an hour in prayer, and all our spirits were refreshed.
About one we came to Mr. More’s, at Beeston, near Leeds. His son rode with me, after dinner, to Birstal; where (a multitude of people being gathered from all parts) I explained to them the spirit of bondage and adoption. I began about seven, but could not conclude till half an hour past nine. Wed. 2 . — I was invited to Mrs. Holmes’s, near Halifax; where I preached at noon, on, “Ask, and ye shall receive.” Thence I rode to Dr. L —’s, the Vicar of Halifax; a candid inquirer after truth. I called again upon Mrs. Holmes, in my return; when her sister a little surprised me, by asking, “Ought not a Minister of Christ to do three things: First, To preach his Law, in order to convince of sin: Then, To offer free pardon, through faith in his blood, to all convinced sinners: And, in the Third place, To preach his Law again, as a rule for those that believe? I think, if any one does otherwise, he is no true Minister of Christ. He divides what God has joined, and cannot be said to preach the whole Gospel.”
I preached at eight near Dewsbury-Moor; and at eight the next morning, Thursday, 3, at Mirfield, where I found Mr. Ingham had been an hour before. Great part of the day I spent in speaking with those who have tasted the powers of the world to come: By whose concurrent testimony I find, that Mr. Ingham’s method to this day is, 1. To endeavor to persuade them, that they are in a delusion, and have indeed no faith at all: If this cannot be done, then, 2. To make them keep it to themselves; and, 3. To prevent their going to the church or sacrament; at least to guard them from having any reverence, or expecting to find any blessing in those ordinances of God.
In the evening I preached at Adwalton, a mile from Birstal, in a broad part of the highway, the people being too numerous to be contained in any house in the town. After preaching, and the next day, I spoke with more, who had, or sought for, redemption through Christ; all of whom I perceived had been advised also, to put their light under a bushel; or to forsake the ordinances of God, in order to find Christ. Fri. 4 . — At noon I preached at Birstal once more. All the hearers were deeply attentive; whom I now confidently and cheerfully committed to “the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls.”
Hence I rode to Beeston. Here I met once more with the works of a celebrated author, of whom many great men cannot speak without rapture, and the strongest expressions of admiration, — I mean Jacob Behmen. The book I now opened was his “Mysterium Magnum,” or Exposition of Genesis. Being conscious of my ignorance, I earnestly besought God to enlighten my understanding. I seriously considered what I read, and endeavored to weigh it in the balance of the sanctuary. And what can I say concerning the part I read? I can and must say thus much, (and that with as full evidence as I can say, that two and two make four,) it is most sublime nonsense; inimitable bombast; fustian not to be paralleled! All of a piece with his inspired interpretation of the word Tetragrammaton; on which (mistaking it for the unutterable name itself, whereas it means only a word consisting of four letters) he comments with such exquisite gravity and solemnity, telling you the meaning of every syllable of it. Sat. 5 . — I rode for Epworth. Before we came thither, I made an end of Madam Guyon’s “Short Method of Prayer,” and “Les Torrents Spirituelles.” Ah, my brethren! I can answer your riddle, now I have ploughed with your heifer. The very words I have so often heard some of you use, are not your own, no more than they are God’s. They are only retailed from this poor Quietist; and that with the utmost faithfulness. O that ye knew how much God is wiser than man! Then would you drop Quietists and Mystics together, and at all hazards keep to the plain, practical, written word of God.
It being many years since I had been in Epworth before, I went to an inn, in the middle of the town, not knowing whether there were any left in it now who would not be ashamed of my acquaintance. But an old servant of my fathers, with two or three poor women, presently found me out. I asked her, “Do you know any in Epworth who are in earnest to be saved?” She answered, “I am, by the grace of God; and I know I am saved through faith.” I asked, “Have you then the peace of God? Do you know that He has forgiven your sins?” She replied, “I thank God, I know it well.
But he did not care to accept of my assistance. The church was exceeding full in the afternoon, a rumor being spread, that I was to preach. But the sermon on, “Quench not the Spirit,” was not suitable to the expectation of many of the hearers. Mr. Romley told them, one of the most dangerous ways of quenching the Spirit was by enthusiasm; and enlarged on the character of an enthusiast, in a very florid and oratorical manner. After sermon John Taylor stood in the church-yard, and gave notice, as the people were coming out, “Mr. Wesley, not being permitted to preach in the church, designs to preach here at six o’clock.”
Accordingly at six I came, and found such a congregation as I believe Epworth never saw before. I stood near the east end of the church, upon my father’s tomb-stone, and cried, “The kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
At eight I went to Edward Smith’s, where were many not only of Epworth, but of Burnham, Haxey, Ouston, Belton, and other villages round about, who greatly desired that I would come over to them and help them. I was now in a strait between two; desiring to hasten forward in my journey, and yet not knowing how to leave those poor bruised reeds in the confusion where in I found them. John Harrison, it seems, and Richard Ridley, had told them in express terms, “All the ordinances are man’s inventions; and if you go to church or sacrament, you will be damned.”
Many hereupon wholly forsook the church, and others knew not what to do. At last I determined to spend some days here, that I might have time both to preach in each town, and to speak severally with those, in every place, who had found or waited for salvation. Mon . 7 . — I preached at Burnham, a mile from Epworth, on, “The Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins.” At eight in the evening I stood again on my father’s tomb, (as I did every evening this week,) and cried aloud to the earnestly attentive congregation, “By grace are ye saved through faith.” Tues. 8 . — I walked to Hibbaldstow (about twelve miles from Epworth) to see my brother and sister. The Minister of Ouston (two miles from Epworth) having sent me word, I was welcome to preach in his church, I called there in my return; but his mind being changed, I went to another place in the town, and there explained, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.” At eight I largely enforced at Epworth the great truth, (so little understood in what is called a Christian country,) “Unto him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted to him for righteousness.” I went thence to the place where the little society met, which was sufficiently thronged both within and without. Here I found some from Hainton, (a town twenty miles off,) who informed us, that God had begun a work there also, and constrained several to cry out in the bitterness of their soul, “What must I do to be saved?” Wed. 9 . — I rode over to a neighboring town, to wait upon a Justice of Peace, a man of candor and understanding; before whom (I was informed) their angry neighbors had carried a whole wagon-load of these new heretics. But when he asked what they had done, there was a deep silence; for that was a point their conductors had forgot. At length one said, “Why, they pretended to be better than other people: And besides, they prayed from morning to night.” Mr. S. asked, “But have they done nothing besides?” “Yes, Sir,” said an old man: “An’t please your worship, they have converted my wife. Till she went among them, she had such a tongue!
And now she is as quiet as a lamb.” “Carry them back, carry them back,” replied the Justice, “and let them convert all the scolds in the town.”
I went from hence to Belton, to H — F — r’s, a young man who did once run well; but now said, he saw the devil in every corner of the church, and in the face of every one who had been there. But he was easily brought to a better mind. I preached under a shady oak, on, “The Son of Man hath power upon earth to forgive sins.” At Epworth, in the evening, I explained the story of the Pharisee and the Publican. And I believe many began in that hour to cry out, “God be merciful to me a sinner!” Thur. 10 . — I spoke severally with all who desired it. In the evening I explained, “Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again unto fear, but the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” I had afterwards an hour’s calm conversation with Samuel Meggot and James Herbury.
What good did God do by these for a time! O let not their latter end be worse than the first! Fri. 11 . — I visited the sick, and those who desired, but were not able, to come to me. At six I preached at Overthorp, near Haxey, (a little village about two miles from Epworth,) on that comfortable scripture, “When they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.” I preached at Epworth about eight, on Ezekiel’s vision of the resurrection of the dry bones. And great indeed was the shaking among them: lamentation and great mourning were heard; God bowing their hearts, so that on every side, as with one accord, they lift up their voice and wept aloud. Surely He who sent his Spirit to breathe upon them, will hear their cry, and will help them. Sat. 12. — I preached on the righteousness of the Law and the righteousness of faith. While I was speaking, several dropped down as dead; and among the rest, such a cry was heard, of sinners groaning for the righteousness of faith, as almost drowned my voice. But many of these soon lifted up their heads with joy, and broke out into thanksgiving; being assured they now had the desire of their soul, — the forgiveness of their sins.
I observed a gentleman there, who was remarkable for not pretending to be of any religion at all. I was informed he had not been at public worship of any kind for upwards of thirty years. Seeing him stand as motionless as a statue, I asked him abruptly, “Sir, are you a sinner?” He replied, with a deep and broken voice, “Sinner enough;” and continued strains upwards till his wife and a servant or two, who were all in tears, put him into his chaise and carried him home. Sun. 13 . — At seven I preached at Haxey, on, “What must I do to be saved?” Thence I went to Wroote, of which (as well as Epworth) my father was Rector for several years. Mr. Whitelamb offering me the church, I preached in the morning, on, “Ask, and it shall be given you:” In the afternoon, on the difference between the righteousness of the Law and the righteousness of faith. But the church could not contain the people, many of whom came from far; and, I trust, not in vain.
At six I preached for the last time in Epworth church-yard, (being to leave the town the nest morning,) to a vast multitude gathered together from all parts, on the beginning of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. I continued among them for near three hours; and yet we scarce knew how to part. O let none think his labor of love is lost because the fruit does not immediately appear! Near forty years did my father labor here; but he saw little fruit of all his labor. I took some pains among this people too; and my strength also seemed spent in vain: But now the fruit appeared. There were scarce any in the town on whom either my father or I had taken any pains formerly, but the seed, sown so long since, now sprung up, bringing forth repentance and remission of sins. Mon. 14 . — Having a great desire to see David Taylor, whom God had made an instrument of good to many souls, I rode to Sheffield; but not finding him there, I was minded to go forward immediately: However, the importunity of the people constrained me to stay, and preach both in the evening and in the morning. Tuesday, 15. He came. I found he had occasionally exhorted multitudes of people in various parts; but, after that, he had taken no thought about them; so that the greater part were fallen asleep again.
In the evening I preached on the inward kingdom of God: In the morning, Wednesday, 16, on the spirit of fear and the spirit of adoption. It was now first I felt that God was here also; though not so much as at Barley-Hall, (five miles from Sheffield,) where I preached in the afternoon. Many were here melted down, and filled with love toward Him whom “God hath exalted to be a Prince and a Savior.”
I talked with one here, who, for about six months, (from the hour that she knew the pardoning, love of God,) has been all peace and love. She rejoices evermore, and prays without ceasing. God gives her whatever petitions she asks of him, and enables her in every thing to give thanks. She has the witness in herself, that whatsoever she does, it is all done to the glory of God. Her heart never wanders from him; no, not for a moment; but is continually before the throne. Yet whether she was sanctified throughout or not, I had not light to determine. Thur . 17 . — I began preaching about five, on “the righteousness of faith;” but I had not half finished my discourse, when I was constrained to break off in the midst; our hearts were so filled with a sense of the love of God, and our mouths with prayer and thanksgiving. When we were somewhat satisfied herewith, I went on to call sinners to the salvation ready to be revealed.
The same blessing from God we found in the evening, while I was showing how he justifies the ungodly. Among the hearers was one, who, some time before, had been deeply convinced of her ungodliness; in so much that she cried out, day and night, “Lord, save, or I perish!” All the neighbors agreeing that she was stark mad, her husband put her into a Physician’s hands, who blooded her largely, gave her a strong vomit, and laid on several blisters. But all this proving without success, she was, in a short time, judged to be incurable. He thought however, he would speak to one person more, who had done much good in the neighborhood. When Mrs. Johnson came, she soon saw the nature of the disease, having herself gone through the same. She ordered all the medicines to be thrown away, and exhorted the patient to look unto Jesus; which this evening she was enabled to do by faith; and he healed the broken in heart. Fri. 18 . — I left Sheffield, and after preaching at Ripley, by the way, hastened on to Donnington-Park: But Miss Cowper, I found, was gone to rest, having finished her course near three weeks before. Sun. 20 . — I read prayers at Ogbrook, and preached on Acts 27:23, “Whom ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” At six in the evening I preached at Melbourn. There were many hearers; but I see little fruit. Tues. 22 . — I had a long conversation with Mr. Simpson. And of this I am fully persuaded, that whatever he does, is in the uprightness of his heart.
But he is led into a thousand mistakes by one wrong principle, (the same which many either ignorantly or wickedly ascribe to the body of the people called Methodists,) the making inward impressions his rule of action, and not the written word.
About eight I left Donnington-Park, and before noon came to Markfield.
We lay at Coventry, and the next day, Wednesday, 23, in the afternoon, came to Evesham. At eight I preached. There were many who came with a design to disturb the rest; but they opened not their mouth. Thur . 24 . — I spent great part of the day in speaking with the members of the society; whom in the evening I earnestly besought, no more to tear each other to pieces by disputing; but to “follow after holiness,” and “provoke one another to love and to good works.” Fri . 25 . — I rode to Painswick; where, in the evening, I declared to all those who had been fighting and troubling one another, from the beginning hitherto, about rites and ceremonies, and modes of worship, and opinions, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Sat. 26 . — I was desired to call upon Mr. Walker, “the pillar of the Church” in these parts. As soon as I came in, he fell upon me with might and main, for saying, “People might know their sins were forgiven,” and brought a great book to confute me at once. I asked, if it was the Bible; and upon his answering, “No,î inquired no farther, but laid it quietly down.
This made him warmer still: Upon which I holden it best to shake him by the hand and take my leave.
I had appointed to preach in Stroud at noon. But, about ten, observing it to rain faster and faster, was afraid the poor people would not be able to come, many of whom lived some miles off. But in a quarter of an hour the rain ceased, and we had a fair, pleasant day; so that many were at the market-place, while I applied the story of the Pharisee and Publican; the hard rain in the morning having disengaged them from their work in the grounds. There would probably have been more disturbance, but that a drunken man began too soon, and was so senselessly impertinent, that even his comrades were quite ashamed of him.
In the evening I preached on Hampton-Common. Many of Mr. Whitefield’s society were there; to whom, as well as to all the other sinners, (without meddling with any of their opinions,) I declared, in the name of the great Physician, “I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely.” Sun. 27 . — I preached in Painswick at seven, on the spirit of fear and the spirit of adoption. I went to church at ten, and heard a remarkable discourse, asserting, that we are justified by faith alone: But that this faith, which is the previous condition of justification, is the complex of all Christian virtues, including all holiness and good works, in the very idea of it.
Alas! how little is the difference between asserting, either, 1. That we are justified by works, which is Popery bare-faced; (and, indeed, so gross, that the sober Papists, those of the Council of Trent in particular, are ashamed of it;) or, 2. That we are justified by faith and works, which is Popery refined or reveiled; (but with so thin a veil, that every attentive observer must discern it is the same still;) or, 3. That we are justified by faith alone, but by such a faith as includes all good works. What a poor shift is this: — “I will not say, We are justified by works; nor yet by faith and works; because I have subscribed Articles and Homilies, which maintain just the contrary.
No; I say, We are justified by faith alone; but then by faith I mean works!”
When the afternoon Service was ended at Runwick, I stood and cried to a vast multitude of people, “Unto him that worketh not, but believeth, his faith is counted for righteousness.” I concluded the day on Hampton-Common, by explaining, to a large congregation, the essential difference between the righteousness of the Law, and the righteousness of faith. Mon. 28 . — I rode to Bristol. I soon found disputing had done much mischief here also. I preached on those words, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?” Many were cut to the heart. A cry went forth; and great was the company of the mourners: But God did not leave them comfortless: Some knew in the same hour, that he had the words of eternal life. Tues. 29 . — I was desired to visit one in Newgate. As I was coming out, poor Benjamin Rutter stood in my way, and poured out such a flood of cursing and bitterness, as I scarce thought was to be found out of hell.
