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Rev. Richard Green. 

From the Library of 

Professor W. H. Clawson 

Department of English 

University College 

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It is a coincidence that the last pages of this little 
book are penned on the eve of the gathering of a 
Methodist CEcumenical Conference at John Wesley's 
Chapel, in City Road, London, at which delegates are 
expected to be present from all quarters of the globe, 
who wUl represent more than twenty sections of 
Christians all claiming a near or remote relation to 
the original Methodist Society. Representatives of 
Churches are expected from Canada ; from the teeming 
cities of the United States of America ; from the West 
Indies ; from China and Japan ; from the colonies of 
Australia; from New Zealand, and the far-off Fijian 
group, and otlier islands of the seas; from Eastern, 
Southern, and Western Africa ; from Sweden, Ger- 
many, Italy, and France. 

From statistics carefully compiled, it appears tliat 
these Churches include 4,707,810 enrolled members, 


31,177 itinerant ministers, and more than 85,000 
local preachers; while the number of adherents is 
variously estimated at from 20,000,000 to 25,000,000. 
So gi'eat an aggregation of Churches gathered within 
so short a time under a common denomination, the 
result of the toil of so small a band of men, is 
a fact unparalleled in modern ecclesiastical history. 

It would be a very ungenerous view of this large 
representative assembly to regard it as a mere 
demonstration before the world. It is easy to see 
that it may contemplate practical objects which are 
of the utmost importance. Testifying to the existence 
of an essential unity, it may detect and remove 
needless differences, and promote a unity in action 
which may be mutually helpful to all. The great 
waste of labour arising from the overlapping of the 
areas of activity of the several Churches, especially 
in the foreign missions, may be averted by a wisely 
concerted distribution ; while to define more sharply 
the real and substantial unity of doctrine underlying 
all tlie varieties of outward form would, in itself, be 
of gi-eat practical value. But it is surely right to 
anticipate that by brotherly intercourse all may be 
stimulated to more energetic labour, with a view to 


exert an influence on the world commensurate wilh 
the special facilities afForded by so widely difTusod 
and so comprehensive an aggregation of Churches. 

The extension of Methodism from the little Oxford 
band of 1738, of which Wesley was the central figure, 
is a most illustrious example of the work which an 
individual life, fitted by due training, governed by 
great principles, and occupied in self-denying labours, 
may, with the divine blessing, accomplish for the 
benefit of mankind. Wesley's work is to be estimated 
by a comparison of the moral and social condition of 
this country in the earlier half of the last century with 
its condition in the latter half of this, and of the com- 
parative apathy which then marked all the Churclies 
contrasted with the wakeful activity and energy wliich 
now characterises them ; for to the labours of no 
single individual is the change traceable more than 
to those of John Wesley. 

This is not a liistory of Methodism, nor can it 
pretend to be an adequate biography of Wesley, Avhoso 
days were so crowded with ever- varying work that each 
had its own interesting incidents to record ; nor is it a 
philosophical treatment of Wesley's life and cha- 
racter. It has been written under the control of a 


belief that tlie greatness of Wesley's career and tho 
lofty nobleness of its aims would be best illustrated by 
a recital of its incidents : that the most effective way 
of setting forth the special characteristics of Wesley's 
work, within the limits at the writer's disposal, would 
be to present in detail such portions of it as might 
properly be taken as illustrations of the whole. 

B. Green. 


€i)t preparation— 1735. 


Introduction — Ancestry — Birth — Early Training — Escape from 
Fire — School-days — College life — Methodist — Character — 

On a day in eai-ly spring in the year 1876 a select 
company gathered in Westminster Abbey to witness 
the unveiling, by the late Dean Stanley, of another 
among the monuments that make the walls of that 
mausoleum of England's great dead eloquent pages of 
England's history. It was said that "millions" of people 
in different parts of the world were interested in the 
event. "When disclosed, the mural tablet, for such it 
was, bore within a sunken circle two medallion pro- 
files, and the simple inscription : — 


Bom June 17, 1703 ; died March 2, 1791. 


Bom December 18, 1707 ; died March 29, 1788. 

Ko words of eulogy are added to explain by what 
great deeds these men earned their title to this dis- 


tinction ; but a sculptured scene of historic interfst 
represents the elder brother preaching to a rustic 
congregation in Epworth churchynrd. Referring to 
this scene, the venerable Dean said : — " John Wesley 
is represented as preaching upon his father's tomb, 
and I have always thought that that is, as it were, a 
parable which represented his relation to our national 
institutions. He took his stand upon his fatlier's 
tomb — on the venerable and ancestral traditions of the 
country and the Church. That was the stand from 
which he addressed the world ; it was not from the 
points of disagreement, but from the points of agree- 
ment with them in the Christian religion that he pro- 
duced those great effects which have never since died 
out in English Christendom. It is because of his 
having been in that age, which I am inclined to think 
has been unduly disparaged, the reviver of religious 
fervour among our churches, that we all feel we owe 
to him a debt of gratitude, and that he deserves to 
have his monument placed among those of the bene- 
factors of England." 

Three simple sentences are engraved on the tablet : 
that beneath the sculj)tured scene, "I look upon all 
the world as my parish," indicates at once the secret 
spring of Wesley's widespread activity, the aim of 
his untiring exertions, and the avowed apology for 
an irregularity of labour that found its truest justifica- 
tion in its own fruits. The second sentence, ''The 
best of all is, God is with us," holds the truth that 
cheered him in his great toil, and was the utter 
ance of the calm moments of his closing hour ; while 


tlio third, " God buries his workmen, but carries on 
His work," was the jubihmt utterance of Charles, and 
finds its exposition in the "millions" interested in 
this incident. 

Men take their places amongst the great by merit 
of great deeds. What gave John Wesley his right to 
this distinction the following pages are int(nidcd 
briefly to tell. 

John Wesley was born at Epworth, Lincolnshire. 
on June 17th (o.s.), 1703, and a few hours after his 
birth was baptised by his father, the Rector of the 
parish, by the name of John Benjamin (so a family 
tradition runs), after two of his brothers who died in 
infancy. But the first name only was used. 

The pedigree of the Wesley family has been 
sedulously traced by Mr. G. J. Stevenson, IM.A., in his 
"Memorials of the Wesley Family," as far as Guy, 
a thane of Wilswe, Somerset, a.d. 9.'58. It will suffice 
for this record to name Bartholomew, son of Sir 
Herbert Wesley, of Westleigh, in Devonshire, and 
Elizabeth, liis wife, who was the daughter of Robert 
Wesley, of Dangan Castle, Ireland. Bartholomew 
Wesley (or Westley) was Vicar of Charmouth and 
Catherston, villages in Dorsetshire, from which cure 
he, being a Nonconformist, was driven immediately 
after the Restoration, when at tlie age of seventy yeai-s. 
Small of stature, he was dubbed "the puny pai-son." 
Tlie average height of the Wesleys was from five feet 
four inches to five feet six inches. John Wesley, 
Charles his brother, and Samuel their father, came 
witliin this range. The only child of Bartholomew 


Wesley and his wife, the daughter of Sir Ilem-y 
Colley, of Kildare, was John, " one of the most worthy 
of the Nonconformists." Serious from his vouth, he 
was distinguished at Oxford not only for his piety, 
but also for his learning. He is described as one of 
the most lofty characters of those remarkable times. 
He married a daughter of John White, some time 
chaii^man of the Assembly of Divines, an unbending 
Independent, who refused to read the Book of Common 
Prayer, and was, by the Act of Uniformity, deprived 
of his cure in 1662, and who, after much wandering, 
and after having been four times cast into prison, on 
account of his religious opinions, finally settled in 
Poole, where he ministered to a small church until 
his death, in the year 1678. 

Samuel, son of John Wesley, was born at Whit- 
church, in August, 1662, soon after his father's 
ejectment from that living, and was baj^tised there on 
December 1 7th of the same year. While he was at the 
Dorchester Free School his father died, and he was 
removed to a grammar school in London, and thence, 
by favour of some Dissenting friends, to Stepney 
Academy. Here he heard many of the leading Non- 
conformist ministers, Stephen Charnock frequently, 
and once "friend Bunyan." He is described as smart, 
clever, and self-reliant, and a dabbler in rhyme and 
faction. While preparing to answer some strictures 
against the Dissenters, his opinions underwent a 
change, and further inquiry led him to see things, as 
he says, " in another sort of light than he had seen 
them before." He broke his connection with the 


Dissenters, and joined the Established Church. With 
now scarce a friend, and with forty-five shillings as 
his entire property, he set out on foot for Oxford, 
where he entered himself as a servitor of Exeter College, 
and in due course took holy orders. After the 
Revolution, he wrote several political pieces in prose 
and verse, amongst them the first pamphlet that 
appeared in defence of the new Government, He filled 
a curacy in London for one year, and a chaplaincy in a 
man-of-war for another, when he commenced a poem 
on " The Life of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus 
Christ " — a work in folio, of nearly eleven thousand 
lines. Here was a root of poesy from which grew a 
very fruitful vine. 

During his I'esidence at Stepney House, Samuel 
Wesley was welcomed, with many other earnest young 
students and reverend and scholarly divines, to the 
home of Dr. Annesley — " Samuell, the sonne of John 
Anslye and Judith his wife " — probably of the parish 
of Haseley, in Warwickshire. 

Serious in youth beyond his years, Annesley had 
been a hard-working collegian, and much given to the 
study of Holy Scripture. The story is told how, 
on his entering his first parish (Cliflb, in Kent), his 
parishioners, accustomed to a jovial parson, received hiin 
with " spits, and stones, and forks." " Use me as you 
will," said tlie brave, good man, "I am resolved to 
continue with you until God has fitted you, by my 
ministiy, to entertain a better, who shall succeed me." 
In after years these same parishioners parted from 
him with many cries and tears, for his ministry had 

1 4 WESLEY. 

changed tlicir lieai'ts. He removed to London, where 
he was settled in the vicariate of Cripplegate, but 
shared the fate of the Nonconformists in 16G2. Of 
him it is said, " His personal appearance was noLle 
and commanding. ' Fine figure,' ' dignified mien,* 
' highly expressive and amiable countenance,' ax'e the 
phrases used by his contemporaries. Hardy in con- 
stitution, and almost insensible to cold, hat, gloves, 
and top-coat were no necessities to him, even in the 
depth of winter. The days of ' hoare frost' and chil- 
ling winds found him in his study at the top of the 
house, with open window and empty fire-grate. 
Temperate in all things, he needed no stimulants, and 
from his infancy hardly ever drank anything but 
water. He could endure any amount of active 
exercise and toil, preaching twice or thrice every day 
of the week without any sense of weariness." It is 
impossible not to think how many of these qualities 
his grandson, John Wesley, inherited, as these pages 
will show. 

Mrs. Annesley was the daughter of one John 
White, "a grave lawyer," a member of the Long 
Parliament, and of the Assembly of Divines, and a 
witness against Ai-chbishop Laud. Ho died in 1644, 
and was buried in the Temple Church, the Members 
of the House of Commons attcndino; his funeral. 
Mrs. Annesley was a woman of *' superior under- 
standing and earnest consistent piety." The careful 
biographer of her daughter Susanna, tlie mother of 
Wesley, suggests : — " Perhaps if we had the advan- 
ta;;e of cleaver light we should finrl that, unknown as 


is tlio mother of Susanna Weslov to the woihl, from 
her were inhei-ited those gi'and qualities of character 
so much admired in her daugliter ; and it might 
jiossibly be further revealed that the godly order of 
the family in the Epworth rectory was only a beautiful 
and blessed imitation of that which prevailed in the 
house of the Nonconformist minister under the care 
of Susanna Wesley's own mother." 

While Dr. Annesley was pastor of Little St. 
Helen's — probably while he lived in Spital Yard, 
Spital Squai'e, Bishopsgate Street, London — on the 
20th of January, 16G9, Susanna, the youngest 
daugliter of his many (" two dozen, or a quarter of 
a hundred") children, was born. In early life she 
heard learned doctors and divines discuss \vith her 
good father the high matters of the Church. Of her 
early history, who were her tutors, where she learned 
her principles of household and family management, 
no record tells, and we are left to the probable 
conjecture that one so excellent as a mother must 
have been indebted to a mother for her own training. 

She tells us she was early instructed in the first 
principles of the Christian religion. That she read 
largely is proved by her writings, and by her en- 
tanglement in the Socinian controversy, from the 
errors of which she is said to have been " first drawn 
off" by "the religious orthodox man," to whom she 
Avas afterwards married. Before she was " full 
thirteen " she had given some attention to the 
coiillict between the Dissenters and the Established 
Churcli, ai, \ in In r maidenhood changed her views, 


possibly to some extent influenced, if not "first 
dra^vn off," by the example of the same " religious 
orthodox man," who was then a frequent visitor at 
her father's house. 

Samuel Wesley, when a curate with £30 a year, 
renewed his acquaintance with his early friend Susanna. 
In 1689 they were married, he soon after receiving 
his first preferment to South Ormsby, Lincolnshire, 
through the influence of the Marquis of Normanby. 

Mr. Kirk, her painstaking biographer, describes 
the rectory as a miserable den, and the rector himself 
writes of it as " a mean cot, composed of reeds and 

Here, with .£50 a year to live upon, and one 
additional child per annum, the young coiiple passed 
an uncomplaining life, his busy pen and her frugal 
care helping them through their first years. About 
the close of 1696 he was removed to Epworth, also a 
Lincolnshire parish, of two thousand inhabitants, 
thenceforth to be lifted from its obscurity by the 
remarkable family now settled within it. 

The Epworth living, which provided £200 a year, 
was probably given to Samuel "Wesley, in accordance 
with the promise of Queen Mary, in return for the 
dedication to her of his great poem, and for literary 
services on the King's behalf. 

The parsonage is thus described : — " Five bales, 
built all of timber and plaister, and covered all with 
straw thache, the whole building being contrived into 
three stories, and disposed into seven cheife rooms, 
namely, a kitchinge, a hall, a parlour, a butterie, and 


three large upper rooms, besides some others of 
common use, and also a little garden impailed betweene 
the stone wall and the south." 

Thither moved Samuel Wesley, his wife Susanna, 
and their four children, to make it a home that should 
become notable among the many happy homes of our old 
land for all time. And there, in the year 1703, John, 
the fourth son, and tenth child of nineteen, was borii. 

Thus, from a pious, painstaking ancestry, amongst 
whom high principle, thorough culture, rigorous sub- 
mission to right and duty, love of King, of Church, 
and of country, were high traditional virtues, sprang 
England's gi-eat Evangelist — the man who was destined 
by Divine Providence to give an impulse to the 
religious convictions of his countrymen, to inaugurate 
a new period of Church activity, and to revive a 
religious earnestness which should throl) for genera- 
tions, and in its far-reaching charities and labours 
not only penetrate to the corners of his own land, 
but spread to the ends of the earth. Dr. Adam 
Clarke finds the specific, healthy, tliough slowly 
vegetatinij seeds of Methodism in the oritiinal members 
of the Wesley family ; and Isaac Taylor truly says, 
"The mother of the Weslcys was the mother of 

The circumstances of Wesley's early life were well 
fitted to combine with many other causes in favouring 
his preparation for his remarkable career. 

Some of John Wesley's featui-es are said to have 
been traceable in liis father; certainly some oi 
the elements of his son's character ilistiuguislKMl liim. 


That father was a diligent and not unsuccessful student, 
an able writer, who lacked neither profound learning 
nor poetic skill. He was fervently religious, laborious 
as a pastor of God's flock, diligently visiting his rude 
parishioners from house to house, fearlessly reproving 
their vices, and charitably hel])ing their needs. He 
had a Puritan sturdiness in maintaining his principles, 
and though not always prudent he was never insincere. 
His sparkling wit, liveliness of disposition, occasional 
sharpness of temper, allied to a touch of eccentricity, 
gave great interest to his character. He was vivacious 
in conversation, witty and instructive by turns, an 
active, earnest, energetic, multifarious man. He was 
not without his defects, those defects which place 
the inevitable stamp of imperfectness on all good 
genuine human work. Himself a sufferer in the 
school of adversity, he was a man of large sympathies, 
stretching even to foreign nations, by whose religious 
condition he was so deeply affected that he planned 
a mission to eiustern lands, and offered his own 
services in carrying it out, declaring it to be a 
work " it would be worth dying for to make some 
progress in." Though strict in domestic rule, he wap 
devDtedly loved by his wife and revered by his 
children. He was a cultured, earnest, laborious, 
Christian man, fearing God, honouring the King, and 
loving his neighbour. 

Such was John Wesley's father, whose portrait 
has been sketchfd with fervent admiration by the 
llev. Luke Tyerman, Wesley's most voluminous and 
interesting biographer. 


But what must be said of the beauty and. loving 
tender firmness of that sweet saint of Epwortli, his 
mother 1 So patient under lier many trials, so 
laborious and yet so serene, amidst the cares and 
multiplied duties of her household and the claims of 
her many childien. For real greatness and originality 
of character, Susanna Wesley must unquestionably 
take high rank, whilst her treatment of her children 
warrants her biographer in saying that " Her marvellous 
ability and success in their education and training 
have won for her a proud if not a pre-eminent 
position among the many illustrious mothers of the 
wise and good." 

John was a child of method from his birth; for by 
Mrs. Wesley infantile life was governed by rule — sleep, 
meals, and manners being all under control and 
subject to law, even fi-om earliest days. 

At the end of the tirst year of life, crying must be 
done by the children "softly." Their wills, as unruly 
by natui'e as those of Adam's other childi'en, were 
mastered at once, " the sooner the better." " I 
insist," she wrote, " upon conquering the will of 
children betimes, becausa this is the only strong and 
rational foundation of a religious education." Habits 
were formed, and only those which need not after- 
wards be broken. Every act of wilful disobedi- 
ence or wrong was strictly punished, save upon 
confession and promise of amendment ; and every 
act of obedience, " especially if it crossed the child's 
ov>'n inclination,' was commended and frccpiently 
rewai'ded. Her rule, one of absolute authority, was 


unquestioned ; yet it was not a reign of terror but of 

At five years of age, not before, the children began 
to learn to read. The day before tlie first lesson was 
given the house was set in order, and every one's work 
appointed, and a charge given that no one should 
intrude into the school-room during ths six school hours 
— from 9 to 12, from 2 to 5. One day only was the 
time allowed the child wherein to learn its letters, and 
each of them mastered the task in that time except 
two, who were a day and a half. The following day 
the Bible was opened, and the young scholar began at 
the first verse, spelling and reading it over and over 
again till it was mastered. School duties opened and 
closed with the singing of a psalm. All proceeded 
according to method. There were fixed times for fixed 
duties which nothing was permitted to disturb. The 
occupation of every child for every day came under 

Conduct towards othei's was carefully ordered, 
Eespectful treatment of each other and of servants 
was required. Moral obligations were taught ; fidelity 
in promises, strict and honoural)le regard of each 
other's possessions, even to the utmost trifle, enforced. 
Before their lips could declare it, they were taught by 
signs to recognise their food to be a gift from God. 
Becoming behaviour at family worship, with retire- 
ment for private prayer and reading, were inculcated. 

As they grew up, they were led to the study of the 
essentials of religion, and for their use their diligent 
mother prepared tliree treatises, "A Manual of NaturaJ 


Theolo,::;}','' "An I'^xpositiou of the Leading Trutlis of 
t!ie CJospel, based upon tlie Apostles' Creed," and " A 
Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments." 
These were made her text books. 

She who had learned in youthful days to school 
lierself into spending no more time in recreation 
than in private religious duties, would know how 
to be firm in tlie matter of diversion also. Here 
is one of her rules : — " Would you judge of the law- 
fulness or unlawfulness of pleasure, of the innocence 
or malignity of actions? Take this I'ule : whatever 
weakens your reason, impairs the t^mderness of your 
cqnscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes ott 
the relish of spiritual things ; in short, whatever 
increases the strength and authority of your body 
over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however 
innocent it may be in itself." 

But religious duties were further pressed home by 
private personal conversation, once a week, with each 
child in turn. " Jacky's " day was Thursday, of which 
long afterwards he wrote, " If you can spare me only 
that little part of Thursday evening which you 
formerly bestowed upon me in another manner, I 
doubt not it would be as useful now for coi rccting njy 
heart, as it was tlu^n for forming my judgment." 

Mrs. Wesley was almost their sole instructor until 
they left home; for this she had singular abilitii-s 
and endowments, and she made the training and 
culture of her children the supreme duty of her life. 
Tlius were these eliildrcn tiaiiicd in that Lincolnshire 
parsonage ; and when they left their home her letters, 


"such as probably no otlier mother ever wrote to her 
children," followed them, full of yearning love and 
desire for their spiritual welfare, rich in golden 
counsels, encouragements, warnings, appeals and 

It will thus be seen that, long before the name was 
given in derision, the Wesleys were in vigorous training 
as Methodists. 

The orderly course of this home was rudely dis- 
turbed on more than one occasion. One year a large 
part of the house was burnt down, and some of the 
family narrowly escaped destruction ; Mrs. Wesley her- 
self rushed through the flames, carrying two of the 
children in her arms. The following year fire consumed 
the crop of flax, and a few years later another dis- 
astrous fire occurred which entirely destroyed the 
rectory, and placed the lives of the family, especially 
that of John, in very great peril. The account, as 
recorded by Mis. Wesley, is as follows: — 

"On Wednesday night, Feb. 9, 1709, between the 
hours of eleven and twelve, some sparks fell from the 
roof of our house upon one of the children's (Hetty's) 
feet. She immediately ran to our chamber and called 
us. Mr. Wesley, hearing a cry of fire in the street, 
started up (as I was very ill, he lay in a separate 
roon- from me) and, opening his door, found the fire was 
in h s, own house. He immediately came to my room, 
and bade me and my two eldest daughters rise quickly 
and shift for ourselves. Then he ran and burst open 
the nursery door, and called to the maid to bring out 
the children. The two little ones lav in the bed with 


lior ; the three others in another bed. She snatched 
up the youngest, and bid the rest follow ; which the 
three elder did. When we were got into the hall, we 
were surrounded with flames, Mr. Wesley found he 
l;ad left the keys of the doors above-stairs. He ran 
up and recovered them, a minute before the stair-case 
took fii-e. When we opened the street door, the 
strona: northeast wind drove the flames in with such 
violence that none could stand against them. But 
some of our children got out through the windows, 
the rest through a little door into the garden. I was 
not in a condition to climb up to the windows; neither 
could I get to the gai-den door. I endeavoured three 
times to force my pa.ssage through the street door, but 
was as often beat back Ijy the fury of the flumes. In 
this distress, I besought our blessed Saviour for help, 
and then waded through the fire, naked as I was, 
which did me no farther harm a little scorching 
my hands and my face. When Mr, Wesley had seen the 
other children safe, he heaixl the child in the nursery 
cry. He attempted to go up the stairs, but they were 
all on fire, and would not bear his weight. Finding it 
impossible to give any help, he kneeled down in the 
hall, and recommended the soul of the child to God." 
Wesley himself, years afterwards, referring to the event, 
wrote : — "I believe it was just at that time I wakcsd ; 
for I did not cry, as tlujy imagined, unless it was after- 
wards. I remember all the circumstances as distinctly 
as though it were but yesterday. Seeing the room was 
light, I called to the maid to take me up. But none 
answering, I ]iut mv head out of the curtains and saw 

2 4 WESLEY. 

sti-eaks of fire on the top of the room. I got up aiiJ 
ran to the door, but could get no farther, all the floor 
beyond it being in a blaze. I then climbed up on a 
chest which stood near the window. One in the yard 
saw me, and proposed running to fetch a ladder. 
Another answered, 'There will not be time; but I 
have thought of another exi)edient. Here, I will fix 
myself against the wall ; lift a light man, and set him 
on my shoulders.' Tliey did so, and he took me out 
of the window. Just then the roof fell in ; but it fell 
inward, or we had all been crushed at once. When 
they brought me into the house where my father was, 
he cried out, ' Come, neighbours, let us kneel down. 
Let us give thanks to God. He has given me all my 
eight children. Let the house go; I am rich enough.'" 

The next day, as the rector was walking in the 
garden and surveying the ruins of the house, he picked 
up part of a leaf of his Polyglot Bible, on which just 
these words were legible : Vade ; vende omnia quce 
habes, et attolle crucevi, pA sequere me. " Go ; sell all 
that thou hast ; and take up thy cross, and follow 

This scene has been graphically represented in a 
cleverly conceived and well executed picture by Parker, 
j)ainted in commemoration of the centenary of Metho- 
dism. He has, however, unfortunately placed a view 
of the church in the background, although it could 
not under any circumstances be seen from that point 
of view ; hence the engraving is not popular in Ep- 

The poor rector lost his books and manuscripts, 


a con.skleralilf suiii of money, all the linen and wearing 
apparel and household stuff He and his wife were also 
scorched by the flames, and all naiTowly escaped with 
their lives. But for one sad result Mrs. Wesley 
mourned long. The children were for some time dis- 
l>ersed in different families, where they learned many 
rude ways, and lost much of the good effect of the 
early discipline. Forty years after, wlien Wesley was 
conducting a watch-night serviie, he suddenly remem- 
bered the event of the tire, and gave a short account 
of it, on which the congregation joined him in praise 
and thanksgiving. 

• A surprising incident in the history of the new 
rectory is the occurrence of a series of mysterious 
sounds of various kinds, heard at all hours of the day 
and night, through a couple of months. It is difficult 
at which to wonder the more, the strangeness of the 
sounds or the many attempted e.xjdanations of them. 
John was away at school in London at the time, but 
he heard accounts of the remarkable proceedings, 
which, being generally attributed to superhuman 
causes, produced a deep im])ression on his sensitive 
mind, so much so that to the end of his davs he 
believed them to have been due to causes other tliaii 

John was a thoughtful, reflective, studious youth, 
calm and self-possessed, unflinchingly conscientious, 
and much given to reasoning aljout things. "Child, 
you think to ca-ry everything by argument," said his 
father, on one occasion, "but you will lind how little 
is ever done in th.e world by cIojc reasoning." " 1 


profess, sweetheart," said he to his wife, " I think our 
Jack would not attend to the most pressing necessities 
of nature unless he could give a reason for it." But 
the good Rector had so high an opinion of his son's 
blamelessness and rectitude, the fruit of patient and 
thorough maternal training, that he admitted him to 
the sacrament of the Lord's Supper when he was only 
eight years of age. 

Between his eighth and ninth year he had an attack 
of small-pox, borne, as his mother writes, " like a 
man, and, indeed, like a Christian, without com- 

At ten and a half years of age he was admitted to 
the Charterhouse School, London, on the nomination 
of the Duke of Buckingham. Here he was subject to 
many hardships, if not cruelties ; the elder lads taking 
from him his share of meat ; so tiiat for a great part of 
the five years he was there he got little solid food 
except bread, " and not great plenty even of that." 
Towards the close of his term, his brother Samuel, 
then an usher in Westminster School, who seems 
to have directed and helped John, writes to his father, 
" My brother Jack, I can faithfully assure you, gives 
you no manner of discouragement from breeding your 
third son a scholar." And again, "Jack is with me, 
and a brave boy, learning Hebrew as fast as he 

His own judgment upon himself is thus I'ecorded : — 
" The next six or seven years were spent at school, 
where, outward restraints being removed, I was much 
more negligent than before, even of outward duties, 


and almost continually guilty of outward sins, which 
1 knew to be such, though they were not scandalous 
in the eyes of the world. However, I still read the 
Scriptures, and said my prayers morning and evening. 
And what I now hoped to be saved by was — 1. Not 
being so bad as other people. 2. Having still a 
kindness for religion. And 3. Reading the Bible, 
going to church, and saying my prayers." 

In the year 1720 he was elected to a studentship at 
Christ Church, Oxford, being about eighteen years of 
age. Very little is known of his early college life. He 
tells us he said his prayei-s, both in public and private, 
arid road the Scriptures and several books of religion, 
especially comments on the New Testament, and 
attended the Holy Communion, as he was bound to 
do, three times in the year. He also says he went on 
habitually, and for the most part contentedly, in some 
known sin or other— too indefinite a statement to 
afibrd mucli li'dit as to liis actual character. Tliat he 
studied closely, after-years proved ; that he struggled 
hard, with small means and not unfrequent debts, his 
father's letters tell too plainly. 

When about twenty-two years of age, he was 
pressed by his father to enter holy orders, but he 
declined. About this time a turn was given to his 
thoughts by reading Taylor's " Holy Living and 
Dying," and a book fell in his way to which he ever 
after acknowledged liimself to be deeply indebted — 
Thomas a Kempis' "On the Imitation of Christ." 
This book seems to liave tlirown him into alternate 
heats of anger at its strictness and comfort from its 


iiistiuotion. It was evidently a goad pricking his 
sensitive conscience. Meeting witli a religious friend, 
which he says he never had till now, he began to 
alter the whole form of his conversation, and to enter 
in earnest upon a religious life. An hour or two a day 
were set apart for religious retirement. He communi- 
cated every week. He watched against all sin, 
whether in word or deed, and began " to aim at and 
[)ray for inward holiness." So that now, doing so 
much and living so good a life, he doubted not but he 
was a good Christian. 

In 1725 he took Deacon's orders, and preached 
his first sermon atSouth Leigh, Oxford, on October 1 Gth. 
In the following year he was elected fellow of Lincoln, 
and on his removal to his new college he shook ofi' all 
his trilling acquaintance, applied himself yet more 
closely to study, watched against the least departure 
from right, and even began to urge others to lead a 
reliirious life. And now other books arrest his 
attention, particularly Law's " Christian Perfection " 
and " Serious Call," and they open to him a stricter 
way of life. "The light flowed in so mightily upon 
my soul," he writes, " that everything appeared in a 
new view. I cried to God for help, and resolved not 
to prolong the time of obeying Him as I had never 
done before." And again, " I was convinced more 
than ever of the impossibility of being half a Chi'istian, 
and determined to be all devoted to God — to give Him 
all my soul, my body, and my substance." He is now 
in the full swdng of hard work, declaring "' Leisure 
and 1 have taken leave of one another. I propose to 


be busy as long as I live, if my health is so long 
iudulged me " — a purpose he fully carried out. 

In February, 1727, he took his Master's degree, 
and in August of the same year became his father's 
curate, and so continued for two years, during which 
time he says he preached much, but saw no fruit of 
his labour. 

By invitation of the rector of his college he 
returned to Oxford and took pupils, and remained there 
for the six following years. " Sir," said one whom 
he had travelled several miles to see, '' Sir, you 
wish to serve God and to go to heaven ; remember 
you cannot serve Him alone ; you must therefore 
find companions or make them. The Bible knows 
nothing of solitaiy religion." Dr. A. Stevens says, 
"Wesley never forgot these words, which, perhaps, 
forecast the history of his life." 

A very important circumstance now occurred tluit 
greatly affected his future course. During his absence 
from Oxford in Lincolnshire, his brother Charles, 
who was an undergraduate at Christ Church, and 
who says he had lost his first year in diversions, 
but who afterwards gave himself to diligent study 
— and with diligence gradually came seriousness — 
had begun to attend tlie weekly sacrament, and 
had peisuaded first one and then another of the 
younger students to join him, and to observe the 
prescriljed viethod of study, from which sprang at 
least a great name. For their methodical life excited 
general observation, and a student happening to sny, 
^'Ilcre is a new set of MeUwdlsts sprung up" the 


quaint name stuck, and from that hour continued to 
designate the little band. 

Charles attributes the change that had come over 
him "to somebody's prayers — my mother's most 
likely." John liastened to join the little company, which 
now comprised the Wesloys, Mr. Morgan of Christ's, 
Cambridge, and Mr. Kirkham of Merton — a very 
small beginning of a great community. John Gambold 
joined the little band in 1730, Clayton, Ingham, and 
Broughton in 1732, Hervey in ir33, and Whitefield 
in 1735. In addition to paying a close attention to 
study, and other observances, they met on several 
evenings in the week to read books together, especially 
the Greek Testament. 

Wesley now began to observe the Wednesday and 
Friday fasts of the Church, tasting no food until three 
o'clock ; also to visit the poor and sick, and to do what 
other good he was able to do to the bodies and souls 
of all, denying himself all superfluities, and even some 
of the necessaries of life. He gave away money to the 
utmost of his ability. Having £30 a year, he lived on 
£28, and gave away £2. The next year, receiving 
£60, he still lived on £28 and gave away £32. The 
following year, out of £90, he gave away £62 ; and 
the next, £92 out of £120. We find that he now 
commenced to rise at four o'clock in the mornina;^a 
practice he continued for sixty years. He began also 
" not only to read but to study the Bible as the one, 
the only standard of truth, and the only model of pure 
religion." He was encouraged in his good work by 
the Bishop of the diocese, and by his father, who 


blessed God that He had given him " two sons at 
Oxford to whom lie had granted grace and courage 
to turn the war against the workl and the devil." 

Gambold says of Wesley at this time that he was 
always cheerful but never arrogant, by strict watch- 
fulness beating down his impetuosity until it became 
a child-like simplicity. His piety was nourished 
by continual conmiunion with God, for he thought 
prayer to be his greatest duty ; and often did Gambold 
see him " come out of his closet of devotion with a 
serenity of countenance that was next to shining." 

