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John Wesley

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1781-4: An Ideal Circuit; Wesley in his Eighties; Wesley Visits Holland; Scotland

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Chapter 19. An Ideal Circuit; Wesley in his Eighties; Wesley Visits Holland; Incidents in Scotland


Thursday, January 25.—I spent an agreeable hour at a concert of my nephews. But I was a little out of my element among lords and ladies. I love plain music and plain company best.

A Rough Voyage

Monday, April 9.—Desiring to be in Ireland as soon as possible, I hastened to Liverpool and found a ship ready to sail; but the wind was contrary, till on Thursday morning the captain came in haste and told us the wind was come quite fair. So Mr. Floyd, Snowden, Joseph Bradford, and I, with two of our sisters, went on board. But scarcely were we out at sea when the wind turned quite foul and rose higher and higher. In an hour I was so affected as I had not been for forty years before. For two days I could not swallow the quantity of a pea or anything solid and very little of any liquid. I was bruised and sore from head to foot and ill able to turn me on the bed.

All Friday, the storm increasing, the sea of consequence was rougher and rougher. Early on Saturday morning, the hatches were closed which, together with the violent motion, made our horses so turbulent, that I was afraid we would have to kill them lest they should damage the ship. Mrs. S. now crept to me, threw her arms over me, and said, "O sir, we will die together!" We had by this time three feet of water in the hold, though it was an exceedingly light vessel. Meantime we were furiously driving on a lee-shore, and when the captain cried, "Helm-a-lec," she would not obey the helm. I called our brethren to prayers, and we found free access to the throne of grace. Soon after we got, I know not how, into Holyhead harbor, after being sufficiently buffeted by the winds and waves for two days and two nights.

The more I considered, the more I was convinced it was not the will of God I should go to Ireland at this time. So we went into the stagecoach without delay, and the next evening came to Chester.

I now considered in what place I could spend a few days to the greatest advantage. I soon thought of the Isle of Man and those parts of Wales which I could not well see in my ordinary course. I judged it would be best to begin with the latter. So, after a day or two's rest, on Wednesday, 18, I set out for Brecon, purposing to take Whitchurch (where I had not been for many years) and Shrewsbury in my way. At noon I preached in Whitchurch to a numerous and very serious audience; in the evening at Shrewsbury, where, seeing the earnestness of the people, I agreed to stay another day.

Not knowing the best way from hence to Brecon, I thought well to go round by Worcester. I took Broseley in my way, and thereby had a view of the iron bridge over the Severn: I suppose the first and the only one in Europe. It will not soon be imitated.

Tuesday, May 1.—I rode to St. David's, seventeen measured miles from Haverford. I was surprised to find all the land, for the last nine or ten miles, so fruitful and well cultivated. What a difference is there between the westermost36 parts of England, and the westermost parts of Wales! The former (the west of Cornwall), so barren and wild; the latter, so fruitful and well-improved. But the town itself is a melancholy spectacle. I saw but one tolerable good house in it. The rest were miserable huts indeed. I do not remember so mean a town even in Ireland. The cathedral has been a large and stately fabric, far superior to any other in Wales. But a great part of it is fallen down already, and the rest is hastening into ruin: one blessed fruit (among many) of bishops residing at a distance from their see. Here are the tombs and effigies of many ancient worthies: Owen Tudor in particular. But the zealous Cromwellians broke off their noses, hands, and feet and defaced them as much as possible. But what had the Tudors done to them? Why, they were progenitors of Kings.

In the Isle of Man

Wednesday, 30.—I embarked on board the packet-boat for the Isle of Man. We had a dead calm for many hours; however, we landed at Douglas on Friday morning. Both the preachers met me here and gave me a comfortable account of the still increasing work of God.

Before dinner, we took a walk in a garden near the town, wherein any of the inhabitants of it may walk. It is wonderfully pleasant, yet not so pleasant as the gardens of the Nunnery (so it is still called), which are not far from it. These are delightfully laid out and yield to few places of the size in England.

At six I preached in the market place, to a large congregation; all of whom, except a few children and two or three giddy young women, were seriously attentive.

Saturday, June 2.—I rode to Castleton, through a pleasant and (now) well-cultivated country. At six I preached in the market place, to most of the inhabitants of the town on "One thing is needful" [Luke 10:42]. I believe the word carried conviction into the hearts of nearly all that heard it. Afterward I walked to the house of one of our English friends, about two miles from the town. All the day I observed, wherever I was, one circumstance that surprised me: In England we generally hear the birds singing, morning and evening; but here thrushes and various other kinds of birds were singing all day long. They did not intermit, even during the noonday heat, where they had a few trees to shade them.