From Thursday, JULY 1, till Monday, I endeavored to compose the little differences which had arisen. On Monday I rode to Cardiff, and found much peace and love in the little society there. Tuesday , 6. I rode over to Fonmon, and found Mrs. Jones thoroughly resigned to God, although feeling what it was to lose an husband, and such an husband, in the strength of his years. Wed. 7 . — I returned, and at five in the afternoon preached to a small attentive congregation near Henbury. Before eight I reached Bristol, and had a comfortable meeting with many who knew in whom they had believed.
Now at length I spent a week in peace, all disputes being laid aside. Thursday, 15. I was desired to meet one who was ill of a very uncommon disorder. She said, “For several years, I have heard, wherever I am, a voice continually speaking to me, cursing, swearing, and blaspheming, in the most horrid manner, and inciting me to all manner of wickedness. I have applied to Physicians, and taken all sorts of medicines, but am never the better:” No, nor ever will, till a better Physician than these bruises Satan under her feet.
I left Bristol in the evening of Sunday, 18, and on Tuesday came to London. I found my mother on the borders of eternity. But she had no doubt or fear; nor any desire but (as soon as God should call) “to depart, and to be with Christ.” Fri . 23 . — About three in the afternoon I went to my mother and found her change was near. I sat down on the bed-side. She was in her last conflict; unable to speak, but I believe quite sensible. Her look was calm and serene, and her eyes fixed upward, while we commended her soul to God. From three to four, the silver cord was loosing, and the wheel breaking at the cistern; and then, without any struggle, or sigh, or groan, the soul was set at liberty. We stood round the bed, and fulfilled her last request, uttered a little before she lost her speech: “Children, as soon as I am released, sing a psalm of praise to God.” Sun . August 1. — Almost an innumerable company of people being gathered together, about five in the afternoon, I committed to the earth the body of my mother, to sleep with her fathers. The portion of Scripture from which I afterwards spoke was, “I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their worlds.” It was one of the most solemn assemblies I ever saw, or expect to see on this side eternity.
We set up a plain stone at the head of her grave, inscribed with the following words: — HERE LIES THE BODY OF MRS. SUSANNAH WESLEY, THE YOUNGEST AND LAST SURVIVING DAUGHTER OF DR. SAMUEL ANNESLEY IN sure and steadfast hope to rise, And claim her mansion in the skies, A Christian here her flesh laid down, The cross exchanging for a crown.
Meet for the fellowship above, She heard the call, “Arise, my love!” “I come,” her dying looks replied, And lamb-like, as her Lord, she died.
I cannot but further observe, that even she (as well as her father, and grandfather, her husband, and her three sons) had been, in her measure and degree, a preacher of righteousness. This I learned from a letter, wrote long since to my father; part of which I have here subjoined: — “February 6, 1711-12. “ — As I am a woman, so I am also mistress of a large family. And though the superior charge of the souls contained in it, lies upon you; yet, in your absence, I cannot but look upon every soul you leave under my care, as a talent committed to me under a trust, by the great Lord of all the families, both of heaven and earth. And if I am unfaithful to him or you, in neglecting to improve these talents, how shall I answer unto him, when he shall command me to render an account of my stewardship? “As these, and other such like thoughts, made me at first take a more than ordinary care of the souls of my children and servants, so — knowing our religion requires a strict observation of the Lord’s day, and not thinking that we fully answered the end of the institution by going to church, unless we filled up the intermediate spaces of time by other acts of piety and devotion — I thought it my duty to spend some part of the day, in reading to and instructing my family: And such time I esteemed spent in a way more acceptable to God, than if I had retired to my own private devotions. “This was the beginning of my present practice. Other people’s coming and joining with us was merely accidental. Our lad told his parents: They first desired to be admitted, then others that heard of it, begged leave also: So our company increased to about thirty; and it seldom exceeded forty last winter. “But soon after you went to London last, I light on the account of the Danish Missionaries. I was, I think, never more affected with any thing; I could not forbear spending good part of that evening in praising and adoring the divine goodness, for inspiring them with such ardent zeal for his glory. For several days I could think or speak of little else. At last it came into my mind, Though I am not a man, nor a Minister, yet if my heart were sincerely devoted to God, and I was inspired with a true zeal for his glory, I might do somewhat more than I do. I thought I might pray more for them, and might speak to those with whom I converse with more warmth of affection. I resolved to begin with my own children; in which I observe the following method: — I take such a proportion of time as I can spare every night, to discourse with each child apart. On Monday, I talk with Molly; on Tuesday, with Hetty; Wednesday, with Nancy; Thursday, with Jacky; Friday, with Patty; Saturday, with Charles; and with Emily and Suky together on Sunday. “With those few neighbors that then came to me, I discoursed more freely and affectionately. I chose the best and most awakening sermons we have. And I spent somewhat more time with them in such exercises, without being careful about the success of my undertaking. Since this, our company increased every night; for I dare deny none that ask admittance. “Last Sunday I believe we had above two hundred. And yet many went away, for want of room to stand. “We banish all temporal concerns from our society. None is suffered to mingle any discourse about them with our reading or singing. We keep close to the business of the day; and when it is over, all go home. “I cannot conceive, why any should reflect upon you, because your wife endeavors to draw people to church, and to restrain them from profaning the Lord’s day, by reading to them, and other persuasions. For my part, I value no censure upon this account. I have long since shook hands with the world. And I heartily wish, I had never given them more reason to speak against me. “As to its looking particular, I grant it does. And so does almost any thing that is serious, or that may any way advance the glory of God, or the salvation of souls. “As for your proposal, of letting some other person read: Alas! you do not consider what a people these are. I do not think one man among them could read a sermon, without spelling a good part of it. Nor has any of our family a voice strong enough to be heard by such a number of people. “But there is one thing about which I am much dissatisfied; that is, their being present at family prayers. I do not speak of any concern I am under, barely because so many are present; for those who have the honor of speaking to the Great and Holy God, need not be ashamed to speak before the whole world: But because of my sex. I doubt if it is proper for me to present the prayers of the people to God. Last Sunday I would faint have dismissed them before prayers; but they begged so earnestly to stay, I durst not deny them. “TO THE REV. MR. WESLEY, “In St. Margaret’s Church-Yard, Westminster.” For the benefit of those who are entrusted, as she was, with the care of a numerous family, I cannot but add one letter more, which I received from her many years ago: — “DEAR SON, July 24, 1732. “ACCORDING to your desire, I have collected the principal rules I observed in educating my family; which I now send you as they occurred to my mind, and you may (if you think they can be of use to any) dispose of them in what order you please. “The children were always put into a regular method or living, in such things as they were capable of, from their birth; as in dressing, undressing, changing their linen, etc. The first quarter commonly passes in sleep. After that, they were, if possible, laid into their cradles awake, and rocked to sleep; and so they were kept rocking, till it was time for them to awake. This was done to bring them to a regular course of sleeping; which at first was three hours in the morning, and three in the afternoon: Afterward two hours, till they needed none at all. “When turned a year old, (and some before,) they were taught to fear the rod, and to cry softly; by which means they escaped abundance of correction they might otherwise have had; and that most odious noise of the crying of children was rarely heard in the house; but the family usually lived in as much quietness, as if there had not been a child among them. “As soon as they were grown pretty strong, they were confined to three meals a day. At dinner their little table and chairs were set by ours, where they could be overlooked; and they were suffered to eat and drink (small beer) as much as they would; but not to call for any thing. If they wanted aught, they used to whisper to the maid which attended them, who came and spake to me; and as soon as they could handle a knife and fork, they were set to our table.
They were never suffered to choose their meat, but always made to eat such things as were provided for the family. “Mornings they had always spoon-meat; sometimes at nights. But whatever they had, they were never permitted to eat, at those meals, of more than one thing; and of that sparingly enough.
Drinking or eating between meals was never allowed, unless in case of sickness; which seldom happened. Nor were they suffered to go into the kitchen to ask any thing of the servants, when they were at meat; if it was known they did, they were certainly beat, and the servants severely reprimanded. “At six, as soon as family prayers were over, they had their supper; at seven, the maid washed them; and beginning at the youngest, she undressed and got them all to bed by eight; at which time she left them in their several rooms awake; for there was no such thing allowed of in our house, as sitting by a child till it fell asleep. “They were so constantly used to eat and drink what was given them, that when any of them was ill, there was no difficulty in making them take the most unpleasant medicine: For they durst not refuse it, though some of them would presently throw it up.
This I mention, to show that a person may be taught to take any thing, though it be never so much against his stomach. “In order to form the minds of children, the first thing to be done is to conquer their will, and bring them to an obedient temper. To inform the understanding is a work of time, and must with children proceed by slow degrees as they are able to bear it; but the subjecting the will, is a thing which must be done at once; and the sooner the better. For by neglecting timely correction, they will contract a stubbornness and obstinacy, which is hardly ever after conquered; and never, without rising such severity as would be as painful to me as to the child. In the esteem of the world they pass for kind and indulgent, whom I call cruel, parents, who permit their children to get habits, which they know must be afterwards broken. Nay, some are so stupidly fond, as in sport to teach their children to do things which in a while after, they have severely beaten them for doing. Whenever a child is corrected, it must be conquered; and this will be no hard matter to do, if it be not grown headstrong by too much indulgence. And when the will of a child is totally subdued, and it is brought to revere and stand in awe of the parents, then a great many childish follies and inadvertences may be passed by. Some should be overlooked and taken no notice of, and others mildly reproved; but no willful transgression ought ever to be forgiven children, without chastisement, less or more, as the nature and circumstances of the offense require. “I insist upon conquering the will of children betimes, because this is the only strong and rational foundation of a religious education; without which both precept and example will be ineffectual. But when this is thoroughly done, then a child is capable of being governed by the reason and piety of its parents, till its own understanding comes to maturity, and the principles of religion have taken root in the mind. “I cannot yet dismiss this subject. As self-will is the root of all sin and misery, so whatever cherishes this in children, insures their after-wretchedness and irreligion: Whatever checks and mortifies it, promotes their future happiness and piety. This is still more evident, if we farther consider, that religion is nothing else than the doing the will of God, and not our own: That the one grand impediment to our temporal and eternal happiness being this self-will, no indulgences of it can be trivial, no denial unprofitable.
Heaven or hell depends on this alone. So that the parent who studies to subdue it in his child, works together with God in the renewing and saving a soul. The parent who indulges it does the devil’s work, makes religion impracticable, salvation unattainable; and does all that in him lies to damn his child, soul and body for ever. “The children of this family were taught, as soon as they could speak, the Lord’s Prayer, which they were made to say at rising and bed-time constantly; to which, as they grew bigger, were added a short prayer for their parents, and some Collects; a short Catechism, and some portion of Scripture, as their memories could bear. “They were very early made to distinguish the Sabbath from other days; before they could well speak or go. They were as soon taught to be still at family prayers, and to ask a blessing immediately after, which “They were quickly made to understand, they might have nothing they cried for, and instructed to speak handsomely for what they wanted. They were not suffered to ask even the lowest servant for aught without saying, ‘Pray give me such a thing;’ and the servant was chid, if she ever let them omit that word. Taking God’s name in vain, cursing and swearing, profaneness, obscenity, rude, ill-bred names, were never heard among them. Nor were they ever permitted to call each other by their proper names, without the addition of brother or sister. “None to them were taught to read till five years old, except Kezzy, in whose case I was overruled; and she was more years learning, than any of the rest had been months. The way of teaching was this: — The day before a child began to learn, the house was set in order, every one’s work appointed them, and a charge given, that none should come into the room from nine till twelve, or from two till five; which, you know, were our school-hours. One day was allowed the child wherein to learn its letters; and each of them did in that time know all its letters, great and small, except Holly and Nancy, who were a day and a half before they knew them perfectly; for which I then thought them very dull; but since I have observed how long many children are learning the horn-book, I have changed my opinion. But the reason why I thought them so then was, because the rest learned so readily; and your brother Samuel, who was the first child I ever taught, learned the alphabet in a few hours. He was five years old on the 10th of February; the next day he began to learn; and as soon as he knew the letters, began at the first chapter of Genesis.
He was taught to spell the first verse, then to read it over and over, till he could read it off-hand without any hesitation; so on to the second, etc., till he took ten verses for a lesson, which he quickly did. Easter fell low that year; and by Whitsuntide he could read a chapter very well; for he read continually, and had such a prodigious memory, that I cannot remember ever to have told him the same word twice. “What was yet stranger, any word he had learned in his lesson, he knew, wherever he saw it, either in his Bible, or any other book; by which means he learned very soon to read an English author well. “The same method was observed with them all As soon as they knew the letters, they were put first to spell, and read outline, then a verse; never leaving, till perfect in their lesson, were it shorter or longer. So one or other continued reading at school-time, without any intermission; and before we left school, each child read what he had learned that morning; and ere we parted in the afternoon, what they had learneqd that day. “There was no such thing as loud talking or playing allowed of; but every one was kept close to their business, for the six hours of school: And it is almost incredible, what a child may be taught in a quarter of a year, by a vigorous application, if it have but a tolerable capacity, and good health. Every one of these, Kezzy excepted, could read better in that time, than the most of women can do as long as they live. “Rising out of their places, or going out of the room, was not permitted, unless for good cause; and running into the yard, garden, or street, without leave, was always esteemed a capital offense. “For some years we went on very well. Never were children in better order. Never were children better disposed to piety, or in more subjection to their parents; till that fatal dispersion of them, after the fire, into several families. In those they were left at full liberty to converse with servants, which before they had always been restrained from; and to run abroad, and play with any children, good or bad. They soon learned to neglect a strict observation of the Sabbath, and got knowledge of several songs and bad things, which before they had no notion of. That civil behavior which made them admired, when at home, by all which saw them, was, in great measure, lost; and a clownish accent, and many rude ways, were learned, which were not reformed without some difficulty. “When the house was rebuilt, and the children all brought home, we entered upon a strict reform; and then was begun the custom of singing psalms at beginning and leaving school, morning and evening. Then also that of a general retirement at five o’clock was entered upon; when the oldest took the youngest that could speak, and the second the next, to whom they read the Psalms for the day, and a chapter in the New Testament; as, in the morning, they were directed to read the Psalms and a chapter in the Old: After which they went to their private prayers, before they got their breakfast, or came into the family. And, I thank God, the custom is still preserved among us.
