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John Wesley

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1739: Field-Preaching; "All the World my Parish"; Whitefield; Wales

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Chapter 3. Field-Preaching; "All the World my Parish"; Whitefield; Wales; Experience with Demons

Wesley Begins Field-preaching


March 15.—During my stay [in London] I was fully employed, between our own society in Fetter Lane and many others where I was continually desired to expound; I had no thought of leaving London, when I received, after several others, a letter from Mr. Whitefield and another from Mr. Seward entreating me, in the most pressing manner, to come to Bristol without delay. This I was not at all forward to do.

Wednesday, 28.—My journey was proposed to our society in Fetter Lane. But my brother Charles would scarcely bear the mention of it; till appealing to the Oracles of God, he received those words as spoken to himself and answered not again: "Son of man, behold, I take from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet shalt thou not mourn or weep, neither shall thy tears run down" [Ezek. 24:16]. Our other brethren, however, continuing the dispute, without any probability of their coming to one conclusion, we at length all agreed to decide it by lot. And by this it was determined I should go.

Thursday, 29.—I left London and in the evening expounded to a small company at Basingstoke, Saturday, 31. In the evening I reached Bristol and met Mr. Whitefield there. I could scarcely reconcile myself at first to this strange way of preaching in the fields, of which he set me an example on Sunday; I had been all my life (till very lately) so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order that I should have thought the saving of souls almost a sin if it had not been done in a church.

April 1.—In the evening (Mr. Whitefield being gone) I began expounding our Lord's Sermon on the Mount (one pretty remarkable precedent of field-preaching, though I suppose there were churches at that time also), to a little society which was accustomed to meet once or twice a week in Nicholas Street.

Monday, 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 Scripture on which I spoke was this (is it possible anyone should be ignorant that it is fulfilled in every true minister of Christ?): "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" [see Isa. 61:1, 2; Luke 4:18, 19].

Sunday, 8.—At seven in the morning I preached to about a thousand persons at Bristol, and afterward to about fifteen hundred on the top of Hannam Mount in Kingswood. I called to them, in the words of the evangelical prophet, "Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters;....come, and buy wine and milk without money and without price" [Isa. 55:1]. About five thousand were in the afternoon at Rose Green (on the other side of Kingswood); among whom I stood and cried in the name of the Lord, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" [John 7:38].

Tuesday, 17.—At five in the afternoon I was at a little society in the Back Lane. The room in which we were was propped beneath, but the weight of people made the floor give way; so that in the beginning of expounding, the post which propped it fell down with a great noise. But the floor sank no farther; so that, after a little surprise at first, they quietly attended to the things that were spoken.

Monday, May 7.—I was preparing to set out for Pensford, having now had leave to preach in the church, when I received the following note:


Our minister, having been informed you are beside yourself, does not care that you should preach in any of his churches."—I went, however; and on Priestdown, about half a mile from Pensford, preached Christ our "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

Tuesday, 8.—I went to Bath, but was not suffered to be in the meadow where I was before, which occasioned the offer of a much more convenient place, where I preached Christ to about a thousand souls.

Wednesday, 9.—We took possession of a piece of ground near St. James's churchyard, in the Horse Fair, Bristol, where it was designed to build a room large enough to contain both the societies of Nicholas and Baldwin Street and such of their acquaintance as might desire to be present with them, at such times as the Scripture was expounded. And on Saturday, 12, the first stone was laid with the voice of praise and thanksgiving.

The First Methodist Building

I had not at first the least apprehension or design of being personally engaged either in the expense of this work or in the direction of it, having appointed eleven feoffees on whom I supposed these burdens would fall, of course; but I quickly found my mistake. First, with regard to the expense: for the whole undertaking must have stood still had not I immediately taken upon myself the payment of all the workmen; so that before I knew where I was, I had contracted a debt of more than a hundred and fifty pounds. And this I was to discharge as I could, the subscriptions of both societies not amounting to one quarter of the sum.