Preaching at Peel

June 3.— (Being Whitsunday.) I preached in the market place again about nine, to a still larger congregation than before, on "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ" [Rom. 1:16]. How few of the genteel hearers could say so! About four in the afternoon, I preached at Barewle, on the mountains, to a larger congregation than that in the morning. The rain began soon after I began preaching; but ceased in a few minutes. I preached on "They were all filled with the Holy Ghost" [Acts 2:4]; and showed in what sense this belongs to us and to our children.

Between six and seven I preached on the seashore at Peel, to the largest congregation I have seen in the island; even the society nearly filled the house. I soon found what spirit they were of. Hardly in England (unless perhaps at Bolton) have I found so plain, so earnest, so simple a people.

Monday, 4.—We had such a congregation at five as might have been expected on a Sunday evening. We then rode through and over the mountains to Beergarrow; where I enforced, on an artless, loving congregation. "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink" [John 7:371. A few miles from thence, we came to Bishop's Court, where good Bishop Wilson resided nearly threescore years. There is something venerable, though not magnificent, in the ancient palace; and it is undoubtedly situated in one of the pleasantest spots of the whole island.

Tuesday, 5.—In the afternoon we rode through a pleasant and fruitful country to Ramsay, about as large as Peel and more regularly built. The rain was again suspended while I preached to well nigh all the town; but I saw no inattentive hearers.

An Ideal Circuit

Wednesday, 6.—This morning we rode through the most woody, and far the pleasantest, part of the island-a range of fruitful land lying at the foot of the mountains, from Ramsay through Sulby to Kirkmichael. Here we stopped to look at the plain tombstones of those two good men, Bishop Wilson and Bishop Hildesley, whose remains are deposited, side by side, at the east end of the church. We had scarcely reached Peel before the rain increased; but here the preaching-house contained all that could come. Afterward, Mr. Crook desired me to meet the singers. I was agreeably surprised. I have not heard better singing either at Bristol or London. Many, both men and women, have admirable voices, and they sing with good judgment. Who would have expected this in the Isle of Man?

Thursday, 7.—I met our little body of preachers. They were two-and-twenty in all. I never saw in England so many stout, well-looking preachers together. If their spirit be answerable to their look, I know not what can stand before them. In the afternoon I rode over to Dawby, and preached to a very large and very serious congregation.

Friday, 8.—Having now visited the island round, east, south, north, and west, I was thoroughly convinced that we have no such circuit as this, either in England, Scotland, or Ireland. It is shut up from the world; and, having little trade, is visited by scarcely any strangers. Here are no Papists, no Dissenters of any kind, no Calvinists, no disputers. Here is no opposition, either from the Governor (a mild, humane man), from the bishop (a good man), or from the bulk of the clergy. One or two of them did oppose for a time; but they seem now to understand better. So that we have now rather too little, than too much reproach; the scandal of the cross being, for the present, ceased. The natives are a plain, artless, simple people; unpolished, that is, unpolluted; few of them are rich or genteel; the far greater part moderately poor; and most of the strangers that settle among them are men that have seen affliction. The local preachers are men of faith and love, knit together in one mind and one judgment. They speak either Manx or English, and follow a regular plan, which the assistant gives them monthly.

The isle is supposed to have thirty thousand inhabitants. Allowing half of them to be adults, and our societies to contain one or two and twenty hundred members, what a fair proportion is this! What has been seen like this, in any part either of Great Britain or Ireland?

Saturday, 9.—We would willingly have set sail; but the strong northeast wind prevented us. Monday, 11. It being moderate, we put to sea: but it soon died away into a calm; so I had time to read over and consider Dr. Johnson's Tour through Scotland. I had heard that he was severe upon the whole nation; but I could find nothing of it. He simply mentions (but without any bitterness) what he approved or disapproved. Many of the reflections are extremely judicious, some of them very affecting.

Tuesday, 12.—Having several passengers on board, I offered to give them a sermon, which they willingly accepted. And all behaved with the utmost decency, while I showed "His commandments are not grievous" [I John 5-3]. Soon after, a little breeze sprang up, which, early in the morning, brought us to Whitehaven.

Thursday, 28.—I preached at eleven in the main street at Selby, to a large and quiet congregation; and in the evening at Thorne. This day I entered my seventy-ninth year; and, by the grace of God, I feel no more of the infirmities of old age, than I did at twenty-nine. Friday, 29. I preached at Crowle and at Epworth. I have now preached thrice a day for seven days following; but it is just the same as if it had been but once.

