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Charles Wesley

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Sept. 2 - Dec. 31, 1743: The Midlands

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September 2 - December 31, 1743

Fri., September 2d. I visited our brother Parker near death, as was supposed, but triumphing over it, through Him that giveth us the victory. News was brought me again, that Mr. Piers was dying. Next morning I found him more than conqueror in a mighty conflict he had had for eight hours with all the powers of darkness. "Now," he told me, "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord."

Sun., September 4th. I baptized a woman at the chapel, before the service. She was in the spirit of heaviness; but God magnified his ordinance, and she was therein enlightened to see her sins forgiven.

Wed., September 7th. I visited one struck down on Sunday night, both soul and body, but now rejoicing in the sense of God's pardoning love.

I delivered my own soul by speaking my mind to a reviler and hater of God in his children.

I rejoiced to hear of happy Miss Cowper's release; and found my soul mounting up after her all this and the following day.

Sat., September 10th. I went to the house of our late-translated sister, and rejoiced over the breathless temple of the Holy Ghost.

Sun., September 11th. I met one of the Tabernacle, thoroughly convinced of the necessity of holiness. Many more shall follow if we tarry the Lord's leisure.

Tues., September 13th. At Mr. Watkins's I told his pharisaical sister that she was then in a lost estate, and took my leave till she feels the wrath of God abiding on her.

Fri., September 16th. I received great power to invite poor sinners at the chapel, while enforcing, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord."

Sat., September 24th. I reproved one for swearing, among an army of porters and carmen. I spoke to them for some time, till all were overpowered. I carried two away with me to the Foundery. They received my saying and books, and departed with their eyes full of tears, and their hearts of good desires.

Wed., September 28th. At the chapel I preached through this man forgiveness of sins; never with greater demonstration of the Spirit.

Sat., October 1st. I rode out of town to friend Hiam's country house, and had much useful conversation with him.

Wed., October 5th. I described the Laodicean spirit, with great convincing power.

Thur., October 6th. I expounded wrestling Jacob at the Foundery, and promised the Society an extraordinary blessing, if they would seek the Lord early the next morning.

Fri., October 7th. The Foundery was full; and God confirmed the word of his servant, while I explained, "All power is given unto me." Some received the blessing of the Gospel, or forgiveness: and no one, I verily believe, was sent empty away. At intercession a great awe of God fell upon us, and we trembled before the presence of the Lord, before the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.

Sun., October 9th. Still He meets us in the place which he has chosen to record his name. J. Bray was one of my joyful congregation. It was a passover indeed.

Fri., October 14th. A mighty awakening power was with the word, "The blind receive their sight," &c.

Sat., October 15th. At Short's-gardens I preached, "It is of thy mercy only that we are not consumed ;" and we were all melted down by the sense of His infinite patience and long-suffering.

Sun., October 16th. I administered the sacrament, and found after it the usual power in prayer.

Mon., October 17th. I set out to meet my brother at Nottingham.

Wed., October 19th. I preached twice in Markfield church, and was much comforted with my brother Ellis, and his little increasing flock. I talked with several, and took knowledge of them, that they have been with Jesus. One received the atonement under my word.

Thur., October 20th. I preached at Nottingham-cross, and met the Society we began half a year ago, increased from eleven to fifty. They have been sifted like wheat by their two potent enemies, stillness and predestination. One simple soul I was enabled to rescue. I discerned her at first sight by her form of humility and meekness: her tone and posture spoke her a poor sinner. She confessed that the Germans had taken great pains to wean her of her bigotry to the Church and ordinances; that they laughed at her reading the Scriptures; at her praying, and fasting, and mourning after Christ. When she quoted any Scripture-proof, they set it aside with, "O, that you must not mind; that is all head-knowledge." When she said she could not rest with such an evil heart, they answered, "O, you are not willing to be a poor sinner." They were always happy, they told her, always easy; without trouble, care, or temptation of any kind: but all her sorrow, and poverty, and hunger, and heaviness through manifold temptations, was bondage, and the law, and works, and because she would not be a poor sinner.