He thus writes himself : — "In this refined way of 
trusting to my own works and my own righteousness, 
I dragged on heavily, finding no comfort or help 
therein till the time of ray leaving England." He 
was in his own eyes a sinner ; in the eyes of others a 

Wesley was now an ascetic of the severest kind. 
He had schooled his body into unhesitating submission 
to the spirit. He had a noble aim before him, which 
achie\ed greatness in following years. 

In 1730 he accejDted a curacy near Oxford, which 
enabled him to keep a horse, and found him a s])here 
of usefulness. 

In the brothers began the practice, con- 
tinued through life, of conversing in Latin. Tliey 
walked to Epworth and back, reading as tliey 
walked. In the following year his father visited 
Oxford, and Avrote, " I am well paid both for the 
expense and labour Ijy the shining ])i(!ty of our 
two .sons;" and Wesley visited William Law in 


London, began to read the " Theologia Germanica," 
on wliich he afterwards wrote a sevei'e critique ; and 
in the same year was made a member of the Society 
for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge. 

In 1733 Wesley rode on horseback to Epworth 
to see his father, whose health was failing. In this 
journey he began the habit of reading on horse- 
back, which he continued for forty years, until his 
advanced years obliged him to travel in a carriage. 
His father, being in feeble health, urged him to 
try to secure the Epworth living. lie replied, with 
that consideration for his own spiritual interest which 
is so remarkable during his earlier life, " The 
question is not whether I could do more good to 
others there or here, but whether I could do more 
good to myself ; seeing wherever I can be most holy 
myself, there I can most promote holiness in 

In this year he issued his first publication, " Forms 
of Prayer," and walked, he says, 1,050 miles, and 
preached constantly on the Lord's day. In 1734 he 
was again urged to seek the Epworth living, but 
positively refused. His brother Samuel seems, how- 
ever, to have so influenced him that on his father's 
death he applied for it, but failed to secure it. 

Thus he continued until 1735, in which year he 
formed the acquaintance of George Whitefield. His 
father died in this same year, the Epworth home 
was broken up and the family dispersed, and he h'ft 
Oxford, and came +o London. 

So ends the earlier peiiod of Wesk^y's life — a 


period of preparation and training that helped much 
to fit him for the very extraordinary career that lay 
before him in the future. 


The Georgian Missioner — Labour — lietiirn — l!t[oravian8 — 

TiiK year 1735 was a most eventful one in Wesley's 
life ; not the least momentous event being his consent 
to go " as a missioner " to a small colony then recently 
established in Georgia, in the Southern States of 
America, composed mainly of released debtors from 
England, persecuted Protestants from Germany, some 
Scotch Highlanders, and a number of iMoravians. 
After consulting his brother Samuel, William Law, 
and his friends Clayton and Byroni, he nu'utioniHl the 
matter to his mother, whose reply, at once simple and 
noble, was, " Had I twenty sons, I should rejoice ir 
they were all so engaged, though I sliould never seo 
them more." 

In consenting to attempt the great work, he says, 
"My chief motive, to which all the rest an; suliordi- 
nate, is the hope of saving my own .soul. 1 hope to 
learn the true sense of the Gospel of ( by 
preaching it to the heathen." But another motive 
was added, " the hope of doing more good it 


He set sail Octouer 14th, in company with his 
brother Charles, Benjamin Ingham, James and 
Edward Oglethorpe, Charles Delamotte, and Daviil 
Nitschman, a Moravian Bishop. 

From the moment of stepping on board, his whole 
time was occupied according to strict rules. ]\Ir. 
Tyerman, quoting from Ingham's journal, gives the 
following rules observed by Wesley and his companions : 
— "From four in the morning till five, they employed 
in private prayer. From five to seven, they read the 
Bible together, carefully comparing what they read 
with the writings of the earliest ages. At seven, 
they breakfasted. At eight, the}' had public prayers 
and expounded the lesson. From nine to twelve, 
Wesley usually learned German, Delamotte studied 
Greek and navigation, Charles Wesley wrote sermons, 
and Ingham gave instruction to the twelve children 
on board. At twelve, they met together for mutual 
prayer, and to report progress. About one, they 
dined ; and from the time of dinner till four in the 
afternoon, they read or spoke to certain of the pas- 
sengers of whom they had respectively taken charge. 
At four, they had evening prayers, and either 
expounded the lesson, or catechised and instructed 
the children in the presence of the congregation. 
From five to six was again spent in private prayer 
From six to seven they read, each in his own cabin, 
to three diflerent detachments of the English pas- 
sengers, of whom about eighty were on board. At 
seven, Wesley joined the Moraviaris in their public 
service ; while Ingham read, between the decks, to as 


many as desired to hear. At eight, tlie four faithful 
friends met in private to exhort and instruct each 
other ; and, between nine and ten, tliey went to bed, 
without mats and blankets, where neither the roaring 
of the sea nor the rocking of the ship could rob them 
of refreshiua: rest." 

" Here," says Stevens, "was practical ' Methodism ' 
still struggling in its fornung process. It was Epworth 
Rectory and Susamia Wesley's discipline afloat on the 

Wesley read through the Old Testament in com- 
pany with his friend Ingham ; he commenced to preach 
without notes ; began the study of German, that he 
might converse with his fellow-passengers ; and, in 
the hope of thereby pi-omoting his own piety, lie 
began to use a vegetable diet. 

During the voyage he was much struck by the 
demeanour of the Moravians, especially by the contrast 
between their calm behaviour in a dangerous storm 
and the excitement of the English — an incident of no 
trifling importance in his life, as it tended to direct liis 
attention to those who were to be his great instructors. 
Arrived at Savannah, he established three services 
on the Sabbath, communion weekly and on the 
holidays, according to Church rules, and daily prayers 
morning and evening. He founded a religious 
society with three meetings in the week ; he visited 
liis pari.sliioners from house to house, and to meet the 
case of some Spanish Jews whom he found in liis 
parish, he learned the Spanish language. 

For a time he exchanged work witli Charles ut 


Frederica, where he expounded the Scriptures to the 
Germans in his brother's house. Charles, after a stay 
of five months, returned to Engk\nd ; but John con- 
tinued his labours for a little over two years. Here he 
published a collection of hymns ; and here his ascetic 
practices and high Church principles were developed 
to their utmost extent, giving some occasion for his 
troubles, and the comparative failure of his mission. 

After many trials and perplexities, partly the 
effect of his faithful, though rigid, ministry, and 
partly, perhaps, the result of his own imprudence and 
error, he found it needful to return to England. He 
reached London February 3rd, 1738, and thus his brief 
missionary career came to an end. The effect of the 
experience thus acquired on himself is thus told in his 
own words : — 

" Many reasons I have to bless God, though the 
design I went upon did not take effect, for my having 
been carried into that strange land, contrary to all my 
preceding resolutions. I trust He hath in some 
measure humbled me and proved me, and shown me 
what was in my heart. Hereby I have been taught 
to 'beware of men.' Hereby I am come to know 
assuredly that if in all our ways we acknowledge 
God, He will, where reason fails, direct our path, by 
lot or by the other means which he knoweth. Hereby 
I am delivered from the fear of the sea, which I had 
both dreaded and abhorred from my youth. Hereby 
God has given me to know many of his servants, 
particularly those of the Church of Herrnhut. Hereby 
my passage is opened to the writings of holy men in 


tlie German, Spanish, and Italian tongues. I ho])e, 
too, some good may come to otliers liereby. All in 
Georgia have heard the word of God. Some have 
believed and begun to run well. A few steps have 
been taken towards publishing the glad tidmgs both 
to the African and American heathens. IMany chil- 
dren have learned ' how they ought to serve God,' 
and to be useful to their neighbour ; and those Avhorn 
it most concerns have an opportunity of knowing 
the true state of their infant colony, and laying a 
firmer foundation of peace and haj)piness to many 

His one chief regret was that he was not permitted 
to go as a missionary among the Indians. 

His friend Whitefield bears this testimony : — 
" The good Mr. John Wesley has done in America is 
inexpressible. His name is very precious among the 
people, and he has laid a foundation that I hope 
neither men nor devils will ever be able to shake." 

Yet the mission to Georgia can hardly be judged 
other than a failure. But by Wesley's failure in 
Georgia, God wrought mercy for England. America 
had to make its sacrifice for a time, that it might 
be repaiil a thousand-fold. He who with prescient 
eye saw the great American nations of the future, 
stayed the uninstructed Wesley, drew him l)ack 
to his own country, and led him to the knowledge 
of the Gospel, joining him by Moravian band-s 
to Luther and the givat llrfonners, and so to the 
early and universal Church. Tiie Wcslcys wilhont 
the clear Gospel light were not cij^ual to Uoarduiau 


and Pilmoor witli it. Saul of Tarsus wrought in all 
fidelity to do God service ; but after it pleased God to 
reveal His Son in him, the great apostln preached a 
Gospel he had not known before. 

Wesley says: — "From the year 1725 to 1729 I 
preached much, but saw no fruit of my labour. Indeed, 
it could not be that I should ; for I neither laid the 
foundation of repentance nor of preaching the Gospel, 
taking it for granted that all to whom I preached 
were believers, and that many of them needed no 
repentance. From the year 1729 to 1734, laying a 
deeper foundation of repentance, I saw a little fruit ; 
but it was only a little, and no wonder, for I did not 
preach faith in the blood of tlie covenant." 

Wesley's mission had its great service in its effect 
upon himself. It was the Lord's doing. 


Peter Bolder— Spiritual Conflict— Charles Wesley— "Conversion" 
—New life — Ketirement to Germany. 

Shortly after his arrival in England Mr. Wesley 
met Peter Bohler, an immediate result of his acquaint- 
ance with Germans and the German language. He 
marked the day as one " much to be remembered." 
Indeed it was. Peter Bohler was destined to lead 
John Wesley to the knowledge of a great truth, 
a truth that many of the best writers of the Church of 


England had both witnessed and illustrated, but the 
meaning of which had never yet dawned on Wesley's 
mind — the doctrine of a coiiscioris salvation through 
faith alone. This was the truth pre-eminently to 
which Wesley was aftei-wards to bear his witness in 
the three kingdoms ; this the Evangel it was to be his 
honour to proclaim as no other man had ever done. 
This more than any was the truth by which an 
enfeebled Church was to be revived, by which a holy, 
hapi)y people was to be raised within it and spread 
beyond it. This truth underlies the whole system of 
Methodism at this day, and is now acknowledged not 
by a few saintly spirits dwelling apart, but is a 
conmion experience in the Churches in all quarters 
of the globe. Methodists of all shades of opinion 
regard this truth as a sacred deposit ; it is the spring of 
Methodism's ever-new life, of its wide-spread activity, 
its large and extended charities. Peter Biihler li'dited 
a candle in these islands which by God's good pro- 
vidence was destined to shine in all lands. Dr. Uigg 
says truly : — " What Philip was to the Ethiopian 
eunuch, what Peter was to Cornelius, Biihler was to 
become to Wesley." 

Wesley travelled to Oxford with Bcililci', and had 
much conversation with him, but confessed he under- 
stood him not. 

We find him putting himself under more rigorous 
discipline, and binding himself by strong resolutions 
to use absolute oj) and unreserve with all with 
whom he should converse : to labour after continual 
seriousness, not willingly indulging in the least levity 


of behaviour, or in lauglitt-r — no, not for a moniont : 
to speak no word and to take no pleasure that tended 
not to the glory of God : in particular, not to talk of 
Avorldly things. " Others may " he says, " nay, must; 
hut what is that to thee?" He thanked God every 
moment for everything he enjoyed, and thei-eforo 
rejected every sort and degree of pleasure for which 
he felt he could not so thank Him. 

The following entries in his journal have their 
deep interest : — " Saturday, 4th March. I found my 
brother at Oxford, recovering from his pleurisy, and 
with him Peter Bijhler, by whom (in the hand of the 
great God) I was, on Sunday the .5th, clearly con- 
vinced of unbelief, of the want of that faith whereby 
alone we are sav^ed. (In revising his journal some 
time after, he added the note, " with the full Christian 
salvation.") Immediately it struck into my mind, 
' Leave off preaching. How can you pieach to others 
who have not faith yourself 1 ' " He appealed to 
Bolder, who replied, "By no means." Wesley asked, 
" But what can I pi-each 1 " He said, " ' Preach faith 
till you have it ; and then because you have it you 
will preach it.' Accordingly," he adds, " I began 
preaching this new doctrine, though my soul stai'ted 
back from the work." But that soul was suljject to 
law ; and what was held to be duty must be done. 
Wesley therefore begins to preach the doctrine that to 
him was new. " The first ])erson to whom I offered 
salvation by faith alone was a i)risoner under sentence 
of death." Supreme moment in the history both of 
the preacher and the hearer ! 


At this time we find liim very dilii^ent in the prac- 
tice, continued to the end of life, of pi-essini; home 
religion on all those who crossed his path, not only from 
the pulpit, but in meetings of friend?, by the highway, 
in the house, the coach, the inn. " At an odd house " 
he finds several well-wishers to religion, to whom lie 
S])eaks " plainly," as again in the evening both to the 
servants and strangers at the inn. After supper, at 
another inn, during a journey to Manchester, he read 
prayers and expounded the second lesson. The follow- 
ing day, at Birmingham, he was reproved by his 
conscience for negligence in allowing those who 
attended him and his companion to go without 
exhortation or instruction. But afterwards they were 
more faithful, and all who heard seemed serious and 
affected. Jn the evening, at Staflbrd, the mistress of 
the house joined them at family prayer, and the next 
morning one of the servants appeared deeply atrected, 
as did the ostler; and after breakfast, stepping into 
the stable, he spoke a few words to those who were 
there. Thus he began to do on a small scale wlnit 
afterwards it was his life's greatest joy to do on the 
widest scale. 

It is worthy of notice how iutiinately personal 
religious interests are interwoven with the great 
evangelistic toils of Wesley. Duty and personal 
happiness mingle in the earlier motives. His first 
great impulse was to save his own soul. But tiiis 
was no mere selfish aim. That is selfish which seeks 
its own at the cost of another ; but liere the thought 
of self became tlie .stimulus of a pure bencvuleuco. 


A personal apprehension of the supreme importance 
of one's own salvation is the measure of one's 
apprehension of its importance to others. If the 
former be dim, the latter will be. No man can be 
a great religious reformer who is indifferent to his 
own religious state. Augustine, Loyola, Luther, St. 
Paul himself, declare the truth of this ; and so do 
Wesley's great contemporaries, Whitefield, Charles 
Wesley and Fletcher of Madeley ; and so, in their 
measure, do ten thousand others. 

More and more amazed by what Bohler told him 
of the holiness and happiness of those who had living 
faith, he began again the close study of the New Testa- 
ment, resolved to abide by the law and the testimony, 
being confident he would hereby be led to know if 
this doctrine were of God. 

On the 1st of April, whilst at j\Ir. Fox's society, in 
Oxford, his heart was so full when at prayer that he 
could not confine himself to the forms generally used, 
and he burst forth in extempore prayer ; and at the 
time resolved to be confined to forms no more, but to 
pray " indifferently, with form or without," as occasion 
might require. On tlie following day he preached in 
Lincoln College, at the Castle, and at Carfax ; and 
wrote, "I see the promise, but it is afar off." Believ- 
ing it would be better to wait for the accom- 
plishment of it in silence and retirement, he spent 
a fortnight in Dummer, in Hampsliire, and then 
returned to London. 

Bohler now so far convinces him that he writes : — 
" I had now no objection to what lie said of the 


nature of faith — namely, that it is (to use the words of 
our church) ' a sure trust and confidence which a man 
Lath in God, that through the merits of Christ his 
sins are forgiven, and he reconcikxl to the favour of 
God.' Neither could I deny either the happiness or 
holiness which he described as fruits of this living 
faith. ' The Spirit itself bearcth witness with our 
spirits that we are the children of God,' and, ' He 
that believeth hath the witnesa in himself,' fully con- 
vinced me of the former ; as ' Whosoever is born of 
God doth not commit sin,' and ' Whosoever believeth 
is born of God,' did of the latter." 

■ But he is staggered when Bolder speaks of an 
histantaneous work — how this faith could be given in 
a moment ; how a man could at once be thus turned 
from darkness to light, from sin and misery, to 
righteousness and joy in the Holy Ghost. Again he 
searched the Scriptures, when, to his utter astonish- 
ment, he scarce found any instances thei"e of other than 
instantaneous conversions. Thus God wrought in the 
first ages, thought he ; but the times are now changed. 
Out of this retreat, however, he was beaten by the 
concurring evidence of several witnesses. Here his 
disputing failed him, and he cried, " Lord, help Thou 
my unbelief." 

We now have the picture of Biihler walking with 
him a few miles, on his way to O.vford again, and 
exhorting him not to stop .short of the grace of (iod. 
Presently we find him, acting on Buhler's advice, 
declaring the truth as it is in Jesus to all who come 
in his way. In consequence of Charles' illness, he 


hastened aj^ain to London, to find his brother better as 
to his health, but strongly adverse to what he called 
"the new faith." 

In the evening of May the 1st, 1738, the little 
society that afterwards met in Fetter Lane was founded. 
Two days afterwards, Charles had a long and particular 
conversation with Peter Bohler, and "it now pleased 
God to open his eyes, so that he also saw clearly what 
was the nature of that one true living faith, whereby 
alone, 'through grace, we are saved.' " 

On the following day, Bohler left London for 
Carolina, and Wesley significantly writes : " O, what 
a work hath God begun since his coming into Eng- 
land ! Such an one as shall never come to an end 
till heaven and earth pass away." His prophecy has 
since been verified. 

Wesley now boldly preaches " the new doctrine " in 
the churches of London, first at St. Lawrence, and St. 
Catherine Cree, from which henceforth he is excluded, 
then at Great St. Helen's, and afterwards at St. Ann's, 
Aldersgate, Avith like consequence. On Whit Sunday 
he was at Wapping, and St. Bennet's, Paul's Wharf, 
and on the same day he heard Dr. Heylin jireach "a 
truly Christian sermon, on ' They were all filled with 
the Holy Ghost ' (and so, said he, may all you be, if 
it is not your own faults)," and, after assisting at the 
Communion, he received the surprising news that his 
brother had found rest to his soul. " Rest to his 
soul ;" this is the true exj^ression. Charles entered it 
in his journal, "The Day of Pentecost." 

This was that Charles who, but a few montha 


before, when Peter Bohler asked him, " Do yon hope 
to be saved?" replied " Yes." " For what reason do 
you hope it 1 " " B(;cause I have used my best endea- 
vours to serve God," He adds : " He shook his head, 
and said no more. I thouglit him very uncharitable, 
saying in my heart, ' What, are not my endeavours a 
sufficient ground of hope ? Would he rob me of my 
endeavoui'S ] I have nothing else to trust to.' " Had 
not this been the Wesleys' trust all along ] But, by 
gentle teaching from Bohler and others, amongst them 
Mr. Bray, a braziei-, with whom he then lodged in Little 
Britain, " a poor, ignorant mechanic, who knows 
nothing but Christ, yet, by knowing Him, knows and 
discerns all things," he is led first to " a faint longing 
for faith," tlien to spend his "whole time in dis- 
coursing on faith, either with those that had it or 
those that sought it, in reading the Scriptures, and in 
prayer." And a few days later, after spending some 
hours in examining the arguments of Luther, who, he 
Siiys, was greatly blessed to him, he " laboured, waited, 
and prayed to feel ' who loved me, and gave himself for 
vie,' " (this personal appropriating act of fiiith being 
evidently the difficulty with both the brotliers), and 
finally Avrote, " Still I felt a violent opj^iosition and 
reluctance to believe ; yet still the Spirit of God strove 
with my own and the evil spirit, till by degrees he chased 
away tlie darkness of my unbelief. 1 found myself 
convincoil, I knew not liow, nor when, and iiniiie- 
diately fell to intercession." The final nicord of the 
day — this was the Day of Pentecost — is : " I now 
found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in h(,po 


of loving Christ. My temper for the rest of the clay 
was mistrust of my own great, but before unknown, 
weakness. I saw that by faith I stood ; by the con- 
tinual support of faith, which kept me from falling, 
though of myself I am ever sinking into sin. I 
went to bed still sensible of my own weakness (I 
humbly hope to be more and more so), yet confident 
of Christ's protection." 

No fact in Wesley's life is of equal interest and 
importance with the inward struggle through which 
he had long been and was still passing ; without 
carefully considering it the riddle of his life must 
remain unsolved. His own words convey the clearest 
account of it. Referring to his life on shipboard, 
he says: — "I was again active in outward works; 
when it pleased Ciod, of His great mei'cy, to give 
me twenty-six of the Moravian brethren for com- 
panions, who endeavoured to show me 'a more ex- 
cellent way.' But I understood it not at first, I was 
too learned and too wise. So that it seemed foolish- 
ness nnto me. And I continued preaching, and follow- 
ing after, and trusting in, that righteousness whereby 
no flesh can be justified. All the time I was at 
Savannah I was thus beating the air. Being ignorant 
of the righteousness of Christ, which, by a living faith 
in Him, bringeth salvation ' to every one that 
believeth,' I sought to establish my own righteousness; 
and so laboured in the fire all my days." He describes 
his state as a vile, abject state of bondage to sin, in 
which he was fighting continually but not conqueiing. 
" Pufore, I had willingly served sin, now it was unwil- 


liiiijly ; but still I serve I it. I fell and rose, and fell 
again. Sometimes I was overcome, and was in heavi- 
ness ; sometimes I overcame, and was in joy. For as 
ill tlie former state I had some foretastes of the terrors 
of the law, so had I in this of the comforts of the 

Thus was Wesley tossed as in a storm by inward 
contlict for ten long years. He sought peacefulness, 
rest, and satisfaction. He sought it by endeavouring 
to bring his life up to a very lofty ideal. In the judg- 
ment of most observers he had truly attained it ; but he 
had no such conviction. The id<?al which he proposed 
to himself seemed only to receile from him as he ad- 
vanced towards it. It was a very noble, a truly heroic 
struggle : one of those struggles which, though often 
at rare intervals, occur in the life of every good 
mm — in which men striving apparently in their 
own interest are really strising in the interests of 
their race. Well was it for multitudes that he did not 
weary in this strife. The wrestling continued through 
a Ions nifjht, but the mornins; at length dawned. The 
final scene is best depicted in his own words, which 
are therefore given here : — 

" In my return to England, January, 173S, being in 
imminent danger of death, and very uneasy on that 
account, I was strongly convinced that the cause of that 
uneasiness was unbelief; and that the gaining a true, 
living faith was the 'one thing ni-cdf id' for nie. But still 
I fixed not this faith on its right ol)ject : I meant only 
faith in God, not faith in or through Again 
1 knew not that I was wholly void of this faith ; liut 


only tliouglit I had not enough of it. So that when 
Peter Bohler, whom God pre])ared for me as soon as I 
came to London, affirmed of true faith in Christ 
(which is but one), that it had those two fruits 
insepai'ably attending it, ' dominion over sin, and 
constant peace from a sense of forgiveness,' I was quite 
amazed, and looked upon it as a new Gospel. If this 
was so, it was clear I had not faith. But I was not 
willing to be convinced of this. Therefore, I disputed 
with all my might, and laboured to prove that ftdth 
might be where these were not ; especially where the 
sense of forgiveness was not. For all the Scriptures 
relating to this I had been long since taught to con- 
strue away ; and to call all Presbyterians who spoke 
otherwise. Besides, I well saw no one could, in the 
nature of things, have such a sense of forgiveness and 
not feel it. But I felt it not. If, then, there was no 
fjiith without this, all my pretensions to faith dropped 
at once. 

" When I met Peter Biihler again, he consented to 
put the dispute upon the issue which I desired — 
namely, Scri})ture and experience. I first consulted 
the Scripture. But when I set aside the glosses of 
men, and simply considered the words of God, com- 
paring them together, endeavouring to illustrate the 
obscure by the plainer passages, I fovmd they all 
made against me, and was forced to retreat to my last 
hold — ' that experience would never agree with the 
literal interpretation of those Scriptures. Nor could 
I, therefore, allow it to be true, till I found some 
living witnesses of it.' lie replied, he could show me 


such at any time; if I desired it, the next day. And, 
accordingly, the next day he came again with three 
others, all of whom testified, of their own personal 
experience, that a true, living faith in Christ is 
inseparable from a sense of pardon for all past, and 
freedom from all present, sins. They added, with one 
mouth, that this faith was the gift, the free gift of 
God ; and that He would surely bestow it upon every 
soul who earnestly and perseveringly sought it. I was 
now thoroughly convinced ; and by the grace of God, 
I resolved to seek it unto the end. Fh-st, by abso- 
lutely renouncing all dependence, in whole or in part, 
'jpon my oivn works or righteousness, on which I had 
really grounded my hope of salvation, though I knew 
it not, from my youth up. Second, by adding to 
the constant use of all the other means of grace a con- 
tinual prayer for this very thing, justifying, saving 
faith, a full reliance on the blood of Christ shed for 
me; a trust in Him, as viy Christ, as vnj sole justifi- 
cation, sanctilication, and redemption. 

" I continued then to seek it (though with strange 
indifference, dulncss, and coldness, and unusually 
frerpient relapses into sin) till Wednesilay, May 24th. 
I think it was about five this morning that I opened 
my Testament on those words, ' There are given unto 
us exceeding great and precious promises, even that ye 
should be partakei's of the divine nature ' (2 Peter, 
L 4). Just as I went out, 1 opened it again on those 
words, ' Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.' 
In the afternocni I was asked to go to St. Paul's. The 
anthem was, 'Out of the deep have 1 called unto Thee, 


O Lord : Lord, hear my voice. O let Tliiiie ears con- 
sider well the voice of my complaint. If Thou, Lord, 
wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, 
who may abide it 1 For there is mercy with Thee ; 
therefore shalt Thou be feared. O Israel, trust in the 
Lord : for with the Lord there is mercy, and with 
Him is plenteous redemption. And He shall redeem 
Israel from all his sins.' 

"In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society 
in Aldersgate Street, where one was leading Luther's 
preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a 
quarter before nine, while he was describing the 
change which God works in the heart through faith in 
Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I 
did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation ; and an 
assurance was given me that He had taken away mij 
sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and 

He adds : — " I began to pray with all my might for 
those who had in a more especial manner despitefully 
used me and persecuted me. I then testified openly 
to all there what I now first felt in my heart." 

Under the date, May 24-th, Charles writes : — 
" Towards ten my brother was brought in triumph by 
a troop of friends, and declared, 'I believe.' We sang 
the hymn with great joy, and parted with prayer." 

Then began the brightness of day to which, through 
morning mist and gloom, Wesley had so long and 
so patiently struggled. In order to be a prince, to 
have power with God and to prevail, he, like another 
prince, must needs wrestle with the angel. On 


that struggle and triumph depended the moral con- 
dition of following generations. Great principles, 
which in their wide-spread influence are destined to 
afiect the lives of many, are not unfrequently first 
tested and exemplified within the sphere of some 
individual life. So has it been in all ages ; so was 
it here. 

Wesley called this his "conversion." So be it. 
It matters little what others call it. Certain it is the 
Mhole complexion of his life was changed from that 
hour. He had new views of Christ, and of human 
righteousness, and the way to its attainment ; and he 
had a new "experience" such as, in his own judgment, 
marked this to the end of his days as the beginning 
of a new era in his life. 

It is needful to discriminate between his general 
character and habits and this one incident. It did 
not destroy them, but it suffused them with a new 
force. His mind found rest — peace. Through all the 
laborious servitude of the past there was only 
occasional light, an imperfect satisfaction, a fluctu- 
ating peace, very diflerent from that lie now had. 
Without abating a jot of the earnest, active 
obedience, self-denial, and renunciation of evil which 
had marked his course hitherto, all is now done in 
the light. He is a happy man. " An assurance 
was given me that He had taken away 7ny sins, even 
mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death." 

Wesley now enters on a new phase in his life. 
He is new born. He walks as a little child. He is 
very tender and sensitive. He watches his state of 


mind with great carefulness, and we find entries in his 
journal such as the following: — "My soul continued 
in peace, but yet in heaviness because of manifold 
temptations. I asked Mr. Telchig, the Moravian, 
what to do. He said, ' You must not fight with them 
as you did before, but flee from them the moment 
they appear, and take shelter in the wounds of Jesus.' 
The same I learned also from the afternoon anthem, 
which ^\ as ' My soul truly waiteth still ujDon God : 
for of 11 im cometh my silvation.'" Sat., 27th. — Believ- 
ing that one reason of his want of joy was Avant of time 
for })rayer, he resolved to do nothing till he had been 
to church in the morning, but to continue pouring out 
his heart to God. " This day my spiiit was enlarged ; 
so that though I was now also assaulted by many 
temptations, I was more than conquei'or, gaining 
more jjower thereby to trust and to rejoice in God my 
Saviour." " Sunday, 28th. — I waked in peace but not 
in joy. In the same even, quiet state I was till 
the evening." " Sunday, June 4th, was indeed a feast 
day ; for from the time of my rising till past one in 
the afternoon I was praying, reading the Scriptures, 
singing praise, or calling sinners to repentance. All 
these days I scarce remember to have opened the 
Testament but upon some great and precious promise ; 
and I saw more than ever that the Gospel is in truth 
but one great promise, from the beginning of it to the 
end." "Tues., 6th. — I had still more comfort and peace 
and joy. After some hours spent in the Scripture 
and prayer, I was much comforted." 

Thus, for a fortnight, all the entries in his journal 


relate to himself — his state of feeling. He then 
determines to retire for a short time into Germany, in 
the hope that conversing with tlie godly Moravians, 
whom he held in such reverence, would be a means of 
establishing him in the faith. Henceforth he is more 
strict in his living; he is severe, severe as the most 
saintly prior of any monkish order. But it is in no 
sense to obtain the forgiveness of past sin, or to deserve 
for himself a standing in righteousness, but as the fruit 
of it. Before, to use his own simile, he had the faith 
of a servant., now of a son. 

From this time these references to his inward 
feelings cease ; he gets away from self, and seldom 
afterwards makes any reference to his own religious 
state. His journey to Herrnhut occupied him three 
months. When there, he studied most minutely the 
habits, lives, history, services, and discipline of the 
Moravian Church. This visit, made at a time when 
his heart was most plastic and sensitive, had a very 
important bearing on his future life and work. 


^\)t Moiit* 


FirstEfforts— 1739— Bristol— Field-preaching— Effects— IMoorfields 
—The Church— His Work a Unit— Wales Visited— The London 
Society formed— First Lay Preachers — Moravian Mystics. 

Wesley returned from Herrnhut on Saturday, 
September 16th, 1738, replenished with every gift 
necessary to prepare him for the great work he was 
called to perform, and with a bounding earnestness 
he instantly entered upon his labour. The entry in his 
journal for the following day is, " I began again to 
declare in my own country the glad tidings of salvation, 
preaching three times and afterwards expounding the 
Holy Gospel to a large company in the Minories." 
The day following he met the little Society in Fetter 
Lane, which now numbered thirty-two persons. The 
next day he went to the condemned felons in Newgate, 
"and offered them free salvation," testing his new 
Christian doctrine and experience ; and in the evening 
to a Society in Bear Yard, and preached repentance and 
remission of sins. The next evening he " spoke the 
truth in love at Aldersgate Street. Some contradicted 
at first, but not long ; so that nothing but love appeared 
at our parting." Again he preached to a Society in 


Fetter Lane; then declared the niiglity work of God 
with all simplicity at the Savoy; but finding 
abundance of people greatly exasperated by gross 
misrepresentations of the words he had spoken, he 
went to as many of them in private as his time would 
permit. Then he spoke "strong words," both at 
Newgate and at one of the Societies, and the next day 
at St. Anne's, and twice at St. John's, Clerkenwell ; 
shrewdly conjecturing they would bear with him no 
longer. Then he preached to a small company at 
Windsor, and so on, preaching in churches, expound- 
ing in Societies, explaining to individuals, until 
Optober 9th, when he set out for Oxford and Bristol, 
X'eading as he walked "tlie truly surprising account 
of the conversions lately wrought in and around 
Northampton, in New England." 

He reached Bristol on Saturday, the 14th of October, 
and on the following day preached twice at the Castle, 
and afterwards expounded at three Societies. On Wed- 
nesday he came to London again, and on Friday met a 
Society (of soldiei's chiefly) at Westminster. He 
spent three weeks in preaching in such churches as 
were open to him, in visiting and expounding at the 
several Societies, and in ministering to the felons. 
He then returned again to Oxford, and began most 
searchiugly to inquire into the doctrine of the Church 
of England " concerning the much controverted point 
of justification by faitli ; " and the sura of what lio 
found in the Homilies he extracted and printed for 
the use of others — one of the most useful of his publi- 
cations. He continued his work of preaching and 


expounding, visiting the jails and worUionses, imtil, 
bearing Mr. Whitelield had arrived from Georgia, lie 
hastened to London, and, on the morrow, God per- 
mitted them "to have sweet counsel together." 

Towards the close of the year he preached at St. 
Swithin's "for the last time," at Great St. Bartholo- 
mew's, and at Islington, where they " had the blessed 
Sacrament every day through the week," to their great 
comfort. About this time he preached his first extem- 
pore sermon in All Hallows Church, Lombard Street, 
having forgotten his manuscrij^t, and being encouraged 
by a woman who was among the congregation. He 
never afterwards took a written sermon into the pulpit. 

