Are you a Christian?
JOURNAL - FROM AUGUST 12, 1738, TO NOVEMBER 1
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Saturday , August 12. — About seven in the evening we came to Neu.
Kirche, a town about twenty four miles from Hernhuth. Mr. Schneider (the Minister of it, who had desired us to take his house in our way) was not at home: But we found one Mr. Mancetius there, the Minister of a neighboring town, who walked with us in the morning ten miles to Hauswalde, where he lived. He told us that the Lutherans, as well as the Papists, were irreconcilable enemies to the brethren of Hernhuth: That the generality of the Lutheran Clergy were as bitter against them as the Jesuits themselves: That none of his neighbors durst go thither, (unless by stealth,) being sure of suffering for it, if discovered: That to prevent any of Hernhuth from coming to them, the Elector had forbid, under a severe penalty, any number of persons, exceeding three, to meet together on a religious account: And that he himself, for having a little society in his own parish, had been summoned to appear before the Consistory at Dresden.
Yea, let the “Kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his Anointed! He that sitteth in heaven shall laugh them to scorn; the Lord shall have them in derision.”
We left Hauswalde in the afternoon, and in the evening came to Dresden.
But the Officer at the gate would not suffer us to come in; so that we were obliged to go on to the next village: Which leaving early in the morning, on Thursday in the afternoon we came to Leipsig.
We were now kept only an hour at the gate, and then conducted to Mr. Arnold’s, who had invited us when we were in the town before, to make his house our home. A few we found here, too, who desire to “know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” And from them we had letters to Halle, whither we came on Friday, 18. But the King of Prussia’s tall men (who kept the gates) would not suffer Mr. Brown to come in. Me they admitted, (in honor of my profession,) after I had waited about two hours: And one of them went with me to the Prince of Hesse, who, after a few questions, gave me leave to lodge in the city. Thence he showed me to Mr. Gotschalck’s lodgings, to whom I had letters from Leipsig. He read them, and said, “My brother, what you find here, you will use as your own. And if you want any thing else, tell us, and you shall have it.”
I told them, my companion was without the gate. They soon procured admittance for him. And we were indeed as at home; for I have hardly seen such little children as these, even at Hernhuth. Sat. 19 . — I waited on Professor Francke, who behaved with the utmost humanity; and afterwards on Professor Knappe, to whom also I am indebted for his open, friendly behavior. Between ten and eleven, seven of the brethren set out with us, one of whom went with us two days’ journey. It was the dusk of the evening on Sunday , 20, when, wet and weary, we reached Jena. Mon. 21 . — We visited the schools there; the rise of which (as we were informed) was occasioned thus: — About the year 1704, Mr. Stoltius, a student at Jena, began to speak of faith in Christ; which he continued to do, till he took his master’s degree, and read public lectures. About twelve or fifteen students were awakened, and joined with him in prayer, and building up one another. At this (after various calumnies spread abroad, and divers persecutions occasioned thereby) the Consistory was offended, and issued out a commission to examine him. In consequence of the report made to the Consistory by these Commissioners, he was forbid to read any public lectures, or to hold any meetings with his friends. Not long after an order was given, by which he was excluded from the holy communion. He was also to have been expelled the University: But this he prevented by a voluntary retirement.
Yet one of the Commissioners, who had been sent by the Duke of Weimar, (one of the Lords of Jena,) informed the Duke, that according to his judgment Stoltius was an innocent and holy man. On this the Duke sent for him to Weimar, and fixed him in a living there. There likewise he awakened many, and met with them to pray and read the Scriptures together. But it was not long that the city could bear him. For he boldly rebuked all vice, and that in all persons, neither sparing the courtiers, nor the Duke himself. Consequently, his enemies every where increased, and many persecutions followed. In fine, he was forbid to have any private meetings, and was to have been deposed from the ministry; when God calling him to himself, took him away from the evil to come.
Before Stoltius left Jena, Buddaeus also began to preach the real Gospel, as did Christius soon after; whereby some awakening continued till the year 1724. A few of the townsmen then agreed to maintain a student, to be a Schoolmaster for some poor children. They afterwards kept several Schoolmasters: But about 1728, all of them going away, the school was broke up, and the children quite neglected. Professor Buddaeus being informed of this, earnestly recommended the consideration of it to the students in his house: And about ten of them, among whom was Mr. Spangenberg, took upon themselves the care of those children. Their number soon increased, which gave great offense to the other Schoolmasters in the town; and not long after to the Magistrates of the town, and to the Senate of the University. The offense soon spread to the Pastors, the Professors, the Consistory, and the Princes who are Lords of Jena. But it pleased God to move one of them, the Prince of Eisenach, who had the chief power there, to stop the open persecution, by forbidding either the Senate or Consistory to molest them. He likewise wholly exempted them from the jurisdiction of both, ordering that all complaints against them for the time to come should be cognizable only by himself.
There are now thirty constant Teachers, ten in each school, and three or four supernumerary, to supply accidental defects. Four of the Masters are appointed to punish, who are affixed to no one school. Each of the schools being divided into two classes, and taught five hours a day, every one of the thirty Masters has one hour in a day to teach. All the Masters have a conference about the schools every Monday. They have a second meeting on Thursday, chiefly for prayer; and a third every Saturday.
The present method wherein they teach is this: — There are always two classes in each school. In the lower, children from six to ten or twelve years old are taught to read. They are then removed to the other class, in which are taught the Holy Scriptures, arithmetic, and whatever else it may be useful for children to learn.
In the morning, from eight to nine, they are all catechized, and instructed in the first principles of Christianity, either from Luther’s smaller Catechism, or from some texts of Holy Scripture.
From nine to ten the smaller children are taught their letters and syllables; and the larger read the Bible. From ten to eleven those in the lower class learn and repeat some select verses of Holy Scripture, chiefly relating to the foundation of the faith. Meanwhile those in the upper, learn arithmetic.
In the afternoon from one to two all the children are employed as from nine to ten in the morning. From two to three, the smaller children learn and repeat Luther’s smaller Catechism, while the larger are taught to write.
Every Sunday there is a public catechizing on some text of Scripture; at which all persons who desire it may be present.
In the afternoon we left Jena, several of the brethren accompanying us out of town. At five, having just passed through Weimar, we met Mr. Ingham going for Hernhuth. We all turned aside to a neighboring village, where having spent a comfortable evening together, in the morning we commended each other to the grace of God, and went on our several ways.
We breakfasted at Erfurt with Mr. Reinhart, spent the evening with some brethren at Saxe-Gotha, and by long journeys came to Marienborne on Friday, August 25. Mon. 28 . — I took my leave of the Countess, (the Count being gone to Jena,) and setting out early the next morning, came about three in the afternoon to Frankfort. From Mr. Bohler’s we went to the society, where one of the brethren from Marienborne offered free redemption, through the blood or Christ, to sixty or seventy persons. Wed. 30 . — In the afternoon we came to Mentz, and agreed for our passage to Cölen by water, for a florin per head; which was but half what we gave before, though, it seems, twice as much as we ought to have given. Thur. 31 . — We spent half an hour in the great church, — a huge heap of irregular building; full of altars, adorned (or loaded rather) With abundance of gold and silver. In going out, we observed a paper on the door, which was of so extraordinary a nature, that I thought it would not be labor lost to transcribe it. The words were as follows: — VOLLKOMMENER ABLASS FUR DIE ARME SEELEN IM FEG-FEUR. Seine Pabliche Heiligkeit, Clemens der XIIte, haben in diesem jahr 1738, den 7 Augusti, die pfarr kirche des Sancti Christophori in Mentz gnädigsten privilegirt, dass ein jeder Priester, so uohl secular als regularischen stands, der am aller seelen-tag, wie auch an einem jedem tag in derselben octav; so dann am zwiein vom ordinario tagen einer jeden woch das jahr hindurch, für die seel eine Christglaubigen verstorbenen an zum altar mess lesen wird, jedesmahl eine seel aus dem fegfeur erlosen konee. “A FULL RELEASE FOR THE POOR SOULS IN PURGATORY. “His Papal Holiness, Clement the XIIth, hath this year, 1738, on the 7th of August, most graciously privileged the cathedral church of St. Christopher, in Mentz; so that every Priest, as well secular as regular, who will read mass at an altar for the soul of a Christian departed, on any holiday, or on any day within the octave thereof, or on two extraordinary days, to be appointed by the Ordinary, of any week in the year, may each time deliver a soul out of the fire of Purgatory.”
Now I desire to know, whether any Romanist of common sense can either defend or approve of this?
At eight we took boat; and on Saturday, SEPTEMBER 2, about eleven, came to Cölen; which we left at one, and between seven and eight reached a village, an hour short of Neus. Here we overtook a large number of Switzers, — men, women, and children, singing, dancing, and making merry, being all going to make their fortunes in Georgia. Looking upon them as delivered into my hands by God, I plainly told them what manner of place it was. If they now leap into the fire with open eyes, their blood is on their own head. Mon . 4 . — Before noon we came to Cleve, and to Nimwegen in the evening. The next night we lay at a little village near Tiel; which leaving early in the morning, we walked by the side of many pleasant orchards, and in the afternoon came to Ysselstein. We stayed only one night with the brethren, (in the new house, called Herndyke, an English mile from the town,) and hastening forward, came the next afternoon to Dr. Koker’s at Rotterdam.
I cannot but acknowledge the civility of this friendly man, all the time we stayed in his house. In the morning, Friday, the 8th, we went to the English Episcopal church, which is a large, handsome, convenient building.
The Minister read prayers seriously and distinctly, to a small, well-behaved congregation. Being informed our ship was to sail the next day, (Saturday,) we took leave of our generous friend, and went to an inn close to the quay, that we might be ready when called to go aboard. Having waited till past four in the afternoon, we stepped into the Jews’ Synagogue, which lies near the water-side. I do not wonder that so many Jews (especially those who have any reflection) utterly abjure all religion.
My spirit was moved within me, at that horrid, senseless pageantry, that mockery of God, which they called public worship. Lord, do not thou yet “cast off thy people!” But in Abraham’s “Seed” let them also “be blessed!”
The ship lingering still, I had time to exhort several English, whom we met with at our inn, to pursue inward religion; the renewal of their souls in righteousness and true holiness. In the morning a daughter of affliction came to see me, who teaches a school at Rotterdam. She had been for some time under deep convictions; but could find none to instruct or comfort her. After much conversation, we joined in prayer, and her spirit a little revived. Between nine and ten we went on board. In the afternoon I read prayers, and preached in the great cabin. The wind being contrary, we did not get out of the river till Wednesday; nor to London till Saturday night. Sun. 17 . — I began again to declare in my own country the glad tidings of salvation, preaching three times, and afterwards expounding the Holy Scripture to a large company in the Minories. On Monday I rejoiced to meet with our little society, which now consisted of thirty-two persons.
The next day I went to the condemned felons, in Newgate, and offered them free salvation. In the evening I went to a society in Bear-Yard, and preached repentance and remission of sins. The next evening I spoke the truth in love at a society in Aldersgate-Street: Some contradicted at first, but not long; so that nothing but love appeared at our parting. Thur. 21 . — I went to a society in Gutter-Lane; but I could not declare the mighty works of God there; as I did afterwards at the Savoy in all simplicity. And the word did not return empty.
Finding abundance of people greatly exasperated by gross misrepresentations of the words I had spoken, I went to as many of them in private as my time would permit. God gave me much love towards them all. Some were convinced they had been mistaken. And who knoweth but God will soon return to the rest, and leave a blessing behind him?
On Saturday, 23, I was enabled to speak strong words both at Newgate and at Mr. E.’s society; and the next day at St. Anne’s, and twice at St. John’s, Clerkenwell; so that I fear they will bear me there no longer. Tues. 26 . — I declared the Gospel of peace to a small company at Windsor. The next evening Mr. H. preached to the societies at Bow; but not “the truth as it is in Jesus.” I was afraid lest “the lame” should “be turned out of the way;” but God answered the thoughts of my heart, and took away my fear, in a manner I did not expect, even by the words of Thomas Sternhold. They were these: — (Sung immediately after the sermon: —) Thy mercy is above all things, O God; it doth excel; In trust whereof, as in thy wings, The sons of men shall dwell.
Within thy house they shall be fed With plenty at their will:
Of all delights they shall be sped, And take thereof their fill.
Sat. 30 . — One who had been a zealous opposer of “this way,” sent and desired to speak with me immediately. He had all the signs of settled despair, both in his countenance and behavior. He said, he had been enslaved to sin many years, especially to drunkenness; that he had long used all the means of grace, had constantly gone to church and sacrament, had read the Scripture, and used much private prayer, and yet was nothing profited. I desired we might join in prayer. After a short space he rose, and his countenance was no longer sad. He said, “Now I know God loveth me, and has forgiven my sins. And sin shall not have dominion over me; for Christ hath set me free.” And according to his faith it was unto him. Sun . October 1. — I preached both morning and afternoon at St. George’s in the East. On the following days I endeavored to explain the way of salvation to many who had misunderstood what had been preached concerning it. Fri . 6 . — I preached at St. Antholin’s once more. In the afternoon I went to the Rev. Mr. Bedford, to tell him between me and him alone, of the injury he had done both to God and his brother, by preaching and printing that very weak sermon on assurance, which was an ignoratio elenchi from beginning to end; seeing the assurance we preach is of quite another kind from that he writes against. We speak of an assurance of our present pardon; not, as he does, of our final perseverance.
In the evening I began expounding at a little society in Wapping. On Sunday, 8, I preached at the Savoy chapel, (I suppose the last time,) on the parable (or history rather) of the Pharisee and Publican praying in the temple. On Monday , 9, I set out for Oxford. In walking I read the truly surprising narrative of the conversions lately wrought in and about the town of Northampton, in New-England. Surely “this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.”
An extract from this I wrote to a friend, concerning the state of those who are “weak in faith.” His answer, which I received at Bristol, on Saturday, 14, threw me into great perplexity, till, after crying to God, I took up a Bible, which opened on these words: “And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, O that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.” ( 1 Chronicles 4:10.)
This, however, with a sentence in the Evening Lesson, put me upon considering my own state more deeply. And what then occurred to me was as follows: — “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith.” Now the surest test whereby we can examine ourselves, whether we be indeed in the faith, is that given by St. Paul: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
First : His Judgments are new: His judgment of himself, of happiness, of holiness.
He judges himself to be altogether fallen short of the glorious image of God: To have no good thing abiding in him; but all that is corrupt and abominable: In a word, to be wholly earthly, sensual, and devilish; — a motley mixture of beast and devil.
Thus, by the grace of God in Christ, I judge of myself. Therefore I am, in this respect, a new creature.
Again: His judgment concerning happiness is new. He would as soon expect to dig it out of the earth, as to find it in riches, honor, pleasure, (so called,) or indeed in the enjoyment of any creature: He knows there can be no happiness on earth, but in the enjoyment of God, and in the foretaste of those “rivers of pleasure which flow at his right hand for evermore.”
Thus, by the grace of God in Christ, I judge of happiness. Therefore I am, in this respect, a new creature.
Yet again: His judgment concerning holiness is new. He no longer judges it to be an outward thing: To consist either in doing no harm, in doing good, or in using the ordinances of God. He sees it is the life of God in the soul; the image of God fresh stamped on the heart; an entire renewal of the mind in every temper and thought, after the likeness of Him that created it.
Thus, by the grace of God in Christ, I judge of holiness. Therefore I am, in this respect, a new creature.
Secondly : His Designs are new. It is the design of his life, not to heap up treasures upon earth, not to gain the praise of men, not to indulge the desires of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life; but to regain the image of God; to have the life of God again planted in his soul; and to be “renewed after his likeness, in righteousness and true holiness.”
They are now set on the things of heaven. His love, and joy, and hope, his sorrow, and fear, have all respect to things above. They all point heaven-ward. Where his treasure is, there is his heart also.
I dare not say I am a new creature in this respect. For other desires often arise in my heart; but they do not reign. I put them all under my feet, “through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Therefore I believe he is creating me anew in this also; and that he has begun, though not finished, his work.
Fourthly : His Conversation is new. It is always “seasoned with salt,” and fit to “minister grace to the hearers.”
So is mine, by the grace of God in Christ. Therefore, in this respect, I am a new creature.
Fifthly : His Actions are new. The tenor of his life singly points at the glory of God. All his substance and time are devoted thereto. Whether he eats or drinks, or whatever he does, it either springs from, or leads to, the love of God and man.
But St. Paul tells us elsewhere, that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, joy, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, temperance.” Now although, by the grace of God in Christ, I find a measure of some of these in myself; namely, of peace, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, temperance; yet others I find not. I cannot find in myself the love of God, or of Christ.
Again: I have not that joy in the Holy Ghost; no settled, lasting joy. Nor have I such a peace as excludes the possibility either of fear or doubt.
When holy men have told me I had no faith, I have often doubted whether I had or no. And those doubts have made me very uneasy, till I was relieved by prayer and the Holy Scriptures.
Yet, upon the whole, although I have not yet that joy in the Holy Ghost, nor the full assurance of faith, much less am I, in the full sense of the words, “in Christ a new creature:” I nevertheless trust that I have a measure of faith, and am “accepted in the Beloved:” I trust “the hand-writing that was against me is blotted out;” and that I am “reconciled to God” through his Son. Sun. 15 . — I preached twice at the Castle, and afterwards expounded at three societies. Wednesday evening I came to London again; and on Friday met a society (of soldiers chiefly) at Westminster. On Sunday , 22, I preached at Bloomsbury, in the morning, and at Shadwell in the afternoon. Wednesday, 25, I preached at Basingshaw church; on Friday morning, at St. Antholin’s; on Sunday, at Islington and at London-Wall.
In the evening, being troubled at what some said of “the kingdom of God within us,” and doubtful of my own state, I called upon God, and received this answer from his word: “He himself also waited for the kingdom of God.” “But should not I wait in silence and retirement?” was the thought that immediately struck into my mind. I opened my Testament again, on those words, “Seest thou not, how faith wrought together with his works?
And by works was faith made perfect.” Fri . November 3. — I preached at St. Antholin’s: Sunday, 5, in the morning, at St. Botolph’s, Bishopsgate; in the afternoon, at Islington; and in the evening, to such a congregation as I never saw before, at St. Clement’s, in the Strand. As this was the first time of my preaching here, I suppose it is to be the last.
On Wednesday, my brother and I went, at their earnest desire, to do the last good office to the condemned malefactors. It was the most glorious instance I ever saw of faith triumphing over sin and death. One observing the tears run fast down the cheeks of one of them in particular, while his eyes were steadily fixed upwards, a few moments before he died, asked, “How do you feel your heart now?” He calmly replied, “I feel a peace which I could not have believed to be possible. And I know it is the peace of God, which passeth all understanding.”
My brother took that occasion of declaring the Gospel of peace to a large assembly of publicans and sinners. O Lord God of my fathers, accept even me among them, and cast me not out from among thy children!
In the evening I proclaimed mercy to my fellow sinners at Basingshaw church; and the next morning, at St. Antholin’s. Friday, 10, I set out, and Saturday, 11, spent the evening with a little company at Oxford. I was grieved to find prudence had made them leave off singing psalms. I fear it will not stop here. God deliver me, and all that seek Him in sincerity, from what the world calls Christian prudence! Sun. 12 . — I preached twice at the Castle. In the following week, I began more narrowly to inquire what the doctrine of the Church of England is, concerning the much controverted point of justification by faith; and the sum of what I found in the Homilies, I extracted and printed for the use of others. Sun. 19 . — I only preached in the afternoon, at the Castle. On Monday night I was greatly troubled in dreams; and about eleven o’clock, waked in an unaccountable consternation, without being able to sleep again. About that time, (as I found in the morning,) one who had been designed to be my pupil, but was not, came into the Porter’s lodge, (where several persons were sitting,) with a pistol in his hand. He presented this, as in sport, first at one, and then at another. He then attempted twice or thrice to shoot himself; but it would not go off. Upon his laying it down, one took it up, and blew out the priming. He was very angry, went and got fresh prime, came in again, sat down, beat the flint with his key, and about twelve, pulling off his hat and wig, said he would die like a gentleman, and shot himself through the head. Thur. 23 . — Returning from preaching at the Castle, I met once more with my old companion in affliction, C. D.; who stayed with me till Monday.
