Are you a Christian?
JOURNAL FROM FEBRUARY 16, 1755, TO JUNE 16, 1758.
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————— FEBRUARY 16, 1755. — Having heard a confused account from a place near Camelford, in Cornwall, I wrote to a friend near it, and received the following answer: — “ACCORDING to your desire, I have inquired into the particulars of the late affair at Delabole Quarry. The rock is about thirty yards thick; but the most valuable part of the stone lies undermost. “There were nine partners who shared the advantage of this part of the Quarry. Being greedy of gain, they brought out as much of the under part as possible; and the rather, because the time for which they had hired it was within a month of expiring. “On Monday, Dec. 2, William Lane, John Lane, William Kellow, and five more of the partners, met in the morning, and sent one of their number for Theophilus Kellow to come to world;. He came, but was so uneasy he could not stay, but quickly returned home. William Kellow was sent for in haste, and went to look after his mare, which had cast her foal. The other seven continued laboring till twelve. All the workmen usually dine together; but these wrought on, when the rest withdrew, till in a moment they were covered with rocks of all sizes, falling about ten yards, some of which were thought to be three tons weight. William Lane had, some years since, known the love of God. He was sitting, cleaving stones, when the rock calved in upon him, with a concave surface, which just made room for his body: Only one edge of it light upon him, and broke one of his thigh bones. When they dug away the stones, he was earnestly praying to God, and confessing his unfaithfulness. As soon as he looked up, he began exhorting all around instantly to make their peace with God. His bone being set, he soon recovered both his bodily strength, and the peace and love which he had lost. Another, who sat close by his side, was covered over, and killed at once. Close to him, John Lane (son of William) was standing: He was thrown upon his face, he knew not how, and a sharp edged stone pitched between his thighs; on which a huge rock fell, and was suspended by it, so as to shadow him all over. The other five were entirely dashed in pieces.” — Doth not God save those that trust in him? Tues. APRIL 1. — I rode from Bristol to a village named Kingswood, near Wotton-under-Edge. The church was exceeding full, and the congregation was serious and well behaved: And I had since the satisfaction of being informed, that many of them are much changed, at least in their outward behavior. Wed . 2. — With some difficulty we reached Stanley: There has been lately a great awakening in this country. I never saw such a congregation here before, notwithstanding the wind and rain; and all present seemed to receive the word with gladness and readiness of mind. There is a solid, serious people in these parts, who stand their ground against all opposition. The warmest opposers are the Jacobites, who do not love us, because we love King George. But they profit nothing; for more and more people “fear God, and honor the King.”
We rode on Thursday in the afternoon through heavy rains and almost impassable roads, to Evesham; and on Friday , 4, to Birmingham, a barren, dry, uncomfortable place. Most of the seed which has been sown for so many years, the “wild boars” have “rooted up;” the fierce, unclean, brutish, blasphemous Antinomians have utterly destroyed it. And the mystic foxes have taken true pains to spoil what remained, with their new Gospel. Yet it seems God has a blessing for this place still; so many still attend the preaching; and he is eminently present with the small number that is left in the society. Sat. 5. — I preached at Wednesbury, and at eight on Sunday morning. But the great congregation assembled in the afternoon, as soon as the Service of the church was over, with which we take care never to interfere. A solemn awe seemed to run all through the company in the evening, when I met the society. We have indeed preached the Gospel here “with much contention:” But the success overpays the labor. Mon . 7. — I was advised to take the Derbyshire road to Manchester. We baited at an house six miles beyond Lichfield. Observing a woman sitting in the kitchen, I asked “Are you not well?” and found she had just been taken ill, (being on her journey,) with all the symptoms of an approaching pleurisy. She was glad to hear of an easy, cheap, and (almost) infallible remedy, — an handful of nettles, boiled a few minutes, and applied warm to the side. While I was speaking to her, an elderly man, pretty well dressed, came in. Upon inquiry, he told us he was traveling, as he could, towards his home near Hounslow, in hopes of agreeing with his creditors, to whom he had surrendered his all. But how to get on he knew not, as he had no money, and had caught a tertian ague. I hope a wise Providence directed this wanderer also, that he might have a remedy for both his maladies.
Soon after we took horse we overtook a poor man creeping forward on two crutches. I asked, whither he was going. He said toward Nottingham, where his wife lived: But both his legs had been broke while he was on shipboard, and he had now spent all his money. This man likewise appeared exceeding thankful, and ready to acknowledge the hand of God.
In the afternoon we came to Barton-Forge; where a gentleman of Birmingham has set up a large iron work, and fixed five or six families, with a serious man over them, who lost near all he had in the great riot at Wednesbury. Most of them are seeking to save their souls. I preached in the evening, not to them only, but to many gathered from all parts, and exhorted them to love and help one another. Tues . 8. — I had designed to go straight on to Hayfield; but one from Ashbourn pressed me much to call there; which accordingly I did at seven in the morning, and preached to a deeply serious congregation. Seventeen or eighteen then desired to join in a society, to whom I spoke severally, and was well pleased to find that near half of them knew the pardoning love of God. One of the first I spoke to was Miss Beresford, — a sweet, but short lived flower!
Through much hail, rain, and wind, we got to Mr. B — ’s, at Hayfield, about five in the afternoon. His favorite daughter died some hours before we came; Such a child as is scarce heard of in a century. All the family informed me of many remarkable circumstances, which else would have seemed incredible. She spake exceeding plain, yet very seldom; and then only a few words. She was scarce ever seen to laugh, or heard to utter a light or trifling word: She could not bear any that did, nor any one who behaved in a light or unserious manner. If any such offered to kiss or touch her, she would turn away, and say, “I don’t like you.” If her brother or sisters spoke angrily to each other, or behaved triflingly, she either sharply reproved (when that seemed needful) or tenderly entreated them to give over. If she had spoke too sharply to any, she would humble herself to them, and not rest till they had forgiven her. After her health declined, she was particularly pleased with hearing that hymn sung, “Abba, Father;” and would be frequently singing that line herself, — Abba, Father, hear my cry!
On Monday, April 7, without any struggle, she fell asleep, having lived two years and six months. Wed. 9 — In the evening I preached at Manchester. The mob was tolerably quiet, as long as I was speaking, but immediately after raged horribly. This, I find, has been their manner for some time. No wonder; since the good Justices encourage them. Thur. 10. — I rode to Hayfield again, to bury Mr. B——’s child.
Abundance of people were gathered together, and I found uncommon liberty in preaching. Who would have looked for such a congregation as this in the Peak of Derhyshire?
I returned to Manchester the next day, and had a quiet congregation both that evening and the following. Sun. 13. — I met the society at five, and showed them wherein I feared they had grieved the Spirit of God, and provoked him to deliver them to be thus outraged by “the beasts of the people.” I then rode to Hayfield once more, where Mr. B—— read Prayers, and preached a solemn and affecting sermon, relative to the late providence. In the afternoon I again found great liberty of spirit in applying those awful words, “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mon. 14. — I rode by Manchester (where I preached about twelve) to Warrington. At six in the morning, Tuesday , 15, I preached to a large and serious congregation; and then went on to Liverpool, one of the neatest, best built towns I have seen in England: I think it is full twice as large as Chester; most of the streets are quite straight. Two thirds of the town, we were informed, have been added within these forty years. If it continue to increase in the same proportion, in forty years more it will nearly equal Bristol. The people in general are the most mild and courteous I ever saw in a sea port town; as indeed appears by their friendly behavior, not only to the Jews and Papists who live among them, but even to the Methodists (so called). The preaching-house is a little larger than that at Newcastle. It was thoroughly filled at seven in the evening; and the hearts of the whole congregation seemed to be moved before the Lord, and before the presence of his power.
But I had better work. I pressed upon them all “repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Sun. 20. — I explained, after the evening preaching, the Rules of the society, and strongly exhorted the members to adorn their profession by all holiness of conversation. Mon. 21. — I rode to Bolton. Being now among those who were no “strangers to the covenant of promise,” I had no need to lay the foundation again, but exhorted them to “rejoice ever more.” Their number is a little reduced since I was here before: And no wonder; while the sons of strife are on every side, some for Mr. Bennet, some for Mr. Wh——. The little flock, notwithstanding, hold on their way, looking straight to the prize of their high calling. Thur. 24. — We rode in less than four hours the eight miles (so called) to Newell-Hay. Just as I began to preach, the sun broke out, and shone exceeding hot on the side of my head. I found, if it continued, I should not be able to speak long, and lifted up my heart to God. In a minute or two it was covered with clouds, which continued till the service was over. Let any who please, call this chance : I call it an answer to prayer. Fri. 25. — About ten I preached near Todmorden. The people stood, row above row, on the side of the mountain. They were rough enough in outward appearance; but their hearts were as melting wax.
One can hardly conceive any thing more delightful than the vale through which we rode from hence. The river ran through the green meadows on the right. The fruitful hills and woods rose on either hand: Yet here and there a rock hung over, the little holes of which put me in mind of those beautiful lines, — Te, Domine, intonsi montes, te saxa loquentur Summa Deum, dum montis amat juga pendulus Saxorumque colit latebrose cuniculus antra! At three in the afternoon I preached at Heptonstall, on the brow of the mountain. The rain began almost as soon as I began to speak. I prayed that, if God saw best, it might be stayed, till I had delivered his word. It was so, and then began again. But we had only a short stage to Ewood. Sat . 26. — I preached, at seven, to a large and serious congregation, and again at four in the afternoon. When I began, in a meadow near the house, the wind was so high, I could hardly speak. But the winds too are in God’s hands: In a few minutes that inconvenience ceased, and we found the Spirit of God breathing in the midst of us, so that great was our rejoicing in the Lord. Sun . 27. — A little before I took horse, I looked into a room as I walked by, and saw a good old man, bleeding almost to death. I desired him immediately to snuff vinegar up his nose, and apply it to his neck, face, and temples. It was done; and tile blood entirely stopped in less than two minutes.
The rain began about five, and did not intermit till we came to Haworth; notwithstanding which, a multitude of people were gathered together at ten. In the afternoon I was obliged to go out of the church, abundance of people not being able to get in. The rain ceased from the moment I came out, till I had finished my discourse. — How many proofs must we have that there is no petition too little, any more than too great, for God to grant? Mon . 28. — I preached at Keighley; on Tuesday at Bradford, which is now as quiet as Birstal. Such a change has God wrought in the hearts of the people since John Nelson was in the dungeon here. My brother met me at Birstal in the afternoon. Wed . 30. — We began reading together, “A Gentleman’s Reasons for his Descent from the Church of England.” It is an elaborate and lively tract, and contains the strength of the cause; but it did not yield us one proof that it is lawful for us (much less our duty) to separate from it. Thur. MAY 1. — I finished the “Gentleman’s Reasons” (who is a Descenting Minister at Exeter). In how different a spirit does this man write from honest Richard Baxter! The one dipping, as it were, his pen in tears, the other in vinegar and gall. Surely one page of that loving, serious Christian weighs more than volumes of this bitter, sarcastic jester. Sun . 4. — I preached at one, and again at five, to some thousands at the foot of the hill. I believe this hollow would contain sixty thousand people, standing one above another; and a clear, strong voice might command them all: Although, if they stood upon a plain, I doubt whether any human voice could be distinctly heard by half the number. Tues . 6. — Our Conference began at Leeds. The point on which we desired all the Preachers to speak their minds at large was, “Whether we ought to separate from the Church?” Whatever was advanced on one side or the other was seriously and calmly considered; and on the third day we were all fully agreed in that general conclusion, — that (whether it was lawful or not) it was no ways expedient.
Mon. 12. — We rode (my wife and I) to Northallerton. Tues . 13. — I rode on to Newcastle. I did not find things here in the order I expected. Many were on the point of leaving the Church, which some had done already; and, as they supposed, on my authority! O how much discord is caused by one jarring string! How much trouble by one man who does not walk by the same rule, and agree in the same judgment with his brethren!\parMAY 18. — (Being Whit-Sunday. ) I preached about eight at Gateshead-Fell, and returned before the Service at St. Andrew’s began. At the sacrament many found an uncommon blessing, and felt God has not yet left the Church.
In the following week I spake to the members of the society severally, and found far fewer than I expected prejudiced against the Church: I think not above forty in all. And I trust the plague is now stayed. Wed. 21. — I preached at Nafferton, near Horsley, about thirteen miles from Newcastle. We rode chiefly on the new western road, which lies on the old Roman wall. Some part of this is still to be seen, as are the remains of most of the towers, which were built a mile distant from each other, quite from sea to sea. But where are the men of renown who built them, and who once made all the land tremble? Crumbled into dust! Gone hence, to be no more seen, till the earth shall give up her dead! Thur . 22. — Mr. Wardrobe, Minister of Bathgate, in Scotland, preached at the Orphan-House in the evening, to the no small amazement and displeasure of some of his zealous countrymen. Sat . 24. — I preached at Sheephill. The cold drove us into the House; which being much crowded, was as hot as an oven. Riding afterwards in the keen north wind, it seized upon my breast immediately. However, I made a shift to preach at Chester; and then went on to Sunderland. Sun . 25. — I preached at eight, though not without pain, not having recovered my voice. We had an useful sermon at church. As soon as the sacrament was over, I preached in the High-Street, (it being Trinity-Sunday,) upon, “There are three that bear record in heaven;” and my voice was so restored, that I could command the whole congregation, though it was exceeding large. Mon . 26. — I rode to Morpeth, and preached in the market-place, to a small, but quiet congregation. In the evening I preached in the New Room at Alnwick; but I could scarce be heard, my voice being very weak. In the morning it was stronger: So I preached with more ease at five; and then returned to Newcastle. Thur 29. — I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Gillies, from Glasgow. He preached for me in the evening, to the still greater astonishment of the warm men; who “could never have thought it of him!” Shall we not have more and more cause to say, — Names, and sects, and parties fall; Thou, O Christ, art all in all? Fri. 30. — I walked to the Infirmary. It is finely situated on the top of the hill; and is the best ordered of any place of the kind I have seen in England.
Nor did I ever see so much seriousness in an Hospital before: None were laughing or talking lightly; many were reading the Bible: And when I talked to, and prayed with one, the whole ward listened with deep attention. Mon. JUNE 2. — I left Newcastle; and came to Durham, just as Jacob Rowell had done preaching, or rather, attempting to preach; for the mob was so noisy, that he was constrained to break off. I reached Osmotherley in the evening, and found a large congregation waiting. I preached immediately; God renewing my strength, and comforting my heart.
Here I inquired, of eye and ear witnesses, concerning what lately occurred in the neighborhood. On Tuesday, March 25th last, being the week before Easter, many persons observed a great noise near a ridge of mountains in Yorkshire, called Black-Hamilton. It was observed chiefly in the southwest side of the mountain; about a mile from the course where the Hamilton races are run; near a ridge of rocks, commonly called Whiston-Cliffs, or Whiston-White-Mare; two miles from Sutton, about five from Thirsk.
The same noise was heard on Wednesday, by all who went that way. On Thursday, about seven in the morning, Edward Abbot, weaver, and Adam Bosomworth, bleacher, both of Sutton, riding under Whiston-Cliffs, heard a roaring, (so they termed it,) like many cannons, or loud and rolling thunder. It seemed to come from the cliffs; looking up to which, they saw a large body of stone, four or five yards broad, split and fly off from the very top of the rocks. They thought it strange, but rode on. Between ten and eleven a larger piece of the rock, about fifteen yards thick, thirty high, and between sixty and seventy broad, was torn off, and thrown into the valley.
About seven in the evening, one who was riding by observed the ground to shake exceedingly; and soon after several large stones or rocks, of some tons weight each, rose out of the ground. Others were thrown on one side, others turned upside down, and many rolled over and over. Being a little surprised, and not very curious, he hasted on his way.
Being at Osmotherley, seven miles from the cliffs, on Monday, June 2, and finding Edward Abbot there, I desired him, the next morning, to show me the way thither. I walked, crept, and climbed, round and over great part of the ruins. I could not perceive, by any sign, that there was ever any cavity in the rock at all; but one part of the solid stone is cleft from the rest, in a perpendicular line, and smooth, as if cut with instruments: Nor is it barely thrown down, but split into many hundred pieces; some of which lie four or five hundred yards from the main rock.
The ground nearest the cliff is not raised, but sunk considerably beneath the level: But at some distance it is raised in a ridge of eight or ten yards high, twelve or fifteen broad, and near an hundred long. Adjoining to this lies an oval piece of ground, thirty or forty yards in diameter, which has been removed, whole as it is, from beneath the cliff, without the least fissure, with all its load of rocks; some of which were as large as the hull of a small ship. At a little distance is a second piece of ground, forty or fifty yards across, which has been also transplanted entire, with rocks of various sizes upon it, and a tree growing out of one of them. By the removal of one or both of these, I suppose the hollow near the cliff was made.
All round them lay stones and rocks, great and small; some on the surface of the earth, some half sunk into it, some almost covered, in variety of positions. Between these the ground was cleft asunder in a thousand places: Some of the apertures were nearly closed again; some gaping as at first. Between thirty and forty acres of land, as is commonly supposed, (though some reckon above sixty,) are in this condition.
On the skirts of these, I observed, in abundance of places, the green turf (for it was pasture land) as it were pared off, two or three inches thick, and wrapped round like sheets of lead. A little farther, it was not cleft or broken at all, but raised in ridges five or six foot long, exactly resembling the graves in a church yard. Of these there is a vast number.
That part of the cliff from which the rest is torn, lies so high and is now of so bright a color, that it is plainly visible to all the country round, even at the distance of several miles. We saw it distinctly not only from the street in Thirsk, but for five or six miles, as we rode towards York. So we did likewise in the Great North-Road, between Sandhutton and Northallerton.
But how may we account for this phenomenon? Was it effected by a merely natural cause? If so, that cause must either have been fire, water, or air. It could not be fire; for then some mark of it must have appeared, either at the time or after it. But no such mark does appear, nor ever did not so much as the least smoke, either when the first or second rock was removed, or in the whole space between Tuesday and Sunday.
It could not he water; for no water issued out when the one or the other rock was torn off; nor had there been any rains some time before: It was, in that part of the country, a remarkably dry season. Neither was there any cavity in that part of the rock, wherein a sufficient quantity of water might have lodged. On the contrary, it was one single, solid mass, which was evenly and smoothly cleft in sunder.
There remains no other natural cause assignable, but imprisoned air. I say imprisoned; for as to the fashionable opinion, that the exterior air is the grand agent in earthquakes, it is so senseless, unmechanical, unphilosophical a dream, as deserves not to be named, but to be exploded.
But it is hard to conceive how even imprisoned air could produce such an effect. It might, indeed, shake, tear, raise, or sink the earth; but how could it cleave a solid rock? Here was not room for a quantity of it sufficient to do anything of this nature; at least, unless it had been suddenly and violently expanded by fire, which was not the case. Could a small quantity of air, without that violent expansion, have torn so large a body of rock from the rest to which it adhered in one solid mass? Could it have shivered this into pieces, and scattered several of those pieces some hundred yards round? Could it have transported those promontories of earth, with their incumbent load, and set them down, unbroken, unchanged, at a distance?
Truly I am not so great a volunteer in faith as to be able to believe this. He that supposes this, must suppose air to be not only a very strong, (which we allow,) but a very wise agent; while it bore its charge with so great caution as not to hurt or dislocate any part of it.
What then could be the cause? What, indeed, but God, who arose to shake terribly the earth; who purposely chose such a place, where there is so great a concourse of Nobility and Gentry every year; and wrought in such a manner, that many might see it and fear; that all who travel one of the most frequented roads in England, might see it, almost whether they would or no, for many miles together. It must likewise for many years, maugre all the art of man, be a visible monument of His power; all that ground being now so encumbered with rocks and stones, that it cannot be either ploughed or grazed. Nor will it serve any use, but to tell all that see it, Who can stand before this great God?
Hence we rode to Thirsk, where I met the little society; and then went on to York. The people had been waiting for some time. So I began preaching without delay and felt no want of strength, though the Room was like an oven through the multitude of people. Fri . 6. — I read Dr. Sharp’s elaborate Tracts on the “Rubrics and Canons.”
He justly observes, with regard to all these, 1. That our Governors have power to dispense with our observance of them: 2. That a tacit dispensation is of the same force with an explicit dispensation: 3. That their continued connivance at what they cannot but know, is a tacit dispensation. I think this is true; but if it be he has himself answered his own charge against the Methodists (so called).
For suppose the Canons did forbid field preaching, as expressly as playing at cards and frequenting taverns, yet we have the very same plea for the former as any Clergyman has for the latter. All our Governors, the King, the Archbishop, and Bishops, connive at the one as well as the other. Sat . 7. — One of the Residentiaries sent for Mr. Williamson, who had invited me to preach in his church, and told him, “Sir, I abhor persecution; but if you let Mr. Wesley preach, it will be the worse for you.” He desired it nevertheless; but I declined. Perhaps there is a providence in this also.
God will not suffer my little remaining strength to be spent on those who will not hear me but in an honorable way. Sun . 8. — We were at the Minster in the morning, and at our parish church in the afternoon. The same gentleman preached at both; but though I saw him at the church, I did not know I had ever seen him before. In the morning he was all life and motion; in the afternoon he was as quiet as a post. At five in the evening the rain constrained me to preach in the oven again. The patience of the congregation surprised me. They seemed not to feel the extreme heat, nor to be offended at the close application of those words, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” Mon . 9. — I took my leave of the richest society, number for number, which we have in England. I hope this place will not prove (as Cork has for some time done) the Capua of our Preachers. When I came to Epworth, the congregation was waiting. So I went immediately to the Cross; and great was our glorying in the Lord. Tues. 10. — I met the Stewards of the Lincolnshire societies, who gave us an agreeable account of the work of God in every place. Wed. 11. — I preached in a meadow at Misterton, to a larger congregation than ever met there before. Thur. 12. — At eight I preached at Clayworth, and at Rotherham in the evening. Here likewise was such a number of people assembled, as was never before seen in that town. Is not this one clear proof of the hand of God, that although the novelty of this preaching is over, yet the people flock to hear it in every place far more than when it was a new thing? Fri. 13. — In the evening I preached at Sheffield. In the morning I examined the members of the society; and was agreeably surprised to find, that though none had visited them, since I did it myself, two years ago, yet they were rather increased than diminished in number, and many of them growing in grace. Mon . 16. — I preached in the evening at Nottingham, and on Thursday afternoon reached London. From a deep sense of the amazing work which God has of late years wrought in England, I preached in the evening on those words, (Psalm 147:20,) “He hath not dealt so with any nation;” no, not even with Scotland or New England. In both these God has indeed made bare his arm; yet not in so astonishing a manner as among us. This must appear to all who impartially consider, 1. The numbers of persons on whom God has wrought: 2. The swiftness of his work in many, both convinced and truly converted in a few days: 3. The depth of it in most of these, changing the heart, as well as the whole conversation: 4. The clearness of it, enabling them boldly to say, “Thou hast loved me; thou hast given thyself for me:” 5. The continuance of it. God has wrought in Scotland and New England, at several times, for some weeks or months together; but among us, he has wrought for near eighteen years together, without any observable intermission.
Above all, let it be remarked, that a considerable number of the regular Clergy were engaged in that great work in Scotland; and in New England, above an hundred, perhaps as eminent as any in the whole province, not only for piety, but also for abilities, both natural and acquired; whereas in England there were only two or three inconsiderable Clergymen, with a few young, raw, unlettered men; and these opposed by well-nigh all the Clergy, as well as laity, in the nation. He that remarks this must needs own, both that this is a work of God, and that he hath not wrought so in any other nation. Mon . 23. — I was considering what could be the reasons why the hand of the Lord (who does nothing without a cause) is almost entirely stayed in Scotland, and in great measure in New-England. It does not become us to judge peremptorily; but perhaps some of them may be these: — 1. Many of them became “wise in their own eyes;” their seemed to think they were the men, and there were none like them. And hence they refused God the liberty of sending by whom he would send; and required him to work by men of learning, or not at all. 2. Many of them were bigots, immoderately attached either to their own opinions or mode of worship. Mr. Edwards himself was not clear of this. But the Scotch bigots were beyond all others; placing Arminianism (so called) on a level with Deism, and the Church of England with that of Rome. Hence they not only suffered in themselves and their brethren a bitter zeal, but applauded themselves therein; in showing the same spirit against all who differed from them, as the Papists did against our forefathers. 3. With pride, bitterness, and bigotry, self indulgence was joined; self denial was little taught and practiced.
It is well if some of them did not despise, or even condemn, all self denial in things indifferent, as in apparel or food, as nearly allied to Popery. No marvel then that the Spirit of God was grieved. Let us profit by their example. Tues . 24. — Observing in that valuable book, Mr. Gillies’s “Historical Collections,’’ the custom of Christian congregations in all ages to set apart seasons of solemn thanksgivings, I was amazed and ashamed that we had never done this, after all the blessings we had received: And many to whom I mentioned it gladly agreed to set apart a day for that purpose. Mon . 30. — I set out for Norwich, and came thither the next evening. As a large congregation was waiting, I could not but preach, though weary enough. The two following days I spoke to each member of the society; and on Friday, JULY 4, took horse again, though how I should ride five miles I knew not. But God so strengthened both man and beast, that I reached Bury the same night, and London the next, far less tired than when I set out from Norwich. Monday, 7, was our first day of solemn thanksgiving for the numberless spiritual blessings we have received. And I believe it was a day which will not soon be forgotten. Thur . 17. — One spent the evening with us who is accounted both a sensible and a religious man. What a proof of the fall! Even with all the advantages of a liberal education, this person, I will be bold to say, knows just as much of heart religion, of scriptural Christianity, the religion of love, as a child three years old of Algebra. How much then may we suppose a Turk or Heathen to know? Hardly more; perhaps just as much. Tues . 22. — To oblige a friendly gentlewoman, I was a witness to her will, wherein she bequeathed part of her estate to charitable uses; and part, during his natural life, to her dog Toby. I suppose, though she should die within the year, her legacy to Toby may stand good; but that to the poor is null and void, by the statute of Mortmain! Sun . 27. — I buried the body of Ephraim B—— , once a pattern to all that believed. But from the time he left off fasting and universal self denial, in which none was more exemplary for some years, he sunk lower and lower, till he had neither the power, nor the form of religion left. In the beginning of his illness he was in black despair. But much prayer was made for him.
I was much affected about this time by a letter sent from a gentleman in Virginia. Part of it runs thus: — “The poor Negro slaves here never heard of Jesus, or his religion, till they arrived at the land of their slavery in America; whom their masters generally neglect, as though immortality was not the privilege of their souls, in common with their own. These poor Africans are the principal objects of my compassion; and, I think, the most proper subject of your charity. “The inhabitants of Virginia are computed to be about three hundred thousand; and the one half of them are supposed to be Negroes. The number of these who attend on my ministry, at particular times, is uncertain; but I think there are about three hundred who give a stated attendance. And never have I been so much struck with the appearance of an assembly, as when I have glanced my eye on one part of the House, adorned (so it has appeared to me) with so many black countenances, eagerly attentive to every word they heard, and some of them covered with tears. A considerable number of them, about an hundred, have been baptized, after they had been fully instructed in the great truths of religion, and had evidenced their sense of them by a life of the strictest virtue. As they are not sufficiently polished to dissemble with a good grace, they express the sensations of their hearts so much in the language of simple nature, and with such genuine indications of artless sincerity, that it is impossible to suspect their professions, especially when attended with a suitable behavior. “Mr. Todd, Minister of the next congregation, has near the same number under his care; and several of them also, he informs me, discover the same seriousness. Indeed there are multitudes of them in various parts, who are eagerly desirous of instruction. They have generally very little help to read; and yet, to my agreeable surprise, sundry of them, by dint of application, in their very few leisure hours, have made such a progress, that they are able to read their Bible, or a plain author, very intelligibly.
But few of their masters will be at the expense of furnishing them with books. I have supplied them to the utmost of my ability. They are exceedingly delighted with Watts’s Songs: And I cannot but observe that the Negroes, above all of the human species I ever knew, have the nicest ear for music. They have a kind of ecstatic delight in psalmody: Nor are there any books they so soon learn, or take so much pleasure in, as those used in that heavenly part of divine worship.” Sun. AUGUST 3. — I dined with one who lived for many years with one of the most celebrated beauties in Europe. She was also proud, vain, and nice to a very uncommon degree. But see the end! After a painful and nauseous disease, she rotted away above ground; and was so offensive for many days before she died, that scarce any could bear to stay in the room. Mon . 4. — Hearing my old friend, Mr. H—— s, was now a beggar, and forsaken of all, I called (after a separation of sixteen years) at his lodgings, to offer him any service in my power. I was pleasingly surprised to find him reading the Bible! But still I am afraid all is not right; for the hand of God seems to be upon him still, and his mind is so hurried, he can settle to nothing. O what a pattern of holiness and stability of mind was this very man, till he was stolen away by the men whose “words are smoother than oil.” But were they not to him very swords? Wed . 6. — I mentioned to the congregation another means of increasing serious religion, which had been frequently practiced by our forefathers, and attended with eminent blessing; namely, the joining in a covenant to serve God with all our heart and with all our soul. I explained this for several mornings following; and on Friday many of us kept a fast unto the Lord, beseeching him to give us wisdom and strength, to promise unto the Lord our God and keep it. Mon . 11. — I explained once more the nature of such an engagement, and the manner of doing it acceptably to God. At six in the evening we met for that purpose, at the French church in Spitalfields. After I had recited the tenor of the covenant proposed, in the words of that blessed man, Richard Alleine, all the people stood up, in testimony of assent, to the number of about eighteen hundred persons. Such a night I scarce ever saw before.