On the morning of the last day of this eventful year, 
he preached " to many thousands in St. George's, 
Spital fields, and to a yet more crowded congregation 
at AVhitechapel in the afternoon." 

A very remarkable service opens the year 1739, the 
year of the highest interest in Wesley's great mission. 
Messrs. Hall, Kinchin, Ingham, Whitefield, Hutchins, 
Wesley, and his brother Charles, with about sixty 
others, Avere present at a love-feast* in Fetter Lane. 
The service lasted until three in the morning, when, 
lie says, "As we were continuing instant in praj^er, 
the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch 
that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell 
to the ground. As soon as we were recovered a little 
from that aAve and amazement at the presence of His 
Majesty, we broke out in one voice, 'We praise Thee, 

* A social service held by the Moravians in imitation "of the 
affapoe of the early Church. 


O God ; we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.' " It 
was altogetliei- a touching and impressive scene. 
Little did they know what that year was to bring 
forth. On the 5th of this month some seven clergy- 
men, "despised Methodists," met at Islington. They 
continned in fasting and prayer until three o'clock, 
& parating " with a full conviction that God was about 
to do great things " among them. 

So began the year for which all the preceding 
years in Wesley's life had been preparatory : the year 
in which his great work was to enter upon its widest 
and most important phase ; the year in which, led by 
his friend Whitefield, he would make his boldest 
innovations on the custom of his Church ; the year 
from which must be dated the spiritual revival called — that great religious movement which, to 
use the words of Isaac Taylor, " has, immediately or 
remotely, so given an impulse to Christian feeling and 
profession on all sides that it has come to present 
itself as the starting-point of our modern religious 

Wesley now preached with great fervour in the 
London churches, which were rapidly closing against 
him. By the advice of all his friends, he visited 
Oxford, and having resuscitated the Society, and 
preached in a few of the neighbouring towns, he re- 
turned to London to find full employment amongst the 
Societies, where he was continually desired to expound. 
A letter from his friend Whitelielil reached him, entreat- 
ing him to come to Bristol without delay. From this 
he held back, partly, as he says, " because of the remark- 


able Scriptures which offered as often as we inquired 
touching this removal." The Society at Fetter Lane 
was consulted. All had a feelinfj that somethinar 
remarkable was about to happen, but opinions were 
divided. Charles was immovable in his opposition, 
from an unaccountable fear it would prove fatal to 
him, until overcome by the force of some Scriptures 
"as spoken to himself." The matter was decided by 
lot. Charles writes : — "He offered himself willingly to 
do whatsoever the Lord should appoint. The next day 
he set out, commended by us to the grace of God. 
He left a blessinsr behind. I desired to die with 
him." He reached Bristol in the evenins; of Satur- 
day, March 31st, and was most cordially greeted by 

Shut out of the London pulpits, Whitefield had 
hastened to Bristol, in the hope of finding a freer field ; 
but here fresh obstacles presented themselves, the 
Chancellor of the diocese threatening suspension and 
expulsion. Tyerman writes : — " This was the turning- 
point. To muzzle Whitefield was impossible; and hence, 
being shut out of the Bristol churches, away he went, 
on February 17th, and preached in the open air to two 
hundred colliers at Kingswood." He adds, " Perhaps 
none of the INIethodists but the impulsive, large- 
hearted Whitefield would have had sufficient courage 
to be the first in such a shocking departure from Church 
rules and usages." The novelty of the proceeding, and 
the character of his preaching, soon brouglit the people 
by thousands to hear. Thus began that field-preaching 
which was to produce such wondrous effects. 


Wesley stands amazed, nor can he reconcile him- 
self at first to this strange way of preaching in the 
field, having been, as he tells us, all his life (till very 
lately) so tenacious of every point relating to decency 
and order that he would have thouirht " the saving 
of souls almost a sin, if it had not been done in a 
church ; " though in Georgia, it is true, when the 
house would not contain the people, he had occasion- 
ally preached in the open air ; but there he had no 
church. But in the evening, however, of tlio same 
day, while expounding our Lord's Sermon on the 
Mount to a little Society, he was struck by it as " one 
pretty remarkable precedent for field preaching; 
though I suppose," he adds, " there were churches at 
that time." 

On the following day, the decisive step is taken. 
He writes : — " Monday, April 2. At four in the 
afternoon, I submitted to be more vile, and proclaimed 
in the highways the glad tidings of salvation, speaking 
from a little eminence in a ground adjoining to the 
city, to about three thousand people." 

The die is cast, the spell is broken, and if the modern 
revival does not begin from this moment, it assumes 
at any rate an entirely new character. The means are 
now at hand commensurate with tho necessities and 
the greatness of the work. Henceforth Wesley is in- 
dependent of church accommodation. The Scripture 
on which he spoke was sigiiificant (in his view 
"fulfilled in every true minister of Christ"): -'TIio 
Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord hath 
anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek : 


He hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to 
proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of 
the prison to them that are bound." 

Unquestionably the preaching in the open air was 
the most important step in Wesley's cai'eer. It gave 
him an advantage for promoting the moral elevation 
of the inhabitants of this country which he could 
not jDossibly have gained in any church or in any 
number of churches. He not only s])oke to such 
numbers as no church could hold, but he spoke also 
to tens of thousands who would never darken a 
church's threshold ; yet these were they who of all 
most needed the message it was his calling to pro- 
claim. The necessity for this innovation is seen in 
the fact that Wesley had not preached more than half- 
a-dozen sermons in three months, so that, had the 
fields not been open to him, his preaching career must 
speedily have closed. 

He is presently using his freedom with great joy. 
On the following Sunday he preaches in Bristol to 
about a thousand at seven o'clock in the morning, and 
afterwards to about one thousand five hundred at 
Kins'swood, and in the afternoon to about five 
thousand at Rose Green. On the Tuesday, by desire, 
he preached at Bath to about a thousand, and again 
to twice the number, and to about as many at Baptist 
Mills. On Saturday he is at the poor-house, with 
three or four hundred within, and more than twice 
that number without. 

On Sunday, the 15th, five or six thousand assemble 
at seven, to hear him explain the story of the 


Pharisee and the Publican. A little later, three 
thousand are present at Hannani Mount. At New- 
gate, after dinner, the congregation is crowded. In 
the evening, from five to six thousand are hearers at 
Hose Green ; and, after these four services, he con- 
cludes the day by an addi-ess to the Society in Bristol. 

Invited to Pensford, he desired the use of the 
church, but, receiving no answer, he preached to many 
of the people who were gathered in an open place, 
returning to address three thousand persons near 
Bristol in the afternoon. 

On the following Sunday his first congregation at 
Bristol consisted of about four thousand persons. 
He then preached at Clifton, at the desire of the 
minister, who was dangerously ill. After morning 
service he preached at Hannam Mount, where three 
thousand were present. Again at Clifton, in the after- 
noon, the church was full at prayers, as was the church- 
yard at a burial which followed. From Clifton he went 
to Rose Green, where, by computation, near seven 
thousand assembled. This was followed by a meeting 
of the Gloucester Lane Society ; and the great labour 
of this day was closed by a "love-feast" in Baldwin 
Street. Well might he exclaim, " O how has God 
renewed my strength ! who used, ten years ago, to 
be so faint and weary with preaching twice in one 

Very striking efTects began now to be witnessed 
from his preaching. He aimed to convince the ungotUy 
of their sins, and his words seem to have pierced a.s 
an arrow. So great was the pain of mind of many 


that they ci'ied aloud, and many were strongly con- 
vulsed ; while the message of forgiveness, preached to 
all and urged on the acceptance of all, brought great 
peace and joy to the repentant ones, who put no 
restraint upon their shouts of thanksgiving. Some- 
times the services must have presented a strangely 
awful scene. Men and women fell to the ground as 
though thunderstruck ; and often his voice could 
scarce be heard amidst the groanings of some and the 
cries of others, calling aloud to Him who is mighty to 
save Cautious people, who came to witness and con- 
demn these irregularities, were themselves smitten to 
the earth, often writhing as in extreme anguish. 
Many explanations of these strange scenes, and 
especially of the bodily contortions, have been given, 
but the great mental and moral disturbance caused by 
these new efforts seems amply to account for them. 

In March, when at Reading, he found a young 
man "who had in some measure known the powers 
of the world to come." This was John Cennick. 
Describing a scene of very solemn confusion, Avhich 
occurred at Bristol in May, he speaks of another young 
man who, fixing his eyes on one who had been struck 
to tlie earth, " sunk down himself as one dead ; but 
soon began to roar out, and beat himself against the 
ground, so that six men could scarce hold him. His 
name was Thomas Maxfield." These two, with Joseph 
Humphreys, were his first lay preachers. 

His daily work in Bristol he thus describes :-- 
" Every morning I read prayers and preached at New- 
gate. Every evening I expounded a portion of 


Scripture at one or more of tlie Societies. On Monday, 
in the afternoon, I preaclied abroad near Bristol; on 
Tuesday, at Bath and Two Mile End alternately; on 
Wednesday, at Baptist IMills ; every other Thursday, 
near Pensford ; every other Friday, in another part of 
Kingswood ; on Saturday, in the afternoon, and Sun- 
day morning, in the Bowling Green ; on Sunday, at 
eleven, near Hannam INIount; at two, at Clifton; and 
at five, at Rose Green." 

It was impossible for Wesley to continue in so 
unusual a manner of ministerin" without excitinc 
questions within himself as to the propriety of his 
doings. One accustomed to give " a logical reason " 
for all things would demand one for this. To it he 
gave close attention, and wrote his thoughts at length. 
From this writing the following are extracts : — " If 
you ask on what principle I then acted, it was this : 
' a desire to be a Christian, and a conviction that 
whatever I judge conducive thereto, that I am bound 
to do ; wherever I judge I can best answer this end, 
thither it is my duty to go.' On this principle I set 
out for America ; on this, I visited the Moravian 
Church ; and on the same am I ready now (God being 
my helper) to go to Abyssinia or China, or whitlierso- 
ever it shall please God, by this conviction, to call nie. 
You ask, ' How is it that I assemble Christians who 
are none of my charge, to sing psalms and pray, and 
hear the Scriptures expounded 1 ' and think it hard to 
justify doing this in otlier men's parislics, upon 
catholic principles. 

" Permit me to speak plainly. If by catholic priu- 


ciples you mean any otlier than Scriptural, tlicy weigli 
nothing with me. I allow no other rule, whether of 
faith or practice, than the Holy Scriptures ; but on 
Scri])tural principles I do not think it hard to justify 
whatever I do. God, in Scripture, commands me, 
according to my power, to instruct the ignorant, 
reform the wicked, confirm the virtuous. Man forbids 
me to do this in another's parish — that is, in effect, to 
do it at all, seeing I have now no parish of my own. 
If it be just to obey God rather than man, judge you. 
^'1. dispensation of the Gosj^el is committed to me ; and 
woe is me if I preach not the Gospel." "Suffer me 
to tell you my principles in this matter. I look upon 
all the woi'ld as my parish ; thus far, I mean, that in 
whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and 
my bounden duty to declare, unto all that are willing 
to hear, the glad tidings of salvation. This is the 
work which I know God has called me to ; and sure 1 
am that His blessing attends it. Gi'eat encouragement 
have I, therefore, to be faithful in fulfilling the work 
He hath given me to do. His servant I am, and as 
such am employed according to the plain direction of 
His word, ' As I have opportunity, doing good unto 
all men.' And His providence clearly concurs with 
His word ; which has disengaged me from all things 
else, that I might singly attend on this very thing, 
'and go about doing good.'" 

Thus Wesley justifies himself in the strange pro- 
ceeding which was undoubtedly a breach of Church 
custom, if not of Church order. 

Hef erring to these services, he writes : — "I cannot 


say I have ever seen a more awful siglit than when on 
Hose Green, or on the top of Hanuam Mount, some 
thousands of people were joined together in solemn 
waiting npon God, while 

'They stood, and under open air ador'd 
The God who made both air, earth, heaven, and sky.' 

And whether they were listening to His word with 
attention still as night, or were lifting uj) their voice 
in praise, as the sound of many waters, many a time 
have I been constrained to say in my heart, How 
dreadful is this jjlace ! This, also, is no other than the 
hvuse of God / This is the gate of heaven ! " 

The whole question, as between him and objectors, is 
thus condensed into a few unanswerable statements : — 
*' Be pleased to observe — first, that I was forbidden, 
as by general consent, to preach in any church (though 
not by any judicial sentence) for preaching such 
doctrine. This was the open, avowed cause ; there 
was at that time no other, either real or pretended 
(except that the people crowded so). Secondly, that 
I had no desire or design to preach in the open air 
till after this prohibition. Thirdly, that when I did, 
as it was no matter of choice, so neither of premedita- 
tion. There was no scheme at all previously formed 
which was to be supportQd thereby ; nor had I any 
other end in view than this — to save as many souls as 
I could. Fourthly, field-preachinri was, therefore, a 
sudden expedient — a thing submitted to rather than 
chosen, and therefore submitted to because I thought 
preaching even thus better than not preaching at all : 



Gist, in regard to my own soul, because, a dispensation 
of the Gospel being committed to me, I did not dare not 
to preach the Gospel; secondly, in regard to the souls 
of others, whom I everywhere saw seeking death in the 
error of their life." 

Field-preaching in these days needs no apology. 
The bold innovators on long-continued custom proved 
by argument and by results that they were not 
invaders of any law of right. And the general 
conscience has since then borne its testimony to the 
propriety of their procedure. Now-a-days clergymen 
and high dignitaries within, as well as Evangelists 
without, the Church of England, may be seen, free 
fiom any compunction on their own part or con- 
demnation on the part of others, preaching to few or 
many in the open air. But it was no easy matter 
for those who began this practice. 

Wesley was at that time called to London, to give 
his advice and help to the Society. He arrived on the 
morning of June 13th, received the Holy Communion 
at St. Mai'}'s, Islington, and met his mother for the 
first time since his return from Germany. 

On the following day he went, in company with 
Mr. Whitetield, to Blackheath, where some twelve or 
fourteen thousand persons had assembled to hear 
the latter preach. To Wesley's great surprise, 
Whitefield desired him to preach in his stead, and 
" though nature recoiled," he finally consented, preach- 
ing from his favourite subject, " Jesus Christ, who of 
God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctiti- 
cation, and redemption." 


We find him on the followhig Sunday preaching at 
S3ven o'cUick in Upper Moorfields, to six or seven 
thousand people ; and at five o'clock on Kennington 
Common with fifteen thousand hearers. 

After only eight days' stay in London, he returned 
to Bristol, meeting for the first time Howel Harris, 
the Welsh Evangelist, whom Charles Wesley describes 
as " a man after my own heart." 

His time was fully occupied, as before, in preaching 
*' abroad" to large congregations, and in expounding at 
Newgate (till at length it was forbidden by the sherifis), 
and to the Societies, correcting and instructing them, 
and in earnestly conversing with individuals, especially 
tliose who were deeply afi'ected under his preaching. 
He was also engaged in preaching at the towns near, 
chiefly in the open air, and often to very large con- 
gregations, on one occasion at Gloucester to two or 
three thousand persons, though " it rained violently." 

For a time he was helped by Mr. Whitefield, and 
afterwards by his brother Charles, who had learned 
to preach " from George Whitefield's pulpit, the 

Charles Wesley gives the following account of his 
own decision to take the field : — " My inward conflict 
continued. I perceived it was the fear of man ; and 
that, by preaching in the field next Sunday, as 
George Whitefield urges me, I should break down the 
bridge and become desperate. I retired, and prayed 
for particular direction, offering up my friends, my 
liberty, my life, for Clirist's sake and the Gospel's. 
I was somewhat less burdened, yet could not be (piito 


easy till I gave up all." The next day, Sunday, June 
24tl), he adds, " The first Scripture I cast my eye 
upon was, ' Then came the servant unto him and said, 
]\taster, what shall we do ? ' I prayed with zest, and 
went forth in the name of Jesus Christ. I found near 
ten thousand helpless sinners waiting for the word 
in Moorfields. I invited them in my Master's words 
as well as name : ' Come unto me, all ye that travail 
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' The 
Lord was with me, even me, his meanest messenger, 
according to his promise. At St. Paul's the Psalms, 
Lessons, &c., for the day, put fresh life into me. So 
did the Sacrament. My load was gone, and all my 
doubts and scruples. God shone upon my path, and I 
knew this was His will concerning me." 

Returning to London, Wesley is presently preach- 
ing to eight or ten thousand people at Kennington, 
and, on the following Sunday, in Moorfields, to ten 
thousand; and at five o'clock in the evening at 
Kennington again, where twenty thousand persons 
are supposed to be present, his mother among them ; 
thence to a Society in Lambeth, where "the house 
being filled, the rest stood in the garden ; " and after- 
wards to the Society at Fetter Lane.* 

* He records an interesting conversation with his mother on 
the subject of the having forgiveness of sins now, or God's Spirit 
bearing witness with our spirit, of which she affirmed she had 
"scarce ever heard such a tiling mentioned" till a short time 
since, much less did she imagine this was the common privilege of 
all true believers. "Therefore," said she, "I never durst ask it 
for myself. But two or three weeks ago, while my son Hall was 
pronouncing these words, in delivering the cup to me, ' The blood 


We find Wesley at tliis time exliorting the 
"brethren to keep close to the Church, and to all the 
ordinances of God ; and to aim only at living ' a quiet 
and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.' " 
When pressed by a serious clergyman as to the points 
in which the Methodists differed from the Church of 
England, he answered, " To the best of my knowledge, 
in none. The doctrines we preach are the doctrines 
of the Church of England — indeed, the fundamental 
doctrines of the Church, clearly laid down in her 
prayers, articles, and homilies." 

This cannot be denied, nor must it be overlooked. 
Wesley preached nothing but Church of England 
doctrines. Even the doctrines which seemed to be novel 
he found embedded in the Liturgy and in the simple 
commands of Holy Scripture^as the doctrines of the 
witness of the Spirit and Christian holiness. The 
*' Christian perfection " which he preached (he never 
used the term sinless perfection) he defined by the 
words of the old law : — " Thou slialt love the Lord 
thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and 

of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee,' the words 
struck through my heart, and I knew God, for Christ's sake, 
had forgiven me all my sins.' I asked her. whether her father 
(Dr. Annesloy) had not the same faith, and wlietlior the liail not 
heard him preach it to others. She answered, ho had it himself, 
and declared, a little before his death, that for more than forty 
years he had had no darkness, no fear, no doubt at all of liis being 
'accepted in the Beloved,' but that, nevertheless, s^ho did not 
remember to have heard him preach— no, not once — explicitly 
upon it ; whence she supposed he also looked upon it as the 
peculiar blessing of a few, not as promised to all the people of 


with all thy mind, and with all thy strength, and thy 
neighbour as thyself." The Methodist language of 
holiness is the language of the collects of the Book 
of Common Prayer. If this had not been hitherto 
formulated as a dogma, it was because it permeated 
all the Christian teaching. This was the point vip to 
which he urged his hearers to press, and he was logical 
enough to say, " If it is commanded, it can be attained." 
The pursuit of a holiness which should govern the 
inner life — the thoughts, affections, and purposes, the 
outer conduct towards men and the soul's aspiration 
towards God ; a holiness that should meet the utmost 
demand of rapt devotion, and at the same time con- 
trol the practical duties of life, was the necessary 
complement of the free justification of the repentant 
sinner, which his Church warranted him to proclaim. 
It cannot be charged upon Wesley that he was either 
indifferent to the doctrinal formularies of the Church 
or careless to maintain good works. Perhaps no great 
reformer of ancient or modern times was truer to 
these two principles. 

In the preface to the "Oxford Tracts for the 
Times " it is said, " Methodism and Popery are, in 
different ways, the refuge of those whom the Church 
stints of the gifts of grace ; they are the foster-mothers 
of abandoned children." 

The Methodists need not be aggrieved by this 
association. The "different ways" widely separate 
them from Romanism. Most truly these words indi- 
cate Wesley's purpose. It was the rescue of cruelly 
abandoned children ; the feeding of souls stinted of 


their daily bread. To this he was driven by no 
Church theory, and by no purposed opposition to the 
Church. He was in no sense a Dissenter. History 
does him the justice to affirm that liis sole endeavour 
was to carry out the essential aims of the Church of 
England, and that within its borders and according to 
the severest restrictions of its order. Every departure 
in method was imposed upon him by the attitude of a 
misguided clergy. To this fidelity the present general 
appreciation of his labours is largely due. From 
that order he never willingly departed. For the ex- 
istence of a separate organisation or sect the Church 
herself is responsible : certainly Wesley is not. He 
aimed at nothing beyond the true aim of his Church — 
the conversion of men from sin to righteousness. 
Here his utmost desire was satisfied ; but his heart 
was too intensely aglow, and his zeal too fervid, for 
the coldness of the hour. His work was too real, too 
deep, and too spiritual to be other than repulsive 
to the apathetic, worldly spirit of the age. He had 
neither theological crudities to broach nor novel 
Church theories to proclaim. But if Wesley had 
neither doctrinal nor ecclesiastical peculiarities to 
offer, we may ask, What was the secret of his success] 
Wesley's work was a unit : his aim was single. It 
was solely a determined assault upon evil — a simple, 
ceaseless, unwearied attack on sin. In its positive 
aspect it was the promotion of holiness. I'his runs 
like a silver thread through the whole of his life's 
labours. He never departed from it ; he never forgot 
it. To it everything was subordinate ; in its pr.-iK'iice 


eveiytliing was adventitious. All his plans were 
framed with a view to accomplish this. That they 
took a particular hue is due to the influence of his 
early associations, especially those experienced when 
his mind was in its most plastic condition, when he 
was undergoing that spiritual change which was ever 
to him the typical change for all. 

Here is to be noted the very marked difference 
between Wesley and Luther, with whom he has been 
compared. It is true both were religious reformers, 
both were driven to their work by the existing con- 
dition of their respective Churches; but there was not 
a greater difference in their personal character than 
in their work and their methods. Luther I'ose up in 
opposition to error and to vicious practices which had 
the sanction of the highest Church authorities. He was 
essentially a reformer of doctrine. He had to estab- 
lish a new theological platform — old, it is true, but 
new to the Church of his time. The authoritative 
decrees, documents, and decisions of the Church wore 
against him. Not so Wesley. He had no new doc- 
trine to promulgate. To him the doctrines of his 
Church were his stronghold. He stood his ground 
firmly on the Church of Englaiid theology as taught 
by her authoritative documents, her formularies, her 
articles and homilies, and as expounded by her 
best writers. It was his to revive attention to her 
exact teaching, to shake off lethargy, to spread, not 
new doctrines, but Scriptural holiness throughout the 
land, and for this he found nothing more serviceable 
tlian the doctrines the Church had held from the 

THE WOllIC. 73 

beginning. Luther protested against the Church : 
Wesley witnessed for it. 

Wesley continued his labours in London until 
October, when he set out for Oxford, where he found 
matters in a sad state. After a brief stay he went 
forward to Gloucester, preaching on his way at 
Lurford and Bengeworth. His stay at Gloucester 
was brief, but was crowded with work. He arrived 
on Friday evening. On Saturday evening he preached 
to about one thousand people. At an early service 
on Sunday morning some two or three thousand were 
present. At eleven o'clock he preached at Eandwick, 
seven miles away, in a crowded church, upwards of 
a thousand remaining in the churchyard ; he preached 
again in the afternoon, the crowd being larger by 
some thousands. Between five and six o'clock he stood 
on a little green near Stanley. Three thousand persons 
listened to him while, he says, he was strengthened to 
speak as he never did before. He continued preach- 
ing for nearly two hours, the darkness of the night 
and a little lightning not lessening the number, but 
increasing the seriousness of the hearers. After these 
four services he concluded the day by expounding 
" part of our Lord's Sermon on the Mount to a small 
serious company at Ebley.' 

The next morning at eight o'clock he preached 
on Hampton Common to a company computed to be 
more than five thousand in number. Then he hasted 
away to Bristol, where he found his brother Charles, 
and they were both speedily engaged in trying to 
remove misapprehension from the Society at Bradford; 


and in the evening lie inculcated outward holiness as 
taught in the Epistle of St. James, ou the Society at 

1^0 w the sphere widens. Howel Harris, or others, 
had carried news of him to Wales ; and, yielding to a 
pressing invitation, he sets out, preaching wherever 
he stops. At Abergavenny, the church being i-efused 
him, he described " the old religion of the Church of 
England, which is now almost everywhere spoken 
against under the name of Methodism," to about one 
thousand persons, who stood patiently in the open air, 
though the frost was sharp, it being after sunset. In 
an hour's time he was again expounding — this time in 
a house. 

The following morning the frost was sharper still, 
but five or six hundred jiei'sons listened while he 
explained the nature of that salvation which is by 
faith. At noon he preached at Usk. In the afternoon 
he spoke at Pontypool, where, unable to procure a 
more convenient place, he stood in the street and 
cried aloud to five or six hundred attentive hearers ; 
and again in the evening, when many were melted 
into tears. At Cardifl' he preached in the Shire Hall, 
the minister not being willing he should preach in 
the church. The next morning he spoke in an open 
space at Newport ; in the afternoon at the Shire 
Hall again, when he had such freedom of speech as he 
had seldom had. At six o'clock, while addressing 
" almost the whole town," his heart was so enlarged 
lie knew not how to give over, so that he continued 
three hours ! The following day he reached Bristol, 


having been struck by the beauty of the country 
through which he had passed, and the spiritual 
ignorance of the people, whom he described to be " as 
ignorant of the Gospel as any Creek or Cherokee 

Preaching once more at Bradford, the violent rain 
did not hinder an immense congregation from listening 
to him — "near ten thousand people, who all stood to 
hear with awful silence and great attention," as aa 
eye-witness, a clergyman, wrote. That night he and 
others continued in prayer for a troubled soul until 
near one o'clock. 

■ On his way to London he passed through Reading, 
where a little company met in the evening, " at which 
the zealous mob were so enraged they were ready to 
tear the house down ;" and earned for themselves the 
unenviable honour of being his first violent perse- 

About this time Wesley began to encounter hin- 
drances from a source he had little suspected. His 
close alliance with the Moravian Church, and his 
deep indebtedness to it, led him to cherish towards 
it a very w^arm affection. In many respects the 
Moravian Church appeared to him to present tlie 
typical form of a Christian connnunity ; and he 
subsequently embodied many of its peculiarities in 
Methodism. But some who bore the Moravian 
name were not true to Moravian principles, or had 
allowed themselves to be carried to extremes on 
certain questions, the germs of which were to l>o 
found in Moravian writings. In his earlier ac<piaint- 


ance with the Brethren, Wesley himself, as he after- 
wards acknowledged, did not wholly escape a mystical 
tendency. But now certain men, invested with 
authority as teachers and preachers, taught a mystic 
doctrine of stillness, forbidding the use of any of the 
means of grace, particularly the Lord's Supper, to all 
who could not speak of themselves as far advanced 
in religious knowledge and experience, and affirming 
that the ordinances are not means of grace — -Christ 
is the only means. These teachings were directly 
opposed to all Wesley's predilections, training, and 
convictions. His frequent absence from London gave 
tho disseminators of these views every advantage 
over him, and we find him hurrying up again and 
again with heavy heart to help and rescue the torn 
and distracted Society. He held lengthened and 
anxious conferences with the Moravian teachers, and 
seemed to be sometimes almost on the verge of yield- 
ing principle in his desire to secure peace. This 
was a stab to the heart of the joyous Evangelist, and 
proved a source of grievous trouble to him and a great 
hindrance to his work. 

On November 6th, 1739, his eldest brother, Samuel, 
died, at the comparatively early age of forty-nine. 
To Wesley this was as a dark streak across the sky. 
For though they differed in opinion on many impor- 
tant points, and though he had been severely 
taken to task by Samuel on more than one occasion, 
yet he loved and honoured him, and in gratitude 
remembered his own and the entire family's indebted- 
ness to him. Wesley, who schooled himself into a 


snp])ression of liis emotions, or, at least, did not give 
utterance to them, cast his eye upon what he judged 
to be the one essential, and found cause to rejoice at 
hearing concerning his brother that "several days 
before he went hence God had given him a calm and 
full assurance of his interest in Christ." This was a month before the founding of the jNIethodist 
Society, and Wesley's mind was diverted from the in- 
tensity of his sorrow by the pressure of the great work 
which Providence was forcing upon him. He stayed 
not to brood over his trial, but hied away to his work. 

On the 11 th November he preached at eight o'clock 
in the morning to a congregation of from five to six 
thousand people ; and in the evening to seven or eight 
thousand, gathered for the first time in a building 
near INIoorfields, London, formerly used by the Govern- 
ment for the casting of cannon, but henceforth to be 
historical in Methodism, as tlie first JNIethodist "meet- 
ing-house " in London. For nearly forty years the 
" Foundry " was the metropolitan centre of the 
Methodist movement. 

By invitation, Wesley preached in St. Mary's 
Church, Exeter, on the morning of November 2.3th, 
but was forbidden the pulpit in the afternoon. 
He afterwards preached in Bristol, when several per- 
sons being in great anguish of mind, he and others 
continued in prayer witli them through the night, 
until nine o'clock the next morning — fifteen hours ! 
Iy>aving Bristol, he preached at Malmosbury and 
Burford, and came, Saturday, December 8th, into his 
old room at Oxford. " Here," he wrote, " musing on 


the things that were past, and reflecting how many 
that came after me were preferred before me, I opened 
my Testament on those words (Oh may I never let 
them slip !), ' What shall we say then 1 That the 
Gentiles which followed not after righteousness, have 
attained to right,Pousness. But Israel, which followed 
after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to 
the law of righteousness. Wherefore ] Because they 
sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of 
%he law.' " The analogy is by no means strained. 
Still, it is proper here to take note of the custom 
which Wesley had borrowed from the Moravians, and 
which not only he and they, but many others practised,' 
of opening the Bible at random, and taking the first 
words that caught the eye as a sort of message specially 
sent from God. INIany times the coincidences were 
striking, but the practice cannot be approved. It is 
right to say Wesley afterwards abandoned it. A note 
of a late writer, now conveniently at hand, may 
be sufiicient to explain and condemn this curious 
practice : — 

"We should shrink from any use of Scripture 
which reminds us of a game of chance rather than of 
' trembling at it ; ' a curious, harmless hazard when 
a pagan poem only is concerned, but an unworthy 
device when the Word of God is its subject."* 

Sad news of the state of the Society reaching him, 

* " Virgiliancc Sortes. The practice was to open the ^neid 
at chance, and to suppose a kind of oracle in the line which first 
met the eye. Such soothsaying is an outrage on the Bible." 
(R. ^Y. Hamilton, " Pastoral Appeals on Devotion.") 


he hastened to London, "though with a heavy heart," 
to find that the doctrine of mystic stilhiess had 
set the Society reasoning and disputing together. 
He spent the last hours of the year in a long and 
particular conversation with one of the leading 
Moravian teachers, and then retired to write an 
account of the differences which he conceived to lie 
between them. And so the eventful year closed with 
a dark cloud hovering over him and his great work. 

The year 1739 must always be distinguished in 
the life of Wesley as the year in which he commenced 
his great evangelistic work : commenced it, that is to 
say, with the two prime conditions of success — his own 
clearer spiritual experience of evangelical truth, and 
the field-preaching. 

In this year, rIso, lay-preaching began, which 
has since proved of such signal ser\icc in the spread 
and maintenance of Methodism. But for it, many of 
Wesley's Societies must have been left without reli- 
gious instruction and oversight, and the services of a 
l)and of men must have been lost whose wide-spread 
usefulness amply justifies their employment. 

It is doubtful who had the honour of being 
the first Methodist lay-preacher. Almost every bio- 
grapher of Wesley and every historian of JNIethodism 
gives the place to Thomas Max field ; but j\Ir. Tyer- 
man points to circumstances which assign the priority 
to John Cennick. Wesley himself says Joseph Hum- 
phreys was his first lay-helper, in 1738. Maxfield's 
pre-eminence was gained by the following incident. 
Wesley, about to leave London on one occasion, 


appointed him to meet the Society at the usual 
times, to pray with them, and to give them such 
advice as might be needfuh Maxfield's fervent 
addresses drew many to hear him, and his success led 
him to go further than was at first intended, and he 
began to preach. Some complained of this as an 
irregularity ; so Wesley hastened to London to put a 
sto]) to it. His mother, who now lived in his house 
adjoining the Foundry, observing his appearance of 
dissatisfaction, inquired of him the cause. "Thomas 
Max field," said he, "has turned preacher, I find." 
Looking attentively at him, she said, "John, you know 
what my sentiments have been. You cannot suspect me 
of favouring readily anything of this kind. But take 
care what you do with respect to that young man, for 
he is as assuredly called of God to preach as you are. 
Examine what have been the fruits of his preaching, 
and hear him also yourself." He did so ; and, as 
Mr. Moore, by whom this account is given, says, " his 
prejudice bowed before the force of truth, and he 
could only say, ' It is the Lord : let Him do what 
seemeth Him good.' " It is probably in this capacity 
as an authorised preacher that Maxfield takes pre- 
cedence. From that hour lay-preaching became an 
institution of Methodism, and from it an amount of 
good has resulted that is simply incalculable. 