"A Low, Soft, Solemn Sound"


March 29.—(Being Good Friday.) I came to Macclesfield just time enough to assist Mr. Simpson in the laborious service of the day. I preached for him morning and afternoon; and we administered the sacrament to about thirteen hundred persons. While we were administering, I heard a low, soft, solemn sound, just like that of an AEolian harp. It continued five or six minutes and so affected many that they could not refrain from tears. It then gradually died away. Strange that no other organist (that I know) should think of this. In the evening I preached at our room. Here was that harmony which art cannot imitate.

Tuesday, May 14.—Some years ago four factories for spinning and weaving were set up at Epworth. In these a large number of young women, and boys and girls, were employed. The whole conversation of these was profane and loose to the last degree. But some of these stumbling in at the prayer meeting were suddenly cut to the heart. These never rested till they had gained their companions. The whole scene was changed. In three of the factories, no more lewdness or profaneness was found; for God had put a new song in their mouth, and blasphemies were turned to praise. Those three I visited today and found religion had taken deep root in them. No trifling word was heard among them, and they watch over each other in love. I found it exceedingly good to be there, and we rejoiced together in the God of our salvation.

Friday, 31.—As I lodged with Lady Maxwell at Saughtonhall (a good old mansion house, three miles from Edinburgh), she desired me to give a short discourse to a few of her poor neighbors. I did so, at four in the afternoon, on the story of Dives and Lazarus. About seven I preached in our house at Edinburgh and fully delivered my own soul.

Saturday, June I.—I spent a little time with forty poor children, whom Lady Maxwell keeps at school. They are swiftly forward in reading and writing, and learn the principles of religion. But I observe in them all the love of finery. Be they ever so poor, they must have a scrap of finery. Many of them have not a shoe to their foot, but the girl in rags is not without her ruffles.

Sunday, 2.—Mr. Collins intended to have preached on the Castle Hill at twelve o'clock; but the dull minister kept us in the kirk till past one. At six the house was well filled, and I did not shun to declare the whole counsel of God. I almost wonder at myself. I seldom speak anywhere so roughly as in Scotland. And yet most of the people hear and hear, and are just what they were before.

Wesley Enters His Eightieth Year

Saturday, 15 (Kelso).—As I was coming downstairs, the carpet slipped from under my feet, and, I know not how, turned me round and pitched me back, with my head foremost, for six or seven stairs. It was impossible to recover myself till I came to the bottom. My head rebounded once or twice from the edge of the stone stairs. But it felt to me exactly as if I had fallen on a cushion or a pillow. Dr. Douglas ran out, sufficiently affrighted. But he needed not. For I rose as well as ever, having received no damage but the loss of a little skin from one or two of my fingers. Doth not God give His angels charge over us, to keep us in all our ways?

Wednesday, 26.—I preached at Thirsk; Thursday, 27, at York. Friday, 28. I entered into my eightieth year; but, blessed be God, my time is not "labor and sorrow." I find no more pain or bodily infirmities than at five-and-twenty. This I still impute 1) to the power of God, fitting me for what He calls me to; 2) traveling four or five thousand miles a year; 3) to my sleeping, night or day, whenever I want it; 4) to my rising at a set hour; and 5) to my constant preaching, particularly in the morning.

Saturday, July 6.—I came to Birmingham and preached once more in the old, dreary preaching-house.

Sunday, 7.—I opened the new house at eight, and it contained the people well; but not in the evening; many were then constrained to go away. In the middle of the sermon a huge noise was heard, caused by the breaking of a bench on which some people stood. None of them was hurt, yet it occasioned a general panic at first. But in a few minutes all was quiet.

Sunday, 14.—I heard a sermon in the old church at Birmingham which the preacher uttered with great vehemence against these "hairbrained, itinerant enthusiasts." But he totally missed his mark, having not the least conception of the persons whom he undertook to describe.

No Repose for Wesley

Wednesday, 17.—I went on to Leicester; Thursday, 18, to Northhampton; and Friday, 19, to Hinxworth, in Hertfordshire. Adjoining Miss Harvey's house is a pleasant garden, and she has made a shady walk round the neighboring meadows. How gladly could I repose awhile here! But repose is not for me in this world. In the evening many of the villagers flocked together, so that her great hall was well filled. I would fain hope some of them received the seed in good ground and will bring forth fruit with patience.

Saturday, 20.—We reached London. All the following week the congregations were uncommonly large. Wednesday, 24. My brother and I paid our last visit to Lewisham and spent a few pensive hours with the relief of our good friend, Mr. Blackwell. We took one more walk round the garden and meadow, which he took so much pains to improve. Upwards of forty years this has been my place of retirement when I could spare two or three days from London.