Surely the fruit of it shall remain for ever. Sat . 16. — I buried the remains of a rough, honest, friendly man, Captain Edward Stotesbury. But the lion was become a lamb before God took him to himself. Sun . 17. — I took my leave of the congregation in Moorfields, by applying those awful words, “It is appointed for men once to die;” and early in the morning set out for Cornwall. In the evening I preached to a sleepy congregation at Reading, on, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God;” and to much such another on Tuesday evening at Salisbury, on, “Harden not your hearts.”
On Wednesday , 20, at noon, I preached at Shaftesbury, to a much more lively people. In the afternoon both my fellow traveler and I were fairly worn-out. We betook ourselves to prayer; and received strength. Nor did we faint any more, till, on Friday, 22, we reached Plymouth-Dock. And I found myself far less weary then, than on Monday, when I came to Colebrook.
Having spent two days comfortably, and I hope usefully, on Monday , 25, I rode over the mountains, close by the sea to Looe, a town near half as large as Islington, which sends four Members to the Parliament! And each county in North Wales sends one! At Fowey a little company met us, and conducted us to Luxulian. Between six and seven I preached in what was once the courtyard of a rich and honorable man; but he and all his family are in the dust, and his very memory is almost perished. The congregation was large and deeply serious. But it was still larger on Tuesday evening, and several seemed to be cut to the heart. On Wednesday they flocked from all parts. And with what eagerness did they receive the word! Surely many of these last will be first. Thur. 28. — I preached at St. Mewan. I do not remember ever to have seen the yard in which I stood quite full before; but it would not now contain the congregation: Many were obliged to stand without the gate. At five in the morning I preached at St. Austle, to more than our Room could contain. In the evening I was at St. Ewe. One or two felt the edge of God’s sword, and sunk to the ground; and indeed it seemed as if God would suffer none to escape him; as if he both heard and answered our prayer, — Dart into all the melting flame Of love, and make the mountains flow. Sat . 30. — As I was riding through Truro, one stopped my horse, and insisted on my alighting. Presently two or three more of Mr. Walker’s society came in; and we seemed to have been acquainted with each other many years: But I was constrained to break from them. About five I found the congregation waiting in a broad, convenient part of the street, in Redruth. I was extremely weary; and our friends were so glad to see me, that none once thought of asking me to eat or drink: But my weariness vanished when I began to speak. Surely God is in this place also. Sun . 31. — Understanding there were many present who did once run well, I preached at eight, (the rain ceasing just in time,) on, “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?” Many endeavored, but in vain, to hide their tears.
I was agreeably surprised at church to hear the Prayers read, not only with deliberation, but with uncommon propriety. At one the congregation was nearly double to what it was in the morning; and all were still as night.
Surely these are patient hearers: God grant they may be fruitful ones!
At five I preached in Gwennap, to several thousands; but not one of them light or inattentive. After I had done, the storm arose, and the rain poured down, till about four in the morning: Then the sky cleared, and many of them that feared God gladly assembled before him. Mon. SEPTEMBER 1. — I preached at Penryn, to abundantly more than the House could contain. Tues . 2. — We went to Falmouth. The town is not now what it was ten years since: All is quiet from one end to the other. I had thoughts of preaching on the hill near the church; but the violent wind made it impracticable: So I was obliged to stay in our own Room. The people could hear in the yard likewise, and the adjoining houses; and all were deeply attentive. Wed . 3. — At four Mrs. M. came into my room, all in tears, and told me she had seen, as it were, our Lord standing by her, calling her by her name; and had ever since been filled with joy unspeakable. Soon after came her sister, in almost the same condition, and afterwards her niece; who likewise quickly melted into tears, and refused to be comforted. Which of these will endure to the end? Now, at least, God is among them.
After preaching again, to a congregation who now appeared ready to devour every word, I talked up to Pendennis Castle; finely situated on the high point of land which runs out between the bay and the harbor, and commanding both. It might easily be made exceeding strong; but our wooden castles are sufficient.
In the afternoon we rode to Helstone, once turbulent enough, but now quiet as Penryn. I preached at six, on a rising ground, about a musket shot from the town. Two drunken men strove to interrupt; but one soon walked away: The other leaned on his horse’s neck, and fell fast asleep.
What has done much good here is, the example of W—— T——. He was utterly without God in the world, when his father died, and left him a little estate, encumbered with huge debt. Seven or eight years ago he found peace with God. He afterwards sold his estate, paid all his debts, and, with what he had left, furnished a little shop. Herein God has blessed him in an uncommon manner. Meantime, all his behavior is of a piece; so that more and more of his neighbors say, “Well, this is a work of God!” Thur . 4. — In the evening heavy rain began, just as I began to give out the hymn; but it ceased before I named my text. I spoke very plain, and it seemed to sink into many hearts; as they showed by attending at five in the morning, when we had another happy and solemn hour.
About noon, Friday, 5, I called on W. Row, in Breage, in my way to Newlyn. “Twelve years ago,” he said, “I was going over Gulval-Downs, and I saw many people together; and I asked what was the matter; and they told me a man was going to preach: And I said, ‘To be sure it is some mazed man:’ But when I saw you, I said, ‘Nay, this is no mazed man:’ And you preached on God’s raising the dry bones; and from that time I could never rest till God was pleased to breathe on me, and raise my dead soul.”
I had given no notice of preaching here; but seeing the your people flock from every side, I could not send them empty away. So I preached at a small distance from the House, and besought them to consider our “great High-Priest, who is passed through into the heavens:” And none opened his mouth; for the lions of Breage too are now changed into lambs. That they were so fierce ten years ago is no wonder; since their wretched Minister told them, from the pulpit, (seven years before I resigned my fellowship,) that “John Wesley was expelled the College for a base child, and had been quite mazed ever since: That all the Methodists, at their private societies, put out the lights,” ect.; with abundance more of the same kind. But a year or two since, it was observed, he grew thoughtful and melancholy; and, about nine months ago, he went into his own necessary house, and hanged himself.
When we came to Newlyn, we were informed that a strong, healthy man was, the morning before, found dead in his bed. Many were startled: So I endeavored to deepen the impression, by preaching on those words, “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest.” Sat . 6. — In the evening I preached at St. Just. Except at Gwennap, I have seen no such congregation in Cornwall. The sun (nor could we contrive it otherwise) shone full in my face, when I began the hymn; but just as I ended it, a cloud arose, which covered it till I had done preaching. Is any thing too small for the providence of Him by whom our very hairs are numbered? Sun . 7. — Last year, a strange letter, written at Penzance, was inserted in the public papers. Today I spoke to the two persons who occasioned that letter. They are of St. Just parish, sensible men, and no Methodists. The name of one is James Tregeer; of the other, Thomas Sackerly. I received the account from James, two or three hours before Thomas came: But there was no material difference. In July was twelvemonth, they both said, as they were walking from St. Just church town toward Sancreet, Thomas, happening to look up, cried out, “James, look, look! What is that in the sky?” The first appearance, as James expressed it, was, three large columns of horsemen, swiftly pressing on, as in a fight from southwest to northeast; a broad streak of sky being between each column. Sometimes they seemed to run thick together; then to thin their ranks. Afterward they saw a large fleet of three mast ships, in full sail toward the Lizard Point.
I preached at eight in the morning and five in the afternoon, and then hastened to St. Ives; but we did not reach it till between nine and ten; so I delayed visiting Mr. K. till the morning. He is a young Attorney, who for some time past has frequently attended the preaching. On Saturday morning he fell raving mad. I never saw him till this morning. He sung, and swore, and screamed, and cursed, and blasphemed, as if possessed by legion. But as soon as I came in, he called me by my name, and began to speak. I sat down on the bed, and he was still. Soon after he fell into tears and prayer. We prayed with him, and left him calm for the present. Tues . 9. — I desired as many of our brethren as could, to observe Wednesday, the 10th, as a day of fasting and prayer. Just as we were praying for him, (we were afterwards informed,) he left off raving, and broke out, “Lord, how long? Wilt thou hide thy face for ever? All my bones are broken. Thy wrath lieth heavy upon me: I am in the lowest darkness, and in the deep. But the Lord will hear: He will rebuke thee, thou unclean spirit: He will deliver me out of thy hands.” Many such expressions he uttered for about half an hour, and then raved again. Thur. 11. — He was more outrageous than ever. But while we were praying for him in the evening, he sunk down into a sound sleep, which continued for ten hours; nor was he furious any more, although the time of deliverance was not come. Sat. 13. — I preached once more at St. Just, on the first stone of their new society house. In the evening, as we rode to Camborn, John Pearce, of Redruth, was mentioning a remarkable incident: — While he lived at Helstone, as their class was meeting one evening, one of them cried, with an uncommon tone, “We will not stay here: We will go to” such an house, which was in a quite different part of the town. They all rose immediately, and went; though neither they nor she knew why. Presently after they were gone, a spark fell into a barrel of gunpowder, which was in the next room, and blew up the house. So did God preserve those who trusted in him, and prevent the blasphemy of the multitude. Sun . 14. — I preached about eight, at Bray, to a very numerous congregation; and I believe God spoke to the hearts of many, — of backsliders in particular. Soon after ten we went to Redruth church. A young gentlewoman in the next pew, who had been laughing and talking just before, while the Confession was reading, seemed very uneasy; then screamed out several times, dropped down, and was carried out of church.
At one I preached on faith, hope, and love. I was surprised at the behavior of the whole multitude. At length God seems to be moving on all their hearts. About five I preached at St. Agnes, where all received the truth in love, except two or three, who soon walked away. Thence I rode on to Cubert. At noon I was much tired; but I was now as fresh as in the morning. Mon . 15. — We walked an hour near the seashore, among those amazing caverns, which are full as surprising as Poole’s Hole, or any other in the Peak of Derbyshire. Some part of the rock in these natural vaults glitters as bright and ruddy as gold: Part is a fine sky blue; part green; part enameled, exactly like mother of pearl; and a great part, especially near the Holy Well, (which bubbles up on the top of a rock, and is famous for curing either scorbutic or scrofulous disorders,) is crusted over, wherever the water runs, with an hard, white coat, like alabaster.
At six in the evening I preached at Port-Isaac. The next day I rode to Camelford, and preached in the market-place about six, on, “Ye must be born again.” Some were much afraid there would be disturbance; but the whole congregation was quiet and attentive. Thur . 18. — Just as we came in at Launceston, the heavy rain began.
Between five and six I preached in a gentleman’s dining-room, capable of containing some hundreds of people. At five in the morning I preached in the Town-Hall, and soon after took my leave of Cornwall. Fri . 19. — In the evening I reached North-Moulton: But, being wet and tired, and the people not having notice, I did not preach till the next morning. A few, I found, stand steadfast here also, though a neighboring gentleman has threatened them much unless they will leave this way, has turned many out of their work or farms, and headed the mob in person.
On Saturday evening I preached at Tiverton, to a well established people. Sun . 21. — I rode to Collumpton, where the Minister preached an excellent practical sermon. At one I preached on the parable of the Sower; and about five in the market-house at Tiverton. The congregation was larger than for some years: Yet all behaved as though they really desired to save their souls. Mon . 22. — It rained the greater part of the day, which lessened the congregation at Charlton. Tues . 23. — We walked up to Glastonbury-Tower which a gentleman is now repairing. It is the steeple of a church, the foundation of which is still discernible. On the west side of the tower there are niches for images; one of which, as big as the life, is still entire. The hill on which it stands is extremely steep, and of an uncommon height; so that it commands the country on all sides, as well as the Bristol Channel. I was weary enough when we came to Bristol; but I preached till all my complaints were gone; and I had now a little leisure to sit still, and finish the “Notes on the New Testament.” Fri .OCTOBER 3. — I rode over to Pill, a place famous from generation to generation, even as Kingswood itself, for stupid, brutal, abandoned wickedness. But what is all the power of the world and the devil, when the day of God’s power is come? Many of the inhabitants now seem desirous of turning from the power of Satan to God. Sun . 5. — I preached on the southwest side of Bristol. I suppose a considerable part of the congregation had hardly ever heard a sermon in the open air before; but they were all (rich and poor) serious and attentive. No rudeness is now at Bristol. Thur . 9. — I preached on the Green, near Pill, to a large and serious congregation. It rained most of the time; but none went away, although there were many genteel hearers. Mon . 13. — I preached, about noon, at Shepton-Mallet, and in the evening at Coleford; where the congregation is so increased, that they must enlarge the House. Tues . 14. — About one I preached near Bradford, and again in the evening. Wed . 15. — I preached at Bath. Even here a few are joined together, and hope they shall be scattered no more.
I dined with some serious persons in a large, stately house, standing on the brow of a delightful hill. In this paradise they live in ease, in honor, and in elegant abundance. And this they call retiring from the world! What would Gregory Lopez have called it?
In the evening the society met at Bristol. I had desired, again and again, that no person would come who had not calmly and deliberately resolved to give himself up to God. But I believe not ten of them were wanting:
And we now solemnly and of set purpose, by our own free act and deed, jointly agreed to take the Lord for our God. I think it will not soon be forgotten; I hope, not to all eternity. Mon . 20. — I left Bristol, and taking several societies in the way, on Thursday , 23, preached at Reading. Several soldiers were there, and many more the next night, when I set before them “the terrors of the Lord.” And I scarce ever saw so much impression made on this dull, senseless people. Sat. 25. — I reached London, notwithstanding all the forebodings of my friends, in at least as good health as I left it. Sun . 26. — I entered upon my London duty, reading Prayers, preaching, and giving the sacrament, at Snowsfields, in the morning; preaching and giving the sacrament at noon in West-Street Chapel; meeting the Leaders at three; burying a corpse at four; and preaching at five in the afternoon.
Afterwards I met the society, and concluded the day with a general love feast. Mon . 27. — We set out for Leigh in Essex: But, being hindered a little in the morning, the night came on, without either moon or stars, when we were about two miles short of Raleigh. The ruts were so deep and uneven, that the horses could scarce stand, and the chaise was continually in danger of overturning; so that my companions thought it best to walk to the town, though the road was both wet and dirty. Leaving them at Raleigh, I took horse again. It was so thoroughly dark, that we could not see our horses’ heads: However, by the help of Him to whom the night shineth as the day, we hit every turning; and, without going a quarter of a mile out of our way, before nine came to Leigh. Wed . 29. — I returned to London. In my scraps of time, on this and two or three other days, I read over (what I had often heard much commended) Lord Anson’s Voyage. What pity he had not a better historian! One who had eyes to see, and courage to own, the hand of God. Wed. NOVEMBER 5. — Mr. Whitefield called upon me; — disputings are now no more: We love one another, and join hand in hand to promote the cause of our common Master.
In the afternoon I buried the remains of Samuel Larwood, who died of a fever on Sunday morning; deeply convinced of his unfaithfulness, and yet hoping to find mercy. He had lately taken and repaired a building in Southwark, called by the venerable men who built it, Zoar. His executor offering it to me on the evening of Friday , 7, that solemn day, which we observed with fasting and prayer for our King and country, I preached there to a large and quiet congregation; but most of them appeared wild enough: And such were we, till grace made the difference. Mon. 10. — I preached at the Wells: And I did not wonder, that God gave an uncommon blessing to those who then assembled in his name, considering the difficulties they had broke through. The frost was very severe, accompanied with such a fog as perhaps the oldest man there never saw before. The lamps could not be seen across the street, and hardly the ground, by those who had lights in their hands. Many lost their way, when they were just at their own doors. And it was almost as hard to breathe as to see. How easy it is for God to punish a sinful nation, even without employing an arm of flesh! Mon . 17. — As we were walking towards Wapping, the rain poured down with such violence, that we were obliged to take shelter till it abated. We then holden on to Gravel-Lane; in many parts of which the waters were like a river. However, we got on pretty well, till the rain put out the candle in our lantern. We then were obliged to wade through all, till we came to the chapel yard. Just as we entered it, a little streak of lightning appeared in the Southwest. There was likewise a small clap of thunder, and a vehement burst of rain, which rushed so plentifully through our shattered tiles, that the vestry was all in a float. Soon after I began reading Prayers, the lightning flamed all round it, and the thunder rolled just over our heads.
When it grew louder and louder, perceiving many of the strangers to be much affrighted, I broke off the Prayers, after the Collect, “Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord;” and began applying, “The Lord sitteth above the water flood, the Lord remaineth a king for ever.”
It was observed, that exactly at this hour, they were acting “Macbeth,” in Drury-Lane; and just as the mock thunder began, the Lord began to thunder out of heaven. For a while it put them to a stand: But they soon took courage, and went on. Otherwise it might have been suspected, that the fear of God had crept into the very theatre! Tues . 18. — We had a solemn watch-night at Zoar. Wed . 26. — Being much importuned thereto, I wrote “Serious Thoughts on the Earthquake at Lisbon;” directed, not as I designed at first, to the small vulgar, but the great; to the learned, rich, and honorable Heathens, commonly called Christians. Tues. DECEMBER 2. — I received a remarkable letter, part of which I have here subjoined: — “IT may seem strange, Sir, that I, whom you have no personal knowledge of, should write with the freedom I am now going to take. But, I trust, you desire as much to instruct, as I to be instructed. I have long labored under a disease, which comes the nearest to that which is named skepticism. I rejoice at one time in the belief, that the religion of my country is true: But how transient my joy! While my busy imagination ranges through nature, books, and men, I often drop into that horrible pit of Deism, and in vain bemoan my fall. The two main springs, which alternately move my soul to these opposite opinions, are, first, Can it be, that the great God of the boundless universe, containing many thousand better worlds than this, should become incarnate here, and die on a piece of wood? There I lose my belief of Christianity. “But on the other hand I think, Well, let me examine the fitness of things which Deism boasts of. And certain it is, I discern nothing but beauty and wisdom in the inanimate parts of the creation. But how is the animate side of nature? It shocks me with powerful cruelty, and bleeding innocence. I cannot call the earth, (as Fontenelle does,) ‘a great rolling globe, covered over with fools;’ but rather, a great rolling globe, covered over with slaughter houses; where few beings can escape but those of the butcher kind, the lion, wolf, or tiger. And as to man himself, he is undoubtedly the supreme lord, nay, the uncontrollable tyrant, of this globe. Yet survey him in a state of Deism, and I must pronounce him a very poor creature: He is then a kind of jack catch, an executioner general. He may, nay, he must, destroy, for his own subsistence, multitudes of beings that have done him no wrong. He has none of that heavenly power to restore life: And can he be fond of the permission to take it away? One who, like me, is subject to the tender passions, will never be proud of this.
No dying brute I view in anguish here, But from my melting eye descends a tear.
The very beasts are entitled to my compassion: But who can express the anxieties I feel for the afflictions sustained by virtuous men, and my abhorrence of the cruel? Yet in Deism I can discern no reward for the one, or punishment for the other. On this view of things, the Castilian King might well say, he could have directed God to amend his creation. “I think, upon the whole, the God of wisdom would not have made a world so much in want of a Redeemer as this, and not give it one; therefore, at present, I am again a Christian. O that the Son of God would confirm me his! As yet my soul is like a weather beaten bird, that hovers over the great ocean, tired and afraid of dropping: Death and eternity are ready to receive it; the pleasant land is out of sight, hid by fogs and mists; and the way unknown, to gain the happy groves. “I was formerly apt to mention my skepticism, both to Clergymen and laymen, with a view of lessening the evil; but they rather increased it. Few Clergymen cared to discourse on the subject; and if they did, they generally expected that a few weak reasons should eradicate at once strong and deep rooted prejudices: And most laymen discovered an utter ignorance of the religion they pretended to believe; and looked upon me as if I had the plague, for owning I did not believe it. What method could I take? I long avoided speaking of religion to any but its Great Author; who, I hope, has at last led me to one that is capable of removing my spiritual darkness. May the Giver of all goodness reward you in that day, when (according to the Prophet Daniel) ‘the wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever!’” Fri . 12. — As I was returning from Zoar, I came as well as usual to Moorfields; but there my strength entirely failed, and such a faintness and weariness seized me, that it was with difficulty I got home. I could not but think how happy it would be (suppose we were ready for the Bridegroom) to sink down and steal away at once, without any of the hurry and pomp of dying! Yet it is happier still to glorify God in our death, as well as our life.
About this time I received a serious, sensible letter; the substance of which was as follows: — “SCARCE any nation passes a century without some remarkable fluctuation. How should it be otherwise? For how can that be perpetually stable, wherein man, full of instability, is principally concerned? It is certain, therefore, that all the quiet in a nation is ordered by divine wisdom; as all the confusions and convulsions are permitted by divine justice. Let us view the present state of Great Britain in this light; resting assured, that all which befalls us is intended to promote our good in this world, and that which is to come. “This land is ripe for judgments. How few are there herein who even intend to please God in all they do? And all besides are subjects of Divine wrath. For all who live without any regard to God, are willful sinners against God, and every hour liable to the stroke of his offended justice. “And what shall these do when visited by the sword, the plague, the famine, or the furious elements? O that they would turn to God through the Savior of sinners! Surely then they would find mercy! Yea, and probably see the salvation of God, even in the land of the living. “But what shall the Christians do in the time of public calamities? Be still, look up, and follow Providence. Be still, O my soul! in the midst of tumults and the distress of nations. Take no comfort in anything but in the consciousness of divine love. Listen to his voice, and quietly wait to see the hand of God over all. If you are uncertain what to do, look up and expect wisdom from above. If you fear, look up for courage and faith to act well on all occasions. If the sword is at your throat, look up for submission to the wise and gracious will of God. Look up for power to pray without ceasing, and in everything to give thanks. Follow Providence.
Do not run before, but after, the hand that leads the simple hearted, with a steady attention, and a determinate purpose to do what is pleasing to him. “But what shall the Christians do, if the storm come, — if our country be actually invaded? The general answer must be the same: ‘Be still; look up; follow Providence.’ A particular answer is hard to give yet. Only so far one may say, 1. We must take great care of our spirits. If we sink into the world’s fears or joys, we shall lose our hold on God. The spirit of the Christians and the spirit of the world are entirely different. They can never agree in what appertains to the work of God, either in his dispensations of grace or justice. 2. Every one should deeply consider, what he is called to. Some may think it would be a sin to defend themselves. Happy are they, if they can refrain from judging or condemning those that are of a different persuasion. Certain it is, some have fought and died in a just cause, with a conscience void of offense. To some, therefore, it may be matter of duty to repel the common enemy. 3. They who believe they are called to this, should proceed in all things in a Christian spirit.
They should, if possible, join in one body. They should endeavor to avoid trifling company and conversation. They should learn the exercise with prayers and hymns. But who of us is sufficient for these things?” Sun. 14. — The minds of many people being deeply affected with a prospect of public calamities, I explained those comfortable words in the First Lesson, (Isaiah 26:20,) “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: Hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.” Tues . 16. — I set out for Lewisham; appointing one to meet me with my horse at the stones end. But he mistook his way, and so left me to walk on, in my boots and great coat. When I came within a quarter of a mile of Lewisham-Bridge, a coach drove swiftly by me. I wondered why the coachman stopped, till he called, and desired me to come up to him. The reason then appeared, — the low grounds were quite covered with water, so that I could not have attempted to reach the bridge, without hazarding my life. Tues . 23. — I was in the robe chamber, adjoining to the House of Lords, when the King put on his robes. His brow was much furrowed with age, and quite clouded with care. And is this all the world can give even to a King? All the grandeur it can afford? A blanket of ermine round his shoulders, so heavy and cumbersome he can scarce move under it! An huge heap of borrowed hair, with a few plates of gold and glittering stones upon his head! Alas, what a bauble is human greatness! And even this will not endure. Cover the head with ever so much hair and gold; yet, Scit te Proserpina canum; Personam capiti detrahet illa tuo. JANUARY 1, 1756. — We had a large congregation at four in the morning.
How much are men divided in their expectations concerning the ensuing year! Will it bring a large harvest of temporal calamities, or of spiritual blessings? Perhaps of both; of temporal afflictions preparatory to spiritual blessings. Mon. 5. — This week I wrote “An Address to the Clergy;” which, considering the state of public affairs, I judged would be more seasonable, and more easily born, at this time than at any other. Wed . 14. — Mr. Walsh wrote to me as follows — “REV.AND VERY DEAR SIR, “IN Mr. Booker’s letter are many palpable falsehoods. But what exasperated him so, he does not tell. It was my opposing his Arian principles: My telling him I had the same arguments to prove the Divinity of Christ, as to prove the Godhead of the Father. 1. The Father is called God, ; so is the Son, Isaiah 9:6. — 2. The Father is called ; so is the Son, Hosea 1:7. — 3. The Father is called ; so is the Son, Jeremiah 23:6. — 4. The Father is said to be from everlasting; so the Son is called , Isaiah 9:6. Not the everlasting Father; but the Father or Author of eternity. — 5. The Father is said to create all things: so is the Son, John 1., and Colossians 1. — 6. The Father is said to be almighty; so is the Son. — 7. The Father is omnipresent; so is the Son, Matthew 18:20. — 8. The Father is omniscient; so is the Son, Revelation 2:23. — 9. The Father forgives sins; so does the Son, Mark 2:5-11. — 10. The Father is Judge of all; so is the Son. “But still he disputed, whether any man should pray to Christ. I gave these reasons for it: — 1. All men are bound to honor the Son, as they honor the Father: But we are to honor the Father by praying to him: Therefore we should so honor the Son. 2. God commands, ‘Let all the angels of God worship him.’ This is done, Revelation 5:12,13. And it is certain, praise and thanksgiving are superior rather than inferior to prayer. 3. St. Paul prayed to him, 2 Corinthians 12:8,9. 4. St. Stephen prayed to him, Acts 7:59. (The word God is not in the original.) 5. All believers in the apostolic age prayed to him, 1 Corinthians 1:2. For what is to call upon his name, but to pray to him? “When he could not answer these reasons, he called them cant, and said, ‘Much learning has made thee mad.’ What he calls ‘contempt,’ was confronting him with Scripture and reason, in defense of the Godhead of Christ. I acknowledge I have been an opposer of Arianism ever since I knew what it was; but especially since my late illness, during which I had such glorious evidences of the eternal power and Godhead of my great Redeemer. I bless God I love Mr. B—— , as well as all mankind; but it grieves me to see people led in the high road to hell, instead of heaven; especially at a time which calls upon all to awake and prepare to meet their God.” Saturday, 17, and in the spare hours of the following days, I read over Mr. Pike’s Philosophia Sacra; a Treatise admirably well wrote, by an ingenious man, who says all that can be said for Mr. Hutchinson’s hypothesis: But it is only an hypothesis still; much supposition, and little proof.
Mon. 26. — I rode to Canterbury, and preached in the evening to such a congregation as I never saw there before; in which were abundance of the soldiers, and not a few of their Officers. Wed. 28. — I preached about noon at Dover, to a very serious but small congregation. We afterwards walked up to the Castle, on the top of a mountain. It is an amazingly fine situation; and from hence we had a clear view of that vast piece of the cliff, which a few days ago divided from the rest and fell down upon the beach. Fri. 30. — In returning to London, I read the Life of the late Czar, Peter the Great. Undoubtedly he was a soldier, a General, and a Statesman, scarce inferior to any. But why was he called a Christian? What has Christianity to do either with deep dissimulation or savage cruelty? Fri. FEBRUARY 6. — The fast day was a glorious day; such as London has scarce seen since the Restoration. Every church in the city was more than full; and a solemn seriousness sat on every face. Surely God heareth the prayer; and there will yet be a lengthening of our tranquillity.
Even the Jews observed this day with a peculiar solemnity. The form of prayer which was used in their synagogue began, “Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for he hath torn and he will heal us;” and concluded with those remarkable words, “Incline the heart of our Sovereign Lord King George, as well as the hearts of his Lords and Counselors, to use us kindly, and all our brethren, the children of Israel, that in his days and in our days we may see the restoration of Judah, and that Israel may dwell in safety, and the Redeemer may come to Zion. May it be thy will! And we all say, Amen.” Mon . 23. — I paid another visit to Canterbury, but came in too late to preach. Tues . 24. — Abundance of soldiers and many Officers came to the preaching. And surely the fear and the love of God will prepare them either for death or victory. Wed . 25. — I dined with Colonel — , who said, “No men fight like those who fear God: I had rather command five hundred such, than any regiment in His Majesty’s army.” Thur . 26. — I had so severe a cold, that I could hardly speak to be heard.