There were several by-laws observed among us, which slipped my memory, or else they had been inserted in their proper place; but I mention them here, because I think them useful. “1. It had been observed, that cowardice and fear of punishment often lead children into lying, till they get a custom of it, which they cannot leave. To prevent this, a law was made, That whoever was charged with a fault, of which they were guilty, if they would ingenuously confess it, and promise to amend, should not be beaten. This rule prevented a great deal of lying, and would have done more, if one in the family would have observed it. But he could not be prevailed on, and therefore was often imposed on by false colors and equivocations; which none would have used, (except one,) had they been kindly dealt with. And some, in spite of all, would always speak truth plainly. “2. That no sinful action, as lying, pilfering, playing at church, or on the Lord’s day, disobedience, quarreling, etc., should ever pass unpunished. “3. That no child should ever be chid or beat twice for the same fault; and that if they amended, they should never be upbraided with it afterwards. “4. That every signal act of obedience, especially when it crossed upon their own inclinations, should be always commended, and frequently rewarded, according to the merits of the cause. “5. That if ever any child performed an act of obedience, or did any thing with an intention to please, though the performance was not well, yet the obedience and intention should be kindly accepted; and the child with sweetness directed how to do better for the future. “6. That propriety be inviolably preserved, and none suffered to invade the property of another in the smallest matter, though it were but of the value of a farthing, or a pin; which they might not take from the owner, without, much less against, his consent. This rule can never be too much inculcated on the minds of children; and from the want of parents or governors doing it as they ought, proceeds that shameful neglect of justice which we may observe in the world. “7. ‘That promises be strictly observed; and a gift once bestowed, and so the right passed away from the donor, be not resumed, but left to the disposal of him to whom it was given; unless it were conditional, and the condition of the obligation not performed. “8. That no girl be taught to work till she can read very well; and then that she be kept to her work with the same application, and for the same time, that she was holden to in reading. This rule also is much to be observed; for the putting children to learn sewing before they can read perfectly, is the very reason, why so few women can read fit to be heard, and never to be well understood.” Sun. 8 . — I cried aloud, in Ratcliffe-Square, “Why will ye die, O house of Israel?” Only one poor man was exceeding noisy and turbulent; but in a moment God touched his heart: He hung down his head; tears covered his face, and his voice was heard no more.
I was constrained this evening to separate from the believers, some who did not show their faith by their works. One of these, Sam. Prig, was deeply displeased, spoke many very bitter words, and went abruptly away. The next morning he called; told me, neither my brother nor I preached the Gospel, or knew what it meant. I asked, “What do we preach then?” He said, “Heathen morality: Tully’s Offices, and no more. So I wash my hands of you both. We shall see what you will come to in a little time.” Wed. 11 . — He sent me a note, demanding the payment of one hundred pounds, which he had lent me about a year before, to pay the workmen at the Foundery. On Friday morning, at eight, he came and said, he wanted his money, and could stay no longer. I told him, I would endeavor to borrow it; and desired him to call in the evening. But he said, he could not stay so long, and must have it at twelve o’clock. Where to get it, I knew not. Between nine and ten one came and offered me the use of an hundred pounds for a year: But two others had been with me before, to make the same offer. I accepted the bank note which one of them brought; and saw that God is over all! Mon. 16 . — I rode to Oxford, and the next day to Evesham. On Wednesday and Thursday, in riding from Evesham to Bristol, I read over that surprising book, “The Life of Ignatius Loyola;” surely one of the greatest men that ever was engaged in the support of so bad a cause! I wonder any man should judge him to be an enthusiast: No; but he knew the people with whom he had to do: And setting out (like Count Z —) with a full persuasion that he might use guile to promote the glory of God, or (which he thought the same thing) the interest of his Church, he acted, in all things, consistent with his principles.
In the evening I met my brother and Mr. Graves; who being able to delay it no longer, at length sent the following letter to the Fellows of St. Mary Magdalen College, in Oxford: — “GENTLEMEN, Bristol, Aug. 20, 1742. “IN December, 1740, I signed a paper containing the following words: ‘I, Charles Caspar Graves, do hereby declare, that I do renounce the modern practice and principles of the persons commonly called Methodists, namely, of preaching in fields, of assembling together and expounding the Holy Scriptures in private houses, and elsewhere than in churches, in an irregular and disorderly manner, and their pretensions to an extraordinary inspiration and inward feeling of the Holy Spirit. “‘I do farther declare my conformity to the Liturgy of the Church of England, and my unfeigned assent and consent to the Articles thereof, commonly called the Thirty-nine Articles. “‘Lastly, I do declare, that I am heartily sorry that I have given offense and scandal, by frequenting the meetings and attending the expositions of the persons commonly called Methodists; and that I will not frequent their meetings, nor attend their expositions, for the future, nor take upon me to preach and expound the Scripture, in the manner practiced by them. “‘Charles Casper Graves.’ “ I believe myself indispensably obliged, openly to declare before God and the world, that the motives whereby I was induced to sign that paper were, partly a sinful fear of man; partly an improper deference to the judgment of those whom I accounted wiser than myself; and, lastly, a resolution that if my own judgment should at any time be better informed, I would then openly retract, in the presence of God and man, whatever I should be convinced I had said or done amiss. “Accordingly, having now had (besides a strong conviction immediately consequent thereon) many opportunities of informing my judgment better, and being fully convinced of my fault, I do hereby declare my sincere repentance, for my wicked compliance with those oppressive men, who, without any color of law, divine or human, imposed such a condition of receiving a testimonial upon me. “I do farther declare, that I know no principles of the Methodists (so called) which are contrary to the word of God; nor any practices of them but what are agreeable both to Scripture and to the laws of the Church of England: That I believe, in particular, their preaching the Gospel in the fields, (being first forbid so to do in churches, although ‘a dispensation of the Gospel is committed to them, and woe is unto them if they preach not the Gospel,’) or in private houses, or in any part of His dominion who filleth heaven and earth, can never be proved to be contrary to any written law either of God or man: That I am not apprised of their preaching any where in an irregular, disorderly manner; neither of their pretending to any extraordinary inspiration, or extraordinary feelings of the Holy Spirit; but to those ordinary ones only, which, if a man have not, he is ‘without hope and without God in the world.’ “I do yet farther declare, that (whatever indiscretion I may in other respects have been guilty of) I know of no just offense or scandal which I ever gave by frequenting the meetings, or attending the expositions, of the persons commonly called Methodists; and that I verily believe no offense was ever taken thereat, unless either by persons loaded with prejudice, or by those who enter not into the kingdom of heaven themselves, and if others would enter in, suffer them not. “I do, lastly, declare, that I look upon myself to be under no kind of obligation (except only, that I do still assent and consent to the Articles and Liturgy of the Church) to observe any thing contained in that scandalous paper, so unchristianly imposed upon me. “Witness my hand, “Charles Casper Graves.” After having regulated the Society here and in Kingswood, I set out again for London. On Monday, 30, I read over that excellent tract, Mr. Middleton’s Essay on Church Government, so nicely avoiding the two extremes of either exalting or depressing the regal power. Tuesday, 31. I read once more the Life of that good and wise (though much mistaken) man Gregory Lopez. Surely it must be a compliment made him by the biographer, (of which Gregory himself was in no wise worthy,) that “he ascribed all his virtues to the merits and mediation of the Queen of Heaven.”
We reached London in the afternoon. Friday, SEPTEMBER 3. I preached on Philippians 1:9: “This I pray, that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;” or rather “feeling,” as it is in the margin. It pleased God to make this discourse an occasion of discovering such wiles of Satan as it never entered into my heart to conceive. Sat. 4 . — I was pressed to visit a poor murderer in Newgate, who was much afflicted both in body and soul. I objected; it could not be; for all the turnkeys, as well as the keeper, were so good Christians, they abhorred the name of a Methodist, and had absolutely refused to admit me even to one who earnestly begged it the morning he was to die. However, I went, and found, by a surprising turn, that all the doors were now open to me. I exhorted the sick malefactor to cry unto God with all his might, for grace to repent and believe the Gospel. It was not long before the rest of the fellows flocked round, to whom I spoke strong words concerning the Friend of sinners, which they received with as great signs of amazement as if it had been a voice from heaven. When I came down into the Common-Hall, (I think they called it,) one of the prisoners there asking me a question, gave me occasion to speak among them also; more and more still running together, while I declared, God was “not willing any of them should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Mon . 6 . — Finding many had been offended at the sermon I preached on Friday night, especially those who were supposed to be strong in faith, I determined to examine the matter thoroughly. Accordingly I desired M. C., M. F., E. H., and A. G., and a few others, to meet me with Sarah Cl., Jane J — n, and Ann P., to whom they had said most concerning the point in question. I then heard each of them relate her experience at large. I afterwards examined them severally, touching the circumstances which I had not understood; on which I then talked with several others also. And thus far I approved of their experience, (because agreeable to the written word,) as to their feeling the working of the Spirit of God, in peace, and joy, and love. But as to what some of them said farther, concerning feeling the blood of Christ running upon their arms, or going down their throat, or poured like warm water upon their breast or heart; I plainly told them, the utmost I could allow, without renouncing both Scripture and reason, was, that some of these circumstances might be from God (though I could not affirm they were) working in an unusual manner, no way essential either to justification or sanctification; but that all the rest I must believe to be the mere empty dreams of an heated imagination. Wed. 8 . — I observed that the leaven of stillness is not yet purged out from among us. One of our brethren saying, he was uneasy because he had willfully neglected the Lord’s Supper, another replied, then his faith was weak; else his peace could not be shaken by such little things. Yea, but I think such little things as these will shake the peace of any true believer, viz., a willful breach of any commandment of God. If it does not shake us, we are asleep in the devil’s arms. Thur. 9 . — I buried the body of Lucy Godshall, one of the first women Bands at Fetter-Lane. After pressing toward the mark for more than two years, since she had known the pardoning love of God, she was for some time weary and faint in her mind, till I put her out of the Bands. God blessed this greatly to her soul, so that in a short time she was admitted again. Soon after, being at home, she felt the love of God, in an unusual manner, poured into her heart. She fell down upon her knees, and delivered up her soul and body into the hands of God: In the instant the use of all her limbs was taken away, and she was in a burning fever. For three days she mightily praised God, and rejoiced in him all the day long. She then cried out, “Now Satan hath desired to have me, that he may sift me as wheat.” Immediately darkness and heaviness fell upon her, which continued till Saturday, the 4th instant. On Sunday the light shone again upon her heart. About ten in the evening one said to her, “Jesus is ready to receive your soul:” She said, “Amen! Amen!” closed her eyes and died. Sun. 12 . — I was desired to preach in an open place, commonly called the Great Gardens, lying between Whitechapel and Coverlet-Fields, where I found a vast multitude gathered together. Taking knowledge that a great part of them were little acquainted with the things of God, I called upon them in the words of our Lord, “Repent ye; and believe the Gospel.”
Many of the beasts of the people labored much to disturb those who were of a better mind. They endeavored to drive in a herd of cows among them; but the brutes were wiser than their masters. They then threw whole showers of stones, one of which struck me just between the eyes; but I felt no pain at all; and, when I had wiped away the blood, went on testifying with a loud voice, that God hath given to them that believe, “not the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” And by the spirit which now appeared through the whole congregation, I plainly saw what a blessing it is when it is given us, even in the lowest degree, to suffer for his name’s sake. Mon 13. — I preached, about nine, at Windsor; and the next evening came to Bristol. I spent the remainder of this and the following week in examining those of the society; speaking severally to each, that I might more perfectly know the state of their souls to Godward. Thur. 23 . — In the evening, almost as soon as I began to pray in the society, a voice of lamentation and bitter mourning was heard, from the whole congregation; but in a while, loud thanksgivings were mixed therewith, which in a short space spread over all; so that nothing was to be heard on every side, but, “Praise to God and the Lamb for ever and ever!” Fri. 24 . — I had notes from nineteen persons, desiring to return God thanks. Some of them follow: — “John Merriman, a blind man, desires to return thanks to Almighty God, for the discovery of His love to him, an old sinner.” “One desires to return God thanks, for giving her a token of his love, in removing all prejudices, and giving her love to all mankind.” “Edith W—— desires to return thanks for great and unspeakable mercies, which the Lord was pleased to reveal to her heart; even telling me, ‘I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions, and thy sins I will remember no more.’ And I desire that the praise of the Lord may be ever in my heart.” “Ann Simmonds desires to return hearty thanks to God for the great mercies she received last night; for she has a full assurance of her redemption in the blood of Christ.” “Mary K—— desires to return thanks to God for giving her a fresh sense of her forgiveness.” “Mary F—— desires to return thanks for that the Lord hath made her triumph over sin, earth, and hell.” “Mary W——n desires to return thanks to Almighty God for a fresh sense of forgiveness.” “SIR, — I desire to return humble thanks to Almighty God for the comfortable assurance of his pardoning love. E. C —.”
Many others took an opportunity of speaking to me, and declaring what God had done for their souls. But one came to me, Mrs. Sp——, who was still torn in pieces with sorrow, and doubts, and fears. Her chief fear, she said, was, that we are all Papists. I asked her, how she came to fear this, after she had heard us preach for near three years, and been more than a twelvemonth in the society. She said, “Why, it is not long since I met with a gentleman who told me, he was a Roman Catholic. And when I asked him, if Mr. Wesley was a Papist, he would not say yes or no; but only, ‘Mr. W. is a very good man; and you do well to hear him.’ Besides, it is but two or three nights since, as I was just setting out to come to the Room, Miss Gr — met me, and said, ‘My dear friend, you sha’nt go; indeed you sha’nt; you don’t know what you do. I assure you, Mr. W. is a Papist, and so am I; he converted me. You know how I used to pray to Saints and to the Virgin Mary! it was Mr. W. taught me when I was in the Bands. And I saw him rock the cradle on Christmas-eve: You know I scorn to tell a lie.’ Well, but, said I, how comes it that none of the rest who are in the Bands have found this out as well as you? ‘O,’ replied she, ‘they are not let into the secret yet; perhaps, if you was in the Bands, you might not hear a word of it for a year or more. O, you can’t imagine the depth of the design!’” The maid at her back then fell a crying, and said, “Indeed, Madam, Miss Gr — talks so fine! Do, Madam, mind what she says.” So between one and the other, poor Mrs. Sp—— was utterly confounded.
Perhaps I need observe no more upon this, than that the Popish Priest knew well how much it would be for the interest of his Church to have me accounted a member of it; and that Miss Gr—— had lately been raving mad; (in consequence of a fever;) that, as such, she was tied down in bed; and, as soon as she was suffered to go abroad, went to Mr. Whitefield, to inquire of him whether she was not a Papist. But he quickly perceived she was only a lunatic, the nature of her disorder soon betraying itself. O that all who advance the same assertion with her, had as good a plea to urge in their excuse! Sun. 26 . — In the evening I rode to Marshfield. The next evening I reached Whitechurch. Tuesday, 28. In the morning I preached at Great-Marlow, on the Pharisee and the Publican. Many were surprised, and perhaps in some measure convinced, (but how short lived are most of these convictions!) that it is very possible a man may be a Pharisee now; — yea, though he be not a Methodist.
A little before twelve I came to Windsor. I was soon informed, that a large number of the rabble had combined together; and declared, again and again, there should be no preaching there that day. In order to make all sure, they had provided gunpowder enough, and other things, some days before. But Burnham fair coming between, they agreed to go thither first, and have a little diversion there. Accordingly they went, and bestowed a few of their crackers upon their brother mob at Burnham. But these, not being Methodists, did not take it well, turned upon them, and gave them chase.
They took shelter in an house. But that would not serve; for those without soon forced a way in, and seized on as many as they could find; who, upon information made, were sent to gaol: The rest ran away; so that when I came, none hindered or interrupted. In the evening I came to London: I proposed spending a fortnight there, and then returning to Bristol.
I spent this time partly in speaking severally to all the members of the society; partly in making a full inquiry into those devices of Satan whereof I had scarce ever heard or read before. And I believe they were now thoroughly discovered and brought to nought. O may they never more deceive the hearts of the simple! Mon . October 11. — I had designed to leave London: But Mr. Richards being taken ill, I put off my journey. He was much better on Tuesday; so I set out the next morning; and before seven in the evening reached the half-way house! four miles short of Hungerford.
