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John Wesley

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1763-4: In Scotland Again; Methodist's Wealth; "No Law for Methodists"; Exhausting Days

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Chapter 13. Wesley in Scotland Again; Methodist's Wealth; "No Law for Methodists"; Exhausting Days; Whitefield

Wesley in Aberdeen Again


Monday, May 16.—Setting out a month later than usual, I judged it needful to make the more haste; so I took post chaises and by that means easily reached Newcastle on Wednesday, 18. Thence I went on at leisure and came to Edinburgh, on Saturday, 21. The next day I had the satisfaction of spending a little time with Mr. Whitefield. Humanly speaking, he is worn out; but we have to do with Him who hath all power in heaven and earth.

Monday, 23.—I rode to Forfar and on Tuesday, 24, rode on to Aberdeen.

Wednesday, 25.—I inquired into the state of things here. Surely never was there a more open door. The four ministers of Aberdeen, the minister of the adjoining town, and the three ministers of Old Aberdeen, hitherto seem to have no dislike but rather to wish us "good luck in the name of the Lord." Most of the townspeople as yet seem to wish us well, so that there is no open opposition of any kind. Oh, what spirit ought a preacher to be of that he may be able to bear all this sunshine!

About noon I went to Gordon's Hospital, built near the town for poor children. It is an exceedingly handsome building and (what is not common) kept exceedingly clean. The gardens are pleasant, well laid out, and in extremely good order; but the old bachelor who founded it has expressly provided that no woman should ever be there.

At seven, the evening being fair and mild, I preached to a multitude of people in the College Close on "Stand in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths" [Jer. 6:16]. But the next evening, the weather being raw and cold, I preached in the College Hall. What an amazing willingness to hear runs through this whole kingdom! There want23 only a few zealous, active laborers, who desire nothing but God, and they might soon carry the gospel through all this country, even as high as the Orkneys.

Plain Dealing in Scotland

Friday, 27.—I set out for Edinburgh again. About one I preached at Brechin. All were deeply attentive. Perhaps a few may not be forgetful hearers. Afterward we rode on to Broughty Castle, two or three miles below Dundee. We were in hopes of passing the river here, though we could not at the town; but we found out horses could not pass till eleven or twelve at night. So we judged it would be best to go over ourselves and leave them behind. In a little time we procured a kind of boat, about half as long as a London wherry, and three or four feet broad. Soon after we had put off, I perceived it leaked on all sides, nor had we anything to lade24 out the water. When we came toward the middle of the river, which was three miles over, the wind being high, and the water rough, our boatmen seemed a little surprised; but we encouraged them to pull away, and in less than half an hour we landed safe. Our horses were brought after us, and the next day we rode on to Kinghorn Ferry and had a pleasant passage to Leith.

Sunday, 29.—I preached at seven in the High School yard, Edinburgh. It being the time of the General Assembly, which drew together not the ministers only, but abundance of the nobility and gentry, many of both sorts were present; but abundantly more at five in the afternoon. I spake as plainly as ever I did in my life. But I never knew any in Scotland offended at plain dealing. In this respect the North Britons are a pattern to all mankind.

Tuesday, June 7.—There is something remarkable in the manner wherein God revived His work in these parts. A few months ago the generality of people in this circuit were exceedingly lifeless. Samuel Meggot, perceiving this, advised the society at Barnard Castle to observe every Friday with fasting and prayer. The very first Friday they met together, God broke in upon them in a wonderful manner; and His work has been increasing among them ever since. The neighboring societies heard of this, agreed to follow the same rule, and soon experienced the same blessing.

Is not the neglect of this plain duty (I mean fasting, ranked by our Lord with almsgiving and prayer) one general occasion of deadness among Christians? Can anyone willingly neglect it and be guiltless?

The Drunkard's Magnificat

Thursday, 16.—At five in the evening I preached at Dewsbury and on Friday, 17, reached Manchester. Here I received a particular account of a remarkable incident: An eminent drunkard of Congleton used to divert himself, whenever there was preaching there, by standing over against the house, cursing and swearing at the preacher. One evening he had a fancy to step in and hear what the man had to say. He did so: but it made him so uneasy that he could not sleep all night. In the morning he was more uneasy still; he walked in the fields, but all in vain, till it came in his mind to go to one of his merry companions, who was always ready to abuse the Methodists. He told him how he was and asked what he should do. "Do!" said Samuel, "go and join the society. I will; for I was never so uneasy in my life." They did so without delay. But presently David cried out, "I am sorry I joined; for I shall get drunk again, and they will turn me out." However, he stood firm for four days; on the fifth, he was persuaded by the old companions to "take one pint," and then another, and another, till one of them said, "See, here is a Methodist drunk!"

