Friday, February 12, 2010

A Dangerous Calling

Fri 12 Feb 1748: After preaching at Oakhill about noon, I rode to Shepton [Mallet] and found them all under a strange consternation. A mob, they said, was hired, prepared, and made sufficiently drunk, in order to do all manner of mischief. I began preaching between four and five; none hindered or interrupted at all. We had a blessed opportunity, and the hearts of many were exceedingly comforted. I wondered what was become of the mob. But we were quickly informed. They mistook the place, imagining I should alight (as I used to do) at William Stone’s house, and had summoned by drum all their forces together to meet me at my coming. But Mr. Swindells innocently carrying me to the other end of the town, they did not find their mistake till I had done preaching, so that the hindering this, which was one of their designs, was utterly disappointed.
However, they attended us from the preaching-house to William Stone’s, throwing dirt, stones, and clods in abundance, but they could not hurt us; only Mr. Swindells had a little dirt on his coat, and I a few specks on my hat.
After we were gone into the house they began throwing great stones, in order to break the door. But, perceiving this would require some time, they dropped that design for the present. They first broke all the tiles on the penthouse over the door, and then poured in a shower of stones at the windows. One of their captains, in his great zeal, had followed us into the house and was now shut in with us. He did not like this and would fain have got out, but it was not possible. So he kept as close to me as he could, thinking himself safest when he was near me. But staying a little behind when I went up two pair of stairs and stood close on one side, where we were a little sheltered, a large stone struck him on the forehead, and the blood spouted out like a stream. He cried out, ‘Oh, sir, are we to die tonight? What must I do? What must I do?’ I said, ‘Pray to God. He is able to deliver you from all danger.’ He took my advice and began praying in such a manner as he had scarce done ever since he was born.
Mr. Swindells and I then went to prayer, after which I told him, ‘We must not stay here; we must go down immediately.’ He said, ‘Sir, we cannot stir; you see how the stones fly about.’ I walked straight through the room and down the stairs, and not a stone came in till we were at the bottom. The mob had just broke open the door when we came into the lower room, and exactly while they burst in at one door, we walked out at the other. Nor did one man take any notice of us, though we were within five yards of each other.
They filled the house at once and proposed setting it on fire. But one of them happening to remember that his own house was next, with much ado persuaded them not to do it. Hearing one of them cry out, ‘They are gone over the grounds,’ I thought the advice was good. So we went over the grounds to the far end of the town, where Abraham Jenkins waited, and undertook to guide us to Oakhill.
I was riding on in Shepton Lane, it being now quite dark, when he cried out, ‘Come down; come down from the bank.’ I did as I was bid, but, the bank being high and the side very near perpendicular, I came down all at once, my horse and I tumbling one over another. But we both rose unhurt. In less than an hour we came to Oakhill, and the next morning to Bristol.

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