This abridged volume of John Wesley's Journal's is about one quarter of the size of Wesley’s original work which was first produced in a 26-part serial over the course of his life. And what a life it was!
Influenced by the Moravians he was converted in 1738 and devoted the remainder of his life to preaching the gospel – with astounding success. It is said he travelled about 8,000 miles on horseback each year for fifty years, eventually leaving behind him over 71,000 Methodists in Great Britain and 43,000 in America.
He was an evangelist of the highest order, and frequently saw outpourings of the Spirit in his ministry. Furthermore, he had the leadership qualities and organisational skills to form his converts into local churches by using trained leaders and small groups. But his success was never without effort, opposition and hardship. All this, and more, is revealed in this exciting journal.
We have included 4 of the 20 chapters.
The first entry in Wesley’s Journal is that of October 14, 1735. But the following letter, which Wesley published with the first edition of his Journal, precedes it, as it describes the incidents which led to the formation of the Holy Club and to the social activities from which, as the Journal shows, Methodism has evolved.
The letter was written from Oxford in 1732 to Mr. Morgan, whose son is mentioned. It runs thus:
Wesley Begins his Work
In November, 1729, at which time I came to reside at Oxford, your son [Mr. Morgan], my brother, myself, and one more agreed to spend three or four evenings in a week together. Our design was to read over the classics, which we had before read in private, on common nights, and on Sunday some book in divinity. In the summer following, Mr. M. told me he had called at the gaol to see a man who was condemned for killing his wife; and that, from the talk he had with one of the debtors, he verily believed it would do much good if anyone would be at the pains of now and then speaking with them.
This he so frequently repeated that on August 24, 1730, my brother and I walked with him to the castle. We were so well satisfied with our conversation there that we agreed to go thither once or twice a week; which we had not done long before he desired me to go with him to see a poor woman in the town, who was sick. In this employment too, when we came to reflect upon it, we believed it would be worth while to spend an hour or two in a week; provided the minister of the parish, in which any such person was, were not against it. But that we might not depend wholly on our own judgments, I wrote an account to my father of our whole design; withal begging that he, who had lived seventy years in the world and seen as much of it as most private men have ever done, would advise us whether we had yet gone too far and whether we should now stand still or go forward.
Origin of the Holy Club
In pursuance of [his] directions, I immediately went to Mr. Gerald, the Bishop of Oxford’s chaplain, who was likewise the person that took care of the prisoners when any were condemned to die (at other times they were left to their own care); I proposed to him our design of serving them as far as we could and my own intention to preach there once a month, if the bishop approved of it. He much commended our design and said he would answer for the bishop’s approbation, to whom he would take the first opportunity of mentioning it. It was not long before he informed me he had done so and that his lordship not only gave his permission, but was greatly pleased with the undertaking and hoped it would have the desired success.
Soon after, a gentleman of Merton College, who was one of our little company, which now consisted of five persons, acquainted us that he had been much rallied the day before for being a member of the Holy Club; and that it was become a common topic of mirth at his college, where they had found out several of our customs, to which we were ourselves utter strangers. Upon this I consulted my father again.
* * * *
Upon [his] encouragement we still continued to meet together as usual; and to confirm one another, as well as we could, in our resolutions to communicate as often as we had opportunity (which is here once a week); and do what service we could to our acquaintance, the prisoners, and two or three poor families in the town.
* * * *
Wesley Sails for America
1735. Tuesday, October 14.—Mr. Benjamin Ingham, of Queen College, Oxford; Mr. Charles Delamotte, son of a merchant, in London, who had offered himself some days before; my brother, Charles Wesley, and myself, took boat for Gravesend, in order to embark for Georgia.
Our end in leaving our native country was not to avoid want (God having given us plenty of temporal blessings) nor to gain the dung or dross of riches or honor; but singly this—to save our souls; to live wholly to the glory of God. In the afternoon we found the ‘Simmonds’ off Gravesend and immediately went on board.
Friday, 17.—I began to learn German in order to converse with the Germans, six-and-twenty of whom we had on board. On Sunday, the weather being fair and calm, we had the morning service on quarterdeck. I now first preached extempore and then administered the Lord’s Supper to six or seven communicants.
Monday, 20.—Believing the denying ourselves, even in the smallest instances, might, by the blessing of God, be helpful to us, we wholly left off the use of flesh and wine and confined ourselves to vegetables food—chiefly rice and biscuit.
Tuesday, 21.—We sailed from Gravesend. When we were past about half the Goodwin Sands, the wind suddenly failed. Had the calm continued till ebb, the ship had probably been lost. But the gale sprang up again in an hour, and carried us into the Downs.
We now began to be a little regular. Our common way of living was this: From four in the morning till five each of us used private prayer. From five to seven we read the Bible together, carefully comparing it (that we might not lean to our own understandings) with the writings of the earliest ages. At seven we breakfasted. At eight were the public prayers. From nine to twelve I usually learned German, and Mr. Delamotte, Greek. My brother wrote sermons, and Mr. Ingham instructed the children. At twelve we met to give an account of one another what we had done since our last meeting, and what we designed to do before our next. About one we dined.
Life on Board
The time from dinner to four we spent in reading to those whom each of us had taken in charge, or in speaking to them severally, as need required. At four were the evening prayers; when either the second lesson was explained (as it always was in the morning), or the children were catechized and instructed before the congregation. From five to six we again used private prayer. From six to seven I read in our cabin to two or three of the passengers (of whom there were about eighty English on board), and each of my brethren to a few more in theirs.
At seven I joined with the Germans in their public service, while Mr. Ingham was reading between the decks to as many as desired to hear. At eight we met again to exhort and instruct one another. Between nine and ten we went to bed, where neither the roaring of the sea nor the motion of the ship could take away the refreshing sleep which God gave us.
Friday, 31.—We sailed out of the Downs. At eleven at night I was waked by a great noise. I soon found there was no danger. But the bare apprehension of it gave me a lively conviction what manner of men those ought to be who are every moment on the brink of eternity.
Saturday, November 1.—We came to St. Helen’s harbor, and the next day into Cowes road. The wind was fair, but we waited for the man-of-war which was to sail with us. This was a happy opportunity of instructing our fellow travelers.
Sunday, 23.—At night I was awakened by the tossing of the ship and roaring of the wind, and plainly showed I was unfit, for I was unwilling, to die.
Wednesday, December 10.—We sailed from Cowes, and in the afternoon passed the Needles. Here the ragged rocks, with the waves dashing and foaming at the foot of them, and the white side of the island rising to such a height, perpendicular from the beach, gave a strong idea of ‘Him that spanneth the heavens, and holdeth the waters in the hollow of His hand!’
1736. Thursday, January 15.—Complaint being made to Mr. Oglethorpe of the unequal distribution of the water among the passengers, he appointed new officers to take charge of it. At this the old ones and their friends were highly exasperated against us, to whom they imputed the change.
Saturday, 17.—Many people were very impatient at the contrary wind. At seven in the evening they were quieted by a storm. It rose higher and higher till nine. About nine the sea broke over us from stem to stern; burst through the windows of the state cabin, where three or four of us were, and covered us all over, though a bureau sheltered me from the main shock. About eleven I lay down in the great cabin and in a short time fell asleep, though very uncertain whether I should wake alive and much ashamed of my unwillingness to die. Oh, how pure in heart must he be, who would rejoice to appear before God at a moment’s warning! Toward morning, ‘He rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm’ [Matt. 8:26].
Memorable Atlantic Storms
Friday, 23.—In the evening another storm began. In the morning it increased so that they were forced to let the ship drive. I could not but say to myself, ‘How is it that thou hast no faith?’ being still unwilling to die. About one in the afternoon, almost as soon as I had stepped out of the great cabin-door, the sea did not break as usual, but came with a full, smooth tide over the side of the ship. I was vaulted over with water in a moment, and so stunned that I scarcely expected to lift up my head again till the sea should give up her dead. But thanks be to God, I received no hurt at all. About midnight the storm ceased.
Sunday, 25.—At noon our third storm began. At four it was more violent than before. At seven I went to the Germans. I had long before observed the great seriousness of their behavior. Of their humility they had given a continual proof by performing those servile offices for the other passengers, which none of the English would undertake; for which they desired and would receive no pay, saying, ‘it was good for their proud hearts,’ and ‘their loving Saviour had done more for them.’ And every day had given them an occasion of showing a meekness which no injury could move. If they were pushed, struck, or thrown down, they rose again and went away; but no complaint was found in their mouth. There was now an opportunity of trying whether they were delivered from the spirit of fear, as well as from that of pride, anger and revenge.
In the midst of the psalm wherewith their service began, the sea broke over, split the mainsail in pieces, covered the ship, and poured in between the decks, as if the great deep had already swallowed us up. A terrible screaming began among the English. The Germans calmly sang on. I asked one of them afterward, ‘Were you not afraid?’ He answered, ‘I thank God, no.’ I asked, ‘But were not your women and children afraid?’ He replied, mildly, ‘No; our women and children are not afraid to die.’
Friday, 30.—We had another storm, which did us no other harm than splitting the foresail. Our bed being wet, I laid me down on the floor and slept soundly till morning. And, I believe, I shall not find it needful to go to bed (as it is called) any more.
Sunday, February 1.—We spoke with a ship of Carolina; and Wednesday, 4, came within soundings. About noon, the trees were visible from the masts and in the afternoon from the main deck. In the evening lesson were these words: ‘A great door, and effectual, is opened.’ Oh, let no one shut it!
Thursday, 5.—Between two and three in the afternoon, God brought us all safe into the Savannah river. We cast anchor near Tybee Island, where the groves of pines, running along the shore, made an agreeable prospect, showing, as it were, the bloom of spring in the depth of winter.
Wesley Arrives in Georgia
Friday, 6.—About eight in the morning, we first set foot on American ground. It was a small uninhabited island, over against Tybee. Mr. Oglethorpe led us to a rising ground where we all kneeled down to give thanks. He then took boat for Savannah. When the rest of the people were come on shore, we called our little flock together to prayers.
Saturday, 7.—Mr. Oglethorpe returned from Savannah with Mr. Spangenberg, one of the pastors of the Germans. I soon found what spirit he was of and asked his advice with regard to my own conduct. He said, ‘My brother, I must first ask you one or two questions. Have you the witness within yourself? Does the Spirit of God bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God?’ I was surprised, and knew not what to answer. He observed it and asked, ‘Do you know Jesus Christ?’ I paused and said, ‘I know He is the Saviour of the world.’ ‘True,’ replied he; ‘but do you know He has saved you?’ I answered, ‘I hope He has died to save me.’ He only added, ‘Do you know yourself?’ I said, ‘I do.’ But I fear they were vain words.
Saturday, 14.—About one, Tomo Chachi, his nephew, Thleeanouhee, his wife Sinauky, with two more women, and two or three Indian children, came on board. As soon as we came in, they all rose and shook us by the hand; and Tomo Chachi (one Mr. Musgrove interpreted) spoke as follows:
‘I am glad you are come. When I was in England, I desired that some would speak the great Word to me and my nation then desired to hear it; but now we are all in confusion. Yet I am glad you are come. I will go up and speak to the wise men of our nation; and I hope they will hear. But we would not be made Christians as the Spaniards make Christians: we would be taught, before we are baptized.’
I answered, ‘There Is but One, He that sitteth in heaven, who is able to teach man wisdom. Though we are come so far, we know not whether He will please to teach you by us or no. If He teaches you, you will learn wisdom, but we can do nothing.’ We then withdrew.
Thursday, 19.—My brother and I took boat, and passing by Savannah, went to pay our first visit in America to the poor heathens.
Begins His Ministry at Savannah
Sunday, March 7.—I entered upon my ministry at Savannah, by preaching on the epistle for the day, being the thirteenth of First Corinthians. In the second lesson (Luke 18) was our Lord’s prediction of the treatment which He Himself (and, consequently, His followers) was to meet with from the world. ‘Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or friends, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.’
Yet, notwithstanding these declarations of our Lord—notwithstanding my own repeated experience—notwithstanding the experience of all the sincere followers of Christ whom I have ever talked with, read or heard of; nay, and the reason of the thing evincing to a demonstration that all who love not the light must hate Him who is continually laboring to pour it in upon them; I do here bear witness against myself that when I saw the number of people crowding into the church, the deep attention with which they received the Word, and the seriousness that afterward sat on all their faces; I could scarcely refrain from giving the lie to experience and reason and Scripture all together.
I could hardly believe that the greater, the far greater part of this attentive, serious people would hereafter trample under foot that Word and say all manner of evil falsely of him that spake it.
Monday, 15.—Mr. Quincy going for Carolina, I removed into the minister’s house. It is large enough for a larger family than ours and has many conveniences, besides a good garden.
Tuesday, 30.—Mr. Ingham, coming from Frederica, brought me letters, pressing me to go thither. The next day Mr. Delamotte and I began to try whether life might not as well be sustained by one sort as by variety of food. We chose to make the experiment with bread; and were never more vigorous and healthy than while we tasted nothing else.
‘I Walked under Water’
Sunday, April 4.—About four in the afternoon I set out for Frederica in a pettiawga—a sort of flat-bottomed barge. The next evening we anchored near Skidoway Island, where the water, at flood, was twelve or fourteen feet deep. I wrapped myself up from head to foot in a large cloak, to keep off the sandflies, and lay down on the quarterdeck. Between one and two I waked under water, being so fast asleep that I did not find where I was till my mouth was full of it. Having left my cloak, I know not how, upon deck, I swam around to the other side of the pettiawga, where a boat was tied, and climbed up by the rope without any hurt, more than wetting my clothes.
Saturday, 17.—Not finding as yet any door open for the pursuing our main design, we considered in what manner we might be most useful to the little flock at Savannah. And we agreed 1) to advise the more serious among them to form themselves into a sort of little society, and to meet once or twice a week, in order to reprove, instruct and exhort one another; 2) to select out of these a smaller number for a more intimate union with each other, which might be forwarded, partly by our conversing singly with each and partly by inviting them all together to our house; and this, accordingly, we determined to do every Sunday in the afternoon.
Monday, May 10.—I began visiting my parishioners in order, from house to house; for which I set apart the time when they cannot work because of the heat, namely, from twelve till three in the afternoon.
Thursday, June 17.—An officer of a man-of-war, walking just behind us with two or three of his acquaintance, cursed and swore exceedingly; but upon my reproving him, seemed much moved and gave me many thanks.
Tuesday, 22.—Observing much coldness in M ----‘s behaviour, I asked him the reason of it. He answered, ‘I like nothing you do. All your sermons are satires upon particular persons, therefore I will never hear you more; and all the people are of my mind; for we won’t hear ourselves abused.
‘Besides, they say, they are Protestants. But as for you, they cannot tell what religion you are of. They never heard of such a religion before. They do not know what to make of it. And then your private behaviour: all the quarrels that have been here since you came, have been ‘long of you. Indeed there is neither man nor woman in the town who minds a word you say. And so you may preach long enough; but nobody will come to hear you.’
He was too warm for hearing an answer. So I had nothing to do but to thank him for his openness and walk away.
Talks to the Indians
Wednesday, 30.—I hoped a door was opened for going up immediately to the Choctaws, the least polished, that is, the least corrupted, of all the Indian nations. But upon my informing Mr. Oglethorpe of our design, he objected, not only the danger of being intercepted or killed by the French there; but much more, the inexpediency of leaving Savannah destitute of a minister. These objections I related to our brethren in the evening, who were all of opinion, ‘We ought not to go yet.’
Thursday, July 1.—The Indians had an audience; and another on Saturday, when Chicali, their head man, dined with Mr. Oglethorpe. After dinner, I asked the grey-headed old man what he thought he was made for. He said, ‘He that is above knows what He made us for. We know nothing. We are in the dark. But white men know much. And yet white men build great houses, as if they were to live forever. But white men cannot live forever. In a little time, white men will be dust as well as I.’ I told him, ‘If red men will learn the Good Book, they may know as much as white men. But neither we nor you can understand that Book unless we are taught by Him that is above: and He will not teach you unless you avoid what you already know is not good.’ He answered, ‘I believe that. He will not teach us while our hearts are not white. And our men do what they know is not good: they kill their own children. And our women do what they know is not good: they kill the child before it is born. Therefore He that is above does not send us the Good Book.’
Monday, 26.—My brother and I set out for Charleston, in order to his embarking for England; but the wind being contrary, we did not reach Port Royal, forty miles from Savannah, till Wednesday evening. The next morning we left it. But the wind was so high in the afternoon, as we were crossing the neck of St. Helena’s sound, that our oldest sailor cried out, ‘Now everyone must take care of himself.’ I told him, ‘God will take care for us all.’ Almost as soon as the words were spoken, the mast fell. I kept on the edge of the boat, to be clear of her when she sank (which we expected every moment), though with little prospect of swimming ashore against such a wind and sea. But ‘How is it that thou hadst no faith?’ The moment the mast fell, two men caught it and pulled it into the boat; the other three rowed with all their might, and ‘God gave command to the wind and seas’; so that in an hour we were safe on land.