David started up, and knocked him over, chair and all. He then drove the rest out of the house, caught up the landlady, carried her out, threw her into the kennel; went back to the house, broke down the door, threw it into the street, and then ran into the fields, tore his hair, and rolled up and down on the ground. In a day or two was a love-feast; he stole in, getting behind, that none might see him. While Mr. Furze was at prayer, he was seized with a dreadful agony, both of body and mind. This caused many to wrestle with God for him. In a while he sprang up on his feet, stretched out his hands, and cried aloud, "All my sins are forgiven!" At the same instant, one on the other side of the room cried out, "Jesus is mine! And He has taken away all my sins." This was Samuel H. David burst through the people, caught him in his arms, and said, "Come, let us sing the Virgin Mary's song; I never could sing it before. 'My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour."' And their following behavior plainly showed the reality of their profession.

Monday, 20.—I preached at Maxfield about noon. As I had not been well and was not quite recovered, our brethren insisted on sending me in a chaise to Burslem. Between four and five I quitted the chaise and took my horse. Presently after, hearing a cry, I looked back and saw the chaise upside down (the wheel having violently struck against a stone), and well nigh dashed in pieces. About seven I preached to a large congregation at Burslem; these poor potters, four years ago, were as wild and ignorant as any of the colliers in Kingswood. Lord, Thou hast power over Thine own clayl

Wesley Praises Wales

Saturday, August 20 (Brecknock).—We took horse at four and rode through one of the pleasantest countries in the world. When we came to Trecastle, we had ridden fifty miles in Monmouthshire and Brecknockshire; and I will be bold to say, all England does not afford such a line of fifty miles' length, for fields, meadows, woods, brooks, and gently rising mountains, fruitful to the very top. Carmarthenshire, into which we came soon after, has at least as fruitful a soil; but it is not so pleasant, because it has fewer mountains, though abundance of brooks and rivers. About five I preached on the green at Carmarthen to a large number of deeply attentive people. Here two gentlemen from Pembroke met me, with whom we rode to St. Clare, intending to lodge there. But the inn was quite full so we concluded to try for Larn, though we knew not the way and it was now quite dark. Just then came up an honest man who was riding thither, and we willingly bore him company.

Thursday, 25—l was more convinced than ever that the preaching like an apostle, without joining together those that are awakened and training them up in the ways of God, is only begetting children for the murderer. How much preaching has there been for these twenty years all over Fembrokeshirel But no regular societies, no discipline, no order or connection; and the consequence is that nine in ten of the once-awakened are now faster asleep than ever.

Friday, 26.—We designed to take horse at four (from Haverfordwest), but the rain poured down so that one could scarcely look out. About six, however, we set out and rode through heavy rain to St. Clare. Having then little hopes of crossing the sands, we determined to go round by Carmarthen; but the hostler told us we might save several miles by going to Llansteffan's Ferry. We came thither about noon, where a good woman informed us the boat was aground and would not pass till the evening; so we judged it best to go by Carmarthen still. But when we had ridden three or four miles, I recollected that I had heard of a ford which would save us some miles' riding. We inquired of an old man, who soon mounted his horse, showed us the way, and rode through the river before us.

Soon after, my mare dropped a shoe, which event occasioned so much loss of time that we could not ride the sands, but were obliged to go round through a miserable road to Llanellos. To mend the matter, our guide lost his way, both before we came to Llanellos and after; so that it was as much as we could do to reach Bocher Ferry a little after sunset. Knowing it was impossible then to reach Penreese, as we designed, we went on straight to Swansea.

Methodists and Their Wealth

Saturday, September 17 (Bristol).—I preached on the green at Bedminster. I am apt to think many of the hearers scarcely ever heard a Methodist before, or perhaps any other preacher. What but field-preaching could reach these poor sinners? And are not their souls also precious in the sight of God?

Sunday, 18.—I preached in the morning in Princess Street, to a numerous congregation. Two or three gentlemen, so called, laughed at first; but in a few minutes they were as serious as the rest. On Monday evening I gave our brethren a solemn caution not to "love the world, neither the things of the world." This will be their grand danger: as they are industrious and frugal, they must needs increase in goods. This appears already: in London, Bristol, and most other trading towns, those who are in business have increased in substance seven-fold, some of them twenty, yea, a hundred-fold. What need, then, have these of the strongest warnings, lest they be entangled therein and perish?

