Are you a Christian?
JOURNAL - FROM SEPTEMBER 13, 1773, TO JANUARY 2, 1776.
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However, I preached as I could; but I could then go no farther. I could swallow neither liquids nor solids, and the windpipe seemed nearly closed.
I lay down at my usual time, but the deflection of rheum was so uninterrupted, that I slept not a minute till near three in the morning. On the following nine days I grew better. Friday, 17. I went to Kingswood, and found several of the children still alive to God. Sat. 18. — I gave them a short exhortation, which tired but did not hurt me. Sun. 19. — I thought myself able to speak to the congregation, which I did for half an hour; but afterwards I found a pain in my left side and in my shoulder by turns, exactly as I did at Canterbury twenty years before.
In the morning I could scarce lift my hand to my head; but, after being electrified, I was much better; so that I preached with tolerable ease in the evening; and the next evening read the letters, though my voice was weak.
From this time I slowly recovered my voice and my strength, and on Sunday preached without any trouble. Wed. 29. — After preaching at Pensford, I went to Publow, and in the morning spent a little time with the lovely children Those of them who were lately affected, did not appear to have lost anything of what they had received; and some of them were clearly gaining ground, and advancing in the faith which works by love. Sunday, OCTOBER 3. I took a solemn leave of the society at Bristol, now consisting of eight hundred members. Mon. 4. — I went, by Shepton-Mallet, to Shaftesbury, and on Tuesday to Salisbury. Wednesday, 6. Taking chaise at two in the morning, in the evening I came well to London. The rest of the week I made what inquiry I could into the state of my accounts. Some confusion had arisen from the sudden death of my book-keeper; but it was less than might have been expected. Monday , 11, and the following days, I took a little tour through Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. Between Northampton and Towcester we met with a great natural curiosity, the largest elm I ever saw; it was twenty-eight feet in circumference; six feet more than that which was some years ago in Magdalen-College walks at Oxford. Mon. 18. — I began my little journey through Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. In the way I read over Sir Richard Blackmore’s “Prince Arthur. ” It is not a contemptible poem, although by no means equal to his Poem on the Creation, in which are many admirably fine strokes. Mon. 25. — I went to Shoreham, and spent two days both agreeably and profitably. The work of God, which broke out here two or three years ago, is still continually increasing. I preached near Bromley on Thursday, and on Friday, 29, had the satisfaction of dining with an old friend. I hope she meant all the kindness she professed. If she did not, it was her own loss. Mon . November 1. — I set out for Norfolk, and came to Lynn while the congregation was waiting for me. Here was once a prospect of doing much good; but it was almost vanished away. Calvinism, breaking in upon them, had torn the infant society in pieces. I did all I could to heal the breach, both in public and private; and, having recovered a few, I left them all in peace, and went on to Norwich on Wednesday.
Fri . 5 — I preached at noon to the warm congregation at London, and in the evening to the cold one at Yarmouth. I know there is nothing too hard for God; else I should go thither no more. Monday, 8. I found the society at Lakenheath was entirely vanished away. I joined them together once more, and they seriously promised to keep together. If they do, I shall endeavor to see them again; if not, I have better work. Tues. 9. — I preached at Bury; and on Wednesday, at Colchester, where I spent a day or two with much satisfaction, among a poor, loving, simple-hearted people. I returned to London on Friday, and was fully employed in visiting the classes from that time to Saturday, 20.
In my late journey I read over Dr. Lee’s “Sophron.” He is both a learned and a sensible man; yet I judge his book will hardly come to a second impression, for these very obvious reasons: — 1. His language is generally rough and unpleasing; frequently so obscure that one cannot pick out the meaning of a sentence, without reading it twice or thrice over: 2. His periods are intolerably long, beyond all sense and reason; one period often containing ten or twenty, and sometimes thirty, lines: 3. When he makes a pertinent remark he knows not when to have done with it, but spins it out without any pity to the reader: 4. Many of his remarks, like those of his master, Mr. Hutchinson, are utterly strained and unnatural; such as give pain to those who believe the Bible, and diversion to these who do not. Mon. 22. — I set out for Sussex, and found abundance of people willing to hear the good word; at Rye in particular. And they do many things gladly:
But they will not part with the accursed thing, smuggling. So I fear, with regard to these, our labor will be in vain. Monday , 29. I went to Gravesend; on Tuesday, to Chatham; and on Wednesday, to Sheerness; over that whimsical ferry, where footmen and horses pay nothing, but every carriage four shillings! I was pleasing myself that I had seen one fair day at Sheerness! But that pleasure was soon over.
We had rain enough in the evening. However, the House was crowded sufficiently. I spoke exceeding plain to the bigots on both sides. May God write it on their hearts! Mon . December 6. — I went to Canterbury in the stage-coach, and by the way read Lord Herbert’s Life, written by himself; the author of the first system of Deism that ever was published in England. Was there ever so wild a knight-errant as this? Compared to him, Don Quixote was a sober man. Who can wonder, that a man of such a complexion should be an Infidel? I returned to London, Friday, 10, with Captain Hinderson, of Chatham, who informed us, — “Being off the Kentish coast, on Wednesday morning last, I found my ship had been so damaged by the storm, which still continued, that she could not long keep above water; so we got into the boat, twelve in all, though with little hope of making the shore. A ship passing by, we made all the signals we could; but they took no notice. A second passed near: We made signals and called; but they would not stay for us. A third put out their boat, took us up, and set us safe on shore.” Fri. 17. — Meeting with a celebrated book, a volume of Captain Cook’s Voyages, I sat down to read it with huge expectation. But how was I disappointed! I observed, 1. Things absolutely incredible: “A nation without any curiosity;” and, what is stranger still, (I fear related with no good design,) “without any sense of shame! Men and women coupling together in the face of the sun, and in the sight of scores of people! Men whose skin, cheeks, and lips are white as milk.” Hume or Voltaire might believe this; but I cannot.
I observed, 2. Things absolutely impossible. To instance in one, for a specimen. A native of Otaheite is said to understand the language of an island eleven hundred degrees [query, miles] distant from it in latitude; besides I know not how many hundreds in longitude!
So that I cannot but rank this narrative with that of Robinson Crusoe; and account Tupia to be, in several respects, akin to his man Friday. Saturday , 25, and on the following days, we had many happy opportunities of celebrating the solemn Feast-days, according to the design of their institution. We concluded the year with a Fast-day, closed with a solemn watch-night. Tues . January 4, 1774. — Three or four years ago, a stumbling horse threw me forward on the pommel of the saddle. I felt a good deal of pain; but it soon went off, and I thought of it no more. Some months after I observed, testiculum alterum altero duplo majorem esse. I consulted a Physician: He told me it was a common case, and did not imply any disease at all. In May twelvemonth it was grown near as large as a hen’s egg. Being then at Edinburgh, Dr. Hamilton insisted on my having the advice of Drs. Gregory and Munro. They immediately saw it was a Hydrocele, and advised me, as soon as I came to London, to aim at a radical cure, which they judged might be effected in about sixteen days:
When I came to London, I consulted Mr. Wathen. He advised me, 1. Not to think of a radical cure, which could not be hoped for, without my lying in one posture fifteen or sixteen days. And he did not know whether this might not give a wound to my constitution, which I should never recover. 2. To do nothing while I continued easy. And this advice I was determined to take.
Last month the swelling was often painful. So on this day, Mr. Wathen performed the operation, and drew off something more than half a pint of a thin, yellow, transparent water. With this came out (to his no small surprise) a pearl of the size of a small shot; which he supposed might be one cause of the disorder, by occasioning a conflux of humus to the part. Wednesday, 5. I was as perfectly easy, as if no operation had been performed. Tues. 11. — I began at the east end of the town to visit the society from house to house. I know no branch of the pastoral office, which is of greater importance than this. But it is so grievous to flesh and blood, that I can prevail on few, even of our Preachers, to undertake it. Sun. 23. — Mr. Pentycross assisted me at the chapel. O what a curse upon the poor sons of men is the confusion of opinions! Worse by many degrees than the curse of Babel, the confusion of tongues. What but this could prevent this amiable young man from joining heart and hand with us? Mon. 24. — I was desired by Mrs. Wright, of New York, to let her take my effigy in wax-work. She has that of Mr. Whitefield and many others; but none of them, I think, comes up to a well-drawn picture. Fri. 28. — I buried the remains of that venerable mother in Israel, Bilhah Aspernell. She found peace with God in 1738; and soon after, purity of heart. From that time she walked in the light of God’s countenance, day and night, without the least intermission. She was always in pain, yet always rejoicing, and going about doing good. Her desire was, that she might not live to be useless: And God granted her desire. On Sunday evening she met her class, as usual. The next day she sent for her old fellow-traveler, Sarah Clay, and said to her, “Sally, I am going.” She asked, “Where are you going?” She cheerfully answered, “To my Jesus, to be sure!” and spoke no more. Saturday , 29, and several times in the following week, I had much conversation with Ralph Mather, a devoted young man, but almost driven out of his senses by Mystic Divinity. If he escapes out of this specious snare of the devil, he will be an instrument of much good. Thur . February 10. — I was desired by that affectionate man, Mr. P—, to give him a sermon at Chelsea. Every corner of the room was thoroughly crowded; and all but two or three gentlewomen (so called) were deeply serious, while I strongly enforced, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth unto life.” Mon. 14. — In my way to Dorking, I gave another reading to the “Life of Anna Maria Schurman:” Perhaps a woman of the strongest understanding that the world ever saw. And she was likewise deeply devoted to God. So was also Antoinette Bourignon, nearly her equal in sense, though not in learning; and equally devoted to God. In many things there was a surprising resemblance between them, particularly ill severity of temper, leading them to separate from all the world, whom they seemed to give up to the devil without remorse; only with this difference, — Madame Bourignon believed there were absolutely no children of God, but her and her three or four associates: Anna Schurman believed there were almost none, but her and her little community. No wonder that the world returned their love, by persecuting them in every country. Thur . March 3 . — I preached at L——. But O what a change is there!
The society is shrunk to five or six members, and probably will soon shrink into nothing. And the family is not even a shadow of that which was for some years a pattern to all the kingdom! Sun. 6. — In the evening I went to Brentford, and on Monday to Newbury. Tuesday, 8. Coming to Chippenham, I was informed that the floods had made the road by Marshfield impassable. So I went round by Bath, and came to Bristol just as my brother was giving out the hymn; and in time to beseech a crowded audience, not to receive “the grace of God in vain.” Sat. 12. — I went over to Kingswood, and put an end to some little misunderstandings which had crept into the family. At this I rejoiced; but I was grieved to find that Ralph Mather’s falling into Mysticism and Quakerism had well-nigh put an end to that uncommon awakening which he had before occasioned among the children. But the next day I found, the little maids at Publow, who found peace by his means, had retained all the life which they had received; and had indeed increased therein. Tues. 15. — I began my northern journey, and went by Stroud, Gloucester, and Tewkesbury, to Worcester. Thursday, 17. I preached in the Town-Hall at Evesham, to a numerous and serious congregation. Friday, 18. I returned to Worcester. The society here continues walking together in love, and are not moved by all the efforts of those who would fain teach them another Gospel. I was much comforted by their steadfastness and simplicity. Thus let them “silence the ignorance of foolish men!” Sat. 19. — In the evening I preached at Birmingham, and at eight in the morning. At noon I preached on Bramwick-Heath; and, the Room being far too small, stood in Mr. Wiley’s courtyard, notwithstanding the keen northeast wind. At Wednesbury, likewise, I was constrained by the multitude of people to preach abroad in the evening. I strongly enforced upon them the Apostle’s words, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” If we do not “go on to perfection,” how shall we escape lukewarmness, Antinomianism, hell-fire? Mon. 21. — I preached at nine in Darlaston, and about noon at Wolverhampton. Here I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Fletcher, and we took sweet counsel together. Tuesday, 22. At five I explained that important truth, that God trieth us every moment, weighs all our thoughts, words, and actions, and is pleased or displeased with us, according to our works. I see more and more clearly, that “there is a great gulf fixed” between us and all those who, by denying this, sap the very foundation both of inward and outward holiness.
At ten I preached at Dudley, and in the afternoon spent some time in viewing Mr. Bolton’s works, wonderfully ingenious, but the greater part of them wonderfully useless. Wednesday, 23. I preached at Ashby-de-la-Zouch; and Thursday, 24, went on to Markfield. The church was quickly filled. I preached on those words in the Second Lesson, “Lazarus, come forth!” In the evening I preached at Leicester. Here, likewise, the people “walk in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost.” Sun. 27. — About noon I preached at Stapleford, six miles west from Nottingham. I stood in a meadow, because no house could contain the congregation. But it was nothing to that at Nottingham-Cross in the evening, the largest I have seen for many years, except at Gwennap. Monday, 28. About noon I preached at Donnington. It was a showery day, but the showers were suspended during the preaching. In the evening I preached at Derby, and had the satisfaction to observe an unusual seriousness in the congregation. Careless as they used to be, they seemed at length to know the day of their visitation. Tues. 29. — About ten I preached in the market-place at Ashbourne to a large and tolerably serious congregation; and some, I believe, felt the word of God quick and powerful, while I enforced, “ God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” After dinner we went on to Newcastle-under-Lyne, (what is the proper name of the river,) where I was invited by the Mayor, a serious, sensible man, to lodge at his house. I was desired (our Room being but small) to preach in the market-place.
Abundance of people were soon gathered together; who surprised me not a little, by mistaking the tune, and striking up the March in Judas Maccabeus. Many of them had admirable voices, and tolerable skill. I know not when I have heard so agreeable a sound: It was indeed the voice of melody. But we had one jarring string: A drunken gentleman was a little noisy, till he was carried away. Wed. 30. — I went on to Congleton, where I received letters, informing me that my presence was necessary at Bristol. So about one I took chaise, and reached Bristol about half an hour after one the next day. Having done my business in about two hours, on Friday in the afternoon I reached Congleton again; (about a hundred and forty miles from Bristol;) no more tired (blessed be God!) than when I left it. What a change is in this town!
The bitter enmity of the townsfolk’s to the Methodists is clean forgotten.
So has the steady behavior of the little flock turned the hearts of their opposers.