I prayed over her in faith; and the scales fell from her eyes. She saw through them in a moment, and all their pretenses to humility, liberty, and faith. The tempter left her for a season, and the angels came and ministered unto her.

This people, I think, are faster asleep than ever, through their having been once awakened. Satan could not have gained a greater advantage than by Mr. Rogers's misconduct. How is the shepherd smitten, and the flock scattered! Woe unto the man who does not continue in the ship! They only shall prosper that love Jerusalem.

Fri., October 21st. My brother came, delivered out of the mouth of the lion. He looked like a soldier of Christ. His clothes were torn to tatters. The mob of Wednesbury, Darlaston, and Wales, were permitted to take him by night out of the Society-house, and carry him about several hours, with s full purpose to murder him. But his work is not finished; or he had now been with the souls under the altar.

Sat., October 22d. The spirit of prayer was given at the Society, so that every soul was in some measure sensible of it.

Sun., October 23d. I went to church with Mr. How, (for they cannot yet wean him of that bigotry,) and found a great spirit of mourning for the captive daughter of Sion.

I met at the Cress the largest concourse of people, they told me, that had ever been seen there. They were more concerned than I had before observed them, and listened for an hour in fixed attention.

Mon., October 24th. I had s blessing at parting from the Society. I set out at five, and by night came weary and wet to Birmingham.

Tues., October 25th. I was much encouraged by the faith and patience of our brethren from Wednesbury; who gave me some particulars of the late persecution. My brother, they told me, had been dragged about for three hours by the mob of three towns. Those of Wednesbury and Darlaston were disarmed by a few words he spoke, and thenceforward laboured to screen him from their old allies of Walsal; till they were overpowered themselves, and most of them knocked down. Three of the brethren, and one young woman, kept near him all the time, striving to intercept the blows. Sometimes he was almost borne upon their shoulders through the violence of the multitude, who struck at him continually that he might fall. And if he had once been down, he would have rose no more. Many blows he escaped through his lowness of stature; and his enemies were struck down by them. His feet never once slipped; for in their hands the angels bore him up.

The ruffians ran about asking, "Which is the Minister?" and lost, and found, and lost hlm again. That Hand which struck the men of Sodom and the Syrians blind withheld or turned them aside. Some cried, "Drown him! Throw him into a pit!" Some, "Hang him up upon the next tree!" Others, "Away with him! away with him!" and some did him the infinite honour to cry, in express terms, "Crucify him!" One and all said, "Kill him!" but they were not agreed what death to put him to. In Walsal several said, "Carry him out of the town: don't kill him here: don't bring his blood upon us!"

To some who cried, "Strip him, tear off his clothes!" he mildly answered, "That you need not do: I will give you my clothes, if you want them." In the intervals of tumult, he spoke, the brethren assured me, with as much composure and correctness as he used to do in their Societies. The Spirit of glory rested on him. As many as he spoke to, or but laid his hand on, he turned into friends. He did not wonder (as he himself told me) that the martyrs should feel no pain in the flames; for none of their blows hurt him, although one was so violent as to make his nose and mouth gush out with blood.

At the first Justice's, whither they carried him, one of his poor accusers mentioned the only crime alleged against him: "Sir, it is a downright shame. He makes people rise at five in the morning to sing psalms." Another said, "To be plain, Sir, if I must speak the truth, all the fault I find with him is, that he preaches better than our Parsons." Mr. Justice did not care to meddle with him, or with those who were murdering an innocent man at his Worship's door. A second Justice in like manner remanded him to the mob. The Mayor of Walsal refused him protection when entering his house, for fear the mob should pull it down. Just as he was within another door, one fastened his hand in his hair, and drew him backward, almost to the ground. A brother, with the peril of his life, fell on the man's hand, and bit it, which forced him to loose his hold.