However, I preached morning and evening, as I could, and the next day returned to London. Mon. MARCH 1. — I set out for Bristol. Some time after, I received the copy of another letter, dated March 2, from the Rev. Mr. Davies in Virginia, part of which I have subjoined: — “WHEN the books arrived, I gave public notice after sermon, and desired such Negroes as could read, and such white people as would make good use of them, and were not able to buy, to come to my house. For some time after, the poor slaves, whenever they could get an hour’s leisure, hurried away to me, and received them with all the genuine indications of passionate gratitude. All the books were very acceptable; but none more so than the Psalms and Hymns, which enabled them to gratify their peculiar taste for psalmody. Sundry of them lodged all night in my kitchen; and sometimes when I have awaked at two or three in the morning, a torrent of sacred psalmody has poured into my chamber. In this exercise some of them spend the whole night. “The good effects of this charity are already apparent. It convinces the Heathen, that however careless about religion the generality of the white people are, yet there are some who think it a matter of importance. It has excited some of their masters to emulation; and they are ashamed, that strangers on the other side the Atlantic Ocean should be at such pains to teach their domestics, while themselves are negligent about it. Such of the Negroes as can read already, are evidently improving in knowledge. It has excited others to learn to read: For as I give books to none but such as can read, they consider them as a reward for their industry. And I am told, that in almost every house in my congregation, and in many other places, they spend every leisure hour in endeavoring to learn. Many do this from a sincere desire to know the will of God; and if some should do it from the meaner principle of vanity or curiosity, yet I cannot but rejoice, that it renders them the more capable of receiving instruction. To all this I may add, that the very distributing these books gives me an opportunity of speaking seriously, and with particular application, to many who would not otherwise come in my way. “There are thousands of Negroes in this colony who still continue in the grossest ignorance, and are as rank Pagans now, as they were in the wilds of Africa. Not a few of these are within the bounds of my congregation.
But all are not of this character. Upon some my ministry of late has been successful. Two Sundays ago I had the pleasure of seeing forty of their black faces at the Lord’s Table, several of whom give the usual evidence of their sincerity in religion. Last Sunday I baptized seven or eight, who had been catechized for some time. Indeed many of them appear determined to press into the kingdom, and I am persuaded will find an abundant entrance, when many of the children of the kingdom are shut out. “I have distributed some of the books, among the poor white people, with a charge to circulate them among such of their neighbors as would seriously read them; that they might be as extensively serviceable as possible: And some of them have since discovered to me what solemn impressions they received in reading them. “I sent a few of each sort to my friend Mr. Wright, Minister of Cumberland, about ninety miles hence; where there are not a few Negroes thoughtful about Christianity, and sundry real converts: And, he informs me, they have met with a very agreeable and promising reception. He takes much pains in instructing them, and has set up two or three schools among them; where they attend on Sundays, before and after sermon: For they have no other leisure time.” Wed. 3. — I found Bristol all in a flame; voters and nonvoters being ready to tear each other in pieces. I had not recovered my voice, so as either to preach, or speak to the whole society: But I desired those members who were free men to meet me by themselves; whom I mildly and lovingly informed how they ought to act in this hour of temptation: And I believe the far greater part of them received and profited by the advice. Thur. 11. — I rode to Pill, and preached to a large and attentive congregation. A great part of them were seafaring men. In the middle of my discourse, a pressgang landed from a man of war, and came up to the place:
But after they had listened a while they went quietly by, and molested nobody. Mon. 15. — I rode to the Old-Passage: But finding we could not pass, we went on to Purton; which we reached about four in the afternoon. But we were no nearer still; for the boatmen lived on the other side, and the wind was so high, we could not possibly make them hear. However, we determined to wait a while; and in a quarter of an hour they came of their own accord. We reached Coleford before seven; and found a plain, loving people, who received the word of God with all gladness. Tues . 16. — Examining the little society, I found them grievously harassed by disputations. Anabaptists were on one side, and Quakers on the other:
And hereby five or six persons have been confused: But the rest cleave so much the closer together. Nor does it appear that there is now one trifler, much less a disorderly walker, among them. Wed . 17. — I learned the particulars of that surprising storm which was here the year before last. It began near Cheltenham, on June 14, 1754, and passed on over Coleford, in a line about three miles broad. It was rain mixed with hail. The hail broke all the windows it had access to, stripped all the trees both of fruit and leaves, and destroyed every green thing.
Many of the stones were as large as hen eggs: Some were fourteen or fifteen inches round. The rain occasioned such a torrent of water in the street, as bore away man and beast. A mile or two farther, it joined with the waters of a mill dam; which it broke down, and carried away several houses. How frequent would accidents of this kind be, if chance, not God, governed the world! Thur . 18. — We rode through hard rain to Brecknock, and came just at the hour appointed for preaching. The Town-Hall, in which I was desired to preach, is a large and commodious place; and the whole congregation (one poor gentleman excepted) behaved with seriousness and decency. Fri . 19. — I rode over to Howell Harris at Trevecka, though not knowing how to get any further. But he helped us out of our difficulties; offering to send one with us who would show us the way and bring our horses back:
So I then determined to go on to Holyhead, after spending a day or two at Brecknock. Sat. 20. — It being the day appointed for the Justices and Commissioners to meet, the town was extremely full; and curiosity (if no better motive) brought most of the gentlemen to the preaching. Such another opportunity could not have been of speaking to all the rich and great of the county: And they all appeared to be serious and attentive. Perhaps one or two may lay it to heart. Sun. 21. — I delayed preaching till nine, for the sake of the tender and delicate ones. At two we had near the whole town; and God reserved the great blessing for the last. Afterward we rode to Trevecka: But our guide was ill: So in the morning we set out without him.
Before I talked with him myself, I wondered H. Harris did not go out and preach as usual: But he now informed me, he preached till he could preach no longer, his constitution being entirely broken. While he was thus confined, he was pressed in spirit to build a large house; though he knew not why, or for whom. But as soon as it was built, men, women, and children, without his seeking, came to it from all parts of Wales: And, except in the case of the Orphan-House at Halle, I never heard of so many signal interpositions of divine Providence. Mon . 22. — It continued fair till we came to Builth; where I preached to the usual congregation. Mr. Phillips then guided us to Royader, about fourteen English miles. It snowed hard behind us and on both sides, but not at all where we were. Tues. 23. — When we took horse, there was nothing to be seen but a waste of white: The snow covered both hills and vales. As we could see no path, it was not without much difficulty, as well as danger, that we went on. But between seven and eight the sun broke out, and the snow began to melt: So we thought all our difficulty was over; till, about nine, the snow fell faster than ever. In an hour it changed into hail; which, as we rode over the mountains, drove violently in our face. About twelve this turned into hard rain, followed by an impetuous wind. However, we pushed out through all, and before sunset came to Dolgelly.
Here we found every thing we wanted except sleep, of which we were deprived of a company of drunken, roaring sea Captains, who kept possession of the room beneath us, till between two and three in the morning: So that we did not take horse till after six; and then we could make no great speed, the frost being exceeding sharp, and much ice in the road. Hence we were not able to reach Tannabull till between eleven and twelve. An honest Welshman here gave us to know (though he spoke no English) that he was just going over the sands. So we hastened on with him, and by that means came in good time to Carnarvon.
Here we passed a quiet and comfortable night, and took horse about six in the morning. Supposing, after we had rode near an hour, that a little house on the other side was the ferryhouse, we went down to the water, and called amain: But we could not procure any answer. In the mean time it began to rain hard, though the wind was extremely high. Finding none would come over, we went to a little church which stood near, for shelter.
They were following a sheep, which ran close to us. I then asked, “Is not this Baldon-Ferry?” The girl answered, “Baldon-Ferry! No. The Ferry is two miles further.” So we might have called long enough. When we came to Baldon the wind fell, the sky cleared up, the boat came over without delay, and soon landed us in Anglesey. On our way to Holyhead, one met and informed us, the packet sailed the night before. I said, “Perhaps it may carry me for all that.” So we pushed on, and came thither in the afternoon.
I scarce ever remember so violent a storm as blew all the night long. The wind continued contrary the next day. Sun . 28. — About nine in the morning I spent some time with a few serious people, and gave notice of preaching at four in the afternoon, as soon as the Evening Service was ended. It began soon after three: Ten minutes before four Mr. D. began catechizing the children in Welsh. I stayed till after five. As there was no sign of his concluding, I then went home, and found the people waiting; to whom I expounded those solemn words, “Watch and pray always, that ye may be counted worthy to escape all these things which are coming upon the earth.” Mon . 29. — We left the harbor about twelve, having six or seven Officers and abundance of passengers on board. The wind was full west, and there was great probability of a stormy night. So it was judged best to put back; but one gentleman making a motion, to try a little longer, in a short time brought all over to his opinion. So they agreed to go out, and “look for a wind.”
The wind continued westerly all the night. Nevertheless, in the morning we were within two leagues of Ireland! Between nine and ten I landed at Howth, and walked on for Dublin. The congregation in the evening was such as I never saw here before. I hope this also is a token for good. Wed. 31. — In conversing with many, I was surprised to find that all Ireland is in perfect safety. None here has any more apprehension of an invasion, than of being swallowed up in the sea; every one being absolutely assured, that the French dare not attempt any such thing. Thur. APRIL 1. — I bought one or two books at Mr. Smith’s on the Blind Quay. I wanted change for a guinea, but he could not give it; so I borrowed some silver of my companion. The next evening a young gentleman came from Mr. Smith’s to tell me I had left a guinea on his counter. Such an instance of honesty I have rarely met with, either in Bristol or London. Sat . 3. — I went to the College chapel, at which about forty persons were present: Dr. K. preached a plain, practical sermon, after which the sacrament was administered. I never saw so much decency at any chapel in Oxford; no, not even at Lincoln College. Scarce any person stirred, or coughed, or spit, from the beginning to the end of the Service.
In the evening our House was crowded above and below; yet many were obliged to stand without. The whole congregation appeared stayed and solid. Do even the people of Dublin know the day of their visitation? Mon. 5. — Inquiring for one whom I saw three or four days ago in the height of a violent pleurisy, I found he was perfectly recovered, and returned into the country. A brimstone plaster in a few minutes took away both the pain and the fever. O why will physicians play with the lives of their patients! Do not others (as well as old Dr. Cockburn) know, that “no end is answered by bleeding in a pleurisy, which may not be much better answered without it?”
Tonight the sleepers here began to open their eyes, it being rumored that an express was come to the Lord Lieutenant, to inform him, the French were hastening their preparation, being determined to land in Ireland. And so they will, if God gives them leave: But he has the reins in his own hand. Tues . 6. — One was informing me of an eminent instance of the power of faith. “Many years ago,” said she, “I fell and sprained my ankle, so that I never expected it would be quite well. Seven years since, last September, I was coming home from the preaching in a very dark night, and, stumbling over a piece of wood, fell with the whole weight of my body upon my lame foot. I thought, ‘O Lord, I shall not be able to hear thy word again for many weeks!’ Immediately a voice went through my heart, ‘Name the name of Christ, and thou shalt stand.’ I leaped up, and stretched out my foot, and said, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, I name thy name: Let me stand!’ And my pain ceased; and I stood up, and my foot was as strong as ever.” Fri . 9. — I spent an hour with Dr. F——, a sensible, agreeable man. He said, “Six weeks ago, the informed the Lord L——, that he had express orders from His Majesty, to put this kingdom in a posture of defense against the intended invasion; and he was empowered to raise what men he pleased. And nothing has ever been done since: So that we conclude the whole to be a grimace, a mere trick of State.” Sun. 11. — I met about an hundred children, who ate catechized publicly twice a week. Thomas Walsh began this some months ago; and the fruit of it appears already. What a pity that all our Preachers in every place have not the zeal and wisdom to follow his example! Tues . 13. — I breakfasted with one of the most lovely old men I ever saw; John Garret, a Dutchman by birth, and a Speaker among the Quakers.
Thence we went to a poor dying backslider. When we came in he was crying to God out of the deep; but before we left him his heaviness was gone, and he desired nothing but to be with Christ. Wed. 14. — I looked over a celebrated book, “The Fable of the Bees.” Till now I imagined there had never appeared in the world such a book as the works of Machiavel. But Dr. Mandeville goes far beyond it. The Italian only recommends a few vices, as useful to some particular men, and on some particular occasions. But the Englishman loves and cordially recommends vice of every kind; not only as useful now and then, but as absolutely necessary at all times for all communities! Surely Voltaire would hardly have said so much. And even Mr. Sandeman could not have said more. APRIL 16. — (Being Good Friday.) Near four hundred of the society met, to follow the example of their brethren in England, and renew their covenant with God. It was a solemn hour: Many mourned before God, and many were comforted.
In the following week all our Preachers met. I never before found such unanimity among them. They appeared now to be not only of one heart, but likewise of one mind and judgment. Sun . 25. — One of the Germans stumbled in while I was expounding, “Is Christ the minister of sin?” For a time she seemed greatly diverted; but the application spoiled her mirth: She soon hung down her head, and felt the difference between the chaff and the wheat. Mon. 26. — I set out for Cork, purposing to see as many societies as I could in my way. In the afternoon I came to Edinderry, where the little society have built a commodious preaching-house. I had designed to preach abroad; but the keen north wind drove us into the House. The congregation (though they had no previous notice) filled it from end to end; but some of them found it too hot, and hurried out, while I applied, “Ye must be born again.”
About this time I received the following letter: — “REVEREND SIR, “ I ONCE, through the influence of those about me, was ready to join the common cry against you, not knowing what I did: But since, by hearing your discourses, with some of Mr. Walsh’s, and by reading your Sermons and Appeals, I have learned a better lesson. I have learned that true Christianity consists, not in a set of opinions, or of forms and ceremonies, but in holiness of heart and life, — in a thorough imitation of our divine Master. And this I take to be the doctrine of the Church of England; nor do I apprehend you differ from her at all in doctrine. And I am grieved to know you have too much cause to differ from many of her present Clergy.
Why then should I cavil at you for feeding those sheep that are starved by their own shepherds? for endeavoring to recover them from that stupid lethargy and open wickedness which involve the generality of mankind?
This is your happiness: would to God it could be mine! I have often had a strong desire for it; and would now gladly dedicate my life to it, if my poor abilities and mean education, together with the twenty third Article of our Church, did not crush the thought. However, as I do not see you vary from the doctrine of the Church, I should not scruple to join with you. My chief motives (beside that strong desire) are, First, I reflect, there is scarce a situation in life, at least in the trading world, without its attendant frauds or vices, which are now scarce separable from it. Secondly, I am at present of no use in society; so that on account of any advantage that now accrues from me to the public, I need not scruple giving myself to my darling employment. Thirdly, I am convinced a man may instruct and reform himself by instructing and reforming others. But may I attempt this otherwise than by the ordinary method of admitting laborers into the Lord’s vineyard? Your thoughts on this subject would be received as a singular favor; for which I shall impatiently wait, who am, “Reverend Sir, “Your affectionate and ready servant.” Wed . 28. — I rode to Tullamore; where one of the society,EDWARD WILLIS, gave me a very surprising account of himself. He said: — “WHEN I was about twenty years old, I went to Waterford for business.
After a few weeks I resolved to leave it; and packed up my things, in order to set out the next morning. This was Sunday; but my landlord pressed me much not to go till the next day. In the afternoon we walked out together, and went into the river. After a while, leaving him near the shore, I struck out into the deep. I soon heard a cry, and, turning, saw him rising and sinking in the channel of the river. I swam back with all speed, and, seeing him sink again, dived down after him. When I was near the bottom, he clasped his arm round my neck, and holden me so fast that I could not rise.
Seeing death before me, all my sins came into my mind, and I faintly called for mercy. In a while my senses went away, and I thought I was in a place full of light and glory, with abundance of people. While I was thus, he who holden me died, and I floated up to the top of the water. I then immediately came to myself, and swam to the shore, where several stood who had seen us sink, and said, they never knew such a deliverance before; for I had been under water full twenty minutes. It made me more serious for two or three months. Then I returned to all my sins. “But in the midst of all, I had a voice following me every where, ‘When an able Minister of the Gospel comes, it will be well with thee!’ Some years after I entered into the army: Our troop lay at Phillip’s Town, when Mr. W. came. I was much affected by his preaching; but not so as to leave my sins. The voice followed me still; and when Mr. J. W. came, before I saw him, I had an unspeakable conviction that he was the man I looked for; and soon after I found peace with God, and it was well with me indeed.” Thur . 29. — I preached on one side of the market-place, to a numerous congregation. I was afterwards invited by some of the Officers to spend an hour with them at the barracks. It, at least, freed them from prejudice against the present work of God, if it answered no farther end. Fri . 30. — I was pressed to turn aside to Athlone, a gentlewoman of Barbadoes, who was obliged to return thither shortly, having a great desire to see me. So I went to Athlone, and spent one or two hours in close conversation with her and her husband. We had a comfortable meeting in the evening; and most of the Gentry in the town were present: But who can warn them to flee from the wrath to come? They are “increased in goods, and need nothing.” Sat. MAY 1. — I rode to Birr through rain, hail, and snow, such as is usual on the first of January I had designed to preach abroad; but the wind was too sharp to be born either by me or the people. Sun. 2. — We rode to Mount-Mellick. About five I preached in the market-place. I was on the point of concluding, when a violent storm came. Till then the bottles of heaven were stayed. Tues . 4. — We rode to Portarlington; where, on Wednesday , 5, at the desire of several who could not attend the early preaching, I preached in the assembly room at ten, on, “Ye must be born again.” Many of the best in the town (so called) were present, and seemed not a little amazed.
Many more came in the evening, among whom I found an unusual liberty of spirit. For the present most of them seemed much affected. But how soon will the thorns grow up? Thur. 6. — I rode to Kilkenny. One of the Dragoons who were quartered here, soon found us out. A few, both of the army and of the town, are joined, and constantly meet together. I preached in the barracks, in one of the Officers’ rooms. Still, in Ireland, the first call is to the soldiery. Fri . 7. — We rode to Waterford; where, after preaching, I earnestly exhorted the society to “love as brethren.” On the same subject, I preached in the morning, and spent great part of the day in striving to remove misunderstandings and offenses. It was not lost labor. Six and twenty were left in the morning: Before night seven and fifty were joined together.
T. Walsh preached at five; but the Room being too small, they were obliged to go into the yard. In the evening we had high and low, rich and poor, both in the yard and adjoining gardens. There seemed now to be a general call to this city. So I thought it best the next morning, Monday, 10, to leave Mr. Walsh there, while I went forward to Clonmell, the pleasantest town, beyond all comparison, which I have yet seen in Ireland.
It has four broad, straight streets of well built houses, which cross each other in the center of the town. Close to the walls, on the south side, runs a broad, clear river. Beyond this rises a green and fruitful mountain, and hangs over the town. The vale runs many miles both east and west, and is well cultivated throughout.
I preached at five in a large loft, capable of containing five or six hundred people: But it was not full; many being afraid of its falling, as another did some years before; by which several of the hearers were much hurt, and one so bruised, that she died in a few days. Tues. 11. — I was at a loss where to preach, the person who owned the loft refusing to let me preach there or even in the yard below. And the Commanding Officer being asked for the use of the barrack yard, answered, it was not a proper place. “Not,” said he, “that I have any objection to Mr. Wesley. I will hear him, if he preaches under the gallows” It remained, to preach in the street: And by this means the congregation was more than doubled. Both the Officers and soldiers gave great attention, till a poor man, special drunk, came marching down the street, attended by a Popish mob, with a club in one hand, and a large cleaver in the other, grievously cursing and blaspheming, and swearing he would cut off the Preacher’s head. It was with difficulty that I restrained the troopers; especially them that were not of the society. When he came nearer, the Mayor stepped out of the congregation, and strove, by good words, to make him quiet; but he could not prevail: On which he went into his house, and returned with his white wand. At the same time he sent for two Constables, who presently came with their staves. He charged them not to strike the man, unless he struck first; but this he did immediately, as soon as they came within his reach, and wounded one of them in the wrist.
On this the other knocked him down, which he did three times before he would submit. The Mayor then walked before, the Constables on either hand, and conducted him to the gaol. Wed . 12. — In the evening I preached in the new House, at Cork, very near as large as that in Dublin; and far better finished in every respect, though at four hundred pounds less expense. Mon . 17. — Walking up the Red House Walk, (which runs between two rows of meadows, with the river winding through them, and a chain of fruitful hills on the right hand and on the left,) I saw the plain reason why strangers usually complain of the unwholesomeness of the water in Cork.
Many women were filling vessels with river water (which is that commonly used in the city for tea and most other purposes) when the tide was at the height. Now, although, this is not salt, yet it cannot but affect both the stomach and bowels of tender persons. Wed. 19. — I preached in the evening on, “Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness.” While I was speaking, a gentleman in the gallery cried out with a loud voice, and swore to it, “I am of the Church: I stand up for the Church: I will shed my blood for the Church.” But finding none to contradict him, he sat down, and I finished my discourse. Thur . 20. — One came in a great consternation to inform us, Captain F. (the gentleman who spoke) was raising a mob against the evening. This report spread up and down, and greatly increased the evening congregation. But no mob appeared, nor was there any disturbance, but such a blessing as we have seldom found: I suppose, in answer to the prayers of many, who had been earnestly crying unto God.
On Sunday last I was desired by one to call on her dying father, though she said he was speechless and senseless. But as soon as I spoke, he appeared sensible: while we prayed, he recovered his speech. The next day he was able to walk abroad, but continued deeply serious. On Friday, 21, his illness returned, and he lay down and died in peace. Mon . 24. — I preached in the market-place at Kinsale. Tues. 25. — I walked to the Fort. It commands the entrance of the harbor, and has three tier of guns, one over the other. It is built upon the firm rock; is of a large extent, and the upper part of a great height from the water. But all is out of repair; many of the cannon are dismounted; most of them unfit for service; so that many think a second rate man of war might take it in a few hours’ time.
At one I preached in the Exchange: Abundance of soldiers, and the Colonel, with several Officers, were present; so that I conceived some hopes that the seed sown even at Kinsale will not all be lost.
At five I preached in the market-house at Innishannon to a very large and well behaved congregation, and then went on to Bandon. Fri . 28. — I rode out with Mrs. Jones, as I did everyday, to save her life, if possible. From the hill we had a fair view of Castle Barnard, with the park adjoining; in which, a few years ago, Judge Barnard used to take such delight. Indeed, it is a beautiful place in every respect. The house is one of the most elegant I have seen in the kingdom, both as to the structure and the situation; standing on the side of a fruitful hill, and having a full command of the vale, the river, and the opposite mountain. The ground near the house is laid out with the finest taste, in gardens of every kind; with a wilderness, canals, fish-ponds, water works, and rows of trees in various forms. The park includes part of each hill, with the river between, running through the meadow and lawns, which are tufted over with trees of every kind, and every now and then a thicket or grove. The Judge finished his plan, called the land after his name, and dropped into the dust! Sun . 30. — I returned to Cork. About that time I received a letter from Mr. Gillies, part of which follows: — “THE Lord hath been pleased to inflict a heavy stroke upon us, by calling home his faithful servant, Mr. Wardrobe. Concerning his death, a Christian friend writes thus: — “‘May 7. Four in the morning. I am just come from witnessing the last sighs of one dear to you, to me, and to all that knew him. Mr. Wardrobe died last night. He was seized on Sabbath last, just as he was going to the kirk, with a most violent colic, which terminated in a mortification of his bowels. The circumstances of his death are worthy to be recorded. With what pleasure he received the message, and went off in all the triumph of a conqueror; crying out, My warfare is accomplished: I have fought the good fight: My victory is completed. Crowns of grace shall adorn this head, (taking off his cap,) and palms be put into these hands. Yet a little while, and I shall sing for ever. I know that my Redeemer liveth. — When he was within a few moments of his last, he gave me his hand, and a little after said, Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. Were I to repeat half what he spoke, I should write you three hours. It shall suffice at this time to say, that as he lived the life, so he died the death, of a Christian. We weep not for him; we weep for ourselves. I wish we may know how to improve this awful judgment, so as to be also ready, not knowing when our Lord cometh.’” Mr. Adams, Minister of Falkirk, writes thus: — “ON Friday night, about ten, I witnessed Mr. Wardrobe’s (of Bathgate) entrance into the joy of his Lord. But ah! who can help mourning the loss to the Church of Christ? His amiable character gave him a distinguished weight and influence; which his Lord had given him to value, only for its subserviency to His honor and glory. He was suddenly taken ill on the last Lord’s day, and from the first moment believed it was for death. I went to see him on Thursday evening, and heard some of the liveliest expressions of triumphant faith, zeal for the glory of Christ and the salvation of souls, mixed with the most amiable humility and modesty. ‘Yet a little while,’ said he, ‘and this mortal shall put on immortality. Mortality shall be swallowed up of life; this vile body fashioned like to his glorious body. O for the victory! I shall get the victory. I know in whom I have believed.’
Then, with a remarkably audible voice, lifting up his hands, he cried out, ‘O for a draught of the well of the water of life, that I may begin the song before I go off to the Church triumphant! I go forth in thy name, making mention of thy righteousness, even thine only. I die at the feet of mercy.’
Then, stretching out his arms, he put his hand upon his head, and with the most serene and steady, majestic eye I ever saw, looking upward, he said, ‘Crowns of grace, crowns of grace, and palms in their hands! O Lord God of truth, into thy hands I commend my spirit!’ After an unexpected revival, he said, ‘O, I fear his tarrying, lest the prospect become more dark.
I sometimes fear he may spare me to live, and be less faithful than he has helped me to be hitherto.’ He says to me, ‘You that are Ministers, bear a proper testimony against the professors of this age, who have a form of godliness without the power.’ Observing some of his people about his bed, he said, ‘May I have some seals among you! O where will the ungodly and sinners of Bathgate appear? Labor all to be in Christ.’ Then he stretched out his hand to several, and said, ‘Farewell, farewell, farewell!
And now, O Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in thee!’ Once or twice he said, ‘Let me be laid across the bed to expire, where I have sometimes prayed, and sometimes meditated with pleasure.’ He expressed his grateful sense of the assiduous care which Mr. Wardrobe, of Cult, had taken of him; and on his replying, ‘Too much could not be done for so valuable a life,’ he said, ‘O speak not so, or you will provoke God! Glory be to God, that I have ever had any regard paid me for Christ’s sake!’ I am greatly sunk under the event. O help me by your prayers, to get the proper submission and improvement!” Thur. June 3. — I received a remarkable letter from a Clergyman, with whom I had been a day or two before. Part of it ran thus: — “ I HAD the following account from the gentlewoman herself, a person of piety and veracity. She is now the wife of Mr. J—— B——, silversmith, in Cork:—— “‘About thirty years ago, I was addressed by way of marriage, by Mr. Richard Mercier, then a volunteer in the army. The young gentleman was quartered at that time in Charleville, where my father lived, who approved of his addresses, and directed me to look upon him as my future husband.
When the regiment left the town, he promised to return in two months, and marry me. From Charleville he went to Dublin; thence to his father’s, and from thence to England; where his father having bought him a Cornetcy of horse, he purchased many ornaments for the wedding; and, returning to Ireland, let us know that he would be at our house in Charleville in a few days. On this the family was busied to prepare for his reception, and the ensuing marriage; when one night, my sister Molly and I being asleep in our bed, I was awakened by the sudden opening of the side curtain, and, starting up, saw Mr. Mercier standing by the bed side. He was wrapped up in a loose sheet, and had a napkin folded like a night cap, on his head. He looked at me very earnestly, and, lifting up the napkin, which much shaded his face, showed me the left side of his head, all bloody and covered with his brains. The room meantime was quite light.
My terror was excessive, which was still increased by his stooping over the bed, and embracing me in his arms. My cries alarmed the whole family, who came crowding into the room. Upon their entrance he gently withdrew his arms, and ascended as it were through the ceiling. I continued for some time in strong fits. When I could speak, I told them what I had seen. One of them a day or two after, going to the post master for letters, found him reading the newspapers, in which was an account, that Cornet Mercier, going into Christ Church belfry in Dublin, just after the bells had been ringing, and standing under the bells, one of them, which was turned bottom upwards, suddenly turning again, struck one side of his head, and killed him on the spot. On further inquiry, we found he was struck on the left side of his head.’” Sun. 6. — I gave my last exhortation to the society in Cork, and setting out early on Monday, 7, in the evening came to Limerick. Sat . 12. — The account which one of our sisters gave of Ann Beauchamp was as follows: — August 18, 1753. I went to see Ann Beauchamp, who had been ill for about a week. I asked her in what state she found her soul. She answered, “I am quite happy. I know that my Redeemer liveth, and has taken away all my sins. And my heart is comforted with the presence of God: I long to die, that I may be with Him.” I asked, “But are you resigned, either to live or die, as he shall see fit?” She answered, “I cannot say I am willing to live:
Being asked, if she could freely part with all her friends, she said, “Yes:
And as to my children, I have cast them upon the Lord. I know he will take care of them; and I give them freely up to him, without one anxious thought.” She then prayed for her friends and acquaintance one by one, and afterwards, fervently and with tears, for each person in her band: Then for Mr. John Wesley, desiring she might be found at his feet in the day of the Lord.