I now found it was well I did not set out on Monday, in order to be at Bristol on Tuesday night, as usual. For all the travelers who went that way on Tuesday were robbed. But on Thursday the road was clear; so that I came safe to Kingswood in the afternoon, and in the evening preached at Bristol.
My chief business now was, to examine thoroughly the society in Kingswood. This found me full employment for several days. On Wednesday, 27, having finished my work, I set out very early, and (though my horse fell lame) on Thursday evening came to London. Fri. 29 . — I largely explained, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty:” Namely, liberty to obey the whole will of God; to be and do whatsoever he hath commanded: In a word, to love God with all our heart, and to serve him with all our strength. Sun. 31 . — Several of the Leaders desired to have an hour’s conversation with me. I found they were greatly perplexed about “want of management, ill husbandry, encouraging idleness, improper distribution of money,” “being imposed upon by fair pretenses,” and “men who talked well, but had no grace in their hearts.” I asked, who those men were: But that they could not tell. Who encouraged idleness: When and how: What money had been improperly distributed: By whom, and to whom: In what instances I had been imposed on; (as I presumed they meant me;) and what were the particulars of that ill husbandry and mismanagement of which they complained. They stared at one another as men in amaze. I began to be amazed too, not being able to imagine what was the matter, till one dropped a word, by which all came out. They had been talking with Mr. Hall, who had started so many objections against all I said or did, that they were in the utmost consternation, till the fire thus broke out, which then at once vanished away. Wed . November 3. — Two of those who are called Prophets, desired to speak with me. They told me, they were sent from God with a message to me; which was, that very shortly I should be borne’d again. One of them added, they would stay in the house till it was done, unless I turned them out. I answered, gravely, “I will not turn you out,” and showed them down into the society-room. It was tolerably cold; and they had neither meat nor drink: However, there they sat from morning to evening. They then went quietly away, and I have heard nothing from them since. Sun. 7 . — I concluded the Epistle to the Hebrews, that strong, barrier against the too prevailing imagination, — that the privileges of Christian believers are to be measured by those of the Jews. Not so: That Christians are under a better covenant, established upon better promises; that although “the Law made nothing perfect,” made none perfect either in holiness or happiness, yet “the bringing in of a better hope” did, “by which we” now “draw nigh unto God;” this is the great truth continually inculcated herein, and running through this whole Epistle. Mon. 8 . — I set out at four, reached Northampton that night, and the next evening, Donnington-Park. Wednesday, 10. I rode on to Rusworth-Inn, and, on Saturday , 13, reached Newcastle.
My brother had been here for some weeks before, and was but just returned to London. At eight I met the wild, staring, loving society; but not them alone, as I had designed. For we could not persuade the strangers to leave us. So that we only spent about an hour in prayer. Sun. 14 . — I began preaching about five o’clock, (a thing never heard of before in these parts,) on, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” And the victorious sweetness of the grace of God was present with his word. At ten we went to All-Saints, where were such a number of communicants as I have scarce seen but at Bristol or London.
At four I preached in the Square of the Keelman’s Hospital, on, “By grace are ye saved through faith.” It rained and hailed hard, both before and after; but there were only some scattered drops while I preached, which frighted away a few careless hearers. I met the society at six, and exhorted all who had “set their hand to the plough,” not to “look back.” Mon. 15 . — I began at five expounding the Acts of the Apostles. In the afternoon (and every afternoon this week) I spoke severally with the members of the society. On Tuesday evening I began the Epistle to the Romans. After sermon the society met. I reproved some among them who walked disorderly; and earnestly besought them all to beware, lest, by reason of their sins, the way of truth should be evil spoken of. Thur. 18 . — I could not but observe the different manner wherein God is pleased to work in different places. The grace of God flows here with a wider stream than it did at first either at Bristol or Kingswood. But it does not sink so deep as it did there. Few are thoroughly convinced of sin, and scarce any can witness, that the Lamb of God has taken away their sins. Fri. 19 . — I found the first witness of this good confession. Margaret H — (O how fallen since then!) told me, that the night before, her sight (an odd circumstance) and her strength were taken away at once. At the same time the love of God so overflowed her soul, that she could not speak or move.
James R — also gave me an account today, that in going home the day before, he lost his sight in a moment, and was forced to catch hold of some rails for fear of falling. He continues under strong conviction, longing for the salvation of God. Sun. 21 . — After preaching in the Room at five, I began preaching about eight at the Hospital: It rained all the time; but that did not disturb me or the congregation, while I explained, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for He shall save his people from their sins.” Tues. 23 . — There seemed in the evening to be a deeper work in many souls than I had observed before. Many trembled exceedingly; six or seven (both men and women) dropped down as dead; some cried unto God out of the deep; others would have cried, but their voice was lost: And some have found that the Lord is “gracious and merciful, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin.” Thur. 25 . — In the evening God was pleased to wound many more who were quiet and at ease. And I could not but observe, that here the very best people, so called, were as deeply convinced as open sinners. Several of these were now constrained to roar aloud for the disquietness of their hearts; and these generally not young, (as in most other places,) but either middle-aged, or well stricken in years.
I never saw a work of God, in any other place, so evenly and gradually carried on. It continually rises step by step. Not so much seems to be done at any one time, as hath frequently been at Bristol or London; but something at every time. It is the same with particular souls. I saw none in that triumph of faith, which has been so common in other places. But the believers go on calm and steady. Let God do as seemeth Him good. Fri. 26 . — Between twelve and one, I preached in a convenient ground at Whickham, two or three miles from Newcastle. I spoke strong, rough words; but I did not perceive that any regarded what was spoken. The people indeed were exceeding quiet, and the cold kept them from falling asleep; till (before two) I left them, very well satisfied with the Preacher, and with themselves. Sun. 28 . — I preached, both at five in the Room, and at eight in the Hospital, on, “Him hath God elated to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance and remission of sins.” We then walked over to Tanfield-Leigh; about seven miles from Newcastle. Here a large company of people were gathered together from all the country round about: To whom I expounded the former part of the fifth chapter to the Romans. But so dead, senseless, unaffected a congregation, have I scarce seen, except at Whickham.
Yet the seed sown even here was not quite lost; for on Thursday morning, between four and five, John Brown, then of Tanfield-Leigh, was waked out of sleep by the voice that raiseth the dead; and ever since he has been full of love, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
At four I preached in the Hospital-Square, to the largest congregation I had seen since we left London, on, “Jesus Christ,” our “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” Wed . December 1. — We had several places offered, on which to build a Room for the society; but none was such as we wanted. And perhaps there was a providence in our not finding any as yet; for, by this means, I was kept at Newcastle, whether I would or no. Sat. 4 . — I was both surprised and grieved at a genuine instance of enthusiasm. J—— B——, of Tanfield-Leigh, who had received a sense of the love of God a few days before, came riding through the town, hallooing and shouting, and driving all the people before him; telling them, God had told him he should be a king, and should tread all his enemies under his feet. I sent him home immediately to his work, and advised him to cry day and night to God, that he might be lowly in heart; lest Satan should again get an advantage over him.
Today a gentleman called and offered me a piece of ground. On Monday an article was drawn, wherein he agreed to put me into possession on Thursday, upon payment of thirty pounds. Tues. 7 . — I was so ill in the morning, that I was obliged to send Mr. Williams to the Room. He afterwards went to Mr. Stephenson, a merchant in the town, who had a passage through the ground we intended to buy. I was willing to purchase it. Mr. Stephenson told him, “Sir, I do not want money; but if Mr. Wesley wants ground, he may have a piece of my garden, adjoining to the place you mention. I am at a word. For forty pounds he shall have sixteen yards in breadth, and thirty in length.” Wed. 8 . — Mr. Stephenson and I signed an article, and I took possession of the ground. But I could not fairly go back from my agreement with Mr. Riddle: So I entered on his ground at the same time. The whole is about forty yards in length; in the middle of which we determined to build the house, leaving room for a small court-yard before, and a little garden behind, the building. Sun. 12 . — I expounded, at five, the former part of the Parable of the Sower. At eight I preached in the Square, on, “I am the good Shepherd:
The good Shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep.” The effect of what had been spoken in the morning now evidently appeared; for one could not observe any in the congregation to stir hand or foot. When the sermon was done, they divided to the right and left, none offering to go till I was past:
And then they walked quietly and silently away, lest Satan should catch the seed out of their hearts. Mon , 13 . — I removed into lodging adjoining to the ground, where we were preparing to build; but the violent frost obliged us to delay the work.
I never felt so intense cold before. In a room where a constant fire was kept, though my desk was fixed within a yard of the chimney, I could not write for a quarter of an hour together, without my hands being quite benumbed. Wed. 15 . — I preached at Horsley-upon-Tyne, eight (computed) miles from Newcastle. It was about two in the afternoon. The house not containing the people, we stood in the open air, in spite of the frost. I preached again in the evening, and in the morning. We then chose to walk home, having each of us catched a violent cold by riding the day before.
Mine gradually wore off; but Mr. Meyrick’s increased, so that, on Friday, he took his bed. I advised him to bleed; but he imagined he should be well without it, in a few days. Sun. 19 . — I cried to all who felt themselves lost, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved:” And in the afternoon, “Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.” At that hour, one who was bitterly mourning after Christ (Mary Emerson) was filled with joy unspeakable. Mon. 20 . — We laid the first stone of the House. Many were gathered, from all parts, to see it; but none scoffed or interrupted, while we praised God, and prayed that He would prosper the work of our hands upon us.
When I came home, they told me the Physician said, he did not expect Mr. Meyrick would live till the morning. I went to him, but his pulse was gone. He had been speechless and senseless for some time. A few of us immediately joined in prayer: (I relate the naked fact:) Before we had done, his sense and his speech returned. Now, he that will account for this by natural causes, has my free leave: But I choose to say, This is the power of God. Thur. 23 . — It being computed that such a House as was proposed could not be finished under seven hundred pounds, many were positive it would never be finished at all; others, that I should not live to see it covered. I was of another mind; nothing doubting but, as it was begun for God’s sake, He would provide what was needful for the finishing it. Sat. 25 . — The Physician told me he could do no more; Mr. Meyrick could not live over the night. I went up, and found them all crying about him; his legs being cold, and (as it seemed) dead already. We all kneeled down, and called upon God with strong cries and tears. He opened his eyes, and called for me; and, from that hour, he continued to recover his strength, till he was restored to perfect health. — I wait to hear who will either disprove this fact, or philosophically account for it. Sun. 26 . — From those words, “Sing we merrily unto God, our strength; make a cheerful noise unto the God of Jacob;” I took occasion to show the usual way of keeping these days holy, in honor of the birth of our Lord; namely, by an extraordinary degree of gluttony and drunkenness; by heathen, and worse than heathen, diversions; (with their constant attendants, passion and strife, cursing, swearing, and blasphemy;) and by dancing and card-playing, equally conducive to the glory of God. I then described the right way of keeping a day holy to the Lord: By extraordinary prayer, public and private; by thanksgiving; by hearing, reading, and meditating on his word; and by talking of all his wondrous works. Mon. 27 . — I rode to Horsley. The house being too small, I was obliged again to preach in the open air; but so furious a storm have I seldom known. The wind drove upon us like torrent; coming by turns from east, west, north, and south; the straw and thatch flew round our heads; so that one would have imagined it could not be long before the house must follow; but scarce any one stirred, much less went away, till I dismissed them with the peace of God. Tues . 28 . — I preached in an open place at Swalwell, two or three miles from Newcastle. The wind was high, and extremely sharp; but I saw none go away till I went. Yet I observed none that seemed to be much convinced; only stunned, as if cut in the head. Wed. 29 . — After preaching (as usual) in the Square, I took horse for Tanfield. More than once I was only not blown off my horse. However, at three I reached the Leigh, and explained to a multitude of people the salvation which is through faith. Afterwards I met the society in a large upper room, which rocked to and fro with the violence of the storm. But all was calm within; and we rejoiced together in hope of a kingdom which cannot be moved. Thur . 30 . — I carefully examined those who had lately cried out in the congregation. Some of these, I found could give no account at all, how or wherefore they had done so; only that of a sudden they dropped down, they knew not how; and what they afterwards said or did, they knew not.
Others could just remember, they were in fear; but could not tell what they were in fear of. Several said, they were afraid of the devil; and this was all they knew. But a few gave a more intelligible account of the piercing sense they then had of their sins, both inward and outward, which were set in array against them round about; of the dread they were in of the wrath of God, and the punishment they had deserved, into which they seemed to be just falling without any way to escape. One of them told me, “I was as if I was just falling down from the highest place I had ever seen.
I thought the Devil was pushing me off, and that God had forsaken me.”
Another said, “I felt the very fire of hell already kindled in my breast; and all my body was in as much pain as if I had been in a burning fiery furnace.” What wisdom is that which rebuketh these, that they “should hold their peace?” Nay, let such an one cry after Jesus of Nazareth, till he saith, “Thy faith hath made thee whole.”
At eleven I preached my farewell sermon in the Hospital-Square. I never saw such a congregation there before; nor did I ever speak so searchingly. I could not conclude till one; and then both men, women, and children, hung upon me, so that I knew not which way to disengage myself. After some time, I got to the gate, and took horse; but even then “a muckle woman” (as one called her, in great anger) kept her hold, and ran by the horse’s side, through thick and thin, down to Sandgate. Jonathan Reeves rode with me. We reached Darlington that night, and Boroughbridge the next day.
What encouragement have we to speak for God! At our inn we met an ancient man, who seemed, by his conversation, never to have thought whether he had any soul or no. Before we set out, I spoke a few words concerning his cursing and idle conversation. The man appeared quite broken in pieces: The tears started into his eyes; and he acknowledged (with abundance of thanks to me) his own guilt and the goodness of God. Sat . January 1, 1743. — Between Doncaster and Epworth, I overtook one who immediately accosted me with so many and so impertinent questions, that I was quite amazed. In the midst of some of them, concerning my travels and my journey, I interrupted him, and asked, “Are you aware that we are on a longer journey; that we are traveling toward eternity?” He replied instantly, “O, I find you! I find you! I know where you are! Is not your name Wesley? — ’Tis pity! ‘Tis great pity. Why could not your father’s religion serve you? Why must you have a new religion?” I was going to reply; but he cut me short by crying out in triumph, “I am a Christian! I am a Christian! I am a Churchman! I am a Churchman! I am none of your Culamites;” as plain as he could speak; for he was so drunk, he could but just keep his seat. Having then clearly won the day, or, as his phrase was, “put them all down,” he began kicking his horse on both sides, and rode off as fast as he could.
In the evening I reached Epworth. Sunday, 2. At five, I preached on, “So is every one that is born of the Spirit.” About eight I preached from my father’s tomb, on Hebrews 8:11. Many from the neighboring towns asked, if it would not be well, as it was sacrament Sunday, for them to receive it. I told them, “By all means: But it would be more respectful first to ask Mr. Romley, the Curate’s leave.” One did so, in the name of the rest; to whom he said, “Pray tell Mr. Wesley, I shall not give him the sacrament; for he is not fit .”