His last conversation with me was as follows: — “In this you are better than you was at Savannah. You know that you was then quite wrong. But you are not right yet. You know that you was then blind. But you do not see now. “I doubt not but God will bring you to the right foundation; but I have no hope for you, while you are on your present foundation: It is as different from the true, as the right hand from the left. You have all to begin anew. “I have observed all your words and actions; and I see you are of the same spirit still. You have a simplicity; but it is a simplicity of your own: It is not the simplicity of Christ. You think you do not trust in your own works; but you do trust in your own works.
You do not believe in Christ. “You have a present freedom from sin; but it is only a temporary suspension of it, not a deliverance from it. And you have a peace; but it is not a true peace: If death were to approach, you would find all your fears return. “But I am forbid to say any more. My heart sinks in me like a stone.”
I was troubled. I begged of God an answer of peace; and opened on those words, “As many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” I was asking, in the evening, that God would fulfill all his promises in my soul, when I opened my Testament on those words, “My hour is not yet come.” Sun . December 3. — I began reading prayers at Bocardo, (the city prison,) which had been long discontinued. In the afternoon, I received a letter, earnestly desiring me to publish my account of Georgia; and another, as earnestly dissuading me from it, “because it would bring much trouble upon me.” I consulted God in His Word, and received two answers; the first, Ezekiel 33:2-6: The other, “Thou therefore endure hardship, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” Tues. 5 . — I began reading prayers, and preaching, in Gloucester green workhouse; and on Thursday, in that belonging to St. Thomas’s parish. On both days I preached at the Castle. At St. Thomas’s was a young woman, raving mad, screaming and tormenting herself continually. I had a strong desire to speak to her. The moment I began, she was still. The tears ran down her cheeks all the time I was telling her, “Jesus of Nazareth is able and willing to deliver you.” O where is faith upon earth? Why are these poor wretches left under the open bondage of Satan? Jesus, Master! Give thou medicine to heal their sickness; and deliver those who are now also vexed with unclean spirits!
About this time, being desirous to know how the work of God went on among our brethren at London, I wrote to many of them concerning the state of their souls. One or two of their answers I have subjoined. “My Dear Friend, Whom I Love In The Truth, “ I KNOW my Savior’s voice, and my heart burns with love and desire to follow Him in the regeneration. I have no confidence in the flesh. I loathe myself, and love Him only. My dear brother, my spirit even at this moment rejoices in God my Savior; and the love which is shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost, destroys all self-love; so that I could lay down my life for my brethren. I know that my Redeemer liveth, and have confidence toward God, that through his blood my sins are forgiven. He hath begotten me to his Own will, and saves me from sin, so that it has no dominion over me. His Spirit bears witness with my spirit, that I am his child by adoption and grace. And this is not for works of righteousness which I have done. For I am his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works: So that all boasting is excluded. It is now about eighteen years since Jesus took possession of my heart. He then opened my eyes, and said unto me, ‘Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee.’ My dear friend, bear with my relating after what manner I was born to God. It was an instantaneous act. My whole heart was filled with a divine power, drawing all the faculties of my soul after Christ, which continued three or four nights and days. It was as a mighty rushing wind, coming into the soul, enabling me from that moment to be more than conqueror over those corruptions which before I was always a slave to. Since that time, the whole bent of my will hath been towards Him day and night, even in my dreams. I know that I dwell in Christ, and Christ in me; I am bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. That you, and all that wait for his appearing, may find the consolation of Israel, is the earnest prayer of “Your affectionate Brother in Christ, “W. F.” “My Most Dear And Honored Father In Christ, “IN the twentieth year of my age, 1737, God was pleased to open my eyes, and to let me see that I did not live as became a child of God. I found my sins were great, (though I was what they call a sober person,) and that God kept an account of them all. However, I thought if I repented, and led a good life, God would accept me.
And so I went on for about half a year, and had sometimes great joy. But last winter, I began to find, that whatever I did, was nothing; and the enemy of souls laid so many things to my charge, that Sometimes I despaired of heaven. I continued in great doubts and fears, till April 9, when I went out of town. Here, for a time, I was greatly transported in seeing the glorious works of God: But in about three weeks I was violently assaulted again. God then offered a Savior to me; but my self-righteousness kept me from laying hold on Him. “On Whit-Sunday I went to receive the blessed sacrament; but with a heart as hard as a stone. Heavy-laden I was indeed, when God was pleased to let me see a crucified Savior. I saw there was a fountain opened in his side for me to wash in and be clean. But alas! I was afraid to venture, fearing I should be too presumptuous.
And I know I at that time refused the atonement, which I might then have had. Yet I received great comfort. But in about nine days’ time, my joy went out, as a lamp does for want of oil, and I fell into my old state. Yet I was not without hope; for ever after that time I could not despair of salvation: I had so clear a sight of the fountain opened in the side of our Lord. But still when I thought of death, or the day of judgment, it was a great terror to me. And yet I was afraid to venture to lay all my sins upon Christ. “This was not all. But whenever I retired to prayer, I had a violent pain in my head. This only seized me when I began to pray earnestly, or to cry out aloud to Christ. But when I cried to Him against this also, He gave me ease. Well, I found God did love me, and did draw me to Christ. I hungered and thirsted after Him; but I was still afraid to go boldly to Christ, and to claim Him as my Savior. “ July 3. — My dear sister came down to see me. She had received the atonement, on St. Peter’s day. I told her, I thought Christ died for me; but as to the assurance she mentioned, I could say nothing. “ July 5. — She went. That night I went into the garden, and considering what she had told me, I saw Him by faith, whose eyes are as a flame of fire; Him who justifieth the ungodly. I told Him, I was ungodly, and it was for one that He died. His blood did I plead with great faith, to blot out the hand-writing that was against me. I told my Savior, that He had promised to give rest to all that were heavy-laden. This promise I claimed, and I saw Him by faith stand condemned before God in my stead. I saw the fountain opened in his side. I found, as I hungered, He fed me: As my soul thirsted, He gave me out of that fountain to drink. And so strong was my faith, that if I had had all the sins of the world laid upon me, I knew and was sure one drop of his blood was sufficient to atone for all. Well, I clave unto Him, and He did wash me in his blood. He hath presented me to his Father and my Father, to his God and my God, a pure, spotless virgin, as if I had never committed any sin. It is on Jesus I stand, the Savior of sinners. It is He that hath loved me and given himself for me. I cleave unto Him as my surety, and He is bound to pay God the debt. While I stand on this rock, I am sure the gates of hell cannot prevail against me. It is by faith that I am justified, and have peace with God through Him. His blood has made reconciliation to God for me. It is by faith I have received the atonement.
It is by faith that I have the Son of God, and the Spirit of Christ, dwelling in me: And what then shall separate me from the love to God which is in Christ Jesus my Lord? “You must think what a transport of joy I was then in, when I that was lost and undone, dropping into hell, felt a Redeemer come, who is ‘mighty to save, to save unto the uttermost.’ Yet I did not receive the witness of the Spirit at that time. But in about half an hour, the devil came with great power to tempt me. However, I minded him not, but went in and lay down pretty much composed in my mind. Now St. Paul says, ‘After ye believed, ye were sealed with the Spirit of promise.’ So it was with me.
After I had believed on Him that ‘justifieth the ungodly,’ I received that seal of the Spirit, which is the ‘earnest of our inheritance.’ “ July 6. — In the morning, being by myself, I found the work of the Spirit was very powerful upon me: (Although you know God does not deal with every soul in the same way:) As my mother bore me with great pain, so did I feel great pain in my soul in being born of God. Indeed I thought the pains of death were upon me and that my soul was then taking leave of the body. I thought I was going to Him whom I saw with strong faith standing ready to receive me. In this violent agony I continued about four hours; and then I began to feel the ‘Spirit of God bearing witness with my spirit, that I was born of God.’ Because I was a child of God, He ‘sent forth the Spirit of his Son into me, crying, Abba, Father.’ For that is the cry of every new born soul. O mighty, powerful, happy change! I who had nothing but devils ready to drag me to hell, now found I had angels to guard me to my reconciled Father; and my Judge, who just before stood ready to condemn me, was now become my righteousness. But I cannot express what God hath done for my soul. No; this is to be my everlasting employment when I have put off this frail, sinful body, when I join with that great multitude which no man can number, in singing praises to the Lamb that loved us, and gave himself for us! O how powerful are the workings of the Almighty in a new-born soul! The love of God was shed abroad in my heart, and a flame kindled there, so that my body was almost torn asunder. I loved. The Spirit cried strong in my heart. I trembled: I sung: I joined my voice with those ‘that excel in strength’ My soul was got up into the holy mount. I had no thoughts of coming down again into the body. I who not long before had called to ‘the rocks to fall on me, and the mountains to cover me,’ could now call for nothing else but, ‘Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.’ Then I could cry out with great boldness, There, O God, is my Surety! There, O death, is thy plague! There, O grave, is thy destruction! There, O serpent, is the Seed that shall for ever bruise thy head! O, I thought my head was a fountain of water. I was dissolved in love. ‘My Beloved is mine, and I am his.’ He has all charms.
He has ravished my heart. He is my comforter, my friend, my all He is now in his garden, feeding among the lilies. O, ‘I am sick of love.’ He is altogether lovely, ‘the chiefest among ten thousand.’” Sun. 10 . — I administered the Lord’s Supper at the Castle. At one I expounded at Mr. Fox’s, as usual. The great power of God was with us; and one who had been in despair several years, received a witness that she was a child of God. Mon. 11 . — Hearing Mr. Whitefield was arrived from Georgia, I hastened to London; and on Tuesday, 12, God gave us once more to take sweet counsel together. Fri. 15 . — I preached at St. Antholin’s. Sat. 16. — One who had examined himself by the reflections wrote October 14, made the following observations on the state of his own soul:— I. 1. I judge thus of myself. But I feel it not. Therefore, there is in me still the old heart of stone. 2. I judge thus to happiness: But I still hanker after creature-happiness.
My soul is almost continually running out after one creature or another, and imagining ‘How happy should I be in such or such a condition.’ I have more pleasure in eating and drinking, and in the company of those I love, than I have in God. I have a relish for earthly happiness. I have not a relish for heavenly. ‘I savor, fronw, the things of men, not the things of God.’
Therefore, there is in me still the carnal heart, the fronhma sarkov. “But the eyes of my understanding are not yet fully opened. “II. ‘This is the design of my life.’ But a thousand little designs are daily stealing into my soul. This is my ultimate design; but intermediate designs are continually creeping in upon me; designs (though often disguised) of pleasing myself, of doing my own will; designs wherein I do not eye God, at least, not him singly. “Therefore my eye is not yet single; at least, not always so. “III. Are my desires new? Not all. Some are new, some old. My desires are like my designs. My great desire is to have ‘Christ formed in my heart by faith.’ But little desires are daily stealing into my soul. And so my great hopes and fears have respect to God. But a thousand little ones creep in between them. “Again, my desires, passions, and inclinations in general are mixed; having something of Christ, and something of earth. I love you, for instance. But my love is only partly spiritual, and partly natural. Something of my own cleaves to that which is of God. Nor can I divide the earthly part from the heavenly.” Sun. 17 . — I preached in the afternoon at Islington: In the evening at St. Swithin’s, for the last time. Sunday, 24, I preached at Great St. Bartholomew’s in the morning, and at Islington in the afternoon; where we had the blessed sacrament everyday this week, and were comforted on every side. Wed. 27 . — I preached at Basingshaw church; Sunday, 31, to many thousands, in St. George’s, Spitalfields. And to a yet more crowded congregation at Whitechapel, in the afternoon, I declared those glad tidings, (O that they would know the things which make for their peace!) “I will heal their backsliding: I will love them freely.” Mon . January 1, 1739. — Mr. Hall, Kinchin, Ingham, Whitefield, Hatchins, and my brother Charles, were present at our love-feast in Fetter-Lane, with about sixty of our brethren. About three in the morning, as we were continuing constant in prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us, in so much that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground. As soon as we were recovered a little from that awe and amazement at the presence of his Majesty, we broke out with one voice, “We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.” Thur. 4 . — One who had had the form of godliness many years, wrote the following reflections: — “My friends affirm I am mad, because I said I was not a Christian a year ago. I affirm, I am not a Christian now. Indeed, what I might have been I know not, had I been faithful to the grace then given, when, expecting nothing less, I received such a sense of the forgiveness of my sins, as till then I never knew. But that I am not a Christian at this day, I as assuredly know, as that Jesus is the Christ. “For a Christian is one who has the fruits of the Spirit of Christ, which (to mention no more) are love, peace, joy. But these I have not. I have not any love of God. I do not love either the Father or the Son. Do you ask, how do I know whether I love God, I answer by another question, ‘How do you know whether you love me?’
Why, as you know whether you are hot or cold. You feel this moment, that you do or do not love me. And I feel this moment, I do not love God; which therefore I know, because I feel it. There is no word more proper, more clear, or more strong. “And I know it also by St. John’s plain rule, ‘If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.’ For I love the world. I desire the things of the world, some or other of them, and have done all my life. I have always placed some part of my happiness in some or other of the things that are seen. Particularly in meat and drink, and in the company of those I loved. For many years I have been, yea, and still am, hankering after a happiness, in loving, and being loved by one or another. And in these I have from time to time taken more pleasure than in God. “Again, joy in the Holy Ghost I have not. I have now and then some starts of joy in God: But it is not that joy. For it is not abiding. Neither is it greater than I have had on some worldly occasions. So that I can in no wise be said to ‘rejoice evermore;’ much less to ‘rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.’ “Yet again: I have not ‘the peace of God;’ that peace, peculiarly so called. The peace I have may be accounted for on natural principles. I have health, strength, friends, a competent fortune, and a composed, cheerful temper. Who would not have a sort of peace in such circumstances? But I have none which can with any propriety be called, a ‘peace which passeth all understanding.’ “From hence I conclude, (and let all the saints of the world hear, that whereinsoever they boast, they may be found even as I,) though I have given, and do give, all my goods to feed the poor, I am not a Christian. Though I have endured hardship, though I have in all things denied myself and taken up my cross, I am not a Christian. My works are nothing, my sufferings are nothing; I have not the fruits of the Spirit of Christ. Though I have constantly used all the means of grace for twenty years, I am not a Christian.” Wed. 10 . — I preached at Basingshaw church. Saturday , 13, I expounded to a large company at Beach-Lane. Sunday, 14, after preaching at Islington, I expounded twice at Mr. Sims’s, in the Minories. Wed. 17 . — I was with two persons, who I doubt are properly enthusiasts. For, first, they think to attain the end without the means; which is enthusiasm, properly so called. Again, they think themselves inspired by God, and are not. But false, imaginary inspiration is enthusiasm. That theirs is only imaginary inspiration appears hence, it contradicts the Law and the Testimony. Sun. 21 . — We were surprised in the evening, while I was expounding in the Minories. A well-dressed, middle-aged woman suddenly cried out as in the agonies of death. She continued so to do for some time, with all the signs of the sharpest anguish of spirit. When she was a little recovered, I desired her to call upon me the next day. She then told me, that about three years before, she was under strong convictions of sin, and in such terror of mind, that she had no comfort in any thing, nor any rest, day or night:
That she sent for the Minister of her parish, and told him the distress she was in: Upon which he told her husband, she was stark mad, and advised him to send for a Physical immediately. A Physician was sent for accordingly, who ordered her to be blooded, blistered, and so on. But this did not heal her wounded spirit. So that she continued much as she was before: Till the last night, He whose word she at first found to be “sharper than any two-edged sword,” gave her a faint hope, that He would undertake her cause, and heal the soul which had sinned against him. Thur. 25 . — I baptized John Smith (late an Anabaptist) and four other adults at Islington. Of the adults I have known baptized lately, one only was at that time born again, in the full sense of the word; that is, found a thorough, inward change, by the love of God filling her heart. Most of them were only born again in a lower sense; that is, received the remission of their sins. And some (as it has since too plainly appeared) neither in one sense nor the other. Sun. 28 . — I went, (having been long importuned thereto,) about five in the evening, with four or five of my friends, to a house where was one of those commonly called French prophets. After a time, she came in. She seemed about four or five and twenty, of an agreeable speech and behavior.
She asked, why we came. I said, “To try the spirits, whether they be of God.” Presently after she leaned back in her chair, and seemed to have strong workings in her breast, with deep sighings intermixed. Her head and hands, and, by turns, every part of her body, seemed also to be in a kind of convulsive motion. This continued about ten minutes, till, at six, she began to speak (though the workings, sighings, and contortions of her body were so intermixed with her words, that she seldom spoke half a sentence together) with a clear, strong voice, “Father, thy will, thy will be done. Thus saith the Lord, If of any of you that is a father, his child ask bread, will he give him a stone? If he ask a fish, will he gives him a scorpion? Ask bread of me, my children, and I will give you bread. I will not, will not give you a scorpion. By this judge of what ye shall now hear.”
She spoke much (all as in the person of God, and mostly in Scripture words) of the fulfilling of the prophecies, the coming of Christ now at hand, and the spreading of the Gospel over all the earth. Then she exhorted us not to be in haste in judging her spirit, to be or not to be of God; but to wait upon God, and he would teach us, if we conferred not with flesh and blood. She added, with many enforcements, that we must watch and pray, and take up our cross, and be still before God.
Two or three of our company were much affected, and believed she spoke by the Spirit of God. But this was in no wise clear to me. The motion might be either hysterical or artificial. And the same words, any person of a good understanding and well versed in the Scriptures might have spoken.
But I let the matter alone; knowing this, that “if it be not of God, it will come to naught.” Sun . February 4. — I preached at St. Giles’s, on, “Whosoever believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” How was the power of God present with us! I am content to preach here no more. Fri. 9. — A note was given me at Wapping, in nearly these words: —. “Sir, “YOUR prayers are desired for a child that is lunatic, and sore vexed day and night, that our Lord would be pleased to heal him, as he did those in the days of his flesh, and that he would give his parents faith and patience till his time is come.” Tues . 13 . — I received the following note: — “Sir, “ I RETURN you hearty thanks for your prayers on Friday for my tortured son. He grows worse and worse; I hope, the nearer deliverance: I beg your prayers still to our Redeemer, who will cure him, or give us patience to bear the rod, hoping it is dipped in the blood of the Lamb. “Sir, he is taken with grievous weeping, his heart beating as if it should beat through his ribs, he swells ready to burst, sweats great drops, runs about beating and tearing himself. He bites and pinches me, so that I carry his marks always on me. He lays his hands on the fire, and sticks pills in his flesh. Thus he has been these five years. He is in his eleventh year, a wonder of affliction: I hope, of mercy also; and that I shall yet praise Him who is my Redeemer and my God.” Sat. 17 . — A few of us prayed with him; and from that time (as his parents since informed us) he had more rest (although not a full deliverance) than he had had for two years before. Sun. 18 . — I was desired to preach at Sir George Wheler’s chapel, in Spitalfields, morning and afternoon. I did so in the morning, but was not suffered to conclude my subject (as I had designed) in the afternoon; a good remembrance, that I should, if possible, declare, at every time, the whole counsel of God. Sun. 25 . — I preached in the morning to a numerous congregation, at St. Katherine’s, near the Tower, at Islington in the afternoon. Many here were, as usual, deeply offended. But the counsel of the Lord, it shall stand. Fri . March 2. — It was the advice of all our brethren, that I should spend a few days at Oxford; whither I accordingly went on Saturday, 3d. A few names I found here also, who had not denied the faith, neither been ashamed of their Lord, even in the midst of a perverse generation. And everyday we were together, we had convincing proof, such as it had not before entered into our hearts to conceive, that “He is able to Have unto the uttermost all that come to God through Him.”