Fearless of Rains and Dews
Monday, August 2.—I set out for the Lieutenant Governor’s seat, about thirty miles from Charleston, to deliver Mr. Oglethorpe’s letters. It stands very pleasantly on a little hill with a vale on either side, in one of which is a thick wood; the other is planted with rice and Indian corn. I designed to have gone back by Mr. Skeen’s, who has about fifty Christian negroes. But my horse tiring, I was obliged to return the straight way to Charleston.
I had sent the boat we came in back to Savannah, expecting a passage thither myself in Colonel Bull’s. His not going so soon, I went to Ashley Ferry on Thursday, intending to walk to Port Royal. But Mr. Belinger not only provided me a horse, but rode with me himself ten miles, and sent his son with me to Cumbee Ferry, twenty miles farther; whence, having hired horses and a guide, I came to Beaufort (or Port Royal) the next evening. We took boat in the morning; but, the wind being contrary and very high, did not reach Savannah till Sunday, in the afternoon.
Finding Mr. Oglethorpe was gone, I stayed only a day at Savannah; and leaving Mr. Ingham and Delamotte there, set out on Tuesday morning for Frederica. In walking to Thunderbolt I was in so heavy a shower that all my clothes were as wet as if I had gone through the river. On which occasion I cannot but observe that vulgar error concerning the hurtfulness of the rains and dews of America. I have been thoroughly wet with these rains more than once, yet without any harm at all. And I have lain many nights in the open air and received all the dews that fell; and so, I believe, might anyone, if his constitution was not impaired by the softness of a genteel education.
Desires to Go Among the Indians
Tuesday, November 23.—Mr. Oglethorpe sailed for England, leaving Mr. Ingham, Mr. Delamotte, and me at Savannah, but with less prospect of preaching to the Indians than we had the first day we set foot in America. Whenever I mentioned it, it was immediately replied, ‘You cannot leave Savannah without a minister.’
To this indeed my plain answer was, ‘I know not that I am under any obligation to the contrary. I never promised to stay here one month. I openly declared both before, at, and ever since, my coming hither that I neither would nor could take charge of the English any longer than till I could go among the Indians.’ If it was said, ‘But did not the trustees of Georgia appoint you to be minister of Savannah?’ I replied, ‘They did; but it was not done by my solicitation: it was done without either my desire or knowledge. Therefore, I cannot conceive that appointment to lay me under any obligation of continuing there any longer than till a door is opened to the heathens; and this I expressly declared at the time I consented to accept of that appointment.’
But though I had no other obligation not to leave Savannah now, yet that of love, I could not break through: I could not resist the importunate request of the more serious parishioners, ‘to watch over their souls yet a little longer, till someone came who might supply my place.’ And this I the more willingly did, because the time was not come to preach the gospel of peace to the heathens, all their nations being in a ferment; and Paustoobee and Mingo Mattaw having told me, in terms, in my own house, ‘Now our enemies are all about us, and we can do nothing but fight; but if the beloved ones should ever give us to be at peace, then we would hear the great Word.’
Wednesday, December 23.—Mr. Delamotte and I, with a guide, set out to walk to the Cowpen. When we had walked two or three hours, our guide told us plainly he did not know where we were. However, believing it could not be far off, we though it best to go on. In an hour or two we came to a cypress swamp, which lay directly across our way; there was not time to walk back to Savannah before night, so we walked through it, the water being about breast high.
By the time we had gone a mile beyond it, we were out of all path; and it being now past sunset, we sat down, intending to make a fire and to stay there till morning; but finding our tinder wet, we were at a stand. I advised to walk on still; but my companions, being faint and weary, were for lying down, which we accordingly did about six o’clock; the ground was as wet as our clothes, which it being a sharp frost, were soon frozen together; however, I slept till six in the morning. There fell a heavy dew in the night which covered us over as white as snow. Within an hour after sunrise, we came to a plantation, and in the evening, without any hurt, to Savannah.
Begins to Learn Spanish
1737. Friday, March 4.—I wrote the trustees for Georgia an account of our year’s expense, from March 1, 1736, to March 1, 1737; which, deducting extraordinary expenses, such as repairing the parsonage house and journeys to Frederica, amounted, for Mr. Delamotte and me, to f 44/4s. 4d.
Monday, April 4.—I began learning Spanish in order to converse with My Jewish parishioners; some of whom seem nearer the mind that was in Christ than many of those who called Him Lord.
Tuesday, 12.—Being determined, if possible, to put a stop to the proceedings of one in Carolina, who had married several of my parishioners without either banns or license and declared he would do so still, I set out in a sloop for Charleston. I landed there on Thursday, and related the case to Mr. Garden, the Bishop of London’s commissary, who assured me he would take care no such irregularity should be committed for the future.
Sunday, July 3.—Immediately after the holy communion, I mentioned to Mrs. Williamson (Mr. Causton’s niece) some things which I thought reprovable in her behavior. At this she appeared extremely angry; said she did not expect such usage from me; and at the turn of the street, through which we were walking home, went abruptly away. The next day Mrs. Causton endeavored to excuse her; told me she was exceedingly grieved for what had passed the day before and desired me to tell her in writing what I disliked; which I accordingly did the day following.
But first I sent Mr. Causton the following note:
‘To his hour you have shown yourself my friend; I ever have and ever shall acknowledge it. And it is my earnest desire that He who hath hitherto given me this blessing would continue it still.
‘But this cannot be, unless you will allow me one request, which is not so easy a one as it appears: do not condemn me for doing, in the execution of my office, what I think it my duty to do.
‘If you can prevail upon yourself to allow me this, even when I act without respect of persons, I am persuaded there will never be, at least not long, any misunderstanding between us. For even those who seek it shall, I trust, find no occasion against me, ‘except it be concerning the law of my God.’
‘July 5, 1737.’
Wednesday, 6.—Mr. Causton came to my house, with Mr. Bailiff Parker and Mr. Recorder, and warmly asked, ‘How could you possibly think I should condemn you for executing any part of your office?’ I said short, ‘Sir, what if I should think it the duty of my office to repel one of your family from the holy communion?’ He replied, ‘If you repel me or my wife, I shall require a legal reason. But I shall trouble myself about none else. Let them look to themselves.’
Warrant for Wesley’s Arrest
Sunday, August 7.—I repelled Mrs. Williamson from the holy communion. and Monday, [July] 8, Mr. Recorder, of Savannah, issued out the warrant following:
‘Georgia. Savannah ss.
‘To all Constables, Tithingmen, and others, whom these may concern:
‘You, and each of you, are hereby required to take the body of John Wesley, Clerk:
‘And bring him before one of the Bailiffs of the said town to answer the complaint of William Williamson and Sophia, his wife, for defaming the said Sophia, and refusing to administer to her the sacrament of the Lord’s supper in a public congregation without cause; by which the said William Williamson is damaged one thousand pound sterling; and for so doing, this is your warrant, certifying what you are to do in the premises. Given under my hand and seal the 8th day of August, Anno. dom. 1737.
Tuesday, 9.—Mr. Jones, the constable, served the warrant, and carried me before Mr. Bailiff Parker and Mr. Recorder. My answer to them was that the giving or refusing the Lord’s supper being a matter purely ecclesiastical, I could not acknowledge their power to interrogate me upon it. Mr. Parker told me: ‘However, you must appear at the next Court, holden for Savannah.’ Mr. Williamson, who stood by, said: ‘Gentlemen, I desire Mr. Wesley may give bail for his appearance.’ But Mr. Parker immediately replied: ‘Sir, Mr. Wesley’s word is sufficient.’
Thursday, 11.—Mr. Causton came to my house and, among many other sharp words, said: ‘Make an end of this matter; thou hadst best. My niece to be used thus! I have drawn the sword and I will never sheath it till I have satisfaction.’
Soon after, he added: ‘Give the reasons of your repelling her before the whole congregation.’ I answered: ‘Sir, if you insist upon it, I will; and so you may be pleased to tell her.’ He said, ‘Write to her, and tell her so yourself.’ I said, ‘I will’; and after he went I wrote as follows:
‘To Mrs. Sophia Williamson
‘At Mr. Causton’s request, I write once more. The rules whereby I proceed are these:
‘’So many as intend to be partakers of the holy communion, shall signify their names to the curate, at least some time the day before.’ This you did not do.
‘’And if any of these have done any wrong to his neighbors, by word or deed, so that the congregation be thereby offended, the curate shall advertise him that in any wise he presume not to come to the Lord’s table until he hath openly declared himself to have truly repented.’
‘If you offer yourself at the Lord’s table on Sunday, I will advertise you (as I have done more than once) wherein you have done wrong. And when you have openly declared yourself to have truly repented, I will administer to you the mysteries of God.
‘August 11, 1737’
Mr. Delamotte carrying this, Mr. Causton said, among many other warm sayings: ‘I am the person that is injured. The affront is offered to me; and I will espouse the cause of my niece. I am ill used, and I will have satisfaction, if it be to be had in the world.’
Which way this satisfaction was to be had, I did not yet conceive; but on Friday and Saturday it began to appear; Mr. Causton declared to many persons that ‘Mr. Wesley had repelled Sophy from the holy communion purely out of revenge, because he had made proposals of marriage to her which she rejected, and married Mr. Williamson.’
The Jury’s Charge against Wesley
Tuesday, 16.—Mrs. Williamson swore to and signed an affidavit insinuating much more than it asserted; but asserting that Mr. Wesley had many times proposed marriage to her, all which proposals she rejected. Of this I desire a copy. Mr. Causton replied: ‘Sir, you may have one from any of the newspapers in America.’
On Thursday and Friday was delivered out a list of twenty-six men, who were to meet as a grand jury on Monday, the twenty-second. But this list was called in the next day, and twenty-four names added to it. Of this grand jury (forty-four of whom only met), one was a Frenchman, who did not understand English; one a Papist, one a professed infidel, three Baptists, sixteen or seventeen other Dissenters, and several others who had personal quarrels against me and had openly vowed revenge.
To this grand jury, on Monday, 22, Mr. Causton gave a long and earnest charge ‘to beware of spiritual tyranny, and to oppose the new, illegal authority which was usurped over their consciences.’ Then Mrs. Williamson’s affidavit was read; after which, Mr. Causton delivered to the grand jury a paper, entitled:
‘A List of grievances, presented by the grand jury for Savannah, this day of August, 1737.’
This the majority of the grand jury altered in some particulars, and on Thursday, September 1, delivered it again to the court, under the form of two presentments, containing ten bills, which were then read to the people.
Herein they asserted, upon oath, ‘That John Wesley, clerk, had broken the laws of the realm, contrary to the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King, his crown and dignity.
‘I. By speaking and writing to Mrs. Williamson against her husband’s consent.
‘2. By repelling her from the holy communion.
‘3. By not declaring his adherence to the Church of England.
‘4. By dividing the morning service on Sundays.
‘5. By refusing to baptize Mr. Parker’s child, otherwise than by dipping, except the parents would certify it was weak and not able to bear it.
‘6. By repelling William Gough from the holy communion.
‘7. By refusing to read the burial service over the body of Nathaniel Polhill.
‘8. By calling himself Ordinary of Savannah.
‘9. By refusing to receive William Aglionby as a godfather, only because he was not a communicant.
‘10. By refusing Jacob Matthews for the same reason; and baptizing an Indian trader’s child with only two sponsors.’ (This, I own, was wrong; for I ought, at all hazards, to have refused baptizing it till he had procured a third.)
Friday, September 2.—Was the third court at which I appeared since my being carried before Mr. P. and the Recorder.
I now moved for an immediate hearing on the first bill, being the only one of a civil nature; but it was refused. I made the same motion in the afternoon, but was put off till the next court-day.
On the next court-day I appeared again, as also at the two courts following, but could not be heard, because (the Judge said) Mr. Williamson was gone out of town.
The sense of the minority of the grand jurors themselves (for they were by no means unanimous) concerning these presentments may appear from the following paper, which they transmitted to the trustees:
To the Honorable the Trustees for Georgia.
‘Whereas two presentments have been made: the one of August 23, the other of August 31, by the grand jury for the town and county of Savannah, in Georgia, against John Wesley, Clerk.
‘We whose names are underwritten, being members of the said grand jury, do humbly beg leave to signify our dislike of the said presentments; being, by many and divers circumstances, thoroughly persuaded in ourselves that the whole charge against Mr. Wesley is an artifice of Mr. Causton’s, designed rather to blacken the character of Mr. Wesley than to free the colony from religious tyranny, as he was pleased, in his charge to us, to term it. But as these circumstances will be too tedious to trouble your Honors with, we shall only beg leave to give the reasons of our dissent from the particular bills…..’
Friday, October 7.—I consulted my friends as to whether God did not call me to return to England. The reason for which I left it had now no force, there being no possibility as yet of instructing the Indians; neither had I, as yet, found or heard of any Indians on the continent of America who had the least desire of being instructed. And as to Savannah, having never engaged myself, either by word or letter, to stay there a day longer than I should judge convenient, nor ever taken charge of the people any otherwise than as in my passage to the heathens, I looked upon myself to be fully discharged therefrom, by the vacating of that design. Besides, there was a probability of doing more service to that unhappy people in England, than I could do in Georgia, by representing, without fear or favor, to the trustees the real state the colony was in. After deeply considering these things, they were unanimous that I ought to go, but not yet. So I laid the thoughts of it aside for the present; being persuaded that when the time was come, God would ‘make the way plain before my face.’
Why Wesley left Georgia
Thursday, November 3.—I appeared again at the court, holden on that day; and again, at the court held Tuesday, November 22. On which day Mr. Causton desired to speak with me. He then read me some affidavits which had been made September 15, last past; in one of which it was affirmed that I then abused Mr. Causton in his own house, calling him liar, villain, and so on. It was now likewise repeated before several persons, which indeed I had forgotten, that I had been reprimanded at the last court, for an enemy to, and hinderer of, the public peace.
I again consulted my friends who agreed with me that the time we looked for was now come. And the next morning, calling on Mr. Causton, I told him I designed to set out for England immediately. I set up an advertisement in the Great Square to the same effect and quietly prepared for my journey.
Friday, December 2.—I proposed to set out for Carolina about noon, the tide then serving. But about ten, the magistrates sent for me and told me I must not go out of the province; for I had not answered the allegations laid against me. I replied, ‘I have appeared at six or seven courts successively, in order to answer them. But I was not suffered so to do, when I desired it time after time.’ Then they said, however, I must not go, unless I would give security to answer those allegations at their court. I asked, ‘What security?’ After consulting together about two hours, the recorder showed me a kind of bond, engaging me, under a penalty of fifty pounds, to appear at their court when I should be required. He added, ‘But Mr. Williamson too has desired of us that you should give bail to answer his action.’ I then told him plainly, ‘Sir, you use me very ill, and so you do the trustees. I will give neither any bond nor any bail at all. You know your business, and I know mine.’
In the afternoon, the magistrates published an order, requiring all the officers and sentinels to prevent my going out of the province and forbidding any person to assist me so to do. Being now only a prisoner at large, in a place where I know by experience that every day would give fresh opportunity to procure evidence of words I never said and actions I never did; I saw clearly the hour was come for leaving this place: and as soon as evening prayers were over, about eight o’clock, the tide then serving, I shook off the dust of my feet and left Georgia, after having preached the gospel there (not as I ought, but as I was able) one year and nearly nine months.
Saturday, 3.—We came to Purrysburg early in the morning and endeavored to procure a guide to Port Royal. but none being to be had, we set out without one, an hour before sunrise. After walking two or three hours, we met with an old man who led us into a small path, near which was a line of blazed tees (that is, marked by cutting off part of the bark), by following which, he said, we might easily come to Port Royal in five or six hours.
Lost in the Woods
We were four in all; one intended to go to England with me, the other two to settle in Carolina. About eleven we came into a large swamp, where we wandered about till near two. We then found another blaze and pursued it till it divided into two; one of these we followed through an almost impassable thicket, a mile beyond which it ended. We made through the thicket again, and traced the other blaze till that ended too. It now grew toward sunset; so we sat down, faint and weary, having had no food all day, except a gingerbread cake, which I had taken in my pocket. A third of this we had divided among us at noon; another third we took now; the rest we reserved for the morning; but we had met with no water all the day. Thrusting a stick into the ground, and finding the end of it moist, two of our company fell a-digging with their hands, and, at about three feet depth, found water. We thanked God, drank, and were refreshed. The night was sharp; however, there was no complaining among us; but after having commended ourselves to God, we lay down close together and (I at least) slept till near six in the morning.
Sunday, 4.—God renewed our strength, we arose neither faint nor weary, and resolved to make one trial more, to find out a path to Port Royal. We steered due east; but finding neither path nor blaze, and the woods growing thicker and thicker, we judged it would be our best course to return, if we could, by the way we came. The day before, in the thickest part of the wood, I had broken many young trees, I knew not why, as we walked along; these we found a great help in several places where no path was to be seen; and between one and two God brought us safe to Benjamin Arieu’s house, the old man we left the day before.
