AN EXTRACT OF THE REV. MR. JOHN WESLEY’S JOURNAL
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FROM OCTOBER 27, 1743, TO NOVEMBER 17, 1746
JOURNAL FROM OCTOBER 27, 1743, TO NOVEMBER 17,
Friday , October 28, 1743.
JOURNAL FROM OCTOBER 27, 1743, TO NOVEMBER 17,
Friday , October 28, 1743.
— We rode with William Holmes, “an Israelite indeed,” from Epworth to Sykehouse. Here I preached at ten, and hastened on to Leeds; from whence, setting out early in the morning, I had hopes of reaching Wensley-Dale before it was dark; but it could not be: So in the dusk of the evening, understanding we had five or six miles still to ride, I thought it best to procure a guide. In less than an hour, it being extremely dark, I perceived we were got out of all road. We were in a large meadow, near a river, and (it seemed to me) almost surrounded with water. I asked our guide, “Do you know where you are?” and he honestly answered, “No.” So we rode on as we could, till about eight we came to a little house, whence we were directed into a lane which led to Wensley. Sun. 30 . — Mr. Clayton read Prayers, and I preached, on, “What must I do to be saved?” I showed, in the plainest words I could devise, that mere outside religion would not bring us to heaven; that more could go thither without inward holiness, which was only to be attained by faith. As I went back through the church-yard, many of the parish were in high debate what religion this Preacher was of. Some said, “He must be a Quaker;” others, “an Anabaptist:” But, at length, one deeper learned than the rest, brought them all clearly over to his opinion, that he was a Presbyterian-Papist Mon. 31 . — We set out early in the morning, and in the evening came to Newcastle. Wed . November 2. — The following advertisement was published: — FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR. ESTE, By the Edinburgh Company of Comedians, on Friday, November 4, will be acted a Comedy, called, THE CONSCIOUS LOVERS; To which will be added, a Farce, called, TRICK UPON TRICK; OR METHODISM DISPLAYED.
On Friday, a vast multitude of spectators were assembled in the Moot-Hall to see this. It was believed there could not be less than fifteen hundred people, some hundreds of whom sat on rows of seats built upon the stage. Soon after the Comedians had begun the first act of the play, on a sudden all those seats fell down at once, the supporters of them breaking like a rotten stick. The people were thrown one upon another, about five foot forward, but not one of them hurt. After a short time, the rest of the spectators were quiet, and the actors went on. In the middle of the second act, all the shilling seats gave a cracks, and sunk several inches down. A great noise and shrieking followeth; and as many as could readily get to the door, went out and returned no more. Notwithstanding this, when the noise was over, the actors went on with the play. In the beginning of the third act the entire stage suddenly sunk about six inches: The players retired with great precipitation; yet in a while they began again. At the latter end of the third act, all the sixpenny seats, without any kind of notice, fell to the ground. There was now a cry on every side; it being supposed that many were crushed in pieces: But, upon inquiry, not a single person (such was the mercy of God!) was either killed or dangerously hurt. Two or three hundred remaining still in the Hall, Mr. Este (who was to act the Methodist) came upon the stage and told them, for all this, he was resolved the farce should be acted. While he was speaking, the stage sunk six inches more; on which he ran back in the utmost confusion, and the people as fast as they could out of the door, none staying to look behind him.
Which is most surprising, — that those players acted this farce the next week, or that some hundreds of people came again to see it? Sun. 6 . — We had an useful practical sermon at St. Nicholas’s church in the morning, and another at St. Andrew’s in the afternoon. At five I preached to a willing multitude, on the Prodigal Son. How many of these were lost, and now are found!
In the following week I endeavored to speak severally to each member of the society. The numbers I found neither to rise nor fall; but many had increased in the knowledge and love of God. Sunday , 13, and the following days, I preached and regulated the societies at Painsher, Tanfield, and Horsley. Thur. 17 . — I preached at the Spen, on, Christ Jesus our “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” I have seldom seen an audience so greatly moved, since the time of my first preaching at Bristol.
Many could not contain themselves in these bounds; but cried with a loud and bitter cry. It was the same at the meeting of the society; and likewise in the morning, while I was showing the happiness of those “whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” I afterwards spake with twelve or fourteen of them severally; and found good ground to believe, that God had given them to “taste of the good word, and of the powers of the world to come.” Sun. 20 . — After preaching at Newcastle morning and evening, I earnestly exhorted the society to beware of speaking evil of each other, and of censuring those who followed not with us. Monday, 21. I besought them in my farewell sermon, to “forget the things which are behind, and press on to the prize of their high calling.” Tues. 22 . — I preached at Norton, five miles from Ferrybridge, and in the evening at Sykehouse. Here I received a full account of poor David Taylor, once a workman that needed not to be ashamed. Three years since, he knew all we preached to be true: Then Mr. I. brought him over to German stillness. When I talked with him at Sheffield, he was thoroughly sensible of his mistake: But Mr. Simpson soon drew him into it again. A third time he was deeply convinced by my brother; and unconvinced shortly after.
He was once more brought into the Scripture-way by Mr. Graves, and seemed to be established therein; but in a few months he veered about to the old point; and has been “a poor sinner” indeed ever since. Wed . 23 . — I rode to Leeds; preached in the evening, and morning, Thursday, 24, and went on to Birstal, where I preached at one in the afternoon; and again about seven in the evening. Friday, 25. At the desire of Arthur Bate, I rode to Wakefield, in order to talk with his wife: But I soon found, I did not come to talk, but to hear. After an hour or two we rode on to Barley-Hall, where I preached, on, “God is a Spirit; and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Thence we rode to Sheffield, where I preached, in perfect peace, on, “We know that we are of God.” Sat. 26 . — I went on to Nottingham. In the morning, Sunday, 27, I preached in the House at five; and about eight, at the High Cross, on, “Why will ye die, O house of Israel?” I went thither again from St. Mary’s in the afternoon, and proclaimed to an immense multitude, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and for ever.” I saw not one scoffer, or one trifler; but all, to a man, appeared serious and attentive. Mon. 28 . — I rode to Breson, and spent an hour or two in conversation with Mr. Simpson; the oddest, honestest enthusiast, surely, that ever was upon earth. Before we parted he told me, “One thing I don’t like; your taking away my flock at Nottingham. Just now that text is brought to my mind; it is the very case; pray read it out.” I did so, as follows: “And Abraham reproved Abimelech, because of the well which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away.” I desired him to read my answer in the next verse. “And Abimelech said unto Abraham, I wot not who hath done this thing; neither heard I any thing thereof from thee, save this day.”
In the afternoon I rode to Markfield. After preaching there twice, on Tuesday, 29, I went on to Hinckley, and preached to a large and quiet congregation. We rode to Market-Harborough that day, the next to Hockley, and on Thursday, December 1, to London.
I had full employment here for some weeks following, in speaking severally to the members of the society. Many of these I was obliged to set aside: There remained about two and twenty hundred persons.
January 1, 1744. — I received a letter from a poor man, wrote in the fullness of his heart, as follows: — “Herein is written lamentation, and mourning, and woe. “SIR, “ I HAVE had but very little rest since I left you, the cause of which was, my leaving God first. It is true, I did in a very solemn manner, on my knees, break from you, as though I had done so merely to please God; but by what followed, it appears otherwise; for I no sooner broke off from you, than I began to think how I might make a worldly advantage by it. O, thought I, I shall not now be so scrupulous in many things, particularly in doing work on the Lord’s day. Then I got me some rabbits and fowls, and I would be sure to feed and clean them well on that day, and to be out on the hunt for food for them. And I took care my poor family should be sharers with me in the drudgery; or else they must expect many a sour look and bitter word at least. I then grew worse and worse; in so much that I have given such occasion to the enemy to blaspheme, such a wound to religion, as I could not heal, were I to live ten thousand years. O What have I done! O what have I lost!
O that I might be admitted into God’s favor once more! Pray for me, I beseech you, if you see any hope left; if you do not think that repentance will be denied me, though I seek it carefully with tears. Then if you can think of any shame that will be bad enough for me to undergo before I am admitted into that company I so willingly left, see whether I will not readily submit to it. O that God would be pleased to bring me into light and love again! How careful would I be of his grace! How would I deny myself, take up my cross, endure shame, suffer persecution of every kind, follow the dear Lord Jesus without the camp! But I have crucified him afresh. O that I could give full scope to my mind! But I cannot.
For the plague was begun. I found many crying out, “Faith, faith! Believe, believe!” but making little account of the fruits of faith, either of holiness or good works. In a few days they came to themselves, and had a more thorough understanding of the truth as it is in Jesus. Wed. 25 . — I preached at Bath, on James 2:14, “Can faith save him?”
Many of the audience appeared to be deeply convinced; and one though a gentlewoman, could not conceal the emotion of her mind, but broke out into strong cries and tears. Perhaps, even here, the “bread” we have “cast upon the waters shall be found after many days.” Fri. 27. — Having finished the work I proposed, I left Bristol, and Saturday, 28, reached London. Wed . February 1. — Just before the time I had designed to begin preaching at the chapel, I was seized with such a pain as I do not remember ever to have felt before in my life. But I forgot it as soon as I had read my text, Psalm 18:1, etc., “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.” And from that time I felt it no more.
About this time the soldiers abroad began to meet together, as we learned from the following letter: — “SIR, GHENT , February 2, 1744. “ I MAKE bold to send you these lines. February 18, 1743, we began our march for Germany. I was then much cast down, and my heart was ready to break. But the day we marched to Maestricht, I found the love of God shed abroad in my heart, that I thought my very soul was dissolved into tears. But this lasted not above three weeks, and then I was in heaviness again; till, on April 24, as I was walking in the fields, God broke my hard heart in pieces. And yet I was not delivered from the fear of death. I went to my quarters very sick and weak, in great pain of soul and body. By the morning I was so weak I could scarce go: But this proved a sweet night to my soul; for now I knew there was no condemnation for me, believing in Christ Jesus. “June 16. — The day we engaged the French at Dettingen, as the battle began, I said, ‘Lord, in thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded.’ Joy overflowed my soul, and I told my comrades, ‘If I fall this day, I shall rest in the everlasting arms of Christ.’ Now I felt I could be content to be cast into the sea, for the sake of my dear brethren, so their eyes might be opened, and they might see, before it was too late, the things that belong unto their peace. “When we came to winter quarters, there were but three of us joined together. But now, by the blessing of God, we are increased to twelve: And we have reason to believe the hand of the Lord is with us. I desire, for the sake of Him whom we follow after, that you would send us some instructions, how to proceed in our little society. God is become a mouth to me, and has blessed even my word to some of their souls. All praise, and glory, and honor, be unto Him and to the Lamb for ever and ever. From “Your affectionate brother, “J. H.”
Wed. 15 . — We were informed of the invasion intended by the French, who were expected to land every hour. I therefore exhorted the congregation, in the words of our Lord, Luke 21:36, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Thur. 16 . — In the evening, after expounding the third chapter of Jonah, I besought every one to “turn from his evil way,” and; “cry mightily unto God;” and enlarged on these words, “Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?”
We observed Friday, 17, as a day of solemn fasting and prayer. In the afternoon, many being met together, I exhorted them, now, while they had opportunity, to make to themselves “friends of the mammon of unrighteousness;” to deal their bread to the hungry, to clothe the naked, and not to hide themselves from their own flesh. And God opened their hearts, so that they contributed near fifty pounds, which I began laying out the very next hour, in linen, woolen, and shoes for them whom I knew to be diligent and yet in want. In the evening I expounded Daniel 3; and those words in particular: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace. But if not, we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Sat. 18 . — I received an account, from James Jones, of another kind of invasion in Staffordshire. The substance of it was as follows: — “On Monday, January 23, a great mob gathered together at Darlaston, a mile from Wednesbury. They fell upon a few people who were going to Wednesbury, and among the rest, on Joshua Constable’s wife, of Darlaston. Some of them threw her down, and five or six holden her down, that another might force her. But she continued to resist, till they changed their purpose, beat her much, and went away. “Mon. 30. — The mob gathered again, broke into Joshua Constable’s house, pulled part of it down, broke some of his goods in pieces, and carried the rest away: Particularly all his shop-goods, to a considerable value. But not satisfied with this, they sought for him and his wife, swearing they would knock their brains out. Their little children meantime, as well as themselves, wandered up and down, no one daring to relieve or take them in, lest they should hazard their own lives. “Tues. 31. — About a hundred of the mob met together, on the Church Hill at Wednesbury. But hearing some of Wednesbury were resolved to defend themselves, they dispersed for that time. “Wed. February 1 . — Mr. Charles Wesley came to Birmingham, and the next day preached at Wednesbury. The whole congregation was quiet and attentive, nor had we any noise or interruption. “Mon. 6. — I accompanied him part of his way, and in the afternoon came back to Wednesbury. I found the society met together, and commending themselves to God in prayer, having been informed that many, both at Darlaston and other places, had bound themselves by an oath, to come on Shrove-Tuesday, (the next day,) and plunder all the Methodists in Wednesbury. “We continued in prayer till the evening. I desired as many as could, to meet me again at eight in the morning. But I had scarce begun to speak, when one came running with all speed, and told us, a large mob was coming into the town, and had broke into some houses already. I immediately retired to my father’s house; but he did not dare to receive me. Nor did any one else; till at length Henry Parks took me in; whence, early in the morning, I went to Birmingham. “The mob had been gathering all Monday night, and on Tuesday morning they began their work. They assaulted, one after another, all the houses of those who were called Methodists. They first broke all their windows, suffering neither glass, lead, nor frames to remain therein. Then they made their way in; and all the tables, chairs, chests of drawers, with whatever was not easily removable, they dashed in pieces, particularly shop-goods, and furniture of every kind. What they could not well break, as feather-beds, they cut in pieces, and strewed about the room. William Sitch’s wife was lying in: But that was all one; they pulled away her bed too, and cut it in pieces.” (Had the French come in that place, would they have done more?) “All this time none offered to resist them.
Indeed most part, both men and women, fled for their lives; only the children stayed, not knowing whither to go. “Wearing apparel, and things which were of value, or easily saleable, they carried away; every man loading himself with as much as he could well carry, of whatever he liked best. “Some of the gentlemen who had set the mob to work, or threatened to turn away collier or miner out of their service, that did not come and do his part, now drew up a paper for those of the society to sign importing, that they would never invite or receive any Methodist Preacher more. On this condition, they told them they would stop the mob at once; otherwise they must take what followed. “This they offered to several; but they declared, one and all, ‘We have already lost all our goods; and nothing more can follow, but the loss of our lives, which we will lose too, rather than wrong our consciences.’ “On Wednesday the mob divided into two or three companies; one of which went to Aldridge, four miles from Wednesbury, and plundered many houses there, as they had done in several other villages. Here also they loaded themselves with clothes and goods of all sorts, as much as they could stand under. They came back through Walsal with their spoils; but the gentlemen of Walsal being apprised of their coming, raised a body of men, who met them, took what they had away, and laid it up in the Town-Hall. Notice was then sent to Aldridge, that every man who had been plundered, might come and take his own goods. “Mr. Wood, of Wednesbury, likewise told several, they should have what could be found of their goods, on condition they would promise not to receive or hear those Preachers any more. “On Friday, in the afternoon, I went from Birmingham, designing to go to Tipton-Green; but finding the mob were still raging up and down, I returned to Birmingham, and soon after, (having as yet no more place in these parts,) set out for London.”
Any who desires to see a fuller and more particular account of these surprising transactions, may read a small tract, entitled, “Modern Christianity exemplified at Wednesbury.”
In the Whitehall and London Evening Post, Saturday, February 18, was a paragraph with some mistakes, which it may not be amiss to rectify. “By a private letter from Staffordshire, we have advice of an insurrection of the people called Methodists,” — the insurrection was not of the people called Methodists, but against them, — “who upon some pretended insults from the Church party,” — they pretended no insults from the Church party; being themselves no other than true members of the Church of England; but were more insulted by a mixed multitude of Church-goers, (who seldom, if ever, go near a church,) Dissenters, and Papists, — “have assembled themselves in a riotous manner.” — Here is another small error personae. Many hundreds of the mob did assemble themselves in a riotous manner, having given public notice several days before, (particularly by a paper set up in Walsal Market-place,) that on Shrove-Tuesday they intended to come and destroy the Methodists, and inviting all the country to come and join them. “And having committed several outrages,” — without ever committing any, they have suffered all manner of outrages for several months past, — “they proceeded at last to burn the house of one of their adversaries.” — Without burning any house or making any resistance, some hundreds of them, on Shrove-Tuesday last, had their own houses broken up, their windows, window-cases, beds, tools, goods of all sorts, broke all to pieces, or taken away by open violence; their live goods driven off, themselves forced to fly for their lives, and most of them stripped of all they had in the world.
Ever since the 20th of last June the mob of Walsal, Darlaston, and Wednesbury, hired for that purpose by their betters, have broke open their poor neighbors’ houses at their pleasure, by night and by day; extorted money from the few that had it; took away or destroyed their victuals and goods; beat and wounded their bodies; threatened their lives; abused their women, (some in a manner too horrible to name,) and openly declared they would destroy every Methodist in the country: The Christian country, where His Majesty’s innocent and loyal subjects have been so treated for eight months; and are now, by their wanton persecutors, publicly branded for rioters and incendiaries! Sun. 19 . — Mr. Viney came to me from Yorkshire, and told me: “About a year ago, being then Vor-steher (a kind of President) in the Church of the Brethren, I proposed some scruples I had concerning our discipline, with the reasons on which they were grounded, to Mr. Spangenberg; and begged, that till these were removed, I might have liberty to remain, not a governor, but a private member of the Church. “With this, Mr. Spangenberg would not comply. So at his instance I continued in my office, and the thing slept till May, 1743, when in a meeting of the Laborers (so they term their church officers) I was ordered to withdraw, and the following questions were proposed: 1. Whether Richard Viney were not of Satan, and an enemy to the Church. And, 2. Whether his objections to the discipline of the Brethren did not spring from anger, and self, and pride. After a debate of four hours I was called in, and asked if I was convinced those objections were wrong. I said I was not, and desired they would cast lots; which, after a little debate, they did. The lot came, ‘The objections are just.’ So for a time the thing slept again. “But in November following, they considered the point again; the result was, that they sent one to tell me I was of Satan; had raised objections against the Brethren from anger, and self, and pride; and therefore I was cut off from the Church, and delivered over to Satan. I was greatly surprised, but not disturbed: God gave me perfect peace. After much prayer I wrote to you, to know where I might meet you. I know it was the will of God I should come, and that I should give myself up to your direction; and therefore I have spoke without any disguise or reserve.”
I told him, “If you go back, you are welcome to go; if you stay with me, you are welcome to stay: Only, whatever you do, do it with a clear conscience; and I shall be satisfied either way.”
After a few days he went back to Yorkshire to talk with his wife. The Brethren saw him again, and I saw him no more. Sat. 25 . — In returning at night from Snowsfields, at the corner of Joyner-Street, the coach, wherein five of us were, was overturned; but without any one’s being hurt; although the shock was so great as not only to dash the fore-windows six pieces, but to break the axle-tree in two. Mon. 27 . — Was the day I had appointed to go out of town; but understanding a Proclamation was just published, requiring all Papists to go out of London, before the Friday following, I was determined to stay another week, that I might cut off all occasion of reproach. I was the more willing to stay, that I might procure more raiment for the poor before I left London.