One of the must surprising instances of his power which I ever remember to have seen, was on the Tuesday following; when I visited one who was above measure enraged at this view way, and zealous in opposing it.
Finding argument to be of no other effect, than to inflame her more and more, I broke off the dispute, and desired we might join in prayer, which she so far consented to as to kneel down. In a few minuets she fell into an extreme agony, both of body and Soul; and soon after cried out with the utmost earnestness, “Now I know I am forgiven for Christ’s sake.” Many other words she uttered to the same effect, witnessing a hope fall of immortality. And from that hour, God hath set her face as a flint to declare the faith which before she persecuted. Thurs . 8. — I called upon her and a few of her neighbors, who were met together in the evening, among whom I found a gentleman of the same spirit she had been of; earnestly laboring to pervert the truth of the Gospel. To prevent his going on, as the less evil of the two, I entered directly into the controversy, touching both the cause and the fruits of justification. In the midst of the dispute, one who sat at a small distance, felt, as it were, the piercing of a sword, and before she could be brought to another house, whither I was going, could not avoid crying out aloud, even in the street. But no sooner had we made our request known to God, than he sent her help from his holy place.
At my return from hence, I found Mr. Kinchin, just come from Dummer, who earnestly desired me, instead of setting out for London the next morning, (as I designed,) to go to Dummer, and supply his church on Sunday. On Friday morning I set out, according to his desire, and in the evening came to Reading, where I found a young man who had in some measure “known the powers of the world to come.” I spent the evening with him, and a few of his serious friends; and it pleased God much to strengthen and comfort them. Sat. 10 . — In the afternoon I came to Dummer; and on Sunday morning had a large and attentive congregation. I was desired to expound in the evening at Basingstoke. The next day I returned to Reading, and thence on Tuesday to Oxford, where I found many more and more rejoicing in God their Savior. Wednesday, 14, I had an opportunity of preaching once again to the poor prisoners in the Castle. Thursday, 15, I set out early in the morning, and in the afternoon came to London.
During my stay here, I was fully employed; between our own society in Fetter-Lane, and many others, where I was continually desired to expound; so that I had no thought of leaving London, when I received, after several others, a letter from Mr. Whitefield, and another from Mr. Seward, intreating me, in the most pressing manner, to come to Bristol without delay. This I was not at all forward to do; and perhaps a little the less inclined to it (though I trust I do not count my life dear unto myself, so I may finish my course with joy) because of the remarkable scriptures which offered as often as we inquired, touching the consequence of this removal: Probably permitted for the trial of our faith. “Get thee up into this mountain; — and die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people.” ( Deuteronomy 32:49,50.) “And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days.”( Deuteronomy 34:8.) “I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” ( Acts 9:16.) “And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.” ( Acts 8:2.) Wed. 28 . — My journey was proposed to our society in Fetter-Lane. But my brother Charles would scarce bear the mention of it; till appealing to the Oracles of God, he received those words as spoken to himself, and answered not again: — “Son of man, behold, I take from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: Yet shalt thou not mourn or weep, neither shall thy tears run down.” Our other brethren, however, continuing the dispute, without any probability of their coming to one conclusion, we at length all agreed to decide it by lot. And by this it was determined I should go.
Several afterwards desiring we might open the Bible, concerning the issue of this, we did so on the several portions of Scripture, which I shall set down without any reflection upon them: — “Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: But David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.” ( 2 Samuel 3:1.) “When wicked men have slain a righteous person in his own house upon his bed: Shall I not now require his blood at your hands, and take you away from the earth?” ( 2 Samuel 4:11.) “And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, even in Jerusalem.” ( Chronicles 28:27.)
Perhaps it may be a satisfaction to some, if before I enter upon this new period of my life, I give the reasons why I preferred for so many years an University life before any other. Then especially, when I was earnestly pressed by my father to accept to a cure of souls. I have here, therefore, subjoined the letter I wrote several years ago on that occasion: — “DEAR SIR, Oxon, Dec. 10, 1734. “1. THE authority of a parent and the call of Providence are things of so sacred a nature, that a question in which these are any way concerned deserves the most serious consideration. I am, therefore, greatly obliged to you for the pains you have taken to set our question in a clear light; which I now intend to consider more at large, with the utmost attention of which I am capable. And I shall the more cheerfully do it, as being assured of you joining with me in imploring His guidance, who will not suffer those that trust in Him to seek death in the error of their life. “2. I entirely agree, ‘that the glory of God, and the different degrees of promoting it, are to be our sole consideration and direction in the choice of any course of life;’ and, consequently, that it must wholly turn upon this single point, — which I ought to prefer, a College life, or that of Rector of a parish. I do not say the glory of God is to be my first or my principal consideration; but my only one; since all that are not implied in this, are absolutely of no weight. In presence of this, they all vanish away: They are less than the small dust of the balance. “3. And indeed, till all other considerations were set aside, I could never come to any clear determination: Till my eye was single, my whole mind was full of darkness. Whereas, so long as it is fixed on the glory of God, without any other consideration, I have no more doubt of the way wherein I should go, than of the shining of the midday sun. “4. Now that life tends most to the glory of God, wherein we most promote holiness in ourselves and others; I say, in ourselves and others; as being fully persuaded that these can never be put asunder.
And if not, then whatever state is best on either of these accounts, is so on the other likewise. If it be in the whole best for others, so it is for ourselves: If it be best for ourselves, it is so for them. “5. However, when two ways of life are proposed, I would choose to consider first, Which have I reason to believe will be best for my own soul? will most forward me in holiness? By holiness meaning, not fasting, (as you seem to suppose,) or bodily austerities; but the mind that was in Christ: A renewal of soul in the image of God. And I believe the state wherein I am will most forward me in this, because of the peculiar advantages I now enjoy. “6. The first of these is, daily converse with my friends. I know no other place under heaven, where I can have some always at hand, of the same judgment, and engaged in the same studies; persons who are awakened into a full conviction, that they have but one work to do upon earth; who see at a distance what that one work is, even the recovery of a single eye and a clean heart; who, in order to this, have, according to their power, absolutely devoted themselves to God, and follow after their Lord, denying themselves, and taking up their cross daily. To have even a small number of such friends constantly watching over my soul, and administering, as need is, reproof or advice with all plainness and gentleness, is a blessing I know not where to find in any other part of the kingdom. “7. Another blessing which I enjoy here in a greater degree than I could expect elsewhere, is retirement. I have not only as much, but as little, company as I please. Trifling visitants I have none. No one takes it into his head to come within my doors unless I desire him, or he has business with me. And even they, as soon as his business is done, he immediately goes away. “8. Both these blessings are greatly endeared to me when I spend but one week out of this place. The far greatest part of the conversation I meet with abroad, even with the better sort of men, turns on points that are quite wide of my purpose, that no way forward the end of my life. Now, if they have time to spare, I have not. It is absolutely needful for such a one as me, to follow with all possible care and vigilance that wise advice of Mr. Herbert: — Still let thy mind be bent; still plotting how, And when, and where, the business my be done.
And this, I bless God, I can in some measure do, while I avoid that bane of all religion, the company of good sort of men, as they are called; persons who have a liking to, but no sense of, religion. But these insensibly undermine all my resolution, and steal away what little zeal I have. So that I never come from among these saints of the world (as John Vales terms them) faint, dissipated, and shorn of all my strength, but I say, ‘God deliver me from a half Christian.’ “9. Freedom from care is yet another invaluable blessing. And where could I enjoy this as I do now? I hear of such a thing as the cares of the world; but I feel them not. My income is ready for me on so many stated days: All I have to do is to carry it home. The grand article of my expense is food. And this too is provided without any care to mine. The servants I employ are always ready at quarter-day; so I have no trouble on their account. And what I occasionally need to buy, I can immediately have, without any expense of thought. Here, therefore, I can be ‘without carefulness.’ I can ‘attend upon the Lord without distraction.’ And I know what a help this is to the being holy both in body and spirit. “10. To quicken me in making a diligent and thankful use of these peculiar advantages, I have the opportunity of communicating weekly, and of public prayer twice a day. It would be easy to mention many more; as well as to show many disadvantages, which one of greater courage and skill than me, could scarce separate from the way of life you speak of. But whatever others could do, I could not. I could not stand my ground one month against intemperance in sleep, self-indulgence in food, irregularity in study; against a general lukewarmness in my affections, and remissness in my actions; against a softness directly opposite to the character of a good soldier of Jesus Christ. And then when my spirit was thus dissolved, I should he an easy prey to every temptation. Then might the cares of the world, and the desire of other things, roll back with a full tide upon me: And it would be no wonder, if while I preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. I cannot, therefore, but observe, that the question does not relate barely to the degrees of holiness, but to the very being of it:
Whether I shall serve Christ or Belial. “11. What still heightens my fear of this untried state is, that when I am once entered into it, I am entered irrecoverably, — once for all: Vestiga nulla retrorsum . f If I should ever be weary of the way of life I am now in, I have frequent opportunities of quitting it: But whatever difficulties occur in that, foreseen or unforeseen, there is no return, any more than from the grave. When I have once launched out into the unknown sea, there is no recovering my harbor. I must go on, through whatever whirlpools, or rocks, or sands, though all the waves and storms go over me. “12. Thus much as to myself. But I cannot deny that ‘we are not to consider ourselves alone; seeing God made us all for a social life, to which academical studies are only preparatory.’ I allow too, that ‘He will take an exact account of every talent which he has lent us, not to hurry them, but to employ every mite we have received according to His will, whose stewards we are.’ I own also, that ‘every follower of Christ is, in his proportion, the light of the world; that whosoever is such, can no more be concealed than the sun in the midst of heaven; that if he is set as a light in a dark place, his shining must be the more conspicuous; that to this very end was his light given, even to shine on all around him;’ and, indeed, that ‘there is only one way to hide it, which is, to put it out.’ I am obliged likewise, unless I will lie against the truth, to grant, that ‘there is not a more contemptible animal upon earth, than one that drones away life, without ever laboring to promote either the glory of God or the good of man; and that, whether he be young or old, learned or unlearned, in a College, or out of it;’ yet granting ‘the superlative degree of contempt to be on all accounts due to a College drone;’ a wretch who has received ten talents, and employs none; that is not only promised a reward hereafter, but is also paid before-hand for his work, and yet works not at all. But allowing all this, and whatever else you can say (for I own you can never say enough) against the drowsy ingratitude, the lazy perjury, of those who are commonly called harmless men, a fair proportion of whom I must, to our shame, confess are to be found in Colleges: Allowing this, I say, I do not apprehend it concludes against a College life in general. For the abuse of it does not destroy the use. Though there are some here who are the mere lumber of the creation, it does not follow that others may not be of more service to the world in this station, than they could be in any other. “13 . That I in particular could, might (it seems) be inferred from what has been shown already; viz., that I may myself be holier here than any where else, if I faithfully use the blessings I enjoy. But to waive this, I have other reasons so to judge; and the first is, the plenteousness of the harvest. Here is indeed a large scene of various action: Here is room for charity in all its forms: There is scarce any possible way of doing good, for which here is not daily occasion. I can now only touch on the several heads. Here are poor families to be relieved: Here are children to be educated: Here are workhouses, wherein both young and old gladly receive the word of exhortation:
Here are prisons, and therein a complication of all human wants: And, lastly, here are the Schools of the Prophets. Of these, in particular, we must observe, that he who gains one, does thereby do as much service to the world, as he could do in a parish in his whole life; for his name is Legion: In him are contained all those who shall be converted to God by him: He is not a single drop of the dew of heaven, but a river to make glad the city of God. “14. But ‘Epworth,’ you say, ‘is a larger sphere of action than this:
There I should have the care of two thousand souls.’ Two thousand souls! I see not how it is possible for such a one as me, to take care of one hundred. Because the weight that is now upon me is almost more than I can bear, shall I increase it ten-fold? Imponere Pelio Ossam Scilicet, atque Ossae frondosum involvere Olympum. f Would this be the way to help either myself or others up to heaven? Nay, the mountains I reared would only crush my own soul, and so make me utterly useless to others. “15. I need but just glance on several other reasons why I am more likely to be useful here than elsewhere: As, because I have the advice of many friends in any difficulty, and their encouragement in any danger: Because we have the eyes of multitudes upon us, who, even without designing it, perform the most substantial office of friendship; apprising us, if we have already done any thing wrong, and guarding us against doing so again: Lastly, because we have a constant fund to supply the bodily wants of the poor, and thereby open a way for their souls to receive instruction. “16. If you say, ‘the love of the people of Epworth to me may balance these advantages;’ I ask, How long will it last? Only till I come to tell them plainly that their deeds are evil; and particularly to apply that general sentence, to say to each, ‘Thou art the man!’ Alas, Sir, do not I know what love they had to you once? And how have many of them used you since? Why, just as every one will be used, whose business it is to bring light to them that love darkness. “17. Notwithstanding, therefore, their present prejudice in my favor, I cannot see that I am likely to do that good, either at Epworth or any other place, which I may hope to do in Oxford. And yet one terrible objection lies in the way: ‘Have you found it so in fact? What have you done there in fourteen years? Have not your very attempts to do good there, for want either of a particular turn of mind for the business you engaged in, or of prudence to direct you in the right method of doing it, been always unsuccessful? Nay, and brought such contempt upon you as has, in some measure, disqualified you for any future success? And are there not men in Oxford, who are not only better and holier than you, but who, having preserved their reputation, and being universally esteemed, are every way fitter to promote the glory of God in that place?’ “18 . I am not careful to answer in this matter. It is not my part to say whether God hath done good by my hands; whether I have a particular turn of mind for this, or not; and whether want of success (where our attempts did not succeed) was owing to imprudence, or to other causes. But the latter part of the objection, ‘that one who is despised can do no good; that without reputation a man cannot be useful,’ being the stronghold of all the unbelieving, the vain-glorious, the cowardly Christians, (so called,) I will, by the grace of God, see what reason there is for this thus continually to exalt itself against the Gospel of Christ. “19. With regard to contempt, then, (under which word I include all the passions that border upon it, as hate, envy, etc.; and all the fruits that spring from it, such as calumny and persecution in all its forms,) my first position, in defiance of worldly wisdom, is, Every true Christian is contemned, wherever he lives, by those who are not so, and who know him to be such; that is, in effect, by all with whom he converses; since it is impossible for light not to shine. This position I prove, both from the example of our Lord, and from his express assertion. First, from his example: If ‘the disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his Lord,’ then as our Master was ‘despised and rejected of men,’ so will every one of his true disciples.
But ‘the disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his Lord:’ Therefore, the consequence will not fail him an hair’s breadth. I prove this, Secondly, from his own express assertion of this consequence: ‘If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household? Remember’ (ye that would fain forget or evade this) ‘the word which I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord: If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.’ And as for that vain hope, that this belongs only to the first followers of Christ, hear ye Him: ‘All these things they will do unto you, because they know not Him that sent me.’ And again ‘Because ye are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you.’
Both the persons who are hated, the persons who hate them, and the cause of their hating them, are here set down. The hated are all that are not of the world, that know and love God: The haters are all that are of the world, that know not, love not, God: The cause of their hatred is the entire, irreconcilable difference between their designs, judgments, and affections; because these know not God, and those are determined to know and pursue nothing beside Him: These esteem and love the world; and those count it dung and dross, and singular desire the love of Christ. “20. My next position is this: Till he is thus despised, no man is in a state of salvation. And this is a plain consequence of the former; for if all that are ‘not of the world,’ are therefore despised by those that are, then, till a man is despised, he is ‘of the world;’ that is, out of a state of salivation. Nor is it possible for all the trimmers between God and the world to elude the consequence; unless they can prove that a man may be ‘of the world,’ and yet be in a state of salvation. I must therefore, with or without the consent of these, keep close to my Savior’s judgment, and maintain that contempt is a part of the cross which ever man bears who follows Him; that it is the badge of his discipleship, the stamp of his profession, the constant seal of his calling; insomuch that though a man may be despised without being saved, yet he cannot be saved without being despised. “21. I should not spend any more words on this great truth, but that it is at present voted out of the world. The masters in Israel, learned men, men of renown, seem absolutely to have forgotten it Nay, and censure those who have not forgotten the words of their Lord, as ‘setters-forth of strange doctrine.’ Yet they who hearken to God rather than man, must lay down one strange position more, — That the being despised is absolutely necessary to our doing good in the world: If not to our doing some good, (for God may work by Judas,) yet to our doing so much good as we otherwise might: Seeing we must know God, if we would fully teach others to know him. But if we do, we must be despised of them that know him not. ‘Where then is the scribe? Where is the wise? Where is the disputer of this world?’ Where is the replier against God with his sage maxims, ‘He that is despised can do no good in the world: To be useful, a man must be esteemed: To advance the glory of God, you must have a fair reputation.’ Saith the world so? Well, what saith the Scripture? Why, that God ‘hath laughed’ all this heathen wisdom ‘to scorn.’ It saith that twelve despised followers of a despised Master, all of whom were esteemed ‘as the filth and off scouring of the world,’ did more good in it, than all the twelve tribes of Israel. It saith, that their despised Master left an express declaration to us and to our children, ‘Blessed are ye’ (not accursed with the heavy curse of doing no good, of being useless in the world) ‘when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil of you falsely for my name’s sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven.’ “22. These are a part of my reasons for choosing to abide as yet in the station wherein I now am. As to the flock committed to your care, whom you have many years fed with the sincere milk of the word, I trust in God your labor shall not be in vain. Some of them you have seen gathered into the garner. And for yourself, I doubt not, when ‘your warfare is accomplished,’ when you are ‘made perfect through sufferings,’ you shall follow the children whom God hath given you, full of years and victories. And he that took care of those poor sheep before you was born, will not forget them when you are dead.” Thur. 29 . — I left London, and in the evening expounded to a small company at Basingstoke. Saturday, 31. In the evening I reached Bristol, and met Mr. Whitefield there. I could scarce reconcile myself at first to this strange way of reaching in the fields, of which he set me an example on Sunday; having been all my life (till very lately) so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order, that I should have thought the saving of souls almost a sin, if it had not been done in a church.
April 1. — In the evening (Mr. Whitefield being gone) I begun expounding our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, (one pretty remarkable precedent of field-preaching, though I suppose there were churches at that time also,) to a little society which was accustomed to meet once or twice a week in Nicholas-Street. Mon. 2 . — At four in the afternoon, I submitted to be more vile, and proclaimed in the highways the glad tidings of salvation, speaking from a little eminence in a ground adjoining to the city, to about three thousand people. The scripture on which I spoke was this, (is it possible any one should be ignorant, that it is fulfilled in every true Minister of Christ?) “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted; to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind: To set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
At seven I began expounding the Acts of the Apostles, to a society meeting in Baldwin-Street; and the next day the Gospel of St. John in the chapel at Newgate; where I also daily read the Morning Service of the Church. Wed. 4 . — At Baptist-Mills, (a sort of a suburb or village about half a mile from Bristol,) I offered the grace of God to about fifteen hundred persons from these words, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely.”