In the evening I read French prayers to a numerous family, a mile from Arieu’s; one of whom undertook to guide us to Port Royal. In the morning we set out. About sunset, we asked our guide if he knew where he was; who frankly answered, ‘No.’ However, we pushed on till, about seven, we came to a plantation; and the next evening, after many difficulties and delays, we landed on Port Royal island.
Wednesday, 7.—We walked to Beaufort, where Mr. Jones, the minister of Beaufort with whom I lodged during my short stay here, gave me a lively idea of the old English hospitality. On Thursday Mr. Delamotte came; with whom, on Friday, 9, I took boat for Charleston. After a slow passage, by reason of contrary winds and some conflict (our provisions falling short) with hunger as well as cold, we came thither early in the morning, on Tuesday, 13.
Farewell to America
Thursday, 22.--I took my leave of America (though, if it please God, not forever), going on board the ‘Samuel,’ Captain Percy, with a young gentleman who had been a few months in Carolina, one of my parishioners of Savannah, and a Frenchman, late of Purrysburg, who was escaped thence by the skin of his teeth.
Saturday, 24--We sailed over Charleston bar, and about noon lost sight of land.
The next day the wind was fair, but high, as it was on Sunday 25, when the sea affected me more than it had done in the sixteen weeks of our passage to America. I was obliged to lie down the greatest part of the day, being easy only in that posture.
Monday, 26.--I began instructing a Negro lad in the principles of Christianity. The next day I resolved to break off living delicately and return to my old simplicity of diet; and after I did so, neither my stomach nor my head much complained of the motion of the ship.
1738. Sunday, January 1.--All in the ship, except the captain and steersman, were present both at the morning and evening service and appeared as deeply attentive as even the poor people of Frederica did, while the Word of God was new to their, ears. And it may be, one or two among these likewise may ‘bring forth fruit with patience.’
Monday, 2.--Being sorrowful and very heavy (though I could give no particular reason for it), and utterly unwilling to speak close to any of my little flock (about twenty persons), I was in doubt whether my neglect of them was not one cause of my own heaviness. In the evening, therefore, I began instructing the cabin boy; after which I was much easier.
I went several times the following days, with a design to speak to the sailors, but could not. I mean, I was quite averse to speaking; I could not see how to make an occasion, and it seemed quite absurd to speak without. Is not this what men commonly mean by, ‘I could not speak’? And is this a sufficient cause of silence, or no? Is it a prohibition from the Good Spirit? or a temptation from nature, or the evil one?
Saturday, 7.--I began to read and explain some passages of the Bible to the young Negro. The next morning, another Negro who was on board desired to be a hearer too. From them I went to the poor Frenchman, who, understanding no English, had none else in the ship with whom he could converse. And from this time, I read and explained to him a chapter in the Testament every morning.
The Voyage to England
Friday, 13.--We had a thorough storm, which obliged us to shut all close, the sea breaking over the ship continually. I was at first afraid but cried to God and was strengthened. Before ten, I lay down: I bless God, without fear. About midnight we were awakened by a confused noise of seas and wind and men’s voices the like of which I had never heard before. The sound of the sea breaking over and against the sides of tile ship I could compare to nothing but large cannon, or American thunder. The rebounding, starting, quivering motion of the ship much resembled what is said of earthquakes.
The captain was upon deck in an instant. But his men could not hear what he said. It blew a proper hurricane; which beginning at southwest, then went west, northwest, north, and, in a quarter of an hour, round by the east to the southwest point again. At the same time the sea running, as they term it, mountain-high, and that from many different points at once, the ship would not obey the helm; nor indeed could the steersman, through the violent rain, see the compass. So he was forced to let her run before the wind, and in half an hour the stress of the storm was over.
Tuesday, 24.--We spoke with two ships, outward bound, from whom we had the welcome news of our wanting but one hundred and sixty leagues of the Land’s End. My mind was now full of thought; part of which I wrote down as follows:
‘I went to America, to convert the Indians; but oh! who shall convert me? who, what is he that will deliver me from this evil heart of mischief? I have a fair summer religion. I can talk well; nay, and believe myself, while no danger is near; but let death look me in the face, and my spirit is troubled. Nor can I say, 'To die is gain!'
I have a sin of fear, that when I've spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shorel
‘I think, verily, if the gospel be true, I am safe: for I not only have given, and do give, all my goods to feed the poor; I not only give my body to be burned, drowned, or whatever God shall appoint for me; but I follow after charity (though not as I ought, yet as I can), if haply I may attain it. I now believe the gospel is true. ‘I show my faith by my works’ by staking my all upon it. I would do so again and again a thousand times, if the choice were still to make.
‘Whoever sees me, sees I would be a Christian. Therefore ‘are my ways not like other men's ways.' Therefore I have been, I am, I am content to be, 'a by-word, a proverb of reproach.' But in a storm I think, 'What, if the gospel be not true? Then thou art of all men most foolish. For what hast thou given thy goods, thine ease, thy friends, thy reputation, thy country, thy life? For what art thou wandering over the face of the earth?--A dream! a cunningly devised fable!'
‘Oh! who will deliver me from this fear of death? What shall I do? Where shall I fly from it? Should I fight against it by thinking, or by not thinking of it? A wise man advised me some time since, 'Be still and go on.’ Perhaps this is best, to look upon it as my cross; when it comes to let it humble me and quicken all my good resolutions, especially that of praying without ceasing; and at other times to take no thought about it, but quietly to go on ‘in the work of the Lord.’’
Lands at Deal
We went on with a small, fair wind, till Thursday in the afternoon; and then sounding, found a whitish sand at seventy-five fathom; but having had no observation for several days, the captain began to be uneasy, fearing we might either get unawares into the Bristol Channel, or strike in the night on the rocks of Scilly.
Saturday, 28.—Was another cloudy day; but about ten in the morning, the wind continuing southerly, the clouds began to fly just contrary to the wind, and, to the surprise of us all, sank so under the sun so that at noon we had an exact observation; and by this we found we were as well as we could desire, about eleven leagues south of Scilly.
Sunday, 29.--We saw English land once more; which, about noon, appeared to be the Lizard Point. We ran by it with a fair wind; and at noon the next day made the west end of the Isle of Wight.
Here the wind turned against us and in the evening blew fresh so that we expected (the tide being likewise strong against us) to be driven some leagues backward in the night; but in morning, to our great surprise, we saw Beach Head just before us, and found we had gone forwards near forty miles.
Toward evening was a calm; but in the tight a strong north wind brought us safe into the Downs. The day before, Mr. Whitefield had sailed out, neither of us then knowing anything of the other. At four in the morning we took boat, and in half an hour landed at Deal; it was Wednesday, February 1, the anniversary festival in Georgia for Mr. Oglethorpe's landing there.
It is now two years and almost four months since I left my native country in order to teach the Georgian Indians the nature of Christianity. But what have I learned myself in the meantime? Why (what I the least of all suspected), that I who went to America to convert others was never myself converted to God. ‘I am not mad,’ though I thus speak; but ‘I speak the words of truth and soberness’; if haply some of those who still dream may awake and see that as I am, so are they.
In London Again
Wednesday, February 1.—After reading prayers and explaining a portion of Scripture to a large company at the inn, I left Deal and came in the evening to Feversham.
I here read prayers and explained the second lesson to a few of those who were called Christians, but were indeed more savage in their behavior than the wildest Indians I have yet met with.
Friday, 3.—I came to Mr. Delamotte’s, at Blendon, where I expected a cold reception. But God had prepared the way before me; and I no sooner mentioned my name than I was welcomed in such a manner as constrained me to say: ‘Surely God is in this place, and I knew it not! Blessed be ye of the Lord! Ye have shown more kindness in the latter end than in the beginning.’
In the evening I came once more to London, whence I had been absent two years and nearly four months.
Many reasons I have to bless God, though the design I went upon did not take effect, for my having been carried into that strange land, contrary to all my preceding resolutions. Hereby I trust He hath in some measure ‘humbled me and proved me, and shown me what was in my heart’ [Deut. 8:2]. Hereby I have been taught to ‘beware of men.’ Hereby I am come to know assuredly that if ‘in all our ways we acknowledge God, he will,’ where reason fails, ‘direct our path’ by lot or by the other means which He knoweth. Hereby I am delivered from the fear of the sea, which I had both dreaded and abhorred from my youth.
Hereby God has given me to know many of His servants, particularly those of the Church of Herrnhut [the Moravians]. Hereby my passage is opened to the writings of holy men in the German, Spanish, and Italian tongues. I hope, too, some good may come to others hereby. All in Georgia have heard the Word of God. Some have believed and have begun to run well. A few steps have been taken toward publishing the glad tidings both to the African and American heathens. Many children have learned ‘how they ought to serve God’ and to be useful to their neighbor. And those whom it most concerns have an opportunity of knowing the true state of their infant colony and laying a firmer foundation of peace and happiness to many generations.
Saturday, 4.—I told my friends some of the reasons which a little hastened my return to England. They all agreed it would be proper to relate them to the trustees of Georgia.
Accordingly, the next morning I waited on Mr. Oglethorpe but had not time to speak on that head. In the afternoon I was desired to preach at St. John the Evangelist’s. I did so on those strong words, ‘If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature’ [II Cor. 5:17]. I was afterward informed many of the best in the parish were so offended that I was not to preach there any more.
Monday, 6.—I visited many of my old friends, as well as most of my relations. I find the time is not yet come when I am to be ‘hated of all men.’ Oh, may I be prepared for that day!
Wesley Meets Peter Bohler
Tuesday, 7.—(A day much to be remembered.) At the house of Mr. Weinantz, a Dutch merchant, I met Peter Bohler, Schulius Richter, and Wensel Neiser, just then landed from Germany. Finding they had no acquaintance in England, I offered to procure them a lodging and did so near Mr. Hutton’s, where I then was. And from this time I did not willingly lose any opportunity of conversing with them while I stayed in London.
Wednesday, 8.—I went to Mr. Oglethorpe again but had no opportunity of speaking as I designed. Afterward I waited on the board of trustees and gave them a short but plain account of the state of the colony; an account, I fear, not a little differing from those which they had frequently received before, and for which I have reason to believe some of them have not forgiven me to this day.
Sunday, 12.—I preached at St. Andrew’s, Holborn on ‘Though I give all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing’ [I Cor. 13:3]. Oh, hard sayings! Who can hear them? Here, too, it seems, I am to preach no more.
Friday, 17.—I set out for Oxford with Peter Bohler, where we were kindly received by Mr. Sarney, the only one now remaining here of many who, at our embarking for America, were used to ‘take sweet counsel together’ and rejoice in ‘bearing the reproach of Christ.’
Saturday, 18.—We went to Stanton Harcourt. The next day I preached once more at the castle in Oxford, to a numerous and serious congregation.
All this time I conversed much with Peter Bohler, but I understood him not; and least of all when he said, ‘My brother, my brother, that philosophy of yours must be purged away.’
Monday, 20.—I returned to London. On Tuesday I preached at Great St. Helen’s on ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me’ [Luke 9:23].
Sunday, 26.—I preached at six, at St. Lawrence’s; at ten, in St. Catherine Cree’s Church; and in the afternoon, at St. John’s, Wapping. I believe it pleased God to bless the first sermon most, because it gave most offense; being, indeed, an open defiance of that mystery of iniquity which the world calls ‘prudence,’ grounded on those words of St. Paul to the Galatians, ‘As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ’ [Gal. 6:12].
Monday, 27.—I took coach for Salisbury and had several opportunities of conversing seriously with my fellow travelers.
Tuesday, 28.—I saw my mother once more. The next day I prepared for my journey to my brother at Tiverton. But on Thursday morning, March 2, a message that my brother Charles was dying at Oxford obliged me to set out for that place immediately. Calling at an odd house in the afternoon, I found several persons there who seemed well-wishers to religion, to whom I spake plainly; as I did in the evening both to the servants and strangers at my inn.
Wesley’s Four Resolutions
With regard to my own behavior, I now renewed and wrote down my former resolutions.
1. To use absolute openness and unreserve with all I should converse with.
2. To labor after continual seriousness, not willingly indulging myself in any the least levity of behavior, or in laughter; no, not for a moment.
3. To speak no word which does not tend to the glory of God; in particular, not to talk of worldly things. Others may, nay, must. But what is that to thee? And,
4. To take no pleasure which does not tend to the glory of God; thanking God every moment for all I do take, and therefore rejecting every sort and degree of it which I feel I cannot so thank Him in and for.
Saturday, March 4.—I found my brother at Oxford, recovering from his pleurisy; and with him Peter Bohler; by whom, in the hand of the great God, I was, on Sunday, the fifth, clearly convinced of unbelief, of the want of that faith whereby alone we are saved.
Immediately it struck into my mind, ‘Leave off preaching. How can you preach to others, who have not faith yourself?’ I asked Bohler whether he thought I should leave it off or not. He answered, ‘By no means.’ I asked, ‘But what can I preach?’ He said, ‘Preach faith till you have it; and then, because you have it, you will preach faith.’
Accordingly, Monday, 6, I began preaching this new doctrine, though my soul started back from the work. The first person to whom I offered salvation by faith alone was a prisoner under sentence of death. His name was Clifford. Peter Bohler had many times desired me to speak to him before. But I could not prevail on myself so to do; being still, as I had been many years, a zealous asserter of the impossibility of a deathbed repentance.
Incidents on the Manchester Road
Tuesday, 14.—I set out for Manchester with Mr. Kinchin, fellow of Corpus Christi, and Mr. Fox, late a prisoner in the city prison.
About eight, it being rainy and very dark, we lost our way; but before nine, came to Shipston, having ridden over, I know not how, a narrow footbridge, which lay across a deep ditch near the town. After supper I read prayers to the people of the inn and explained the second lesson; I hope not in vain.
The next day we dined at Birmingham; and, soon after we left it, were reproved for our negligence there, in letting those who attended us go without either exhortation or instruction, by a severe shower of hail.
In the evening we came to Stafford. The mistress of the house joined with us in family prayer. The next morning one of the servants appeared deeply affected, as did the hostler, before we went. Soon after breakfast, stepping into the stable, I spoke a few words to those who were there. A stranger who heard me said, ‘Sir, I wish I were to travel with you’; and when I went into the house, followed me and began abruptly, ‘Sir, I believe you are a good man, and I come to tell you a little of my life.’ The tears stood in his eyes all the time he spoke; and we hoped not a word which was said to him was lost.
At Newcastle, whither we came about ten, some to whom we spoke at our inn were very attentive; but a gay young woman waited on us, quite unconcerned: however, we spoke on. When we went away, she fixed her eyes and neither moved nor said one word but appeared as much astonished as if she had seen one risen from the dead.
Coming to Holms Chapel about three, we were surprised at being shown into a room where a cloth and plates were laid. Soon after two men came in to dinner, Mr. Kinchin told them, if they pleased, that gentleman would ask a blessing for them. They stared and, as it were, consented; but sat still while I did it, one of them with his hat on. We began to speak on turning to God, and went on, though they appeared utterly regardless. After a while their countenances changed, and one of them stole off his hat; laying it down behind him, he said that all we said was true; but he had been a grievous sinner and not considered it as he ought; but he was resolved, with God’s help, now to turn to Him in earnest. We exhorted him and his companion, who now likewise drank in every word, to cry mightily to God that He would ‘send them help from his holy place.’
Late at night we reached Manchester.
Companions on Horseback
Friday, 17.—Early in the morning we left Manchester, taking with us Mr. Kinchin’s brother, for whom we came, to be entered at Oxford. We were fully determined to lose no opportunity of awakening, instructing, or exhorting any whom we might meet with in our journey. At Knutsford, where we first stopped, all we spake to thankfully received the word of exhortation. But at Talk-on-the-hill, where we dined, she with whom we were was so much of a gentlewoman that for nearly an hour our labor seemed to be in vain. However, we spoke on. Upon a sudden, she looked as one just awakened out of a sleep. Every word sank into her heart. Nor have I seen so entire a change both in the eyes, face, and manner of speaking of anyone in so short a time.
About five, Mr. Kinchin riding by a man and woman double-horsed, the man said, ‘Sir, you ought to thank God it is a fair day; for if it rained, you would be sadly dirty with your little horse.’ Mr. Kinchin answered, ‘True; and we ought to thank God for our life, and health, and food, and raiment, and all things.’ He then rode on, Mr. Fox following, the man said, ‘Sir, my mistress would be glad to have some more talk with that gentleman.’ We stayed, and when they came up, began to search one another’s hearts. They came to us again in the evening, at our inn at Stone, where I explained both to them and many of their acquaintance who were come together, that great truth-–godliness hath the promise both of this life and of that which is to come.
Tuesday, 21.—Between nine and ten we came to Hedgeford. In the afternoon one overtook us whom we soon found more inclined to speak than to hear. However, we spoke and spared not. In the evening we overtook a young man, a Quaker, who afterward came to us, to our inn at Henley, whither he sent for the rest of his family, to join with us in prayer; to which I added, as usual, the exposition of the second lesson. Our other companion went with us a mile or two in the morning; and then not only spoke less than the day before but took in good part a serious caution against talkativeness and vanity.