April 3. — (Being Easter -Day.) I went on to Macclesfield, and came just in time (so is the scene changed here also) to walk to the old church, with the Mayor and the two Ministers. The rain drove us into the House in the evening; that is, as many as could squeeze in; and we had a season of strong consolation, both at the preaching, and at the meeting of the society. Mon. 4. — I went on to Manchester, where the work of God appears to be still increasing. Tuesday, 5. About noon I preached at New-Mills, to an earnest, artless, loving people; and in the evening, at poor, dull, dead Stockport, not without hopes that God would raise the dead. As one means of this, I determined to restore the morning preaching, which had been discontinued for many years. So I walked over from Portwood in the morning, and found the house well filled at five o’clock. Wednesday, 6. I preached at Pendleton-pole, two miles from Manchester, in a new chapel designed for a Church Minister, which was filled from end to end. Thur. 7. — I preached about noon at Northwich, now as quiet as Manchester: And in the evening at that lovely spot, Little Leigh. Friday, 8.
I went on to Chester. Saturday, 9. I visited our old friends at Alpraham; many of whom are now well-nigh worn-out, and just ready for the Bridegroom. Mon. 11. — I preached about noon at Warrington, and in the evening at Liverpool. Thursday, 14. I preached in Wigan at noon, where all tumult is now at an end: The lives of the Christians having quite put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. In the evening I preached at Bolton, to the most lively and most steady people in all these parts. Fri. 16. — I preached at a preaching-house just built at Chowbent, which was lately a den of lions; but they are all now quiet as lambs. So they were the next day at the new House near Bury. Saturday, 16. At noon I preached in Rochdale; and in the evening near the church in Huddersfield.
The wind was high, and very sharp; but the people little regarded it, while I strongly enforced those words, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” Sun. 17. — I rode to Halifax. Such a country church I never saw before. I suppose, except York Minster, there is none in the county so large. Yet it would not near contain the congregation. I was afraid it would be impossible for all to hear; but God gave me a voice for the occasion: So that I believe all heard and many felt the application of those words, (part; of the First Lesson,) “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!”
While I was at dinner at Dr. Leigh’s, one came from Huddersfield to tell me the Vicar was willing I should preach in the church. Dr. Leigh lending me his servant and his horse, I set out immediately; and, riding fast, came into the church while the Vicar was reading the Psalms. It was well the people had no notice of my preaching, till I came into the town: They quickly filled the church. I did not spare them, but fully delivered my own soul. Mon. 18. — The Minister of Heptonstall sent me word that I was welcome to preach in his church. It was with difficulty we got up the steep mountain; and when we were upon it, the wind was ready to bear us away. The church was filled, not with curious but serious hearers. No others would face so furious a storm. At the Ewood, in the evening, we had the usual blessing. Tues. 19. — Mrs. Holmes, who has been some years confined to her bed, sent, and desired I would preach at her house. As I stood in the passage, both she could hear, and all that stood in the adjoining rooms. I preached on Revelation 14:1-5. It was a refreshing season to her and to many. At half-hour after ten, I preached in the new House at Hightown, and in the evening at Daw-Green.
I found Mr. Greenwood (with whom I lodged) dying (as was supposed) of the gout in the stomach. But, on observing the symptoms, I was convinced it was not the gout, but the angina pectoris: (Well described by Dr. Heberden, and still more accurately by Dr. M’Bride of Dublin:) I therefore advised him to take no more medicines, but to be electrified through the breast. He was so. The violent symptoms immediately ceased, and he fell into a sweet sleep. Thur. 21. — I preached at Morley, on, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” About two I preached at the new-built House at Pudsey, where the Germans (I was informed) are continually declining.
Twenty years since one would have thought they would never have been moved; but who can stand any longer than God is on their side? This evening and the next I preached to the lively congregation at Bradford, and was much comforted; so were many; indeed all that earnestly desired to recover the whole image of God. Fri. 22. — I rode and walked to Bradshaw House, standing alone in a dreary waste. But although it was a cold and stormy day, the people flocked from all quarters. So they did at noon the next day, to Clough, (two or three miles from Colne,) where, though it was cold enough, I was obliged to preach abroad. In the evening I preached to our old, upright, loving brethren at Keighley. Sun. 24. — It being a cold and stormy day, Haworth church contained the people tolerably well. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I preached at Bingley and Yeadon; and on Thursday opened the new House at Wakefield. What a change is here, since our friend was afraid to let me preach in his house, lest the mob should pull it down! So I preached in the main street: And then was sown the first seed, which has since born so plenteous a harvest.
Hence I went to Leeds, and on Saturday, 30, to Birstal. Here, on the top of the hill, was the standard first set up four and-thirty years ago. And since that time, what hath God wrought! Sun . May 1. — I preached at eight on that delicate device of Satan to destroy the whole religion of the heart, — the telling men not to regard frames or feelings, but to live by naked faith; that is, in plain terms, not to regard either love, joy, peace, or any other fruit of the Spirit: Not to regard whether they feel these, or the reverse; whether their souls be in an heavenly or hellish frame! At one I preached at the foot of the hill to many thousand hearers; and at Leeds to about the same number, whom I besought in strong terms not to receive “the grace of God in vain.”
On Monday and Tuesday I preached at Otley and Pateley-Bridge. Wednesday, 4. I went on to Ambleside; and on Thursday to Whitehaven. Monday, 9. I set out for Scotland. At, eight I preached in the Castle-yard at Cockermouth, to abundance of careless people, on, “ Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” In the evening I preached at Carlisle. On Tuesday I went on to Selkirk, and on Wednesday to Edinburgh; which is distant from Carlisle ninety-five miles, and no more. Thursday, 12. I went in the stage-coach to Glasgow; and on Friday and Saturday, preached on the old Green, to a people, the greatest part of whom hear much, know every thing, and feel nothing. Sun. 15. — My spirit was moved within me at the sermons I heard both morning and afternoon. They contained much truth, but were no more likely to awaken one soul than an Italian Opera. In the evening a multitude of people assembled on the Green, to whom I earnestly applied these words, “Though I have all knowledge, — though I have all faith, — though I give all my goods to feed the poor,” etc., “and have not love, I am nothing.” Mon. 16. — In the afternoon, as also at seven in the morning, I preached in the kirk at Port-Glasgow. My subjects were Death and Judgment, and I spoke as home as I possibly could. The evening congregation at Greenock was exceeding large. I opened and enforced these awful words, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth unto life.” I know not that ever I spoke more strongly. And some fruit of it quickly appeared; for the House, twice as large as that at Glasgow, was thouroughly filled at five in the morning. In the evening, Tuesday, 17, I preached on the Green at Glasgow once more, although the north wind was piercing cold. At five in the morning I commended our friends to God.
How is it that there is no increase in this society? It is exceeding easy to answer. One Preacher stays here two or three months at a time, preaching on Sunday mornings, and three or four evenings in a week. Can a Methodist Preacher preserve either bodily health, or spiritual life, with this exercise? And if he is but half alive, what will the people be? Just so it is at Greenock too. Wed. 18. — I went to Edinburgh, and on Thursday to Perth. Here likewise the morning preaching had been given up: Consequently the people were few, dead, and cold. These things must be remedied, or we must quit the ground.
In the way to Perth, I read that ingenious tract, Dr. Gregory’s “Advice to his Daughters.” Although I cannot agree with him in all things; (particularly as to dancing, decent pride, and both a reserve and a delicacy which I think are quite unnatural;) yet I allow there are many fine strokes therein, and abundance of common sense: And if a young woman followed this plan in little things, in such things as daily occur, and in great things copied after Miranda, she would form an accomplished character. Fri. 20. — I rode over to Mr. Fraser’s, at Monedie, whose mother-in-law was to be buried that day. O what a difference is there between the English and the Scotch method of burial! The English does honor to human nature; and even to the poor remains, that were once a temple of the Holy Ghost!
But when I see in Scotland a coffin put into the earth, and covered up without a word spoken, it reminds me of what was spoken concerning Jehoiakim, “He shall be buried with the burial of an ass!” Sat. 21. — I returned to Perth, and preached in the evening to a large congregation. But I could not find the way to their hearts. The generality of the people here are so wise that they need no more knowledge, and so good that they need no more religion! Who can warn them that are brimful of wisdom and goodness, to flee from the wrath to come. Sun. 22. — I endeavored to stir up this drowsy people, by speaking as strongly as I could, at five, on, “Awake, thou that sleepest;” at seven, on, “Where their worm dieth not;” and in the evening, on, “ I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God.” In the afternoon a young gentleman, in the west kirk, preached such a close, practical sermon, on, “Enoch walked with God,” as I have not heard since I came into the kingdom. Mon. 23. — About ten, I preached to a considerable number of plain, serious, country-people, at Rait, a little town in the middle of that lovely valley, called the Carse of Gowry. In riding on to Dundee, I was utterly amazed at reading and considering a tract put into my hands, which gave a fuller account than I had ever seen of the famous Gowry conspiracy in 1600. And I was thoroughly convinced, — 1. From the utter improbability, if one should not rather say, absurdity, of the King’s account, the greater part of which rests entirely on his own single word; 2. From the many contradictions in the depositions which were made to confirm some parts of it; and, 3. From the various collateral circumstances, related by contemporary writers, — that the whole was a piece of king craft; the clumsy invention of a covetous and blood-thirsty tyrant to destroy two innocent men, that he might kill and also take possession of their large fortunes.
In the evening I preached at Dundee, and on Tuesday, 24, went on to Arbroath. In the way I read Lord K——’s plausible “Essays on Morality and Natural Religion.” Did ever man take so much pains to so little purpose, as he does in his Essay on Liberty and Necessity? Cui bono?
What good would it do to mankind, if he could convince them that they are a mere piece of clock-work? that they have no more share in directing their own actions, than in directing the sea or the north wind? He owns, that “if men saw themselves in this light, all sense of moral obligation, of right and wrong, of good or ill desert, would immediately cease.” Well, my Lord sees himself in this light; consequently, if his own doctrine is true, he has no “sense of moral obligation, of right and wrong, of good or ill desert.” Is he not then excellently well-qualified for a Judge? Will he condemn a man for not “holding the wind in his fist?”
The high and piercing wind made it impracticable to preach abroad in the evening. But the House contained the people tolerably well, as plain and simple as those at Rait. I set out early in the morning; but, not being able to ford the North-Esk, swollen with the late rains, was obliged to go round some miles. However, I reached Aberdeen in the evening.
Here I met with another curious book, “Sketches of the History of Man.”
Undoubtedly, the author is a man of strong understanding, lively imagination and considerable learning; and his book contains some useful truths. Yet some things in it gave me pain: 1. His affirming things that are not true; as that all Negro children turn black the ninth or tenth day from their birth. No: most of them turn partly black on the second day, entirely so on the third. That all the Americans are of a copper color. Not so: Some of them are as fair as we are. Many more such assertions I observed, which I impute not to design but credulity. 2. His flatly contradicting himself; many times within a page or two. 3. His asserting, and laboring to prove, that man is a mere piece of clock-work:
And, lastly, his losing no opportunity of vilifying the Bible, to which he appears to bear a most cordial hatred. I marvel if any but his brother Infidels will give two guineas for such a work as this! Sun. 29. — At seven the congregation was large. In the evening the people were ready to tread upon each other. I scarce ever saw people so squeezed together. And they seemed to be all ear, while I exhorted them, with strong and pointed words, not to receive “the grace of God in vain.” Mon. 30. — I set out early from Aberdeen, and preached at Arbroath in the evening. I know no people in England who are more loving, and more simple of heart, than these. Tuesday, 31. I preached at Easthaven, a small town, inhabited by fishermen. I suppose all the inhabitants were present; and all were ready to devour the word. In the evening I preached at Dundee, and had great hope that brotherly love would continue.
In my way hither, I read Dr. Reid’s ingenious Essay. With the former part of it I was greatly delighted: But afterwards I was much disappointed. I doubt whether the sentiments are just: But I am sure his language is so obscure that to most readers it must be mere Arabic. But I have a greater objection than this; namely, his exquisite want of judgment in so admiring that prodigy of self-conceit, Rousseau, — a shallow, but supercilious Infidel, two degrees below Voltaire! Is it possible, that a man who admires him can admire the Bible? Wed . June 1. — I went on to Edinburgh, and the next day examined the society one by one. I was agreeably surprised. They have fairly profited since I was here last. Such a number of persons having sound Christian experience I never found in this society before. I preached in the evening to a very elegant congregation, and yet with great enlargement of heart. Saturday, 4. I found uncommon liberty at Edinburgh in applying Ezekiel’s vision of the Dry Bones. As I was walking home, two men followed me, one of whom said, “ Sir, you are my prisoner. I have a warrant from the Sheriff, to carry you to the Tolbooth.” At first I thought he jested; but finding the thing was serious, I desired one or two of our friends to go up with me. When we were safe lodged in a house adjoining to the Tolbooth, I desired the Officer to let me see his warrant. I found the prosecutor was one George Sutherland, once a member of the society. He had deposed, “That Hugh Saunderson, one of John Wesley’s Preachers, had taken from his wife one hundred pounds in money, and upwards of thirty pounds in goods; and had, besides that, terrified her into madness; so that, through the want of her help, and the loss of business, he was damaged five hundred pounds.”
Before the Sheriff, Archibald Cockburn, Esq., he had deposed, “That the said John Wesley and Hugh Saunderson, to evade her pursuit, were preparing to fly the country; and therefore he desired his warrant to search for, seize, and incarcerate them in the Tolbooth, till they should find security for their appearance.” To this request the Sheriff had assented, and given his warrant for that purpose.
But why does he incarcerate John Wesley? Nothing is laid against him, less or more. Hugh Saunderson preaches in connection with him. What then? Was not the Sheriff strangely overseen?