For this purpose I made a second collection, which amounted to about thirty pounds. But perceiving that the whole money received would not answer one-third of the expense, I determined to go round the classes, and beg for the rest, till I had gone through the whole society. Fri . March 2. — I began to put this in execution. While I was at a house in Spitalfields, a Justice of Peace came with the Parish Officers, being on their search for Papists. I was glad of the opportunity to talk with them at large, both of our principles and practice. When I went out, a pretty large mob attended me to the door of the house to which I was going: But they did us no hurt, only gaped, and stared, and hallooed as loud as they could. Mon. 5 . — I was much pressed to write an address to the King, which I did in the following terms: — “TO THE KING’S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY; “The humble Address of the Societies in England and Wales, in derision called Methodists: “Most Gracious Sovereign, “So inconsiderable as we are, ‘a people scattered and peeled, and trodden under foot, from the beginning hitherto,’ we should in no wise have presumed, even on this great occasion, to open our lips to your Majesty, had we not been induced, indeed constrained, so to do, by two considerations: The One, that in spite of all our remonstrances on that head, we are continually represented as a peculiar sect of men, separating ourselves from the Established Church: The Other, that we are still traduced as inclined to Popery, and consequently disaffected to your Majesty. “Upon these considerations we think it incumbent upon us, if we must stand as a distinct body from our brethren, to tender for ourselves our most dutiful regards to your sacred Majesty; and to declare, in the presence of Him we serve, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, that we are a part (however mean) of that Protestant Church, established in these kingdoms: That we unite together for this, and no other end, — to promote, so far as we may be capable, justice, mercy, and truth; the glory of God, and peace and goodwill among men: That we detest and abhor the fundamental doctrines of the Church of Rome, and are steadily attached to your Majesty’s royal person and illustrious house. “We cannot, indeed, say or do either more or less than we apprehend consistent with the written word of God; but we are ready to obey your Majesty to the uttermost, in all things which we conceive to be agreeable thereto. And we earnestly exhort all with whom we converse, as they fear God, to honor the King. We, of the Clergy in particular, put all men in mind to revere the higher powers, as of God; and continually declare, ‘Ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.’ “Silver and gold (most of us must own) we have none: but such as we have we humbly beg your Majesty to accept; together with our hearts and prayers. May He who hath bought us with his blood, the Prince of all the kings of the earth, fight against all the enemies of your Majesty, with the two-edged sword that cometh out of his mouth! And when he calleth your Majesty from this throne, full of years and victories, may it be with that voice, ‘Come, receive the kingdom prepared for thee, from the beginning of the world!’ “These are the continual prayers of your Majesty’s dutiful and loyal subjects, “JOHN WESLEY,” etc.
But upon farther consideration it was judged best to lay it aside. Sun. 11 . — I found it was absolutely necessary for me to spend a few days at Bristol. In the evening I set out. As I rode through Newbury the next day, my horse fell, and threw me into a deep mire. I was not hurt; but, after cleaning myself a little, went on, and came to Kingswood between one and two on Tuesday. I preached here with great enlargement of heart, as I did at Bristol in the evening. Wed. 14 . — I endeavored to clear up the misunderstandings which had arisen, by hearing the contending parties face to face. It was, as I suspected, a mere strife of words; of which they were all so fully sensible, that I believe they will not so easily again fall into this snare of the devil. Thur. 15 . — I talked largely with the Kingswood stewards, concerning the state of their schools and society; and then with the master, mistress, and children; and found great cause to bless God on their behalf. In the evening I preached at Bristol, on, “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength;” and, after commending myself to their prayers, I rode to Marshfield. Sat. 17 . — We reached London. Sunday, 18, was a day of rest. Tuesday, 20. Having received a summons, from the Justices of Surrey, to appear at their Court, at St. Margaret’s Hill, I did so; and asked, “Has any one any thing to lay to my charge?” None made any reply. At length, one of the Justices said, “Sir, are you willing to take the oaths to His Majesty, and to sign the declaration against Popery?” I said, “I am;” which I accordingly did, and returned home. Thur. 22 . — I gave the society an account of what had been done with regard to the poor. By the contributions and collections I had received about one hundred and seventy pounds; with which above three hundred and thirty poor had been provided with needful clothing. Thirty or forty remaining still in want, and there being some debts for the clothes already distributed, the next day, being Good Friday, I made one collection more, of about six and twenty pounds. This treasure, at least, “neither rust nor moth” shall “corrupt,” “nor thieves break through and steal.” Sat . 24 . — My brother and I agreed it was enough for one of us to stay in town, while the other endeavored to strengthen our brethren in other parts.
So, on Monday , 26, I set out, and came in the evening to Newbury. While we were at breakfast, the next day, two or three poor men were, with many oaths, relating their exploits the day before. I turned, and appealed to their own hearts, whether they were doing well. They owned their fault, and were so loving, we could scarce get away.
We called at a house in the afternoon, wherein the first person we met was so drunk, that she could not speak plain, and could but just make shift to curse and swear. In the next room we found three or four more merry people, keeping Easter in much the same manner. But their mirth was soon spoiled. They gave earnest heed to the things they little regarded before, and knew not how to express their thankfulness for our advice, and for a few little books which we left with them.
In the evening I preached at Bristol. On Wednesday and Thursday I settled all things there; and on Friday, 30, rode to Middlesey; where I preached to a small, serious congregation. Saturday, 31. Calling at Chard, I light upon a poor woman unawares, who was earnestly groaning for redemption. At noon we spent an hour with a little company in Axminster, and hastened on for Crockern-Wells: but the hail and snow falling fast, we could not reach it till past nine o’clock. Sun . April 1. — I rode to Sticklepath. At one I preached in an open place, on, “This is the record, that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” A storm of rain and hail began while I was preaching; but the congregation did not move. At five I preached again. Many of the poor people followed me to the house at which I lodged; and we could not consent to part, till I had spent another hour in exhortation, and prayer, and thanksgiving.
I read today the strange account of that John Endicot, Governor of New-England, and his associates there; who beat and imprisoned so many of the poor Quakers, and murdered William Robinson, Marmaduke Stephenson, and others. O who would have looked for Father Inquisitors at Boston! Surely these men did not cry out against Popish cruelty! Mon. 2 . — I preached at five, and rode on toward Launceston. The hills were covered with snow, as in the depth of winter. About two we came to Trewint, wet and weary enough, having been battered by the rain and hail for some hours. I preached in the evening to many more than the house would contain, on the happiness of him whose sins are forgiven. In the morning Degory Isbel undertook to pilot us over the great moor, all the paths being covered with snow; which, in many places, was driven together, too deep for horse or man to pass. The hail followed us for the first seven miles; we had then a fair, though exceeding sharp, day. I preached at Gwennap in the evening, to a plain, simple hearted people; and God comforted us by each other. Wed. 4 . — About eleven we reached St. Ives. I was a little surprised at entering John Nance’s house; being received by many, who were waiting for me there, with a loud (though not bitter) cry. But they soon recovered; and we poured out our souls together in praises and thanksgiving.
As soon as we went out, we were saluted, as usual, with a huzza, and a few stones or pieces of dirt. But in the evening none opened his mouth, while I proclaimed, “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. — I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.” Thur. 5 . — I took a view of the ruins of the house which the mob had pulled down a little before, for joy that Admiral Matthews had beat the Spaniards. Such is the Cornish method of thanksgiving. I suppose, if Admiral Lestock had fought too, they would have knocked all the Methodists on the head.
Both this morning and evening the congregation was as large as the house could well contain. In the society, God did indeed sit upon his people as a refiner’s fire. He darted into all (I believe hardly one excepted) the melting flame of love; so that their heads were as water, and their eyes as fountains of tears. Fri. 6 . — I spoke with the members of the society severally, and observed, with great satisfaction, that persecution had driven only three or four away, and exceedingly strengthened the rest. The persecution here was owing, in great measure, to the indefatigable labors of Mr. Hoblin and Mr. Simmons; gentlemen worthy to be “had in everlasting remembrance,” for their unwearied endeavors to destroy heresy. Fortunati ambo! Siquid mea pagina possit, Nulla dies unquam memori vow eximet aevo. f Sat. 7 . — I took down part of the account of the late riot; which (to show the deep regard of the actors herein for His Majesty) was on the self-same day on which his Majesty’s Proclamation against rioters was read. Yet I see much good has been brought out of it already; particularly the great peace we now enjoy.
About eleven John Nance and I set out for Morva. Having both the wind and rain full in our faces, we were thoroughly wet before we came to Rosemargay, where some of our brethren met us. I found there had been a shaking among them, occasioned by the confident assertions of some, that they had seen Mr. Wesley, a week or two ago, with the Pretender, in France; and others, that he was in prison at London. Yet the main body still stood firm together, and were not removed from the hope of the Gospel.
The wind and rain beat hard upon us again, as we walked from Morva to St. Just, which also frighted many from coming. However, some hundreds were there, to whom I declared, If ye have nothing to pay, God will frankly forgive you all. It is remarkable, that those of St. Just were the chief of the whole country for hurling, fighting, drinking, and all manner of wickedness; but many of the lions are become lambs, are continually praising God, and calling their old companions in sin to come and magnify the Lord together. Sun. 8 . — I preached here at five and at twelve; and in the evening at Morva. Mon. 9 . — I preached at noon on Triggivary-Downs, about two miles from Penzance. A great congregation was deeply attentive while I described the “sect” which “is every where spoken against.” At four I preached near Gulval, regulated the society, and returned to St. Ives. Tues. 10 . — I was inquiring, how Dr. B—— e, a person of unquestioned sense and learning, could speak evil of this way, after he had seen such a change in the most abandoned of his parishioners: But I was satisfied, when Jonathan Reeves informed me, that on the Doctor’s asking him who had been the better for this preaching, and his replying, “The man before you (John Daniel) for one, who never before knew any work of God upon his soul,” the Doctor answered, “Get along: You are a parcel of mad, crazy-headed fellows;” and, taking him by the shoulder, fairly thrust him to the door. See here what it is which the world accounts madness: The knowing a work of God upon our soul!
After reading those strong words, “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household!” Mr. H. fulfilled them, by vehemently declaiming against the new sect, as enemies of the Church, Jacobites, Papists, and what not! After church, we met, and spent an hour in prayer, not forgetting the poor sinner against his own soul.
In the evening I preached at Gwennap. I stood on the wall, in the calm, still evening, with the setting sun behind me, and almost an innumerable multitude before, behind, and of either hand. Many, likewise, sat on the little hills, at some distance from the bulk of the congregation. But they could all hear distinctly, while I read, “The disciple is not above his master,” and the rest of those comfortable words, which are day by day fulfilled in our ears. Thur. 12 . — About eleven I preached at Crowan. In the afternoon we heard of the success of Mr. H.’s sermon. James Wheatley was walking through the town in the evening, when the mob gathered, and began to throw stones from all quarters. He stepped into a house; but the master of it followed him, like a lion, to drag him out. Yet, after a few words, his mind was changed, and he swore nobody should hurt him. Mean time one went for a Justice of Peace, who came, and promised to see him safe home.
The mob followed, hallooing and shouting amain. Near John Paynter’s house the Justice left him: They quickly beset the house. But a messenger came from the Mayor, forbidding any to touch Mr. Wheatley, at his peril.
He then went home. But between seven and eight the mob came and beset John Nance’s house. John Nance and John Paynter went out, and stood before the door; though they were quickly covered with dirt. The cry was, “Bring out the Preacher! Pull down the house!” And they began to pull down the boards which were nailed against the windows. But the Mayor, hearing it, came without delay, and read the Proclamation against riots:
Upon which, after many oaths and imprecations, they thought proper to disperse.
About six I reached Morva, wet through and through; the rain having continued with scarce any intermission. However, a little company were gathered together, to whom I preached, on, “Ask, and it shall be given you.” The next day I had time to dry my clothes at Mr. John’s, near Penzance. At noon I preached on the Downs, not far from his house; about three at Gulval, and at St. Ives in the evening. Sat. 14 . — I took my leave of St. Ives; preached at two in Camborn, and at Gwennap in the evening. Sun. 15 . — I preached here again at five, and at eight in Stithian parish.
The place was a green triangular plat, capable of holding eight or ten thousand men. I stood on one of the walls that inclosed it. Many sat on the other two. Some thousands stood between, and received the word with all readiness of mind.
At five I preached at Gwennap, on a little hill, near the usual place. It rained from the time I began till I concluded. I felt no pain while I spoke, but the instant I had done, and all the time I was with the society, my teeth and head ached so violently, that I had hardly any senses. I lay down as soon as I could, and fell asleep. In the morning (blessed be God) I ailed nothing. Mon. 16 . — In the afternoon we came again to Trewint. Here I learned, that notice had been given of my preaching that evening in Laneast church, which was crowded exceedingly. Mr. Bennet, the Minister of Laneast, carried me afterwards to his house; and (though above seventy years old) came with me in the morning to Trewint, where I had promised to preach at five.
Before we parted, Degory Isbel informed me of an accusation against me, current in those parts. It was really one which I did not expect; no more than that other, vehemently asserted at St. Ives, of my bringing the Pretender with me last autumn, under the name of John Downes. It was, that I called myself John Wesley; whereas every body knew Mr. Wesley was dead.
In the afternoon we came to Sticklepath. I preached at five in the evening:
The house was crowded as before. After a short exhortation, and an hour spent in prayer, I commended them to the grace of God. Wed. 18 . — Before eight we reached Crediton, (or Kirton,) or rather the ruins of it; for the houses on both sides were all in ashes, for several hundred yards. Lighting on a serious woman, I asked, “Are the people of this place now warned to seek God?” she answered, “Although some of them perished in the flames, the rest were just as they were before, cursing, swearing, drinking, playing, and making merry, without God in all their thoughts.” She added, “No longer ago than Thursday last, the men who were rebuilding one of the houses, were bitterly cursing and swearing one at another, and two of them above the rest, when an arch they were under fell, and crunched those two, with all their bones, in pieces.” Will ye not at length hear the rod, and him that hath appointed it?
Between five and six in the evening we reached Minehead. Finding a general expectation of it among the people, about seven I preached near the sea-shore, to almost all the inhabitants of the place. Most of the gentlemen of the town were there, and behaved with seriousness and decency. Thur . 19 . — Having a sloop ready, which came on purpose, we ran over the Channel in about four hours. Some of our friends were waiting for us on the shore. About one we came to Fonmon Castle. I found a natural wish, “O for ease and a resting-place!” Not yet. But eternity is at hand!
I preached at six, and at five in the morning. Friday , 20. About ten we set out for Cardiff; where, in the evening, I preached in the Castle-yard. All were serious and attentive. Sat. 21 . — I rode to Garth, in Brecknockshire, and on Sunday, 22, preached in the church there, both morning and afternoon. On Monday, 23, I preached in Maesmennys church, and afterwards in the church-yard at Builth. I observed only one man with his hat on; probably through inattention; for he likewise kneeled down on the grass with the rest, as soon as I began to pray. Tues. 24 . — I preached at Maesmennys again, and about five in Landau church, near Brecknock. Such a church I never saw before. There was not a glass window belonging to it; but only boards, with holes bored here and there, through which a dim light glimmered in. Yet even here may the light of God’s countenance shine. And it has shone on many hearts. Wed. 25 . — We rode over the still snowy mountains. At twelve I preached at Killigaer: In the evening at Cardiff, and the next evening at Fonmon. On Saturday, 28, I returned to Bristol.
After resting here, for eight days, (though not unemployed,) on Monday, MAY 7, I set out for the north. I preached about eight at Acton: In the afternoon at Stroud: In the evening at Painswick, and at five the next morning. About eight, Tuesday, 8, I called at Gloucester, designing only to speak with a friend; but finding an house full of people, I would not disappoint their expectation, but stayed and preached on the form and the power of godliness. This made me some what later than I intended at Cheltenham, where I preached on, “By grace are ye saved through faith,” to a company who seemed to understand just as much of the matter, as if I had been talking Greek. I found a people of quite another kind at Cutherton, to whom I preached on, “Repent ye, and believe the Gospel.”
And many called upon God for grace so to do, even with strong cries and tears.
We had a remarkable blessing again at five in the morning, Wednesday, 9.
About noon I preached at Stanley; (a mile from Gutherton;) at three in Tewkesbury; and in the evening at the Abbey, in Evesham. Thur. 10 . — Riding by Birmingham, I called at a village three miles beyond it. Here a poor man was cursing and swearing at so uncommon a rate, that I was constrained to speak to him very plainly. He received it, drunk as he was, in great love; and so did all his companions. Fri. 11 . — I preached at Sheffield: On Saturday, 12, about ten, at Barley-Hall. In the afternoon I rode to Epworth, and immediately went to Mr. Maw’s, to return him thanks for his good offices to Mr. Downes; and his honest and open testimony for the truth, before the worshipful Bench at Kirton. It was not his fault, that those honorable men regarded not the laws either of God, or the King. But a soldier they were resolved he should be, right or wrong, — because he was a Preacher. So, to make all sure, they sent him away, — a prisoner to Lincoln gaol!
My first design was, to have gone the shortest way from Sheffield to Newcastle. But it was well I did not, considering the inexpressible panic, which had spread itself in all places. So that I came just in time to remind all the poor frighted sheep, that “even the hairs of” our “head are all numbered.”
I preached thrice at Epworth on Sunday ; and on Monday, 14, at Ferry. The Constable who took Mr. Downes for a soldier, with one of the Churchwardens, were of my audience. I was informed, they had threatened great things before I came: But their threatenings vanished into air.
At two, many of our brethren at Epworth met, whom I cheerfully commended to the grace of God. We were riding gently toward Fishlake, when two or three persons met us, and begged we would not go that way; for the town, they said, was all up in arms, and abundance were waiting for us in the way, many of whom had made themselves very drunk, and so were ripe for any manner of mischief. We accordingly rode to Sykehouse another way. Some came in all haste hither also, to tell us, all the men in the congregation would be pressed. Others affirmed, the mob was just a coming; and that they would certainly fire the house, or pull it down to the ground. I told them, then our only way was, to make the best use of it while it was standing: So I began expounding the tenth chapter of St. Matthew. But no man opened his lips against us. Tues. 15 . — After comforting the little flock at Norton, I rode the shortest way to Birstal. Here I found our brethren partly mourning, and partly rejoicing, on account of John Nelson. On Friday, the 4th instant, (they informed me,) the Constables took him, just as he had ended his sermon at Adwalton; and the next day carried him before the Commissioners at Halifax; the most active of whom was Mr. Coleby, Vicar of Birstal. Many were ready to testify, that he was in no respect such a person as the Act of Parliament specified. But they were not heard. He was a Preacher: That was enough. So he was sent for a soldier at once. f50 At seven I preached on the Hill; no man interrupting me. Afterwards I inquired into the state of the society; and found great cause to bless God, whose grace, even in these trying times, was sufficient for them. Wed. 16 . — I talked at large with Mr. Viney. He said, his first perplexity arose, from reading and reflecting upon some writings, which the Count published in Pennsylvania; and that the more deeply he considered the whole affair, the more thoroughly he was convinced, 1. That the Count was at least as much the head of theirs, as the Pope of the Roman Church. 2. That he had cruelly and unjustly broke up the congregation at Pilger-ruh, in Holstein, because (in obedience to the King of Denmark, their lawful Prince) they had disclaimed his superiority over them. 3. That the Laborers among the Brethren, were absolutely arbitrary in their government of the people; and, Lastly, That they grossly abused the lot, in support of their arbitrary power. Thur. 17 . — I preached at five, on Matthew 10; about noon, at Little-Horton, near Bradford; about three in the afternoon at Stickerlane; and at Birstal in the evening. Fri. 18 . — I rode to Leeds, and preached in great peace. Sat. 19 . — I went on to Mr. Clayton’s, at Wensley; and on Sunday, 20, preached in Redmire church on part of John 3, the Gospel for the day. In the afternoon I preached at Bolton chapel, on, “We know that we are of God.” I was much pleased at the serious behavior of the congregation, both in the morning and afternoon; especially at Redmire, where, from a village of about thirty houses, we had more than fifty communicants. Mon. 21 . — I rode to Newcastle, and passed a quiet week. Mon. 28 . — I began visiting the classes in the town; and on Sunday, JUNE 3, those in the country, which I had never found so much in earnest before.
I trust, there is not only not a disorderly walker, but hardly a trifler left among them. Fri. 8 . — I preached at night on John 17:3. The House could not contain the congregation; and most of them stayed either within or without, till the end of the midnight hymn. Sun. 10 . — I preached at Biddick, about eight; at Tanfield, as soon as Morning Prayer was over; at Spen about three, and in Newcastle at six. I concluded the day, in praising God with the society. Mon. 11 . — I left Newcastle, and in the afternoon met John Nelson, at Durham, with Thomas Beard; another quiet and peaceable man, who had lately been torn from his trade, and wife and children, and sent away as a soldier; that is, banished from all that was near and dear to him, and constrained to dwell among lions, for no other crime, either committed or pretended, than that of calling sinners to repentance. But his soul was in nothing terrified by his adversaries. Yet the body, after a while, sunk under its burden. He was then lodged in the hospital, at Newcastle, where he still praised God continually. His fever increasing, he was let blood. His arm festered, mortified, and was cut off: Two or three days after which, God signed his discharge, and called him up to his eternal home. Servant of God, well done! Well hast thou fought The better fight; who single hast maintained, Against revolted multitudes, the cause Of God; in word, mightier than they in arms.