In the evening three women agreed to meet together weekly, with the same intention as those at London, viz., “To confess their faults one to another, and pray one for another, that they may be healed.” At eight, four young men agreed to meet, in pursuance of the same design. How dare any man deny this to be (as to the substance of it) a means of grace, ordained by God? Unless he will affirm (with Luther in the fury of his Solifidianism) that St. James’s Epistle is an epistle of straw. Thur. 5 . — At five in the evening I began at a society in Castle-Street, expounding the Epistle to the Romans; and the next evening at a society in Gloucester-Lane, the first Epistle of St. John. On Saturday evening, at Weaver’s Hall, also, I begun expounding the Epistle to the Romans; and declared that Gospel to all, which is the “power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth.” Sun. 8 . — At seven in the morning I preached to about a thousand persons at Bristol, and afterwards to about fifteen hundred on the top of Hannam-Mount in Kingswood. I called to them in the words of the Evangelical Prophet, “Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; come and buy wine and milk, without money, and without price.” About five thousand were in the afternoon at Rose-Green; (on the other side of Kingswood;) among whom I stood and cried, in the name of the Lord, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” Tues. 10 . — I was desired to go to Bath; where I offered to about a thousand souls the free grace of God to “heal their backsliding;” and in the morning to (I believe) more than two thousand. I preached to about the same number at Baptist Mills in the afternoon, on, “Christ, made of God unto us, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” Sat. 14 . — I preached at the poor-house; three or four hundred were within, and more than twice that number without: To whom I explained those comfortable words, “When they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.” Sun. 15. — I explained at seven to five or six thousand persons the story of the Pharisee and the Publican. About three thousand were present at Hannam-Mount. I preached at Newgate after dinner to a crowded congregation. Between five and six we went to Rose-Green: It rained hard at Bristol, but not a drop fell upon us, while I declared to about five thousand, “Christ, our wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” I concluded the day by showing at the society in Baldwin-Street, that “his blood cleanseth us from all sin.” Tues. 17 . — At five in the afternoon I was at a little society in the Back-Lane. The room in which we were was propped beneath, but the weight of people made the floor give way; so that in the beginning of the expounding, the post which propped it fell down with a great noise. But the floor sunk no further; so that, after a little surprise at first, they quietly attended to the things that were spoken.
Immediately one that stood by (to our no small surprise) cried out aloud, with the utmost vehemence, even as in the agonies of death. But we continued in prayer, till “a new song was put in her mouth, a thanksgiving unto our God.” Soon after, two other persons (well known in this place, as laboring to live in all good conscience towards all men) were seized with strong pain, and constrained to “roar for the disquietness of their heart.”
But it was not long before they likewise burst forth into praise to God their Savior. The last who called upon God as out of the belly of hell, was I—— E——, a stranger in Bristol. And in a short space he also was overwhelmed with joy and love, knowing that God had healed his backslidings. So many living witnesses hath God given that his hand is still “stretched out to heal,” and that “signs and wonders are even now wrought by his holy child Jesus.” Wed. 18 . — In the evening L——a S, (late a Quaker, but baptized the day before,) R——a M——, and a few others, were admitted into the society.
But R——a M—— was scarcely able either to speak or look up. “The sorrows of death compassed” her “about, the pains of hell got hold upon” her. We poured out our complaints before God, and showed him of her trouble. And he soon showed, he is a God “that heareth prayer.” She felt in herself, that, “being justified freely, she had peace with God, through Jesus Christ.” She “rejoiced in hope of the glory of God,” and “the love of God was shed abroad in her heart.” Fri. 20 . — Being Good Friday, E——th R——n, T——l W——s, and one or two others, first knew they had redemption in the blood of Christ, the remission of their sins. Sat. 21 . — At Weaver’s Hall a young man was suddenly seized with a violent trembling all over, and in a few minutes, the sorrows of his heart being enlarged, sunk down to the ground. But we ceased not calling upon God, till he raised him up fall of “peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
On Easter-Day , it being a thorough rain, I could only preach at Newgate at eight in the morning, and two in the afternoon; in a house near Hannam-Mount at eleven; and in one near Rose-Green at five. At the society in the evening, many were cut to the heart, and many comforted. Mon. 23 . — On a repeated invitation, I went to Pensford, about five miles from Bristol. I sent to the Minister, to ask leave to preach in the church; but having waited some time and received no answer, I called on many of the people who were gathered together in an open place, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” At four in the afternoon there were above three thousand, in a convenient place near Bristol; to whom I declared, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.”
I preached at Bath to about a thousand on Tuesday morning, and at four in the afternoon to the poor colliers, at a place about the middle of Kingswood, called Two-Mile-Hill. In the evening, at Baldwin-Street, a young man, after a sharp (though short) agony, both of body and mind, found his soul filled with peace, knowing in whom he had believed. Wed. 25 . — To above two thousand at Baptist-Mills I explained that glorious scripture, (describing the state to every true believer in Christ, — every one who by faith is born of God,) “Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again unto fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Thur. 26 . — While I was preaching at Newgate, on these words, “He that believeth hath everlasting life,” I was insensibly led, without any previous design, to be” thus “saved;” and to pray, that, “if this were not the truth of God, he would not suffer the blind to go out of the way; but, if it were, he would bear witness to his word.” Immediately one, and another, and another sunk to the earth: They dropped on every side as thunderstruck.
One of them cried aloud. We besought God in her behalf, and he turned her heaviness into joy. A second being in the same agony, we called upon God for her also: and he spoke peace unto her soul. In the evening I was again pressed in spirit to declare, that “Christ gave himself a ransom for all.”
And almost before we called upon him to set to his seal, he answered. One was so wounded by the sword of the Spirit, that you would have imagined she could not live a moment. But immediately his abundant kindness was showed, and she loudly sang of his righteousness. Fri. 27 . — All Newgate rang with the cries of those whom the word of God cut to the heart. Two of whom were in a moment filled with joy, to the astonishment of those that beholden them. Sun. 29 . — I declared the free grace of God to about four thousand people, from those words, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”
At that hour it was, that one who had long continued in sin, from a despair of finding mercy, received a full, clear sense of his pardoning love, and power to sin no more. I then went to Clifton, a mile from Bristol, at the Minister’s desire, who was dangerously ill, and thence returned to a little plain, near Hannam-Mount, where about three thousand were present.
From Clifton we went to Rose-Green, where were, by computation, near seven thousand, and thence to Gloucester-Lane society. After which was our first love-feast in Baldwin-Street. O how has God renewed my strength! who used ten years ago to be so faint and weary with preaching twice in one day! Mon. 30. — We understood that many were offended at the cries of those on whom the power of God came: Among whom was a physician, who was much afraid, there might be fraud or imposture in the case. Today one whom he had known many years, was the first (while I was preaching in Newgate) who broke out “into strong cries and tears.” He could hardly believe his own eyes and ears. He went and stood close to her, and observed every symptom, till great drops of sweat ran down her face, and all her bones shook. He then knew not what to think, being clearly convinced, it was not fraud, nor yet any natural disorder. But when both her soul and body were healed in a moment, he acknowledged the finger of God. Tues . May 1. — Many were offended again, and, indeed, much more than before. For at Baldwin-Street my voice could scarce be heard amidst the groanings of some, and the cries of others, calling aloud to Him that is “mighty to save.” I desired all that were sincere of heart to beseech with me the Prince exalted for us, that he would “proclaim deliverance to the captives.” And he soon showed that he heard our voice. Many of those who had been long in darkness, saw the dawn of a great light; and ten persons, I afterwards found, then began to say in faith, “My Lord and my God.”
A Quaker, who stood by, was not a little displeased at the dissimulation of those creatures, and was biting his lips and knitting his brows, when he dropped down as thunderstruck. The agony he was in was even terrible to behold. We besought God not to lay folly to his charge. And he soon lifted up his head, and cried aloud, “Now I know thou art a prophet of the Lord.” Wed. 2 . — At Newgate another mourner was comforted. I was desired to step thence to a neighboring house, to see a letter wrote against me, as a “deceiver of the people,” by teaching that God “willeth all men to be saved.” One who long had asserted the contrary was there, when a young woman came in (who could say before, “I know that my Redeemer liveth”) all in tears, and in deep anguish of spirit. She said, she had been reasoning with herself, how these things could be, till she was perplexed more and more; and she now found the Spirit of God was departed from her. We began to pray, and she cried out, “He is come! He is come! I again rejoice God my Savior.” Just as we rose from giving thanks, another person reeled four or five steps, and then dropped down. We prayed with her, and left her strongly convinced of sin, and earnestly groaning for deliverance.
I did not mention one J——n H——n, a weaver, who was at Baldwin-Street the night before. He was (I understood) a man of a regular life and conversation, one that constantly attended the public prayers and sacrament, and was zealous for the Church, and against Dissenters of every denomination. Being informed that people fell into strange fits at the societies, he came to see and judge for himself. But he was less satisfied than before; in so much that he went about to his acquaintance, one after another, till one in the morning, and labored above measure to convince them it was a delusion of the devil. We were going home, when one met us in the street, and informed us, that J——n H——n was fallen raving mad.
It seems he had sat down to dinner, but had a mind first to end a sermon he had borrowed on “Salvation by Faith.” In reading the last page, he changed color, fell off his chair, and began screaming terribly, and beating himself against the ground. The neighbors were alarmed, and flocked together to the house. Between one and two I came in, and found him on the floor, the room being full of people, whom his wife would have kept without; but he cried aloud, “No; let them all come; let all the world see the just judgment of God.” Two or three men were holding him as well as they could. He immediately fixed his eyes upon me, and, stretching out his hand, cried, “By, this is he, who I said was a deceiver of the people. But God has overtaken me. I said, it was all a delusion; but this is no delusion.”
He then roared out, “O thou devil! Thou cursed devil! Yea, thou legion of devils! Thou canst not stay. Christ will cast thee out. I know his work is begun. Tear me to pieces, if thou wilt; but thou canst not hurt me.” He then beat himself against the ground again; his breast heaving at the same time, as in the pangs of death, and great drops of sweat trickling down his face. We all betook ourselves to prayer. His pains ceased, and both his body and soul were set at liberty.
Thence I went to Baptist-Mills, and declared Him whom God “hath exalted to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance unto Israel and remission of sins.” Returning to J——n H——, we found his voice was lost, and his body weak as that of an infant. But his soul was in peace, full of love, and “rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.”
The women of our society met at seven. During our prayer, one of them fell into a violent agony; but soon after began to cry out, with confidence, “My Lord and my God!” Saturday, 5, I preached, at the desire of an unknown correspondent, on those excellent words, (if well understood as recommending faith, resignation, patience, meekness,) “Be still, and know that I am God.” Sun. 6 . — I preached in the morning to five or six thousand people, on, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (The same words on which I preached the next day; and, on Wednesday, at Baptist-Mills.) On Hannam-Mount I preached to about three thousand, on, “The Scripture hath concluded all under sin;” at two, at Clifton church, on Christ our “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption;” and, about five, at Rose-Green, on the “promise by faith of Jesus Christ,” which is “given to them that believe.” Mon. 7 . — I was preparing to set out for Pensford, having now had leave to preach in the church, when I received the following note: — “SIR, — Our Minister, having been informed you are beside yourself, does not care you should preach in any of his churches.” — I went, however; and on Priest-Down, about half a mile from Pensford, preached Christ our “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” Tues. 8 . — I went to Bath, but was not suffered to be in the meadow where I was before; which occasioned the offer of a much more convenient place; where I preached Christ to about a thousand souls. Wed. 9 . — We took possession of a piece of ground, near St. James’s church-yard, in the Horse Fair, where it was designed to build a room, large enough to contain both the societies of Nicholas and Baldwin-Street, and such of their acquaintance as might desire to be present with them, at such times as the Scripture was expounded. And on Saturday , 12, the first stone was laid, with the voice of praise and thanksgiving.
I had not at first the least apprehension or design of being personally engaged, either in the expense of this work, or in the direction of it: Having appointed eleven feoffees, on whom I supposed these burdens would fall of course. But I quickly found my mistake; first with regard to the expense: For the whole undertaking must have stood still, had not I immediately taken upon myself the payment of all the workmen; so that before I knew where I was, I had contracted a debt of more than a hundred and fifty pounds. And this I was to discharge how I could; the subscriptions of both societies not amounting to one quarter of the sum.
And as to the direction of the work, I presently received letters from my friends in London, Mr. Whitefield in particular, backed with a message by one just come from thence, that neither he nor they would have any thing to do with the building, neither contribute any thing towards it, unless I would instantly discharge all feoffees, and do every thing in my own name.
Many reasons they gave for this; but one was enough, viz., “that such feoffees always would have it in their power to control me; and if I preached not as they liked, to turn me out of the room I had built.” I accordingly yielded to their advices and calling all the feoffees together, canceled (no man opposing) the instrument made before, and took the whole management into my own hands. Money, it is true, I had not, nor any human prospect or probability of procuring it: But I knew “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof;” and in his name set out, nothing doubting.
In the evening, while I was declaring that Jesus Christ had “given himself a ransom for all,” three persons, almost at once, sunk down as dead, having all their sins set in array before them. But in a short time they were raised up, and knew that “the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world,” had taken away their sins. Sun. 13 . — I began expounding in the morning the thirteenth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians. At Hannam, I farther explained the promise given by faith; as I did also at Rose-Green. At Clifton it pleased God to assist me greatly in speaking on those words, “He that drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst: But the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water, surging upon to ever lasting life.”
My ordinary employment, in public, was now as follows: — Every morning I read prayers and preached at Newgate. Every evening I expounded a portion of Scripture at one or more of the societies. On Monday, in the afternoon, I preached abroad, near Bristol; on Tuesday, at Bath and Two-Mile-Hill alternately; on Wednesday, at Baptist-Mills; every other Thursday, near Pensford; every other Friday, in another part of Kingswood; on Saturday, in the afternoon, and Sunday morning, in the Bowling-Green; (which lies near the middle of the city;) On Sunday, at eleven, near Hannam Mount; at two, at Clifton; and at five on Rose-Green:
And hitherto, as my days, so my strength hath been. Tues. 15 . — As I was expounding in the Back-Lane, on the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, many who had before been righteous in their own eyes, abhorred themselves as in dust and ashes. But two, who seemed to be more deeply convinced than the rest, did not long sorrow as men without hope; but found in that hour, that they had “an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” As did three others in Gloucester-Lane the evening before, and three at Baldwin-Street this evening. About ten, two who after seeing a great light, had again reasoned themselves into darkness, came to us, heavy-laden. We cried to God, and they were again “filled with peace and joy in believing.” Wed. 16 . — While I was declaring at Baptist-Mills, “He was wounded for our transgressions,” a middle-aged man began violently beating his breast, and crying to Him “by whose stripes we are healed.” During our prayer God put a new song in his mouth. Some mocked, and others owned the hand of God: Particularly a woman of Baptist-Mills, who was now convinced of her own want of an Advocate with God, and went home full of anguish; but was in a few hours filled with joy, knowing He had “blotted out” all her “transgressions.”
The scripture which came in turn at Newgate today, was the seventh of St. John. The words which I chiefly insisted on as applicable to every Minister of Christ, who in any wise follows the steps of his Master, were these: “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. There was a murmuring, therefore, concerning him among the multitude; for some said, He is a good man: Others said, Nay, but he deceiveth the people.” After sermon I was informed the Sheriffs had ordered, I should preach here, for the future, but once a week.
Yea, and this is once too often, if “he deceiveth the people:” But if otherwise, why not once a day? Sat. 19 . — At Weaver’s Hall, a woman first, and then a boy about fourteen years of age, was overwhelmed with sin, and sorrow, and fear.
But we cried to God, and their souls were delivered. Sun . 20 . — Seeing many of the rich at Clifton church, my heart was much pained for them, and I was earnestly desirous that some even of them might “enter into the kingdom of heaven.” But full as I was, I knew not where to begin in warning them to flee from the wrath to come, till my Testament opened on these words: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance:” In applying which, my soul was so enlarged, that me thought I could have cried out, (in another sense than poor vain Archimedes,) “Give me where to stand, and I will shake the earth.” God’s sending forth lightning with the rain, did not hinder about fifteen hundred from staying at Rose-Green. Our scripture was, “It is the glorious God that maketh the thunder. The voice of the Lord is mighty in operation; the voice of the Lord is a glorious voice.” In the evening He spoke to three whose souls were all storm and tempest, and immediately there was a great calm.
During this whole time I was almost continually asked, either by those who purposely came to Bristol to inquire concerning this strange work, or by my old or new correspondents, “How can these things be?” And innumerable cautions were given me, (generally grounded on gross misrepresentations of things,) not to regard visions or dreams, or to fancy people had remission of sins because of their cries, or tears, or bare outward professions. To one who had many times wrote to me on this head, the sum of my answer was as follows: — “THE question between us turns chiefly, if not wholly, on matter of fact. You deny that God does now work these effects: At least, that he works them in this manner. I affirm both; because I have heard these things with my own ears, and have seen them with my eyes. I have seen (as far as a thing of this kind can be seen) very many persons changed in a moment from the spirit of fear, horror, despair, to the spirit of love, joy, and peace; and from sinful desire, till then reigning over them, to a pure desire of doing the will of God. These are matters of fact, whereof I have been, and almost daily am, an eye or ear witness. What I have to say touching visions or dreams, is this: I know several persons in whom this great change was wrought in a dream, or during a strong representation to the eye of their mind, of Christ either on the cross, or in glory. This is the fact; let any judge of it as they please.
And that such a change was then wrought, appears (not from their shedding tears only, or falling into fits, or crying out: These are not the fruits, as you seem to suppose, whereby I judge, but) from the whole tenor of their life, till then, many ways wicked; from that time, holy, just, and good. “I will show you him that was a lion till then, and is now a lamb; him that was a drunkard, and is now exemplary sober; the whoremonger that was, who now abhors the very ‘garment spotted by the flesh.’ These are my living arguments for what I assert, viz., ‘That God does now, as aforetime, give remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, even to us and to our children; yea, and that always suddenly, as far as I have known, and often in dreams or in the visions of God.’ If it be not so, I am found a false witness before God. For these things I do, and by his grace will, testify.”
Perhaps it might be because of the hardness of our hearts, unready to receive any thing unless we see it with our eyes and hear it with our ears, that God, in tender condescension to our weakness, suffered so many outward signs of the very time when he wrought this inward change to be continually seen and heard among us. But although they saw “signs and wonders,” (for so I must term them,) yet many would not believe. They could not indeed deny the facts; but they could explain them away. Some said, “These were purely natural effects; the people fainted away only because of the heat and closeness of the rooms.” And others were “sure it was all a cheat: They might help it if they would. Else why were these things only in their private societies: Why were they not done in the face of the sun?” Today, Monday, 21, our Lord answered for himself. For while I was enforcing these words, “Be still, and know that I am God,” He began to make bare his arm, not in a close room, neither in private, but in the open air, and before more than two thousand witnesses. One, and another, and another was struck to the earth; exceedingly trembling at the presence of His power. Others cried, with a loud and bitter cry, “What must we do to be saved?” And in less than an hour seven persons, wholly unknown to me till that since, were rejoicing, and singing, and with all their might giving thanks to the God to their salvation.
In the evening I was interrupted at Nicholas-Street, almost as soon as I had begun to speak, by the cries of one who was “pricked at the heart,” and strongly groaned for pardon and peace. Yet I went on to declare what God had already done, in proof of that important truth, that he is “not willing any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Another person dropped down, close to one who was a strong assertor of the contrary doctrine. While he stood astonished at the sight, a little boy near him was seized in the same manner. A young man who stood up behind fixed his eyes on him, and sunk down himself as one dead; but soon began to roar out, and beat himself against the ground, so that six men could scarcely hold him. His name was Thomas Maxfield. Except J——n H—— n, I never saw one so torn to the evil one. Meanwhile many others began to cry out to the “Savior of all,” that he would come and help them, insomuch that all the house (and indeed all the street for some space) was in an uproar. But we continued in prayer; and before ten the greater part found rest to their souls.