And as to the direction of the work, I presently received letters from my friends in London, Mr. Whitefield in particular, backed with a message by one just come from thence, that neither he nor they would have anything to do with the building, neither contribute anything toward it, unless I would instantly discharge all feoffees and do everything in my own name. Many reasons they gave for this; but one was enough, namely, "that such feoffees always would have it in their power to control me; and, if I preached not as they liked, to turn me out of the room I had built." I accordingly yielded to their advice, and calling all the feoffees together canceled (no man opposing) the instrument made before, and took the whole management into my own hands. Money, it is true, I had not, nor any human prospect or probability of procuring it; but I knew "the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof," and in His name set out, nothing doubting.

Sunday, 13.—My ordinary employment in public was now as follows: Every morning I read prayers and preached at Newgate. Every evening I expounded a portion of Scripture at one or more of the societies. On Monday, in the afternoon, I preached abroad, near Bristol; on Tuesday, at Bath and Two Mile Hill alternately; on Wednesday, at Baptist Mills; every other Thursday, near Pensford; every other Friday, in another part of Kingswood; on Saturday in the afternoon, and Sunday morning, in the Bowling Green (which lies near the middle of the city); on Sunday, at eleven, near Hannam Mount; at two, at Clifton; and at five, on Rose Green. and hitherto, as my days so my strength hath been.

Wesley's Living Arguments

Sunday, 20.—Seeing many of the rich at Clifton Church, my heart was much pained for them and I was earnestly desirous that some even of them might "enter into the kingdom of heaven." But full as I was, I knew not where to begin in warning them to flee from the wrath to come till my Testament opened on these words: "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" [Mark 2:17]; in applying which my soul was so enlarged that methought I could have cried out (in another sense than poor vain Archimedes), "Give me where to stand, and I will shake the earth." God's sending forth lightning with the rain did not hinder about fifteen hundred from staying at Rose Green. Our Scripture was, "It is the glorious God that maketh the thunder. The voice of the Lord is mighty in operation; the voice of the Lord is a glorious voice" [see Ps. 29:3, 4]. In the evening He spoke to three whose souls were all storm and tempest, and immediately there was a great calm.

During this whole time I was almost continually asked, either by those who purposely came to Bristol to inquire concerning this strange work, or by my old or new correspondents, "How can these things be?" And innumerable cautions were given me (generally grounded on gross misrepresentations of things) not to regard visions or dreams, or to fancy people had remission of sins because of their cries, or tears, or bare outward professions. To one who had many times written to me on this head, the sum of my answer was as follows:

"The question between us turns chiefly, if not wholly, on matter of fact. You deny that God does now work these effects; at least, that He works them in this manner. I affirm both, because I have heard these things with my own ears and have seen with my eyes. I have seen (as far as a thing of this kind can be seen very many persons changed in a moment from the spirit of fear, horror, despair, to the spirit of love, joy, and peace; and from sinful desire, till then reigning over them, to a pure desire of doing the will of God. These are matters of fact whereof I have been, and almost daily am, an eye- or ear-witness.

"What I have to say touching visions or dreams, is this: I know several persons in whom this great change was wrought in a dream, or during a strong representation to the eye of their mind, of Christ either on the cross or in the glory. This is the fact; let any judge of it as they please. And that such a change was then wrought appears (not from their shedding tears only, or falling into fit, or crying out; these are not the fruits, as you seem to suppose, whereby I judge, but) from the whole tenor of their life, till then many ways wicked; from that time holy, just, and good.

"I will show you him that was a lion till then and is now a lamb; him that was a drunkard and is now exemplarily sober; the whoremonger that was who now abhors the very garment spotted by the flesh.' These are my living arguments for what I assert, namely, that God does now, as aforetime, give remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost even to us and to our children; yea, and that always suddenly as far as I have known, and often in dreams or in the visions of God.' If it be not so, I am found a false witness before God. For these things I do, and by His grace, will testify."

Beau Nash Argues with Wesley

Tuesday, June 5.—There was great expectation at Bath of what a noted man was to do to me there; and I was much entreated not to preach because no one knew what might happen. By this report I also gained a much larger audience, among whom were many of the rich and great. I told them plainly the Scripture had concluded them all under sin—high and low, rich and poor, one with another. Many of them seemed to be a little surprised and were sinking apace into seriousness, when their champion appeared and, coming close to me, asked by what authority I did these things.