Friday, 23.—I preached at Bath. Riding home we saw a coffin being carried into St. George's church, with many children attending it. When we came near, we found they were our own children, attending a corpse of one of their school fellows, who had died of the smallpox; and God thereby touched many of their hearts in a manner they never knew before.

Monday 26.—I preached to the prisoners in Newgate, and in the afternoon rode over to Kingswood, where I had a solemn watch night and an opportunity of speaking closely to the children. One is dead, two recovered, seven are ill still; and the hearts of all are like melting wax.

Saturday, October 1.—I returned to London and found our house in ruins, a great part of it being taken down in order to a25 thorough repair. But as much remained as I wanted: six foot square suffices me by day or by night.

Thursday, December 22.—I spent a little time in a visit to Mr. M—; twenty years ago, he was a zealous and useful magistrate, now a picture of human nature in disgrace; feeble in body and mind, slow of speech and of understanding. Lord, let me not live to be uselessl


Monday, January 16.—I rode to High Wycombe, and preached to a more numerous and serious congregation than ever I saw there before. Shall there be yet another day of visitation to this careless people?

A large number was present at five in the morning, but my face and gums were so swelled I could hardly speak. After I took horse, they grew worse and worse, till it began to rain. I was then persuaded to put on an oil-case hood, which (the wind being very high) kept rubbing continually on my cheek till both pain and swelling were gone.

A Difficult Crossing

Between twelve and one we crossed Ensham Ferry. The water was like a sea on both sides. I asked the ferryman, "Can we ride the causeway?" He said, "Yes, sir, if you keep in the middle." But this was the difficulty, as the whole causeway was covered with water to a considerable depth. And this in many parts ran over the causeway with the swiftness and violence of a sluice. Once my mare lost both her forefeet, but she gave a spring, and recovered the causeway; otherwise we must have taken a swim, for the water on either side was ten or twelve feet deep. However, after one or two more plunges, we got through and came safe to Whitney.

Monday, February 6.—I opened the new chapel at Wapping.

Thursday, 16.—I once more took a serious walk through the tombs in Westminster Abbey. What heaps of unmeaning stone and marble! But there was one tomb which showed common sense: that beautiful figure of Mr. Nightingale endeavoring to screen his lovely wife from death. Here indeed the marble seems to speak, and the statues appear only not alive.

Friday, 24.—I returned to London. Wednesday, 29. I heard Judith, an oratorio, performed at the Lock. Some parts of it are exceedingly fine; but there are two things in all modern pieces of music which I could never reconcile to common sense. One is singing the same words ten times over; the other, singing different words by different persons at one and the same time. And this, in the most solemn addresses to God, whether by way of prayer or of thanksgiving. This can never be defended by all the musicians in Europe till reason is quite out of date.

Wesley at Birmingham, Walsal, and Derby

Wednesday, March 21.—We had an exceedingly large congregation at Birmingham, in what was formerly the playhouse. Happy would it be if all the playhouses in the kingdom were converted to so good a use. After service the mob gathered and threw some dirt and stones at those who were going out. But it is probable they will soon be calmed, as some of them are in gaol already. A few endeavored to make a disturbance the next evening during the preaching, but it was lost labor; the congregation would not be diverted from taking earnest heed to the things that were spoken.

Friday, 23.—I rode to Dudley, formerly a den of lions but now as quiet as Bristol. They had just finished their preaching-house, which was thoroughly filled. I saw no trifler, but many in tears.

Monday, 26.—I was desired to preach at Walsal. James Jones was alarmed at the motion, apprehending there would be much disturbance. However, I determined to make the trial. Coming into the house, I met with a token for good. A woman was telling her neighbor why she came: "I had a desire," said she, "to hear this man; yet I durst not, because I heard so much ill of him; but this morning I dreamed I was praying earnestly, and I heard a voice, saying, 'See the eighth verse of the first chapter of St. John.' I waked and got my Bible, and read, 'He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.' I got up, and came away with all my heart."

The house not being capable of containing the people, about seven I began preaching abroad; and there was no opposer, no, nor a trifler to be seen. All present were earnestly attentive. How is Walsal changed! How has God either tamed the wild beasts or chained them up!