How wise a God is our God! There could not have been so fit a place under heaven, where this should befall me first, as my father’s house, the place of my nativity, and the very place where, “according to the straightest sect of our religion,” I had so long “lived a Pharisee!” It was also fit, in the highest degree, that he who repelled me from that very table, where I had myself so often distributed the bread of life, should be one who owed his all in this world to the tender love which my father had shown to his, as well as personally to himself. Mon. 3 . — I rode to Birstal, where John Nelson gave a melancholy account of many that did run well. I told him I was as willing they should be with the Germans as with us, if they did but grow in grace. He said, “But this is not the case. They grow worse instead of better: They are changed both in their tempers and lives; but not for the better at all. They now do things without scruple, which they could not do before. They are light and trifling in their behavior: They are easy and thoughtless; having now no holy fear, no earnest care to work out their own salvation.” Wed . 5 . — I came wet and weary to Sheffield, and on Friday to Donnington-Park, which I left before eight the next morning, in order to go to Wednesbury, in Staffordshire. I was immediately met by a vehement shower of rain, driven full in my face by a strong wind; but in an hour the day was clear and calm. About four in the afternoon I came to Wednesbury. At seven I preached in the Town-Hall: It was filled from end to end; and all appeared to be deeply attentive while I explained, “This is the covenant which I will make after those days, saith the Lord.” Sun. 9 . — The Hall was filled again at five; and I proclaimed “the name of the Lord;” “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” At eight we met in the place where my brother preached, made, as it were, for the great congregation. It is a large hollow, not half a mile from the town, capable of containing four or five thousand people. They stood in a half-circle, one above another, and seemed all to receive with joy that great truth, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
In the afternoon Mr. Egginton preached a plain, useful sermon. Almost the whole congregation then went down to the place, where abundance of people were already waiting for us; so that the hollow could not contain them, but was edged round with those who came from all parts. My subject was, “By grace are ye saved through faith.” O that all who heard might experience this salvation!
Mon. 10 . — I preached at five, at eight, and at three. In the intervals of preaching I spoke to all who desired it. Last night twenty-nine of them were joined together; Tuesday, 11, about an hundred. O that none of these may “draw back to perdition!” Let these “believe unto the saving of the soul.” Wed. 12 . — I took my leave of them in the morning by showing the difference between the righteousness of the Law and that of faith; and in the evening, explained to a large congregation at Evesham, “So is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Thur. 13 . — I rode to Stratford-upon-Avon. I had scarce sat down before I was informed that Mrs. K., a middle-aged woman, of Shattery, half a mile from Stratford, had been for many weeks last past in a way which nobody could understand; that she had sent for a Minister, but almost as soon as he came, began roaring in so strange a manner, (her tongue at the same time hanging out of her mouth, and her face being distorted into the most terrible form,) that he cried out, “It is the devil, doubtless! It is the devil!” and immediately went away.
I suppose this was some unphilosophical Minister; else he would have said, “Stark mad! Send her to Bedlam.”
I asked, “What good do you think I can do?” One answered, “We cannot tell; but Mrs. K.” (I just relate what was spoken to me, without passing any judgment upon it) “earnestly desired you might come, if you was anywhere near; saying she had seen you in a dream, and should know you immediately: But the devil said, (those were her own expressions,) ‘I will tear thy throat out before he comes.’ But afterwards, she said, his words were, ‘If he does come, I will let thee be quiet; and thou shalt be as if nothing ailed thee, till he is gone away.’” A very odd kind of madness this! I walked over about noon; but when we came to the house, desired all those who came with me to stay below. One showing me the way, I went up straight to her room. As soon as I came to the bedside, she fixed her eyes, and said, “You are Mr. Wesley. I am very well now, I thank God: Nothing ails me; only I am weak.” I called them up, and we began to sing, Jesus, thou hast bid us pray, Pray always and not faint:
With the word a power convey To utter our compliant.
After singing a verse or two we kneeled down to prayer. I had but just begun, (my eyes being shut,) when I felt as if I had been plunged into cold water; and immediately there was such a roar, that my voice was quite drowned, though I spoke as loud as I usually do to three or four thousand people. However, I prayed on. She was then reared up in the bed, her whole body moving at once, without bending one joint or limb, just as if it were one piece of stone. Immediately after it was writhed into all kind of postures, the same horrid yell continuing still. But we left her not till all the symptoms ceased, and she was (for the present, at least) rejoicing and praising God.
Between one and two I preached at Stratford, on, “The Son of Man hath power upon earth to forgive sins.” Most of the hearers stood like posts:
But some mocked, others blasphemed, and a few believed.
I preached at Evesham in the evening; rode to Painswick the next day, and on Saturday , 15, to Bristol; where, the following week, I spoke to each member of the society, and rejoiced over them, finding they had not been “barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Mon. 24 . — I preached at Bath. Some of the rich and great were present; to whom, as to the rest, I declared with all plainness of speech,1. That, by nature, they were all children of wrath. 2. That all their natural tempers were corrupt and abominable; and, 3. All their words and works, which could never be any better but by faith; and that, 4. A natural man has no more faith than a devil, if so much. One of them, my Lord, stayed very patiently till I came to the middle of the fourth head. Then, starting up, he said, “‘Tis hot! ‘Tis very hot,” and got down stairs as fast as he could.
Several of the Gentry desired to stay at the meeting of the society; to whom I explained the nature of inward religion, words flowing upon me faster than I could speak. One of them (a noted infidel) hung over the next seat in an attitude not to be described: And when he went, left half-a-guinea with Mary Naylor, for the use of the poor.
On the following days I spoke with each member of the society in Kingswood. I cannot understand how any Minister can hope ever to give up his account with joy, unless (as Ignatius advises) he “knows all his flock by name; not overlooking the men-servants and maid-servants.”
I left Bristol on Friday, 28; came to Reading on Saturda y, and to Windsor on Sunday morning. Thence I walked over to Egham, where Mr.—— preached one of the most miserable sermons I ever heard: Stuffed so full of dull, senseless, improbable lies, of those he complimented with the title of “False Prophets.”
I preached at one, and endeavored to rescue the poor text ( Matthew 7:15) out of so bad hands. About four I left Egham, and at eight in the evening met with a joyful congregation at the Foundery. Mon. 31 . — One writing to desire that I would preach on Isaiah 58, I willingly complied with his request in the evening. A day or two after, I received a letter from a girl of sixteen or seventeen, whom I had often observed, as being in an eminent degree, of a meek and lowly spirit. Some of her words were: “I do not think there were above six or seven words of the true Gospel in your whole sermon. I think nothing ought to concern you, but the errand which the Lord gave you. But how far are you from this! You preach more the Law than the Gospel! “Ah, my poor still sister! thou art an apt scholar indeed! I did not expect this quite so soon. Wed . February 2. — My brother and I began visiting the society together, which employed us from six in the morning everyday, till near six in the evening. Sunday, 6. I preached in the morning, on, “While we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men;” and in the afternoon, on, “By manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” So rough a charity sermon was scarce ever heard. But God gave it his blessing; in so much that fifty pounds were contributed, toward finishing the house at Newcastle. Fri. 11 . — I called on poor Joseph Hodges, who, after so long withstanding all the wiles of the enemy, has been at last induced, by his fatal regard for Mr. Hall, to renounce my brother and me, in form. But he had perfectly learned the exercise of his arms. He was so happy, so poor a sinner, that to produce either Scripture or reason against him, was mere beating of the air. Mon. 14 . — I left London, and (riding early and late) the next evening came to Newark. Here I met with a few who had tasted the good word:
One of whom received me gladly, and desired me, whenever I came to Newark, to make his house my home. Wed. 16 . — I reached Epworth. I was to preach at six. But the house not being able to contain half the congregation, I went out and declared, “We love him, because he first loved us.” In the morning, Thursday, 17, I largely explained “the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
And it was high time; for I soon found the spirit of delusion was gone abroad here also; and some began to boast, that Christ had “made them free,” who were still the “servants of sin.” In the evening I preached on that bold assertion of St. John, (indeed of all who have the true Spirit of adoption,) “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” Fri. 18 . — I rode forward for Newcastle. We inquired at Poplington, a little town three miles beyond York, and hearing there was no other town near, thought it best to call there. A Bible lying in the window, my fellow-traveler asked the woman of the house, if she read that book. She said, “Sir, I can’t read; the worse is my luck. But that great girl is a rare scholar; and yet she cares not if she ever looks in a book; — she minds nought but play.” I began soon after to speak to our landlord, while the old woman drew closer and closer to me. The girl spun on; but all on a sudden she stopped her wheel, burst out into tears, and, with all that were in the house, so devoured our words, that we scarce knew how to go away.
In the evening we came to Borough bridge, and Saturday, 19, to Newcastle. Sun . 20 . — I went on in expounding the Acts of the Apostles, and St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. In the following week I diligently inquired, who they were that did not walk according to the Gospel. In consequence of which I was obliged to put away above fifty persons. There remained above eight hundred in the society. Sat. 26 . — I visited those that were sick. One of these had kept her room for many months, so that she had never heard the voice or seen the face of any Preacher of this way: But God had taught her in the school of affliction. She gave a plain and distinct account of the manner wherein she received a sense of her acceptance with God, more than a year before; and of a fuller manifestation of his love, of which she never after doubted for a moment. Mon. 28. — I preached again at Horsley, and spoke severally with those of the society. The world now begins to take alarm, and to cast out their name as evil. After a very good woman (so called) had used abundance of arguments to hinder her neighbor from going near these people, she told her at length, “Why, none but the wickedest people upon earth go there:” “Nay, then,” replied she, “I will go immediately; for I am sure none upon earth is wickeder than me.” Such be the event of all worldly wisdom! Tues . March 1. — I preached at two in Pelton, five miles south of Newcastle. A multitude of people were gathered together from all the neighboring towns, and (which I rejoiced at much more) from all the neighboring pits. In riding home, I observed a little village called Chowden, which they told me consisted of colliers only. I resolved to preach there as soon as possible; for these are sinners, and need repentance. Sun. 6 . — I read over in the society, the Rules which all our members are to observe; and desired everyone seriously to consider, whether he was willing to conform thereto or no. That this would shake many of them I knew well; and therefore, on Monday, 7, I began visiting the classes again, lest “that which is lame should be turned out of the way.” Tues. 8 . — In the afternoon I preached on a smooth part of the Fell (or Common) near Chowden. I found we were got into the very Kingswood of the north. Twenty or thirty wild children ran round us, as soon as we came, staring as in amaze. They could not properly be said to be either clothed or naked. One of the largest (a girl, about fifteen) had a piece of a ragged, dirty blanket, some way hung about her, and a kind of cap on her head, of the same cloth and color. My heart was exceedingly enlarged towards them; and they looked as if they would have swallowed me up; especially while I was applying these words, “Be it known unto you, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you forgiveness of sins.” Sat . 12 . — I concluded my second course of visiting, in which I inquired particularly into two things: 1. The case of those who had almost every night the last week cried out aloud, during the preaching. 2. The number of those who were separated from us, and the reason and occasion of it.
As to the former I found, 1. That all of them (I think, not one excepted) were persons in perfect health; and had not been subject to fits of any kind, till they were thus affected. 2. That this had come upon every one of them in a moment, without any previous notice, while they were either hearing the word of God, or thinking on what they had heard. 3. That in that moment they dropped down, lost all their strength, and were seized with violent pain.
This they expressed in different manners. Some said, they felt just as if a sword was running through them; others, that they thought a great weight lay upon them, as if it would squeeze them into the earth. Some said, they were quite choked, so that they could not breathe; that their hearts swelled ready to burst: Others, that it was as if their heart, as if their inside, as if their whole body, was tearing all to pieces.
These symptoms I can no more impute to any natural cause, than to the Spirit of God. I can make no doubt, but it was Satan tearing them, as they were coming to Christ. And hence proceeded those grievous cries, whereby he might design both to discredit the work of God, and to affright fearful people from hearing that word, whereby their souls might be saved.
I found, 4. That their minds had been as variously affected as their bodies. Of this some could give scarce any account at all; which also I impute to that wise spirit, purposely stunning and confounding as many as he could, that they might not be able to bewray his devices. Others gave a very clear and particular account, from the beginning to the end. The word of God pierced their souls, and convinced them of inward as well as outward sin. They saw and felt the wrath of God abiding on them, and were afraid of his judgments. And here the accuser came with great power, telling them, there was no hope, they were lost for ever. The pains of body then seized them in a moment, and extorted those loud and bitter cries.
As to the latter, I observed, the number of those who had left the society, since December 30, was seventy-six: — Fourteen of these (chiefly Dissenters) said they left it, because otherwise their Ministers would not give them the sacrament.
Nine more, because their husbands or wives were not willing they should stay in it.
Twelve , because their parents were not willing.
Five , because their master and mistress would not let them come.
Seven , because their acquaintance persuaded them to leave it.
Five , because people said such bad things of the society.
Nine , because they would not be laughed at.
Three , because they would not lose the poor’s allowance.
Two , because it was too far off.
One , because she was afraid of falling into fits.
One , because people were so rude in the street.
Two , because Thomas Naisbit was in the society.
One , because he would not turn his back on his baptism.
The number of those who were expelled the society was sixty-four: — Two for cursing and swearing.
Two for habitual Sabbath-breaking.
Seventeen for drunkenness.
Two for retailing spirituous liquors.
Three for quarreling and brawling.
One for beating his wife.
Three for habitual, willful lying.
Four for railing and evil-speaking.
One for idleness and laziness. And, Nine-and-twenty for lightness and carelessness. Sun. 13 . — I went in the morning in order to speak severally with the members of the society at Tanfield. From the terrible instances I met with here, (and indeed in all parts of England,) I am more and more convinced, that the devil himself desires nothing more than this, that the people of any place should be half-awakened, and then left to themselves to fall asleep again. Therefore I determine, by the grace of God, not to strike one stroke in any place where I cannot follow the blow. Mon. 14 . — I preached again near Chowden; and this I continued to do weekly, as well as at all the other places round Newcastle, (except Swalwell,) where I had preached once. Thur. 17 . — As I was preaching at Pelton, one of the old colliers, not much accustomed to things of this kind, in the middle of the sermon, began shouting amain, for mere satisfaction and joy of heart. But their usual token of approbation (which somewhat surprised me at first) was clapping me on the back. Fri. 18 . — As I was meeting the Leaders, a company of young men, having prepared themselves by strong drink, broke open the door, and came rushing in with the utmost fury. I began praying for them immediately; not one opened his mouth, or lifted up a finger against us:
And after half an hour, we all went away together, in great quietness and love. Tues. 22 . — I went to South-Biddick, a village of colliers, seven miles southeast of Newcastle. The spot where I stood was just at the bottom of a semicircular hill, on the rising sides of which many hundreds stood; but far more on the plain beneath. I cried to them, in the words of the Prophet, “O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!” Deep attention sat on every face; so that here also I believed it would be well to preach weekly. Wed. 23 . — I met a gentleman in the streets, cursing and swearing in so dreadful a manner, that I could not but stop him. He soon grew calmer; told me, he must treat me with a glass of wine; and that he would come and hear me, only he was afraid I should say something against fighting of cocks. Fri . 25 . — At the pressing instance of a cursing, swearing, drunken Papist, who would needs bring me into a state of salvation, I spent some hours in reading an artful book, entitled, “The Grounds of the Old Religion.” In the first thirty pages the author heaps up Scriptures concerning the privileges of the Church. But all this is beating the air, till he proves the Romanists to be the Church, that is, that a part is the whole. In the second chapter he brings many arguments to show, that the Scripture is not the sole rule of faith; at least, not if interpreted by private judgment, because private judgment has no place in matters of religion! Why, at this moment you are appealing to my private judgment; and you cannot possibly avoid it. The foundation of your, as well as my, religion, must necessarily rest here.