Soon after she called her mother, desired forgiveness for any thing wherein she had ignorantly offended her, and exhorted her not to grieve; adding, “God will comfort you, and give you strength to bear your trial. It is your loss, but it is my everlasting gain; and I am going but a little before you.”
She then prayed over her, and, kissing her, took her leave. In the same manner she took leave of all about her, exhorting, praying for, and kissing them, one by one: Afterward she called for, and took her leave of, her servants.
Seeing one of her neighbors in the room, she called her, and said, “O Mary, you are old in years, and old in sin. The Lord has born long with you, and you know not the day or the hour when he will call you. I am young, and he is calling me away; and what should I do without an interest in Christ?
Was my work now to do, it would never be done: But, blessed be God, it is not. I know the Lord hath washed me from my sins in his own blood, and is preparing me for himself. O fly from the wrath to come, and never rest till you rest in the wounds of Jesus! I am almost spent: But had I strength, I could exhort you all till morning.”
To another she said, “‘Martha, Martha! thou art careful and troubled about many things; but one thing is needful;’ and this one thing you have neglected. O seek God, and he will supply all your wants. It is time for you to begin: Your glass is almost run; and what will all your toil profit when you come to be as I am now? Find time for this, whatever goes undone. My neighbors used to wonder how I could find time, and think me foolish for spending it so; but now I know it was not foolishness. Soon I shall receive an exceeding great reward. “Perhaps some of you will say you was never called. Then remember, I call you now. I exhort every one of you to ‘seek the Lord while he may be found.’ Think not to make excuses in that day: God will have his witnesses; and I shall appear as a witness against you. If you repent not, these my dying words will rise up in judgment against you.”
To her she said, “I forgive you all that you have done against me; and I have prayed the Lord to forgive you: return to him now, and he will receive you; for he desires not the death of a sinner. I am a witness of this; for he has forgiven all my sins. O! I want strength to sing his praise! But I am going where I shall sing his praise for ever.”
Then calling for her husband, she said, “My dear, God has given you many calls, even in dreams: And when we will not hear his call, it is often his way to make us feel his rod by removing our darling from us. I was your darling; and, seeing you refused the many calls of God, he is now taking me away from you, if, by any means, he may bring you to himself.”
She then prayed for, and took her leave of him.
The next day when I came in, and asked, “How do you find yourself now?” she answered, “Blessed be God, very well. I know that my Redeemer lives: He is dear to me, and I am dear to him: I know he is preparing me for himself, and I shall soon be with him.”
She then prayed earnestly for entire sanctification; till a friend coming in, she said, “The Lord has brought you, and all my dear friends, to my remembrance: I have not forgotten you in my prayers. You must come and pray my last prayer. When you see me near my deliverance, go all to prayer, and continue therein till my spirit is gone. Let there be no crying over me; but all of you sing praises and rejoice over me.”
She never once complained of her pain; but behaved from the beginning with that patience, sweetness, and love to all, that bespoke a soul which knew herself just entering into the joy of her Lord. Thus she died the next morning, August the 20th, after crying out as in ecstasy, — Bold I approach the’ eternal throne, And claim the crown through Christ my own . Wed . 16. — I rode over to Newmarket, and preached to an earnest congregation of poor people. In the morning, at the request of some of the neighboring Gentry, I deferred preaching till ten o’clock. Many of them were then present, and seemed not a little astonished: Perhaps they may remember it — a week.
In the afternoon I rode to Ballygarane, a town of Palatines, who came over in Queen Anne’s time. They retain much of the temper and manners of their own country, having no resemblance of those among whom they live.
Many of those who are not outwardly joined with us, walk in the light of God’s countenance; yea, and have divided themselves into classes, in imitation of our brethren with whom they live in perfect harmony. Fri. 18. — In examining the society I was obliged to pause, several times.
The words of the plain, honest people came with so much weight, as frequently to stop me for a while, and raise a general cry among the hearers. I rode back through Adair, once a strong and flourishing town, well walled, and full of people; now, without walls, and almost without inhabitants, only a few poor huts remain. At a small distance from these are the ample ruins of three or four convents, delightfully situated by the river, which runs through a most fruitful vale. Mon. 21. — I talked with one who was in deep distress. She had been represented to me as in despair; but I soon found her disorder (natural or preternatural) had nothing to do with religion. She was greatly troubled, but knew not why; not for her sins, they scarce came into her mind. I know not that prayer will avail for her, till she is troubled in quite another manner; till she cries out from her inmost soul, “God be merciful to me a sinner!” Tues . 22. — I called on Mrs. F, whom I saw some years since in despair of quite another kind. Between nine and ten years ago her daughter married without her consent: This was followed by other distressing circumstances, in the midst of which she cried out, “God has forsaken me.” She was immediately seized with violent pain: She could not see the sun, or the light, only a dim twilight: She could not taste her meat or drink, any more than the white of an egg: She had a constant impulse to kill herself, which she believed she must do; and attempted several times.
After having continued thus three years and a half, she resolved to endure it no longer; accordingly she procured a knife to cut her throat, and did cut through the skin, but could get no further; it seemed to her as if the flesh were iron; she threw down the knife, burst into tears, fell upon her knees, and began (what she had not done all the time) to pour out her soul before God. Fear and sorrow fled away: She rejoiced in God; she saw the light of the sun; her natural taste returned; and she has been ever since in health of body and peace of mind. Wed . 23. — I took my leave of Limerick, and rode to Six-Mile-Bridge.
There I left T. Walsh to preach in Irish, and went on to Rathlahine. Thur . 24. — I went on to Ennis, a town consisting almost wholly of Papists, except a few Protestant gentlemen. One of these (the chief person in the town) had invited me to his house, and walked with me to the Court-House, where I preached to a huge, wild, unawakened multitude, Protestants and Papists, many of whom would have been rude enough if they durst. Fri. 25. — Mr. Walsh preached at six, first in Irish and then in English.
The Papist Priest had contrived to have his Service just at the same hour; and his man came again and again with his bell, but not one in ten of his people would stir. At eight I preached to a far more serious congregation; and the word seemed to sink into their hearts.
We took horse about ten, and rode through the fruitful and pleasant county of Galway. After having heard so much of the barrenness of this county, I was surprised, in riding almost the whole length of it, from Southeast to Northwest, to find only four or five miles of rocky ground, like the West of Cornwall; all the rest exceeded most that I have seen in Ireland. We came to Galway pretty well tired, and would willingly have rested at the inn where we alighted from our horses; but the landlord informed us he had no room; both his house and stables were full. Two regiments of soldiers passing through the town had taken up all the inns:
However, we procured a private lodging, which was full as agreeable.
The town is old, and not ill built, most of the houses being, of stone, and several stories high. It is encompassed with an old, bad wall, and is in no posture of defense, either toward the land or toward the sea. Such is the supine negligence of both English and Irish!
Five or six persons, who seemed to fear God, came to us at our lodgings.
This day, likewise, I was agreeably surprised at the pleasantness and fruitfulness of the country. About noon two or three friends met us, and begged us to turn aside to Hollymount, a town twelve miles from Castlebar, where the Minister readily consented to my preaching in the church. Many Papists as well as Protestants were there, and my heart was much enlarged toward them. Through a delightful mixture of vales and gently rising hills, we then rode on to Castlebar. Sun . 27. — The Rector having left word that I should have the use of the church, I preached there morning and afternoon, to such a congregation as (they said) was never there before: And surely the word of God had free course; I saw not one light or inattentive hearer. Mr. Walsh afterward preached in the Sessions-House, to another large and serious congregation.
And, Tuesday, 29, being St. Peter’s day, I read Prayers and preached to as large a congregation as on Sunday. In the afternoon I rode over to Newport, eleven miles from Castlebar. About thirty years ago, a little company of Protestants settled here, by a river-side, on the very extremity of the land, and built a small town. It has a fruitful hill on each side, and a large bay to the West, full of small fertile islands, containing from one to several thousand acres. Of these they compute above three hundred, and near an hundred are inhabited; but by Papists alone, there not being so much as a single Protestant among them! I went directly to the Rector’s, who had before given me an invitation. Between seven and eight I preached to (I suppose) more than all the Protestants in the town. Deep attention sat on every face. Perhaps God touched some hearts. Wed. 30. — At eleven Mr. H. read Prayers, and I preached on Galatians 6:14. The church stands at a distance from the town, and it rained hard; but that could not stop the congregation. In the afternoon I returned to Castlebar. Thur. JULY 1. — There is just such a work here as was some years since at Athlone. The whole town is pleased, but few are convinced. The stream runs very wide, but very shallow. Sun. 4. — I read Prayers and preached at Ballyheen, Mr. E——’s other church. The congregation at Castlebar in the afternoon was larger than ever before. In the morning, Monday, 5, the greater half of them were present, and we had a solemn parting. In the afternoon we came to Hollymount, some years since one of the pleasantest places in Ireland. Dr. Vesey, then Archbishop of Tuam, fixed on this spot, nine miles from his See, built a neat commodious house on a little eminence, laid out fruit and flower gardens round it, brought a river to run through them, and encompassed the whole with walks and groves of stately trees. When he had finished his plan, round a stone pillar, which stands in a basin surrounded by a small green plat of ground, he placed the following inscription: — Linquenda tellus, et domus, et placens Uxor, cum numerosa et speciosa prole, Chara charae matris sobole:
Neque harum quas colis arborum Te praeter invisam cupressum Ulla brevem dominum sequetur!
I was just going to preach in the church yard, when Mr. C. sent his son with the key of the church. Almost half the congregation were Papists, whom all the threats of their Priest could not keep away. Not expecting to see any of them again, I spake very plain once for all.
In the morning we rode through Tuam, a neat little town, scarce half so large as Islington; nor is the cathedral half so large as Islington church. The old church at Kilconnel, two miles from Aghrim, is abundantly larger. If one may judge by the vast ruins that remain, (over all which we walked in the afternoon,) it was a far more stately pile of building, than any that is now standing in Ireland. Adjoining to it are the ruins of a large monastery; many of the cells and apartments are pretty entire. At the west end of the church lie abundance of skulls, piled one upon another, with innumerable bones round about, scattered as dung upon the earth. O sin, what hast thou done! Wed . 7. — I preached at Aghrim morning and evening, and then rode over to Castlebar. Mr. M. has now lost both his brother and his two daughters, two of the most agreeable women in the kingdom, caught away in the full bloom of youth and beauty: If they can be termed lost, who all committed their souls unto Him they loved, in the full triumph of faith. Thur. 8. — A coach full of us, with several horsemen, and others on foot, went to Ahaskra in the morning. The rest of the congregation were mostly Papists. But all heard with earnest attention. I preached in the evening at Athlone, where, on Friday, 9, we had a solemn watch-night. Sun. 11. — We had a blessed opportunity in the evening on the Connaught side of the river. Almost all the Protestants in the town were present, with abundance of Papists. And many of them acknowledged the doctrine of Christ crucified to he “the power of God and the wisdom of God.” Mon . 12. — After preaching at Abidarrig about noon, I went on to Longford. Many supposed the mob would be too violent there to allow me a peaceable hearing. I began at five in the yard of the old barrack. An huge crowd soon flocked in; but most of the Papists stood at the gate, or just without the wall. They were all still as night; nor did I hear an uncivil word while we afterwards walked from one end of the town to the other. Tues . 13. — A large congregation was present at five, and stood unmoved, notwithstanding some heavy showers. At noon I preached at Cleg-Hill; at five in the barrack yard again, where the concourse of people was greater than before. Mr. P., the Minister of a neighboring parish, and another Clergyman who came with him, received the truth in love: Mrs. P. (his wife) found rest to her soul.
But how is it, that almost in every place, even where there is no lasting fruit, there is so great an impression made at first upon a considerable number of people? The fact is this: — Everywhere the work of God rises higher and higher, till it comes to a point. Here it seems for a short time to be at a stay. And then it gradually sinks again.
All this may easily be accounted for. At first curiosity brings many hearers: At the same time God draws many by his preventing grace to hear his word, and comforts them in hearing. One then tells another. By this means, on the one hand, curiosity spreads and increases, and, on the other, drawings of God’s Spirit touch more hearts; and many of them more powerfully than before. He now offers grace to all that hear; most of whom are in some measure afflicted, and more or less moved, with approbation of what they hear, desire to please God, and goodwill to his messenger: These principles, variously combined and increasing, raise the general work to its highest point. But it cannot stand here; for in the nature of things, curiosity must soon decline. Again, the drawings of God are not followed; and thereby the Spirit of God is grieved. The consequence is, he strives with this and this man no more, and so his drawings end. Thus both the natural and supernatural power declining, most of the hearers will be less and less afflicted. Add to this, that in the process of the work, “it must be, that offenses will come.” Some of the hearers, if not Preachers also, will act contrary to their profession. Either their follies or faults will be told from one to another, and lose nothing in the telling. Men once curious to hear, will now draw back: Men once drawn, having stifled their good desires, will disapprove what they approved before, and feel dislike, instead of goodwill, to the Preacher. Others, who were more or less convinced, will be afraid or ashamed to acknowledge that conviction. And all these will catch at ill stories, (true or false,) in order to justify their change. When, by this means, all who do not savingly believe, have quenched the Spirit of God, the little flock goes on from faith to faith; the rest sleep on and take their rest. And thus the number of hearers in every place may be expected first to increase, and then decrease. Wed . 14. — At noon I preached at Coolylough, where the Preachers and Stewards met. Thur. 15. — In the evening I preached at Tullamore, in Barrack-Street; and many who never had so much curiosity as to walk an hundred yards to hear the preaching, vouchsafed to hear it at their own doors. In the middle of the sermon came a Quarter-Master, very drunk, and rushed in among the people. In a short time he slipped off his hat, and gave all the attention of which he was capable. So did many of the soldiers, and many officers.
O let some lay it to heart! Fri. 16. — We walked down to Lord Tullamore’s, (that was his title then,) an old mile from the town. His gardens are extremely pleasant. They contain groves, little meadows, kitchen gardens, plats of flowers, and little orchards, intermixed with fine canals and pieces of water. And will not all these make their owner happy? Not if he has one unholy temper! Not unless he has in himself a fountain of water, springing up into everlasting life.
About this time I received a letter without a name, part of which I have subjoined: — “SIR, “HAVING observed your Christian condescension in those labors of love, so truly calculated for the use of common people, I presume to beg your pen in behalf of the next class of God’s creatures. And I would ask, if nature, reason, and Revelation do not all plead in favor even of the brute creation. Is it not unnatural and inhuman, to put them to more pain than is necessary for the service of man? Can reason consent to the making sport with the life or misery of any creature? May not the great law of equity, doing as we would be done to, be extended even to them? May we not suppose ourselves in their place, and thence determine, what they may fairly expect from us? Hath not the Supreme Being given injunctions against cruelty toward them, and commanded that they should enjoy the rest of his day? Did he not rebuke the Prophet for smiting his beast without cause; and mention the ‘much cattle,’ as one motive to the divine compassion, in sparing the ‘great city?’ The Scripture saith, ‘A good man is merciful to his beast.’ And can he be a good man, that is not so, if goodness consists in imitating Him, whose ‘mercy is over all his works?’
For ‘he openeth his hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing.’ “If tenderness, mercy, and compassion to the brute creatures were impressed on the infant breast, and conducted into action according to its little power, would it not be confirmed in the human heart? And might not this early prepossession be for ever established there; and through an happy bias extend its benevolence to the whole creation? “Does not experience show the sad effects of a contrary education? While children, instead of being taught benevolence to irrationals, are suffered to torment first poor little insects, and then every helpless creature that comes in their way, can it be expected, that, being thus inured to cruelty and oppression even in their tender years, they should relent when they come to age, and be susceptible of compassion even to rationales? It cannot. For is pity shown to man, only because he has reason? If so, those would lose their claim to our compassion who stand in the greatest need of it; namely, children, idiots, and lunatics. But if pity is shown to all that are capable of pain, then may it justly be expected that we should sympathize with every thing that has life. “I am persuaded you are not insensible of the pain given to every Christian, every humane heart, by those savage diversions, bull baiting, cock fighting, horse racing, and hunting. Can any of these irrational and unnatural sports appear otherwise than cruel, unless through early prejudice, or entire want of consideration and reflection? And if man is void of these, does he deserve the name of man? Or is he fit for society?
And, besides, how dreadful are the concomitant and the consequent vices of these savage routs! Yet such cowards are we grown, that scarce any man has courage to draw his pen against them!” Sat . 17. — I preached in Tyrrel’s Pass at five, and T. Walsh at eight.
Hence we rode to Ballybeg, near Drumeree, where we found a little company of earnest people, most of them rejoicing in the love of God. To these were added a few from the county of Cavan. Joseph Charles going thither some time since, on temporal business, occasionally spoke of the things of God. Many believed his report; and some found his words “the power of God unto salvation.” Sun . 18. — A little before twelve (the usual hour in Ireland) the Morning Service began at Rosmead church, where Mr. Booker preached an useful sermon. I preached at five to abundance of plain country people, and two coaches full of Gentry. O how hard is it for these to enter into the kingdom of heaven! Mon . 19. — No sooner did we enter Ulster than we observed the difference. The ground was cultivated just as in England; and the cottages not only neat, but with doors, chimneys, and windows. Newry, the first town we came to, (allowing for the size,) is built much after the manner of Liverpool. I preached soon after seven to a large congregation, and to great part of them at five in the morning. Afterwards I spoke to the members of the society, consisting of Churchmen, Dissenters, and Papists that were.
But there is no striving among them, unless to “enter in at the strait gate.” Wed . 21. — In the morning there was such violent lightning, thunder, and rain, that the very beasts ran out of the fields, and the birds flew from their usual coverts, to take shelter in the houses. But before we took horse the sky cleared up, and we had a pleasant ride to Terryhugan, near Scarva. The road lay on the edge of a smooth canal, with fruitful, gently rising hills on either side. We were at a lone house; but the people found their way thither in the evening from all quarters. I preached in a meadow near the house, the congregation sitting on the grass. And surely they had ears to hear. God give them hearts to understand! Thur. 22. — We rode through heavy rain to Lisburn. I preached in the market-house at seven. One man only gain sayed; but the bystanders used him so roughly, that he was soon glad to hold his peace. Fri . 23. — The Rector, with his Curate, called upon me; candidly proposed their objections, and spent about two hours in free, serious, friendly, conversation. How much evil might be prevented or removed, would other Clergymen follow their example!
I rode in the afternoon to Belfast, the largest town in Ulster. Some think it contains near as many people as Limerick: It is far cleaner and pleasanter.
At seven I preached in the market-house to as large a congregation as at Lisburn; and to near the same number in the morning. But some of them did not stay till I concluded. They went away in haste when I showed, how “Christ crucified” is “to the Greeks foolishness.”
Hence we rode along the shore to Carrickfergus, said to be the most ancient town in Ulster. The walls are still, as it were, standing; and the castle built upon a rock. But it is little more than a heap of ruins, with eight or nine old dismounted, rusty cannon. What it was in the reign of its founder, King Fergus, does not much concern us to know.
I preached in the Session-House at seven, to most of the inhabitants of the town. But Satan had prepared one of his instruments, when I had done, to catch the seed out of their hearts. A poor enthusiast began a dull, pointless harangue, about hirelings and false prophets. But the door keeper crying out, “I am going to lock the doors,” cut his discourse short. Sun. 25. — I preached at nine in the upper Court-House, which was considerably larger than the other. James Rely began his bad work again, as soon as I had done speaking; but I walked quietly away; as did also the congregation.
At eleven I went to church, to the surprise of many, and heard a lively, useful sermon. After dinner one of our brethren asked if I was ready to go to the meeting. I told him, “I never go to a meeting.” He seemed as much astonished as the old Scot, at Newcastle, who left us because we were mere Church of England men. We are so; although we condemn none who have been brought up in another way.
About five, even the larger Court-House being too small to contain the congregation, I the more readily complied with the desire of the prisoners, to preach in the street, near the prison door. I spoke as plain and as home as ever in my life, on, “Ye must be born again.” Poor James was now resolved to speak, and got on a little eminence on purpose. And what could hinder him? Why, Vox faucibus haesit He cawed and cawed, but could utter nothing, hardly three words together.
This also hath God wrought: He hath stopped the mouth of the gainsayer, and preserved the weak from being offended. Mon. 26. — Mr. Walsh met me at Belfast, and informed me that the day before he was at Newtown, intending to preach: But while he was at prayer, Mr. M——r came with a drunken mob, seized him by the throat, and dragged him along, till a stout man seized him, and constrained him to quit his hold. Mr. W. having refreshed himself at a friend’s house, began a second time. But in a quarter of an hour, Mr. M., having rallied his mob, came again: On which Mr. W. gave him the ground, and walked away over the fields.
In the evening I spoke very plain at Lisburn, both to the great vulgar and the small. But between Seceders, old self conceited Presbyterians, New-Light men, Moravians, Cameronians, and formal Churchmen, it is a miracle of miracles if any here bring forth fruit to perfection.
The country between Lisburn and Moira is much like Berkshire, having fruitful vales in each side of the road, and well wooded hills running even with them, at a small distance. At seven I preached in the market-house at Lurgan. Many of the Gentry were met at the room over it, it being the time of the assembly. The violins were just tuning; but they ceased till I had done; and the novelty at least drew and fixed the attention of the whole company. Wed. 28. — I read Mr. Barton’s ingenious “Lectures on Lough Neagh,” near Lurgan, which turns wood into stone, and cures the King’s evil, and most cutaneous distempers. Under part of this lake there is first a stratum of firm clay, and under that a stratum of trees four foot thick, all compacted into one mass, doubtless by the pressure of the incumbent earth, (perhaps water too,) which it has probably sustained ever since the General Deluge.
In the evening we had the largest congregation which I have seen since we left Cork. It was almost as large at five in the morning. Why should we despair of doing good at Lurgan also? Thur . 29. — I preached at Newry, and the three following days. On Monday, AUGUST 2, I returned to Rosmead. Tues . 3. — We rode to Tullamore through heavy rain, which a strong wind drove full in our face. The only wild Irish whom I have seen yet, a knot of Officers, were present at the preaching in the evening, and behaved tolerably well. Wed . 4. — I preached at Portarlington in the evening, and was going to take horse in the morning, when a gentleman came, and said he was just setting out for Dublin, and would be glad of my company in his chariot. I accompanied him to Johnstown, where we dined; and then took horse and rode on to Dublin. Fri. 6. — On this and the next day I finished my business in Ireland, so as to be ready to sail at an hour’s warning. Sun. 8. — We were to sail, the wind being fair; but as we were going aboard, it turned full east. I find it of great use to be in suspense: It is an excellent means of breaking our will. May we be ready either to stay longer on this shore, or to launch into eternity!
On Tuesday evening I preached my farewell sermon. Mr. Walsh did the same in the morning. We then walked to the quay: But it was still a doubt whether we were to sail or no; Sir T. P. having sent word to the Captain of the packet, that if the wind was fair, he would go over; and it being his custom (hominis magnificentiam!) 14 to keep the whole ship to himself.
But the wind coming to the East, he would not go: So about noon we went on board. In two or three hours we reached the mouth of the harbor. It then fell calm. We had five cabin passengers, beside Mr. Walsh, Haughton, Morgan, and me. They were all civil and tolerably serious: The sailors likewise behaved uncommonly well. Thur. 12. — About eight we began singing on the quarter deck; which soon drew all our fellow passengers, as well as the Captain, with the greatest part of his men. I afterwards gave an exhortation. We then spent some time in prayer. They all kneeled down with us: Nor did their seriousness wear off all the day. About nine we landed at Holyhead, after a pleasant passage of twenty three hours. Fri . 13. — Having hired horses for Chester, we set out about seven.
Before one we reached Bangor, the situation of which is delightful beyond expression. Here we saw a large and handsome cathedral, but no trace of the good old Monks of Bangor; so many hundreds of whom fell a sacrifice at once to cruelty and revenge. The country from hence to Penmaen Mawr is far pleasanter than any garden. Mountains of every shape any size, vales clothed with grass or corn, woods and smaller tufts of trees, were continually varying on the one hand, as was the sea prospect on the other.
Penmaen Mawr itself rises almost perpendicular to an enormous height from the sea. The road runs along the side of it, so far above the beach, that one could not venture to look down, but that there is a wall built all along, about four foot high. Meantime, the ragged cliff hangs over one’s head, as if it would fall every moment. An hour after we had left this awful place, we came to the ancient town of Conway. It is walled round; and the walls are in tolerably good repair. The castle is the noblest ruin I ever saw.
It is four square, and has four large round towers, one at each corner, the inside of which have been stately apartments. One side of the castle is a large church, the windows and arches of which have been curiously wrought. An arm of the sea runs round two sides of the hill on which the castle stands; — once the delight of Kings, now overgrown with thorns, and inhabited by doleful birds only.
About eight we reached Place-Bagh, where, as soon as I named my name, William Roberts received us with all gladness. But neither he nor any of his family could speak one sentence of English: Yet our guide helped us out pretty well. After supper we sung and went to prayers. Though they could not speak it, most of them understood English: And God spoke to their hearts. Sat . 14. — Several of the neighbors came early in the morning, and gladly received a few words of exhortation. We then rode on, through one of the pleasantest countries in the world, by Holywell to Chester. Here we had a comfortable meeting in the evening, as well as the next day, both in the Room and in the Square. Mon . 16. — The rain was suspended, while I preached to a large and quiet congregation. Tues. 17. — I rode to Bolton. Though I came unexpected, the House was well filled. After resting a day, on Thursday, 19, I went on to Manchester, and preached in the evening to a large congregation, without the least disturbance. The tumults here are now at an end; chiefly through the courage and activity of a single Constable. Fri . 20. — I rode to Chelmorton in the Peak. Although the poor people had no previous notice, they supplied the want of it by sending quickly to the neighboring villages. Between seven and eight the house was pretty well filled; and many of them were extremely thankful. Sat. 21. — We set out early; and, after spending an hour at Ashbourn, hastened on to Lichfield: But it was not without difficulty; the waters being out to a very uncommon degree, in many places. About eight we reached Wednesbury, tired enough. There we stayed the next day. Mon. 23. — We rode forward to Redditch. It had rained all the way, so that Mr. Walsh was obliged to go to bed as soon as we came in. Having dried some of our clothes, Mr. Bruce and I took horse again about two; having one with us who knew the byroads, the common road being unpassable through the floods. About five we came to a broad water, which our guide did not care to pass. Mr. Bruce, seeing a footbridge, walked over it, leading his horse by a long reign through the water: But in an instant the horse disappeared. However, he soon emerged and gained the bank. I rode through, at a small distance, very safely; and in the evening preached at Evesham. Tues . 24. — Finding we could not ride the usual way, we procured another guide, and rode by Andover-Ford to Stroud. Mr. Jones and my brother met us here. Wed . 25. — We rode on to Bristol. Thur . 26. — About fifty of us being met, the Rules of the Society were read over, and carefully considered one by one: But we did not find any that could be spared. So we all agreed to abide by them all, and to recommend them with our might.
We then largely considered the necessity of keeping in the Church, and using the Clergy with tenderness; and there was no dissenting voice. God gave us all to be of one mind and of one judgment. Fri. 27. — The Rules of the Bands were read over and considered, one by one; which, after some verbal alterations, we all agreed to observe and enforce. Sat. 28. — The Rules of Kingswood School were read and considered, one by one; and we were all convinced they were agreeable to Scripture and reason: In consequence of which it was agreed, — 1. That a short account of the design and present state of the School be read by every Assistant in every society: And, 2. That a subscription for it be begun in every place, and (if need be) a collection made every year.
My brother and I closed the Conference by a solemn declaration of our purpose never to separate from the Church; and all our brethren concurred therein.