Tuesday, 27.—We rode to Derby. Mr. Dobinson believed it would be best for me to preach in the market place, as there seemed to be a general inclination in the town, even among people of fashion, to hear me. He had mentioned it to the mayor, who said he did not apprehend there would be the least disturbance; but if there should be anything of the kind, he would take care to suppress it. A multitude of people were gathered at five and were pretty quiet till I had named my text. Then "the beasts of the people" lifted up their voice, hallooing and shouting on every side. Finding it impossible to be heard, I walked softly away. An innumerable retinue followed me; but only a few pebble stones were thrown, and no one hurt at all. Most of the rabble followed quite to Mr. D—'s house; but it seems, without any malice prepense;26 for they stood stock-still about an hour and then quietly went away.

Saturday, 31 (Rotherham).—An odd circumstance occurred during the morning preaching. It was well that only serious persons were present. An ass walked gravely in at the gate, came up to the door of the house, lifted up his head, and stood stock-still, in a posture of deep attention. Might not "the dumb beast reprove" many who have far less decency and not much more understanding?

"No Law for Methodists"

At noon I preached (the room being too small to contain the people) in a yard, near the bridge, in Doncaster. The wind was high and exceedingly sharp, and blew all the time on the side of my head. In the afternoon I was seized with a sore throat almost as soon as I came to Epworth; however, I preached, though with some difficulty; but afterward I could hardly speak. Being better the next day, Sunday, April 1, I preached about one at Westwood Side, and soon after four, in the market place at Epworth, to a numerous congregation. At first, indeed, but few could hear; but the more I spoke, the more my voice was strengthened, till toward the close all my pain and weakness were gone, and all could hear distinctly.

Monday, April 2.—I had a day of rest. Tuesday, 3, I preached, about nine, at Scotter, a town six or seven miles east of Epworth, where a sudden flame is broken out, many being convinced of sin almost at once, and many justified. But there were many adversaries stirred up by a bad man who told them, "There is no law for Methodists." Hence continual riots followed; till, after a while, an upright magistrate took the cause in hand and so managed both the rioters and him who set them at work that they have been quiet as lambs ever since.

Thursday, 5.—About eleven I preached at Elsham. The two persons who are the most zealous and active here are the steward and gardener of a gentleman whom the minister persuaded to turn them off unless they would leave "this way." He gave them a week to consider of it; at the end of which they calmly answered, "Sir, we choose rather to want bread here than to want 'a drop of water' hereafter." He replied, "Then follow your own conscience, so you do my business as well as formerly."

Friday, 6.—I preached at Ferry at nine in the morning, and in the evening; and, about noon, in Sir N. H.'s hall at Gainsborough. Almost as soon as I began to speak, a cock began to crow over my head; but he was quickly dislodged, and the whole congregation, rich and poor, were quiet and attentive.

Wesley Unhorsed

Sunday, 8.—I set out for Misterton, though the common road was impassable, being all under water; but we found a way to ride around. I preached at eight, and I saw not one inattentive hearer. In our return, my mare rushing violently through a gate, struck my heel against the gatepost and left me behind her in an instant, laid on my back at full length. She stood still till I rose and mounted again; neither of us was hurt at all.

Tuesday, 10.—The wind abating, we took boat at Barton with two such brutes as I have seldom seen. Their blasphemy and stupid, gross obscenity were beyond all I ever heard. We first spoke to them mildly; but it had no effect. At length we were constrained to rebuke them sharply, and they kept themselves tolerably within bounds till we landed at Hull. I preached at five, two hours sooner than was expected; by this means we had tolerable room for the greatest part of them that came; and I believe not many of them came in vain.

Monday, 16.—At six I began preaching in the street at Thirsk. The congregation was exceedingly large. Just as I named my text, "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" a man on horseback, who had stopped to see what was the matter, changed color and trembled. Probably he might have resolved to save his soul had not his drunken companion dragged him away.

Wesley on Holy Island

Monday, May 21.—I took my leave of Newcastle; and about noon preached in the market place at Morpeth. A few of the hearers were a little ludicrous at first, but their mirth was quickly spoiled. In the evening I preached in the Courthouse at Alnwick, where I rested the next day.

Wednesday, 23.—I rode over the sands to Holy Island, once the famous seat of a bishop, now the residence of a few poor families who live chiefly by fishing. At one side of the town are the ruins of a cathedral, with an adjoining monastery. It appears to have been a lofty and elegant building, the middle aisle being almost entire. I preached in what was once the market place, to almost all the inhabitants of the island, and distributed some little books among them for which they were exceedingly thankful. In the evening I preached at Berwick-upon-Tweed; the next evening at Dunbar; and on Friday, 25, about ten, at Haddington, in Provost D.'s yard, to a very elegant congregation. But I expect little good will be done here, for we begin at the wrong end: religion must not go from the greatest to the least, or the power would appear to be of men.