This evening I preached in the shell of the new House, on the Rich Man and Lazarus. A great multitude were gathered together there, most of whom stayed with us, and watched unto the Lord. Sat. 26 . — I preached at Burtley, a village four miles south of Newcastle, surrounded by colliers on every side. The greater part of the congregation earnestly attended to those solemn words, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor.” Mon. 28 . — I was astonished to find it was real fact (what I would not believe before) that three of the Dissenting Ministers (Mr. A——rs, Mr. A——ns, and Mr. B——) had agreed together, to exclude all those from the holy communion, who would not refrain from hearing us.
Mr. A——ns publicly affirmed, we were all Papists, and our doctrine was mere Popery. And Mr. B—— in the conclusion of a course of sermons, which he preached professedly against us, went a step farther still: For after he had confessed, “Many texts in the Bible are for them,” he added, “But you ought not to mind these texts; for the Papists have put them in.” Wed. 30 . — While I was reasoning (from the twenty-fourth chapter of the Acts) on “righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,” God constrained many of the stout-hearted sinners to tremble. O that they may not put him off to “a more convenient season!”
April 1. — (Being Good-Friday.) I had a great desire to visit a little village called Placey, about ten measured miles north of Newcastle. It is inhabited by colliers only, and such as had been always in the first rank for savage ignorance and wickedness of every kind. Their grand assembly used to be on the Lord’s day; on which men, women, and children met together, to dance, fight, curse and swear, and play at chuck, ball, span-farthing, or whatever came next to hand. I felt great compassion for these poor creatures, from the time I heard of them first; and the more, because all men seemed to despair of them. Between seven and eight I set out with John Heally, my guide. The north wind being unusually high, drove the sleet in our face, which froze as it fell, and cased us over presently. When we came to Placey, we could very hardly stand. As soon as we were a little recovered, I went into the Square, and declared Him who “was wounded for our transgressions,” and “bruised for our iniquities.” The poor sinners were quickly gathered together, and gave earnest heed to the things which were spoken. And so they did in the afternoon again, in spite of the wind and snow, when I besought them to receive Him for their King; to “repent and believe the Gospel.”
On Easter Monday and Tuesday I preached there again, the congregation continually increasing. And as most of these had never in their lives pretended to any religion of any kind, they were the more ready to cry to God as mere sinners, for the free redemption which is in Jesus. Thur. 7 . — Having settled all things according to my desire, I cheerfully took leave of my friends at Newcastle, and rode that day to Sandhutton.
At our inn I found a good-natured man sitting and drinking in the chimney-corner; with whom I began a discourse, suspecting nothing less than that he was the Minister of the parish. Before we parted I spoke exceeding plain; and he received it in love, begging he might see me when I came that way again. But before I came, he was gone into eternity. Fri . 8 . — I preached at Knaresborough and at Leeds, on, “By grace are ye saved through faith.” The three following days I divided between Leeds and Birstal, and on Tuesday rode to Sheffield.
I found the society both here and at Barley-Hall, earnestly pressing on toward the mark; although there had not been wanting here also those who, by fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple. Fri. 15 . — I rode in two days to Wednesbury, but found things surprisingly altered. The inexcusable folly of Mr. W — s had so provoked Mr. E — n, that his former love was turned into bitter hatred. But he had not yet had time to work up the poor people into the rage and madness which afterwards appeared; so that they were extremely quiet both this and the following days, while I improved the present opportunity, and exhorted them, morning and evening, to “believe on the Lord Jesus,” and to “work out their salvation with fear and trembling.”
Yet on Sunday, 17, the scene began to open: I think I never heard so wicked a sermon, and delivered with such bitterness of voice and manner, as that which Mr. E — preached in the afternoon. I knew what effect this must have in a little time; and therefore judged it expedient to prepare the poor people for what was to follow; that, when it came, they might not be offended. Accordingly, on Tuesday, 19, I strongly enforced those words of our Lord, “If any man come after me, and hate not his father and mother, — yea, and his own life, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”
I was surprised to hear he was a neighboring Clergyman. And this, too, is a man zealous for the Church! Ah, poor Church, if it stood in need of such defenders! Thur . 21 . — I spent an hour with some of my old friends, whom I had not seen for many years. I rejoiced to find them still loving and open of heart, just as they were before I went to Georgia. In the afternoon I called at Barliswell, near Coventry; where I had formerly spent many pleasant hours. And here likewise I found friendship and openness still: But the master of the house was under heavy affliction; and such affliction as I believe will never be removed, till he is filled with “peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Fri . 22 . — I rode to Painswick; and on Saturday, 23, through heavy rain, to Bristol.
I had only a week of rest and peace, which was refreshing both to my soul and body. Sunday, MAY 1. I had an opportunity of receiving the Lord’s Supper, at St. James’s, our parish church. We had another comfortable hour in the afternoon, while I was explaining, “This is the covenant which I will make, saith the Lord; I will put my laws in their mind, and write them in their hearts: And I will be unto them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” Tues. 3 . — I set out for Wales, in company with one who was my pupil at Oxford. We could get that night no farther than the Bull, five Welsh miles beyond Abergavenny. The next morning we came to Builth, just as the Church Prayers began, Mr. Phillips, the Rector of Maesmennys, (at whose invitation I came,) soon took knowledge of me, and we began a friendship which I trust shall never end. I preached on a tomb at the east end of the church at four, and again at seven. Mr. Gwynne and Mr. Prothero (Justices of Peace) stood on either hand of me; and all the people before, catching every word, with the most serious and eager attention. Thur. 5 . — I rode over such rugged mountains as I never saw before, to Cardiff. But it was late before we came in, so I could not preach that night. Friday, 6. I preached at eleven in the new room, which the society had just built in the heart of the town; and our souls were sweetly comforted together. About two I preached at Lantrissent; and at Fonmon Castle in the evening, to a loving and serious congregation. Sat. 7 . — I was desired to preach at Cowbridge. We came into the town about eleven; and many people seemed very desirous to hear for themselves, concerning the way which is every where spoken against; but it could not be: The sons of Belial gathered themselves together, headed by one or two wretches called Gentlemen; and continued shouting, cursing, blaspheming, and throwing showers of stones, almost without intermission. So that after some time spent in prayer for them, I judged it best to dismiss the congregation. Sun. 8 . — I preached in the Castle Yard at Cardiff, at five in the morning and seven in the evening; in the afternoon at Wenvo, where the church was quite filled with those who came from many miles round: And God answered many of them in the joy of their hearts. It was a solemn and refreshing season. Mon. 9 . — I returned to Bristol. Most of the week I spent in visiting the Society in Kingswood; whom I now found quite clear of those vain janglings which had, for a time, well-nigh torn them in pieces. Tues. 17 . — My brother set out for Cornwall; where (according to the accounts we had frequently received) abundance of those who before neither feared God nor regarded man, began to inquire what they must do to be saved: But the same imprudence which had laid the foundation for all the disturbances in Staffordshire, had broke out here also, and turned many of our friends into bitter and implacable enemies. Violent persecution was the natural consequence of this; but the power of God triumphed over all.
May 22 . — (Being Whit-Sunday .) I preached both at Kingswood and Bristol, on those solemn words, “Jesus stood and cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” Tues. 24 . — I rode to Cirencester, and preached on a green place, at a little distance from the town, on, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Wednesday, 25.
I preached to a little company at Oxford. Thursday, 26. I had a large congregation at Wycombe; from whence I hastened to London, and concluded the day by enforcing those awful words at the Foundery, “The Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world: Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh! Behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.” Sun. 29 . — (Being Trinity-Sunday.) I began officiating at the chapel in West-Street, near the Seven-Dials, of which (by a strange chain of providences) we have a lease for several years. I preached on the Gospel for the day, part of the third chapter of St. John; and afterwards administered the Lord’s Supper to some hundreds of communicants. I was a little afraid at first, that my strength would not suffice for the business of the day, when a service of five hours (for it lasted from ten to three) was added to my usual employment. But God looked to that: So I must think; and they that will call it enthusiasm may. I preached at the Great-Gardens, at five, to an immense congregation, on, “Ye must be born again.” Then the Leaders met; (who filled all the time that I was not speaking in public;) and after them, the Bands. At ten at night I was less weary than at six in the morning.
The following week I spent in visiting the society. On Sunday, JUNE 5, the service of the chapel lasted till near four in the afternoon; so that I found it needful, for the time to come, to divide the communicants into three parts, that we might not have above six hundred at once. Wed. 8 . — I ended my course of visiting; throughout which I found great cause to bless God; so very few having drawn back to perdition out of nineteen hundred and fifty souls. Sat. 18 . — I received a full account of the terrible riots which had been in Staffordshire. I was not surprised at all: Neither should I have wondered if, after the advises they had so often received from the pulpit, as well as from the Episcopal chair, the zealous high Churchmen had rose, and cut all that were Methodists in pieces. Mon. 20 . — Resolving to assist them as far as I could, I set out early in the morning; and after preaching at Wycombe about noon, in the evening came to Oxford. Tuesday, 21. We rode to Birmingham; and in the morning, Wednesday , 22 to Francis Ward’s, at Wednesbury.
Although I knew all that had been done here was as contrary to law as it was to justice and mercy, yet I knew not how to advise the poor sufferers, or to procure them any redress. I was then little acquainted with the English course of law, having long had scruples concerning it. But, as many of these were now removed, I thought it best to inquire whether there could be any help from the laws of the land. I therefore rode over to Counselor Littleton, at Tamworth, who assured us, we might have an easy remedy, if we resolutely prosecuted, in the manner the law directed, those rebels against God and the King. Thur. 23 . — I left Wednesbury, and in the evening preached at Melbourn, in Derbyshire. I preached at Nottingham (where I met my brother coming from the north) on Friday, and on Saturday and Sunday at Epworth. Mon. 27 . — I preached at Awkborough, on the Trent side, to a stupidly-attentive congregation. We then crossed over, and rode to Sykehouse; on Tuesday to Smeton, and on Wednesday to Newcastle. Thur. 30 . — I immediately inquired into the state of those whom I left here striving for the mastery; and some of them, I found, were grown faint in their minds: Others had turned back “as a dog to the vomit;” but about six hundred still continued striving together for the hope of the Gospel. Monday , July 4, and the following days, I had time to finish the “Instructions for Children.” Sun. 10 . — I preached at eight on Chowden-Fell, on, “Why will ye die, O house of Israel?” Ever since I came to Newcastle the first time, my spirit had been moved within me, at the crowds of poor wretches, who were every Sunday, in the afternoon, sauntering to and fro on the Sandhill. I resolved, if possible, to find them a better employ; and as soon as the Service at All-Saints was over, walked straight from the church to the Sandhill, and gave out a verse of a psalm. In a few minutes I had company enough; thousands upon thousands crowding together. But the prince of this world fought with all his might, lest his kingdom should be overthrown. Indeed, the very mob of Newcastle, in the height of their rudeness, have commonly some humanity left. I scarce observed that they threw any thing at all; neither did I receive the least personal hurt: But they continued thrusting one another to and fro, and making such a noise, that my voice could not be heard: So that after spending near an hour in singing and prayer, I thought it best to adjourn to our own house, Mon. 11 . — I had almost such another congregation, in the High-Street, at Sunderland: But the tumult subsided in a short time; so that I explained, without any interruption, the one true religion, “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Thur. 14 . — I preached at the Lower-Spen, seven or eight (northern) miles from Newcastle. John Brown had been obliged to remove hither from Tanfield-Leigh, I believe by the peculiar providence of God. By his rough and strong, though artless, words, many of his neighbors had been much convinced, and began to search the Scriptures as they never had done before; so that they did not seem at all surprised when I declared, “He that believeth hath everlasting life.” Sun. 17 . — I preached (as I had done the Wednesday before) to my favorite congregation at Placey, on, “Him hath God exalted with his own right hand, to be a Prince and a Savior.” I then joined a little company of them together, who desire “repentance and remission of sins.” Mon. 18 . — I set out from Newcastle with John Downes, of Horsley. We were four hours riding to Ferry-Hill, about twenty measured miles. After resting there an hour, we rode softly on; and at two o’clock came to Darlington. I thought my horse was not well; he thought the same of his; though they were both young, and very well the day before. We ordered the hostler to fetch a farrier, which he did without delay; but before the men could determine what was the matter, both the horses lay down and died.
I hired a horse to Sandhutton, and rode on, desiring John Downes to follow me. Thence I rode to Boroughbridge, on Tuesday morning, and then walked on to Leeds. Wed. 20 . — I preached at Birstal and Hightown. After I had visited all the societies in these parts, and preached at as many of the little towns as I could, on Monday, 25, I rode to Barley-Hall. Many from Sheffield were there. We rejoiced greatly together in “Him who justifieth the ungodly.”
On Tuesday night and Wednesday morning I preached at Nottingham: On Wednesday evening, at Markfield. Fri. 29 . — We rode to Newport-Pagnell, and Saturday, 30, to London. Sat . August 6. — A convenient chapel was offered me at Snowsfields, on the other side the water. It was built on purpose, it seems, by a poor Arian misbeliever, for the defense and propagation of her bad faith. But the wisdom of God brought that device to nought; and ordered, by his over ruling providence, that it should be employed, not for “crucifying the Son of God afresh,” but for calling all to believe on his name. Mon. 8 . — Upon mention made of my design to preach here, a zealous woman warmly replied, “What! at Snowsfields! Will Mr. W. preach at Snowsfields? Surely he will not do it! Why, there is not such another place in all the town. The people there are not men, but devils.” However, I resolved to try if God was not stronger than them: So this evening I preached there on that scripture, “Jesus said, They that be whole need not a Physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Sun. 14 . — Mr. G. assisted me at the chapel; one who had then a deep sense of the goodness of God, in lifting him up from the gates of death, and delivering him out of all his troubles. Mon. 22 . — After a few of us had joined in prayer, about four I set out, and rode softly to Snow-Hill; where, the saddle slipping quite upon my mare’s neck, I fell over her head, and she ran back; into Smithfield. Some boys caught her, and brought her to me again, cursing and swearing all the way. I spoke plainly to them, and they promised to amend. I was setting forward when a man cried, “Sir, you have lost your saddle cloth.” Two or three more would needs help me to put it on; but these too swore at almost every word. I turned to one and another, and spoke in love. They all took it well, and thanked me much. I gave them two or three little books, which they promised to read over carefully.
Before I reached Kensington, I found my mare had lost a shoe. This gave me an opportunity of talking closely) for near half an hour; both to the smith and his servant. I mention these little circumstances, to show how easy it is to redeem every fragment of time, (if I may so speak,) when we feel any love to those souls for which Christ died. Tues. 23 . — I came to Kingswood in the afternoon, and in the evening preached at Bristol. Wednesday, 24. I made it my business to inquire concerning the truth of a strange relation which had been given me; and I found there was no possibility of doubting it. The plain fact was this: — “The Rev. Mr. — “ (I use the words of a gentleman of Bristol, whose manuscript lies by me) “preached at two or three churches, on these words, ‘Having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.’ After showing the different sorts of Dissenters from the Church of England, who (as he said) had only the form of godliness, he inveighed very much against the novel sect, the upstart Methodists; (as he termed them;) which indeed he was accustomed to do, more or less, in almost all his sermons. ‘These are the men,’ said he, ‘whom St. Paul foretold, who have the form, the outward show of holiness, but not the power; for they are ravening wolves, full of hypocrisy within.’ He then alleged many grievous things against them; but without all color of truth; and warned his flock to turn away from them, and not to bid them God speed, lest they should be partakers of their evil deeds. “Shortly after he was to preach at St. Nicholas church. He had named the above-mentioned text twice, when he was suddenly seized with a rattling in his throat, attended with an hideous groaning. He fell backward against the door of the pulpit, burst it open, and would have fallen down the stairs, but that some people caught him, and carried him away, as it seemed, dead, into the vestry. In two or three days he recovered his senses, and the Sunday following died!”
