REV. MR. JOHN WESLEY’S JOURNAL
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FROM OCTOBER 29, 1762, TO MAY 25, 1765.
NUMBER JOURNAL FROM OCTOBER 29, 1762, TO MAY 25, 1765. Fri . October 29, 1762.
— I left Bristol, and the next day came to London. Monday, NOVEMBER 1. I went down to Canterbury. Here I seriously reflected on some late occurrences; and, after weighing the matter thoroughly, wrote as follows: - “WITHOUT any preface or ceremony, which is needless between you and me, I will simply and plainly tell what I dislike in your doctrine, spirit, or outward behavior. When I say yours, I include brother Bell and Owen, and those who are most closely connected with them. “1. I like your doctrine of Perfection, or pure love; love excluding sin; your insisting that it is merely by faith; that consequently it is instantaneous, (though preceded and followed by a gradual work,) and that it may be now, at this instant. “But I dislike your supposing man may be as perfect as an angel; that he can be absolutely perfect; that he can be infallible, or above being tempted; or that the moment he is pure in heart, he cannot fall from it. “I dislike the saying, this was not known or taught among us till within two or three years. I grant you did not know it. You have over and over denied instantaneous sanctification to me; but I have known and taught it (and so has my brother, as our writings show) above these twenty years. “I dislike your directly or indirectly depreciating justification; saying, a justified person is not in Christ, is not born of God, is not a new creature, has not a new heart, is not sanctified, not a temple of the Holy Ghost; or that he cannot please God, or cannot grow in grace. “I dislike your saying that one saved from sin needs nothing more than looking to Jesus; needs not to hear or think of any thing else; believe, believe, is enough; that he needs no self-examination, no times of private prayer; needs not mind little or outward things; and that he cannot be taught by any person who is not in the same state. “I dislike your affirming that justified persons in general persecute them that are saved from sin; that they have persecuted you on this account; and that for two years past you have been more persecuted by the two brothers, than ever you was by the world in all your life. “2. As to your spirit, I like your confidence in God, and your zeal for the salvation of souls. “But I dislike something which has the appearance of pride, of overvaluing yourselves, and undervaluing others; particularly the Preachers; thinking not only that they are blind, and that they are not sent of God, but even that they are dead; dead to God, and walking in the way to hell; that they are going one way, you another; that they have no life in them. Your speaking of yourselves, as though you were the only men who knew and taught the Gospel; and as if, not only all the Clergy, but all the Methodists besides, were in utter darkness. “I dislike something that has the appearance of enthusiasm, overvaluing feelings and inward impressions; mistaking the mere work of imagination for the voice of the Spirit; expecting the end without the means, and undervaluing reason, knowledge, and wisdom in general. “I dislike something that has the appearance of Anti-nomianism, not magnifying the Law, and making it honorable; not enough valuing tenderness of conscience, and exact watchfulness in order thereto; using faith rather as contra distinguished from holiness, than as productive of it. “But what I most of all dislike is, your littleness of love to your brethren, to your own society; your want of union of heart with them, and bowels of mercies toward them; your want of meekness, gentleness, long-suffering; your impatience of contradiction; your counting every man your enemy that reproves or admonishes you in love; your bigotry, and narrowness of spirit, loving in a manner only those that love you; your censoriousness, proneness to think hardly of all who do not exactly agree with you; in one word, your divisive spirit. Indeed I do not believe that any of you either design or desire a separation; but you do not enough fear, abhor, and detest it, shuddering at the very thought: And all the preceding tempers tend to it, and gradually prepare you for it. Observe, I tell you before. God grant you may immediately and affectionately take the warning! “3. As to your outward behavior, I like the general tenor of your life, devoted to God, and spent in doing good. “But I dislike your slighting any, the very least Rules of the Bands or society; and your doing anything that tends to hinder others from exactly observing them. Therefore, “I dislike your appointing such meetings as hinder others from attending either the public preaching, or their class or band; or any other meeting, which the Rules of the society, or their office requires them to attend. “I dislike your spending so much time in several meetings, as many that attend can ill spare from the other duties of their calling, unless they omit either the preaching, or their class, or band. This naturally tends to dissolve our society, by putting the sinews of it. “As to your more public meetings, I like the praying fervently and largely for all the blessings of God; and I know much good has been done hereby, and hope much more will be done. “But I dislike several things therein: 1. The singing, or speaking, or praying, of several at once: 2. The praying to the Son of God only, or more than to the Father: 3. The rising improper expressions in prayer; sometimes too bold, if not irreverent; sometimes too pompous and magnificent, extolling yourselves rather than God, and telling him what you are, not what you want: 4. Using poor, flat, bald hymns: 5. The never kneeling at prayer: 6. Your using postures or gestures highly indecent: 7. Your screaming, even so as to make the words unintelligible: 8. Your affirming, people will be justified or sanctified just now: 9. The affirming they are, when they are not: 10 . The bidding them say, ‘I believe:’ 11. The bitterly condemning any that oppose, calling them wolves, etc.; and pronouncing them hypocrites, or not justified. “Read this calmly and impartially before the Lord, in prayer: So shall the evil cease, and the good remain; and you will then be more than ever united to “Your affectionate brother, “Canterbury, Nov. 2, 1762. JOHN WESLEY.” Sat. 6. — Having had more satisfaction here than I had for many years, I cheerfully commended the little flock to God.
In the way to London I read “The Death of Abel.” That manner of writing, in prose run mad, I cordially dislike: Yet, with all that disadvantage, it is excellent in its kind; as much above most modern poems, as it is below “Paradise Lost.”
I had hopes of seeing a friend at Lewisham in my way; and so I did; but it was in her coffin. It is well, since she finished her course with joy. In due time I shall see her in glory. Mon. 8. — I began visiting the classes; in many of which we had hot spirits to deal with. Some were vehement for, some against, the meetings for prayer, which were in several parts of the town. I said little, being afraid of taking any step which I might afterwards repent of. One I heard of on Friday, and five on Saturday, who, if I did not act as they thought best, would leave the society. I cannot help it. I must still be guided by my own conscience. Tues. 16. — I preached at Deptford and Welling, and Wednesday, 17, rode on to Sevenoaks. But it was with much difficulty; for it was a sharp frost, and our horses could very hardly keep their feet. Here, likewise, I found several who believed that God had cleansed them from all sin; and all of them (except perhaps one) lived so that one might believe them. Fri. 19. — I called upon Jane Cooper, praising God in the fires. The next day I saw her for the last time, in every thing giving thanks, and overcoming all by the blood of the Lamb. A day or two after she fell asleep.
From Monday, 22, to Friday, 26, I was employed in answering the Bishop of Gloucester’s book. Wednesday, 24. Being determined to hear for myself, I stood where I could hear and see, without being seen. George Bell prayed, in the whole pretty near an hour. His fervor of spirit I could not but admire. I afterwards told him what I did not admire; namely, 1. His screaming, every now and then, in so strange a manner, that one could scarce tell what he said: 2. His thinking he had the miraculous discernment of spirits: And, 3 . His sharply condemning his opposers. Thur. 25. — I buried the remains of Jane Cooper, a pattern of all holiness, and of the wisdom which is from above; who was snatched hence before she had lived five-and-twenty years. In good time! God, who knew the tenderness of her spirit, took her away “from the evil to come.” Mon. 29. — I retired, to transcribe my answer to Bishop Warburton. My fragments of time I employed in reading, and carefully considering, the lives of Magdalen de Pazzi, and some other eminent Romish saints. I could not but observe, 1. That many things related therein are highly improbable. I fear the relators did not scruple lying for the Church, or for the credit of their Order: 2. That many of their reputed virtues were really no virtues at all; being no fruits of the love of God or man, and no part of the mind which was in Christ Jesus: 3. That many of their applauded actions were neither commendable nor imitable: 4. That what was really good, in their tempers or lives, was so deeply tinctured with enthusiasm, that most readers would be far more likely to receive hurt than good from these accounts of them. Sat . Dec. 4. — At the desire of Mr. Maxfield, and the seeming desire of themselves, I baptized two foreigners, (one of them in a Turkish habit,) who professed themselves to have been Turks. On this I then remarked, “They may be what they profess, but I wait for farther evidence. Their story is extremely plausible; it may be true, or it may not.” Sun. 5. — To take away one ground of contention from many well-meaning people, in preaching on, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard-seed,” I endeavored to show at large, in what sense sanctification is gradual, and in what sense it is instantaneous: And (for the present, at least) many were delivered from vain reasonings and disputings. Monday , 6, and the following days, I corrected the notes upon the Revelation. O, how little do we know of this deep book! At least, how little do I know! I can barely conjecture, not affirm any one point concerning that part of it which is yet unfulfilled. Wed. 8. — I had a second opportunity of hearing George Bell. I believe part of what he said was from God, (this was my reflection at that time,) part from an heated imagination. But as he did not scream, and there was nothing dangerously wrong, I did not yet see cause to hinder him.
All this time I observed a few of our brethren were diligently propagating that principle, that none can teach those who are renewed in love, unless he be in the state himself. I saw the tendency of this; but I saw that violent remedies would not avail. Mon. 13. — I mentioned this to some of my friends, and told them what would be the consequence. But they could not believe it: So I let it rest; only desiring them to remember I had told them before. Sun. 19. — From Matthew 18:3, I endeavored to show those who use the word without understanding it, what Christian simplicity properly is, and what it is not. It is not ignorance or folly; it is not enthusiasm or credulity. It is faith, humility, willingness to be taught, and freedom from evil reasonings. Tues. 21. — I had an opportunity of looking over the register of St. Luke’s Hospital; and I was surprised to observe, that three in four (at least) of those who are admitted receive a cure. I doubt this is not the case of any other lunatic hospital either in Great Britain or Ireland. Wed. 22. — I heard George Bell once more, and was convinced he must not continue to pray at the Foundery. The reproach of Christ I am willing to bear; but not the reproach of enthusiasm, if I can help it. Sat. 25. — We met at the chapel in Spitalfields, to renew our covenant with God; and he did indeed appear in the midst of the congregation, and answer as it were by fire. Sun. 26. — That I might do nothing hastily, I permitted George Bell to be once more (this evening) at the chapel in West-street, and once more (on Wednesday evening) at the Foundery. But it was worse and worse: He now spoke as from God, what I knew God had not spoken. I therefore desired that he would come thither no more.
I well hoped this would a little repress the impetuosity of a few good but mistaken men; especially considering the case of Benjamin Harris, the most impetuous of them all. A week or two ago, as he was working in his garden, he was struck raving mad. He continued so till Tuesday, December 21, when he lay still and sensible, but could not speak; till, on Wednesday morning, his spirit returned to God. Fri. 31. — I now stood and looked back on the past year; a year of uncommon trials and uncommon blessings. Abundance have been convinced of sin; very many have found peace with God; and in London only, I believe full two hundred have been brought into glorious liberty.
And yet I have had more care and trouble in six months, than in several years preceding. What the end will be, I know not; but it is enough that God knoweth. Sat . January 1,1763. — A woman told me, “Sir, I employ several men.
Now, if one of my servants will not follow my direction, is it not right for me to discard him at once? Pray, do you apply this to Mr. Bell.” I answered, “It is right to discard such a servant; but what would you do if he were your son?” Wed. 5. — Having procured one who understood Spanish to interpret, I had a long conversation with the supposed Turks. One account they gave of themselves then; a second they soon after gave to Mrs. G. I observed the account now given, which I read over to them, in some particulars differed from both. This increased my fear, though I still hoped the best; till Mr. B. procured a Jew to talk with them, who understood both Turkish and Spanish; upon whose questioning them thoroughly, they contradicted all the accounts given before. And upon the elder of them mentioning Solomon Selim, a Jewish Merchant, of Amsterdam, one who knew him wrote to Solomon about him; who answered, he had known him upwards of fourteen years; that he was a Spanish Jew, a Physician by profession; that some years since he had cured him of a dangerous illness; in gratitude for which he had given him ten pounds, to carry him over to England. Fri. 7. — I desired George Bell, with two or three of his friends, to meet me with one or two others. We took much pains to convince him of his mistakes; particularly that which he had lately adopted, — that the end of the world was to be on February 28th; which at first he had earnestly withstood. But we could make no impression upon him at all. He was as unmoved as a rock. Sun. 9. — I endeavored (from 1 Corinthians 12:11, and the following verses) to guard the sincere against all thoughts of separating from their brethren, by showing what need all the members of the body have of each other. But those who wanted the caution most, turned all into poison. Mon. 10. — I rode to Shoreham, and paid the last office of love to Mrs. Perronet. Wednesday, 12. I returned to London and the next day strongly enforced, on a large congregation at the Foundery, the words of Isaiah, (never more needful,) “He that believeth shall not make haste.” Mon. 17. — I rode to Lewisham, and wrote my sermon to be preached before the Society for Reformation of Manners. Sunday, 23. In order to check if not stop, a growing evil, I preached on, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” But it had just the contrary effect on many, who construed it into a satire upon G. Bell: One of whose friends said, “If the devil had been in the pulpit, he would not have preached such a sermon.”
All this time, I did not want for information from all quarters, that Mr. M. was at the bottom of all this; that he was the life of the cause; that he was continually spiriting up all with whom I was intimate against me; that he told them I was not capable of teaching them, and insinuated that none was but himself; and that the inevitable consequence, must be a division in the society.
Yet I was not without hope that, by bearing all things, I should overcome evil with good, till on Tuesday, 25, while I was sitting with many of our brethren, Mrs. Coventry (then quite intimate with Mr. M.) came in, threw down her ticket, with those of her husband, daughters, and servants, and said they would hear two doctrines no longer. They had often said before, Mr. M. preached Perfection, but Mr. W. pulled it down. So I did, that perfection of Benjamin Harris, G. Bell, and all who abetted them. So the breach is made! The water is let out. Let those who can, gather it up.
I think it was on Fiday, 28, that I received a letter from John Fox, and another from John and Elizabeth Dixon, declaring the same thing. Friday, FEBRUARY 4. Daniel Owens and G. Bell told me they should stay in the society no longer. The next day, Robert Lee, with five or six of his friends, spake to the same effect.
I now seriously considered whether it was in my power to have prevented this. I did not see that it was; for though I had heard, from time to time, many objections to Mr. M.’s conduct, there was no possibility of clearing them up. Above a year ago I desired him to meet me with some that accused him, that I might hear them face to face; but his answer was as follows: — “December 28, 1761. “ I HAVE considered the thing, since you spoke to me, about meeting at Mrs. March’s. And I do not think to be there, or to meet them at any time. It is enough that I was arraigned at the Conference.” (At which I earnestly defended him, and silenced all his accusers.) “I am not convinced that it is my duty to make James Morgan, etc., my judges. If you, Sir, or any one of them, have any thing to say to me alone, I will answer as far as I see good.”
The next month I wrote him a long letter, telling him mildly all I heard or feared concerning him. He took it as a deep afront; and in consequence thereof wrote as follows: — “January 14, 1762. “IF you call me proud or humble, angry or meek, it seems to sit much the same on my heart. If you call me John or Judas, Moses or Korah, I am content. As to a separation, I have no such thought; if you have, and now (as it were) squeeze blood out of a stone, be it to yourself.”
Several months after, hearing some rumors, I again wrote to him freely. In his answer were the following words: — “September 23, 1762. “EXPERIENCE teaches me daily, that they that preach salvation from the nature of sin, will have the same treatment from the others as they had and have from the world: But I am willing to bear it. Your brother is gone out of town. Had he stayed much longer, and continued, Sunday after Sunday, to hinder me from preaching, he would have forced me to have got a place to preach in, where I should not have heard what I think the highest truths contradicted.”
In his next letter, he explained himself a little farther:— “October 16,1762. “WE have great opposition on every side. Nature, the world, and the devil, will never be reconciled to Christian perfection. But the great wonder is, that Christians will not be reconciled to it; all, almost every one who call themselves Ministers of Christ, or Preachers of Christ, contend for sin to remain in the heart as long as we live, as though it were the only thing Christ delighted to behold in his members. “I long to have your heart set at full liberty. I know you will then see things in a wonderful different light from what it is possible to see them before.”
The day after the first separation, viz., January 26, I wrote him the following note: — “My Dear Brother, “FOR many years I, and all the Preachers in connection with me, have taught that every believer may, and ought to grow in grace.
Lately, you have taught, or seemed to teach, the contrary. The effect of this is, when I speak as I have done from the beginning, those who believe what you say will not bear it. Nay, they will renounce connection with us; as Mr. and Mrs. Coventry did last night. This breach lies wholly upon you. You have contradicted what I taught from the beginning. Hence it is, that many cannot bear it, but when I speak as I always have done, they separate from the society. Is this for your honor, or to the glory of God? “O Tommy, seek counsel, not from man, but God; not from brother B--, but Jesus Christ! I am “Your affectionate brother, “J. W.” Things now ripened apace for a farther separation; to prevent which, (if it were possible,) I desired all our Preachers, as they had time, to be present at all meetings, when I could not myself, particularly at the Friday meeting in the chapel at West-Street. At this Mr. M. was highly offended, and wrote to me as follows: — “February 5, 1763. “ I WROTE to you to ask if those who before met at brother Guilford’s might not meet in the chapel. Soon after you came to town, the Preachers were brought into the meeting, though you told me again and again they should not come.” (True; but since I said this, there has been an entire change in the situation of things.) “Had I known this, I would rather have paid for a room out of my own pocket. I am not speaking of the people that met at the Foundery before; though I let some of them come to that meeting.
If you intend to have the Preachers there to watch, and others that I think very unfit, and will not give me liberty to give leave to some that I think fit to be there, I shall not think it my duty to meet them.” So from this time he kept a separate meeting elsewhere. Sun. 6. — Knowing many were greatly tempted on occasion of these occurrences, I preached on, ( 1 Corinthians 10:13,) “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” In the evening we had a love-feast, at which many spoke with all simplicity; and their words were like fire. I hardly know when we have had so refreshing a season. Mon. 7. — One who is very intimate with them that had left us, told me in plain terms, “Sir, the case lies here: They say you are only an hypocrite, and therefore they can have no fellowship with you.”
So now the wonder is over. First, it was revealed to them, that all the people were dead to God. Then they saw that all the Preachers were so too; only, for a time, they excepted me. At last they discern me to be blind and dead too. Now let him help them that can! Thur. 10. — I rode to Brentford, expecting to find disagreeable work there also; but I was happily disappointed. Not one seemed inclined to leave the society, and some were added to it; and the congregation was not only quiet, but more deeply attentive than is usual in this place.
Hence I rode, on Friday, 11, to Shoreham, and buried the remains of Mrs. P., who, after a long, distressing illness, on Saturday, the 5th instant, fell asleep. Sat. 12. — I visited the classes at Snowsfields, where I was told many would go away; but the time was not come. As yet we have lost none; though some are held as by a single hair. Tues. 15. — I rode to Deptford, and found the society there united in faith and love. During the sermon in the afternoon, one poor mourner found peace with God. In the evening I preached at Welling, and on Wednesday, 16, rode on to Sevenoaks. Here I was grieved to find one who did run well quite hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. But in the evening, God looked upon him once more, and melted him into tears of love. Thur. 17. — Light from above broke into the heart of another hard-hearted sinner. At the same time many were delivered from doubts and fears, and “knew the things which were freely given them of God.” On Friday I returned to London. Mon. 21. — Observing the terror occasioned by that wonderful prophecy to spread far and wide, I endeavored to draw some good therefrom, by strongly exhorting the congregation at Wapping, to “seek the Lord while he might be found.” But at the same time I thought it incumbent upon me to declare (as indeed I had done from the hour I heard it) that “it must be false, if the Bible be true.”
The three next days I spent in the tedious work of transcribing the names of the society. I found about thirty of those who thought they were saved from sin had separated from their brethren. But above four hundred, who witnessed the same confession, seemed more united than ever. Mon. 28. — Preaching in the evening at Spitalfields, on, “Prepare to meet thy God,” I largely showed the utter absurdity of the supposition, that the world was to end that night. But notwithstanding all I could say, many were afraid to go to bed, and some wandered about in the fields, being persuaded, that, if the world did not end, at least London would be swallowed up by an earthquake. I went to bed at my usual time, and was fast asleep about ten o’clock. Mon . March 7. — I took the machine for Norwich; and after spending a few quiet, comfortable days in Norwich, Yarmouth, and Colchester, without any jar or contention, on Saturday, 19, returned to London. Mon. 28. — I retired to Lewisham, and wrote the sermon on “Sin in Believers,” in order to remove a mistake which some were laboring to propagate, — that there is no sin in any that are justified. Mon . April 11. — Leaving things, as it seemed, pretty well settled in London, I took the machine for Bristol, where, on Tuesday, 19, I paid the last office of love to Nicholas Gilbert, who was a good man, and an excellent Preacher; and likely to have been of great use. But God saw it best to snatch him hence by a fever, in the dawn of his usefulness. Sat. 23. — I returned to London. On Thursday, 28, I was at Westminster, where I had appointed to preach, when word was brought me, about five in the afternoon, that Mr. M——d would not preach at the Foundery. So the breach is made; but I am clear, I have done all I possibly could to prevent it. I walked immediately away, and preached myself, on, “If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”
That I may conclude this melancholy subject at once, and have no need to resume it any more, I add a letter which I wrote some time after, for the information of a friend: — “AT your instance I undertake the irksome task of looking back upon things which I wish to forget forever. I have had innumerable proofs (though such as it would now be an endless task to collect together) of all the facts which I recite. And I recite them as briefly as possible, because I do not desire to aggravate any thing, but barely to place it in a true light. “1. Mr. Maxfield was justified while I was praying with him in Baldwin-Street, Bristol. “2. Not long after he was employed by me as a Preacher in London. “3. Hereby he had access to Mrs. Maxfield, whom otherwise he was never likely to see, much less to marry; from whence all his outward prosperity had its rise. “4. He was by me (by those who did it at my instance) recommended to the Bishop of Derry, to be ordained Priest, who told him then, (I had it from his own mouth,) ‘Mr. M——, I ordain you to assist that good man, that he may not work himself to death.’ “5. When, a few years ago, many censured him much, I continually and strenuously defended him; though to the disgusting several of the Preachers, and a great number of the people. “6. I disgusted them, not barely by defending him but by commending him in strong terms, from time to time, both in public and private, with regard to his uprightness, as well as usefulness. “7. All this time Mr. M—— was complaining (of which I was frequently informed by those to whom he spoke) that he was never so ill persecuted by the rabble in Cornwall, as by me and my brother. “8. Four or five years since, a few persons were appointed to meet weekly at the Foundery. When I left London, I left these under Mr. M.’s care, desiring them to regard him just as they did me. “9. Not long after I was gone, some of these had dreams, visions, or impressions, as they thought, from God. Mr. M. did not put a stop to these; rather he encouraged them. “10. When I returned, I opposed them with my might, and in a short time heard no more of them. Meanwhile I defended and commended Mr. M., as before; and when I left the town again, left them again under his care. “11. Presently visions and revelations returned: Mr. M. did not discourage them. Herewith was now joined a contempt of such as had them not, with a belief that they were proofs of the highest grace. “12. Some of our Preachers opposed them roughly. At this they took fire, and refused to hear them preach, but crowded after Mr. M. He took no pains to quench the fire, but rather availed himself of it to disunite them from other Preachers, and attach them to himself. He likewise continually told them they were not to be taught by man, especially by those who had less grace than themselves. I was told of this likewise from time to time: But he denied it; and I would not believe evil of my friend. “13. When I returned in October, 1763, I found the society in an uproar, and several of Mr. M.’s most intimate friends formed into a detached body. Enthusiasm, pride, and great uncharitableness appeared in many who once had much grace. I very tenderly reproved them.