In the evening I preached at Musselborough and the next, on the Calton Hill at Edinburgh. It being the time of the General Assembly, many of the ministers were there. The wind was high and sharp, and blew away a few delicate ones. But most of the congregation did not stir till I had concluded.

Sunday, 27.—At seven I preached in the High School yard, on the other side of the city. The morning was extremely cold. In the evening it blew a storm. However, having appointed to be on the Calton Hill, I began there, to a huge congregation. At first, the wind was a little troublesome, but I soon forgot it. And so did the people for an hour and a half, in which I fully delivered my own soul.

Wesley at the General Assembly

Monday, 28.—I spent some hours at the General Assembly, composed of about a hundred and fifty ministers. I was surprised to find 1) that anyone was admitted, even lads, twelve or fourteen years old; 2) that the chief speakers were lawyers, six or seven on one side only; 3) that a single question took up the whole time, which, when I went away, seemed to be as far from a conclusion as ever, namely, "Shall Mr. Lindsay be removed to Kilmarnock parish or not?" The argument for it was, "He has a large family, and this living is twice as good as his own." The argument against it was, "The people are resolved not to hear him and will leave the kirk if he comes." If then the real point in view had "the greater good of the Church," been, as their law directs, instead of taking up five hours, the debate might have been determined in five minutes.

On Monday and Tuesday I spoke to the members of the society severally. Thursday, 31.—I rode to Dundee, and, about half an hour after six, preached on the side of a meadow near the town. Poor and rich attended. Indeed, there is seldom fear of wanting a congregation in Scotland. But the misfortune is, they know everything; so they learn nothing.

At Inverness

Thursday, June 7.—I rode over to Sir Archibald Grant's, twelve computed miles from Aberdeen. It is surprising to see how the country between is improved even within these three years. On every side the wild, dreary moors are ploughed up and covered with rising corn. All the ground near Sir Archibald's, in particular, is as well cultivated as most in England. About seven I preached. The kirk was pretty well filled, though upon short notice. Certainly this is a nation "swift to hear, and slow to speak," though not "slow to wrath."

Sunday, 10.—About eight we reached Inverness. I could not preach abroad because of the rain; nor could I hear of any convenient room, so that I was afraid my coming hither would be in vain; all ways seemed to be blocked up. At ten I went to the kirk. After service, Mr. Fraser, one of the ministers, invited us to dinner and then to drink tea. As we were drinking tea, he asked at what hour I would please to preach. I said, "At half-hour past five." The high kirk was filled in a very short time, and I have seldom found greater liberty of spirit. The other minister came afterward to our inn and showed the most cordial affection. Were it only for this day, I should not have regretted the riding a hundred miles.

Monday, 11.—A gentleman who lives three miles from the town invited me to his house, assuring me the minister of his parish would be glad if I would make use of his kirk; but time would not permit, as I had appointed to be at Aberdeen on Wednesday. All I could do was to preach once more at Inverness. I think the church was fuller now than before; and I could not but observe the remarkable behavior of the whole congregation after service. Neither man, woman, nor child spoke one word all the way down the main street. Indeed the seriousness of the people is the less surprising when it is considered that, for at least a hundred years, this town has had such a succession of pious ministers as very few in Great Britain have known.

After Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen, I think Inverness is the largest town I have seen in Scotland. The main streets are broad and straight; the houses mostly old, but not very bad nor very good. It stands in a pleasant and fruitful country and has all things needful for life and godliness. The people in general speak remarkably good English and are of a friendly courteous behavior.

A Sermon and Congregation to Order

About eleven we took horse. While we were dining at Nairn, the innkeeper said, "Sir, the gentlemen of the town have read the little book you gave me on Saturday, and would be glad if you would please to give them a sermon." Upon my consenting, the bell was immediately rung, and the congregation was quickly in the kirk. Oh, what a difference is there between South and North Britain! Everyone here at least loves to hear the Word of God, and none takes it into his head to speak one uncivil word to any for endeavoring to save their souls.