The instrument of his deliverance at last was the ringleader of the mob, the greatest profligate in the country. He carried him through the river upon his shoulders. A sister they threw into it. Another's arm they broke. No farther hurt was done our people; but many of our enemies were sadly wounded.

The Minister of Darlaston sent my brother word, he would join with him in any measures to punish the rioters; that the meek behaviour of our people, and their constancy in suffering, convinced him the counsel was of God; and he wished all his parish Methodists.

They pressed me to come and preach to them in the midst of the town. This was the sign agreed on betwixt my brother and me: if they asked me, I was to go. Accordingly, we set out in the dark, and came to Francis Ward's, whence my brother had been carried last Thursday night. I found the brethren assembled, standing fast in one mind and spirit, in nothing terrified by their adversaries. The word given me for them was, "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit yourselves like men, be strong." Jesus was in the midst, and covered us with a covering of his Spirit. Never was I before in so primitive an assembly. We sang praises lustily, and with a good courage; and could all set to our seal to the truth of our Lord's saying, "Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness' sake."

We laid us down and slept, and rose up again; for the Lord sustained us. We assembled before day to sing hymns to Christ as God. As soon as it was light I walked down the town, and preached boldly on Rev. it. 10: "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer.

Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." It was a most glorious time. Our souls were satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and we longed for our Lord's coming to confess us before his Father and his holy angels.

We now understood what it was to receive the word in much affliction, and yet with joy in the Holy Ghost. I took several new members into the Society; and, among them, the young man whose arm was broke, and upon trial) Munchin, the late captain of the mob. He has been constanfiy under the word since he rescued my brother. I asked him what he thought of him. "Think of him!" said he: "That he is a man of God; and God was on his side, when so many of us could not kill one man."

We rode through the town, unmolested, to Birmingham; where I preached, and one received faith. I rode on to Evesham, and found John Nelson preaching. I confirmed his word, and prayed in the Spirit.

Thur., October 27th. I preached at five; then read prayers, and preached twice, at Quinton; and the fourth time in Evesham, with much life and liberty.

Fri., October 28th. I called on the eager, loving souls at Gutherton, "Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world!" Again at Cirencester, and slept at a well-disposed widow's.

Sat., October 29th. I came once more to Bristol, where I have spent but one day these six months.

Sun., October 30th. I rejoiced among our colliers, who receive the word as at the beginning, "with power, and the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance."

I preached in the Horse-fair on, "The Spirit and the bride say, Come;" and gave the Society an account of the late persecution. God sent a gracious rain upon his inheritance, and refreshed our weary souls.

Mon., October 31st. I set out at five for Wales, commended to the grace of God. I preached in the way at farmer Whitehureh's. When we came to the Passage, the boatmen refused to venture over in such a storm. We waited till four; then committed ourselves to Him whom the winds and seas obey; and embarked with Mr. Ashton and faithful Felix Farley. The rest of the passengers stayed on the safe side. The waves of the sea were mighty, and raged horribly.

When, with much toiling, we were come near the opposite shore, the storm caught the vessel; our sails were backed, and we driving full on the Black-rock, where thirty-two persons lost their lives a few weeks since. But the answer of prayer, after much fatigue, brought us to the haven. O that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness, and declare the wonders which he doeth for the children of men!

It was dark when we landed: however, we had a good Guide, (the darkness is no darkness to Him,) who conducted us, through the heavy rain, to the rock and fountain. I spoke a word in season to the poor young women-servants, who dwell as in the confines of hell, and in the midst of human devils.

Tues., November lst. I took horse some hours before day, and by ten reached Cardiff. The gentlemen had threatened great things, if I ever came here again. I called, in the midst of them, "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by," &c. The love of Christ constrained me to speak, and them to hear. The word was irresistible. After it, one of our most violent opposers took me by the hand, and pressed me to come to see him. The rest were equally civil all the time I stayed. Only one drunkard made some disturbance, but, when sober, sent to ask my pardon.

The voice of praise and thanksgiving was in the Society. Many are grown in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus.