Mr. Sutherland furiously insisted that the Officer should carry us to the Tolbooth without delay. However, he waited till two or three of our friends came, and gave a bond for our appearance on the 24th instant. Mr. S. did appear, the cause was heard, and the prosecutor fined one thousand pounds. Sun. 5. — About eight I preached at Ormiston, twelve miles from Edinburgh. The House being small, I stood in the street, and proclaimed “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The congregation behaved with the utmost decency. So did that on the Castle-Hill in Edinburgh, at noon; though I strongly insisted, that God “now commandeth all men every where to repent.” In the evening the House was throughly filled; and many seemed deeply affected. I do not wonder that Satan, had it been in his power, would have had me otherwise employed this day. Wed. 8. — I took my leave of our affectionate friends, and in the evening preached at Dunbar. Thursday, 9. The wind being high, I preached in the Court-House at Alnwick; but it was intolerably hot. Friday, 10. About eleven I preached in the little Square, adjoining to the preaching-house in Morpeth. In the evening I preached at Newcastle; and in the morning, Saturday, 11, set out for the Dales about noon I preached at Wolsingham, and in the evening near the preaching-house in Weardale. Sun. 12. — The rain drove us into the House, both morning and afternoon. Afterwards I met the poor remains of the select society; but neither of my two lovely children, neither Peggy Spence nor Sally Blackburn, were there. Indeed a whole row of such I had seen before; but three in four of them were now as careless as ever. In the evening I sent for Peggy Spence and Sally Blackburn. Peggy came, and I found she had well-nigh regained her ground, walking in the light, and having a lively hope of recovering all that she had lost. Sally flatly refused to come, and then ran out of doors. Being found at length, after a flood of tears, she was brought almost by force. But I could not get one look, and hardly a word, from her. She seemed to have no hope left: Yet she is not out of God’s reach.
I now inquired into the causes of that grievous decay in the vast work of God, which was here two years since; and I found several causes had concurred: 1. Not one of the Preachers that succeeded was capable of being a nursing-father to the new-born children: 2. Jane Salkeld, one great instrument of the work, marrying, was debarred from meeting the young ones; and there being none left who so naturally cared for them, they fell heaps upon heaps: 3. Most of the liveliest in the society were the single men and women; and several of these in a little time contracted an inordinate affection for each other; whereby they so grieved the Holy Spirit of God, that he in great measure departed from them: 4. Men arose among ourselves, who undervalued the work of God, and called the great work of sanctification a delusion. By this they grieved some, and angered others; so that both the one and the other were much weakened.
There is now a little revival: God grant it may increase! Mon. 13. — At eleven I preached in Teesdale, and at Swaledale in the evening. Tuesday, 14. We crossed over the enormous mountain into lovely Wenaudale; the largest by far of all the Dales, as well as the most beautiful.
Some years since, many had been awakened here, and joined together by Mr. Ingham and his Preachers. But since the bitter dissension between their Preachers, the poor sheep have all been scattered. A considerable number of these have been gleaned up, and joined together by our Preachers. I came into the midst of them at Redmire. As I rode through the town, the people stood staring on every side, as if we had been a company of monsters. I preached in the street, and they soon ran together, young and old, from every quarter. I reminded the elder, of their having seen me thirty years before, when I preached in Wensley church; and enforced once more, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” When I rode back through the town, it wore a new face. The people were profoundly civil: They were bowing and curtseying on every side. Such a change in two hours I have seldom seen.
Hence we hasted to Richmond, where I preached in a kind of Square. All the Yorkshire Militia were there; and so were their Officers, who kept them in awe, so that they behaved with decency. At six I preached at the end of our House in Barnard-Castle. I was faint and feverish when I began; but the staying an hour in a cold bath (for the wind was very high and sharp) quite refreshed me; so that all my faintness was gone, and I was perfectly well when I concluded. Wed. 15. — I went on by Durham to Sunderland. Saturday, 18. I preached at Biddick. It was fair while I was preaching, but rained very hard both before and after. Sunday, 19. I preached at the east end of the town, I think, to the largest congregation I ever saw at Sunderland. The rain did not begin till I had concluded. At two I preached at the Fell, at five in the Orphan-House. Mon. 20. — About nine I set out for Horsley, with Mr. Hopper and Mr. Smith. I took Mrs. Smith and her two little girls, in the chaise with me.
About two miles from the town just on the brow of the hill, on a sudden both the horses set out, without any visible cause, and flew down the hill, like an arrow out of a bow. In a minute John fell off the coach-box. The horses then went on full speed, sometimes to the edge of the ditch on the right, sometimes on the left. A cart came up against them: They avoided it as exactly as if the man had been on the box. A narrow bridge was at the foot of the hill. They went directly over the middle of it. They ran up the next hill with the same speed; many persons meeting us, but getting out of the way. Near the top of the hill was a gate, which led into a farmer’s yard. It stood open. They turned short, and run through it, without touching the gate on one side, or the post on the other. I thought, “However, the gate which is on the other side of the yard, and is shut, will stop them: “ But they rushed through it as if it had been a cobweb, and galloped on through the corn-field. The little girls cried out, “Grandpapa, save us!” I told them, “ Nothing will hurt you: Do not be afraid;” feeling no more fear or care, (blessed be God!) than if I had been sitting in my study. The horses ran on, till they came to the edge of a steep precipice.
Just then Mr. Smith, who could not overtake us before, galloped in between. They stopped in a moment. Had they gone on ever so little, he and we must have gone down together!
I think some of the most remarkable circumstances were, 1. Both the horses, which were tame and quiet as could be, starting out in a moment just at the top of the hill, and running down full speed. 2. The coachman’s being thrown on his head with such violence, and yet not hurt at all. 3. The chaise running again and again to the edge of each ditch, and yet not into it. 4. The avoiding the cart. 5. The keeping just the middle of the bridge. 6. The turning short through the first gate, in a manner that no coachman in England could have turned them, when in full gallop. 7. The going through the second gate as if it had been but smoke, without slackening their pace at all. This would have been impossible, had not the end of the chariotpole struck exactly on the center of the gate; whence the whole, by the sudden impetuous shock, was broke into small pieces. 8. That the little girl, who used to have fits, on my saying, “Nothing will hurt you,” ceased crying, and was quite composed.
Lastly, That Mr. Smith struck in just then: In a minute more we had been down the precipice; and had not the horses then stopped at once, they must have carried him and us down together. “Let those give thanks whom the Lord hath redeemed, and delivered from the hand of the enemy!” Fri. 24. — I read over Dr. Wilson’s tract on the Circulation of the Blood.
What are we sure of but the Bible? I thought nothing had been more sure, than that the heart is the grand moving power, which both begins and continues the circulation. But I think the Doctor has clearly proved, that it does not begin at the heart; and that the heart has quite another office, only receiving the blood, which then moves on through its channels, on the mere principle of suction, assisted by the ethereal fire, which is connected with every particle of it. Sun. 26. — In the morning I preached at the Ballast-Hills, among the glassmen, keelmen, and sailors. As these had nothing to pay, I exhorted them “to buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Mon. 27. — I took my leave of this lovely place and people, and about ten preached to a serious congregation at Durham. About six I preached at Stockton-upon-Tees, on a text suited to the congregation, “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Tues. 28. — This being my birth-day, the first day of my seventy-second year, I was considering, How is this, that I find just the same strength as I did thirty years ago? That my sight is considerably better now, and my nerves firmer, than they were then? That I have none of the infirmities of old age, and have lost several I had in my youth? The grand cause is, the good pleasure of God, who doeth whatsoever pleaseth Him. The chief means are, 1. My constantly rising at four, for about fifty years. 2. My generally preaching at five in the morning; one of the most healthy exercises in the world. 3. My never travelling less, by sea or land, than four thousand five hundred miles in a year.
In the evening, I preached at Yarm; about eleven the next day at Osmotherley; and in the evening at Thirsk. Thursday, 30. I preached at Hutton-Rudby, and found still remaining a few sparks of the uncommon flame which was kindled there ten years ago. It was quenched chiefly by the silly, childish contentions of those who were real partakers of that great blessing. Fri . July 1. — I preached in Stokesley at six; and many determined to set out anew. In Guisborough I was constrained to preach abroad; and the whole multitude was as silent as the subject, — Death! I never before had such an opportunity at this place. In the afternoon, through miserable roads, we at length got to Whitby. Sun. 3. — We had a solemn hour at five with the society only; and another at eight, while I enforced those words on a numerous congregation, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” While we were at church, a poor man would needs divert himself by swimming; but he sunk, and rose no more. The Minister preached in the afternoon a sermon suited to the occasion, on, “Be ye likewise ready; for ye know not the hour when the Son of Man cometh.” At five I preached in the market-place, on, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels,” etc., “and have not charity, I am nothing.” I spoke exceeding plain, and the people were attentive: Yet few of them, I doubt, understood what was spoken. The society, however, are well established, and adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. Mon. 4. — At eleven I preached in the little Square at Robin Hood’s Bay.
At six I preached to a numerous congregation, in the new House at Scarborough. It is plain; and yet is one of the neatest and most elegant preaching-houses in England. Now let the people walk worthy of their calling, and there will be a good work in this place. Wed. 6. — I went On to Bridlington-Quay; and in the evening preached in the town, to as stupid and ill-mannered a congregation as I have seen for many years. Thursday, 7. I preached at Beverley and Hull, where the House would not near contain the congregation. How is this town changed since I preached on the Car! Saturday, 9. I preached at Pocklington and York. Sun. 10. — Some of Tadcaster informing me that the Minister was willing I should preach in the church, I went thither in the morning. But his mind was changed: So I preached in the street, to a listening multitude, from the Lesson for the day, on the righteousness which exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees; in the morning and evening at York. Tuesday , 12, was the Quarterly Meeting. It was a busy, and yet a comfortable, day. Many were refreshed, both at the love-feast, and while I was describing the “hundred forty and four thousand,” standing “with the Lamb on mount Zion.” Who is ambitious to be of that number? Thur. 14. — About nine I preached at Wakefield, and in the evening at Doncaster. Here also God has a few names. Friday, 15. About eleven I preached at Thorne, and in the evening, at Rotherham, to a people who both understand and love the Gospel. Sat. 16. — I went to Epworth, and preached in the market-place to a numerous and quiet congregation. Sunday, 17. About eight I preached at Misterton. The sun shining in my face was a little troublesome at first; but was soon covered with clouds. We had an useful sermon at Haxey church.
About one I preached at Overthorpe; and between four and five, the rain being stayed, I began in Epworth market-place. Such a congregation never met there before; and they did not meet in vain. Mon. 18. — I reached Brigg before eight; and, by the request of the chief persons in the town, preached at nine in the market-place, to a large and attentive congregation. Hence I went on to Tealby, and preached near the church to a multitude of plain, serious country-people: Very different from the wild, unbroken herd, to whom I preached at Horncastle in the evening. Tues . 19. — I preached at Louth about noon, and at Grimsby in the evening. At ten, on Wednesday, 20, I preached at Wimberton. None of the hearers was more attentive than an old acquaintance of my father’s, — Mr. George Stovin, formerly a Justice of the peace near Epworth, now as teachable as a little child, and determined to know nothing save Christ crucified. About two I preached in an open place at Scotter, and in the evening at Owston. One of my audience here was Mr. Pinder, a contemporary of mine at Oxford. But any that observed so feeble, decrepit an old man, tottering over the grave, would imagine there was a difference of forty rather than two, years between us! On Friday and Saturday I made a little excursion into Yorkshire. Sunday, 24. I preached at eight at Gringley-in-the-Hill, to an huge congregation, among whom I could observe but one person that was inattentive. Here I received an invitation from Mr. Harvey, to give him a sermon at Tinningley. I came thither a little before the service began; and the church was filled, but not crowded. Between three and four l returned to Epworth. The congregation there was large last Sunday; but it was nearly doubled now: And never had we, from the beginning, a more solemn and affectionate parting. Mon. 25. — I went on to Sheffield, and on Tuesday met the select society.
But it was reduced from sixty to twenty; and but half of these retained all that they once received! What a grievous error, to think those that are saved from sin cannot lose what they have gained! It is a miracle if they do not; seeing all earth and hell are so enraged against; them: While, meantime, so very few, even of the children of God, skillfully endeavor to strengthen their hands. Wed. 27. — About one we reached Leek, in Staffordshire. I could not imagine who the Quaker should be that had sent me word he expected me to dinner; and was agreeably surprised to find that it was my old friend, Joshua Strongman, of Mount-Mellick, in Ireland, whom I had not seen for many years. I found he was the same man still; of the same open, friendly, amiable temper: And every thing about him was (not costly or fine, but) surprisingly neat and elegant. It began to rain soon after we came in; but the rain stayed while I was preaching; and it seemed the whole town, rich and poor, were gathered together, and listened while I explained, “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” I preached at Burslem in the evening; and on Thursday, 28, in the afternoon, came to Shrewsbury. Sat. 30. — I went on to Madeley; and in the evening preached under a sycamore-tree, in Madeley-Wood, to a large congregation, good part of them colliers, who drank in every word. Surely never were places more alike, than Madeley-Wood, Gateshead-Fell, and Kingswood. Sun. 31. — The church could not contain the congregation, either morning or afternoon; but in the evening I preached to a still larger congregation at Broseley; and equally attentive. I now learned the particulars of a remarkable story, which I had heard imperfectly before: — Some time since, one of the colliers here, coming home at night, dropped into a coal-pit, twenty-four yards deep. He called aloud for help, but none heard all that night, and all the following day. The second night, being weak and faint, he fell asleep, and dreamed that his wife, who had been some time dead, came to him, and greatly comforted him. In the morning, a gentleman going a hunting, an hare started up just before the hounds, ran straight to the mouth of the pit, and was gone; no man could tell how. The hunters searched all round the pit, till they heard a voice from the bottom. They quickly procured proper help, and drew up the man unhurt. Mon . August 1. — I preached at Bewdley, in an open place at the head of the town; and in the evening at Worcester, which still continues one of the liveliest places in England. Here I talked with some who believe God has lately delivered them from the root of sin. Their account was simple, clear, and scriptural; so that I saw no reason to doubt of their testimony. Tues. 2. — I preached at ten in the Town-Hall, at Evesham, and rode on to Broadmarston. Thursday, 4. I crossed over to Tewkesbury, and preached at noon in a meadow near the town, under a tall oak. I went thence to Cheltenham. As it was the high season for drinking the waters, the town was full of Gentry: So I preached near the market-place in the evening, to the largest congregation that was ever seen there. Some of the footmen at first made a little disturbance; but I turned to them, and they stood reproved. Sat. 6. — I walked from Newport to Berkeley-Castle. It is a beautiful, though very ancient, building; and every part of it kept in good repair, except the lumber-room and the chapel; the latter of which, having been of no use for many years, is now dirty enough. I particularly admired the fine situation, and the garden on the top of the house. In one corner of the castle is the room where poor Richard II was murdered. His effigy is still preserved, said to be taken before his death. If he was like this, he had an open, manly countenance, though with a cast of melancholy. In the afternoon we went on to Bristol.