Afterwards I desired the men, as well as the women, to meet; but I could not speak to them. The spirit of prayer was so poured upon us all, that we could only speak to God. Having found, for some time, a strong desire to unite with Mr. Whitefield as far as possible, to cut off needless dispute, I wrote down my sentiments, as plain as I could, in the following terms: — There are three points in debate: 1. Unconditional Election. 2. Irresistible Grace. 3. Final Perseverance.
With regard to the First, Unconditional Election, I believe, That God, before the foundation of the world, did unconditionally elect certain persons to do certain works, as Paul to preach the Gospel: That He has unconditionally elected some nations to receive peculiar privileges, the Jewish nation in particular:
That He has unconditionally elected some nations to hear the Gospel, as England and Scotland now, and many others in past ages:
That He has unconditionally elected some persons to many peculiar advantages, both with regard to temporal and spiritual things:
And I do not deny, (though I cannot prove it is so,) That He has unconditionally elected some persons to eternal glory.
But I cannot believe, That all those who are not thus elected to glory, must perish everlastingly:
Or, That there is one soul on earth, who has not ever had a possibility of escaping eternal damnation.
With regard to the Second, Irresistible Grace, I believe, That the grace which brings faith, and thereby salvation into the soul, is irresistible at that moment:
That most believers do, at some other times, find God irresistibly acting upon their souls:
And I do not deny, That, in some souls, the grace of God is so far irresistible, that they cannot but believe and be finally saved.
Or, That there is one soul on earth, who has not, and never had, any other grace, than such as does, in fact, increase his damnation, and was designed of God so to do.
With regard to the Third, Final Perseverance, I incline to believe, That there is a state attainable in this life, from which a man cannot finally fall: And that he has attained this, who can say, “Old things are passed away; all things” in me “are become new.” Thur. 25 . — My subject, in the evening, was, “As ye have received Jesus Christ the Lord, so walk ye in him” O what a season was this! I scarce remember such an hour since the first stone of the House was laid. Fri. 26 . — I set out for Cornwall. In the evening I preached at the Cross in Taunton, on, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” A poor man had posted himself behind, in order to make some disturbance: But the time was not come; the zealous wretches who “deny the Lord that bought them,” had not yet stirred up the people. Many cried out, “Throw down that rascal there: Knock him down: Beat out his brains:” So that I was obliged to intreat for him more than once, or he would have been but roughly handled. Sat. 27. — I reached Exeter in the afternoon; but as no one knew of my coming, I did not preach that night, only to one poor sinner at the inn; who, after listening to our conversation for a while, looked earnestly at us; and asked, whether it was possible for one who had in some measure known “the power of the world to come,” and was “fallen away,” (which she said was her case,) to be “renewed again to repentance.” We besought God in her behalf, and left her sorrowing; and yet not without hope. Sun. 28 . — I preached at seven to a handful of people. The sermon we heard at church was quite innocent of meaning: What that in the afternoon was, I know not; for I could not hear a single sentence.
From church I went to the Castle; where were gathered together (as some imagined) half the grown persons in the city. It was an awful sight. So vast a congregation in that solemn amphitheater! And all silent and still, while I explained at large, and enforced, that glorious truth, “Happy are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.”
I went thence to poor Mr. V—— the Clergyman, lying under sentence of death. He had for some time acted the lunatic; but I soon put him out of his play; and he appeared to have wit enough in his anger. I designed to close in with him immediately; but two cruelly-impertinent gentlemen would needs come into the room; so that I could say no more, but was obliged to leave him in their hands.
The lad who was to die the next day was quite of another spirit: He appeared deeply affected while we were speaking, and yet more during our prayer; and no sooner were we gone than he broke our into a bitter cry. — Who knows but he might be heard by Him that made him? Mon. 29 . — We rode forward. About sun-set we were in the middle of the first great pathless moor beyond Launceston. About eight we were got quite out of the way; but we had not gone far before we heard Bodmin bell. Directed by this, we turned to the left, and came to the town before nine. Tues. 30 . — In the evening we reached St. Ives. At seven I invited all guilty, helpless sinners, who were conscious they “had nothing to pay,” to accept of free forgiveness. The Room was crowded both within and without; but all were quiet and attentive. Wed. 31 . — I spoke severally with those of the society, who were about one hundred and twenty. Near a hundred of these had found peace with God: Such is the blessing of being persecuted for righteousness’ sake! As we were going to church at eleven, a large company at the market-place welcomed us with a loud huzza: Wit as harmless as the ditty sung under my window, (composed, one assured me, by a gentlewoman of their own town,) Charles Wesley is come to town, To try if he can pull the churches down.
In the evening; I explained “the promise of the Father.” After preaching, many began to be turbulent; but John Nelson went into the midst of them, spoke a little to the loudest, who answered not again, but went quietly away. Thur . September 1. — We had a day of peace. Friday, 2. I preached at Morva, about eight miles west of St. Ives, on the North Sea. My text was, “The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea; — the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.”
I observed an earnest, stupid attention in the hearers, many of whom appeared to have good desires; but I did not find one who was convinced of sin, much less who knew the pardoning love of God. Sat. 3 . — I rode to the Three-cornered-Down, (so called,) nine or ten miles east of St. Ives, where we found two or three hundred sinners, who had been some time waiting for us. They all appeared quite pleased and unconcerned; and many of them ran after us to Gwenuap, (two miles east,) where their number was quickly increased to four or five hundred. I had much comfort here, in applying these words, “He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor.” One who lived near, invited us to lodge at his house, and conducted us back to the Green in the morning. We came thither just as the day dawned. I strongly applied those gracious words, “I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely,” to five or six hundred serious people. At Trezuthan-Downs, five miles nearer St. Ives, we found seven or eight hundred people, to whom I cried aloud, “Cast away all your transgressions; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” After dinner I preached again to about a thousand people, on Him whom “God hath exalted to be a Prince and a Savior.” It was here first I observed a little impression made on two or three of the hearers; the rest, as usual, showing huge approbation, and absolute unconcern.
At seven I met the society at St. Ives, where two women, who came from Penzance, fell down as dead, and soon after cried out, in the bitterness of their souls. But we continued crying to God in their behalf, till He put a new song in their mouths. At the same time, a young man of the same place, who had once known the peace of God, but had sinned it away, had a fresh and clear manifestation of the love of God. Tues. 6 . — I preached at Morva, on “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” But still I could not find the way into the hearts of the hearers, although they were earnest to hear what they understood not. Wed. 7 . — I preached to two or three hundred people at Zennor, (four miles west of St. Ives,) and found much goodwill in them, but no life. It was much the same on Thursday, while I preached at Cannegy-Downs, (five miles south of St. Ives,) on the resurrection of the dry bones. There is not yet so much as a shaking among them; much less is there any breath in them. Fri . 9 . — I rode in quest of St. Hilary-Downs, ten or twelve miles southeast of St. Ives. And the Downs I found, but no congregation, — neither man, woman, nor child. But by that I had put on my gown and cassock, about an hundred gathered themselves together, whom I earnestly called “to repent and believe the Gospel.” And if but one heard, it was worth all the labor. Sat . 10 . — There were Prayers at St. Just in the afternoon, which did not end till four. I then preached at the Cross, to, I believe, a thousand people, who all behaved in a quiet and serious manner.
At six I preached at Sennan, near the Land’s End; and appointed the little congregation (consisting chiefly of old, grayheaded men) to meet me again at five in the morning. But on Sunday, 11, great part of them were got together between three and four o’clock: So between four and five we began praising God; and I largely explained and applied, “I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely.”
We went afterwards down, as far as we could go safely, toward the point of the rocks at the Land’s -End. It was an awful sight! But how will these melt away, when God ariseth to judgment! The sea between does indeed “boil like a pot.” “One would think the deep to be hoary.” But “though they swell, yet can they not prevail. He hath set their bounds, which they cannot pass.”
Between eight and nine I preached at St. Just, on the green plain near the town, to the largest congregation (I was informed) that ever had been seen in these parts. I cried out, with all the authority of love, “Why will ye die, O house of Israel?” The people trembled, and were still. I had not known such an hour before, in Cornwall.
Soon after one, we had such another congregation, on the north side of Morva church. The Spirit of the Great King was in the midst. And I was filled both with matter and words, even more abundantly than at St. Just. “My strength will I ascribe unto thee.”
At Zennor I preached about five, and then hastened to St. Ives, where we concluded the day in praising God with joyful lips. Mon. 12 . — I preached at one on Trezuthan-Downs, and in the evening at St. Ives. The dread of God fell upon us while I was speaking, so that I could hardly utter a word: But most of all in prayer, wherein I was so carried out, as scarce ever before in my life.
I had had for some time a great desire to go and publish the love of God our Savior, if it were but for one day, in the Isles of Scilly: And I had occasionally mentioned it to several. This evening three of our brethren came and offered to carry me thither, if I could procure the Mayor’s boat, which, they said, was the best sailor of any in the town. I sent, and he lent it me immediately. So the next morning, Tuesday, 13, John Nelson, Mr. Shepherd, and I, with three men and a pilot, sailed from St. Ives. It seemed strange to me to attempt going in a fisher-boat, fifteen leagues upon the main ocean; especially when the waves began to swell, and hang over our heads. But I called to my companions, and we all joined together in singing lustily and with a good courage, — When passing through the wat’ry deep, I ask in faith his promis’d aid; The waves an awful distance keep.
And shrink from my devoted head; Fearless their violence I dare:
They cannot harm, — for God is there.
About half an hour after one, we landed on St. Mary’s, the chief of the inhabited islands.
We immediately waited upon the Governor, with the usual present, viz., a newspaper. I desired him, likewise, to accept of an “Earnest Appeal.” The Minister not being willing I should preach in the church, I preached, at six, in the street, to almost all the town, and many soldiers, sailors, and workmen, on, “Why will ye die, O house of Israel?” It was a blessed time, so that I scarce knew how to conclude. After sermon I gave them some little books and hymns, which they were so eager to receive, that they were ready to tear both them and me to pieces.
For what political reason such a number of workmen were gathered together, and employed at so large an expense, to fortify a few barren rocks, which whosoever would take, deserves to have them for his pains, I could not possibly devise: But a providential reason was easy to be discovered. God might call them together to hear the Gospel, which perhaps otherwise they might never have thought of.
At five in the morning I preached again, on, “I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely.” And between nine and ten, having talked with many in private, and distributed both to them and others between two and three hundred hymns and little books, we left this barren, dreary place, and set sail for St. Ives, though the wind was strong, and blew directly in our teeth. Our pilot said we should have good luck, if we reached the land; but he knew not Him whom the winds and seas obey. Soon after three we were even with the Land’s End, and about nine we reached St. Ives. Fri. 16. — I preached to four or five hundred on St. Hilary-Downs; and many seemed amazed. But I could find none, as yet, who had any deep or lasting conviction.
In the evening, as I was preaching at St. Ives, Satan began to fight for his kingdom. The mob of the town burst into the room, and created much disturbance; roaring and striking those that stood in their way, as though Legion himself possessed them. I would fain have persuaded our people to stand still; but the zeal of some, and the fear of others, had no ears: So that, finding the uproar increase, I went into the midst, and brought the head of the mob up with me to the desk. I received but one blow on the side of the head; after which we reasoned the case, till he grew milder and milder, and at length undertook to quiet his companions. Sat. 17 . — I preached at St. Just, and at the Land’s-End, where, in the morning, Sunday, 18, I largely declared, (what many shall witness in due time,) “By grace are ye saved through faith.”
The congregation at St. Just was greatly increased, while I proclaimed to every convicted sinner, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
About one I preached at Morva, on Romans 8:15, to the largest congregation I had seen in Cornwall. The society afterwards met, consisting of above an hundred members. Which of these will endure to the end?
At Zennor I preached on Isaiah 53, feeling no weariness at all; and concluded the day with our brethren at St. Ives, rejoicing and praising God. Mon. 19 . — We were informed, the rabble had designed to make their general assault in the evening. But one of the Aldermen came, at the request of the Mayor; and stayed with us the whole time of the service. So that no man opened his mouth, while I explained, “None is like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heavens unto thy help, and in his excellency upon the sky.” Tues. 20 . — I concluded my preaching here, by exhorting all who had “escaped the corruption that is in the world,” to “add to” their “faith, courage, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity.” At eleven I spent some time with our brethren in prayer, and commended them to the grace of God. At ‘Trezuthan-Downs I preached to two or three thousand people, on the “highway” of the Lord, the way of holiness. We reached Gwennap a little before six, and found the plain covered from end to end. It was supposed there were ten thousand people; to whom I preached Christ our “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” I could not conclude till it was so dark we could scarce see one another. And there was on all sides the deepest attention; none speaking, stirring, or scarce looking aside. Surely here, though in a temple not made with hands, was God worshipped in “the beauty of holiness.”
One of those who were present was Mr. P——, once a violent adversary.
Before sermon began, he whispered one of his acquaintance, “Captain, stand by me; don’t stir from me.” He soon burst out into a flood of tears, and quickly after sunk down. His friend caught him, and prevented his falling to the ground. O may the Friend of sinners lift him up! Wed. 21 . — I was waked, between three and four, by a large company of sinners, who, fearing they should be too late, had gathered round the house, and were singing and praising God. At five I preached once more, on, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” They all devoured the word. O may it be health to their soul, and marrow unto their bones!
We rode to Launceston that day. Thursday, 22. As we were riding through a village called Sticklepath, one stopped me in the street, and asked abruptly, “Is not thy name John Wesley?” Immediately two or three more came up, and told me I must stop there. I did so; and before we had spoke many words, our souls took acquaintance with each other. I found they were called Quakers; but that hurt not me; seeing the love of God was in their hearts.
In the evening I came to Exeter, and preached in the Castle; and again at five in the morning, to such a people as I have rarely seen; void both of anger, fear, and love.
We went by Axminster, at the request of a few there that feared God, and had joined themselves together some years since. I exhorted them so to seek after the power, as not to despise the form, of godliness; and then rode on to Taunton, where we were gladly received by a little company of our brethren from Bristol.
I had designed to preach in the yard of our inn; but before I had named my text, having uttered only two words, “Jesus Christ,” a tradesman of the town (who, it seems, was Mayor elect) made so much noise and uproar, that we thought it best to give him the ground. But many of the people followed me up into a large room, where I preached unto them Jesus. The next evening, Saturday, 24, we arrived safe at Bristol. Sun. 25 . — I preached at Bristol in the morning, and at Kingswood in the afternoon, on, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.”
A vast congregation, in the evening, were quite serious and attentive. Mon. 26. — I had a great desire to speak plain to a young man, who went with us over the New-Passage. To that end I rode with him three miles out of my way; but I could fix nothing upon him. Just as we parted, walking over Caerleon-bridge, he stumbled, and was like to fall. I caught him, and began to speak of God’s care over us. Immediately the tears stood in his eyes, and he appeared to feel every word which was said: So I spoke, and spared not. The same I did to a poor man, who led my horse over the bridge; to our landlord and his wife; and to one who occasionally came in:
And they all expressed a surprising thankfulness.