Doubting whether Mr. Grant had come home, Mr. Kershaw called at the Grange Green, near Forres, while I rode forward. Mr. Grant soon called me back. I have seldom seen a more agreeable place. The house is an old castle, which stands on a little hill, with a delightful prospect all four ways; and the hospitable master has left nothing undone to make it still more agreeable. He showed us all his improvements, which are very considerable in every branch of husbandry. In his gardens many things were more forward than at Aberdeen, yea, or Newcastle. And how is it that none but one Highland gentleman has discovered that we have a tree in Britain, as easily raised as an ash, the wood of which is fully as fine a red as mahogany, namely, the laburnum? I defy any mahogany to exceed the chairs which he has lately made of this.

Tuesday, 12.—We rode through the pleasant and fertile county of Murray to Elgin. I never suspected before that there was any such country as this near a hundred and fifty miles beyond Edinburgh; a country which is supposed to have generally six weeks more sunshine in a year than any part of Great Britain.

At Elgin are the ruins of a noble cathedral, the largest that I remember to have seen in the kingdom. We rode thence to the Spey, the most rapid river, next the Rhine, that I ever saw. Though the water was not breast-high to our horses, they could very hardly keep their feet. We dined at Keith and rode on to Strathbogie, much improved by the linen manufacture. All the country from Fochabers to Strathbogie has little houses scattered up and down; and not only the valleys, but the mountains themselves, are improved with the utmost care. They want only more trees to make them more pleasant than most of the mountains in England. The whole family at our inn, eleven or twelve in number, gladly joined with us in prayer at night. Indeed, so they did at every inn where we lodged; for among all the sins they have imported from England, the Scots have not yet learned, at least not the common people, to scoff at sacred things.

Wednesday, 13.—We reached Aberdeen about one. Between six and seven, both this evening and the next, I preached in the shell of the new house and found it a time of much consolation. Friday, 15. We set out early and came to Dundee just as the boat was going off. We designed to lodge at the house on the other side, but could not get either eat, drink, or good words; so we were constrained to ride on to Cupar. After traveling nearly ninety miles, I found no weariness at all, neither were our horses hurt. Thou, O Lord, dost save both man and beast!

Wesley and a Scotch Communion

Saturday, 16.—We had a ready passage at Kinghorn, and in the evening I preached on the Calton Hill to a very large congregation; but a still larger assembled at seven on Sunday morning in the High School yard. Being afterward informed that the Lord's supper was to be administered in the west kirk, I knew not what to do; but at length I judged it best to embrace the opportunity, though I did not admire the manner of administration. After the usual morning service, the minister enumerated several sorts of sinners, whom he forbade to approach. Two long tables were set on the sides of one aisle, covered with tablecloths. On each side of them a bench was placed for the people. Each table held four or five and thirty.

Three ministers sat at the top, behind a cross-table; one of them made a long exhortation, closed with the words of our Lord; and, then, breaking the bread, gave it to him who sat on each side him. A piece of bread was then given to him who sat first on each of the four benches. He broke off a little piece, and gave the bread to the next; so it went on, the deacons giving more when wanted. A cup was then given to the first person on each bench, and so by one to another. The minister continued his exhortation all the time they were receiving; then four verses of the Twenty-second Psalm were sung, while new persons sat down at the tables. A second minister then prayed, consecrated, and exhorted. I was informed the service usually lasted till five in the evening. How much more simple, as well as more solemn, is the service of the Church of England!

The evening congregation on the hill was far the largest I have seen in the kingdom, and the most deeply affected. Many were in tears; more seemed cut to the heart. Surely this time will not soon be forgotten. Will it not appear in the annals of eternity?

Wesley's Likes and Dislikes

Monday, July 2.—I gave a fair hearing to two of our brethren who had proved bankrupts. Such we immediately exclude from our society, unless it plainly appears not to be their own fault. Both these were in a prosperous way till they fell into that wretched trade of bill-broking, wherein no man continues long without being wholly ruined.By this means, not being sufficiently accurate in their accounts, they ran back without being sensible of it. Yet it was quite clear that I— R— is an honest man; I would hope the same concerning the other.

Tuesday, 3 (Leeds).—I was reflecting on an odd circumstance, which I cannot account for. I never relish a tune at first hearing, not till I have almost learned to sing it; and as I learn it more perfectly, I gradually lose my relish for it. I observe something similar in poetry; yea, in all the objects of imagination. I seldom relish verses at first hearing; till I have heard them over and over, they give me no pleasure; and they give me next to none when I have heard them a few times more, so as to be quite familiar. Just so a face or a picture, which does not strike me at first, becomes more pleasing as I grow more acquainted with it; but only to a certain point: for when I am too much acquainted, it is no longer pleasing. Oh, how imperfectly do we understand even the machine which we carry about us!