Tues . 12 . — In the evening I came to Knaresborough. About nine o’clock I was informed, that the house in which we were, was beset on every side, with men, women, and children. I desired those within to set open the doors, and let all come in that would. When the house was full, I came down. The noise presently ceased, and I proclaimed, Christ our “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” Only one drunken man gave a little interruption; but his companions soon thrust him out of doors.
So let all Satan’s devices fall on his own head! I trust, this mob did not come together in vain. Wed. 13 . — I rode to Leeds, and thence to Birstal. Thursday, 14. I accompanied John Bennet into Lancashire. I preached to a small congregation at eleven; in the afternoon at Woodley in Cheshire; and in the evening at Chinley-End, in Derbyshire, on, “Repent ye, and believe the Gospel.” Fri. 15 . — I preached at Chinley at five; about noon in the Peak; and in the evening at Barley-Hall. Saturday, 16. In the evening I preached at Sykehouse; and by setting out early in the morning, Sunday, 17, at eight preached in Epworth. I came thither in season; for two such sermons as Mr. Romley preached on this day, so exquisitely bitter, and totally false, I cannot say I ever heard before.
After Evening Service I preached on Romans 3:22, to a much larger congregation than in the morning; and I believe all that were sincere of heart, were exceedingly comforted. Mon. 18 . — I left Epworth, and, on Wednesday, 20, in the afternoon, met my brother in London. Monday , 25, and the five following days, we spent in conference with many of our brethren, (come from several parts,) who desire nothing but to save their own souls, and those that hear them. And surely, as long as they continue thus minded, their labor shall not be in vain in the Lord.
The next week we endeavored to purge the society of all that did not walk according to the Gospel. By this means we reduced the number of members to less than nineteen hundred. But number is an inconsiderable circumstance. May God increase them in faith and love! Mon . July 9. — My brother set out for Cornwall. I had much trouble for the fortnight following, in endeavoring to prevent an unwary man from destroying his own, and many other souls. On Monday , 23, when I set out for Bristol, I flattered myself that the work was done; but, upon my return, I found I had done just nothing; so that on Thursday, AUGUST 2, I was constrained to declare in the society, that Thomas Williams was no longer in connection with us. Fri . 10 . — I preached to the debtors in Newgate, and desired two or three of my friends to attend them weekly. I had a serious, well behaved congregation. Perhaps God may give us some fruit here also. Tues. 14 . — Mr. Piers rode over with me to Shoreham, and introduced me to Mr. Perronet. I hope to have cause of blessing God for ever, for the acquaintance begun this day. Wed. 15 . — I went to Bedlam, at the repeated request of Mr. S —, who had been confined there above two years. This was the person who, while he was speaking against my brother and me to the society at Kingswood, was in a moment struck raving mad. But it seems God is at length entreated for him, and has restored him to a sound mind. Thur. 16 . — I received a remarkable letter, part of which is here subjoined: “REV.SIR, August 14, 1744. “ I WAS surprised on Sunday, when you was pleased to tell me, I carried things to extremes, in denying the lawful pleasures in eating.
I denied only self-indulgence in eating: All which I advance is, that he who will be Christ’s disciple, must absolutely deny himself. It was once a great self-denial to me, not to go to a play, or to other diversions; but this is now no self-denial to me at all; so that if I was now called to deny myself in these things only, I might take up with what is past, and now live an agreeable, self indulgent life.
But God forbid! I plainly see every hour produces occasions of self-pleasing: And this I apprehend is a sufficient call for, and rule of, self-denial. For instance: In the morning, it is a great self-denial to rise out of a warm bed; but if I do not, I am immediately condemned as a slothful servant: If I do, I find a great inward blessing. Under the preaching, it is self-pleasing to see who is here, who there; but if I do let my eye wander, I become cold and lifeless: If I deny myself, I often find even a present reward. In walking the streets, I can please myself, by looking this way and that; on this chariot, that house and picture; but if I deny myself for Christ’s sake, his consolations abound with me. “But I may deny myself outwardly, and yet be self-indulgent; namely, by allowing myself in vain and trifling thoughts. Here is a continual fight, and a hard struggle I must have before I conquer.
But when I do overcome, I lose nothing by it; for my soul is delighted with secret refreshments. “At noon, I may find many pleasant things; and of this it was that I said to Mr. Richards, ‘If there are two dishes set before you, by the rule of self-denial, you ought to eat of that which you like the least.’ And this rule I desire to observe myself; always to choose what is least pleasing and cheapest; therefore, I feed much upon milk: It is pleasant enough, and nothing I can find is so cheap.
Whereas if one sort of food be dearer than another, and yet I use it, because more agreeable to my appetite, this I apprehend is directly contrary to the discipleship of a self-denying Master: And this kind of self-indulgence (not in food only) is practiced by too many that know the truth. “I suppose, Sir, you now perceive, I do not condemn all pleasure in eating; but I condemn all self-indulgence, both in that and other things, particularly in talking. Many who think themselves believers, please themselves with talking more than is profitable.
They talk even of the things of God, till they bring a deadness, nay, an unaccountable carelessness over their spirits. I don’t say, they laugh or talk idly; but still they are not deeply serious, nor is their conversation truly solid; whereas I should think the conscience of a true believer is tender as the apple of an eye; and that to such a one it would be less pain to suffer the rack, than to trifle, either in word or deed.” Tues. 21 . — I set out with a few friends for Oxford. On Wednesday, my brother met us from Bristol. Friday, 24. (St. Bartholomew’s day.) I preached, I suppose the last time, at St. Mary’s. Be it so. I am now clear of the blood of these men. I have fully delivered my own soul.
The Beadle came to me afterwards, and told me the vice-chancellor had sent him for my notes. I sent them without delay, not without admiring the wise providence of God. Perhaps few men of note would have given a sermon of mine the reading, if I had put it into their hands; but by this means it came to be read, probably more than once, by every man of eminence in the University.
I left Oxford about noon, preached at Wycombe in the evening; and, on Saturday, 25, returned to London. Sat . September 1. — I talked pretty largely with George Newans, the supposed Shropshire Prophet. I am inclined to think he believes himself; but I cannot believe, God has sent him. Wed. 5 . — One sent me word he had now found the right way of worshipping God; and therefore he must leave off prayer and the rest of our will worship, and join himself with the Quakers. However, in the evening, he ventured among us once more; and God smote him to the heart; so that he knew, and felt, and declared aloud, that he had no need of going elsewhere to find the power of God unto salvation. Thur. 6 . — I committed to the dust the remains of Elizabeth Marsh, a young woman who had received a sense of the pardoning love of God about four years before her death, and had never left her first love. She had scarce known health or ease from that hour; but she never murmured or repined at any thing. I saw her many times after she was confined to her bed, and found her always quiet and calm, always cheerful, praising God in the fires, though longing to depart and to be with Christ. I could not learn that her mind was ever clouded, no, not a moment, from the beginning of her illness. But a few days before she died, she told me, “I am concerned, I spoke a hasty word today. One told me, ‘You shall recover within ten days;’ and I said, ‘I don’t want to recover.”’ A little before her speech failed, she beckoned one to her, and said, “Go and tell Molly Brown from me, she must come back to Mr. Wesley. I have not breath to speak to her myself, but do you tell her, she must come back.” She had lost her voice when I prayed with her the last time, and commended her soul to God.
It said, To me “to die is gain.” “I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” and “fear no evil.”
I could only speak a few words at her grave; but when I returned to the Foundery, God made his word as a flame of fire. I spoke from that passage in the Revelation, “And one of the Elders said unto me, What are these who are arrayed in white robes; and whence came they? And I said, Sir, thou knowest. And he said unto me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
A young man, servant to Mrs. Clark, of Newington, went home deeply affected. The next day he was taken ill, and everyday grew worse; so that when I came to the house on Monday, the 10th, (though I knew nothing of him, or of his illness before,) he was just gasping for breath. It was a melancholy sight: Both his words and his eyes “witnessed huge affliction and dismay.” Death stared him in the face, and he knew not God. He could but just say, “For God’s sake, pray for me!”
John Nelson coming in, we asked life for our brother, in full confidence of the promise. All this day, as his illness so his terrors increased. But the next day, God gave him life from the dead. He told me, “Now I am not afraid to die; for I know God loves me. I did not use to love you or your people; but now I love you as my own soul. I love you all: I know you are the people of God; and I am just going to him.” He continued praising God as long as he could speak; and when he could not, his eyes were fixed upwards. Between one and two on Wednesday morning he cried out, “I have lost my God! Where is he? I cannot see him.” But he soon recovered himself and said, “Now I have found him; and I shall lose him no more.”
About seven I prayed with him, and praised God on his behalf; and not long after he fell asleep. Fri. 14 . — I performed the last office (according to his desire) over his body, which was interred in the presence of a vast multitude of people, at a small distance from that of Elizabeth Marsh. Sun. 16 . — I buried, near the same place, one who had soon finished her course, going to God in the full assurance of faith, when she was little more than four years old. In her last sickness, (having been deeply serious in her behavior for several months before,) she spent all the intervals of her convulsions in speaking of, or to, God. And when she perceived her strength to be near exhausted, she desired all the family to come near, and prayed for them all, one by one; then for her Ministers, for the Church, and for all the world. A short time after, recovering from a fit, she lifted up her eyes, said, “Thy kingdom come,” and died.
All this summer, our brethren in the west had as hot service as those in the north of England: The war against the Methodists, so called, being every where carried on with far more vigor than that against the Spaniards. I had accounts of this from all parts; one of which was as follows: — “REV. SIR, “THE word of God has free course here; it runs and is glorified:
But the devil rages horribly. Even at St. Ives, we cannot shut the doors of John Nance’s house, to meet the society, but the mob immediately threaten to break them open. They now triumph over us more and more, saying, it is plain, nothing can be done against them. And in other places it is worse. I was going to Crowan on Tuesday was se’nnight. On the road two of our brothers met me.
When we came within a mile of the house, we saw a great mob at some distance; but they were going another way. We then left our horses at the house of a friend, and went forward on foot. Within a quarter of a mile of the place where I was to preach, two persons met us, who used to be persecutors. But they now desired me, for God’s sake, not to go up; for if I did, they said, there would surely be murder, if there was not already; for many were knocked down before they came away. “By their advice, and the entreaties of those that were with me, I turned back to the house where we left our horses. We had been there but a short time, when many of the people came, being very bloody, and having been beaten very bad. But the main cry of the mob was after the Preacher, whom they sought for in every corner of the house; swearing bitterly, they only wanted to knock him on the head, and then they should be satisfied. “Not finding me there, they said, however, they should catch him on Sunday at Camborn. But it was Mr. Westell’s turn to go thither on Sunday. While he was preaching there, at Mr. Harris’s house, a tall man came in, and pulled him down. Mr. Harris demanded his warrant; but he swore, warrant or no warrant, he should go with them: So he carried him out to the mob, who took him away to the Church-Town. They kept him there till Tuesday morning, and then carried him to Penzance; where, in the afternoon, he was brought before three Justices, and asked abundance of questions, to which they required him to answer upon oath. Then Dr. Borlase wrote his Mittimus, by virtue of which he was to be committed to the House of Correction at Bodmin as a vagrant. So they took him as far as Camborn that night, and the next day on to Bodmin. “I desire your continual prayers for me, “Your weak servant in Christ, “HENRY MILLARD.” I pray, for what pay could we procure men to do this service? — to be always ready to go to prison, or to death?
The justices who met at the next Quarter Sessions at Bodmin, knowing a little more of the laws of God and man, declared Mr. Westell’s commitment to be contrary to all laws and set him at liberty without delay. Tues . October 30. — I was desired to call on a young gentlewoman dangerously ill. But I soon found she needed no Physician for her soul, being full of righteousness and good works. However, I spoke to her with all plainness; and she awoke as one out of sleep. She drank in every word, and soon perceived the want of a better righteousness than her own. But her companion sent her father word, and she was immediately removed, so that I saw her no more. Sun . November 4. — Poor Richard Jeffs, who, in spite of his former conviction, was now determined to renounce us, and join the Quakers, ventured, however, once more, to the Lord’s table. He had no sooner received, than he dropped down, and cried with a loud voice, “I have sinned; I have sinned against God.” At that instant many were pierced to the heart. I could hardly speak for some time. Several mourners were filled with strong consolation; and all said, “Surely God is in this place!”
About this time I received a letter, dated from the camp at Lisle. Part of it ran as follows: — “May 1. — We marched to the camp, near Brussels. There a few of us joined into a society, being sensible, where two or three are gathered together in his name, there is our Lord in the midst of them. Our place of meeting was a small wood near the camp. We remained in this camp eight days, and then removed to a place called Ask. Here I began to speak openly, at a small distance from the camp, just in the middle of the English army: And here it pleased God to give me some evidences that my labor was not in vain. We sung a hymn, which drew about two hundred soldiers together, and they all behaved decently. After I had prayed, I begun to exhort them; and though it rained very hard, yet very few went away. Many acknowledged the truth, in particular a young man, John Greenwood, by name, who has kept with me ever since, and whom God has lately been pleased to give me for a fellow laborer. Our society is now increased to upwards of two hundred; and the hearers are frequently more than a thousand, although many say I am mad; and others have endeavored to incense the Field-Marshal against us. I have been sent for, and examined several times; but, blessed be God, he has always delivered me. “Many of the officers have come to hear for themselves, often nine or ten at a time. I endeavored to lose no opportunity. During our abode in the camp, at Ask, I have preached thirty five times in seven days. One of those times a soldier, who was present, called aloud to his comrades to come away, and not hear that fool any longer. But it pleased God to send the word spoken to his heart; so that he roared out, in the bitterness of his soul, for a considerable time: And then He, who never fails those that seek Him turned his heaviness into joy. — He is now never so happy as when he is proclaiming the loving kindness of God his Savior. “I was a little shocked at my first entrance on this great work, because I was alone, having none to help me: But the Lord helped me, and soon raised up William Clements, and, in June, John Evans, belonging to the Train, to my assistance. Since we have been in this camp we have built two small tabernacles, in which we meet at eight in the morning, at three in the afternoon, and seven at night; and commonly two whole nights in each week. “Since I began to write this, we are come to our winter quarters, so that our society is now parted. We are some in Bruges, some in Ghent: But it has pleased the Lord to leave neither without a Teacher; for John Greenwood and I are in this city; and B.
Clements, and Evans, are in Ghent; — so that we trust our Lord will carry on his work in both places. “We that are in Bruges have hired a small place, in which we meet; and our dear Lord is in the midst of us. Many times the tears run down every face, and joy reigns in every heart. “I shall conclude with a full assurance of your prayers, with a longing desire to see you. O when will the joyful meeting be?
Perhaps not on this side death: If not, my Master’s will be done. “Your unworthy brother in the Lord, “J. H.”
Sun. 11 . — In the evening I rode to Brentford. In the inn, where I lodged the next night, was a company of men exceeding drunk. Nature suggested, “Why should you speak to them? It will be, at best, labor lost; for you may be well assured, none of them will mind one word you say.”
However, we spoke a few words to them: One of them immediately rose up, and said, it was all true, followed us as well as he could into our room, and appeared deeply convinced, and strongly desirous to serve a better Master. Tues. 13 . — In the evening we reached Bath, and the next morning rode to Bristol. After spending a few days there and at Kingswood, on Saturday, 24, I came again to London. Sun. 25 . — I conversed with one who was greatly extolling the comfortable way wherein the Brethren preach. I understood him well.
One, who was a believer, falls into carelessness, or willful sin. If he comes to hear our preaching, then we shake all his bones in pieces. If he comes to them, they stroke him, and lull him asleep. O how does any backslider escape this comfortable preaching? Sun . December 2. — I was with two persons who believe they are saved from all sin. Be it so, or not, why should we not rejoice in the work of God, so far as it is unquestionably wrought in them? For instance, I ask John C., “Do you pray always? Do you rejoice in God every moment? Do you in everything give thanks? In loss? In pain? In sickness, weariness, disappointments? Do you desire nothing? Do you fear nothing? Do you feel the love of God continually in your heart? Have you a witness in whatever you speak or do, that it is pleasing to God?” If He can solemnly and deliberately answer in the affirmative, why do I not rejoice and praise God on his behalf? Perhaps, because I have an exceeding complex idea of sanctification, or a sanctified man. And so, for fear he should not have attained all I include in that idea, I cannot rejoice in what he has attained.
After having often declared the same thing before many witnesses, this day Mr. Williams wrote a solemn retraction of the gross slanders he had been propagating for several months, concerning my brother and me. This he concluded in these words: “THOUGH I doubt not but you can forgive me, yet I can hardly forgive myself; I have been so ungrateful and disobedient to the tenderest of friends, who, through the power of God, were my succor in all my temptations. “I intreat your prayers in my behalf, that God may restore, strengthen, stablish, and settle me in the grace to which I have been called; that God may bless you, and your dear brother, and that we may be all united again in one fellowship, is the prayer of him who, for the future, hopes to be, “Your obedient son and servant, for Christ’s sake, “THOMAS WILLIAMS.”
Mon. 3 . — I answered another letter I had received from Flanders; an extract of which is here subjoined: — “REV.SIR, GHENT , Nov . 12, O. S. 1744. “WE made bold to trouble you with this, to acquaint you with some of the Lord’s dealings with us here. We have hired two rooms; one small one, wherein a few of us meet everyday at one o’clock; and another large one, for public service, where we meet twice a day, at nine in the morning, and four in the afternoon; and the hand of the Omnipotent God is with us, to the pulling down of the strong-holds of Satan. “The seventh instant, when we were met together in the evening, as I was at prayer, one that was kneeling by me cried out, (like a woman in travail,) ‘My Redeemer! My Redeemer!’ which continued about ten minutes. When he was asked what was the matter, he said he had found that which he had often heard of; that is, a heaven upon earth: And some others had much ado to forbear crying out in the same manner. “Dear Sir; I am a stranger to you in the flesh. I know not if I have seen you above once; when I saw you preaching on Kennington-Common: And then I hated you as much as now (by the grace of God) I love you. The Lord pursued me with convictions, from my infancy; and I often made abundance of good resolutions: But finding, as often, that I could not keep them, (as being made wholly in my own strength,) I at length left off all striving, and gave myself over to all manner of lewdness and profaneness. So I continued for some years, till the battle of Dettingen. The balls came then very thick; about me, and my comrades fell on every side. Yet I was preserved unhurt. A few days after this, the Lord was pleased to visit me again. ‘The pains of hell get hold upon me, the snares of death encompassed me.’ I durst no longer commit any outward sin; and I prayed God to be merciful to my soul. Now I was at a loss for books: But God took care for this also. One day, as I was at work, I found an old Bible in one of the train wagons. To read this, I soon forsook my old companions, all but one, who was still a thorn in my flesh: But, not long after, he sickened and died. “My Bible was now my only companion; and I believed myself a very good Christian, till we came to winter-quarters, where I met with John Haime: But I was soon sick of his company; for he robbed me of my treasure; he stole away my gods, telling me, I and my works were going to hell together. This was strange doctrine to me, who, being wholly ignorant of the righteousness of Christ, sought only to establish my own righteousness: And being naturally of a stubborn temper, my poor brother was so perplexed with me, that sometimes he was resolved (as he afterwards told me) to forbid my coming to him any more. “When the Lord had at length opened my eyes, and shown me that by grace we are saved through faith, I began immediately to declare it to others, though I had not as yet experienced it myself. But, October 23d, as William Clements was at prayer, I felt on a sudden a great alteration in my soul. My eyes overflowed with tears of love. I knew I was, through Christ, reconciled to God, which inflamed my soul with fervent love to Him, whom I now saw to be my complete Redeemer. “O the tender care of Almighty God in bringing up his children!