The Conference, begun and ended in love, fully employed me on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; and we observed Friday, 12, as a day of fasting and prayer for the success of the Gospel. Mon. 15. — I set out for Wales, but did not reach Cardiff till near eight o’clock. As the congregation was waiting in the Town-Hall, I went thither without delay; and many, I believe, did not regret the time they had waited there. Tues. 16. — I preached, about noon, in the great hall at Llandaff, on, “It is appointed unto men once to die.” Strange doctrine, and not very welcome to the inhabitants of palaces! Wed. 11. — At eleven I preached in the Town-Hall, at Cowbridge: The neatest place of the kind I have ever seen. Not only the floor, the walls, the ceiling, are kept exactly clean, but every pane of glass in the windows.
Hence I hasted on to Swansea, and at seven preached in the Castle to a large congregation. The next morning I went on to Llanelly; but what a change was there! Sir Thomas Stepney, the father of the poor, was dead:
Soon after, John Deer, who was next in usefulness to him, was taken into Abraham’s bosom. But just then Col. St. Leger, in the neighborhood, sent to Galway for Lieutenant Cook to come and put his house into repair, and manage his estate. So another is brought, just in time to supply the place of Wilfred Colley. I preached at five near sister Deer’s door, to a good company of plain country-people; and then rode over to the old ruinous house, which Mr. Cook is making all haste to repair. It is not unlike old Mr. Gwynne’s house at Garth, having a few large handsome rooms. It is also situated much like that; only not quite so low: For it has the command of a well-cultivated vale, and of the fruitful side of the opposite mountain. Fri. 19. — We rode on to Larn-Ferry; and seeing a person just riding over the ford, we followed him with ease, the water scarce reaching above our horses’ knees. Between two and three we came to Pembroke. Sun. 21. — At nine I began the service at St. Daniel’s, and concluded a little before twelve. It was a good time. The power of the Lord was unusually present, both to wound and to heal. Many were constrained to cry, while others were filled with speechless awe and silent love.
After dinner I went over to Haverfordwest, but could not preach abroad because of the rain. Both here and at Pembroke, I found the people in general to be in a cold, dead, languid state. And no wonder, since there had been for several months a total neglect of discipline. I did all I could to awaken them once more, and left them full of good resolutions. Tuesday, 23 I went to the New Inn, near Llandilo; and on Wednesday, 24, to Brecknock.
In the evening I preached in the Town-Hall to most of the Gentry in the town. They behaved well, though I used great plainness of speech in describing the narrow way. Thur. 25. — At eleven I preached within the walls of the old church at the Hay. Here and everywhere I heard the same account of the proceedings at——. The Jumpers (all who were there informed me) were first in the court, and afterwards in the house. Some of them leaped up many times, men and women, several feet from the ground: They clapped their hands with the utmost violence; they shook their heads; they distorted all their features; they threw their arms and legs to and fro, in all variety of postures; they sung, roared, shouted, screamed with all their might, to the no small terror of those that; were near them. One gentlewoman told me, she had not been herself since, and did not know when she should.
Meantime the person of the house was delighted above measure, and said, “Now the power of God is come indeed.” Sat. 27. — Being detained some hours at the Old Passage, I preached to a small congregation; and in the evening returned to Bristol. Mon. 29. — I set out for Cornwall, and preached at Collumpton in the evening. I spoke strong words to the honest, sleepy congregation: Perhaps some may awake out of sleep. Tuesday, 30. I preached to a far more elegant congregation at Launceston; but what is that unless they are alive to God? Wed. 31. — The rain, with violent wind, attended us all the way to Bodmin. A little company are at length united here. At their request I preached in the Town-Hall, (the most dreary one I ever saw,) to a mixed congregation of rich and poor. All behaved well: And who knows but some good may be done even at poor Bodmin?
In the evening I preached at Redruth. Thursday, SEPTEMBER 1, after preaching at St. John’s about noon, I went on to Penzance. When the people here were as roaring lions, we had all the ground to ourselves; now they are become lambs, Mr. S——b and his friends step in, and take true pains to make a rent in the society. But hitherto, blessed be God, they stand firm in one mind and in one judgment! Only a few, whom we had expelled, they have gleaned up: If they can do them good, I shall rejoice. In the evening I took my stand at the end of the town, and preached the whole Gospel to a listening multitude. I then earnestly exhorted the society to follow after peace and holiness. Fri. 2. — I preached in the market-place at St. Ives to almost the whole town. I could not but admire the number of serious children, as well-behaved as the eldest of the congregation. This was a happy meeting:
So was that of the society too, when all their hearts were as melting wax. Sat. 3. — We had the Quarterly Meeting at Redruth. This is frequently a dull, heavy meeting; but it was so lively a one today, that we hardly knew how to part. About six I preached at Treworgey, and applied closely to the Methodists, “What do ye more than others?” One cried out, “Damnable doctrine!” True; it condemns all those who hear and do not obey it. Sun. 4. The rain drove us into the House at St. Agnes. At one it was fair; so I preached in the street at Redruth. But the glorious congregation was assembled at five, in the amphitheater at Gwennap. They were judged to cover fourscore yards, and yet those farthest off could hear.
Today I received the following note: — “The sermon you preached last Thursday evening was, by the grace of God, of great good to my soul. And when you prayed so earnestly for backsliders, (of whom I am one,) an arrow dipped in blood reached my heart. Ever since I have been resolved, never to rest till I find again the rest that remains for the people of God. “I am, dear Sir, “A vile backslider from the pure love of Jesus, and from the society at Gwennap,” Mon. 5. — I preached at Cubert; Tuesday, 6, at Port-Isaac. Wednesday, 7.
Having preached at Camelford and Launceston, I did not think of preaching at Tavistock; but finding a congregation waiting, I began without delay. I had scarce half finished my discourse in the Square at Plymouth Dock, when the rain began. At first I did not regard it: But as it grew heavier and heavier, I thought it best to shorten my sermon.
It seems, after a long interval of deadness, God is again visiting this poor people. The society is nearly doubled within this year, and is still continually increasing. And many are athirst for full salvation; particularly the young men. Friday, 9. I set out early from the Dock; and the next afternoon reached Bristol. Fri. 16. — We had a solemn watch-night at Kingswood. It seemed, every one felt that God was there; so that hardly any went away till the whole service was concluded.
In the following week I visited many of the country societies. At Frome I learned the remarkable case of sister Whitaker. Last Sunday she met her class as usual; and after saying, “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” dropped down, and in a few minutes, without any struggle or pain, expired. Tues. 27. — I preached at Freshford and Bradford; Wednesday, 28, at Bath, where many of the people seemed much moved; chiefly those who had long imagined they were “built on a rock,” and now found they had been “building upon the sand.” Thur. 29. — I preached at Pill, on the “worm” that “dieth not, and the fire” that “is not quenched:” If haply some of these drowsy ones might awake, and escape from everlasting burnings. Mon . October 3, and on Tuesday and Wednesday, I examined the society. Thur. 6. — I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them, 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy: 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against: And, 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side. Sun. 9. — The evening being fair and mild, I preached in the new Square.
It was a fruitful season: Soft fell the word as flew the air; even “as the rain into a fleece of wool.” Many such seasons we have had lately: Almost everyday one and another has found peace, particularly young persons and children. Shall not they be a blessing in the rising generation? In the evening we had a solemn opportunity of renewing our covenant with God; a means of grace which I wonder has been so seldom used either in Romish or Protestant churches! Mon. 10. — I preached at Salisbury; and on Tuesday, 11, set out for the Isle of Purbeck. When we came to Corfe-Castle, the evening being quite calm and mild, I preached in a meadow near the town, to a deeply attentive congregation, gathered from all parts of the island. I afterwards met the society, artless and teachable, and full of good desires. But few of them yet have got any farther, than to “see men as trees walking.” Wed. 12. — I preached to a large congregation at five, who seemed quite athirst for instruction. Afterwards we took a walk over the remains of the Castle, so bravely defended in the last century, against all the power of the Parliament forces, by the widow of the Lord Chief Justice Banks. It is one of the noblest ruins I ever saw: The walls are of an immense thickness, defying even the assaults of time, and were formerly surrounded by a deep ditch. The house, which stands in the middle, on the very top of the rock, has been a magnificent structure. Some time since the proprietor fitted up some rooms on the southwest side of this, and laid out a little garden, commanding a large prospect, pleasant beyond description. For a while he was greatly delighted with it: But the eye was not satisfied with seeing. It grew familiar; it pleased no more; and is now run all to ruin. No wonder:
What can delight always, but the knowledge and love of God?
About noon I preached at Langton, three or four miles from Corfe-Castle, to a large and deeply serious congregation. Here is likewise a little society; but I did not find any among them who knew in whom they had believed.
In the evening I preached in a meadow, near Swanage, to a still larger congregation. And here at length I found three or four persons, and all of one family, who seemed really to enjoy the faith of the Gospel. Few others of the society (between thirty and forty in number) appeared to be convinced of sin. I fear the Preachers have been more studious to please than to awaken, or there would have been a deeper work.
The Isle (or properly Peninsula) of Purbeck is nine or ten miles broad, and perhaps twenty long, running nearly from northeast to southwest. Two mountains run almost the whole length, with valleys both between them and on each side, but poorly cultivated. The people in general are plain, artless, good-natured, and well-behaved. If the laborers here are zealous and active, they will surely have a plentiful harvest. Thur. 13. — I set out early, and reached Gosport, (seventy-two miles,) not long after six. Finding a boat ready, I crossed, and went straight to the Room. It was full enough; so I began without delay, and enforced our Lord’s words, (one of my favorite subjects,) “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Friday, 14. I visited as many as I could, sick or well, and endeavored to settle those that had been shaken by those bigots who are continually waiting to receive the weak “unto doubtful disputations.” I had intended, after preaching in the evening, to meet the society alone; but the eagerness of the people to stay, induced me to suffer a great part of them. Yet it was little to their satisfaction; for when I warned our brethren not to have “itching ears,” they ran away in all haste. Sat. 15. — Setting out (as usual at two, I reached London early in the evening. Monday, 17. I set out for Oxfordshire, and preached at Wallingford in the evening. Tuesday, 18. About nine I preached at Newnham; at noon, in the garden at Oxford; and in the evening, at Finstock, (a village near Carnbury-house, built by the great Earl of Clarendon, but not inhabited by any of his descendants!) to a plain, artless people. Wednesday, 19. I rode to Witney, and found more life than I expected, both in the congregation and the society. Thursday, 20. I preached at Wattleton, at the front of Mr. Stonehill’s house. The whole congregation was seriously attentive. In the evening I preached at High-Wycornb, to many more than the Room would contain; and I believe not in vain. Fri. 21. — I preached in Chesham, and on Saturday returned to London. Mon. 24. — I set out for Northamptonshire, and received a particular account of one that eminently adorned the Gospel: — “1. SUSANNAH SPENCER was born at Whittlebury, in the year 1742.
When she was young she contracted a very general acquaintance, and was exceedingly beloved by them, having an agreeable person, a good understanding, and much sweetness of temper; and, being modest and decent in her whole behavior, she seemed, like others, to think she had religion enough. “2. In 1760, Thomas Grover came down, and preached several times at Whittlebury and at Towcester. She went to hear him, but with a fixed resolution, ‘ not to be catched,’ as she called it; but her resolution was vain. In a sermon she heard at Towcester, she was cut to the heart. Her convictions grew deeper and deeper from that time, for about a year.
She was then hearing him preach, but felt her heart as hard as the nether millstone. Yet at the love-feast which followed, it was suddenly broke in pieces, and she was all melted into tears, by those words applied to her inmost soul, in an inexpressible manner, — My God is reconciled, His pardoning voice I hear!
He owns me for his child; I can no longer fear. “3. The day following, being exercised with strong temptation, she gave up her confidence; but the next night wrestling with God in prayer, she received it again with double evidence: And though afterwards she frequently felt some doubts, yet it never continued long; but she had, in general, a clear, abiding sense of the pardoning love of God. “4. From that time she walked steadily and closely with God, and was a pattern to all around her. She was particularly exact in reproving sin, and lost no opportunity of doing it. In her whole conversation she was remarkably lively, and yet gentle towards all men. Her natural temper indeed was passionate, but the grace of God left scarce any traces of it. “5. From the very time of her justification, she clearly saw the necessity of being wholly sanctified; and found an unspeakable hunger and thirst after the full image of God; and in the year 1772, God answered her desire. The second change was wrought in as strong and distinct a manner as the first had been. Yet she was apt to fall into unprofitable reasonings; by which her evidence was often so clouded, that she could not affirm she was saved from sin, though neither could she deny it. But her whole life bore witness to the work which God had wrought in her heart. She was as a mother in Israel, helping those that were weak, and tenderly concerned for all; while she sunk deeper into the love of God, and found more and more of the mind that was in Christ. “6. In the summer, 1773, she took cold by lying in a damp bed. This threw her into a violent fever, which not only brought her very low, but fixed a deep cough upon her lungs, which no medicine could remove. It quite wore her down; especially when there was added the loss of both her sisters and her mother, who were all taken away within a little time of each other. She had likewise a continual cross from her father, and was at the same time tried by the falsehood of those friends in whom she confided, and whom she tenderly loved.
The following year, 1774, she had a presage of her death; in consequence of which, she was continually exhorting the young women, Betty Padbury in particular, to fill up her place when God should remove her from them. “7. In the beginning of winter I understood, that, weak as she was, she had not proper nourishment; being unable to procure it for herself, and having no one to procure it for her; so I took that charge upon myself; I worked with her in the day, (for she would work as long as she could move her fingers,) lay with her every night, and took care that she should want; nothing which was convenient for her. “8. For some time her disorder seemed at a stand, growing neither better nor worse; but in spring, after she had taken a quantity of the bark, she was abundantly worse. Her cough continually increased, and her strength swiftly decayed; so that before Easter, she was obliged to take to her bed: And having now a near prospect of death, she mightily rejoiced in the thought, earnestly longing for the welcome moment; only still with that reserve, ‘Not as I will, but as thou wilt.’ “9. Mr. Harper (the Preacher) took several opportunities of asking her many questions. She answered them all with readiness and plainness, to his entire satisfaction. She told him abundance of temptations which she underwent from time to time; but still witnessed, that the blood of Christ had cleansed her from all sin. She often said to us, The race we all are running now!
