Thursday, December 30, 2010

JW explores why some fall down, others cry out, etc

Thu 30 Dec 1742: I carefully examined those who had lately cried out in the congregation. Some of these, I found, could give no account at all how or wherefore they had done so, only that of a sudden they dropped down they knew not how; and what they afterwards said or did they knew not. Others could just remember they were in fear; but could not tell what they were in fear of. Several said they were afraid of the devil, and this was all they knew. But a few gave a more intelligible account of the piercing sense they then had of their sins, both inward and outward, which were set in array against them round about; of the dread they were in of the wrath of God and the punishment they had deserved, into which they seemed to be just falling, without any way to escape. One of them told me: ‘I was as if I was just falling down, from the highest place I had ever seen. I thought the devil was pushing me off, and that God had forsaken me.’ Another said, ‘I felt the very fire of hell already kindled in my breast; and all my body was in as much pain as if I had been in a burning fiery furnace.’ What wisdom is that which rebuketh these, that ‘they should hold their peace’? Nay, let such an one cry after Jesus of Nazareth, till he saith, ‘Thy faith hath made thee whole!’
At eleven I preached my farewell sermon in the Hospital Square. I never saw such a congregation there before; nor did I ever speak so searchingly. I could not conclude till one, and then both men, women, and children hung upon me, so that I knew not which way to disengage myself. After some time I got to the gate and took horse; but even then ‘a muckle woman’ (as one called her in great anger) kept her hold and ran by the horse’s side, through thick and thin, down to Sandgate. Jonathan Reeves rode with me. We reached Darlington that night, and Boroughbridge the next day.
What encouragement have we to speak for God! At our inn we met an ancient man, who seemed by his conversation never to have thought whether he had any soul or no. Before we set out I spoke a few words concerning his cursing and idle conversation. The man appeared quite broken in pieces. The tears started into his eyes. And he acknowledged (with abundance of thanks to me) his own guilt and the goodness of God.

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