Another circumstance that distinguishes the year 
in the history of Methodism is the purchase of a 
piece of land for building upon. It is true the 
building was to be only for a Society similar to 
many already in existence within the Church, but 


it was anotlicr step towards a position of indopondcncc, 
obviously quite unpremeditated. The providence of 
God, anticipating tlie future importance of the woik, 
doubtless led to this, as to so many other steps being 
taken. The corner stone of the first Methodist chapel 
was laid in Bristol, May 12th, 1739. 

The year must be further distinguished as that from 
which Methodism, as a distinct organisation, took its 
rise, for it was in this year the Methodist Societies were 
founded. Wesley's words are explicit. In his " llulos 
of the Society of the People called jMetliodists," dated 
1 743, and signed by himself and his brother, he 
says: — "In the latter end of the year 173'J, eight or 
ten persons came to me in London, who appeared to 
be deeply convinc3d of sin, and earnestly groaning for 
redemption. They desired (as did two or three more 
the next day) that I would spend some time with 
them in prayer, and advise them how to flee from the 
wrath to come, which they saw continually hanging 
over their heads. That we might have more time for 
this great work, I appointed a day when they might 
all come together; which, from thenceforward, they 
did every week — viz., on Thursday, in the evening. To 
these, and as many more as desired to join with them 
(for their number increased daily),. I gave those 
advices from time to time which I judged most need- 
ful for them ; and we always concluded our meetings 
with prayer suitable to their several necessities. This 
was the rise of the United Society, first in London, 
and then in other places. Such a Society is no oUior 
than 'a company of men having the form, niid 


seeking the power, of godliness; united in order to 
pray together, to receive the word of exhortation, and 
to watch over one another in love, that they may help 
each other to work out their salvation.' " 

From this year, tlierefore, the great Methodist 
revival must be dated ; and to aid and encourage the 
work, Wesley published his first Hymn Book, with 
his own and his brother's name on the title-page, of 
which three editions were issued during the year. 


1740 — Mysticism— Leaves the Moravians — "VMiitefield — 1741— 
Cennick— Sickness— 1742— Watch-nights— The Class-meeting. 

We have seen that the last hours of 1739 were 
overcast with gloom, and no record of happy watch- 
night service brightens the tirst day of January, 1740. 
Wesley began the work of the year by endeavouring to 
explain to the brethren the true Scriptural stillness, 
" largely unfolding " the words, " Be still, and know 
that I am God." No other record was made. It 
was a sad augury for the new year ! The next day 
he earnestly besought the Society to "stand in the 
old paths." They prayed together, and he, so ready 
to find the brighter side, left cheered, went to Oxford, 
and spent a couple of days in revising the correspond- 
ence of the past sixteen or seventeen years. He then 
passed on to Bristol, where he remained until the end 


of the month. Finding many poor persons unable t^ 
work in consequence of the severe frost, he made 
collections, and fed from a hundred to a hundred and 
fifty daily — one of the many works of charity by 
which his life was characterised. He purposed 
spending some time in Bristol, but was suddenly 
called to London to minister to a young man, under 
sentence of death, who had expressed a desire to see 
him. He remained there a month, and found to his 
sorrow that many were leaving off the ordinances of 
God, and persuading others also. 

On returning to Bristol, he wrote : — " It is easy 
to observe here in how different a manner God works 
from what He did last spring. He then poured along 
a rapid flood, overwhelming all before Him. Whereas 


' He deigns His influence to infuse 
Secret, refreshing as the silent dews.' 

Convictions sink deeper and deeper. Love and joy 
are more calm, even, and steady." 

He continued in laborious service, ministering to 
individual prisoners, preaching to multitudes, ex- 
pounding to the Societies, correcting the difficulties 
of the troubled, until first the prisons were closed 
against him, and afterwards riotous mobs assailed 
him; "not only the court and the alleys, but all the 
iscreet, upwards and downwards, was filled with 
people, shouting, cursing and swearing, and ready 
to swallow the ground with fierceness and rage.'' 
This, liowever, the firm hand of justice quelled. 

Pressed by Ilowel Harris, he set out for a 


prcachin,!]^ tour in Wales, in the midst of which tlio 
sad news reached him that the brethren in Fetter 
Lane were in great confasion again. Hurrying to 
London, he found that the mystic stiUness, though 
faithfully opposed by his brother, was working great 
mischief. He disputed with one of the brethren for 
two hours, and returned home with a heavy heart. 
In the evening the Society met, "cold, weary, heart- 
less, dead." Many came to him in deep sorrow, 
"troubled by this new Gospel." " I was now utterly 
at a loss," he writes, "what course to take, finding no 
rest for the sole of my foot. These vain j anglings 
pursued me wherever I went." 

Turning for counsel to his friend, Mr. Stonehouse, 
the Vicar of Islington, he found, to his dismay, that 
he and the Society there were also affected. He 
spent his time in public and private efforts to bring 
back those that had been led astray, and returned to 
his labour in Bristol, May 3rd, when he was met by 
another strange effect of the great excitement of mind 
of which some were the subjects — an uncontrollable 
hiughter seized many during the services, greatly to 
their oAvn distress and his. He continued, however, 
in ceaseless labours, preaching both within and with- 
out, and striving to build up the Societies in know- 
ledge and goodness. 

Early in June he returned to London, to find a 
general temptation prevailing to " leave oft' good 
works in order to an increase of faith," and so he fell 
to expounding the Epistle of St. James, " the great 
antidote against this poison." His friend Stonehouso 


was even ahoiit to sell liis living. Matters drew to a 
crisis. Ready as he always was to give way in non- 
essentials, he would not yield an inch of ground he 
was warranted by Scripture in holding. At a meeting 
at Fetter Lane it was said he had been preaching up 
the law, " wdiich," added one, "we are no more bound 
to obey than the subjects of the King of England are 
bound to obey the laws of the King of France." 

It was now resolved he should not preach again in 
Fetter Lane. On Friday, July 18th, he joined with 
his mother and a few more in " the great sacrifice of 
thanksgiving," and then consulted as to the course to 
be pursued. On the following Sunday he preached in 
Moorfields, and in the evening went once more to the 
love-feast in Fetter Lane. Here he read a pajier 
in which he set forth the mystic views, and afhrmed 
that they flatly contradicted the Word of God, 
adding, "I have warned you hereof again and again, 
and besought you to turn back to the law and the 
testimony. I have borne with you long, hoping you 
would turn. But as I find you more and more con- 
firmed in the error of your ways, nothing now remains 
but that I should give you up to God. You that are 
of the same judgment follow me." With that he with- 
drew, as did some eighteen or nineteen of the Society. 
Three days afterwards, on Wednesday, August 23rd, the 
little company met at the Foundry instead of Fetter 
Lane; and Methodism was loosed from its swaddling 
bauds. From that hour Wesley's s])irit revived. 

From this day Tyerman dates, but not accurately, 
tlio founding of the Methodist Societies. True it was 


the clay on which they separated from the Moravians ; 
but it was not the day on which anxious inquirers came 
first to Wesley for spiritual instruction and comfort, 
and when he began to meet them w^eek by week. 
That, he tells us, was at the close of 1739. 

Confining his labours mainly to London and 
Bristol, he was presently at work with as much self- 
devotion as ever, not forgetting to clothe the poor of 
the London Society, as they had need, with clothes 
which many who could spare them brought for the 
purpose. For four months he employed them in 
carding and spuming cotton, so saving them at once 
from want and from idleness. In Bristol, too, finding 
many poor who were unable to work in consequence 
of the severe frost, he made a collection, and fed from 
one hundred and fifty to two hundred of them daily. 

Sad accounts of the Society at Kingswood reaching 
him, he went down again, in the hope of allaying 
unhappy strife, when he encountered a new sorrow 
in the defection of his lay-preacher, John Cennick, 
who accused him plainly of being in error respecting 
election. It was the precursor of a deeper sorrow 
and a sadder separation which soon was to come to 

During the year Wesley had occasional corre- 
spondence with Whitefield, who had embraced views 
on the doctrines of predestination and election that 
were entirely opposed to Wesley's. The correspond- 
ence shows on Whitefield's part a tender, gushing 
heart, full of love and honour towards his friend 
On Wesley's it was calm and logical, but faithful. 


Wliitefield, who was ready to wash the feet of his 
friend and " father " in the Gospel, declared, "I am 
ten thousand times more convinced of the doctrine of 
election and t\\e final perseverance of those who are 
truly in Christ than when I saw you last." Unhappily, 
the diversity was not confined to opinions merely. 
There was a period of painful separation and estrange- 
ment between them, and the good work lost for a 
time the advantage of their combined labours — a loss 
the greatness of which it is impossible to estimate. 
It was their rigorous adhesion to diverging ti-uths that 
bore them apart, like men standing on either side of a 
•widening chasm in a drifting ice-floe. Happily these 
good and great servants in a common cause were after- 
wards reconciled in perfect oneness of heart, though 
their views were still diverse. An intenser light than 
that of our sun is needed to re^'eal the mediating 
harmonies between many apparently conflicting truths. 
The year 1740 was closing. It had been a year of 
very hard labour, mainly expended upon the Societies 
and individual cases, and on bitter controversies ; 
nor had it been one of very remarkable religious 
progress. The excitement of the previous year had 
somewhat abated, and the novelty of the field-preach- 
ing had partly worn off. Very few references are 
made to it in the year's records. Wesley had preached 
l)ut once in a church in England, and twice only in 
Wales. The unhappy disputes had for months over- 
shadowed his spirit, and caused him "to go heavily 
all the day long." Controversial and even malignant 
pamphlets had been issued against him, and ho had 


endured some violent personal treatment. Yet the 
year closed with a gleam of brightness at Bristol, he 
and his friends " wrestling with God in pi-ayer, and 
praising Him for the wonderful work which He had 
already wrought upon earth." 

The year 1741, which Wesley spent chiefly in 
London and Bristol, was not less one of strife and 
difficulty. Although he had separated himself from 
the Fetter Lane Society, he clung in heart to the 
Moravians, notwithstanding the grief and trouble they 
continued to occasion him. In Kingswood, Cennick 
had introduced strife by taking sides with White- 
field, preaching doctrines contrary to Wesley, and 
speaking strongly against him. He liad even gone 
so far as to form a separate Society. With great 
patience Wesley strove to heal the br(!ach, but find- 
ing this impossible, he was driven to exclude the 

But all this did not preclude him from his laborious 
service. On the 15th of March he preached "twice 
at Kingswood and twice at Bristol, on those words of 
a troubled soul, 'Oh that I had wings like a dove ; for 
then would I flee away and be at rest' " He also 
spent much time in visiting the sick. 

Towards the close of March he went to London, 
and found Charles touched with the " stillness " 
mania, from which, however, he speedily recovered. 
Soon afterwards he heard Whitefield himself affirm that 
they preached two different Gospels, and therefore he 
not only would not join with Wesley or give him the 
right hand of fellowship, but was resolved publicly to 


preach against him and his brothei- whoncvcr he 
preaclied at alh 

Many eflbrts were made by Wesley to effect a 
reunion with the JNloravians, towards whom he was 
strongly and, as he thought, strangely di-awn ; but 
all was in vain. Their mystical notions were always 
in his way, while they stoutly rejected his own mis- 
understood doctrine of Christian perfection. "Wesley 
now spent much time in instructing and uniting 
his agitated Societies. Finding many very poor, 
destitute of clothing and food, and unable to obtain 
employment, he called upon the members of tlie 
Societies to bring what clothes each could spare, to 
be distributed, and to give weekly a penny or 
whatever they could afford for the relief of the 
poor and sick. The women he employed in knit- 
ting, paying for their work, and adding as he was 
able. He also appointed district visitors of the sick 
poor, who met weekly to give account of their work. 
He never overlooked the practical charity of caring 
for the bodies as well as the souls of men. 

Charles was now preaching w4th great success at 
Bristol; but the Society being embarrassed with finan- 
cial difficulties, Wesley went to their help. Coming 
into the room just after Charles had finished his sermon, 
he was received with tumultuous delight. " Some 
wept aloud, some clapped their hands, some shouted, 
and the rest sang praise, with whom (having soon 
recovered themselves) the whole congregation joined." 
So he trusted that if he were called ujjon to suffer 
for the truth's sake, all other sounds would soon be 


swallowed up in praise and thanksgiving. In the 
course of a week he set matters on a better footing, and 
returned to London, resuming his labours at the Foundry, 
and exhorting the Society, now numbering nine hun- 
dred, to let their love appear in deed as well as word. 

Early in June he paid a short visit to the Midland 
Counties, where the Moravians had societies, and 
where Ingham had preached with great success. But 
the "still" docti'ines had preceded him, and he was 
saddened to find the wide-spread and desolating in- 
fluence they had produced. At Nottingham he could 
only expound to the Society with a heavy heart, but 
he preached joyfully to a full church at Markfield, 
and again the next morning, and a little later in the 
day, at Melbourn, where, the house being too small, 
he stood imder a large tree ; and again, towards 
evening, at Hemmington, where the people crowded 
about the door and windows. The next day, Sunday, 
June 14:th, he rode to Nottingham, and preached at 
eight o'clock, in the market-place, to an immense 
multitude. Then, after morning service, he returned to 
Markfield, to find the church crowded in every part, 
and the heat so great he could scarcely read the 
service ; and as many could not get in, he went 
outside and preached, as he did again in the evening 
inside the sacred edifice. During this journey he made 
the acquaintance of the Countess of Huntingdon. 

Returning to London, he read, on the way, Luther's 
*' Comment on the Epistle to the Galatians," and 
blamed himself for his former estimation of it. 
" Here," he wrote, " I apprehend is the real spring 


of the grand error of the Moravians. They follow 
Luther for better for worse. Hence their ' no 
works, no law, no Commandments.' " For though 
they held to Luther's exliibition of justification by 
faith alone, they had allowed it to obscure the duty 
of practical obedience. 

Passing through London, he went on to Oxford, 
where he found the little Society torn asunder and 
scattered abroad. Out of twenty-five or thirty com- 
municants only two were left, and no one continued 
to attend the daily prayers. The corrupting leaven 
had spread here also. On Saturday, the 25th July, 
he'preached before the University, and the following 
day was in his place in the Foundry. His time was 
now fully occupied in hard reading, in endeavours to 
correct the prevalent error, and in visits to London, 
Bristol, Abingdon, and elsewhere. 

Throughout the year he is found grappling, almost 
single-handed, Avith the false views by which the 
Societies are assailed. With brave, if often almost 
breaking, heart, he preaches and warns, exhorts and 
instructs, in public and in private, never sparing 
himself ; now meeting the Society for exposition, now 
debating with the supporters of the mystic error, now 
snatching one and another out of the snare, con- 
versing severally even with hundreds, and still urging 
iipon larger or smaller congregations, wherever he 
was, the Gospel of God, which was his own great 
comfort, and pressing upon his followers the duty of 
seeking to be 

" In heart and life entirely clean." 


Towai'ds tlie end of tlie year lie was worn down 
by severe sickness ; but as soon as its severity was 
abated, he betook himself to close reading, and then, 
though advised to rest, expounded an hour without 
weariness or faintness, preached once every day in the 
week, and on Sunday he taxed his strength still further 
by preaching both at Kingswood and Bristol. But his 
body could not keep pace with his mind, and a painful 
relapse followed. 

He closed the year in London, preaching with un- 
abated ax'dour, and carefully sifting the Society. In the 
afternoon of December 31st the fever came on again, 
but finding it not violent, he attended a funeral at 
four, exhortinor the "almost innumerable multitude 
of people ; " then fain would rest, but was closely 
occupied till he entered the pulpit in the evening and 
preached ; and then repaired to the Society, which 
he did not leave until ten o'clock. 

The newyear, 1742, found him prostrate with fever; 
but he consented to keep his bed only on condition 
that none should be excluded who desired to speak 
with him. Fifty or sixty did so ; and in the evening 
he sent for " the Bands," a sort of inner guild of the 
Society, and they held a service of praise. As soon 
as he was able he engaged in incessant labour, preach- 
ing morning and evening daily, ministering to the 
poor prisoners in Newgate, visiting the sick, meeting 
the Society, regulating a charity school he had begun, 
and snatching moments for other work. Nor did he 
labour quite in peace. Bude interruptions assailed 
him — as, when he was preaching in bodily weakness 

THE ■WORK. 93 

at Chelsea, some sought, but failed, to drown his voice, 
01' arrest the service, by casting firewoi'ks into the 
room. After he had searched the London Society, 
and excluded such as did not walk according to the 
Gospel, about eleven hundred remained. 

In the early part of February he set out for 
Bristol, the weather being so boisterous he could 
scarcely keep on his horse. One of his first works 
was to clear off a heavy debt the Society had incurred. 
The members of the Society who could aGford it 
agreed each to subscribe one penny a week ; the whole 
Society was divided into classes or companies of 
twelve persons each ; one person in each class was 
appointed to receive the contributions of the rest, and 
pay them to the stewards weekly : a very simple device, 
that afterwards had great results in ways not then 
anticipated. After a brief tour in Wales, he held a 
watch-night service in Bristol, when the cries of the 
people were so loud that his voice was lost amidst them. 
After the service about one hundred of them walked 
home together, in the exuberance of their joy, " sing- 
ing and rejoicing and praising God." 

The watch-night service was derived from the 
Moravians, The service began at half-past eight 
o'clock, and lasted until a little after midnight. 
This was a profitable change of occupation for men 
who, like the Kingswood colliers, had been accustomed 
to spend their nights in the public-house. Wesley 
often found a deep awe resting upon the congre- 
gation in the solemn silence of the night. Tlie prac- 
tice is now confined to an annual service, hold during 


the closing hours of the old year and the first minutes 
of the new. 

During a service in Weaver's Hall, Bristol, several 
persons dropped to the ground, as if struck by light- 
ning, some crying out in bitterness of soul. He 
says, I knew not how to end, being constrained to 
begin anew again and again." His preaching was 
not unfrequently followed by these and other equally 
remarkable effects. 

At Pensford, while preaching in " a little green 
spot near the town," he was assailed by a hired mob, 
who brought a bull they had been baiting, and strove 
to drive it in amongst the people. The congregation 
for an hour stood their ground, praying and singing, 
when by main strength the helpless beast, torn and 
beaten both by dogs and men, was forced right up to 
the table on which Wesley stood, when he quietly put 
its head aside, lest its blood should mark his clothes ; 
but the table falling, he was caught in the arms of his 
friends and borne off a little distance, after which he 
finished his discourse. 

One of the most prominent and serviceable pecu- 
liarities of Methodism is to be found in its class- 
meeting — a weekly meeting held for praise and 
prayer, for inquiry into the religious " experience " of 
the members, for mutual encouragement, and for such 
counsel as the " leader " may see fit to give. The 
class-meeting dates from 1742. The number of 
persons flocking to the Societies made it impossible 
for Wesley to continue his practice of personally 
visiting all at their homes at intervals, and inquiring 


into the character of each individual, thus meetin" 
and conversing with all "severally." He therefore 
invited several earnest and sensiljle men to meet 
him, "to whom," he says, "I showed the great 
difficulty I had long found of knowing the people 
who desired to be under my care." They all 
agreed there could be no better method of coming 
to a thorough knowledge of each person than to 
divide them all into classes, as at Bristol, and place 
each class, or company, under the care of a suitable 
leader. This was the origin of the di\ision of the 
Methodist Societies into "classes "for relimous over.siirht 
and mutual help. The division of the Bristol Society 
was at first merely a financial arrangement, though as 
the leaders went round weekly in that Society to col- 
lect the contributions of the members, they noticed first 
one and then another that did not live as they ought. 
On their reporting this to AVesley, it struck him 
immediately, he tells us, " This is the thing, the very 
thing ;" and he called all the leaders together, and told 
them to make particular inquiry into the behaviour 
of those whom they visited weekly. As soon as 
possible, the same method was used in London. Ho 
subsequently resolved to meet aud speak witli every 
member once in three months, and to each whom he 
ai^proved he gave a ticket. This practice continues 
to this day, the ticket being the token of membership 
in the Society. 

This most important step called forth '\\'esley'3 
thankfulness at the time, and the words he wrote 
then may, after nearly a century and a half's cxpcri- 


cncc, be emphasised to-day, " the iinsjieakahlc useful- 
ness of the institution having boen ever since moro 
and more manifest." 

Wesley had sagaciously seen that the religious 
Society was a means most suitable for the preserva- 
tion of godliness in the midst of surrounding evil. It 
gave each member a definite place in a community 
established solely for the conservation of I'eligious 
principle and life ; it enabled each to use his talent, 
however small it might be, for the welfare of the 
rest ; and it gave an opportunity for niutual en- 
couragement, while it placed all under special obser- 
vation and care. It was a home whither the spiritual 
outcast might hurry for shelter, and where brotherly 
words and a brotherly welcome might dissipate fear, 
and it alTorded opportunity for special instruction 
and counsel. It was an organisation at once simple 
and compact. All felt themselves to be bound toge- 
ther by close ties in a religious fellowship. They 
were not isolated atoms, nor was their union that mere 
idea in which "the communion of saints" is so apt 
to lose itself. It was made real by privileged meet- 
Lngs, by personal recognition, by individual responsi- 
bility. How the timid and iialf-persuaded could 
iiave been kept together in a time of fierce perse- 
cution, and amidst the hostile forces abroad, without 
some such bond, it is diflficult to say. The Society 
was a harbour of refuge — a defence. It offered no 
interference with ordinary Church institutions, nor 
was it designed, whatever might grow out of it, to 
constitute a Church organisation. Its meetings wcro 


not to be held in Church hours ; nnd its mcmhcrs were 
encouraged to avail themselves of Church ordinances 
and to live as worthy members of the Church of 
England, Yet the Society was free from any neces- 
sary connection with the Church, save that the clergy- 
man might, were he so minded, be its natural guar- 
dian ; were he not friendly it could subsist without 

The division of the Society into classes was a 
very great advance on the original idea, and was ren- 
dered necessary by the large numbers now gathering 
around Wesley. The precise intention of this di\i- 
sion was the distribution of the toil and responsibility 
of oversight, that every one might come under careful 
and affectionate watchfulness, and the religious cha- 
racter of each be guarded with tender fidelity. It was 
not devised in oi'der to introduce another foi'in of 
religious service, though it led to that ; nor was tlic 
mutual helpfulness of the members at first prominent, 
though this happily grew out of it. It was the com- 
mitting sheep to the care of under-shepherds, and was 
another of those bold, natural, sim])le, and ser\ice- 
able devices which Wesley, led doubtless by Di\ine 
providence, called into play. None of all his many 
j)ractical arrangements has tended more to preserve 
the unity, the continuance, the spiritual fervour, 
and the religious usefulness of his Societies than tin's 
division of the whole into small companies, eacli under 
the care of a trustwoi-thy guardian, whose duty it is 
to watch over his little flock with loving atteutive- 
ucss, and report concerning it at intervals to tlio 



minister. It was the necessary complement of tlio 
itinerant ministry. 

Next in importance to Wesley's preaching must l)0 
placed his devotion to the Societies, in which lay the 
promise of the permanence of his work. In these 
Societies, at first confined to the large towns, and 
gradually spreading to the remoter villages, he had 
great faith, though he often had to mourn over defec- 
tion. But defection seemed to him to be a new 
demand for eftbrt. To find a Society in trouble, 
strife, or decay, was a call of duty, clear as a bugle- 
note, summoning him to fresh endeavour to search 
the evil to the core, to correct it, to revive the 
drooping, and to add fresh strength by adding fresh 

One of the most distinguishing features of Wesley's 
character was his power to persevere under dis- 
couragement and apparent defeat : apparent to others, 
for he himself knew not defeat. It may be truly 
said, and every studerit of Wesley's life must see it, 
that to the reviving and re-reviving of Societies 
among whom he could not stay long enough to act 
the part of a shepherd, but could only visit at inter- 
A'als, must be attributed, more than to almost any- 
thing else, the preservation of Methodism in many 
parts of the kingdom. 



First Visit to the North— John Nelson— Death of Susannca Wesley 
—Newcastle— 1743 -Fu-st Visit to Cornwall— "Wednesbury— 
Persecution — 1744 — First Conference. 

Hitherto Wesley had confined liis labours almost 
exclusively to London and Bristol and the neighbour- 
ing towns, Avith occasional brief trips into Wales. 
About the middle of May, 1742, he set out, by 
pressing request, for the North. Halting at Birstal, 
he met with one John Nelson, a stonemason, who 
had been converted under his ministry — one of the 
fruits of the preaching at Moorfields. The great 
change in Nelson's manner of life arrested the atten- 
tion of his neighbours, and brought many to inquire 
of him, some to put him to the proof. Insensibly, in 
conversation, he was led to explain and enforce the 
Scriptures, and with such effect that his little com- 
pany of listeners gradually increased until his house 
would no longer hold them ; and the beautiful picture 
presents itself of this hard-handed labourer standing 
at the door of his cottage, evening by evening, after 
the toil of the day, talking to his quibbling neighbours 
until they become interested listeners, and ho glides 
Liiscnsibly into the habit of expounding the Scriptures 
as far as he knows them, aided by his experimmital 
acquaintance with the Gospel they contain, until ho 
becomes, quite unintentionally, a preacher. Nor were 

100 WESLEY. 

his efforts fruitless. Many like himself were brought 
out of the darkness of ignorance and the corruptions 
of vice, to purity of life, and to at least the beginnings 
of religious knowledge. The question rises almost 
involuntarily, Whence has sprung the notion that the 
Gospel is the one truth that may or can be taught 
only by the authorised instructor ] 

Wesley preached on the top of Birstal Hill to 
" several hundreds of plain people," spent some time 
in conversation with those who had benefited by 
Nelson's instructions, preached again on the side of 
Dewsbury Moor, and rode on to ISTewcastle-upon- 
Tyne, where he was deeply and painfully affected by 
the drunkenness, and cursing and swearing, even from 
the mouths of little children. Judging this plac.e 
ripe for the Gospel, he began in " the poorest and 
most contemptible part of the toAvn " by singing the 
Hundredth Psalm. Crowds flocked around him, to 
whom he preached, told them who he was, and that 
he would preach there again in the evening. An 
immense concourse gathered. Of this first work in 
what became a very fruitful field, he says, "After 
preaching, the poor people were ready to tread me 
under foot, out of pure love and kindness." He left 
Newcastle at three o'clock the next morninof and 
rode to Boroughbridge, a distance of nearly eighty 
miles. The following day he held a prayer meeting 
at Knaresborough, and pushed on to Bii'stal, where 
in the evening he held a service lasting two and 
a half hours before a multitude of people. Leav- 
ing Birstal, preaching much and reading closely, 


lie came to Epworth ; wlicro, forbidden tlic cliurcli, 
he, in the evening, stood on his father's touilj 
and preached to such a congregation as he believed 
Epworth had never seen before. He remained several 
days, preaching in all the neighbourhood, and striving 
to root out the " stillness " heresy, which he found had 
preceded him wherever he went. His closing service 
was in the churchyard again at Epwortli, when a vast 
multitude was gatliercd together. The service con- 
tinued for nearly tlnx'e hours, and yet they scarce 
knew how to part from him. This is the truly para- 
bolic incident, as Dean Stanley saw it. Pushed — 
almost driven — out of the church, yet clinging to it 
with loving tenacity, he, from the tombs of its pro- 
phets, and within its own consecrated acre, speaks 
to the world with a voice whose vibrations widen as 
the years roll by. 

He passed on to Shefiicld, where, in the midst 
of his sermon, at five o'clock on the morning aftt-r his 
arrival, he was compelled to break off — "our hearts," 
he says, " were so filUnl with the love of God, and our 
mouths with praise and thanksgiving." He then re- 
commenced and finished his discourse. He rode on, 
preaching at Coventry, Evesham, and the various 
towns through which lie passed, until he rcaclic-l 
Bristol, having been six months engaged on this hi.s 
first great evangelistic expeilitioa Thus coinmi'iKM-d 
the most remarkable series of evangelistic tours ever 
recorded — tours that were repeated with unbrokfu 
continuity for half a century! Never, since the found- 
ing of Clnistianity, was an effort made by any jndi- 

102 WESLEY. 

vidual to evangelise a people, at once so direct, so 
systematic, so long continued, and so successful. 

At Bristol lie secured, at length, a week's I'est, all 
disputes being ended. Happy respite i It was needed, 
for fresh sorrow was at hand. Coming to London 
towards the close of July, he found his mother " on 
the borders of eternity." Three days afterwards he 
wrote : — " About three in the afternoon I went to my 
mother, and found her change was near. I sat down 
on the bed-side. She was in her last conflict, unable 
to sjieak, but I believe quite sensible. Her look was 
calm and serene, and her eyes hxed upwards, while 
we commended her soul to God. From three to four 
the silver cord was loosing, and the wheel breaking 
at the cistern ; and then, without any struggle, or 
sigh, or groan, the soul was set at liberty. We stood 
i-ound and fulfilled her last request, uttered a little 
before she lost her speech : ' Children, as soon as I 
am released, sing a psalm of praise to God.'" She 
expired at the Foundry, July 23rd, 1742, aged 
seA'enty-three years. So died one of England's greatest 
mothers ! 

On Sunday, August 1st, in presence of an almost 
innuinerable company of people, he committed her 
body to the earth in Bunhill Fields, " to sleep with 
her fathers," and then, standing by the open grave, he 
addressed the most solemn assembly he ever saw or 
expected to see on this side of eternity. 

On Sunday, September 12th, he was desired to 
preach in an open place called the Great Gardens, 
lying between "Whitechapcl and Coverlet Fields. Here 

THE WORK. 103 

he found a vast multitude gathered together. The 
service was rudely disturbed by a rabl^le trying to 
drive a herd of cows among the listeners ; but, as 
he writes, " the brutes were wiser than their mastei-s. 
They now threw whole showers of stones, one of 
which struck me just between the eyes ; but I felt no 
pain at all, and when I had wiped away the blood, 
went on testifying with a loud voice that God hath 
given to them that believe, ' not the spirit of fear, 
but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.' " The 
effect of this incident upon the congregation may be 
imagined. He bore the scar to his grave. 

London and Bristol were now the scenes of his 
labour until November, when he set out for a second 
visit to Newcastle, where Charles had been success- 
fully labouring for some weeks before. lie arrived 
on the 13th, and the same evening met " the \v ild, 
staring, loving Society." On the following day, 
Sunday, he preached at five o'clock in the morning, 
" a thing never heard of before in these parts ; and 
the victorious sweetness of the grace of God w;us 
present with His word." At ten o'clock he went with 
the Society to All Saints' Church, where connnunicauts 
were present in numbers such as he had nc;ver scon 
except in London or Bristol. After evening service ho 
preached in the squareof the Keelman's Hospital, which 
became a favourite sanctuary witli him, and after- 
wards met the Society, exhorting all who liad set their 
hand to the plough not to look back. Day l)y day 
he preached in and about Newcastle, expounding in 
the house to the Society, and " abroad " to the 

10 i WESLEY. 

multitudes. Nor did the severity of the season hinder 
him. He preached in the hospital square in Novem- 
ber, and though it rained all the time, it disturbed 
neitlier preacher nor congregation. In the middle of 
December, when the cold was so intense tliat he 
could not write for a quarter of an liour with- 
out his hands being benumbed, though his desk 
was Mathin a yard of the chimney, yet, as the 
" house " would not contain the people, he stood, in 
spite of the frost, in the open air. Two days after 
Christmas he preached in the open air again, tlie wind 
driving upon them " like a torrent," and the straw 
and thatch flying round their heads, yet scarce any 
one stiiTed till he closed the service ; so also on the 
following day, when the wind was " high and ex- 
ceeding sharp." His farewell service in the hospital 
square, on the last day of the year, lasted two hours ; 
and then men, women, and children hung upon hira, 
so that he had difficulty in escaping. 

During this visit Wesley laid the foundation stone 
of what became famous as the Orphan House at New- 
castle. It was the largest Methodist meeting-house 
of the time, and the head-quarters of northern 
Methodism. Mr. Tyerman says of it, " Here one of 
the first Sunday-schools in the kingdom was estab- 
lished, and had not fewer than one thousand children 
in attendance. Here a Bible Society existed before the 
British and Foreign Bible Society was formed. Here 
was one of the best choirs in England ; and here among 
the singers were the sons of Mr. Scott, afterwards tlie 
celebrated Lords Eldon and Stowell. Here was tho 

THE WORK. 105 

resting-place of John Vv^'csley's first itinerants; and 
here colliers and keelnien, from all parts of the sur- 
rounding country, would assemble, and after the 
evening service would throw themselves upon the 
Lenchcs and sleep the few remaining hours till Wesley 
preached at five next morning." 

