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John Wesley

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1744-5: First Methodist Conference; Pressgangs and Mobs

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Chapter 6. First Methodist Conference; Pressgangs and Mobs; Wesley's Protest against Ungodliness

The First Conference


Monday, June 18.—I left Epworth; and on Wednesday, 20, in the afternoon, met my brother in London.

Monday, 25, and the five following days we spent in conference with many of our brethren (come from several parts), who desire nothing but to save their own souls and those who hear them. And surely, as long as they continue thus minded, their labor shall not be in vain in the Lord.

The next day we endeavored to purge the society of all that did not walk according to the gospel. By this means we reduced the number of members to less than nineteen hundred. But number is an inconsiderable circumstance. May God increase them in faith and love!

Friday, August 24.—(St. Bartholomew's day.) I preached, I suppose the last time, at St. Mary's [Oxford]. Be it so. I am now clear of the blood of these men. I have fully delivered my own soul.

The Beadle came to me afterwards and told me the Vice-Chancellor had sent him for my notes. I sent them without delay, not without admiring the wise providence of God. Perhaps few men of note would have given a sermon of mine the reading if I had put it into their hands; but by this means it came to be read, probably more than once, by every man of eminence in the University.

Wesley's Chancery Bill

Thursday, December 27.—I called on the solicitor whom I had employed in the suit lately commenced in chancery; and here I first saw that foul monster, a chancery bill! A scroll it was of forty-two pages, in large folio, to tell a story which needed not to have taken up forty lines! and stuffed with such stupid senseless, improbable lies (many of them, too, quite foreign to the question) as, I believe, would have cost the compiler his life in any heathen court of either Greece or Rome. And this is equity in a Christian country! This is the English method of redressing other grievances!


Saturday, January 5.—I had often wondered at myself (and sometimes mentioned it to others) that ten thousand cares, of various kinds, were no more weight and burden to my mind than ten thousand hairs were to my head. Perhaps I began to ascribe something of this to my own strength. And thence it might be that on Sunday, 13, that strength was withheld, and I felt what it was to be troubled about many things. One and another hurrying me continually, it seized upon my spirit more and more till I found it absolutely necessary to fly for my life, and that without delay. So the next day, Monday, 14, I took horse and rode away from Bristol.

Between Bath and Bristol I was earnestly desired to turn aside and call at the house of a poor man, William Shalwood. I found him and his wife sick in one bed, and with small hopes of the recovery of either. Yet (after prayer) I believed they would "not die, but live, and declare the loving-kindness of the Lord." The next time I called he was sitting downstairs, and his wife able to go abroad.

As soon as we came into the house at Bristol, my soul was lightened of her load, of that insufferable weight which had lain upon my mind, more or less, for several days. On Sunday, several of our friends from Wales and other parts joined with us in the great sacrifice of thanksgiving. And every day we found more and more cause to praise God and to give Him thanks for His still increasing benefits.

Monday, February 18.—I set out with Richard Moss from London for Newcastle.

Wesley's Effective Letter

Sunday, March 3.—As I was walking up Pilgrim Street, hearing a man call after me, I stood still. He came up and used much abusive language, intermixed with many oaths and curses. Several people came out to see what was the matter; on which he pushed me twice or thrice and went away.

Upon inquiry, I found this man had signalized himself a long season by abusing and throwing stones at any of our family who went that way. Therefore I would not lose the opportunity, but on Monday, 4, sent him the following note:

Robert Young,—I expect to see you, between this and Friday and to hear from you that you are sensible of your fault; otherwise, in pity to your soul, I shall be obliged to inform the magistrates of your assaulting me yesterday in the street.

I am,

Your real friend,

John Wesley

Within two or three hours, Robert Young came and promised a quite different behavior. So did this gentle reproof, if not save a soul from death, yet prevent a multitude of sins.

Saturday, April 6.—Mr. Stephenson, of whom I bought the ground on which our house is built, came at length, after delaying it more than two years, and executed the writings. So I am freed from one more care. May I in everything make known my request to God!