An hour after we were overtaken by an elderly gentleman who said he was going to enter his son at Oxford. We asked, ‘At what college?’ He said he did not know, having no acquaintance there on whose recommendation he could depend. After some conversation, he expressed a deep sense of the good providence of God; and told us he knew God had cast us in his way in answer to his prayer. In the evening we reached Oxford, rejoicing in our having received so many fresh instances of that great truth, ‘In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths’ [Prov. 3:6].
Preaches in Oxford Castle
Thursday, 23.—I met Peter Bohler again, who now amazed me more and more by the account he gave of the fruits of living faith—the holiness and happiness which he affirmed to attend it. The next morning I began the Greek Testament again, resolving to abide by ‘the law and the testimony’; I was confident that God would hereby show me whether this doctrine was of God.
Monday, 27.—Mr. Kinchin went with me to the castle, where, after reading prayers and preaching on ‘It is appointed unto men once to die,’ we prayed with the condemned man, first in several forms of prayer and then in such words as were given us in that hour. He kneeled down in much heaviness and confusion, having ‘no rest in’ his ‘bones, by reason of’ his ‘sins.’ After a space he rose up, and eagerly said, ‘I am now ready to die. I know Christ has taken away my sins; and there is no more condemnation for me.’ The same composed cheerfulness he showed when he was carried to execution; and in his last moments he was the same, enjoying a perfect peace, in confidence that he was ‘accepted in the Beloved.’
Sunday, April 2.—Being Easter day, I preached in our college chapel on ‘The hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the son of God: and they that hear shall live’ [John 5:25]. I preached in the afternoon, first at the castle, and then at Carfax, on the same words. I see the promise, but it is afar off.
Believing it would be better for me to wait for the accomplishment of it in silence and retirement, on Monday, 3, I complied with Mr. Kinchin’s desire and went to him at Dummer, in Hampshire. But I was not suffered to stay here long, being earnestly pressed to come up to London, if it were only for a few days. Thither, therefore, I returned, on Tuesday, 18.
Talks with Bohler
I asked P. Bohler again whether I ought not to refrain from teaching others. He said, ‘No; do not hide in the earth the talent God hath given you.’ Accordingly, on Tuesday, 25, I spoke clearly and fully at Blendon to Mr. Delamotte’s family of the nature and fruits of faith. Mr. Broughton and my brother were there. Mr. Broughton’s great objection was he could never think that I had not faith, who had done and suffered such things. My brother was very angry and told me I did not know what mischief I had done by talking thus. And, indeed, it did please God then to kindle a fire, which I trust shall never be extinguished.
On Wednesday, 26, the day fixed for my return to Oxford, I once more waited on the trustees for Georgia; but, being straitened for time, was obliged to leave the papers for them, which I had designed to give into their own hands. One of these was the instrument whereby they had appointed me minister of Savannah; which, having no more place in those parts, I thought it not right to keep any longer.
P. Bohler walked with me a few miles and exhorted me not to stop short of the grace of God. At Gerard’s Cross I plainly declared to those whom God gave into my hands the faith as it is in Jesus: as I did next day to a young man I overtook on the road and in the evening to our friends at Oxford. A strange doctrine, which some who did not care to contradict yet knew not what to make of; but one or two, who were thoroughly bruised by sin, willingly heard and received it gladly.
In the day or two following, I was much confirmed in the ‘truth that is after godliness’ by hearing the experiences of Mr. Hutchins, of Pembroke College, and Mrs. Fox: two living witnesses that God can (at least, if He does not always) give that faith whereof cometh salvation in a moment, as lightning falling from heaven.
Monday, May 1.—The return of my brother’s illness obliged me again to hasten to London. In the evening I found him at James Hutton’s, better as to his health than I expected; but strongly averse to what he called ‘the new faith.’
This evening our little society began, which afterward met in Fetter Lane.
Wednesday, 3.—My brother had a long and particular conversation with Peter Bohler. And it now pleased God to open his eyes so that he also saw clearly what was the nature of that one true living faith, whereby alone, ‘through grace, we are saved.’
Thursday, 4.—Peter Bohler left London in order to embark for Carolina. Oh, what a work hath God begun since his coming into England! Such a one as shall never come to an end till heaven and earth pass away.
Sunday, 7.—I preached at St. Lawrence’s in the morning, and afterward at St. Katherine Cree’s Church. I was enabled to speak strong words at both; and was therefore the less surprised at being informed that I was not to preach any more in either of those churches.
Sunday, 14.—I preached in the morning at St. Ann’s, Aldersgate; and in the afternoon at the Savoy Chapel, free salvation by faith in the blood of Christ. I was quickly apprised that at St. Ann’s, likewise, I am to preach no more.
Friday, 19.—My brother had a second return of his pleurisy. A few of us spent Saturday night in prayer. The next day, being Whitsunday, after hearing Dr. Heylyn preach a truly Christian sermon (on ‘They were all filled with the Holy Ghost.’ ‘And so,’ said he, ‘may all you be, if it is not your own fault’), and assisting him at the holy communion (his curate being taken ill in the church), I received the surprising news that my brother had found rest to his soul. His bodily strength returned also from that hour. ‘Who is so great a God as our God?’
I preached at St. John’s, Wapping at three and at St. Bennett’s, Paul’s Wharf, in the evening. At these churches, likewise, I am to preach no more. at St. Antholin’s I preached on the Thursday following.
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I had continual sorrow and heaviness in my heart.
Wednesday, May 24.—I think it was about five this morning that I opened my Testament on those words, ‘There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, even that ye should be partakers of the divine nature’ [II Peter 1:4]. Just as I went out, I opened it again on those words, ‘Thou art not far from the kingdom of God’ [Mark 12:34]. In the afternoon I was asked to go to St. Paul’s. The anthem was, ‘Out of the deep have I called unto Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice. Oh, let Thine ears consider well the voice of my complaint. If Thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who may abide it? For there is mercy with Thee; therefore shalt Thou be feared. O Israel, trust in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his sins.’
‘I Felt My Heart Strangely Warmed’
In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.
I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me. I then testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart. But it was not long before the enemy suggested, ‘This cannot be faith; for where is thy joy?’ Then was I taught that peace and victory over sin are essential to faith in the Captain of our salvation; but that, as to the transports of joy that usually attend the beginning of it, especially in those who have mourned deeply, God sometimes giveth, sometimes withholdeth, them according to the counsels of His own will.
After my return home, I was much buffeted with temptations, but I cried out, and they fled away. They returned again and again. I as often lifted up my eyes, and He ‘sent me help from his holy place.’ And herein I found the difference between this and my former state chiefly consisted. I was striving, yea, fighting with all my might under the law, as well as under grace. But then I was sometimes, if not often, conquered; now, I was always conqueror.
Thursday, 25.—The moment I awakened, ‘Jesus, Master,’ was in my heart and in my mouth; and I found all my strength lay in keeping my eye fixed upon Him and my soul waiting on Him continually. Being again at St. Paul’s in the afternoon, I could taste the good word of God in the anthem which began, ‘My song shall be always of the loving-kindness of the Lord: with my mouth will I ever be showing forth thy truth from one generation to another.’ Yet the enemy injected a fear, ‘If thou dost believe, why is there not a more sensible change? I answered (yet not I), ‘That I know not. But, this I know, I have ‘now peace with God.’ And I sin not today, and Jesus my Master has forbidden me to take thought for the morrow.’
Wednesday, June 7.—I determined, if God should permit, to retire for a short time into Germany. I had fully proposed, before I left Georgia, so to do if it should please God to bring me back to Europe. And I now clearly saw the time was come. My weak mind could not bear to be thus sawn asunder. And I hoped the conversing with those holy men who were themselves living witnesses of the full power of faith, and yet able to bear with those that are weak, would be a means, under God, of so establishing my soul that I might go on from faith to faith, and from ‘strength to strength.’
[The next three months Wesley spent in Germany visiting the Moravians.]
Wesley Preaches in Newgate Gaol
Sunday, September 17. (London).—I began again to declare in my own country the glad tidings of salvation, preaching three times and afterward expounding the Holy Scripture, to a large company in the Minories. On Monday I rejoiced to meet with our little society, which now consisted of thirty-two persons.
The next day I went to the condemned felons in Newgate and offered them free salvation. In the evening I went to a society in Bear Yard and preached repentance and remission of sins. The next evening I spoke the truth in love at a society in Aldersgate Street: some contradicted at first, but not long; nothing but love appeared at our parting.
Friday, November 3.—I preached at St. Antholin’s; Sunday, 5, in the morning, at St. Botolph’s, Bishopsgate; in the afternoon, at Islington; and in the evening, to such a congregation as I never saw before, at St. Clement’s, in the Strand. As this was the first time of my preaching here, I suppose it is to be the last.
Sunday, December 3 (Oxford).—I began reading prayers at Bocardo (the city prison), a practice which had been long discontinued. In the afternoon I received a letter, earnestly desired me to publish my account of Georgia; and another, as earnestly dissuading me from it ‘because it would bring much trouble upon me.’ I consulted God in His Word, and received two answers: the first, Ezekiel 33:2—6; the other, ‘Thou therefore endure hardship, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ’ [II Tim. 2:3].
Tuesday, 5.—I began reading prayers and preaching in Gloucester Green workhouse; and on Thursday, in that belonging to St. Thomas’s parish. On both days I preached at the castle. At St. Thomas’s was a young woman, raving mad, screaming and tormenting herself continually. I had a strong desire to speak to her. The moment I began she was still. The tears ran down her cheeks all the time I was telling her, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is able and willing to deliver you.’
Monday, 11.—Hearing Mr. Whitefield was arriving from Georgia, I hastened to London from Oxford; and on Tuesday, 12, God gave us once more to take sweet counsel together.
Wesley Begins Field-preaching
1739. March 15.—During my stay [in London] I was fully employed, between our own society in Fetter Lane and many others where I was continually desired to expound; I had no thought of leaving London, when I received, after several others, a letter from Mr. Whitefield and another from Mr. Seward entreating me, in the most pressing manner, to come to Bristol without delay. This I was not at all forward to do.
Wednesday, 28.—My journey was proposed to our society in Fetter Lane. But my brother Charles would scarcely bear the mention of it; till appealing to the Oracles of God, he received those words as spoken to himself and answered not again: ‘Son of man, behold, I take from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet shalt thou not mourn or weep, neither shall thy tears run down’ [Ezek. 24:16]. Our other brethren, however, continuing the dispute, without any probability of their coming to one conclusion, we at length all agreed to decide it by lot. And by this it was determined I should go.
Thursday, 29.—I left London and in the evening expounded to a small company at Basingstoke, Saturday, 31. In the evening I reached Bristol and met Mr. Whitefield there. I could scarcely reconcile myself at first to this strange way of preaching in the fields, of which he set me an example on Sunday; I had been all my life (till very lately) so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order that I should have thought the saving of souls almost a sin if it had not been done in a church.
April 1.—In the evening (Mr. Whitefield being gone) I began expounding our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount (one pretty remarkable precedent of field-preaching, though I suppose there were churches at that time also), to a little society which was accustomed to meet once or twice a week in Nicholas Street.
Monday, 2.—At four in the afternoon, I submitted to be more vile and proclaimed in the highways the glad tidings of salvation, speaking from a little eminence in a ground adjoining to the city, to about three thousand people. The Scripture on which I spoke was this (is it possible anyone should be ignorant that it is fulfilled in every true minister of Christ?): ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord’ [see Isa. 61:1, 2; Luke 4:18, 19].
Sunday, 8.—At seven in the morning I preached to about a thousand persons at Bristol, and afterward to about fifteen hundred on the top of Hannam Mount in Kingswood. I called to them, in the words of the evangelical prophet, ‘Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters;.…come, and buy wine and milk without money and without price’ [Isa. 55:1]. About five thousand were in the afternoon at Rose Green (on the other side of Kingswood); among whom I stood and cried in the name of the Lord, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water’ [John 7:38].
Tuesday, 17.—At five in the afternoon I was at a little society in the Back Lane. The room in which we were was propped beneath, but the weight of people made the floor give way; so that in the beginning of expounding, the post which propped it fell down with a great noise. But the floor sank no farther; so that, after a little surprise at first, they quietly attended to the things that were spoken.
Monday, May 7.—I was preparing to set out for Pensford, having now had leave to preach in the church, when I received the following note:
‘Our minister, having been informed you are beside yourself, does not care that you should preach in any of his churches.’—I went, however; and on Priestdown, about half a mile from Pensford, preached Christ our ‘wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.’
Tuesday, 8.—I went to Bath, but was not suffered to be in the meadow where I was before, which occasioned the offer of a much more convenient place, where I preached Christ to about a thousand souls.
Wednesday, 9.—We took possession of a piece of ground near St. James’s churchyard, in the Horse Fair, Bristol, where it was designed to build a room large enough to contain both the societies of Nicholas and Baldwin Street and such of their acquaintance as might desire to be present with them, at such times as the Scripture was expounded. And on Saturday, 12, the first stone was laid with the voice of praise and thanksgiving.
The First Methodist Building
I had not at first the least apprehension or design of being personally engaged either in the expense of this work or in the direction of it, having appointed eleven feoffees on whom I supposed these burdens would fall, of course; but I quickly found my mistake. First, with regard to the expense: for the whole undertaking must have stood still had not I immediately taken upon myself the payment of all the workmen; so that before I knew where I was, I had contracted a debt of more than a hundred and fifty pounds. And this I was to discharge as I could, the subscriptions of both societies not amounting to one quarter of the sum.
And as to the direction of the work, I presently received letters from my friends in London, Mr. Whitefield in particular, backed with a message by one just come from thence, that neither he nor they would have anything to do with the building, neither contribute anything toward it, unless I would instantly discharge all feoffees and do everything in my own name. Many reasons they gave for this; but one was enough, namely, ‘that such feoffees always would have it in their power to control me; and, if I preached not as they liked, to turn me out of the room I had built.’ I accordingly yielded to their advice, and calling all the feoffees together canceled (no man opposing) the instrument made before, and took the whole management into my own hands. Money, it is true, I had not, nor any human prospect or probability of procuring it; but I knew ‘the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof,’ and in His name set out, nothing doubting.
Sunday, 13.—My ordinary employment in public was now as follows: Every morning I read prayers and preached at Newgate. Every evening I expounded a portion of Scripture at one or more of the societies. On Monday, in the afternoon, I preached abroad, near Bristol; on Tuesday, at Bath and Two Mile Hill alternately; on Wednesday, at Baptist Mills; every other Thursday, near Pensford; every other Friday, in another part of Kingswood; on Saturday in the afternoon, and Sunday morning, in the Bowling Green (which lies near the middle of the city); on Sunday, at eleven, near Hannam Mount; at two, at Clifton; and at five, on Rose Green. and hitherto, as my days so my strength hath been.
Wesley’s Living Arguments
Sunday, 20.—Seeing many of the rich at Clifton Church, my heart was much pained for them and I was earnestly desirous that some even of them might ‘enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ But full as I was, I knew not where to begin in warning them to flee from the wrath to come till my Testament opened on these words: ‘I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’ [Mark 2:17]; in applying which my soul was so enlarged that methought I could have cried out (in another sense than poor vain Archimedes), ‘Give me where to stand, and I will shake the earth.’ God’s sending forth lightning with the rain did not hinder about fifteen hundred from staying at Rose Green. Our Scripture was, ‘It is the glorious God that maketh the thunder. The voice of the Lord is mighty in operation; the voice of the Lord is a glorious voice’ [see Ps. 29:3, 4]. In the evening He spoke to three whose souls were all storm and tempest, and immediately there was a great calm.
During this whole time I was almost continually asked, either by those who purposely came to Bristol to inquire concerning this strange work, or by my old or new correspondents, ‘How can these things be?’ And innumerable cautions were given me (generally grounded on gross misrepresentations of things) not to regard visions or dreams, or to fancy people had remission of sins because of their cries, or tears, or bare outward professions. To one who had many times written to me on this head, the sum of my answer was as follows:
‘The question between us turns chiefly, if not wholly, on matter of fact. You deny that God does now work these effects; at least, that He works them in this manner. I affirm both, because I have heard these things with my own ears and have seen with my eyes. I have seen (as far as a thing of this kind can be seen very many persons changed in a moment from the spirit of fear, horror, despair, to the spirit of love, joy, and peace; and from sinful desire, till then reigning over them, to a pure desire of doing the will of God. These are matters of fact whereof I have been, and almost daily am, an eye- or ear-witness.
‘What I have to say touching visions or dreams, is this: I know several persons in whom this great change was wrought in a dream, or during a strong representation to the eye of their mind, of Christ either on the cross or in the glory. This is the fact; let any judge of it as they please. And that such a change was then wrought appears (not from their shedding tears only, or falling into fit, or crying out; these are not the fruits, as you seem to suppose, whereby I judge, but) from the whole tenor of their life, till then many ways wicked; from that time holy, just, and good.
‘I will show you him that was a lion till then and is now a lamb; him that was a drunkard and is now exemplarily sober; the whoremonger that was who now abhors the very ‘garment spotted by the flesh.’ These are my living arguments for what I assert, namely, ‘that God does now, as aforetime, give remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost even to us and to our children; yea, and that always suddenly as far as I have known, and often in dreams or in the visions of God.’ If it be not so, I am found a false witness before God. For these things I do, and by His grace, will testify.’