Tuesday, August 13.—Being obliged to leave London a little sooner than I intended, I concluded the conference today and desired all our brethren to observe it as a day of solemn thanksgiving. At three in the afternoon I took coach. About one on Wednesday morning we were informed that three highwaymen were on the road before us and had robbed all the coaches that had passed, some of them within an hour or two. I felt no uneasiness on the account, knowing that God would take care of us. And He did so; for, before we came to the spot, all the highwaymen were taken. So we went on unmolested and early in the afternoon came safe to Bristol.

Thursday, 15.—I set out for the West; preached at Taunton in the evening; Friday noon, at Collumpton; and in the evening, at Exeter.

A Christian Bishop's Furniture

Sunday, 18.—I was much pleased with the decent behavior of the whole congregation at the cathedral; as also with the solemn music at the post-communion, one of the finest compositions I ever heard. The bishop inviting me to dinner, I could not but observe 1) the lovely situation of the palace, covered with trees, and as rural and retired as if it was quite in the country; 2) the plainness of the furniture, not costly or showy, but just fit for a redundant; plain Christian bishop; 3) the dinner sufficient, but hot and good, but not delicate; 4) the propriety of the company—five clergymen and four of the aldermen; and 5) the genuine, unaffected courtesy of the bishop, who, I hope, will be a blessing to his whole diocese.

We set out early in the morning, Monday, 19, and in the afternoon came to Plymouth. I preached in the evening, and at five and twelve on Tuesday, purposing to preach in the square at the Dock in the evening; but the rain prevented. However, I did so on Wednesday evening. A little before I concluded, the commanding officer came into the square with his regiment; but he immediately stopped the drums and drew up all his men in order on the high side of the square. They were all still as night; nor did any of them stir, till I had pronounced the blessing.

"The Tide Is Now Turned"


Wednesday, January 1.—May I begin to live today! Sunday, 5. We met to renew our covenant with God. We never meet on this occasion without a blessing; but I do not know that we had ever so large a congregation before.

Sunday, 19.—I preached at St. Thomas's Church in the afternoon and at St. Swithin's in the evening. The tide is now turned; so that I have more invitations to preach in churches than I can accept of.

Friday, February 21.—At our yearly meeting for that purpose, we examined our yearly accounts and found the money (just answering the expense) was upwards of three thousand pounds a year.

But that is nothing to me: what I receive of it yearly is neither more nor less than thirty pounds.

Sunday, June 1.—I was refreshed by the very sight of the congregation at the new chapel (London). Monday 2, and the following days, I employed in settling my business and preparing for my little excursion. Wednesday, 11. I took coach with Mr. Brackenbury, Broadbent, and Whitfield; and in the evening we reached Harwich. I went immediately to Dr. Jones, who received me in the most affectionate manner. About nine in the morning we sailed and at nine on Friday, 13, landed at Helvoetsluys [Hellevoctsluis].

Wesley Visits Holland

Here we hired a coach for Briel, but were forced to hire a wagon also, to carry a box which one of us could have carried on his shoulders. At Briel we took a boat to Rotterdam. We had not been long there when Mr. Bennet, a bookseller who had invited me to his house, called upon me. But as Mr. Loyal, the minister of the Scotch congregation, had invited me, be gave up his claim and went with us to Mr. Loyal's. I found a friendly, sensible, hospitable, and, I am persuaded, a pious man. We took a walk together round the town, all as clean as a gentleman's parlor. Many of the houses are as high as those in the main street at Edinburgh; and the canals, running through the chief streets, make them convenient, as well as pleasant, bringing the merchants' goods up to their doors. Stately trees grow on all their banks. The whole town is encompassed with a double row of elms so that one may walk all round it in the shade.

Saturday, 14.—I had much conversation with the two English ministers, sensible, well-bred, serious men. These, as well as Mr. Loyal, were very willing I should preach in their churches; but they thought it would be best for me to preach in the Episcopal Church. By our conversing freely together, many prejudices were removed and all our hearts seemed to be united together.

In the evening we again took a walk around the town, and I observed 1) many of the houses are higher than most in Edinburgh. It is true they have not so many stories; but each story is far loftier. 2) The streets, the outside and inside of their houses in every part, doors, windows, well-staircases, furniture, even floors, are kept so nicely clean that you cannot find a speck of dirt; 3) there is such a grandeur and elegance in the fronts of the large houses as I never saw elsewhere; and such a profusion of marble within, particularly in their lower floors and staircases, as I wonder other nations do not imitate. 4) The women and children (which I least of all expected) were in general the most beautiful I ever saw. They were surprisingly fair and had an inexpressible air of innocence in their countenance. 5) This was wonderfully set off by their dress, which was simplex munditiis, plain and neat in the highest degree. 6) It has lately been observed that growing vegetables greatly resist putridity: so there is a use in their numerous rows of trees which was not thought of at first. The elms balance the canals, preventing the putrefaction which those otherwise might produce.

