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John Wesley

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1737-8: Troubles in Georgia; Return to England

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Chapter 2. Troubles in Georgia; Return to England; Peter Bohler; "I Felt my Heart Strangely Warmed"

Begins to Learn Spanish


Friday, March 4.—I wrote the trustees for Georgia an account of our year's expense, from March 1, 1736, to March 1, 1737; which, deducting extraordinary expenses, such as repairing the parsonage house and journeys to Frederica, amounted, for Mr. Delamotte and me, to f 44/4s. 4d.

Monday, April 4.—I began learning Spanish in order to converse with My Jewish parishioners; some of whom seem nearer the mind that was in Christ than many of those who called Him Lord.

Tuesday, 12.—Being determined, if possible, to put a stop to the proceedings of one in Carolina, who had married several of my parishioners without either banns or license and declared he would do so still, I set out in a sloop for Charleston. I landed there on Thursday, and related the case to Mr. Garden, the Bishop of London's commissary, who assured me he would take care no such irregularity should be committed for the future.

Sunday, July 3.—Immediately after the holy communion, I mentioned to Mrs. Williamson (Mr. Causton's niece) some things which I thought reprovable in her behavior. At this she appeared extremely angry; said she did not expect such usage from me; and at the turn of the street, through which we were walking home, went abruptly away. The next day Mrs. Causton endeavored to excuse her; told me she was exceedingly grieved for what had passed the day before and desired me to tell her in writing what I disliked; which I accordingly did the day following.

But first I sent Mr. Causton the following note:


To this hour you have shown yourself my friend; I ever have and ever shall acknowledge it. And it is my earnest desire that He who hath hitherto given me this blessing would continue it still.

But this cannot be, unless you will allow me one request, which is not so easy a one as it appears: do not condemn me for doing, in the execution of my office, what I think it my duty to do.

If you can prevail upon yourself to allow me this, even when I act without respect of persons, I am persuaded there will never be, at least not long, any misunderstanding between us. For even those who seek it shall, I trust, find no occasion against me, except it be concerning the law of my God.

July 5, 1737.

Wednesday, 6.—Mr. Causton came to my house, with Mr. Bailiff Parker and Mr. Recorder, and warmly asked, "How could you possibly think I should condemn you for executing any part of your office?" I said short, "Sir, what if I should think it the duty of my office to repel one of your family from the holy communion?" He replied, "If you repel me or my wife, I shall require a legal reason. But I shall trouble myself about none else. Let them look to themselves."

Sunday, August 7.—I repelled Mrs. Williamson from the holy communion. and Monday, [July] 8, Mr. Recorder, of Savannah, issued out the warrant following:

Georgia. Savannah ss.

To all Constables, Tithingmen, and others, whom these may concern:

You, and each of you, are hereby required to take the body of John Wesley, Clerk:

And bring him before one of the Bailiffs of the said town to answer the complaint of William Williamson and Sophia, his wife, for defaming the said Sophia, and refusing to administer to her the sacrament of the Lord's supper in a public congregation without cause; by which the said William Williamson is damaged one thousand pound sterling; and for so doing, this is your warrant, certifying what you are to do in the premises. Given under my hand and seal the 8th day of August, Anno. dom. 1737.

Tho. Christie.

Tuesday, 9.—Mr. Jones, the constable, served the warrant, and carried me before Mr. Bailiff Parker and Mr. Recorder. My answer to them was that the giving or refusing the Lord's supper being a matter purely ecclesiastical, I could not acknowledge their power to interrogate me upon it. Mr. Parker told me: "However, you must appear at the next Court, holden for Savannah." Mr. Williamson, who stood by, said: "Gentlemen, I desire Mr. Wesley may give bail for his appearance." But Mr. Parker immediately replied: "Sir, Mr. Wesley's word is sufficient."

Thursday, 11.—Mr. Causton came to my house and, among many other sharp words, said: "Make an end of this matter; thou hadst best. My niece to be used thus! I have drawn the sword and I will never sheath it till I have satisfaction."

Soon after, he added: "Give the reasons of your repelling her before the whole congregation." I answered: "Sir, if you insist upon it, I will; and so you may be pleased to tell her." He said, "Write to her, and tell her so yourself." I said, "I will"; and after he went I wrote as follows:

To Mrs. Sophia Williamson

"At Mr. Causton's request, I write once more. The rules whereby I proceed are these:

"'So many as intend to be partakers of the holy communion, shall signify their names to the curate, at least some time the day before.' This you did not do.