I was called from supper to one who, feeling in herself such a conviction as she never had known before, had run out of the society in all haste that she might not expose herself. But the hand of God followed her still; so that, after going a few steps, she was forced to be carried home; and, when she was there, grew worse and worse. She was in a violent agony when we came. We called upon God, and her soul found rest.
About twelve I was greatly importuned to go and visit one person more.
She had only one struggle after I came, and was then filled with peace and joy. I think twenty-nine in all had their heaviness turned into joy this day. Tues. 22 . — I preached to about a thousand at Bath. There were several fine gay things among them, to whom especially I called, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead; and Christ shall give thee light.” Sat. 26 . — One came to us in deep despair; but, after an hour spent in prayer, went away in peace. The next day, having observed in many a zeal which did not suit with the sweetness and gentleness of love, I preached, at Rose-Green, on those words, (to the largest congregation I ever had there; I believe upwards of ten thousand souls,) “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” At the society in the evening, eleven were deeply convinced of sin, and soon after comforted. Mon. 28 . — I began preaching at Weaver’s Hall, at eleven in the forenoon; where two persons were enabled to cry out in faith, “My Lord and my God;” as were seven, during the sermon in the afternoon, before several thousand witnesses; and ten in the evening at Baldwin-Street; of whom two were children. Tues. 29 . — I was unknowingly engaged in conversation with a famous Infidel, a confirmer of the unfaithful in these parts. He appeared a little surprised, and said, he would pray to God to show him the true way of worshipping Him.
On Ascension-Day in the morning, some of us went to King’s Weston-Hill, four or five miles from Bristol. Two gentlemen, going by, sent up to us in sport many persons from the neighboring villages; to whom, therefore, I took occasion to explain those words, “Thou art ascended up on high, thou hast led captivity captive: Thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.” Sun . June 3. — In the morning, to about six thousand persons, in concluding the thirteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, I described a truly charitable man. At Hannam-Mount I enforced these words: “That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God:” And again in the afternoon, at Rose-Green, to I believe eight or nine thousand. In the evening, not being permitted to meet in Baldwin-Street, we met in the shell of our new society room. The scripture which came in course to be explained was, “Marvel not if the world hate you.” We sung, Arm of the Lord, awake, awake!
Thine own immortal strength put on! “And God, even our own God,” gave us his blessing. Mon. 4 . — Many came to me and earnestly advised me not to preach abroad in the afternoon, because there was a combination of several persons, who threatened terrible things. This report being spread abroad, brought many thither of the better sort of people; (so called;) and added, I believe, more than a thousand to the ordinary congregation. The scripture to which, not my choice, but the providence of God, directed me, was, “Fear not thou, for I am with thee: Be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” The power of God came with his word:
So that none scoffed, or interrupted, or opened his mouth. Tues. 5 . — There was great expectation at Bath of what a noted man was to do to me there; and I was much entreated not to preach; because no one knew what might happen. By this report I also gained a much larger audience, among whom were many of the rich and great. I told them plainly, the Scripture had concluded them all under sin; — high and low, rich and poor, one with another. Many of them seemed to be a little surprised, and were sinking apace into seriousness, when their champion appeared, and coming close to me, asked by what authority I did these things. I replied, “By the authority of Jesus Christ, conveyed to me by the (now) Archbishop of Canterbury, when he laid hands upon me, and said, ‘Take thou authority to preach the Gospel.’” He said, “This is contrary to Act of Parliament: This is a conventicle.” I answered, “Sir, the conventicles mentioned in that Act (as the preamble shows) are seditious meetings: But this is not such; here is no shadow of sedition; therefore it is not contrary to that Act.” He replied, “I say it is: And, beside, your preaching frightens people out of their wits.” “Sir, did you ever hear me preach?” “No.” “How then can you judge of what you never heard?” “Sir, by common report.” “Common report is not enough. Give me leave, Sir, to ask, Is not your name Nash?” “My name is Nash.” “Sir, I dare not judge of you by common report: I think it not enough to judge by.” Here he paused awhile, and, having recovered himself, said, “I desire to know what this people comes here for:” On which one replied, “Sir, leave him to me:
As I returned, the street was full of people, hurrying to and fro, and speaking great words. But when any of them asked, “Which is he?” and I replied, “I am he,” they were immediately silent. Several ladies following me into Mr. Merchant’s house, the servant told me there were some wanted to speak to me. I went to them, and said, “I believe, ladies, the maid mistook; you only wanted to look at me.” I added, “I do not expect that the rich and great should want either to speak with me, or to hear me; for I speak the plain truth; — a thing you hear little of, and do not desire to hear.” A few more words passed between us, and I retired. Thur . 7 . — I preached at Priest-Down, on, “What must we do to be saved?” In the midst of the prayer after sermon, two men (hired, as we afterwards understood, for that purpose) began singing a ballad. After a few mild words, (for I saw some that were angry,) used without effect, we all began singing a psalm, which put them utterly to silence. We then poured out our souls in prayer for them, and they appeared altogether confounded. O may this be a day much to be remembered by them, for the loving-kindness of the Lord! Mon. 11 . — I received a pressing letter from London, (as I had several others before,) to come thither as soon as possible; our brethren in Fetter-Lane being in great confusion for want of my presence and advice. I therefore preached in the afternoon, on these words: “I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men; for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” After sermon I commended them to the grace of God, in whom they had believed. Surely God hath yet a work to do in this place. I have not found such love, no, not in England; nor so child-like, artless, teachable a temper, as He hath given to this people.
Yet during this whole time, I had many thoughts concerning the unusual manner of my ministering among them. But after frequently laying it before the Lord, and calmly weighing whatever objections I heard against it, I could not but adhere to what I had some time since wrote to a friend, who had freely spoken his sentiments concerning it. An extract of that letter I here subjoin; that the matter may be placed in a clear light. “Dear Sir, “THE best return I can make for the kind freedom you use, is to use the same to you. O may the God whom we serve sanctify it to us both, and teach us the whole truth as it is in Jesus! “You say, you cannot reconcile some parts of my behavior with the character I have long supported. No, nor ever will. Therefore I have disclaimed that character on every possible occasion. I told all in our ship, all at Savannah, all at Frederica, and that over and over, in express terms, ‘I am not a Christian; I only follow after, if haply I may attain it.’ When they urged my works and self denial, I answered short, ‘Though I give all my goods to feed the poor, and my body to be burned, I am nothing: For I have not charity; I do not love God with all my heart.’ If they added, ‘Nay, but you could not preach as you do, if you was not a Christian;’ I again confronted them with St. Paul: ‘Though I speak with the tongue of men and angels, and have not charity, I am nothing.’ Most earnestly, therefore, both in public and private, did I inculcate this: ‘Be not ye shaken, however I may fall, for the foundation standeth sure.’ “If you ask on what principle, then, I acted; it was this: ‘A desire to be a Christian; and a conviction that whatever I judge conducive thereto, that I am bound to do; wherever I judge I can best answer this end, thither it is my duty to go.’ On this principle I set out for America; on this, I visited the Moravian Church; and on the same am I ready now (God being my helper) to go to Abyssinia or China, or whithersoever it shall please God, by this conviction, to call me. “As to your advice that I should settle in College, I have no business there, having now no office, and no pupils. And whether the other branch of your proposal be expedient for me, viz., ‘To accept of a cure of souls,’ it will be time enough to consider, when one is offered to me. “But, in the mean time, you think I ought to sit still; because otherwise I should invade anothers office, if I interfered with other people’s business, and intermeddled with souls that did not belong to me. You accordingly ask, ‘How is it that I assemble Christians who are none of my charge, to sing psalms, and pray, and hear the Scriptures expounded?’ and think it hard to justify doing this in other men’s parishes, upon Catholic principles. “Permit me to speak plainly. If by Catholic principles you mean any other than Scriptural, they weigh nothing with me: I allow no other rule, whether of faith or practice, than the Holy Scriptures:
But on scriptural principles, I do not think it hard to justify whatever I do. God in Scripture commands me, according to my power, to instruct the ignorant, reform the wicked, confirm the virtuous. Man forbids me to do this in anothers parish; that is, in effect, to do it at all; seeing I have now no parish of my own, nor probably ever shall. Whom then shall I hear, God or man? ‘If it be just to obey man rather than God, judge you. A dispensation of the Gospel is committed to me; and woe is me, if I preach not the Gospel.’ But where shall I preach it, upon the principles you mention? Why, not in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America; not in any of the Christian parts, at least, of the habitable earth. For all these are, after a sort, divided into parishes. It be said, ‘Go back, then, to the Heathens from whence you came:’ Nay, but neither could I now (on your principles) preach to them; for all the Heathens in Georgia belong to the parish either of Savannah or Frederica. “Suffer me now to tell you my principles in this matter. I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty, to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.
This is the work which I know God has called me to; and sure I am, that his blessing attends it. Great encouragement have I, therefore, to be faithful in fulfilling the work He hath given me to do. His servant I am, and, as such, am employed according to the plain direction to his word, ‘As I have opportunity, doing good unto all men:’ And his providence clearly concurs with his word; which has disengaged me from all things else, that I might singly attend on this very thing, ‘and go about doing good.’ “If you ask, ‘How can this be? How can one do good, of whom men say all manner of evil?’ I will put you in mind, (though you once knew this, yea, and much established me in that great truth,) the more evil men say of me for my Lord’s sake, the more goodwill He do by me. That it is for His sake, I know, and He knoweth, and the event agreeth thereto; for He mightily confirms the words I speak, by the Holy Ghost given unto those that hear them. O my friend, my heart is moved toward you. I fear you have herein ‘made shipwreck of the faith.’ I fear, ‘Satan, transformed into an angel of light,’ hath assaulted you, and prevailed also. I fear, that offspring of hell, worldly or mystic prudence, has drawn you away from the simplicity of the Gospel. How else could you ever conceive that the being reviled and ‘hated of all men’ should make us less fit for our Master’s service? How else could you ever think of ‘saving yourself and them that hear you,’ without being ‘the filth and offscouring of the world?’ To this hour is this scripture true; and I therein rejoice; yea, and will rejoice. Blessed be God, I enjoy the reproach of Christ! O may you also be vile, exceeding vile, for his sake! God forbid that you should ever be other than generally scandalous; I had almost said universally. If any man tell you, there is a new way of following Christ, ‘he is a liar, and the truth is not in him.’ “I am,” etc. Wed. 13 . — In the morning I came to London; and after receiving the holy communion at Islington, I had once more an opportunity of seeing my mother, whom I had not seen since my return from Germany.
I cannot but mention an odd circumstance here. I had read her a paper in June last year, containing a short account of what had passed in my own soul, till within a few days of that time. She greatly approved it, and said, she heartily blessed God, who had brought me to so just a way of thinking. While I was in Germany, a copy of that paper was sent (without my knowledge) to one of my relations. He sent an account of it to my mother; whom I now found under strange fears concerning me, being convinced “by an account taken from one of my own papers, that I had greatly erred from the faith.” I could not conceive what paper that should be; but, on inquiry, found it was the same I had read her myself. — How hard is it to form a true judgment of any person or thing from the account of a prejudiced relater! yea, though he be ever so honest a man: For he who gave this relation was one of unquestionable veracity. And yet by his sincere account of a writing which lay before his eyes, was the truth so totally disguised, that my mother knew not the paper she had heard from end to end, nor I that I had myself wrote.
At six I warned the women at Fetter-Lane, (knowing how they had been lately shaken,) “not to believe every spirit, but to try the spirits, whether they were of God.” Our brethren met at eight, when it pleased God to remove many misunderstandings and offenses that had crept in among them; and to restore in good measure “the spirit of love and of a sound mind.” Thur. 14 . — I went with Mr. Whitefield to Blackheath, where were, I believe, twelve or fourteen thousand people. He a little surprised me, by desiring me to preach in his stead; which I did (though nature recoiled) on my favorite subject, “Jesus Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.”
I was greatly moved with compassion for the rich that were there, to whom I made a particular application. Some of them seemed to attend, while others drove away their coaches from so uncouth a preacher. Fri. 15 . — I had much talk with one who is called a Quaker; but he could not receive my saying. I was too strict for him, and talked of such a perfection as he could not think necessary; being persuaded, there was no harm in costly apparel, provided it was plain and grave; nor in putting scarlet or gold upon our houses, so it were not upon our clothes.
In the evening I went to a society at Wapping, weary in body and faint in spirit. I intended to speak on Romans 3:19, but could not tell how to open my mouth: And all the time we were singing, my mind was full of some place, I knew not where, in the Epistle to the Hebrews. I begged God to direct, and opened the book on Hebrews 10:19: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus; by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh, — let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith; having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” While I was earnestly inviting all sinners to “enter into the holiest” by this “new and living way,” many of those that heard began to call upon God with strong cries and tears. Some sunk down, and there remained no strength in them; others exceedingly trembled and quaked: Some were torn with a kind of convulsive motion in every part of their bodies, and that so violently, that often four or five persons could not hold one of them. I have seen many hysterical and many epileptic fits; but none of them were like these, in many respects. I immediately prayed, that God would not suffer those who were weak to be offended. But one woman was offended greatly; being sure they might help it if they would; — no one should persuade her to the contrary; and was got three or four yards, when she also dropped down, in as violent an agony as the rest. Twenty-six of those who had been thus affected (most of whom, during the prayers which were made for them, were in a moment filled with peace and joy) promised to call upon me the next day. But only eighteen came; by talking closely with whom, I found reason to believe that some of them had gone home to their house justified. The rest seemed to be waiting patiently for it. Sat. 16 . — We met at Fetter-Lane, to humble ourselves before God, and own he had justly withdrawn his Spirit from us, for our manifold unfaithfulness. We acknowledged our having grieved him by our divisions; “one saying, I am of Paul; another, I am of Apollos:” By our leaning again to our own works, and trusting in them, instead of Christ; by our resting in those little beginnings of sanctification, which it had pleased Him to work in our souls; and, above all, by blaspheming his work among us, imputing it either to nature, to the force of imagination and animal spirits, or even to the delusion of the devil. In that hour, we found God with us as at the first. Some fell prostrate upon the ground. Others burst out, as with one consent, into loud praise and thanksgiving. And many openly testified, there had been no such day as this since January the first preceding. Sun. 17 . — I preached, at seven, in Upper Moorfields, to (I believe) six or seven thousand people, on, “Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.” In the afternoon I saw poor R——d T——n, who had left our society and the Church. We did not dispute, but pray; and in a short space the scales fell off from his eyes. He gladly returned to the Church, and was in the evening re-admitted into our society.
At five I preached on Kennington-Common, to about fifteen thousand people, on those words, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth.” Mon. 18 . — I left London early in the morning, and the next evening reached Bristol, and preached (as I had appointed, if God should permit) to a numerous congregation. My text now also was, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth.” Howel Harris called upon me an hour or two after. He said, he had been much dissuaded from either hearing or seeing me, by many who said all manner of evil of me. “But,” said he, “as soon as I heard you preach, I quickly found what spirit you was of.
And before you had done, I was so overpowered with joy and love, that I had much ado to walk home.”
It is scarce credible, what advantage Satan had gained during my absence of only eight days. Disputes had crept into our little society, so that the love of many was already waxed cold. I showed them the state they were in the next day, (both at Newgate and at Baptist-Mills,) from those words, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.” And when we met in the evening, instead of reviving the dispute, we all betook ourselves to prayer. Our Lord was with us. Our divisions were healed: Misunderstandings vanished away: And all our hearts were sweetly drawn together, and united as at the first. Fri. 22 . — I called on one who “did run well,” till he was hindered by some of those called French prophets. “Woe unto the prophets, saith the Lord, who prophesy in my name, and I have not sent them.” At Weaver’s Hall, I endeavored to point them out; and earnestly exhorted all that followed after holiness, to avoid, as fire, all who do not speak according “to the Law and Testimony.”
In the afternoon I preached at the Fish-Ponds; but had no life or spirit in me; and was much in doubt, whether God would not lay me aside, and send other laborers into his harvest. I came to the society full of this thought; and began, in much weakness, to explain, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they be of God.” I told them, they were not to judge of the spirit whereby any one spoke, either by; appearances, or by common report, or by their own inward feelings: No, nor by any dreams, visions, or revelations, supposed to be made to their souls; any more than by their tears, or any involuntary effects wrought upon their bodies. I warned them, all these were, in themselves, of a doubtful, disputable, nature; they might be from God, and they might not; and were therefore not simply to be relied on, (any more than simply to be condemned,) but to be tried by a farther rule, to be brought to the only certain test, the Law and the Testimony. While I was speaking, one before me dropped down as dead, and presently a second and a third. Five others sunk down in half an hour, most of whom were in violent agonies. “The pains” as “of hell came about them; the snares of death overtook them.” In their trouble we called upon the Lord, and he gave us an answer of peace.
One indeed continued an hour in strong pain; and one or two more for three days. But the rest were greatly comforted in that hour, and went away rejoicing and praising God. Sat. 23 . — I spoke severally with those who had been so troubled the night before. Some of them I found were only convinced of sin; others had indeed found rest to their souls. This evening another was seized with strong pangs: But in a short time her soul was delivered. Sun. 24 . — As I was riding to Rose-Green, in a smooth, plain part of the road, my horse suddenly pitched upon his head, and rolled over and over. I received no other hurt than a little bruise on one side; which for the present I felt not, but preached without pain to six or seven thousand people on that important direction, “Whether ye eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” In the evening a girl of thirteen or fourteen, and four or five other persons, some of whom had felt the power of God before, were deeply convinced of sin; and with sighs and groans which could not be uttered, called upon God for deliverance. Mon. 25 . — About ten in the morning, J——e C——r, as she was sitting at work, was suddenly seized with grievous terrors of mind, attended with strong trembling. Thus she continued all the afternoon; but at the society in the evening God turned her heaviness into joy. Five or six others were also cut to the heart this day; and soon after found Him whose hands made whole: As did one likewise who had been mourning many months, without any to comfort her. Tues. 26 . — I preached near the house we had a few days before began to build for a school, in the middle to Kingswood, under a little sycamore-tree, during a violent storm of rain, on those words, “As the rain cometh down from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth and maketh it bring forth and bud: — So shall my word be that goeth out of my mouth: It shall not return unto me void. But it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
Three persons terribly felt the wrath of God abiding on them at the society this evening. But upon prayer made in their behalf, He was pleased soon to lift up the light of his countenance upon them. Fri. 29 . — I preached in a part of Kingswood where I never had been before. The places in Kingswood where I now usually preached, were these: Once a fortnight, a little above Connam, a village on the south side of the wood; on Sunday morning, near Hannam-Mount; once a fortnight, at the School-house, in the middle of Kingswood; on Sunday, in the evening, at Rose-Green; and once a fortnight near the Fish-Ponds, on the north side of the wood. Sat. 30 . — At Weaver’s Hall seven or eight persons were constrained to roar aloud, while the sword of the Spirit was dividing asunder “their souls and spirits, and joints and marrow.” But they were all relieved upon prayer, and sang “praises unto our God, and unto the Lamb that liveth for ever and ever.”