The Reverent Dutch

One little circumstance I observed, which I suppose is peculiar to Holland: to most chamber windows a looking-glass is placed on the outside of the sash, so as to show the whole street, with all the passengers. There is something very pleasing in these moving pictures. Are they found in no other country?

Sunday, 15.—The Episcopal Church is not quite so large as the chapel in West Street. It is very elegant both without and within. The service began at half-past nine. Such a congregation had not often been there before. I preached on "God created man in his own image" [Gen. 1:27]. The people seemed, "all but their attention, dead." In the afternoon the church was so filled as (they informed me) it had not been for these fifty years. I preached on "God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son" [I John 5:11]. I believe God applied it to many hearts. Were it only for this hour, I am glad I came to Holland.

One thing which I peculiarly observed was this, and the same in all the churches in Holland: at coming in, no one looks on the right or the left hand, or bows or courtesies to anyone; but all go straight forward to their seats, as if no other person were in the place. During the service, none turns his head on either side, or looks at anything but his book or the minister; and in going out none take notice of anyone, but all go straight forward till they are in the open air.

After church an English gentleman invited me to his country house, not half a mile from the town. I scarcely ever saw so pretty a place. The garden before the house was in three partitions, each quite different from the others. The house lay between this and another garden (nothing like any of the others), from which you looked through a beautiful summerhouse, washed by a small stream, into rich pastures filled with cattle. We sat under an arbor of stately trees, between the front and the back gardens. Here were four such children (I suppose seven, six, five, and three years old) as I never saw before in one family; such inexpressible beauty and innocence shone together!

In the evening I attended the service of the great Dutch church, as large as most of our cathedrals. The organ (like those in all the Dutch churches) was elegantly painted and gilded; and the tunes that were sung were very lively and yet solemn.

Monday, 16.—We set out in a track-skuit [river boat] for the Hague. By the way we saw a curiosity: the gallows near the canal, surrounded with a knot of beautiful trees, so the dying man will have one pleasant prospect here, whatever befalls him hereafter! At eleven we came to Delft, a large, handsome town. Here we spent an hour at a merchant's house, who, as well as his wife, a very agreeable woman, seemed both to fear and to love God. Afterward we saw the great church, I think nearly, if not quite, as long as York Minster. It is exceedingly light and elegant within, and every part is kept exquisitely clean. The tomb of William I is much admired; particularly his statue, which has more life than one would think could be expressed in brass.

The Beautiful Hague

When we came to the Hague, though we had heard much of it, we were not disappointed. It is, indeed, beautiful beyond expression. Many of the houses are exceedingly grand and are finely intermixed with water and wood; yet are not too close, but so as to be sufficiently ventilated by the air.

Being invited to tea by Madam de Vassenaar (one of the first quality in the Hague), I waited upon her in the afternoon. She received us with that easy openness and affability which is almost peculiar to Christians and persons of quality. Soon after came ten or twelve ladies more, who seemed to be of her own rank (though dressed quite plainly), and two most agreeable gentlemen; one of them, I afterward understood, was a colonel in the Prince's Guards. After tea I expounded the three first verses of the thirteenth of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. Captain M. interpreted, sentence by sentence. I then prayed, and Colonel V. after me. I believe this hour was well employed.

Tuesday, 17.—As we walked over the Place we saw the Swiss Guards at their exercise. They are a fine body of men, taller, I suppose, than any English regiment; and they all wear large black whiskers, which they take care to keep as black as their boots. Afterward we saw the gardens at the Old Palace, beautifully laid out, with a large piece of water in the middle and a canal at each end; the open walks in it are pleasant, but the shady serpentine walks are far pleasanter.

We dined at Mrs. L—'s, in such a family as I have seldom seen. Her mother, upwards of seventy, seemed to be continually rejoicing in God her Saviour. The daughter breathes the same spirit, and her grandchildren, three little girls and a boy, seem to be all love. I have not seen four such children together in all England. A gentleman coming in after dinner, I found a particular desire to pray for them. In a little while he melted into tears, as indeed did most of the company.

Wednesday, 18. In the afternoon Madam de Vassenaar invited us to a meeting at a neighboring lady's house. I expounded Galatians 6:14, and Mr. M. interpreted as before.