For a few days I was laid up with a flux; but on Sunday, SEPTEMBER 5, I crept out again, and preached at Kingswood in the morning, and Stokes-Croft in the afternoon. Mon. 6. — I set out in the machine, and on Tuesday evening came to London. Wednesday, and Thursday, I settled my temporal business. It is now about eighteen years since I began writing and printing books; and how much in that time have I gained by printing? Why, on summing up my accounts, I found that on March 1,1756, (the day I left London last,) I had gained by printing and preaching together, a debt of twelve hundred and thirty-six pounds. Fri. 10. — I preached at a famous place, commonly called, “The Bull-and-Mouth Meeting;” which had belonged, I suppose, near an hundred years, to the people called Quakers. As much of real religion as was ever preached there, I trust will be preached there still; and perhaps in a more rational, scriptural, and intelligible manner. Sat. 11. — I read over Mr. Fry’s “Case of Marriage between Near Relations, Considered.” It is the best tract I ever read upon the subject: I suppose the best that is extant. And two points, I think, he has fully proved: l. That many marriages, commonly supposed to be unlawful, are neither contrary to the law of nature, nor the revealed law of God, nor the law of the land; 2. That Ecclesiastical Courts have no right to meddle with any case of this kind. Thur. 16. — I walked over to Bishop Bonner’s, and preached to a large and serious congregation. I found some faintness, the sun being extremely hot; but more in walking from thence to Westminster, where I preached at seven. In the night my old disorder returned, and gradually increased, in spite of all medicines. However, on Sunday and Monday it was so far suspended, that I abated nothing of my usual employment. Wed. 22. — I was considering, I had not yet asked help of the great Physician; and I resolved to delay no longer. In that hour I felt a change. I slept sound that night, and was well the next day. Sun. OCTOBER 3. — My disorder returned as violent as ever: But I regarded it not while I was performing the Service at Snowsfields in the morning, or afterward at Spitalfields; till I went to the Lord’s Table in order to administer. A thought then came into my mind, “Why do I not apply to God in the beginning, rather than the end, of an illness?” I did so, and found immediate relief; so that I needed no farther medicines. Tues . 5. — I wrote a second letter to the authors of the “Monthly Review;” — ingenious men, but no friends to the Godhead of Christ. Yet, upon farther consideration, I judged it best to drop the controversy. It is enough that I have delivered my own soul: If they scorn, they alone shall bear it. Sun. 10. — I preached to an huge multitude in Moorfields, on, “Why will ye die, O house of Israel?” It is field preaching which does the execution still: For usefulness there is none comparable to it. Mon. 11. — I went to Leigh. Where we dined, a poor woman came to the door with two little children. They seemed to be half starved, as well as their mother, who was also shivering with an ague. She was extremely thankful for a little food, and still more so for a few pills, which seldom fail to cure that disorder.
In this little journey I read over a curiosity indeed, — a French heroic poem, Voltaire’s “Henriade.” He is a very lively writer, of a fine imagination; and allowed, I suppose, by ail competent judges, to be a perfect master of the French language: And by him I was more than ever convinced, that the French is the poorest, meanest language in Europe; that it is no more comparable to the German or Spanish, than a bagpipe is to an organ; and that, with regard to poetry in particular, considering the incorrigible uncouthness of their measure, and their always writing in rhyme, (to say nothing of their vile double rhymes, nay, and frequent false rhymes,) it is as impossible to write a fine poem in French, as to make fine music upon a Jew’s harp. Sat. 16. — I baptized Hannah C——, late a Quaker. God, as usual, bore witness to his ordinance. A solemn awe spread over the whole congregation, and many could not refrain from tears. Wed. 20. — I received the following letter: — “REV.SIR, “THE glory of God and the good of mankind are the motives that induce me to write the following. “As it is our duty to do all we can to make all around us happy, I think there is one thing that may be done to promote so blessed an end, which will at the same time be very advantageous to them that practice it; namely, to efface all the obscene words which are written on houses, doors, or walls, by evil minded men. This which I recommend to others, I constantly practice myself; and if ever I omit doing it, I am severely checked, unless I can produce some good reason for that omission. I do it with a sponge, which for that purpose I carry in my pocket. The advantages I reap from hence are, 1. Peace of conscience in doing my duty. 2. It helps me to conquer the fear of man, which is one of my greatest trials. 3. It is matter of joy, that I can do any the least service to any one: And as all persons, especially the young, are liable to temptations to impurity, I cannot do too much to remove such temptations, either from myself or others.
Perhaps, too, when the unhappy writers pass by, and see their bad labors soon effaced, they may be discouraged from pursuing so shameful a work; yea, and brought to a better mind. “Perhaps in some places it might not be amiss, in the room of what is effaced, to write some serious sentence, or short text of Scripture: And wherever we do this, would it not be well to lift up our heart to God, in behalf of those sinners, in this or the like manner; ‘Lord, lay not this sin to their charge! Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do!’” Mon. 25. — I began reading that excellent book, “The Gospel Glass,” to the morning congregation; a method which I find more profitable for “instruction in righteousness,” than any other manner of preaching. Tues . 26. — I began reading over, with the Preachers that were in town, Mr. Pike’s Philosophia Sacra. It contains the marrow of Mr. Hutchinson’s philosophy clearly and modestly proposed; but upon a close examination, I found the proofs were grievously defective. I shall never receive Mr. Hutchinson’s creed, unless ipse dixit pass for evidence. Sat. 30. — I yielded to importunity, and spent an hour with poor Mr. V— —, who was awakened and found peace in attending our preaching, and soon after turned Quaker. I did wonder at it once, but I do not now. One so full of himself might turn Papist or Mahometan. Monday, NOVEMBER 1, was a day of triumphant joy, as All-Saints’ Day generally is. How superstitious are they who scruple giving God solemn thanks for the lives and deaths of his saints! Tues . 9. — Having procured an apparatus on purpose, I ordered several persons to be electrified, who were ill of various disorders; some of whom found an immediate, some a gradual, cure. From this time I appointed, first some hours in every week, and afterward an hour in everyday, wherein any that desired it, might try the virtue of this surprising medicine. Two or three years after, our patients were so numerous that we were obliged to divide them: So part were electrified in Southwark, part at the Foundery, others near St. Paul’s, and the rest near the Seven-Dials: The same method we have taken ever since; and to this day, while hundreds, perhaps thousands, have received unspeakable good, I have not known one man, woman, or child, who has received any hurt thereby: So that when I hear any talk of the danger of being electrified, (especially if they are medical men who talk so,) I cannot but impute it to great want either of sense or honesty. Fri . 12. — I read over Leusden’s “Dissertation in Defense of the Hebrew Points,” and was fully convinced, there is at least as much to be said on this as on the other side of the question. But how is it that men are so positive on both sides while demonstration is to be had on neither?
Certainly to be peremptory and dogmatical can never be so inexcusable as in a point so doubtful as this. Mon . 22. — I read with the Preachers this week the Glasgow “Abridgment of Mr. Hutchinson’s Works;” wherein the abridgers have expressed, with surprising exactness, not only his sense, but his very spirit: But in truth, I cannot admire either; nay, I admire his hypothesis less and less, as I see the whole is unsupported by Scripture: Very ingenious, but quite precarious. Wed. DECEMBER 1. — One or two remarkable letters were put into my hands: Part of the first ran thus: — “BLESSED be God, who desireth not the death of a sinner! It pleased him not to cut off my son in his sins. He gave him time to repent; and not only so, but a heart to repent. He showed him his lost estate by nature, and that unless he was reconciled to God by his Son, and washed in his blood from all his sins, he could never be saved. After he was condemned at York for a robbery on the highway, I attended him in the condemned room; and, blessed be God, he enabled me to preach the everlasting Gospel to him. It was on Saturday he was condemned. It was on the Saturday following the Lord touched his heart. He then began to wrestle with God in prayer, and left not off till Sunday in the afternoon, when God, who is rich in mercy, applied the blood of his Son, and convinced him, he had forgiven him all his sins. He felt his soul at peace with God, and longed to depart and to be with Christ. The following week his peace increased daily, till on Saturday, the day he was to die, he came out of the condemned room clothed in his shroud, and went into the cart. As he went on, the cheerfulness and composure of his countenance were amazing to all the spectators. At the place of execution, after he had spent some time in prayer, he rose up, took a cheerful leave of his friends, and said, ‘Glory be to God for free grace!’ His last words were, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my soul.’” Part of the other letter, wrote by himself to his wife, was as follows — “MY DEAR, “RIGHTEOUS is the Lord, and just are his judgments! His hand of justice cuts my life short, but his hand of mercy saves my soul. You, for one, are a witness of the course of life I led. Were it in my power, I should gladly make amends to you and every one else that I have wronged. But, seeing it is not, I hope that God and you, and every one else, will accept of my willing mind. In a few hours I shall be delivered out of this miserable world. But, glory be to God, he has given repentance and remission of sins to me, the worst of sinners: He has taken away the sting of death, and I am prepared to meet my God. Let my example encourage every sinner to forsake sin, and come unto God through Jesus Christ. As a dying man I give you this advice: — Give yourself wholly up to God. Pray to Him, and never rest till yon have secured an interest in the blood of Christ. Live in his fear, and you (as well as I) shall die in his favor. So no more from “Your dying husband, “York Castle, Aug . 20.RICHARD VARLEY.” Mon. 6. — I began reading to our Preachers the late Bishop of Cork’s excellent “Treatise on Human Understanding;” in most points far clearer and more judicious than Mr. Locke’s, as well as designed to advance a better cause. Fri . 10. — A person who was dying of a cancer in her breast, and deeply convinced of sin, sent a post chaise, in which I went to her at Epsom. I left her on Saturday morning in strong hope she should not go hence till her eyes had seen His salvation.
In my fragments of time, in the following week, I read Mr. Hanway’s accurate “History of Shah Nadir, commonly called Kouli Khan:” A scourge of God indeed! A prodigy of valor and conduct, but an unparalleled monster of rapine and cruelty. Alexander the Great, yea, Nero, or Domitian, was an innocent in comparison of him. Sun . 26. — I buried the remains of Joseph Yarner, an Israelite indeed. The peace which filled his heart during his last hours, gave such a bloom to his very countenance, as remained after death, to the surprise of all who remembered the cloud that used to hang upon it. Mon. JANUARY 3, 1757. — I visited a poor dying backslider full of good resolutions. But who can tell when these imply a real change of heart? And when they do not, when they spring from fear only, what will they avail before God? Mon. 10. — I walked to Bishop Bonner’s with Mr. D——, lately entered at Cambridge, full of good resolutions. May God continue him humble and simple of heart! Then his sense and learning, will do him good: But how great are the odds against him! Sat . 22. — I called upon one who did run well for several years: But for a considerable time he had cast of the very form of religion. Yet his heart was not utterly hardened. He determined to set out once more; and since that time he has been more confirmed in walking suitably to the Gospel. Fri . 28. — Mr. Meier, Chaplain to one of the Hanoverian regiments, called and spent an hour with me. I am surprised at the seriousness of all the German Ministers with whom I have had occasion to converse: Entirely different from that pertness and affectation of wit which is too common in our own country.
The following letter (which I received two or three months after) was dated on this day: — “THOUGH YOU and I may differ in some little things, I have long loved you and your brother, and wished and prayed for your success, as zealous revivers of experimental Christianity. If I differ from you in temper and design, or in the essentials of religion, I am sure the error must lie on my side. Blessed be God for hearts to love one another! “As I knew your correspondence must be very extensive, and your labors various and incessant, I intended to have kept my peculiar love for you a secret, till we arrived where seas shall no more roll between us. But your late pious charity constrains me to give you the trouble of a letter. I am confident God will attend it with his blessing, and render you useful at the distance of near four thousand miles. “How great is the honor God has conferred upon you, in making you a restorer of declining religion! And after struggling through so much opposition, and standing almost single, with what pleasure must you behold so many raised up, zealous in the same cause, though perhaps not ranked under the same name, nor openly connected with you! “I am endeavoring, in my poor manner, to promote the same cause in this part of our guilty globe. My success is not equal to my wishes; but it vastly surpasses both my deserts and my expectation. I have baptized near an hundred and fifty adult Negroes, of whom about sixty are communicants. Unpolished as they are, I find some of them have the art to dissemble. But, blessed be God, the generality of them, as far as I can learn, are real Christians. And I have no doubt, but sundry of them are genuine children of Abraham. Among them, in the first place, and then among the poor white people, I have distributed the books you sent me. “I desire you to communicate this to your brother, as equally intended for him. And let me and my congregation, particularly my poor Negro converts, be favored with your prayers. In return for which, I hope neither you nor your cause will be forgotten by, “Reverend Sir, “Your affectionate fellow laborer, and obliged servant, “Hanover, (in Viryinia,) “SAMUEL DAVIES. “Jan. 28, 1757.” Sun . 30. — Knowing God was able to strengthen me for his own work, I officiated at Snowsfields as usual, before I went to West Street, where the Service took me up between four and five hours. I preached in the evening, and met the society; and my strength was as my day. I felt no more weariness at night, than at eight in the morning. Sun. FEBRUARY 6. — The number of communicants at Spitalfields made this Lord’s Day a little more laborious than the former. But God added proportionally to my strength; so I felt no difference. Thur. 10. — At the request of the author, I took some pains in correcting an ingenious book, shortly to be published. But the more I consider them, the more I doubt of all systems of astronomy. I doubt whether we can certainly know either the distance or magnitude of any star in the firmament. Else why do astronomers so immensely differ, even with regard to the distance of the sun from the earth? Some affirming it to be only three, others ninety, millions of miles!
About this time the following note was given into my hand at Wapping: — “JOHN WHITE, master at arms, aboard His Majesty’s ship Tartar, now at Plymouth, desires to return Almighty God thanks, for himself and all the ship’s company, for their preservation in four different engagements they have had with four privateers which they have taken; particularly the last, wherein the enemy first boarded them. They cleared the deck, boarded in their turn, and took the ship, thirty of the enemy being killed, and fifty more wounded. Only two of our crew were wounded, who, it is hoped, will recover.” Wed . 16. — Calling on a friend, I found him just seized with all the symptoms of a pleurisy. I advised him to apply a brimstone plaster, and in a few hours he was perfectly well. Now, to what end should this patient have taken a heap of drugs, and lost twenty ounces of blood? To what end? Why, to oblige the Doctor and Apothecary. Enough! Reason good! Tues . 22. — I preached at Deptford. Even this wilderness does at length “blossom and bud as the rose.” Never was there such life in this little flock before, nor such an increase in the number of hearers.
The following letter was wrote on Saturday, 28: — “REVEREND AND DEAR SIR, “WHEN I was at Freshford, on January 30, in the morning I scrupled singing those words, — Ye now afflicted are, And hated for his name, And in your bodies bear The tokens of the Lamb .
I thought I was not afflicted or hated for the name of Christ. But this scruple was soon removed. For at Bradford, in the evening, I was pressed for a soldier, and carried to an inn, where the gentlemen were. Mr. Pearse, hearing of it, came and offered bail for my appearance the next day. They said they would take his word for ten thousand pounds; but not for me; I must go to the Round house: (The little stone room on the side of the bridge:) So thither I was conveyed by five soldiers. There I found nothing to sit on but a stone, and nothing to lie on but a little straw. But soon after a friend sent me a chair, on which I sat all night. I had a double guard, twelve soldiers in all: two without one in the door and the rest within. I passed the night without sleep, but not without rest; for, blessed be God, my peace was not broken a moment. My body was in prison, but I was Christ’s freeman; my soul was at liberty. And even there I found some work to do for God: I had fair opportunity of speaking to them who durst not leave me. And I hope it was not in vain. “In the morning I had leave to go to a private house with only one soldier to guard me. About three in the afternoon I was carried before the Commissioners, and part of the Act read, which empowered them to take such able bodied men as followed no business, and had no lawful or sufficient maintenance. Then I said, ‘If these are the men you are to take, I am not a proper person; for I do follow a lawful calling in partnership with my brother, and have also an estate.’ The Justice said, ‘If you will make oath of that, I think we must let you go.’ But the Commissioner said, no man could swear for himself. I said, ‘Gentlemen, give me time, and you shall have full proof.’ After a long debate, they took a fifty pound bond for my appearance on that day three weeks. All the time I could bless God, that he counted me worthy to suffer for his name’s sake. “The next day I set out for Cornwall. I tarried at home four days, and then setting out with my brother James, came to Bradford last Saturday. On Monday, in the afternoon, I appeared before the Commissioners, with the writings of my estate. When the Justice had perused them, and my brother had taken his oath, I was set at liberty. So the fierceness of man turns to God’s praise, and all this is for the furtherance of the Gospel. I hope you will return God thanks for my deliverance out of the hands of unreasonable and wicked men. “WILLIAM HITCHENS” Sun . 27. — After the Service at Snowsfields, I found myself much weaker than usual, and feared I should not be able to through the work of the day, which is equal to preaching eight times. I therefore prayed that God would send me help; and as soon as I had done preaching at West-Street, a Clergyman, who was come to town for a few days, came and offered me his service. So when I asked for strength, God gave me strength; when for help, he gave this also.
I had been long desired to see the little flock at Norwich; but this I could not decently do, till I was able to rebuild part of the Foundery there, to which I was engaged by my lease. A sum sufficient for that end was now unexpectedly given me, by one of whom I had no personal knowledge. So I set out on Monday , 28, and preached in Norwich on Tuesday evening, MARCH 1. Mr. Walsh had been there twelve or fourteen days, and not without a blessing. After preaching I entered into contract with a builder, and gave him part of the money in hand. On Wednesday and Thursday I settled all our spiritual and temporal business, and on Friday and Saturday returned with Mr. Walsh to London. Sun . 6. — I had no help, and I wanted none; for God renewed my strength:
But on Sunday , 13, finding myself weak at Snowsfields, I prayed (if he saw good) that God would send me help at the chapel; and I had it. A Clergyman, whom I never saw before, came and offered me his assistance; and as soon as I had done preaching, Mr. Fletcher came, who had just then been ordained Priest, and hastened to the chapel on purpose to assist, as he supposed me to be alone. Mon . 14. — I went with T. Walsh to Canterbury, where I preached in the evening with great enlargement of spirit; but with greater in the morning, being much refreshed at the sight of so large a number of soldiers. And is not God able to kindle the same fire in the fleet which he has already begun to kindle in the army? Wed . 16. — I had the satisfaction to find an old stout-hearted sinner, who had been defying God for near fourscore years, now become as a little child, and complaining of his own ignorance and ingratitude to God. Fri . 18. — I returned to London. Sun . 20. — Mr. Fletcher helped me again. How wonderful are the ways of God! When my bodily strength failed, and none in England were able and willing to assist me, he sent me help from the mountains of Switzerland; and an help meet for me in every respect: Where could I have found such another? Fri . 25. — After I had read to a serious Clergyman the conclusion of “The Doctrine of Original Sin,” he moved, that we might spend some time in prayer: And I found great liberty of spirit, in praying for Dr. Taylor; and a strong hope that God would show him “the truth as it is in Jesus.”
On Sunday, 13, I buried Elizabeth Langdon, who, after severe inward trials, was for several days in great pain, but in great peace.
On Sunday, 20, I buried Hannah Lee, a pattern of industry, meekness, and patience.
And on Sunday, 27, I buried Mary Naylor, who for several years was a most eminent pattern of truly Christian courage, plainness of speech, and plainness of apparel. A week before, I had an opportunity of telling her all that was in my heart concerning her change (not for the better) in all these particulars. In the beginning of her illness, she was in great darkness, and distress of soul; but while prayer was made for her, her bodily pain ceased, and her soul received comfort; and on Monday, 21, just at midnight, she quietly fell asleep. Wed. 30. — I rode to a gentleman’s near Beaconsfield, and preached at six in the evening, in a large convenient place filled with serious hearers, several of whom had come five or six miles. Thur. 31. — I was earnestly importuned to go over to High Wycombe. I went and preached there at noon, on the Parable of the sower. Perhaps some of the seed which has been sown here for many years will at length bring forth fruit.
At six it seemed as if the whole town of Beaconsfield was assembled together. And I bear them witness, they gave earnest heed, high and low, to the things which were spoken. A large number of them were present in the morning, on Friday, April 1. Fair beginnings these! But “he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.”
In returning to London, I read a tract on “The Law of Nature,” wrote by a Counselor of Geneva. I am sorry to find Dr. Taylor’s poison spread to the Alps also! And even printed and published at Geneva, without any hindrance or animadversion! Sun. 3. — I paid one more visit to Thomas Singleton, an amiable young man, called away at five and twenty, in the dawn of a flourishing business.
On Good Friday, in the evening, at the meeting of the society, God was eminently present with us. I read over and enlarged upon Joseph Alleine’s “Directions for a Thorough Conversion to God;” and desired all who were able would meet me on Monday, that we might “perform our vows unto the Lord.” Mon. 11. — At five in the evening about twelve hundred of the society met me at Spitalfields. I expected two to help me, but none came. I holden out till between seven and eight. I was then scarce able to walk or speak; but I looked up, and received strength. At half hour after nine, God broke in mightily upon the congregation. “Great” indeed “was our glorying” in him; we were “filled with consolation.” And when I returned home between ten and eleven, I was no more tired than at ten in the morning. Tues . 12. — I set out at five for Bedford. About seven the rain began. It did not intermit till noon, and was driven upon us by a most furious wind.
In the afternoon we had some intervals of fair weather, and before five we reached Bedford.
Mr. Parker, now Mayor, received us gladly. He hath not born the sword in vain. There is no cursing or swearing heard in these streets; no work done on the Lord’s Day. Indeed, there is no open wickedness of any kind now to be seen in Bedford. O what may not one Magistrate do who has a single eye, and a confidence in God!
Come ye to the marriage.” And God eminently confirmed his word. It seemed as if not one would be left behind. Thu r. 14. — We rode to Leicester, where John Brandon has gathered a small society. I preached at seven: The House (supposed to contain a thousand people) was thoroughly filled. I believe there were forty or fifty soldiers; and all heard as for life. Fri . 15. — Being informed the straight road to Birmingham was scarce passable, we went round by Coventry: Before six we reached Birmingham. Sat. 16. — I spoke to each member of the society. What havoc have the two opposite extremes, Mysticism and Antinomianism, made among this once earnest and simple people! Had it not been good for those men not to have been born, by whom these little ones have been offended?
In the afternoon I rode to Dudley, where the work of God increases greatly, notwithstanding the immense scandal which has been given by those who once rejoiced in the love of God. One of these has lately killed his own child, by a blow upon the head. After preaching I talked with M.
B., who has been long “a mother in Israel.” “I was under strong convictions,” said she, “when twelve or thirteen years old, and soon after found peace with God. But I lost it by degrees, and then contented myself with living a quiet, harmless life, till Mr. Charles Wesley came to Wednesbury, in the year 1742. Soon after this my convictions returned, though not with terror, as before, but with strong hope; and, in a little time, I recovered peace and joy in believing. This I never lost since, but for forty eight hours (by speaking angrily to my child). Not long after, Mr. Jones talked particularly with me, about the wickedness of my heart. I went home in great trouble, which did not cease, till one day, sitting in my house, I heard a voice say, in my inmost soul, ‘Be ye holy; for I am holy.’
From that hour, for a year and a quarter, (thought I never lost my peace,) I did nothing, but long, and weep, and pray, for inward holiness. I was then sitting one day, August 23, 1744, about eight in the morning, musing and praying as usual, when I seemed to hear a loud voice, saying at once to my heart and to my outward ears, ‘This day shall salvation come to this house.’ I ran up stairs, and presently the power of God came upon me, so that I shook all over like a leaf. Then a voice said, ‘This day is salvation come to this house.’ At the instant I felt an entire change. I was full of love, and full of God. I had the witness in myself, that he had made an end of sin, and taken my whole heart for ever. And from that moment I have never lost the witness, nor felt anything in my heart but pure love.” Sun. 17. — The rain constrained me to preach within at eight, though the house would ill contain the congregation; but we prayed that God, if he saw good, would “stay the bottles of heaven,” for the sake of those at Wednesbury. And before we came thither, the rain stayed, so that I proclaimed Christ crucified, in the open air, to such a congregation as no house could have contained. At five I preached to a still larger congregation, on, “He that believeth shall be saved.” As soon as I had done, the rain returned, and continued great part of the night. Mon . 18. — In the evening I preached at Bilbrook, to an earnest congregation, and joined twenty of them in a society; one of whom had Christ clearly revealed in him thirty years ago: But he could find none who understood what he said, till the Methodists (so called) came. He clave to them immediately; rejoicing with them, and over them, who were partakers of like precious faith. Tues . 19. — Between Nantwich and Poole, a thick, black cloud came across us; out of which issued such a violent wind, as was ready to bear us off our horses. But in five minutes’ time the wind fell, and the cloud bore clear away. Wed . 20. — The congregation at Chester in the evening was as quiet and serious as that at the Foundery: And the society was near a third part larger than when I was here in autumn. Thur . 21. — I rode to Liverpool, where I found about half of those I left in the society. James S——ld had swept away the rest, in order to which he had told lies innumerable. But none who make lies their refuge will prosper. A little while and his building will molder away. Sun . 24. — We had two very useful sermons at St. Thomas’s church; the one, on counting the cost, before we begin to build; the other, on, “Be ye angry, and sin not.” And both of them were exactly suitable to the present case of many in the congregation.
The upper part of the high spire of the church was blown down in the late storm. The stones, being bound together by strong iron cramps, hung waving in the air for some time. Then they broke through roof, gallery, pews, and pavement, and made a deep dint in the ground. Mon . 25. — I walked to the Infirmary, standing on an hill, at the north end of the town. The Seamen’s Hospital is joined to it, on each side, by semi-circular piazzas. All is extremely clean and neat, at least equal to any thing in London. The old seamen have smaller or larger allowance, according to their families; so that nothing is wanting to make their lives easy and comfortable — but the love of God.
I afterwards spent an hour with Mr. Peter Whitefield, a man of strong understanding and various learning. His “Dissertation in Defense of the Hebrew Points” (which he sent me the next morning) is far more satisfactory than any thing which I ever heard or read upon the subject. Thur. 28. — I talked with one who, by the advice of his Pastor, had, very calmly and deliberately, beat his wife with a large stick, till she was black and blue, almost from head to foot. And he insisted, it was his duty so to do, because she was surly and ill-natured; and that he was full of faith all the time he was doing it, and had been so ever since. Sat . 30. — I took a view of the Free School, a truly noble benefaction.
Here seventy boys and thirty girls are entirely provided for. The building forms three sides of a Square, and is rather elegant than magnificent. The children are taught to work, in their several ways, as well as to read and write. The school, the dining-rooms, and the lodgings, are all plain and clean. The whole was the gift of one man, Mr. Blundell, a merchant of Liverpool. Mon. MAY 2. — I preached at Warrington about noon, to a wild, staring people, (very few excepted,) who seemed just ripe for mischief. But the bridle was in their jaws. In the evening I preached at Manchester. Wed. 4. — I rode over to Hayfield, and preached at one in the church, to a congregation gathered from all parts. Thur . 5. — I inquired of John Johnson, concerning Miss Berresford. The sum of his account was this: — “She was always an innocent, sober young woman, having the form of godliness, till she was convinced of sin, and soon after justified. She was a pattern both of piety and industry. Notwithstanding her fortune and her sickliness, she was never unemployed; when she had no other work, working for the poor. And the whole tenor of her conversation was such, that it is still a common saying, ‘If Miss Berresford is not gone to heaven, nobody ever will.’ “She had a vehement love to the word of God, and spared no pains in order to hear it. Frequently she would not go to bed all night, lest she should miss the morning preaching. She lost no opportunity of meeting with her brethren, to whom her heart was closely united: Nor was she afraid or ashamed to own the poorest of them, wherever she met them, and whatever company she was in. The very sight of them occasioned a joy in her soul, which she neither could nor desired to hide. “When her weakness confined her to her room, she rejoiced with joy unspeakable: More especially when she was delivered from all her doubts concerning Christian perfection. Never was any one more athirst for this, for the whole mind that was in Christ. And she earnestly exhorted all her brethren, vehemently to press after it. “The more her bodily strength decayed, the more she was strengthened in spirit. She called upon all that were with her, ‘Help me to rejoice; help me to praise God.’ Having no fear, but a jealousy over herself, lest she should exceed in her desire to be with Christ. “As soon as I came to Ashbourn, she sent for me, and broke out, ‘I am just at my journey’s end. What a mercy, that I who have done so little for God, should be so soon taken up to him! O, I am full of the love of God! I dare not exercise my faith fully upon God: The glory of the Lord is so great, that I cannot bear it: I am overwhelmed: My natural life is almost gone, with the brightness of his presence. Sometimes I am even forced to cry out, ‘Lord, stay thy hand till I come into glory.’ I asked, ‘Have you lately felt any remains of sin in you?’ She said, ‘I felt pride some weeks ago.’ And it seems this was the last time. She added, ‘I have now no will; the will of God is mine. I can bring my dearest friends before the Lord; and while I am praying for them, the glory of the Lord so overpowers me that I am lost, and adore in silence the God of heaven.’ She cried out, ‘Tell all from me, that perfection is attainable; and exhort all to press after it. What a blessing is it, that I have no weary hours; though I am confined to my bed night and day, and can take scarce any thing but water to refresh me, yet I am like a giant refreshed with wine.’ “Afterward she broke out, ‘If I had lived in what the world calls pleasure, what a miserable creature should I have been now! What should I be if I had no God on my side? When the fire has made me bright, then I shall go to my God.’ She prayed largely for all states of mankind: But particularly for the prosperity of the church; and for the society at Ashbourn, that God would continue and increase his work among them. “When she altered for death, she called for her mother and brothers, to each of whom she gave an earnest exhortation. Then she said, ‘Now I have no more to do here; I am ready to die. Send to Mr. W., and tell him I am sorry I did not sooner believe the doctrine of perfect holiness. Blessed be God I now know it to be the truth!’ After greatly rejoicing in God, for two days more, she said one morning, ‘I dreamed last night I heard a voice, Christ will come today for his bride. It is for me. He will come for me today.’ And a few hours after, without one struggle, or sigh, or groan, she sweetly fell asleep.”