I replied, "By the authority of Jesus Christ, conveyed to me by the (now) Archbishop of Canterbury, when he laid hands upon me and said, Take thou authority to preach the gospel.'" He said, "This is contrary to Act of Parliament: this is a conventicle." I answered, "Sir, the conventicles mentioned in that Act (as the preamble shows) are seditious meetings; but this is not such; here is no shadow of sedition; therefore it is not contrary to that Act." He replied, "I say it is: and beside, your preaching frightens people out of their wits."

"Sir, did you ever hear me preach?" "No." "How, then, can you judge of what you never heard?" "Sir, by common report." "Common report is not enough. Give me leave, Sir, to ask, is not your name Nash?" "My name is Nash." "Sir, I dare not judge of you by common report: I think it not enough to judge by." Here he paused awhile and, having recovered himself, said, "I desire to know what this people comes here for": on which one replied, "Sir, leave him to me: let an old woman answer him. You, Mr. Nash, take care of your body; we take care of our souls; and for the food of our souls we come here." He replied not a word, but walked away.

As I returned, the street was full of people, hurrying to and from and speaking great words. But when any of them asked, "Which is he?" and I replied, "I am he," they were immediately silent. Several ladies following me into Mr. Merchant's house, the servant told me there were some wanted to speak to me. I went to them and said, "I believe, ladies, the maid mistook: you wanted only to look at me." I added, "I do not expect that the rich and great should want either to speak with me or to hear me; for I speak the plain truth—a thing you hear little of and do not desire to hear." A few more words passed between us, and I retired.

Monday, 1.—I received a pressing letter from London (as I had several others before), to come thither as soon as possible, our brethren in Fetter Lane being in great confusion for want of my presence and advice. I therefore preached in the afternoon on these words: "I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God" [Acts 20: 26, 27]. After sermon I commended them to the grace of God, in whom they had believed. Surely God hath yea a work to do in this place. I have not found such love, no, not in England; nor so childlike, artless, teachable, a temper as He hath given to this people.

Yet during this whole time I had many thoughts concerning the unusual manner of my ministering among them. But after frequently laying it before the Lord and calmly weighing whatever objections I heard against it, I could not but adhere to what I had some time since written to a friend, who had freely spoken his sentiments concerning it. An extract of that letter I here subjoin that the matter may be placed in a clear light.

"All the World My Parish"

You say, you cannot reconcile some parts of my behavior with the character I have long supported. No, nor ever will. Therefore I have disclaimed that character on every possible occasion. I told all in our ship, all at Savannah, all at Frederica, and that over and over, in express terms, I am not a Christian; I only follow after, if haply I may attain it.'

If you ask on what principle I 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 whithersoever it shall please God, by this conviction, to call me.

As to your advice that I should settle in college, I have no business there, having now no office and no pupils. And whether the other branch of your proposal be expedient for me, namely, to accept of a cure of souls,' it will be time enough to consider when one is offered to me.

But, in the meantime, you think I ought to sit still; because otherwise I should invade another's office, if I interfered with other people's business and intermeddled with souls that did not belong to me. You accordingly ask, How is it that I assemble Christians who are none of my charge, to sing psalms, and pray, and hear the Scriptures expounded?' and think it hard to justify doing this in other men's parishes, upon catholic principles?

Permit me to speak plainly. If by catholic principles you mean any other than scriptural, they weigh nothing with me; I allow no other rule, whether of faith or practice, than the holy Scriptures. but on scriptural 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, nor probably ever shall. Whom then shall I hear, God or man?

I look upon all the world 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 I am that His blessing attends it. Great 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.'

Susanna Wesley and her Son

Wednesday, 13.—After receiving the holy communion at Islington, I had once more an opportunity of seeing my mother, whom I had not seen since my return from Germany.