They would not bear it; one of them, Mrs. C., cried out, ‘We will not be brow-beaten any longer; we will throw off the mask.’ Accordingly, a few days after, she came, and, before an hundred persons, brought me hers and her husband’s tickets, and said, ‘Sir, we will have no more to do with you; Mr. M. is our Teacher.’ Soon after, several more left the society, (one of whom was George Bell,) saying, ‘Blind John is not capable of teaching us; we will keep to Mr. M.’ “14. From the time that I heard of George Bell’s prophecy, I explicitly declared against it both in private, in the society, in preaching, over and over; and, at length, in the public papers. Mr. M. made no such declaration; I have reason to think he believed it. I know many of his friends did, and several of them sat up the last of February, at the house of his most intimate friend, Mr. Biggs, in full expectation of the accomplishment. “15. About this time, one of our Stewards, who, at my desire, took the chapel in Snowsfields for my use, sent me word the chapel was his, and Mr. Bell should exhort there, whether I would or no. Upon this, I desired the next Preacher there to inform the congregation that while things stood thus, neither I nor our Preachers could in conscience preach there any more. “16. Nevertheless, Mr. M. did preach there. On this I sent him a note, desiring him not to do it; and adding, ‘If you do, you thereby renounce connection with me.’ “17. Receiving this, he said, ‘I will preach at Snowsfields.’ He did so, and thereby renounced connection. On this point and no other, we divided: By this act the knot was cut. Resolving to do this, he told Mr. Clementson, ‘I am to preach at the Foundery no more.’ “18. From this time he has spoke all manner of evil of me, his father, his friend, his greatest earthly benefactor. I cite Mr. F——r for one witness of this, and Mr. M——n for another. Did he speak evil of me to Mr. F—— one day only? Nay, but every day for six weeks together. To Mr. M——n he said, (among a thousand other things, which he had been twenty years raking together,) ‘Mr. W. believed and countenanced all which Mr. Bell said; and the reason of my parting was this: He said to me one day, Tommy, I will tell the people you are the greatest Gospel Preacher in England; and you shall tell them I am the greatest. For refusing to do this, Mr. W. put me away!’ “Now, with perfect calmness, and, I verily think, without the least touch of prejudice, I refer it to your own judgment, what connection I ought to have with Mr. M., either till I am satisfied these things are not so, or till he is thoroughly sensible of his fault.” Monday , May 2, and the following days, I was fully employed in visiting the society, and settling the minds of those who had been confused and distressed by a thousand misrepresentations. Indeed, a flood of calumny and evil speaking (as was easily foreseen) was poured out on every side.
My point was still to go straight forward in the work whereto I am called. Mon. 16. — Setting out a month later than usual, I judged it needful to make the more haste; so I took post-chaises, and by that means easily reached Newcastle, on Wednesday, 18. Thence I went on at leisure, and came to Edinburgh on Saturday, 21. The next day I had the satisfaction of spending a little time with Mr. Whitefield. Humanly speaking, he is worn out; but we have to do with Him who hath all power in heaven and earth. Mon. 23. — I rode to Forfar; and on Tuesday, 24, rode on to Aberdeen. Wed. 25. — I inquired into the state of things here. Surely never was there a more open door. The four Ministers of Aberdeen, the Minister of the adjoining town, and the three Ministers of Old-Aberdeen, hitherto seem to have no dislike, but rather to wish us “good luck in the name of the Lord.”
Most of the town’s people as yet seem to wish us well; so that there is no open opposition of any kind. O what spirit ought a Preacher to be of, that he may be able to bear all this sunshine.
About noon I went to Gordon’s Hospital, built near the town for poor children. It is an exceeding handsome building, and (what is not common) kept exceeding clean. The gardens are pleasant, well laid out, and in extremely good order; but the old bachelor who founded it has expressly provided that no woman should ever be there.
At seven, the evening being fair and mild, I preached to a multitude of people, in the College-Close, on, “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths.” But the next evening, the weather being raw and cold, I preached in the College-Hall. What an amazing willingness to hear runs through this whole kingdom! There want only a few zealous, active laborers, who desire nothing but God; and they might soon carry the Gospel through all this country, even as high as the Orkneys. Fri. 27. — I set out for Edinburgh again. About one I preached at Brechin.
All were deeply attentive. Perhaps a few may not be forgetful hearers.
Afterwards we rode on to Broughty-Castle, two or three miles below Dundee. We were in hopes of passing the river here, though we could not at the town; but we found our horses could not pass till eleven or twelve at night. So we judged it would be best to go over ourselves and leave them behind. In a little time we procured a kind of a boat, about half as long as a London wherry, and three or four feet broad. Soon after we had put off, I perceived it leaked on all sides, nor had we anything to lade out the water.
When we came toward the middle of the river, which was three miles over, the wind being high, and the water rough, our boatmen seemed a little surprised; but we encouraged them to pull away, and in less than half an hour we landed safe. Our horses were brought after us; and the next day we rode on to Kinghorn-Ferry, and had a pleasant passage to Leith. Sun. 29. — I preached at seven in the High-School yard Edinburgh. It being the time of the General Assembly, which drew together, not the Ministers only, but abundance of the Nobility and Gentry, many of both sorts were present; but abundantly more at five in the afternoon. I spake as plain as ever I did in my life. But I never knew any in Scotland offended at plain dealing. In this respect the North Britons are a pattern to all mankind. Mon. 30. — I rode to Dunbar. In the evening it was very cold, and the wind was exceeding high: Nevertheless, I would not pen myself up in the Room, but resolved to preach in the open air. We saw the fruit: Many attended, notwithstanding the cold, who never set foot in the Room; and I am still persuaded much good will be done here, if we have zeal and patience. Tues. 31. — I rode to Alnwick, and was much refreshed among a people who have not the form only, but the spirit, of religion, fellowship with God, the living power of faith divine. Wednesday, JUNE 1. I went on to Morpeth, and preached in a ground near the town, to far the most serious congregation which I had ever seen there. At one I preached to the loving colliers in Placey, and in the evening at Newcastle. Sat. 4. — I rode, though much out of order, to Sunderland, and preached in the evening at the Room. I was much worse in the night, but toward morning fell into a sound sleep, and was refreshed. Sunday, 5. I designed to preach abroad this morning; but the wind and rain hindered. So at eight preached in the Room again, purposing to preach in the street at noon; but Mr. Goodday sent me word, he was taken ill in the night, and begged I would supply his church: So at ten I began reading Prayers, though I was so exceeding weak that my voice could scarce be heard; but as I went on, I grew stronger; and before I had half done preaching I suppose all in the church could hear.
The wind drove us into the House at Newcastle likewise; that is, as many as the House would contain; but great numbers were constrained to stand in the yard: However, I suppose all could hear; for my weakness was entirely gone while I was enforcing those important words, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” Mon. 6. — I rode to Barnard-Castle, and preached in the evening, but to such a congregation, not only with respect to number, but to seriousness and composure, as I never saw there before. I intended, after preaching, to meet the society; but the bulk of the people were so eager to hear more, that I could not forbear letting in almost as many as the Room would hold; and it was a day of God’s power: They all seemed to take the kingdom by violence, while they besieged Heaven with vehement prayer. Tues. 7. — So deep and general was the impression now made upon the people, that even at five in the morning I was obliged to preach abroad, by the numbers who flocked to hear, although the northerly wind made the air exceeding sharp. A little after preaching, one came to me who believed God had just set her soul at full liberty. She had been clearly justified long before; but said, the change she now experienced was extremely different from what she experienced then; as different as the noon-day light from that of day-break: That she now felt her soul all love, and quite swallowed up in God. Now suppose, ten weeks or ten months hence, this person should be cold or dead, shall I say, “She deceived herself; this was merely the work of her own imagination?” Not at all. I have no right so to judge, nor authority so to speak. I will rather say, “She was unfaithful to the grace of God, and so cast away what was really given.” Therefore that way of talking which has been very common, of staying “to see if the gift be really given,” which some take to be exceeding wise, I take to be exceeding foolish. If a man says, “I now feel nothing but love,” and I know him to be an honest man, I believe him. What then should I stay to see? Not whether he has such a blessing, but whether he will keep it.
There is something remarkable in the manner wherein God revived his work in these parts. A few months ago the generality of people in this Circuit were exceeding lifeless. Samuel Meggot, perceiving this, advised the society at Barnard-Castle to observe every Friday with fasting and prayer.
The very first Friday they met together, God broke in upon them in a wonderful manner; and his work has been increasing among them ever since. The neighboring societies heard of this, agreed to follow the same rule, and soon experienced the same blessing. Is not the neglect of this plain duty (I mean, fasting, ranked by our Lord with almsgiving and prayer) one general occasion of deadness among Christians? Can any one willingly neglect it, and be guiltless?
In the evening I preached at Yarm; but I found the good doctrine of Christian Perfection had not been heard of there for some time. The wildness of our poor brethren in London has put it out of countenance above two hundred miles off; so these strange advocates for perfection have given it a deeper wound than all its enemies together could do! Wed. 8. — Just as I began preaching (in the open air, the Room being too small even for the morning congregation) the rain began; but it stopped in two or three minutes, I am persuaded, in answer to the prayer of faith.
Incidents of the same kind I have seen abundance of times, and particularly in this journey; and they are nothing strange to them who seriously believe “the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
After preaching at Potto about noon, I rode to Thirsk, intending to preach near the house where I alighted; but several gentlemen of the town sent to desire I would preach in the market place: I did so, to a numerous congregation, most of whom were deeply attentive. I hastened away after preaching, and between nine and ten came to York. Sat. 11. — I rode to Epworth, and preached at seven in the market place. Sunday, 12. I preached at the Room in the morning; in the afternoon, at the market place; and about one, the congregation gathered from all parts in Haxey parish, near Westwood-side. At every place I endeavored to settle the minds of the poor people, who had been not a little harassed by a new doctrine which honest Jonathan C—— and his converts had industriously propagated among them, — that “there is no sin in believers; but, the moment we believe, sin is destroyed, root and branch.” I trust this plague also is stayed: But how ought those unstable ones to be ashamed who are so easily “tossed about with every wind of doctrine!”
I had desired Samuel Meggot to give me some farther account of the late work of God at Barnard-Castle. Part of his answer was as follows: — “June 7, 1763. “WITHIN ten weeks, at least twenty persons in this town have found peace with God, and twenty-eight the pure love of God.
This morning, before you left us, one found peace, and one the second blessing; and after you was gone two more received it. One of these had belonged to the society before; but, after he turned back, had bitterly persecuted his wife, particularly after she professed the being saved from sin. May 29, he came, in a furious rage, to drag her out of the society. One cried out, ‘Let us go to prayer for him.’ Presently he ran away, and his wife went home.
Not long after, he came in like a madman, and swore he would be the death of her. One said, ‘Are you not afraid lest God should smite you?’ He answered, ‘No; let God do his worst, I will make an end of her, and the brats, and myself too, and we will all go to hell together.’ His wife and children fell down, and broke out into prayer. His countenance changed, and he was as quiet as a lamb.
But it was not long before a horrible dread overwhelmed him; he was sore distressed: The hand of God was upon him, and gave him no rest, day or night. On Tuesday, in the afternoon, he went to her who prayed for him when he came to drag his wife out, begging her, with a shower of tears, to pray for his deliverance. On Thursday he wrestled with God till he was as wet all over with sweat as if he had been dipped in water. But that evening God wiped away his tears, and filled him with joy unspeakable. “This morning, while brother Story was at prayer, God gave him a witness in himself, that he had purified his heart. When he was risen from his knees, he could not help declaring it. He now ran to his wife, not to kill her, but to catch her in his arms, that they might praise God, and weep over one another with tears of joy and love.” Mon. 13. — Even in Epworth a few faithful servants of Satan were left, who would not leave any stone unturned to support his tottering kingdom.
A kind of gentleman got a little party together, and took huge pains to disturb the congregation. He hired a company of boys to shout, and made a poor man exceeding drunk, who bawled out such ribaldry and nonsense, while he himself played the French horn. But he had little fruit of his labor. I spoke a few words to their champion, and he disappeared. The congregation was not at all disturbed, but quietly attended to the end. Wed. 15. — I rode to Doncaster; and at ten, standing in an open place, exhorted a wild, yet civil, multitude to “seek the Lord while he might be found.” Thence I went on to Leeds, and declared, to a large congregation, “Now is the day of salvation.” Thursday, 16. At five in the evening I preached at Dewsbury, and on Friday, 17, reached Manchester. Here I received a particular account of a remarkable incident: — An eminent drunkard of Congleton used to divert himself, whenever there was preaching there, by standing over against the House, cursing and swearing at the Preacher. One evening he had a fancy to step in, and hear what the man had to say. He did so; but it made him so uneasy that he could not sleep all night. In the morning he was more uneasy still. He walked in the fields, but all in vain, till it came in his mind to go to one of his merry companions, who was always ready to abuse the Methodists. He told him how he was, and asked what he should do. “Do!” said Samuel, “go and join the society. I will; for I was never so uneasy in my life.” They did so without delay. But presently David cried out “I am sorry I joined; for I shall get drunk again, and they will turn me out.” However, he stood firm for four days: On the fifth, he was persuaded by his old companions to “take one pint,” and then another, and another, till one of them said, “See, here is a Methodist drunk!” David started up, and knocked him over, chair and all. He then drove the rest out of the house, caught up the landlady, carried her out, threw her into the kennel; went back to the house, broke down the door, threw it into the street, and then ran into the fields, tore his hair, and rolled up and down on the ground. In a day or two was a love-feast: He stole in, getting behind, that none might see him. While Mr. Furze was at prayer, he was seized with a dreadful agony, both of body and mind. This caused many to wrestle with God for him. In a while he sprung up on his feet, stretched out his hands, and cried aloud, “All my sins are forgiven!” At the same instant, one on the other side of the Room cried out, “Jesus is mine! And he has taken away all my sins.” This was Samuel H. David burst through the people, caught him in his arms, and said, “Come, let us sing the Virgin Mary’s Song: I never could sing it before. ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit doth rejoice in God my Savior.’” And their following behavior plainly showed the reality of their profession. Sat. 18. — I found the work of God was still greatly increasing here; although many stumbling-blocks had been thrown in the way, and some by those who were once strong in grace. But this is no wonder: I rather wonder that there are not abundantly more. And so there would be, but that Satan is not able to go beyond his chain. Mon. 20. — I preached at Maxfield about noon. As I had not been well, and was not quite recovered, our brethren insisted on sending me in a chaise to Burslem. Between four and five I quitted the chaise and took my horse. Presently after, hearing a cry, I looked back, and saw the chaise upside down, (the wheel having violently struck against a stone,) and well nigh dashed in pieces. About seven I preached to a large congregation at Burslem: These poor potters, four years ago, were as wild and ignorant as any of the colliers in Kingswood. Lord, thou hast power over thy own clay. Tues. 21. — I rode to Birmingham, and on Thursday to Towcester. I would willingly have rested there; but our brethren desiring me to go a little farther, I walked on (about three miles) to Whittlebury. Here I found a truly loving and simple people. I preached at the side of the new preaching-house: I suppose most of the town were present. Friday, 24. I took horse early, and in the afternoon came once more safe to London.
About this time I received the following letter: — “GOD is the same yesterday, today, and for ever! He was, is, and will be all in all! Being a minute part of the whole, let me consider myself alone. Where was I before my parents were born? In the mind of Him who is all in all. It was God alone that gave me a being amongst the human race. He appointed the country in which I should begin my existence. My parents were also his choice. Their situation in mind, body, and estate was fully known to him. My parents are answerable for my education in infancy. My capacity was from above. That I improved so little was mostly owing to my connections; but partly to my own inattention or idleness. In most things, whilst an infant, whether good or evil, I was certainly passive; that is, I was instructed or led by others, and so acted right or wrong. In all the incidents of life, whether sickness, health, escapes, crosses, spiritual or temporal advantages or disadvantages, I can trace nothing of myself during my childhood. And till I became a subject to my own will perhaps I was innocent in the eyes of infinite Justice; for the blood of Jesus Christ certainly cleanseth from all original sin, and presents all spotless, who die free from the guilt of actual transgression. “At what time I became a subject to my own will, I cannot ascertain; but from that time in many things I offended. First, against my parents; next, against God! And that I was preserved from outward evils, was not owing to the purity of my own will; but the grace of Christ preventing and overruling me. “My natural will ever cleaved to evil; and if I had ever any good in me, it came from above. What is called good-nature is a divine gift, and not from the corrupt root. My will could not produce good, and in various instances it was in a manner annihilated, before grace could fix any good in me. In other words, my will acts from the motions of the old Adam where I transgress; but what is good in me is from the grace of Christ, working whilst my own will is made passive or unresisting. Thus my life has been so far holy, as I gave up my own will, and lived in God, who is all in all. “From the time I could sin, I trace the divine goodness in preserving me from innumerable evils, into which my own will would have led me. The unknown temptations and evils perhaps are infinitely more numerous than the known. If my will was only not resisting, when I received or did any good how little was it concerned in my conviction, my conversion my peace, and the sphere of life I engaged in after receiving such divine blessings? My concern about my soul’s welfare, the time of my conversion, the Ministers raised up to be the instruments of it, the place of my first hearing the Gospel, and various other circumstances, that instrumentally brought about those great and blessed events in my life, were no more from any thing in myself, than my birth and education. Rather, my will was overpowered, and grace triumphed over it. “From these reflections I conclude, that whatever blessings I have enjoyed as to parents, country, education, employments, conversion, connections in life, or any exterior or interior circumstance, — all came from God, who is all in all! And whatever in my past life is matter of repentance and lamentation has arose chiefly from my corrupt will, though partly from a defective judgment ever prone to err! So that, upon the whole, I have great cause to be thankful that God has been so much the all in all of my life; at the same time I must bewail that I ever followed my own corrupt will in any thing. “My present state of life I believe is from God. In a bad state of health, out of employment, and retired from all engagements in the world, I use the means for my recovery, and it is not from any evil principle that I am a cipher: But I cannot yet obtain health, business, or a sphere of usefulness. Nor can I ascertain how far I am culpable as to being what I am. My present duty is, submission to the divine will. I study for improvement, and pray for such blessings as I want. Is not God all in all as to my present state? I have no desire so strong as this: ‘Let thy blessed will be done in and upon me!’ And the prayer which governs my soul continually is, O may my will die day by day; and may God in Christ Jesus be all in all to me, and in me and mine, during our life, in our last moments, and to all eternity! Amen.”
Finding it was not expedient to leave London during the ferment which still continued by reason of Mr. M.’s separation from us, I determined not to remove from it before the Conference. This began on Tuesday, JULY 19, and ended on Saturday, 23. And it was a great blessing that we had peace among ourselves, while so many were making themselves ready for battle. Mon . August 1. — I began visiting the classes again, and found less loss than might reasonably have been expected; as most of those who had left us spake all manner of evil, without either fear or shame. Poor creatures!
Yet “he that betrayed” them into this “hath the greater sin.” Mon. 15. — I went in the one-day machine to Bath, where one of our friends from Bristol met me (as I had desired) in the afternoon, and took me thither in a post-chaise. Wednesday, 17. Being informed that the boat at the Old-Passage would go over at six o’clock, I took horse at four, and came to the Passage a few minutes after six: But they told us they would not pass till twelve, and I had appointed to preach in Chepstow at eleven.
So we thought it best to try the New Passage. We came thither at seven, and might probably have stayed till noon, had not an herd of oxen come just in time to the other side. In the boat which brought them over, we crossed the water, and got to Chepstow between ten and eleven. As it had rained almost all the day, the House contained the congregation. Hence we rode to Coleford. The wind being high, I consented to preach in their new Room; but, large as it was, it would not contain the people, who appeared to be not a little affected, of which they gave a sufficient proof, by filling the Room at five in the morning. Thur. 18. — We breakfasted at a friend’s, a mile or two from Monmouth, and rode to Crick-Howell, where I intended to dine; but I found other work to do. Notice had been given that I would preach, and some were come many miles to hear. So I began without delay, and I did not observe one light or inattentive person in the congregation. When we came to Brecknock, we found it was the Assize week; so that I could not have the Town-Hall, as before, the Court being to sit there at the very time when I had appointed to preach: So I preached at Mr. James’s door; and all the people behaved as in the presence of God. Fri. 19. — I preached near the market place, and afterwards rode over to Trevecka. Howell Harris’s house is one of the most elegant places which I have seen in Wales. The little chapel, and all things round about it, are finished in an uncommon taste; and the gardens, orchards, fish-ponds, and mount adjoining, make the place a little paradise. He thanks God for these things, and looks through them. About sixscore persons are now in the family; all diligent, all constantly employed, all fearing God and working righteousness. I preached at ten to a crowded audience, and in the evening at Brecknock again; but to the poor only: The rich (a very few excepted) were otherwise employed. Sat. 20. — We took horse at four, and rode through one of the pleasantest countries in the world. When we came to Trecastle, we had rode fifty miles in Monmouthshire and Brecknockshire; and I will be bold to say, all England does not afford such a line of fifty miles’ length, for fields, meadows, woods, brooks, and gently-rising mountains, fruitful to the very top. Carmarthenshire, into which we came soon after, has at least as fruitful a soil; but it is not so pleasant, because it has fewer mountains, though abundance of brooks and rivers. About five I preached on the Green at Carmarthen, to a large number of deeply attentive people. Here two gentlemen from Pembroke met me, with whom we rode to St. Clare, intending to lodge there; but the inn was quite full: So we concluded to try for Larn, though we knew not the way, and it was now quite dark. Just then came up an honest man who was riding thither, and we willingly bore him company. Sun. 21. — It rained almost all the morning. However, we reached Tenby about eleven. The rain then ceased, and I preached at the Cross to a congregation gathered from many miles round. The sun broke out several times and shone hot in my face, but never for two minutes together. About five I preached to a far larger congregation at Pembroke. A few gay people behaved ill at the beginning; but in a short time they lost their gaiety, and were as serious as their neighbors. Wed. 24. — I rode over to Haverfordwest. Finding it was the Assize week, I was afraid the bulk of the people would be too busy to think about hearing sermons. But I was mistaken; I have not seen so numerous a congregation since I set out of London; and they were, one and all, deeply attentive. Surely some will bring forth fruit. Thur. 25. — I was more convinced than ever, that the preaching like an Apostle, without joining together those that are awakened, and training them up in the ways of God, is only begetting children for the murderer.