And if I first attain, Ye too your willing heads shall bow; Ye shall the conquest gain! “10. Commonly, when I came into her room, I was not able to speak for a time. She would then say, ‘ Why do not you speak? Why do not you encourage me? I shall love you better when we meet in heaven, for the help you give me now.’ “11. In the last week or two, she was not able to speak many words at a time; but as she could, with her feeble, dying voice, she exhorted us to go forward. Yet one day, some of her former companions coming in, her spirit seemed to revive; and she spoke to them, to our great surprise, for near an hour together. They seemed deeply affected; and it was some time before the impression wore off. “12. Her father now frequently came, sat by her bedside, and expressed tender affection; weeping much, and saying he should now be quite alone, and have no one left to whom he could speak. She spoke to him without reserve. He received every word, and has never forgotten it since. “13. A few days before she died, after we had been praying with her, we observed she was in tears, and asked her the reason. She said, ‘ I feel my heart knit to you, in a manner I cannot express; and I was thinking, if we love one another now, how will our love be enlarged when we meet in heaven! And the thought was too much for me to bear; it quite overcame me.’ “14. On Friday she seemed to be just upon the wing: We thought she was going almost every moment. So she continued till Tuesday. We were unwilling to part with her, but seeing the pain she was in, could not wish it should continue; and so gave her up to God. I sat up with her that night, and the next day, June 7, she fell asleep.” Monday , 31, and the following days, I visited the societies near London. Friday, NOVEMBER 4. In the afternoon John Downes (who had preached with us many years) was saying, “I feel such a love to the people at West-Street, that I could be content to die with them. I do not find myself very well; but I must be with them this evening.” He went thither, and began preaching, on, “Come unto me, ye that are weary and heavy-laden.”
After speaking ten or twelve minutes, he sunk down, and spake no more, till his spirit returned to God.
I suppose he was by nature full as great a genius as Sir Isaac Newton. I will mention but two or three instances of it: — When he was at school, learning Algebra, he came one day to his master, and said, “Sir, I can prove this proposition a better way than it is proved in the book.” His master thought it could not be; but upon trial, acknowledged it to be so. Some time after, his father sent him to Newcastle with a clock, which was to be mended. He observed the clockmaker’s tools, and the manner how he took it in pieces, and put it together again; and when he came home, first made himself tools, and then made a clock, which went as true as any in the town. I suppose such strength of genius as this, has scarce been known in Europe before.
Another proof of it was this: — Thirty years ago, while I was shaving, he was whittling the top of a stick: I asked, “What are you doing?” He answered, “I am taking your face, which I intend to engrave on a copper-plate.” Accordingly, without any instruction, he first made himself tools, and then engraved the plate. The second picture which he engraved, was that which was prefixed to the “Notes upon the New Testament.”
Such another instance, I suppose, not all England, or perhaps Europe, can produce.
For several months past, he had far deeper communion with God, than ever he had had in his life; and for some days he had been frequently saying, “I am so happy, that I scarce know how to live. I enjoy such fellowship with God, as I thought could not be had on this side heaven.”
God having now finished his course of fifty-two years, after a long conflict with pain, sickness, and poverty, he gloriously rested from his labors, and entered into the joy of his Lord. Tues. 8. — I baptized two young women; one of whom found a deep sense of the presence of God in his ordinance; the other received a full assurance of his pardoning love, and was filled with joy unspeakable. Sun. 13. — After a day of much labor, at my usual time, (half-hour past nine,) I lay down to rest. I told my servants, “I must rise at three, the Norwich coach setting out at four.” Hearing one of them knock, though sooner than I expected, I rose and dressed myself; but afterwards, looking at my watch, I found it was but half-hour past ten. While I was considering what to do, I heard a confused sound of many voices below; and looking out at the window towards the yard, I saw it was as light as day. Meantime, many large flakes of fire were continually flying about the house; all the upper part of which was built of wood, which was near as dry as tinder. A large deal-yard, at a very small distance from us, was all in a light fire; from which the northwest wind drove the flames directly upon the Foundery; and there was no probability of help, for no water could be found. Perceiving I could be of no use, I took my Diary and my papers, and retired to a friend’s house. I had no fear; committing the matter into God’s hands, and knowing He would do whatever was best. Immediately the wind turned about from northwest to southeast; and our pump supplied the engines with abundance of water; so that in a little more than two hours, all the danger was over. Mon. 14. — In the evening I preached at Bury; Tuesday, 15, about one at Loddon, to a people the most athirst for God of any I found in the county.
In the afternoon I went on to Yarmouth. When was “confusion worse confounded?” Division after division has torn the once-flourishing society all in pieces. In order to heal the breach, in some measure, I enforced those deep words, “Though I have all knowledge and all faith, so as to remove mountains, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.” One of our former Leaders being asked what he thought of this, frankly answered, “It is damnable doctrine.” Thur. 17. — About noon I preached at Lowestoft, where the little flock are remarkably lively. The evening congregation at Yarmouth was all attention; and truly the power of God was present to heal them.
In the evening I returned to Norwich. Never was a poor society so neglected as this has been for the year past. The morning preaching was at an end; the bands suffered all to fall in pieces; and no care at all taken of the classes, so that whether they met or not, it was all one; going to church and sacrament were forgotten; and the people rambled hither and thither as they listed.
On Friday evening I met the society, and told them plain, I was resolved to have a regular society or none. I then read the Rules, and desired every one to consider whether he was willing to walk by these Rules or no.
Those in particular, of meeting their class every week, unless hindered by distance or sickness, (the only reasons for not meeting which I could allow) and being constant at church and sacrament. I desired those who were so minded to meet me the next night, and the rest to stay away. The next night we had far the greater part; on whom I strongly enforced the same thing. Sunday, 20. I spoke to every Leader, concerning every one under his care; and put out every person whom they could not recommend to me. After this was done, out of two hundred and four members, one hundred and seventy-four remained. And these points shall be carried, if only fifty remain in the society. Mon. 21. — I examined the society at Loddon. There are near fifty of them, simple and teachable, all of one mind, and many of them able to rejoice in God their Savior. Tuesday, 22. I took a solemn and affectionate leave of the society at Norwich. About twelve we took coach. About eight, Wednesday, 23, Mr. Dancer met me with a chaise, and carried me to Ely. O what want of common sense! Water covered the highroad for a mile and a half. I asked, “How must foot-people come to the town?” “Why, they must wade through!”
About two I preached in a house well filled with plain, loving people. I then took a walk to the cathedral, one of the most beautiful I have seen.
The western tower is exceeding grand; and the nave of an amazing height.
Hence we went through a fruitful and pleasant country, though surrounded with fens, to Sutton. Here many people had lately been stirred up: They had prepared a large barn. At six o’clock it was well filled; and it seemed as if God sent a message to every soul. The next morning and evening, though the weather was uncommonly severe, the congregation increased rather than diminished. Fri. 25. — I left them in much hope that they will continue in this earnest, simple love.
Honest Mr. Tubbs would needs walk and lead the horse through water and mud up to his mid-leg, smiling and saying, “We fen-men do not mind a little dirt.” When we had gone about four miles, the road would not admit of a chaise. So I borrowed a horse and rode forward; but not far, for all the grounds were under water. Here therefore I procured a boat full twice as large as a kneading-trough. I was at one end, and a boy at the other, who paddled me safe to Erith. There Miss L—— waited for me with another chaise, which brought me to St. Ives.
No Methodist, I was told, had preached in this town: So I thought it high time to begin; and about one I preached to a very well-dressed and yet well-behaved congregation. Thence my new friend (how long will she be such?) carried me to Godmanchester, near Huntingdon. A large barn was ready, in which Mr. Berridge and Mr. Venn used to preach. And though the weather was still severe, it was well filled with deeply attentive people. Saturday, 26. I set out early, and in the evening reached London. Mon. 28. — I paid a visit to the amiable family at Shoreham, and found the work of God there still increasing. Wednesday, 30. I crossed over to Ryegate, and had a larger congregation than ever before. Thur . December 1. — I preached at Dorking, and was much pleased with the congregation, who seemed to “taste the good word.” Friday, 2. I returned to London. Mon. 5. — I preached at Canterbury; and Tuesday, 6, at Dover. As I was setting out thence on Wednesday morning, a wagon, jostling us, disabled our chaise. Our coachman went back to procure another, saying, he would soon overtake us. He did so after we had walked nine or ten miles, and brought us safe to Canterbury, where I spent a day or two with much satisfaction; and on Saturday, returned home. Mon. 12. — I opened the new House at Sevenoaks. Tuesday, 13. About noon I preached at Newbounds; and in the evening at Sevenoaks again, where our labor has not been in vain. Wed. 14. — I rode to Chatham, and found that James Wood, one of our Local Preachers, who, being in a deep consumption, had been advised to spend some time in France, had come back thither two or three days before me. The day after he came he slept in peace: And two days after, his body was interred, all our brethren singing him to the grave, and praising God on his behalf. I preached his funeral sermon to a crowded audience, on the text which he had chosen: “Let me die the death of the righteous; and let my last end be like his!” Monday , 19, and the following days, I read with the Preachers what I judged most useful: And we endeavored to “provoke one another to love and to good works.” Thur. 22. — I walked, with one that belongs to the family, through the Queen’s house. The apartments are nothing so rich as those in Blenheim House, but full as elegant. Nor in any thing in Blenheim itself more grand than the staircase and the saloon. But I was quite disappointed in the Cartoons; they are but the shadow of what they were: The colors are so entirely faded, that you can hardly distinguish what they were once. Sun . 25. — I buried the body of Esther Grimaldi, who died in the full triumph of faith. “A mother in Israel” hast thou been; and thy “works shall praise thee in the gates!” During the twelve festival days, we had the Lord’s Supper daily; a little emblem of the Primitive Church. May we be followers of them in all things, as they were of Christ! Sun . January 1, 1775. — We had a larger congregation at the renewal of the Covenant than we have had for many years: And I do not know that ever we had a greater blessing. Afterwards many desired to return thanks, either for a sense of pardon, for full salvation, or for a fresh manifestation of his grace, healing all their backsliding. Tues. 10. — I set out for Bedfordshire, and in the evening preached at Luton. Wednesday, 11. I crept on through a miserable road to Bedford, but was well rewarded by the behavior of the congregation. Thur. 12. — We crossed over the country to Godmanchester. The whole town seemed to be moved. The people flocked together from all parts, so that the barn would in nowise contain them. I found great liberty of speech among them, and could not doubt but God would confirm the word of his messenger. Fri. 13. — Even at poor, dead Hertford was such a concourse of people, that the Room would not near contain them. And most of them were deeply attentive while I explained these awful words, “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God.” Sun. 29. — Finding many were much dejected by the threatening posture of public affairs, I strongly enforced our Lord’s words, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” And of a truth God spoke in his word. Many were ashamed of their unbelieving fears; and many enabled to “be careful for nothing,” but simply to “make” all their “requests known unto God with thanksgiving.” Sun . February 5. — I saw a glorious instance of the power of faith.
Thomas Vokins, a man of a sorrowful spirit, used always to hang down his head like a bulrush. But a few days since, as he was dying without hope, God broke in upon his soul; and from that time he has been triumphing over pain and death, and rejoicing with joy full of glory. Wed. 8. — I had a particular conversation with Mr. Ferguson on some difficulties in philosophy: He seemed thoroughly satisfied himself; but he did not satisfy me. I still think both Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Jones have fully proved their several points. Wed. 22. — I had an opportunity of seeing Mr. Gordon’s curious garden at Mile-end, the like of which I suppose is hardly to be found in England, if in Europe. One thing in particular I learned here, the real nature of the tea-tree. I was informed, 1. That the Green and the Bohea are of quite different species. 2. That the Bohea is much tenderer than the Green. 3. That the Green is an evergreen; and bears, not only in the open air, but in the frost, perfectly well. 4. That the herb of Paraguay likewise bears the frost, and is a species of tea. 5. And I observed that they are all species of bay or laurel.
March 1. — (Being Ash -Wednesday.) I took a solemn leave of our friends at London; and on Thursday, 2, met our brethren at Reading. A few were awakened, and perhaps converted here, by the ministry of Mr. Talbot.
But as he did not take any account of them, or join them together, we found no trace of them remaining. A large room was presently filled, and all the spaces adjoining. And I have hardly even seen a people who seemed more eager to hear. Fri. 3. — The mild weather changed into cold and blustering, with heavy showers of rain; notwithstanding which, we had a very large congregation at Ramsbury Park. Saturday, 4. At noon I preached to a still larger congregation, in the new House at Seend: In the afternoon I went on to Bristol; whence, on Monday, 13, I set out for Ireland. Tues. 14. — At noon I preached in Tewkesbury, now the liveliest place in the Circuit. Many here have been lately convinced of sin, and many converted to God. Some have been made partakers of the great salvation, and their love and zeal have stirred up others. So that the flame now spreads wider and wider. O let none be able to quench it!
In the evening I preached at Worcester. Here also the flame is gradually increasing. While I was here, there was a very extraordinary trial at the assizes. A boy being beaten by his master, ran away; and wandering about till he was half starved, was then allowed to lie in the hay-loft of an inn. In the night he stole into the room where two gentlemen lay; (probably not very sober;) and, without waking them, picked the money out of both their pockets; though their breeches lay under their head. In the morning, having confessed the fact, he was committed to gaol. He made no defense:
So one of the Counsellors rose up, and said, “My Lord, as there is none to plead for this poor boy, I will do it myself.” He did so, and then added, “My Lord, it may be this bad boy may make a good man. And I humbly conceive, it might be best to send him back to his master. I will give him a guinea towards his expenses.” “And I will give him another,” said the Judge. Which he did, with a mild and serious reproof. So he was sent back full of good resolutions. Fri. 17. — In the evening, though it was cold, I was obliged to preach abroad at Newcastle. One buffoon labored much to interrupt. But as he was bawling, with his mouth wide open, some arch boys gave him such a mouthful of dirt as quite satisfied him.
On Saturday and Sunday I preached at Congleton and Macclesfield; Monday, 20, at Stockport and Manchester. Tuesday, 21. I preached at Knutsford; but the house would by no means contain the congregation.
The street too was filled; and even those which could not hear were silent.
This is uncommon; especially in a town little accustomed to this strange way of preaching: Those who cannot hear themselves usually taking care to hinder others from hearing.
