Monday, January 31, 2011

A sixteen year old reprimands Wesley

31 Jan 1743. One writing to desire that I would preach on Isaiah 58, I willingly complied with his request in the evening. A day or two after I received a letter from a girl of sixteen or seventeen, whom I had often observed as being in an eminent degree of a meek and lowly spirit. Some of her words were: ‘I do not think there were above six or seven words of the true gospel in your whole sermon. I think nothing ought to concern you but the errand which the Lord gave you. But how far are you from this! You preach more the law than the gospel!’ Ah, my poor still sister! Thou art an apt scholar indeed! I did not expect this quite so soon.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

3 Sunday services, one 5 hours long

Sun 30 Jan 1757. Knowing God was able to strengthen me for his own work, I officiated at Snowsfields as usual before I went to West Street, where the service took me up between four and five hours. I preached in the evening and met the society, and my strength was as my day. I felt no more weariness at night than at eight in the morning.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A specious snare of the devil

Saturday 29 Jan 1774: 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.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Salvation leading soon to Perfection

Fri 28 Jan 1774. 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-traveller, 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.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The most miserable sermon Wesley ever heard

Fri 28 Jan 1743: I left Bristol on Friday 28, came to Reading on Saturday, and to Windsor on Sunday morning. Thence I walked over to Egham, where Mr. ---- preached one of the most miserable sermons I ever heard: stuffed so full of dull, senseless, improbable lies of those he complimented with the title of ‘false prophets’.
I preached at one, and endeavoured to rescue the poor text (Mt. 7:15) out of so bad hands. About four I left Egham, and at eight in the evening met a joyful congregation at the Foundery.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wesley at the House of Lords

Tue 25 Jan 1785. I spent two or three hours in the House of Lords. I had frequently heard that this was the most venerable assembly in England. But how was I disappointed! What is a Lord, but a sinner, born to die!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wesley's Effigy

Mon 24 Jan 1774: I was desired by Mrs. Wright of New York to let her take my effigy in waxwork. She has that of Mr. Whitefield and many others; but none of them, I think, comes up to a well-drawn picture.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Message for the Rich, another for Ministers

Mon 24 Jan 1743. I preached at Bath. Some of the rich and great were present, to whom, as to the rest, I declared with all plainness of speech, (1) that by nature, they were all children of wrath; (2) that all their natural tempers were corrupt and abominable; and (3) all their words and works, which could never be any better but by faith; and that (4) a natural man has no more faith than a devil, if so much. One of them, my Lord ----, stayed very patiently till I came to the middle of the fourth head. Then starting up he said, ‘’Tis hot! ’Tis very hot,’ and got downstairs as fast as he could.
Several of the gentry desired to stay at the meeting of the society; to whom I explained the nature of inward religion, words flowing upon me faster than I could speak. One of them (a noted infidel) hung over the next seat in an attitude not to be described; and when he went left half a guinea with Mary Naylor for the use of the poor.
On the following days I spoke with each member of the society in Kingswood. I can’t understand how any minister can hope ever to give up his account with joy unless (as Ignatius advised) he ‘know all his flock by name, not overlooking the men-servants and maid-servants’.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The curse of the confusion of opinions

Sun 23 Jan 1774: 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?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lost Sheep Returns

Sat 22 Jan 1757. I called upon one who did run well for several years. But for a considerable time he had cast off the very form of religion. Yet his heart was not utterly hardened. He determined to set out once more. And since that time he has been more confirmed in walking suitably to the gospel.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hippopotamus and Lion

Sat 22 Jan 1780. I spent an hour or two very agreeably in Sir Ashton Lever’s Museum. It does not equal the British Museum in size, nor is it constructed on so large a plan, as it contains no manuscripts, no books, no antiquities, nor any remarkable works of art. But I believe, for natural curiosities, it is not excelled by any museum in Europe. And all the beasts, birds, reptiles, and insects, are admirable well ranged and preserved. So that if you saw many of them elsewhere, you would imagine, they were alive! The hippopotamus, in particular, looks as fierce as if he was just coming out of the river, and the old lion appears as formidable now as when he was stalking in the Tower