One who was intimately acquainted with her writes thus: — “GLORY be to God for the blessed privilege I enjoyed, of being with her, night and day, for a month before she died! When I went to her first, she had kept her bed some days, and was extremely weak. And yet she spoke considerably plainer, than ever I heard her in my life. She called as soon as I entered the room, ‘My dear friend, give me your hand. Let us rejoice that my time is so near approaching. Do not mourn; you know it is what we expected.’ I was soon brought to wish her safe on the happy shore. She said, ‘This is true friendship. But how is it that I do not feel greater transports of love, now I am so near the time of seeing my Lord face to face? Indeed I am ashamed to approach Him, before whom the angels veil their faces!’ She often said, ‘I take it as a fresh token of his love, that he sent you to me at this time.’ Her pains were great; but she bore all with invincible patience and resignation, and often said, ‘I find it good for me to be afflicted; in his time I shall come out thoroughly purified.’ Afterward she said, ‘I experience more upon this bed of my own nothingness, and the free grace of God in Christ, than ever I did in all my life. The best of my performances would be damnable without Christ.’ “Several days before her death, her love was so great, that she cried, ‘I am overcome, I am overcome, I am overcome!’ And when she had scarce strength to speak, she praised God in a wonderful manner. Even when she was light headed, her talk was wholly concerning the things of God. She called to Mr. Wesley, as if he had been by her, and said, ‘O Sir, how hard it is for the rich to enter into the kingdom of heaven! I am saved; but I am but just saved.’ When her fever abated, she told me she had dreamed that she was with him. And sometimes I could scarce persuade her but he had been there. “She after asked if I saw no more appearance of death in her face yet.
When I told her there was, she begged I would indulge her with a looking glass; and looking earnestly into it, she said with transport, ‘I never saw myself with so much pleasure in my life.’ “On Saturday morning at six she said, ‘My Savior will come today and fetch his bride.’ Yet about eight she said, ‘If you had felt what I have done this morning, it would have killed you. I had lost sight of God.’ (Perhaps in the last conflict ‘with principalities and powers.’) From this time she was filled with joy, but spoke little. Her eyes were still lifted up to heaven, till her soul was released, with so much ease, that I did not know when she drew her last breath.”
So died Judith Berresford, as it were an hundred years old, at the age of four and twenty. A little more of her life and of her Spirit, may be learned from one or two of her letters: — “How can you love me, since there is still such a mixture of evil in all I say and do? But why should I ask this question? The Lord himself loves me:
And in the late dispensation of his providence, he has mercifully discovered to me some sins of a refined nature, which before I was almost ignorant of, and now wait and pray to be delivered from. And I can joyfully add, the Lord is night to all that call upon him. He will fulfill my desire, though not as I desired: His way and his will are best. But how long shall I acknowledge this, without implicitly submitting to it? My own will I am apt to think good in such cases, and to grieve when it is crossed. So that I easily discern, how needful it is for me to be tried, and made to sacrifice to the Lord of that which costs me something. I need not say, for the above, alas! will tell you, that I cannot answer all your questions in the affirmative; for did I continually find God present with me, and always walk in the light of his countenance, most surely there could be no part dark in me. Yet this I can say, that I see his hand stretched out to save and to deliver; and my trust is, that before I go hence, I shall behold all his salvation; and if it can serve any good purpose, he will open my lips to declare his praise, and let a poor creature glorify him in her death. For this I pray, and rejoice in hope, knowing the God whom I serve is able to fulfill in me all the good pleasure of his will, and the works of faith with power. “As to the shadows of this world, I think I may truly say, they are as nothing to me. The evil (for certainly it must be some) that at times interposes between God and my soul, is, I believe, of a more spiritual nature. The stirrings of pride I sometimes feel, and, I trust, shall bewail as long as one spark remains. “My clear friend, adieu! I trust we shall have an happy meeting at last. In the mean time, I am persuaded, a few lines from you would add greatly to my peace and comfort. I am “Your very loving, and (I hope) obedient child, “September 7, 1756. J. B.”
In answer to a letter wherein I desired some account of her experience she wrote as follows: — “How does it add to the glory of the Almighty Savior, that from my very infancy, this rebel heart has felt the drawings of his love! Therefore since you desire to know how I was first convinced that I was a poor guilty sinner, I must begin with saying, that goodness and mercy have followed me all my days. But I know not how to proceed; the workings of sin and grace that I have felt are beyond description. Yet out of the mouth of babes and sucklings the Lord can perfect praise. “My childhood was spent in much simplicity and peace. The Lord drew me to himself with the cords of love, and I found great joy, in pouring out my soul before him. Original sin I was quite ignorant of; but actual sins I felt and bewailed; and after some time spent in weeping for them, I felt peace, and renewed my resolutions: But they could not last long; for pride, envy, and all manner of evil, now sprung up in my heart. Yet at times I had strong convictions, and often resolved to be very serious when I was older. “So I went on from eight or ten years old till seventeen; then I was indeed as bad as bad could be; desired nothing but to be admired, and was filled with all that foolish vanity, which poor young women are most prone to.
Christmas, 1750, I was advised to partake of the Lord’s Supper. I knew it was right, but was conscious of my ignorance and unfitness for it.
However, I endeavored to prepare myself, and was pretty well satisfied, after I had made a formal confession of my sins, and shed some tears for them. “About this time there was a great talk of Methodism, and a cousin of mine was brought to seek the Lord. I went to visit her in January, 1751, and told her, before I came away, I knew I was not what I ought to be, and should be glad to be instructed. From this time we carried on a correspondence, and by degrees light broke in upon my heart. But alas! though I well knew that in me was no good thing, and seemed to disclaim my own righteousness, yet the idol lurked within, and I really trusted in my own prayers and other duties. In this manner I went on that whole year; toward the end of which my corruptions were more violent. Sin took occasion by the commandment, and I was often ready to be carried away by the torrent. “February, 1752, it pleased God to take my dear friend. This appeared to me a heavy judgment; yet I afterwards saw how it was tempered with mercy, as it taught me to trust in none but the everlasting arm. Her death happily proved the occasion of her elder sister’s conversion. The blessing of a Christian friend was restored to me, and we received each other as from the Lord. “In 1753 and 1754, I had great outward afflictions, and at times strong inward conflicts; though, blessed be God, I generally found comfort in pouring out my complaints before him. But towards the end of 1754 I began to feel my hope decline; and for several nights in secret prayer I was in strong agony of spirit. The Lord then, while I was upon my knees, stripped off all my fig leaves. At the same time he showed me the all sufficiency of Jesus Christ to save sinners, to save me the chief; and I was enabled to cry out, ‘My Lord, and my God! I have redemption in thy blood.’ From this happy time I went on my way rejoicing, though I was, at times, grievously assaulted, both by the stirrings of my old corruptions, and temptations from the devil, blasphemous thoughts in particular. I always experienced something of this before the sacrament; but the Lord made a way for me to escape. “In the beginning of the year 1755, we had preaching near Ashbourn. This I had wished for long; and now I was honored with suffering a little for the name of Christ. At first I was rather ashamed, but the Lord strengthened me; and so great a blessing did I find by conversing with these dear people, that I feared none of those things which I did or might suffer. My acquaintance were now less fond of my company, and they that looked upon me shaked their heads. This proved an unspeakable blessing: For often had I cause to fear the love of men. “From the time of my becoming serious, or rather beginning to aim at it, my health visibly declined. This at first occasioned me some trouble, because all cried out, it was being too religious; but afterwards I saw great mercy in this chastisement, and the consequences of it; one of which was, that I had a just excuse, even in the judgment of others, for refraining from many things which in my circumstances could not otherwise have been avoided, without great opposition from those who were near and dear unto me. Not that I ever fasted: God knows I have been deficient in this as well as every other duty: But I had an happy liberty of Using some little self denial; for which the Lord be praised! “O how has he led me and carried me in his bosom! Is it not wonderful?
I believe this was one of the last letters she wrote: Shortly after she was called hence.
So unaffected, so composed a mind, So firm yet so it, so strong yet so refin’d, Heaven, as its purest gold, with torture tried.
The saint sustain’d it, — but the woman died.
An account of a widely different nature I received about this time from Ireland: — “Thomas B., about three miles from Tyrrel’s Pass, was at the point of death by a violent rupture: While they were praying for him in the society, he was at once restored to perfect health. He continued in health for several years, and in the knowledge and love of God: But no sooner did he return to folly, than his disorder returned; and in some months it put an end to his life. He died as stupid as an ox.” Mon . 9. — I rode over the mountains to Huddersfield. A wilder people I never saw in England. The men, women, and children filled the street as we rode along, and appeared just ready to devour us. They were, however, tolerably quiet while I preached; only a few pieces of dirt were thrown, and the bellman came in the middle of the sermon, but was stopped by a gentleman of the town. I had almost done, when they began to ring the bells; so that it did us small disservice. How intolerable a thing is the Gospel of Christ to them who are resolved to serve the devil! Wed . 11. — I preached, about one, at Wakefield, in a small meadow near the town. When I began the sun shone exceeding hot; but in a few minutes it was covered with clouds. The congregation was more quiet and serious than ever I saw there before. Almost as soon as I had done speaking, the sun broke out again. Thur . 12. — I finished Dr. Roger’s “Essay on the Learning of the Ancients.” I think he has clearly proved that they had microscopes and telescopes, and knew all that is valuable in the modern astronomy; but, indeed, he has fully shown the whole frame of this to be quite uncertain, if not self-contradictory.
The latter end of the week I spent at Bradford. Sun. 15. — At five the House contained the congregation, but at eight they covered the plain adjoining to it. The sun was hot, till the clouds interposed; it was a solemn and comfortable season. As soon as the service of the church was ended, I began at the end of the House again, and exhorted a willing multitude to “follow after charity.” A shower of rain and hail fell as I drew to a conclusion, but it did not disturb the congregation.
Soon after I took horse for Birstal. The congregation here was treble to that at Bradford; but as they stood one above another on the circular slope of the hill, my voice commanded them all. Though I spoke longer than I usually do, I found no weariness or weakness. Shall not “they that trust in the Lord renew their strength?” Yea, as long as the sun and moon endureth.
On Monday and Tuesday, I preached in the neighboring towns. Wed . 18. — I rode in the afternoon, from Halifax, over the huge, but extremely pleasant and fruitful, mountains to Heptonstall. A large congregation was waiting for us, not only on the ground, but on the side and tops of the neighboring houses. But no scoffer or trifler was seen among them. It rained in the adjoining valley, all or most of the time that I was preaching; but it was fair with us, on the top of the mountain. What an emblem of God’s taking up his people into a place of safety, while the storm falls on all below!
Here I was informed of the earthquake the day before. — On Tuesday, May 17, many persons in several parts, within five or six miles, heard a strange noise under the ground, which some compared to thunder, others to the rumbling of carts. Quickly after they felt the earth rock under them, and wave to and fro. Many who were within doors heard their pewter and glass clatter; many in the fields felt the ground shake under their feet; and all agreed as to the time, though they knew nothing of each other’s account. Thur. 19. — I preached at Ewood about seven, not intending to preach again till the evening; but Mr. Grimshaw begged I would give them one sermon at Gawksham; after which we climbed up the enormous mountain, I think equal to any I saw in Germany, on the brow of which we were saluted by a severe shower, which a high wind drove full in our faces, almost till we came to Haslingden. Here I learned that the earthquake observed near Heptonstall had been sensibly felt by very many persons from Bingley, three miles eastward of Keighley, to the neighborhood of Preston. It was every where preceded by a hoarse rumbling, about three o’clock; so that in a few minutes it had run from east to west, between fifty and sixty miles. Fri. 20. — I preached near Paddiham at eight, to a large, wild congregation:
About noon, at Roughlee; where those who stood firm in the storm had melted away in the calm. At Keighley I had neither voice nor strength left; but while I was preaching my strength returned. Sat. 21. — I had a little Conference with our Preachers. In the afternoon I preached at Bingley. I have not lately seen so genteel a congregation; yet the word of God fell heavy upon them. Sun. 22. — After preaching at five, I took horse for Haworth. A December storm met us upon the mountain; but this did not hinder such a congregation as the church could not contain. I suppose we had near a thousand communicants, and scarce a trifler among them. In the afternoon, the church not containing more than a third of the people, I was constrained to be in the churchyard. The rain began as soon as I began to speak; but they regarded it not; for God sent into their hearts The former and the latter rain; The love of God, and love of man. Mon. 23. — I took horse at four. It rained till noon without any intermission; and we had heavy showers in the afternoon: However, we reached Ambleside in the evening. Tues. 24. — We rode by Keswick to Whitehaven. Within a few miles of the town I was so tired that I could scarce either ride or walk; but all weariness was gone before I had preached a quarter of an hour. Wed. 25. — I was surprised to see, not only hedges and shrubs without a green leaf upon them, but abundance of trees likewise naked as in the depth of winter. Upon inquiring, I found that some time before, a violent wind had gone through all these parts, which not only threw down chimneys, walls, and barns, and tore up trees by the roots, but scorched every green thing it touched as with fire, so that all the leaves immediately fell off, and not only bushes and fruit-trees, but elms, oaks, and firs, withered away to the very roots. Fri. 27. — I preached at Branthwait about noon. Many of the congregation came from far. The rain was suspended from ten till evening, so that they had opportunity both of coming and returning. This also was an answer to prayer: And is any such too little to be remembered?\parMAY 29. — (Being Whit-Sunday.) After preaching at eight and at two, I hastened to Cockermouth. I began without delay, and cried to a listening multitude, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” The word had free course. Even the Gentry seemed desirous to drink of the “living water.” Mon. 30. — I rode to Wigton, a neat, well built town, on the edge of Cumberland. I preached in the market-place at twelve. The congregation was large and heavily attentive. Between four and five we crossed Solway-Frith; and before seven reached an ill looking house, called, the Brow, which we came to by mistake, having passed the house we were directed to. I believe God directed us better than man. Two young women, we found, kept the house, who had lost both their parents; their mother very lately. I had great liberty in praying with them and for them. Who knows but God will fasten something upon them, which they will not easily shake off? Tues . 31. — I breakfasted at Dumfries, and spent an hour with a poor backslider of London, who had been for some years settled there. We then rode through an uncommonly pleasant country (so widely distant is common report from truth) to Thorny-Hill, two or three miles from the Duke of Queensborough’s seat; an ancient and noble pile of building, delightfully situated on the side of a pleasant and fruitful hill. But it gives no pleasure to its owner; for he does not even behold it with his eyes.
We rode afterward partly over and partly between some of the finest mountains, I believe, in Europe; higher than most, if not than any, in England, and clothed with grass to the very top. Soon after four we came to Lead-Hill, a little town at the foot of the mountains, wholly inhabited by miners. Wed. JUNE 1. — We rode on to Glasgow; a mile short of which we met Mr. Gillies, riding out to meet us.
In the evening the tent (so they called a covered pulpit) was placed in the yard of the Poor-House, a very large and commodious place. Fronting the pulpit was the Infirmary, with most of the patients at or near the windows. Adjoining to this was the Hospital for lunatics: Several of them gave deep attention. And cannot God give them also the spirit of a sound mind? After sermon, they brought four children to baptize. I was at the kirk in the morning while the Minister baptized several immediately after sermon. So I was not at a loss as to their manner of baptizing. I believe this removed much prejudice. Fri . 3. — At seven the congregation was increased, and earnest attention sat on every face. In the afternoon we walked to the College, and saw the new library, with the collection of pictures. Many of them are by Raphael, Rubens, Vandyke, and other eminent hands; but they have not room to place them to advantage, their whole building being very small. Sat . 4. — I walked through all parts of the old cathedral, a very large and once beautiful structure; I think, more lofty than that at Canterbury, and nearly the same length and breadth. We then went up the main steeple, which gave us a fine prospect, both of the city and the adjacent country. A more fruitful and better cultivated plain is scarce to be seen in England.
Indeed nothing is wanting but more trade, (which would naturally bring more people,) to make a great part of Scotland no way inferior to the best counties in England.
I was much pleased with the seriousness of the people in the evening; but still I prefer the English congregation. I cannot be reconciled to men sitting at prayer, or covering their heads while they are singing praise to God. Sun . 5. — At seven the congregation was just as large as my voice could reach; and I did not spare them at all: So if any will deceive himself, I am clear of his blood. In the afternoon it was judged two thousand, at least, went away, not being able to hear; but several thousands heard very distinctly, the evening being calm and still. After preaching I met as many as desired it, of the members of the praying societies. I earnestly advised them to meet Mr. Gillies every week; and at their other meetings, not to talk loosely, and in general (as their manner had been) on some head of religion, but to examine each other’s hearts and lives. Mon. 6. — We took horse early; and in three hours reached the Kirk of Shots, where the landlord seemed to be unusually affected by a few minutes’ conversation; as did also the woman of the house where we dined. We came to Musselburgh at five. I went to an inn, and sent for Mr. Bailiff Lindsey, whom I had seen several years ago. He came immediately, and desired me to make his house my home. At seven I preached in the Poor-House, to a large and deeply attentive congregation; but the number of people making the room extremely hot, I preached in the morning before the door. Speaking afterwards to the members of the society, I was agreeably surprised to find more than two thirds knew in whom they had believed. And the tree was known by its fruits. The national shyness and stubbornness were gone, and they were as open and teachable as little children. At seven five or six and forty of the fifty dragoons, and multitudes of the town’s people, attended. Is the time come that even these wise Scots shall become fools for Christ’s sake? Wed . 8. — I rode to Dunbar. Here also I found a little society; most of them rejoicing in God their Savior. At eleven I went out into the main street, and began speaking to a congregation of two men and two women.
These were soon joined by above twenty little children, and not long, after by a large number of young and old. On a sudden the sun broke out and shone full in my face; but in a few moments I felt it not. In the afternoon I rode to Berwick upon Tweed. They did not expect me till the next day:
However, a congregation quickly assembled; and one as large, if not larger, at five in the morning. Thur . 9. — Today “Douglas,” the play which has made so much noise, was put into my hands. I was astonished to find it is one of the finest tragedies I ever read. What pity, that a few lines were not left out; and that it was ever acted at Edinburgh! Fri. 10. — I found myself much out of order, till the flux stopped at once without any medicine. But being still weak, and the sun shining extremely hot, I was afraid I should not be able to go round by Kelso. Vain fear! God took care for this also. The wind, which had been full east for several days, turned this morning full west; and blew just in our face: And about ten the clouds rose, and kept us cool till we came to Kelso.
At six William Coward and I went to the Market-house. We stayed some time, and neither man, woman, nor child came near us. At length I began singing a Scotch psalm, and fifteen or twenty people came within hearing; but with great circumspection, keeping their distance, as though they knew not what might follow. But while I prayed, their number increased; so that in a few minutes there was a pretty large congregation. I suppose the chief men of the town were there; and I spared neither rich nor poor. I almost wondered at myself, it not being usual with me to use so keen and cutting expressions: And I believe many felt that, for all their form, they were but Heathens still. Sat. 11. — Near as many were present at five, to whom I spoke full as plain as before. Many looked as if they would look us through; but the shyness peculiar to this nation prevented their saying any thing to me, good or bad, while I walked through them, to our inn.
And I might stand; for no creature came near me till I had sung part of a psalm. Then a row of children stood before me; and in some time, about an hundred men and women. I spoke full as plain as I did at Kelso: And Pharisees themselves are not out of God’s reach.
In the afternoon we came to Alnwick; and at six I preached in the Court House, to a congregation of another spirit. Sun . 12. — At seven they were gathered from all parts, and I was greatly refreshed among them. At five, the Court House being too small, I was obliged to go out into the market-place. O what a difference is there between these living stones, and the dead, unfeeling multitudes in Scotland! Mon . 13. — I proclaimed the love of Christ to sinners in the market-place at Morpeth. Thence we rode to Placey. The society of colliers here may be a pattern to all the societies in England. No person ever misses his band or class: They have no jar of any kind among them; but with one heart and one mind “provoke one another to love and to good works.” After preaching I met the society in a room as warm as any in Georgia: This, with the scorching heat of the sun, when we rode on, quite exhausted my strength. But after we came to Newcastle I soon recovered, and preached with as much ease as in the morning. Thur. 16. — In the evening I preached at Sunderland. I then met the society, and told them plain, none could stay with us, unless he would part with all sin; particularly, robbing the King, selling or buying run goods; which I could no more suffer, than robbing on the highway. This I enforced on every member the next day. A few would not promise to refrain: So these I was forced to cut off. About two hundred and fifty were of a better mind. Sat . 18. — The desk was placed in the evening just opposite the sun, which, when I begun, was covered with a cloud: But it broke out in a few minutes, and shone full in my face, for three quarters of an hour. But it was no inconvenience at all; nor were my eyes any more dazzled, than if it had been under the earth. Sun . 19. — I preached at eight to the usual congregation; and hastened to Shields, lest I should be too late for the church. Between twelve and one I preached in a kind of Square. But here we had a new kind of inconvenience: Every four or five minutes a strong wind covered us over with a shower of dust; so that it was not easy to look up, or to keep one’s eyes open. But not long after the rain began, which constrained me to preach within, at Newcastle. I took the opportunity of making a collection for the poor; many of whom can very hardly support life in the present scarcity. Wed. 22. — In the evening and the following morning I preached at Chester-on-the-Strate. Observing some very fine but not very modest pictures, in the parlor where we supped, I desired my companion, when the company was gone, to put them where they could do no hurt. He piled them on an heap in a corner of the room, and they have not appeared since. Thur . 23. — I preached at South Biddick about noon, on, “I will heal thy backsliding.” God was with us at Sunderland in the evening, in an uncommon manner: And the next day I left the people there more in earnest than they have been for some years. Sat . 25. — We walked to Swalwell about noon. The sun was scorching hot, and there was no wind or cloud: But it did us no hurt. The congregation was such as I never saw there before: And I believe God blessed his word to them that were nigh, and them that had been far from him. Sun . 26. — I preached at Gateshead at eight; at Sheephill about noon; and at five in the evening at Newcastle, near Pandon Gate. The rain only threatened till I had done, but soon after poured down. How well does God time great and small events for the furtherance of his kingdom! Mon. 27. — I preached at Horsley, and found some life even there. Thence we rode across the Tyne to Prudhoe, a little town on the top of an high hill. I preached at the side of Mr. H.’s house; and I suppose all the town, who could get out, were present, and most of them at five in the morning.
At both times it pleased God to make bare his arm, not only to wound, but to heal. Tues . 28. — I returned to Newcastle, hoarse and weak. But who can be spent in a better cause? Thur . 30. — I read Mr. Baxter’s account of his own “Life and Times.” It seems to be the most impartial account of those times which has yet ever appeared. And none that I have seen so accurately points out the real springs of those public calamities. Sun. JULY 3. — The high wind obliged me to stand on the western side of Gateshead. By this means the sun was just in my face. But it was not long before the clouds covered it. As I began speaking in the afternoon, near Pandon Gate, the rain began, scattered the careless hearers, and ceased. An earnest, attentive multitude remained, to whom I explained part of the Second Lesson for the day, concerning the “joy” which is “in heaven, over one sinner that repenteth.” Mon . 4. — I took my leave of Newcastle, and about noon preached at Durham in a pleasant meadow, near the river’s side. The congregation was large, and wild enough; yet, in a short time, they were deeply attentive.
Only three or four gentlemen put me in mind of the honest man at London, who was so gay and unconcerned while Dr. Sherlock was preaching concerning the day of judgment: One asked, “Do you not hear what the Doctor says?” He answered, “Yes; but I am not of this parish!” Toward the close I was constrained to mention the gross ignorance I had observed in the rich and genteel people throughout the nation. On this they drew near, and showed as serious an attention as if they had been poor colliers.
We took horse at two. The clouds and wind in our face kept us cool till we came to Hartlepool. Mr. Romaine has been an instrument of awakening several here; but for want of help they soon slept again. I preached in the main street to near all the town; and they behaved with seriousness. Tues. 5. — At seven in the evening I preached in the main street at Stockton. None but two or three gentlemen seemed unconcerned. I went thence to meet the society; but many others begged to stay with them, and so earnestly that I could not refuse. And indeed it w as a day of God’s power; I scarce know when we have found the like. Wed . 6. — At eleven I preached near the market-place in Yarm. Many Gentry were there, and all serious. I find in all these parts a solid, serious people, quite simple of heart, strangers to various opinions, and seeking only the faith that worketh by love. And most of the believers are waiting and longing for the fullness of the promises.
One young woman, late a Papist, I talked with at large, who last night took leave of her Priest. Instead of staying to be sent for, she sent for him; and, after asking him several questions, frankly to]d him, she had now found the true religion; and, by the grace of God, would continue therein. She has been concerned for her soul from thirteen years of age. About two years ago she began to hear our Preachers: Soon after she found the peace of God, and has never lost it since.
About seven I preached at Osmotherley. Thur. 7. — I rode through one of the pleasantest parts of England to Hornby. Here the zealous landlord turned all the Methodists out of their houses. This proved a singular kindness: For they built some little houses at the end of the town, in which forty or fifty of them live together. Hence with much ado I found my way to Robinhood’s Bay, and preached on the quay, to the greatest part of the town: All (except one or two, who were very wise in their own eyes) seemed to receive the truth in love.
This day, between Helmsley and Kirkby Moorside, we rode over a little river, which suddenly disappears; and, after running a mile under ground, rises again and pursues its course. Sun. 10. — I preached at seven, on, “Repent and believe the Gospel.” At the church, which stands on the hill, a mile from the town, we had a sound, useful sermon. Afterwards I preached at a little village called Normanby; and about five on the quay. In the evening, talking with the society, I saw more than ever the care of God over them that fear him. What was it which stopped their growing in grace? Why, they had a well meaning Preacher among them, who was inflaming them more and more against the Clergy.
Nor could he advise them to attend the public ordinances; for he never went either to church or sacrament himself. This I knew not; but God did; and by his wise providence prevented the consequences which would naturally have ensued. William Manuel was pressed for a soldier; so the people go to church and sacrament as before. Mon. 11. — We set out early. This and the three next days were the hottest I ever knew in England. A gentleman, who formerly traded to Guinea, assured me, that the spirits in his thermometer (the same he had when abroad) rose as high as they did within a few degrees of the Line.
About nine we should have been glad to bait; but there being no inn to be found, we lay down for a quarter of an hour under some trees, and then rode on to Slingsby. The Minister, an old acquaintance of my father’s, having desired to see me, I called at his house before I preached: And I could gladly have stayed longer with him, but I knew the congregation waited. One poor drunkard made a little disturbance; but after he was silenced all were still, and steadily attentive.
It continued intensely hot; but having the wind in our faces, (as we generally had, all along from Newcastle; and that, which way so ever we rode,) we received no hurt till we came to York. But the difficulty was, how to preach there, in a Room which in winter used to be as hot as an oven. I cut the knot, by preaching in Blake’s Square; where (the mob not being aware of us) I began and ended my discourse to a numerous congregation, without the least disturbance. Tues . 12. — I set a subscription on foot for building a more commodious Room. In the evening I preached at Acomb, to a calm, solid congregation.
The next evening I preached at Poppleton, where the poor gladly received the Gospel: The rich heard it, and even seemed to approve. — God give them to understand and practice it! Thur . 14. — I resolved to preach in the Square once more, knowing God has the hearts of all men in his hands. One egg was thrown, and some bits of dirt: But this did not hinder a large Congregation from taking earnest heed to what was spoken, of Christ “the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” Fri . 15. — At three in the morning there were all the probable signs of a violently hot day: But about four God sent a cooling rain. It ceased about seven. But the clouds continued, and shaded us to Pocklington. Yet it was too hot to bear the House. So I stood in the main street, and cried, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” A large mob soon gathered on the other side. And for fear they should not make noise enough, the good Churchwarden hired men to ring the bells. But it was lost labor; for still the bulk of the congregation heard, till I quietly finished my discourse.