About seven in the evening, we reached Kirk-Howell, four miles beyond Abergavenny. Tuesday, 27. We came to Mr. Gwynne’s, at Garth. It brought fresh to my mind our first visit to Mr. Jones, at Fonmon. How soon may the master of this great house too be called away into an everlasting habitation!
Having so little time to stay, I had none to lose. So the same afternoon, about four o’clock, I read Prayers, and preached, to a small congregation, of the “faith” which is “counted to us for righteousness.”
Very early in the morning, I was obliged to set out in order to reach Cardiff before it was dark. I found a large congregation waiting there, to whom I explained Zechariah 9:11: “By the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” Thur . 29 . — I preached at the Castle of Fonmon, to a loving, simple people. Friday , 30. It being a fair, still evening, I preached in the Castle-yard at Cardiff; and the whole congregation, rich and poor, behaved as in the presence of God. Saturday, OCTOBER 1. I preached at Carphilly in the morning, Lantrissent at noon, and Cardiff at night. Sun. 2 . — Fearing my strength would not suffice for preaching more than four times in the day, I only spent half an hour in prayer with the society, in the morning. At seven, and in the evening, I preached in the Castle; at eleven, in Wenvo church; and, in the afternoon, in Port-kerry church, on, “Repent ye, and believe the Gospel.” Mon. 3 . — I returned to Bristol, and employed several days in examining and purging the society, which still consisted (after many were put away) of more than seven hundred persons. The next week I examined the society in Kingswood; in which I found but a few things to reprove. Sat. 15 . — The Leaders brought in what had been contributed, in their several classes, toward the public debt: And we found it was sufficient to discharge it; which was therefore done without delay. Mon. 17 . — I left Bristol, and preached in the evening, to a very civil congregation, at Painswick. Tuesday, 18. I preached to a little earnest company, at Gutherton, near Tewkesbury; and in the evening, at Evesham, on the happiness of him “whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Wed. 19 . — I called on Mr. Taylor, at Quinton, six or seven miles north of Evesham. About eleven I preached in his church, to a thin, dull congregation; and then rode on to Birmingham. Thur . 20 . — After preaching, to a small, attentive congregation, I rode to Wednesbury. At twelve I preached in a ground near the middle of the town, to a far larger congregation than was expected, on, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” I believe every one present felt the power of God; and no creature offered to molest us, either going or coming; but the Lord fought for us, and we holden our peace.
I was writing at Francis Ward’s, in the afternoon, when the cry arose, that the mob had beset the house. We prayed that God would disperse them; and it was so: One went this way, and another that; so that, in half an hour, not a man was left. I took our brethren, “Now is the time for us to go;” but they pressed me exceedingly to stay. So, that I might not offend them, I sat down, though I foresaw what would follow. Before five the mob surrounded the house again, in greater numbers than ever. The cry of one and all was, “Bring out the Minister; we will have the Minister.” I desired one to take their captain by the hand, and bring him into the house.
After a few sentences interchanged between us, the lion was become a lamb.
I desired him to go and bring one or two more of the most angry of his companions. He brought in two, who were ready to swallow the ground with rage; but in two minutes they were as calm as he. I then bade them make way, that I might go out among the people. As soon as I was in the midst of them, I called for a chair; and, standing up, asked, “What do any of you want with me?” Some said, “We want you to go with us to the Justice.” I replied, “That I will, with all my heart.” I then spoke a few words, which God applied; so that they cried out, with might and main, “The gentleman is an honest gentleman, and we will spill our blood in his defense.” I asked, “Shall we go to the Justice tonight, or in the morning?”
Most of them cried, “Tonight, tonight;” on which I went before, and two or three hundred followed; the rest returning whence they came.
However, on we went to Bentley-Hall, two miles from Wednesbury. One or two ran before, to tell Mr. Lane they had brought Mr. Wesley before his Worship. Mr. Lane replied, “What have I to do with Mr. Wesley? Go and carry him back again.” By this time the main body came up, and began knocking at the door. A servant told them Mr. Lane was in bed. His son followed, and asked what was the matter. One replied, “Why, an’t please you, they sing psalms all day; nay, and make folks rise at five in the morning. And what would your Worship advise us to do?” “To go home,” said Mr. Lane, “and be quiet.”
Here they were at a full stop, till one advised, to go to Justice Persehouse, at Walsal. All agreed to this; so we hastened on, and about seven came to his house. But Mr. P—— likewise sent word, that he was in bed. Now they were at a stand again; but at last they all thought it the wisest course, to make the best of their way home. About fifty of them undertook to convoy me. But we had not gone a hundred yards, when the mob of Walsal came, pouring in like a flood, and bore down all before them. The Darlaston mob made what defense they could; but they were weary, as well as outnumbered: So that in a short time, many being knocked down, the rest ran away, and left me in their hands.
To attempt speaking was vain, for the noise on every side was like the roaring of the sea. So they dragged me along till we came to the town; where seeing the door of a large house open, I attempted to go in; but a man, catching me by the hair, pulled me back into the middle of the mob.
They made no more stop till they had carried me through the main street, from one end of the town to the other. I continued speaking all the time to those within hearing, feeling no pain or weariness. At the west end of the town, seeing a door half open, I made toward it, and would have gone in; but a gentleman in the shop would not suffer me, saying, they would pull the house down to the ground. However, I stood at the door, and asked, “Are you willing to hear me speak?” Many cried out, “No, no I knock his brains out; down with him; kill him at once.” Others said, “Nay, but we will hear him first.” I began asking, “What evil have I done? Which of you all have I wronged in word or deed?” And continued speaking for above a quarter of an hour, till my voice suddenly failed: Then the floods began to lift up their voice again; many crying out, “Bring him away! Bring him away!”
In the mean time my strength and my voice returned, and I broke out aloud into prayer. And now the man who just before headed the mob, turned, and said, “Sir, I will spend my life for you: Follow me, and not one soul here shall touch a hair of your head.” Two or three of his fellows confirmed his words, all got close to me immediately. At the same time, the gentleman in the shop cried out, “For shame, for shame! Let him go.”
An honest butcher, who was a little farther off, said, it was a shame they should do thus; and pulled back four or five, one after another, who were running on the most fiercely. The people then, as if it had been by common consent, fell back to the right and left; while those three or four men took me between them, and carried me through them all. But on the bridge the mob rallied again: We therefore went on one side, over the milldam, and thence through the meadows; till, a little before ten, God brought me safe to Wednesbury; having lost only one flap of my waistcoat, and a little skin from one of my hands.
The poor woman of Darlaston, who had headed that mob, and sworn, that none should touch me, when she saw her followers give way, ran into the thickest of the throng, and knocked down three or four men, one after another. But many assaulting her at once, she was soon overpowered, and had probably been killed in a few minutes, (three men keeping her down and beating her with all their might,) had not a man called to one of them, “Hold, Tom, hold!” “Who is there?” said Tom: “What, honest Munchin?
From the beginning to the end I found the same presence of mind, as if I had been sitting in my own study. But I took no thought for one moment before another; only once it came into my mind, that if they should throw me into the river, it would spoil the papers that were in my pocket. For myself, I did not doubt but I should swim across, having but a thin coat, and a light pair of boots.
The circumstances that follow, I thought, were particularly remarkable: 1. That many endeavored to throw me down while we were going, down-hill on a slippery path to the town; as well judging, that if I was once on the ground, I should hardly rise any more. But I made no stumble at all, nor the least slip till I was entirely out of their hands. 2. That although many strove to lay hold on my collar or clothes, to pull me down, they could not fasten at all: Only one got fast hold of the flap of my waistcoat, which was soon left in his hand; the other flap, in the pocket of which was a bank note, was torn but half off: 3. That a lusty man just behind, struck at me several times, with a large oaken stick; with which if he had struck me once on the back part of my head, it would have saved him all farther trouble. But every time the blow was turned aside, I know not how; for I could not move to the right hand or left. 4. That another came rushing through the press, and raising his arm to strike, on a sudden let it drop, and only stroked my head, saying, “What soft hair he has!” 5. That I stopped exactly at the Mayor’s door, as if I had known it, (which the mob doubtless thought I did,) and found him standing in the shop, which gave the first check to the madness of the people. 6. That the very first men whose hearts were turned were the heroes of the town, the captains of the rabble on all occasions, one of them having been a prize-fighter at the bear-garden. 7. That, from first to last, I heard none give a reviling word, or call me by any opprobrious name whatever; but the cry of one and all was, “The Preacher! The Preacher! The Parson! The Minister.” 8. That no creature, at least within my hearing, laid any thing to my charge, either true or false; having in the hurry quite forgot to provide themselves with an accusation of any kind. And, Lastly, That they were as utterly at a loss, what they should do with me; none proposing any determinate thing; only, “Away with him! Kill him at once!”
By how gentle degrees does God prepare us for his will! Two years ago a piece of brick grazed my shoulders. It was a year after that the stone struck me between the eyes. Last month I received one blow, and this evening two; one before we came into the town, and one after we were gone out; but both were as nothing: For though one man struck me on the breast with all his might, and the other on the mouth with such a force that the blood gushed out immediately, I felt no more pain from either of the blows, than if they had touched me with a straw.
It ought not to be forgotten, that when the rest of the society made all haste to escape for their lives, four only would not stir, William Sitch, Edward Slater, John Griffiths, and Joan Parks; these kept with me, resolving to live or die together; and none of them received one blow, but William Sitch, who holden me by the arm, from one end of the town to the other. He was then dragged away, and knocked down; but he soon rose and got to me again. I afterwards asked him, what he expected when the mob came upon us. He said, “To die for Him who had died for us:” And he felt no hurry or fear: but calmly waited till God should require his soul of him.
I asked J. Parks, if she was not afraid, when they tore her from me. She said, “No; no more than I am now I could trust God for you, as well as for myself. From the beginning I had a full persuasion that God would deliver you. I knew not how; but I left that to him, and was as sure as if it were already done.” I asked, if the report was true, that she had fought for me.
When I came back to Francis Ward’s, I found many of our brethren waiting upon God. Many also whom I never had seen before, came to rejoice with us. And the next morning, as I rode through the town in my way to Nottingham, every one I met expressed such a cordial affection, that I could scarce believe what I saw and heard.
I cannot close this head without inserting as great a curiosity in its kind as, I believe, was ever yet seen in England; which had its birth within a very few days of this remarkable occurrence at Walsal. “Staffordshire. “To all High-Constables, Petty-Constables, and other of His Majesty’s Peace Officers, within the said County, and particularly to the Constable of Tipton:” (near Walsal:) “WHEREAS, we, His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the said County of Stafford, have received information that several disorderly persons, styling themselves Methodist Preachers, go about raising routs and riots, to the great damage of His Majesty’s liege people, and against the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King: “These are, in His Majesty’s name, to command you and every one of you, within your respective districts, to make diligent search after the said Methodist Preachers, and to bring him or them before some of us His said Majesty’s Justices of the Peace, to be examined concerning their unlawful doings. “Given under our hands and seals, this day of October, 1743. “J. Lane. “W. Persehouse.” (N.B. The very Justices to whose houses I was carried, and who severally refused to see me!) Sat. 22 . — I rode from Nottingham to Epworth, and on Monday set out for Grimsby; but at Ferry we were at a full stop, the boatmen telling us we could not pass the Trent: It was as much as our lives were worth to put from shore before the storm abated. We waited an hour; but, being afraid it would do much hurt, if I should disappoint the congregation at Grimsby, I asked the men if they did not think it possible to get to the other shore:
They said, they could not tell; but if we would venture our lives, they would venture theirs. So we put off, having six men, two women, and three horses, in the boat. Many stood looking after us on the river-side, in the middle of which we were, when, in an instant, the side of the boat was under water, and the horses and men rolling one over another. We expected the boat to sink every moment; but I did not doubt of being able to swim ashore. The boatmen were amazed as well as the rest; but they quickly recovered, and rowed for life. And soon after, our horses leaping overboard, lightened the boat, and we all came unhurt to land.
They wondered what was the matter I did not rise, (for I lay along in the bottom of the boat,) and I wondered too, till, upon examination, I found that a large iron crow, which the boatmen sometimes used, was (none knew how) run through the string of my boot, which pinned me down that I could not stir; so that if the boat had sunk, I should have been safe enough from swimming any further.
The same day, and, as near as we could judge, the same hour, the boat in which my brother was crossing the Severn, at the New-Passage, was carried away by the wind, and in the utmost danger of splitting upon the rocks. But the same God, when all human hope was past, delivered them as well as us.
In the evening, the house at Grimsby not being able to contain one-fourth of the congregation, I stood in the street, and exhorted every prodigal to “arise and go to” his “Father.” One or two endeavored to interrupt; but they were soon stilled by their own companions. The next day, Tuesday, 25, one in the town promised us the use of a large room; but he was prevailed upon to retract his promise before the hour of preaching came. I then designed going to the Cross, but the rain prevented; so that we were a little at a loss, till we were offered a very convenient place, by a “woman which was a sinner.” I there declared “Him” (about one o’clock) whom “God hath exalted, to give repentance and remission of sins.” And God so confirmed the word of his grace, that I marveled any one could withstand him.
However, the prodigal holden out till the evening, when I enlarged upon her sins and faith, who “washed our Lord’s feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.” She was then utterly broken in pieces, (as, indeed, was well-nigh the whole congregation,) and came after me to my lodging, crying out, “O Sir! ‘What must I do to be saved?”’ Being now informed of her case, I said, “Escape for your life. Return instantly to your husband.” She said, “But how can it be? Which way can I go? He is above an hundred miles off. I have just received a letter from him; and he is at Newcastle-upon-Tyne.” I told her, “I am going for Newcastle in the morning: You may go with me. William Blow shall take you behind him.”
And so he did. Glory be to the Friend of sinners! He hath plucked one more brand out of the fire. — Thou poor sinner, thou hast “received a Prophet in the name of a Prophet:” And thou art found of Him that sent him. Wed. 26 . — I enlarged upon those deep words, “Repent, and believe the Gospel.” When I had done, a man stood forth in the midst, one who had exceedingly troubled his brethren, vehemently maintaining (for the plague had spread hither also) that they ought not to pray, to sing, to communicate, to search the Scriptures, or to trouble themselves about works, but only to believe and be still; and said with a loud voice, “Mr. Wesley! let me speak a few words. Is it not said, ‘A certain man had two sons: and he said unto the younger, Go work today in my vineyard: And he answered, I will not; but afterwards he repented and went?’ I am he. I said yesterday, ‘I will not go to hear him; I will have nothing to do with him.’ But I repent. Here is my hand. By the grace of God, I will not leave you as long as I live.”
William Blow, Mrs. S., and I set out at six. During our whole journey to Newcastle, I scarce observed her to laugh or even smile once. Nor did she ever complain of any thing, or appear moved in the least with those trying circumstances which many times occurred in our way. A steady seriousness, or sadness rather, appeared in her whole behavior and conversation, as became one that felt the burden of sin and was groaning after salvation. In the same spirit, by all I could observe or learn, she continued during her stay at Newcastle. Not long after, her husband removed from thence, and wrote to her to follow him. She set out in a ship, bound for Hull. A storm met them by the way; the ship sprung a leak; but though it was near the shore, on which many people flocked together, yet the sea ran so exceeding high, that it was impossible to make any help. Mrs. S. was seen standing on the deck, as the ship gradually sunk; and afterwards hanging by her hands on the ropes, till the masts likewise disappeared. Even then, for some moments, they could observe her floating upon the waves, till her clothes, which buoyed her up, being thoroughly wet, she sunk, — I trust, into the ocean of God’s mercy.