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Worst behaved congregation JW ever encountered

Wednesday 19 Jan 1785, I returned to Colchester and, on Thursday 20, preached to a lovely congregation at Purfleet and, the next morning, returned to London. On Sunday,23, I preached, morning and afternoon, at West Street and, in the evening, in the chapel at Knightsbridge. I think it will be the last time, for I know not that I have ever seen a worse behaved congregation.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

JW offends Roman Catholics

Tue 18 Jan 1780. Receiving more and more accounts of the increase of popery, I believed it my duty to write a letter concerning it, which was afterwards inserted in the public papers. Many were grievously offended. But I cannot help it. I must follow my own conscience.

Monday, January 17, 2011

"You are a hypocrite, Mr Wesley, and we can have no fellowship with you"

Mon 17 Jan 1763. I rode to Lewisham, and wrote my sermon to be preached before the Society for Reformation of Manners. Sunday 23. In order to check if not stop a growing evil, I preached on ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’ But it had just the contrary effect on many, who construed it into a satire upon G. Bell, one of whose friends said, ‘If the devil himself had been in the pulpit he would not have preached such a sermon.’
All this time I did not want information from all quarters ‘that Mr. Maxfield was at the bottom of all this; that he was the life of the cause; that he was continually spiriting up all with whom he was intimate against me; that he told them, I was not capable of teaching them, and insinuated that none was but himself; and that the inevitable consequence must be a division in the society.’
Yet I was not without hope that by bearing all things I should overcome evil with good, till on Tuesday 25, while I was sitting with many of our brethren, Mrs. Coventry (then quite intimate with Mr. Maxfield) came in, threw down her ticket, with those of her husband, daughters, and servants, and said, they would ‘hear two doctrines no longer’. They had often said before: ‘Mr. Maxfield preached perfection, but Mr. Wesley pulled it down.’ So I did, that perfection of Benjamin Harris, G. Bell, and all who abetted them. So the breach is made! The water is let out. Let those who can, gather it up.
I think it was on Friday the 28th that I received a letter from John Fox, and another from John and Elizabeth Dixon, declaring the same thing. Friday, February 4, Daniel Owen and G. Bell told me, they should ‘stay in the society no longer’. The next day Robert Lee, with five or six of his friends, spake to the same effect.
I now seriously considered whether it was in my power to have prevented this. I did not see that it was: for though I had heard from time to time many objections to Mr. Maxfield’s conduct, there was no possibility of clearing them up. Above a year ago I desired him to meet me with some that accused him, that I might hear them face to face. But his answer was as follows:
Dec. 28, 1761
I have considered the thing, since you spoke to me about meeting at Mrs. March’s. And I don’t think to be there, or to meet them at any time. It is enough that I was arraigned at the Conference. (At which I earnestly defended him, and silenced all his accusers.) I am not convinced that it is my duty to make James Morgan, etc. my judges. If you, sir, or any one of them, have anything to say to me alone, I will answer as far as I see good.
The next month I wrote him a long letter, telling him mildly all I heard or feared concerning him. He took it as a deep affront and in consequence thereof wrote as follows:
Jan. 14, 1762
If you call me proud or humble, angry or meek, it seems to sit much the same on my heart. If you call me John or Judas, Moses or Korah, I am content. As to a separation, I have no such thought, if you have, and now (as it were) squeeze blood out of a stone, be it to yourself.
Several months after, hearing some rumours, I again wrote to him freely. In his answer were the following words:
Sept. 23, 1762
Experience teaches me daily that they that preach salvation from the nature of sin will have the same treatment from the others as they had and have from the world. But I am willing to bear it.
Your brother is gone out of town. Had he stayed much longer and continued, Sunday after Sunday, to hinder me from preaching, he would have forced me to have got a place to preach in where I should not have heard what I think the highest truths contradicted.
In his next letter he explained himself a little farther:
Oct. 16, 1762
We have great opposition on every side. Nature, the world, and the devil will never be reconciled to Christian perfection. But the great wonder is that Christians will not be reconciled to it; all, almost everyone who call themselves ministers of Christ, or preachers of Christ, contend for sin to remain in the heart as long as we live, as though it were the only thing Christ delighted to behold in his members.
I long to have your heart set at full liberty. I know you will then see things in a wonderful different light from what it is possible to see them before.
The day after the first separation, viz., Jan. 26, I wrote him the following note:
My dear Brother,
For many years I and all the preachers in connection with me have taught that every believer may and ought to grow in grace. Lately you have taught or seemed to teach the contrary. The effect of this is, when I speak as I have done from the beginning those who believe what you say will not bear it. Nay, they will renounce connexion with us—as Mr. and Mrs. Coventry did last night. This breach lies wholly upon you. You have contradicted what I taught from the beginning. Hence it is that many cannot bear it, but when I speak as I always have done, they separate from the society. Is this for your honour, or to the glory of God?
O Tommy, seek counsel, not from man, but God; not from brother Bell, but Jesus Christ!
I am,
Your affectionate brother,
J. W.
Things now ripened apace for a farther separation, to prevent which (if it were possible), I desired all our preachers, as they had time, to be present at all meetings when I could not myself, particularly at the Friday meeting in the chapel at West Street. At this Mr. Maxfield was highly offended and wrote to me as follows:
Feb. 5, 1763
I wrote to you to ask if those who before met at brother Guilford’s might not meet in the chapel. Soon after you came to town, the preachers were brought into the meeting, though you told me again and again, they should not come. (True; but since I said this, there has been an entire change in the situation of things.) Had I known this I would rather have paid for a room out of my own pocket. I am not speaking of the people that met at the Foundery before, though I let some of them come to that meeting. . . . If you intend to have the preachers there to watch, and others that I think very unfit, and will not give me liberty to give leave to some that I think fit to be there, I shall not think it my duty to meet them.
So from this time he kept a separate meeting elsewhere.
Sun. 6. Knowing many were greatly tempted on occasion of these occurrences, I preached on 1 Cor. 10:13. ‘God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with every temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.’ In the evening we had a love-feast, at which many spoke with all simplicity. And their words were like fire. I hardly know when we have had so refreshing a season.
Mon. 7. One who is very intimate with them, that had left us, told me in plain terms: ‘Sir, the case lies here: they say, You are only an hypocrite, and therefore they can have no fellowship with you.’
So now the wonder is over. First it was revealed to them that all the people were dead to God. Then they saw that all the preachers were so, too—only for a time they excepted me. At last they discern me to be blind and dead too. Now let him help them that can!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I supposed my journeys this winter had been over