How much preaching has there been for these twenty years all over Pembrokeshire! But no regular societies, no discipline, no order or connection; and the consequence is, that nine in ten of the once-awakened are now faster asleep than ever. Fri. 26. — We designed to take horse at four, but the rain poured down, so that one could scarce look out. About six, however, we set out, and rode through heavy rain to St. Clare. Having then little hopes of crossing the sands, we determined to go round by Carmarthen; but the hostler told us we might save several miles, by going to Llansteffan’s Ferry. We came thither about noon, where a good woman informed us the boat was aground, and would not pass till the evening: So we judged it best to go by Carmarthen still. But when we had rode three or four miles, I recollected that I had heard speak of a ford, which would save us some miles’ riding.
We inquired of an old man, who soon mounted his horse, showed us the way, and rode through the river before us.
Soon after my mare dropped a shoe, which occasioned so much loss of time, that we could not ride the sands, but were obliged to go round, through a miserable road, to Llanellos. To mend the matter, our guide lost his way, both before we came to Llanellos and after; so that it was as much as we could do, to reach Bocher-Ferry, a little after sunset. Knowing it was impossible then to reach Penreese, as we designed, we went on straight to Swansea. Sat. 27. — I preached at seven to one or two hundred people, many of whom seemed full of good desires. But as there is no society, I expect no deep or lasting work.
Mr. Evans now gave me an account from his own knowledge, of what has made a great noise in Wales: — “It is common in the congregations, attended by Mr. W. W., and one or two other Clergymen, after the preaching is over, for any one that has a mind, to give out a verse of an hymn. This they sing over and over with all their might, perhaps above thirty, yea, forty times. Meanwhile the bodies of two or three sometimes ten or twelve are violently agitated; and they leap up and down, in all manner of postures, frequently for hours together.” I think, there needs no great penetration to understand this. They are honest, upright men, who really feel the love of God in their hearts. But they have little experience, either of the ways of God, or the devices of Satan. So he serves himself of their simplicity, in order to wear them out, and to bring a discredit on the work of God.
About two I preached at Cowbridge, in the Assembly-room, and then went on to Llandaff. The congregation was waiting; so I began without delay, explaining to them the righteousness of faith. A man had need to be all fire, who comes into these parts, where almost every one is cold as ice:
Mr. H. read the Prayers (not as he did once, with such fervor and solemnity as struck almost every hearer, but) like one reading an old song, in a cold, dry, careless manner; and there was no singing at all. O what life was here once! But now there is not one spark left.
Thence I rode to Cardiff, and found the society in as ruinous a condition as the Castle. The same poison of Mysticism has well-nigh extinguished the last spark of life here also. I preached in the Town-Hall, on, “Now God commandeth all men every where to repent.” There was a little shaking among the dry bones; possibly some of them may yet “come together and live.” Mon. 29. — At noon I preached again at Llandaff, and in the evening at Aberthaw. I found the most life in this congregation that I have found any where in Glamorganshire. We lodged at F—— Castle; so agreeable once; but how is the scene changed! How dull and unlovely is every place where there is nothing of God! Thur. 30. — I preached in the Castle at Cardiff, and endeavored to lift up the hands that hung down. A few seemed to awake, and shake themselves from the dust: Let these go on, and more will follow.
I came to Chepstow, Wednesday, 31, just at noon, and began preaching immediately at Mr. Cheek’s door. The sun shone full in my face, extremely hot; but in two or three minutes the clouds covered it. The congregation was large, and behaved well; perhaps some may be “doers of the word.” When we went into the boat at the Old-Passage, it was a dead calm; but the wind sprung up in a few minutes, so that we reached Bristol in good time. Thur . September 1. — I began expounding a second time, after an interval of above twenty years, the first Epistle of St. John. How plain, how full, and how deep a compendium of genuine Christianity! Sat. 3. — I described the one undivided “fruit of the Spirit;” one part of which men are continually laboring to separate from the other; but it cannot be; none can retain peace or joy without meekness and long-suffering; nay, nor without fidelity and temperance. Unless we have the whole, we cannot long retain any part of it. Sun. 4. — I preached on the quay, where multitudes attended who would not have come to the other end of the city. In the afternoon I preached near the new Square. I find no other way to reach the outcasts of men.
And this way God has owned, and does still own, both by the conviction and conversion of sinners. Wed. 7. — I preached at Pensford about eight, and it began raining almost as soon as I began preaching; but I think none went away. At noon I preached at Shepton-Mallet, to a numerous, nay, and serious, congregation; and about six in a meadow at Wincanton. I suppose this was the first field preaching which had been there. However, the people were all quiet, and the greater part deeply attentive. Thur. 8. — At nine I preached in the same place, to a far more serious audience. Between eleven and twelve I preached at Westcomb, and in the evening at Frome. How zealous to hear are these people; and yet how little do they profit by hearing! I think this will not always be the case. By and by we shall rejoice over them. Wed. 14. — I preached at Bath, on, “Now is the day of salvation.” I was afterwards not a little refreshed by the conversation of one lately come from London, notwithstanding an irregularity of thought, almost peculiar to herself. How much preferable is her irregular warmth, to the cold wisdom of them that despise her! How gladly would I be as she is, taking her wildness and fervor together!
In the evening the congregation at Coleford was all alive, and great part of them were present again in the morning. The next evening we had a love-feast, at which many were not able to contain their joy and desire, but were constrained to cry aloud, and praise God for the abundance of his mercies. Sat. 17. — I preached on the Green at Bedminster. I am apt to think many of the hearers scarce ever heard a Methodist before, or perhaps any other Preacher. What but field preaching could reach these poor sinners? And are not their souls also precious in the sight of God? Sun. 18. — I preached in the morning in Princess-Street, to a numerous congregation. Two or three gentlemen, so called, laughed at first; but in a few minutes they were as serious as the rest. On Monday evening I gave our brethren a solemn caution, not to “love the world, neither the things of the world.” This will be their grand danger: As they are industrious and frugal, they must needs increase in goods. This appears already: In London, Bristol, and most other trading towns, those who are in business have increased in substance seven-fold, some of them twenty, yea, an hundred-fold. What need, then, have these of the strongest warnings, lest they be entangled therein, and perish! Fri. 23. — I preached at Bath. Riding home we saw a coffin, carrying into St. George’s church, with many children attending it. When we came near, we found they were our own children, attending the corpse of one of their school-fellows, who had died of the small-pox; and God thereby touched many of their hearts in a manner they never knew before. Mon. 26. — I preached to the prisoners in Newgate, and in the afternoon rode over to Kingswood, where I had a solemn watch night, and an opportunity of speaking closely to the children. One is dead, two recovered, seven are ill still; and the hearts of all are like melting wax. Tues. 27. — I took my leave of the congregation at Bristol, by opening and applying those words, (by which no flesh living shall be justified,) “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” I believe an eminent Deist, who was present, will not easily forget that hour; he was (then at least) deeply affected, and felt he stood in need of an “Advocate with the Father.” Wednesday, and Thursday evening, I spent at Salisbury; and with no small satisfaction. Friday, 30. I preached about one at Whitchurch, and then rode to Basingstoke. Even here there is at length some prospect of doing good.
A large number of people attended, to whom God enabled me to speak strong words; and they seemed to sink into the hearts of the hearers. Sat. OCTOBER 1. — I returned to London, and found our house in ruins, great part of it being taken down, in order to a thorough repair. But as much remained as I wanted: Six foot square suffices me by day or by night.
I now received a very strange account from a man of sense as well as integrity: — “ I asked M. S. many questions before she would give me any answer. At length, after much persuasion, she said, ‘On old Michaelmas-Day was three years, I was sitting by myself at my father’s, with a Bible before me; and one, whom I took to be my uncle, came into the room, and sat down by me. He talked to me some time, till, not liking his discourse, I looked more carefully at him: He was dressed like my uncle; but I observed one of his feet was just like that of an ox. Then I was much frightened, and he began torturing me sadly, and told me he would torture me ten times more, if I would not swear to kill my father, which at last I did. He said he would come again, on that day four years, between half-hour past two and three o’clock. “‘I have several times since strove to write this down; but when I did, the use of my hand was taken from me. I strove to speak it; but whenever I did, my speech was taken from me, and I am afraid I shall be tormented a deal more for what I have spoken now.’ “Presently she fell into such a fit as was dreadful to look upon.
One would have thought she would be torn in pieces. Several persons could scarce hold her; till, after a time, she sunk down as dead. “From that Michaelmas-Day she was continually tormented with the thought of killing her father, as likewise of killing herself, which she often attempted, but was as often hindered. Once she attempted to cut her own throat; once to throw herself into Rosamond’s Pond; several times to strangle herself, which once or twice was with much difficulty prevented. “Her brother, fearing lest she should at last succeed in her attempt, and finding her fits come more frequently, got a strait waistcoat made for her, such as they use at Bedlam. It was made of strong ticking, with two straps on the shoulders, to fasten her down to the bed; one across her breast, another across her middle, and another across her knees. One likewise was buckled on each leg, and fastened to the side of the bed. The arms of the waistcoat drew over her fingers, and fastened like a purse. In a few minutes after she was thus secured, her brother, coming to the bed, found she was gone. After some time, he found she was up the chimney, so high that he could scarce touch her feet. When Mary Loftis called her, she came down, having her hands as fast as ever. “The night after, I fastened her arms to her body with new straps, over and above the rest. She looked at me and laughed; then gave her hands a slight turn, and all the fastenings were off. “In the morning Mr. Spark came: On our telling him this, he said, ‘But I will take upon me to fasten her so that she shall not get loose.’ Accordingly, he sent for some girth-web, with which he fastened her arms to her sides; first above her elbows, round her body; then below her elbows; then he put it round each wrist, and braced them down to each side of the bedstead: After this she was quiet a night and a day; then all this was off like the rest. “After this we did not tie her down any more, only watched over her night and day. I asked the Physician that attended her, whether it was a natural disorder. He said, ‘Partly natural, partly diabolical.’ We then judged there was no remedy but prayer, which was made for her, or with her, continually; though while any were praying with her, she was tormented more than ever. “The Friday before Michaelmas-Day last, Mr. W. came to see her.
He asked, ‘Do you know me?’ She said, ‘No; you all appear to me like Blackamoors.’ ‘But do not you know my voice?’ ‘No; I know no one’s voice, except Molly L——’s.’ ‘Do you pray God to help you?’ ‘No, I can’t pray. God will never help me. I belong to the devil; and he will have me: He will take me, body and soul, on Monday.’ ‘Would you have me pray for you?’ ‘No indeed: For when people pray, he torments me worse than ever.’ In her fits she was first convulsed all over, seeming in an agony of pain, and screaming terribly. Then she began cursing, swearing, and blaspheming in the most horrid manner. Then she burst into vehement fits of laughter; then sunk down as dead. All this time she was quite senseless; then she fetched a deep sigh, and recovered her sense and understanding, but was so weak that she could not speak to be heard, unless you put your ear almost close to her mouth. “When Mr. W. began praying, she began screaming, so that a mob quickly gathered about the house. However, he prayed on, till the convulsions and screaming ceased, and she came to her senses much sooner than usual. What most surprised us was, that she continued in her senses, and soon after began to pray herself. “On Sunday evening Mr. W. came again, asked her many questions, pressed her to call upon God for power to believe, and then prayed with her. She then began to pray again, and continued in her senses longer than she had done for a month before; but still insisted, the devil would come the next day, between two and three, and take her away. “She begged me to sit up with her that night, which I willingly did.
About four in the morning, she burst out into a flood of tears, crying, ‘What shall I do? What shall I do? I cannot stand this day.
This day I shall be lost.’ I went to prayer with her, and exhorted her to pray for faith, and her agony ceased. “About half-hour after ten, ten of us came together, as we had agreed the day before. I said, ‘Is there any among you who does not believe that God is able and willing to deliver this soul?’ They answered with one voice, ‘We believe he both can and will deliver her this day.’ I then fastened her down to the bed on both sides, and set two on each side to hold her if need were. We began laying her case before the Lord, and claiming his promise on her behalf.
Immediately Satan raged vehemently. He caused her to roar in an uncommon manner; then to shriek, so that it went through our heads; then to bark like a dog. Then her face was distorted to an amazing degree, her mouth being drawn from ear to ear, and her eyes turned opposite ways and starting as if they would start out of her head. Presently her throat was so convulsed, that she appeared to be quite strangled; then the convulsions were in her bowels, and her body swelled as if ready to burst. At other times she was stiff from head to foot, as an iron bar; being at the same time wholly deprived of her senses and motion, not even breathing at all. Soon after her body was so writhed, one would have thought all her bones must be dislocated. “We continued in prayer, one after another, till about twelve o’clock. One then said, ‘I must go; I can stay no longer.’ Another and another said the same, till we were upon the point of breaking up. I said, ‘What is this? Will you all give place to the devil? Are you still ignorant of Satan’s devices? Shall we leave this poor soul in his hands?’ Presently the cloud vanished away. We all saw the snare, and resolved to wrestle with God till we had the petition we asked of him. We began singing an hymn, and quickly found his Spirit was in the midst of us; but the more earnestly we prayed, the more violently the enemy raged. It was with great difficulty that four of us could hold her down: Frequently we thought she would have been torn out of our arms. By her looks and motions we judged she saw him in a visible shape. She laid fast hold on Molly L——s and me, with inexpressible eagerness; and soon burst into a flood of tears, crying, ‘Lord, save, or I perish! I will believe. Lord, give me power to believe; help my unbelief!’
Afterwards she lay quiet for almost fifteen minutes. I then asked, ‘Do you now believe Christ will save you? And have you a desire to pray to him?’ She answered, ‘I have a little desire, but I want power to believe.’ We bid her keep asking for the power, and looking unto Jesus. I then gave out an hymn, and she earnestly sung with us those words: — O Sun of Righteousness, arise, With healing in thy wing; To my diseased, my fainting soul, Life and salvation bring! “I now looked at my watch and told her, ‘It is half-hour past two:
This is the time when the devil said he would come for you.’ But, blessed be God, instead of a tormentor, he sent a comforter. Jesus appeared to her soul, and rebuked the enemy, though still some fear remained; but at three it was all gone, and she mightily rejoiced in the God of her salvation. It was a glorious sight. Her fierce countenance was changed, and she looked innocent as a child: And we all partook of the blessing; for Jesus filled our souls with a love which no tongue can express. We then offered up our joint praises to God, for his unspeakable mercies, and let her full of faith, and love, and joy in God her Savior.’ Sun. 2. — All this week I endeavored to confirm those who had been shaken as to the important doctrine of Christian Perfection, either by its wild defenders, or wise opposers, who much availed themselves of that wildness. It must needs be that such offenses will come; but “woe unto him by whom the offense cometh!” Mon. 10. — I set out for Norwich, taking Hertford in my way, where I began preaching between ten and eleven. Those who expected disturbance were happily disappointed; for the whole congregation was quiet and attentive. I doubt not but much good may be done even here, if our brethren live what we preach.
In the evening I preached in the new Room at Bedford, where we at last see some fruit of our labor. Tuesday, 11. I rode through miserable roads to Cambridge, and thence to Lakenheath. The next day I reached Norwich, and found much of the presence of God in the congregation, both this evening and the next day. On Friday evening I read to them all, the Rules of the Society, adding, “Those who are resolved to keep these Rules may continue with us, and those only.” I then related what I had done since I came to Norwich first, and what I would do for the time to come; particularly that I would immediately put a stop to preaching in the time of Church Service. I added, “For many years I have had more trouble with this society, than with half the societies in England put together. With God’s help, I will try you one ear longer; and I hope you will bring forth better fruit.” Sun. 16. — Notwithstanding the notice I had given over and over, abundance of people came to the Tabernacle at two in the afternoon, the usual time of preaching; and many of these lambs roared like lions; but it was no more than I expected. Monday, 17. I found, at Yarmouth, a little, loving, earnest company. In the evening both the House and the yard were pretty well filled with attentive hearers. Tuesday, 18. I read over that surprising book, “The Life of Mr. William Lilly.” If he believed himself, as he really seems to have done, was ever man so deluded? Persuaded that Hermeli, the Queen of the Fairies, Micol Regina Pygmaeorum, and their fellows, were good angels! How amazing is this! And is it not still more amazing that some of the greatest and most sensible men in the nation should not only not scruple to employ him, but be his fast friends upon all occasions? Wed. 19. — I returned to Norwich, and found the ferment a little abated. I was much pleased with the Leaders in the evening, a company of steady, lively, zealous persons; and indeed with most of the society with whom I have conversed, none of whom seem to have lost ground since I was here last. Sun. 23. — I met the society, for the first time, immediately after the morning preaching. Afterwards I went to church, with a considerable number of the people, several of whom, I suppose, had not been within those walls for many years. I was glad to hear a plain, useful sermon; and especially for the sake of those who, if they had been offended at first, would hardly have come any more. In the evening God made bare his arm, and his word was sharp as a two-edged sword. Before I had concluded my sermon, the mob made a little disturbance; but let us only get the lambs in order, and I will quickly tame the bears. Mon. 24. — I rode to Bury. Here the mob had for some time reigned lords paramount; but a strange gentleman from London, who was present one evening, when they were in high spirits, took them in hand, and prosecuted the matter so effectually that they were quelled at once. Tues. 25. — I rode to Colchester, and found a strange ferment in the society, occasioned by the imprudence of——, who had kindled a flame which he could not quench, and set every man’s sword against his brother.
I heard them all face to face, but to no purpose: They regarded neither Scripture nor reason. But, on Thursday evening, at the meeting of the society, God was entreated for them. The stony hearts were broken; anger, revenge, evil-surmising, fled away: The hearts of all were again united together, and his banner over us was love.
It may be of use to insert part of a letter, which I received about this time: — “IN reading your Notes on Hebrews 12, a while since, I was struck with your exposition of the ninth verse: ‘Perhaps these expressions, fathers of our flesh and Father of spirits, intimate that our earthly fathers are only the parents of our bodies; our souls not being derived from them, but rather created by the immediate power of God, and infused into the body from age to age.’ But meeting with a curious old book, which asserts a contrary doctrine, I hope you will pardon my freedom in transcribing, and begging your thoughts upon it. “‘That souls are not immediately infused by God, but immediately propagated by the parent, is proved,1. From the divine rest; And he rested on the seventh day from all the work which he had made: ( Genesis 2:2:) 2. From the blessing mentioned Genesis 1:28; And God blessed them, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply; for this does not relate to a part, but to the whole, of man: 3. From the generation of Seth; And Adam began a son in his own likeness, after his image; ( Genesis 5:3;) for this image principally consisted in the soul: 4 . From the procession of the soul from the parent, mentioned Genesis 46:26; All the souls which came out of his loins: 5. From the very consideration of sin; for they are infused,
(1.) Either pure, and then,
(ii.) We must suppose the impure body to pollute the soul, which is absurd: Or,
This is further proved from the doctrine of regeneration; for that which is regenerated was also generated or begotten; but the whole man is regenerated, therefore the whole man is generated. Compare John 3:6, That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit; and Ephesians 4:23, And be renewed in the spirit of your mind. “‘That the human soul is propagated by the parents together with the body, is further proved,1. By the creation of Eve, whose soul is not said to have been breathed into her by God: 2. From the confession of David; Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me; ( Psalm 51:5;) which words cannot possibly relate to the body only: 3. From our redemption: What Christ did not assume, he did not redeem; if, therefore, he did not assume his soul, together with his body, from the Virgin Mary, our souls are not redeemed by Christ; which is evidently false: 4. From similar expressions, Job 10:8, Thy hands have made and fashioned me; and <19D913> Psalm 139:13, For thou hast possessed my reins; thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb; where God is said to have formed us with his own hands, which yet is no otherwise done than mediately by generation: 5. From the nature of the begetter and the begotten: They are of one species; but the man who begets consisting of a soul and body, and a body without a soul, are not of one species. “‘Again, supposing the soul to be infused by the Deity, either, 1. It will be free from sin, and so God himself will be accused as guilty of injustice, in condemning a pure spirit, and infusing it into an impure body; or, 2. He will be accounted the author of the soul’s pollution, by uniting it, a pure spirit, to an impure body, in order that it should be polluted: 3. A double absurdity will follow upon this supposition; viz.,
(2.) The immortal spirit would be corrupted by the mortal body:
(3.) Or if the soul, being thus infused, be polluted by sin, it will follow, that God is expressly assigned to be the cause of sin; which is the highest blasphemy.”’ Fri. 28. — At the request of the little society there, I rode round by Braintree. Here I met with one who was well acquainted with the Honorable Mr.——. If he answers the character Mr. S—— gives, he is one of the most amiable men in the world. O, what keeps us apart? Why cannot we openly give each other the right hand of fellowship? Sat. 29. — I returned to London. Sunday, 30, I now, for the first time, spoke to the society freely concerning Mr. M., both with regard to his injustice in the affair of Snowsfields, and his almost unparalleled ingratitude to me. But I never expect one that is false to God to be true to an human friend. Wed . November 2. — I spent an agreeable hour with old venerable Mr.— —. How striking is a man of sense, learning, and piety, when he has well nigh finished his course, and yet retains all his faculties unimpaired! His gray hairs are indeed “a crown of honor.”
In this neighborhood I learned the particulars of a remarkable occurrence: — On Friday, August 19, a gentleman who was at Lisbon during the great earthquake, walking with his friend near Brighthelmstone, in Sussex and looking southwest toward the sea, cried out, “God grant the wind may rise; otherwise we shall have an earthquake quickly. Just so the clouds whirled to and fro, and so the sky looked that day at Lisbon.” Presently the wind did rise, and brought an impetuous storm of rain and large hail.
Some of the hail-stones were larger than hen-eggs. It moved in a line about four miles broad, making strange havoc, as it passed quite over the land, till it fell into the river, not far from Sheerness. And wherever it passed it left an hot sulfurous steam, such as almost suffocated those it reached. Thur. 3. — I returned to London. Saturday, 5. I spent some time with my old friend, John Gambold. Who but Count Zinzendorf could have separated such friends as we were? Shall we never unite again? Sun. 13. — I found much of the power of God in preaching, but far more at the Lord’s Table. At the same time one who had been wandering from God for many years, and would fain have been with us, but could not, found that the Spirit of God was not hindered, or confined to one place.
He found out——, the poor backslider, in his own house, and revealed Christ anew in his heart. Tues. 15. — I visited Joseph Norbury, a good old soldier of Jesus Christ. I found him just on the wing for paradise, having rattled in the throat for some time. But his speech was restored when I came in, and he mightily praised God for all his mercies. This was his last testimony for a good Master. Soon after he fell asleep.