In the evening of New Year's Day, 1743, Wesley 
arrived at Epworth, and on the following day, Sunday, 
he preached at five in the morning, and again at eight 
from his father's tomb ; but he was denied the Sacra- 
ment in the chui'ch by the minister. He travelled 
through Birstal, and came wet and weary to Sheffield, 
and thence, for the first time, to Wednesbury, where 
Charles had preceded him two months before. 
Arriving at four in the afternoon, he preached at 
seven in the Town Hall; and the next day at five. 
At eight he stood in the place where his brother 
preached — a large hollow near the town, wdiich was 
capable of holding four or five thousand people. In 
the evening this place could not contain the crowd 
that assembled. On the following day he preached 
three times, in the intervals speaking to all who 
desired it. Twenty -nine joined the Society on that 
day; one hundred on the next. On the following 
day, after preaching early, he took his leave, and 
hurried on to Bristol, having laid the foundation of a 
work in Wednesbury which was destined to be very 
wide-spread and influential. Having examined the 
Societies closely at Bristol and Kingswood, he re- 
paired to London for a similar jmrpose; he and his 
brother being engaged in this work every day from 


six in the morning till six in the evening for nearly a 
fortnight. He then set out again for Newcastle, 
preaching, as was his invariable practice, wherever 
he halted. He remained in Newcastle two months, 
diligently preaching in that and the surrounding 
cowns and villages, and expounding the Scriptures, in 
order, to the Society. He found many had united 
themselves to him who were not worthy, and with 
searching fidelity put away a large number. 

Some ten miles from Newcastle lay Placey village, 
inhabited only by colliers, who had always been 
reputed to be remarkable for savage ignorance and 
wickedness of every kind. His heart was moved 
towards them. He says : — " Their grand assembly used 
to be on tlie Lord's Day, on \v<iich men, women, and 
children met together to dance, fight, curse and swear, 
and play at chuck, ball, span-farthing, or whatever 
came next to hand. I felt great compassion for 
these poor creatures from the time I heard of them 
firet, and the more because all men seemed to despair 
of them. Between seven and eight I set out with 
John Heally, my guide. The north wind, being 
unusually high, drove the sleet in our faces, which 
froze as it fell, and cased us over presently. When 
we came to Placey, we could very hardly stand As 
soon as we were a little recovered, I went into the 
square and declared Him who ' was wounded for our 
transgressions,' and ' bruised for our iniquities.' The 
[<oor sinners were quickly gathered together, and gave 
earnest heed to the things which were spoken. And 
so they did in the afternoon again, in spite of the 

THE WOUK, 107 

wind and snow, when I besought them to receive liini 
for their king ; to ' repent and believe the Gospc;!.' 
On Easter Monday and Tuesday I preached there 
again, the congregation continually increasing ; and as 
most of these had never in their lives pretended to 
any religion of any kind, they were the more ready to 
cry to God, as mere sinners, for the free redemption 
that is in Christ Jesus." 

One knows not whether to admire more the brave 
fortitude of this act or its tender, compassionate 

He now visited Leeds and Sheffield ; then for- 
ward to Wednesbury, there to find that the first seeds 
of cruel and brutal persecution were being sown in the 
hearts of the people by one whose office it was to 
scatter seed of a good kind. He then went forward to 
Bristol, to get "a week of rest and peace, which was 
refreshing both to body and soul." A short preaching 
tour in Wales followed. At this time Charles paid 
his first visit to Cornwall, and John repaired to Lon- 
don, where he found abundant scope for labour. On 
Trinity Sunday, aftcrthe usual early service, he opened 
a chapel in West Street, near the Seven Dials, of 
which he had obtained a lease. After preaching, he 
administered the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper 
to several hundreds of communicants. The entire 
service lasted five hours. Yet in the evening ho 
jtreachcd ogain in the Great Gardens, to an immense 
congregation, tluui met the leadei-s of the classes, and 
after them the " Bands." On the following Sunday the 
morning service lasted till nearly four o'clock in the 


afternoon, so that he found it needful to divide llio 
communicants into three parts, that there miglit not 
be more than six hundred at once ! His examina- 
tion of the London Society, now numbering one 
thousand nine hundred and fifty, gave him cause for 
great thankfulness. 

Hearing of terrible riots at Wednesbury, rais'vl 
against the Methodists at the instigation of the clergy- 
man, he hurried down to seek legal help for the 
protection of his people ; then pressed forward to 
Newcastle, preaching every day. Having examined 
the Society, he gave himself up to writing, wlien his 
heart was stirred by the crowds of Sabbath idlers he 
beheld on the Sand Hill. He writes, " I resolved, if 
possible, to find them a better employ ; and as soon 
as the service at All Saints' was over, walked straight 
from the church to the Sand Hill and gave ovit a verse 
of a psalm." But though he had company enough, 
"thousands upon thousands crowding togethei'," 
yet such was the hubbub, that, after singing and 
praying for above an hour, and failing to make his 
voice heard, he adjourned to the })rraching room. 
After thi'ee weeks spent in and near Newcastle, he 
returned to London, and then went to Bristol, re- 
deeming every moment of time and every opportunity 
of usefulness. 

From Bristol he set out for his first visit to Corn- 
wall, preaching at the Cross at Taunton, and to " one 
poor sinner at the inn at Exeter," none knowing of 
his coming. On the following day, however, he 
preached, "as some imagined," to half the grown persons 

THE WORK. 109 

cf the city, " all silent and still." For near a month 
he traversed Cornwall, from Launceston to the Land's 
End, preaching three or four times daily, generally 
"abroad," to lai'ger or smaller crowds. For the first 
time the now celebrated Gwennap pit was used for 
preaching, and it was computed that ten thousand 
people were gathered together there. The service 
continued till it was so dark that they could scarce 
see one another, yet there was the deepest attention. 
During this visit he crossed over to the Scillv Isles. Re- 
turning by way of Bristol, he paid another brief visit to 
Wales, when he writes, " Fearing my strength would not 
suffice for preaching more than four times in the day, 
I only spent half-an-hour in prayer with the Society 
in the morning. At seven o'clock, and in the evening, 
I preached in the Castle, and at eleven in Wenvo 
Cliurch; and in the afternoon, in Port Kerry 

Repaii'ing to Bristol, he employed several days in 
examining and purging the Society, which still con- 
sisted, after many had been put away, of more than 
seven hundred persons. Tlie leaders now brouglit in tlie 
contributions from their classes, and the Society's debt 
was discharged. He then rode off to visit Wednes- 
bury, preaching on the way at several places, including 
Quinton and Birmingham. This visit to Wednesbury 
must not be passed over hurriedly. Wesley liero 
exi)erienced the violence of a rabble mob, who were 
little better, if not worse, than brute beasts. For 
five hours he was entirely in tlicir hands. While 
he was writing, a mob beset the house, crying aloud 

110 WESLEY. 

for him. Getting the ringleaders within the doors, 
lie spoke a few words, after which they became 
calmer. He then bade them make way for him, 
and he went forward into the crowd, demanding 
what they desired with him. The cry arose, " We 
want you to go to the justice." " That I will, with all 
my heart," was his reply ; and forward they went, 
first to one magistrate and then to another, but without 
avail, their worships sending word they were in bed. 
By this time he had won the hearts of those around 
him, so that fifty of them volunteered to defend him. 
But a great mob from the neighbouring town, Walsall, 
came rushing upon them, and drove the defenders away, 
leaving Wesley to the mercy of the new rabble. They 
dragged him along to the town, where, seeing a door 
open, he attempted to go in, but a man catching him 
by the hair pulled him back into the crowd. Making 
another effort, he demanded if they were willing to 
hear him speak. " No, no ! " they cried ; " Knock hia 
brains out ! Down with him ! Kill him at once ! " He 
managed, however, to engage their attention for a 
quarter of an hour, until his voice failed, and the 
uproar re-commenced. But some of the ringleaders, 
at length, moved by shame, took pity upon him, and 
formed a body-guard around him, and with much 
difficulty and risk got him away, but not until he had 
been very roughly handled. He at length reached 
Wednesbury, escaping with the loss of a flap of his 
waistcoat and a little skin from one of his hands. 

He reflected afterwards with thankfulness that 
though many strove to throw or drag him down, ho 


never once stumbled ; that though a lusty man struck 
him several times with a large oaken stick, he never 
hit him on the back of the head, which would 
probably have ended his troubles ; though another 
raised his hand to strike him, he on a sudden let it drop, 
and only stroked his head, saying, " What smooth 
hair he has ; " and though one struck him on the 
breast with all his might, and another on the mouth 
so that the blood gushed out, yet he was without pain, 
and from beginning to end was as calm as if in his 
own study. The next day he rode through the 
town amid marked expressions of " cordial affection," 
so that he scarcely could believe what he saw and 

He went througli to\n"i after town preaching, till he 
reached Newcastle again, and spent three weeks in his 
favourite toil, and in regulating the Societies there 
and in the surrounding villages. He then turned his 
steps to Leeds, Birstal, Wakefield, Sheffield, Notting- 
ham, and returned to London on the 1st of December, 
w'here he found employment for several weeks in 
" speaking severally " to the members of the Society, 
now numbering two thousand two hundred persons. 

The year 1744 was one of increasing labour and 
usefulness, if labour could increase where every hour 
was husbanded for work. The early part of the year 
Wesley spent in London, where the poor moved his 
heart ajjain, and he collected about £200 for their 
relief. He purposed leaving town on the 27 Lh of 
February, but, understanding that a proclamation 
was just published requiring all Papists to go out of 



London before the Friday following, and as Hm 
strange report had gone abroad that he was a Papist, 
he determined to stay another week, that, as he says, 
he "might cut off all occasion of reproach." This 
gave him further opportunity to procure raiment for 
tlie poor. While he was engaged in this work " a 
justice of peace came with the parish officers, being on 
their search for Papists." He seized the opportunity 
to talk with them at large both of his principles and 
practice. When he went out, " a pretty large mob " 
attended him to the door of the house to which he was 
going. But they did him no hurt, " only gaped, and 
stared, and hallooed as loud as they could." 

On the 11th of March he set out for Bristol. 
Riding through Newbury the next day, his horse fell 
and threw him into a deep mire, which had happily 
no other effect than greatly to dirty his clothes. The 
next day he preached at Kingswood and Bristol. A 
week later, ha\ing received a summons from the 
justices of Surrey, he appeared at their coiirt at 
St. Margaret's Hill. Their worships demanded. " Sir, 
are you willing to take the oaths to His Majesty, 
and to sign the declaration against Popery]" He 
replied, " I am; " signed, and returned home. Towards 
the end of March he started for Cornv.all, where 
his toil was very great, and not lessened by the 
unusually severe and wintry weather. On the 1st 
of April he rode to Sticklepath, preached at one in 
an open place ; a storm of rain and hail began, but 
the congregation did not move. At five he preached 
again. At the close of the service many of the poor 

THE WOIIK. ll;j 

people followed him to the house where he lodged, 
and he spent another hour in exliortation and 
prayer and thanksgiving. After preaching one 
morning as usual, at five o'clock, he rode for 
some hours through a storm of hail and rain, and 
came, wet and weary, to Treviut, but preaclied 
again. The next day he rode over a snow-covered 
moor, seven miles of the way in a hail -storm; ho 
reached Gwennap, and preached in the evening. TJiis 
picturesque place had a fascination for him, and 
he returned again in a few days, and thus describes 
the scene : — " I stood on the wall in the calm, still 
evening, with the setting sun behind me, and almost 
an innumerable multitude before, beliind, and ou 
either hand. Many, likewise, sat on the little hills at 
some distance from the bulk of the conirrejiation. But 
they could all hear distinctly." This place, re-modelled 
and enclosed, is now annually visited at Whitsuntide 
by thousands of Methodists, who hold a great com- 
memorative service on the site of the " Founder's " 

On another day, after preaching once or twice, lie 
rode through constant rain for some hours, and canu', 
" wet through and through," to Morva, wliere, the 
people being assembled, he preached. Tlie next day 
he rode to Penzance, dried his clothes, ami preached, 
again in the afternoon at Galval, and in the evening 
at St. Ives. The following evening foun^l liim 
again at Gwennap, and the day after, being Sunday, 
he preached there at live in the morning; then 
to many thousands at St. Stithians; again, in 


114 WESLEY. 

the evening at the pit, tlie rain continuing through- 
out the sei'vice ; then he closed the day with a 
meeting of the Society. No wonder he complained 
that his teeth and liead ached so violently that he 
felt he had hardly any senses; or that some days 
after he "found a natural v>ish for ease and a resting- 
place ; " though his brave spirit cried out, " Not yet ; 
eternity is at hand." 

After a visit to Wales, and a rest for eight days — 
"though not unemployed" — in Bristol, he set forth 
on his northern tour. The country at this time was 
in a great ferment, fearing an invasion hy the French. 
Several of Wesley's lay-preachers were taken by the 
press-gang ; and wild rumours, declaring him to be a 
Papist, and in league with the Pretender, were freely 
circulated, subjecting him to much inconvenience in 

Wesley returned from the North on the 20th of 
June ; and the following week held his First Con- 
ference, which marks a very distinct resting-place 
in the review of his work. 

Nothing could exceed the joyous toil of these first 
years of his great evangelistic labours. His own heart 
was free. He rejoiced hx the assurance of his personal 
interest in the Divine mercy. He had peace with 
God. To his utmost he strove to please God ; and he 
had the fullest scope for the exercise of his zealous 
charity towards men. With his high estimate of 
righteousness, his painful knowledge of the moral 
condition of his country, and of the inactivity of the 
clergy — concerning whom, however, comparatively 

TUE WOUIC, 1 1 ,') 

few A\ords escape liim — it was no wonder that liis 
yearning pity burst forth like a flood, and tliat ho 
poured out his life in the service of his fellows. 

His ministry was attended by crowding thousands, 
over whom he exerted an extraordinary power ; for 
by his winning earnestness he held them enchained 
in spite of wind or rain or cold. He did not trifle. 
He had one object — the .saving of souls. To this enil 
he exposed sin, its character and danger, and in no 
measured terms. His word was mighty ; men and 
women trembled and cried aloud. He had a soverei'Mi 
remedy for all repentant ones — the free proclamation 
of pardon to the penitent, humble believer. liis 
ministry was wondrously successful, even at the be- 
ginning. Hundreds believed, and began a new life, 
in the conduct of which they were constantly urged 
to the utmost care. Hi'di standards of living were set 
before them. Righteousness was neither a name nor 
a notion with him. It was a condition attained by 
faith, but retained only by the utmost obedience to 
law. He taught and exemplified charity, patience 
under provocation, olx'dienee to rule, strictness in 
living, love and good-will to all. 

He had the stimulus of success. He was but little 
over forty, healthy, and very active, and thoroughly 
under control. He had disciplined both mind and 
body : the one by hard study, the other by austere 
rule. He abhorred indolence. When at cullego ho 
said, " Leisure and I have parted company ;" and they 
never again shook hands to the diy of his dcatli. 
Oppo.sition threw him upon his i)rinciple.s, which were 

116 WESLEY. 

the very spring of all his labour. He was utterly 
unselfish. He was bright, sparkling, happy. "I Jo 
not remember," said he, at seventy-seven, " to have 
felt lowness of spirits for one quarter of an hour since 
I was born." Heady of speech, decorous in manner, 
he conquered his enemies by his wit, his goodness, or 
his kind actions. He feared nothing but sin, and 
mourned little except over it, and the unhappy working 
of error amongst the newly formed and imperfectly 
instructed Societies — Churches he never called them. 

It is worth while to pause at this period of 
his career to contemplate the features of his great 
success. It was the success of supremacy in all 
circumstances. He seems to have been a match lor 
foes and a piince amongst friends. He had more 
learning than most of the ablest men he met ; and 
certainly it was^more readily available. He could 
cope with the most skilful in dialectics : he not only 
wrote on logic, but he lived by it. He had a marked 
singleness of purpose, which disarmed even mobs, 
before whom he was fearless and calm. If he spoke 
of wickedness, there was a guilty response m the 
breast of every man in that degenerate age. If he 
spoke of righteousness, there were some hungering 
and thirsting ones to whom the word was as a spring 
ill a desert. If he raised a high standard of living, 
elect spirits amongst men were attracted. 

But his greatest success was in the conversion of 
men. Multitudes not only listened attentively to his 
voice, but fell to the earth with the confession of sin 
upon their lips, and with loud cries to Heaven for mercy. 

THE WORK. 1 1 7 

To tliese he proclaimed the Gospel — a Gospel of free 
grace ; and hundreds rejoiced in believing it. The 
fruits of righteousness were the fruits he coveted ; and 
in this his success was exceedingly great. Although 
false powers, as with the breath of an east wind, 
blasted much fair blossom of promise, yet men were 
changed in the habits and manners of their lives, and 
even whole neighbourhoods underwent a moral trans- 
formation. It was the success of an accomplished 
purpose — a purpose very distinctly proposed from the 
l)eginning — the revival of I'eli^ion throucrhout the 
country. This in some measure he witnessed wherever 
he went. 

The first Conference, a natural and necessary de- 
velopment of Methodism, plainly marks a new era in 
its history. For though there is nothing to prove, or 
even suggest, that Wesley then designed the forma- 
tion of a distinct body, or Church, yet matters had 
assumed a shape and an importance independently 
of his pui-pose and probably beyond his expectation. 
lie had struck a rock from which waters gushed out, 
and he could not wholly determine whither or in what 
channels they should flow. 

The Conference was composed of the leading spirits 
of the movement, called together by Wesley for the 
pui'pose of advising with him on " the best methods 
of carrying on the work of God " — woi'ds which 
indicate that by this time he saw a distinct and 
important work Avas before them. What that work 
was neither he nor tliey could precisely define, for 
there was no premeditation in their design. 

118 WESLEY. 

There were six clergymen j^resent — tlie two 
Wesleys ; John Hodges, Rector of Wenvo ; Henry 
Piers, Vicar of Bexley ; Samuel Taylor, Vicar of 
Quinton ; and Henry Meriton, from the Isle of Man : 
also four lay-preachers — Thomas Richards, Thomas 
Maxheld, John Bennet, and John Downes. The Con- 
ference consisted essentially of the six clergymen, and 
the first question, when they assembled, was "whether 
any of our lay-l^rethren should be present." It Wiis 
agreed to invite from time to time such of them as it 
was judged proper. The Methodist Conference in its 
recent changes has not contradicted its original spirit. 
These men met us brethren in a family, as co-workers 
in a godly enterprise. They had no thought that they 
were laying the foundations of a great edifice. 

They began the Conference by partaking together 
of the Lord's Supper. Then, on the morning of the 
first day, Charles Wesley preached. After deter- 
mining the spirit in which the Conference should be 
conducted, they affirmed, as a first principle, the 
I'esponsibility of private judgment : " Every man must 
judge for himself, for every one must give an account 
for himself to God." They then proceeded to con- 
sider, " (1) What to teach. (2) How to tea,ch. 
(3) What to do — i.e., how to regulate our doctrine, 
discij)line, and practice." Here is no ecclesiastical 
structure. Wesley's work bears no resemblance to a 
building, wrought according to plan. It is a growth 
fi'om a vital seed ; fi'ee to grow as the trees of the field 
b(.neath the open f X2:)anse of heaven, and gathering up 
from surrounding elements whatever will meet tho 

THE WORK. 119 

nocesrsities of its progressive life, and will assimilato 
with its original germ, but falling into inevitable 
decay if its inherent vital princij)le be destroyed. 

Lady Huntingdon invited the Conference to her 
lionse, where Wesley preached from the text, " What 
hath God wrought?" 

In tlie course of the Conference the question was 
considered, "Can we have a seminary for labourers'?" 
The discussion was postponed, and the plan was never 
carried out in Wesley's time. 

It is obvious they felt their somewhat anomalous 
relation to the Church. With the desire to remain 
within her fold, and the equal desire to carry forward 
their irregular work, they interpret the definition of 
the Church in favour of their position, and throw the 
responsibility of separation on opposing clergymen. 

Then, with a few rules for their guidance, and 
with the one purpose before them, "to save their own 
souls and the souls of them that hear them," they go 
forth, unfettered by plans, to be used as God by His 
providence may direct. At this time there was no 
division of the country into " circuits," or appointment 
of men to particular spheres. 

The Conferences were held annually. At each a 
review was taken of the year's work, its results were 
recounted, and the plans of campaign for the following 
year laid down. Wesley attended them all. Ho 
never gave up his position as the centre and leader of 
the movement. All who aided him came to him. They 
proffered their services, and were accepted or rejected 
hy him as he judged meet. 

] 20 WESLEY. 


Evangelisation— Great Labour — 1745-1747 — First Visit to Ireland 
—1748-1749— Grace Murray— The Lions of Bolton. 

From the first Conference Wesley's work of evangeli- 
sation assumes a more systematic character, and 
settles down into the supreme labour of his life. 
Nothing is allowed to intermit the series of his 
evangelistic tours. Year by year, for more than half 
a century, did he traverse these islands alone, or with 
one or more of his itinerants. Long years of con- 
tinuous labour, all directed to one single end, all 
carried out on the original plan without any great 
■variation, or any striking novelty to add fresh fuel to 
a fading fire, demanded a most indomitable energy, 
a singleness of purpose, and the support of great prin- 
ciples. Most men find stimulus for protracted toil in 
fresh scenes and new devices. He maintained his in 
the old ruts. The sprightly spring with which many 
enter upon new schemes, Avhich so often either droop 
into mere routine or die down into a gradually 
waning effort, Avas in his case kept up with unflagging 
freshness to the very end. As Mr. Tyerman (to whom 
the writer cannot sufficiently express his indebtedness) 
says, " While all his old clerical friends either died, 
or were disabled, or otherwise were obliged to relin- 
quish the itinerant ministry, he, and he alone, ended 

THE WORK. 121 

a.s lie first began ; and from 1735 to 1791, a period of 
lifty-tive years, lived, not the enviable life of a settled 
pastor, but the homeless life of a wandering Evan- 
gelist." It was a grand monotony of holy toil, which no 
weariness could abate and no discouragement daunt. 

The full record of Wesley's life can be none other 
than a daily and a very minute itinerary, for he 
crowded so much into every day that each has its own 
peculiar interest. Yet, amid a singular variety of 
incidents, this life preserves its unity, because its one 
aim is so steadily and unweariedly kept in view. 
This gi'eat story requires volumes for the telling. His 
own abridged journals, much of them very tersely 
written, occupy four octavo volumes, though they 
omit thirty years of his life. The manuscript jovirnals 
fill twenty-six small volumes, and are written mostly 
in shorthand. The true greatness of this life lay in 
the greatness of its labour and the lofty simplicity of 
its aim. 

Undoubtedly, of all Wesley's great works his 
evangelistic work was the greatest : for, though he 
inaugurated a cheap and wide-spread literature, and 
introduced some of the best pieces of English theology 
and practical divinity to popular notice ; though he 
founded schools of various kinds in different parts of 
the country ; though he wrote and translated hymns 
and psalms, and published books of music and trea- 
tises on singing, and taught the poor to chant saintly 
verses from the many books of praise he circulated 
through the country ; though he initiated many works 
of practical benevolence and philanthropy ; and though 

122 WKSLEY. 

lie promoted by word, by pen, and by example — more 
than he has always had credit for — obedience to law 
and to right government ; yet his pre-eminent work 
— a work most distinguished among his many works, 
and tliat distinguished him among so many workers — 
was his unwearied, unparalleled labours as an itinerant 
preacher of the Gospel. 

No biographer of Wesley need exaggerate his 
labours. The barest computation is prodigious. 
Robbed of all detail, which could only be given in 
widely-extended records such as no biographer save 
himself has yet had the patience to write, and for 
much of which there are no published memoranda, 
the baldest outline gives an amount of work that is 
truly astounding. It has been calculated that during 
the fifty years of his itinerant ministry he travelled a 
quarter of a million of miles, and preached more than 
forty thousand sermons. Yet nothing but a minute 
record of his labours could convey an adequate 
impression of their greatness. No mere summary 

The answer to the question. How could this man 
exert so great an influence over multitudes of men in 
the nation 1 must be found in this story of work thus 
lepeated with unwavering monotony year after year. 
Over and over and over again the country is traversed, 
from the north of Scotland to Land's End, and 
through the entire principality, and the length and 
breadth of Ireland. 

Christmas and the early days of the new year 
are generally spent in London, where a watch-night 

THE WORK. 123 

service closes the labour of the old year, and, 
separated by a few moments of silent prayer only, 
lieiiins the toil of the new. The earlier weeks of 
the year have scarcely ended ere he is wending 
his way, riding and reading, to Bristol. The 
chill winds and biting storms of early spring yearly 
meet him pushing his way to Newcastle and the north 
of Scotland ; then he goes westward to Whitehaven, 
Holyhead, or Parkgate, and over channel to Ireland, 
returning through Lancashire and Yorkshire ; or 
Cheshire, Derbyshire, and the INIidlands. Then, in 
longer and hotter days, he pursues his course by way 
of Gloucester, or London and Oxford, to Bristol and 
Cornwall, visiting the Societies in Somerset and 
Devon, and returning to London to take his "little 
journeys" into Kent or Hampshire; to Northampton, 
Herts, or Norfolk. Then he repairs to London again, 
to complete the year where it was begun. This he 
continues year after year, only varying the route as 
necessity may demand, but never varying the steady 
patient endeavour to preach in season and out of 
season. But lie is not a mere pi-eacher to multitudes. 
He has learnt the value of an individual life, and will 
ride for hours to visit one man, or will argue or 
Avrite with unending patience to secure another; and 
for hours together will pray with an anxious and 
troubled inquirer. To a rajjidity of action that 
astonishes, he adds a patient ])lodding continuance, a 
dogged, though calm perseverance tliat is equally sur- 
prising. Had there been no unusual combination of 
elements of power^ the mere iteration of ordinary work 

1 2 Ir WESLEY. 

must liave ultimately proJuced marked results. The 
water must liave worn the stones. 

Year by year he journeyed and read, for such was 
his habit, generally on horseback, through the length 
and breadth of the hind, at all seasons, in all weathers, 
in heat and cold, hail, rain, and snow, through frost or 
driving wind ; preaching wherever he went, in churches 
or private houses, barns or market-halls, at town- 
crosses, on hill-sides, in gardens and inn-yards, in 
green fields, or open streets — anywhere "abroad," as 
his expression was, wherever and whenever it was 
possible ; early in the morning, at seven, six, five, 
or four o'clock, and even late into the night, only 
avoiding church-hours, to crowds or few, and not 
unfrequently for an extended time. 

Year by year this irrepressibly active Evangelist, 
" unhasting, unresting," with an almost unparalleled 
energy, exerted himself to fulfil the ministry which he 
believed he had received of the Lord Jesus. There 
was no abatement of his energy even when amid great 
discouragements, or when external circumstances 
diverted the current of that energy. If he could 
not preach in churches, he would in the field. If not 
in the field, he would in the "house" (now called 
chapel), or to the Societies, in their different rooms, 
or would spend his time in the sifting examination of 
his adherents, in the visitation of the sick, in service 
to prisoners, or in some of the prodigious literary 
work which in the midst of all he accomplished. 

The toil of long journeys, begun early and ending 
late, is overlooked or lost in the diligence of i^cading 

THE WORK. 125 

or the joy of public service in the towns where he 
rests for the night, or halts for mid-day meal. The 
journey that occupies him two or three days is not 
lost time ; for lie reads as he rides, and preaches 
where he rests, and speaks on the one question of 
personal religion kindly but closely to fellow-travellers, 
or to those who wait on him, and, as though by force 
of will, commands sleep when, and for as long, as 
he needs it. 

The Conference being closed, Wesley applied him- 
self to separate from the London Society such as 
walked not according to the Gospel, reducing the 
■ number to one thousand nine hundred. " But 
number," he said, " is an inconsiderable circum- 

Early in July he was introduced to Mr. Perronet, 
vicar of Shoreham, Kent. He hoped to have, and 
afterwards had, " cause of blessing God for the ac- 
quaintance begun that day." He spent some time in 
Oxford, preaching every day, so Dr. Kennicott tells 
us, in courts, public-houses, and elsewhere; and on the 
morning of the 24:th of August, " he held forth twice 
in private at five and eight, and came to St. Mary's 
at ten o'clock," where he preached for the last time 
before the University. The sermon created great 
excitement, especially on account of what was thought 
to be its extravagant censures of the University. He 
wrote, " I am now clear of the blood of these men. I 
have fully delivered my own soul." He left Oxford 
the same day, and preached in Wycombe in the 


The remainder of the year was spent in incessant 
labours alternating between London and Bristol and 
their respective neighbourhoods. 

Early in 1745 he is out again on his way to New- 
castle, calling at several towns, and travelling over the 
pathless waste of snow — "the causeways in many 
places being impassable, and turnpike roads not known 
in these parts of England till some years afterward." 
"Many a rough journey have I had before," he writes, 
"but one like this I never had: between wind and 
hail and rain, and ice and snow and driving sleet and 
piercing cold. But it is past. Those days will return 
no more, and are therefore as though they had never 
been." This six days' journey covered two hundred 
and eighty miles. 

Two months were spent in carefully searching the 
northern Societies, and building them up with fuller 
teaching, visiting the sick, and continuously pursuing 
his £;reat and varied laboui-s. Then oratherinc; the New- 
castle Society one morning, he held a parting service at 
half-i)ast four; at eight o'clock he preached "abroad" 
in Chester-le-Street ; at mid-day reproved a company 
of swearers at Darlington, and in the evening preached 
again in an inn at Northallerton, when a Catholic priest 
expressing a wish that he had time to preach in his 
house at Osmotherley, he replied he would have time, 
and ordered out the horses immediately, and came 
thither between nine and ten o'clock. In about 
an hour the people were gathered together, when 
he preached to them. It was after twelve o'clock 
before he lay down ; " yet (through the blessing 

THE WORK. 127 

of God)," lie writes, " I felt no ^Yeariness at all." The 
next morning he preaclied at five o'clock to a larye 

He then pursued his way to Grimsby, preaching to 
"a stupidly rude and noisy congregation." On the 
Sunday he preached at Epworth, at five o'clock in 
the house, and at eight at the Cross, and again in 
the evening to most of the adults in the town, besides 
attending service in the church to hear another railing 
accusation. Thence he pressed forward to Leeds, 
Armley, and Birstal, being constrained at the last- 
named place to continue his discourse nearly an hour 
•longer than usual, God pouring out such a blessing, he 
says, that he knew not how to leave off. 

At Bradford he found the labour of them made 
void who made void the law through faith. He then 
visited several places in Lancashire and Cheshire; 
afterwards he preached at Bongs, in Derbyshire, where 
" the word was as dew upon the tender herb." Near 
Chapel-en-le-Frith a miller, near whose pond he stood, 
tried to drown his voice by letting out the water from 
the mill-dam, which fell with a great noise. But it 
was labour lost ; for his strength was such that his 
voice was heard "to the very skirts of the ci-owd." 
At Shefiield he preached to a large and quiet congre- 
gation. In ]May he was at Nottingliam and afterwards 
at Wednesbury, where the number of people, even at 
five o'clock, obliged him to preach " abroad ; " then 
after service in the church he preaclied at one o'clock 
at Tipton Green, at four at Wednesbury, and at six 
near Bii'mingham, where it was dangerous for them 

'128 WESLEY. 

who stood to hear, for the stones a.nd dirt were flyiii,^ 
from every side almost without intermission for nearly 
an houi-. This laborious day closed with a meeting of 
the Society, whom he exhorted, " in spite of men and 
devils, to continue in the grace of God." After an 
absence of three months he returned to London, where 
he spent a month, and then went down to Cornwall, 
where the joyfulness of preaching to large crowds of 
attentive hearers alternated with the rudest and 
most annoying persecutions. 

Then he peacefully found refreshment of both soul 
and body in Bristol. Here the second Conference 
was held, commencing August 1st. Only one clergy- 
man was present except the Wesleys. Seven lay 
assistants, or itinerants, were there, and one gentle- 
man not a preacher. The Conference was occupied 
mainly on practical and doctrinal questions. 

Having visited the little Societies in Wiltshire 
and Somerset, he started for London, and thence 
went to Leeds, where the excited mob treated him 
and his Society "to a pelting with stones and dirt." 

At Newcastle he found the utmost consternation, 
news having just arrived that the Pretender (Charles 
Stuart) had entered Edinburgh. He remained until 
all danger was over, ministering to the Societies and 
preaching repentance to crowds alike of civilians and 
soldiers. At Gateshead the congregation was so 
moved that he began again and again, and knew not 
how to conclude. 

Passing through Leeds again on the 5th November, 
he stopped tlie merrymaking by informing the magis- 


tj-ates that he had met several exi)resses on the road 
sent to countermand the army moving southward, the 
rebels having crossed the Tweed. He passed through 
Cheshire after many interruptions from " those poor 
tools of watchmen, who stood with great solemnity 
at the end of almost every village." Coming to 
Wednesbury in the dai'k, he stuck fast in a quagmire 
at the end of the town ; but several coming with 
candles, he managed to get out, leaving them to dis- 
engage the horse while he walked on and preached ; 
as he did the next day at five, at eight, at one, 
and at four o'clock to " well nigh tlie whole 
town." The following day he preached at Birming- 
ham, and reached London the next day but one ; 
and gave himself up to writing, especially to finishing 
the " Earnest Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion," 
one of the ablest of all his works. 

The ajiproach of the rebels causing great alarm, a 
day of national fasting and prayer was observed. 
Wesley preached three times, and distributed many 
thousands of tracts, which provoked others to do like- 
wise, the Lord Mayor amongst them ; a copy of " An 
Earnest Exhortation to Serious Repentance " being 
given to every householder in London. He was now 
urged to renounce the Church of England by his 
brother-in-law, Hall, who, on Wesley's refusal, left the 
Methodists. Hall subsequently lost his religion, but 
died a penitent in 1776. 