Beau Nash Argues with Wesley
Tuesday, June 5.—There was great expectation at Bath of what a noted man was to do to me there; and I was much entreated not to preach because no one knew what might happen. By this report I also gained a much larger audience, among whom were many of the rich and great. I told them plainly the Scripture had concluded them all under sin—high and low, rich and poor, one with another. Many of them seemed to be a little surprised and were sinking apace into seriousness, when their champion appeared and, coming close to me, asked by what authority I did these things
I replied, ‘By the authority of Jesus Christ, conveyed to me by the (now) Archbishop of Canterbury, when he laid hands upon me and said, ‘Take thou authority to preach the gospel.’’ He said, ‘This is contrary to Act of Parliament: this is a conventicle.’ I answered, ‘Sir, the conventicles mentioned in that Act (as the preamble shows) are seditious meetings; but this is not such; here is no shadow of sedition; therefore it is not contrary to that Act.’ He replied, ‘I say it is: and beside, your preaching frightens people out of their wits.’
‘Sir, did you ever hear me preach?’ ‘No.’ ‘How, then, can you judge of what you never heard?’ ‘Sir, by common report.’ ‘Common report is not enough. Give me leave, Sir, to ask, is not your name Nash?’ ‘My name is Nash.’ ‘Sir, I dare not judge of you by common report: I think it not enough to judge by.’ Here he paused awhile and, having recovered himself, said, ‘I desire to know what this people comes here for’: on which one replied, ‘Sir, leave him to me: let an old woman answer him. You, Mr. Nash, take care of your body; we take care of our souls; and for the food of our souls we come here.’ He replied not a word, but walked away.
As I returned, the street was full of people, hurrying to and from and speaking great words. But when any of them asked, ‘Which is he?’ and I replied, ‘I am he,’ they were immediately silent. Several ladies following me into Mr. Merchant’s house, the servant told me there were some wanted to speak to me. I went to them and said, ‘I believe, ladies, the maid mistook: you wanted only to look at me.’ I added, ‘I do not expect that the rich and great should want either to speak with me or to hear me; for I speak the plain truth—a thing you hear little of and do not desire to hear.’ A few more words passed between us, and I retired.
Monday, 1.—I received a pressing letter from London (as I had several others before), to come thither as soon as possible, our brethren in Fetter Lane being in great confusion for want of my presence and advice. I therefore preached in the afternoon on these words: ‘I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God’ [Acts 20: 26, 27]. After sermon I commended them to the grace of God, in whom they had believed. Surely God hath yea a work to do in this place. I have not found such love, no, not in England; nor so childlike, artless, teachable, a temper as He hath given to this people.
Yet during this whole time I had many thoughts concerning the unusual manner of my ministering among them. But after frequently laying it before the Lord and calmly weighing whatever objections I heard against it, I could not but adhere to what I had some time since written to a friend, who had freely spoken his sentiments concerning it. An extract of that letter I here subjoin that the matter may be placed in a clear light.
‘All the World My Parish’
‘You say, you cannot reconcile some parts of my behavior with the character I have long supported. No, nor ever will. Therefore I have disclaimed that character on every possible occasion. I told all in our ship, all at Savannah, all at Frederica, and that over and over, in express terms, ‘I am not a Christian; I only follow after, if haply I may attain it.’
* * * *
‘If you ask on what principle I acted, it was this: ‘A desire to be a Christian; and a conviction that whatever I judge conducive thereto that I am bound to do; wherever I judge I can best answer this end, thither it is my duty to go.’ On this principle I set out for America; on this I visited the Moravian church; and on the same am I ready now (God being my helper) to go to Abyssinia or China, or whithersoever it shall please God, by this conviction, to call me.
‘As to your advice that I should settle in college, I have no business there, having now no office and no pupils. And whether the other branch of your proposal be expedient for me, namely, ‘to accept of a cure of souls,’ it will be time enough to consider when one is offered to me.
‘But, in the meantime, you think I ought to sit still; because otherwise I should invade another’s office, if I interfered with other people’s business and intermeddled with souls that did not belong to me. You accordingly ask, ‘How is it that I assemble Christians who are none of my charge, to sing psalms, and pray, and hear the Scriptures expounded?’ and think it hard to justify doing this in other men’s parishes, upon catholic principles?
‘Permit me to speak plainly. If by catholic principles you mean any other than scriptural, they weigh nothing with me; I allow no other rule, whether of faith or practice, than the holy Scriptures. but on scriptural principles, I do not think it hard to justify whatever I do. God in Scripture commands me, according to my power, to instruct the ignorant, reform the wicked, confirm the virtuous. Man forbids me to do this in another’s parish; that is, in effect, to do it at all, seeing I have now no parish of my own, nor probably ever shall. Whom then shall I hear, God or man?
* * * *
‘I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation. This is the work which I know God has called me to; and sure I am that His blessing attends it. Great encouragement have I, therefore, to be faithful in fulfilling the work He hath given me to do. His servant I am, and, as such, am employed according to the plain direction of His Word, ‘As I have opportunity, doing good unto all men’; and His providence clearly concurs with his Word; which as disengaged me from all things else, that I might singly attend on this very thing, ‘and go about doing good.’’
* * * *
Susanna Wesley and her Son
Wednesday, 13.—After receiving the holy communion at Islington, I had once more an opportunity of seeing my mother, whom I had not seen since my return from Germany.
I cannot but mention an odd circumstance here. I had read her a paper in June last year, containing a short account of what had passed in my own soul, till within a few days of that time. She greatly approved it, and said she heartily blessed God, who had brought me to so just a way of thinking. While I was in Germany a copy of that paper was sent (without my knowledge) to one of my relations. He sent an account of it to my mother, whom I now found under strange fears concerning me, being convinced ‘by an account taken from one of my own papers that I had greatly erred from the faith.’ I could not conceive what paper that should be; but, on inquiry, found it was the same I had read her myself. How hard is it to form a true judgment of any person or thing from the account of a prejudiced relater! yea, though he be ever so honest a man: for he who gave this relations was one of unquestionable veracity. And yet by his sincere account of a writing which lay before his eyes, was the truth so totally disguised that my mother knew not the paper she had heard from end to end, nor I that I had myself written.
Thursday, 14.—I went with Mr. Whitefield to Blackheath, where were, I believe, twelve or fourteen thousand people. He a little surprised me by desiring me to preach in his stead; which I did (though nature recoiled) on my favorite subject, ‘Jesus Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.’
I was greatly moved with compassion for the rich that were there, to whom I made a particular application. Some of them seemed to attend, while others drove away their coaches from so uncouth a preacher.
Sunday, 17.—I preached at seven in Upper Moorefields to (I believe) six or seven thousand people, on, ‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.’
At five I preached on Kennington Common to about fifteen thousand people on those words, ‘Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth’ [Isa. 45:22].
Monday, 18.—I left London early in the morning and the next evening reached Bristol and preached (as I had appointed, if God should permit) to a numerous congregation. My text now also was ‘look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth’ [Isa. 45:22]. Howell Harris called upon me an hour or two after. He said he had been much dissuaded from either hearing or seeing me by many who said all manner of evil of me. ‘But,’ said he, ‘as soon as I heard you preach, I quickly found what spirit you were of. And before you had done, I was so overpowered with joy and love that I had much ado to walk home.’
Sunday, 24.—As I was riding to Rose Green, in a smooth, plain part of the road, my horse suddenly pitched upon his head, and rolled over and over. I received no other hurt than a little bruise on one side; which for the present I felt not, but preached without pain to six or seven thousand people on that important direction, ‘Whether ye eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God’ [see I Cor. 10:31].
Talks with Whitefield
Friday, July 6.—In the afternoon I was with Mr. Whitefield, just come from London, with whom I went to Baptist Mills, where he preached concerning ‘the Holy Ghost, which all who believe are to receive’; not without a just, though severe, censure of those who preach as if there were no Holy Ghost.
Saturday, 7.—I had an opportunity to talk with him of those outward signs which had so often accompanied the inward work of God. I found his objections were chiefly grounded on gross misrepresentations of matter of fact. But the next day he had an opportunity of informing himself better: for no sooner had he begun (in the application of his sermon) to invite all sinners to believe in Christ, than four persons sank down close to him, almost in the same moment. One of them lay without either sense or motion. A second trembled exceedingly. The third had strong convulsions all over his body, but made no noise unless by groans. The fourth, equally convulsed, called upon God with strong cries and tears. From this time, I trust, we shall all suffer God to carry on His own work in the way that pleaseth Him.
Friday, 23.—On Friday, in the afternoon, I left Bristol with Mr. Whitefield, in the midst of heavy rain. But the clouds soon dispersed so that we had a fair, calm evening and a serious congregation at Thornbury.
Tuesday, 17.—I rode to Bradford, five miles from Bath, whither I had been long invited to come. I waited on the minister and desired leave to preach in his church. He said it was not usual to preach on the weekdays; but if I could come thither on a Sunday, he should be glad of my assistance. Thence I went to a gentleman in the town who had been present when I preached at Bath and, with the strongest marks of sincerity and affection, wished me good luck in the name of the Lord. But it was past. I found him now quite cold. He began disputing on several heads and at last told me plainly that one of our own college had informed him they always took me to be a little crack-brained at Oxford.
However, some persons who were not of his mind, having pitched on a convenient place (called Bear Field, or Bury Field), on the top of the hill under which the town lies; I there offered Christ to about a thousand people, for ‘wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.’ Thence I returned to Bath and preached on ‘What must I do to be saved?’ to a larger audience than ever before.
I was wondering the ‘god of this world’ was so still; when, at my return from the place of preaching, poor R---d Merchant told me he could not let me preach any more in his ground. I asked him why; he said, the people hurt his trees and stole things out of his ground. ‘And besides,’ added he, ‘I have already, by letting thee be there, merited the displeasure of my neighbors.’ O fear of man! Who is above thee, but they who indeed ‘worship God in spirit and in truth’? Not even those who have one foot in the grave! Not even those who dwell in rooms of cedar and who have heaped up gold as the dust and silver as the sand of the sea.
Press-gang Disturbs the Sermon
Saturday, 21.—I began expounding, a second time, our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. In the morning, Sunday, 22, as I was explaining, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,’ to about three thousand people, we had a fair opportunity of showing all men what manner of spirit we were of: for in the middle of the sermon the press-gang came and seized on one of the hearers (ye learned in the law, what becomes of Magna Charta, and of English liberty and property? Are not these mere sounds, while, on any pretense, there is such a thing as a press-gang suffered in the land?), all the rest standing still and none opening his mouth or lifting up his hand to resist them.
Monday, September 3 (London).—I talked largely with my mother, who told me that, till a short time since, she had scarcely heard such a thing mentioned as the having forgiveness of sins now, or God’s Spirit bearing witness with our spirit: much less did she imagine that this was the common privilege of all true believers. ‘Therefore,’ said she, ‘I never durst ask for it myself. But two or three weeks ago, while my son Hall was pronouncing those words, in delivering the cup to me, ‘The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee,’ the words struck through my heart and I knew God for Christ’s sake had forgiven me all my sins.’
I asked whether her father (Dr. Annesley) had not the same faith and whether she had not heard him preach it to others. She answered that he had had it himself; and had declared, a little before his death, that for more than forty years he had had no darkness, no fear, no doubt at all of his being ‘accepted in the Beloved.’ But that, nevertheless, she did not remember to have heard him preach, no, not once, explicitly upon it: whence she supposed he also looked upon it as the peculiar blessing of a few, not as promised to all the people of God.
The New Name of Methodism
Sunday, 9.—I declared to about ten thousand, in Moorfields, what they must do to be saved. My mother went with us, about five, to Kennington, where were supposed to be twenty thousand people. I again insisted on that foundation of all our hope, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved.’ From Kennington I went to a society at Lambeth. The house being filled, the rest stood in the garden. The deep attention they showed gave me a good hope that they will not all be forgetful hearers.
Sunday, 16.—I preached at Moorfields to about ten thousand, and at Kennington Common to, I believe, nearly twenty thousand, on those words of the calmer Jews to St. Paul, ‘We desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against’ [Acts 28:22]. At both places I described the real difference between what is generally called Christianity and the true old Christianity, which, under the new name of Methodism, is now also everywhere spoken against.
Sunday, 23.—I declared to about ten thousand, in Moorfields, with great enlargement of spirit, ‘The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost’ [Rom. 14:17]. At Kennington I enforced to about twenty thousand that great truth, ‘One thing is needful.’ Thence I went to Lambeth and showed (to the amazement, it seemed, of many who were present) how ‘he that is born of God doth not commit sin’ [1 John 3:9].
Monday, 24.—I preached once more at Plaistow and took my leave of the people of that place. In my return, a person galloping swiftly rode full against me and overthrew both man and horse, but without any hurt to either. Glory be to Him who saves both man and beast!
An Accident and a Long Sermon
Thursday, 27.—I went in the afternoon to a society at Deptford and thence, at six, came to Turner’s Hall, which holds (by computation) two thousand persons. The press both within and without was very great. In the beginning of the expounding, there being a large vault beneath, the main beam which supported the floor broke. The floor immediately sank, which event occasioned much noise and confusion among the people. But two or three days before, a man had filled the vault with hogsheads of tobacco. So that the floor, after sinking a foot or two, rested upon them, and I went on without interruption.
Sunday, October 7.—About eleven I preached at Runwick, seven miles from Gloucester. The church was much crowded, though a thousand or upwards stayed in the churchyard. In the afternoon I explained further the same words, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ I believe some thousands were then present, more than had been in the morning.
Between five and six I called on all who were present (about three thousand) at Stanley, on a little green near the town, to accept of Christ as their only ‘wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.’ I was strengthened to speak as I never did before; and continued speaking nearly two hours: the darkness of the night and a little lightning not lessening the number, but increasing the seriousness, of the hearers. I concluded the day by expounding part of our Lord's Sermon on the Mount to a small, serious company at Ebly.
Wesley in Wales
Monday, 15.—Upon a pressing invitation, some time since received, I set out for Wales. About four in the afternoon I preached on a little green at the foot of the Devauden (a high hill, two or three miles beyond Chepstow) to three or four hundred plain people on ‘Christ our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.’ After sermon, one who I trust is an old disciple of Christ, willingly received us into his house: whither many following, I showed them their need of a Saviour from these words, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit.’ In the morning I described more fully the way to salvation—’Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved’; and then, taking leave of my friendly host, before two came to Abergavenny.
I felt in myself a strong aversion to preaching here. However, I went to Mr. W--- (the person in whose ground Mr. Whitefield preached) to desire the use of it. He said, with all his heart—if the minister was not willing to let me have the use of the church: after whose refusal (for I wrote a line to him immediately), he invited me to his house. About a thousand people stood patiently (though the frost was sharp, it being after sunset) while, from Acts 28:22, I simply described the plain, old religion of the Church of England, which is now almost everywhere spoken against, under the new name of Methodism.
Friday, 19.—I preached in the morning at Newport on ‘What must I do to be saved?’ to the most insensible, ill-behaved people I have ever seen in Wales. One ancient man, during a great part of the sermon, cursed and swore almost incessantly; and, toward the conclusion, took up a great stone, which he many times attempted to throw. But that he could not do.—Such the champions, such the arms against field-preaching!
At four I preached at the Shire Hall of Cardiff again, where many gentry, I found, were present. Such freedom of speech I have seldom had as was given me in explaining those words, ‘The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.’ At six almost the whole town (I was informed) came together, to whom I explained the six last beatitudes. But my heart was so enlarged I knew not how to give over, so that we continued three hours.
Saturday, 20.—I returned to Bristol. I have seen no part of England so pleasant for sixty or seventy miles together as those parts of Wales I have been in. And most of the inhabitants are indeed ripe for the gospel.
‘A Terrible Sight’
Tuesday, 23.—In riding to Bradford I read over Mr. Law’s book on the new birth. Philosophical, speculative, precarious; Behemish, void, and vain!
Oh, what a fall is there!
At eleven I preached at Bearfield to about three thousand, on the spirit of nature, of bondage, and of adoption.
Returning in the evening, I was exceedingly pressed to go back to a young woman in Kingswood. (The fact I nakedly relate and leave every man to his own judgment of it.) I went. She was nineteen or twenty years old, but, it seems, could not write or read. I found her on the bed, two or three persons holding her. It was a terrible sight. Anguish, horror, and despair above all description appeared in her pale face. The thousand distortions of her whole body showed how the dogs of hell were gnawing her heart. The shrieks intermixed were scarcely to be endured. But her stony eyes could not weep. She screamed out, as soon as words could find their way, ‘I am damned, damned; lost forever! Six days ago you might have helped me. But it is past. I am the devil’s now. I have given myself to him. His I am. Him I must serve. With him I must go to hell. I will be his. I will serve him. I will go with him to hell. I cannot be saved. I will not be saved. I must, I will, I will be damned!’ She then began praying to the devil. We began:
Arm of the Lord, awake, awake!