At Leyden and Amsterdam

Thursday, 19.—We took boat at seven. Mrs. L. and one of her relations, being unwilling to part so soon, bore us company to Leyden, a large and populous town but not so pleasant as Rotterdam. In the afternoon we went on to Haarlem, where a plain, good man and his wife received us in a most affectionate manner. At six we took boat again. As it was filled from end to end, I was afraid we should not have a very pleasant journey. After Mr. Ferguson had told the people who we were, we made a slight excuse and sang a hymn. They were all attention. We then talked a little, by means of our interpreter, and desired that any of them who pleased would sing. Four persons did so and sang well. After a while we sang again; so did one or two of them, and all our hearts were strangely knit together so that when we came to Amsterdam they dismissed us with abundance of blessings.

Friday, 20.—We breakfasted at Mr. Ferguson's, near the heart of the city. At eleven we drank coffee (the custom in Holland) at Mr. J—'s, a merchant, whose dining room is covered, both walls and ceiling, with the most beautiful paintings. He and his lady walked with us in the afternoon to the Stadt House, perhaps the grandest buildings of the kind in Europe. The great hall is a noble room indeed, nearly as large as that of Christ Church in Oxford. But I have neither time nor inclination to describe particularly this amazing structure.

The Warmly Affectionate Dutch

Sunday, 22.—I went to the new church, so called still, though four or five hundred years old. It is larger, higher, and better illuminated than most of our cathedrals. The screen that divides the church from the choir is of polished brass and shines like gold. I understood the Psalms that were sung, and the text well, and a little of the sermon which Mr. De H. delivered with great earnestness. At two I began the service at the English church, an elegant building, about the size of West Street Chapel. Only it has no galleries, nor have any of the churches in Holland. I preached on Isaiah 55:6, 7; and I am persuaded many received the truth in the love thereof.

After dinner Mrs. J— took me in a coach to the Mere, and thence round the country to Zeeburg. I never saw such a country before: I suppose there is no such summer country in Europe. From Amsterdam to Mere is all a train of the most delightful gardens. Turning upon the left, you then open upon the Texel, which spreads into a sea. Zeeburg itself is a little house built on the edge of it, which commands both a land and a sea prospect. What is wanting to make the inhabitants happy but the knowledge and love of God?

Wednesday, 25.—We took boat for Haarlem. The great church here is a noble structure, equaled by few cathedrals in England, either in length, breadth, or height. The organ is the largest I ever saw and is said to be the finest in Europe. Hence we went to Mr. Van Ka—'s, whose wife was convinced of sin and justified by reading Mr. Whitefield's sermons.

Here we were as at home. Before dinner we took a walk in Haarlem Wood. It adjoins the town and is cut out in many shady walks, with lovely vistas shooting out every way. The walk from the Hague to Scheveling is pleasant; those near Amsterdam more so; but these exceed them all.

We returned in the afternoon to Amsterdam and in the evening took leave of as many of our friends as we could. How entirely were we mistaken in the Hollanders, supposing them to be of a cold, phlegmatic, unfriendly temper! I have not met with a more warmly affectionate people in all Europe! no, not in Ireland!

Wesley at Utrecht

Thursday, 26.—Our friends having largely provided us with wine and fruits for our little journey, we took boat in a lovely morning for Utrecht.

Utrecht has much the look of an English town. The streets are broad and have many noble houses. In quietness and stillness it much resembles Oxford. The country all round is like a garden; and the people I conversed with are not only civil and hospitable, but friendly and affectionate, even as those at Amsterdam.

Monday, 30.—We hired a coach for Rotterdam, at half a crown per head. We dined at Gouda, at Mr. Van Flooten's, minister of the town, who received us with all possible kindness. Before dinner we went into the church, famous for its painted windows; but we had not time to survey a tenth part of them: we could only observe, in general, that the colors were exceedingly lively and the figures exactly proportioned. In the evening we reached once more the hospitable house of Mr. Loyal, at Rotterdam.

Tuesday, July 1.—I called on as many as I could of my friends, and we parted with much affection. We then hired a yacht, which brought us to Helvoetsluys about eleven the next day. At two we went on board; but the wind turning against us, we did not reach Harwich till about nine on Friday morning. After a little rest, we procured a carriage and reached London about eleven at night.

Two Hours with Dr. Johnson

I can by no means regret either the trouble or expense which attended this little journey. It opened me a way into, as it were, a new world where the land, the buildings, the people, the customs, were all such as I had never seen before. But as those with whom I conversed were of the same spirit as my friends in England, I was as much at home in Utrecht and Amsterdam, as in Bristol and London.

Sunday, 6.—We rejoiced to meet once more with our English friends in the new chapel, who were refreshed with the account of the gracious work which God is working in Holland also.

Thursday, December 18.—I spent two hours with that great man, Dr. Johnson, who is sinking into the grave by a gentle decay.