Press Gang and Methodists

Wednesday, June 19 (Redruth).—Being informed here of what had befallen Mr. Maxfield, we turned aside toward Crowan churchtown. But in the way we received information that he had been removed from thence the night before. It seems that the valiant constables who guarded him, having received timely notice that a body of five hundred Methodists was coming to take him away by force, had, with great precipitation, carried him two miles further to the house of one Henry Tomkins.

Here we found him, nothing terrified by his adversaries. I desired Henry Tomkins to show me the warrant. It was directed by Dr. Borlase, and his father, and Mr. Eustick, to the constables and overseers of several parishes, requiring them to "apprehend all such able-bodies men as had no lawful calling or sufficient maintenance"; and to bring them before the aforesaid gentlemen at Marazion, on Friday, 21, to be examined whether they were proper persons to serve his Majesty in the land-service.

It was endorsed by the steward of Sir John St. Aubyn with the names of seven or eight persons, most of whom were well-known to have lawful callings and a sufficient maintenance thereby. But that was all one: they were called "Methodists"; therefore, soldiers they must be. Underneath was added, "A person, his name unknown, who disturbs the peace of the parish."

A word to the wise. The good men easily understood this could be none but the Methodist preacher; for who "disturbs the peace of the parish" like one who tells all drunkards, whoremongers, and common swearers, "You are in the high road to hell"?

When we came out of the house, forty or fifty myrmidons stood ready to receive us. But I turned full upon them and their courage failed, nor did they recover till we were at some distance. Then they began blustering again and throwing stones; one of which struck Mr. Thompson's servant.

Friday, 21.—We rode to Marazion. (Vulgarly called Market-jew.) Finding the justices were not met, we walked up St. Michael's Mount. The house at the top is surprisingly large and pleasant. Sir John St. Aubyn had taken much pains, and been at a considerable expense, in repairing and beautifying the apartments; and when the seat was finished, the owner died!

About two, Mr. Thompson and I went into the room where the justices and commissioners were. After a few minutes, Dr. Borlase stood up and asked whether we had any business. I told him, "We have." We desired to be heard concerning one who was lately apprehended at Crowan. He said, "Gentlemen, the business of Crowan does not come on yet. You shall be sent for when it does." So we retired and waited in another room, till after nine o'clock. They delayed the affair of Mr. Maxfield (as we imagined they would) to the very last. About nine he was called. I would have gone in then; but Mr. Thompson advised to wait a little longer. The next information we received was that they had sentenced him to go for a soldier. Hearing this, we went straight to the commission chamber. But the honorable gentlemen were gone.

They had ordered Mr. Maxfield to be immediately put on board a boat and carried for Penzance. We were informed that they had first offered him to a Captain of a man-of-war that was just come into the harbor. But he answered, "I have no authority to take such men as these, unless you would have me give him so much a week to preach and pray to my people."

Reading the Riot Act

Saturday, 22.—We reached St. Ives about two in the morning. At five I preached on "Love your enemies"; and at Gwennap, in the evening, on "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

We heard today that as soon as Mr. Maxfield came to Penzance, they put him down into the dungeon; and that the mayor being inclined to let him go, Dr. Borlase had gone thither on purpose and had himself read the Articles of War in the court and delivered him to one who was to act as an officer.

Saturday, 29.—I preached at St. Just again and at Morva and Zennor on Sunday, 30. About six in the evening, I began preaching at St. Ives, in the street, near John Nance's door. A multitude of people were quickly assembled, both high and low, rich and poor; and I observed not any creature to laugh or smile, or hardly move hand or foot. I expounded the gospel for the day, beginning with, "Then drew near all the publicans and sinners for to hear him" [Luke 15:1]. A little before seven came Mr. Edwards from the mayor and ordered one to read the proclamation against riots. I concluded quickly after; but the body of the people appeared utterly unsatisfied, not knowing how to go away. Forty or fifty of them begged they might be present at the meeting of the society; and we rejoiced together for an hour in such a manner as I had never known before in Cornwall.