She immediately sank down as sleep; but, as soon as we left off, broke out again, with inexpressible vehemence: ‘Stony hearts, break! I am a warning to you. Break, break, poor stony hearts! Will you not break? What can be done more for stony hearts? I am damned that you may be saved. Now break, now break, poor stony hearts! You need not be damned, though I must.’ She then fixed her eyes on the corner of the ceiling and said: ‘There he is: ay, there he is! come, good devil, come! Take me away. You said you would dash my brains out: come, do it quickly. I am yours. I will be yours. Come just now. Take me away.’
We interrupted her by calling again upon God, on which she sank down as before; and another young woman began to roar out as loud as she had done. My brother now came in, it being about nine o’clock. We continued in prayer till past eleven, when God in a moment spoke peace into the soul, first of the first tormented, and then of the other. And they both joined in singing praise to Him who had ‘stilled the enemy and the avenger.’
‘Yonder Comes Wesley, Galloping’
Saturday, 27.—I was sent for to Kingswood again, to one of those who had been so ill before. A violent rain began just as I set out, so that I was thoroughly wet in a few minutes. Just as that time the woman (then three miles off) cried out, ‘Yonder comes Wesley, galloping as fast as he can.’ When I was come, I was quite cold and dead and fitter for sleep than prayer. She burst out into a horrid laughter and said, ‘No power, no power; no faith, no faith. She is mine; her soul is mine. I have her and will not let her go.’
We begged of God to increase our faith. Meanwhile her pangs increased more and more so that one would have imagined, by the violence of the throes, her body must have been shattered to pieces. One who was clearly convinced this was no natural disorder said, ‘I think Satan is let loose. I fear he will not stop here.’ He added, ‘I command thee, in the name of the Lord Jesus, to tell if thou hast commission to torment any other soul.’ It was immediately answered, ‘I have. L---y C---r and S---h J---s.’ (Two who lived at some distance, and were then in perfect health.)
We betook ourselves to prayer again and ceased not till she began, about six o’clock, with a clear voice and composed, cheerful look:
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.
Sunday, 28.—I preached once more at Bradford, at one in the afternoon. The violent rains did not hinder more, I believe, than ten thousand from earnestly attending to what I spoke on those solemn words: ‘I take you to record this day that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.’
Returning in the evening, I called at Mrs. J---‘s, in Kingswood. S---h J---s and L---y C---r were there. It was scarcely a quarter of an hour before L---y C---r fell into a strange agony; and presently after, S---h J---s. The violent convulsions all over their bodies were such as words cannot describe. Their cries and groans were too horrid to be borne, till one of them, in a tone not to be expressed, said: ‘Where is your faith now? Come, go to prayers. I will pray with you. ‘Our Father, which art in heaven.’’ We took the advice, from whomsoever it came, and poured out our souls before God, till L---y C---r’s agonies so increased that it seemed she was in the pangs of death. But in a moment God spoke; she knew His voice, and both her body and soul were healed.
We continued in prayer till nearly one, when S---h J---‘s voice was also changed, and she began strongly to call upon God. This she did for the greatest part of the night. In the morning we renewed our prayers, while she was crying continually, ‘I burn! I burn! Oh, what shall I do? I have a fire within me. I cannot bear it. Lord Jesus! Help!’—Amen, Lord Jesus! when Thy time is come.
Tuesday, November 27.—I wrote Mr. D. (according to his request) a short account of what had been done in Kingswood and of our present undertaking there. The account was as follows:
‘Few persons have lived long in the west of England who have not heard of the colliers of Kingswood; a people famous, from the beginning hitherto, for neither fearing God nor regarding man: so ignorant of the things of God that they seemed but one move from the beasts that perish; and therefore utterly without desire of instruction as well as without the means of it.
The Colliers of Kingswood
‘Many last winter used tauntingly to say of Mr. Whitefield, ‘If he will convert heathens, why does he not go to the colliers of Kingswood?’ In spring he did so. And as there were thousands who resorted to no place of public worship, he went after them into their own wilderness, ‘to seek and save that which was lost.’ When he was called away others went into ‘the highways and hedges, to compel them to come in.’ And, by the grace of God, their labor was not in vain. The scene is already changed. Kingswood does not now, as a year ago, resound with cursing and blasphemy. It is no more filled with drunkenness and uncleanness and the idle diversions that naturally lead thereto. It is no longer full of wars and fightings, of clamor and bitterness, of wrath and envyings. Peace and love are there. Great numbers of the people are mild, gentle, and easy to be entreated. They ‘do not cry, neither strive’; and hardly is their ‘voice heard in the streets’; or, indeed, in their own wood; unless when they are at their usual evening diversion—singing praise unto God their Saviour.
‘That their children too might know the things which make for their peace, it was some time since proposed to build a house in Kingswood; and after many foreseen and unforeseen difficulties, in June last the foundation was laid. The ground made choice of was in the middle of the wood, between the London and Bath roads, not far from that called Two Mile Hill, about three measured miles from Bristol.
‘Here a large room was begun for the school, having four small rooms at either end for the schoolmasters (and, perhaps, if it should please God, some poor children) to lodge in. Two persons are ready to teach, so soon as the house is fit to receive them, the shell of which is nearly finished; so that it is hoped the whole will be completed in spring or early in the summer.
‘It is true, although the masters require no pay, yet this undertaking is attended with great expense.’
"It concerneth Wesley’s Correspondents
1740. Thursday, January 3.—I left London and the next evening came to Oxford, where I spent the two following days in looking over the letters which I had received for the sixteen or eighteen years last past. How few traces of inward religion are here! I found but one among all my correspondents who declared (what I well remember, at that time I knew not how to understand), that God had ‘shed abroad his love in his heart’ and had given him the ‘peace that passeth all understanding.’ But who believed his report? Should I conceal a sad truth or declare it for the profit of others? He was expelled out of his society as a madman; and, being disowned by his friends and despised and forsaken of all men, lived obscure and unknown for a few months, and then went to Him whom his soul loved.
Monday, 21.—I preached at Hannam, four miles from Bristol. In the evening I made a collection in our congregation for the relief of the poor, without Lawford’s gate; who, having no work (because of the severe frost) and no assistance from the parish wherein they lived, were reduced to the last extremity. I made another collection on Thursday and a third on Sunday, by which we were enabled to feed a hundred, sometimes a hundred and fifty, a day, of those whom we found to need it most.
A Sermon and a Riot
Tuesday, April 1 (Bristol).—While I was expounding the former part of the twenty-third chapter of the Acts (how wonderfully suited to the occasion! though not by my choice), the floods began to lift up their voice. some or other of the children on Belial had labored to disturb us several nights before: but now it seemed as if all the host of the aliens had come together with one consent. Not only the court and the alleys, but all the street, upwards and downwards, was filled with people, shouting, cursing and swearing, and ready to swallow the ground with fierceness and rage. The mayor sent order that they should disperse. But they set him at nought. The chief constable came next in person, who was, till then, sufficiently prejudiced against us. But they insulted him also in so gross a manner as I believe fully opened his eyes. At length the mayor sent several of his officers who took the ringleaders into custody and did not go till all the rest were dispersed. Surely he hath been to us ‘the minister of God for good.’
Wednesday, 2.—The rioters were brought up to the court, the quarter sessions being held that day. They began to excuse themselves by saying many things of me. But the mayor cut them all short, saying, ‘What Mr. Wesley is, is nothing to you. I will keep the peace; I will have no rioting in this city.’
Calling at Newgate in the afternoon, I was informed that the poor wretches under sentence of death were earnestly desirous to speak with me; but that it could not be, Alderman Beecher having just then sent an express order that they should not. I cite Alderman Beecher to answer for these souls at the judgment seat of Christ.
Sunday, September 14 (London).—As I returned home in the evening, I had no sooner stepped out of the coach than the mob, who were gathered in great numbers about my door, quite closed me in. I rejoiced and blessed God, knowing this was the time I had loon been looking for, and immediately spake to those that were next me of ‘righteousness, and judgment to come.’ At first not many heard, the noise round about us being exceedingly great. But the silence spread farther and farther till I had a quiet, attentive congregation; and when I left them, they all showed much love and dismissed me with many blessings.
Sunday, 28.—I began expounding the Sermon on the Mount, at London. In the afternoon I described to a numerous congregation at Kennington, the life of God in the soul. One person who stood on the mount made a little noise at first; but a gentleman, whom I knew not, walked up to him, and, without saying one word, mildly took him by the hand and led him down. From that time he was quiet till he went away.
When I came home I found an innumerable mob round the door who opened all their throats the moment they saw me. I desired my friends to go into the house; and then walking into the midst of the people, proclaimed, ‘the name of the Lord, gracious and merciful, and repenting him of the evil.’ They stood staring one at another. I told them they could not flee from the face of this great God and therefore besought them that we might all join together in crying to Him for mercy. To this they readily agreed: I then commended them to His grace and went undisturbed to the little company within.
Tuesday, 30.—As I was expounding the twelfth of the Acts, a young man, with some others, rushed in, cursing and swearing vehemently; he so disturbed all near him that, after a time, they put him out. I observed it and called to let him come in, that our Lord might bid his chains fall off. As soon as the sermon was over, he came and declared before us all that he was a smuggler, then going on that work, as his disguise, and the great bag he had with him, showed. But he said he must never do this more, for he was now resolved to have the Lord for his God.
Wesley’s Labor Colony
Tuesday, November 25 (London).—After several methods proposed for employing those who were out of business, we determined to make a trial of one which several of our brethren recommended to us. Our aim was, with as little expense as possible, to keep them at once from want and from idleness, in order to which, we took twelve of the poorest and a teacher into the society room where they were employed for four months, till spring came on, in carding and spinning of cotton. And the design answered: they were employed and maintained with very little more than the produce of their own labor.
Friday, 28.—A gentleman came to me full of good-will, to exhort me not to leave the Church; or (which was the same thing in his account) to use extemporary prayer, which, said he, ‘I will prove to a demonstration to be no prayer at all. For you cannot do two things at once. But thinking how to pray and praying are two things. Ergo, you cannot both think and pray at once.’ Now, may it not be proved by the salf-same demonstration that praying by a form is no prayer at all? E.g. You cannot do two things at once. But reading and praying are two things. Ergo, you cannot both read and pray at once.’ Q.E.D.
Dispute with Whitefield
1741. Sunday, February 1.—A private letter, written to me by Mr. Whitefield, was printed without either his leave or mine, and a great numbers of copies were given to our people, both at the door and in the Foundry itself. Having procured one of them, I related (after preaching) the naked fact to the congregation and told them, ‘I will do just what I believe Mr. Whitefield would, were he here himself.’ Upon which I tore it in pieces before them all. Everyone who had received it, did the same. So that in two minutes there was not a whole copy left.
Saturday, March 28.—Having heard much of Mr. Whitefield’s unkind behavior, since his return from Georgia, I went to him to hear him speak for himself that I might know how to judge. I much approved of his plainness of speech. He told me that he and I preached two different gospels; and therefore he not only would not join with or give me the right hand of fellowship, but was resolved publicly to preach against me and my brother, wheresoever he preached at all. Mr. Hall (who went with me) put him in mind of the promise he had made but a few days before, that, whatever his private opinion was, he would never publicly preach against us. He said that promise was only an effect of human weakness, and he was now of another mind.
Monday, April 6.—I had a long conversation with Peter Bohler. I marvel how I refrain from joining these men. I scarcely ever see any of them but my heart burns within me. I long to be with them, and yet I am kept from them.
Thursday, May 7.—I reminded the United Society that many of our brethren and sisters had not needful food; many were destitute of convenient clothing; many were out of business, and that without their own fault; and many sick and ready to perish: that I had done what in me lay to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to employ the poor, and to visit the sick; but was not, alone, sufficient for these things; and therefore desired all whose hearts were as my heart:
1. To bring what clothes each could spare to be distributed among those that wanted most.
2. To give weekly a penny, or what they could afford, for the relief of the poor and sick.
My design, I told them, is to employ for the present all the women who are out of business, and desire it, in knitting.
To these we will first give the common price for what work they do; and then add, according as they need.
Twelve persons are appointed to inspect these and to visit and provide things needful for the sick.
Each of these is to visit all the sick within her district every other day and to meet on Tuesday evening, to give an account of what she has done and consult what can be done further.
Friday, 8.—I found myself much out of order. However, I made shift to preach in the evening; but on Saturday my bodily strength quite failed so that for several hours I could scarcely lift up my head. Sunday, 10. I was obliged to lie down most part of the day, being easy only in that posture. Yet in the evening my weakness was suspended while I was calling sinners to repentance. But at our love-feast which followed, beside the pain in my back and head and the fever which still continued upon me, just as I began to pray I was seized with such a cough that I could hardly speak. At the same time came strongly into my mind, ‘These signs shall follow them that believe’ [Mark 16:17]. I called on Jesus aloud to ‘increase my faith’ and to ‘confirm the word of his grace.’ While I was speaking my pain vanished away; the fever left me; my bodily strength returned; and for many weeks I felt neither weakness nor pain. ‘Unto thee, O Lord, do I give thanks.’
Wesley at Northampton and Nottingham
Monday, June 8.—I set out from Enfield Chace for Leicestershire. In the evening we came to Northampton, and the next afternoon to Mr. Ellis’s at Markfield, five or six miles beyond Leicester.
For these two days I had made an experiment which I had been so often and earnestly pressed to do—speaking to none concerning the things of God unless my heart was free to it. And what was the event? Why, 1.) that I spoke to none at all for fourscore miles together; no, not even to him that traveled with me in the chaise, unless a few words at first setting out; 2.) that I had no cross either to bear or to take up, and commonly, in an hour or two, fell fast asleep; 3.) that I had much respect shown me wherever I came, everyone behaving to me as to a civil, good-natured gentleman. Oh, how pleasing is all this to flesh and blood! Need ye ‘compass sea and land’ to make ‘proselytes’ to this?
Sunday, 14.—I rode to Nottingham and at eight preached at the market place, to an immense multitude of people on ‘The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live’ [John 5:25]. I saw only one or two who behaved lightly, whom I immediately spoke to; and they stood reproved. Yet, soon after, a man behind me began aloud to contradict and blaspheme; but upon my turning to him, he stepped behind a pillar and in a few minutes disappeared.
In the afternoon we returned to Markfield. The church was so excessively hot (being crowded in ever corner), that I could not, without difficulty, read the evening service. Being afterward informed that abundance of people were still without who could not possibly get into the church, I went out to them and explained that great promise of our Lord, ‘I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely’ [Hos. 14:4]. In the evening I expounded in the church on her who ‘loved much, because she had much forgiven.’
Monday, 15.—I set out for London, and read over in the way that celebrated book, Martin Luther’s comment on the Epistle to the Galatians. I was utterly ashamed. How have I esteemed this book, only because I heard it so commended by others; or, at best, because I had read some excellent sentences occasionally quoted from it! But what shall I say, now I judge for myself? now I see with my own eyes? Why, not only that the author makes nothing out, clears up not one considerable difficulty; that he is quite shallow in his remarks on many passages, and muddy and confused almost on all; but that he is deeply tinctured with mysticism throughout and hence often dangerously wrong.
An Ox in the Congregation
Friday, July 10.—I rode to London and preached at Short’s Gardens on ‘the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth’ [Acts 3:6]. Sunday, 12. While I was showing, at Charles’ Square, what it is ‘to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God’ [see Micah 6:8], a great shout began. Many of the rabble had brought an ox, which they were vehemently laboring to drive among the people. But their labor was in vain; for in spite of them all, he ran round and round, one way and the other, and at length broke through the midst of them clear away, leaving us calmly rejoicing and praising God.
Saturday, 25 (Oxford).—It being my turn (which comes about once in three years), I preached at St. Mary’s, before the University. The harvest truly is plenteous. No numerous a congregation (from whatever motives they came) I have seldom seen at Oxford. My text was the confession of poor Agrippa, ‘Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian’ [Acts 26:28]. I have ‘cast my bread upon the waters.’ Let me ‘find it again after many days!’ [Eccles. 11:1].
Wednesday, August 26 (London).—I was informed of a remarkable conversation at which one of our sisters was present a day or two before: a gentleman was assuring his friends that he himself was in Charles Square when a person told Mr. Wesley to his face that he, Mr. Wesley, had paid twenty pounds already on being convicted for selling Geneva; and that he now kept two popish priests in his house. This gave occasion to another to mention what he had himself heard, at an eminent Dissenting teacher’s, namely, that it was beyond dispute Mr. Wesley had large remittances from Spain in order to make a party among the poor; and that as soon as the Spaniards landed, he was to join them with twenty thousand men.
Wesley at Cardiff
Thursday, October 1.—We set out for Wales; but missing our passage over the Severn in the morning, it was sunset before we could get to Newport. We inquired there if we could hire a guide to Cardiff; but there was none to be had. A lad coming in quickly after, who was going (he said) to Lanissan, a little village two miles to the right of Cardiff, we resolved to go thither. At seven we set out: it rained pretty fast, and there being neither moon nor stars, we could neither see any road, nor one another, nor our own horses’ heads; but the promise of God did not fail; He gave His angels charge over us. Soon after ten we came safe to Mr. William’s house at Lanissan.