Before seven I reached Epworth, and preached in the market-place to a listening multitude. Sat. 16. — I rode on to Laseby, about thirty measured miles. After so many long journeys which I hardly felt, this short one quite exhausted my strength. However, I quickly recovered, so as to preach at three in a meadow to a large congregation. They all kneeled when I prayed, and showed such a genuine simplicity as greatly revived my spirit. At seven I preached in the new Room, which they have just finished at Grimsby. Sun . 17. — At seven in the morning the House just contained the people. I designed to preach abroad in the afternoon; but the rain drove us into the House again: As many as could crowded in. The rest stood without, though many, I fear, were wet to the skin. Tues . 19. — Before I left Newcastle I heard a strange relation, which I knew not what to think of. I then desired T. Lee, who was going to the place, to inquire particularly concerning it. He did so, and in consequence of that inquiry wrote me the following account: — “R—— J—— lived about twelve miles from Newcastle. “His son, some time since, married without his consent. At this he was so enraged, that he wished his right arm might burn of, if ever he gave or left him sixpence. “However, in March last, being taken ill, he made his will, and left him all his estate. The same evening he died. On Thursday, 10, his widow laying her hand on his back, found it warm. In the evening, those who were with him went into the next room to take a little refreshment. As they were eating, they observed a disagreeable smell, but could find nothing in the room to cause it. Returning into the room where the corpse lay, they found it full of smoke. Removing the sheet which covered the corpse, they saw (to their no small amazement) the body so burnt, that the entrails were bare, and might be seen through the ribs. His right arm was nearly burnt off; his head so burnt that the brains appeared; and a smoke came out of the crown of his head, like the steam of boiling water. When they cast water upon his body, it hissed, just as if cast on red hot iron. Yet the sheet which was upon him was not singed; but that under him, with the pillowbier and pillow, and the plank on which he lay, were all burned, and looked as black as charcoal. “They hastened to put what was left of him into the coffin, leaving some to watch by it. But after it was nailed up, a noise of burning and crackling was heard therein. None was permitted to look into it, till it was carried to Abehester church yard. It was buried near the steeple. As soon as it was brought to the grave, the steeple was observed to shake. The people hastened away; and it was well they did, for presently part of the steeple fell: So that had they stayed two minutes longer, they must have been crushed in pieces. All these circumstances were related to me and my wife by those who were eye and ear witnesses.”
I preached in a ground adjoining to the House. Toward the conclusion of my sermon, the person with whom I lodged was much offended at one who sunk down and cried aloud for mercy. Herself dropped down next, and cried as loud as her; so did several others quickly after. When prayer was made for them, one was presently filled with peace and joy in believing. In the morning I left the rest refusing to be comforted, till Christ should be revealed in their hearts. Wed . 20. — I preached at Ferry in my way, and in Epworth market-place about seven. The rain began just as I began speaking. But God heard the prayer, and it was stayed. Sat . 23. — I preached at Westwoodside, where the breach of fifteen years is now healed: All the wanderers being returned to the fold, with him who led them astray. Sun . 24. — As we rode over Haxey Car towards Misterton, one was relating a surprising thing that happened lately: — “A woman of Stockwith told her sister who lived with her, ‘I do not think to go to market today, for I dreamed that I was drowned in riding across one of the drains on Haxey Car.’ But she was soon laughed out of it, and went. She rode over the Car with many other market folks, and in crossing one of the drains, where the water was scarce a yard deep, slipped off her horse.
Several looked on, but none once thought of pulling her out till she was past recovery.”
At one I preached to the largest congregation I have seen since I left Newcastle. All behaved with deep seriousness but one man, whom I afterward learned to be a Baptist Preacher. Just as I was taking horse he came again, and labored hard to begin a dispute: But having neither time nor strength to spare, I gave him the ground and rode away.
The congregation at Epworth was full as large, if not larger than that at Misterton. Among them was a poor gray headed sinner, a mocker at all religion. But his mocking is past. He was in tears most of the time, and is now “feeling after God.” Mon. 25. — I left Epworth with great satisfaction, and about one preached at Clayworth. I think none was unmoved, but Michael Fenwick; who fell fast asleep under an adjoining hay rick. From thence we rode to Rotherham. When I came in, I had no strength and no voice left. However, in an hour I was able to preach to the largest congregation that I suppose was ever seen there. Tues. 26. — I was not able to sit up above two or three hours together.
However, I preached in the morning and evening, and spoke severally to the members of the society. Wed. 27. — I preached about noon at Barley-Hall, and in the evening at Sheffield. After spending a short time with the society, I lay down as soon as possible. But I could not sleep before twelve o’clock; and not long together after. Yet I felt no faintness in the morning, but rose lively and well, and had my voice more clear and strong in preaching, than it had been for several days. Thur. 28. — I received a strange account from Edward Bennet’s eldest daughter: — “On Tuesday, the 12th of this month, I told my husband in the morning, ‘I desire you will not go into the water today; at least, not into the deep water, On the far side of the town; for I dreamed I saw you there out of your depth, and only your head came up just above the water.’ He promised me he would not, and went to work. Soon after four in the afternoon, being at John Hanson’s, his partner’s house, she was on a sudden extremely sick, so that for some minutes she seemed just ready to expire. Then she was well in a moment. Just at that time, John Hanson, who was an excellent swimmer, persuaded her husband to go into the water on the far side of the town. He objected, — the water was deep, and he could not swim; and, being much importuned to go in, stood some time after he was undressed, and then kneeling down, prayed with an earnest and loud voice. When he rose from his knees, John, who was swimming, called him again, and treading the water, said, ‘See, it is only breast high.’
He stepped in, and sunk. A man who was near, cutting fern, and had observed him for some time, ran to the bank, and saw his head come up just above the water. The second or third time he rose, he clasped his hands, and cried aloud, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Immediately he sunk, and rose no more.”
About noon I preached at Woodseats; in the evening, at Sheffield. I do indeed live by preaching!
How quiet is this country now, since the chief persecutors are no more seen! How many of them have been snatched away in an hour when they looked not for it! Some time since, a woman of Thorpe often swore she would wash her hands in the heart’s blood of the next Preacher that came.
But before the next Preacher came she was carried to her long home. A little before John Johnson settled at Wentworth, a stout, healthy man, who lived there, told his neighbors, “After May day we shall have nothing but praying and preaching: But I will make noise enough to stop it.” But before May day he was silent in his grave. A servant of Lord R — was as bitter as him, and told many lies purposely to make mischief: But before this was done, his mouth was stopped. He was drowned in one of the fish-ponds. Fri. 29. — I preached at Nottingham. We want nothing here but a larger House. Sat . 30. — I preached in the evening at Leicester, to a large congregation. Sun . 31. — I rode over to Markfield. The church contained us tolerably well in the morning; but in the afternoon, though many stayed without, it was much crowded and sultry hot. I was quite faint and weary while I read Prayers; but in preaching my strength was restored. At six I preached once more at Leicester, and delivered my own soul. Mon. AUGUST 1. — I had much conversation with Mr.——; whom, against a thousand appearances, I will believe to be an honest, though irresolute man. “While I was very uneasy,” said he, “in the year 1741, my brother brought me to Mr. Spangenberg, and then to others of the German Brethren, to whom I was more and more attached till, in the year 1743, I went over to Marienborne. There I saw many things which I could not approve; and was more and more uneasy till I returned to England. I was afterward much employed by the Brethren. I was ordained Deacon. But still I had a sore and burdened conscience, and gained no ground in my spiritual warfare: Rather, having laid aside prayer and searching the Scripture, I was more and more dead to God. But in 1750, I awoke again, and was under great agonies of mind. And from this time I wrote to the Count again and again, and to most of the Laborers; but to no purpose.
In May last, I wrote and delivered a declaration to the Brethren met in Conference at Lindsey-House, that I did not dare to remain in their connection any longer. The same declaration I made to them here a few days ago. What farther I am to do, I know not; but I trust God will direct me.” Tues . 2. — On his expressing a desire to be present at our Conference, I invited him to it: And, On Wednesday, 3, in the evening, he came to the Foundery. Our Conference began the next morning, and continued till the Thursday following. From the first hour to the last there was no jarring string, but all was harmony and love. Mon . 8. — I took a walk in the Charter-House. I wondered that all the squares and buildings, and especially the schoolboys, looked so little. But this is easily accounted for. I was little myself when I was at school, and measured all about me by myself. Accordingly, the upper boys, being then bigger than myself, seemed to me very big and tall; quite contrary to what they appear now when I am taller and bigger than them. I question if this is not the real ground of the common imagination, that our forefathers, and in general men in past ages, were much larger than now: An imagination current in the world eighteen hundred years ago. So Virgil supposes his warrior to throw a stone that could scarce be wielded by twelve men, — Qualia nunc hominum producit corpora tellus.
So Homer, long before: — Oioi nun brotoi eisi. Whereas, in reality, men have been, at least ever since the deluge, very nearly the same as we find them now, both for stature and understanding. Mon . 22. — I set out in the machine, and the next evening reached Bristol. Fri . 26. — I preached at nine to a small congregation of earnest people at Clutton; and in the evening at Middlesey. On Saturday, 27, we rode on to Tiverton. Sun . 28. — I preached in the market-house to as large a congregation as ever I saw here. And all were quiet. So can God make, when it is best, all our enemies to be at peace with us. Mon . 29. — We rode through vehement wind, and many hard showers, to Launceston. This gave me a violent fit of the toothache, which, however, did not hinder my preaching. Such a night I never remember to have passed before; but all is good which lies in the way to glory. Tues . 30. — We rode to Camelford, where my toothache was cured, by rubbing treacle upon my cheek. At six I preached in the market-place.
How are the lions in this town also become lambs! Wed. 31. — I preached about noon at Trewalder, and in the evening at Port-Isaac. This was long a barren soil; but is at length likely to bring forth much fruit. Fri. SEPTEMBER 2. — I rode to St. Agnes. We found the great man, Mr. Donythorne, was dead. His mother and sister sent to invite me to their house. After preaching I went thither, and was received into a comfortable lodging, with the most free and cordial affection. So in this place the knowledge of God has already traveled “from the least unto the greatest.” Sat . 3. — Some who live here gave me an account of the earthquake on July 15. There was first a rumbling noise under the ground, hoarser and deeper than common thunder. Then followed a trembling of the earth, which afterward waved once or twice to and fro so violently that one said he owns obliged to take a backstep, or he should have fallen down; and another, that the wall against which he was leaning seemed to be shrinking from him.
This morning I talked at large with old Mrs. Donythorne, who has her understanding entire, reads without spectacles, walks without a staff, and has scarce a wrinkle, at ninety years of age. But what is more than all this, she is teachable as a child, and groaning for salvation. In the afternoon I spent an hour with Mr. Vowler, Curate of the parish, who rejoices in the love of God, and both preaches and lives the Gospel. Sun . 4. — I. preached at five. I could scarce have believed if I had not heard it, that few men of learning write so correctly as an unlearned tinner speaks extempore. Mr. v:preached two such thundering sermons at church as I have scarce heard these twenty years. O how gracious is God to the poor sinners of St. Agnes! In the church and out of the church they hear the same great truths of the wrath of God against sin, and his love to those that are in Christ Jesus! Mon. 5. — I rode on to Illogan; but not to the house where I used to preach: Indeed his wife promised Mr. P., before he died, that she would always receive the Preachers; but she soon changed her mind. God has just taken her only son, suddenly killed by a pit falling upon him; and on Tuesday last, a young, strong man, riding to his burial, dropped off his horse stone dead. The concurrence of these awful providences added considerably to our congregation. Tues . 6. — I went on to Camborn, and rejoiced to hear that the gentleman who pressed Mr. Maxfield no longer persecutes the Methodists, nor will suffer any one else to do it: And in the late dearth he relieved great numbers of the poor, and saved many families from perishing. I preached, at six, on, “I will heal their backsliding;” and God applied his word. Several who had left the society for some years, came after sermon, and desired to be readmitted. O how should our bowels yearn over all that did once run well! This is the very thing we want; or how many souls might we yet pluck out of the jaws of the lion! Wed. 7. — I observed more and more the effects of that burning wind which was in these parts on Sunday, the 28th of last month. It not only scorched all the leaves of the trees, so as to bring midwinter upon them in two hours, but burned up all the leaves of potatoes and cabbage, and every green thing which it touched. What a mercy that it did not come a month sooner! Then it would have left little work for the reapers. Thur . 8. — As we rode through Gwithian parish, Mr. Harris pointed out the place where his father and many of his ancestors lived: It is now only a mountain of sand. Within a few years this so increased as to bury both the church and the whole town.
I preached, at six, to a numerous congregation in Ludgvan. Some years since, when there was a flourishing society in Gulval, (the parish adjoining,) there was none at all here. But how is the scene changed! In Gulval not one class, not one member, remains: In Ludgvan there is a lively society! Fri. 9. — I preached in the new House at St. Just, the largest and most commodious in the county. Sat. 10. — We rode to the Land’s End. I know no natural curiosity like this. The vast ragged stones rise on every side, when you are near the point of land, with green turf between, as level and smooth as if it were the effect of art. And the rocks which terminate the land are so torn by the sea, that they appear like great heaps of ruins. Sun. 11. — I preached at St. Just at nine. At one, the congregation in Morva stood on a sloping ground, rank above rank, as in a theatre. Many of them bewailed their want of God; and many tasted how gracious he is.
At five I preached in Newlyn, to an huge multitude; and one only seemed to be offended, — a very good sort of woman, who took great pains to get away, crying aloud, “Nay, if going to church and sacrament will not put us to heaven, I know not what will.” Mon. 12. — I preached in Lelant at one. Many from St. Ives were present, from whom I learned that Mr. Swindells would have preached abroad the day before, but was hindered. It is well he was For this occasioned the offer of a meadow near the town, far more convenient than the street. At six I stood at the bottom of it, the people rising higher and higher before me. I believe not many were left in the town; and all behaved as in the presence of God. The next evening the congregation was enlarged by the addition of many from the country; and Wednesday, 14, their number was larger still. We did not open the door of the Room till just half hour past eight; by which means the heat was not intolerable, till I had done preaching: I then retired, and left the other Preachers to perform the rest of the service. Thur. 15. — As we rode toward Helstone, I think the sun was near as hot as it was at midsummer; yet all along the trees looked as in the depth of winter, that scorching wind having destroyed all it touched. Fri. 16. — I looked over Mr. Borlase’s “Antiquities of Cornwall.” He is a fine writer, and quite master of his subject, who has distinguished, with amazing accuracy, the ancient Saxon monuments from the more ancient Roman, and from those of the Druids, the most ancient of all. Sat. 17. — I preached at Porkellis at one, and at Redruth in the evening. Sun. 18. — At eight many of the French prisoners were mixed with the usual congregation. This was doubled at one; but still came nothing near to that which assembled at Gwennap in the evening. It rained all the time I preached; but none went away. A shower of rain will not fright experienced soldiers.
Here I learned are markable occurrence: — A few days ago, some hundred English, who had been prisoners in France, were landed at Penzance, by a cartel ship. Many of these passed through Redruth, going home; but in a most forlorn condition. None showed more compassion to them than the French: They gave them food, clothes, or money, and told them, “We wish we could do more; but we have little for ourselves here.” Several who had only two shirts, gave a naked Englishman one. A French boy, meeting an English boy, who was half naked, took hold of him, and stopped him, cried over him a while, and then pulled off his own coat, and put it upon him! Mon . 19. — In the evening both the House and court at Penryn were more than filled; so that I willingly embraced the offer of Mr. H., and preached before his door at twelve on Tuesday. It was an extremely pleasant place, on the side of an hill, commanding a fruitful vale, the opposite hills, and Falmouth Harbor. Tall trees hung over me, and surrounded a bowling green which was behind me. A wide door is now open at Penryn also. O that none may shut it!
At six in the evening I reached Bezore, and began preaching immediately. It was a season of uncommon refreshment, particularly to some of Truro.
Afterwards I met the society in the House: A young man was cut to the heart, and cried aloud, then another, and another, till my voice was quite lost. But I continued crying to God, and he heard, and gave an answer of peace. Many were filled with consolation; and four who had wandered for some years resolved to set out anew.
Yet I was not quite reconciled to my lodging. Not but the grotto itself was very venerable, but I did not like the circumstance of having a man and his wife in the same room. I therefore willingly accepted an invitation front Mr. Painter, and walked over with him to Truro. Wed. 21. — I walked to Bezore, and preached at five. Afterwards I spoke to each member of the society. They surprised me much. So lively and tender hearted a people I have not lately seen. After spending an hour with a few friends in Truro, I rode forward to Grampound, a mean, inconsiderable, dirty village. However, it is a borough town! Between twelve and one I began preaching in a meadow, to a numerous congregation. While we were singing, I observed a person in black on the far side of the meadow, who said, “Come down; you have no business there.” Some boys who were on a wall, taking it for granted that he spoke to them, got down in all haste. I went on, and he walked away. I afterwards understood that he was the Minister and the Mayor of Grampound. Soon after two Constables came, and said, “Sir, the Mayor says you shall not preach within his borough.” I answered, “The Mayor has no authority to hinder me. But it is a point not worth contesting.” So I went about a musket shot farther, and left the borough to Mr. Mayor’s disposal.
A large congregation was at St. Ewe in the evening, many of whom were in Mr. Walker’s societies. Some of them came from St. Columb, twelve miles off. And they did not come in vain. The flame of love ran from heart to heart; and scarce any remained unmoved. Thur . 22. — I rode to Mevagissey, which lies on the south sea just opposite to Port-Isaac on the North. When I was here last, we had no place in the town: I could only preach about half a mile from it. But things are altered now: I preached just over the town, to almost all the inhabitants; and all were still as night. The next evening a drunken man made some noise behind me. But after a few words were spoken to him, he quietly listened to the rest of the discourse.
On the south side of the town, there is an extremely fine walk, broad and smooth, over the top of high rocks, from whence is a view of the main sea at a vast distance below, and all the coast east and west. Sat . 24. — At half hour after twelve, I preached once more, and took my leave of them. All the time I stayed, the wind blew from the sea, so that no boat could stir out. By this means all the fishermen (who are the chief part of the town) had opportunity of hearing.
At six I preached at St. Austle, a neat little town on the side of a fruitful hill. Sun. 25. — The whole Church Service was performed by a Clergyman, above ninety years of age. His name is Stephen Hugo. He has been Vicar of St. Austle between sixty and seventy years. O what might a man full of faith and zeal have done for God in such a course of time!
At two I preached in St. Stephen’s, near a lone house, on the side of a barren mountain; but neither the house nor the court could contain the people; so we went into a meadow, where all might kneel, (which they generally do in Cornwall,) as well as stand and hear. And they did hear, and sing, and pray, as for life. I saw none careless or inattentive among them.
I have not seen so stately a room in Cornwall, as either this hall, or the chamber over it. The place likewise where the gardens were, the remains of the terrace walk, the stately trees still left, with many other tokens, show that grand men lived here once. But they are vanished like smoke, their estates torn in pieces, and well-nigh their memory perished. Tues. 27. — We rode to Liskeard, I think one of the largest and pleasantest towns in Cornwall. I preached about the middle of the town, in a broad, convenient place. No person made any noise at all. At six in the morning I had nearly the same congregation. Afterwards I examined the society, and was agreeably surprised to hear that every one of them had found peace with God; and (what was still more remarkable) that none of them has left their first love; that at this day, not one is in darkness! Wed . 28. — We rode on to the Dock, which gave us a very different prospect. Of those whom I joined several years ago, hardly one half remained. Such is the fruit of disputing! And yet the congregations are more numerous than ever; and as deeply attentive as any in the kingdom.
So there is hope God will yet revive his work. Sat. OCTOBER 1. — I preached at Launceston. Sun . 2. — I rode to Mary Week. A large congregation was gathered there, many of whom came seven or eight miles. The House stands in the midst of orchards and meadows, surrounded by gently rising hills. I preached on the side of a meadow newly mown, to a deeply attentive people. Mon . 3. — I rode to Bideford; but did not reach it till after five, the hour appointed for my preaching. So I began without delay, in an open part of the street, where we alighted. One man made a little noise at first; but he was easily silenced: All the rest (a large number) quietly attended, though the wind was piercing cold, while I opened and applied, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Tues . 4. — Between twelve and one I reached North Moulton, and, finding the congregation ready, began immediately. There have been great tumults here since I saw them before; but God has now rebuked the storm. When the Gentry would neither head nor pay the mob any more, the poor rabble were quiet as lambs.
We rode on to Tiverton in the afternoon. On the three following days I saw as many of the societies as I could. Sat . 8. — We had heavy rain for some miles; then it cleared up, and we had a pleasant ride to Bristol. Mon. 10. — I rose at my usual hour; but the soreness and swelling of my face, occasioned by my taking cold on Saturday, made it impracticable for me to preach. In the evening I applied boiled nettles: They took away the pain in a moment; and the swelling in a few hours. Sun . 16. — I began visiting the classes at Kingswood; steady, but not zealous. It is impossible they should stand here long; they must go on, or go back. Mon. 17. — About two I preached at Paulton; but no house could contain us: So that I was forced to stand in the open air, though the wind was very high and very cold. Thence we rode to the honest colliers at Coleford.
These have the zeal which their brethren at Kingswood want; in consequence of which they are the most numerous, as well as the most lively, society in Somersetshire. Tues . 18. — I preached to a very different congregation at Bradford, well dressed, and well bred: And yet of the very same spirit, hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Wed. 19. — After preaching at Freshford, I rode on to Kingswood. Fri . 21. — Being at dinner, in a moment I felt as if a small bone had stuck in the palate of my mouth. Nothing was to be seen; but the swelling and inflammation increased till toward evening, (notwithstanding all means that could be used,) and then spread to both the tonsils. In the morning I was rather worse than better, till about half an hour after eight. Then as the disorder came in a moment, it went in a moment, and I was as well as ever. Mon . 24. — I preached about noon at Bath, and in the evening at Escot, near Lavington. Tues. 25. — In my return, a man met me near Hannam, and told me the Schoolhouse at Kingswood was burned down. I felt not one moment’s pain, knowing that God does all things well. When I came thither, I received a fuller account: About eight on Monday evening, two or three boys went into the gallery, up two pair of stairs. One of them heard a strange crackling in the room above. Opening the staircase door, he was beat back by smoke, on which he cried out, “Fire! Murder! Fire!” Mr. Baynes, hearing this, ran immediately down, and brought up a pail of water. But when he went into the room, and saw the blaze, he had not presence of mind to go up to it, but threw the water upon the floor.
Meantime one of the boys rung the bell; another called John Maddern from the next house, who ran up, as did James Burges quickly after, and found the room all in a flame. The deal partitions took fire immediately, which spread to the roof of the house. Plenty of water was now brought; but they could not come nigh the place where it was wanted, the room being so filled with flame and smoke, that none could go into it. At last a long ladder, which lay in the garden, was reared up against the wall of the house. But it was then observed, that one of the sides of it was broke in two, and the other quite rotten. However, John How (a young man, who lived next door) run up it, with an axe in his hand. But he then found the ladder was so short, that, as he stood on the top of it, he could but just lay one hand over the battlements. How he got over to the leads none can tell:
But he did so, and quickly broke through the roof, on which a vent being made, the smoke and flame issued out as from a furnace: Those who were at the foot of the stairs with water, being able to go no further, then went through the smoke to the door of the leads, and poured it down through the tiling. By this means the fire was quickly quenched, having only consumed a part of the partition, with a box of clothes, and a little damaged the roof, and the floor beneath.
It is amazing that so little hurt was done; for the fire, which began in the middle of the long room, (none can imagine how; for no person had been there for several hours before,) was so violent, that it broke every pane of glass but two, in the window, both at the east and west end. What was more amazing still, was, that it did not hurt either the beds, (which, when James Burges came in, seemed all covered with flame,) nor the deal partitions on the other side of the room, though it beat against them for a considerable time. What can we say to these things, but that God had fixed the bounds which it could not pass?
We observed Friday, the 28th, as a solemn fast: And from this time the work of God revived in Bristol. We were indeed brought very low. A society of nine hundred members was shrunk to little more than half the number. But God now began to turn our captivity, and put a new song in our mouth. Thur. NOVEMBER 3. — I preached in the new preaching-house at Pill. How is the face of things changed here! Such a sink of sin was scarce to be found: And now how many are rejoicing in God their Savior! Mon . 7. — Leaving the flame just kindling in Bristol, I rode to Newbury; and on Tuesday to London. I found the same fire kindled here also and increasing more and more. Mon . 14. — I rode to Bedford, and talked largely will Mr.——, whom God had well-nigh set at liberty: But his feet are again in the net. He did not indeed deny, nor much extenuate, any of the things he had often related: But at length he told me in terms “There are such things among the Brethren, that I can never join them more: Yet I dare not speak against them, and join any other people, for fear of grieving the Savior.” O Lord, when shall this witchcraft come to an end? When wilt thou maintain thine own cause? Wed . 16. — We rode to Newmarket, and the next day to Norwich; where I now found a prospect of doing good. The congregation daily increased, and grew more and more serious. I spoke to many who were deeply convinced of sin, and some who were rejoicing in God, and walking in the light of his countenance. Wed . 23. — I was shown Dr. Taylor’s new meeting house, perhaps the most elegant one in Europe. It is eight square, built of the finest brick, with sixteen sash windows below, as many above, and eight skylights in the dome; which, indeed, are purely ornamental. The inside is finished in the highest taste, and is as clean as any Nobleman’s saloon. The communion table is fine mahogany; the very latches of the pew doors are polished brass. How can it be thought that the old, coarse Gospel should find admission here? Thur . 24. — A man had spoken to me the last week, as I was going through Thetford, and desired me to preach at Lakenheath, near Mildenhall, in Suffolk: I now purposed so to do, and rode thither from Thetford. One Mr. Evans had lately built a large and convenient preaching-house there, at his own expense. It was more than filled at six o’clock, many standing at the door. At five in the morning (as uncommon a thing as this was in those parts) the house was nearly filled again with earnest, loving, simple people. Several of them came in to Mr. E.’s house afterward, stood a while, and then burst into tears. I promised to call upon them again, and left them much comforted. Sat . 26. — I returned to London. Much confusion had been in my absence, occasioned by some imprudent words spoken by one who seemed to be strong in the faith. Mon. 28. — I heard all who were concerned face to face; but was utterly unable to judge whether there was willful sin, lying on either side, or only human infirmity. For the present I leave it to the Searcher of hearts, who will bring all things to light in due season. Wed . 30. — I had another long hearing of the same intricate cause; but with no more success: One side flatly affirmed; the other flatly denied. This is strange: But it is more strange that those who seem so strong in faith should have no union of spirit with each other. Mon. DECEMBER 5. — I baptized Henriquez Judah Seniore, a Portuguese Jew, more than sixty years of age. He seemed to have no confidence in himself, but to be waiting for “the consolation of Israel.” Sun. 11. — In the evening I retired to Lewisham, and spent the following days in finishing “A Preservative against Unsettled Notions in Religion;” designed for the use of all those who are under my care, but chiefly of the young Preachers. Sun . 18. — I had an opportunity (which I had long desired) of spending an hour or two with the Rev. Mr.——. I would have appointed a time for our meeting weekly; but he declined it: Why, I cannot tell. Fri . 23. — John Nelson wrote me a letter, part of which I have subjoined: — “WE have had four triumphant deaths lately, of three men and one woman. The woman was Hannah Richardson, of Brestfield. When Enoch Williams preached there, she was the bitterest persecutor in the town, and vowed, if ever he preached there again, she would help to stone him to death. But he never went to try. The only one of ‘this wave’ in the town was Ruth Blachser. Against her she was violently enraged, till Ruth went to her house, reasoned the case, and at length persuaded her to go to Dewsbury to hear Mr. Charles Wesley. That day God begot her by his word, so that she could never rest till she found Christ in her own heart:
And for two years she has been a steady follower of him. By her zeal and circumspect walking many have been since stirred up to seek the Lord. As soon as she was taken ill, she began to praise God more than ever, for the work he had wrought in her soul. She said, ‘At first I thought I had no will, and that God’s love was all that was in my heart: But when my little child gave a sudden shriek, I found my heart was not free; and it damped the love of God in my soul for two hours. But the Lord is come again, and now I am fully assured he does take up all the room in my heart. He has sanctified me throughout, body, soul, and spirit. I am a witness for Jesus Christ, that he is a greater Savior than Adam was a sinner. O watch and pray, and ye shall not be overcome in the hour of temptation! Keep close to your meetings, and the Lord will meet you. If you neglect these, or private prayer, you will become barren in your own souls, and the God of this world will get an advantage over you. But if you keep close to God and one another, you will find Jesus a Savior to the uttermost, as I, the most unworthy of mankind, do.’ For some time before she died, her prayer was turned into praise. All her prayer then was, ‘Thy will be done.’ We have one by us that we think will hardly live till tomorrow, who is above seven, and is as a shock of corn full ripe, crying out, ‘Come, Lord Jesus!’” In the Christmas week I rode down to Bristol; where, Sunday, JANUARY 1, 1758, we began the year with the great congregation at four, rejoicing and praising God. Tues. 3. — At the request of several of my friends, I wrote “A Letter to a Gentleman of Bristol;” in order to guard them from seeking salvation by works on one hand, and Antinomianism on the other. From those who lean to either extreme, I shall have no thanks: But “wisdom is justified of her children.” Wed. 4. — I rode to Kingswood, and rejoiced over the School, which is at length what I have so long wished it to be, — a blessing to all that are therein, and an honor to the whole body of Methodists. Mon . 9. — I began a letter to Mr. Towgood, author of “The Dissenting Gentleman’s Reasons;” I think the most saucy and virulent satire on the Church of England, that ever my eyes beholden. How much rather would I write practically than controversially! But even this talent I dare not bury in the earth. Fri . 13. — Having ended my business at Bristol, I rode to Newbury, and the next day to London. Now if it be the will of God, I should be glad of a little rest: If not, let me rejoice to be without it. Tues . 17. — I preached at Wandsworth. A gentleman, come from America, has again opened a door in this desolate place. In the morning I preached in Mr. Gilbert’s house. Two Negro servants of his and a Mulatto appear to be much awakened. Shall not His saving health be made known to all nations? Sat. 28. — I was inquiring of William Hurd, who discharged him from the army; and he might fairly say, God discharged him; his Officers being determined not to do it. Nevertheless he stood among the men whom they had picked out for that purpose: And when he came in his turn, his discharge was written, and no man gainsayed. Sun . 29. — We had an uncommon blessing at West Street, and a still greater at Spitalfields. Some could not refrain from crying aloud to God; and he did not cast out their prayers. Many thanksgivings have since been offered to God for the blessings of that hour. Wed. FEBRUARY 1. — I talked with a gentlewoman who had been a mighty good Christian for near seventy years: But she now found herself out, and began to cry with many tears to the Friend of sinners for pardoning mercy. Fri . 3. — Mr. Parker (last year Mayor of Bedford) preached at the Foundery. A more artless Preacher I never heard; but not destitute of pathos. I doubt not he may be of much use among honest, simple hearted people. Sun . 12. — At the request of the Vicar, Mr. J., I rode over to Uxbridge. I preached for him, both morning and afternoon, to a large and serious congregation. How uncommon a providence is this! The Gospel was preached in the church at Hayes. Several of the parishioners ran from it, and took pews at Hillingdon. It followed them into Hillingdon church, where I preached twice in one day. Some of them went to Uxbridge: And now it is come to torment them at Uxbridge also. Wed . 15. — I read over the “Memoirs of the House of Brandenburg.” Qvanta de spe decidi! 17 It is hard to determine from his writing, whether the author be a Mahometan or a Christian. I suppose he is as near one as the other.