How are we bound to love so indulgent a Father, and to fall down in wonder and adoration of his great and glorious name, for his tender mercies! — Dear Sir, I beg you will pray for him who is not worthy to be a door-keeper to the least of my Master’s servants, “John Evans.” He continued both to preach and to live the Gospel, till the battle of Fontenoy. One of his companions saw him there, laid across a cannon, both his legs having been taken off by a chain-shot, praising God, and exhorting all that were round about him; which he did till his spirit returned to God. Mon. 17 . — In the evening I rode to Brentford. Many poor wretches endeavored to make a disturbance, just as I began to preach, and employed one of their number, one utterly void of shame, to lead the way: But he acted his part with so uncommon a degree both of impudence and dullness, that when I turned about, and asked to whom he belonged, his companions were ashamed to own him: So some went away, and the rest stood still; and we had a quiet and comfortable hour. Sun. 23 . — I was unusually lifeless and heavy, till the love feast in the evening; when, just as I was constraining myself to speak, I was stopped, whether I would or no; for the blood gushed out of both my nostrils, so that I could not add another word: But in a few minutes it stayed, and all our hearts and mouths were opened to praise God.
Yet the next day I was again as a dead man; but in the evening, while I was reading Prayers at Snowsfields, I found such light and strength as I never remember to have had before. I saw every thought, as well as action or word, just as it was rising in my heart; and whether it was right before God, or tainted with pride or selfishness. I never knew before (I mean not as at this time) what it was “to be still before God.” Tues. 25 . — I waked, by the grace of God, in the same spirit; and about eight, being with two or three that believed in Jesus, I felt such an awe and tender sense of the presence of God as greatly confirmed me therein: So that God was before me all the day long. I sought and found him in every place; and could truly say, when I lay down at night, “Now I have lived a day.” Thur. 27 . — I called on the Solicitor whom I had employed in the suit lately commenced against me in Chancery; and here I first saw that foul monster, a Chancery Bill! A scroll it was of forty-two pages, in large folio, to tell a story which needed not to have taken up forty lines! And stuffed with such stupid, senseless, improbable lies (many of them, too, quite foreign to the question) as, I believe, would have cost the compiler his life in any Heathen Court either of Greece or Rome. And this is equity in a Christian country! This is the English method of redressing other grievances!
I conclude this year with the extract of a letter which I received some weeks before: — “Honored Sir, “ I BEG leave to give you a short account of my experience, from the time I can remember. “In my childhood, confused convictions often passed through my mind, so that I almost always had the fear of God before my eyes, and a sense of his seeing me; and I frequently used to abstain from sin upon that account. When I did sin, I was immediately checked and grieved; so that I generally was serious, nothing like any of my other brothers, and was, on that account, esteemed good child, and greatly caressed. I constantly said my prayers, and was much given to reading; but it was chiefly plays and romances, of which I was as fond as I was of cards, shows, races, feasts, and whatever are called innocent diversions. Yet even these were always a burden to me when over; so that I was forced to own, All these are vanity. “At about sixteen, I was sent to Yarmouth, where I fell twice or thrice into intemperance, for which I was severely reproved in my conscience; but I used to make up matters by going oftener to church: And having good health, and no care, I was generally easy in my mind, and gay and jocose in my conversation. “In this temper, after about six months, I returned home. But a severe temptation soon following, and a severe illness in my head, made me think more and more of what is beyond the grave; this also made me exceeding diligent in prayer, till God not only restored my bodily health, but also gave me power against my inward enemy, and peace to my troubled soul. “In half a year after, I was called to London; where, for the first year, I had little religion left, only that I never missed church. But after I was settled, conviction began to revive, particularly for sins of omission. I prayed three times in a day, and I was uneasy if I missed once. I read all books of religion that came in my way. And now, because I prayed and read so much, and went constantly to church, and sometimes to the sacrament, I thought myself in a right good way. And yet I was continually uneasy, though I knew not why; till one day I light on Thomas à Kempis. The more I read, the more I liked it. I bought one of the books, and read it over and over.
I was more convinced of sin than ever and had more power against it. I forsook many things which I allowed myself in before; though I still allowed myself to see a play once a month. But the last I saw, I felt hell in my conscience, for a week after; so that I determined, even for ease, never to go again. “I was now well settled in the form of godliness, and I knew a little of the power of it, when I was pressed by a relation, to pay him a visit at Oxford, which I did at Whitsuntide, 1742. But here I soon lost both power and form. I saw many places, was much in company, and grew more dead to the things of God, everyday than other. I was truly glad to see London again; and the very first night began to consider, how I might recover my peace. But before I had executed any thing, I was seized with a fever. I looked up to God; but all was dark. With the trouble both of my body and mind, I really thought I should have gone distracted. Yet I was too self-righteous to beg for mere mercy. All my cry was, ‘Lord, give me health; and I will obey thee.’ “God did give me health; and I was more diligent than ever in going to church and sacrament; in so much, that on a weekday, I have gone four or five times to church in a day. Yet sin was my master; although every time I fell into it I was condemned exceedingly. I began now to see, that my laughter and jesting were wrong. But I thought, if I left them, my friends would cast me off. So I went on, sinning against light, and never finding peace for one whole day together. “One day, being in great trouble of mind, and thinking, Where shall I find a man who lives up to the rules given by Kempis? it came strongly into my mind, ‘Go to the Foundery.’ Immediately I went, but with fear and trembling. Here I continued a constant hearer for above two months, before I spoke to one person belonging to it; which I purposely abstained from, that I might the more exactly observe the whole behavior, both of yourself and those that heard you. And the more closely I examined, the more clearly I was convinced, These are the men I have been seeking so long. “At last I was admitted into the society, and, after the usual trial, into the Bands. I was now continually walking upon the wings of love. The life and power of religion was all my talk. I was not ashamed to declare it before all men; for the candle of the Lord constantly shone upon my head. “At present, I find my soul continually hungering and thirsting after the Spirit’s indwelling in me. I often find a solid peace, a serious watchfulness, a presence of mind, never confused or hurried; a sweet communion with God, goodwill toward all men, with much grief at their misery, but no fear. I can, with unaccountable boldness yet with meekness and love, reprove the most daring sinner. And the more I obey this spirit, the more of it I feel; the more sensible I am of my own weakness, and at the same time filled with praise and amazement, to feel my strength in the Lord. “W.B.”
Sat . January 5, 1745. — Desiring to see once more our old acquaintance, Mr. Gambold, my brother and I called at James Hutton’s. We found there not him, but Mr. S.: A new creature indeed! (though not in the Gospel sense!) so extremely gay, easy, unconcerned, that one of the primitive Christians, instead of supposing him to be “at rest,” as he termed it, “in the wounds of Jesus,” would have judged, he had never heard of his name; much less of taking up his cross daily.
I had often wondered at myself, (and sometimes mentioned it to others,) that ten thousand cares, of various kinds, were no more weight or burden to my mind, than ten thousand hairs were to my head. Perhaps I began to ascribe something of this to my own strength. And thence it might be, that on Sunday, 13, that strength was withholden, and I felt what it was to be troubled about many things. One, and another, hurrying me continually, it seized upon my spirit more and more, till I found it absolutely necessary to fly for my life; and that without delay. So the next day, Monday, 14, I took horse, and rode away for Bristol.
Between Bath and Bristol, I was earnestly desired to turn aside, and call at the house of a poor man, William Shalwood. I found him and his wife sick in one bed, and with small hopes of the recovery of either. Yet (after prayer) I believed they would “not die, but live, and declare the loving-kindness of the Lord.” The next time I called, he was sitting below stairs, and his wife able to go abroad.
As soon as we came into the house at Bristol, my soul was lightened of her load, of that insufferable weight which had lain upon my mind, more or less, for several days. On Sunday several of our friends from Wales, and other parts, joined with us in the great sacrifice of thanksgiving. And everyday we found more and more cause to praise God, and to give him thanks for his still increasing benefits.
I found peculiar reason to praise God, for the state of the society, both in Bristol and Kingswood. They seemed at last clearly delivered from all vain jangling, from idle controversies and strife of words, and “determined not to know any thing, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Wed. 30 . — All our family were at St. James’s, our parish church. At twelve we met together, to pour out our souls before God, and to provoke each other to love and to good works. The afternoon I set apart for visiting the sick. Blessed be God, this was a comfortable day. Thur. 31 . — I rode to Coleford, about twenty (real, twelve computed) miles southeast from Bristol. The colliers here were only not as famous as those at Kingswood were formerly. I preached near the road-side; for the house could not contain a tenth part of the congregation. None opposed, or mocked, or smiled. Surely some of the seed is fallen upon good ground. Mon . February 4. — I had the pleasure of receiving from Dr. Hartley, a particular account of Dr. Cheyne’s last hours. During his last illness, he felt a gentle and gradual decay, so that he apprehended what the event would be. But it did not appear to give him any concern. He seemed quite loose from all below, till, without any struggle, either of body or mind, he calmly gave up his soul to God. Tues. 5 . — We set out early, and the next day, at noon, met the little society at Windsor. We called at Brentford, likewise; and, after a short stop, rode on, and reached London in the evening. Sun. 17 . — I labored much with one of our brethren, whose eyes the Antinomians had just opened, and for the present he seemed to be convinced. But I doubt that conviction will not continue; it being not so easy to remove any one from that Gospel which flesh and blood hath revealed unto them.
My exhorting the congregation here, not to consult with flesh and blood, but to attend the morning preaching, occasioned my receiving the following letter: — “Dear Sir, “FOR some time past I have been very negligent of coming in a morning, though I have been often severely reproved in my own mind for omitting that which I knew was my duty both to God and my brethren. And from time to time, when you have exhorted us to partake of so useful a privilege, I have always been condemned. “A few days ago I set myself to consider, whence this slackness must proceed. And I soon saw, the root of it was, an evil heart of unbelief, departing from the living God, and, therefore, from his service. The pernicious branches of this I found to be ignorance and sloth. It was ignorance of myself that caused me to cry, ‘Peace, peace;’ and to say within myself, ‘I know enough, and am satisfied.’ And while I was in this state, pride, anger, lust, worldly-mindedness, levity, and carelessness toward God and man, successively got the dominion over me, so that I was no more like a Christian than like an angel. Yet I felt but little trouble for it, (save at times,) and thereby I sunk into a gulf of sloth, which got the dominion over me in such a manner, that I not only was content frequently to lie in bed till eight, but in the day-time did not care to stir one step forward, especially if it was to visit the sick or distressed. I was forced to drag myself to and fro, and a heavy load I was to myself. And yet my eyes were so blinded, that I was scarce sensible of my sin. The cross I could hardly bear naming; for being so used to shun it at all times, it became a very harsh word to me, and I did not love to hear of it. But, glory be to God, ever since this examination, I have been a little stirred up; though still I am in danger of this evil or any other. Lord, leave me not; for without thee I can do nothing! “I find whenever I know myself poor, and miserable, and blind, and foolish; and while I have a deep sense of my want of love, humility, meekness, seriousness, and wisdom; I then am in earnest in every duty, particularly rising in the morning. But when I am inwardly careless and proud, full and wise enough, then I can very quietly neglect not only this, but every help which God has given me. “And yet (to speak the whole truth) I am apt to attribute some part of my late sloth and slackness, to too smooth a doctrine, which, it seems to me, has been lately preached among us: I thought the doctrine of Perfection, in all its parts, (perfect love, meekness, humility, resignation,) has not been so strenuously insisted on, as in times past, but only now and then mentioned in general terms: And hereby I was encouraged to be content in this groveling state, hanging between nature and grace, flesh and spirit.
And, being earnest with the Lord last night, this morning he did give me both a will and a power to break through, which I thankfully used, and came to meet my brethren at five, with primitive joy and satisfaction. “W. B.”
Mon. 18 . — I set out with Richard Moss for Newcastle. Wed. 20. — Soon after we passed through Leicester, a gentleman of Leicester overtook us, and kept us company to Loughborough, dined with us there, then rode back to Leicester. His main business, I found, was to talk with me. He said, he had long been very low-spirited, had had the very best advice, and taken abundance of physic, and yet was as bad, or worse than ever. I explained his case to him at large, and advised him to apply to that Physician who alone heals the broken in heart.
In the evening I preached to the little flock at Nottingham. Next day, William Holmes met us at Doncaster, and piloted us through the mire, and water, and snow, (lately fallen,) to Sykehouse. Finding the congregation ready, I began preaching as soon as I came in; and exhorted them to follow after the great gift of God. Several from Epworth met us here, and we rejoiced unto God with reverence. Fri. 22 . — There was so much snow about Boroughbridge, that we could go on but very slowly; insomuch, that the night overtook us when we wanted six or seven miles to the place where we designed to lodge. But we pushed on, at a venture, across the moor, and, about eight, came safe to Sandhutton. Sat. 23 . — We found the roads abundantly worse than they had been the day before; not only because the snows were deeper, which made the causeways in many places unpassable, (and turnpike-roads were not known in these parts of England, till some years after,) but likewise because the hard frost, succeeding the thaw, had made all the ground like glass. We were often obliged to walk, it being impossible to ride, and our horses several times fell down while we were leading them, but not once while we were riding them, during the whole journey. It was past eight before we got to Gateshead-Fell, which appeared a great pathless waste of white. The snow filling up and covering all the roads, we were at a loss how to proceed; when an honest man of Newcastle overtook and guided us safe into the town.
Many a rough journey have I had before, but one like this I never had; between wind, and hail, and rain, and ice, and snow, and driving sleet, and piercing cold: But it is past: Those days will return no more, and are, therefore, as though they had never been. Pain, disappointment, sickness, strife, Whate’er molests or troubles life However grievous in its stay, It shakes the tenement of clay, When past, as nothing we esteem; And pain, like pleasure, is a dream.
On Monday and Tuesday I diligently inquired who were offended at each other; this being the sin which, of all others, most easily besets the people of Newcastle. And as many of them as had leisure to meet, I heard face to face. It was now an easy thing to remove their offenses; for God was in the work; so that they were, one and all, as willing to be reconciled to each other, as I was to have them.
February 27. — (Being Ash-Wednesday.) After the public Prayers, the little church in our house met together. Misunderstandings were cleared up, and we all agreed to set out anew, hand in hand, and, by the grace of God, to forward one another in running the race which is set before us. Sun . March 3. — As I was walking up Pilgrim-Street, hearing a man call after me, I stood still. He came up, and used much abusive language, intermixed with many oaths and curses. Several people came out to see what was the matter; on which he pushed me twice or thrice, and went away.
Therefore I would not lose the opportunity, but on Monday, 4, sent him the following note: — “Robert Young, “ I EXPECT to see you, between this and Friday, and to hear from you, that you are sensible of your fault; otherwise, in pity to your soul, I shall be obliged to inform the Magistrates of your assaulting me yesterday in the street. I am, “Your real Friend, “JOHN WESLEY.” Within two or three hours, Robert Young came, and promised a quite different behavior. So did this gentle reproof, if not save a soul from death, yet prevent a multitude of sins. Sun. 10 . — We had a useful sermon at All-Saints in the morning, and another at our own church in the afternoon. I was much refreshed by both, and united in love both to the two Preachers, and to the Clergy in general.
The next day I wrote to a friend as follows: — “Newcastle-upon-Tyne, March 11, 1745. “ I HAVE been drawing up this morning a short state of the case between the Clergy and us; I leave you to make any such use of it, as you believe will be to the glory of God. “1. About seven years since, we began preaching inward, present salvation, as attainable by faith alone. “2. For preaching this doctrine, we were forbidden to preach in the churches. “3. We then preached in private houses, as occasion offered: And when the houses could not contain the people, in the open air. “4. For this, many of the Clergy preached or printed against us, as both heretics and schismatic. “5. Persons who were convinced of sin, begged us to advise them more particularly how to flee from the wrath to come. We replied, if they would all come at one time (for they were numerous) we would endeavor it. “6. For this, we were represented, both from the pulpit and the press, (we have heard it with our ears, and seen it with our eyes,) as introducing Popery, raising sedition, practicing both against Church and State; and all manner of evil was publicly said both of us, and those who were accustomed to meet with us. “7. Finding some truth herein, viz., that some of those who so met together walked disorderly, we immediately desired them not to come to us any more. “8. And the more steady were desired to overlook the rest, that we might know if they walked according to the Gospel. “9. But now several of the Bishops began to speak against us, either in conversation or in public. “10. On this encouragement, several of the Clergy stirred up the people to treat us as outlaws or mad dogs. “11. The people did so, both in Staffordshire, Cornwall, and many other places. “12. And they do so still, wherever they are not restrained by their fear of the secular Magistrate. “Thus the case stands at present. Now, what can we do, or what can you our brethren do, toward healing this breach? which is highly desirable, that we may withstand, with joint force, the still increasing flood of Popery, Deism, and immorality, “Desire of us any thing we can do with a safe conscience, and we will do it immediately. Will you meet us here? Will you do what we desire of you, so far as you can with a safe conscience? “Let us come to particulars. Do you desire us, 1. To preach another, or to desist from preaching this, doctrine? “We think you do not desire it, as knowing we cannot do this with a safe conscience. Do you desire us, 2. To desist from preaching in private houses, or in the open air? As things are now circumstanced, this would be the same as desiring us not to preach at all. “Do you desire us, 3. To desist from advising those who now meet together for that purpose? Or, in other words, to dissolve our societies? “We cannot do this with a safe conscience; for we apprehend many souls would be lost thereby, and that God would require their blood at our hands. “Do you desire us, 4. To advise them only one by one:? “This is impossible because of their number. “ Do you desire us, 5. To suffer those who walk disorderly still to mix with the rest? “Neither can we do this with a safe conscience; because ‘evil communications corrupt good manners.’ “Do you desire us, 6. To discharge those Leaders of Bands or Classes (as we term them) who overlook the rest? “This is, in effect, to suffer the disorderly walkers still to mix with the rest, which we dare not do. “Do you desire us, Lastly, To behave with reverence toward those who are overseers of the church of God? And with tenderness, both to the character and persons of our brethren, the inferior Clergy? “By the grace of God, we can and will do this. Yea, our conscience beareth us witness, that we have already labored so to do; and that, at all times and in all places. “If you ask what we desire of you to do, we answer, 1. We do not desire any one of you to let us preach in your church, either if you believe us to preach false doctrine, or if you have, upon any other ground, the least scruple of conscience concerning it. But we desire any who believes us to preach true doctrine, and has no scruple at all in this matter, may not be either publicly or privately discouraged from inviting us to preach in his church. “2. We do not desire that any one who thinks that we are heretics or schismatic, and that it is his duty to preach or print against us, as such, should refrain therefrom, so long as he thinks it is his duty. (Although in this case, the breach can never be healed.) “But we desire that none will pass such a sentence, till he has calmly considered both sides of the question; that he would not condemn us unheard; but first read what we have written, and pray earnestly that God may direct him in the right way. “3. We do not desire any favor, if either Popery, sedition, or immorality be proved against us. “But we desire you will not credit, without proof, any of those senseless tales that pass current with the vulgar: That if you do not credit them yourselves, you will not relate them to others; (which we have known done;) yea, that you will confuse them, so far as ye have opportunity, and discountenance those who still retail them abroad. “4. We do not desire any preferment, favor, or recommendation, from those that are in authority, either in Church or State: But we desire, — “
(1.) That if any thing material be laid to our charge, we may be permitted to answer for ourselves.
(2.) That you would hinder your dependents from stirring up the rabble against us; who are certainly not the proper judges of these matters. And,
(3.) That you would effectually suppress, and thoroughly discountenance, all riots and popular insurrections, which evidently strike at the foundation of all government, whether of Church or State. “Now these things you certainly can do, and that with a safe conscience. Therefore, till these things are done, the continuance of the breach is chargeable on you, and you only.” Sat. 16 . — I visited part of the sick: (For I could not see them all in one day:) I found many in heaviness, through various temptations, added to that of bodily pain; but none sorrowing “as men without hope;” though some deeply mourning after God.
The following week I visited the societies in the country On Thursday, 28, a gentleman called at our house, who informed me his name was Adams; that he lived about forty miles from Newcastle, at Osmotherley, in Yorkshire; and had heard so many strange accounts of the Methodists, that he could not rest till he came to inquire for himself. I told him he was welcome to stay as long as he pleased, if he could live on our lenten fare.