In the evening I opened the new House at Northwich, which was sufficiently crowded both this night and the next. After preaching at many places in the way, on Saturday, 25, I came to Liverpool. The congregations here, both morning and evening, were so large, and so deeply attentive, that I could not be sorry for the contrary winds, which detained us till Thursday, the 30th, when we went on board the Hawk. We were scarce out of the river, when the wind turned against us, and blew harder and harder. A rolling sea made my companions sick enough. But so fine a ship I never sailed in before. She never shipped one sea, and went more steady than I thought was possible. On Friday morning it blew hard; but the next day we had a fair, small wind. So about six, on Sunday, APRIL 2, we landed at Dunleary; and between nine and ten reached Whitefriar-Street. On Monday and Tuesday I examined the society, in which, two years ago, there were three hundred and seventy-six persons. And I found three hundred and seventy-six still, not one more or less. But I found more peace and love among them, than I had done for many years. Thur. 6. — I visited that venerable man, Dr. Rutty, just tottering over the grave; but still clear in his understanding, full of faith and love, and patiently waiting till his change should come. Afterwards I waited on Lady Moira; and was surprised to observe, though not a more grand, yet a far more elegant room, than any I ever saw in England. It was an octagon, about twenty feet square, and fifteen or sixteen high; having one window, (the sides of it inlaid throughout with mother-of-pearl,) reaching from the top of the room to the bottom. The ceiling sides, and furniture of the room were equally elegant. And must this too pass away like a dream! Sun. 9. — The good old Dean of St. Patrick’s desired me to come within the rails, and assist him at the Lord’s Supper. This also was a means of removing much prejudice from those who were zealous for the Church. Monday, 10. Leaving just four hundred members in the society, I began my tour through the kingdom. I preached at Edinderry in the evening; on Tuesday and Wednesday, at Tyrrel’s Pass. Thursday, 13. Sending my chaise straight to Athlone, I rode to Mullingar; and thence, through miserable roads, to Longford. A large number of people attended the preaching, both in the evening and at eight in the morning, being Good-Friday. But I found very little of the spirit which was here two years ago. About eleven I preached at Loughan, and in the evening at Athlone. On Easter-Day I would willingly have preached abroad; but the weather would not permit. Monday 17. I preached Aghrim; and Tuesday-noon, at Eyre-Court. Afterwards I was desired to walk down to Lord Eyre’s. I was a little surprised at the inscription over the door, “Welcome to the house of liberty.” Does it mean liberty from sin?
It is a noble old house. The staircase is grand; and so are two or three of the rooms. In the rest of the house, as well as in the ruinous outhouses, gardens, and fish-ponds, the owner seemed to say to every beholder, “All this profiteth me nothing!”
I preached in the evening at Birr, with a good hope that God would at length revive his work. Wed. 19. — About noon I preached in the market-place at Clara. It was the market-day; but that did not lessen the congregation. The poor people eagerly flocked from the market; and there was no buying or selling till I concluded.
After preaching at Coolylough, Tullamore, and Portarling to, (still “unstable as water,”) Saturday, 22, I found, at Mount-Mellick, a little company, who appeared to be better established. I spent Saturday and Sunday comfortably among them, building them up in our most holy faith. Mon . 24 — The Minister of Maryborough inviting me to preach in his church, I began reading Prayers about nine; and afterwards preached to a numerous congregation. For the present, every one seemed affected. Will not some bring forth fruit with patience?
In the evening I was scandalized both at the smallness and deadness of the congregation at Kilkenny. The next evening it was a little mended, but not much. Of all the dull congregations I have seen, this was the dullest. Wed. 26. — I went on to Waterford, where the rain drove us into the preaching-house, — the most foul horrid, miserable hole which I have seen since I left England. The next day I got into the open air, and a large congregation attended. I had designed to set out early in the morning; but doubting if I should ever have such another opportunity, (the Major of the Highland Regiment standing behind me, with several of his Officers, many of the soldiers before me, and the sentinel at the entrance of the court,) I gave notice of preaching at ten the next morning, and at four in the afternoon. I did so to a well-behaved congregation, and in the evening went on to Carrick. Sat. 29. — Early in the evening we reached Rathcormuck, but found the inn filled with Officers. It is true they were but five, and there were seven beds; but they had bespoke all, and would not spare us one! So we were obliged to go some miles further. We drove this day just threescore (English) miles. Sun. 30. — I came to Cork time enough to preach. The congregation was not small, and it was not large: But it was very large in George-Street at four in the afternoon, as well as deeply attentive. At six I preached in the Room, and could not but observe such singing as I have seldom heard in England. The women, in particular, sang so exactly that it seemed but one voice. Monday, MAY 1. I examined the society, and found it in such order, so increased both in grace and number, as I apprehend it had not been before, since the time of William Pennington. Wed. 3. — I rode to Bandon, and preached in the main street to a very numerous congregation. All behaved well, except three or four pretty gentlemen, who seemed to know just nothing of the matter.
I found this society likewise much established in grace, and greatly increased in number. So has God blessed the labors of two plain men, who put forth all their strength in his work. Sat. 6. — I returned to Cork, and in the evening preached in Blackpool. It rained a little all the time I was preaching, but the people regarded it not. Sun. 7. — I was desired to preach on 1 John 5:7: “There are three that bear record in heaven.” The congregation was exceeding large; but abundantly larger in the evening. I never saw the House so crowded before.
It was much the same the next evening. Tuesday, 9. I preached my farewell sermon in the afternoon; and going to Mallow in the evening, went on the next day to Limerick. Sat. 13. — I preached to a large congregation of Papists and Protestants, in the yard of the Custom-House, where many could hear within as well as without. Mon. 15. — Having waited for a chaise to go to Balligarane as long as I could, I at length set out on horseback. But T. Wride loitering behind, I might as well have spared my pains; for though I came to the town at the time appointed, I could find neither man, woman, nor child, to direct me to the preaching-house. After gaping and staring some time, I judged it best to go to Newmarket, where I was to preach in the evening. I began about six.
The congregation was deeply serious; great part of whom came again at five in the morning. And were it only for this opportunity, I did not regret my labor. Wed. 17. — I examined the society at Limerick, containing now an hundred and one persons, seven less than they were two years ago. I a little wonder at this; considering the scandal of the cross is well-nigh ceased here, through the wise and steady behavior of our brethren. But they want zeal; they are not fervent in spirit: Therefore, they cannot increase. Thur. 18. — In the evening I preached at Galway, in the county Court-House, to a more civil and attentive congregation than I ever saw there before. Fri . 19. — About one I preached at Ballinrobe, in the assembly-room, and was agreeably surprised, both at the unusual number and seriousness of the hearers. I had purposed to go on to Castlebar, but now thought it might be worth while to stay a little longer. In the afternoon I took a view of the Castle. Colonel Cuffe’s father took great delight in this place, laid out beautiful gardens, and procured trees of all sorts, from all parts of the kingdom. Part of these placed on the slope of the hill, (at the side of which runs the river,) form a lovely wilderness, at the end whereof are regular rows of elms. But the Colonel has no pleasure therein. So all is now swiftly running to ruin.
I preached again at six, to a large congregation, and the next evening at Castlebar. Monday, 22. I spent two or three hours in one of the loveliest places, and with one of the loveliest families, in the kingdom. Almost all I heard put me in mind of those beautiful lines of Prior, — The nymph did like the scene appear, Serenely pleasant, calmly fair; Soft fell her words, as flew the air.
Between Limerick and Castlebar, I read over the famous controversy between Drs. Clarke and Leibnitz. And is this he whom the King of Prussia extols, as something more than human? So poor a writer have I seldom read, either as to sentiments or temper. In sentiment, he is a thorough fatalist; maintaining roundly, and without reserve, that God has absolutely decreed from all eternity whatever is done in time; and that no creature can do more good, or less evil, than God has peremptorily decreed. And his temper is just suitable to his sentiments. He is haughty, self-conceited, sour, impatient of contradiction, and holds his opponent in utter contempt; though, in truth, he is but a child in his hands. Wed. 24. — I reached Sligo. My old friend, Andrew Maben, did not own me. However, a few did; to whom, with a tolerable congregation, I preached at six in the barracks. The next evening I preached in the market-house, to a far larger congregation. We seem, by all the late bustle and confusion, to have lost nothing. Here is a little company as much alive to God, and more united together than ever. Fri. 26. — I preached at Manorhamilton, and the next evening near the bridge at Swadlingbar. Knowing a large part of the congregation to have “tasted of the powers of the world to come,” I spoke on the glory that shall be revealed; and all seemed deeply affected, except a few Gentry, so called, who seemed to understand nothing of the matter. Sun. 28. — I preached at ten to a far larger congregation, on, “God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent;” and after church, to a still greater multitude, on, “It is appointed unto men once to die.” Mon. 29. — Being desired to give them a sermon at Belturbet, about eight I preached in the Town-Hall. It was not in vain. God opened, as it were, the windows of heaven, and showered his blessing down.
I called afterwards at Ballyhays, and spent an hour with that venerable old man, Colonel Newburgh. It does me good to converse with those who have just finished their course, and are quivering over the great gulf. Thence I went; on to Clones, — that is its proper name; not Clownish, as it is vulgarly called. It is a pleasant town, finely situated on a rising ground, in the midst of fruitful hills; and has a larger market-place than any I have seen in England, not excepting Norwich or Yarmouth. At six I preached in the old Danish fort, to the largest congregation I have had in the kingdom.
I preached at Roasky at noon, and Sydare in the evening. Wednesday, 31. I hobbled on, through a miserable road, as far as wheels could pass, and then rode on to Lisleen. After dinner, we hastened to Dargbridge, and found a large congregation waiting. They appeared, one and all, to be deeply serious. Indeed there is a wonderful reformation spreading throughout this whole country, for several miles round. Outward wickedness is gone; and many, young and old, witness that the kingdom of God is within them. Thur . June 1. — I reached Londonderry: But I had so deep an hoarseness, that my voice was almost gone. However, pounded garlick, applied to the soles of my feet, took it away before the morning.JUNE 4. (Being Whit-Sunday.) The Bishop preached a judicious, useful sermon, on the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost. He is both a good writer, and a good speaker; and he celebrated the Lord’s Supper with admirable solemnity.
Hence I hastened to the New-Buildings. The sun was intensely hot, as it was on Monday and Tuesday. Six such days together, I was informed, have not been in Ireland for several years. Mon. 5. — I examined the society, growing in grace, and increased in number, from fifty-two to near seventy. Tuesday, 6. The Bishop invited me to dinner; and told me, “I know you do not love our hours, and will therefore order dinner to be on table between two and three o’clock.” We had a piece of boiled beef, and an English pudding. This is true good breeding. The Bishop is entirely easy and unaffected in his whole behavior, exemplary in all parts of public worship, and plenteous in good works. Wed. 7. — About noon I preached a few miles from Strabane; in the evening at Lisleen; and the next at Castle-Caulfield. In the night the rain came plentifully through the thatch, into my lodging-room. But I found no present inconvenience, and was not careful for the morrow. Fri. 9. — I preached at eight to a numerous congregation, in the market-place at Dungannon; at eleven, and at five in the afternoon, in the main street at Charlemount. I lodged at a gentleman’s, who showed me a flower, which he called a Gummy Cystus. It blooms in the morning, with a large, beautiful, snow-white flower; but every flower dies in the evening.
New flowers blow and fall everyday. Does not this short-lived flower answer to that short-lived animal, the Ephemeron-fly? Sat. 10. — I preached at nine to a large congregation, at Killeman. The rain began as soon as I concluded; but it ceased time enough for me to preach in Mr. M’Gough’s avenue, at Armagh.
But I could not find the way to their hearts. Mon. 12. — Having taken a solemn leave of Armagh, about eleven I preached at Blackwater; and in the evening at Clanmain, where many seemed cut to the heart. O, why should they heal the wound slightly! Tues. 13. — I was not very well in the morning, but supposed it would soon go off. In the afternoon, the weather being extremely hot, I lay down on the grass, in Mr. Lark’s orchard, at Cock-Hill. This I had been accustomed to do for forty years, and never remember to have been hurt by it: Only I never before lay on my face; in which posture I fell asleep. I waked a little, and but a little, out of order, and preached with ease to a multitude of people. Afterwards I was a good deal worse. However, the next day I went on a few miles to the Grange. The table was placed here in such a manner, that, all the time I was preaching, a strong and sharp wind blew full on the left side of my head; and it was not without a good deal of difficulty that I made an end of my sermon. I now found a deep obstruction in my breast: My pulse was exceeding weak and low; I shivered with cold, though the air was sultry hot; only now and then burning for a few minutes. I went early to bed, drank a draught of treacle-and-water, and applied treacle to the soles of my feet. I lay till seven on Thursday, 15, and then felt considerably better. But I found near the same obstruction in my breast: I had a low, weak pulse; I burned and shivered by turns; and, if I ventured to cough, it jarred my head exceedingly. In going on to Derry-Anvil, I wondered what was the matter, that I could not attend to what I was reading; no, not for three minutes together; but my thoughts were perpetually shifting. Yet, all the time I was preaching in the evening, (although I stood in the open air, with the wind whistling round my head,) my mind was as composed as ever. Friday , 16. — In going to Lurgan, I was again surprised that I could not fix my attention on what I read: Yet, while I was preaching in the evening, on the Parade, I found my mind perfectly composed; although it rained a great part of the time, which did not well agree with my head. Saturday, 17. I was persuaded to send for Dr. Laws, a sensible and skillful Physician. He told me I was in a high fever, and advised me to lay by. But I told him that could not be done; as I had appointed to preach at several places, and must preach as long as I could speak. He then prescribed a cooling draught, with a grain or two of camphor, as my nerves were universally agitated. This I took with me to Tanderagee: But when I came there, I was not able to preach; my understanding being quite confused, and my strength entirely gone. Yet I breathed freely, and had not the least thirst, nor any pain, from head to foot.
I was now at a full stand, whether to aim at Lisburn, or to push forward for Dublin. But my friends doubting whether I could bear so long a journey, I went straight to Derry-Aghy; a gentleman’s seat, on the side of a hill, three miles beyond Lisburn. Here nature sunk, and I took my bed.
I can give no account of what followed for two or three days, being more dead than alive. Only I remember it was difficult for me to speak, my throat being exceeding dry. But Joseph Bradford tells me I said on Wednesday, “ It will be determined before this time tomorrow;” that my tongue was much swollen, and as black as a coal; that I was convulsed all over; and that for some time my heart did not beat perceptibly, neither was any pulse discernible.