"'And if any of these have done any wrong to his neighbors, by word or deed, so that the congregation be thereby offended, the curate shall advertise him that in any wise he presume not to come to the Lord's table until he hath openly declared himself to have truly repented.'

If you offer yourself at the Lord's table on Sunday, I will advertise you (as I have done more than once) wherein you have done wrong. And when you have openly declared yourself to have truly repented, I will administer to you the mysteries of God.

John Wesley
August 11, 1737

Mr. Delamotte carrying this, Mr. Causton said, among many other warm sayings: "I am the person that is injured. The affront is offered to me; and I will espouse the cause of my niece. I am ill used, and I will have satisfaction, if it be to be had in the world."

Which way this satisfaction was to be had, I did not yet conceive; but on Friday and Saturday it began to appear; Mr. Causton declared to many persons that "Mr. Wesley had repelled Sophy from the holy communion purely out of revenge, because he had made proposals of marriage to her which she rejected, and married Mr. Williamson."

The Jury's Charge against Wesley

Tuesday, 16.—Mrs. Williamson swore to and signed an affidavit insinuating much more than it asserted; but asserting that Mr. Wesley had many times proposed marriage to her, all which proposals she rejected. Of this I desire a copy. Mr. Causton replied: "Sir, you may have one from any of the newspapers in America."

On Thursday and Friday was delivered out a list of twenty-six men, who were to meet as a grand jury on Monday, the twenty-second. But this list was called in the next day, and twenty-four names added to it. Of this grand jury (forty-four of whom only met), one was a Frenchman, who did not understand English; one a Papist, one a professed infidel, three Baptists, sixteen or seventeen other Dissenters, and several others who had personal quarrels against me and had openly vowed revenge.

To this grand jury, on Monday, 22, Mr. Causton gave a long and earnest charge "to beware of spiritual tyranny, and to oppose the new, illegal authority which was usurped over their consciences." Then Mrs. Williamson's affidavit was read; after which, Mr. Causton delivered to the grand jury a paper, entitled:

"A List of grievances, presented by the grand jury for Savannah, this day of August, 1737."

This the majority of the grand jury altered in some particulars, and on Thursday, September 1, delivered it again to the court, under the form of two presentments, containing ten bills, which were then read to the people.

Herein they asserted, upon oath, "That John Wesley, clerk, had broken the laws of the realm, contrary to the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King, his crown and dignity.

  1. By speaking and writing to Mrs. Williamson against her husband's consent.
  2. By repelling her from the holy communion.
  3. By not declaring his adherence to the Church of England.
  4. By dividing the morning service on Sundays.
  5. By refusing to baptize Mr. Parker's child, otherwise than by dipping, except the parents would certify it was weak and not able to bear it.
  6. By repelling William Gough from the holy communion.
  7. By refusing to read the burial service over the body of Nathaniel Polhill.
  8. By calling himself Ordinary of Savannah.
  9. By refusing to receive William Aglionby as a godfather, only because he was not a communicant.
  10. By refusing Jacob Matthews for the same reason; and baptizing an Indian trader's child with only two sponsors." (This, I own, was wrong; for I ought, at all hazards, to have refused baptizing it till he had procured a third.)

Friday, September 2.—Was the third court at which I appeared since my being carried before Mr. P. and the Recorder.

I now moved for an immediate hearing on the first bill, being the only one of a civil nature; but it was refused. I made the same motion in the afternoon, but was put off till the next court-day.

On the next court-day I appeared again, as also at the two courts following, but could not be heard, because (the Judge said) Mr. Williamson was gone out of town.

The sense of the minority of the grand jurors themselves (for they were by no means unanimous) concerning these presentments may appear from the following paper, which they transmitted to the trustees:

To the Honorable the Trustees for Georgia.

Whereas two presentments have been made: the one of August 23, the other of August 31, by the grand jury for the town and county of Savannah, in Georgia, against John Wesley, Clerk.

We whose names are underwritten, being members of the said grand jury, do humbly beg leave to signify our dislike of the said presentments; being, by many and divers circumstances, thoroughly persuaded in ourselves that the whole charge against Mr. Wesley is an artifice of Mr. Causton's, designed rather to blacken the character of Mr. Wesley than to free the colony from religious tyranny, as he was pleased, in his charge to us, to term it. But as these circumstances will be too tedious to trouble your Honors with, we shall only beg leave to give the reasons of our dissent from the particular bills.....