He made no difficulty of this, and smilingly stayed till the Monday se’nnight following; when he returned home fully satisfied with his journey. Sat . April 6. — Mr. Stephenson, of whom I bought the ground on which our House is built, came at length, after delaying it more than two years, and executed the writings. So I am freed from one more care. May I in every thing make known my request to God!
We met at four in the morning, on Easter-Day , and great was our joy in the Lord. I preached on, “The Lord is risen indeed;” and at South-Biddick, at seven o’clock. In the evening many of our brethren, from all parts, were present; and we again praised God with joyful lips. Mon. 15 . — We met at half-hour past four, and the Room was filled from end to end. Many of the rich and honorable were there; so that I found it was time for me to fly away. At eight I preached in the street, at Chester, to a large and quiet congregation. At Darlington (it being the fair day) we could scarce find a place to hide our head. At length we got into a little inn, but were obliged to be in a room where there was another set of company, some of whom were cursing and swearing much. Before we went away, I stepped to them, and asked, “Do you think yourselves that this kind of talking is right?” One of them warmly replied, “Sir, we have said nothing which we have need to be ashamed of.” I said, “Have you not need to be ashamed of disobliging your best friend? And is not God the best friend you have?” They stared first at me, and then at one another; but no man answered a word.
In the evening I preached at the inn, in Northallerton, where Mr. Adams and some of his neighbors met me. On his saying, he wished I could have time to preach in his house, at Osmotherley, I told him, I would have time, if he desired it; and ordered our horses to be brought out immediately. We came thither between nine and ten. It was about an hour before the people were gathered together. It was after twelve before I lay down; yet (through the blessing of God) I felt no weariness at all. Tues. 16 . — I preached at five, on Romans 3:22, to a large congregation, part of whom had sat up all night, for fear they should not wake in the morning. Many of them, I found, either were, or had been, Papists. O how wise are the ways of God! How am I brought, without any care or thought of mine, into the center of the Papists in Yorkshire! O that God would arise and maintain his own cause; and all the idols let him utterly abolish!
After sermon an elderly woman asked me abruptly, “Dost thou think water baptism an ordinance of Christ?” I said, “What saith Peter? ‘Who can forbid water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Ghost even as we?”’ I spoke but little more, before she cried out, “‘Tis right! ‘Tis right! I will be baptized.” And so she was, the same hour.
About eighteen the evening I reached Sykehouse, and preached to a little company there. Wednesday, 17. I rode by Epworth to Grimsby. The northeast wind was full in our face, and exceeding sharp. I began preaching before eight; but to such a congregation as I had not lately seen; so stupidly rude and noisy, encouraged thereto by their fore-speaker, a drunken alehouse-keeper. I singled him out, and fastened upon him, till he chose to withdraw. The rest were soon calmed, and behaved very quietly till the service was ended. Thur. 18 . — In the afternoon I rode to Hainton. Mr. Clark, the Minister of Barksworth, a mile from thence, having several times sent word he should be glad to see me, I went to his house, and spent an agreeable hour with an open-hearted, friendly man, not strongly prepossessed, and, I believe, truly desirous to know the whole will of God. Fri. 19 . — William Fenwick rode with me to L — d; the Minister of which had told him again and again, “Be sure to bring Mr. Wesley with you, when he comes. It is for my soul; for the good of my poor soul.”
When we were alone, he told me, “Sir, I have read your writings; but I could not believe them till very lately. Now I know your doctrine is true.
God himself has shown it to me. A few days since I was in a great agony of soul, praying to God to forgive my sins; and there was such a light about me as I cannot express; and I knew God had heard my prayer; and my heart was filled with the love of God; and ever since I pray and praise him all day long.”
I asked if he had told this to any one else. He said, “I began to tell it one I thought a very good Christian; but he seemed to think I was distracted: So I spoke no more. And indeed I don’t know any that would hear me.”
I told him, “You will meet with many such trials as this, and with many others which you are not yet aware of.” He answered, “I know that I cannot bear them of myself. I have no strength, unless I watch and pray always. But I do pray always: And what are trials to me? I am not in the world. I live in eternity. I cannot turn any way, but I see God. He is with me continually, and on every side.”
I found much comfort from this strong instance of the mercy of God. And so I did also from a letter wrote by one of our Preachers, concerning whom I often feared I had labored in vain. It ran in these words: — “Dear Sir, “ I AM fully convinced your fear concerning me, proceeds entirely from your love to my soul; therefore I should think myself guilty of the greatest ingratitude, if I did not endeavor to make a proper use of your kind reproof. “I know my soul has not prospered. I know my conversation has not always been as in the presence of God. I know I have not been, nor yet am, as I desire to be, a serious, lowly follower of Jesus Christ. I have not been so exemplary in my behavior as was consistent with the important work wherein I was employed. But, dear Sir, let me beseech you, in God’s name, tell me, Do you really think, that, instead of profiting, I destroy others? that so by desisting to preach, I may perish alone, and not the people perish with me? O, Sir, shall I be an instrument in the devil’s hand, to destroy the souls for which Christ died? O that my tongue may cleave to the roof of my mouth, rather than I should continue to do this great evil! O Lord, be merciful unto me, and forgive my sin; for it is great! “I am not guiltless; but, blessed be God, I have lately discovered, or rather felt, many things which were hindrances of the work of God in my soul. I saw them before; but I saw in vain. I was not restless to be delivered from them; and therefore they still continued as so many insurmountable barriers in my way. I have been lately in great trouble of mind; the reproofs I received putting me upon a narrow self-examination, I soon found many things wrong, and they lay so heavy upon me, that I went mourning all the day long. God only knows the uneasiness I felt: But, blessed be God, he did not leave me in distress; but in the midst of trouble sent me comfort. O may my soul for ever praise him! “I have long been in a kind of dead and lifeless state, having lost those pleasing tastes of God’s love I once enjoyed. I have not been able to find any delight in prayer; nor could I pray from my heart.
If I forced myself to pray, (for it was a grievous cross,) shame covered my face, and I durst scarce lift up my eyes, conscious of my own unfaithfulness to God, and my negligence in watching. All intercourse was stopped between God and my soul. Indeed, when I have been praying with or speaking to others, I have often found the Spirit of God enlivening my own soul; but when I came before God in secret, intending to pour out my complaint before him, my mouth hath been stopped, and the devil presently whispered, ‘What profit is it that you pray?’ If I persevered notwithstanding, my mind has been filled with a thousand impertinent thoughts, so that I was either forced from my knees, or could only sigh or groan underneath my misery; My heart seemed harder and harder, so that I verily thought I should at length become a cast-away. “But, blessed be God, I have for some time found a revival of love, and have had more communion with God than for a long season. O may it be my constant care to watch and pray! the neglect of which was the chief cause of my former deadness. The levity and inconstancy of mind which used to oppress me, I find greatly taken away; and, at present, (God grant it may always continue!) the remembrance of them is grievous to me. I often find great sweetness in my soul, and can weep for my past ingratitude to God. O pray for me, dear Sir, if you love me, that I may never more resist his grace! “I cannot tell you how much I think myself obliged to you, under God, for all your care, reproofs, and kindnesses. May God reward you! and may I never, never make an ill use of them; but love and reverence you, and praise God for his love, in making you an happy instrument of good to my soul. “Tho Meyrick.” I rode to Epworth in the afternoon. Sunday, 21. I preached in the house at five, on, “Quench not the Spirit;” about eight, at the Cross; and again in the evening, to most of the adults in the town. Poor Mr. R’s sermon, from beginning to end, was another “railing accusation.” Father, forgive him; for he knoweth not what he doeth! Mon. 22 . — I rode with William Holmes to Norton, and after preaching there to a small company, went on to Oulton, three miles from Leeds, where a numerous congregation was waiting. On Tuesday I preached at Leeds, Armley, and Birstal. The next evening I was constrained to continue my discourse there near an hour longer than usual; God pouring out such a blessing, that I knew not how to leave off. Thur. 25 . — I preached at Horton and Bradford. Here I could not but observe, how God has made void all their labor who “make void the law through faith.” Out of their large societies in these towns, how small a remnant is left! In Horton, scarce ten persons out of four-score; in Bradford, not one soul. Friday and Saturday, at John Bennet’s request, I preached at several places in Lancashire and Cheshire. Sun . 28 . — I preached at five, (as I had done over-night,) about a mile from Altringham, on, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.”
A plain man came to me afterward, and said, “Sir, I find Mr. Hutchings and you do not preach the same way. You bid us read the Bible, and pray, and go to church: But he bids us let all this alone; and says, if we go to church and sacrament, we shall never come to Christ.”
At nine I preached near Stockport, to a large congregation: Thence we rode to Bongs, in Derbyshire, a lone house, on the side of a high, steep mountain, whither abundance of people were got before us. I preached on God’s justifying the ungodly; and his word was as dew upon the tender herb. At five I preached at Mill-Town, near Chapel-en-le-Frith. The poor miller, near whose pond we stood, endeavored to drown my voice, by letting out the water, which fell with a great noise. But it was labor lost; for my strength was so increased, that I was heard to the very skirts of the congregation. Mon. 29 . — I preached at Taddington in the Peak, and rode from thence to Sheffield, where I preached on the floor of the late house, (which the good Protestant mob had just pulled down,) to the largest and one of the quietest congregations I ever remember to have seen there. Tues. 30 . — I preached at Barley-Hall; and Wednesday, MAY 1, at Nottingham. Thur . 2 . — I rode to Markfield. The church was full, though the notice was so short. But I was sorry to hear, some of the neighboring churches are likely to be empty enough: For the still Brethren, I found, had spread themselves into several of the adjacent parishes. And the very first sins their hearers leave off, are reading the Bible, and running to the church and sacrament. Fri . 3 . — In the evening we came to Wednesbury. A while ago “the waves” here were “mighty, and raged horribly. But the Lord that dwelleth on high is mightier,” and has stilled the madness of the people. I preached at seven without any noise or hindrance at all. All was equally quiet on Saturday.
About one I preached at Tipton-Green, and about four at Wednesbury. A few persons at first threw some clods: But they were quickly glad to retreat; so that there was no interruption at all while I applied those gracious words of our Lord, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
I made haste from hence to Goston’s-Green, near Birmingham, where I had appointed to preach at six. But it was dangerous for any who stood to hear; for the stones and dirt were flying from every side, almost without intermission, for near an hour. However, very few persons went away. I afterwards met the society, and exhorted them, in spite of men and devils, to continue in the grace of God. Mon. 6 . — I dined at Studley, where a poor man was swearing almost at every sentence. I asked him, if he thought that was well done; and began to tell him how God loved him. He got up as in amaze, made many bows, said, “I ask pardon, Sir, of God and you, and hope it will be a warning to me all the days of my life.”
In the evening I preached at Evesham. The next day Mr. Taylor, of Quinton, came, who, on Wednesday, 8, rode with us to Oxford. I cannot spend one day here, without heaviness in my heart, for my brethren’s sake. O God, when wilt thou show these, who say they are rich, that they are poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked? Fri. 10 . — I preached at High-Wycombe, in an open place, to a mixed multitude; some of whom were as rude as they dared to be, having none of the great vulgar to set them on. Sat. 11 . — I came to London. The sower of tares, I found, had not been idle, but shaken many, and moved some from their steadfastness, who once seemed to be pillars. The next week, finding no other way to convince some who were hugely in love with that solemn trifle, my brother and I were at the pains of reading over Robert Barclay’s “Apology” with them. Being willing to receive the light, their eyes were opened. They saw his nakedness, and were ashamed. Thur. 23 . — We had one more conversation with one that had often strengthened our hands; but now earnestly exhorted us (what is man!) to return to the Church; to renounce all our lay-assistants; to dissolve our societies; to leave off field-preaching, and to accept of honorable preferment. Wed. 29 . — I talked at large with Howel Harris, not yet carried away by the torrent of Antinomianism. But how long will he be able to stand? Only till he consents to stand neuter. When he is brought not to oppose, he will quickly yield.
I would wish all to observe, that the points in question between us and either the German or: English Antinomians, are not points of opinion, but of practice. We break with no man for his opinion. We think, and let think.
I cannot better express my sense of this, than it is done by a serious man in the following, letter: — “Dear Sir, “ I OUGHT to have mentioned sooner my receiving yours, concerning Mr. Edwards, of New-England. Mr. Robe is of his opinion as to the thing, (the doctrine of Particular Redemption,) but not as to the absolute necessity of believing either the one or the other side of the question. And it is the maintaining the necessity of his side of the question, which you justly blame. For the same reason, I suppose you would blame the maintaining the necessity of your side of the question. On whatsoever side of the question one be, I apprehend, this mistake of the necessity of it proceeds from what Mr. Locke calls, ‘the association of ideas.’
People long accustomed to explain the essential things of Christianity, in such a particular way, and never having observed how they can be explained in any other, transfer their zeal for these essential things to their own way of explication, and believe there is a necessary connection between them, when in fact there is not.
This has produced many mischiefs and animosities, among all sorts of people. I would take my ground to stand on for clearing this, on what you say in the same letter to me: ‘Whosoever agrees with us in that account of practical religion given in The Character of a Methodist, I regard not what his other opinions are; the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. I am more assured, that love is of God, than that any opinion whatsoever is so. Herein may we increase more and more.’ “I have often thought, since I was favored with that letter, how far it natively and clearly went, as to many things that occasion contentions and schisms, even among real Christians: And what, as it natively and clearly follows from this principle, our practice ought to be. “One effect of this has been, to make me think I have not yet met with any set of people, whose practice is not, in several remarkable particulars, inconsistent with this good principle. But I will not suffer myself to be fully persuaded of this, as to one set of men, till I have the happiness to meet with your brother and you, and talk over some particulars, which you will allow me calmly and impartially to lay before you. May the Holy Ghost lead you into all truth, and into every right way. “As to outward communion with those in whom your characteristic is found, “1. Is it not our duty and theirs, to keep that communion together, as far as we can without sin? And, except in that case, is not separating from each other, even in outward communion, a sin? Consequently, is it not a sin in any of us, to set out outward communion on such a foot, that others who have this characteristic, cannot join in that communion without sin in them? Is it not also our duty, not to stumble them, by our way of insisting on our particular opinions? And is it not a sin in them, to be easily stumbled at us on that account? “2. Is it not far wrong in any of us to teach our particular opinions, (especially to those whom we are to instruct in the essentials of religion,) so as to lead them into such an association of ideas between these essentials and those options, which want of judgment, narrowness of thought, and impatience of spirit, are so apt to lead even the strong into? Do we not often see, how almost incurably this prejudices the weak against their brethren in Christ, and perplexes their minds about those opinions, and takes them off from the serious consideration of the essentials? Nay, have we not seen even the strong in grace, as well as learning, mistake the Lord’s shining on their souls, on account of their receiving and applying the essentials, for an approbation of their particular opinions? And have we not seen such hereby led to bear persecution from, and in their turn to inflict it on, their brethren? Almost every one cries out against this spirit of persecution. But few seem to dive into the causes of it: And fewer still heartily seek after and follow the effectual cure. And, therefore, “3. Is it not the duty both of Ministers and of private Christians in their several stations, to show that our particular opinions are not so important, but that one in whom the grand characteristic is found may hold different, nay, contrary opinions? Is it not the duty of all, in their respective stations, to prevent or dissolve that groundless association of ideas? And is not the quite contrary done by almost all? Do they not proceed as if they were rather desirous to establish (not dissolve) that association of ideas, in favor of their own particular opinions?
And thereby (though perhaps their own hearts hide it from them) to establish their party, and fix their adherents unto them? “4. Since, as you justly say, ‘We are more sure that love is of God, than that any opinion whatsoever is so,’ is it not our duty to follow that love with all our brethren in Christ, and the native consequence of it, outward communion? So far, I mean, as that communion does not imply our owning as true, an opinion which we do not believe to be so.
And yet, “5. When one is a member of a community where many are extremely bigoted to their own opinions: In such a case, may not outward communion with our other brethren in Christ be kept in some instances, and not in others? But still, is it not our duty to use all our prudence and diligence to bring all the Lord’s people from this bigotry, into that dear, mutual, universal love, and that actual communion, which is the native consequence of it? “James Erskine.”
Sun . June 9. — In the evening I rode to Colebrook, on Monday to Marlborough, and on Tuesday to Bristol. The Antinomians had taken true pains here also, to seduce those who were showing their faith by their works. But they had reaped little fruit of their bad labor. For, upon the most diligent inquiry, I could not find that seven persons out of seven hundred had been turned out of the old Bible-way.
We left Bristol early on Friday, 14, and on Sunday morning reached St. Gennis. The church was moderately filled with serious hearers, but few of them appeared to feel what they heard. I preached both morning and afternoon, and on Monday evening; and many assented to and approved of the truth. Tues. 18 . — Being invited by the Rector of St. Mary Week, (about seven miles from St. Gennis,) to preach in his church, we went thither in the afternoon. I had not seen in these parts of Cornwall, either so large a church or so large a congregation. Thence we rode to Laneast, where Mr. Bennet read Prayers, and I preached on “the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.” Wed. 19 . — Tresmere church was filled within and without, while I preached on Romans 4:7. Here I took leave of a poor, mad, original enthusiast, who had been scattering abroad lies in every quarter. In the evening Mr. Thompson and Shepherd rode with me to St. Eath, and the next day to Redruth.
Being informed here of what had befallen Mr. Maxfield, we turned aside toward Crowan church-town. But in the way, we received information, that he had been removed from thence the night before. It seems, the valiant Constables who guarded him, having received timely notice, that a body of five hundred Methodists were coming to take him away by force, had, with great precipitation, carried him two miles further, to the house of one Henry Tomkins.
Here we found him, nothing terrified by his adversaries. I desired Henry Tomkins to show me the warrant. It was directed by Dr. Borlase, and his father, and Mr. Eustick, to the Constables and Overseers of several parishes, requiring them to “apprehend such able-bodied men as had no lawful calling or sufficient maintenance; “and to bring them before the aforesaid gentlemen at Marazion, on Friday, 21, to be examined, whether they were proper persons to serve His Majesty in the land-service.
It was endorsed (by the Steward of Sir John St. Aubyn) with the names of seven or eight persons, most of whom were well known to have lawful callings, and a sufficient maintenance thereby. But that was all one: They were called Methodists; therefore, soldiers they must be. Underneath was added, “A person, his name unknown, who disturbs the peace of the parish.”
A word to the wise. The good men easily understood, this could be none but the Methodist Preacher; for who “disturbs the peace of the parish” like one who tells all drunkards, whoremongers, and common swearers, “You are in the high road to hell?”
When we came out of the house, forty or fifty myrmidons stood ready to receive us. But I turned full upon them, and their courage failed: Nor did they recover till we were at some distance. Then they began blustering again, and throwing stones; one of which struck Mr. Thompson’s servant. Fri . 21 . — We rode to Marazion. (Vulgarly called Marketjew.) Finding the Justices were not met, we walked up St. Michael’s Mount. The house at the top is surprisingly large and pleasant. Sir John St. Aubyn had taken much pains, and been at a considerable expense, in repairing and beautifying the apartments; and when the seat was finished, the owner died!
About two Mr. Thompson and I went into the room, where the Justices and Commissioners were. After a few minutes, Dr. Borlase stood up and asked, whether we had any business. I told him, “We have.” We desired to be heard, concerning one who was lately apprehended at Crowan. He said, “Gentlemen, the business of Crowan does not come on yet. You shall be sent for, when it does.” So we retired, and waited in another room, till after nine o’clock. They delayed the affair of Mr. Maxfield (as we imagined they would) to the very last. About nine he was called. I would have gone in then; but Mr. Thompson advised to wait a little longer. The next information we received was, that they had sentenced him to go for a soldier. Hearing this, we went straight to the Commission-chamber. But the honorable gentlemen were gone.