In the night of Thursday, 22, Joseph Bradford came to me with a cup, and said, “Sir, you must take this.” I thought, “I will, if I can swallow, to please him; for it will do me neither harm nor good.” Immediately it set me a vomiting; my heart began to beat and my pulse to play again; and from that hour the extremity of the symptoms abated. The next day I sat up several hours, and walked four or five times across the room. On Saturday, I sat up all day, and walked across the room many times, without any weariness; on Sunday, I came down stairs, and sat several hours in the parlor; on Monday, I walked out before the house; on Tuesday, I took an airing in the chaise; and on Wednesday, trusting in God, to the astonishment of my friends, I set out for Dublin.
I did not determine how far to go that day, not knowing how my strength would hold. But finding myself no worse at Bannbridge, I ventured to Newry; and, after traveling thirty (English) miles, I was stronger than in the morning. Thur. 29. — I went on to the Man-of-war, forty (Irish) miles from the Globe, at Newry. Friday, 30. We met Mr. Simpson, (with several other friends,) coming to meet us at Drogheda; who took us to his country seat at James-Town, about two miles from Dublin. Tues . July 4. — Finding myself a little stronger, I preached for the first time; and I believe most could hear. I preached on Thursday again; and my voice was clear, though weak. So on Sunday I ventured to preach twice, and found no weariness at all. Monday, 10. I began my regular course of preaching, morning and evening.
While I was in Dublin, I read two extraordinary books, but of very different kinds; — Mr. Sheridan’s “Lectures on Elocution,” and “The Life of Count Marsay;” and was disappointed in both. There is more matter in the penny tract, “On Action and Utterance,” abundantly more, than in all Mr. S.’s book; though he seems to think himself a mere Phenix. Count Marsay was doubtless a pious man, but a thorough enthusiast; guided, in all his steps, not by the written word, but by his own imagination; which he calls the Spirit. Sun. 23. — I again assisted at St. Patrick’s in delivering the elements of the Lord’s Supper. In the evening I embarked in the Nonpareil; and, about ten on Tuesday morning, landed at Park-Gate. Wednesday, 26. I found one relic of my illness, — my hand shook, so that I could hardly write my name. But after I had been well electrified, by driving four or five hours, over very rugged, broken pavement, my complaint was removed, and my hand was as steady as when I was ten years old.
About noon I preached in the shell of the House at Wigan. In the middle of the sermon, came an impetuous storm of thunder, lightning, and rain, which added much to the solemnity of the occasion. Thursday, 27. I went on to Miss Bosanquet’s, and prepared for the Conference. How willingly could I spend the residue of a busy life in this delightful retirement! But, Man was not born in shades to lie!
Up and be doing! Labor on, till Death sings a requiem to the parting soul.
Sun. 30. — I preached under Birstal-Hill, and the greater part of the huge audience could hear while I enforced, “When the breath of man goeth forth, he turneth again to his dust, and then all his thoughts perish.” I preached at Leeds in the evening, and found strength in proportion to my work. Tues . August 1. — Our Conference began. Having received several letters, intimating that many of the Preachers were latterly unqualified for the work, having neither grace nor gifts sufficient for it, I determined to examine this weighty charge with all possible exactness. In order to this, I read those letters to all the Conference; and begged that every one would freely propose and enforce whatever objection he had to any one. The objections proposed were considered at large: In two or three difficult cases, Committees were appointed for that purpose. In consequence of this, we were all fully convinced that the charge advanced was without foundation; that God has really sent those laborers into his vineyard, and has qualified them for the work: And we were all more closely united together than we have been for many years. Fri. 4. — I preached at Bradford, where the people are all alive. Many here have lately experienced the great salvation, and their zeal has been a general blessing. Indeed, this I always observe, — wherever a work of sanctification breaks out, the whole work of God prospers. Some are convinced of sin, others justified, and all stirred up to greater earnestness for salvation.
I breakfasted at Great-Horton. Two or three of the neighbors then came in to prayer. Quickly the house was filled; and, a few minutes after, all the space before the door. I saw the opportunity, and without delay got upon the horse block, in the yard. Abundance of children crowded round me, and round them a numerous congregation. So I gave them an earnest exhortation, and then commended them to the grace of God. Sun. 6. — At one I proclaimed the glorious Gospel to the usual congregation at Birstal, and in the evening at Leeds. Then, judging it needful to pay a short visit to our brethren at London, I took the stage-coach, with five of my friends, about eight o’clock. Before nine, a gentleman in a single-horse chaise struck his wheel against one of ours.
Instantly the weight of the men at top overset the coach; otherwise, ten times the shock would not have moved it; but neither the coachman, nor the men at top, nor any within, were hurt at all. On Tuesday, in the afternoon, we were met at Hatfield by many of our friends, who conducted us safe to London.
Having spent a few days in town, on Monday, 14, I set out for Wales; and Wednesday, 16, reached the Hay. Being desired to give them one sermon at Trevecka, I turned aside thither, and on Thursday, 17, preached at eleven to a numerous congregation. What a lovely place! And what a lovely family! still consisting of about six score persons. So the good “man is turned again to his dust!” But his thoughts do not perish.
I preached at Brecon the next day, and on Saturday, 19, went on to Carmarthen. How is this wilderness become a fruitful field! A year ago I knew no one in this town who had any desire of fleeing from the wrath to come; and now we have eighty persons in society. It is true not many of them are awakened; but they have broke off their outward sins. Now let us try, whether it be not possible to prevent the greater part of these from drawing back.
About this time I received a remarkable letter, from one of our Preachers at West-Bromwich, near Wednesbury. The substance of it is as follows: — “August 16, 1775. “About three weeks since, a person came and told me, Martha Wood, of Darlaston, was dying, and had a great desire to see me.
When I came into the house, which, with all that was in it, was scarce worth five pounds, I found, in that mean cottage, such a jewel as my eyes never beholden before. Her eyes even sparkled with joy, and her heart danced like David before the ark: In truth, she seemed to be in the suburbs of heaven, upon the confines of glory. “She took hold of my hand, and said, ‘I am glad to see you; you are my father in Christ. It is twenty years since I heard you first. It was on that text, Now ye have sorrow: But I will see you again, end your heart shall rejoice, end your joy no man taketh from you. In that hour God broke into my soul, delivered me from all sorrow, and filled my heart with joy; and, blessed be his name, I never have lost it, from that hour to this.’ “For the first ten years, she was sometimes in transports of joy, carried almost beyond herself; but for these last ten years, she has had the constant witness that God has taken up all her heart. ‘He has filled me,’ said she, ‘with perfect love; and perfect love casts out fear. Jesus is mine; God, and heaven, and eternal glory, are mine. My heart, my very soul is lost, yea, swallowed up, in God.’ “There were many of our friends standing by her bedside. She exhorted them all, as one in perfect health, to keep close to God. ‘You can never,’ said she, ‘do too much for God: When you have done all you can, you have done too little. O, who that knows Him, can love, or do, or suffer too much for Him!’ “Some worldly people came in. She called them by name, and exhorted them to repent and turn to Jesus. She looked at me, and desired I would preach her funeral sermon on those words, ‘I have fought the good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me at that day.’ “She talked to all round about her in as scriptural and rational a manner as if she had been in her full strength, (only now and then catching a little for breath,) with all the smiles of heaven in her countenance. Indeed several times she seemed to be quite gone; but in a little while the taper lit up again, and she began to preach, with divine power, to all that stood near her. She knew every person, and if any came into the room whom she knew to be careless about religion, she directly called them by name, and charged them to seek the Lord while he might be found. At last she cried out, ‘I see the heavens opened; I see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with numbers of the glorified throng, coming nearer and nearer. They are just come!’ At that word, her soul took its flight, to mingle with the heavenly host. We looked after her, as Elisha after Elijah; and I trust some of us have catched her mantle.”
After making a little tour through Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, and Glamorganshire, on Monday, 28, setting out early from Cardiff, I reached Newport about eight; and soon after preached to a large and serious congregation. I believe it is five-and-thirty years since I preached here before, to a people who were then wild as bears. How amazingly is the scene changed! O what is too hard for God!
We came to the New-Passage just as the boat was putting off; so I went in immediately. Some friends were waiting for me on the other side, who received me as one risen from the dead. The Room at Bristol was thoroughly filled in the evening; and we rejoiced in Him that heareth the prayer. Having finished my present business here, on Wednesday, 30, I set out at three, and at twelve preached in the great Presbyterian meeting-house in Taunton; and indeed with such freedom and openness of spirit as I did not expect in so brilliant a congregation. In the evening I preached in the dreary preaching-house at Tiverton. The people appeared as dull as the place. Yet who knows but that many of them may again hear the voice that raiseth the dead?
On Thursday and Friday I preached at Launceston, Bodmin, and Truro; on Saturday, in the main street at Redruth, to the usual congregation, on, “Happy are the people that have the Lord for their God.” Sun . September 3. — I preached at eight in St. Agnes Church-town, on, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” A young woman followed me into the house, weeping bitterly, and crying out, “I must have Christ; I will have Christ. Give me Christ, or else I die!” Two or three of us claimed the promise in her behalf. She was soon filled with joy unspeakable, and burst out, “O let me die! Let me go to Him now! How can I bear to stay here any longer?” We left her full of that peace which passeth all understanding. About eleven I preached at Redruth; at five in the evening in the amphitheater at Gwennap. I think this is the most magnificent spectacle which is to be seen on this side heaven. And no music is to be heard upon earth comparable to the sound of many thousand voices, when they are all harmoniously joined together, singing praises to God and the Lamb. Mon. 4. — I went on to our friends at St. Ives, many of whom are now gray-headed, as well as me. In the evening I preached in the little meadow above the town, where I was some years ago. The people in general here (excepting the rich) seem almost persuaded to be Christians. Perhaps the prayer of their old Pastor, Mr. Tregoss, is answered even to the fourth generation. Wed. 6. — About nine I preached at Cararack, and crossed over to Cubert, where I found my good old friend Mr. Hoskins, quivering over the grave.
He ventured, however, to the Church-town, and I believe found a blessing under the preaching. Thur. 7. — About eleven I preached in the Town-Hall at Liskeard, to a large and serious congregation. At Saltash some of our brethren met me with a boat, which brought me safe to Plymouth-Dock.
Understanding some of our friends here were deeply prejudiced against the King and all his Ministers, I spoke freely and largely on the subject at the meeting of the society. God applied it to their hearts; and I think there is not one of them now who does not see things in another light. Fri. 8. — I preached at noon on the quay in Plymouth; in the evening, in the new Square at the Dock. Many here seemed to feel the application of those words, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Sat. 9. — I preached in Exeter at four in the afternoon, and about seven at Collumpton. Sunday, 10. I came to Wellington in an acceptable time; for Mr. Jesse was ill in bed; so that if I had not come, there could have been no Service, either morning or evening. The church was moderately filled in the morning: In the afternoon it was crowded in every corner; and a solemn awe fell on the whole congregation, while I pressed that important question, “What is a man profited, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mon. 11. — I preached again in the new meeting at Taunton, to such a congregation as I suppose was never there before. I was desired to preach on the same text as at Wellington; and it was attended with the same blessing. On Tuesday I went on to Bristol. On Thursday and Friday, I preached at Keynsham, Bradford, and Bath; on Tuesday, 19, at Frome; and on Wednesday, at Pensford. Thence I went on to the lovely family at Publow, a pattern for all the boarding-schools in England. Every thing fit for a Christian to learn is taught here; but nothing unworthy the dignity of the Christian character. I gave a short exhortation to the children, which they received with eagerness. Many of them have the fear of God: Some of them enjoy his love. Thur. 21. — At the earnest request of the prisoner, who was to die next day, (and was very willing so to do; for, after deep agony of soul, he had found peace with God,) I preached at Newgate to him, and a crowded audience; many of whom felt that God was there. Sunday, 24. I preached abroad in the afternoon to a lovely congregation. Friday, 29, we observed as a fast-day, meeting at five, nine, one, and in the evening: And many found a strong hope, that God will yet be entreated for a guilty land. Sun . October 1. — The weather favored us again: I preached once more abroad, and concluded at the point where I begun, in opening and strongly applying those words, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Mon. 2. — I set out early; and, preaching at the Devizes, Sarum, Winchester, and Portsmouth in my way, on Friday, 6, in the afternoon I returned to London. Sun. 8. — I preached in Moorfields to a larger congregation than usual.
Strange that their curiosity should not be satisfied yet, after hearing the same thing near forty years! Mon. 9. — I preached at Chesham, on the strait gate; and all that heard seemed affected for the present. Tuesday, 10, 1 went on to Wycomb, and was much refreshed by the earnest attention of the whole congregation. Wednesday, 11. I took a walk to Lord Shelburne’s house. What variety, in so small a compass! A beautiful grove, divided by a serpentine walk, conceals the house from the town. At the side of this runs a transparent river, with a smooth walk on each bank. Beyond this is a level lawn; then the house with sloping gardens behind it. Above these is a lofty hill; near the top of which is a lovely wood, having a grassy walk running along, just within the skirts of it. But can the owner rejoice in this paradise? No; for his wife is snatched away in the bloom of youth! Thur. 12. — About noon I preached at Watlington; and in the evening at Oxford, in a large House formerly belonging to the Presbyterians. But it was not large enough: Many could not get in. Such a congregation I have not seen at Oxford, either for seriousness or number, for more than twenty years.
I borrowed here a volume of Lord Chesterfield’s Letters, which I had heard very strongly commended. And what did I learn? — That he was a man of much wit, middling sense, and some learning; but as absolutely void of virtue, as any Jew, Turk, or Heathen that ever lived. I say, not only void of all religion, (for I doubt whether he believed there is a God, though he tags most of his letters with the name, for better sound sake,) but even of virtue, of justice, and mercy, which he never once recommended to his son.
And truth he sets at open defiance: She continually guards him against it.