Tuesday, July 2.—I preached in the evening at St. Just. I observed not only several gentlemen there who I suppose never came before, but a large body of tinners, who stood at a distance from the rest; and a great multitude of men, women, and children beside, who seemed not well to know why they came. Almost as soon as we had done singing, a kind of gentlewoman began. I have seldom seen a poor creature take so much pains. She scolded, and screamed, and spit and stamped, and wrung her hands, and distorted her face and body all manner of ways. I took no notice of her at all, good or bad, nor did almost anyone else. Afterward I heard she was one that had been bred a Papist; and when she heard we were so, rejoiced greatly. No wonder she would be proportionately angry when she was disappointed of her hope.

Mr. Eustick, a neighboring gentleman, came just as I was concluding my sermon. The people opening to the right and left, he came up to me and said, "Sir, I have a warrant from Dr. Borlase, and you must go with me." Then, turning around, he said, "Sir, are you Mr. Shepherd? If so, you are mentioned in the warrant too. Be pleased, sir, to come with me." We walked with him to a public house near the end of the town. Here he asked me if I was willing to go with him to the doctor. I told him, just then, if he pleased. "Sir," said he, "I must wait upon you to your inn; and in the morning, if you will be so good as to go with me, I will show you the way." So he handed me back to my inn and retired.

Wesley Seized for a Soldier

Wednesday, 3.—I waited till nine; but no Mr. Eustick came. I then desired Mr. Shepherd to go and inquire for him at the house wherein he had lodged; he met him, coming, as he thought, to our inn. But after waiting some time, we inquired again and learned he had turned aside to another house in the town. I went thither and asked, "Is Mr. Eustick here?" After some pause, one said, "Yes," and showed me into the parlor. When he came down he said, "O sir, will you be so good as to go with me to the doctor's?" I answered, "Sir, I came for that purpose." "Are you ready, sir?" I answered, "Yes." "Sir, I am not quite ready. In a little time, sir, in a quarter of an hour, I will wait upon you. I will come to William Chenhall's."

In about three quarters of an hour he came, and finding there was no remedy, he called for his horse and put forward toward Dr. Borlase's house; but he was in no haste, so that we were an hour and a quarter riding three or four measured miles. As soon as we came into the yard he asked a servant, "Is the doctor at home?" upon whose answering, "No, sir, he is gone to church," he presently said, "Well, sir, I have executed my commission. I have done, sir; I have no more to say."

About noon Mr. Shepherd and I reached St. Ives. After a few hours' rest, we rode to Gwennap. Finding the house would not contain one fourth of the people, I stood before the door. I was reading my text when a man came, raging as if he had just broken out of the tombs; and, riding into the thickest of the people, seized three or four, one after another, none lifting up a hand against him. A second (gentleman, so called) soon came after, if possible more furious than he, and ordered his men to seize on some others, Mr. Shepherd in particular. Most of the people, however, stood still as they were before and began singing a hymn.

Upon this Mr. B. lost all patience and cried out with all his might, "Seize him, seize him. I say, seize the preacher for his Majesty's service." But no one stirring, he rode up and struck several of his attendants, cursing them bitterly for not doing as they were bidden. Perceiving still that they would not move, he leaped off his horse, swore he would do it himself, and caught hold of my cassock crying, "I take you to serve his Majesty." A servant taking his horse, he took me by the arm, and we walked arm in arm for about three quarters of a mile. He entertained me all the time with the "wickedness of the fellows belonging to the society." When he was taking breath, I said, "Sir, be they what they will, I apprehend it will not justify you in seizing me in this manner and violently carrying me away, as you said, to serve his Majesty." He replied, "I seize you! And violently carry you away! No, sir, no. Nothing like it. I asked you to go with me to my house, and you said you were willing; and if so, you are welcome; and if not, you are welcome to go where you please." I answered, "Sir, I know not if it would be safe for me to go back through this rabble." "Sir," said he, "I will go with you myself." He then called for his horse, and another for me, and rode back with me to the place from whence he took me.

Dramatic Scenes at Falmouth

Thursday, 4.—I rode to Falmouth. About three in the afternoon I went to see a gentlewoman who had been long indisposed. Almost as soon as I sat down, the house was beset on all sides by an innumerable multitude of people. A louder or more confused noise could hardly be at the taking of a city by storm. At first Mrs. B. and her daughter endeavored to quiet them. But it was labor lost. They might as well have attempted to still the raging of the sea. They were soon glad to shift for themselves and leave K. E. and me to do as well as we could. The rabble roared with all their throats, "Bring out the Canorum! Where is the Canorum?" (an unmeaning word which the Cornish generally use instead of Methodist).