Thursday, 5.—I had the comfort of leaving our brethren at Leeds united in peace and love. About one I preached in a meadow at Wakefield. At first the sun was inconvenient, but it was not many minutes before that inconvenience was removed by the clouds coming between. We had not only a larger, but a far more attentive, congregation than ever was seen here before. One, indeed, a kind of gentleman, was walking away with great unconcern when I spoke aloud. "Does Callio care for none of these things? But where will you go, with the wrath of God on your head and the curse of God on your back?" He stopped short, stood still, and went no farther till the sermon was ended.

Saturday, 14.—In the evening I preached at Liverpool; and the next day, Sunday, 15, the house was full enough. Many of the rich and fashionable were there and behaved with decency. Indeed, I have always observed more courtesy and humanity at Liverpool than at most seaports in England.

She Thought, "I Laugh Prettily"

Monday, 16.—In the evening the house was fuller, if possible, than the night before. I preached on the "one thing needful"; and the rich behaved as seriously as the poor. Only one young gentlewoman (I heard) laughed much. Poor thing! Doubtless she thought, "I laugh prettily."

Friday, 20.—At noon we made the same shift at Congleton as when I was here last. I stood in the window, having put as many women as it would contain into the house. The rest, with the men, stood below in the meadow; many of the townsmen were wild enough. I have scarcely found such enlargement of heart since I came from Newcastle. The brutes resisted long, but were at length overcome, not above five or six excepted. Surely man shall not long have the upper hand; God will get unto Himself the victory.

It rained all the day till seven in the evening, when I began preaching at Burslem. Even the poor potters here are a more civilized people than the better sort (so called) at Congleton. A few stood with their hats on; but none spoke a word or offered to make the least disturbance.

Saturday, 21.— rode to Bilbrook, near Wolverhampton, and preached between two and three. Thence we went on to Madeley, an exceedingly pleasant village, encompassed with trees and hills. It was a great comfort to me to converse once more with a Methodist of the old stamp, denying himself, taking up his cross, and resolved to be "altogether a Christian."

Sunday, 22.—At ten Mr. Fletcher read prayers, and I preached on those words in the gospel, "I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep" [John 10:11]. The church would nothing near contain the congregation; but a window near the pulpit being taken down, those who could not come in stood in the churchyard, and I believe all could hear. The congregation, they said, used to be much smaller in the afternoon than in the morning; but I could not discern the least difference, either in number or seriousness.

I found employment enough for the intermediate hours, in praying with various companies who hung about the house, insatiably hungering and thirsting after the good Word.

An Exhausting Day

Wednesday, 25.—I took horse a little after four and, about two, preached in the market place at Llanidloes, two or three and forty miles from Shrewsbury. At three we rode forward through the mountains to the Fountainhead. I was for lodging there; but Mr. B— being quite unwilling, we mounted again about seven. After having ridden an hour, we found we were quite out of the way, having been wrongly directed at setting out. We were then told to ride over some grounds; but our path soon ended in the edge of a bog. However, we got through to a little house where an honest man, instantly mounting his horse, galloped before us, up hill and down, till he brought us into a road which, he said, led straight to Roes Fair.

We rode on till another met us and said, "No; this is the way to Aberystwith. If you go to Roes Fair, you must turn back and ride down to yonder bridge." The master of the little house near the bridge then directed us to the next village, where we inquired again (it being past nine), and were once more set exactly wrong. Having wandered an hour upon the mountains, through rocks, and bogs, and precipices, we, with abundance of difficulty, got back to the little house near the bridge. It was in vain to think of rest there, it being full of drunken, roaring miners; besides that, there was but one bed in the house, and neither grass, nor hay, nor corn, to be had. So we hired one of them to walk with us to Roes Fair, though he was miserably drunk till, by falling all his length in a purling stream, he came tolerably to his senses. Between eleven and twelve we came to the inn; but neither here could we get any hay.

When we were in bed, the good hostler and miner thought good to mount our beasts. I believe it was not long before we rose that they put them into the stable. But the mule was cut in several places, and my mare was bleeding like a pig, from a wound behind, two inches deep, made, it seemed, by a stroke with a pitchfork. What to do we could not tell till I remembered I had a letter for one Mr. Nathaniel Williams, whom, upon inquiry, I found to live but a mile off. We walked thither and found "an Israelite indeed," who gladly received both man and beast.