I gave a particular account, from time to time, of the manner wherein God here carried on his work, to those whom I believed to desire the increase of his kingdom, with whom I had any opportunity of corresponding. Part of the answer which I received (some time after) from one of these I cannot but here subjoin: — “I Desire to bless my Lord for the good and great news your letter bears, about the Lord’s turning many souls ‘from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God;’ and that such ‘a great and effectual door is opened’ among you, as the ‘many adversaries’ cannot shut. O may ‘He that hath the key of the house of David, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth,’ set the door of faith more and more open among you, till his house be filled, and till He gather together the outcasts of Israel:
And may that prayer for the adversaries be heard, ‘Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek thy name, O Lord.’ “As to the outward manner you speak of, wherein most of them were affected who were cut to the heart by the sword of the Spirit, no wonder that this was at first surprising to you, since they are indeed so very rare that have been thus pricked and wounded. Yet some of the instances you give seem to be exemplified in the outward manner wherein Paul and the jailor were at first afflicted:
As also Peter’s hearers. (Acts 2) The last instance you gave, of some struggling as in the agonies of death, and in such a manner as that four or five strong men can hardly restrain a weak woman from hurting herself or others: This is to me somewhat more inexplicable; if it do not resemble the child spoke of Mark 9:26, and Luke 9:42; of whom it is said, that ‘while he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down and tare him.’ Or what influence sudden and sharp awakenings may have upon the body I pretend not to explain. But I make no question Satan, so far as he gets power, may exert himself on such occasions, partly to hinder the good work in the persons who are thus touched with the sharp arrows of conviction, and partly to disparage the work of God, as if it tended to lead people to distraction. — However, the merciful issue of these conflicts in the conversion of the persons thus affected is the main thing. “When they are brought by the saving arm of God to receive Christ Jesus, to have joy and peace in believing, and then to walk in Him, and give evidence that the work is a saving work at length, whether more quickly or gradually accomplished, there is great matter of praise. “All the outward appearances of people’s being affected among us, may be reduced to these two sorts: — One is, hearing with a close, silent attention, with gravity and greediness, discovered by fixed looks, weeping eyes, and sorrowful or joyful countenances:
Another sort is, when they lift up their voice aloud, some more depressedly, and others more highly; and at times, the whole multitude in a flood of tears, all as it were crying out at once, till their voice he ready to drown the Minister’s, that he can scarce be heard for the weeping noise that surrounds him. The influence on some of these, like a landflood, dries up; we hear of no change wrought: But in others it appears in the fruits of righteousness, and the tract of a holy conversation. “May the Lord strengthen you to go on in his work, and in praying for the coming of his kingdom with you and us; and I hope you shall not be forgotten among us, in our joint applications to the throne of grace. “I am, reverend and dear Sir, “Your very affectionate Brother and Servant in Christ, “RALPH ERSKINE.” Sun . July 1. — I preached to about five thousand, on the favorite advice of the Infidel in Ecclesiastes, (so zealously enforced by his brethren now,) “Be not righteous overmuch.” At Hannam and at Rose-Green I explained the latter part of the seventh of St. Luke; that verse especially, “When they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.”
A young woman sunk down at Rose-Green in a violent agony both of body and mind: As did five or six persons in the evening at the new-room, at whose cries many were greatly offended. The same offense was given in the morning by one at Weaver’s Hall, and by eight or nine others at Gloucester-Lane in the evening. The first that was deeply touched was L—— W——; whose mother had been not a little displeased a day or two before, when she was told how her daughter had exposed herself before all the congregation. The mother herself was the next who dropped down, and lost her senses in a moment; but went home with her daughter, full of joy; as did most of those that had been in pain.
Soon after the society, I went to Mrs. T——’s, whose nearest relations were earnestly dissuading her from being “righteous overmuch;” and by the old motive, “Why shouldest thou destroy thyself?” She answered all they advanced with meekness and love, and continued steadfast and immovable. Endure hardship still, thou, good soldier of Christ! Persecuted, but not forsaken: Torn with inward, and encompassed with outward, temptations; but yielding to none. O may patience have its perfect work! Tues. 3 . — I preached at Bath to the most attentive and serious audience I have ever seen there. On Wednesday I preached at Newgate on those words, “Because of the Pharisees, they trust not confess him. — For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” A message was delivered to me when I had done, from the Sheriffs, that I must preach there no more. Fri. 6 . — I pressed a serious Quaker to tell me why he did not come to hear me as formerly. He said, because he found we were not led by the Spirit; for we fixed times of preaching beforehand; whereas we ought to do nothing unless we were sensibly moved thereto by the Holy Ghost. I asked, whether we ought not to do what God in Scripture commands, when we have opportunity: Whether the providence of God thus concurring with his word, were not a sufficient reason for our doing it, although we were not at that moment sensibly moved thereto by the Holy Ghost. He answered, it was not a sufficient reason. This was to regard “the letter that killeth.” God grant, that I may so regard it all the days of my life!
In the afternoon I was with Mr. Whitefield, just come from London, with whom I went to Baptist-Mills, where he preached concerning; “the Holy Ghost, which all who believe are to receive;” not without a just, though severe, censure of those who preach as if there were no Holy Ghost. Sat. 7 . — I had an opportunity to talk with him of those outward signs which had so often accompanied the inward work of God. I found his objections were chiefly grounded on gross misrepresentations of matter of fact. But the next day he had an opportunity of informing himself better:
For no sooner had he begun (in the application of his sermon) to invite all sinners to believe in Christ, than four persons sunk down close to him, almost in the same moment. One of them lay without either sense or motion. A second trembled exceedingly. The third had strong convulsions all over his body, but made no noise, unless by groans. The fourth, equally convulsed, called upon God, with strong cries and tears. From this time, I trust, we shall all suffer God to carry on his own work in the way that pleaseth Him. Thur. 12 . — I went to a gentleman who is much troubled with what they call lowness of spirits. Many such have I been with before; but in several of them, it was no bodily distemper. They wanted something, they knew not what; and were, therefore, heavy, uneasy, and dissatisfied with every thing. The plain truth is, they wanted God, they wanted Christ, they wanted faith. And God convinced them of their want, in a way their physicians no more understood than themselves. Accordingly nothing availed till the Great Physician came. For in spite of all natural means, He who made them for himself, would not suffer them to rest, till they rested in Him.
On Friday, in the afternoon, I left Bristol with Mr. Whitefield, in the midst of heavy rain. But the clouds soon dispersed, so that we had a fair, calm evening, and a serious congregation at Thornbury.
In the morning we breakfasted with a Quaker who had been brought up in the Church of England: But being under strong convictions of inward sin, and applying to several persons for advice, they all judged him to be under a disorder of body, and gave advice accordingly. Some Quakers with whom he met about the same time, told him, it was the hand of God upon his soul; and advised him to seek another sort of relief than those miserable comforters had recommended. “Woe unto you, ye blind leaders of the blind!” How long will ye pervert the right ways of the Lord? Ye who tell the mourners in Zion, Much religion hath made you mad! Ye who send them whom God hath wounded to the devil for cure; to company, idle books, or diversions! Thus shall they perish in their iniquity; but their blood shall God require at your hands.
We had an attentive congregation at Gloucester in the evening. In the morning, Mr. Whitefield being gone forward, I preached to about five thousand there, on “Christ our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” It rained violently at five in the evening; notwithstanding which, two or three thousand people stayed, to whom I expounded that glorious vision of Ezekiel, of the resurrection of the dry bones.
On Monday , 16, after preaching to two or three thousand, on, “What must I do to be saved?” I returned to Bristol, and preached to about three thousand, on those words of Job, “There the wicked cease from troubling; there the weary are at rest.” Tues. 17 . — I rode to Bradford, five miles from Bath, whither I had been long invited to come. I waited on the Minister, and desired leave to preach in his church. He said, it was not usual to preach on the week-days; but if I could come thither on a Sunday, he should be glad of my assistance.
Thence I went to a gentleman in the town, who had been present when I preached at Bath, and, with the strongest marks of sincerity and affection, wished me good luck in the name of the Lord. But it was past. I found him now quite cold. He began disputing on several leads; and at last told me plainly, one of our own College had informed him they always took me to be a little crack-brained at Oxford.
However, some persons who were not of his mind, having pitched on a convenient place, (called Bear Field, or Bury-Field,) on the top of the hill under which the town lies; I there offered Christ to about a thousand people, for “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.”
Thence I returned to Bath, and preached on, “What must I do to be saved?” to a larger audience than ever before. I was wondering the “God to this world” was so still; when, at my return from the place of preaching, poor R——d Merchant told me, he could not let me preach any more in his ground. I asked him, why: He said, the people hurt his trees, and stole things out of his ground. “And besides,” added he, “I have already, by letting thee be there, merited the displeasure of my neighbors.” O fear of man! Who is above thee, but they who indeed “worship God in spirit and in truth?” Not even those who have one foot in the grave! Not even those who dwell in rooms of cedar; and who have heaped up gold as the dust, and silver as the sand of the sea. Sat. 21 . — I began expounding, a second time, our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. In the morning, Sunday, 22, as I was explaining, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” to about three thousand people, we had a fair opportunity of showing all men, what manner of spirit we were of: For in the middle of the sermon, the press-gang came, and seized on one of the hearers; (ye learned in the law, what becomes of Magna Charta, and of English liberty and property? Are not these mere sounds, while, on any pretense, there is such a thing as a press-gang suffered in the land?) all the rest standing still, and none opening his mouth or lifting up his hand to resist them. Mon. 23 . — To guard young converts from fancying that they had “already attained, or were already perfect,” I preached on those words, “So is the kingdom of God, as when a man casteth seed into the ground, and riseth day and night, and the seed buddeth forth and springeth up, he knoweth not how, — first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.”
On several evenings this week, and particularly on Friday, many were deeply convinced; but none were delivered from that painful conviction, “The children came to the birth, but there was not strength to bring forth.”
I fear we have grieved the Spirit of the jealous God, by questioning his work; and that, therefore, He is withdrawn from us for a season. But he will return and “abundantly pardon.” Mon . 30 . — Two more were in strong pain, both their souls and bodies being well-nigh torn asunder. But though we cried unto God, there was no answer; neither did he as yet deliver them at all.
One of these had been remarkably zealous against those that cried out and made a noise; being sure that any of them might help it if they would. And the same opinion she was in still, till the moment she was struck through, as with a sword, and fell trembling to the ground. She then cried aloud, though not articulately, her words being swallowed up. In this pain she continued twelve or fourteen hours, and then her soul was set at liberty.
But her master (for she was a servant till that time at a gentleman’s in town) forbid her returning to him, saying, he would have none in his house who had received the Holy Ghost. Tues. 31 . — I preached at Bradford to above two thousand, many of whom were of the better rank, on, “What must I do to be saved?” They all behaved with decency; and none went away till the service was ended.
While I was preaching at Bath, in my return, some of the audience did not behave so well; being, I fear, a little too nearly concerned, when I came to the application of those words, “Not only this our craft is in danger to be set at naught; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.”
Having “A Caution against Religious Delusion” put into my hands about this time, I thought it my duty to write to the author of it; which I accordingly did, in the following terms: — “Reverend Sir, “1. You charge me (for I am called a Methodist, and consequently included within your charge) with ‘vain and confident boastings; rash, uncharitable censures; damning all who do not feel what I feel; not allowing men to be in a salvable state unless they have experienced some sudden operation, which may be distinguished as the hand of God upon them, overpowering, as it were, the soul; with denying men the use of God’s creatures, which he hath appointed to be received with thanksgiving, and encouraging abstinence, prayer, and other religious exercises, to the neglect of the duties of our station.’ O Sir, can you prove this charge upon me? The Lord shall judge in that day! “2. I do, indeed, go out into the highways and hedges, to call poor sinners to Christ; but not in a tumultuous manner; not to the disturbance of the public peace, or the prejudice of families. Neither herein do I break any law which I know; much less set at naught all rule and authority. Nor can I be said to intrude into the labors of those who do not labor at all, but suffer thousands of those for whom Christ died to ‘perish for lack of knowledge.’ “3. They perish for want of knowing that we, as well as the Heathens, ‘are alienated from the life of God;’ that ‘every one of us,’ by the corruption of our inmost nature, ‘is very far gone from original righteousness;’ so far, that ‘every person born into the world deserveth God’s wrath and damnation;’ that we have by nature no power either to help ourselves, or even to call upon God to help us:
All our tempers and works, in our natural state, being only evil contumely. So that our coming to Christ, as well as theirs, must infer a great and mighty change. It must infer not only an outward change, from stealing, lying, and all corrupt communication; but a thorough change of heart, an inward renewal in the spirit of our mind.
Accordingly, ‘the old man’ implies infinitely more than outward evil conversation, even ‘an evil heart of unbelief,’ corrupted by pride and a thousand deceitful lusts. Of consequence, the ‘new man’ must imply infinitely more than outward good conversation, even ‘a good heart, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness;’ a heart full of that faith which, working by love, produces all holiness of conversation. “4. The change from the former of these states to the latter, is what I call The New Birth. But you say, I am not content with this plain and easy notion of it; but fill myself and others with fantastical conceits about it. Alas, Sir, how can you prove this? And if you cannot prove it, what amends can you make, either to God, or to me, or to the world, for publicly asserting a gross falsehood? “5. Perhaps you say, you can prove this of Mr. Whitefield. What then? This is nothing to me. I am not accountable for his words. The Journal you quote I never saw till it was in print. But, indeed, you wrong him as much as me: First, where you represent him as judging the notions of the Quakers in general (concerning being led by the Spirit) to be right and good; whereas he speaks only of those particular men with whom he was then conversing. And again, where you say, he supposes a person believing in Christ to be without any saving knowledge of him. He supposes no such thing. To believe in Christ was the very thing he supposed wanting; as understanding that term believing to imply, not only an assent to the Articles of our Creed, but also ‘a true trust and confidence of the mercy of God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ “6. Now this it is certain a man may want, although he can truly say, ‘I am chaste; I am sober; I am just in my dealings; I help my neighbor, and use the ordinances of God.’ And however such a man may have behaved in these respects, he is not to think well of his own state till he experiences something within himself, which he has not yet experienced, but which he may be beforehand assured he shall, if the promises of God are true. That something is a living faith; ‘a sure trust and confidence in God, that by the merits of Christ his sins are forgiven, and he reconciled to the favor of God.’ And from this will spring many other things, which till then he experienced not; as, the love of God shed abroad in his heart, the peace of God which passeth all understanding, and joy in the Holy Ghost; joy, though not unfelt, yet ‘unspeakable, and full of glory.’ “7. These are some of those inward fruits of the Spirit, which must be felt wheresoever they are; and without these, I cannot learn from Holy Writ that any man is ‘born of the Spirit.’ I beseech you, Sir, by the mercies of God, that if as yet you know nothing of such inward feelings, if you do not ‘feel in yourself these mighty workings of the Spirit of Christ,’ at least you would not contradict and blaspheme.
When the Holy Ghost hath fervently kindled your love towards God, you will know these to be very sensible operations. As you hear the wind, and feel it too, while it strikes upon your bodily organs, you will know you are under the guidance of God’s Spirit the same way, namely, by feeling it in your soul: By the present peace, and joy, and love, which you feel within, as well as by its outward and more distant effects.
I am,” etc.
I have often wished, that all calm and impartial men would consider what is advanced by another writer, in a little Discourse concerning Enthusiasm, or Religious Delusion, published about this time. His words are, — “A Minister of our Church who may look upon it as his duty to warn his parishioners, or an author who may think it necessary to caution his readers, against such Preachers or their doctrine,” (enthusiastic Preachers, I suppose; such as he takes it for granted the Methodist Preachers are,)” ought to be very careful to act with a Christian spirit, and to advance nothing but with temper, charity, and truth. Perhaps the following rules may be proper to be observed by them: — “1. Not to blame persons for doing that now which Scripture records holy men of old to have practiced; lest, had they lived in those times, they should have condemned them also. “2. Not to censure persons in Holy Orders, for teaching the same doctrines which are taught in the Scriptures and by our Church; lest they should ignorantly censure what they profess to defend. “3. Not to censure any professed members of our Church, who live good lives, for resorting to religious assemblies in private houses, to perform in society acts of divine worship; when the same seems to have been practiced by the primitive Christians; and when, alas! there are so many parishes, where a person piously disposed has no opportunity of joining in the public service of our Church more than one hour and half in a week. “4. Not to condemn those who are constant attendants on the communion and service of our Church, if they sometimes use other prayers in private assemblies; since the best Divines of our Church have composed and published many prayers that have not the sanction of public authority; which implies a general consent that our Church has not made provision for every private occasion. “5. Not to establish the power of working miracles as the great criterion of a divine mission; when Scripture teaches us that the agreement of doctrines with truth, as taught in those Scriptures, is the only infallible rule. “6. Not to drive any away from our Church, by opprobriously calling them Dissenters, or treating them as such, so long as they keep to her communion. “7. Not lightly to take up with silly stories that may be propagated, to the discredit of persons of a general good character. “I do not lay down,” says he, “these negative rules, so much for the sake of any persons whom the unobservance of them would immediately injure; as of our Church and her professed defenders:
For Churchmen, however well-meaning, would lay themselves open to censure, and might do her irretrievable damage, by a behavior contrary to them.” Friday , August 3. — I met with one who “did run well,” but Satan had “hindered” her. I was surprised at her ingenuous acknowledgment of the fear of man. O “how hardly shall” even “they who have rich” acquaintance “enter into the kingdom of heaven!” Sun . 5 . — Six persons at the new room were deeply convinced of sin; three of whom were a little comforted by prayer, but not yet convinced of righteousness.
Having frequently been invited to Wells, particularly by Mr. ——, who begged me to make his house my home, on Thursday, the 9th, I went thither, and wrote him word the night before; upon which he presently went to one of his friends, and desired a messenger might be sent to meet me, and beg me to turn back: “Otherwise,” said he, “we shall lose all our trade.” But this consideration did not weigh with him, so that he invited me to his own house; and at eleven I preached in his ground, on, “Christ our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,” to about two thousand persons. Some of them mocked at first, whom I reproved before all; and those of them who stayed were more serious. Several spoke to me after, who were, for the present, much affected. O let it not pass away as the morning dew! Fri. 10 . — I had the satisfaction of conversing with a Quaker, and afterwards with an Anabaptist; who, I trust, have had a large measure of the love of God shed abroad in their hearts. O may those, in every persuasion, who are of this spirit, increase a thousand-fold, how many soever they be! Sat . 11 . — In the evening, two were seized with strong pangs, as were four the next evening, and the same number at Gloucester Lane, on Monday; one of whom was greatly comforted. Tues. 14 . — I preached at Bradford, to about three thousand, on, “One thing is needful.” Returning through Bath, I preached to a small congregation, suddenly gathered together at a little distance from the town, (not being permitted to be in R—— Merchant’s ground any more,) on, “The just shall live by faith.” Three at the new-room, this evening, were cut to the heart; but their wound was not as yet healed. Wed. 15 . — I endeavored to guard those who were in their first love, from falling into inordinate affection, by explaining those strange words at Baptist-Mills, “Henceforth know we no man after the flesh.” Fri. 17 . — Many of our society met, as we had appointed, at one in the afternoon; and agreed that all the members of our society should obey the Church to which we belong, by observing all Fridays in the year, as days of fasting or abstinence. We likewise agreed that as many as had opportunity should then meet, to spend an hour together in prayer. Mon. 20 . — I preached on those words, to a much larger congregation than usual, “Oughtest not thou to have compassion on thy fellow-servant, as I had pity on thee?” Wed. 22 . — I was with many that were in heaviness; two of whom were soon filled with peace and joy. In the afternoon, I endeavored to guard the weak against what too often occasions heaviness, — levity of temper or behavior, — from, “I said of laughter, It is mad; and of mirth, What doeth it?” Mon. 27 . — For two hours I took up my cross, in arguing with a zealous man, and laboring to convince him that I was not an enemy to the Church of England. He allowed, I taught no other doctrines than those of the Church; but could not forgive my teaching them out of the church-walls.