Wesley commenced the year 1746 by preaching at 
four o'clock in the morning. Riding to Bristol, he read, 
on the road. Lord King's account of the primitive 

1 30 WESLEY. 

Church, and wrote, " In spite of the vehement jjrejudice 
of my education, I was ready to believe that this was a 
fair and impartial draught ; but if so, it would follow 
that Bishops and Presbyters are (essentially) of one 
order, and that originally every Christian congrega- 
tion was a Church independent of all others." The 
influence of this book upon him is seen in the decisions 
of the Conference of the following year, and in his sub- 
sequent views. 

He remained in Bristol about a month, and then 
set forward to Newcastle, though with much difliculty, 
the common roads being impassable for part of the way. 
In consequence of the heavy rains he was obliged to 
leave the high-road and take to the fields, and came 
tlie first night, wet and dirty, to Evesham ; thence 
he went to Birmingham, then forward, from early 
morning till evening, through rain and snow, to 
Stafibrd, where he preached and formed a Society. 
At Leeds the mob threw whatever came to hand, 
striking him several times, and once or twice in the 
face. An appeal to the Recorder stopped these dis- 
graceful proceedings. 

Little more than a fortnight was spent in New- 
castle, but the time was employed in hard work of 
various kinds, not the least being the visitation 
of the sick, of whom there were very many, no less 
than two thousand of the troops having died in the 
camp. Here he preached with so much effect that 
though, on one occasion, a vehement storm began in the 
middle of the sermon, driven by the cold north-east wind 
on a March day, yet the congregation did not move 

THE WORK. 131 

At Nottingham his Society gave him trouble. 
At Wediiesbury and Birmingham he found anti- 
nomianism rife. By the end of March he reached 
Bristol, laid the first stone of the new " house " 
at Kingswood, then worked his way to London and 
back to Bristol by the early part of May, and there 
held his third Conference. Doctrinal subjects were 
farther discussed ; also the important questions of the 
call and qualifications of the lay-preachers. At this 
Conference, which lasted two days only, the distri- 
bution of the country into " circuits " was first pro- 
, posed. 

In order to save expense, and for general good, 
he tries to persuade the poor of his Societies to leave 
oflT the use of tea, setting the example himself, at 
much personal inconvenience — a noteworthy example 
of self-denial for the good of others. He establishes a 
" lending-stock," relieving above two hundred and 
fifty persons in the course of one year, and setting up 
some in business. 

After a fortnight's visit to Wales, he started in 
September for his Cornish tour. At Plymouth Dock 
he preached at half-past four in the morning, then 
rode to Gwennap, arriving at seven o'clock in the 
evening, when, the congregation awaiting him, he at 
once preached, and " without faintness or weariness." 
On the Sunday he preached at five o'clock, the house 
not holding the people ; at eight again to a large 
congregation at Marva, then rode on to Zennor before 
the Chui'cli service began, and immediately after 
service preached again near the churchyard ; and at 

132 WESLEY. 

St. Ives again at five o'clock. The day was finished 
by the usual meeting of the Society. Another day, 
after taking leave of the brethren at St. Ives at 
morning service, he rode to Bray, and preached in the 
open air, and again at six o'clock, at Sithney, where 
night came on, and he finished by the light of the 
moon, intending then to hold a meeting of the 
Society, but the people crowded round him so, he 
met them all together, and exhorted them " not to 
leave their first love." The next day, Sunday, delay- 
ing service for the sake of them who came from far, 
he preached in the open air at eight ; again at one 
near Porkellis, and at half-past four, at Gwennap to 
" an immense multitude of people." At six, he took 
horse and rode for three hours to St. Columb. And 
so on all through the journey, till he reached Exeter, 
" weary enough ; " but preached again with una- 
bated ardour and frequency, nearly killing liim- 
self with incessant toil. He reached London in 
October, where he spent the remainder of the year. 
Amongst other benevolent schemes that he devised 
was one to provide physic for the sick poor, for which 
he engaged the services of an apothecary and an ex- 
perienced surgeon. The first day about thirty came, 
and in three weeks three hundred. This was continued 
for several years, but the number of applicants so 
increased that the expense was more than he could 
bear. It was the beginning of many similar efforts, 
one of which is said to have been the City of London 

Towards the close of the year he resumed a vege- 

THE WORK. 133 

table diet, wliicli he continued till compelled to 
relijiquisli it. He was now living as austerely as an 
ancborite, and had all the severity without the un- 
naturalness of a monk. 

Thus ended a year of immense labour in preach- 
ing and travelling, in visiting and nourishing his 
Societies, and in superintending the various benevolent 

Early in the follo^ving year (IT-iT) he went down 
to Bristol, and spent a week in great peace ; then 
visited the Societies in Somerset and Wilts, and 
■ returned to London to spend a fortnight in examina- 
tion of the classes. Then setting forth northward, 
long before daybreak on the IGtli of February, he 
came by two o'clock, through a violent storm of wind 
and snow and hail, to Polten, where at six he 
preached. Before daybreak the next day he and 
his companion set forward with much difficulty, the 
untracked snow covering the roads, and making it 
hard to keep their horses on their feet. Then the 
wind rose higher and highei*, till it was ready to 
overturn both man and beast. But on they went, 
till in the middle of an open field the storm of 
rain and hail drove through their coats, great and 
small, boots, and everything, and yet froze as it fell, 
even upon their eyebrows ; but through drifts of snow 
they pushed their way, till at sunset they came, 
" cold and weary," to a little town called Brig- 
Casterton. The next day they pressed forward, partly 
on foot and partly on horseliack, till they reached 
Grantham, and finally Epworth, where, on the follow- 

134 WESLEY. 

ing Sunday, Wesley preached at five and eiglit in 
the " room," and after evening prayers, on this hard 
winter day, at the Town Cross to most of the adult 

He spent six or seven happy weeks in Newcastle 
and the neighbourhood, preaching, readiiig rhetoric 
and ethics with some young men, probably candidates 
for the itinerant work, visiting and examining the 
Society, now reduced from eight to four hundred, and 
amidst all snatching time for much reading. 

Six weeks more were occupied in his return journey 
to London. He passed through the principal towns 
of the West Riding of Yorkshire, preaching three and 
four times daily. On Thursday, the 7th of May, he 
came to Manchester, and found not only that notice 
had been given that he would preach, but that the 
people had already assembled. He was now in a 
creat strait. The house would not contain a tenth 
part of the people, and he knew not " how the un- 
broken spirits of so large a town would endure preach- 
ing in the street." Besides that, having ridden at a 
swift trot for several hours in a sultry day, he was 
both faint and weary. But after considering that he 
was not going a warfare at his own cost, he walked 
straight to Salford Cross, and preached at once to an 
innumerable crowd of people. 

He came to London by the end of May, and on 
Sunday, the 31st, after preaching at seven o'clock in 
Moorfields, was desired by Mr. Bateman (who had 
been converted under Howel Harris's ministry in 
Wales) to preach a charity sermon at his church, St. 

THE WORK. 135 

Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield The crowd was 
so great he had difficulty in getting into the church. 
Thus, after an exclusion of eight years, he is again 
admitted to a City pulpit. 

On the 15th of June the fourth Conference was 
begun. Six clergymen were present, including Mr. 
Perronet, Vicar of Shoreham, Mr. Bateman, of St. 
Bartholomew, London, and Howel Harris. Several 
lay " assistants " and one " local preacher " were also 
present. From the returns presented to the Con- 
ference it appears there were in ditTerent parts of the 
country twenty-two "assistants" and thirty-eight 
" local preachers — ' those that assist us chiefly in one 
place.'" Many practical questions were considered; 
the preachers probing themselves as to their fidelity 
in " field-preaching." 

On the following week Wesley started for Cornwall, 
calling at Bristol, Avhere he preached in the Old 
Orchard to rich and poor, a great multitude : it was 
" a solemn and a joyful hour." The following day 
he set out at three o'clock, the rain began at four ; 
at seven he was " dropping wet;" yet he took horse 
ao-ain. and rode through continuous rain to Exeter, 
where, anticipating the election, he seized tho oppor- 
tiinity of writing " A Word to a Freeholder," while 
his clothes dried ; then set out again. At Plymouth 
a wild mob awaited him ; but he walked straight into 
the midst of them, having long learnt " always to 
look a mob in the face." The month's record is a 
beautiful reiteration of toilsome journeying, of frequent 
j.roaching, of hearty and loving reception from saiue, 


of the brutal and cruel conduct of others, of faitlifiil 
searching of "the Societies," and patient efforts to 
build them up in goodness. 

He returned to Bristol to spend one Sunday, bia 
evening congregation in the Old Orchard being the 
largest he had yet seen in Bristol, and then set out on 
his first visit to Ireland, where one of his itinerants 
had formed a Society. Passing through Wales to 
Holyhead, he reached Dublin on the 9th of August, 
and hearing the church bells, went directly to service, 
and himself preached in the afternoon. He continued 
preaching, as Mr. Tyerman says, "in streets, in 
churchyards, on tombstones, in meadows, in castle- 
yards, and wherever he had a chance ; " filling up the 
intervals with ti-avelling, or diligently visiting the 
Society or the sick, or in reading and writing. He 
reached Bristol by way of Cardiff, where he had just 
strength enough to finish the service. From Bristol 
he rode to London, through rain all the way. For a 
week he preached every evening in Shoreham Church, 
in Kent. During the next few weeks he preached 
each Sunday twice at his favourite jilace, Moorfields, 
where "the congregation was more serious than in 
any church in London, West Street only excepted." 
At the end of November he went down again to 
Bristol, through a hurricane of Avind and blinding 
snow. He returned to London to spend a happy 
and reviving Christmas Day with his Society, strongly 
urging them to give themselves wholly to God, So 
ended another year, a year of great activity ar.d 
extending usefulness. 

THE WORK. 137 

lie l>pgau the year 1748 at four iii the morning, 
with praise and thanksgiving. He reviewed the 
affaii's of the sick society, and made a further collec- 
tion for the lending-stock, which had relieved two 
hundred and fifty-five persons in eighteen months. 
Setting forth, he came to Salisbury, and gathered 
the remnant of the Society together, and encouraged 
them to walk in the Bible way. Commending them 
to God, he set forward, when he barely escaped 
death by a fall from his horse ; and again at Shepton 
Mallet he was in equal danger from a drunken, 
infuriated mob, who pelted him and his companions, 
and broke into the house where they were staying. 

On Sunday, February 14th, he preached four times, 
met the Society, and afterwards held a love-feast. 
Well might his body be worn out, and his voice 
spent. But the next morning he set out for Ireland, 
making his way through storms and untracked snow, 
preaching wliere he halted, within or without, as 
at Builth, where, after two services, he began in the 
churchyard, notwithstanding the north-east wind. 
Here " more than all the town were gathered to- 
gctlier," and they made the woods and mountains 
echo to the words — 

" Ye mountains and vales, in praises abound. 
Ye hills and ye dales, continue the sound ; 
Break forth into singing, ye trees of the wood, 
For Jesus is bringing lost sinners to God." 


Detained a fortnight at Holyhead, he filled up the 
time with abundant labour. He reached Diililiu 

138 WESLEY. 

March 8th, and going straight to the meeting of the 
Society, found his brother there ; but the noise of 
the people shouting and praising God prevented his 
voice being heard. Instantly he gave himself to 
work, preaching at five o'clock — a thing unheard of in 
Ireland before — and daily two, three, or four times ; 
travelling far and near, meeting and searching and 
helping the Societies. 

At Athlone, April 3rd, he preached at five o'clock, 
then as he walked a mile to see a sick woman, a 
hundred and fifty people ran after him, and he 
turned to a smooth grassy place. All knelt down, he 
prayed, they sang a psalm, and he gave them an 
exhortation. At eleven o'clock he went to churcli, 
and at two and six preached in the open air to 
large companies. The following morning at five 
almost all the town seemed moved — full of eood- 
will and desire of salvation. He then took horse, 
preaching at twelve o'clock at Moat, and in the 
evening at Tyrrell's Pass, having great enlarge- 
ment of heart. No wonder that at the Society 
meeting he was quite exhausted, and dismissed them 
after a short exhortation. But he was at his post at 
five o'clock the next morning. No summary would 
sufiice to give an idea of the amount of his toil, though 
he was suffering from painful sickness, and was 
often so wearied as to be scarce able to stand. This 
visit lasted from March 8th to May 18th. 

He reached Bristol May 25th, and on the 29th 
(Wliit Sunday) he preached at four o'clock at the 
W^eaver's Hall, at seven in the Old Orchard, at ten 

THE WORK. 1.39 

at Kingswood, at two under the Sycamore Tree, and at 
five in the Orcliard again ; then rode to Kingsvvood, 
and concluded the day with a love-feast. The next 
day he preached twice in the Orchard, and in two 
days was in London in time for the fifth Conference. 

The Conference over, he returned to Kingswood, 
and opened the new school, designed for the sons of 
his people and his preachers. The building still re- 
mams; it is used as a reformatory. Then he took horse 
for the nortli, preaching by the way. At Birmingham 
the rain failed either to disturb him or to disperse the 
. congregation. At Wednesbury, in the evening of the 
same day, an exceedingly large congregation behaved 
as becometh the Gospel ; so great a change had been 
wrought. At Epworth he had the joy of receiving 
the Sacrament again in the church, and he marked 
a decided change in the morals of the people, then 
under the care of a new rector. 

He spent five weeks at Newcastle, and extended 
his journey to Alnwick and Berwick, where, when 
preaching-, he was compelled to begin again and again 
after he thought he had done. This tour was one of 
great labour, and not a little suffering ; yet he reso- 
lutely pressed on, preaching three, four, and five times 
a day, and in the intervals visiting the sick and 
meeting the Societies for instruction and exhortation 
and praise and prayer. 

Leaving Newcastle he came to Leeds, preaching 
by the way in the Market Place at Stockton and at 
Yarai, and in the stx'eet at Osinotherley, whei-e it 
rained all the time, but none went away. Whilst 

1 40 WESLEY. 

pi'eacliing at Halifax Cross the excited rabble cast dii't 
upon liim, and his cheek was laid open with a stone. ] Te 
made signs to the congregation to move away ; most of 
tliem followed him, and he concluded a solemn hour 
with the song of joy. He returned from this tour 
to spend a week with the Society in London ; then 
set off to Cornwall for a month ; returning to his 
home at the Foundry by the middle of Octobei*. 

Several benevolent institutions were at this time 
connected with the Foundry, amongst them a charity- 
school of sixty children and a home for poor widows 
and orphans. Of this Wesley writes in 1748 : — " We 
have now nine widows, one blind woman, two poor 
children, and two upper servants, a maid and a man. 
I might add four or five preachers ; for I myself, as 
well as the other preachers who are in town, diet 
with the poor, on the same food, and at the same 
table ; and we rejoice herein, as a comfortable earnest 
of our eating bi'ead together in our Father's king- 
dom." This home was supported by collections made 
at the Sacraments and in the Band-meetings. 

He designed in the early part of the new year 
(1749) to visit Holland, but, being mucii pressed to 
answer Dr. Middleton's book against the Fathers, he 
postponed his voyage, and sjDent " almost twenty 
days in that unpleasing employment." He also spent 
much time in the preparation of material for his 
" Christian Library." During a visit to Bristol, 
extending over five weeks, he collected a number of 
his preachers together and read to them on theology, 
logic, and elocution, and gave attention to the four 

THE WORK. 141 

boarding and day schools. Preaching, as iTSual, was 
his chief work. This he may truly be said to havo 
done, both in season and out of season. On one 
occasion, at Freshfoi'd, the people could not bo 
accommodated in the " house," so he held his service 
out of doors, though it was dai'k when he began and 
i-ained all the time. Eirly in April he set out for 
Ireland, reaching Dublin after a stormy passage of 
twenty-one hours ; but he preached three times that 
day, in the evening in the garden, which was the place of 
worship the next Sunday, when a veliement shower of 
.hail fell, but all kept their ground until he concluded. 
He spent two months in a great preaching tour ; 
then returned to London, and set forward to Berwick, 
where he was much out of health, but continued his 
labour. When at Whitehaven he received a request 
from Whitefield to meet him in Leeds on October 4th. 
He set out the day before, riding dripping wet 
through heavy rains for several hours, the next day 
continuing his journey from five o'clock in the 
morning till nine at night; so eager was he to wel- 
come the return of brotherly love. Both Whitefield 
and he preached. 

At this time a painful occurrence took place. 
Grace Murray, whom Wesley desired to marry, but 
was prevented by domestic intrigue, was united to 
John Bennett, one of his itinerants, Wesley was cut 
to the quick, and poured forth his sorrows in long, 
K'uder, and touching stanzas, which are printed by 
Henry Moore in his life of Wesley ; and also in a 
separate i)auiphlct. 


It was but a momentary shock to his lahours, 
though his heart was ahiiost broken. 

He was presently at Rochdale, where his preaching 
created a wild excitement ; the streets, he says, 
were " lined on both sides with multitudes of people, 
shouting, cursing, blaspheming, and gnashing upon ua 
with their teeth." But he soon found "the lions of 
Rochdale lambs in comparison with those of Bolton 3 " 
" such rage and bitterness," he says, he " scarce ever 
saw before in any creatures that bore the form of 
man." Mr. Perronet was rolled in the mire. They 
broke into the house, and filled the street from end to 
end. Stepping right into the midst of them, and 
calling for a chair, he addressed the mob, when lo ! 
" the winds were hushed, and all was calm and still. 
My heart was filled with love, my eyes with tears, 
and my mouth with arguments. They were amazed, 
they were ashamed, they were melted down, they 
devoured every word. What a turn was this ! O, 
how did God change the counsel of the old Aliithophel 
into foolishness, and bring all the drunkards, swearers, 
Sabbath-breakers, and mere sinners in the place to 
hear of his plenteous redemption ! " The next day he 
preached in a meadow, and then walked through the 
town without any molestation. 

Pui'suing his way, he came to Wednesbury, "wet and 
weary enough," hoping for a few hours rest, but in vain; 
for notice had been given that he would preach at 
Bilbrook in the evening, so he had to ride seven or 
eight miles further and preach. The next morning he 
preached again ; then in the market-place at Dudley, 


to a, "liiige unwieldy, noisy multitude;" then at \yed- 
nesbury, and on to Birmingham, where he was happily 
disappointed in finding the congregation behaving so 
much better than he expected, and wrote, " Will, then, 
God at length cause even this barren wilderness to 
blossom as the rosel" He then passed through Eve- 
sham to Bristol, and retired to Kingswood for a week 
to write part of a volume of sermons. Thence he re- 
turns to London, for the Conference on November 
16th, and spends the remainder of the year in London. 


1750— Re-union with Whitefield— Revivals— Simplicity of aim 
— Character and Work— Early Preachers. 

The opening service of 1750 was held at the Foundry 
at four o'clock in the morning, and was attended by a 
large congregation. This year was brightened by the 
happy re-union of Wesley and Whitefield, and they 
interchanged pulpits. Charles Wesley wrote, " George 
Whitefield, my brother, and I are one; a threefold 
cord which shall no more be broken." . A great flame 
of holy excitement was kindled in London, which de- 
tained Wesley until the end of February. 

In Bristol, complaints of a universal coldness, 
heaviness, and deadness met him. He instantly 
addressed himself to his work. He wrote, " I kiaew 

144 WESLEY. 

but one that coukl help, so I called upon God to arise 
and maintain his own cause ; and this eveninij we had 
a token for good, for his word was as a two-edged 
sword." He appointed a day of fasting and prayer; 
preached at five ; then held meetings for prayer from 
seven to nine, from ten to twelve, and from one to 
three. He then gathered all the preachers in Bristol 
every day at four. Signs of reviving soon came ; but 
tidings from Ireland hurry him thither. He reached 
Dublin April 7th, preached three times next day, 
spent thirteen days there, and set forward on his 
evangelistic tour through the provinces, meeting with 
some rough usage in one or two places, and travel- 
ling in one day ninety miles, being on horseback 
seventeen hours. He then spent a day in writing, 
and the following day preached three times in the 
open air. He travelled and preached until July 14th, 
returning to Dublin to find all things in a more 
prosperous state. At Closeland he preached to a 
little earnest company, and wrote, "O, who should drag 
me into a great city if I did not know there is another 
world. How gladly could I spend the remainder of a 
busy life in solitude and retirement." Thus he pushed 
his way vmweariedly over vast tracts of country to 
revive slumbering Societies, and to lay the foundations 
of future churches. 

He reached Bristol towards the close of July, then 
set off through Cornwall, preaching much, even though, 
as at Camelford, the rain poured down all the time. 
London was reached September 8th ; but he returned 
to spend another month in Kingswood, being especially 

TUB WORK. 145 

engaged in preparing works for tlie press. lie returned 
to London at the end of October, and' found much 
work in seeking to provide for the poor. He then " set 
upon purging that huge work, Mr, Fox's ' Acts and 
Monuments,' from all the trash which that honest, 
injudicious writer has heaped together and mingled 
with those venerable records which are worthy to bo 
liad in everlasting rememl)rance," and he tilled up the 
year with the most abundant toil. 

The excellence of Wesley's work lay in the sim- 
plicity of its object. He had but one work to do — to 
combat sin. He laid down his own idea of duty when 
he said to his helpers, " You have nothing to do but to 
save souls." To this everything was bent : to this his 
ease, his most closely-bound friendships, his cherished 
hopes, his time, his attainments, his prospects, his pos- 
sessions, were all devoted. He seems to have made 
everything over which he had influence subservient to 
it. Preaching, writing, reading, journeying, talking, 
living, were all dedicated to the one end from 
which he never swerved. His one spring of joy was 
here, and his one reward ; for he seemed to prize 
even the assurance of the Divine favour most when 
it shone throusfh successful work. As to aiming at 
forming a party, or a Church, such an idea never for 
a moment entered John Wesley's mind. If Societies 
would " save souls," Societies should be formed ; if 
classes, classes. If open-air preaching, tracts, schools, 
sacraments, lay -preaching, anything would aid, it 
was welcome ; but though a faithful son of the 
Cliurch, a lo\er of her institutions, her history, 


146 WESLEY. 

her worship, her literature, her scliools of learning, 
and though he strove with his might to retain his 
Societies within her fold, yet the Church might go to 
the wall if she stood in the way of his one work — 
the Church's one work. His own words are most 
instructive here : " Cliurch or no Church, I mvist save 

It is impossible to trace one's way through his 
voluminous journals without this singleness of aim 
forcing itself upon the attention. Were history to 
condemn his methods, it could not assail his motives. 
They were of the purest possible character. Personal 
ambition, the love of ruling, he had not, though he has 
been charged with it. That he I'uled was a necessity, 
alike of his superiority to those around him and of the 
work that sprang up at his feet. That it was ever a 
preconceived desire no true student of his life will 
allow. He may have seemed autocratic ; but he was 
alone. He longed for others to share his burden ; but 
none could or would. He was obliged to act on his 
own responsibility, and in his own. name. He was a 
leader, for he could not help it : he was born to lead. 
He did not seek the distinction : his gifts lifted him 
to it. He took not this honour upon himself : he was 
called of God. The charge of personal ambition is 
refuted by the fact that at his death he possessed only 
three or four silver spoons and a watch-seal. He 
walked amongst men, he laboured, he suffered solely 
for their good. If not a perfect example, it is, at any 
rate, a noble one, of disinterested, unselfish service. 

With the masterful strength of his intellect he 


seized on the true idea of his mission. Anxious as he 
was to promote the salvation of individual souls, ready 
as he was to expend time and strength over even one, 
yet at the very outset of his career he saw that his 
work was to be a widespread one, — He could gather 
congregations anywhere, as he knew, and as he said 
at Norwich ; but his calling was to revive religion 
throughout the land. It was truly a high calling, 
and anything that stood in the way of the accom- 
plishment of the great purpose must be sacrificed. 
He was charged with excess of enthusiasm, for there 
was great receptivity of spirit ; but he yielded to 
nothing without a logical reason, and if any deny his 
pi'emises, as at times it is not difficult to do, few can 
question his process ; in a true sense he was an en- 
thusiast, but he was no fanatic. Seldom has a man 
been in greater danger, or suffered less from the 
deceits of success. He may have had ambitions, but 
they do not force themselves on our attention. They 
are hax'd to find, and if found cannot be said to 
mar either his character or his work. 

If he laid down strict rules of living, he was the 
typical example of their observance. " Rise at four ; 
never be unemployed ; never while away time," were not 
merely the "rules of a helper," they were those of 
the master. He denied himself all luxuries, save the 
luxury of doing good. He pared down his living until 
he was as abstemious as an anchorite. He had truly 
learnt to deny himself, to take up his cross, to follow 
wherever he believed Christ led. 

He served with a white-heat of devotion, yet he 

1 48 WESLEY. 

cannot be called an excitable man. He was seldom ofT 
his guai'd. Having love of all men, lie had fear of 
none. Tender as a child, yet he did not quail before an 
excited rabble. He was in a certain sense timorous ; 
he dreaded soinfj where he was not sent. He would 
gladly screen himself behind a great authoi'ity. A 
lover of peace, he longed for the fellowship of friends. 
He tried to the end to act in harmony with the 
Church of England, or he would not so persistently 
have attended her services, even when he knew he 
would be personally reviled ; or have continuously 
urged his Societies to do so ; or have held his own 
services at inconvenient houis, so as not to clash with 
those of the parish church ; or have framed his 
Societies so that they could co-exist witli the Church. 
He strove to continue in alliance with the Moravians ; 
and he endeavoured to harmonise his views with those 
of Whitefield and the Calvinistic clergy, and was even 
in danger of being betrayed into stepping beyond tlie 
bounds of his own principles in order to approach 

He had not the impetuosity of Whitefield, but he 
had a steadier aim. He could not spend his life in the 
service of men more lavishly than did his great com- 
peer ; but by more cultured powers, by greater variety 
of labour, and by greater severity of method, he did 
more work ; and the results are more permanent. 

He had large love of heart, great fervour, yet 
cool judgment. He could be roused to preach for 
hours together, breaking off in the midst to sing 
praise, and then begin again. He could talk calmly 


to an excited mob, or reason closely with an intel- 
lectual adversary. Though a gentleman by birth and 
training, he could hold happy intercourse with all 
classes, down to the degraded inmates of a jail, 
amongst whom his visits were ever welcome. He was 
laborious in the two-fold work of preaching to them 
that were without, and guarding them who were within, 
the fellowship of his Societies. These Societies he 
watched with great care, nourishing them by instruc- 
tion and encouragement, and giving them such over- 
sight as could be rendered only at the expense of 
• almost unparalleled labours. For them he provided, 
as he became able, first guardians, in the persons of 
the leaders of the several classes into which all the 
Societies were soon divided ; then preachers, to over- 
see the whole. These preachers combined the cha- 
racteristics of pastors and evangelists; the latter 
predominating in the earlier years, and the former 
as their number increased and the fields of their labour 
became more circumscribed. He was a sort of tra- 
velling Bishop, overseeing the whole, and descending 
to particulars with marvellous minuteness. He 
searched them through and through, enquiring into the 
character of each person; and though very tender 
towards the feeble, he was very firm, and rooted out 
defaulters, rich or poor, without fear or fa\-our, and 
no Society was too small or insignificant to receive 
his attention. 

He may, in one light, be regarded as the founder 
of an "ordei-." It is true that no antique dress 
was insisted upon ; though matters of di'css did 

150 WESLEY. 

not escape him. True, lie did not confine all tlie 
members of liis Society to a celibate life, or to 
absolute poverty ; thougb lie himself was an example 
of the one, and almost of the other. True, there 
was no bodily flagellation ; but there was great 
austerity, exemplified above all in himself. But these 
details were not essential to the "order." They were 
adventitious ; they were aids to an end. That end 
coincided, in the case of the founders of several of the 
Romish orders, with the end Wesley sought — viz., 
sepai'ation from the world, thought of as an evil 
world, more fervent devotion, more charitable labour, 
more brotherly communion, and the strength of 
association ; in other words, righteousness — the true 
aim of the Church. Even though the one movement 
was in error, though it degenerated, even though the 
true righteousness was not seized, yet the aim in each 
was similar, if not identical. Loyola and Wesley have 
points in common as truly as Luther and Wesley. 

Wesley kept a careful watch over his helpers, who 
gave him more and more work as they increased in 
numbers. On him rested the toil of receiving and test- 
ing the men who offered themselves, like recruits, for 
his service. Not one of them escaped his eye, and each 
had his work in the campaign assigned, as the great 
chief deemed most suitable. He instructed and guarded 
them as they needed, not sparing the rod of cor- 
rection, or failing to rally them with the cheery word 
of encouragement, or by a line in one of his many 
clearly- written, terse letters, when it was needed. 
He was familiar with the ground they had to travel 

THE WORK. 151 

lie knew tlio character of the people in each 
circuit amongst whom they had to labour, as he 
knew the capabilities and adaptations of his men. 
He not only appointed their sphere of toil, but he 
regulated their habits and their reading. He thought 
for them, planned for them, wrote for them as 
well as to them, and he loved them. They could 
all find a friend in him, a counsellor, a helper, and a 
pattern. All felt he was above them, as indeed he 
was, in learning, in labour, in popular esteem, in 
success. None could rival him in power ; and none 
but foolish renegades attempted to do so. He held an 
unequalled place in the aftections of his people, of 
preachers and hearers alike. He had been instru- 
mental in the conversion and happiness of large 
numbers, and they looked up to him as children to a 
father. He felt and declared he was called to a special 
work, and told his assistants they were not. He could 
preach more than they, and with less weariness, doing 
liis great share of work more easily than they their 
smaller portion. 

Those men themselves deserve, as many of them 
have found, a memorial, at least in the affections 
of the people still called Methodists, or in those brief 
bio'Tanhies which from the first it has been the 
practice of the Methodists to preserve. This regard 
for the early pioneers is a striking feature of the 
Methodist write'-s and readers. Ample justice has 
not yet been done to all, though many of them are 
embalmed in records of extreme interest. They 
were moved by one passion — the desire to "save 

152 WESLEY. 

souls." This was suflicient to oncourage tliem in 
heroic labours, in great sacrifices, in hard endu- 
rance. They were men gathered from all rank.s, 
mostly from very humble ones ; but they had learnt 
a simple Gospel, had proved its sufficiency to rescue 
themselves from degradation and evil, and they knew 
erough to be able to urge the same upon others. 
Their characteristic work was the " calling sinnei'S to 
repentance." Their speech was inflamed by vivid 
apprehensions of the pains and ills of evil-doing, and 
of the gi'ace and love of God. They spoke with a fer- 
vour that was intensified by a pitiful regard for sinful 
men as lost for both worlds. They preached Christ 
as their one theme, and they preached Him to all. 
Thousands listened to them, and listened attentively; 
for they spoke a language their hearers understood, 
they denounced sins of which the hearers knew them- 
selves to be guilty, and they proclaimed a peace for 
vv^hich many longed. They spoke, too, with an authority 
derived from their own unhesitating persuasion that 
God had called them to the work, and that conviction 
was strengthened by their association with the great 
prophet of the times, and a further confirmation they 
found in the fruits of their ministry. Every convert 
— and they were many — was a seal to their ministry, 
and every soul added to the Society was a satisfying 
hire for their labours. 

But another spirit also burned within them. Not 
a man of them was insensible to the love of Christ, 
of which they spoke much, and by which they were 
moved. They found their reward not in worldly 

THE WORK. l."J3 

endowment, for the}' laboured in poverty, but in tlio 
effects of their ministry, in the silent ajiprovals of 
conscience, and in the hoped-for "well-done" of the 
great Master, of which they sung, and for which thny 
confidently looked. The early Methodist preachers 
were a band of hei-oic, devoted, self-sacrificing, en- 
thusiastic evangelists, deserving a very high place in 
the esteem of all who value benevolent disinterested 
toil. They were men well suited to their times ;. 
and he is a true philosopher and a true patriot who 
seizes on the spirit of his own time, and does the work 
that time requires. 

In addition to the itinerating preachers, who were 
entirely separated from secular employments, and 
being wholly devoted to " the work " were supported, 
though feebly, by it, there were the " local preachers," 
who, being engaged in their daily trade, could spare only 
their Sabbaths or their evenings for more sacred toil. 
They, together with the leaders of the classes, formed 
a kind of subordinate . pastorate, and were of great 
use, especially where the occasional nature of the visits 
of the itinerants — the " round preachers " — left large 
blanks in the service to be filled up by the local 
supply. Some of these may have been more dis- 
tinguished for zeal than for knowledge, but they 
were earnest and good, while amongst them, from 
the first, were men of no mean endowments and 
culture ; and the feeblest of them, if he could not 
jireach as accurate a sermon, could generally preach a 
more interesting one than could be heard at most of 
the parish churches. 