Friday, 2.—We rode to Fonmon castle. We found Mr. Jones’s daughter ill of the smallpox; but he could cheerfully leave her and all the rest in the hands of Him in whom he now believed. In the evening I preached at Cardiff in the shire-hall, a large and convenient place, on ‘God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his son’ [I John 5:11]. There having been a feast in the town that day, I believed it needful to add a few words upon intemperance: and while I was saying, ‘As for you, drunkards, you have no part in this life; you abide in death; you choose death and hell,’ a man cried out vehemently, ‘I am one; and thither I am going.’ But I trust God at that hour began to show him and others ‘a more excellent way.’
Sunday, November 22 (Bristol).—Being not suffered to go to church as yet [after a serious fever], I communicated at home. I was advised to stay at home some time longer, but I could not apprehend it necessary. Therefore, on Monday, 23, went to the new room, where we praised God for all His mercies. And I expounded, for about an hour (without any faintness or weariness), on ‘What reward shall I give upon the Lord for all the benefits that he hath done unto me? I will receive the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord’ [see Ps. 116:12, 13].
I preached once every day this week and found no inconvenience by it. Sunday, 29. I thought I might go a little farther. So I preached both at Kingswood and at Bristol and afterward spent nearly an hour with the society, and about two hours at the love feast. But my body could not yet keep pace with my mind. I had another fit of my fever the next day; but it lasted not long, and I continued slowly to regain my strength.
A Curious Interruption
Monday, December 7.—I preached on ‘Trust ye in the Lord Jehovah; for in the Lord is everlasting strength’ [Isa. 26:4]. I was showing what cause we had to trust in the Captain of our salvation, when one in the midst of the room cried out, ‘Who was your captain the other day, when you hanged yourself? I know the man who saw you when you were cut down.’ This wise story, it seems, had been diligently spread abroad and cordially believed by many in Bristol. I desired they would make room for the man to come nearer. But the moment he saw the way open, he ran away with all possible speed, not so much as once looking behind him.
Saturday, 12.—In the evening one desired to speak with me. I perceived him to be in the utmost confusion so that for awhile he could not speak. At length, he said, ‘I am he that interrupted you at the new room, on Monday. I have had no rest since, day or night, nor could have till I had spoken to you. I hope you will forgive me and that it will be a warning to me all the days of my life.’
Wesley’s Congregation Stoned
1742. Monday, January 25 (London).—While I was explaining at Long Lane, ‘He that committeth sin is of the devil’ [I John 3:8], his servants were above measure enraged: they not only made all possible noise (although, as I had desired before, no man stirred from his place or answered them a word); but violently thrust many persons to and fro, struck others, and broke down part of the house. At length they began throwing large stones upon the house, which, forcing their way wherever they came, fell down, together with the tiles, among the people, so that they were in danger of their lives. I then told them, ‘You must not go on thus; I am ordered by the magistrate, who is, in this respect, to us the minister of God, to inform him of those who break the laws of God and the King: and I must do it if you persist herein; otherwise I am a partaker of your sin.’
When I ceased speaking they were more outrageous than before. Upon this I said, ‘Let three or four calm men take hold of the foremost and charge a constable with him, that the law may take its course.’ They did so and brought him into the house, cursing and blaspheming in a dreadful manner. I desired five or six to go with him to Justice Copeland, to whom they nakedly related the fact. The justice immediately bound him over to the next sessions at Guildford.
I observed when the man was brought into the house that many of his companions were loudly crying out, ‘Richard Smith, Richard Smith!’ who, as it afterwards appeared, was one of their stoutest champions. But Richard Smith answered not; he was fallen into the hands of One higher than they. God had struck him to the heart; as also a woman, who was speaking words not fit to be repeated and throwing whatever came to hand, whom He overtook in the very act. She came into the house with Richard Smith, fell upon her knees before us all, and strongly exhorted him never to turn back, never to forget the mercy which God had shown to his soul. From this time we had never any considerable interruption or disturbance at Long Lane; although we withdrew our persecution upon the offender’s submission and promise of better behavior.
Tuesday, 26.—I explained at Chelsea the faith which worketh by love. I was very weak when I went into the room; but the more ‘the beasts of the people’ increased in madness and rage, the more was I strengthened, both in body and soul; so that I believe few in the house, which was exceedingly full, lost one sentence of what I spoke. Indeed they could not see me, nor one another at a few yards distance, by reason of the exceedingly thick smoke, which was occasioned by the wildfire, and things of that kind, continually thrown into the room. But they who could praise God in the midst of the fires were not to be affrighted by a little smoke.
Monday, February 15.—Many met together to consult on a proper method for discharging the public debt; it was at length agreed 1) that every member of the society, who was able, should contribute a penny a week; 2) that the whole society should be divided into little companies or classes—about twelve in each class; and 3) that one person in each class should receive the contribution of the rest and bring it in to the stewards weekly.
Friday, March 10.—I rode once more to Pensford at the earnest request of serious people. The place where they desired me to preach was a little green spot near the town. But I had no sooner begun than a great company of rabble, hired (as we afterwards found) for that purpose, came furiously upon us, bringing a bull, which they had been baiting, and now strove to drive in among the people. But the beast was wiser than his drivers and continually ran either on one side of us or the other, while we quietly sang praise to God and prayed for about an hour. The poor wretches, finding themselves disappointed, at length seized upon the bull, now weak and tired after having been so long torn and beaten both by dogs and men; and, by main strength, partly dragged, and partly thrust, him in among the people.
A Bull in the Congregation
When they had forced their way to the little table on which I stood, they strove several times to throw it down by thrusting the helpless beast against it, who, of himself, stirred no more than a log of wood. I once or twice put aside his head with my hand that the blood might not drop upon my clothes; intending to go on as soon as the hurry should be over. But the table falling down, some of our friends caught me in their arms, and carried me right away on their shoulders; while the rabble wreaked their vengeance on the table, which they tore bit from bit. We went a little way off, where I finished my discourse without any noise or interruption.
Sunday, 21.—In the evening I rode to Marshfield and on Tuesday, in the afternoon, came to London. Wednesday, 24. I preached for the last time in the French chapel at Waping on ‘If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed’ [John 8:31].
Thursday, 25.—I appointed several earnest and sensible men to meet me, to whom I showed the great difficulty I had long found of knowing the people who desired to be under my care. After much discourse, they all agreed there could be no better way to come to a sure, thorough knowledge of each person than to divide them into classes, like those at Bristol, under the inspection of those in whom I could most confide. This was the origin of our classes at London, for which I can never sufficiently praise God; the unspeakable usefulness of the institution having ever since been more and more manifest.
Friday, April 9.—We had the first watch night in London. We commonly choose for this solemn service the Friday night nearest the full moon, either before or after, that those of the congregation who live at a distance may have light to their several homes. The service begins at half an hour past eight and continues till a little after midnight. We have often found a peculiar blessing at these seasons. There is generally a deep awe upon the congregation, perhaps in some measure owing to the silence of the night, particularly in singing the hymn with which we commonly conclude:
Hearken to the solemn voice,
The awful midnight cry!
Waiting souls, rejoice, rejoice,
And feel the Bridegroom nigh.
Sunday, May 9.—I preached in Charles Square to the largest congregation I have ever seen there. Many of the baser people would fain have interrupted, but they found, after a time, it was lost labor. One, who was more serious, was (as she afterwards confessed) exceedingly angry at them. But she was quickly rebuked by a stone which lit upon her forehead and struck her down to the ground. In that moment her anger was at an end, and love only filled her heart.
Wednesday, 12.—I waited on the Archbishop of Canterbury with Mr. Whitefield, and again on Friday; as also on the Bishop of London. I trust if we should be called to appear before princes, we should not be ashamed.
Wesley Was ‘the Better Mounted’
Monday, 17.—I had designed this morning to set out for Bristol but was unexpectedly prevented. In the afternoon I received a letter from Leicestershire, pressing me to come without delay and pay the last office of friendship to one whose soul was on the wing for eternity. On Thursday, 20, I set out. The next afternoon I stopped a little at Newport-Pagnell and then rode on till I overtook a serious man, with whom I immediately fell into conversation.
He presently gave me to know what his opinions were: therefore I said nothing to contradict them. But that did not content him: he was quite uneasy to know whether I held the doctrine of the decrees as he did; but I told him over and over, ‘We had better keep to practical things, lest we should be angry at one another.’ And so we did for two miles, till he caught me unawares, and dragged me into the dispute before I knew where I was. He then grew warmer and warmer; told me I was rotten at heart and supposed I was one of John Wesley’s followers. I told him, ‘No, I am John Wesley himself.’ Upon which he would gladly have run away outright. But being the better mounted of the two, I kept close to his side and endeavored to show him his heart, till we came into the street of Northampton.
A Big Crowd at Newcastle
Observing the people, when I had done, gaping and staring upon me with the most profound astonishment, I told them, ‘If you desire to know who I am, my name is John Wesley. At five in the evening, with God’s help, I design to preach here again.’
At five, the hill on which I designed to preach was covered from the top to the bottom. I never saw so large a number of people together, either at Moorfields or at Kennington Common. I knew it was not possible for the one half to hear, although my voice was then strong and clear; and I stood so as to have them all in view, as they were ranged on the side of the hill. The Word of God which I set before them was, ‘I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely’ [Hos. 14:4]. After preaching, the poor people were ready to tread me under foot, out of pure love and kindness. It was some time before I could possibly get out of the press. I then went back another way than I had come; several got to our inn before me, by whom I was vehemently importuned to stay with them at least a few days; or, however, one day more. But I could not consent, having given my word to be at Birstal, with God’s leave, on Tuesday night.
Wesley on His Father’s Tombstone
Saturday, June 5.—It being many years since I had been in Epworth before, I went to an inn in the middle of the town, not knowing whether there were any left in it now who would not be ashamed of my acquaintance. But an old servant of my father’s, with two or three poor women, presently found me out. I asked her, ‘Do you know any in Epworth who are in earnest to be saved?’ She answered, ‘I am, by the grace of God; and I know I am saved through faith.’ I asked, ‘Have you then the peace of God? Do you know that He has forgiven your sins?’ She replied, ‘ I thank God I know it well. And many here can say the same thing.’
Sunday, 6.—A little before the service began, I went to Mr. Romley, the curate, and offered to assist him either by preaching or reading prayers. But he did not care to accept of my assistance. The church was exceedingly full in the afternoon, a rumor being spread that I was to preach. But the sermon on ‘Quench not the Spirit’ [I Thess. 5:19] was not suitable to the expectation of many of the hearers. Mr. Romley told them one of the most dangerous ways of quenching the Spirit was by enthusiasm; and enlarged on the character of an enthusiast in a very florid and oratorical manner. After sermon John Taylor stood in the churchyard and gave notice as the people were coming out, ‘Mr. Wesley, not being permitted to preach in the church, designs to preach here at six o’clock.’
Accordingly at six I came and found such a congregation as I believe Epworth never saw before. I stood near the east end of the church, upon my father’s tombstone, and cried, ‘The kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost’ [Rom. 14:17].
‘Let Them Convert the Scolds’
Wednesday, 9.—I rode over to a neighboring town to wait upon a justice of peace, a man of candor and understanding; before whom (I was informed) their angry neighbors had carried a whole wagonload of these new heretics. But when he asked what they had done, there was a deep silence; for that was a point their conductors had forgotten. At length one said, ‘Why they pretended to be better than other people; and besides, they prayed from morning to night.’ Mr. S. asked, ‘But have they done nothing besides?’ ‘Yes, sir,’ said an old man, ‘an’t please your worship, they have convarted my wife. Till she went among them, she had such a tongue! And now she is as quiet as a lamb.’ ‘Carry them back, carry them back,’ replied the justice, ‘and let them convert all the scolds in the town.’
Saturday, 12.—I preached on the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith. While I was speaking, several dropped down as dead and among the rest such a cry was heard of sinners groaning for the righteousness of faith as almost drowned my voice. But many of these soon lifted up their heads with joy and broke out into thanksgiving, being assured they now had the desire of their soul—the forgiveness of their sins.
I observed a gentleman there who was remarkable for not pretending to be of any religion at all. I was informed he had not been at public worship of any kind for upwards of thirty years. Seeing him stand as motionless as a statue, I asked him abruptly, ‘Sir, are you a sinner?’ He replied, with a deep and broken voice, ‘Sinner enough’; and he continued staring upward till his wife and a servant or two, who were all in tears, put him into his chaise and carried him home.
Sunday, 13.—At seven I preached at Haxey on ‘What must I do to be saved?’ Thence I went to Wroote, of which (as well as Epworth) my father was rector for several years. Mr. Whitelamb offering me the church, I preached in the morning on ‘Ask, and it shall be given you’; in the afternoon, on the difference between the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith. But the church could not contain the people, many of whom came from far and, I trust, not in vain.
At six I preached for the last time in Epworth churchyard (planning to leave the town the next morning) to a vast multitude gathered together from all parts, on the beginning of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. I continued among them for nearly three hours, and yet we scarcely knew how to part. Oh, let none think his labor of love is lost because the fruit does not immediately appear! Nearly forty years did my father labor here, but he saw little fruit of all his labor. I took some pains among this people too, and my strength also seemed spent in vain; but now the fruit appeared. There were scarcely any in the town on whom either my father or I had taken any pains formerly but the seed, sown so long since, now sprang up, bringing forth repentance and remission of sins.
Death of Wesley’s Mother
I left Bristol in the evening of Sunday, July 18, and on Tuesday came to London. I found my mother on the borders of eternity. But she had no doubt or fear nor any desire but (as soon as God should call) ‘to depart and be with Christ.’
Friday, 23.—About three in the afternoon I went to my mother and found her change was near. I sat down on the bedside. She was in her last conflict, unable to speak but I believe quite sensible. Her look was calm and serene, and her eyes fixed upward while we commended her soul to God. From three to four the silver cord was loosing, and the wheel breaking at the cistern; and then without any struggle, or sign, or groan, the soul was set at liberty. We stood round the bed and fulfilled her last request, uttered a little before she lost her speech: ‘Children, as soon as I am released, sing a psalm of praise to God.’
Sunday, August 1.—almost an innumerable company of people being gathered together, about five in the afternoon, I committed to the earth the body of my mother, to sleep with her fathers. The portion of Scripture from which I afterward spoke was: ‘I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works’ [Rev. 20:11, 12]. It was one of the most solemn assemblies I ever saw or expect to see on this side eternity.
We set up a plain stone at the head of her grave, inscribed with the following words:
Here lies the Body
MRS. SUSANNAH WESLEY,
the youngest and last surviving daughter of
Dr. Samuel Annesley.
In sure and steadfast hope to rise,
And claim her mansion in the skies,
A Christian here her flesh laid down,
The cross exchanging for a crown.
True daughter of affliction, she,
Inured to pain and misery,
Mourn’d a long night of griefs and fears,
A legal night of seventy years.
The Father then reveal’d His Son,
Him in the broken bread made known;
She knew and felt her sins forgiven,
And found the earnest of her heaven.
Meet for the fellowship above,
She heard the call, ‘Arise, my love!’
‘I come,’ her dying looks replied,
And lamblike, as her Lord, she died.
Mrs. Wesley as Preacher
I cannot but further observe that even she (as well as her father, and grandfather, her husband, and her three sons) had been, in her measure and degree, a preacher of righteousness. This I learned from a letter, written long since to my father, part of which I have here subjoined:
February 6, 1711-12
‘___As I am a woman, so I am also mistress of a large family. and though the superior charge of the souls contained in it lies upon you; yet, in your absence, I cannot but look upon every soul you leave under my care as a talent committed to me under a trust by the great Lord of all the families both of heaven and earth. And if I am unfaithful to Him or you in neglecting to improve these talents, how shall I answer unto Him, when He shall command me to render an account of my stewardship?
‘As these, and other such like thoughts, made me at first take a more than ordinary care of the souls of my children and servants, so—knowing our religion requires a strict observation of the Lord’s day, and not thinking that we fully answered the end of the institution by going to church unless we filled up the intermediate spaces of time by other acts of piety and devotion—I thought it my duty to spend some part of the day in reading to and instructing my family: and such time I esteemed spent in a way more acceptable to God than if I had retired to my own private devotions.
‘This was the beginning of my present practice. Other people’s coming and joining with us was merely accidental. Our lad told his parents: they first desired to be admitted; then others that heard of it begged leave also: so our company increased to about thirty, and it seldom exceeded forty last winter.
‘But soon after you went to London last, I lit on the account of the Danish missionaries. I was, I think, never more affected with anything; I could not forbear spending good part of that evening in praising and adoring the divine goodness for inspiring them with such ardent zeal for His glory. For several days I could think or speak of little else. At last it came into my mind, Though I am not a man nor a minister, yet if my heart were sincerely devoted to God and I was inspired with a true zeal for his glory, I might do somewhat more than I do. I thought I might pray more for them and might speak to those with whom I converse with more warmth of affection. I resolved to begin with my own children; in which I observe the following method: I take such a proportion of time as I can spare every night to discourse with each child apart. On Monday, I talk with Molly; on Tuesday, with Hetty; Wednesday, with Nancy; Thursday, with Jacky; Friday, with Patty; Saturday, with Charles; and with Emily and Suky together on Sunday.