On Friday I finished visiting the classes, and observed that since February last an hundred and seventy-five persons have been separated from us. An hundred and six left us on Mr. M.’s account: Few of them will return till they are deeply humbled.
Here I stood and looked back on the late occurrences. Before Thomas Walsh left England, God began that great work which has continued ever since without any considerable intermission. During the whole time, many have been convinced of sin, many justified, and many backsliders healed.
But the peculiar work of this season has been, what St. Paul calls “the perfecting of the saints.” Many persons in London, in Bristol, in York, and in various parts, both of England and Ireland, have experienced so deep and universal a change, as it had not before entered into their hearts to conceive. After a deep conviction of inbred sin, of their total fall from God, they have been so filled with faith and love, (and generally in a moment,) that sin vanished, and they found from that time, no pride, anger, desire, or unbelief. They could rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and in every thing give thanks. Now, whether we call this the destruction or suspension of sin, it is a glorious work of God: Such a work as, considering both the depth and extent of it, we never saw in these kingdoms before.
It is possible, some who spoke in this manner were mistaken: And it is certain, some have lost what they then received. A few (very few, compared to the whole number) first gave way to enthusiasm, then to pride, next to prejudice and offense, and at last separated from their brethren. But, although this laid a huge stumbling-block in the way, still the work of God went on. Nor has it ceased to this day in any of its branches. God still convinces, justifies, sanctifies. We have lost only the dross, the enthusiasm, the prejudice and offense. The pure gold remains, faith working by love, and, we have ground to believe, increases daily. Mon. 21. — I buried the remains of Joseph Norbury, a faithful witness of Jesus Christ. For about three years he has humbly and boldly testified, that God had saved him from all sin: And his whole spirit and behavior in life and death made his testimony beyond exception.DECEMBER 1. All the leisure hours I had in this and the following months, during the time I was in London, I spent in reading over our Works with the Preachers, considering what objections had been made, and correcting whatever we judged wrong, either in the matter or expression. Mon. 5. — I rode to Shoreham, and preached in the evening to a more than usually serious company. The next evening they were considerably increased. The small-pox, just broke out in the town, has made many of them thoughtful. O’ let not the impression pass away as the morning dew! Wed. 7. — I rode to Staplehurst, where Mr. Ch——, who loves all that love Christ, received us gladly. At six the congregation, gathered from many miles round, seemed just ripe for the Gospel: So that (contrary to my custom in a new place) I spoke merely of “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Thursday, 8. In returning to London I was thoroughly wet; but it did me no hurt at all. Fri. 16. — I spent an agreeable hour, and not unprofitably, in conversation with my old friend, John Gambold. O how gladly could I join heart and hand again! But, alas! thy heart is not as my heart! Sat. 17. — I dined at Dr. G——’s, as friendly and courteous as Dr. Doddridge himself. How amiable is courtesy joined with sincerity! Why should they ever be divided? Wed. 21. — I took my leave of the Bull-and-Mouth, a barren, uncomfortable place, where much pains has been taken for several years: I fear, to little purpose, Thursday, 22. I spent a little time in a visit to Mr. M——; twenty years ago a zealous and useful Magistrate, now a picture of human nature in disgrace; feeble in body and mind; slow of speech and of understanding. Lord, let me not live to be useless! Mon. 26. — I began preaching at a large, commodious place in Bartholomew-Close. I preached there again on Wednesday, and at both times with peculiar liberty of spirit. At every place this week I endeavored to prepare our brethren for renewing their covenant with God. Sun . January 1, 1764. — We met in the evening for that solemn purpose.
I believe the number of those that met was considerably larger than it was last year. And so was the blessing: Truly the consolations of God were not small with us. Many were filled with peace and joy; many with holy fear, and several backsliders were healed.
On some of the following days, I visited the little societies near London. Thursday, 12. I preached at Mitcham; and in the afternoon rode to Dorking. But the gentleman to whose house I was invited, seemed to have no desire I should preach. So that evening I had nothing to do. Friday, 13. I went at noon into the street; and in a broad place, not far from the market place, proclaimed “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” At first two or three little children were the whole of my congregation: But it quickly increased, though the air was sharp, and the ground exceeding wet: And all behaved well but three or four grumbling men, who stood so far off that they disturbed none but themselves.
I had purposed to preach there again in the morning; but a violent storm made it impracticable. So, after preaching at Mitcham in the way, I rode back to London. Mon. 16. — I rode to High-Wycombe, and preached to a more numerous and serious congregation than ever I saw there before. Shall there be yet another day of visitation to this careless people?
A large number was present at five in the morning: But my face and gums were so swelled I could hardly speak. After I took horse, they grew worse and worse, till it began to rain. I was then persuaded to put on an oil-case hood, which (the wind being very high) kept rubbing continually on my cheek, till both pain and swelling were gone.
Between twelve and one we crossed Ensham-Ferry. The water vwas like a sea on both sides. I asked the ferryman, “Can we ride the causeway?” He said, “Yes, Sir; if you keep in the middle.” But this was the difficulty, as the whole causeway was covered with water to a considerable depth. And this in many parts ran over the causeway with the swiftness and violence of a sluice. Once my mare lost both her fore feet, but she gave a spring, and recovered the causeway: Otherwise we must have taken a swim; for the water on either side was ten or twelve feet deep. However, after one or two plunges more, we got through, and came safe to Witney.
The congregation in the evening, as well as the next day, was both large and deeply attentive. This is such a people as I have not seen, — so remarkably diligent in business, and, at the same time, of so quiet a spirit, and so calm and civil in their behavior. Thur. 19. — I rode through Oxford to Henley. The people here bear no resemblance to those of Witney. I found a wild, staring congregation, many of them void both of common sense and common decency. I spoke exceeding plain to them all, and reproved some of them sharply. Friday, 20. I took (probably my final) leave of Henley, and returned to London. Mon. 23. — I rode to Sundon, and preached in the evening to a very quiet and very stupid people. How plain is it, that even to enlighten the understanding is beyond the power of man! After all our preaching here, even those who have constantly attended no more understand us than if we had preached in Greek. Thur. 26. — Returning from Bedford, I tried another way to reach them. I preached on, “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched;” and set before them the terrors of the Lord, in the strongest manner I was able. It seemed to be the very thing they wanted. They not only listened with the deepest attention, but appeared to be more affected than I had ever seen them by any discourse whatever. Wed . February 1. — I buried the remains of William Hurd, a son of affliction for many years, continually struggling with inward and outward trials. But his end was peace. Thur. 2. — I preached again in the Foundery, which had been repairing for several weeks. It is not only firm and safe, (whereas before the main timbers were quite decayed,) but clean and decent, and capable of receiving several hundreds more. Sun. 5. — I began Mr. Hartley’s ingenious “Defence of the Mystic Writers.” But it does not satisfy me. I must still object, 1. To their sentiments. The chief of them do not appear to me to have any conception of church communion. Again, they slight not only works of piety, the ordinances of God, but even works of mercy. And yet most of them, yea, all that I have seen, hold justification by works.
In general, they are “wise above what is written,” indulging themselves in many unscriptural speculations. I object, 2. To their spirit, that most of them are of a dark, shy, reserved, unsociable temper. And that they are apt to despise all who differ from them, as carnal, unenlightened men. I object, 3. To their whole phraseology. It is both unscriptural, and affectedly mysterious. I say, affectedly; for this does not necessarily result from the nature of the things spoken of. St. John speaks as high and as deep things as Jacob Behmen. Why then does not Jacob speak as plain as him? Mon. 6. — I opened the new chapel at Wapping, well filled with deeply attentive hearers. Thursday, 16. I once more took a serious walk through the tombs in Westminster Abbey. What heaps of unmeaning stone and marble! But there was one tomb which showed common sense; that beautiful figure of Mr. Nightingale, endeavoring to screen his lovely wife from Death. Here indeed the marble seems to speak, and the statues appear only not alive.
After taking Brentford, Deptford, Welling, and Sevenoaks, in my way, on Thursday, 23, I rode to Sir Thomas. I’Anson’s, (at New-Bounds, two miles beyond Tunbridge,) just quivering on the verge of life, helpless as a child, but (as it seems) greatly profited by this severe dispensation. The hall, staircase, and adjoining rooms, just contained the people in the evening. One poor backslider, whom Providence had brought thither, was exceedingly wounded. I left her resolved to set out once more, if haply God might heal her. Fri. 24. — I returned to London. Wednesday, 29. I heard “Judith,” an Oratorio, performed at the Lock. Some parts of it were exceeding fine; but there are two things in all modern pieces of music, which I could never reconcile to common sense. One is singing the same words ten times over; the other singing different words by different persons, alone and the same time. And this in the most solemn addresses to God, whether by way of prayer or of thanksgiving. This can never be defended by all the musicians in Europe, till reason is quite out of date. Mon . March 12. — I set out for Bristol. Friday, 16. I met several serious Clergymen. I have long desired that there might be an open, avowed union between all who preach those fundamental truths, Original Sin, and Justification by Faith, producing inward and outward holiness; but all my endeavors have been hitherto ineffectual. God’s time is not fully come. Mon. 19. — I set out for the north. We reached Stroud about two in the afternoon. How many years were we beating the air in this place! one wrong-headed man pulling down all we could build up. But since he is gone, the word of God takes root, and the society increases both in number and strength. Tuesday, 20. At seven I preached in Painswick. For many years an honest, disputing man greatly hindered the work of God here also, subverting the souls that were just setting out for heaven. But since God took him to himself His word has free course, and many sinners are converted to Him. We rode hence over the top of the bleak mountains to Stanley, where an earnest congregation was waiting. From Stanley to Evesham we were to go as we could, the lanes being scarce passable.
However, at length we got through. I never before saw so quiet a congregation in the Town-Hall, nor yet so numerous. I designed afterwards to meet the society at our Room; but the people were so eager to hear, that I knew not how to keep them out. So we had a large congregation again.
And again God gave us his blessing. Wed. 21. Ñ After riding about two hours and an half from Evesham, we stopped at a little village. We easily perceived by the marks he had left, that the man of the house had been beating his wife. I took occasion from thence to speak strongly to her, concerning the hand of God, and his design in all afflictions. It seemed to be a word in season. She appeared to be not only thankful, but deeply affected.
We had an exceeding large congregation at Birmingham, in what was formerly the playhouse. Happy would it be if all the playhouses in the kingdom were converted to so good an use. After service the mob gathered, and threw some dirt and stones at those who were going out. But it is probable they will soon be calmed, as some of them are in gaol already. A few endeavored to make a disturbance the next evening during the preaching; but it was lost labor; the congregation would not be diverted from taking earnest heed to the things that were spoken. Fri. 23. — I rode to Dudley, formerly a den of lions, but now as quiet as Bristol. They had just finished their preaching house, which was thoroughly filled. I saw no trifler; but many in tears. Here I met with a remarkable account of a child, the substance of which was as follows: — “John B——, about ten years old, was sometime since taken ill.
He often asked how it was to die. His sister told him, ‘Some children know God; and then they are not afraid to die.’ He said, ‘What! children as little as me?’ She answered, ‘Your sister Patty did; and she was less than you.’ At which he seemed to be much affected. Sunday was fortnight he took his bed, but was not able to sleep. Soon after, he said, ‘We shall soon be with angels and archangels in heaven. What signifies this wicked world? Who would want to live here that might live with Christ?’ The maid said, ‘I wish I was married to Christ.’ He said, ‘Being married to Christ is coming to Christ, and keeping with him: All may come to him. I am happy, I am happy.’ His sister asked, ‘Do you love God?’ He answered, ‘Yes, that I do.’ She asked, ‘And do you think God loves you?’ He replied, ‘Yes, I know he does.’ “The next evening she said, ‘How are you, Jacky, when you are so happy?’ He said, stroking his breast down with his hand, ‘Why like as if God was in me. O my sister, what an happy thing it was that I came to Dudley! I am quite happy when I am saying my prayers; and when I think on God, I can almost see into heaven.’ “Tuesday night last she asked, ‘Are you afraid to die?’ He said, ‘I have seen the time that I was; but now I am not a bit afraid of death, or hell, or judgment; for Christ is mine. I know Christ is my own. He says, What would you have? I would get to heaven: I will get to heaven as soon as I can. And as well as I love you all, when I am once got to heaven, I would not come to you again for ten thousand worlds.’ Soon after he said, ‘If God would let me do as the angels do, I would come and watch over you. I will, if God will let me; and when you are ready, I will come and fetch you to heaven; yea, if God would let me, I would fly all over the world, to fetch souls to heaven.’ “He asked his cousin if she had seen the King; and added, ‘I have; indeed I have not seen King George, but I have seen a better King; for I have seen the King of heaven and earth.’ His health since that time has been in some measure recovered; but he continues in the same spirit.” Sat. 24. — We came once more to our old flock at Wednesbury. The congregation differed from most that we have lately seen. It almost entirely consisted of such as had repented, if not also believed the Gospel. Sunday, 25. At eight I preached in the Room, though it would by no means contain the congregation; but the northeast wind was so extremely sharp that it was not practicable to preach abroad. At one it drove us likewise into the house at Darlaston; that is, as many as it could contain. At five there was such a congregation at Wednesbury as I have not seen since I left London. But I found my voice would have commanded twice the number, while I declared, “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith which we preach.” Mon. 26. — I was desired to preach at Walsal. James Jones was alarmed at the motion, apprehending there would be much disturbance. However, I determined to make the trial. Coming into the House, I met with a token for good. A woman was telling her neighbor why she came: “I had a desire,” said she, “to hear this man; yet I durst not, because I heard so much ill of him; but this morning I dreamed I was praying earnestly, and I heard a voice, saying, ‘See the eighth verse of the first chapter of St. John.’
The House not being capable of containing the people, about seven I began preaching abroad; and there was no opposer, no, nor a trifler to be seen.
In the afternoon I came to Ashby-de-la-Zouch. The House and yard contained the people tolerably well. I saw but one trifler among all, which, I understood, was an Attorney. Poor man! If men live what I preach, the hope of his gain is lost. Tues. 27. — We rode to Donnington, where a great multitude earnestly attended, while I explained and enforced, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Hence we rode to Derby. Mr. Dobinson believed it would be best for me to preach in the market place, as there seemed to be a general inclination in the town, even among people of fashion, to hear me. He had mentioned it to the Mayor, who said he did not apprehend there would be the least disturbance; but if there should be any thing of the kind, he would take care to suppress it. A multitude of people were gathered at five, and were pretty quiet till I had named my text. Then “the beasts of the people” lifted up their voice, hallooing and shouting on every side. Finding it impossible to be heard, I walked softly away. An innumerable retinue followed me; but only a few pebble-stones were thrown, and no one hurt at all. Most of the rabble followed quite to Mr. D——’s house; but, it seems, without any malice prepense; for they stood stock-still about an hour, and then quietly went away.
At seven I met the society, with many others, who earnestly desired to be present. In the morning most of them came again, with as many more as we could well make room for and indeed they received the word gladly.
God grant they may bring forth fruit! Wed. 28. — Between eleven and twelve I preached at Alferton, twelve miles from Derby, and in the evening at Sheffield, to many more than could hear, on, “Now is the day of salvation.” In the morning I gave a hearing to several of the society who were extremely angry at each other.
It surprised me to find what trifles they had stumbled at; but I hope their snare is broken.
In the evening, while I was enlarging upon the righteousness of faith, the word of God was quick and powerful. Many felt it in their inmost soul; one backslider in particular, who was then restored to all she had lost, and the next morning believed she was saved from sin. Fri. 30. — I met those who believe God has redeemed them from all their sins. They are about sixty in number. I could not learn that any among them walk unworthy of their profession. Many watch over them for evil; but they “overcome evil with good.” I found nothing of self-conceit, stubbornness, impatience of contradiction, or London enthusiasm, among them. They have better learned of Him that was meek and lowly of heart, to “adorn the doctrine of God their Savior.”
In the evening I preached in the new House at Rotherham, on the sure foundation, “Ye are saved through faith.” It was a season of strong consolation to many. One who had been some time groaning for full redemption, now found power to believe that God had fulfilled her desire, and set her heart at liberty. Sat. 31. — An odd circumstance occurred during the morning preaching. It was well only serious persons were present. An ass walked gravely in at the gate, came up to the door of the House, lifted up his head and stood stock-still, in a posture of deep attention. Might not “the dumb beast reprove” many who have far less decency, and not much more understanding?
At noon I preached (the Room being too small to contain the people) in a yard, near the bridge, in Doncaster. The wind was high and exceeding sharp, and blew all the time on the side of my head. In the afternoon I was seized with a sore throat, almost as soon as I came to Epworth: However, I preached, though with some difficulty; but afterward I could hardly speak. Being better the next day, Sunday, APRIL 1, I preached about one at Westwood-side, and soon after four, in the market place at Epworth, to a numerous congregation. At first, indeed, but few could hear; but the more I spoke, the more my voice was strengthened, till, toward the close, all my pain and weakness were gone, and all could hear distinctly. Mon. 2. — I had a day of rest. Tuesday, 3. I preached, about nine, at Scotter, a town six or seven miles east of Epworth, where a sudden flame is broke out, many being convinced of sin almost at once, and many justified. But there were many adversaries stirred up by a bad mall, who told them, “There is no law for Methodists.” Hence continual riots followed; till, after a while, an upright Magistrate took the cause in hand, and so managed both the rioters and him who set them at work, that they have been quiet as lambs ever since.
Hence we rode to Grimsby, once the most dead, now the most lively, place in all the county. Here has been a large and swift increase both of the society and hearers, so that the House, though galleries are added, is still too small. In the morning, Wednesday, 4, I explained at large the nature of Christian Perfection. Many who had doubted of it before were fully satisfied. It remains only to experience what we believe.
In the evening the Mayor and all the Gentry of the town were present; and so was our Lord in an uncommon manner. Some dropped down as dead; but, after a while, rejoiced with joy unspeakable. One was carried away in violent fits. I went to her after the service. She was strongly convulsed from head to foot, and shrieked out in a dreadful manner. The unclean spirit did tear her indeed; but his reign was not long. In the morning both her soul and body were healed, and she acknowledged both the justice and mercy of God. Thur. 5. — About eleven I preached at Elsham. The two persons who are the most zealous and active here are the steward and gardener of a gentleman, whom the Minister persuaded to turn them off unless they would leave “this way.” He gave them a week to consider of it; at the end of which they calmly answered, “Sir, we choose rather to want bread here, than to want ‘a drop of water’ hereafter.” He replied, “Then follow your own conscience, so you do my business as well as formerly.” Fri. 6. — I preached at Ferry at nine in the morning, and in the evening; and, about noon, in Sir N. H.’s hall, at Gainsborough. Almost as soon as I began to speak, a cock began to crow over my head; but he was quickly dislodged, and the whole congregation, rich and poor, were quiet and attentive. Sun. 8. — I set out for Misterton, though the common road was impassable, being all under water; but we found a way to ride round. I preached at eight, and I saw not one inattentive hearer. In our return, my mare, rushing violently through a gate, struck my heel against a gate-post, and left me behind her in an instant, laid on my back at full length. She stood still till I rose and mounted again; and neither of us was hurt at all. Mon. 9. — I had designed to go by Authorp-Ferry and Winterton to Hull; but we had not gone far before the wind rose, so that we judged it would be impossible to pass the Trent at Authorp; so we turned back, and went by Ouston and Brigg. The rain beat vehemently upon us all the way.
When we came to Brigg, despairing of being able to cross the Humber, we thought it best to turn aside to Barrow. When I was here last, the mob was exceeding rude and noisy; but all the people were now quiet and attentive.
I was much pleased with their spirit and their behavior, and could not be sorry for the storm. Tues. 10. — The wind abating, we took boat at Barton, with two such brutes as I have seldom seen. Their blasphemy, and stupid gross obscenity, were beyond all I ever heard. We first spoke to them mildly; but it had no effect. At length we were constrained to rebuke them sharply; and they kept themselves tolerably within bounds, till we landed at Hull. I preached at five, two hours sooner than was expected: By this means we had tolerable room for the greatest part of them that came; and I believe not many of them came in vain. Wed. 11. — Between eight and nine I began preaching at Beverley, in a room which is newly taken. It was filled from end to end, and that with serious hearers. Perhaps even these may know the day of their visitation.
About one I began at Pocklington. Here, likewise, all were quiet, and listened with deep attention. When I came to York, at five in the afternoon, I was fresher than at seven in the morning. During the preaching many were not a little comforted; and one old follower of Christ, more than seventy years of age, was now first enabled to call him Lord by the Holy Ghost.
I found that a most remarkable deadness had overspread this people, insomuch that not one had received remission of sins for several months last past. Then it is high time for us to prophesy on these dry bones, that they may live. At this I more immediately pointed in all my following discourses; and I have reason to believe God spoke in his word: To him be all the glory! Thur. 12. — I spent an hour with John Manners, weak in body, but not in spirit. He is fairly worn out in a good service, and calmly waits till his change shall come. Sun. 15. — In the evening many even of the rich were present, and seriously attentive. But, O! how hardly shall these enter into the kingdom! how hardly escape from “the desire of other things!” Mon. 16. — I preached at Tollerton at one. The congregation was large and serious. Some were deeply affected, and wept much: Many received comfort.
At six I began preaching in the street at Thirsk. The congregation was exceeding large. Just as I named my text, — “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” — a man on horseback, who had stopped to see what was the matter, changed color and trembled.
Probably he might have resolved to save his soul, had not his drunken companion dragged him away. Tues. 17. — In consequence of repeated invitations, I rode to Helmsley.
When I came, Mr. Conyers was not at home; but, his housekeeper faintly asking me, I went in. By the books lying in the window and on the table, I easily perceived how he came to be so cold now, who was so warm a year ago. Not one of ours, either verse or prose, was to be seen, but several of another kind. O that our brethren were as zealous to make Christians as they are to make Calvinists!
He came home before dinner, and soon convinced me that the Philistines had been upon him. They had taken huge pains to prejudice him against me, and so successfully, that he did not even ask me to preach: So I had thoughts of going on; but in the afternoon he altered his purpose, and I preached in the evening to a large congregation. He seemed quite surprised; and was convinced for the present, that things had been misrepresented.
But how long will the conviction last? Perhaps till next month. Wed. 18. — I called upon another serious Clergyman, Vicar of a little town near Pickering. He immediately told me how he had been received by warm men “to doubtful disputations.” He said, this had for a time much hurt his soul; but that now the snare was broken.
About one I preached at Snainton, eight or nine miles beyond Pickering, to a small, but deeply serious congregation. When I came to Scarborough, though the wind was very high and very sharp, the multitude of people constrained me to preach abroad; and all, but a few noisy children, behaved remarkably well. Thur. 19. — The Room was filled at five; and the congregation this evening was larger than the last. How is the face of things changed here within a year or two! The society increased four-fold: Most of them alive to God, and many filled with love; and all of them enjoy great quietness, instead of noise and tumult, since God put it into the heart of an honest Magistrate to still the madness of the people.