154 WESLEY. 

Wesley had rai'e skill in calling all into helpful 
service, A close observer of character, he chose for 
each his place. Stickler for routine as he was in 
earlier days, he became liberal enough as he saw the 
multiplied wants of the nation, and as he saw how 
great ends might be answered by the use of irregular 
methods and the services of even unlettered men. 
He soon learnt that spiritual usefulness was not 
confined to official position. And the pain of seeing 
a negligent clergy in an evil age failing to stem the 
tide of vice, and having himself innumex'able proofs 
that friendly words, rugged or smooth, prompted by 
Christian kindness, could win men from vicious 
courses ; that any one who had himself drunk at the 
fountain of living waters could tell others where in 
the desert that fountain rose ; and having, moreover, 
many striking examples of singvdar usefulness and 
adaptation presented to his notice, he encoui'aged 
each to use his powers, however small they might be, 
ill striving to promote the general good. 


Interval between 1750 and 1770 — Writings — America — IMarriage — 
The Year 1770 — The Annual Tour — Account of his Health — 
Another Journey — Death of \v"hitefield — End of the Year. 

It is impossible within these limits to follow this 
untiring evangelist, step by step, through all his 
journeyings. An interval of twenty long years of 

THE WORK. 155 

work must be allowed to pass unnoticed, during which 
there is literally no abatement of the energy, diligence, 
and self-denying toil already detailed. Blithe as the 
lark, whose song he often awakens by liis early steps, 
he sings and prays, writes and visits, preaching the 
Gospel of God to sinful men as his one chief work, 
and steadily keeping in view the end that justified 
all his apparent irregularity, the revival of scriptural 
relijrion throucjhout the land. 

The record for each year during this interval is 
full of interest ; many important events happened, 
affecting his own life and the conditions of his 
Societies. In ITol he introduced Methodism into 
Scotland, and in the following year finished the com- 
pilation of " The Christian Library." Then a serious 
illness bowed him down, and being confident of speedy 
death, he prepared a modest epitaph for his tomb- 
stone. His illness continuing, he began, early in 1754, 
to write his " Notes on the New Testament," which 
was accompanied by a revised translation — a work^ 
he says, he should scarce have attempted but that he 
was too ill to travel or to preach. For four months he 
did not enter a pulpit — a very pauifid repression to 
one who could say, " I do indeed live by preaching." 
In 1757 he was joined by John Fletcher, the saintly, 
humble, laborious Vicar of Madeley. In 1758 he 
preached to a small colony of Germans in Ireland, 
called the Palatinates. Soon after some of them 
emigi-ated to America, and introduced Methodism 
into New York, Philip Embury being their fii-st 

l.">() WESLEY. 

Charles, being in feeble health, had gradually dis- 
continued itinerating, and so the burden of the work 
fell more and more on Wesley himself. Public feeling 
was undergoing a change in regard to him ; so that 
though rude treatment had not wholly subsided, yet 
in many places it had been supplanted by honour and 
respect. His friend Whitefield had become " an old, 
old man, fairly worn out in his Master's service, though 
only fifty years of age." Through the whole time a 
running controversy was kept up on the subject of 
separation from the Church, which Wesley stoutly 
resisted to the end. 

But the event which stands in closest relation to 
his personal history is his man-iage to Mrs. Vazeille, 
in 1751. This marriage seems to have been a mis- 
take. Wesley says he married because he believed 
he could be more useful. Fault cannot be found 
with such a motive, and his sincerity is above 
suspicion ; but looking at his work of evangelisation, 
extending over the three kingdoms, it is difficult 
to see how such a work could be better done by a 
married than by a single man. The reasonable con- 
clusion is that he was mistaken in his judgment. In 
1771 she left him; and he wrote, '■^ Non earn reliqui ; 
non d'lmisl ; non revocabo." 

With the sole exception of the hindrance caused 
by illness, he relaxed no effort ; and the period from 
1750 to 1770 witnessed gigantic and progressive work, 
though done in the face of many and great difficulties. 

The year 1770 opened, as usual, with special reli- 
gious observance. It was Monday. The Sabbath 

THE WORK. 157 

services, begun at five o'clock in the morning, 
continued until midniglit ; and the last moments of 
the old and the first of the new year were spent in 
solemn silence. Then followed a burst of song, and a 
word of blessing, and the crowd — for such it was — 
broke up for brief repose ; for at four or five o'clock 
the early service of the morning began. In the 
evening a " Covenant Service " was held, for which 
the previous Friday's fasting and prayer and the 
Sabbath's services had prepared the one thousand eight 
hundred members of the London Societies who 
'assembled in the Foundry to "avouch the Lord to be 
their God," and to unite in the service and sacrifice of 
praise and thanksgiving in tlie Sacrament of the 
Lord's Supper. Wesley says it was " a most solemn 

The daily record for January is imperfect, there 
being but three entries. He refers only to his ' ' little 
journey " into Bedfordshire in the end of the month, 
during which he read closely ; and to one visit to a 
dying woman. The steady labour of two, three, or 
four services a day is passed over in silence, as is 
the reading, writing, visiting, and other work. In 
February he is busy with the writings of Ilousseau, 
Voltaire, Swedenborg, and others. In a letter (his 
last) to Whitefield, who is in America, he expresses 
liis readiness to go there too, though ho was sixty- 
seven years of age. 

His aiuiual tour commenced early in March, at 
Newbury, where he preached in a large workshoj), 
because the meeting-house was closed against him by 

158 WESLEY. 

the Dissenters, and the playhouse by the mayor. 
The next evening he preached at Bristol, where he 
spent a week. He then passed on through Stroud, 
Painswick, Gloucester, Tewkesbury, Upton, Worcester 
(and the naming of a town signifies it was the scene 
of his toil) ; then pressed forward through the 
snow to Evesham and Birmingham, where the people 
were packed in the preaching-house as closely as 
possible, and many were shut out, as was the case 
at the early service next morning, after which he 
preached on Bromwich Heath, and at Wednesbury. 
On the following day he rode to Craidley, where the 
multitude obliged him to stand "abroad," although 
the north wind whistled round his head. At mid-day 
he took the field again at Stourbridge, where many of 
the hearers were " wild as colts untamed." At six in 
the evening of the same day he was in Dudley, the air 
being almost as cold as he had ever felt it. The next 
day he preached at Wednesbury at five, at Bilston at 
ten, at Bilbrook at one, and at Wolverhampton at 
five. Then he wends his way slowly, through Stafford- 
shire and Cheshire, to Manchester, reflecting as lie 
rides, " Near thirty years ago I was thinking, ' How 
is it that no horse ever stumbles while I am reading'?' 
(History, poetry, and philosophy I commonly read on 
horseback, having other employment at other times.) 
No account can possibly be given but this : because 
then I threw the reins on his neck. I then set myself 
to observe, and I aver that, in riding above one 
hundred thousand miles, I scarce ever remember any 
horse (excej^t two, that would fall head over heels any 

THE WORK. 159 

way) to fall, or make a considerable stumble, while I 
rode with a slack rein." 

His route now lay through Rochdale, Chester, 
Liverpool, Wigan, Bolton, and Ambleside to White- 
haven. Here he preached on Good Friday in the 
early morning, again at Cockermouth at one, and at 
Carlisle at six, then walked two miles to sleep in 
peace on " a hard clean bed." The next morning he 
preached at five to most of the village, at eight at 
Carlisle, then came to Longtown, where, finding no 
better place to screen him from the wind, he stood in 
a large broad passage with a room on either hand. 

Getting to Glasgow in two days, he remained 
there for two more, then came to Edinburgh, and 
endeavoured to confirm them whom many had tried to 
turn out of the way. Leaving Edinburgh, he pushed on 
through violent wind and rain to Perth, and preached 
in the Tolbooth. In a few days he pressed on his way 
through heavy snow to Inverness. Here he remained 
four days, preaching in the kirk and the college 
library, and conversing with many who followed 
him to his lodgings. At Aberdeen he preached in the 
college, kirk, and elsewhere. Coming to Montrose, 
and finding notice of his preaching had not been given, 
he went down to the green, sung a hymn, and the 
people flocked from all parts. To them he preached, 
and in the evening at Arbroath, where the whole 
town " seemed moved." Thence he passed to Dundee, 
where he dealt very plainly with them at six, and 
again in the morning, and then came to Edinburgh, 
where he found the Society diminished from one 


hundred and sixty at his previous visit to fifty now. 
Such, he says, is "the fruit of a preacher's staying 
a whole year in one place." He remained a few days, 
preaching and reviving the Societies. Then taking 
leave at a five o'clock service, he rode to Musselburgh, 
preached again, and in the evening at Dunbar. Then 
he came to Berwick and Alnwick. On Sunday, 
May 20th, he preached at seven a.m. in the "house," 
at four and at seven in the market-place, and then met 
the Society. The next day he was at Morpeth and 
Newcastle, whei-e he spent a few days, visiting also 
Sunderland and elsewhere. On the following Sunday 
he preached three times in the open air in Sunderland, 
Gateshead, and Newcastle. 

He then took a short circuit through Weardale, 
Teesdale, and Swaledale ; then spent ten days more in 
and near Newcastle ; and after a cheerful leave of 
" that loving people " at the early service, he preached 
at Durham at noon, and in the evening at Stockton 
to "a numerous congregation before Mr. Watson's 
door." Then preaching at Norton, Yarm, Halsey, 
Thirsk, Potto, and Hutton, he reached Whitby on 
the 15th of June, and having preached thrice a day 
for five days, he would fain have preached "in the 
house," but notice having been given of his preaching 
m the market-place, he began at six to a large 

Early on Sunday (17th) he met the Whitby Select 
Society of sixty -five members, preached at eight, at 
nine met the children, went to Church and hoard " a 
l»oor sermon," but remembered Philip Henry's words, 

THE WORK. 161 

" If the preacher does not do his duty, bless God 
that I know mine." Between one and two of the 
same day he met the Bands, at five he preached in the 
market-place, then hekl a love-feast which lasted two 
hours, and after all met a few of the children asrain. 
The next day he preached at Robin Hood's Bay, and 
at Scarborough, the following at Burlington, on the 
quay, "to many plain and many genteel people," and 
in the evening at Hull ; then rode to Beverley, and on 
to York in time to spend a " busy, happy " Sunday, 
meeting the Select Society at six, preaching at eight, 
meeting the children at nine, then attending service 
— twice, of course — preaching again at five, and after- 
wards sjDending an hour with the Society. The next 
day he was at Tadcaster at noon, and at Pateley 
Bridge in the evening, where it rained all the time, 
but "the congregation stood as still as the trees." 
It rained again the next day while he preached at 
Otley to a numerous congregation ; the next evening 
it "hemmed them in the house," at Yeadon. 

Thus laboured the man, who the next day, after 
preaching on the smooth grass at Hoohole, wrote, 
" I can hardly believe that I am this day entered 
into the sixty-eighth year of my age. How marvel- 
lous are the ways of God ! How has He kept me, 
even from a child ! From the age of ten to fourteen 
I had little but bread to eat, and not great plenty of 
that. I believe this was so far from hurting me that 
it laid the foundation of lasting health. When I 
grew up, in consequence of reading Dr. Clieyne, I 
chose to eat sparingly and drink water. This was 




another great mciins of continuing my health, till T 
was about seven and twenty. I then began spittin 
of blood, which continued several years. A warm 
climate cured this. I was afterwards brought to the 
brink of death Ijy a fever, but it left me healthier 
than before. Eleven years after I was in the third 
stage of consumption : in three months it pleased God 
to remove this also. Since that time I have known 
neither pain nor sickness, and am now healthier than 
I was forty years ago. This hath God wrought." 

Then follow visits to Heptonstall, Keighley, 
Haworth, where, being much concerned for the poor 
parishioners, who "hear and hear, and are no more 
affected than stones," he speaks to them " in the most 
cutting manner " he could ; then to Bingley, Bradford, 
Halifax, and Dewsbury, where, preaching at six 
o'clock on Daw Green, he is compelled to say, "All 
things contributed to make it a refreshing season ; 
the gently declining sun, the stillness of the evening, 
the beauty of the meadows and fields, through which 

' The smooth, clear river drew its sinuous train,' 

the opposite hills and woods, and the earnestness of 
the people covering the top of the hill on which we 
stood, and above all the day-spring from on high, the 
consolation of the Holy One." 

He then visited Miss Bosanquet's school at Morley, 
and on Sunday preached at Birstal and Leeds, at each 
place to as ma,ny as his voice could reach. Then ho 
is at Woodhouse, a village near Leeds, "where a 
flame had suddenly broke out," and the following day 


at IlarcAvood. Tlience lierode to Doncaster, preached 
at noon, and in the evening at Finningley, and tlie 
next day at Epworth. Then, through heavy rain, lie 
rode to Newton-on-Trcnt, and preached before the 
house to an earnest congregation. Taking horse about 
eleven, he rode, "broiling in the sun," through 
Lincoln to Horncastle, where, in the market-place, he 
preached to "an unbroken multitude." This, he 
says, was the first day he had been v/eary since 
setting out from London ; but now tlie violent heat 
.drank up his spirits. The next (^ly was equally 
sidtry, when he rode to Louth, " formerly another den 
of lions. At first, great part of the congregation 
seemed careless ; but God made them care." He says, 
" I have seldom seen persons more sensibly struck. 
They gathered closer and closer together till there was 
not one inattentive hearer, and hardly one unaffected." 
Riding thence to Grimsby, the heat being as intense 
as ever, he was tired again, but soon recovered, and 
preached to "a congregation of good old Methodists." 

The next day, Sunday, July 15th, he preached at 
eight and two, and hastened to Barrow to preach 
again, and the next day at Aukborough, Amcoats, and 
Swinfleet, where he preached on a smooth green place 
sheltered from the wind. 

In the market-place at Thorne, the next day, all 
wei'e quiet and tolerably attentive. Thence he went 
to Crowle, and on to Epworth. On the Sunday ho 
preached at Misterton, Ilaxey, and Epworth Cross 
to " the largest congregation in Tjincolnshire." Then 
follow visits to Doncaster, Rotherham. and Sheffield, 


wlieie he spent two days, and where his heart was at 
last so enhirged while preaching he knew not how 
to break off. He then pushed his way to Crich, 
Derby, and Burton ; and thence to Castle Don- 
ning-ton, where a violent shower drove the hay- 
makers home to hear the word. In the evening he 
preached at Nottingham; and the following day at 
Sandiacre in the moi'uing, and in the evening to 
thousands upon thousands, who stood " as still as 
night," in the great market-place of Nottingham. 
He closed the day with a love-feast. The next day 
he was at Bingham and Houghton ; on the following 
at Loughborough, where the congregation in the 
market-place was almost as large as at Nottingham. 
The same day he was at Mai'kfield, where, notwith- 
standing the harvest, the church was quickly filled; 
and in the evening in the castle-yard at Leicester, 
before "a multitude of awakened and unawakened." 
The day after he rode to Northampton, and took his 
place on the side of the common. At St. Al ban's he 
was met by friends from London, which he reached 
August 2nd, after an absence of live months spent in 
unbroken evangelistic work. 

On the 7th of August the Conference began at 
the Foundry, and ended on the lOtli. As soon as it 
was over, he started "in the machine" — a carriage 
purchased for him by his friends — and preached the 
next evening in Bristol. Here he spent a week, and 
preached amongst other places on Bedcliff Hill. At 
the end of the week he started for Cornwall, preach- 
ing, at the close of the first day, under a tree, to a 


congregation " all attention." Then he passed to Tiver- 
ton, Launceston, Camelford, Port Isaac, Cubert, St. 
Agnes, Redruth, and St. Ives, where he preached in a 
meadow, and, by request, in the market-place ; then 
at town after town until he came to Gwennap, where 
he preached to probably twenty thousand people. The 
next day he preached at Truro, Mevagissey, and St. 
Austell, each service in the open air. Then he camo 
by way of Medros, Plymouth, and Cullompton to 
Taunton. Nor must it be forgotten that the mention 
of a town indicates that he preached there once or 
:wice or oftener. 

The following day he says, " My voice was weak 
when I preached at Princes Street in the morning ; it 
was stronger at two in the afternoon, while I was 
preaching under the sycamore-tree at Kingswood ; and 
strongest of all at five in the evening, when we 
assembled near King's Square, Bristol." An early 
and a late service must be added to these. On the 
following Sunday, the early morning preacher not 
appearing, he took the pulpit at five ; preached again 
at eight in Princes street, at two at Kingswood, and 
five at Bristol. At tliis time there was " a great 
revival of the work of God " in all the Societies 
round about. 

In October he preached in the towns around 
Bristol, and found the congregations increasing in every 
place. On Sunday the 7th, after the early service, 
Charles and he began a service with the Sacrament of 
the Lord's Supper, at 9 o'clock. He then rode to 
Kingswood, gave an exhortation to the children 



aud preached ; and a little before five Ix^gaii in the 
square. He says, "At the conclusion of the morning 
service I was weak and wearj^, hardly ahle to speak ; 
after preacliing at Kingswood I was better; and at 
night quite fresh aud well." It is unnecessary to 
describe in detail tlie remainder of the journey; suffice 
it to say that he came back to the Foundry in London, 
after an absence of two months. 

He stayed in London but two days, and set out 
again for Oxfordshire, preaching at several towns, 
mostly in the open air. Then he went on to Nortli- 
ampton, preaching there one day at five, at Brighton 
at ten " abroad," at two at Haddon, and again at 
Northampton at night, with a meeting of the Society 
to close the dav. In the followinc: fortnight Col- 
Chester, Norwich and Yarmouth, Lakenheath, Bury 
and Braintree are the scenes of his labours. He 
returns to London November 10th, to hear the sad 
news of the death of his friend Whitefield in America. 
Whitefield had preached a sermon two hours long in 
the open air from the top of a hogshead, and a friend 
had said to him, " Sir, you are more fit to go to bed 
than to preach." " True," he replied ; then added, 
"Lord Jesus, I am weary wi Thy work, but not of Thy 
work." At six o'clock the following morning he was 
fouiid dead on his knees. Wesley retired to Lewisham, 
to write a funeral sermon, wliich he preached at 
Tottenham Court Bead to "an immense multitude 
gathered together from all corners of the town." "It 
was an awful season," he says, " all were still as 
niglit ; most appeared to be deeply affected." He 


Wiis to preach the same sermon at the TaLcrnacle at 
half-past five ; l)ut by three the building was full, and 
he began at four. Again he preached the sermon at 
the Tabernacle, Greenwich, on the following Friday. 

Early in December he took "a little journey" 
into Kent and Surrey, preaching morning, noon, and 
night at Chatham, Canterbury, Dover, Faversham, 
Dorking, and Eeigate. Christmas Day was imleed 
" a day full of work," but he blessed God it was " not 
tiresome work." He began at the Foundry at four; 
then was at West Street, Seven Dials, at nine ; met 
the children at three, preached again at five, and then 
had a comfortable season with the Society. He con- 
cluded the year at the Foundry Chapel witlr the voice 
of praise and thanksgiving, and wrote, " How many 
blessings has God poured upon us this year! ^lay 
the next be as this, and more abundant." 

If this is not a record of apostolic labour it would 
be difficult indeed to wa-ite one. And this man was 
in his sixty-eighth year ! Can it be believed that 
twenty years more of similar labour may be o'erleaped 
ere the final year's record is written ? Yet so it is. 


Ihicf Review of interval bctv.-eeu 1770 and 1790 — "Wesley's Vigour 
— Change in Public Opinion — Foundation-stone of City Road 
Chapel laid — The Anninian Magazine — Last Visit to Ii eland 
— America — Ordinations — English Methodism. 

It is impossible, within the limits of these pages, to 

clironicle the events of these two decades (1770-171)0). 


They were filled up with the same toilsome, diligent, 
unwearied service that characterised the former years 
of his life, and through the greater part with but 
little abatement of energy, so that he wrote, as late us 
1786, "I enter into the eighty -third year of my age. 
I am a wonder to myself. It is now twelve years 
since I have felt any such sensation as weariness. I 
am never tired (such is the goodness of God !), either 
with writing, preaching, or travelling." Two years 
after, he wrote, "What cause have I to praise God, 
as for a thousand spiritual blessings, so for bodily 
blessings also ! How little have I suffered yet by 
' the rush of numerous years ! ' Jt is true I am not 
so agile as I was in times past. I do not run or walk 
so fast as I did ; my siglit is a little decayed ; my left 
eye is grown dim, and hardly serves me to read." He 
found some decay also in his Inemory of recent events, 
but none in his hearing, smell, taste, or appetite, 
though he needed but a third part of the food he did 
once. He had no sense of Aveariness, either in travel- 
ling or preaching; and adds, "I am not conscious of 
any decay in writing sermons, which I do as readily, 
and, I believe, as correctly as ever." 

It was not until the following year that he wrote, 
while attending the Conference in London, " I now 
find that I am growing old : 1. My sight is decayed ; 
so that I cannot read a small print, unless in a strong 
light. 2. My strength is decayed ; so that I walk 
much slower than I did some years since. 3. My 
memory of names, whether of persons or places, is 
decaj ed, till I stop a little to reccllect them What I 

THE WORK. 169 

should be afraid of is, if I took thought for the 
morrow, that my body should weigh down my mind, 
and create either stubbornness by the decrease of my 
understanding, or peevishness by the increase of bodily 
infirmities ; but thou shalt answer for me, O Lord, 
my God." 

During the interval lying between 1770 and 1790 
a marked change in the complexion of affairs becomes 
apjiarent. The press loses its severity, and now and 
again bears high testimony to the worth of his character 
and the usefulness of his work. The cold winter of 
•neglect has passed away, and the warm air of the 
spring-time is clothing the fields with verdure. Wesley 
is beginning to receive the recognition he deserves. 
Detraction is supplanted by approval. He has demon- 
strated, by his long-continued and patient labour, both 
the unselfishness of his motives and the loftiness of 
his aims. The doors of the churches are again .^^lowly 
opening to him, until at length he declares, "The tables 
are turned : I have now more invitations to preach in 
churches than I can accept." It was a partial amends 
for the error of the past ; but it was too late to undo 
what that ])ast, for good or evil, had done. 

Durimr this interval he laid the foundation-stone 
of City Pvoad Chapel. On Monday, April 2nd, 1777, 
he wrote, "The rain befriended us much by keep- 
ing away thousands who purposed to be there. But 
there were still such multitudes that it was with 
difliculty I got through them to lay the first stone. 
Upon this was a plate of brass (covered with another 
stone) on which was engraved, 'This iv^as laid by Mr. 

170 WESLEY. 

John Wesley, April 1, 1777.'" lie added, "proLaUy 
this will be seen no more by any Inunan eye ; but will 
remain there, till the earth and the works thereof are 
burned up." His views on the future, as published 
in his " Notes on the Nevv^ Testament," will help to 
explain this apparent confidence in the permanence 
of earthly works. 

In 1778 he stai-ted a religious magazine, which has 
appeared regularly once a month ever since the tirst 
i.ssue, and is the oldest of its kind in England. In 
1780 he issued " The Large Hymn Book," which hasi 
been in use now one hundred years. In 1779 h(» 
preached his last sermon in the Foundry, a placo 
of worship which he luitl occupied for forty years. 
Great changes liad taken jilace amongst his com- 
panions. Mr. Perronet, his trusty adviser, was dead ; 
his brother Charles and John Fletcher — the saintly 
Fletcher — were also dead. Retiring to write a brief 
life of his departed friend, he says, " I dedicated all 
the time I could spare from five in the morning till 
eight at night. These are ray studying hours. I 
cannot write longer in a day without hurting my 
eyes." He was eighty-four years of age ! 

In the year 1789 he piaid his last visit to Ireland, 
and spent three months in his accustomed evangelistic 
work. For the last time he was present at the 
Conference in Dublin, and greatly rejoiced in the 
character and spirit of the preachers who met him. 
The parting scene is thus described by Mr. Tyerman : — 
"At length, on July 12th, Wesley bade adieu to the 
shores of Ireland for ever. It was a touching scene. 

TKK WORK. 171 

Multitudes followed hiiu to the ship. Before he went 
on board he read a hymn, and the crowd, as far as 
emotion would let them, joined the sainted patriarch 
in singing. He then dropped upon his knees, and 
asked God to bless them, their families, the Church, 
and Ireland. Shaking of hands followed ; many wept 
most profusely, and not a few fell on the old man's 
neck and kissed him. He stepped on deck ; the 
vessel moved ; and then, with his hands still lifted up 
in prayer, the winds of heaven wafted him from an 
island which he dearly loved, and the warm-hearted 
Irish Methodists ' saw his flice no more.' The 

sea being smooth, he shut himself up in his chaise 
and read. Then in the evening a hymn was sung 
on deck, which brought all the company together, and 
he preached. 

One of the most important works that engaged 
Wesley's attention in the interval now under con- 
sideration was the making provision for the growing 
Societies of America. During the War of Indepen- 
dence, the clergy had either been silenced or had fled 
to England, so that the Societies were left without the 
sacraments. On the proclamation of Indej)endence 
all ecclesiastical authority ceased. . In this exigency 
Wesley was appealed to. He applied to the Bishop 
of London for the ordination of one of his preachers, 
but witliout success. He had long believed that 
bisliops and presbyters are the same order, and 
consequently have the same right to ordain. For 
many years he had been importuned to exercise this 
right by ordaining some of his itinerant preachers, 

1 72 WESLEY. 

but he refused, he says, not only for peace sake, but 
because he was determined to violate as little as possible 
the established order of the national church. "But," 
he adds, " the case is widely different between England 
and North America. Here are bishops who have a 
legal jurisdiction. In America there are none, neither 
any parish ministers, so that for some hundreds of 
miles together there is none either to baj^tise or to 
administer the Lord's Supper. Here, therefore, my 
scruples are at an end, and I conceive myself at full 
liberty, as I violate no order, and invade no man'.s 
right, by appointing and sending labourers into the 
harvest." He accordingly appointed Dr. Coke and 
]\Ir. Francis Asbury to be joint superintendents, and 
two others to act as elders. He also prepared for 
them a liturgy, an abridgment of that of the Churcli 
of England, and then declared liimself ready to 
embrace any "moi'e rational and Scriptural way of 
feeding and guiding those poor sheep in the wilder- 
ness. They are now," he adds, in justification of his 
conduct, "at full liberty simply to follow the Scriptures 
and the primitive Church." 

The question was a vexed one. Charles Wesley 
believed, with Lord Mansfield, that " ordination was 
separation." It may not have been contrary to 
Wesley's views to ordain, but it is not easy to recon- 
cile it with his 2^osition as a Presbyter of the Church 
of England. 

Wesley's action may well have seemed at times to 
be at variance with his professions. He desired to 
I'emaiai in connection with the Church of England, and 

THE WORK. 173 

he wished his Societies to do so. As late as 1790 he 
svtote : "I never had any design of separating from 
the Church. I have no such design now. I do not 
believe the Methodists in general design it when 1 
am no more seen. I do, and will do, all that is in 
my power to prevent such an event." And again, " I 
declare once more that I live and die a member of the 
Church of England, and that none who regard my 
judgment or advice will ever separate from it." But 
almost everywhere the Methodist people received the 
most unfriendly treatment from the clergy ; and their 
sympathy and attachment to the Church were con- 
sequently strained to the utmost degree. Again and 
again Wesley stoutly refused to visit some of the 
Societies unless they would continue faitliful in their 
attendance at the services of the Church. In not a 
few cases they were prevented from revolt only by 
their personal affection for him. 

To the charge of inconsistency he replied that in 
preaching abroad, using extempore prayer, forming 
Societies, and employing lay pi'eachers he was not '^ 
alienating himself from the Church ; and he said, 
" Put these two jjrinciples together : first, I will not 
sejmrate from the Church ; yet, secondly, in case of 
necessity, I will vary from it; and inconsistency 
vanishes away. 1 have been true to my profession 
from 1730 to this day." 

174 WESLEY. 


Wesley's Aiipearance and Labours— 1790 — The Last Tour — Failirsg 
Strength — The Last Conference — The Last Ojjen-air Service — 
"Little Journies." 

The interval lying between 1770 and 1790, of wliicli 
a few prominent features were briefly indicated in the 
last cliapter, was marked by the same diligent mono- 
tony of toil that characterised the previous years of 
Wesley's life. Southey wrote of him : " Mr. Wesley 
continued to be the same marvellous old man. No 
one who saw him, even casually, in his old age can 
have forgotten his venerable appearance. His face 
was remarkably fine; his complexion fresh to the 
last week of his life ; his eye quick, and keen, and 
active. When you met him in the street of a crowded 
city he attracted notice, not only by his band and 
cassock, and his long hair — white and bright as silver 
■ — but by his face and manner; both indicating that all 
his minutes were numbered, and that not one was to 
be lost." 

Although Wesley accomplished so much in public, 
his work done in seclusion was little less astonish- 
ing. How he was able to do so much readini;; and 
writing, and at the same time travel so far and so 
long, is explained by the following extract : — " Though 
I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry ; because 
I never undertake any more work than I can go 
through with perfect calmness of spirit. It is true T 
travel four or five thousand miles in a year, but I 

THE WORK. 175 

generally travel alone in my carriage, and consequently 
am as retired ten liours a day as if I were in a wilder- 
ness ; on other days I never spend less than three 
hours (frequently twelve) in the day alone, so there 
are few persons who spend so many hours secluded 
from all company." 

The record of 1790 opens with the reflection, "I am 
now an old man, decayed from head to foot. My eyes 
are dim ; my right hand shakes much." But he adds, 
"Blessed be God, I do not slack my labour; I can 
preach and write still." Of the daily preaching partial 
record only is given. He preached at Snowsfield, 
Southwark, on the 2nd, to an enlarged congregation. 
On the first Sund;iy in the year near two thousand 
people were present at the Covenant Service in City 
Road Chapel. Early in the yeir he wrote to one of 
his "assistants," "If you and I should be called 
hence this year, we may bless God that we have not 
lived in vain. Let us have a few more strokes at 
Satan's kingdom, and then we shall depart in peace." 
The first two months he spent in and about London, 
preaching to old and young, meeting the Society, in 
which work he spent eight days, there being two 
thousand eight hundred meml)ers^ He was also 
engaged in visiting, writing, and revising his papers. 
On the 28th of February he preached at City Pvoad to 
a large congregation, in the afternoon at West Street, 
aiid in the evening at Brentford. His sight was now 
failing him, so that he could not read small print. But 
ho could write ; and he thought it did him more good 
than harm to preach once or twice a day. 


He left Brentford for his last great tour early in 
the mornmg of March 1st, and preached at Newbury 
in the evening, and in Bath the following evening. At 
Bristol, where he remained ten days, he preached 
three times on the Sunday, besides meeting the Society. 
]i]very day of the week he preached, visiting all the 
classes, and on the following Sunday met the Strangers' 
Society, institiited for poor, sick, friendless sti-angers 
— one of the beneficent fruits of Methodism. On 
the Monday he set out early and preached at Stroud, 
the following day at Painswick and Gloucester, 
the next at Tewkesbury and Worcester, then at 
Stourport. The following morning, coming to Quin- 
ton at eleven, and finding a congregation waiting, 
he preached at once ; then went on to Birmingham, 
which he thought was thrice as large as when he saw 
it fifty years before. He preached at Birmingham in 
the evening to a people " whose behaviour was so 
decent, so serious, so devout, as to do honour to their 
profession." The next day, Sunday, 21st, he preached 
there twice, and on Monday at Wednesbury ; on Tues- 
day at Dudley and Wolverhampton, and in Madeley 
Church the next two days. The following day he 
finished his sermon on the Wedding Garment, adding, 
" Perhaps this is the last that I shall write : my eyes 
are now waxed dim, and my natural force abated. 
However, while I can, I would fain do a little for God, 
before I drop into the dust." 

He preached at Shrewsbury and Kewcastle-under- 
Lyne, Mile End, and Burslem in one day, at the two 
last places in the open air. On the following day he 

THE WORK. 177 

preaclit'd at Tunstall and Congleton ; the next two 
days at Macclesfield, then at Stockport, Oldham, and 
Manchester. At the last place on Easter Day there 
were one thousand six hundred communicants at the 
Lord's Supper; and he preached both morning and 
evening " without weariness, and in the evening lay 
down in peace." The next day he preached at 
Altrincham, Nantwich, and Chester, where he 
preached again the following day, and the next at 
Warrington and Liverpool, where the congregation 
■was very great, as it was on the following evening. 
lie then went on to Wigan, "proverbially called Wicked 
Wigan, but it is not now what it was ; the inhabitants 
have taken a softer mould." The following day he 
preached at Northwich and at Bolton in the " lovely 
house" to "one of the loveliest congregations in 
England ; who by patient continuance in well-doing 
have turned scorn and hatred, into general esteem 
and good-will." Through a break in his journal our 
knowledge of his wanderings is less complete. He 
travelled through Blackburn, Colne, Keighley, 
Haworth, and Halifax, where "on his tottering up 
the pulpit stairs, the whole congregation burst into a 
flood of tears ; and more than once his memory failed 
him." Then he journeyed on to Huddersfield, Dewj> 
bury, Wakefield, Birstal, Leeds, Bradford, Otley, and 
York, where it is said "he pi-eached a useful sermon." 
He then passed on to Darlington where he ap- 
peared very feeble, his sight failing him, but his 
voice was strong and his spirits remarkably lively. 
So said Mr. Atmore, one of his assistants, who was 


not far wrong in adding, "Surely tliis great and good 
man istlie prodigy of the age." 