Monday, April 5.—I was surprised when I came to Chester to find that there also morning preaching was quite left off, for this worthy reason: "Because the people will not come, or, at least, not in the winter." If so, the Methodists are a fallen people. Here is proof. They have "lost their first love," and they never will or can recover it till they "do the first works."

Wesley and Early Rising

As soon as I set foot in Georgia, I began preaching at five in the morning; and every communicant, that is, every serious person in the town, constantly attended throughout the year: I mean, every morning, winter and summer, unless in the case of sickness. They did so till I left the province. In the year 1738, when God began His great work in England, I began preaching at the same hour, winter and summer, and never wanted a congregation. If they will not attend now, they have lost their zeal; and then, it cannot be denied, they are a fallen people.

And, in the meantime, we are laboring to secure the preaching-houses to the next generation! In the name of God, let us, if possible, secure the present generation from drawing back to perdition Let all the preachers that are still alive to God join together as one man, fast and pray, lift up their voice as a trumpet, be instant, in season, out of season, to convince them they are fallen; and exhort them instantly to repent and "do the first works"; this in particular—rising in the morning, without which neither their souls nor bodies can long remain in health.

Monday, 19.—I went on to Ambleside; where, as I was sitting down to supper, I was informed that notice had been given of my preaching and that the congregation was waiting. I would not disappoint them; but preached immediately on salvation by faith. Among them were a gentleman and his wife, who gave me a remarkable account.

Remarkable Escape from Prison

She said she had often heard her mother relate what an intimate acquaintance had told her, that her husband was concerned in the Rebellion of 1745. He was tried at Carlisle and found guilty. The evening before he was to die, sitting and musing in her chair, she fell fast asleep. She dreamed that one came to her and said, "Go to such a part of the wall, and among the loose stones you will find a key, which you must carry to your husband." She waked; but, thinking it a common dream, paid no attention to it. Presently she fell asleep again and dreamed the very same dream. She started up, put on her cloak and hat, and went to that part of the wall, and among the loose stones found a key. Having, with some difficulty, procured admission into the gaol, she gave this to her husband. It opened the door of his cell, as well as the lock of the prison door. So at midnight he escaped for his life.

The Banks of the Spey

Saturday, May 8.—We reached the banks of the Spey. I suppose there are few such rivers in Europe. The rapidity of it exceeds even that of the Rhine, and it was now much swelled with melting snow. However, we made shift to get over before ten; and about twelve reached Elgin. Here I was received by a daughter of good Mr. Plenderleith, late of Edinburgh; with whom, having spent an agreeable hour, I hastened toward Forres. But we were soon at full stop again; the river Findhorn also was so swollen that we were afraid the ford was not passable. However, having a good guide, we passed it without much difficulty. I found Sir Lodowick Grant almost worn out. Never was a visit more seasonable. By free and friendly conversation his spirits were so raised that I am in hopes it will lengthen his life.

Sunday, 9.—I preached to a small company at noon on "His commandments are not grievous." As I was concluding, Colonel Grant and his lady came in; for their sake I began again and lectured, as they call it, on the former part of the fifteenth chapter of St. Luke. We had a larger company in the afternoon to whom I preached on "judgment to come." And this subject seemed to affect them most.

Twelve and a Half Miles in Heavy Rain

Monday, 10.—I set out for Inverness. I had sent Mr. McAllum before, on George Whitfield's horse, to give notice of my coming. Hereby I was obliged to take both George and Mrs. MeAllum with me in my chaise. To ease the horses, we walked forward from Nairn, ordering Richard to follow us, as soon as they were fed; he did so, but there were two roads. So, as we took one, and he the other, we walked about twelve miles and a half of the way, through heavy rain. We then found Richard waiting for us at a little alehouse, and drove on to Inverness. But, blessed be God, I was no more tired than when I set out from Nairn. I preached at seven to a far larger congregation than I had seen here since I preached in the kirk. And surely the labor was not in vain, for God sent a message to many hearts.

Tuesday, 11.—Notwithstanding the long discontinuance of morning preaching, we had a large congregation at five. I breakfasted at the first house I was invited to at Inverness, where good Mr. McKenzie then lived. His three daughters live in it now, one of whom inherits all the spirit of her father. In the afternoon we took a walk over the bridge, into one of the pleasantest countries I have seen. It runs along by the tide of the clear river and is well cultivated and well wooded. And here first we heard abundance of birds, welcoming the return of spring. The congregation was larger this evening than the last, and a great part of them attended in the morning. We had then a solemn parting, as we could hardly expect to meet again in the present world.