I wrote a letter today, which after some time I sent to forty or fifty Clergymen, with the little preface annexed: — “Rev. Sir, “NEAR two years and a half ago, I wrote the following letter. You will please to observe, 1. That I propose no more therein than is the bounden duty of every Christian. 2. That you may comply with this proposal, whether any other does or not. I myself have endeavored so to do for many years, though I have been almost alone therein, and although many, the more earnestly I talk of peace, the more zealously make themselves ready for battle. I am, Reverend Sir, “Your affectionate Brother, “John Wesley.” “Dear Sir, “IT has pleased God to give you both the will and the power to do many things for his glory; although you are often ashamed you have done so little, and wish you could do a thousand times more.
This induces me to mention to you what has been upon my mind for many years, and what I am persuaded would be much for the glory of God, if it could once be effected; and I am in great hopes it will be, if you heartily undertake it, trusting in him alone. “Some years since God began a great work in England; but the laborers were few. At first those few were of one heart; but it was not so long. First one fell off, then another and another, till no two of us were left together in the work, besides my brother and me.
This prevented much good, and occasioned much evil. It grieved our spirits, and weakened our hands; it gave our common enemies huge occasion to blaspheme. It perplexed and puzzled many sincere Christians; it caused many to draw back to perdition; it grieved the Holy Spirit of God. “As laborers increased, disunion increased. Offenses were multiplied; and instead of coming nearer to, they stood farther and farther off from, each other; till, at length, those who were not only brethren in Christ, but fellow-laborers in his Gospel, had no more connection or fellowship with each other, than Protestants have with Papists. “But ought this to be? Ought not those who are united to one common Head, and employed by Him in one common work, to be united to each other! I speak now of those laborers who are Ministers of the Church of England. These are chiefly, — “Mr. Perronet, Romaine, Newton, Shirley; “Mr. Downing, Jesse, Adam; “Mr. Talbot, Riland, Stillingfleet, Fletcher; “Mr. Johnson, Baddily, Andrews, Jane; “Mr. Hart, Symes, Brown, Rouquet; “Mr. Sellon; “Mr. Venn, Richardson, Burnet, Furly; “Mr. Conyers, Bently, King; “Mr. Berridge, Hicks, J. W., C. W., John Richardson, Benjamin Colley: Not excluding any other Clergyman, who agrees in these essentials, — “I. Original Sin. “II. Justification by Faith. “III. Holiness of Heart and Life; provided their life be answerable to their doctrine. “‘But what union would you desire among these?’ Not an union in opinions. They might agree or disagree, touching absolute decrees on the one hand, and perfection on the other. Not an union in expressions. These may still speak of the imputed righteousness, and those of the merits, of Christ. Not an union with regard to outward order. Some may still remain quite regular, some quite irregular; and some partly regular, and partly irregular. But these things being as they are, as each is persuaded in his own mind, is it not a most desirable thing that we should, — “1. Remove hindrances out of the way? Not judge one another, not despise one another, not envy one another? Not be displeased at one another’s gifts or success, even, though greater than our own? Not wait for one another’s halting, much less wish for it, or rejoice therein? “Never speak disrespectfully, slightly, coldly, or unkindly of each other; never repeat each other’s faults, mistakes, or infirmities, much less listen for and gather them up; never say or do anything to hinder each other’s usefulness, either directly or indirectly? Is it not a most desirable thing that we should, — “2. Love as brethren? Think well of and honor one another? Wish all good, all grace, all gifts, all success, yea, greater than our own, to each other? Expect God will answer our wish, rejoice in every appearance thereof, and praise him for it? Readily believe good of each other, as readily as we once believed evil? “Speak respectfully, honorably, kindly of each other; defend each other’s character; speak all the good we can of each other; recommend one another where we have influence; each help the other on in his work, and enlarge his influence by all the honest means he can? “This is the union which I have long sought after; and is it not the duty of every one of us so to do? Would it not be far better for ourselves? A means of promoting both our holiness and happiness? Would it not remove much guilt from those who have been faulty in any of these instances? and much pain from those who have kept themselves pure? Would it not be far better for the people, who suffer severely from the clashings and contentions of their leaders, which seldom fail to occasion many unprofitable, yea, hurtful, disputes among them? Would it not be better even for the poor, blind world, robbing them of their sport, ‘O they cannot agree among themselves!’ Would it not be better for the whole work of God, which would then deepen and widen on every side? “‘But it will never be; it is utterly impossible.’ Certainly it is with men. Who imagines we can do this? that it can be effected by any human power? All nature is against it, every infirmity, every wrong temper and passion; love of honor and praise, of power, of pre-eminence; anger, resentment, pride; long contracted habit, and prejudice lurking in ten thousand forms. The devil and all his angels are against it. For if this takes place, how shall his kingdom stand?
All the world, all that know not God, are against it, though they may seem to favor it for a season. Let us settle this in our hearts, that we may be utterly cut off from all dependence on our own strength or wisdom. “But surely ‘with God all things are possible;’ therefore ‘all things are possible to him that believeth;’ and this union is proposed only to them that believe, that show their faith by their works. “When Mr. C. was objecting the impossibility of ever effecting such a union, I went up stairs, and after a little prayer opened Kempis on these words: — “Expecta Dominum: Viriliter age: Noli diffidere: Noli discedere; sed corpus et animam expone constanter pro gloria Dei . I am, dear Sir, “Your affectionate servant, “J.W. “Scarborough, April 19, 1764.”
I received three letters in answer to this, though not at the same time, part of which I gladly subjoin: — “Dear Sir, “ I AM not insensible of the happy consequences it might produce, if ‘those who agree in preaching that capital doctrine, By grace are ye saved through faith, would maintain a free intercourse with each other;’ and if it could by any means be accomplished, it is doubtless an event most devoutly to be wished. It is what I always have shown the greatest readiness to, and what I have labored at for these several years past, within my little sphere: And though my success hitherto, through causes which I will not pretend to assign, has by no means equaled my hopes; yet I shall heartily rejoice, if, at length, it may please God to make you the instrument of effecting so important a design. For my own part, I despise no man for his opinion; however, I may be most closely attached (as every one is) to those whose judgment most nearly harmonizes with my own: And if I can bear any thing, it is contradiction; so long as I am allowed the common liberty of answering for myself, without being treated with reproach or scorn for any heterodox notions I may be supposed to maintain. “I shall very gladly go halfway to London at any time, to give a meeting to a number of Ministers, of any denomination, that may be brought together with this pious intention; and I think I may answer for Mr. Johnson’s concurrence. Will you forgive me, if, for once, I presume to suggest what (I apprehend) may be most conducive on such an occasion to our general profit and edification? “1. Let one of the books of the New Testament be made choice of previous to our interview, for the subject of our conference when we meet, not with a view of displaying our critical talents on every word or verse that occurs, but of pointing out those things which necessarily enter into the plan of apostolical preaching. 2. Let every one settle this in his heart beforehand, to expect contradiction, at the same time resolving to bear it calmly for the Lord’s sake; and, seeing we naturally carry about us an accursed spirit of selfishness, pride, and impatience, that is ready to take fire at the most trivial offense, let us make it a point beforehand, daily to lament this our wretchedness of disposition at the throne of grace, earnestly beseeching the Lord to prepare us all for our intended conference, by enduing us with the spirit of meekness, forbearance, humility, and love. 3. Let every one consent to renounce any favorite phrase, term, or mode of speech, that is not scriptural, if required so to do by those who dissent from him: Because whatever doctrine cannot maintain its ground without the aid of humanly-invented words, is not of God. “I have unbosomed myself to you in the frankest manner, with a view to promote that happy intercourse which you wish to establish; and if you imagine it will answer any good purpose, you are welcome to show this letter to any of the Ministers you have had in your eye, and to disclose to the largely all you know of, dear Sir, “Your affectionate friend and brother, “R. H.” “Rev. And Dear Sir, “ I RECEIVED your printed letter, and should rejoice to see the union proposed therein take place; but I must own I am an infidel concerning it. Daily experience convinces me more and more, that the zeal for opinions and charity, non bene conveniunt, nec in una sede morantur. It has well-nigh destroyed all Christian love, zeal, and holiness among us: I have met with greater trials from these bigots within this twelvemonth, than I have met with from all other opposers for fifteen years. Many that once would almost have plucked out their own eyes and given them to me, are now ready to pluck out my eyes. “I really am tired of preaching to an ungrateful, gain-saying people.
Pray for me, dear Sir, for my hands hang down exceedingly. I am “Your unworthy brother, “W. S.” “My Rev. And Dear Brother Shoreham. “YOURS of the 15th instant gave me both pain and pleasure. “I was highly delighted with your ardent wishes and endeavors for promoting the spirit of the Gospel among the Preachers and other professors of it; but deeply concerned at the disappointment and opposition you have met with. “It has been always a leading principle with me, (and I pray God confirm and strengthen it more and more,) to love all those laborers of Christ, who give proof by their diligence, their holy and heavenly behavior, that they love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, even though their sentiments in many things should differ from mine. “And, therefore, though it be absurd to expect an entire union of sentiments in all things, yet the endeavoring, by every Christian method, to ‘keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,’ is the indispensable duty of all Christians. Where this spiritual peace and union are not, there faith working by love is not; and where this divine faith is wanting, there Christ is wanting; there his Spirit is wanting; and then, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision will avail us any thing. “In this melancholy situation, whilst we are strangers to the divine fruits of the Holy Spirit, let our gifts and talents be what they may, let us speak with the tongues of men and of angels; we are yet nothing in the sight of God! Nay, though his Spirit should spread the Gospel, by our ministry, in the hearts of thousands; yet our own souls will remain but a barren wilderness; and Christ may say, ‘I never knew you.’ “How ought we therefore always to pray, that the peace of God may ever rule in our hearts; that we may be rooted and grounded in love; and that we may constantly follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another! “This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and may God impress it thoroughly upon the minds and hearts of all! And may the poor despised flock grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I am, dear Sir, “Yours most affectionately, “Vincent Perronet.” April 20 . — (Being Good Friday. ) We had a parting blessing at five. I then rode to Robin Hood’s Bay, and about two preached in the little Square. A poor madman, literally such, came up to me just as I began, and sat down quietly till I had done. At six I preached in the new House at Whitby, ill containing the congregation. Here God does still make bare his arm, and sinners are continually converted to him. Sat. 21. — I visited one who was ill in bed; and, after having buried seven of her family in six months, had just heard that the eighth, her beloved husband, was cast away at sea. I asked, “Do not you fret at any of those things?” She said, with a lovely smile upon her pale cheek, “O, no! How can I fret at anything which is the will of God? Let him take all besides: He has given me himself. I love, I praise him every moment.” Let any that doubts of Christian Perfection look on such a spectacle as this! One in such circumstances rejoicing evermore, and continually giving thanks.
April 22. — (Being Easter Day. ) I preached in the Room at five and at eight. There were such a number of communicants at church, as, it was supposed, had not been there these fifty years. In the evening I preached under the cliff, for the sake of those who were not able to get up the hill.
The skirts of the congregation could not hear, though my voice was clear and loud. But the bulk of them seemed both to hear and understand. How ripe for the Gospel is this place! Mon. 23. — After preaching at five, I met the select society, who seem all to have tasted of the same blessing. I then rode to Guisborough, and about eleven preached in a meadow to a large and serious congregation: But not more serious than that in the street at Stokesley, to whom I declared, in the afternoon, “Jesus Christ, made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” I was a little tired before I came to Hutton. But it was over, when I saw the huge congregation, among whom I found a greater blessing than either at Stokesley or Guisborough. I then met the society, gathered from all parts. Afterwards I met the select society: And when they were gone, I was just as fresh as when I set out in the morning. Tues. 24. — I preached about noon at Potto, and in the evening in the new House at Yarm, by far the most elegant in England. A large congregation attended at five in the morning, and seemed to be just ripe for the exhortation, “Let us go on unto perfection.” I had indeed the satisfaction of finding most of the believers here athirst for full redemption.
In the evening I preached at Stockton. The rain was suspended while I was enforcing those awful words, “Now God commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” Friday, 27. I was obliged to preach abroad at five; as also in Darlington at noon, and at Barnard-Castle in the evening; where many hearts were bowed down before the Lord. Sat. 28. — I rode to Newcastle. Here I received a short letter from John Johnson at York: — “This evening, about a quarter before seven, it pleased God to take to himself our dear brother, John Manners, after a time of remarkable affliction, and as remarkable patience. He was clearly sensible to the last, as well as solidly happy, saying, ‘The way is quite clear; my heart is at liberty.’” Sun. 29. — The ground being wet with heavy rain, I preached in the House both morning and evening. I soon found what spirit the people were of. No jar, no contention is here; but all are peaceably and lovingly striving together for the hope of the Gospel. And what can hurt the Methodists, so called, but the Methodists? Only let them not fight one another, let not brother lift up sword against brother, and “no weapon formed against them shall prosper.”
Mon. 30 — I received a letter from Cornwall, wherein were these words: — “Yesterday I preached to a large congregation at St. John’s. The occasion was this: — One of our friends came into Mr. Thomas’s a few days since. After speaking a little upon business, he said, ‘What need have we to watch!’ Presently sitting down, he added, ‘There is but one step between me and death,’ and died.” Wed . May 2. — I talked with M. L., a remarkable monument of divine mercy. She is about two-and-twenty, and has about six hundred pounds a year in her own hands. Some months since God spoke peace to her soul, while she was wrestling with him in private prayer. This was never entirely taken from her, even while she was almost alone. But she was often dull and faint, till she broke through all hindrances, and joined heart and hand with the children of God. Tues. 8. — We rode over the wild Moors to Wolsingham. It proved to be the fair day. So I had hearers from all parts. In the evening I preached to the simple, loving, earnest people at Barnard-Castle. If all to whom we preach were of this spirit, what an harvest would ensue! Wed. 9. — I was invited to breakfast by Mr. F——, a neighboring gentleman. I found we had been school-fellows at the Charter-House: And he remembered me, though I had forgot him. I spent a very agreeable hour with a serious as well as sensible man.
About noon I preached to a large congregation in Teesdale, and to a still larger in Weardale in the evening. The next day, after preaching at Prudhoe and Nafferton, I returned to Newcastle. Tues. 15. — I rode to South-Shields, and was persuaded to preach in the House. It was well I did, for about the middle of the sermon there was a violent shower. But it was quite fair at six, while I preached at North-Shields to a very large and yet very serious congregation. How is the scene changed since my brother preached here, when the people were ready to swallow him up! O what has God wrought in this land within four or five and twenty years! Fri. 18. — I received much satisfaction in conversing with the most honorable member of our society, — Henry Jackson, now in the ninety-fifth or ninety-sixth year of his age. He put me in mind of that venerable man, Mr. Eliot, of New-England; who frequently used to say to his friends, a few years before he went to God, “My memory is gone; my understanding is gone; but I think I have more love than ever.” Sat. 19. — I preached to the poor colliers at Placey, who are still a pattern to all the country. We rode home by a great house I had frequently heard of. The front is truly noble. In the house I saw nothing remarkable, but what was remarkably bad: Such pictures as an honest Heathen would be ashamed to receive under his roof; unless he designed his wife and daughters should be common prostitutes. And this is the high fashion!
What an abundant proof of the taste of the present age! Sun. 20. — Between eight and nine I preached in Gateshead, to a listening multitude. I believe their number was doubled at the Fell, about two in the afternoon. About five I preached to such another congregation on the outside of Pandon-Gate. I know not that I ever before preached to three such congregations in one day: Such as obliged me to speak to the utmost extent of my voice, from the first word to the last. But it was all one, as I was no more tired in the evening than if I had sat still all day. Mon. 21. — I took my leave of Newcastle; and about noon preached in the market place at Morpeth. A few of the hearers were a little ludicrous at first; but their mirth was quickly spoiled. In the evening I preached in the Court-House at Alnwick, where I rested the next day. Wednesday, 23.
I rode over the sands to Holy-Island, once the famous seat of a Bishop; now the residence of a few poor families, who live chiefly by fishing. At one side of the town are the ruins of a cathedral, with an adjoining monastery. It appears to have been a lofty and elegant building, the middle aisle being almost entire. I preached in what was once the market place, to almost all the inhabitants of the island, and distributed some little books among them, for which they were exceeding thankful. In the evening I preached at Berwick-upon-Tweed; the next evening at Dunbar; and on Friday, 25, about ten, at Haddington, in Provost D.’s yard, to a very elegant congregation. But I expect little good will be done here; for we begin at the wrong end; Religion must not go from the greatest to the least, or the power would appear to be of men.
In the evening I preached at Musselborough, and the next on the Calton-Hill, at Edinburgh. It being the time of the General Assembly, many of the Ministers were there. The wind was high and sharp, and blew away a few delicate ones. But most of the congregation did not stir till I had concluded. Sun. 27. — At seven I preached in the High-School yard, on the other side of the city. The morning was extremely cold. In the evening it blew a storm. However, having appointed to be on the Calton-Hill, I began there to an huge congregation. At first, the wind was a little troublesome; but I soon forgot it. And so did the people for an hour and a half, in which I fully delivered my own soul. Mon. 28. — I spent some hours at the General Assembly, composed of about an hundred and fifty Ministers. I was surprised to find, 1. That any one was admitted, even lads, twelve or fourteen years old: 2. That the chief speakers were Lawyers, six or seven on one side only: 3. That a single question took up the whole time, which, when I went away, seemed to be as far from a conclusion as ever, namely, “Shall Mr. Lindsay be removed to Kilmarnock parish or not?”
The argument for it was, “He has a large family, and this living is twice as good as his own.” The argument against it was, “The people are resolved not to hear him, and will leave the kirk if he comes.” If then the real point in view had been, as their law directs, majus bonum Ecclesiae, instead of taking up five hours, the debate might have been determined in five minutes.
On Monday and Tuesday I spoke to the members of the society severally. Thursday, 31. I rode to Dundee, and, about half an hour after six, preached on the side of a meadow near the town. Poor and rich attended. Indeed, there is seldom fear of wanting a congregation in Scotland. But the misfortune is, they know everything: So they learn nothing. Fri . June 1. — I rode to Brechin, where Mr. Blair received me in the most friendly manner. In the afternoon I preached on the side of an hill near the town, where we soon forgot the cold. I trust there will be not only a knowing, but a loving, people in this place.
About seven Mr. B. was occasionally mentioning what had lately occurred in the next parish. I thought it worth a farther inquiry, and therefore ordered our horses to be brought immediately. Mr. B. guided us to Mr. Ogilvie’s house, the Minister of the parish; who informed us that a strange disorder had appeared in his parish, between thirty and forty years ago; but that nothing of the kind had been known there since, till some time in September last. A boy was then taken ill, and so continues still. In the end of January, or beginning of February, many other children were taken, chiefly girls, and a few grown persons. They begin with an involuntary shaking of their hands and feet. Then their lips are convulsed; next their tongue, which seems to cleave to the roof of the mouth. Then the eyes are set, staring terribly, and the whole face variously distorted. Presently they start up, and jump ten, fifteen, or twenty times together straight upward, two, three, or more feet from the ground. Then they start forward, and run with amazing swiftness, two, three, or five hundred yards. Frequently they run up, like a cat, to the top of an house, and jump on the ridge of it, as on the ground. But wherever they are, they never fall, or miss their footing at all. After they have run and jumped for some time, they drop down as dead. When they come to themselves, they usually tell when and where they shall be taken again: Frequently, how often and where they shall jump, and to what places they shall run.
I asked, “Are any of them near?” He said, “Yes, at those houses.” We walked thither without delay. One of them was four years and half old; the other about eighteen. The child, we found, had had three or four fits that day, running and jumping like the rest, and in particular leaping many times from a high table to the ground without the least hurt. The young woman was the only person of them all, who used to keep her senses during the fit. In answer to many questions, she said, “I first feel a pain in my left foot, then in my head; then my hands and feet shake, and I cannot speak; and quickly I begin to jump or run.” While we were talking, she cried out, “O, I have a pain in my foot: It is in my hand: It is here, at the bending of my arm. O, my head! my head! my head!” Immediately her arms were stretched out, and were as an iron bar: I could not bend one of her fingers; and her body was bent backward; the lower part remaining quite erect, while her back formed exactly a half circle, — her head hanging even with her hips. I was going to catch her; but one said, “Sir, you may let her alone, for they never fall.” But I defy all mankind to account for her not falling, when the trunk of her body hung in that manner.
In many circumstances this case goes far beyond the famous one mentioned by Boerhaave; particularly in that, — their telling before, when and how they should be taken again. Whoever can account for this upon natural principles, has my free leave: I cannot. I therefore believe, if this be in part a natural distemper, there is something preternatural too. Yet supposing this, I can easily conceive, Satan will so disguise his part therein, that we cannot precisely determine, which part of the disorder is natural, and which preternatural. Sat. 2. — I rode to Aberdeen, and preached in the evening in the College-Hall, and at seven in the morning, Sunday, 3. At four in the afternoon I preached to a crowded audience in the College kirk, at Old-Aberdeen. At seven I preached in the College close, at New-Aberdeen.
We want nothing here but a larger House. And the foundation of one is laid already. It is true, we have little money, and the society is poor; but we know in whom we have believed. Thur. 7. — I rode over to Sir Archibald Grant’s, twelve computed miles from Aberdeen. It is surprising to see how the country between is improved even within these three years. On every side the wild dreary moors are ploughed up, and covered with rising corn. All the ground near Sir Archibald’s, in particular, is as well cultivated as most in England.
About seven I preached. The kirk was pretty well filled, though upon short notice. Certainly this is a nation “swift to hear and slow to speak,” though not “slow to wrath.”
Mr. Grant, a gentleman from the county of Murray, came in soon after us; and, understanding we were going north, desired we would call at the Grange-Green in our way. In the morning, Friday, 8, I rode to Old-Meldrum, and preached in the market place at noon, to a large and serious congregation, among whom were the Minister and his wife. But I was more surprised to see a company of our friends from Aberdeen, several of whom had come on foot, twelve old Scotch miles, and intended to walk back thither the same day. In the afternoon we rode on to Banff. I had designed to preach; but the stormy weather would not permit. We set out early on Saturday morning, and reached Nairn in the evening. Sunday, 10. About eight we reached Inverness. I could not preach abroad, because of the rain; nor could I hear of any convenient room; so that I was afraid my coming hither would be in vain, all ways seeming to be blocked up. At ten I went to the kirk. After Service, Mr. Fraser, one of the Ministers, invited us to dinner, and then to drink tea. As we were drinking tea, he asked at what hour I would please to preach. I said, “At half-hour past five.” The high kirk was filled in a very short time; and I have seldom found greater liberty of spirit. The other Minister came afterwards to our inn, and showed the most cordial affection. Were it only for this day, I should not have regretted the riding an hundred miles. Mon. 11. — A gentleman, who lives three miles from the town, invited me to his house, assuring me the Minister of his parish would be glad if I would make use of his kirk; but time would not permit as I had appointed to be at Aberdeen on Wednesday. All I could do was, to preach once more at Inverness. I think the church was fuller now than before; and I could not but observe the remarkable behavior of the whole congregation after Service. Neither man, woman, nor child, spoke one word all the way down the main street. Indeed the seriousness of the people is the less surprising, when it is considered that for at least an hundred years, this town has had such a succession of pious Ministers as very few in Great Britain have known.
After Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen, I think Inverness is the largest town I have seen in Scotland. The main streets are broad and straight; the houses mostly old, but not very bad, nor very good. It stands in a pleasant and fruitful country, and has all things needful for life and godliness. The people in general speak remarkably good English, and are of a friendly, courteous behavior.
About eleven we took horse. While we were dining at Nairn, the inn-keeper said, “Sir, the gentlemen of the town have read the little book you gave me on Saturday, and would be glad if you would please to give them a sermon.” Upon my consenting, the bell was immediately rung, and the congregation was quickly in the kirk. O what a difference is there between South and North Britain! Every one here at least loves to hear the word of God; and none takes it into his head to speak one uncivil word to any, for endeavoring to save their souls.
Doubting whether Mr. Grant was come home, Mr. Kershaw called at the Grange-Green, near Forres, while I rode forward. But Mr. Grant soon called me back. I have seldom seen a more agreeable place. The house is an old castle, which stands on a little hill, with a delightful prospect all four ways; and, the hospitable master has left nothing undone to make it still more agreeable. He showed us all his improvements, which are very considerable in every branch of husbandry. In his gardens many things were more forward than at Aberdeen, yea, or Newcastle. And how is it, that none but one Highland gentleman has discovered that we have a tree in Britain, as easily raised as an ash, the wood of which is of full as fine a red as mahogany? namely, the laburnum. I defy any mahogany to exceed the chairs which he has lately made of this. Tues. 12. — We rode through the pleasant and fertile county of Murray to Elgin. I never suspected before that there was any such country as this near an hundred and fifty miles beyond Edinburgh; a country which is supposed to have generally six weeks more sunshine in a year than any part of Great Britain.
At Elgin are the ruins of a noble cathedral; the largest that I remember to have seen in the kingdom. We rode thence to the Spey, the most rapid river, next the Rhine, that I ever saw. Though the water was not breast-high to our horses, they could very hardly keep their feet. We dined at Keith, and rode on to Strathbogie, much improved by the linen manufacture. All the country from Fochabers to Strathbogie has little houses scattered up and down; and not only the valleys, but the mountains themselves, are improved with the utmost care. There want only more trees to make them more pleasant than most of the mountains in England. The whole family at our inn, eleven or twelve in number, gladly joined with us in prayer at night. Indeed, so they did at every inn where we lodged; for among all the sins they have imported from England, the Scots have not yet learned, at least not the common people, to scoff at sacred things. Wed. 13. — We reached Aberdeen about one. Between six and seven, both this evening and the next, I preached in the shell of the new House, and found it a time of much consolation. Friday, 15. We set out early, and came to Dundee just as the boat was going off. We designed to lodge at the house on the other side; but could not get either meat, drink, or good words, so we were constrained to ride on to Cupar. After traveling near ninety miles, I found no weariness at all; neither were our horses hurt.
Thou, O Lord, dost save both man and beast! Sat. 16. — We had a ready passage at Kinghorn, and in the evening I preached on the Calton-Hill, to a very large congregation; but a still larger assembled at seven on Sunday morning in the High-School yard. Being afterwards informed that the Lord’s Supper was to be administered in the west kirk, I knew not what to do; but at length I judged it best to embrace the opportunity, though I did not admire the manner of administration.
After the usual Morning Service, the Minister enumerated several sorts of sinners, whom he forbade to approach. Two long tables were set on the sides of one aisle, covered with tablecloths. On each side of them a bench was placed for the people. Each table held four or five and thirty. Three Ministers sat at the top, behind a cross-table; one of whom made a long exhortation, closed with the words of our Lord; and then breaking the bread, gave it to him who sat on each side of him. A piece of bread was then given to him who sat first on each of the four benches. He broke off a little piece, and gave the bread to the next; so it went on, the Deacons giving more when wanted. A cup was then given to the first person on each bench, and so by one to another. The Minister continued his exhortation all the time they were receiving; then four verses of the twenty-second Psalm were sung, while new persons sat down at the tables. A second Minister then prayed, consecrated, and exhorted. I was informed the Service usually lasted till five in the evening. How much more simple, as well as more solemn, is the Service of the Church of England!
The evening congregation on the hill was far the largest I have seen in the kingdom; and the most deeply affected. Many were in tears; more seemed cut to the heart. Surely this time will not soon be forgotten. Will it not appear in the annals of eternity? Mon. 18. — I set out early, and reached Wooler about four in the afternoon. Some friends from Newcastle met me here, and took me in a chaise to Whittingham. Tuesday, 19. After preaching about noon at Morpeth, we went on to Newcastle. The fire had not gone out since I was here. I felt it as soon as I began to speak; and so, it seems, did the whole congregation. At five in the morning the same spirit was in the midst of us, as well as at seven in the evening; but most of all at the Fell, while I was applying those words, “Believe, and thou shalt be saved.” Thur. 21. — Leaving this house of God, I rode to Carlisle. The day was extremely sultry, so that I was faint and feverish in the evening. However, the next day I got well to Whitehaven.
What has continually hurt this poor people is offense. I found the society now all in confusion because a woman had scolded with her neighbor, and another stole a two-penny loaf. I talked largely with those who had been most offended; and they stood reproved. Sunday, 24. About seven I preached at the Gins, and the people flocked together from all quarters.
The want of field preaching has been one cause of deadness here. I do not find any great increase of the work of God without it. If ever this is laid aside, I expect the whole work will gradually die away. Mon. 25. — I rode by Keswick to Kendal. The clouds shaded us most of the way, and the wind was just in our face; otherwise we should scarce have been able to bear the heat. A few years ago the fields here were white for the harvest; but the poor people have since been so harassed by Seceders, and disputers of every kind, that they are dry and dead as stones; yet I think some of them felt the power of God this evening; and can he not, “out of these stones, raise up children unto Abraham?” Tues. 26. — I preached abroad at five; and, I believe, not in vain. Between nine and ten we reached Black-Burtoll, where there was a general awakening till the jars between Mr. Ingham and Allan laid the people asleep again. However, some are united again in a quiet, loving society, zealous of good works. I preached about eleven. Thence we rode to Long-Preston, being still fanned by the wind, and (unless a few minutes now and then) shaded by the clouds. The congregation was exceeding serious. Hence I rode to Skipton, where, some time since, no Methodist Preacher could appear. I preached in the evening near the bridge, without the least interruption. Nor did I find any weariness, after preaching four times, and riding fifty miles. Wed. 27. — I rode to Otley. In the evening we had a large congregation at the foot of the great mountain. After preaching in the morning, I examined those who believe they are saved from sin. They are a little increased in number since I met them last; and some of them much increased in love.
This evening I preached at Guiseley; the next at Keighley; and on Saturday, 30, at Bradford. This was a place of contention for many years; but since the contentious have quitted us, all is peace. Sunday, JULY 1. I preached at seven to a more numerous congregation than I believe ever assembled there before; and all were serious as death. About one I preached at Birstal, on, “Now is the day of salvation.” The people stood by thousands; covering both the plain, and the sides of the adjacent hill. It was a glorious opportunity. At five the congregation in Leeds was almost as large, but not so deeply afflicted. Mon. 2. — I gave a fair hearing to two of our brethren who had proved bankrupts. Such we immediately exclude from our society, unless it plainly appears not to be their own fault. Both these were in a prosperous way till they fell into that wretched trade of bill-broking, wherein no man continues long without being wholly ruined. By this means, not being sufficiently accurate in their accounts, they ran back without being sensible of it. Yet it was quite clear that I—— R—— is an honest man: I would hope the same concerning the other. Tues. 3. — I was reflecting on an odd circumstance, which I cannot account for. I never relish a tune at first hearing, not till I have almost learned to sing it; and as I learn it more perfectly, I gradually lose my relish for it. I observe something similar poetry; yea, in all the objects of imagination. I seldom relish verses at first hearing; till I have heard them over and over, they give me no pleasure; and they give me next to none when I have heard them a few times more, so as to be quite familiar. Just so a face or a picture, which does not strike me at first, becomes more pleasing as I grow more acquainted with it; but only to a certain point: For when I am too much acquainted, it is no longer pleasing. O, how imperfectly do we understand even the machine which we carry about us! Thur. 5. — I had the comfort of leaving our brethren at Leeds united in peace and love. About one I preached in a meadow at Wakefield. At first the sun was inconvenient; but it was not many minutes before that inconvenience was removed by the clouds coming between. We had not only a larger, but a far more attentive, congregation than ever was seen here before. One, indeed, a kind of gentleman, was walking away with great unconcern, when I spoke aloud, “Does Gallio care for none of these things? But where will you go, with the wrath of God on your head, and the curse of God on your back?” He stopped short, stood still, and went no farther till the sermon was ended.
In the evening I preached on the top of the hill near Dewsbury, one of the pleasantest towns in England. The congregation was larger than ever before. They filled the preaching house at five in the morning.
I had purposed to take horse early, to avoid the heat; but was detained till between nine and ten. It was then warm enough, there being no wind, and the sun shining full in our face. However, before one we got to Heptonstall, where I preached in the shell of the new House. After service one brought his daughter to me, who had been ill some months, just like those near Brechin. Her sister was so two years since; and when that recovered, this was taken. How often must even physicians acknowledge spiritual agents, did not the nerves help them out at a dead lift!
In the evening I preached at Halifax, where I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Venn; with whom, in the morning, Saturday, 7, I rode to Huddersfield, and preached between eleven and twelve. The church was pretty well filled, considering the short warning. At half-hour after one we took horse.
The sun shone burning hot, and the wind was in our back; but very soon the sky was overcast, and the wind changed, and blew just in our face all the way to Manchester. It was with difficulty that I preached in the evening, my voice being exceeding weak; as I had preached three times a day for ten days, and many of the times abroad. Sun. 8. — I rode to Stockport, and preached at one on a Green at the end of the town. A few wild young men strove: to make a disturbance; but none regarded them. At five I preached at Manchester, on, “One thing is needful;” and scarce knew how to leave off. At the meeting of the societies likewise, it pleased God to comfort us greatly. Monday, 9. The stewards from various parts gave a good account of the work of God among them, steadily increasing on every side. In the evening curiosity brought to the House many unbelievers, in the proper sense; — men who do not receive the Christian Revelation. I preached on, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself;” and proved them sinners on their own principles. Some of the stout-hearted trembled; I hope to more purpose than poor Felix did. Wed. 11. — I gave all our brethren a solemn warning not to love the world, or the things of the world. This is one way whereby Satan will surely endeavor to overthrow the present work of God. Riches swiftly increase on many Methodists, so called: What, but the mighty power of God, can hinder their setting their hearts upon them? And if so, the life of God vanishes away.
About seven I preached in the street at Bolton, to twice or thrice as many as the Room could have contained. It was a calm, still evening, and the congregation was as quiet as the season; though composed of awakened and unawakened Churchmen, Dissenters, and what not. As many as the House would well contain were present again at five in the morning. About seven in the evening the multitude of people constrained me to preach in the street, though it rained. But in a very short time the rain stopped; and I strongly enforced our Lord’s word, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”
After sermon, one was mentioning a person who, according to his account, was disordered just like those in Scotland. In the morning, Friday, 13, her father brought her over. Soon after she fell into a fit; but it was plainly natural. I judged it to be of the epileptic kind. When she fell into a second, I advised electrifying. The fit ceased by a very gentle shock. A third was removed in the same manner; and she was so well, that her father found no difficulty in carrying her home behind him.
At ten I began to preach at Wigan, proverbially famous for all manner of wickedness. As I preached abroad, we expected some disturbance; but there was none at all. A few were wild at first; but in a little space grew quiet and attentive. I did not find so civil a congregation as this the first time I preached at Bolton.
Today I wrote the following letter, which I desire may be seriously considered by those to whom it belongs: — “Dear Sir, “THERE was one thing, when I was with you, that gave me pain:
You are not in the society. But why not? Are there not sufficient arguments for it to move any reasonable man? Do you not hereby make an open confession of Christ, of what you really believe to be his work, and of those whom you judge to be, in a proper sense, his people and his messengers? By this means do not you encourage his people, and strengthen the hands of his messengers?
And is not this the way to enter into the spirit, and share the blessing, of a Christian community? Hereby, likewise, you may have the benefit of the advises and exhortations at the meeting of the society; and also of provoking one another, at the private meetings, to love and to good works. “The ordinary objections to such an union are of little weight with you. You are not afraid of the expense. You already give unto the Lord as much as you need do then: And you are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, even in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Perhays you will say, ‘I am joined in affection.’ True; but not to so good effect. This joining half-way, this being a friend to, but not a member of, the society, is by no means so open a confession of the work and servants of God. Many go thus far who dare not go farther, who are ashamed to bear the reproach of an entire union. Either you are ashamed, or you are not. If you are, break through at once; if you are not, come into the light, and do what those well-meaning cowards dare not do. This imperfect union is not so encouraging to the people, not so strengthening to the Preachers. Rather it is weakening their hands, hindering their work, and laying a stumbling block in the way of others; for what can any man think, who knows you are so well acquainted with them, and yet do not join in their society? What can he think, but that you know them too well to come any nearer to them; that you know that kind of union to be useless, if not hurtful? And yet by this very union is the whole (external) work of God upheld throughout the nation; besides all the spiritual good which accrues to each member. O delay no longer; for the sake of the work, for the sake of the world, for the sake of your brethren! Join them inwardly and outwardly, heart and hand, for the sake of your own soul. There is something not easily explained in the fellowship of the Spirit, which we enjoy with a society of living Christians. You have no need to give up your share therein, and in the various blessings that result from it. You have no need to exclude yourself from the benefit of the advice and exhortations given from time to time. These are by no means to be despised, even supposing you have yourself more understanding than him that gives them. You need not lose the benefit of those prayers which experience shows are attended with a peculiar blessing. ‘But I do not care to meet a class; I find no good in it.’ Suppose you find even a dislike, a loathing of it; may not this be natural, or even diabolical? In spite of this, break through, make a fair trial. It is but a lion in the way.
Meet only six times, (with previous prayers;) and see if it do not vanish away. But if it be a cross, still bear it for the sake of your brethren. ‘But I want to gain my friends and relations.’ If so, stand firm. If you give way, you hurt them, and they will press upon you the more. If you do not, you will probably gain them; otherwise you confirm both their wrong notions and wrong tempers. Because I love you I have spoken fully and freely; to know that I have not spoken in vain, will be a great satisfaction to “Your affectionate brother, “J. W.” In the evening I preached at Liverpool, and the next day, Sunday, 15, the House was full enough. Many of the rich and fashionable were there, and behaved with decency. Indeed, I have always observed more courtesy and humanity at Liverpool, than at most sea-ports in England. Mon. 16. — In the evening the House was fuller, if possible, than the night before. I preached on the “one thing needful;” and the rich behaved as seriously as the poor. Only one young gentlewoman (I heard) laughed much. Poor thing! Doubtless she thought, “I laugh prettily.” Tues. 17. — I preached at Warrington. But what a change! No opposer, nor any trifler now! Every one heard as for life, while I explained and applied, “Why will ye die, O house of Israel?”
In the evening I preached in the little Square adjoining to the preaching-house at Chester. There were many wild, rude people, but they were quite out-numbered by those who were civil and attentive; and I believe some impression was made on the wildest. What can shake Satan’s kingdom like field preaching? Wed. 18. — I should have been glad of a day of rest; but notice had been given of my preaching at noon near Tatten-Hall. The rain began almost as soon as we came in: So I could not preach abroad as I designed, but in a large commodious barn, where all that were present seemed to receive the word of God with joy and reverence.
The congregation at Chester; in the evening, was more numerous and far more serious than the day before. There wants only a little more field preaching here, and Chester would be as quiet as London. Thur. 19. — After preaching at Little-Leigh, I rode on to Macclesfield.
Here I heard an agreeable account of Mrs. R——, who was in the society at London from a child; but after she was married to a rich man, durst not own a poor, despised people. Last year she broke through, and came to see me. A few words which I then spoke never left her, not even in the trying hour, during the illness which came a few months after. All her conversation was then in heaven; till, feeling her strength was quite exhausted, she said, with a smile, “Death, thou art welcome!” and resigned her spirit.
I stood in the window, having put as many women as it would contain into the House. The rest, with the men, stood below in the meadow, and many of the townsmen, wild enough. I have scarce found such enlargement of heart since I came from Newcastle. The brutes resisted long, but were at length overcome; not above five or six excepted. Surely man shall not long have the upper hand: God will get unto himself the victory.
It rained all the day till seven in the evening, when I began preaching at Burslem. Even the poor potters here are a more civilized people than the better sort (so called) at Congleton. A few stood with their hats on, but none spoke a word, or offered to make the least disturbance. Sat. 21. — I rode to Bilbrook, near Wolverhampton, and preached between two and three. Thence we went on to Madeley, an exceeding pleasant village, encompassed with trees and hills. It was a great comfort to me to converse once more with a Methodist of the old stamp, denying himself, taking up his cross, and resolved to be “altogether a Christian.” Sun. 22. — At ten Mr. Fletcher read Prayers, and I preached on those words in the Gospel, “I am the good Shepherd: The good Shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep.” The church would nothing near contain the congregation; but a window near the pulpit being taken down, those who could not come in stood in the church-yard, and I believe all could hear.
The congregation, they said, used to be much smaller in the afternoon than in the morning; but I could not discern the least difference, either in number or seriousness.
I found employment enough for the intermediate hours, in praying with various companies who hung about the house, insatiably hungering and thirsting after the good word. Mr. Grimshaw, at his first coming to Haworth, had not such a prospect as this. There are many adversaries indeed; but yet they cannot shut the open and effectual door. Mon. 23. — The church was pretty well filled even at five, and many stood in the churchyard. In the evening I preached at Shrewsbury, to a large congregation, among whom were several men of fortune. I trust, though hitherto we seen to have been ploughing on the sand, there will at last be some fruit. The next day I spent at Shrewsbury. Wed. 25. — I took horse a little after four, and, about two, preached in the market-house at Llanidloes, two or three and forty miles from Shrewsbury. At three we rode forward through the mountains to the Fountain-head. I was for lodging there; but Mr. B—— being quite unwilling, we mounted again about seven. After having rode an hour, we found we were quite out of the way, having been wrong directed at setting out. We were then told to ride over some grounds; but our path soon ended in the edge of a bog. However, we got through to a little house, where an honest man, instantly mounting his horse, galloped before us, up hill and down, till he brought us into a road, which, he said, led straight to Roes-Fair. We rode on, till another met us, and said, “No; this is the way to Aberystwith. If you would go to Roes-Fair, you must turn back, and ride down to yonder bridge.” The master of a little house near the bridge then directed us to the next village, where we inquired again, (it being past nine,) and were once more set exactly wrong. Having wandered an hour upon the mountains, through rocks and bogs, and precipices, we, with abundance of difficulty, got back to the little house near the bridge. It was in vain to think of rest there, it being full of drunken, roaring miners; besides that there was but one bed in the house, and neither grass, nor hay, nor corn to be had. So we hired one of them to walk with us to Roes-Fair, though he was miserably drunk, till, by falling all his length in a purling stream, he came tolerably to his senses. Between eleven and twelve we came to the inn; but neither here could we get any hay. When we were in bed, the good hostler and miner thought good to mount our beasts. I believe it was not long before we rose that they put them into the stable.
But the mule was cut in several places, and my mare was bleeding like a pig, from a wound behind, two inches deep, made, it seemed, by a stroke with a pitch-fork. What to do we could not tell, till I remembered I had a letter for one Mr. Nathaniel Williams, whom, upon inquiry, I found to live but a mile off. We walked thither, and found “an Israelite indeed,” who gladly received both man and beast.
After I had got a little rest, Mr. W. desired me to give an exhortation to a few of his neighbors. None was more struck therewith than one of his own family, who before cared for none of these things. He sent a servant with us after dinner to Tregarron, from whence we had a plain road to Lampeter. Fri. 27. — We rode through a lovely vale, and over pleasant and fruitful hills, to Carmarthen. Thence, after a short bait, we went on to Pembroke, and came before I was expected; so I rested that night, having not quite recovered my journey from Shrewsbury to Rose-Fair. Sun. 29. — The Minister of St. Mary’s sent me word he was very willing I should preach in his church; but, before Service began, the Mayor sent to forbid it; so he preached a very useful sermon himself. The Mayor’s behavior so disgusted many of the Gentry, that they resolved to hear where they could; and accordingly flocked together in the evening from all parts of the town: And perhaps the taking up this cross may profit them more than my sermon in the church would have done. Mon. 30. — I rode to Haverfordwest: But no notice had been given, nor did any in the town know of my coming. However, after a short time, I walked up toward the Castle, and began singing an hymn. The people presently ran together from all quarters. They have curiosity at least; and some, I cannot doubt, were moved by a nobler principle. Were zealous and active laborers here, what an harvest might there be, even in this corner of the land!
We returned through heavy rain to Pembroke. Tuesday, 31. We set out for Glamorganshire, and rode up and down steep and stony mountains, for about five hours, to Larn. Having procured a pretty ready passage there, we went on to Lansteffan-Ferry, where we were in some danger of being swallowed up in the mud before we could reach the water. Between one and two we reached Kidwelly, having been more than seven hours on horseback, in which time we could have rode round by Carmarthen with more ease both to man and beast. I have, therefore, taken my leave of these ferries; considering we save no time by crossing them, (not even when we have a ready passage,) and so have all the trouble, danger, and expense, clear gains. I wonder that any man of common sense, who has once made the experiment, should ever ride from Pembroke to Swansea any other way than by Carmarthen.
An honest man at Kidwelly told us there was no difficulty in riding the sands; so we rode on. In ten minutes one overtook us who used to guide persons over them; and it was well he did, or in all probability we had been swallowed up. The whole sands are at least ten miles over, with many streams of quicksands intermixed. But our guide was thoroughly acquainted with them, and with the road on the other side. By his help, between five and six, we came well tired to Oxwych in Gower.
Gower is a large tract of land, bounded by Brecknockshire on the northeast, the sea on the southwest, and rivers on the other sides. Here all the people talk English, and are in general the most plain, loving people in Wales. It is, therefore, no wonder that they receive “the word with all readiness of mind.”