He allowed, too, (which none indeed can deny, who has either any regard to truth, or sense of shame,) that “by this teaching, many souls who, till that time, were ‘perishing for lack of knowledge,’ have been, and are, brought ‘from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God:”’ But he added, “No one can tell what may be hereafter; and therefore I say these things ought not to he suffered.”
Indeed the report now current in Bristol was, that I was a Papist, if not a Jesuit. Some added, that I was born and bred at Rome; which many cordially believed. O ye fools, when will ye understand that the preaching of justification by faith alone; the allowing no meritorious cause of justification, but the death and righteousness of Christ; and no conditional or instrumental cause, but faith; is overturning Popery from the foundation? When will ye understand, that the most destructive of all those errors which Rome, the mother of abominations, hath brought forth, (compared to which transubstantiation, and a hundred more, are “trifles light as air,”) is, “That we are justified by works;” or, (to express the same thing a little more decently,) by faith and works? Now, do I preach this? I did for ten years: I was (fundamentally) a Papist, and knew it not. But I do now testify to all, (and it is the very point for asserting which I have, to this day, been called in question,) that “no good works can be done before justification; none which have not in them the nature of sin.”
I have often inquired who are the authors of this report; and have generally found they were either bigoted Dissenters, or (I speak without fear or favor) Ministers of our own Church. I have also frequently considered, what possible ground or motive they could have thus to speak; seeing few men in the world have had occasion so clearly and openly to declare their principles as I have done, both by preaching, printing, and conversation, for several years last past: And I can no otherwise think, than that either they spoke thus (to put the most favorable construction upon it) from gross ignorance; they knew not what Popery was; they knew not what doctrines those are which the Papists teach; or they willfully spoke what they knew to be false; probably “thinking” thereby “to do God service.”
Now take this to yourselves, whosoever ye are, high or low, Dissenters or Churchmen, Clergy or Laity, who have advanced this shameless charge; and digest it how you can.
But how have ye not been afraid, if ye believe there is a God, and that He knoweth the secrets of your hearts, (I speak now to you, Preachers, more especially, of whatever denomination,) to declare so gross, palpable a lie, in the name of the God of truth? I cite you all, before the Judge of all the earth, either publicly to prove your charge; or, by publicly retracting it, to make the best amends you can, to God, to me, and to the world.
For the full satisfaction of those who have been abused by these shameless men, and almost brought to believe a lie, I will here add my serious; judgment concerning the Church of Rome, wrote, some time since, to a Priest of that communion: — “Sir, “ I RETURN YOU thanks both for the favor of your letter, and for your recommending my father’s Proposals to the Sorbonne. “I have neither time nor inclination for controversy with any; but least of all with the Romanists. And that, both because I cannot trust any of their quotations, without consulting every sentence they quote in the originals: And because the originals themselves can very hardly be trusted, in any of the points controverted between them and us. I am no stranger to their skill in mending those authors, who did not at first speak home to their purpose; as also in purging them from those passages which contradicted their emendations. And as they have not wanted opportunity to do this, so doubtless they have carefully used it with regard to a point that so nearly concerned them as the Supremacy of the Bishop of Rome I am not therefore surprised, if the works of St. Cyprian (as they are called) do strenuously maintain it: But I am, that they have not been better corrected; for they still contain passages that absolutely overthrow it. What gross negligence was it, to leave his seventy-fourth Epistle (to Pompeianus) out of the Index Expurgatorius, wherein Pope Cyprian so flatly charges Pope Stephen with pride and obstinacy, and with being a defender of the cause of heretics, and that against Christians and the very Church of God? He that can reconcile this with his believing Stephen the infallible Head of the Church, may reconcile the Gospel with the Koran. “Yet I can by no means approve the scurrility and contempt with which the Romanists have often been treated. I dare not rail at, or despise, any man: Much less those who profess to believe in the same Master. But I pity them much; having the same assurance, that Jesus is the Christ, and that no Romanist can expect to be saved, according to the terms of his covenant. For thus saith our Lord, ‘Whosoever shall break one of the least of these commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.’ And, ‘If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.’ But all Romanists, as such, do both. Ergo, — “The minor I prove, not from Protestant authors, or even from particular writers of their own communion: But from the public, authentic records of the Church of Rome. Such are the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. And the edition I use was printed at Cölen, and approved by authority. “And, First, All Romanists, as such, do break and teach men to break, one (and not the least) of those commandments; the words of which, concerning images, are these, Now (as every smatterer in Hebrew knows) is incurvare se, procumbere, honoris exhibendi causa: (And is accordingly rendered by the Seventy in this very place, by a Greek word of the very same import, proskunein .) But the Council of Trent (and consequently all Romanists, as such, all who allow the authority of that Council) teaches, (section 25, paragraph 2,) that it is legitimus imaginum usus, — eis honorem exhibere, procumbendo coram eis. f32 “Secondly, All Romanists, as such, do add to those things which are written in the Book of Life. For in the Bull of Pius IV., subjoined to those Canons and Decrees, I find all the additions following: — “1. Seven sacraments; 2. Transubstantiation; 3. Communion in one kind only; 4. Purgatory, and praying for the dead therein; 5. Praying to saints; 6. Veneration of relics; 7. Worship of images; 8. Indulgences; 9. The priority and universality of the Roman Church; 10. The supremacy of the Bishop of Rome. All these things therefore do the Romanists add to those which are written in the Book of Life. “I am, ——” Tues. 28 . — My mouth was opened, and my heart enlarged, strongly to declare to above two thousand people at Bradford, that “the kingdom of God” within us “is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” At Bath I once more offered Christ to justify the ungodly. In the evening I met my brother, just come from London. “The Lord hath” indeed “done great things for us” already. “Not unto us, but unto thy name be the praise.” Wed. 29 . — I rode with my brother to Wells, and preached on, “What must I do to be saved?” In the evening I summed up, at the new-room, what I had said, at many times, from the beginning, of faith, holiness, and good works, as the root, the tree, and the fruit, which God had joined, and man ought not to put asunder. Fri . 31 . — I left Bristol, and reached London about eight on Sunday morning. In the afternoon I heard a sermon wherein it was asserted, that our repentance was not sincere, but feigned and hypocritical; 1. If we relapsed into sin soon after repenting: Especially, if, 2. We did not avoid all the occasions of sin; or if, 3. We relapsed frequently; and most of all, if, 4. Our hearts were hardened thereby.
O what a hypocrite was I, (if this be so,) for near twice ten years! But I know it is not so. I know every one under the Law is even as I was. Every one when he begins to see his fallen state, and to feel the wrath of God abiding on him, relapses into the sin that most easily besets him, soon after repenting of it. Sometimes he avoids, and at many other times cannot persuade himself to avoid, the occasions of it. Hence his relapses are frequent, and of consequence his heart is hardened more and more. And yet all this time he is sincerely striving against sin. He can say unfeignedly, without hypocrisy, “The thing which I do, I approve not; the evil which I would not, that I do.” “To will is” even then “present with” him; “but how to perform that which is good” he “finds not.” Nor can he, with all his sincerity, avoid any one of these four marks of hypocrisy, till, “being justified by faith,” he hath “peace with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
This helpless state I took occasion to describe at Kennington, to eight or ten thousand people, from those words of the Psalmist, “Innumerable troubles are come about me; my sins have taken such hold upon me, that I am not able to look up: Yea, they are more in number than the hairs of my head, and my heart hath failed me.” Mon . September 3. — I talked largely with my mother, who told me, that, till a short time since, she had scarce heard such a thing mentioned, as the having forgiveness of sins now, or God’s Spirit bearing witness with our spirit: Much less did she imagine that this was the common privilege of all true believers. “Therefore,” said she, “I never durst ask for it myself.
But two or three weeks ago, while my son Hall was pronouncing those words, in delivering the cup to me, ‘The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee;’ the words struck through my heart, and I knew God for Christ’s sake had forgiven in all my sins.”
I asked, whether her father (Dr. Annesley) had not the same faith: And, whether she had not heard him preach it to others. She answered, he had it himself; and declared, a little before his death, that for more than forty years he had no darkness, no fear, no doubt at all of his being “accepted in the Beloved.” But that, nevertheless, she did not remember to have heard him preach, no not once, explicitly upon it: Whence she supposed he also looked upon it as the peculiar blessing of a few; not as promised to all the people to God.
Both at Mr. B——’s at six, and at Dowgate-Hill at eight, were many more than the houses could contain. Several persons who were then convinced of sin came to me the next morning. One came also, who had been mourning long, and earnestly desired us to pray with her. We had scarce begun, when the enemy began to tear her, so that she screamed out, as in the pangs of death: But his time was short; for within a quarter of an hour she was full of the “peace that passeth all understanding.”
I afterwards called on Mrs. E——r, with whom was one lately come from Bristol, in deep anguish of spirit. We cried to God, and He soon declared his salvation, so that both their mouths were filled with his praise.
Thence I went to a poor woman, who had been long in despair. I was glad to meet with Mrs. R—— there; the person mentioned in Mr. Whitefield’s Journal, who, after three years’ madness, (so called,) was so deeply convinced to sin at Beach-Lane, and soon after rejoiced in God her Savior. Thur. 6 . — I was sent for by one who began to feel herself a sinner. But a fine lady unexpectedly coming in, there was scarce room for me to speak.
The fourth person in the company was a poor unbred girl; who beginning to tell what God had done for her soul, the others looked one at another, as in amaze, but did not open their mouths. I then exhorted them, not to cease from crying to God, till they too could say, as she did, “My Beloved is mine, and I am his: I am as sure of it, as that I am alive. For his Spirit bears witness with my spirit, that I am a child of God.” Sun . 9 . — I declared to about ten thousand, in Moorfields, what they must do to be saved. My mother went with us, about five, to Kennington, where were supposed to be twenty thousand people. I again insisted on that foundation of all our hope, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved.” From Kennington I went to a society at Lambeth. ‘The house being filled, the rest stood in the garden. The deep attention they showed gave me a good hope, that they will not all be forgetful hearers.
Thence I went to our society at Fetter-Lane, and exhorted them to love one another. The want of love was a general complaint. We laid it open before our Lord. We soon found he had sent us an answer of peace. Evil surmisings vanished away. The flame kindled again as at the first, and our hearts were knit together. Mon. 10 . — I accepted a pressing invitation to go to Plaistow. At five in the evening I exploded there, and at eight again. But most of the hearers were very quiet and unconcerned. In the morning, therefore, I spoke stronger words. But it is only the voice of the Son of God which is able to wake the dead. Wed. 12 . — In the evening, at Fetter-Lane, I described the life of faith; and many who had fancied themselves strong therein, found they were no more than new born babes. At eight I exhorted our brethren to keep close to the Church, and to all the ordinances of God; and to aim only at living “a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.” Thur. 13 . — A serious Clergyman desired to know, in what points we differed from the Church of England. I answered, “To the best of my knowledge, in none. The doctrines we preach are the doctrines of the Church of England; indeed, the fundamental doctrines of the Church, clearly laid down, both in her Prayers, Articles, and Homilies.”
He asked, “In what points, then, do you differ from the other Clergy of the Church of England?” I answered, “In none from that part of the Clergy who adhere to the doctrines to the Church; but from that part of the Clergy who dissent from the Church, (though they own it not,) I differ in the points following: “ First , They speak of justification, either as the same thing with sanctification, or as something consequent upon it. I believe justification to be wholly distinct from sanctification, and necessarily antecedent to it. “ Secondly , They speak of our own holiness, or good works, as the cause of our justification; or, that for the sake of which, on account of which, we are justified before God. I believe, neither our own holiness, nor good works, are any part of the cause of our justification; but that the death and righteousness of Christ are the whole and sole cause of it; or, that for the sake of which, on account of which, we are justified before God. “ Thirdly , They speak of good works as a condition of justification, necessarily previous to it. I believe no good work can be previous to justification, nor, consequently, a condition of it; but that we are justified (being till that hour ungodly, and, therefore, incapable of doing any good work) by faith alone, faith without works, faith (though producing all, yet) including no good work. “ Fourthly , They speak of sanctification (or holiness) as if it were an outward thing; as if it consisted chiefly, if not wholly, in those two points, 1. The doing no harm; 2. The doing good, (as it is called,) that is, the using the means of grace, and helping our neighbor. “I believe it to be an inward thing, namely, the life of God in the soul of man; a participation of the divine nature; the mind that was in Christ; or, the renewal of our heart, after the image of Him that created us. “ Lastly , They speak of the new birth as an outward thing; as if it were no more than baptism; or, at most, a change from outward wickedness to outward goodness; from a vicious to (what is called) a virtuous life.
I believe it to be an inward thing; a change from inward wickedness to inward goodness; an entire change of our inmost nature from the image of the devil (wherein we are born) to the image of God; a change from the love of the creature to the love of the Creator; from earthly and sensual, to heavenly and holy affections; — in a word, a change from the tempers of the spirits of darkness, to those of the angels of God in heaven. “There is, therefore, a wide, essential, fundamental, irreconcilable difference between us; so that if they speak the truth as it is in Jesus, I am found a false witness before God. But if I teach the way of God in truth, they are blind leaders of the blind.” Sun . 16 . — I preached at Moorfields to about ten thousand, and at Kennington-Common to, I believe, near twenty thousand, on those words of the calmer Jews to St. Paul, “We desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest; for as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” At both places I described the real difference between what is generally called Christianity, and the true old Christianity, which, under the new name of Methodism, is now also everywhere spoken against. Mon . 17 . — I preached again at Plaistow, on, “Blessed are those that mourn.” It pleased God to give us, in that hour, two living instances of that piercing sense both of the guilt and power of sin, that dread of the wrath of God, and that full conviction of man’s inability either to remove the power, or atone for the guilt, of sin; (called by the world, despair;) in which properly consist that poverty of spirit, and mourning, which are the gate of Christian blessedness. Tues. 18 . — A young woman came to us at Islington, in such an agony as I have seldom seen. Her sorrow and fear were too big for utterance; so that after a few words, her strength as well as her heart failing, she sunk down to the ground. Only her sighs and her groans showed she was yet alive. We cried unto God in her behalf. We claimed the promises made to the weary and heavy laden; and he did not cast out our prayer. She saw her Savior, as it were, crucified before her eyes. She laid hold on him by faith, and her spirit revived.
At Mr. B——’s, at six, I was enabled earnestly to call all the weary and heavy-laden; and at Mr. C——’s, at eight, when many roared aloud; some of whom utterly refused to be comforted, till they should feel their souls at rest in the blood of the Lamb, and have his love shed abroad in their hearts. Thur. 20 . — Mrs. C——, being in deep heaviness, had desired me to meet her this afternoon. She had long earnestly desired to receive the holy communion, having an unaccountably strong persuasion, that God would manifest himself to her therein, and give rest to her soul. But her heaviness being now greatly increased, Mr. D——e gave her that fatal advice, — Not to communicate till she had living faith. This still added to her perplexity.
Yet at length she resolved to obey God rather than man. And “he was made known unto” her “in breaking of bread.” In that moment she felt her load removed, she knew she was accepted in the Beloved; and all the time I was expounding at Mr. B——’s, was full of that peace which cannot be uttered. Fri. 21 . — Another of Dr. Monro’s patients came to desire my advice. I found no reason to believe she had been any otherwise mad than every one is, who is deeply convinced of sin. And I cannot doubt, but if she will trust in the living God, he will give “medicine to heal her sickness.” Sun. 23 . — I declared to about ten thousand, in Moorfields, with great enlargement of spirit, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” At Kennington I enforced to about twenty thousand, that great truth, “One thing is needful.” Thence I went to Lambeth, and showed (to the amazement, it seemed, of many who were present) how “he that is born of God doth not commit sin.” Mon. 24 . — I preached once more at Plaistow, and took my leave of the people of that place. In my return, a person galloping swiftly, rode full against me, and overthrew both man and horse; but without any hurt to either. Glory be to Him who saves both man and beast! Tues. 25 . — After doing with one of our brethren who was married this day, I went, as usual, to the society at St. James’s, weary and weak in body. But God strengthened me for his own work; as he did at six, at Mr. B——’s; and at eight, in Winchester-Yard, where it was believed were present eleven or twelve hundred persons; to whom I declared, if “they had nothing to pay,” God would “frankly forgive them all.” Thur. 27 . — I went in the afternoon to a society at Deptford, and thence, at six, came to Turner’s Hall; which holds (by computation) two thousand persons. The press both within and without was very great. In the beginning of the expounding, there being a large vault beneath, the main beam which supported the floor broke. The floor immediately sunk, which occasioned much noise and confusion among the people. But, two or three days before, a man had filled the vault with hogsheads of tobacco. So that the floor, after sinking a foot or two, rested upon them, and I went on without interruption. Fri. 28 . — I met with a fresh proof, that “whatsoever ye ask, believing, ye shall receive.” A middle-aged woman desired me to return thanks for her to God, who, as many witnesses then present testified, was a day or two before really distracted, and as such tied down in her bed. But upon prayer made for her, she was instantly relieved, and restored to a sound mind. Mon . October 1 . — I rode to Oxford; and found a few who had not yet forsaken the assembling themselves together: To whom I explained that “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.” Tues. 2 . — I went to many, who once heard the word with joy; but “when the sun arose, the seed withered away.” Yet some still desired to follow their Lord. But the world stood fawning or threatening between them. In the evening, I showed them the tender mercies of God, and his readiness still to receive them. The tears ran down many of their cheeks. O thou Lover of souls, seek and save that which is lost! Wed. 3 . — I had a little leisure to take a view of the shattered condition of things here. The poor prisoners, both in the castle and in the city prison, had now none that cared for their souls; none to instruct, advise, comfort, and build them up in the knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus. None was left to visit the workhouses, where, also, we used to meet with the most moving objects of compassion. Our little school, where about twenty poor children, at a time, had been taught for many years, was on the point of being broke up; there being none now, either to support, or to attend it:
At eleven, a little company of us met to in treat God for “the remnant that” was “left.” He immediately gave us a token for good. One who had been long in the gall of bitterness, full of wrath, strife, and envy, particularly against one whom she had once tenderly loved, rose up and showed the change God had wrought in her soul, by falling upon her neck, and, with many tears, kissing her. The same spirit we found reviving in others also; so that we left them not without hope, that the seed which had been sown even here, “shall take root downward, and bear fruit upward.”
About six in the evening, I came to Burford; and at seven, preached to, it was judged, twelve or fifteen hundred people; on, “Christ — made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” Finding many approved of what they had heard, that they might not rest in that approbation, I explained, an hour or two after, the holiness of a Christian; and, in the morning, I showed the way to this holiness, by giving both the false and the true answer to that important question, “What must I do to be saved?”
About three in the afternoon, I came to Mr. Benjamin Seward’s, at Bengeworth, near Evesham. At five, I expounded in his house, (part of the thirteenth chapter of the first of Corinthians,) and at seven, in the school-house; where I invited all who “had nothing to pay,” to come and accept of free forgiveness. In the morning, I preached near Mr. Seward’s house, to a small serious congregation, on those words, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
In the evening, I reached Gloucester. Saturday, 6, at five in the evening, I explained to about a thousand people, the nature, the cause, and the condition, or instrument, of justification; from these words, “To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted to him for righteousness.” Sun . 7 . — A few, I trust, out of two or three thousand, were awakened by the explanation of those words, “Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” About eleven, I preached at Runwick, seven miles from Gloucester. The church was much crowded, though a thousand or upwards stayed in the church-yard. In the afternoon, I explained further the same words, “What must I do to be saved?” I believe some thousands were then present, more than had been in the morning. O what a harvest is here! When will it please our Lord to send more laborers into his harvest?