After I had got a little rest,: Mr. W. desired me to give an exhortation to a few of his neighbors. None was more struck therewith than one of his own family, who before cared for none of these things. He sent a servant with us after dinner to Tregarron from whence we had a plain road to Lampeter.

Friday, 27.—We rode through a lovely vale and over pleasant and fruitful hills to Carmarthen. Thence, after a short bait, we went on to Pembroke and came before I was expected; so I rested that night, having not quite recovered my journey from Shrewsbury to Roes Fair.

Sunday, 29.—The minister of St. Mary's sent me word he was very willing I should preach in his church; but, before service began, the mayor sent to forbid it; so he preached a very useful sermon himself. The mayor's behavior so disgusted many of the gentry that they resolved to hear where they could; and accordingly flocked together in the evening from all parts of the town. Perhaps the taking up this cross may profit them more than my sermon in the church would have done.

Seven Hours on Horseback

Monday, 30.—I rode to Haverfordwest; but no notice had been given, nor did any in the town know of my coming. However, after a short time, I walked up toward the castle and began singing a hymn. The people presently ran together from all quarters. They have curiosity at least; and some, I cannot doubt, were moved by a nobler principle. Were zealous and active laborers here, what a harvest might there be, even in this corner of the land! We returned through heavy rain to Pembroke.

Tuesday, 31.—We set out for Glamorganshire and rode up and down steep and stony mountains, for about five hours, to Larn. Having procured a pretty ready passage there, we went on to Lansteffan Ferry, where we were in some danger of being swallowed up in the mud before we could reach the water. Between one and two we reached Kidwelly, having been more than seven hours on horseback, in which time we could have ridden round by Carmarthen with more ease both to man and beast.

I have, therefore, taken my leave of these ferries; considering we save no time by crossing them (not even when we have a ready passage), and so have all the trouble, danger, and expense, clear gains. I wonder that any man of common sense, who has once made the experiment, should ever ride from Pembroke to Swansea any other way than by Carmarthen.

The Ride from Pembroke to Swansea

An honest man at Kidwelly told us there was no difficulty in riding the sands; so we rode on. In ten minutes one overtook us who used to guide persons over them; and it was well he did, or, in all probability, we had been swallowed up. The whole sands are at least ten miles over, with many streams of quicksands intermixed. But our guide was thoroughly acquainted with them and with the road on the other side. By his help, between five and six, we came well tired to Oxwych in Cower.

I had sent two persons on Sunday that they might be there early on Monday, and so sent notice of my coming all over the country; but they came to Oxwych scarcely a quarter of an hour before me. So the poor people had no notice at all, nor was there any to take us in; the person with whom the preacher used to lodge was three miles out of town. After I had stayed a while in the street (for there was no public house), a poor woman gave me house room. Having had nothing since breakfast, I was very willing to eat or drink; but she simply told me that she had nothing in the house but a dram of gin. However, I afterward procured a dish of tea at another house and was much refreshed. About seven I preached to a little company, and again in the morning. They were all attention so that even for the sake of this handful of people I did not regret my labor.

Sunday, November 4.—I proposed to the leaders the assisting the Society for the Reformation of Manners with regard to their heavy debt. One of them asked, "Ought we not to pay our own debt first?" After some consultations, it was agreed to attempt it. The general debt of the society in London, occasioned chiefly by repairing the Foundry and chapels and by building at Wapping and Snowsfields, was about nine hundred pounds. This I laid before the society in the evening and desired them all to set their shoulders to the work, either by a present contribution or by subscribing what they could pay, on the first of January, February or March.

Monday, 5 (London).—My scraps of time this week I employed in setting down my present thoughts upon a single life, which indeed, are just the same they have been these thirty years; and the same they must be, unless I give up my Bible.

Wesley's Experiments with Lions

Monday, December 31.—I thought it would be worth while to make an odd experiment. Remembering how surprisingly fond of music the lion at Edinburgh was, I determined to try whether this was the case with all animals of the same kind. I accordingly went to the Tower with one who plays on the German flute. He began playing near four or five lions; only one of these (the rest not seeming to regard it at all) rose up, came to the front of his den, and seemed to be all attention. Meantime, a tiger in the same den started up, leaped over the lion's back, turned and ran under his belly, leaped over him again, and so to and fro incessantly. Can we account for this by any principle of mechanism? Can we account for it at all?

23 Correct to the text.

24 Correct to the text.

25 Correct to the text.

26 Correct to the text.

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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