AN EXTRACT OF THE REV. MR. JOHN WESLEY’S JOURNAL
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FROM AUGUST 12, 1738, TO NOVEMBER 1,
1.WHEN at first men began to lay to my charge things which I knew not, I often thought, “Had I but two or three intimate friends who knew what my life and conversation were, they might easily speak what they had seen and heard, and all such aspersions would fall to the ground.” But I perceived my mistake as soon as I had two or three who were my friends indeed, not in name only. For a way was easily found to prevent their being of any such use as I once imagined they would be. This was done at a stroke, and that once for all, by giving them and me a new name: A name which, however insignificant in itself, yet had this peculiar effect, utterly to disable me from removing whatever accusation might, for the time to come, be cast upon me, by invalidating all which those who knew me best were able to say in my behalf; nay, which any others could say. For, how notorious is it, that if a man dare to open his mouth in my favor, it needs only be replied, “I suppose you are a Methodist too,” and all he has said is to pass for nothing! 2. Hence, on the one hand, many who knew what my conversation was, were afraid to declare the truth, lest the same reproach should fall upon them:
And those few who broke through this fear, were soon disabled from declaring it with effect, by being immediately ranked with him they defended. What impartial man then can refuse to say, “It is permitted to thee to answer for thyself?” Only do not add, “But thou shalt not persuade me, though thou dost persuade me: I am resolved to think as I did before.” Not so, if you are a candid man. You have heard one side already:
Hear the other; weigh both; allow for human weakness, and then judge as you desire to be judged. 3. What I design in the following extract is, openly to declare to all mankind, what it is that the Methodists (so called) have done, and are doing now: Or, rather, what it is that God hath done, and is still doing, in our land. For it is not the work of man which hath lately appeared. All who calmly observe it must say, “This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.” 4. Such a work this hath been in many respects, as neither we nor our fathers had known. Not a few whose sins were of the most flagrant kind, drunkards, swearers, thieves, whoremongers, adulterers, have been brought “from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” Many of these were rooted in their wickedness, having long gloried in their shame, perhaps for a course of many years, yea, even to hoary hairs.
Many had not so much as a notional faith, being Jews, Arians, Deists, or Atheists. Nor has God only made bare his arm in these last days, in behalf of open publicans and sinners; but many “of the Pharisees” also “have believed on Him,” of the “righteous that needed no repentance;” and, having received “the sentence of death in themselves,” have then heard the voice that raise the dead: Have been made partakers of an inward, vital religion; even “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” 5. The manner wherein God hath wrought this work in many souls is as strange as the work itself. It has generally, if not always, been wrought in one moment. “As the lightning shining from heaven,” so was “the coming of the Son of Man,” either to bring peace or a sword; either to wound or to heal; either to convince of sin, or to give remission of sins in his blood.
And the other circumstances attending it have been equally remote from what human wisdom would have expected. So true is that word, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” 6. These extraordinary circumstances seem to have been designed by God for the further manifestation of his work, to cause his power to be known, and to awaken the attention of a drowsy world. And yet, even from these some have drawn their grand objection against the whole work. — “‘We never saw it,’ say they, ‘on this fashion;’ therefore the work is not of God.” To prove which farther, they have not only greatly misrepresented many circumstances that really were, but have added many that were not, often without any regard either to truth or probability. A bare recital of those facts, which were “not done in a corner,” is the best answer to this sort of objections. To those which have been judged to be of more weight, I have occasionally given a more particular answer. 7. Yet I know even this will by no means satisfy the far greater part of those who are now offended. And for a plain reason, — because they will never read, it: They are resolved to hear one side, and one only. I know also, that many who do read it will be just of the same mind they were before; because they have fixed their judgment already, and do not regard anything which such a fellow can say. Let them see to that. I have done my part. I have delivered mine own soul. Nay, I know that many will be greatly offended at this very account. It must be so from the very nature of the things which are therein related. And the best appellation I expect from them, is that of a fool, a madman, an enthusiast. All that in me lies is, to relate simple truth in as inoffensive manner as I can. Let God give it the effect which pleaseth him, and which is most for his glory! 8. May “He who hath the key of the house of David, who openeth and no man shutteth,” open “a great and effectual door” by whom it pleaseth Him, for his everlasting Gospel! May be “send by whom He will send,” so it may “run and be glorified” more and more! May He “ride on conquering and to conquer,” until “the fullness of the Gentiles” be come in; and “the earth be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea!”