On Friday, 17, the Public Fast, I preached at West Street in the morning, at Spitalfields in the afternoon, and Bull-and-Mouth in the evening; everywhere to a crowded audience. Indeed every place of worship throughout the city was extremely crowded all the day long. Surely all the prayers which have been offered up this day will not fall to the ground. Mon . 20. — I rode through much rain to Maldon, in Essex. Their new preaching-house is large; but it would in nowise contain the congregation which flocked together in the evening. For a time there was much persecution here; but all is now calm and quiet: And probably goodwill be done, if those who now run well do not draw back to perdition. We had a large congregation at five in the morning, and more than we had room for in the evening. Fair blossoms! But which of these will bring forth fruit? O Lord, thou knowest! Wed . 22. — It rained without ceasing till we came to a small inn, nineteen miles from Maldon. Here we dried our clothes. Soon after the rain ceased, and we had a pleasant ride to London. Mon . 27. — Having a sermon to write against the Assizes at Bedford, I retired for a few days to Lewisham. Fri. MARCH 3. — I returned to London. Mon . 6. — I took horse about seven o’clock. The wind being East, I was pleasing myself that we should have it on our back: But in a quarter of an hour it shifted to the Northwest, and blew the rain full in our face: And both increased, so that when we came to Finchley Common, it was hard work to sit our horses. The rain continued all the way to Dunstable, where we exchanged the main road for the fields; which, having been just ploughed, were deep enough. However, before three we came to Sundon.
Hence, on Thursday, 9, I rode to Bedford, and found the sermon was not to be preached till Friday. Had I known this in time, I should never have thought of preaching it; having engaged to be at Epworth on Saturday.
Mr.—— came to me in the evening, and said he could not remain as he was any longer; that he had no rest in his spirit while he was thus halting between two; and therefore desired to go with me without delay. I answered, if he was so resolved, he was welcome to set out with me for Epworth the next day. He said he would. We spent some time in prayer, and parted for the present. Fri. 10. — The congregation at St. Paul’s was very large and very attentive. The Judge, immediately after sermon, sent me an invitation to dine with him. But having no time, I was obliged to send my excuse, and set out between one and two. The northeast wind was piercing cold, and, blowing exactly in our face, soon brought an heavy shower of snow, then of sleet, and afterwards of hail. However, we reached Stilton at seven, about thirty miles from Bedford.
Rest was now the more sweet, because both our horses were lame.
However, resolving to reach Epworth at the time appointed, I set out in a post chaise between four and five in the morning: But the frost made it so bad driving, that my companion came with the lame horses into Stamford as soon as me. The next stage I went on horseback; but I was then obliged to leave my mare, and take another post chaise. I came to Bawtry about six. Some from Epworth had come to meet me, but were gone half an hour before I came. I knew no chaise could go the rest of the road: So it remained only to hire horses and a guide. We set out about seven, but r soon found my guide knew no more of the way than myself. However, we got pretty well to Idlestop, about four miles from Bawtry, where we had just light to discern the river at our side, and the country covered with water. I had heard that one Richard Wright lived thereabouts, who knew the road over the Moor perfectly well. Hearing one speak, (for we could not see him,) I called, “Who is there?” He answered, “Richard Wright.” I soon agreed with him, and he quickly mounted his horse, and rode boldly forward. The northeast wind blew full in our face; and I heard them say, “It is very cold!” But neither my face, nor hands, nor feet were cold, till between nine and ten we came to Epworth: After traveling more than ninety miles, I was little more tired than when I rose in the morning. Sun . 12. — I was much comforted at church, both morning and afternoon, by the serious behavior of the whole congregation, so different from what it was formerly. After Evening Service I took my stand in the market-place, with a multitude of people from all parts. Toward the end of the sermon the rain was heavy; but it neither lessened nor disturbed the congregation. Mon . 13. — I preached in the shell of the new House, and then set out for York. The banks over which we crept along were ready to swallow up man and beast. However, we came safe to York in the afternoon. After settling the little affairs, on Wednesday, 15, I rode to Leeds, where, in the evening, a multitude of people were present. I never before saw things in so good order here, and took knowledge the Assistant had not been idle.
I was apprehensive, having been at an uncommon expense, of being a little straitened for money: But after preaching, one with whom I had never exchanged a word, put a letter into my hand, in which was a bill for ten pounds. Is not “the earth the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof?” Thur. 16. — I rode through heavy rain to Manchester. I was scarce set down, when Mr. came from Bedford. If he comes sincerely, (as I believe,) God will bless him; but if not, epo in portu navigo. 18 He can find out nothing with regard to me; I have no secrets. Fri. 17. — In riding from Manchester to Bolton, I read “The Life of Theodore, King of Corsica;” a great man, both as a General and as a Prince; and one who, if he had not been sacrificed to the French, might have made a shining figure in history. Sat. 18. — We rode to Liverpool. Thur . 23. — I walked over to Mr. E.’s, a gentleman who had little thought of God, till his favorite child lay at the point of death. It then came into his mind, to pray for his life. He did so, and the child recovered. This struck him to the heart, and he rested no more, till his own soul was healed.
I never saw the House so crowded as it was on Easter-Day, March 26; especially with rich and genteel people; whom I did not at all spare. They are now warned to He from the wrath to come. God grant they may remember the warning! Tues. 28. — We went on board, and set sail for Dublin. The wind was fair, and the day extremely fine. Seven or eight miles from the town a small boat overtook us, which brought me letters from London. Some of these earnestly pressed me to return to London, or, however, not to go to Ireland. I consulted my friends, and just as we began our little debate, the wind, which till then was fair and small, turned from east to west, and blew harder and harder. But the point was soon decided. For upon inquiry we found the boat was gone back, and no other was to be had. Presently after the wind returned to the East, and we saw the hand of God.
The Liverpool boat went away in such haste that it left a young man, James Glassbrook, behind; so we were five in all. We had seven more cabin passengers, and many common ones. So good natured a company I never met with in a ship before. The sea was as smooth as glass, the sun shone without a cloud, and the wind was small and quite fair. So we glided on; till, about nine, I went to prayers with them, and then quietly lay down. Wed. 29. — We were even with the great Welsh mountain, Penmaen Mawr, at five in the morning. But it then fell calm, so that we were scarce abreast of Holyhead in the evening. This gave us time to speak to all our fellow passengers. And some fruit quickly appeared; for no oath, no immodest or passionate word, was any more heard in the ship while we were on board. Thur . 30 — Having no wind still, I desired our brethren to come upon the quarter deck; where we no sooner began singing an hymn, than both passengers and sailors gladly assembled. The wind sprung up almost as soon as I began, and about nine the next day we entered Dublin Bay; after so smooth and pleasant a passage, as the Captain declared, he had not had at that time of year for forty years.
Considering the shortness of the warning, we had a large congregation in the evening; but a very small one in the morning,APRIL 1. At this I did not wonder when I was informed, that the preaching at five had been discontinued for near a year and an half. At eight likewise, Sunday , 2, the congregation was small. I took knowledge that the people of Dublin had neither seen nor heard much of self-denial, since T. Walsh left the kingdom.
All the evenings of the following week we had numerous congregations.
Nothing is wanting here but rigorous discipline, which is more needful in this than in any other nation, the people in general being so soft and delicate, that the least slackness utterly destroys them. Thur . 6. — We walked round the College, and saw what was accounted most worthy of observation. The new front is exceeding grand; and the whole square (about as large as Peckwater in Christ Church) would be beautiful, were not the windows too small, as every one will see when the present fashion is out of date. Fri . 7. — I preached in the evening on Reuben’s character, “unstable as water,” so applicable to most of this nation. Some were deeply convinced, and resolved not to rest till they were established in grace. Sun. 9. — I exhorted the society to follow the example of their English brethren, by jointly renewing their covenant with God. On Tuesday evening I read the letters; by one of which a poor backslider, who had been wandering near eleven years, was cut to the heart, and determined to return to Him from whom he had so deeply revolted. Thur . 13. — I explained at large the nature and manner of entering into covenant with God, and desired all who were purposed so to do, to set Friday apart for solemn fasting and prayer. Many did so, and met both at five in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. Sun. 16. — I was much grieved at St. Peter’s church at such a sight as I never saw in England, communicants as well as others, behaving in a manner that shocked common sense as well as religion. O who has the courage to speak plain to these rich and honorable sinners! If they perish in their iniquity, will not their blood be on the watchman’s head? Mon . 17. — We met in the evening to renew our covenant with God. It was a glorious season. I believe all that were present found that God was there. Tues. 18. — Among the letters I read in public last week, was one from Mr. Gillies, giving an account of a society lately formed at Glasgow, for promoting Christian Knowledge among the poor, chiefly by distributing Bibles among them, and other religious books. I could not then help expressing my amazement, that nothing of this kind had been attempted in Ireland; and inquiring if it was not high time that such a society should be formed in Dublin. This morning Dr. Tisdale showed me a paper, which the Archbishop had just sent to each of his Clergy; exhorting them to erect a society for the distribution of books among the poor. Thanks be to God for this! Whether we or they, it is all one, so God be known, loved, and obeyed. Thur . 20. — In the evening I met all the married men and women of the society. I believe it was high time. For many of them seemed to know very little of relative duties: So that I brought strange things to their ears, when I enlarged on the duties of husbands, and wives, and parents. Fri . 21. — I dined at Lady——’s. We need great grace to converse with great people! From which, therefore, (unless in some rare instances,) I am glad to be excused. Horae fugiunt et imputantur! 19 Of these two hours I can give no good account. Sun . 23. — I was much concerned to see two gentlemen, who were close to me at St. Patrick’s church, fall a talking together, in the most trifling manner, immediately after they had received the Lord’s Supper. Indeed one who sat by could not but reproveth them, whom I seconded in strong terms. And so far (at least) we gained; they talked no more till the Service was ended. Mon. 24. — I left Dublin. But our chaise horse tired before we had drove eight miles. So I went into another chaise, and reached Killcock between eleven and twelve. We were agreeably surprised to hear the maid of the inn singing, one of our hymns, and to find that her mistress had, the evening before, been at the preaching in Dublin. This accounted for the profound civility with which all the servants behaved. About one I took horse, and rode on with Robert Swindells to Edinderry.
On the road I read Mr. Walker’s “Account of the Siege of Londonderry,” and the relation of that of Drogheda, by Dr. Bernard; a vain, childish, affected writer. Sir Henry Titchburn’s account of that siege is wrote in a strong and masculine manner, and is worthy to be joined with Mr. Walker’s plain and clear account of that other amazing scene of Providence. Tues. 25. — I read an account of the Irish Rebellion wrote by Dr. Curry, a Papist, of Dublin, who labors to wash the Ethiop white by numberless falsehoods and prevarications. But he is treated according to his merit by Mr. Harris, in a tract entitled, “Fiction Unmasked.”
In the evening I preached under the castle wall, to a very numerous congregation, though some of the Quakers (so called) had labored much to dissuade their people from coming; and one poor man, lately reclaimed, by hearing our Preachers, from a course of open, scandalous sin, they did persuade to stay at home. When he turns back to his vomit, who shall answer for his blood? Wed. 26. — I walked round the poor remains of the Castle. The situation is extremely fine. It stands on the top of a gently rising hill, commanding the prospect all four ways, and having rows of tall trees reaching down to the vale on three sides, with a grove covering it on the Northeast. But the house, as well as the gardens round about it, are now utterly run to ruin. I wonder none has rebuilt it; unless there is curse on the place for the sins of its former inhabitants! Thur. 27. — I finished Mr. Spearman’s “Inquiry;” an ingenious, sensible book; but I cannot at all agree with his scheme: I still think Mr. Hutchinson’s whole system is not only quite unsupported by Scripture, but loaded with insuperable difficulties. I cannot yet see the possibility of any motion, without so much as a vacuum disseminatum. 20 Is it not flatly impossible, if all be full, and all matter be impenetrable? Much less can I conceive, how the streams of light and air can move continually in opposite directions, and that in space absolutely full, without jostling with each other!
Hence, at his earnest request, I rode over to Mr. L——y, who said he could not die in peace till he had seen me. For some time he had been quite distracted; but he spoke quite sensibly yesterday, while Mr. Swindells was there, saying, with many tears, he had never prospered in any thing since he used Mr. W. so ill. That night he had sound and refreshing sleep, which he had not had for many weeks before; and, when we called, most of what he said was reasonable and connected. Perhaps God may put an end to the troubles which have lately encompassed him on every side. Sat. 29. — I preached in the market-place at Mount Mellick in the evening, and at eight in the morning. At eleven I went to church. Soon after, seven or eight troopers came into the same pew. Several were in the next pew, and others scattered up and down the church. In the middle of the Service a person came in, and whispered to one of them in our pew:
Soon after another person came in, and whispered to the Corporal. Several of them then whispered together; after which four went out, but quickly returned with many swords and pistols. After whispering together again, they all rose up from all parts, and went out of the church in a body. This put the whole congregation in an uproar, and many ran out in all haste.
Afterwards the secret appeared to be this: — Three weeks ago a man of the town grossly abused a trooper, whose patience at length being worn-out, he gave him a cut across the head. A report now came that the man was dead. On this the mob gathered to seize the trooper; but the others resolved not to give him up to a mob, but to the Peace Officer.
I suppose most of the Protestants in the town were present at the evening sermon. Many Papists also stood in the skirts of the congregation, though liable to heavy penance for it. I preached much longer than I am accustomed, finding it an acceptable time. Well might Kempis say, “He rides easily, whom the grace of God carries.” Mon. MAY 1. — I strove to put an end to the bitter contentions which had well-nigh torn the society in pieces. I heard the contending parties face to face, and desired them to speak at large. God gave his blessing therewith; the snare was broken, and they were cordially reconciled. Only one person was out of all patience, and formally renounced us all. But within an hour God broke her heart also, and she asked pardon with many tears. So there is reason to hope they will, for the time to come, “bear one another’s burdens.”
In the evening I preached at Tullamore, not only to a large number of Protestants, but to many Papists, and almost all the troopers in the town. Tues. 2. — I wrote a short answer to Dr. Free’s weak, bitter, scurrilous invective against the people called Methodists. But I doubt whether I shall meddle with him any more; he is too dirty a writer for me to touch. Wed. 3. — I preached at four in the afternoon at Coolylough, and at eight in the morning; after which I rode on to Tyrrel’s Pass. The letters which I received here were seasonable as rain in drought. I had before found much weariness; but God thereby gave a check to my faintness of spirit, and enabled me to “gird up the loins of my mind.”
In the evening, the weather being calm and mild, I preached on the side of a meadow the people standing before me, one above another, on the side of a gently rising hill. And many did, indeed, at that hour, “taste and see that the Lord is gracious.” Fri. 5. — In the evening I preached at Drumeree, in the new Room, built in the taste of the country. The roof is thatch, the walls mud; on which a ladder was suspended by ropes of straw. Hence we rode to Rosmead. The congregation here was not large, but deeply serious. Sun. 7. — I preached at eight and at five. Afterward I was desired to make a collection for a distressed family. Mr. Booker, the Minister of the parish, willingly stood at the door to receive it; and encouraged all that went by to be merciful after their power. Mon . 8. — I rode to Newry, and preached at seven to a large and serious congregation. Tues . 9. — We rode by the side of the canal, through a pleasant vale, to Terryhugan. The room built on purpose for us here, is three yards long, two and a quarter broad, and six foot high. The walls, floor, and ceiling are mud; and we had a clean chaff bed. At seven I preached in a neighboring ground, having a rock behind me, and a large congregation sitting on the grass before me. Thence we retired to our hut, and found it true, — Licet sub paupere tecto Reges et regum vita praecurrere amicos. Wed. 10. — I suppose all the inhabitants of the village, with many others, were present at five in the morning. Among these was a poor woman, brought to bed ten days before, who had walked four Irish miles (seven English) with her child in her arms, to have it baptized by me. Another, who lived at Terryhugan, had earnestly desired the same thing, if she was delivered before I left the country. She was delivered two or three hours before the preaching. So God gave her what she asked of him.
In riding to Lisburn I read Mr. Rollin’s “Ancient History.” Could so masterly a writer make so palpable blunders! Or are they owing to the translator? I have observed many as gross as that in the fourth volume: “A revered old age was the fruit of Gelon’s wisdom. — He was succeeded by Hiero, his eldest brother. This young Prince” How? If Gelon enjoyed revered old age, could his eldest brother be young after his death?
Abundance of people attended the preaching in the evening, as well as in the morning. Fri. 12. — I preached about noon at Comber, and then rode on to Newtown. This seems to have been a place of strength, large fragments of walls still remaining. I preached at seven on the Green to the largest congregation I have seen since I came into the kingdom. All were quietly attentive, and, when I had done, went away in deep silence. Sat . 13. — We went into the church, the burial place of Mr. Colvin’s father and ancestors. The choir, turned into a chapel many years ago, is grand and finely finished. But as no man cares for it, since the estate was sold, it is swiftly running to ruin.
In the evening we had a larger congregation than before. I was afraid my voice would not reach them all; but God gave me strength, so that I believe every one present might hear distinctly. Sun . 14. — I preached in the market-house at Belfast about one, and in the Court House at Carrickfergus in the evening. Mon. 15. — I rode over the mountains to Larn, a small seaport, ten miles north of Carrickfergus. The sun shone bright and exceeding hot, and the wind was pretty high. They fixed the table just fronting the midday sun, and where an eddy of wind poured in continually. And it was well they did; for the sun tempered the wind, so that I could bear both better than either. I suppose most of the town were present, rich and poor; and I believe the word of God did not return empty.
In the evening I preached at Carrick again. The old Earl of Donegal, one of the richest Peers in Ireland, took much pleasure here in his stately house surrounded by large and elegant gardens. But his only son proved an idiot, and the present heir regards them not. So the roof of the house is fallen in, and the horses and sheep, which feed in the gardens, make wild work with the parterres and curious trees which the old Lord so carefully planted! Tues. 16. — We rode to Lurgan. In the morning I walked to Loughneagh, the most beautiful lake I ever saw. On the Southeast shore stands a small mount, supposed to be raised by the Danes; on the top of which is a kind of arbor, benched round with turf, which might contain twenty or thirty people.
This was the hottest day I ever felt in Ireland: Near as hot as any I remember in Georgia. The next morning I was desired to see the house of an eminent scholar near the town. The door into the yard we found nailed up; but we got in at a gap which was stopped with thorns. I took the house, at first, for a very old barn, but was assured he had built it within five years; not indeed by any old, vulgar model, but purely to his own taste. The walls were part mud, part brick, part stone, and part bones and wood. There were four windows, but no glass in any, lest the pure air should be kept out. The house had two stories, but no staircase, and no door. Into the upper floor we went by a ladder, through one of the windows; through one of the lower windows, into the lower floor, which was about four foot high. This floor had three rooms; — one three square, the second had five sides, the third, I know not how many. I give a particular description of this wonderful edifice, to illustrate that great truth: — There is no folly too great even for a man of sense, if he resolve to follow his own imagination!
I spent Friday and Saturday at Newry, a town risen out of its ashes within these twenty years. Sun . 21. — I was much pleased with the seriousness and decency of the congregation at church. But they were a little hurried in the middle of the service: A young man dropped down as dead. In a little time, however, he came to himself, and was led out of church. Mon. 22. — I rode through a barren, dreary country, and by a miserable road, to Castle Blaney. The morning was extremely hot; but we had a cooler ride in the afternoon to Coot Hill. I preached at seven, in an open place near the street, to a tolerably serious congregation. At six in the morning there were more rather than fewer, who then seemed to feel as well as hear. I walked afterward to the German House, about as large as the chapel in Snowsfields. They have pitched upon a delightful situation, laid out a garden by it, planted trees round the ground, and every way approved themselves “wise in their generation.” They often put me in mind of the Monks of old, who had picked out the pleasantest spots in our nation; but when their time was come, God swept them away in an hour they looked not for it.
In the evening I preached at Dingins, in the county of Cavan, on the very edge of Ulster. Many came from far, a few of whom have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Wed . 24. — I preached in the morning at Granard, in the barrack yard. I have rarely seen a congregation in a new place so much affected. About one I preached at Edgeworthtown, to a very genteel congregation, extremely different from that which gathered at Longford, in the yard of the great inn, — the rudest, surliest, wildest people that I have found since I came into the kingdom: However they stood pretty quiet, till some pieces of turf were thrown among them over the houses; and when they had recovered from the hurry it put them into, they behaved decently till I concluded. Thur . 25. — I preached at Cleg Hill about one, and then rode on to Drumersnave. Wood, water, fruitful land, and gently rising hills, contribute to make this place a little paradise. Mr. Campbell, the proprietor of the whole, resolved to make it such: So he planted groves, laid out walks, formed the plan of a new town, with a barrack at one end, and his own seat at the other. But, alas! death stepped in between, and all his plea fell to the ground.
I lodged at the only gentleman’s house in the town, whose wife adorns the Gospel. Sat. 27. — I rode through James’s Town, once a strong place, now an heap of ruins, and through Carrick and Boyle, both enclosed by a pleasant and fruitful country. Soon after, we entered the county of Sligo, the best peopled that I have seen in the kingdom. Eight villages we counted within seven miles: The town itself, I think, is little less than Limerick. The country round it is fertile and well improved; even the mountains, to the very top. It lies two miles from the sea, having a large harbor, covered by mountains on each side.
The mob had been in motion all the day. But their business was only with the forestallers of the market, who had bought up all the corn far and near, to starve the poor, and load a Dutch ship, which lay at the quay; but the mob brought it all out into the market, and sold it for the owners at the common price. And this they did with all the calmness and composure imaginable, and without striking or hurting anyone.
I preached in the evening, near the main street, to a small quiet, serious company; at nine, Sunday, 28, in the market-house, to a numerous congregation. But they were doubled at five in the afternoon; and God made his word quick and powerful. Even the rich and genteel part of the audience appeared to be deeply affected. O for laborers, for a few gnhsia tekna , 22 — desirous only to spend and be spent for their brethren! Mon . 29. — I rode to Castlebar. Thur. JUNE 1. — I went to Newport. I believe all the Protestants in the town gladly attended the evening preaching; and few of them were wanting at five in the morning. How white are these fields to the harvest! Fri. 2. — I rode to Hollymount, and preached in the church-yard. I then visited my antagonist, Mr. Clark, who was lying extremely ill. Sat . 3. — I preached at Minulla, a village four miles from Castlebar. I was surprised to find how little the Irish Papists are changed in an hundred years. Most of them retain the same bitterness, yea, and thirst for blood, as ever; and would as freely now cut the throats of all the Protestants, as they did in the last century. Sun. 4. — As they have the Lord’s Supper here but four times a year, I administered it in the evening to about sixty persons. Scarce one of them went empty away. Many were filled with consolation. Tues . 6. — I set out at four, (the hour I had appointed,) on foot; the horse brought for me having neither bridle nor saddle. After a time, one galloped after me full speed, till, just as he overtook me, horse and man came down together. The horse’s knee spouted out blood, as if an artery had been cut; but on a sudden the blood stopped, nor did he bleed any more all the way to Aghrim.
I found a few here, and left more, “striving to enter in at the strait gate.” Fri. 9. — About eight I preached at Ahaskra, to a congregation of whom four fifths were Papists. Would to God the Government would insure to all the Papists in the land, so much liberty of conscience, that none might hinder them from hearing the true word of God! Then, as they hear, so let them judge. In the evening I preached at Athlone. Sun. 11. — We had an excellent sermon at church on the intercession of Christ. In the afternoon abundance of Papists, as well as Protestants, were present on the Connaught side of the river, while I explained the joy that is “in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.” Toward the close two or three eggs were thrown, and, not long after, two stones. One of them fell On a gentleman’s servant, the other on a drummer, which so enraged the dragoons, (many of whom were in the congregation,) that as soon as I concluded, they run all ways to find the man that threw. The spirit they showed did much good, by striking a terror into the rabble. But I was glad they did not discover the offender. I believe his fright was punishment enough. Tues . 13. — I met the Preachers and Stewards at Cooly Lough. The congregation at noon was the largest I ever saw there. In the afternoon the perplexed case of I. C. and I. A. was referred to Mr. S. and Mr. H.; who, after a long hearing, judged, (as did all present,) “That I. C. had acted wrong, in seizing and selling I. A.’s goods for rent when no rent was due.”
After preaching in the evening, I talked with Kath. Shea, of Athlone, concerning a strange account which I had heard: There are many now living who attest, on their personal knowledge, most of the particulars of it. She said, “When I was ten years old, the preaching began at Athlone. I liked and often heard it, though my parents were zealous Papists, till they removed into the country. I then grew as zealous as them, and was diligent in reading the Popish Prayers, till I w as about thirteen; when, taking the Mass Book one day, to read my prayers, I could not see one word. I continued blind, just able to discern light from darkness, but not to read or do any work; till after three months, casting my eye on a New Testament, I could read clearly. I said to myself, ‘I won’t read this Protestant book; I will read my own book.’ Accordingly I opened the Mass Book, but could not see one word; it appeared all dark and black. I made the trial thrice over, holding the Mass Book in one hand, and the Testament in the other:
I could not see any thing in the Mass Book, but could read the Testament as well as ever. On this I threw away the Mass Book, fully resolved to meddle with it no more. “Afterwards my parents returned to Athlone. Then I heard the preaching at all opportunities. For this they beat me many times, and at last turned me out of doors. Yet after this, my father brought me to the Priest, who disputed with me very warmly. At length my father said, ‘I think the girl is in the right.’ And he opposed me no more to the day of his death.” Wed . 14. — I preached at Tullamore about eleven; and at Birr in the evening. Fri . 16. — I set out for Limerick. I was wet through from head to foot, before I came thither, but received no hurt. Here I had a particular account of the melancholy affair, which was in the mouths of all men. On Sunday evening last two officers were playing at dice, when they quarreled about a lewd woman. This occasioned a challenge from Mr. I., which the other would fain have declined. But he would not be denied; and was so bent upon it, that he would not go to bed. About three in the morning they went out, with their seconds, to the Island. Mr. B. proposed firing at twelve yards’ distance; but Mr. I. said, “No, no; six is enough.” So they kissed one another, (poor farce,) and, before they were five paces asunder, both fired at the same instant. The ball went into Mr. I.’s breast, who turned round twice or thrice, and fell. He was carried home, made his will, and about three in the afternoon died like a man of honor!
How are “the judgments of the Lord abroad in the earth!” About Easter last Mr. Beauchamp was at a gentleman’s house in the county of Clare, when a gentleman, who was occasionally there, finding they were going to family prayers, ran away in all haste, swearing he would have none of their swaddling prayers. Two or three weeks after, he imagined himself to be not very well. A Physician was called, who, for three or four days successively, affirmed there was no danger at all. On the fifth day a second Physician was called, who, feeling his pulse, said, “Why do you send for me? I can do nothing. He is a dead man.” Hearing this, he cried out, “Doctor, you have deceived me. I leave money enough. But my soul is lost!” He catched hold of one and another, crying, “Save me; save me!” He endeavored to throw himself into the fire. Being hindered from doing this, he seized upon his own arm, and tore it with his teeth: And, after a short time, in all the agony of rage, despair, and horror, expired!