Incidents in Scotland

Tuesday, 18.—I preached at Dundee. Wednesday, 19. I crossed over the pleasant and fertile county of Fife, to Melval House, the grand and beautiful seat of Lord Leven. He was not at home, being gone to Edinburgh, as the King's Commissioner; but the Countess was, with two of her daughters and both of her sons-in-law. At their desire, I preached in the evening on "It is appointed unto man once to die" [Heb. 9:27]; and I believe God made the application.

Thursday, 20.—It blew a storm; nevertheless, with some difficulty, we crossed the Queen's Ferry.

Saturday, 22 (Edinburgh).—A famous actress, just come down from London (which, for the honor of Scotland, is just during the sitting of the Assembly), stole away a great part of our congregation tonight. How much wiser are these Scots than their forefathers

Sunday, 2337 —I went in the morning to the Tolbooth kirk; in the afternoon, to the old Episcopal chapel. But they have lost their glorying: they talked, the moment service was done, as if they had been in London. In the evening the Octagon was well filled; and I applied, with all possible plainness, "God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" [John 4:24].

Wesley at 81

Monday, June 28 (Epworth).—Today I entered on my eighty-second year and found myself just as strong to labor and as fit for any exercise of body or mind as I was forty years ago. I do not impute this to second causes, but to the Sovereign Lord of all. It is He who bids the sun of life stand still, so long as it pleaseth Him.

I am as strong at eighty-one as I was at twenty-one; but abundantly more healthy, being a stranger to the headache, toothache, and other bodily disorders which attended me in my youth. We can only say, "The Lord reigneth!" While we live, let us live to Him!

In the afternoon I went to Gainsborough and willingly accepted the offer of Mr. Dean's chapel. The audience was large and seemed much affected; possibly some good may be done even at Gainsborough! Tuesday, 29. I preached in the street at Scotter, to a large and deeply attentive congregation. It was a solemn and comfortable season. In the evening I read prayers and preached in Owstone church; and again in the morning. Wednesday, 30- In the evening I preached at Epworth. In the residue of the week, I preached morning and evening in several of the neighboring towns.

Wednesday, August 18.—I went to Admiral Vaughan's, at Tracoon, one of the pleasantest seats in Great Britain. Tne house is embosomed in lofty woods and does not appear till you drop down upon it. The Admiral governs his family, as he did in his ship, with the utmost punctuality. The bell rings and all attend without delay, whether at meals or at morning and evening prayer. I preached at seven on Philippians 3:8 and spent the evening in serious conversation.

Tuesday, 31.—Dr. Coke, Mr. Whatcoat, and Mr. Vasey came down from London, in order to embark for America.

Wednesday, September 1.—Being now clear in my own mind, I took a step which I had long weighed in my mind, and appointed Mr. Whatcoat and Mr. Vasey to go and serve the desolate sheep in America. Thursday, 2. I added to them three more; which, I verily believe, will be much to the glory of God.

Sunday, 12.—Dr. Coke read prayers and I preached in the new room. Afterward I hastened to Kingswood and preached under the shade of that double row of trees which I planted about forty years ago. How little did anyone then think that they would answer such an intention The sun shone as hot as it used to do even in Georgia; but his rays could not pierce our canopy. Our Lord, meantime, shone upon many souls and refreshed them that were weary.

Burglary at Wesley's House

Saturday, November 21 (London).—At three in the morning two or three men broke into our house, through the kitchen window. Thence they came up into the parlor and broke open Mr. Moore's bureau, where they found two or three pounds; the night before I had prevented his leaving there seventy pounds, which he had just received. They next broke open the cupboard and took away some silver spoons. Just at this time the alarm, which Mr. Moore by mistake had set for half-past three (instead of four), went off, as it usually did, with a thundering noise. At this the thieves ran away with all speed, though their work was not half done; the whole damage which we sustained scarcely amounted to six pounds.

Sunday, December 26.—I preached the condemned criminals' sermon in Newgate. Forty-seven were under sentence of death. While they were coming in, there was something very awful in the clink of their chains. But no sound was heard, either from them or the crowded audience, after the text was named: "There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, that need not repentance" [see Luke 15:7]. The power of the Lord was eminently present, and most of the prisoners were in tears. A few days after, twenty of them died at once, five of whom died in peace. I could not but greatly approve of the spirit and behavior of Mr. Villette, the ordinary; and I rejoiced to hear that it was the same on all similar occasions.

Friday, 31.—We had a solemn watch night and ushered in the new year with the voice of praise and thanksgiving.

36 Correct spelling.

37 Correct — period is omitted.

John Wesley, The Journal of John Wesley (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2000) Conversion to HTML and placename mark-up by Humphrey Southall, 2009.

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