No answer being given, they quickly forced open the outer door and filled the passage. Only a wainscot partition was between us, which was not likely to stand long. I immediately took down a large looking glass which hung against it, supposing the whole side would fall in at once. When they began their work with abundance of bitter imprecations, poor Kitty was utterly astonished and cried out, "O sir, what must we do?" I said, "We must pray." Indeed at that time, to all appearance, our lives were not worth an hour's purchase. She asked, "But, sir, is it not better for you to hide yourself? to get into the closet?" I answered, "No. It is best for me to stand just where I am." Among those without were the crews of some privateers which were lately come into harbor. Some of these, being angry at the slowness of the rest, thrust them away and, coming up all together, set their shoulders to the inner door and cried out, "Avast, lads, avast!" Away went all the hinges at once, and the door fell back into the room.

I stepped forward at once into the midst of them and said, "Here I am. Which of you has anything to say to me? To which of you have I done any wrong? To you? Or you? Or you?" I continued speaking till I came, bareheaded as I was (for I purposely left my hat that they might all see my face) into the middle of the street and then raising my voice said, "Neighbors, countrymen! Do you desire to hear me speak?'"12 They cried vehemently, "Yes, yes. He shall speak. He shall. Nobody shall hinder him." But having nothing to stand on and no advantage of ground, I could be heard by few only. However, I spoke without intermission and, as far as the sound reached, the people were still; till one or two of their captains turned about and swore that not a man should touch me.

Mr. Thomas, a clergyman, then came up and asked, "Are you not ashamed to use a stranger thus?" He was soon seconded by two or three gentlemen of the town and one of the aldermen; with whom I walked down the town, speaking all the time, till I came to Mrs. Maddern's house. The gentlemen proposed sending for my horse to the door and desired me to step in and rest the meantime. But, on second thought, they judged it not advisable to let me go out among the people again: so they chose to send my horse before me to Penryn and to send me thither by water, the sea running close by the back door of the house in which we were.

I never saw before, no, not at Walsal itself, the hand of God so plainly shown as here. There I had many companions who were willing to die with me: here, not a friend but one simple girl, who likewise was hurried away from me in an instant as soon as ever she came out of Mrs. B.'s door. There I received some blows, lost part of my clothes, and was covered over with dirt: here, although the hands of perhaps some hundreds of people were lifted up to strike or throw, yet they were one and all stopped in the midway; so that not a man touched me with one of his fingers, neither was anything thrown from first to last; so that I had not even a speck of dirt on my clothes. Who can deny that God heareth prayer, or that He hath all power in heaven and earth?

"I am John Wesley"

I took boat at about half an hour past five. Many of the mob waited at the end of the town, who, seeing me escaped out of their hands, could only revenge themselves with their tongues. But a few of the fiercest ran along the shore, to receive me at my landing. I walked up the steep narrow passage from the sea, at the top of which the foremost man stood. I looked him in the face and said, "I wish you a good night." He spake not nor moved hand or foot till I was on horseback. Then he said, "I wish you were in hell," and turned back to his companions.

As soon as I came within sight of Tolcarn (in Wendron parish), where I was to preach in the evening, I was met by many, running as it were for their lives and begging me to go no further. I asked, "Why not?" They said, "The churchwardens and constables and all the heads of the parish are waiting for you at the top of the hill and are resolved to have you: they have a special warrant from the justices met at Helstone, who will stay there till you are brought." I rode directly up the hill and observing four or five horsemen, well dressed, went straight to them and said, "Gentlemen, has any of you anything to say to me?—I am John Wesley."

One of them appeared extremely angry at this, that I should presume to say I was "Mr. John Wesley." And I know not how I might have fared for advancing so bold an assertion but that Mr. Collins, the minister of Redruth (accidently,13 as he said) came by. Upon his accosting me and saying he knew me at Oxford, my first antagonist was silent, and a dispute of another kind began: whether this preaching had done any good. I appealed to matter of fact. He allowed (after many words), "People are the better for the present"; but added, "To be sure, by and by they will be as bad, if not worse than ever."