They had ordered Mr. Maxfield to be immediately put on board a boat, and carried for Penzance. We were informed, they had first offered him to a Captain of a man-of-war, that was just come into the harbor. But he answered, “I have no authority to take such men as these, unless you would have me give him so much a week, to preach and pray to my people.” Sat. 22 . — We reached St. Ives about two in the morning. At five I preached on, “Love your enemies;” and at Gwennap, in the evening, on, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
We heard today, that as soon as Mr. Maxfield came to Penzance, they put him down into the dungeon; and that the Mayor being inclined to let him go, Dr. Borlase had gone thither on purpose, and had himself read the Articles of War in the Court, and delivered him to one who was to act as an Officer. Sun. 23 . — I preached in Gwennap at five, and about eight at Stithians, to a large and quiet congregation. Thence we went to Wendron church. At two I preached a mile and a half from the church, under a large shady tree, on part of the Epistle for the day, “Marvel not, if the world hate you.” At five I began at Crowan, the head-quarters of the people that delight in war.
While I was expounding part of the Second Morning Lesson, Captain R— — ds came with a party of men, ready for battle. But their master riding away in two or three minutes, their countenances quickly fell. One and another stole off his hat, till they were all uncovered; nor did they either move or speak, till I had finished my discourse.
We rode hence to St. Ives; where, Monday, 24, I preached at five on, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” As we returned from church at noon, a famous man of the town attacked us, for the entertainment of his masters. I turned back and spoke to him, and he was ashamed. In the afternoon, as I was walking over the Market-place, he just put out his head; but after one scream, ran back into the house with great precipitation. We expected a visit in the evening from some of the devil’s drunken champions, who swarm here on a holy day, so called; but none appeared: So, after a comfortable hour, we praised God, and parted in peace. Tues. 25 . — We rode to St. Just. I preached at seven to the largest congregation I have seen since my coming. At the meeting of the earnest, loving society, all our hearts were in a flame: And again at five in the morning, while I explained, “There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”
When the preaching was ended, the Constable apprehended Edward Greenfield, (by a warrant from Dr. Borlase,) a tinner, in the forty-sixth year of his age, having a wife and seven children. Three years ago he was eminent for cursing, swearing, drunkenness, and all manner of wickedness; but those old things had been for some time passed away, and he was then remarkable for a quite contrary behavior.
I asked a little gentleman at St. Just, what objection there was to Edward Greenfield: He said, “Why, the man is well enough in other things; but his impudence the gentlemen cannot bear. Why, Sir, he says, he knows his sins are forgiven!” — And for this cause he is adjudged to banishment or death!
I preached at Morva and Zennor, in my return to St. Ives. Friday, 28. Mr. Thompson and Bennet returned home. Saturday, 29. I preached at St. Just again, and at Morva and Zennor on Sunday, 30. About six in the evening, I began preaching at St. Ives, in the street, near John Nance’s door. A multitude of people were quickly assembled, both high and low, rich and poor; and I observed not any creature to laugh or smile, or hardly move hand or foot. I expounded the Gospel for the day, beginning with, “Then drew near all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.” A little before seven came Mr. Edwards from the Mayor, and ordered one to read the proclamation against riots. I concluded quickly after; but the body of the people appeared utterly unsatisfied, not knowing how to go away. Forty or fifty of them begged they might be present at the meeting of the society; and we rejoiced together for an hour in such a manner as I had never known before in Cornwall. Tues . July 2. — I preached in the evening at St. Just. I observed not only several gentlemen there, who I suppose never came before, but a large body of sinners, who stood at a distance from the rest; and a great multitude of men, women, and children, beside, who seemed not well to know why they came. Almost as soon as we had done singing, a kind of gentlewoman began. I have seldom seen a poor creature take so much pains. She scolded, and screamed, and spit, and stamped, and wrung her hands, and distorted her face and body all manner of ways. I took no notice of her at all, good or bad; nor did almost any one else. Afterwards I heard she was one that had been bred a Baptist; and when she heard we were so, rejoiced greatly. No wonder she should be proportionably angry, when she was disappointed of her hope.
Mr. Eustick, a neighboring gentleman, came, just as I was concluding my sermon. The people opening to the right and left, he came up to me, and said, “Sir, I have a warrant from Dr. Borlase, and you must go with me.”
Then turning round, he said, “Sir, are you Mr. Shepherd? If so, you are mentioned in the warrant too. Be pleased, Sir, to come with me.” We walked with him to a public-house, near the end of the town. Here he asked me, if I was willing to go with him to the Doctor. I told him, just then, if he pleased. “Sir,” said he, “I must wait upon you to your inn; and in the morning, if you will be so good as to go with me, I will show you the way.” So he handed me back to my inn, and retired. Wed. 3 . — I waited till nine; but no Mr. Eustick came. I then desired Mr. Shepherd, to go and inquire for him at the house wherein he had lodged; si forte edormisset hoc villi: He met him coming, as he thought, to our inn.
But after waiting some time, we inquired again, and learned he had turned aside to another house in the town. I went thither, and asked, “Is Mr. Eustick here?” After some pause, one said, “Yes;” and showed me into the parlor. When he came down he said, “O Sir, will you be so good as to go with me to the Doctor’s?” I answered, “Sir, I came for that purpose.” “Are you ready, Sir?” I answered, “Yes.” “Sir, I am not quite ready. In a little time, Sir, in a quarter of an hour, I will wait upon you. I will come to William Chenhall’s.” In about three quarters of an hour he came, and finding there was no remedy, he called for his horse, and put forward towards Dr. Borlase’s house; but he was in no haste; so that we were an hour and a quarter riding three or four measured miles. As soon as we came into the yard, he asked a servant, “Is the Doctor at home?” Upon whose answering, “No, Sir, he is gone to church;” he presently said, “Well, Sir, I have executed my commission. I have done, Sir; I have no more to say.”
About noon Mr. Shepherd and I reached St. Ives. After a few hours’ rest, we rode to Gwennap. Finding the house would not contain one fourth of the people, I stood before the door. I was reading my text, when a man came, raging as if just broke out of the tombs; and, riding into the thickest of the people, seized three or four, one after another, none lifting up a hand against him. A second (gentleman, so called) soon came after, if possible, more furious than he; and ordered his men to seize on some others, Mr. Shepherd in particular. Most of the people, however, stood still as they were before, and began singing an hymn. Upon this Mr. B. lost all patience, and cried out with all his might, “Seize him, seize him! I say, seize the Preacher for His Majesty’s service.” But no one stirring, he rode up and struck several of his attendants, cursing them bitterly for not doing as they were bid. Perceiving still that they would not move, he leaped off his horse, swore he would do it himself, and caught hold of my cassock, crying, “I take you to serve His Majesty.” A servant taking his horse, he took me by the arm, and we walked arm in arm for about three quarters of a mile. He entertained me all the time, with the “wickedness of the fellows belonging to the society.” When he was taking breath, I said, “Sir, be they what they will, I apprehend it will not justify you, in seizing me in this manner, and violently carrying me away, as you said, to serve His Majesty.” He replied, “I seize you! And violently carry you away! No, Sir; no. Nothing like it. I asked you to go with me to my house, and you said you was willing; and if so, you are welcome; and if not, you are welcome to go where you please.” I answered, “Sir, I know not if it would be safe for me to go back through this rabble.” “Sir,” said he, “I will go with you myself.” He then called for his horse, and another for me, and rode back with me to the place from whence he took me. Thur. 4 . — I rode to Falmouth. About three in the afternoon I went to see a gentleman who had been long indisposed. Almost as soon as I was set down, the house was beset on all sides by an innumerable multitude of people. A louder or more confused noise, could hardly be at the taking of a city by storm. At first Mrs. B. and her daughter endeavored to quiet them.
But it was labor lost. They might as well have attempted to still the raging of the sea. They were soon glad to shift for themselves, and leave K. E. and me to do as well as we could. The rabble roared with all their throats, “Bring out the Canorum! Where is the Canorum?” (an unmeaning word which the Cornish generally use instead of Methodist.) No answer being given, they quickly forced open the outer door, and filled the passage.
Only a wainscot-partition was between us, which was not likely to stand long. I immediately took down a large looking glass which hung against it, supposing the whole side would fall in at once. When they began their work with abundance of bitter imprecations, poor Kitty was utterly astonished, and cried out, “O Sir, what must we do?” I said, “We must pray.” Indeed at that time, to all appearance, our lives were not worth an hour’s purchase. She asked, “But, Sir, is it not better for you to hide yourself? To get into the closet?” I answered, “No. It is best for me to stand just where I am.” Among those without, were the crews of some privateers, which were lately come into the harbor. Some of these, being angry at the slowness of the rest, thrust them away, and, coming up all together, set their shoulders to the inner door, and cried out, “Avast, lads, avast!” Away went all the hinges at once, and the door fell back into the room. I stepped forward at once into the midst of them, and said, “Here I am. Which of you has any thing to say to me? To which of you have I done any wrong? To you? Or you? Or you?” I continued speaking till I came, bare-headed as I was, (for I purposely left my hat, that they might all see my face,) into the middle of the street, and then raising my voice, said, “Neighbors, countrymen! Do you desire to hear me speak?” They cried vehemently, “Yes, yes. He shall speak. He shall. Nobody shall hinder him.” But having nothing to stand on, and no advantage of ground, I could be heard by few only. However, I spoke without intermission, and, as far as the sound reached, the people were still; till one or two of their captains turned about and swore, not a man should touch him. Mr. Thomas, a Clergyman, then came up, and asked, “Are you not ashamed to use a stranger thus?” He was soon seconded by two or three gentlemen of the town, and one of the Aldermen; with whom I walked down the town, speaking all the time, till I came to Mrs. Maddern’s house. The gentlemen proposed sending for my horse to the door, and desired me to step in and rest the mean time. But on second thoughts, they judged it not advisable to let me go out among the people again: So they chose to send my horse before me to Penryn, and to send me thither by water; the sea running close by the back-door of the house in which we were.
I never saw before, no, not at Walsal itself, the hand of God so plainly shown as here. There I had many companions who were willing to die with me: Here, not a friend, but one simple girl, who likewise was hurried away from me in an instant, as soon as ever she came out of Mrs. B.’s door. There I received some blows, lost part of my clothes, and was covered over with dirt: Here, although the hands of perhaps some hundreds of people were lifted up to strike or throw, yet they were one and all stopped in the midway; so that not a man touched me with one of his fingers; neither was any thing thrown from first to last; so that I had not even a speck of dirt on my clothes. Who can deny that God heareth the prayer, or that he hath all power in heaven and earth?
I took boat at about half an hour past five. Many of the mob waited at the end of the town, who, seeing me escaped out of their hands, could only revenge themselves with their tongues. But a few of the fiercest ran along the shore, to receive me at my landing. I walked up the steep narrow passage from the sea, at the top of which the foremost man stood. I looked him in the face, and said, “I wish you a good night.” He spake not, nor moved hand or foot till I was on horseback Then he said, “I wish you was in hell,” and turned back to his companions.
As soon as I came within sight of Tolcarn, (in Wendron parish,) where I was to preach in the evening, I was met by many, running as it were for their lives, and begging me to go no further. I asked, “Why not?” They said, “The Churchwardens and Constables, and all the heads of the parish, are waiting for you at the toy of the hill, and are resolved to have you:
They have a special warrant from the Justices met at Helstone, who will stay there till you are brought.” I rode directly up the hill, and observing four or five horsemen, well dressed, went straight to them, and said, “Gentlemen, has any of you any thing to say to me? — I am John Wesley.” One of them appeared extremely angry at this, that I should presume to say I was “Mr. John Wesley.” And I know not how I might have fared for advancing so bold an assertion, but that Mr. Collins, the Minister of Redruth (accidentally, as he said) came by. Upon his accosting me, and saying, he knew me at Oxford, my first antagonist was silent, and a dispute of another kind began: Whether this preaching had done any good. I appealed to matter of fact. He allowed, (after many words,) “People are the better for the present;” but added, “To be sure, by and by they will be as bad, if not worse than ever.”
When he rode away, one of the gentlemen said, “Sir, I would speak with you a little: Let us ride to the gate.” We did so, and he said, “Sir, I will tell you the ground of this. All the gentlemen of these parts say, that you have been a long time in France and Spain, and are now sent hither by the Pretender; and that these societies are to join him.” Nay, surely, “all the gentlemen in these parts” will not lie against their own conscience!
I rode hence to a friend’s house, some miles off, and found the sleep of a laboring man is sweet. I was informed there were many here also who had an earnest desire to hear “this preaching;” but they did not dare; Sir — V — n having solemnly declared, nay, and that in the face of the whole congregation, as they were coming out of church, “If any man of this parish dares hear these fellows, he shall not — come to my Christmas-feast!” Fri. 5 . — As we were going to Trezilla, (in Gulval parish,) several met us in a great consternation, and told us, the Constables and Churchwardens were come, and waited for us. I went straight on, and found a serious congregation; but neither Churchwarden nor Constable, nor any creature to molest us, either at the preaching, or at the meeting of the society. After so many storms we now enjoyed the calm, and praised God from the ground of the heart. Sat . 6 . — I rode with Mr. Shepherd to Gwennap. Here also we found the people in the utmost consternation. Word was brought, that a great company of sinners, made drunk on purpose, were coming to do terrible things. I labored much to compose their minds: But fear had no ears; so that abundance of people went away. I preached to the rest, on, “Love your enemies.” The event showed this also was a false alarm, an artifice of the devil, to hinder men from hearing the word of God. Sun. 7 . — I preached, at five, to a quiet congregation, and about eight, at Stithians. Between six and seven in the evening we came to Tolcarn.
Hearing the mob was rising again, I began preaching immediately. I had not spoke a quarter of an hour before they came in view. One Mr. Trounce rode up first, and began speaking to me, wherein he was roughly interrupted by his companions. Yet, as I stood on a high wall, and kept my eyes upon them, many were softened, and grew calmer and calmer; which some of their champions observing, went round and suddenly pushed me down. I light on my feet, without any hurt; and finding myself close to the warmest of the horsemen, I took hold of his hand and holden it fast, while I expostulated the case. As for being convinced, he was quite above it: However, both he and his fellows grew much milder, and we parted very civilly. Mon. 8 . — I preached at five, on, “Watch and pray,” to a quiet and earnest congregation. We then rode on to St. Ives, the most still and honorable post (so are the times changed) which we have in Cornwall. Tues . 9 . — I had just begun preaching at St. Just, when Mr. B. came once more, took me by the hand, and said, I must go with him. To avoid making a tumult, I went. He said, I had promised, last week, not to come again to St. Just for a month. I absolutely denied the having made any such promise. After about half an hour, he handed me back to my inn. Wed. 10 . — In the evening I began to expound, (at Trevonan, in Morva,) “Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.” In less than a quarter of an hour, the Constable and his companions came, and read the proclamation against riots. When he had done, I told him, “We will do as you require: We will disperse within an hour; “and went on with my sermon. After preaching, I had designed to meet the society alone. But many others also followed with such earnestness, that I could not turn them back: So I exhorted them all, to love their enemies, as Christ hath loved us. They felt what was spoken. Cries and tears were on every side; and all could bear witness, Even now the Lord doth pour The blessing from above:
A kindly gracious shower Of heart-reviving love.
Thur. 11 . — I found some life even at Zennor; and on Friday, 12, at Gulval. Saturday, 13. I met the Stewards of all the societies, at St. Ives; and preached in the evening at Gwennap, without interruption. Sunday, 14. At eight I preached at Stithians, and earnestly exhorted the society, not to think of pleasing men, but to count all things loss, so that they might win Christ. Before I had done, the Constables and Churchwardens came, and pressed one of the hearers for a soldier. Mon. 15 . — Mr. Bennet met us at Trewint, and told us, Francis Walker had been driven thence, and had since been an instrument of great good, wherever he had been. Indeed I never remember so great an awakening in Cornwall, wrought in so short a time, among young and old, rich and poor, from Trewint quite to the sea-side.
I preached between four and five, and then went on to Laneast church; where I read Prayers, and preached on, “There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” O how pleasant a thing is even outward peace!
What would not a man give for it, but a good conscience! Tues. 16 . — I read Prayers at five, and preached in Tresmere church.
About three I preached in St. Mary Week church, on, “Repent ye, and believe the Gospel.” Between six and seven I began reading Prayers at Tamerton, where I preached on John 4:24. Wednesday, 17. I rode to Mr. Thompson’s, near Barnstaple; and the next evening, to Minehead. Early on Friday, 19, we went on board, and, in about four hours, crossed the Channel, and reached Fonmon.
We were here, as it were, in a new world, in peace, and honor, and abundance. How soon should I melt away in this sunshine! But the goodness of God suffered it not. In the morning I rode to Cardiff, where also there had been much disturbance; but now all was calm. I preached there in the evening. God gave a blessing with his word, and we greatly rejoiced before him. Sun. 21 . — I preached at Cardiff at five and at Wenvo, morning and afternoon. In the evening I preached again at Cardiff, in the Castle-yard, on, “Great is the mystery of godliness.” I never saw such a congregation in Wales before: And all behaved as men fearing God. Mon. 22 . — I preached at half an hour after four, and then set out with Mr. Hodges, Rector of Wenvo, for Garth. Mr. Philips guided us, till he thought all the difficulty was over. But it proved otherwise; for almost as soon as he left us, the night coming on, we got out of the road, and might very probably have wandered till day-light, had not a gentleman met us, and rode out of his way to show us to Mr. Gwynne’s house. Tues. 23 . — I preached about noon at Maesmennys, to a larger congregation than the church could contain. About three I preached at Builth. Five Clergymen of us were present, two Justices of Peace, and well-nigh all the grown people in the town. I had not known so solemn a season before, since we came into Wales. Wed. 24 . — I preached at Builth again, and afterwards at Maesmennys.
I found both my soul and body much refreshed in this peaceful place. Thursday, AUGUST 1, and the following days, we had our second Conference, with as many of our brethren that labor in the word as could be present.
During my stay here, I took the opportunity of visiting the little societies round Bristol, in Wiltshire and Somersetshire. Mon. 12 . — I was desired to read over my old friend Anthony Purver’s Essay toward a New Translation of the Bible. But how was I disappointed! I found the text flat and dead; much altered indeed, but commonly for the worse; and the notes merely critical, dull, and dry, without any unction, or spirit, or life.
I had now leisure to look over the letters I had received this summer; some extracts of which are here subjoined: — “REV.SIR, London, May 25, 1745. “MARY COOK, who had been ill for above six months, grew much worse a week or two ago. She had been long remarkably serious and greatly desirous of knowing her interest in Christ; but then her desires were much increased, and she had no rest in her spirit, but cried unto him day and night. On Monday last, she mourned more than ever, and would not be comforted. Then she lay still a while, and on a sudden broke out, Praise God, from whom pure blessings flow!
Her mother asked her the cause of this. She said, ‘O mother, I am happy, I am happy: I shall soon go to heaven:’ And many more words she spoke to the same effect. I called upon her a few hours after, and found her still in a settled peace. She told me, ‘I am assured of God’s love to my soul. I am not afraid to die. I know the Lord will take me to himself: Lord, hasten the time! I long to be with thee.’ On Tuesday and Wednesday she spoke little, being exceeding weak; but continued instant in prayer. On Wednesday, about noon, she desired her mother to get her up into the chair, which she did. A little before three, her mother holding her in her arms, she desired her to let her go. Then, placing herself upright in the chair, with her hands laid in her lap, and a calm majesty in her countenance, she said, ‘Lord, receive my soul,’ and expired.” “Bristol., June 6, 1745. “ I HAVE delivered another of my charge to the Lord. On Saturday night Molly Thomas was taken home. She was always constant in the use of all the means, and behaved well, both at home and abroad. After she was taken ill, she was distressed indeed, between the pain of her body, and the anguish of her soul. But where is all pain gone when Jesus comes? — when he manifests himself to the heart? In that hour she cried out, ‘Christ is mine! I know my sins are forgiven me.’ Then she sung praise to Him that loved her, and bought her with his own blood. The fear of death was gone, and she longed to leave her father, her mother, and all her friends. She said, ‘I am almost at the top of the ladder: Now I see the towers before me, and a large company coming up behind me: I shall soon go. ‘Tis but for Christ to speak the word, and I am gone: I only wait for that word, Rise up, my love, and come away.’ “When they thought her strength was gone, she broke out again: — Christ hath the foundation laid, And Christ shall build me up:
Surely I shall soon be made Partaker of my hope.