She Speaks to Two Hundred
‘With those few neighbors that then came to me, I discoursed more freely and affectionately. I chose the best and most awakening sermons we have. And I spent somewhat more time with them in such exercises, without being careful about the success of my undertaking. Since this, our company increased every night; for I dare deny none that ask admittance.
‘Last Sunday I believe we had above two hundred. And yet many went away for want of room to stand.
‘We banish all temporal concerns from our society. None is suffered to mingle any discourse about them with our reading or singing. We keep close to the business of the day; and when it is over, all go home.
‘I cannot conceive, why any should reflect upon you because your wife endeavors to draw people to church and to restrain them from profaning the Lord’s day by reading to them, and other persuasions. For my part, I value no censure upon this account. I have long since shaken hands with the world. And I heartily wish I had never given them more reason to speak against me.
‘As to its looking particular, I grant it does. And so does almost anything that is serious, or that may any way advance the glory of God or the salvation of souls.
‘As for your proposal of letting some other person read: alas! you do not consider what a people these are. I do not think one man among them could read a sermon, without spelling a good part of it. Nor has any of our family a voice strong enough to be heard by such a number of people.
‘But there is one thing about which I am much dissatisfied; that is, their being present at family prayers. I do not speak of any concern I am under, barely because so many are present; for those who have the honor of speaking to the Great and Holy God need not be ashamed to speak before the whole world; but because of my sex. I doubt if it is proper for me to present the prayers of the people to God. Last Sunday I would fain have dismissed them before prayers; but they begged so earnestly to stay, I durst not deny them.
How the Wesleys Were Brought up
For the benefit of those who are entrusted, as she was, with the care of a numerous family, I cannot but add one letter more, which I received many years ago:
July 24, 1732
‘To the Rev. Mr. Wesley,
‘In St. Margaret’s Churchyard, Westminster.’
‘According to your desire, I have collected the principal rules I observed in educating my family; which I now send you as they occurred to my mind, and you may (if you think they can be of use to any) dispose of them in what order you please.
‘The children were always put into a regular method of living, in such things as they were capable of, from their birth; as in dressing, undressing, changing their linen, and so on. The first quarter commonly passes in sleep. After that, they were, if possible laid into their cradles awake and rocked to sleep; and so they were kept rocking till it was time for them to awake. This was done to bring them to a regular course of sleeping, which at first was three hours in the morning and three in the afternoon; afterward two hours, till they needed none at all.
‘When turned a year old (and some before), they were taught to fear the rod and to cry softly; by which means they escaped abundance of correction they might otherwise have had; and that most odious noise of the crying of children was rarely heard in the house, but the family usually lived in as much quietness as if there had not been a child among them.
‘As soon as they were grown pretty strong, they were confined to three meals a day. At dinner their little table and chairs were set by ours, where they could be observed; and they were suffered to eat and drink as much as they would but not to call for anything. If they wanted aught, they used to whisper to the maid which attended them, who came and spoke to me; and as soon as they could handle a knife and fork, they were set to our table. They were never suffered to choose their meat, but always made to eat such things as were provided for the family.
‘Mornings they had always spoon-meat; sometimes at nights. But whatever they had, they were never permitted to eat, at those meals, of more than one thing; and of that sparingly enough. Drinking or eating between meals was never allowed, unless in case of sickness, which seldom happened. Nor were they suffered to go into the kitchen to ask anything of the servants, when they were at meat: if it was known they did, they were certainly beaten, and the servants severely reprimanded.
‘At six, as soon as family prayers were over, they had their supper; at seven, the maid washed them; and, beginning at the youngest, she undressed and got them all to bed by eight, at which time she left them in their several rooms awake; for there was no such thing allowed of in our house as sitting by a child till it fell asleep.
‘They were so constantly used to eat and drink what was given them that when any of them was ill there was no difficulty in making them take the most unpleasant medicine: for they durst not refuse it, though some of them would presently throw it up. This I mention to show that a person may be taught to take anything, though it be never so much against his stomach.
‘Conquer the Child’s Will’
‘In order to form the minds of children, the first thing to be done is to conquer their will and bring them to an obedient temper. To inform the understanding is a work of time and must with children proceed by slow degrees as they are able to bear it: but the subjecting the will is a thing which must be done at once; and the sooner the better. For by neglecting timely correction, they will contract a stubbornness and obstinacy which is hardly ever after conquered; and never, without using such severity as would be as painful to me as to the child. In the esteem of the world they pass for kind and indulgent, whom I call cruel, parents, who permit their children to get habits which they know must be afterward broken. Nay, some are so stupidly fond as in sport to teach their children to do things which, in a while after, they have severely beaten them for doing.
‘Whenever a child is corrected, it must be conquered; and this will be nor hard matter to do if it be not grown headstrong by too much indulgence. And when the will of a child is totally subdued and it is brought to revere and stand in awe of the parents, then a great many childish follies and inadvertences may be passed by. Some should be overlooked and taken no notice of, and others mildly reproved; but no willful transgression ought ever to be forgiven children without chastisement, less or more, as the nature and circumstances of the offense require.
‘I insist upon conquering the will of children betimes, because this is the only strong and rational foundation of a religious education; without which both precept and example will be ineffectual. But when this is thoroughly done, then a child is capable of being governed by the reason and piety of its parents, till its own understanding comes to maturity and the principles of religion have taken root in the mind.
‘I cannot yet dismiss this subject. As self-will is the root of all sin and misery, so whatever cherishes this in children insures their after-wretchedness and irreligion; whatever checks and mortifies it promotes their future happiness and piety. This is still more evident if we further consider that religion is nothing else than the doing the will of God and not our own: that the one grand impediment to our temporal and eternal happiness being this self-will, no indulgencies of it can be trivial, no denial unprofitable. Heaven or hell depends on this alone. So that the parent who studies to subdue it in his child works together with God in the renewing and saving a soul. The parent who indulges it does the devil's work, makes religion impracticable, salvation unattainable; and does all that in him lies to damn his child, soul and body forever.
They Had Nothing They Cried For
‘The children of this family were taught, as soon as they could speak, the Lord’s Prayer, which they were made to say at rising and bedtime constantly; to which, as they grew bigger, were added a short prayer for their parents and some collects; a short catechism and some portion of Scripture, as their memories could bear.
‘They were very early made to distinguish the Sabbath from other days, before they could well speak or go. They were as soon taught to be still at family prayers and to ask a blessing immediately after, which they used to do by signs, before they could kneel or speak.
‘They were quickly made to understand they might have nothing they cried for and instructed to speak handsomely for what they wanted. They were not suffered to ask even the lowest servant for aught without saying, ‘Pray give me such a thing’; and the servant was chid if she ever let them omit that word. Taking God’s name in vain, cursing and swearing, profaneness, obscenity, rude, ill-bred names were never heard among them. Nor were they ever permitted to call each other by their proper names without the addition of brother or sister.
‘None of them were taught to read till five years old, except Kezzy, in whose case I was overruled; and she was more years learning than any of the rest had been months. The way of teaching was this: The day before a child began to learn, the house was set in order, everyone’s work appointed them, and a charge given that none should come into the room from nine till twelve, or from two till five; which, you know, were our school hours. One day was allowed the child wherein to learn its letters; and each of them did in that time know all its letters, great and small, except Molly and Nancy, who were a day and a half before they knew them perfectly; for which I then thought them very dull; but since I have observed how long many children are learning the hornbook, I have changed my opinion.
‘But the reason why I thought them so then was because the rest learned so readily; and your brother Samuel, who was the first child I ever taught, learned the alphabet in a few hours. He was five years old on February 10; the next day he began to learn, and as soon as he knew the letters, began at the first chapter of Genesis. He was taught to spell the first verse, then to read it over and over, till he could read it offhand without any hesitation, so on to the second, and so on, till he took ten verses for a lesson, which he quickly did. Easter fell low that year, and by Whitsuntide he could read a chapter very well; for he read continually and had such a prodigious memory that I cannot remember ever to have told him the same word twice.
Keeping the Wesley Children in Order
‘What was yet stranger, any word he had learned in his lesson he knew wherever he saw it, either in his Bible or any other book; by which means he learned very soon to read an English author well.
‘The same method was observed with them all. As soon as they knew the letters, they were put first to spell, and read one line, then a verse; never leaving till perfect in their lesson, were it shorter or longer. So one or other continued reading at schooltime, without any intermission; and before we left school, each child read what he had learned that morning; and ere we parted in the afternoon, what they had learned that day.
‘There was no such thing as loud talking or playing allowed of; but everyone was kept close to his business for the six hours of school: and it is almost incredible what a child may be taught in a quarter of a year by a vigorous application, if it have but a tolerable capacity and good health. Every one of these, Kezzy excepted, could read better in that time than the most of women can do as long as they live.
‘Rising out of their places or going out of the room was not permitted, unless for good cause; and running into the yard, garden, or street without leave was always esteemed a capital offense.
‘For some years we went on very well. Never were children in better order. Never were children better disposed to piety or in more subjection to their parents till that fatal dispersion of them, after the fire, into several families. In those days they were left at full liberty to converse with servants, which before they had always been restrained from; and to run abroad and play with any children, good or bad. They soon learned to neglect a strict observation of the Sabbath and got knowledge of several songs and bad things, which before they had no notion of. The civil behavior which made them admired when at home by all which saw them, was, in great measure, lost; and a clownish accent and many rude ways were learned which were not reformed without some difficulty.
‘When the house was rebuilt, and the children all brought home, we entered upon a strict reform; and then was begun the custom of singing Psalms at beginning and leaving school, morning and evening. Then also that of a general retirement at five o’clock was entered upon; when the oldest took the youngest that could speak, and the second the next, to whom they read the Psalms for the day and a chapter in the New Testament; as, in the morning, they were directed to read the Psalms and a chapter in the Old: after which they went to their private prayers, before they got their breakfast, or came into the family. And, I thank God, the custom is still preserved among us.
Susanna Wesley’s ‘By-laws’
‘There were several by-laws observed among us, which slipped my memory, or else they had been inserted in their proper place; but I mention them here because I think them useful.
‘1. It had been observed that cowardice and fear of punishment often led children into lying till they get a custom of it which they cannot leave. To prevent this, a law was made that whoever was charged with a fault of which they were guilty, if they would ingenuously confess it and promise to amend, should not be beaten. This rule prevented a great deal of lying and would have done more if one in the family would have observed it. But he could not be prevailed on and therefore was often imposed on by false colors and equivocations; which none would have used (except one), had they been kindly dealt with. And some, in spite of all, would always speak truth plainly.
‘2. That no sinful action, as lying, pilfering, playing at church, or on the Lord’s day, disobedience, quarreling, and so forth, should ever pass unpunished.
‘3. That no child should ever be chid or beaten twice for the same fault; and that if they amended, they should never be upbraided with it afterwards.
‘4. That ever signal act of obedience, especially when it crossed upon their own inclinations, should be always commended and frequently rewarded according to the merits of the cause.
‘5. That if ever any child performed an act of obedience or did anything with an intention to please, though the performance was not well, yet the obedience and intention should be kindly accepted; and the child with sweetness directed how to do better for the future.
‘6. That propriety be inviolably preserved and none suffered to invade the property of another in the smallest matter, though it were but of the value of a farthing or a pin; which they might not take from the owner without, much less against, his consent. This rule can never be too much inculcated on the minds of children; and from the want of parents or governors doing it as they ought proceeds that shameful neglect of justice which we may observe in the world.
‘7. That promises be strictly observed; and a gift once bestowed, and so the right passed away from the donor, be not resumed but left to the disposal of him to whom it was given; unless it were conditional and the condition of the obligation not performed.
‘8. That no girl be taught to work till she can read very well; and then that she be kept to her work with the same application, and for the same time, that she was held to in reading. This rule also is much to be observed; for the putting children to learn sewing before they can read perfectly is the very reason why so few women can read fit to be heard and never to be well understood.’
Wednesday, December 1 (Newcastle).—We had several places offered on which to build a room for the society; but none was such as we wanted. And perhaps there was a providence in our not finding any as yet; for by this means I was kept at Newcastle, whether I would or no.
Saturday, 4.—I was both surprised and grieved at a genuine instance of enthusiasm. J--- B---, of Tunfield Leigh, who had received a sense of the love of God a few days before, came riding through the town, hallooing and shouting and driving all the people before him; telling them God had told him he should be a king and should tread all his enemies under his feet. I sent him home immediately to his work and advised him to cry day and night to God that he might be lowly in heart, lest Satan should again get an advantage over him.
Mr. Stephenson and Wesley
Today a gentleman called and offered me a piece of ground. On Monday an article was drawn wherein he agreed to put me into possession on Thursday, upon payment of thirty pounds.
Tuesday, 7.—I was so ill in the morning that I was obliged to send Mr. Williams to the room. He afterward went to Mr. Stephenson, a merchant in the town, who had a passage through the ground we intended to buy. I was willing to purchase it. Mr. Stephenson told him, ‘Sir, I do not want money; but if Mr. Wesley wants ground, he may have a piece of my garden, adjoining to the place you mention. I am at a word. For forty pounds he shall have sixteen yards in breadth, and thirty in length.
Wednesday, 8.—Mr. Stephenson and I signed an article, and I took possession of the ground. But I could not fairly go back from my agreement with Mr. Riddel: so I entered on his ground at the same time. The whole is about forty yards in length; in the middle of which we determined to build the house, leaving room for a small courtyard before, and a little garden behind, the building.
Monday, 13.—I removed into a lodging adjoining to the ground where we were preparing to build; but the violent frost obliged us to delay the work. I never felt so intense cold before. In a room where a constant fire was kept, though my desk was fixed within a yard of the chimney, I could not write for a quarter of an hour together without my hands being quite benumbed.
Newcastle’s First Methodist Room
Monday, 20.—We laid the first stone of the house. Many were gathered from all parts to see it; but none scoffed or interrupted while we praised God and prayed that He would prosper the work of our hands upon us. Three or four times in the evening, I was forced to break off preaching that we might pray and give thanks to God.
Thursday, 23.—It being computed that such a house as was proposed could not be finished under f 700, many were positive it would never be finished at all; others, that I should not live to see it covered. I was of another mind; nothing doubting but, as it was begun for God’s sake, He would provide what was needful for the finishing it.
Chapter 1.Wesley As A Missionary To Georgia
Chapter 2. Troubles In Georgia; Return To England; Peter Bohler; "I Felt My Heart Strangely Warmed"
Chapter 3. Field-Preaching; "All The World My Parish"; Whitefield; Wales; Experience With Demons
Chapter 4. Preaching Incidents; Wesley's Labor Colony; Dispute With Whitefield; Curious Interruptions; The Mother Of The Wesleys
Chapter 5. Wesley Refused Sacrament At Epworth; Cornwall And The Scilly Isles; Natural Amphitheater At Gwennap; Wesley In Danger
Chapter 6. First Methodist Conference; Pressgangs And Mobs; Wesley's Protest Against Ungodliness
Chapter 7. Severe Weather; Ireland; Wesley's Protest Against Lawlessness; Wesley And Faith-Healing
Chapter 8. Wesley And The Soldiers; In Ireland And Wales Again; Wesley Burned In Effigy, Wesley As Editor
Chapter 9. Wesley's Marriage; Dealings With Cornwall Smugglers; His Illness And Recovery
Chapter 10. Retirement In Paddington; Wesley Slandered; Premonitions; A Dream
Chapter 11. "I Do Indeed Live By Preaching"; Wesley's Advice To Travelers; Trances; Wesley And The French Prisoners
Chapter 12. Wesley's Letter To An Editor; Impositions And Declarations; The Speaking Statue; Wesley's Pentecost
Chapter 13. Wesley In Scotland Again; Methodist's Wealth; "No Law For Methodists"; Exhausting Days; Whitefield
Chapter 14. Justice For Methodists; Methodist Character; Instructions To Parents; Wesley's Opinion Of Mary Queen Of Scots
Chapter 15. Wesley Opens A New Church; Comments On Rousseau, Geology, Swedenborg, And Riding Horseback; Gwennap And 20,000 People; Death Of Whitefield
Chapter 16. Windsor Park; Wesley As Art Critic; Glasgow And Perth; At 70, Wesley Preaches To 30,000 People
Chapter 17. Wesley Arrested; A Terrible Ride; A Methodist Isaac Newton; Wesley And The American War
Chapter 18. On The Isle Of Man; City Road Chapel; Wesley Visits Lord George Gordon
Chapter 19. An Ideal Circuit; Wesley In His Eighties; Wesley Visits Holland; Incidents In Scotland
Chapter 20. Wesley Collects Money For The Poor; Visits The House Of Lords; His Reasons For His Long Life;"How Is The Tide Turned!" Last Entries