When he rode away, one of the riders said, "Sir, I would speak with you a little; let us ride to the gate." We did so, and he said, "Sir, I will tell you the ground of this. All the gentlemen of these parts say that you have been a long time in France and Spain and are now sent hither by the Pretender; and that these societies are to join him." Nay, surely "all the gentlemen in these parts" will not lie against their own conscience!

I rode hence to a friend's house, some miles off, and found the sleep of a laboring man is sweet. I was informed there were many here also who had an earnest desire to hear "this preaching," but they did not dare; Sir —— V——n having solemnly declared, nay, and that in the face of the whole congregation as they were coming out of the church, "If any man of this parish dares hear these fellows, he shall not come to my Christmas feast!"

Saturday, 6.—I rode with Mr. Shepherd to Gwennap. Here also we found the people in the utmost consternation. Word was brought that a great company of tinners, made drunk on purpose, were coming to do terrible things. I labored much to compose their minds, but fear had no ears; so that abundance of people went away. I preached to the rest on "Love your enemies." The event showed this also was a false alarm, an artifice of the devil, to hinder men from hearing the Word of God.

Wesley Pushed from a High Wall

Sunday, 7.—I preached, at five, to a quiet congregation, and about eight, at Stithians. Between six and seven in the evening we came to Tolcarn. Hearing the mob was rising again, I began preaching immediately. I had not spoken a quarter of an hour before they came in view. One Mr. Trounce rode up first and began speaking to me, wherein he was roughly interrupted by his companions. Yet, as I stood on a high wall and kept my eyes upon them, many were softened and grew calmer and calmer; which some of their champions observing, went round and suddenly pushed me down. I lit on my feet without any hurt; finding myself close to the warmest of the horsemen, I took hold of his hand and held it fast while I expostulated the case. As for being convinced, he was quite about it: however, both he and his fellows grew much milder, and we parted very civilly.

Monday, 8.—I preached at five on "Watch and pray," to a quiet and earnest congregation. We then rode on to St. Ives, the most still and honorable post (so are the times changed) which we have in Cornwall.

Tuesday, 9.—I had just begun preaching at St. Just, when Mr. E. came once more, took me by the hand, and said I must go with him. To avoid making a tumult, I went. He said I had promised last week not to come again to St. Just for a month. I absolutely denied the having made any such promise. After about half an hour, he handed me back to my inn.

Riot Act and a Sermon

Wednesday, 10.—In the evening I began to expound (at Trevonan, in Morva), "Ho! every one that thirsteth, come yet to the waters." In less than a quarter of an hour, the constable and his companions came and read the proclamation against riots. When he had done, I told him, "We will do as you require: we will disperse within an hour"; and went on with my sermon. After preaching, I had designed to meet the society alone. But many others also followed with such earnestness that I could not turn them back: so I exhorted them all to love their enemies as Christ hath loved us. They felt what was spoken.

Thursday, 25.—I came back safe, blessed be God, to Bristol. I found both my soul and body much refreshed in this peaceful place. Thursday, August 1, and the following days, we had our second Conference, with as many of our brethren that labor in the Word as could be present.

Pelted by the Mob at Leeds

Monday, September 9.—I left London, and the next morning called on Dr. Doddridge at Northampton. It was about the hour when he was accustomed to expound a portion of Scripture to young gentlemen under his care. He desired me to take his place. It may be the seed was not altogether sown in vain.

Thursday, 12.—I came to Leeds, preached at five, and at eight met the society; after which the mob pelted us with dirt and stones a great part of the way home. The congregation was much larger next evening; and so was the mob at our return, and likewise in higher spirits, being ready to knock out all our brains for joy that the Duke of Tuscany was Emperor. What a melancholy consideration is this! that the bulk of the English nation will not suffer God to give them the blessings He would, because they would turn them into curses. He cannot, for instance, give them success against their enemies; for they would tear their own countrymen in pieces: He cannot trust them with victory, lest they should thank Him by murdering those that are quiet in the land.