Knowing they were scattered up and down, I had sent two persons on Sunday, that they might be there early on Monday, and so sent notice of my coming all over the country: But they came to Oxwych scarce a quarter of an hour before me; so that the poor people had no notice at all:
Nor was there any to take us in; the person with whom the Preacher used to lodge being three miles out of town. After I had stayed a while in the street, (for there was no public-house,) a poor woman gave me house-room. Having had nothing since breakfast, I was very willing to eat or drink; but she simply told me she had nothing in the house but a dram of gin. However, I afterwards procured a dish of tea at another house, and was much refreshed. About seven I preached to a little company, and again in the morning. They were all attention; so that even for the sake of this handful of people I did not regret my labor. Wed . August 1. — It was with difficulty I reached Cowbridge about one, where the congregation was waiting. I found they had had heavy rain great part of the day; but very little fell upon us. Nor do I remember that from the beginning of church till now we have been in more than one heavy shower of rain, either in England, Scotland, or Wales.
I preached in the evening at Llandaff, and on Thursday, 2, in the Town-Hall at Cardiff. Saturday, 4. We crossed at the New-Passage, and rode on to Bristol. Sun. 5. — I preached in Prince’s Street at eight; at two, under the sycamore-tree at Kingswood; and at five, near King’s Square in Bristol.
How many thousands in this city do see in this “their day, the things that belong to their peace!”
On Monday, the 6th, our Conference began. The great point I now labored for was a good understanding with all our brethren of the Clergy who are heartily engaged in propagating vital religion. Saturday, 11. I took chaise early in the morning, and at night came safe to London. Sun. 12. — In the afternoon I preached in Moorfields on those comfortable words, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Thousands heard with calm and deep attention. This also hath God wrought! Mon. 13. — I was again as fully employed as at the Conference, in visiting classes from morning till night. Saturday, 18. I preached, for the first time, in our new chapel at Snowsfields, on, “O, how amiable are thy tabernacles, thou Lord of hosts!” Sun. 19. — Meeting with a pious and sensible man, who was born in the Isle of Skye, I said, “Tell me freely, did you yourself ever know a second-sighted man?” He answered, after a little pause, “I have known more than one or two.” I said, “But were they not deceivers? — How do you know they were really such?” He replied, “I have been in company with them, when they dropped down as dead. Coming to themselves, they looked utterly amazed, and said, ‘I have been in such a place, and I saw such and such persons (perhaps fifty miles off) die in such a manner;’ and when — inquiry was made, I never could find that they were mistaken in one circumstance. But the reason why it is so hard for you to get any information concerning this is, those who have the second sight count it a great misfortune; and it is thought a scandal to their family.” Mon. 20. — I went to Canterbury, and opened our new chapel, by preaching on, “One thing is needful.” How is it that many Protestants, even in England, do not know, that no other consecration of church or chapel is allowed, much less required, in England, than the performance of public worship therein? This is the only consecration of any church in Great Britain which is necessary or even lawful. It is true, Archbishop Laud composed a Form of Consecration; but it was never allowed, much less established, in England. Let this be remembered by all who talk so idly of preaching in unconsecrated places! Wed. 22. — I had designed to return to London; but being importuned to pay a visit first to Sandwich, I went over, and preached about ten, to a dull, but attentive, congregation. Immediately after service we set out for Dover. In the way we were on the point of being dashed in pieces; the chariot wheels running within two or three inches, or less, of the edge of a bank, ten or twelve feet high. I preached in Dover at two, and returned time enough for the Service at Canterbury. Thursday, 23. I preached at Bethnal-Green, and in the evening at the Foundery. Mon. 27. — I saw a pattern of patience, John Matthews, daily dying of a consumption; but in constant pain, weakness, weariness, and want of sleep, calmly giving himself up to God. Sun . September 2 . — After a toilsome, yet comfortable day, I set out in the machine, and on Monday evening came to Bristol, as fresh as I left London. Mon. 10. — I rode to Shepton-Mallet, and preached at noon, on, “One thing is needful.” Only one man, a common disturber, behaved amiss. I was constrained to rebuke him sharply. All the people turned their eyes upon him; and for once he was ashamed. In the evening I preached at Bayford, near Wincanton, and at seven in the morning. Wednesday, 12. I returned to Bristol; and at six in the evening preached on Redcliff-Hill.
Many were here who, I suppose, never heard me before; and attention sat on every face. Thur. 13. — I spent an hour in Lord B——’s gardens, or more properly, woods. They are small to the late Duke of Kent’s, in Bedfordshire, and, therefore, not capable of so much variety; but, for the size, it is not possible for anything of the kind to be more agreeable; and the situation, on the top of an high hill, in one of the fruitfullest counties in England gives them an advantage which even Stow-Gardens have not. Yet happiness is not in these shades; and if it were, yet, — How long? How soon will they upbraid Their transitory master dead!
Mon. 17. — About noon I preached at Bath. The day before Mr. Davis had preached abroad. One fruit of this was, the congregation was larger now than I remember it to have been these seven years. Thence I rode to Comb-Grove, an house built in a large grove, on the side of an high, steep hill. I found Mrs. W—— the same still, with regard to her liveliness, but not her wildness; in this she was much altered. I preached at five to a small, serious congregation; and, I believe, few were sent empty away.
Two persons from London, who were at Bath for their health, had walked over to the preaching. Afterwards we all spent an hour in singing, and serious conversation. The fire kindled more and more, till Mrs.—— asked if I would give her leave to pray. Such a prayer I never heard before: It was perfectly an original; odd and unconnected, made up of disjointed fragments, and yet like a flame of fire. Every sentence went through my heart, and I believe the heart of every one present. For many months I have found nothing like it. It was good for me to be here. Tues. 18. — I preached again in the court-yard at seven; and it was now that one of the servants, who was in tears the night before, was thoroughly convinced that God had blotted out all her sins. About noon I preached to a large congregation at Freshford, on, “Now is the day of salvation.” A little before six, being determined to be no longer cooped up in the Room at Bradford, I began in the main street, near the bridge. In a very short time a multitude of people ran together, and listened with all attention, till an impetuous shower drove part of them away: The rest would not stir till I concluded. I then gave notice of meeting the society; but a crowd of people pressed in with them. Seeing their earnestness, I was unwilling to hinder; so we had quickly another large congregation; and I know not if we have had such a season at Bradford for twice seven years before. Wed. 19. — At five we had such a congregation as does not use to meet here at that hour. At nine I preached again at Comb-Grove, and found again that God was there.
Is not this an instance of ten thousand of God’s choosing the foolish things of the world to confound the wise? — Here is one that has not only a weak natural understanding, but an impetuosity of temper, bordering upon madness; and hence both her sentiments are confused, and her expressions odd and indigested; and yet, notwithstanding this, more of the real power of God attends these uncouth expressions than the sensible discourses of even good men who have twenty times her understanding.
Thus I have many times known God attach his power to the words of extremely weak men. The humble overlooked the weakness of the men, and rejoiced in the power of God. But all his power is unacknowledged, unfelt, by those who stumble at the weakness of the instrument.
A malignant fever had lately broke out upon the very spot, which much increased the number and seriousness of the congregation. Sat. 22. — I was much refreshed by hearing the experience of Mary Gó, once a determined enemy to the doctrine of Perfection, opposing it with great eagerness and many reasons; but now an happy witness of it. During her hottest opposition she never could rest in any known sin: And this, at length, made both pride and anger so exceeding bitter to her that she could have no peace till she was fully delivered from them. Sun. 23. — I do not know whether we have had so large a congregation these twenty years, as this evening, at the new Square. Surely the wise world will not impute this to novelty; unless because the grace of God is ever new.
On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I visited the societies in Somersetshire. On the following days I met the classes in Bristol, and narrowly inquired into the character and behavior of each person; the rather because it had been strongly affirmed that there were many disorderly walkers in the society. I found one woman and one man, who, I am afraid, deserved that character. Let any one that is more clear sighted than me find two more, and I will thank him. Sun. 30. — The whole society met in the evening, and jointly renewed their covenant with God, in a form recommended by Mr. Richard Alleine; and many felt that God was there. It was a day of his power not to be forgotten, a day both of godly sorrow and strong consolation. Mon . October 1. — I left Bristol with joy, having seen the fruit of my labor. At noon I preached at Comb-Grove, to a small congregation of earnest, simple people. I had designed to preach in the evening at Bradford, in the same place I did before; but Mr. R., at whose door I then stood, had now altered his mind: So I was constrained to preach in our own Room, to (comparatively) an handful of people. Tues. 2. — I breakfasted at the Devizes, with Mr. B——, a black swan, an honest Lawyer! Hence we rode through a most intricate road to Pewsey. I found a neighboring gentleman had been there, moving every stone, to prevent my preaching. I was informed, his first design was to raise a mob; then he would have had the Churchwardens interpose: Whether they intended it or no, I cannot tell; but they neither did nor said any thing. The congregation filled a great part of the church, and were all deeply attentive.
Surely good will be done in this place, if it be not prevented by a mixture of various doctrines. Wed. 3. — I rode to Salisbury, and, going slowly forward, on Saturday, 6, came to London. Sun. 7. — I preached in the morning at Snowsfields, and afterwards at West-Street. We had a glorious opportunity at the Lord’s Supper; the rocks were broken in pieces. At five I preached in Moorfields to a huge multitude, on, “Ye are saved through faith.” A little before twelve I took the machine for Norwich. Monday, 8. We dined at Bury, where a gentlewoman came into the coach, with whom I spent most of the afternoon in close conversation and singing praises to God. Tues. 9. — I was desired to meet Mr. B., and we had a good deal of conversation together. He seems to be a person of middling sense, but a most unpleasing address. I would hope he has some little experience of religion; but it does not appear to advantage, as he is extremely hot, impetuous, overbearing, and impatient of contradiction. He hooked me, unawares, into a little dispute; but I cut it short as soon as possible, knowing neither was likely to convince the other. So we met and parted in peace. Wed. 10. — I went to Yarmouth, where the earnest congregation was gathered at short warning. Thursday, 11. I was desired to go to Lowestoft, in Suffolk, nine miles southeast of Yarmouth. The use of a large place had been offered, which would contain abundance of people: But when I was come, Mr. Romaine had changed his mind; so I preached in the open air. A wilder congregation I have not seen; but the bridle was in their teeth. All attended, and a considerable part seemed to understand something of what was spoken; nor did any behave uncivil when I had done; and I believe a few did not lose their labor.
It was easy in the evening to observe the different spirit of the congregation at Yarmouth. Almost all seemed to feel the power of God, and many were filled with consolation. Fri. 12. — I returned to Norwich, and inquired into the state of the society. I have seen no people in all England or Ireland so changeable as this. This society, in 1755, consisted of eighty-three members; two years after, of an hundred and thirty-four; in 1758 it was shrunk to an hundred and ten. In March, 1759, we took the Tabernacle; and within a month the society was increased to above seven hundred and sixty. But nearly five hundred of these had formerly been with James Wheatley, and having been scattered abroad, now ran together they hardly knew why. Few of them were thoroughly awakened; most deeply ignorant; all bullocks unaccustomed to the yoke, having never had any rule or order among them, but every man doing what was right in his own eyes. It was not, therefore, strange, that the next year, only five hundred and seven of these were left.
In 1761 they were farther reduced, namely, to four hundred and twelve. I cannot tell how it was, that in 1762 they were increased again to six hundred and thirty. But the moon soon changed, so that in 1763, they were shrunk to three hundred and ten. This large reduction was owing to the withdrawing the sacrament, to which they had been accustomed from the time the Tabernacle was built. They are now sunk to an hundred and seventy-four; and now probably the tide will turn again. Sun. 14. — At seven I clearly and strongly described the height and depth of Christian holiness: And (what is strange) I could not afterward find that any one person was offended. At ten we had a congregation indeed; I trust, all of one heart. I went, as usual, to the cathedral in the afternoon, and heard a sound, practical sermon. About five our great congregation met, and (what has seldom been known) very quietly. We were equally quiet at the meeting of the society, which met now for the first time on a Sunday evening. So has God stilled the madness of the people. Are not the hearts of all men in his hand? Mon. 15. — At the request of many, I had given notice of a watch night.
We had but an indifferent prelude: Between six and seven the mob gathered in great numbers, made an huge noise, and began to throw large stones against the outward doors. But they had put themselves out of breath before eight, so that when the service began they were all gone. Tues. 16. — In the evening the whole congregation seemed not a little moved, while I was enforcing those solemn words, “He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” The same was observable, and that in an higher and higher degree, the two following evenings. If I could stay here a month, I think there would be a society little inferior to that at Bristol. But it must not be; they who will bear sound doctrine only from me, must still believe a lie. Sat. 20. — My horses meeting me at Burntwood, I rode on to Leytonstone, and preached to a serious congregation, on, “I will; be thou clean.” The following week I made a little tour through part of Kent and Sussex, where some of our brethren swiftly increase in goods. Do they increase in grace too? If not, let them take care that their money do not perish with them. Sun . November 4 . — I proposed to the Leaders, the assisting the Society for the Reformation of Manners, with regard to their heavy debt. One of them asked, “Ought we not to pay our own debt first?” After some consultations, it was agreed to attempt it. The general debt of the society in London, occasioned chiefly by repairing the Foundery, and chapels, and by building at Wapping and Snowsfields, was about nine hundred pounds.
This I laid before the society in the evening, and desired them all to set their shoulders to the work, either by a present contribution, or by subscribing what they could pay, on the first of January, February, or March. Mon. 5. — My scraps of time this week I employed in setting down my present thoughts upon a single life, which, indeed, are just the same they have been these thirty years; and the same they must be, unless I give up my Bible. Thur. 8. — At ten (and so every morning) I met the preachers that were in town, and read over with them the “Survey of the Wisdom of God in the Creation.” Many pupils I had at the University, and I took some pains with them: But to what effect? What is become of them now? How many of them think either of their Tutor or their God? But, blessed be God! I have had some pupils since, who well reward me for my labor. Now “I live;” for “ye stand fast in the Lord.” Mon. 12. — I retired to Hoxton, to answer what was personal in the letters ascribed to Mr. Hervey. How amazing is the power of prejudice!
Were it not for this, every one who knew him and me would have cried out with indignation, “Whatever Mr. W. was, none can commend or excuse Mr. H. Such bitterness he ought not to have shown to his most cruel enemy; how much less to the guide of his youth; to one he owns to have been his ‘father and his friend!’” Monday , 19, and the other afternoons of this week, I took up my cross, and went in person to the principal persons in our society, in every part of the town. By this means, within six days, near six hundred pounds were subscribed toward the public debt; and what was done, was done with the utmost cheerfulness. I remember but one exception: Only one gentleman squeezed out ten shillings, as so many drops of blood. Sat . December 1. — M. B. gave me a farther account of their affairs at Leytonstone. It is exactly Pietas Hallensis in miniature. What it will be, does not yet appear. Tues. 4. — I made a little excursion to Colchester. Saturday, 8. I saw one who, many years ago, was a “minister of God to us for good,” in repressing the madness of the people, — Sir John Gonson, who was near fifty years a Magistrate, and has lived more than ninety. He is majestic in decay, having few wrinkles, and not stooping at all, though just dropping into the grave, having no strength, and little memory or understanding.
Well might that good man, Bishop Stratford, pray, “Lord, let me not live to be useless!” And he had his desire: He was struck with a palsy in the evening, praised God all night, and died in the morning. Monday , 10, and the three following days, I visited Canterbury, Dover, and Sandwich, and returned to London on Friday, 14. In the machine I read Mr. Baxter’s book upon apparitions. It contains several well-attested accounts; but there are some which I cannot subscribe to. How hard is it to keep the middle way; not to believe too little or too much! Sun. 16. — I buried Mrs. Prior, housekeeper to Mr. P., who told me, “On—— night, just at one, I rung, and said to my man coming in, ‘Mrs. Prior is dead. She just now came into my room, and walked round my bed.’ About two, the nurse came, and told me she was dead. I asked at what time she died; and was answered, ‘Just at one o’clock.’” Thur. 27. — I preached and administered the sacrament at the new chapel in Snowsfields. How well does God order all things! By losing the former chapel we have gained both a better House and a larger congregation. Fri. 28. — Between two and three in the morning, I was sent for to John Matthews. For some months he had frequently said, “I have no more doubt of being in heaven, than if I was there already.” A little before we came, one asked, “How do you do now?” He answered, — “The Lord protects, for ever near.” When I came in, he was perfectly sensible, but too weak to speak. Just at three I began to pray. I had scarce prayed two minutes, when, without any struggle, or sigh, or groan, he fell asleep.
A man of so faultless a behavior I have hardly ever been, acquainted with.
During twenty years, I do not remember his doing or saying any thing which I would wish to have been unsaid or undone. Mon. 31. — I thought it would be worth while to make an odd experiment. Remembering how surprisingly fond of music the lion at Edinburgh was, I determined to try whether this was the case with all animals of the same kind. I accordingly went to the tower with one who plays on the German flute. He began playing near four or five lions; only one of these (the rest not seeming to regard it at all) rose up, came to the front of his den, and seemed to be all attention. Meantime, a tiger in the same den started up, leaped over the lion’s back, turned and ran under his belly, leaped over him again, and so to and fro incessantly. Can we account for this by any principle of mechanism? Can we account for it at all? Tues . January 1, 1765. — This week I wrote an answer to a warm letter, published in the “London Magazine,” the author whereof is much displeased that I presume to doubt of the modern Astronomy. I cannot help it. Nay, the more I consider, the more my doubts increase: So that, at present, I doubt whether any man on earth knows either the distance or magnitude, I will not say of a fixed star, but of Saturn, or Jupiter; yea, of the sun or moon. Sun. 6. — The whole society met in the evening. The service lasted from five till near nine; and I do not remember so solemn a season since the first time we joined in renewing our covenant with God. Mon. 7. — In the evening I preached at High-Wycombe; and Tuesday, 8, at Witney. The congregation here, though of so late standing, may be a pattern to all England. When the service was ended, no one spoke, either in the evenings or mornings. All went silently out of the House and yard.
Nay, when I followed a large part of them, I did not hear any open their lips, till they came to their own houses. Thursday, 10. I preached again at Wycombe, and on Friday returned to London. Sat. 12. — I rode to Mr. D——’s, at Ovington, in Essex, about six-and-fifty miles from the Foundery. Sunday, 13. Notwithstanding the rain, the church was pretty well filled. And all gave earnest heed, while I opened and applied those words in the Second Lesson, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Titbury church is considerably larger than this: Accordingly the congregation was much larger than that in the morning. But I did not see one careless or inattentive person; all seemed resolved to “seek the Lord while he may be found.” At seven in the evening I preached again to a small company in Mr. D.’s house, on fellowship with the Father and the Son. Tuesday, 15. I returned to London. Sun. 20. — I looked over Mr. R——’s strange book on the Life of Faith. I thought nothing could ever exceed Mr. Ingham’s; but really this does:
Although they differ not an hair’s breadth from each other, any more than from Mr. Sandeman.
I employed all my leisure hours this week in revising my letters and papers. Abundance of them I committed to the flames. Perhaps some of the rest may see the light when I am gone. Thur. 31. — I was considering how it was, that so many who were once filled with love, are now weak and faint. And the case is plain: The invariable rule of God’s proceeding is, “From him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath.” Hence, it is impossible that any should retain what they receive, without improving it. Add to this, that the more we have received, the more of care and labor is required, the more watchfulness and prayer, the more circumspection and earnestness in all manner of conversation. Is it any wonder, then, that they who forget this, should soon lose what they had received? Nay, who were taught to forget it? Not to watch! Not to pray, — under pretense of praying always! Wed . February 13. — I heard “Ruth,” an Oratorio, performed at Mr. Madan’s chapel. The sense was admirable throughout; and much of the poetry not contemptible. This, joined with exquisite music, might possibly make an impression even upon rich and honorable sinners. Mon. 18. — I set out for Norwich, and spent a few days there with more comfort than I had ever done before. The congregations were not only more numerous than ever, but abundantly more serious: And the society appeared to be more settled, and more loving to each other. Monday, 25. In my way to Yarmouth I read Dr. Watts, on “The Improvement of the Mind.” He has many just and useful observations, mixed with some that are not just, and with more that are of little use, besides that they are trite and obvious. I preached at seven in a preaching-house built for the General Anabaptists; one of the most elegant buildings I have seen; which was well filled both this and the following evening with serious and attentive hearers. There now seems to be a general call to this town: Surely some will hear the voice that raises the dead. We returned to Norwich on Wednesday, and left it on Thursday morning, in a wonderful day of frost and snow, and sleet and wind. However, we reached Lakenheath in the afternoon. Considering the weather, there was a large congregation. Mr. I. read prayers, and I preached, with great liberty of spirit, on, “What is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Fri . March 1. — I read Prayers and preached at seven in the morning. It was noon before we could procure a post-chaise. We then pushed on, though the snow lay deep on the ground, to the great inn at Hockerill, the dearest house I ever was at. So fare it well. In the morning we went on to London. Sun. 10. — I made a collection in our congregation for the poor weavers who are out of employment. It amounted to about forty pounds. In the evening our own society met, and contributed fourteen pounds more, to relieve a few of their own distressed members. Mon. 11. — I took horse with Mr. Pennington for Bristol. In two or three hours my mare fell lame, without any discernible cause; and in an hour or two after, the beast he rode was taken ill, and grew worse and worse, till she dropped down and died. So I was glad to go into a machine which was driving by; and the next evening I reached Bristol. Mon. 18. — I rode to Stroud, and in the evening preached in the new House. But a considerable part of the congregation were obliged to stand without. Toward the close of the sermon, a young man dropped down and vehemently cried to God. This occasioned a little hurry at first; but it was soon over, and all was quiet as before.
After supper I was speaking a little, when a young gentleman cried out, “I am damned,” and fell to the ground. A second did so quickly after, and was much convulsed, and yet quite sensible. We joined in prayer, but had not time (it growing late) to wrestle with God for their full deliverance. Tues. 19. — We rode to Worcester, and had the pleasure of spending an hour with Mr. R——, a sensible, candid man. But who is proof against prejudice? especially when those who labor to infuse it, converse with him daily, and those who strive to remove it, not two hours in a year?
We came to Birmingham in the evening, and had a comfortable season with the great congregation. Wednesday, 20. M. Lewen took me in a post-chaise to Derby, where the new House was thoroughly filled; and the people behaved in a quite different manner, from what they did when I was here last. Thursday, 21. We went on, though with much difficulty, being often ready to stick fast, to Sheffield. The House here is full twice as large as it was; and so is the congregation. The little differences which had been for some time among the people, were now easily adjusted; and I left them all united in love, and resolved to strengthen each other’s hands. Sat. 23. — We took horse in a furious wind, which was ready to bear us away. About ten I preached in Bradwell, in the High-Peak, where, notwithstanding the storm, abundance of people were got together. I had now an opportunity of inquiring concerning Mr. B——y. He did run well, till one offense after another swallowed him up; but he scarce enjoyed himself after. First his oldest daughter was snatched away; then his only son; then himself. And only two or three of that large family now remain. Sun. 24. — At seven I preached at Manchester, on, “I beseech you, suffer the word of exhortation;” and observed, that the exhortation which it is particularly difficult to suffer, is that — to accept of salvation now, and now to improve the whole grace of God. The evening congregation was far larger than the House could contain, and all seemed to have the hearing ear. Tues. 26. — It rained all the way to Little-Leigh; but from thence we had a pleasant ride to Chester.