Author of my faith he is; He its finisher shall be:
Perfect love shall seal me hi To all eternity.
So she fell asleep. O Lord, my God, glory be to thee for all things! I feel such desires in my soul after God, that my strength goes away. I feel there is not a moment’s time to spare; and yet how many do I lose! Lord Jesus, give me to be more and more diligent and watchful in all things. It is no matter to me how I was an hour ago. Is my soul now waiting upon God?
O that I may in all things, and through all things, see nothing but Christ! O that when he comes, he may find me watching! “Sarah Colston.” “DEAR SIR, June 27, 1745. “ I SAT UP with Isaac Kilby three nights, and being greatly comforted by many of his expressions, I believed it would not be losing time to set a few of them down. “On Wednesday, June 18, when I came into the house, he was supposed to be near his end. His body was in great pain, and just gasping for breath: But his mind was in perfect peace. “He had little strength to speak; but when he did, (which was now and then on a sudden, as if immediately supported for that purpose) his words were strangely powerful, just as if they came from one who was now before the throne of glory. “When he had just drank something, I said, ‘All may drink of the water of life freely.’ He lifted up his hands in great love, and said, ‘Yea, all, all; all the world.’ “After long silence, he suddenly asked me, how I felt myself: I replied, ‘I find great consolation from the Lord.’ He said, ‘How strange it is, that such a rebel as I should bring glory to God!’ “When dozing, his mind would rove; but even then his discourse consisted chiefly of strong exhortations to some of his acquaintance, to repent, and persevere in the ways of God. “On Friday I called, and found him in the same spirit, full of pain, yet full of joy unspeakable. I could not forbear sitting up with him again. All his words were full of divine wisdom, expressing a deep sense of the presence and mercy of God, and of his own unworthiness, “Mention being made concerning his burial, (in the beginning of his sickness, he had desired, that Mr. Wesley might bury him, and preach a sermon from that text, ‘Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth,’) he said, ‘Now I do not think of such things; bury me as you will; yet I should be glad to have a sermon preached:
But just as Mr. Wesley pleases.’ “He said to me, ‘O go on, and you will rejoice as I do, in the like condition.’ He prayed, that he might die before the morning; but added, ‘Not as I will, but as thou wilt.’ “Thus he continued till Wednesday, June 25, when I sat up with him again. Being now much weaker, he roved more than ever. Yet when I asked, ‘Isaac, how do you find your soul?’ he answered, ‘I rejoice in God my Savior. I am as clay in the hands of the potter.’
Some circumstances related in the following letter, which some may account odd accidents, I think are such instances of the providence of God, as ought to be had in remembrance: — “REV.SIR, June 28, 1745. Bristol “ON May 31, I went to Sykehouse, and exhorted the people at all opportunities. On Monday, June 3, about three o’clock in the morning, W. Holmes came to me, and said, ‘Brother Moss, I have been just awaked by a dream, that the Constables and Churchwardens came to press you for a soldier. I would have you get up and go to Norton.’ I did so, and he walked with me about half a mile. At his return, the Constables and Churchwardens were come. They asked him, ‘Where is the Preacher?’ He said, ‘I have just carried him away: But have you a warrant to press such men as these?’ They answered, ‘Yes, we have; and will press him, if we see him here again.’ He replied, ‘You shall see him again in that day, when the Lord shall judge the world in righteousness.’ “He came and told me, and advised me to go thence. So I went to Epworth on Tuesday. On Wednesday night I had spoke about a quarter of an hour, when the Churchwardens and Constables came.
They bade me stop. I told them, ‘I will, when I have delivered my message.’ They cried, ‘Bring him away! Bring him away!’ I thought, ‘But they cannot, unless the Lord will.’ The Constable coming up to me, I looked him in the face, and he shrunk back, and said, ‘I cannot take him.’ His companions swore, ‘But we will fetch him soon.’ As they were pressing on, many of the people got between, and kept so close together, that for near half an hour they could get no further. Glory be to God, my soul all the time was rather in heaven than on earth. “They went out to consult what to do, and soon returned with great staves, wherewith they beat down several that stood in their way; but still they could not make their passage through, till Mr. Maw came, (the chief gentleman in the town,) and sent for me into the house. There we prayed and sung hymns, till about eleven o’clock. He then advised me to go out of the town. So, many of our brethren went with me to Robert Taylor’s house, at Burnham; where we continued praying and praising God, till about four o’clock in the morning. I then rode back to Norton, and from thence, by Leeds, Birstal, and Barley-Hall, to Sheffield. “On Wednesday evening, June 12, as I was privately conversing with a few of the people, the Constables and Churchwardens came up, and dragged me down stairs. But quickly one of then listened a little, and cried out, ‘They are at prayers: I will have nothing to do in this matter.’ The rest began to look at one another, took their hands off me, and went their way. I went from Sheffield through Derbyshire, Cheshire, and Staffordshire, to Birmingham; and so on by Evesham and Stanley. In most places I was threatened; but out of all dangers the Lord delivered me. I remain “Your child and servant in Christ, “RICHARD MOSS.” “DEAR SIR, London, July 10, 1745. “THE faith you mention I have experienced much of, though not continually: But am groaning for all the glorious privileges of the children of God; and I really believe the greater part of us are earnestly seeking, and patiently aspiring after, this full redemption. “Heavenly meetings we have had on Wednesday evenings, since we have opened our minds freely to each other. No one speaks, but in the fear of God; so that what is spoke by any is felt by all the rest. And if any one begins to tell an unprofitable tale, there is a stop put to it, without offense: So that, since I have belonged to the society, I never found so great love and unity in this meeting.
Indeed so awful it sometimes is, that I seem to be little less than a spirit, casting down my crown before the throne. “I find it necessary to follow after perfection in every thing, in every place, and in every hour. There are many thoughts I think, many words I speak, and many of my works, I find are now perfect in their kind; that is, thought, spoke, and done, with a single eye to the glory of God. I cannot think I ought to look for perfection in the future, and so sit still and be idle at present. I received the grace of God, which I now must occupy, or suffer loss. “Certainly God is pleased or displeased with all my thoughts, words, and actions; which is manifested to me by the convictions of his Holy Spirit. And the more I obey God, the more holy I am; and the more holy I am, the more I please God. Or, as one expresses it, ‘The more I deny myself in thought, word, and deed, of pride, lust, anger, self-will, worldly-mindedness, the more the good Spirit will dwell and abide in me; for where sin is, it drives the good Spirit away.’ When my conscience is void of offense, I enjoy a continual sense of my justification; from which flow unspeakable peace, love, and happiness. “I find more and more, I must deny myself. Whatever others may do, I find no peace, (nor do I desire it,) while my thoughts, words, or actions, are agreeable to nature. “This is my misfortune. Nature has still a part in me, and I often yield to evil thoughts, trifling words, or foolish actions; works done not in faith, which grieve the Spirit of God, and bring me into misery and trouble. Yet I have a good hope I shall go on from strength to strength, from conquering to conquer. “All is peaceable in this great city. How long it will remain so, is known only to Him that knows all things. My soul seems preparing for a storm, and the Spirit of Truth is continually teaching me to divest myself of all things; that, being in readiness, that hour may not come upon me unawares. I have nothing outwardly, glory be to God, that keeps me confined to the earth; and I hope what is still in me contrary to the purity of Him before whom I must shortly stand without a covering, will be taken away ‘before I depart hence, to be no more seen.’” Tues. 13 . — I rode to Cirencester, and preached there in the evening; Wednesday, 14, at Oxford; ‘Thursday, 15, at Wycombe; and on Friday, 16, at London. Sat. 17 . — I had much conversation with Mr. Simpson, an original enthusiast. That I might understand him the more thoroughly, I desired him, in the evening, to give an exhortation to the penitents. He did so, and spoke many good things, in a manner peculiar to himself. When he had done, I summed up what he had said, methodizing and explaining it. O what pity it is, this well-meaning man should ever speak without an interpreter! Sun. 25 . — I saw a poor man, once joined with us, who wanted nothing in this world, but the peace the world cannot give. A day or two before he had hanged himself, but was cut down before he was dead. He had been crying out ever since, God had left him, because he had left the children of God. But he now began to have some glimmering of hope, that God would not hide his face for ever. Tues . Septmber 3. — Great was our joy in the Lord at the public reading of the letters. Part of one was as follows: — “Betley, near Namptwich, August 24, 1745. “ I REJOICE that the Lord stirs you up more and more to labor in his vineyard. I am persuaded it is not a small matter, whether we speak or let it alone. If I go into any company, and there be an opportunity to reprove or exhort, and I come away without using it, I am as much condemned in my own conscience, as if I had robbed them. Pray for me, that I may have patience to endure the contradiction of sinners; and that I may always remember, ‘The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.’ “Sunday, August 4, we met as usual. As soon as we had begun prayer, there came the Curate, with a Lawyer. He stayed till we had done prayer, and then asked, ‘What is the intent of your meeting?’ I answered, ‘To build each other up in our most holy faith.’ He said, ‘But what method do you use?’ I answered, ‘This is the third Sunday that I have met these my brethren. The first Sunday we read the fifth chapter of St. Matthew, and exhorted one another to follow after the holiness and happiness there described.
Last Sunday we considered the sixth. And now, if we are not hindered, we shall go on to the seventh.’ He bade us go on, and he would stay a little, and hear us. By the desire of the rest, I read the chapter; which I had scarce done, when the Lawyer began a long harangue, concerning the danger we were in of running mad. I answered, ‘Sir, as I perceive you have no design to help us, if you will not hinder us, we shall take it as a favor.’ He went out directly, and left the Curate with us; who began to exhort us not to be over allusions about our salvation, but to divert ourselves a little. I told him, ‘Sir, we desire whatever we do, to do all to the glory of God.’ ‘What,’ said he, ‘do you deny all diversions?’ I said, ‘All which do not agree with that rule.’ He hurried away, and said, as he went, ‘I wish you do not fall into some error.’ “The following week, grievous threatenings were given out, of what we should suffer, if we met again. On Friday, 9, a gentleman sent for me, and told me he would hire a mob to pull the house down; for we were the most disturbing dogs in the nation. I said, ‘Sir, if there be a disturbance now, it will lie at your door. A few of us intend to meet on Sunday, after sermon, to encourage one another in serving God. You say, if we do, you will have the house pulled down: And then you will say we have made the disturbance.’ He said he would send for me another time, and have an hour’s discourse with me. “On Sunday, the man at whose house we were to meet, was warned by his landlady not to receive us; for if he did, the house would surely be pulled down. However, he did receive us. A great many people coming about the house, he told them, if they had a mind, they might come in; so they came in, as many as the house would hold. I told them all, the design of our meeting. Then we prayed, and I read the first chapter of St. James, and spoke a little on those words, ‘If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.’ And two more of our brethren testified, by their own experience, that he is a God of truth. They stood as dumb men, till we had done, nor did one afterward open his mouth against us. “From this time we have been threatened more and more, especially by the Gentry, who say they will send us all for soldiers. Nevertheless, on Sunday, 18, we had a quiet and comfortable meeting. We considered the third chapter of the First Epistle of St. Peter, which was the Evening Lesson for the day. We were thankful for the record that is there left us of the treatment we are to meet with. And we are all much humbled, that we are counted worthy to suffer shame for the sake of Christ. “I have been ill this fortnight, having got a great cold, but am obliged to keep it to myself as much as I can; because a person here cannot have the very form of godliness, but if he is sick, that is the cause of it. I seem not to desire life or death, but that the will of God may be done.” Fri. 6 . — Many of our friends were grieved at the advertisement which James Hutton had just published, by order of Count Zinzendorf, declaring, that he and his people had no connection with Mr. John and Charles Wesley. But I believed that declaration would do us no more harm than the prophecy which the Count subjoined to it, — that we should soon run our heads against the wall. — We will not, if we can help it. Sun. 8 . — In the evening I desired the society to stay, that we might commend each other to God, as not knowing how he might see good to dispose of us before we saw each other’s face again. Mon. 9. — I left London, and the next morning called on Dr. Doddridge, at Northampton. It was about the hour when he was accustomed to expound a portion of Scripture to the young gentlemen under his care. He desired me to take his place. It may be the seed was not altogether sown in vain.
In the evening, the church at Markfield was full, while I explained, “The Scripture hath concluded all under sin.” Wed. 11 . — I preached at Sheffield. I had designed to go round by Epworth; but hearing of more and more commotions in the north, I judged it best to go straight on to Newcastle. Thur. 12 . — I came to Leeds, preached at five, and at eight met the society; after which the mob pelted us with dirt and stones great part of the way home. The congregation was much larger next evening; and so was the mob at our return, and likewise in higher spirits, being ready to knock out all our brains for joy that the Duke of Tuscany was Emperor. What a melancholy consideration is this! that the bulk of the English nation will not suffer God to give them the blessings he would; because they would turn them into curses. He cannot, for instance, give them success against their enemies; for they would tear their own countrymen in pieces: He cannot trust them with victory, lest they should thank him by murdering those that are quiet in the land.
On Saturday and Sunday I preached at Armley, Birstal, and Leeds; and on Monday, 16, rode to Osmotherley. Tues. 17 . — I saw the poor remains of the old chapel on the brow of the hill, as well as those of the Carthusian monastery, (called Mount Grace,) which lay at the foot of it. The walls of the church, of the cloister, and some of the cells, are tolerably entire; and one may still discern the partitions between the little gardens, one of which belonged to every cell.
Who knows but some of the poor, superstitious Monks, who once served God here according to the light they had, may meet us, by and by, in that house of God, “not made with hands, eternal in the heavens?” Wed. 18 . — About five we came to Newcastle, in an acceptable time. We found the generality of the inhabitants in the utmost consternation; news being just arrived, that, the morning before, at two o’clock, the Pretender had entered Edinburgh. A great concourse of people were with us in the evening, to whom I expounded the third chapter of Jonah; insisting particularly on that verse, “Who can tell, if God will return, and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?” Thur. 19 . — The Mayor (Mr. Ridley) summoned all the householders of the town to meet him at the Town Hall; and desired as many of them as were willing, to set their hands to a paper, importing that they would, at the hazard of their goods and lives, defend the town against the common enemy. Fear and darkness were now on every side; but not on those who had seen the light of God’s countenance. We rejoiced together in the evening with solemn joy, while God applied those words to many hearts, “Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified.” Fri . 20 . — The Mayor ordered the townsmen to be under arms, and to mount guard in their turns, over and above the guard of soldiers, a few companies of whom had been drawn into the town on the first alarm.
Now, also, Pilgrim-Street Gate was ordered to be walled up. Many began to be much concerned for us, because our house stood without the walls.
I had desired all our brethren to join with us this day, in seeking God by fasting and prayer. About one we met, and poured out our souls before him; and we believed he would send an answer of peace. Sat. 21 . — The same day the action was, came the news of General Cope’s defeat. Orders were now given for the doubling of the guard, and for walling up Pandon and Sally-Port Gates. In the afternoon I wrote the following letter: — “To the Worshipful, the Mayor of Newcastle. “Sir, “MY not waiting upon you at the Town Hall was not owing to any want of respect. I reverence you for your office’ sake; and much more for your zeal in the execution of it. I would to God every Magistrate in the land would copy after such an example!
Much less was it owing to any disaffection to His Majesty King George. But I knew not how far it might be either necessary or proper for me to appear on such an occasion. I have no fortune at Newcastle: I have only the bread I eat, and the use of a little room for a few weeks in the year. “All I can do for His Majesty, whom I honor and love, — I think not less than I did my own father, — is this, I cry unto God, day by day, in public and in private, to put all his enemies to confusion: And I exhort all that hear me to do the same; and, in their several stations, to exert themselves as loyal subjects; who, so long as they fear God, cannot but honor the King. “Permit me, Sir, to add a few words more, out of the fullness of my heart. I am persuaded you fear God, and have a deep sense that His kingdom ruleth over all. Unto whom, then, (I may ask you,) should we flee for succor, but unto Him whom, by our sins, we have justly displeased? O, Sir, is it not possible to give any check to these overflowings of ungodliness? To the open, flagrant wickedness, the drunkenness and profaneness, which so abound, even in our streets? I just take leave to suggest this. May the God whom you serve direct you in this, and all things! This is the daily prayer of, Sir, “Your obedient servant, for Christ’s sake, “J. W.”
Sun. 22 . — The walls were mounted with cannon, and all things prepared for sustaining an assault. Mean time our poor neighbors, on either hand, were busy in removing their goods. And most of the best houses in our street were left without either furniture or inhabitants. Those within the walls were almost equally busy in carrying away their money and goods; and more and more of the Gentry every hour rode southward as fast as they could. At eight I preached at Gateshead, in a broad part of the street, near the Popish chapel, on the wisdom of God in governing the world.
How do all things tend to the furtherance of the Gospel!
I never saw before so well-behaved a congregation in any church at Newcastle, as was that at St. Andrew’s this morning. The place appeared as indeed the house of God; and the sermon Mr. Ellison preached was strong and weighty, which he could scarce conclude for tears.
All this week the alarms from the north continued, and the storm seemed nearer everyday. Many wondered we would still stay without the walls:
Others told us we must remove quickly; for if the cannon began to play from the top of the gates, they would beat all the house about our ears.
This made me look how the cannons on the gates were planted; and I could not but adore the providence of God, for it was obvious, 1. They were all planted in such a manner, that no shot could touch our house. 2. The cannon On Newgate so secured us on one side, and those upon Pilgrim-street Gate on the other, that none could come near our house, either way, without being torn in pieces.
On Friday and Saturday many messengers of lies terrified the poor people of the town, as if the rebels were just coming to swallow them up. Upon this the guards were increased, and abundance of country gentlemen came in, with their servants, horses, and arms. Among those who came from the north was one whom the Mayor ordered to be apprehended, on suspicion of his being a spy. As soon as he was left alone he cut his own throat; but a surgeon coming quickly, sewed up the wound, so that he lived to discover those designs of the rebels, which were thereby effectually prevented. Sun. 29 . — Advice came that they were in full march southward, so that it was supposed they would reach Newcastle by Monday evening. At eight I called on a multitude of sinners in Gateshead, to seek the Lord while he might be found. Mr. Ellison preached another earnest sermon, and all the people seemed to bend before the Lord. In the afternoon I expounded part of the Lesson for the day Jacob wrestling with the angel.
The congregation was so moved, that I began again and again, and knew not how to conclude. And we cried mightily to God to send His Majesty King George help from his holy place, and to spare a sinful land yet a little longer, if haply they might know the day of their visitation.
On Monday and Tuesday I visited some of the societies in the country, and, on Wednesday, OCTOBER 2, returned to Newcastle, where they were just informed that the rebels had left Edinburgh on Monday, and were swiftly marching toward them. But it appeared soon that this also was a false alarm; it being only a party which had moved southward, the main body still remaining in their camp, a mile or two from Edinburgh.
On Thursday and Friday I visited the rest of the country societies. On Saturday a party of the rebels (about a thousand men) came within seventeen miles of Newcastle. This occasioned a fresh alarm in the town; and orders were given by the General that the soldiers should march against them on Monday morning. But these orders were countermanded.