Great Excitement at Newcastle

Wednesday, 18.—About five we came to Newcastle, in an acceptable time. We found the generality of the inhabitants in the utmost consternation; news being just arrived that, the morning before, at two o'clock, the Pretender had entered Edinburgh. A great concourse of people were with us in the evening, to whom I expounded the third chapter of Jonah, insisting particularly on that verse, "Who can tell, if God will return, and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?"

Thursday, 19.—The mayor (Mr. Ridley) summoned all the householders of the town to meet him at the townhall;14 and desired as many of them as were willing to set their hands to a paper importing that they would, at the hazard of their goods and lives, defend the town against the common enemy. Fear and darkness were now on every side; but not on those who had seen the light of God's countenance. We rejoiced together in the evening with solemn joy, while God applied those words to many hearts, "Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified" [Matt. 28:5].

Friday, 20.—The mayor ordered the townsmen to be under arms and to mount guard in their turns, over and above the guard of soldiers, a few companies of whom had been drawn into the town on the first alarm. Now also Pilgrim Street gate was ordered to be walled up. Many began to be much concerned for us, because our house stood without the walls. Nay, but the Lord is a wall of fire unto all that trust in Him.

I had desired all our brethren to join with us this day in seeking God by fasting and prayer. About one we met and poured out our souls before Him; and we believed He would send an answer of peace.

Wesley's Letter to the Mayor

Saturday, 21.—The same day the action was, came the news of General Cope's defeat. Orders were now given for the doubling of the guard and for walling up Pandon and Sally Port gates. In the afternoon I wrote the following letter:

To the Worshipful the Mayor of Newcastle.

Sir,—My not waiting upon you at the town hall was not owing to any want of respect. I reverence you for your office' sake; and much more for your zeal in the execution of it. I would to God every magistrate in the land would copy after such an example! Much less was it owing to any disaffection to his Majesty King George. But I knew not how far it might be either necessary or proper for me to appear on such an occasion. I have no fortune at Newcastle: I have only the bread I eat and the use of a little room for a few weeks in the year.

All I can do for his Majesty, whom I honor and love—I think not less than I did my own father—is this, I cry unto God day by day, in public and in private, to put all his enemies to confusion: and I exhort all that hear me to do the same; and, in their several stations, to exert themselves as loyal subjects; who, so long as they fear God, cannot but honor the King.

Permit me, Sir, to add a few words more, out of the fullness of my heart. I am persuaded you fear God and have a deep sense that His Kingdom ruleth over all. Unto whom, then (I may ask you), should we flee for succor, but unto Him whom, by our sins, we have justly displeased? O Sir, is it not possible to give any check to these overflowings of ungodliness? To the open, flagrant wickedness, the drunkenness and profaneness which so abound even in our streets? I just take leave to suggest this. May the God whom you serve direct you in this and all things! This is the daily prayer of, Sir,

Your obedient servant, for Christ's sake,


Preaching under Difficulties

Sunday, 22.—The walls were mounted with cannon, and all things prepared for sustaining an assault. Meantime our poor neighbors, on either hand, were busy in removing their goods. And most of the best houses in our street were left without either furniture or inhabitants. Those within the walls were almost equally busy in carrying away their money and goods; and more and more of the gentry every hour rode southward as fast as they could. At eight I preached at Gateshead, in a broad part of the street near the popish chapel, on the wisdom of God in governing the world. How do all things tend to the furtherance of the gospel!

All this week the alarms from the north continued, and the storm seemed nearer every day. Many wondered we would still stay without the walls: others told us we must remove quickly; for if the cannon began to play from the top of the gates, they would beat all the house about our ears. This made me look how the cannons upon the gates were planted; and I could not but adore the providence of God, for it was obvious 1) they were all planted in such a manner that no shot could touch our house; 2) the cannon on Newgate so secured us on one side, and those upon Pilgrim Street gate on the other that none could come near our house, either way, without being torn in pieces.

On Friday and Saturday many messengers of lies terrified the poor people of the town, as if the rebels were just coming to swallow them up. Upon this the guards were increased and abundance of country gentlemen came in, with their servants, horses, and arms. Among those who came from the north was one whom the mayor ordered to be apprehended on suspicion of his being a spy. As soon as he was left alone he cut his own throat; but a surgeon, coming quickly, sewed up the wound, so that he lived to discover those designs of the rebels, which were thereby effectually prevented.