As several ships were ready to sail from Park-Gate, I waited here two days. But the wind continuing foul, on Friday, 29, I crossed over to Liverpool. I was surprised at the evening congregations, particularly on Sunday. The House, even with the addition of three new galleries, would not near contain the congregation; and I never before observed the word to take such effect upon them. So that I was not sorry the wind continued in the same point on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Only it shifted a little on Wednesday morning: On which some impatient Captains sailed immediately. But in a few hours it came full west again; so that they were glad to get well back. Thur . April 4. — I rode to Bolton, and not being expected was the more welcome. The House was filled in the evening, and the hearts of many filled with joy and peace in believing.
April 5. — (Being Good-Friday. ) Mr. Johnson preached at five: I preached at twelve and at six. What a blessed calm has God at length given to this poor, shattered society! For many years the men of bitter and contentious spirits were harassing them continually. But they are now sunk into quiet, formal Presbyterians; and those they have left enjoy God and one another. Sat. 6. — I returned to Liverpool; and on Wednesday, 10, the wind continuing west, I set out northward, and in the evening found a friend’s house, James Edmondson’s, near Garstang. Thursday, 11. We rode on to Francis Gilbert’s, at Kendal, where there is now a real work of God. The genuine Gospel now takes root, and sinners are converted to God. Sat. 13. — We rode through much wind and rain to Barnard-Castle. In the evening I preached in the new preaching-house, (not opened before,) and at eight in the morning. I would have preached abroad on Sunday evening; but the weather drove us into the house. And God was there, both to invite sinners, and to comfort believers.
Afterwards I spent an hour with those who once believed they were saved from sin. I found here, as at London, about a third part who held fast their confidence. The rest had suffered loss, more or less, and two or three were shorn of all their strength. Mon. 15. — I rode on to Newcastle, where I was quite unexpected. I found both the hearers, the society, and the believers, are increased since I was here last; and several more believe they are saved from sin. Meantime Satan has not been idle: Two were following George Bell, step by step, as to the “not needing self-examination,” the “not being taught by man,” and most of his other unscriptural extravagances; but as they appeared to be still of an advisable spirit, for the present at least the snare was broken. Thur. 18. — I went to Durham with Miss Lewen, and spent an hour with her father. He behaved with the utmost civility; said I had done his daughter more good than all the Physicians could do; and he should be exceeding glad if she should go to London again at the approach of winter.
At three I preached to the poor colliers in Gateshead-Fell. How do these shame the colliers of Kingswood! flocking from all parts on the week-days as well as Sundays: Such a thirst have they after the good word! Fri. 19. — I had a little time with that venerable monument of the grace of God, Henry Jackson. He is just dropping into the grave, being now quite bed-rid, but praising God with every breath. Mon. 22. — Two of our friends took me in a post-chaise to; Alnwick; but the road was so intolerably bad, that we did not reach it till past twelve. I began preaching immediately, and then hastened away. On Berwick Moor we were ready to stick fast again; and it was past seven before I reached the town, where I found notice had been given of my preaching. Hearing the congregation waited for me, I went to the Town-Hall, and began without delay. About one in the morning we had a violent storm of thunder and lightning. The house being full of dragoons, M. L. and M. D. were constrained to lodge in the same room with our landlady who, being waked by the storm, and thoroughly terrified, began praying aloud. M. D. laid hold on the opportunity to speak very closely to her. The words seemed to sink into her heart. Who knows but they may bring forth fruit? Tues. 23. — I preached at Dunbar about noon, and in the evening at Edinburgh. My coming was quite seasonable, (though unexpected,) as those bad letters, published in the name of Mr. Hervey, and reprinted here by Mr. John Erskine, had made a great deal of noise. Wednesday, 24. I preached at four in the afternoon on the ground where we had laid the foundation of our House. Friday, 26. About noon I preached at Musselburgh, where are a few living souls still. In the evening we had another blessed opportunity at Edinburgh, and I took a solemn leave of the people. Yet how I should be able to ride, I knew not. At Newcastle I had observed a small swelling, less than a pea, but in six days it was as large as a pullet’s egg, and exceeding hard. On Thursday it broke. I feared riding would not agree with this, especially an hard trotting horse. However, trusting God, I set out early on Saturday morning: Before I reached Glasgow it was much decreased, and in two or three days more it was quite gone. If it was a boil, it was such an one as I never heard of; for it was never sore, first or last, nor ever gave me any pain.
This evening I preached in the hall of the Hospital; the next day, morning and afternoon, in the yard. So much of the form of religion is here still, as is scarce to be found in any town in England. There was once the power too. And shall it not be again? Surely the time is at hand. Mon. 29. — I rode with James Kershaw through a fruitful country to Kilmarnock, and thence to Ayr. After a short bait at Maybole in the afternoon, we went on to Girvan, a little town on the sea-shore. Tuesday, 30. We rode over high and steep mountains, between Ballantrae and Stanrawer; where we met with as good entertainment of every kind as if we had been in the heart of England.
We reached Port-Patrick about three o’clock, and were immediately surrounded with men, offering to carry us over the water. But the wind was full in our teeth. I determined to wait till morning, and then go forward or backward, as God should please. Wed . May 1. — The wind was quite fair; so, as soon as the tide served, I went on board. It seemed strange to cross the sea in an open boat, especially when the waves ran high. I was a little sick, till I fell asleep. In five hours and an half we reached Donaghadee; but my mare could not land till five hours after, so that I did not reach Newtown till past eight.
I spent the next day here, endeavoring to lift up the hands of a poor, scattered, dejected people. In the evening I preached on the Green: Though it was exceeding cold, none of the congregation seemed to regard it. And a few of them do “remember from whence” they “are fallen, and” resolve to “do the first works.” Fri. 3. — I rode on to Lisburn, and in the evening preached in the market-house. The wind was as keen as in December; yet a large congregation attended. I then met what was left of the society; and the spirit of many that were faint revived. Saturday, 4. I preached in the Room at five, which had been discontinued for three years. And this alone would account for the scattering of the people, and the deadness of them that remained. In the evening I preached in the Linen-Hall, so called, a large Square, with piazzas on three sides of it. And so deep an attention I never saw in the people of Lisburn before. Sun. 5. — For the sake of the country people, I delayed the morning preaching till half an hour past nine. At eleven the Church Service began, and we had an useful sermon on, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness.” At five I preached in the Linen-Hall again, to a numerous congregation, on, “Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” Mon. 6. — I rode to Newry, and in the evening preached in the market-house, on, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” The whole congregation seemed affected, this as well as the next evening; indeed more than I had seen them for some years. Hence, Wednesday, 8, I rode to Terryhugan, and found much of the power of God among that plain, simple-hearted people. Here Mr. Ryan overtook me, and led me to Clanmain, where we had, as usual, a lively, earnest congregation; most of whom (except those that came from far) were present again at five in the morning. About eleven I preached in the Grange, a small village, about five miles from Clanmain. Friday, 10. I took Mr. Ryan with me, and set out for Londonderry. When we had rode about twelve miles, a road turned short to the left; but having no direction to turn, we went straight forward, till a woman, running after us, (taking one of us, I know not why, for a Doctor,) told us the case of her poor husband, who, she said, had kept his bed for seven weeks. After riding half an hour; we found we were out of our way, and rode back again. By this means we went by the house where the man lay. When I alighted and went in, I quickly saw that he needed something more than I had prescribed before. Who knows but our losing the way may be the means of saving the poor man’s life?
In the afternoon, after riding through a fruitful country, (one mountain only excepted,) we came to Omagh, the shire-town of the county of Tyrone. We found a good inn; but were not glad when we heard there was to be dancing that night in the room under us. But in a while the dancers removed to the Shire-Hall; so we slept in peace. Sat. 11. — Having no direction to any one in Derry, I was musing what to do, and wishing some one would meet me, and challenge me, though I knew not how it could be, as I never had been there before, nor knew any one in the town. When we drew near it, a gentleman on horseback stopped, asked me my name, and showed me where the Preacher lodged.
In the afternoon he accommodated me with a convenient lodging at his own house. So one Mr. Knox is taken away, and another given me in his stead.
At seven I preached in the Linen-Hall (a Square so called) to the largest congregation I have seen in the North of Ireland. The waters spread as wide here as they did at Athlone. God grant they may be as deep!
About eleven Mr. Knox went with me to church, and led me to a pew where I was placed next the Mayor. What is this? What have I to do with honor? Lord, let me always fear, not desire, it.
The Afternoon Service was not over till about half an hour past six. At seven I preached to near all the inhabitants of the city. I think there was scarce one who did not feel that God was there. So general an impression upon a congregation I have hardly seen in any place. Monday , 13, and the following days, I had leisure to go on with the Notes on the Old Testament. But I wondered at the situation I was in, in the midst of rich and honorable men! Whilst this lasts it is well. And it will be well too when any or all of them change their countenance, And wonder at the strange man’s face, As one they ne’er had known.
Tues. 14. — I wrote the following letter to a friend: — “DEAR SIR, Londonderry, May 14, 1765. “YOUR manner of writing needs no excuse. I hope you will always write in the same manner. Love is the plainest thing in the world: I know this dictates what you write; and then what need of ceremony? “You have admirably well expressed what I mean by an opinion, contra-distinguished from an essential doctrine. Whatever is ‘compatible with love to Christ, and a work of grace,’ I term an opinion. And certainly the holding Particular Election and Final Perseverance is compatible with these. ‘Yet what fundamental errors,’ you ask, ‘have you opposed with half that fervency as you have these opinions?’ — I have printed near fifty sermons, and only one of these opposes them at all. I preach about eight hundred sermons in a year; and, taking one year with another, for twenty years past, I have not preached eight sermons in a year upon the subject. But, ‘how many of your best Preachers have been thrust out because they dissented from you in these particulars?’ Not one, best or worst, good or bad, was ever ‘thrust out’ on this account. There has not been a single instance of this kind. Two or three (but far from the best of our Preachers) voluntarily left us, after they had embraced those opinions. But it was of their own mere motion: And two I should have expelled for immoral behavior; but they withdrew, and pretended ‘they did not hold our doctrine.’ Set a mark, therefore, on him that told you that tale, and let his word for the future go for nothing. “‘Is a man a believer in Jesus Christ, and is his life suitable to his profession?’ are not only the main, but the sole inquiries I make in order to his admission into our society. If he is a Dissenter, he may be a Dissenter still; but if he is a Churchman, I advise him to continue so; and that for many reasons; some of which are mentioned in the tract upon that subject. “I think on Justification just as I have done any time these seven-and-twenty years; and just as Mr. Calvin does. In this respect I do not differ from him an hair’s breadth. “But the main point between you and me is Perfection. ‘This,’ you say, ‘has no prevalence in these parts; otherwise I should think it my duty to oppose it with my whole strength; not as an opinion, but as a dangerous mistake which appears to be subversive of the very foundation of Christian experience; and which has, in fact, given occasion to the most grievous offenses.’ “Just so my brother and I reasoned thirty years ago, ‘as thinking it our duty to oppose Predestination with our whole strength; not as an opinion, but as a dangerous mistake which appears to be subversive of the very foundation of Christian experience; and which has, in fact, given occasion to the most grievous offenses.’ “That it has given occasion to such offenses, I know; I can name time, place, and persons. But still another fact stares me in the face. Mr. H—— and Mr. N—— hold this, and yet I believe these have real Christian experience. But if so, this is only an opinion: It is not ‘subversive’ (here is clear proof to the contrary) ‘of the very foundation of Christian experience.’ It is ‘compatible with love to Christ, and a genuine work of grace.’ Yea, many hold it, at whose feet I desire to be found in the day of the Lord Jesus. If, then, I ‘oppose this with my whole strength,’ I am a mere bigot still. I leave you in your calm and retired moments to make the application. “But how came this opinion into my mind? I will tell you with all simplicity. In 1725 I met with Bishop Taylor’s ‘Rules of Holy Living and Dying.’ I was struck particularly with the chapter upon intention, and felt a fixed intention ‘to give myself up to God.’ In this I was much confirmed soon after by the ‘Christian Pattern,’ and longed to give God all my heart. This is just what I mean by Perfection now: I sought after it from that hour. “In 1727 I read Mr. Law’s ‘Christian Perfection,’ and ‘Serious Call,’ and more explicitly resolved to be all devoted to God, in body, soul, and spirit. In 1730 I began to be homo unius libri to study (comparatively) no book but the Bible. I then saw, in a stronger light than ever before, that only one thing is needful, even faith that worketh by the love of God and man, all inward and outward holiness; and I groaned to love God with all my heart, and to serve Him with all my strength. “January 1, 1733, I preached the sermon on the Circumcision of the Heart; which contains all that I now teach concerning salvation from all sin, and loving God with an undivided heart. In the same year I printed, (the first time I ventured to print any thing,) for the use of my pupils, ‘A Collection of Forms of Prayer;’ and in this I spoke explicitly of giving ‘the whole heart and the whole life to God.’ This was then, as it is now, my idea of Perfection, though I should have started at the word. “In 1735 I preached my farewell sermon at Epworth, in Lincolnshire. In this, likewise, I spoke with the utmost clearness of having one design, one desire, one love, and of pursuing the one end of our life in all our words and actions. “In January, 1738, I expressed my desire in these words: — O grant that nothing in my soul May dwell but thy pure love alone!
O may thy love possess me whole, My joy, my treasure, and my crown!
Strange flames far from my heart remove, My every act, word, thought be love! “And I am still persuaded this is what the Lord Jesus hath bought for me with his own blood. “Now, whether you desire and expect this blessing or not, is it not an astonishing thing that you, or any man living, should be disgusted at me for expecting it; and that they should persuade one another that this hope is ‘subversive of the very foundations of Christian experience?’ Why then, whoever retains it cannot possibly have any Christian experience at all. Then my brother, Mr. Fletcher, and I, and twenty thousand more, who seem both to fear and to love God, are, in reality, children of the devil, and in the road to eternal damnation! “In God’s name I entreat you make me sensible of this! Show me by plain, strong reasons, what dishonor this hope does to Christ, wherein it opposes Justification by Faith, or any fundamental truth of religion. But do not wrest, and wiredraw, and color my words, as Mr. Hervey (or Cudworth) has done, in such a manner, that when I look in that glass, I do not know my own face! ‘Shall I call you,’ says Mr. Hervey, ‘my father, or my friend? For you have been both to me.’ So I was, and you have as well requited me!
It is well my reward is with the Most High. Wishing all happiness to you and yours, I am, dear Sir, “Your affectionate brother and servant, “John Wesley.” On Wednesday and Thursday I spoke severally to the members of the society. I found (just as I expected) that the work of God here is exceeding shallow; yet while so many flock to hear, one cannot doubt but God will cut some of them to the heart. Sun. 19. — Mr. S——, one of the Curates, preached an excellent sermon on receiving the Holy Ghost. I afterwards accepted his invitation to dinner; and found a well-natured, sensible man, and one well acquainted with every branch of learning which we had occasion to touch upon. At seven I preached on, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And truly the people of this place will hear sound doctrine. Wednesday, 22. I exhorted the little society to avoid sloth, prodigality, and sluttishness; and, on the contrary, to be patterns of diligence, frugality, and cleanliness. Thur. 23. — Lighting on a volume of Mr. Seed’s sermons, I was utterly surprised. Where did this man lie hid, that I never heard of him all the time I was at Oxford? His language is pure in the highest degree, his apprehension clear, his judgment strong. And for true, manly wit, and exquisite turns of thought, I know not if this century has produced his equal. Sat. 25. — Both in the morning and evening, I spoke as closely and sharply as I could; but yet I cannot find the way to wound the people.
They are neither offended, nor convinced.
Ever since I came hither, I have been amazed at the honesty which runs through this city. None scruples to leave his house open all day, and the door only on the latch at night. Such a thing as theft is scarce heard of at Derry; no one has the least suspicion of it. No wonder, therefore, that the inhabitants never suspect themselves to be sinners. O what pity that honesty should be a bar to salvation! Yet so it is if a man puts it in the place of Christ.
Having a remarkable anecdote put into my hands, which some will probably be pleased to see, I may insert it here, as well as elsewhere. It is a conversation between my father’s father, (taken down in short-hand by himself,) and the then Bishop of Bristol. I may be excused if it appears more remarkable to me, than it will do to an unconcerned person: — Bishop . What is your name?
Wesley . John Wesley.
B. There are many great matters charged upon you.
W. May it please your Lordship, Mr. Horlock was at my house on Tuesday last, and acquainted me that it was your Lordship’s desire I should come to you; and on that account I am here to wait on you.
B. By whom were you ordained? Or are you ordained?
W. I am sent to preach the Gospel.
B. By whom were you sent?
W. By a Church of Jesus Christ.
B. What Church is that?
W. The Church of Christ at Melcomb.
B. That factious and heretical Church!
W. May it please you, Sir, I know no faction or heresy that Church is guilty of.
B. No! Did not you preach such things as tend to faction and heresy?
W. I am not conscious to myself of any such preaching.
B. I am informed by sufficient men, gentlemen of honor of this county, viz., Sir Gerard Napper, Mr. Freak, and Mr. Tregonnel, of your doings. What say you?
B. There are oaths of several honest men; and shall we take your word for it, that all is but misinformation?
W. There was no oath given or taken. Besides, if it be enough to accuse, who shall be innocent? I can appeal to the determination of the great day of judgment, that the large catalogue of matters laid to me are either things invented or mistaken.
W. Whatever imprudences in civil matters you may be informed I am guilty of, I shall crave leave to acquaint your Lordship, that, His Majesty having pardoned them fully, I shall wave any other answer.
B. In what manner did the Church you spake of send you to preach?
At this rate every body might preach.
W. Not every one. Everybody has not preaching gifts and preaching graces. Besides, that is not all I have to offer to your Lordship to justify my preaching.
B. If you preach, it must be according to order; the order of the Church of England upon ordination.
W. What does your Lordship mean by ordination?
B. Do not you know what I mean?
B. I mean that. What mission had you?
W. I had a mission from God and man.
B. You must have it according to law, and the order of the Church of England.
W. I am not satisfied in my spirit therein.
B. Not satisfied in your spirit! You have more new-coined phrases than ever were heard of! You mean your conscience, do you not?
W. Spirit is no new phrase. We read of being sanctified in soul, body, and spirit.
B. By spirit there we are to understand the upper region of the soul.
W. Some think we are to take it for the conscience; but if your Lordship like it not so, then I say I am not satisfied in conscience, as touching the ordination you speak of.
W. I came not this day to dispute with your Lordship; my own inability would forbid me so to do.
B. No, no; but give me your reason.
W. I am not called to office, and therefore cannot be ordained.
B. Why have you then preached all this while?
W. May it please your Lordship, because they are not a people who are fit subjects for me to exercise office-work among them.
B. You mean a gathered Church: But we must have no gathered Churches in England, and you will see it so; for there must be a unity without divisions among us, and there can be no unity without uniformity. Well, then, we must send you to your Church, that they may dispose of you, if you were ordained by them.
W. I have been informed, by my cousin Pitfield and others, concerning your Lordship, that you have a disposition inclined against morosity.
However you may be prepossessed by some bitter enemies to my person, yet there are others who can and will give you another character of me. Mr. Glisson hath done it; and Sir Francis Tulford desired me to present his service to you, and, being my hearer, is ready to acquaint you concerning me.
B. I asked Sir Francis Tulford whether the presentation to Whitchurch was his. Whose is it? He told me it was not his.
W. There was none presented to it these sixty years. Mr. Walton lived there. At his departure, the people desired me to preach to them; and when there was a way of settlement appointed, I was by the Trustees appointed, and by the Triers approved.
W. I shall submit to any trial you shall please to make. I shall present your Lordship with a Confession of my Faith, or take what other way you please to insist on.
B. No, we are not come to that yet.
W. I shall desire those severals laid together which I look on as justifying my preaching: — 1. I was devoted to the service from mine infancy. 2. I was educated in order thereto at school, and in the University of Oxford.
B. What age are you?
B. No, sure you are not.
W. 3. As a son of the Prophets, after I had taken my degrees, I preached in the country; being approved of by judicious, able Christians, Ministers and others. 4. It pleased God to seal my labor with success, in the apparent conversion of many souls.
B. Yea, that is, it may be, to your way.
W. Yea, to the power of godliness, from ignorance and profaneness. If it please your Lordship to lay down any evidences of godliness agreeing with Scripture, and that are not found in those persons intended, I am content to be discharged the ministry. I will stand or fall on the issue thereof.
B. You talk of the power of godliness, such as you fancy.
W. Yea, to the reality of religion. Let us appeal to any common-place book for evidences of graces, and they are found in and upon them.
B. How many are there of them?
W. I number not the people.
B. Where are they?
W. Wherever I have been called to preach: — At Radpole, Melcomb, Turnwood, Whitchurch, and at sea. I shall add another ingredient of my mission: — 5. When the Church saw the presence of God going along with me, they did, by fasting and prayer, in a day set apart for that end, seek an abundant blessing on my endeavors.
B. A particular Church?
W. Yes, my Lord: I am not ashamed to own myself a member of one.
B. Why, you may mistake the Apostles’ intent. They went about to convert Heathens: You have no warrant for your particular Churches.
B. We have not.
B. Not their practice, but their precepts.
B. But the Apostle said, “This speak I, not the Lord; that is, by revelation.
W. Some interpret that place, “This speak I now by revelation from the Lord;” not the Lord in that text before instanced concerning divorces. May it please your Lordship, we believe that cultus non institutus est indebitus f9 B. It is false.
W. The second commandment speaks the same: “Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image.”
B. That is, forms of your own invention.
W. Bishop Andrews, taking notice of Non facies tibi , satisfied me that we may not worship God but as commanded.
B. Well, then, you will justify your preaching, will you, without ordination according to law?
W. All these things, laid together, are satisfactory to me, for my procedure therein.
B. They are not enough.
W. There has been more written in proof of preaching of gifted persons, with such approbation, than has been answered yet by any one.
B. Have you any thing more to say to me, Mr. Wesley?
W. Nothing; your Lordship sent for me.
B. I am glad to hear this from your mouth; you will stand to your principles, you say?
W. I intend it, through the grace of God; and to be faithful to the King’s Majesty, however you deal with me.
B. I will not meddle with you.
W. Farewell to you, Sir.
B. Farewell, good Mr. Wesley.