Friday, October 7.—I consulted my friends as to whether God did not call me to return to England. The reason for which I left it had now no force, there being no possibility as yet of instructing the Indians; neither had I, as yet, found or heard of any Indians on the continent of America who had the least desire of being instructed. And as to Savannah, having never engaged myself, either by word or letter, to stay there a day longer than I should judge convenient, nor ever taken charge of the people any otherwise than as in my passage to the heathens, I looked upon myself to be fully discharged therefrom, by the vacating of that design. Besides, there was a probability of doing more service to that unhappy people in England, than I could do in Georgia, by representing, without fear or favor, to the trustees the real state the colony was in. After deeply considering these things, they were unanimous that I ought to go, but not yet. So I laid the thoughts of it aside for the present; being persuaded that when the time was come, God would "make the way plain before my face."

Why Wesley left Georgia

Thursday, November 3.—I appeared again at the court, holden on that day; and again, at the court held Tuesday, November 22. On which day Mr. Causton desired to speak with me. He then read me some affidavits which had been made September 15, last past; in one of which it was affirmed that I then abused Mr. Causton in his own house, calling him liar, villain, and so on. It was now likewise repeated before several persons, which indeed I had forgotten, that I had been reprimanded at the last court, for an enemy to, and hinderer of, the public peace.

I again consulted my friends who agreed with me that the time we looked for was now come. And the next morning, calling on Mr. Causton, I told him I designed to set out for England immediately. I set up an advertisement in the Great Square to the same effect and quietly prepared for my journey.

Friday, December 2.—I proposed to set out for Carolina about noon, the tide then serving. But about ten, the magistrates sent for me and told me I must not go out of the province; for I had not answered the allegations laid against me. I replied, "I have appeared at six or seven courts successively, in order to answer them. But I was not suffered so to do, when I desired it time after time." Then they said, however, I must not go, unless I would give security to answer those allegations at their court. I asked, "What security?" After consulting together about two hours, the recorder showed me a kind of bond, engaging me, under a penalty of fifty pounds, to appear at their court when I should be required. He added, "But Mr. Williamson too has desired of us that you should give bail to answer his action." I then told him plainly, "Sir, you use me very ill, and so you do the trustees. I will give neither any bond nor any bail at all. You know your business, and I know mine."

In the afternoon, the magistrates published an order, requiring all the officers and sentinels to prevent my going out of the province and forbidding any person to assist me so to do. Being now only a prisoner at large, in a place where I know by experience that every day would give fresh opportunity to procure evidence of words I never said and actions I never did; I saw clearly the hour was come for leaving this place: and as soon as evening prayers were over, about eight o'clock, the tide then serving, I shook off the dust of my feet and left Georgia, after having preached the gospel there (not as I ought, but as I was able) one year and nearly nine months.

Saturday, 3.—We came to Purrysburg early in the morning and endeavored to procure a guide to Port Royal, but none being to be had, we set out without one, an hour before sunrise. After walking two or three hours, we met with an old man who led us into a small path, near which was a line of blazed tees (that is, marked by cutting off part of the bark), by following which, he said, we might easily come to Port Royal in five or six hours.

Lost in the Woods

We were four in all; one intended to go to England with me, the other two to settle in Carolina. About eleven we came into a large swamp, where we wandered about till near two. We then found another blaze and pursued it till it divided into two; one of these we followed through an almost impassable thicket, a mile beyond which it ended. We made through the thicket again, and traced the other blaze till that ended too. It now grew toward sunset; so we sat down, faint and weary, having had no food all day, except a gingerbread cake, which I had taken in my pocket. A third of this we had divided among us at noon; another third we took now; the rest we reserved for the morning; but we had met with no water all the day. Thrusting a stick into the ground, and finding the end of it moist, two of our company fell a-digging with their hands, and, at about three feet depth, found water. We thanked God, drank, and were refreshed. The night was sharp; however, there was no complaining among us; but after having commended ourselves to God, we lay down close together and (I at least) slept till near six in the morning.

Sunday, 4.—God renewed our strength, we arose neither faint nor weary, and resolved to make one trial more, to find out a path to Port Royal. We steered due east; but finding neither path nor blaze, and the woods growing thicker and thicker, we judged it would be our best course to return, if we could, by the way we came. The day before, in the thickest part of the wood, I had broken many young trees, I knew not why, as we walked along; these we found a great help in several places where no path was to be seen; and between one and two God brought us safe to Benjamin Arieu's house, the old man we left the day before.

In the evening I read French prayers to a numerous family, a mile from Arieu's; one of whom undertook to guide us to Port Royal. In the morning we set out. About sunset, we asked our guide if he knew where he was; who frankly answered, "No." However, we pushed on till, about seven, we came to a plantation; and the next evening, after many difficulties and delays, we landed on Port Royal island.