I cannot but mention an odd circumstance here. I had read her a paper in June last year, containing a short account of what had passed in my own soul, till within a few days of that time. She greatly approved it, and said she heartily blessed God, who had brought me to so just a way of thinking. While I was in Germany a copy of that paper was sent (without my knowledge) to one of my relations. He sent an account of it to my mother, whom I now found under strange fears concerning me, being convinced "by an account taken from one of my own papers that I had greatly erred from the faith." I could not conceive what paper that should be; but, on inquiry, found it was the same I had read her myself. How hard is it to form a true judgment of any person or thing from the account of a prejudiced relater! yea, though he be ever so honest a man: for he who gave this relations was one of unquestionable veracity. And yet by his sincere account of a writing which lay before his eyes, was the truth so totally disguised that my mother knew not the paper she had heard from end to end, nor I that I had myself written.

Thursday, 14.—I went with Mr. Whitefield to Blackheath, where were, I believe, twelve or fourteen thousand people. He a little surprised me by desiring me to preach in his stead; which I did (though nature recoiled) on my favorite subject, "Jesus Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption."

I was greatly moved with compassion for the rich that were there, to whom I made a particular application. Some of them seemed to attend, while others drove away their coaches from so uncouth a preacher.

Sunday, 17.—I preached at seven in Upper Moorefields to (I believe) six or seven thousand people, on, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters."

At five I preached on Kennington Common to about fifteen thousand people on those words, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth' [Isa. 45:22].

Monday, 18.—I left London early in the morning and the next evening reached Bristol and preached (as I had appointed, if God should permit) to a numerous congregation. My text now also was "look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth" [Isa. 45:22]. Howell Harris called upon me an hour or two after. He said he had been much dissuaded from either hearing or seeing me by many who said all manner of evil of me. "But," said he, "as soon as I heard you preach, I quickly found what spirit you were of. And before you had done, I was so overpowered with joy and love that I had much ado to walk home."

Sunday, 24.—As I was riding to Rose Green, in a smooth, plain part of the road, my horse suddenly pitched upon his head, and rolled over and over. I received no other hurt than a little bruise on one side; which for the present I felt not, but preached without pain to six or seven thousand people on that important direction, "Whether ye eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" [see I Cor. 10:31].

Talks with Whitefield

Friday, July 6.—In the afternoon I was with Mr. Whitefield, just come from London, with whom I went to Baptist Mills, where he preached concerning "the Holy Ghost, which all who believe are to receive"; not without a just, though severe, censure of those who preach as if there were no Holy Ghost.

Saturday, 7.—I had an opportunity to talk with him of those outward signs which had so often accompanied the inward work of God. I found his objections were chiefly grounded on gross misrepresentations of matter of fact. But the next day he had an opportunity of informing himself better: for no sooner had he begun (in the application of his sermon) to invite all sinners to believe in Christ, than four persons sank down close to him, almost in the same moment. One of them lay without either sense or motion. A second trembled exceedingly. The third had strong convulsions all over his body, but made no noise unless by groans. The fourth, equally convulsed, called upon God with strong cries and tears. From this time, I trust, we shall all suffer God to carry on His own work in the way that pleaseth Him.

Friday, 23.—On Friday, in the afternoon, I left Bristol with Mr. Whitefield, in the midst of heavy rain. But the clouds soon dispersed so that we had a fair, calm evening and a serious congregation at Thornbury.

Tuesday, 17.—I rode to Bradford, five miles from Bath, whither I had been long invited to come. I waited on the minister and desired leave to preach in his church. He said it was not usual to preach on the weekdays; but if I could come thither on a Sunday, he should be glad of my assistance. Thence I went to a gentleman in the town who had been present when I preached at Bath and, with the strongest marks of sincerity and affection, wished me good luck in the name of the Lord. But it was past. I found him now quite cold. He began disputing on several heads and at last told me plainly that one of our own college had informed him they always took me to be a little crack-brained at Oxford.

However, some persons who were not of his mind, having pitched on a convenient place (called Bear Field, or Bury Field), on the top of the hill under which the town lies; I there offered Christ to about a thousand people, for "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." Thence I returned to Bath and preached on "What must I do to be saved?" to a larger audience than ever before.