Half his letters inculcate deep dissimulation, as the most necessary of all accomplishments. Add to this, his studiously instilling into the young man all the principles of debauchery, when himself was between seventy and eighty years old. Add his cruel censure of that amiable man, the Archbishop of Cambray, (quantum dispar illi ) as a mere time-serving hypocrite! And this is the favorite of the age! Whereas, if justice and truth take place, if he is rewarded according to his desert, his name will stink to all generations. Sat. 14. — I preached at Finstock. How many days should I spend here if I was to do my own will! Not so: I am “to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish his work.” Therefore this is the first day I ever spent here: And perhaps it may be the last. Sun. 15. — About eight I preached at Witney. I admired the seriousness and decency of the congregation at church. I preached at five, on, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself;” a word that is sufficient to convince all mankind of sin. In meeting the select society, I was much comforted to find so few of them losing ground, and the far greater part still witnessing that “the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin.” Mon. 16. — We had a lovely congregation at five. About nine I preached at Oxford; in Newnham at one; and in the evening at Wallingford. Tuesday, 17. I went over the Downs to Kingston-lodge; a lone house; yet we had a numerous as well as serious congregation. In the evening I preached in the large Room at the poor-house in Ramsbury. The people flocked together from every side; and God gave us his blessing. Wed. 18. — I returned to Newbury. Some of our friends informed me, there were many red-hot patriots here; so I took occasion to give a strong exhortation, to “fear God, and honor the King.” Thur. 19. — I preached at Reading; and on Friday, returned to London. Mon. 23. — I set out for Northamptonshire, and in the evening preached at Towcester. Tuesday, 24. About noon we took horse for Whittlebury in a fine day: But before we had rode half an hour, a violent storm came, which soon drenched us from head to foot. But we dried ourselves in the afternoon, and were no worse. Wednesday, 25. I preached at Northampton, and on Thursday noon at Brixworth; a little town about six miles north of Northampton. I believe very few of the townsmen were absent, and all of them seemed to be much affected. So did many at Northampton in the evening, while I described him “that builds his house upon a rock.” Friday, 27 I preached about noon at Hanslop. In my way I looked over a volume of Dr. Swift’s Letters. I was amazed! Was ever such trash palmed upon the world, under the name of a great man? More than half of what is contained in those sixteen volumes, would be dear at two pence a volume; being all, and more than all, the dull things which that witty man ever said. In the evening I preached at Bedford, and the next evening came to London. Sun. 29. — I visited one who was full of good resolutions, — if he should recover. They might be sincere, or they might not: But how far will these avail before God? He was not put to the trial, how long they would last:
Quickly after, God required his soul of him. Monday, and the following days, I visited the little societies in the neighborhood of London. Saturday, NOVEMBER 11. I made some additions to the “Calm Address to our American Colonies.” Need any one ask from what motive this was wrote? Let him look round: England is in a flame! A flame of malice and rage against the King, and almost all that are in authority under him. I labor to put out this flame. Ought not every true patriot to do the same? If hireling writers on either side judge of me by themselves, that I cannot help. Sun. 12. — I was desired to preach, in Bethnal-Green church, a charity sermon for the widows and orphans of the soldiers that were killed in America. Knowing how many would seek occasion of offense, I wrote down my sermon. I dined with Sir John Hawkins and three other gentlemen that are in commission for the peace; and was agreeably surprised at a very serious conversation, kept up during the whole time I stayed. Wed. 15. — I preached at Dorking; the next evening at Ryegate-place, I think, to the largest congregation that I have seen there. But still I fear we are ploughing upon the sand: We see no fruit of our labors. Friday, 17. I crossed over to Shoreham, the most fruitful place in all the Circuit, and preached in the evening to a people just ripe for all the Gospel promises, on, “Now, why tarriest thou? Arise, and wash away thy sins.” The next morning I returned to London. Mon. 20. — I went on to Robertsbridge, and preached to a deeply attentive congregation. Tuesday, 21. Several were with us in the evening at Rye, who had never heard a Methodist sermon before. However, considering the bulk of the congregation, more than an handful of Gentry, I earnestly besought them not to “receive the grace of God in vain.” The next evening I applied part of the thirteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. Many were shaken when they weighed themselves in that balance. May we not be found wanting in that day! Thur. 23. — About noon I preached at Cranbrook, and in the evening at Staplehurst. Friday, 24. I preached at Sevenoaks, and on Saturday returned to London.
In some of my late little journeys I read Mr. Wraxal’s Travels, in which are several ingenious remarks. But the account he gives of Count Struenzee is a mistake, from beginning to end. Struenzee was as bad a man as most that ever lived. He caused many horrid abuses; but never reformed, or desired to reform, one. And there was abundant proof of the crime for which he suffered: Therefore, the behavior of King George was exactly right. Mon. 27. — I set out for Norwich. That evening I preached at Colchester; Tuesday, at Norwich; Wednesday, at Yarmouth.
About this time I published the following letter in Lloyd’s “Evening Post:” “Sir, “ I HAVE been seriously asked, ‘From what motive did you publish your Calm Address to the American Colonies?’ “I seriously answer, Not to get money. Had that been my motive, I should have swelled it into a shilling pamphlet, and have entered it at Stationers’ Hall. “Not to get preferment for myself, or my brother’s children. I am a little too old to gape after it for myself: And if my brother or I sought it for them, we have only to show them to the world. “Not to please any man living, high or low. I know mankind too well. I know they that love you for political service, love you less than their dinner; and they that hate you, hate you worse than the devil. “Least of all did I write with a view to inflame any: Just the contrary. I contributed my mite toward putting out the flame which rages all over the land. This I have more opportunity of observing than any other man in England. I see with pain to what an height this already rises, in every part of the nation. And I see many pouring oil into the flame, by crying out, ‘ How unjustly, how cruelly, the King is using the poor Americans; who are only contending for their liberty, and for their legal privileges!’ “Now there is no possible way to put out this flame, or hinder its rising higher and higher, but to show that the Americans are not used either cruelly or unjustly; that they are not injured at all, seeing they are not contending for liberty; (this they had, even in its full extent, both civil and religious;) neither for any legal privileges; for they enjoy all that their charters grant. But what they contend for, is, the illegal privileges of being exempt from parliamentary taxation. A privilege this, which no charter ever gave to any American colony yet; which no charter can give, unless it be confirmed both by King, Lords, and Commons; which, in fact, our colonies never had; which they never claimed till the present reign:
And probably they would not have claimed it now, had they not been incited thereto by letters from England. One of these was read, according to the desire of the writer, not only at the continental Congress, but likewise in many congregations throughout the Combined Provinces. It advised them to seize upon all the King’s Officers; and exhorted them, ‘Stand valiantly, only for six months, and in that time there will be such commotions in England that you may have your own terms.’ “This being the real state of the question, without any coloring or aggravation, what impartial man can either blame the King, or commend the Americans? “With this view, to quench the fire, by laying the blame where it was due, the ‘Calm Address’ was written. I am, Sir, “Your humble servant, “John Wesley. “As to reviewers, news writers, London Magazines, and all that kind of gentlemen, they behave just as I expected they would. And let them lick up Mr. Toplady’s spittle still: A champion worthy of their cause.” Thur. 30. — I preached at Lowestoft at noon, and Yarmouth in the evening. Here a gentleman, who came with me from London, was taken ill (he informed me) of the bloody flux. This being stopped, I thought his head was disordered; and would fain have sent him back without delay, offering him my chaise and my servant to attend him; though I could ill spare either one or the other. But he could not in anywise be prevailed on to accept of the proposal. I afterwards heard, he had been insane before he left London. However, I could now only make the best of it. Fri . December 1 . — After preaching at Loddon, I returned to Norwich, and procured Mr.—— a lodging in a friend’s house, where I knew he would want nothing. I now again advised him to go straight to London in my chaise; but it was lost labor. Sat. 2. — I procured “the History of Norwich,” published but a few years since. The author shows, that it was built about the year 418. But it increased in succeeding ages, till it was more than double to what it is now, having no less than sixty churches. Its populousness may be indisputably proved, by one single circumstance: — The first time it was visited with the sweating-sickness, (which usually killed in ten hours,) there died, in about six months, upwards of fifty-seven thousand persons; which is a considerably greater number than were in the whole city a few years ago.
He remarks concerning this unaccountable kind of plague,1. That it seized none but Englishmen; none of the French, Blemings, or other foreigners then in the kingdom, being at all affected: 2. That it seized upon Englishmen in other kingdoms, and upon none else: And, 3. That the method at last taken was this, — The patient, if seized in the day-time, was immediately to lie down in his clothes, and to be covered up; if in the night-time, he was to keep in bed; and if they remained four-and-twenty hours without eating or drinking any thing, then they generally recovered.
In the evening a large mob gathered at the door of the preaching-house, the captain of which struck many (chiefly women) with a large stick. Mr. Randal going out to see what was the matter, he struck him with it in the face. But he was soon secured, and carried before the Mayor; who, knowing him to be a notorious offender, against whom one or two warrants were then lying, sent him to gaol without delay. Tues. 5. — We set out a little before day, and reached Lynn in the afternoon. In the evening, the new House would hardly contain one half of the congregation: And those who could not get in were tolerably patient, considering they could hear but a few words. Wed. 6. — About one, I heard a shrill voice in the street, calling and desiring me to come to Mr.——. Going directly, I found him ill in body, and in a violent agony of mind. He fully believed he was at the point of death; nor could any arguments convince him of the contrary. We cried to Him who has all power in heaven and earth, and who keeps the keys of life and death. He soon started up in bed, and said with a loud voice, “I shall not die, but live.”
In the day I visited many of those that remained with us, and those that had left us since they had learned a new doctrine. I did not dispute, but endeavored to soften their spirits, which had been sharpened to a high degree. In the evening the chapel was quite too small: And yet even those who could not get in were silent: A circumstance which I have seldom observed in any other part of England. Thur. 7. — Mr.—— was so thoroughly disordered, that it was heavy work to get him forward. At every stage, “he could not possibly go any farther; he must die there.” Nevertheless we reached Bury in the afternoon.
I preached at seven to the largest congregation I ever saw there. We used to have about a dozen at five in the morning. But on Friday, 8, I suppose we had between forty and fifty. We set out between six and seven, hoping to reach Burntwood in the evening. But as we came thither some hours sooner than we expected, I judged it most advisable to push on: And, the moon shining bright, we easily reached London soon after six o’clock. Sat. 9. — In answer to a very angry letter, lately published in “the Gazetteer,” I published the following: — “To The Rev. Mr. Caleb Evans. “Rev. Sir, “You affirm,1. That I once ‘doubted whether the measures taken with respect to America could be defended either on the foot of law, equity, or prudence.’ I did doubt of these five years, nay indeed five months, ago. “You affirm,2. That I ‘declared,’ (last year,) ‘the Americans were an oppressed, injured people.’ I do not remember that I did; but very possibly I might. “You affirm,3. That I then ‘strongly recommended an argument for the exclusive right of the colonies to tax themselves.’ I believe I did; but I am now of another mind. “You affirm,4. ‘You say in the Preface, I never saw that book .’ I did say so. The plain case was, I had so entirely forgotten it, that even when I saw it again, I recollected nothing of it, till I had read several pages. If I had, I might have observed that you borrowed more from Mr. P. than I did from Dr. Johnson. Though I know not whether I should have observed it, as it does not affect the merits of the cause. “You affirm,5. ‘You say, But I really believe he was told so; ’ and add, ‘Supposing what I asserted was false, it is not easy to conceive what reason you could have for believing I was told so.’ My reason was, I believed you feared God, and therefore would not tell a willful untruth; so I made the best excuse for you which I thought the nature of the thing would admit of. Had you not some reasons to believe this of me; and therefore to say, (at least,) ‘I hope he forgot it?’ “‘But at this time I was perfectly unknown to you.’ No, at this time I knew you wrote that tract; but had I not, charity would have induced me to hope this, even of an entire stranger. “You now have my ‘feeble reply;’ and if you please to advance any new argument, (personal reflections I let go,) you may perhaps receive a farther reply from “Your humble servant, “John Wesley. “London, December 9. “I did not see your letter till this morning.” Mon. 11. — I began a little journey into Kent. In the evening I preached at Chatham, the next evening at Canterbury. I know not that ever I saw such a congregation there before. Tuesday, 12. I preached at Dover. As many as could, squeezed into the House, and the rest went quietly away. Thur. 14. — I returned to Canterbury, and had a long conversation with that extraordinary man, Charles Perronet. What a mystery of Providence!
Why is such a saint as this buried alive by continual sickness? In the evening we had a larger congregation than before. I never saw the House thoroughly filled till now: And I am sure the people had now a call from God, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear. Fri. 15. — In the evening I preached at Chatham, and on Saturday returned to London. In the evening I preached a kind of funeral sermon at Snowsfields, for that upright woman, Jane Binknell. For many years she was a pattern of all holiness; and, for the latter part of her life, of patience.
Yet as she labored under an incurable and painful disorder, which allowed her little rest, day or night, the corruptible body pressed down the soul, and frequently occasioned much heaviness. But, before she went, the clouds dispersed, and she died in sweet peace; but not in such triumphant joy as did Ann Davis, two or three weeks before. She died of the same disorder; but had withal, for some years, racking pains in her head day and night, which in a while rendered her stone-blind. Add to this, that she had a kind husband; who was continually reproaching her for living so long, and cursing her for not dying out of the way. Yet in all this she did not “charge God foolishly;” but meekly waited till her change should come.
Today I read Dr. Beattie’s Poems; certainly one of the best Poets of the age. He wants only the ease and simplicity of Mr. Pope. — I know one, and only one, that has it. Mon. 18. — I took another little journey, and in the evening preached at Bedford. Tuesday, 19. I dragged on, through miserable roads, to St. Neot’s, and preached in a large room to a numerous congregation. Understanding that almost all the Methodists, by the advice of Mr.——, had left the church, I earnestly exhorted them to return to it. In the evening I preached at Godmanchester. Wed. 20. — I preached at Luton; the next evening, at Hertford; and on Friday morning, returned to London.
This day we observed as a day of fasting and prayer, and were much persuaded God will yet be entreated. Thur. 21. — I revised a volume of Latin Poems, wrote by a gentleman of Denmark. I was surprised. Most of the verses are not unworthy of the Augustan age. Among the rest, there is a translation of two of Mr. Pope’s Epistles, line for line. And yet, in language, not only as pure as Virgil’s, but as elegant too. Tues . January 2, 1776. — Being pressed to pay a visit to our brethren at Bristol, some of whom had been a little unsettled by the patriots, so called, I set out early; but the roads were so heavy, that I could not get thither till night. I came just time enough, not to see, but to bury, poor Mr. Hall, my brother-in-law, who died on Wednesday morning; I trust, in peace; for God had given him deep repentance. Such another monument of divine mercy, considering how low he had fallen, and from what height of holiness, I have not seen, no, not in seventy years! I had designed to visit him in the morning; but he did not stay for my coming. It is enough, if, after all his wanderings, we meet again in Abraham’s bosom.