I supposed my journeys this winter had been over; but I could not decline one more. Monday 17 Jan 1785: I set out for poor Colchester to encourage the little flock. They had exceeding little of this world’s goods, but most of them had a better portion. Tuesday 18, I went on to Mistley, a village near Manningtree. Some time since, one of the Shipwrights of Deptford Yard, being sent hither to superintend the building of some men of war, began to read sermons on a Sunday evening in his own house. Afterwards, he exhorted them a little and then formed a little society. Some time after, he begged one of our preachers, to ‘come over and help them’. I now found a lively society and one of the most elegant congregations I had seen for many years. Yet they seemed as willing to be instructed as if they had lived in Kingswood.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

JW Confronts Demons

Thu 13 Jan 1743. I rode to Stratford-upon-Avon. I had scarce sat down before I was informed that Mrs. K----, a middle-aged woman of Shottery, half a mile from Stratford, had been for many weeks last past in a way which nobody could understand; that she had sent for a minister, but almost as soon as he came began roaring in so strange a manner (her tongue at the same time hanging out of her mouth, and her face distorted into a most terrible form) that he cried out, ‘It is the devil, doubtless! It is the devil!’ And immediately went away.
I suppose this was some unphilosophical minister. Else he would have said, ‘Stark mad! Send her to Bedlam.’
I asked, ‘What good do you think I can do?’ One answered, ‘We cannot tell. But Mrs. K. (I just relate what was spoken to me, without passing any judgment upon it) earnestly desired you might come, if you was anywhere near, saying she had seen you in a dream and should know you immediately. “But the devil said” (those were her own expressions), “I will tear thy throat out before he comes.” But “afterwards” (she said) “his words were, ‘If he does come, I will let thee be quiet, and thou shalt be as if nothing ailed thee, till he is gone away.’”’
A very odd kind of madness this! I walked over about noon; but when we came to the house desired all those who came with me to stay below. One showing me the way, I went up straight to her room. As soon as I came to the bedside she fixed her eyes and said, ‘You are Mr. Wesley. I am very well now, I thank God. Nothing ails me; only I am weak.’ I called them up, and we began to sing,
Jesu, thou hast bid us pray,
Pray always and not faint;
With the Word, a power convey
To utter our complaint. . . .
After singing a verse or two we kneeled down to prayer. I had but just begun (my eyes being shut) when I felt as if I had been plunged into cold water. And immediately there was such a roar that my voice was quite drowned, though I spoke as loud as I usually do to three or four thousand people. However, I prayed on. She was then reared up in the bed, her whole body moving at once, without bending one joint or limb, just as if it were one piece of stone. Immediately after it was writhed into all kind of postures, the same horrid yell continuing still. But we left her not till all the symptoms ceased, and she was (for the present, at least) rejoicing and praising God.
Between one and two I preached at Stratford, on, ‘The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins.’ Most of the hearers stood like posts. But some mocked. Others blasphemed. And a few believed.
I preached at Evesham in the evening, rode to Painswick the next day, and on Saturday 15 to Bristol; where the following week I spoke to each member of the society and rejoiced over them, finding they had not been ‘barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ’.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jewish folk help JW with some detective work

Wed 5 Jan 1763. Having procured one who understood Spanish to interpret, I had a long conversation with the supposed Turks. One account they gave of themselves then: a second they soon after gave to Mrs. G. I observed the account now given, which I read over to them, in some particulars differed from both. This increased my fear, though I still hoped the best, till Mr. Blackwell procured a Jew to talk with them, who understood both Turkish and Spanish; upon whose questioning them thoroughly they contradicted all the accounts given before. And upon the elder of them mentioning Solomon Selim, a Jewish merchant of Amsterdam, one who knew him wrote to Solomon about him; who answered, he had ‘known him upwards of fourteen years’; that he was ‘a Spanish Jew, a physician by profession’; that some years since he had cured him of a dangerous illness, in gratitude for which he had given him ten pounds, to carry him over to England.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Preachers...VISIT house to house

Tue 11 Jan 1774. I began at the east end of the town to visit the society from house to house. I know of 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.

Monday, January 10, 2011

O that none of these may ‘draw back to perdition’

Mon 10 Jan 1743. I preached at five, at eight, and at three. In the intervals of preaching I spoke to all who desired it. Last night twenty-nine of them were joined together, Tuesday 11 about an hundred. O that none of these may ‘draw back to perdition’! Let these ‘believe, unto the saving of the soul’!
Wed. 12. I took my leave of them in the morning by showing the difference between the righteousness of the law and that of faith; and in the evening explained to a large congregation at Evesham, ‘So is everyone that is born of the Spirit.’