I was wondering the "god of this world" was so still; when, at my return from the place of preaching, poor R—d Merchant told me he could not let me preach any more in his ground. I asked him why; he said, the people hurt his trees and stole things out of his ground. "And besides," added he, "I have already, by letting thee be there, merited the displeasure of my neighbors." O fear of man! Who is above thee, but they who indeed "worship God in spirit and in truth"? Not even those who have one foot in the grave! Not even those who dwell in rooms of cedar and who have heaped up gold as the dust and silver as the sand of the sea.

Press-gang Disturbs the Sermon

Saturday, 21.—I began expounding, a second time, our Lord's Sermon on the Mount. In the morning, Sunday, 22, as I was explaining, "Blessed are the poor in spirit," to about three thousand people, we had a fair opportunity of showing all men what manner of spirit we were of: for in the middle of the sermon the press-gang came and seized on one of the hearers (ye learned in the law, what becomes of Magna Charta, and of English liberty and property? Are not these mere sounds, while, on any pretense, there is such a thing as a press-gang suffered in the land?), all the rest standing still and none opening his mouth or lifting up his hand to resist them.

Monday, September 3 (London).—I talked largely with my mother, who told me that, till a short time since, she had scarcely heard such a thing mentioned as the having forgiveness of sins now, or God's Spirit bearing witness with our spirit: much less did she imagine that this was the common privilege of all true believers. "Therefore," said she, "I never durst ask for it myself. But two or three weeks ago, while my son Hall was pronouncing those words, in delivering the cup to me, The blood 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 whether her father (Dr. Annesley) had not the same faith and whether she had not heard him preach it to others. She answered that he had had it himself; and had declared, a little before his death, that for more than forty years he had had no darkness, no fear, no doubt at all of his being "accepted in the Beloved." But that, nevertheless, she 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 God.

The New Name of Methodism

Sunday, 9.—I declared to about ten thousand, in Moorfields, what they must do to be saved. My mother went with us, about five, to Kennington, where were supposed to be twenty thousand people. I again insisted on that foundation of all our hope, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved." From Kennington I went to a society at Lambeth. The house being filled, the rest stood in the garden. The deep attention they showed gave me a good hope that they will not all be forgetful hearers.

Sunday, 16.—I preached at Moorfields to about ten thousand, and at Kennington Common to, I believe, nearly twenty thousand, on those words of the calmer Jews to St. Paul, "We desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against" [Acts 28:22]. At both places I described the real difference between what is generally called Christianity and the true old Christianity, which, under the new name of Methodism, is now also everywhere spoken against.

Sunday, 23.—I declared to about ten thousand, in Moorfields, with great enlargement of spirit, "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" [Rom. 14:17]. At Kennington I enforced to about twenty thousand that great truth, "One thing is needful." Thence I went to Lambeth and showed (to the amazement, it seemed, of many who were present) how "he that is born of God doth not commit sin" [1 John 3:9].

Monday, 24.—I preached once more at Plaistow and took my leave of the people of that place. In my return, a person galloping swiftly rode full against me and overthrew both man and horse, but without any hurt to either. Glory be to Him who saves both man and beast!

An Accident and a Long Sermon

Thursday, 27.—I went in the afternoon to a society at Deptford and thence, at six, came to Turner's Hall, which holds (by computation) two thousand persons. The press both within and without was very great. In the beginning of the expounding, there being a large vault beneath, the main beam which supported the floor broke. The floor immediately sank, which event occasioned much noise and confusion among the people. But two or three days before, a man had filled the vault with hogsheads of tobacco. So that the floor, after sinking a foot or two, rested upon them, and I went on without interruption.

Sunday, October 7.—About eleven I preached at Runwick, seven miles from Gloucester. The church was much crowded, though a thousand or upwards stayed in the churchyard. In the afternoon I explained further the same words, "What must I do to be saved?" I believe some thousands were then present, more than had been in the morning.

Between five and six I called on all who were present (about three thousand) at Stanley, on a little green near the town, to accept of Christ as their only "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." I was strengthened to speak as I never did before; and continued speaking nearly two hours: the darkness of the night and a little lightning not lessening the number, but increasing the seriousness, of the hearers. I concluded the day by expounding part of our Lord's Sermon on the Mount to a small, serious company at Ebly.