At half-past three the next morning he started 
for Newcastle, and preached there in the evening, 
and the next night delivered to a congregation of 
children a sermon in words of not more than two 
syllables. Then he came to North Shields, preached 
"an excellent sermon," and the next day spoke to 
several thousands in the open air, and preached in the 
Orphan House in the evening, many hundreds being 
unable to gain admission. These details are gathered 
by Mr. Tyerman's diligent hand. On Monday, May 10, 
he started for Scotland ; but we have no record of his 
work until the 24th, when he set out at four o'clock 
in the morning, travelling till noon, making observa- 
tions on the improved agriculture and manufactories, 
and the increased industry and cleanliness of the 
people, and preaching in the evening at Forglen. He 
returned to Aberdeen next day, and took a solemn 
farewell of a crowded audience. The following day 
he preached at Brechin, but was so faint and ill as to be 
obliged to shorten his discourse. Forfar, Cupar, Auch- 
terardei-, Stirling, and Kilsyth bring him to Glasgow, 
where the congregation was " miserably small." The 
next day he travelled seventy miles, reaching Dumfries 
between six and seven, where, after " a few minutes," 
he preached without pain, but was almost exhausted, 
and few could hear him ; nor could he see either 
hymn or text. But he was at the five o'clock preach- 
ing the next morning, hearing one of his itinerants, 
and preached himself in the evening. The next 

THE WORK. 179 

day he was cheered by the character of the people at 
Hexham, and the two followmg days preached to 
numerous congregations at Newcastle, and then wrote, 
" Were I to do my own will, I should choose to spend 
the short remainder of my days in this and Kingswood 
House; but it cannot be: this is not my rest." On 
Sunday, June 6, he preached twice, regretting the 
rain would not suffer him to preach "abroad." He 
revised " the stations of the preachers," wrote a form 
for settling the preaching houses, to prevent the 
" villanous tautology of lawyers," and preached to six 
or seven hundred children of the Sunday School. 
Then, having dispatched all the business he had to 
do, he took "a solemn leave of this lovely people, 
perhaps never to see them more in this life." The 
following day he preached at Walsingham and at 
Weardale, then at Stanhope " in a broad place near 
the church ; " and the same day also in the open air 
at Durliam ; the next at Sunderland to a numerous 
congregation ; the next in JNLonkwearmouth Church, 
and to several thousands in the open air. Then at 
Hartlepool, Stockton, and Yarm " in the open street ; " 
at Potton and Hutton Eudley in one day ; then at 
Stokesley in the uiorning and Whitby in the evening ; 
the next day twice, besides attending church ; the 
next, setting out early, at Pickering and Malton ] then 
at Scarborough, Bi'idlington (in the Dissenters' chapel), 
and Beverley, where forty persons from Hull met him 
and dined with him, intending to form an escort to 
him. But in the midst of the repast he took out liis 
watch, started to his feet, stepped into his coach, and 

180 WESLEY, 

was far on his way before liis friends could join him. 
He preached in Hull in the evening, and twice the 
next day. Two days after he wrote : — " Monday, 
June 28th. This day I enter into my eighty-eighth 
year. For above eighty-six years I found none of the 
infirmities of old age : my eyes did not wax dim, 
neither was my natural strength abated ; but last 
August I found almost a sudden change : my eyes 
were so dim that no glasses would help me; my 
strength likewise now quite forsook me. and probably 
will not return in this world. But I feel no pain from 
head to foot, only it seems nature is exhausted, and, 
humanly speaking, will sink more and more, till 

' The weary springs of life stand still at last.' " 

Here he wrote a long letter to one of the Bishops, 
entreating for toleration and liberty for the Method- 
ists. He preached at Owston " abroad, in the calm, 
mild evening," then at Lincoln, Newton, " abroad," and 
at Epworth; the next day at Misterton "under a spread- 
ing tree," attended service and Sacrament in Epworth 
Church once more, and in the evening preached in the 
market-place to "such a congi-egation as was never seen 
in Epworth before." Then, by steps that are hidden— 
for there is another blank in the journals — he went to 
Bristol, where he began his last Conference, July 27. 
He was very feeble ; his sight failed him, " but his 
voice was very strong, his spirit remarkably lively, 
and the powers of his mind and his love to his fellow- 
creatures were as bright and as ardent as ever." 

In the last decade there had been a great increase 

THE WORK. 181 

ill the Methodist Societies, the total numbei' of 
members in the Methodist Societies throuirhout the 
world being 120,073 ; so greatly had the little band 
of six, who constituted the Society in the year 1739, 
grown under the Divine blessing. 

After the Conference, Wesley set out for a three 
weeks' tour in Wales, returning to Bristol August 27, 
and s])ending a mouth there. On Sunday, the 29tli, 
he read prayers, preached, and administered the Lord's 
Supper — a service lasting three hours — and in the 
afternoon preached out-of-doors, and the next day at 
Carey and Ditcheat, where the people stood at the 
windows to hear ; the next at Shepton Mallet and 
Pensford. Through the month he preached, read, and 
wrote, and met the classes in Bristol, which occupied 
him four days, there being nine hundred and forty-four 
members. He visited the Isle of Wight, preaching 
generally twice a day. Leaving Portsmouth at two 
o'clock in the morning, he reached London in the 
afternoon in good health and spirits. The next day, 
Sunday, he preached twice at City Road, and held a 
love-feast. During the week he travelled to Rye, 
a distance of sixty miles, and px-eached ; and the day 
after, at Winchelsea, under a lai-ge tree by the side of 
the church, he " called to most of the inhabitants of 
the town, ' the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand : 
repent ye and believe the Gospel.' " An eye-witness 
says, " The word was attended with power, and the 
tears of the people flowed in tori-ents." This was his 
last open-air service. The scene was touching : this 
venerable man, eighty-seven years of age, worn but 

182 WESLEY. 

not weary, his snow-white locks falling upon his 
slioulders, his tremulous hand holding up for the last 
time his little pocket Bible,* his eyes well-nigh 
closed, his form bent, his face upturned, a placid, 
peaceful countenance betraying the calm unruffled 
mind within ; but the clear voice makes known once 
more with power the Gospel it has so long proclaimed. 
Well might the people weep. For fifty years, without 
let or hindrance, this saintly man had raised liia 
voice "abroad," clear in its truth as in its tones, 
preaching faithfully, almost ceaselessly, in all jjarts 
of the kingdom, probably to more people than any 
teacher of the Gospel had ever addressed before. 
Now all was over. On that October day, beneath 
that spreading ash-tree, under the shadow of old 
Winchelsea Church, Wesley's happy, holy, useful 
work of open-air preaching ended. 

In the evening he preached again " in the house," 
returned to London for the Sunday services, and on 
Monday started on his Norfolk tour, preaching at Col- 
chester in the evening to " a wonderful congregation, 
rich and poor, clergy and laity ; " as again on tlie Tues- 
day, when Henry Ciubb Robinson heard him, and 
long afterwards wrote : — 

"It was, I believe, in October, 1790, that I heard 
John Wesley in the great round meeting-house at 
Colchester, He stood in a wide pulpit, and on each 
side of him stood a minister, and the two held him up, 

* This little Bible is one of the two modest insignia of office 
held by the President of tlie Metliodist Conference ; the other is 
the oHicial seal of the connexion. 

THE WORK. 183 

liaving tlieir liands under liis armpits. His feeble 
voice was barely audible, but his re\'erend countenance, 
especially Ms long white locks, formed a picture never 
to be forgotten. There was a vast crowd of lovers and 
admirers. It was for the most part a pantomime, but 
the pantomime went to the heart. Of the kind, I never 
saw anything comparable to it in after-life." 

Setting out early, he came by way of Ipswich, 
reading all the way, to Norwich, where he preached. 
In the journey the wind, with drizzling rain, came full 
in his face, and, having nothing with which to screen 
himself from it, he was thoroughly chilled from head 
to foot, but says, " I soon forgot this little inconve- 
nience, for the earnestness of the congregation made 
me large amends." At Lynn he preached with nearly 
all the clergy in the town among the congregation; 
the next day in Diss Church, one of the largest in the 
county ; it had not been so filled for a century. That 
evening and the next he preached at Bury St. Edmunds, 
and the following day returned to London, and on 
Sunday pi-eached to large congregations in Spitalfields 
Church and St. Paul's, Shadwell. This was October 
24th. Here his voluminous journals end, but not his 
work, for he fills up the year with " little journies " 
into Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Northampton, and 
Kent, as may be gathered from his letters. 

The year's work included the issue of a revised 
edition of his "Notes on the New Testament," and the 
writing of several sermons and pieces, most of which 
appeared in the " Arminian Magazine." So ends the 
last completed year of this most active life. 


m)t entt. 

Literary "Work— The Cliristian Library — His Object— The Last 
Sermon— Extracts from Wesley's Letters — His Death. 

One of the most striking illustrations of Wesley's 
remarkable activity, diligence, and careful hiisbandry 
of time, is seen in the amount of literary work accom- 
plished by him in the midst of all his other works, and 
that not merely or mainly in the quiet of the study,, 
but on horseback, often drawing from his saddle-bags 
a jjortly volume, supporting it on the pommel, casting 
the reins on the neck of his horse, and reading and 
marking for revision page after page for hours 
together; he was equally industrious in "the 
machine," the stage-coach, the inn, or the house of 
a friend. His reading was prodigious, and his writing 
and publishing little less so. He began to publish 
when at Oxford, in 1733, his first work being a book 
of prayers. A revised edition of Kemjiis' " On the 
Imitation of Cln^ist " followed in 1735, and his father's 
"Advice to a Young Clergyman." When in the midst 
of his toils and liis buffetings in Georgia, he issued a 
small collection of hymns, but anonymously. From 
1738 eveiy year had its issues of books, tracts, or 
pamphlets, until the number of separate publications 

THE END. 185 

amounted to nearly four hundred. As early as 1771 so 
great was the demand for his works that he had them 
collected and issued in thirty -two 12mo. volumes. 

Though the bulk of the poetical works were 
written by Charles Wesley, several were wi-itten or 
translated by John, and almost all were revised and 
published by him. His prose works range from the 
humble " Word " of four pages to his commentary on 
the entii-e Scriptures, and the fifty 12mo. volumes of 
extracts from the writings of the older English divines, 
forming the " Christian Library." They include trans- 
• lations, abridgments, and extracts from many wi-iters, 
memoirs, medical works (especially for the benefit of 
the poor), grammars of five languages, an English 
dictionary with a racy preface, exi;racts from his 
voluminous manuscript journals, sermons, doctrinal 
treatises, controversial papers in defence of his work, 
his opinions and his personal character, tracts, an 
ecclesiastical history in four volumes, and a history of 
England of the same size, a work on natural philosophy 
in five volumes, most of which were revised and carried 
through several editions. 

His publishing enriched others, not himself ; for, 
after labouring " more than most writers for seventy 
years," he gained, he tells us, " only a debt of near 
£G00." Wesley's object in wi-iting has been well stated 
to be "that peasants and persons of neglected education 
might have the means of acquiring useful knowled<»e 
at the smallest expense of time and money." In this 
he laboured almost alone for half a century — antici- 
pating the work of more recent years. 

186 WESLEY. 

Two montlis only of the year 1791 remain to be 
chronicled. They were spent in Loudon. 

He preached at Lambeth on Thursday, February 
1 7th ; on Friday, he read and wrote as usual, and 
preached at Chelsea in the evening. Saturday was 
spent in reading and writing. In a letter to a friend 
in Worcester he says, " As the state of my health is 
exceeding wavering, and waxes worse, I cannot yet 
lay down any })lans for my future journeys. Indeed I 
propose, if God permit, to set out for Bristol on the 
28th instant ; but how much further I shall be able to 
go I cannot yet determine. If I am pretty well, I hope 
to be at Worcester about the 22nd of March." He 
sent forward his chaise and horses to Bristol, and took 
places for himself and friends in the Bath coach. But 
ere the day for starting had arrived, his earthly 
journeys had ceased. He was unable to preach on 
Sunday, but on Tuesday he preached at City Ptoad. 
On Wednesday he rose at four, paid a visit to a 
magistrate at Leatherhead, eighteen miles from 
London, and preached in the dining-room from the 
words, " Seek ye the Lord while He may be found ; 
call upon Him while He is near." This was his 
last sermon ! So ended the most remarkable preach- 
in» career that the Church of Christ has witnessed 
in modern times. The following day he spent with 
his friend Mr. Wolff, at Banham, where he penned his 
kist letter. So, one by one, his works ceased. 

Extracts from two letters written in these months 
may well be inserted here. The first, dated February 1, 
1790, was addressed to Ezekiel Cooper, one of the 

Tllii END. 187 

itinerants in America, and contained the following 
passage : — 

" I have given a distinct account of the work of God which 
has been wrought in Britain and Ireland for more than half a 
century. Wo want some of you to give us a connected relation 
of what our Lord has been doing in America since the time 
that Richard Boardman accepted the invitation, and left his 
country to serve you. See that j'ou never give place to one 
thought of separating from your brethren in Europe. Lose no 
opportunity of declaring to all men that the Methodists are 
one people in all the world, and that it is their full determina- 
tion so to continue : — 

' Though mountains rise, and oceans roll, 
To sever us in vain.' " 

The second letter, his last, was addressed to the 
great anti-slavery advocate, Willjerforce.* It is dated 
London, February 24, 1791. 

" My Dear Sik, — Unless the Divine power has raised you up 
to be as Athanasius, contra mundum, I see not how you can go 
through your glorious enterprise, in opposing that execrable 
villany which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of 
human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very 
thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils! 
but, if God be for you, who can he against you ? Are all of them 
together stronger than God ? 0,' be not iceary in well-doing.'' Go 
on in the name of God, and in the power of Ilis might, till even 
American slavery, the vilest that ever saw the sun, shall vanish 
away before it. 

" Reading this morning a tract, wrote by a poor African, I 
was particularly struck by that circumstance, that a man who 
has a black skin, being wronged or outraged by a white man, 
can have no redress ; it being a law, in our colonies, that tlio 

* It is a fact deserving of permanent record that William 
Wilberforcc piivately gave Mrs. Cliarles "\Ve.sley, from 1789 to 1822, 
an annuity of £'00, to supplement her very small income. 


oath of a black, againat a white, goes for notUng. What 
villany is this ! 

" That He who has guided you, from your youth up, may 
continue to strengthen you in this and all things, is the prayer 
of, dear sir, 

" Your affectionate Servant, 

"John Wesley." 

On the day after this letter was written he was 
brought home to City Road, retired to his room, and 
asked to be left alone for half-an-hour ; shortly after- 
wards it was found needful to call in his physician. 

He remained but one brief week in his room, 
repeating and singing, as he was able, snatches of his 
brother's and Dr. Watts's hymns, the chaste expression 
of his cultured faith, and words of the Holy Scriptui'es 
he had so long studied, loved, and proclaimed; and 
now and again exultingly declaring, "The best of all 
is God is with us ] " while his friends around responded 
to his repeated request to " pray and praise." 

Then, surrounded by his dearest friends, true 
representatives of his "people," and while they on 
bended knees commended his spirit to God, — faithful 
Joseph Bradford, one of his travelling preachers, 
as was most fitting, saying " Lift up your heads 
O ye gates, and be ye lifted up ye evei'lastiiig doors, 
and the heir of glory shall come in " — with a 
simple " farewell " upon his lips, John Wesley 
fell calmly asleep about nine o'clock in the morning 
of March 2nd, 1791, aged eighty-eight years. Then 
his sorrowing friends arose, and standing round his 
lifeless body sang a hymn, knelt again and prayed 
and wept, and in sorrow departed. 



All Miings tciall Min, 149 

Aiurrira, I'mvisiiju for growing 
Societies of, 171 

Annesley, Dr., 13 
His reception at ClifEe, Kent, 13 
Vicar of CripplC'-'ate, 14 
His Ejectmenr thorefrdn, 14 
Marries Damihter of John White, 14 
His IJeatb and Burial, 14 

Annesley, Su-anna, 14 
Her early Traininc 15 
Marries Samuel Wesley, 16 
Discipline of her Children, 19 
Her Conversation with Wesley, 68 
The Mother of Methodism, 17 
Death of, 10:i 
Her Funeral, 102 

Aniinomimisra at Birmingham, 131 
, Athlone, Wesley at, 138 

Baldwis Street, Love-feast ix, 

Hath, Open-air Preaching at, 60 
I'.ible, Wesley's I'ocket, 182 
Birstal Hill, Preaching at, 100 
boliler, Peter, 38 
His Influence on Wesley, 39 
Insists on the necessity of Kaith, 40 
Exhortations to Wesley, 43 
Makes Impression on Charles, 44 
Leaves for Carolina, 44 
Arguments between him and 
Wesley, 43 
Brndford, S"Ciety at, 73 
liray, the poor Brazier, 45 
Bristol, Oi'en-air Pn>achingat, 60 

, Wesley's dailv Work at, 62 

■ , Work of Wesley in, 83, 144 

Builth, Services at, 137 

CBNNicK, John, Lay Preacher, 62, 

Chapel-Ie-Frith, Miller of, 127 
Charity School and Home for po-r 
Widows in connection with the 
Society, 140 
rharnock, Stephen, 12 
'■ Christian Library," Wesley's, 140 
Citv Itoad Chapel, 169 
Class-meelinL's: tlieir ntility, 94 

, how on^'inated, 9."> 

Clifton, Preaching of Wesley at, 61 
Conference, First, a new Era in His- 
tory of Methodism, 117 

, Clergymen present at, lis 

, Lay-preachers present at, 118 

, All'lnriations made at. 118 

, (Questions considered al, 119 

, Rules for guidance, 119 

, Fourth. Holding of, 135 

-, Numbers and Proceedings at, 


, Fifth, Holding of, 139 

CoufcrcnccB held annually, 119 

Conferences attended by Wesley, 119 
Consulting the Scriptures at random 

as a mode of ascertaining God's 

Will, 78 
Conversion, ,Tohn Wesley's, 51 

■ of Men by Wesley, 116 

Cooper, Ezekiel, Letter of Wesley to, 

Cornwall visited, 131, 1.35 

, Preaching of Wesley in, 109, 113 

re-visited in 1750, 144 

.Third Visit to, 128 

, again visited, 165 

Dfan Stanley on John, lO 
Debt, Efforts of Wesley to clear off, 

Dissenter, Wesley not a, 71 

" Earnest Appeai^ to Men of Rea- 
son AXD KELIfilOX," 129 

Exhortation to serious Repen- 
tance, 129 

E'ubuvy, Philip, 155 

Epworth Parsonage, Description of, 

, Sweet Saint of, 19 

, Life and Work at, 20 

, Disasters at, 23 

, Incident in the Girden of, 24 

, Strange Noises at, "iS 

. Visits of Wesb'y to. 101, 105 

Evangelisation systematised, 120 

tvangelistic Labours ef Wesley, 114 

T. urs f Wesley. 101 

Kxeter Wesley at, lu8 

Exhortation of ^ esley to " keep el. se 
to the Church," 69 

Extent of Wesley's labours, 122 

Faith, an instantaxf.ous WonK.43 
. Proof of this found in Holy 

Sei'ipture, 43 

. the free (iift of God, 49 

given to those who seek it, 49 

'i\v cuily Mians of Succ ss in 

Preaching, 40 
Fielii-preachuig, Wesley's Apology for 

his. 6.T 

needs no Apology now, 68 

First .Merliodisi Cliaiiel. M 

T.av-preacher. 79 

M'thodists, Tlie, .30 

Five H lurs' .Service, A, 107 

Mouths' unbroken Evangelistic 

Work, 164 

Servici'S in a Day. 165 

Foundry. Till', in Moorflelds, 77 

. Confeieticc at the. 161 

Fox's Acts and Moiuuueiits, WcBley'8 

Purging of, 143 

GAvnoi.n, .Tohn, so 
Hi^ debcnpii.u of Woeley, SI 



nil orpia, U.S., Mifsinii to, SS 
N.-iiues of the Missiunarifi',34 
Uules observed and Manner of Life 

on board Sbip, 34 
Savannah, Arrival at, 35 
The mission a Fjiilure, 37 
(iloucester, Wesley at, 73 
" God buries His Workmen," 11 

calls Men to preach. 80 

Grimsby, Noisy Congregation at, 127 
Gwennap. Great Service at, 113 
Fit, rreaching in, 109 

Halifax, Touchiko Scene at, 177 
Hall, Wesley's Brother-in-law, urges 

him to leave Church of England, 


leaves the Methodists, 129 

Hampton Common, Wei-ley at, 73 
Heylin's, Dr., Sermon, 44 
Hohhcad, Detention at, 137 
Howel Harris, the Welsh Evangelist, 

Humphreys, Joseph, 62, 79 
Huntingdon, Countess of, 90 
invites Conference to her House, 


INTV'ARD Strife suffeeed by Wes- 


Ireland, Visit to, 138 

, Second Visit to, 141 

- — , Fourth Visit to, 144 
Islington, Meeting at, 57 

Journals kept by Weslkt, 121, 183 
Justification by Wesley of Breach of 
Church Custom, 61 


Labour wiTHODT Fruit, and tvuy, 


Labours of Wesley in London and 

Bristol, 86, 103 

in 1744, lU 

in 1748, 137 

in his sixty-eighth year, iro ct aeq. 

"Large Hymn Book," Wesley's, 170 
L-itin spoken by the Wesleys, 31 
Lny-preaching, Commencement of, 79 
Leeds, Disturbances at, 130 
Leading Stock, Establishment of, 131 
Literary Work of Wesli'y, 121, 184 
London Churches closed against 

Wesley, 57 
Love-feast in Fetter Lane, 56 
Loyola and Wesley, Points in common 

between, 150 
Luther the cause of Moravians' error, 


, Difference between and Wesley, 


Maxfield, Tlicmas^ 62, 79 
Membership by Ticket, 95 
Methodism and Popery, Comparison 

of, 70 
, Definition of, 70 

Methodism (rmithuinri : 

, Its Org •ni.'sati'.n, 81 

, Its Preservation, 98 

" Methodist," Origin of Term, 29 

— Society, Foundation of 77, 81 

, Date of Revival, 83 

, Increase of Societies, 181 

Methodists. Early, Ch;aacter of, 153 

, Mysticism among, 84 

, Strife aiiiung^ 88 

Connexion with Church of Eng- 
land, 69 

, Their aeward, 153 

Middlet'-n's Book against the Fathers, 
Wesley's Answer to, 140 

Missionary Journeys, 105 

Monument to the Wesleys,9 

Morgan of Christ's, 30 

Moravian Church, Character of, 75 

, Mystic Teachings of, 76 

Moravians, Demeanour of, ,35 
Influence on John Wesley, S 
Differs from, 79 

Murray, Grace, Wesley's Disappoiut- 
ment respecting, 141 

NELSON, John, Stonemason, 99 

New Birth, The, 51 

" New Faith," The, 44 

New York, Methodism introduced 

into, 155 
Newcastle, Reading at, 134 

, Visit of Wesley t", 99, 106, 108,128 

Newgate, Preaching at, forbidden, 67 
Norfolk, Last Tour of Wesley in, 183 
Notes on the New Testament, 155 
Nottingham, Love-feast at, 1&4 
, Troubles at, 131 

Open TNG of Year I7.'i0, 143 

Service of 1770, 1.56 

" Ordination is Sep.aration," 172 
Orphan Hous.: at Newcastle, Estab- 
lishment of, 104 
Oxford, Failure of Society at, 91 

Palatinates in Iupland, 1.55 
Papist, Wesley accused of being, 113 
Pedigree of Wesley's Family, if 
Pensford, Preaching of Wesley at, 61 
Perronet. Jlr., of Shoreham, 123 

, Death of 170 

Picture by Parker, commemorating 

Centenary of Methodism, 24 
Pioneers of Methodism, Regard for 

among Methodists. 151 
Placey Village, Preaching at, 1C6 
Plvmouth. Mob at, 13.5 
Predestination and Election, 86 
Pretiiider in Edinburgh 128 
Primitive Church, Lord King's 

Account of, 129, 130 
Prodigy of the Age, The, 178 
Promise, Tlie, seen afar off, J2 
Promotion of Holiness Wesley's chief 

aim, 72 
Prose Works of Wesley, 18") 
" Puny I'arsou," The, 11 




Hau-f. of Mob agaixst Wesley, 83 
lit ;ulini.'. Disturbances at, 75 
lU'Cord, A, of Apustolic Labour, 167 

of 1790, 175 

Reign of Love, A, 20 

Ueligious Duties, how pressed home, 

Macazine started by Wesley, 1778, 

-— Soi'iety, The utility of, 96 

a Harbour of Refuge, &c., 96 

-^ not necessarily connected 

with Church, 97 
Rest and Peace found, 51 
Revival in Societies, 165 
Riding with a Slack Rein. 158 
Robinson, Henry Crabbe.on Wesley, 

Rochdale, Excitement at, 143 
Hose Green, Scenes at, 65 
Runwick, Wesley at, 73 


Save Sonis, To, Wesley's sole Aim and 

Endeavour, 145 
Scilly Isles, Visit to, 109 
Scotland, Methodism Introduced into 


, Journey through, 159 

Searching the Scrii.tures, 48 
Sermons, Number of, preached by 

Wesley, 122 
Services in Midland Towns, 127 
Society, Division of, into C asses, an 

advance on original idea. 97 

, Separation fr^m, by v\ esley 16 

Societies, Devotion of Wesley to, 98 

, Aid to, 89 

, Visitation of. 105 

m Scotland, Wesley reviving the, 

Bnrtes Virgilianae, 78 
SdUthey on Wesley, 174 
Spaiiisli Jews at Savannah, S5 
Spiritual revival, called Methodism, 

begun by Wesley, 57 
Stimulus to Success possessed by 

Wesley, 115 
Stirring up of Persecution, 107 
Sunday, A " Busy, Happy," 161 

Tabi.kt to the Wesleys in West- 


Tea, Wesley leaves off use of, 131 
Telchig's Advice to Wesley, 52 
Training as M<thocliPt?, 22 
Treatises for her Children written by 

Mrs. Wesley, 20 
Troubles of Wesley in 174(1, 84 
Tyerman, Rev. Luke, Biographer of 

Wesley, 18 

" TlNnROKEX Multitude," Ax, 1C3 
tJniforniity of Wesley's Daily and 

Yearly Life, 155 
United Society. 81 
Unwavering Monotony of Wesley's 

Yearly Round, 123 

Varvixo from the Church, 173 

V.nzcille, Mrs., Wesley marries, 1.56 

Vegetable Diet resorted to by Wesley, 

Vien s of Wesley on Ordination, 172 

on the Future, 170 

Wales Visited, 136 

Watch Night Service, 25 

in Bristol, 93 

Watch over Helpers kept by Wesley, 

Weardale, &c , Circuit through, 160 

Weavers' Hall. Service in, 94 

Wednesbury, Riots at 108, 109 

Wesley, Charles : — 
Course of Life at Oxford, 29 
Pn scribes method of Study, 29 
Accompanies John to Georgia, 31 
Returns to England, 36 
Illness, at Oxford, 40 
Opposes the •' New Faith," 44 
Convinced by Bbhier that we arc 
Saved by Faith and through Grace, 
His yielding to Conviction, 45 
Chronicles John's Conversion, 50 
Determines to take the Field, 67 
Preaches in Moorflelds, 68 
Oppressed with "Stillness" Mania, 

Pi-eaches at Bristol, 89 
Labours at Newcastle, 103 
First Visit to Cornwall, 107 
His Labours in Ireland, 138 
Failing Health of, 156 
Wesley, John : — 
Born at Epworth, 11 
Privately Baptised, 11 
Likeness to his Father in Features 

and Character, 17 
His Ancestry, 17 
A Child of Method, 19 
His Escape from Death by Fire, 21 
His f'liararter as a Boy, *J5 
Adiiiitled Early to Lord's Supper, 26 
Ai tacked by .Small I'ox, 26 
Nominated to Charterhouse, 26 
His School Career, 26 
Eli'cted to Studentship at Christ 

Church, Oxford, 27 
His Hopes for Salvation, 27 
His College Life, 27 
Declines to take Holy Orders, 27 
Begins a Religious Lite. 2S 
Takes Deacon's Orders, 28 
Elected Fellow of Lincoln, 28 
Course of reading followed. 28 
Takes Master's Degree, 29 
Travels and Takes Pujnls, 29 
Joins his Brother's "Set." :;0 
Bi'gins to observe fasts, yo 
His Unsolflsh Life and Charities, 30 
Becomes an .Ascetic, 31 
Takes to rcailinff on Horseback, .32 
PuliHshes " Forms of Prayer," .'12 
lieciimes acquainted with White- 

Held, 32 
F.-iiU to (ibt.ain Epworth, 32 
Leaves Oxford and goes to London, 

Goes on Mission to Georgia, 33 



Wcslcv, John (rmifiv'ird) : 
His Motives for tlif wnrlj, 33 
Publishes Collection of Hymns, 36 
Effects of Missionary Experience on, 

Returns to Eneland, 36 
Meets Peter Bbliler, 38 
Adopts a more Rigorous Life, 39 
Hl-> Preaching in all places, 41 
Resorts to Extempore Prayer, 41 
His bold Preaching in I.oiHlon, 44 
Hi« long Inward Struggle, 46 
Incidents before Conversion, 50 
Declares " I Believe," 50 
New Era in his Life, ijl 
His Description of his state of Feel- 
ing, 52 
Visits the Moravians, 53 
Returns to Eng and, 54 
I'reaches in Newgate and in many 

other places, 55 
His visit to Bristol, 55 
Returns to Oxford, 55 
Meeting with Whitefleld, 56 
His first Extempore Sermon, 56 
Re-visits Bristol, ^8 
I'rcaches in the Open Air, 59 
ICffects of his Preach ini--, til 
Self-examination as to Propriety of 

Conduct, 63 
.Summoned to London. 66 
Preaches at Blacklieath, &C,66 
Ai-'ain Visits Oxford, 73 
Preaches at Glnuce ter, &c., 73 
Visits Wales, 74, 7> 
I'ersecuted at Reading, 75 
Invited to Preach at Exeter, 77 
Re-visiis "Wales, 34 
Opposition to Mysticism, 85 
Separates from Moravians, .S5 
Correspo dence with Whitefleld, 86 
Troubles of, in 1741,88 
Seeks Reunion wil h Morav ans, 89 
Warm Reception of, at linstol,89 
\'isils Midland Counties, 90 
I Mid up uiih Fever. 92 
Distinijuishing Features of his Cha- 
racter, 98 
Vi>its North of England, 99 
Preaches at Epwo; th on his Father's 

Tomb, 101 
Visits ^ewcastle, 103 
Preaches throughout Cornwall, 109 
Cruel Assaults on, lin, ill 
.' igns Declaration against Popery, 

Second Visit to Cornwall, 112 
Holds " First Conference," 114 
Last Sermon at Oxford, 125 
Refuses to ■eave Church of England, 

Again fills a City Pulpit, 1.35 
Narrow Escape from Death, 137 
AssauUed at Halifax Cross, 140 
Meets Whitefli'ld at Leeds, 141 
AJtfection for Grace Murray, 141 

Wisley, John {rnvtinnfd^: 
Reconciled to Whitefleld, 14S 
An Enthusiast, but no Fanatic, 147 
M.arriaije of, 156 
In his Sixty-eighth year, 161 
Account of his Early Life, 162 
At Eighty-three years of age. 168 
Decay of Sight, Strength, and 

Memory, 168 
His Labours Recognised and Ap- 

jiroved, 169 
Last Sermon in Foundry, 170 

Visit to Ireland, iro 

Great Tour, 176 et scq. 

Visit to Scotland, 178 

Conference at Bristol, 180 

Visit to Wales, 181 

Sermon in the Open Air, 182 

Sermon at Lentherhead, 186 

Letter written by, 187 

Peaceful Death, 1-88 

Wesley, Rev. Bartholomew, 

Wesley, Samuel, 12 
Biith and Early Life, 12 
Joins Established Church, 13 
y liters at Exeter College, 13 
Writes Poem on Our Lord's Lire, 

Takes Holy Orders, 13 
Marries Susanna Annesley, 16 
Obtains Living of Epworth, 16 
Sketch of his Ciiaracter, 18 
What he said of his .Sons, 31 
Death of, at Epwcu'th, 32 

Wesley, Sir Herbert, 11 

Whitby Select Society, 160 

White, John. 12 

Whitefleld, George:— 
Joins the Methodists. 30 , 
B 'Climes acuuainted with John 

Wesley, .32 
Bis Testimony to Wesley's Work in 

America, .37 
Returns from Georgia, .')6 
Preaches in the Open Air to Colliers 
at KIngswood. .58 

Expulsion threatened for, 58 

Differs with Wesley on Predestinar 

tion and Electinii, 86 
Seeks M'-eting with Wesley, 141 
Reconciled to Wesley, 143 
Comparison between him and Wes- 
ley, 148 
Death of, in Am lira. 166 
Funeral .Sermon preached by Wesley, 

Wicked Wigan, 177 

Wilberforce, Wesley's Last Letter 
addressed to, 187 

Winchelsea, Wesley's Last Sermon at, 

" Word to a Freeholder. A," 1.35 
Work of Wesley in 1770, 1.57, 158 

in Seclusion, 174 

Its Excellence, 14.5 
World, The, Wesley's Parish, 10 




Green, rtichard 


John Wesley 



3d ed. 




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