Sunday, January 9, 2011

O that all who heard might experience this salvation

Sun 9 Jan 1743: The hall [in Wednesbury] was filled again at five; and I proclaimed ‘the name of the Lord; . . . The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth’. At eight we met in the place where my brother preached, made, as it were, for the great congregation. It is a large hollow, scarcely a mile from the town, capable of containing four or five thousand people. They stood in a half circle one above another, and seemed all to receive with joy that great truth, ‘the kingdom of God is not meats and drinks, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.’
In the afternoon Mr. Egginton preached a plain, useful sermon. Almost the whole congregation then went down to the place, where abundance of people were already waiting for us; so that the hollow could not contain them, but was edged round with those who came from all parts. My subject was, ‘By grace ye are saved, through faith.’ O that all who heard might experience this salvation!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Treat your servant as you would your brother

Saturday, January 1, 1763. A woman told me: ‘Sir, I employ several men. Now if one of my servants will not follow my direction, is it not right for me to discard him at once? Pray, do you apply this to Mr. Bell?’ I answered: ‘It is right to discard such a servant. But what would you do if he were your son?’

Friday, January 7, 2011

"The World will end on 28 February"

Fri 7 Jan 1763. I desired George Bell, with two or three of his friends, to meet me with one or two others. We took much pains to convince him of his mistakes, particularly that which he had lately adopted, ‘that the end of the world was to be on February the 28th’, which at first he had earnestly withstood. But we could make no impression upon him at all. He was as unmoved as a rock.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A poor dying backslider

[from earlier this week]Monday, January 3, 1757. I visited a poor dying backslider, full of good resolutions. But who can tell when these imply a real change of heart? And when they do not, when they spring from fear only, what will they avail before God?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cold and Heartless People of Frederica

On Monday evening we left Darien, and on Wednesday 5 Jan 1736, came to Frederica. Most here were, as we expected, cold and heartless: we found not one who retained his first love. O send forth thy light and thy truth, that they may guide them! Let them not yet follow their own imaginations!
After having ‘beaten the air’ in this unhappy place for twenty days, on January 26, I took my final leave of Frederica. It was not any apprehension of my own danger (though my life had been threatened many times) but an utter despair of doing good there, which made me content with the thought of seeing it no more.
In my passage home, having procured a celebrated book, the Works of Nicholas Machiavelli, I set myself carefully to read and consider it. I began with a prejudice in his favour, having been informed he had often been misunderstood, and greatly misrepresented. I weighed the sentiments that were less common, transcribed the passages wherein they were contained, compared one passage with another, and endeavoured to form a cool, impartial judgment. And my cool judgment is, that if all the other doctrines of devils which have been committed to writing since letters were in the world were collected together in one volume, it would fall short of this; and that should a prince form himself by this book, so calmly recommending hypocrisy, treachery, lying, robbery, oppression, adultery, whoredom, and murder of all kinds, Domitian or Nero would be an angel of light compared to that man.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

JW has a Huge problem with his Testicles

Tues Jan 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 twelve-month 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 humours to the part. Wednesday, 5. I was as perfectly easy, as if no operation had been performed.

Monday, January 3, 2011

JW goes begging for the Poor

Tue 4 Jan 1785: At this season, we usually distribute coals and bread among the poor of the society. But I now considered they wanted clothes as well as food. So on this and the four following days, I walked through the town and begged two hundred pounds in order to clothe them that wanted it most. But it was hard work, as most of the streets were filled with melting snow which often lay ankle deep, so that my feet were steeped in snow-water nearly from morning till evening. I held it out pretty well till Saturday evening, but I was laid up with a violent flux which increased every hour, till at six in the morning Dr. Whitehead called upon me. His first draught made me quite easy, and three or four more perfected the cure. If he lives some years, I expect he will be one of the most eminent physicians in Europe.
I supposed my journeys this winter had been over; but I could not decline one more.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Covenant Services

Sun 2 Jan 1785: A larger number of people were present this evening at the renewal of our covenant with God than was ever seen before on the occasion.

Sun Jan 2 1780: We had the largest congregation at the renewal of our covenant with God which ever met upon the occasion. And we were thoroughly convinced, that God was not departed from us. He never will, unless we first depart from him.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Amen to this

Sat Jan 1 1785: Whether this be the last or no, may it be the best year of my life!