Wesley in Wales

Monday, 15.—Upon a pressing invitation, some time since received, I set out for Wales. About four in the afternoon I preached on a little green at the foot of the Devauden (a high hill, two or three miles beyond Chepstow) to three or four hundred plain people on "Christ our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." After sermon, one who I trust is an old disciple of Christ, willingly received us into his house: whither many following, I showed them their need of a Saviour from these words, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." In the morning I described more fully the way to salvation—"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved"; and then, taking leave of my friendly host, before two came to Abergavenny.

I felt in myself a strong aversion to preaching here. However, I went to Mr. W— (the person in whose ground Mr. Whitefield preached) to desire the use of it. He said, with all his heart—if the minister was not willing to let me have the use of the church: after whose refusal (for I wrote a line to him immediately), he invited me to his house. About a thousand people stood patiently (though the frost was sharp, it being after sunset) while, from Acts 28:22, I simply described the plain, old religion of the Church of England, which is now almost everywhere spoken against, under the new name of Methodism.

Friday, 19.—I preached in the morning at Newport on "What must I do to be saved?" to the most insensible, ill-behaved people I have ever seen in Wales. One ancient man, during a great part of the sermon, cursed and swore almost incessantly; and, toward the conclusion, took up a great stone, which he many times attempted to throw. But that he could not do.—Such the champions, such the arms against field-preaching!

At four I preached at the Shire Hall of Cardiff again, where many gentry, I found, were present. Such freedom of speech I have seldom had as was given me in explaining those words, "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." At six almost the whole town (I was informed) came together, to whom I explained the six last beatitudes. But my heart was so enlarged I knew not how to give over, so that we continued three hours.

Saturday, 20.—I returned to Bristol. I have seen no part of England so pleasant for sixty or seventy miles together as those parts of Wales I have been in. And most of the inhabitants are indeed ripe for the gospel.

"A Terrible Sight"

Tuesday, 23.—In riding to Bradford I read over Mr. Law's book on the new birth. Philosophical, speculative, precarious; Behemish, void, and vain!

Oh, what a fall is there!

At eleven I preached at Bearfield to about three thousand, on the spirit of nature, of bondage, and of adoption.

Returning in the evening, I was exceedingly pressed to go back to a young woman in Kingswood. (The fact I nakedly relate and leave every man to his own judgment of it.) I went. She was nineteen or twenty years old, but, it seems, could not write or read. I found her on the bed, two or three persons holding her. It was a terrible sight. Anguish, horror, and despair above all description appeared in her pale face. The thousand distortions of her whole body showed how the dogs of hell were gnawing her heart. The shrieks intermixed were scarcely to be endured. But her stony eyes could not weep. She screamed out, as soon as words could find their way, "I am damned, damned; lost forever! Six days ago you might have helped me. But it is past. I am the devil's now. I have given myself to him. His I am. Him I must serve. With him I must go to hell. I will be his. I will serve him. I will go with him to hell. I cannot be saved. I will not be saved. I must, I will, I will be damned!" She then began praying to the devil. We began:

Arm of the Lord, awake, awake!

She immediately sank down as sleep; but, as soon as we left off, broke out again, with inexpressible vehemence: "Stony hearts, break! I am a warning to you. Break, break, poor stony hearts! Will you not break? What can be done more for stony hearts? I am damned that you may be saved. Now break, now break, poor stony hearts! You need not be damned, though I must." She then fixed her eyes on the corner of the ceiling and said: "There he is: ay, there he is! come, good devil, come! Take me away. You said you would dash my brains out: come, do it quickly. I am yours. I will be yours. Come just now. Take me away."

We interrupted her by calling again upon God, on which she sank down as before; and another young woman began to roar out as loud as she had done. My brother now came in, it being about nine o'clock. We continued in prayer till past eleven, when God in a moment spoke peace into the soul, first of the first tormented, and then of the other. And they both joined in singing praise to Him who had "stilled the enemy and the avenger."