Sunday, 29.—Advice came that they were in full march southward, so that it was supposed they would reach Newcastle by Monday evening. At eight I called on a multitude of sinners in Gateshead to seek the Lord while He might be found. Mr. Ellison preached another earnest sermon, and all the people seemed to bend before the Lord. In the afternoon I expounded part of the lesson for the day—Jacob wrestling with the angel. The congregation was so moved that I began again and again and knew not how to conclude. And we cried mightily to God to send his Majesty King George help from His holy place and to spare a sinful land yet a little longer, if haply they might know the day of their visitation.

The Blasphemous Troops

Tuesday, October 8.—I wrote to general Husk as follows:

A surly man came to me this evening, as he said, from you. He would not deign to come upstairs to me, nor so much as into the house; but stood in the yard till I came, and then obliged me to go with him into the street, where he said, You must pull down the battlements of your house, or tomorrow the General will pull them down for you.'

Sir, to me this is nothing. But I humbly conceive it would not be proper for this man, whoever he is, to behave in such a manner to any other of his Majesty's subjects, at so critical a time as this.

I am ready, if it may be for his Majesty's service, to pull not only the battlements, but the house down; or to give up any part of it, or the whole, into your Excellency's hands.

Saturday, 26.—I sent Alderman Ridley the following letter:

Sir,—The fear of God, the love of my country, and the regard I have for his Majesty King George, constrain me to write a few plain words to one who is no stranger to these principles of action.

My soul has been pained day by day, even in walking the streets of Newcastle, at the senseless, shameless wickedness, the ignorant profaneness, of the poor men to whom our lives are entrusted. The continual cursing and swearing, the wanton blasphemy of the soldiers in general, must needs be a torture to the sober ear, whether of a Christian or an honest infidel. Can any that either fear God, or love their neighbor, hear this without concern? especially if they consider the interest of our country, as well as of these unhappy men themselves. For can it be expected that God should be on their side who are daily affronting Him to His face? And if God be not on their side, how little will either their number, or courage, or strength avail?

Is there no man that careth for these souls? Doubtless there are some who ought so to do. But many of these, if I am rightly informed, receive large pay and do just nothing.

I would to God it were in my power, in any degree, to supply their lack of service. I am ready to do what in me lies to call these poor sinners to repentance, once or twice a day (while I remain in these parts), at any hour, or at any place. And I desire no pay at all for doing this; unless what my Lord shall give at His appearing.

Having myself no knowledge of the General, I took the liberty to make this offer to you. I have no interest herein; but I should rejoice to serve, as I am able, my King and country. If it be judged that this will be of no real service, let the proposal die and be forgotten. But I beg you, Sir, to believe that I have the same glorious cause, for which you have shown so becoming a zeal, earnestly at heart; and that therefore I am, with warm respect,


Your most obedient servant.

Sunday, 27.—I received a message from Mr. Ridley that he would communicate my proposal to the General and return me his answer as soon as possible.

Having now delivered my own soul, on Monday, November 4, I left Newcastle. Before nine we met several expresses, sent to countermand the march of the army into Scotland; and to inform them that the rebels had passed the Tweed and were marching southward.

Bonfires Everywhere

Tuesday, 5.—In the evening I came to Leeds and found the town full of bonfires, and people shouting, firing guns, cursing and swearing, as the English manner of keeping holidays is. I immediately sent word to some of the magistrates of what I had heard on the road. This ran through the town, as it were, in an instant: and I hope it was a token for good. The hurry in the streets was quashed at once—some of the bonfires indeed remained; but scarcely anyone was to be seen about them but a few children warming their hands.

Thursday, 7.—I rode to Stayley Hall, in Cheshire, after many interruptions in the way by those poor tools of watchmen, who stood with great solemnity at the end of almost every village. I preached there on Mark 1:15, and rode on to Bradbury Green.

Friday, 8.—Understanding that a neighboring gentleman, Dr. C., had affirmed to many that Mr. Wesley was now with the Pretender, near Edinburgh, I wrote him a few lines. It may be he will have a little more regard to truth, or shame, for the time to come.

12 Correct to the text.

13 This spelling is correct.

14 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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