Between five and six, I called on all who were present (about three thousand) at Stanley, on a little green, near the town, to accept of Christ, as their only “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” I was strengthened to speak as I never did before; and continued speaking near two hours: The darkness of the night, and a little lightning, not lessening the number, but increasing the seriousness, of the hearers. I concluded the day, by expounding part of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, to a small, serious company at Ebly. Mon. 8 . — About eight, I reached Hampton-Common, nine or ten miles from Gloucester. There were, it was computed, five or six thousand persons. I exhorted them all to come unto God, as having “nothing to pay.” I could gladly have stayed longer with this loving people; but I was now straitened for time. After sermon I therefore hastened away, and in the evening came to Bristol. Tues . 9 . — My brother and I rode to Bradford. Finding there had been a general misrepresentation of his last sermon, as if he had asserted reprobation therein, whereby many were greatly offended; he was constrained to explain himself on that head, and to show, in plain and strong words, that God “willeth all men to be saved.” Some were equally offended at this; but whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear, we may not “shun to declare” unto them “all the counsel of God.”
At our return in the evening, not being permitted to meet at Weaver’s Hall, we met in a large room, on Temple-Backs; where, having gone through the Sermon on the Mount, and the Epistles of St. John, I began that of St. James; that those who had already learned the true nature of inward holiness, might be more fully instructed in outward holiness, without which also we cannot see the Lord. Wed. 10 . — Finding many to be in heaviness, whom I had left full of peace and joy, I exhorted them at Baptist-Mills, to “look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” We poured out our complaint before Him in the evening, and found that he was again with us of a truth. One came to us soon after I was gone home, who was still in grievous darkness. But we commended her cause to God, and he immediately restored the light of his countenance. Thur. 11 . — We were comforted by the coming in of one who was a notorious drunkard and common swearer. But he is washed, and old things are passed away. “Such power belongeth unto God.” In the evening our Lord rose on many who were wounded, “with healing in his wings:” And others who till then were careless and at ease, felt the two-edged sword that cometh out of his mouth.
One of these showed the agony of her soul by crying aloud to God for help, to the great offense of many, who eagerly “rebuked her that she should hold her peace.” She continued in great torment all night, finding no rest either of soul or body. But while a few were praying for her in the morning, God delivered her out of her distress. Fri. 12 . — We had fresh occasion to observe the darkness which was fallen on many who lately rejoiced in God. But He did not long hide his face from them. On Wednesday the spirit of many revived: On Thursday evening many more found Him in whom they had believed, to be “a present help in time of trouble.” And never do I remember the power of God to have been more eminently present than this morning; when a cloud of witnesses declared his “breaking the gates of brass, and smiting the bars of iron in sunder.”
Yet I could not but be under some concern, with regard to one or two persons, who were tormented in an unaccountable manner; and seemed to be indeed lunatic, as well as “sore vexed.” But while I was musing, what would be the issue of these things, the answer I received from the word of God was, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men.”
Soon after I was sent for to one of those who was so strangely torn by the devil, that I almost wondered her relations did not say, “Much religion hath made thee mad.” We prayed God to bruise Satan under her feet.
Immediately we had the petition we asked of Him. She cried out vehemently, “He is gone, he is gone!” and was filled with the spirit of love and of a sound mind. I have seen her many times since, strong in the Lord.
When I asked abruptly, “What do you desire now?” she answered, “Heaven.” I asked, “What is in your heart?” She replied, “God.” I asked, “But how is your heart when any thing provokes you?” She said, “By the grace of God, I am not provoked at any thing. All the things of this world pass by me as shadows.” “Ye have seen the end of the Lord.” Is he not “very pitiful and of tender mercy?”
We had a refreshing meeting at one with many of our society; who fail not to observe, as health permits, the weekly fast of our Church, and will do so, by God’s help, as long as they call themselves members of it: And would to God, all who contend for the rites and ceremonies of the Church, (perhaps with more zeal than meekness of wisdom,) would first show their own regard for her discipline, in this more important branch of it!
At four I preached near the Fish-Ponds, (at the desire of one who had long labored under the apprehension of it,) on the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost; that is, according to the plain scriptural account, the openly and maliciously asserting, that the miracles of Christ were wrought by the power of the devil. Sat. 13 . — I was with one who, being in deep anguish of spirit, had been the day before to ask a Clergyman’s advice. He told her, her head was out of order, and she must go and take physic. In the evening we called upon God for medicine, to heal those that were “broken in heart.” And five who had long been in the shadow of death, knew they were “passed from death unto life.”
The sharp frost in the morning, Sunday, 14, did not prevent about fifteen hundred from being at Hannam; to whom I called, in the words of our gracious Master, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
In the evening we claimed and received the promise, for several who were “weary and heavy-laden.” Mon. 15 . — Upon a pressing invitation, some time since received, I set out for Wales. About four in the afternoon I preached on a little green, at the foot of the Devauden, (a high hill, two or three miles beyond Chepstow,) to three or four hundred plain people, on, “Christ our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” After sermon, one who I trust is an old disciple of Christ, willingly received us into his house: Whither many following, I showed them their need of a Savior, from these words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” In the morning I described more fully the way to salvation, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved:” And then, taking leave of my friendly host, before two came to Abergavenny.
I felt in myself a strong aversion to preaching here. However, I went to Mr. W——, (the person in whose ground Mr. Whitefield preached,) to desire the use of it. He said, with all his heart, — if the Minister was not willing to let me have the use of the church: After whose refusal, (for I wrote a line to him immediately,) he invited me to his house. About a thousand people stood patiently, (though the frost was sharp, it being after sunset,) while, from Acts 28:22, I simply described the plain, old religion of the Church of England, which is now almost everywhere spoken against, under the new name of Methodism. An hour after, I explained it a little more fully, in a neighboring house, showing how “God hath exalted Jesus to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance and remission of sins.” Wed. 17 . — The frost was sharper than before. However, five or six hundred people stayed, while I explained the nature of that salvation which is through faith, yea, faith alone: And the nature of that living faith, through which cometh this salvation. About noon, I came to ask, where I preached to a small company of poor people, on those words, “The Son of Man is come to save that which was lost.” One gray headed man wept and trembled exceedingly: And another who was there, I have since heard, as well as two or three who were at the Devauden, are gone quite distracted; that is, they mourn and refuse to be comforted, till they “have redemption through his blood.”
When I came to Ponty-Pool in the afternoon, being unable to procure any more convenient place, I stood in the street, and cried aloud to five or six hundred attentive hearers, to “believe in the Lord Jesus,” that they might “be saved.” In the evening I showed his willingness to save all who desire to come unto God through Him. Many were melted into tears. It may be, that some will “bring forth fruit with patience.” Thur. 18 . — I endeavored to cut them off from all false supports and vain dependencies, by explaining and applying that fundamental truth, “To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
When we were at the Devauden on Monday, a poor woman, who lived six miles off, came thither in great heaviness. She was deeply convinced of sin, and weary of it; but found no way to escape from it. She walked from thence to Abergavenny on Tuesday, and on Wednesday from Abergavenny to Ask. Thence, in the afternoon, she came to Ponty-Pool; where, between twelve and one in the morning, after a sharp contest in her soul, our Lord got unto himself the victory; and the love to God was shed abroad in her heart, knowing that her sins were forgiven her. She went on her way rejoicing to Cardiff; whither I came in the afternoon. And about five (the Minister not being willing I should preach in the church on a week-day) I preached in the Shire Hall, (a large convenient place,) on, “Believe, and thou shalt be saved.” Several were there who labored much to make a disturbance. But our Lord suffered them not. At seven I explained to a much more numerous audience, the blessedness of mourning, and poverty of spirit. Deep attention sat on the faces of the hearers; many of whom, I trust, have “believed our report.” Fri. 19 . — I preached in the morning at Newport, on, “What must I do to be saved?” to the most insensible, ill-behaved people I have ever seen in Wales. One ancient man, during a great part of the sermon, cursed and swore almost incessantly; and, towards the conclusion, took up a great stone, which he many times attempted to throw. But that he could not do. — Such the champions, such the arms, against field-preaching!
At four I preached at the Shire-Hall of Cardiff again, where many gentry, I found, were present. Such freedom of speech I have seldom had, as was given me in explaining those words, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” At six almost the whole town (I was informed) came together, to whom I explained the six last Beatitudes; but my heart was so enlarged, I knew not how to give over, so that we continued three hours. O may the seed they have received, have its fruit unto holiness, and in the end everlasting life! Sat. 20 . — I returned to Bristol. I have seen no part of England so pleasant for sixty or seventy miles together, as those parts of Wales I have been in.
And most of the inhabitants are indeed ripe for the Gospel. I mean (if the expression appear strange) they are earnestly desirous of being instructed in it; and as utterly ignorant of it they are, as any Creek or Cherokee Indians. I do not mean they are ignorant of the name of Christ. Many of them can say both the Lord’s Prayer and the Belief. Nay, and some, all the Catechism: But take them out of the road of what they have learned by rote, and they know no more (nine in ten of those with whom I conversed) either of Gospel salvation, or of that faith whereby alone we can be saved, than Chicali or Tomo Chachi. Now, what spirit is he of, who had rather these poor creatures should perish for lack of knowledge, than that they should be saved, even by the exhortations of Howel Harris, or an Itinerant Preacher?
Finding a slackness creeping in among them who had begun to run well, on Sunday, 21, both in the morning and afternoon, I enforced those words, “As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” In the evening I endeavored to quicken them farther, by describing pure and undefiled religion: And the next day, to encourage them in pursuing it, by enforcing those words of our blessed Master, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Tues. 23 . — In riding to Bradford, I read over Mr. Law’s book on the New Birth: Philosophical, speculative, precarious; Behmenish, void, and vain! O what a fall is there!
Returning in the evening, I was exceedingly pressed to go back to a young woman in Kingswood. (The fact I nakedly relate, and leave every man to his own judgment of it.) I went. She was nineteen or twenty years old; but, it seems, could not write or read. I found her on the bed, two or three persons holding her. It was a terrible sight. Anguish, horror, and despair, above all description, appeared in her pale face. The thousand distortions of her whole body showed how the dogs of hell were gnawing her heart.
The shrieks intermixed were scarce to be endured. But her stony eyes could not weep. She screamed out, as soon as words could find their way, “I am damned, damned; lost for ever. Six days ago you might have helped me. But it is past. I am the devil’s now. I have given myself to him. His I am. Him I must serve. With him I must go to hell. I will be his. I will serve him. I will go with him to hell. I cannot be saved. I will not be saved. I must, I will, I will be damned.” She then began praying to the devil. We began, Arm of the Lord, awake, awake!
She immediately sunk down as asleep; but, as soon as we left off, broke out again, with inexpressible vehemence: “Stony hearts, break! I am a warning to you. Break, break, poor stony hearts! Will you not break?
What can be done more for stony hearts? I am damned, that you may be saved. Now break, now break, poor stony hearts! You need not be damned, though I must.” She then fixed her eyes on the corner of the ceiling, and said, “There he is; ay, there he is. Come, good devil, come.
Take me away. You said you would dash my brains out; come, do it quickly. I am yours. I will be yours. Come just now. Take me away.” We interrupted her by calling again upon God: On which she sunk down as before: And another young woman began to roar out as loud as she had done. My brother now came in, it being about nine o’clock. We continued in prayer till past eleven; when God in a moment spoke peace into the soul, first of the first tormented, and then of the other. And they both joined in singing praise to Him who had “stilled the enemy and the avenger.” Wed. 24 . — I preached at Baptist-Mills on those words of St. Paul, speaking in the person of one “under the law,” (that is, still “carnal, and sold under sin,” though groaning for deliverance,) “I know that in me dwelleth no good thing.” A poor woman told me afterwards, “I does hope as my husband won’t hinder me any more. For I minded he did shiver every bone of him, and the tears ran down his cheeks like the rain.” I warned our little society in the evening, to beware of levity, slackness in good works, and despising little things; which had caused many to fall again into bondage. Thur. 25 . — I was sent for to one in Bristol, who was taken ill the evening before. (This fact too I will simply relate, so far as I was an ear or eye witness of it.) She lay on the ground, furiously gnashing her teeth, and after a while roared aloud. It was not easy for three or four persons to hold her, especially when the name of Jesus was named. We prayed; the violence of her symptoms ceased, though without a complete deliverance.
In the evening, being sent for to her again, I was unwilling, indeed, afraid, to go: Thinking it would not avail, unless some who were strong in faith were to wrestle with God for her. I opened my Testament on those words, “I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth.” I stood reproved, and went immediately. She began screaming before I came into the room; then broke out into a horrid laughter, mixed with blasphemy, grievous to hear. One who from many circumstances apprehended a preternatural agent to be concerned in this, asking, “How didst thou dare to enter into a Christian?” was answered, “She is not a Christian. She is mine.” Q. “Dost thou not tremble at the name of Jesus?” No words followed, but she shrunk back and trembled exceedingly. Q. “Art thou not increasing thy own damnation?” It was faintly answered, “Ay, ay:” Which was followed by fresh cursing and blaspheming.
My brother coming in, she cried out, “Preacher! Field preacher! I don’t love field-preaching.” This was repeated two hours together, with spitting, and all the expressions of strong aversion.
We left her at twelve, but called again about noon on Friday, 26. And now it was that God showed He heareth the prayer. All her pangs ceased in a moment: She was filled with peace, and knew that the son of wickedness was departed from her. Sat. 27 . — I was sent for to Kingswood again, to one of those who had been so ill before. A violent rain began just as I set out, so that I was thoroughly wet in a few minutes. Just at that time, the woman (then three miles off) cried out, “Yonder comes Wesley, galloping as fast as he can.”
When I was come, I was quite cold and dead, and fitter for sleep than prayer. She burst out into a horrid laughter, and said, “No power, no power; no faith, no faith. She is mine; her soul is mine. I have her, and will not let her go.”
We begged of God to increase our faith. Meanwhile her pangs increased more and more; so that one would have imagined, by the violence of the throes, her body must have been shattered to pieces. One who was clearly convinced this was no natural disorder, said, “I think Satan is let loose. I fear he will not stop here.” And added, “I command thee, in the name of the Lord Jesus, to tell if thou hast commission to torment any other soul?”
Sun. 28 . — I preached once more at Bradford, at one in the afternoon. The violent rains did not hinder more, I believe, than ten thousand, from earnestly attending to what I spoke on those solemn words, “I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”
Returning in the evening, I called at Mrs. J——’s, in Kingswood. S——y J——s and L——y C——r were there. It was scarce a quarter of an hour, before L——y C——r fell into a strange agony; and presently after, S— —y J——s. The violent convulsions all over their bodies were such as words cannot describe. Their cries and groans were too horrid to be born; till one of them, in a tone not to be expressed, said, “Where is your faith now? Come, go to prayers. I will pray with you. ‘Our Father, which art in heaven.”’ We took the advice, from whomsoever it came, and poured out our souls before God, till L——y C——r’s agonies so increased, that it seemed she was in the pangs of death. But in a moment God spoke: She knew his voice; and both her body and soul were healed.
We continued in prayer till near one, when S—— J——’s voice was also changed, and she began strongly to call upon God. This she did for the greatest part of the night. In the morning we renewed our prayers, while she was crying continually, “I burn! I burn! O what shall I do? I have a fire within me. I cannot bear it. Lord Jesus! Help!” — Amen, Lord Jesus! when thy time is come. Wed. 31 . I strongly enforced on those who imagine they believe, and do not, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” The power of God was in an unusual manner present at the meeting of the Bands in the evening. Six or seven were deeply convinced of their unfaithfulness to God; and two filled again with his love. But poor Mary W—— remained as one without hope. Her soul refused comfort.
She could neither pray herself, nor bear to hear us. At last she cried out, “give me the book, and I will sing.” She begin giving out line by line, (but with such an accent as art could never reach,) Why do these cares my soul divide, If thou indeed hast set me free?
Heavily moves my damned soul — Here we were obliged to interrupt her: We again betook ourselves to prayer, and her heart was eased, though not set at liberty. Thur . November 1 . — I set out, and the next evening came to Reading, where a little company of us met in the evening; at which the zealous mob was so enraged, they were ready to tear the house down. Therefore I hope God has a work to do in this place. In thy time let it be fulfilled!
About this time I received a letter from the author of those reflections which I mentioned July 31. An extract of which I have subjoined: — “REVEREND SIR, “AS I wrote the Rules and Considerations, (in No. 25 of ‘Country Common Sense,’) with an eye to Mr. Whitefield, yourself, and your opposers, from a sincere desire to do some service to Christianity, according to the imperfect notions I had at that time of the real merits of the cause; I, at the same time, resolved to take any opportunity that should offer for my better information. “On this principle it was that I made one of your audience, October 23, at Bradford. And because I thought I could form the best judgment of you and your doctrines from your sermon, I resolved to hear that first; which was the reason, that although, by accident, I was at the same house, and walked two miles with you, to the place you preached at, I spoke little or nothing to you. I must confess, Sir, that the discourse you made that day, wherein you pressed your hearers in the closest manner, and with the authority of a true Minister of the Gospel, not to stop at faith ONLY, but to add to it all virtues, and to show forth their faith by every kind of good works, convinced me of the great wrong done you by a public report, common in people’s mouths, that you preach faith without works; for that is the only ground of prejudice which any true Christian can have; and is the sense in which your adversaries would take your words when they censure them. For that we are justified by faith only is the doctrine of Jesus Christ, the doctrine of his Apostles, and the doctrine of the Church of England. I am ashamed, that after having lived twenty-nine years, since my baptism into this faith, I should speak of it in the lame, unfaithful, I may say false manner I have done in the paper above-mentioned! — What mere darkness is man when truth hideth her face from him! “Man is by nature a sinner, the child of the devil, under God’s wrath, in a state of damnation. The Son of God took pity on this our misery: He made himself man, he made himself sin for us; that is, he hath born the punishment of our sin; ‘the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.’ To receive this boundless mercy, this inestimable benefit, we must have faith in our Benefactor, and through him in God. But then, true faith is not a lifeless principle, as your adversaries seem to understand it. They and you mean quite another thing by faith.
They mean, a bare believing that Jesus is the Christ. You mean, a living, growing, purifying principle, which is the root both of inward and outward holiness; both of purity and good works; without which no man can have faith, at least, no other than a dead faith. “This, Sir, you explained in your sermon at Bradford, Sunday, October 28, to near ten thousand people, who all stood to hear you with awful silence and great attention. I have since reflected how much good the Clergy might do, if, instead of shunning, they would come to hear and converse with you; and in their churches and parishes, would farther enforce those catholic doctrines which you preach; and which, I am glad to see, have such a surprising good effect on great numbers of souls. “I think, indeed, too many Clergymen are culpable, in that they do not inform themselves better of Mr. Whitefield, yourself, and your doctrines, from your own mouths: I am persuaded if they did this with a Christian spirit, the differences between you would soon be at an end. Nay, I think, those whose flocks resort so much to hear you, ought to do it out of their pastoral duty to them; that if you preach good doctrine, they may edify them on the impressions so visibly made by your sermons, or, if evil, they may reclaim them from error. “I shall conclude this letter with putting you in mind, in all your sermons, writings, and practice, nakedly to follow the naked Jesus: I mean, to preach the pure doctrine of the gospel without respect of persons or things. Many Preachers, many Reformers, many Missionaries, have fallen by not observing this; by not having continually in mind, ‘Whoever shall break the least of these commandments, and teach men so he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.’”