I passed an hour with the wife and daughter of the Chief Bailiff, who are waiting as little children for the kingdom of God.

Wed., November 2d. I declared, in the Castle-yard, "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." At noon my commission was still," Comfort ye, comfort ye my people." I find the truth of Mr. Hodges's observation, "The Gospel makes way for the law."

Thur., November 3d. I read prayers and preached at Wenvo; then in our old chapel at the Castle; and rejoiced with my dear friends in sure and steadfast hope of the glory of God.

Fri., November 4th. I prayed with the Society at five; preached at seven; rode back to Cardiff, and joined in fervent intercession. I preached faith in the blood of Christ to the poor weeping prisoners; made s collection for them, and distributed books; besought them at the room to be reconciled to God; and the power of the Lord bore all before it.

Sat., November 5th. I took a sweet leave of the brethren, and got to the Passage by ten; but the boatmen, notwithstanding our entreaties, could not be persuaded to pass in that weather.

Sun., November 6th. I took boat at nine, nothing doubting. The floods lifted up their voice; but faith saw Jesus walking on the water, and heard his voice, "It is I, be not afraid." In eight minutes we were brought safe to land, by Him who rides in the whirlwind.

At two I preached to the colliers, from," Said I not unto thee, If thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" Their spirit bore me up, as on eagles' wings. We all rejoiced in our strong salvation.

Sun., November 13th. In the word, and sacrament, and love-feast, the Lord showed that the efficacy of his ministration doth not depend on the life or holiness of the Minister.

Wed., November 16th. I preached in Bath, on my way to Cirencester. There the Lord gave testimony to his word, "I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions." I preached at Gutherton, Evesham, Quinton, Oxford; and on Thursday, November 24th, at the Foundery.

Sun., November 27th. I gave the sacrament to about a thousand of the Society; and we poured out our souls in prayer.

Wed., November 30th. I was greatly assisted to declare, "The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost."

Thur., December 8th. I called on Mr. Witham, given over by his Physicians; trembling at the approach of the King of terrors, and catching at every word that might flatter his hopes of life.

Fri., December 9th. I prayed with him again, and found him somewhat more resigned.

Mon., December 19th. I was mostly employed for some days past in comforting an afflicted friend, whose son lay dying of the small-pox.

Tues., December 20th. I prayed in great faith for Mr. Witham; the time of whose departure draws nigher and nigher.

Fri., December 23d. At half-hour past seven in the evening he broke out, "Now I am delivered, I have found the thing I sought. I know what the blood of sprinkling means." He called his family and friends to rejoice with him. Some of his last words were, "Why tarry the wheels of his charlot? I know that my Redeemer liveth. Just at twelve this night my spirit will return to Him." While the clock was striking twelve, he died like a lamb, with that word, "Come, Lord Jesus!"

Sat., December 24th. I called on friend Keen's son, just as his wife had told her dream, that I should come that morning. They both seem truly simple of heart. Our meeting was not in vain. I rode in the afternoon to Bexley.

Christmas-day. I heard that one of our fiercest persecutors, who had cut his throat, and lay for dead some hours, was miraculously revived, as a monument of divine mercy. Many of his companions have been hurried into eternity, while fighting against God. He is now seeking Him whom once he persecuted; was confounded at the sight of me, much more by my comfortable words, and a small alms. He could only thank me with his tears.

I read prayers, and preached, "Glory be to God in the highest," to a people who now have ears to hear.

Mon., December 26th. I spent four days between Wilmington, Welling, and Bexley, preaching the Gospel.

Fri., December 30th. I called on a friend, near death, yet unprepared for it; and faithfully, not fashionably, told him his condition.

Sat., December 31st. I visited, at his desire, an opposer of the truth, till softened by the approach of death, and showed him his want of a Saviour. He now expresses incredible eagerness for redemption in the blood of Jesus.

Charles Wesley, The Journal of the Rev. Charles Wesley (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1849)

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