"Yonder Comes Wesley, Galloping"

Saturday, 27.—I was sent for to Kingswood again, to one of those who had been so ill before. A violent rain began just as I set out, so that I was thoroughly wet in a few minutes. Just as that time the woman (then three miles off) cried out, "Yonder comes Wesley, galloping as fast as he can." When I was come, I was quite cold and dead and fitter for sleep than prayer. She burst out into a horrid laughter and said, "No power, no power; no faith, no faith. She is mine; her soul is mine. I have her and will not let her go."

We begged of God to increase our faith. Meanwhile her pangs increased more and more so that one would have imagined, by the violence of the throes, her body must have been shattered to pieces. One who was clearly convinced this was no natural disorder said, "I think Satan is let loose. I fear he will not stop here." He added, "I command thee, in the name of the Lord Jesus, to tell if thou hast commission to torment any other soul." It was immediately answered, "I have. L—y C—r and S—h J—s." (Two who lived at some distance, and were then in perfect health.)

We betook ourselves to prayer again and ceased not till she began, about six o'clock, with a clear voice and composed, cheerful look:

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.

Sunday, 28.—I preached once more at Bradford, at one in the afternoon. The violent rains did not hinder more, I believe, than ten thousand from earnestly attending to what I spoke on those solemn words: "I take you to record this day that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God."

Returning in the evening, I called at Mrs. J—s, in Kingswood. S—h J—s and L—y C—r were there. It was scarcely a quarter of an hour before L—y C—r fell into a strange agony; and presently after, S—h J—s. The violent convulsions all over their bodies were such as words cannot describe. Their cries and groans were too horrid to be borne, till one of them, in a tone not to be expressed, said: "Where is your faith now? Come, go to prayers. I will pray with you. Our Father, which art in heaven.'" We took the advice, from whomsoever it came, and poured out our souls before God, till L—y C—r's agonies so increased that it seemed she was in the pangs of death. But in a moment God spoke; she knew His voice, and both her body and soul were healed.

We continued in prayer till nearly one, when S—h J—s voice was also changed, and she began strongly to call upon God. This she did for the greatest part of the night. In the morning we renewed our prayers, while she was crying continually, "I burn! I burn! Oh, what shall I do? I have a fire within me. I cannot bear it. Lord Jesus! Help!"—Amen, Lord Jesus! when Thy time is come.

Tuesday, November 27.—I wrote Mr. D. (according to his request) a short account of what had been done in Kingswood and of our present undertaking there. The account was as follows:

Few persons have lived long in the west of England who have not heard of the colliers of Kingswood; a people famous, from the beginning hitherto, for neither fearing God nor regarding man: so ignorant of the things of God that they seemed but one move from the beasts that perish; and therefore utterly without desire of instruction as well as without the means of it.

The Colliers of Kingswood

Many last winter used tauntingly to say of Mr. Whitefield, If he will convert heathens, why does he not go to the colliers of Kingswood?' In spring he did so. And as there were thousands who resorted to no place of public worship, he went after them into their own wilderness, to seek and save that which was lost.' When he was called away others went into the highways and hedges, to compel them to come in.' And, by the grace of God, their labor was not in vain. The scene is already changed. Kingswood does not now, as a year ago, resound with cursing and blasphemy. It is no more filled with drunkenness and uncleanness and the idle diversions that naturally lead thereto. It is no longer full of wars and fightings, of clamor and bitterness, of wrath and envyings. Peace and love are there. Great numbers of the people are mild, gentle, and easy to be entreated. They do not cry, neither strive'; and hardly is their voice heard in the streets'; or, indeed, in their own wood; unless when they are at their usual evening diversion—singing praise unto God their Saviour.

That their children too might know the things which make for their peace, it was some time since proposed to build a house in Kingswood; and after many foreseen and unforeseen difficulties, in June last the foundation was laid. The ground made choice of was in the middle of the wood, between the London and Bath roads, not far from that called Two Mile Hill, about three measured miles from Bristol.

Here a large room was begun for the school, having four small rooms at either end for the schoolmasters (and, perhaps, if it should please God, some poor children) to lodge in. Two persons are ready to teach, so soon as the house is fit to receive them, the shell of which is nearly finished; so that it is hoped the whole will be completed in spring or early in the summer.

It is true, although the masters require no pay, yet this undertaking is attended with great expense.

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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