Mr. Nixon (the gentleman who had some days since, upon being apprehended, cut his own throat) being still unable to speak, wrote as well as he could, that the design of the Prince (as they called him) was to seize on Tynemouth Castle, which he knew was well provided both with cannon and ammunition; and thence to march to the hill on the east side of Newcastle, which entirely commands the town. And if this had been done, he would have carried his point, and gained the town without a blow. The Mayor immediately sent to Tynemouth Castle, and lodged the cannon and ammunition in a safer place. Tues. 8 . — I wrote to General Husk as follows: — “ A SURLY man came to me this evening, as he said, from you. He would not deign to come up stairs to me, nor so much as into the house; but stood in the yard till I came, and then obliged me to go with him into the street, where he said, ‘You must pull down the battlements of your house, or tomorrow the General will pull them down for you.’ “Sir, to me this is nothing. But I humbly conceive it would not be proper for this man, whoever he is, to behave in such a manner to any other of His Majesty’s subjects, at so critical a time as this. “I am ready, if it may be for His Majesty’s service, to pull not only the battlements, but the house down; or to give up any part of it, or the whole, into your Excellency’s hands.” Wed. 9 . — It being supposed that the danger was over for the present, I preached at four in Gateshead, (at John Lyddel’s,) on, “Stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong;” and then, taking horse with Mr. Shepherd, in the evening reached Sandhutton. Thur. 10 . — We dined at Ferrybridge, where we were conducted to General Wentworth, who did us the honor to read over all the letters we had about us. We lay at Doncaster, nothing pleased with the drunken, cursing, swearing soldiers, who surrounded us on every side. Can these wretches succeed in any thing they undertake? I fear not, if there be a God that judgeth the earth. Fri. 11 . — I rode to Epworth, and preached in the evening on the third of Jonah. I read today part of the “Meditations of Marcus Antoninus.” What a strange Emperor! And what a strange Heathen! Giving thanks to God for all the good things he enjoyed! In particular, for his good inspiration, and for twice revealing to him in dreams things whereby he was cured of (otherwise) incurable distempers. I make no doubt, but this is one of those “many,” who “shall come from the east and the west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” while “the children of the kingdom,” nominal Christians, are “shut out.” Sun. 13 . — I had the satisfaction of hearing Mr. Romley preach an earnest, affectionate sermon, exhorting all men to prevent the judgments of God, by sincere, inward, universal repentance. It rained both before and after, but not while I preached at the Cross in the afternoon. In the evening I strongly exhorted the society, to “fear God, and honor the King.” Mon. 14 . — I rode to Sheffield. We were much at a loss in the evening, what to do with the congregation. They stood above stairs, and below, and in the yard; but still there was not room. Tues. 15 . — I wrote “A Word in Season; or, Advice to an Englishman.”
The next morning I preached at Barley-Hall, and then rode on for Leeds. I preached there at five, and the next morning and evening, without any noise or interruption. Fri. 18 . — At one I preached at Oulton. The little company there do indeed love as brethren. I divided the residue of my time between Birstal and Leeds; and on Monday, 21, took my leave of them for a short season, and rode to Mr. Adams’s, at Osmotherley. Tues . 22 . — I came to Newcastle in the evening, just as Mr. Trembath was giving out the hymn; and as soon as it was ended began preaching, without feeling any want of strength. Wed. 23 . — I found all things calm and quiet; the consternation of the people was over. But the seriousness which it had occasioned in many, continued and increased. Sat. 26 . — I sent Alderman Ridley the following letter: — “Sir, “THE fear of God, the love of my country, and the regard I have for His Majesty King George, constrain me to write a few plain words to one who is no stranger to these principles of action. “My soul has been pained day by day, even in walking the streets of Newcastle, at the senseless, shameless wickedness, the ignorant profaneness of the poor men to whom our lives are entrusted. The continual cursing and swearing, the wanton blasphemy of the soldiers in general, must needs be a torture to the sober ear, whether of a Christian or an honest infidel. Can any that either fear God or love their neighbor, hear this without concern? especially if they consider the interest of our country, as well as of these unhappy men themselves. For can it be expected, that God should be on their side who are daily affronting him to his face? And if God be not on their side, how little will either their number, or courage, or strength avail? “Is there no man that careth for these souls? Doubtless there are some who ought so to do. But many of these, if I am rightly informed, receive large pay, and do just nothing. “I would to God it were in my power, in any degree, to supply their lack of service. I am ready to do what in me lies, to call these poor sinners to repentance, once or twice a day, (while I remain in these parts,) at any hour, or at any place. And I desire no pay at all for doing this; unless what my Lord shall give at his appearing. “If it be objected, (from our heathenish Poet,) ‘This conscience will make cowards of us all;’ I answer, Let us judge by matter of fact.
C., when he received the first ball in his left, and the second in his right arm? Or John Evans, when the cannon-ball took off both his legs? Did he not call all about him, as long as he could speak, to praise and fear God, and honor the King? as one who feared nothing, but lest his last breath should be spent in vain. “If it were objected, that I should only fill their heads with peculiar whims and notions; that might easily be known. Only let the Officers hear with their own ears; and they may judge whether I do not preach the plain principles of manly, rational religion. “Having myself no knowledge of the General, I took the liberty to make this offer to you. I have no interest herein; but I should rejoice to serve, as I am able, my King and country. If it be judged, that this will be of no real service, let the proposal die, and be forgotten. But I beg you, Sir, to believe, that I have the same glorious cause, for which you have shown so becoming a zeal, earnestly at heart; and that therefore, I am, with warm respect, “Sir, “Your most obedient servant.”
Sun. 27 . — I received a message from Mr. Ridley, that he would communicate my proposal to the General, and return me his answer as soon as possible. Mon . 28 . — I rode to Biddick, where the first are become last. I preached on, “Will ye also go away?” Many appeared to be cut to the heart; but it is well if these convictions, also, do not pass away as the morning cloud. Tues. 29 . — A young gentleman called upon me, whose father is an eminent Minister in Scotland, and was in union with Mr. Glass, till Mr. Glass renounced him, because they did not agree as to the eating of blood. (Although I wonder any should disagree about this, who have read the fifteenth chapter of the Acts, and considered, that no Christian in the universe did eat it till the Pope repealed the law which had remained at least ever since Noah’s flood.) Are not these things in Scotland also for our instruction? How often are we warned, not to fall out by the way? O that we may never make any thing, more or less, the term of union with us, but the having the mind which was in Christ, and the walking as he walked! Thur. 31 . — At ten I preached on the Town-Moor, at a small distance from the English camp, (the Germans lying by themselves,) on, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters!” None attempted to make the least disturbance, from the beginning to the end. Yet I could not reach their hearts.
The words of a scholar did not affect them, like those of a dragoon or a grenadier. Fri . November 1. — A little after nine, just as I began to preach on a little eminence before the camp, the rain (which had continued all the morning) stayed, and did not begin again till I had finished. A Lieutenant endeavored to make some disturbance. However, when I had done, he tried to make amends, by getting up where I stood, and telling the soldiers, all I had said was very good. Sat. 2 . — The rain was stayed today also, from nine to ten, (it fell both before and after,) while I preached on, “The Scripture hath concluded all under sin, — that the promise might be given to them that believe.” And I began to perceive some fruit of my labor; not only in the number of my hearers, but in the power of God, which was more and more among them, both to wound and to heal. Sun. 3 . — I preached about half hour after eight, to a larger congregation than any before, on, “The kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the Gospel.” And were it only for the sake of this hour, I should not have thought much of staying here longer than I intended. Between one and two in the afternoon, I went to the camp once more. Abundance of people now flocked together, horse and foot, rich and poor, to whom I declared, “There is no difference; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” I observed many Germans standing disconsolate at the skirts of the congregation: To these I was constrained (though I had discontinued it so long) to speak a few words in their own language.
Immediately they gathered up close together, and drank in every word.
I received two or three letters while I was at Newcastle, part of which is here subjoined: — “Dear Sir, “For more than three years I walked clearly in the light of God’s countenance. Nothing could interrupt my peace, nor did I feel the least rising of any evil temper; so that I believed I was, in the full sense, born of God; but at last, I found I had been mistaken. It is now about a year since I found, I could not bear all things; I could not bear to be slighted by those I loved. This occasioned pride and resentment to rise in my heart, so that I was forced to own, ‘I have still an evil heart.’ Then I was tempted to despair; but the Lord was still nigh me, and lifted up my head. He showed me my sin; yet did he not hide himself from me; but I could still call him, ‘my Lord, and my God.’ “It does not appear to me, that there is any need for us, in this case, to try to pull down one another. For though a person does think he has attained, when he has not, yet if he be simple and sincere, and desires to know himself, God will show him, in the time and manner that seemeth him best. “As to myself, I often think, had I been faithful to the grace of God, I never had needed to know trouble more. For I believe he would have carried me on from grace to grace, till he had made me meet for glory. But I know not, if it is needful that I should see more of my heart. May his will be done! Only make me faithful in the fight, and then do that seemeth thee good. “I find a great difference between what I once felt in myself, and what I feel now. Then I felt nothing but love, and peace, and joy in believing. Now, though I feel a measure of all these heavenly tempers, yet I feel other tempers also; and if I do not continually fight against them, I am overcome. The devil tempted me then; but it was as nothing; for he seemed to have no part in me. But now I find an enemy in my own bosom, that is ready to betray me every moment. I believe, did I not yet expect a full deliverance from sin, I should grow faint and weary. But the hope of that gives me fresh courage to go on. For I cannot doubt but I shall be a living witness of it. O may the Lord hasten the time! Dear Sir, do not fail to pray, that he may fulfill that great work in “Your daughter in Christ, “M. F.” “DEAR SIR, Sept . 21, 1745. “ I WILL let you know, as near as I can, how the Lord hath dealt with me ever since I can remember. When I was five or six years old, I had many serious thoughts about death and judgment. I wanted to be good, but I knew not how. I was often in great trouble for fear I should die and go to hell. If at any time I told a lie, I was like one in hell. I was afraid to be one moment by myself, for I thought the devil would come and tear me in pieces; and so I continued till I was about eight years old. Then I received a measure of the love of God. I loved Jesus Christ, so that I thought I could suffer any thing for his sake. I could not bear to be with other children; but when I was from school, I would go by myself and pray, and read: I prayed much for death, for I wanted to be with Christ. And I thought if I lived, I should sin and offend God. “I continued in this temper till I went to a boarding-school. There I soon trifled away all the grace of God, and could play as well as the rest, though not without convictions; but I soon stifled them.
As I grew in years I grew in sin, and delighted more and more in vanity, till I was fourteen or fifteen years old. I had then a severe fit of illness, in which I made many good resolutions; and when I recovered, I began to be more strict in outward duties. I went constantly to church and sacrament; but I had the same heart still, that could not forsake my bosom-sins, such as dancing, going to plays, and reading trifling books. The Spirit of the Lord often reproved me for these things; but I stifled it by thinking, ‘Such and such an one does so, and they are very good people.’ “When Mr. Whitefield first preached, I went to hear him, and I found great drawings from God. But till I heard your brother and you, I did not know myself. Then I found I was an unbeliever, and that none could help me but Christ. I cried unto him, and he heard me, and spoke those words with power to my heart, ‘Go in peace, thy sins are forgiven thee.’ I was in great ecstasy of joy and love; and cried out, ‘I shall never sin any more.’ This continued about two months. But having no acquaintance with any person of experience, I was ignorant of Satan’s devices, when he transformed himself into an angel of light. He suggested, ‘Christ has fulfilled the Law for you. You are no longer subject to ordinances. You are now to be still, and wait upon God.’ So I did not go to the sacrament for two months. Neither did I kneel down to pray, or use any other ordinance, unless I was moved to it. At first God strove with me; but the devil told me, it was the spirit of bondage, and I must resist it; for I was free from the Law. In a little time he left off striving, and I grew quite easy and satisfied; but withal quite dead and cold.
I could now hear idle talking without any pain; nay, and my heart began to join with it. Then I awoke, as one out of sleep, and looked for the Lord; but he was departed from me. Just then the Brethren at Fetter-Lane began to preach stillness. I cried out, ‘This doctrine is not right; for by yielding to this, I have lost all my peace and love.’ I was now in great distress. The devil told me, it was impossible to renew me again to repentance; so that I fell into utter despair, and all my friends believed me to be quite distracted. “I was in this dark state for more than a year. It was at the sacrament the Lord returned to me. The love and joy were the same I felt when I received remission of sins, only much greater. I was in a new world. My heart was so filled with love to God and to all mankind, that I thought all old things were passed away, and all things in me become new. For near four years I felt no evil in my heart, nor any desire but in submission to the will of God. But all this time I prayed to God, that I might know myself, as I was known of him. And in his time he showed me, that the evil of my heart was not taken away, but only covered. “I still retain a sense of the love of God to me, and a power to love him at all times. Other desires are often ready to creep in; but through the Lord strengthening me, I am more than conqueror. I find a thirst in my soul, which nothing short of the fullness of God can satisfy. O may the Lord hasten that time, when my whole soul shall be filled with God!” “REV.SIR, Leeds, Sept . 30, 1745. “THE first sight of you, at Wakefield, sunk my proud spirits; and I believe had I not gone up stairs, to harden my heart against the truth, what you said would have made a deeper impression upon me. I often afterwards thought, ‘These things are true; but why does nobody understand them, but my husband and Frank Scot? ‘Then the rich clave to me, and advised me to use my husband ill, and see if that would not drive him from this way. And sometimes I used fair means. But this was dangerous; for then he could speak freely to me, and I found it stole upon me. But I took great care, he should not perceive it, lest he should follow on, and make me like himself. Then I went to the Vicar, who said, my husband was mad, and there were no such things as he pretended to. Hereby my heart was hardened more and more, till I resolved to go away and leave him: So I told him; which made him weep much, and strive to show me the wickedness of my resolution. However, by the advice of my old friend, the Vicar, I got over that doubt, took about sixty pounds of my husband’s money, and flexed the time of my privately setting out for London. But God prevented me; for I found myself with child: So that design was at an end. “Soon after, as few in Wakefield would employ my husband, he was obliged to remove to Leeds. What I now feared was, that they of the society would come and talk to me. But I soon forced them away, I was so sharp and abusive to any that came. Yet my heart began to soften; and when I spoke things of them which I thought were false, I was afterwards checked in my own mind. I began to like that my husband should overcome, when talking to gainsayers.
I went more to church and sacrament; and the time you was here before, when my husband said you should come and see me, it pleased me much, though I hid it from him; and when he said you were gone, it grieved me sore. Then, being uneasy, I went to Mr. M — d. He said, you were all wrong; and that if I went to church and sacrament, and did as I would be done by, all would be well. So my wound was healed, and I was easy. “On Sunday, June 22, about midnight, I was taken ill of a fever, but thought nothing of death till Thursday; when the Doctor and Apothecary declared my danger; which, with my husband’s home-speeches, sunk my spirits: And I promised God how good I would be, if he would spare me; but yet could not abide the Methodists. On Friday, while my husband was talking with the Apothecary, of the wickedness of flattering people with the hopes of life, till they died and dropped into hell, my mother brought in the Vicar. He asked the Apothecary how I did; who said I was very ill, but my husband made me worse, by talking of my dying out of Christ, and being damned. The V — flew very vehemently at my husband, and said many warm things. My husband answered, ‘Speak agreeably to Scripture, and the doctrine of our Church, or I will not hear you.’ ‘What,’ said he, ‘are you inspired?’ ‘Are not you, Sir?’ said my husband. ‘To the Articles of the Church: — Before the grace of God, and the inspiration of his Holy Spirit can no good work be done.’ He made no answer, but left the room in haste. “On Saturday my mother brought the Reverend Mr. S., who said, ‘I suppose you are one of those perfection-men?’ ‘Sir,’ said my husband, ‘are not you? Do you not pray, every Sunday, that you may perfectly love God?’ He was going away, but my mother begged him to see me; and asked if there was any such thing as knowing one’s sins forgiven. He said, some might; but I might be saved without. My husband said, ‘Sir, the Homilies speak otherwise:’ and added a few words from them. Mr. S. answered, ‘You want your head breaking;’ which surprised me much.
However, he went to prayers, but in such a flutter, he forgot I was a woman, and prayed for a man, and then went away. “I was sometimes more, sometimes less, serious, till Monday afternoon; when an old acquaintance, from Wakefield, came to see me; a poor, drunken, idle, talking man. When he was gone, my husband said he would suffer no more of such as him to come near me. I flew into a great rage; on which he went into another room, and poured out his soul before God for me. The Lord hearkened, and heard, and sent his Holy Spirit, who gave me to think what I had been doing all my life; and to resolve to give up all for Christ.
Immediately I felt a strong love to God, and a steadfast hope that, if I cried to him, I should have ‘the knowledge of salvation, by the remission of’ my ‘sins.’ When my husband came into the room, I called him to me, and told him how I was. He could hardly believe it; and, to try me, asked if John Nelson should come and pray with me. I said, Yes; or any of the children of God.’ Then he took courage, and we wept on each other’s neck. When John Nelson came, he strengthened me much. He came a second time, between nine and ten. After he went, my husband and sister Fenton prayed with me, till they were quite spent; but I thought, if they were, I must not. So I looked to God for strength, and He gave it; and I prayed without ceasing, till that text came fresh into my mind, ‘There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.’ I was then I know not how. I thought Christ stood in the front, and all the angels behind and on each side of me, rejoicing over me; but still I had not a clear sight that my sins were forgiven. However, I now ventured to take a little sleep. I slept from two till five. When I awaked, I began to cry out for help: I thought his chariots were long a coming. I continued in prayer, till my husband, who sat by me, perceived my prayers were swallowed up in praise. Indeed I was lost in Christ. I knew not where I was. My burden was quite gone, and I found my nature quite changed, and my affections carried away to heaven. Then I broke out into such expressions as I cannot utter now, praising God for what He had done for my soul.
My fever also was gone. As soon as I was assured of his love, I was healed both in body and soul; which I told the Doctor and Apothecary in the morning, who stood like men in amaze, and confessed they had never seen such a thing before. A deal of people came all that week: On Wednesday, in particular, I was talking to them, without any time for breakfast or dinner, from six in the morning to six at night. Dear Sir, pray for me, that God may keep me, who am “Your unworthy sister, “JANE BATE.” Having now delivered my own soul, on Monday , 4, I left Newcastle.
Before nine we met several expresses, sent to countermand the march of the army into Scotland; and to inform them, that the rebels had passed the Tweed, and were marching southward. Tuesday, 5. In the evening I came to Leeds, and found the town full of bonfires, and people shouting, firing of guns, cursing and swearing, as the English manner of keeping holidays is. I immediately sent word to some of the Magistrates, of what I had heard on the road. This ran through the town, as it were, in an instant: And I hope it was a token for good. The hurry in the streets was quashed at once; — some of the bonfires indeed remained; but scarce any one was to be seen about them, but a few children warming their hands. Thur. 7 . — I rode to Stayley-Hall, in Cheshire, after many interruptions in the way, by those poor tools of watchmen, who stood with great solemnity, at the end of almost every village. I preached there on Mark 1:15, and rode on to Bradbury-Green. Fri . 8 . — Understanding that a neighboring gentleman, Dr. C., had affirmed to many, that Mr. Wesley was now with the Pretender, near Edinburgh, I wrote him a few lines. It may be, he will have a little more regard to truth, or shame, for the time to come.
About noon I preached near Maxfield; in the evening, at the Black-House. Sat. 9 . — In the evening we came to Penkridge; and light on a poor, drunken, cursing, swearing landlord, who seemed scarce to think there was either God or devil. But I had spoke very little, when his countenance changed, and he was so full of his thanks and blessings, that I could hardly make an end of my sentence. May salvation come to this house also!
It was exceeding dark when we rode through Bilston. However, we did not stick fast, till we came to Wednesbury town-end. Several coming with candles, I got out of the quagmire; and, leaving them to disengage my horse, walked to Francis Ward’s; and preached on, “Fear not ye; for I know ye seek Him that was crucified.” Sun. 10 . — I preached at five; and at eight in Wednesbury; (about one at Tipton-Green;) and at four in the afternoon, to well-nigh the whole town, high and low, as at the beginning. Mon. 11 . — I preached at Birmingham; the next morning I set out, and on Wednesday, 13, reached London. Mon. 18 . — I spent a little time with B. Armsted, weak in body, but strong in faith. She had been calmly waiting for God, till her hands and feet grew cold, and she was, in all appearance, at the point of death. Then Satan returned with all his force, and covered her with thick darkness. This threw her into such a vehement wrestling with God, as, brought back her fever and her strength; so that, in all probability, the old murderer saved her life, by his furious attempt to destroy her soul. Fri. 22 . — The alarm daily increasing, concerning the rebels on one hand, and the French on the other, we perceived the wisdom and goodness of Him who hath his way in the whirlwind. The generality of people were a little inclined to think: And many began to own the hand of God. Mon. 25 . — I retired to Newington, in order to finish the “Farther Appeal;” the state of the public affairs loudly demanding, that whatever was done should be done quickly. Thur. 28 . — I wrote “A Word to a Drunkard.” Fri. 29 . — I spent an hour with Mr. Lampe, who had been a Deist for many years, till it pleased God, by the “Earnest Appeal,” to bring him to a better mind.