Wednesday, 7.—We walked to Beaufort, where Mr. Jones, the minister of Beaufort with whom I lodged during my short stay here, gave me a lively idea of the old English hospitality. On Thursday Mr. Delamotte came; with whom, on Friday, 9, I took boat for Charleston. After a slow passage, by reason of contrary winds and some conflict (our provisions falling short) with hunger as well as cold, we came thither early in the morning, on Tuesday, 13.

Farewell to America

Thursday, 22.—I took my leave of America (though, if it please God, not forever), going on board the "Samuel," Captain Percy, with a young gentleman who had been a few months in Carolina, one of my parishioners of Savannah, and a Frenchman, late of Purrysburg, who was escaped thence by the skin of his teeth.

Saturday, 24—We sailed over Charleston bar, and about noon lost sight of land.

The next day the wind was fair, but high, as it was on Sunday 25, when the sea affected me more than it had done in the sixteen weeks of our passage to America. I was obliged to lie down the greatest part of the day, being easy only in that posture.

Monday, 26.—I began instructing a Negro lad in the principles of Christianity. The next day I resolved to break off living delicately and return to my old simplicity of diet; and after I did so, neither my stomach nor my head much complained of the motion of the ship.


Sunday, January 1.—All in the ship, except the captain and steersman, were present both at the morning and evening service and appeared as deeply attentive as even the poor people of Frederica did, while the Word of God was new to their, ears. And it may be, one or two among these likewise may "bring forth fruit with patience."

Monday, 2.—Being sorrowful and very heavy (though I could give no particular reason for it), and utterly unwilling to speak close to any of my little flock (about twenty persons), I was in doubt whether my neglect of them was not one cause of my own heaviness. In the evening, therefore, I began instructing the cabin boy; after which I was much easier.

I went several times the following days, with a design to speak to the sailors, but could not. I mean, I was quite averse to speaking; I could not see how to make an occasion, and it seemed quite absurd to speak without. Is not this what men commonly mean by, "I could not speak"? And is this a sufficient cause of silence, or no? Is it a prohibition from the Good Spirit? or a temptation from nature, or the evil one?

Saturday, 7.—I began to read and explain some passages of the Bible to the young Negro. The next morning, another Negro who was on board desired to be a hearer too. From them I went to the poor Frenchman, who, understanding no English, had none else in the ship with whom he could converse. And from this time, I read and explained to him a chapter in the Testament every morning.

The Voyage to England

Friday, 13.—We had a thorough storm, which obliged us to shut all close, the sea breaking over the ship continually. I was at first afraid but cried to God and was strengthened. Before ten, I lay down: I bless God, without fear. About midnight we were awakened by a confused noise of seas and wind and men's voices the like of which I had never heard before. The sound of the sea breaking over and against the sides of the ship I could compare to nothing but large cannon, or American thunder. The rebounding, starting, quivering motion of the ship much resembled what is said of earthquakes.

The captain was upon deck in an instant. But his men could not hear what he said. It blew a proper hurricane; which beginning at southwest, then went west, northwest, north, and, in a quarter of an hour, round by the east to the southwest point again. At the same time the sea running, as they term it, mountain-high, and that from many different points at once, the ship would not obey the helm; nor indeed could the steersman, through the violent rain, see the compass. So he was forced to let her run before the wind, and in half an hour the stress of the storm was over.

Tuesday, 24.—We spoke with two ships, outward bound, from whom we had the welcome news of our wanting but one hundred and sixty leagues of the Land's End. My mind was now full of thought; part of which I wrote down as follows:

I went to America, to convert the Indians; but oh! who shall convert me? who, what is he that will deliver me from this evil heart of mischief? I have a fair summer religion. I can talk well; nay, and believe myself, while no danger is near; but let death look me in the face, and my spirit is troubled. Nor can I say, 'To die is gain!'

I have a sin of fear, that when I've spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore!

I think, verily, if the gospel be true, I am safe: for I not only have given, and do give, all my goods to feed the poor; I not only give my body to be burned, drowned, or whatever God shall appoint for me; but I follow after charity (though not as I ought, yet as I can), if haply I may attain it. I now believe the gospel is true. I show my faith by my works' by staking my all upon it. I would do so again and again a thousand times, if the choice were still to make.

Whoever sees me, sees I would be a Christian. Therefore are my ways not like other men's ways.' Therefore I have been, I am, I am content to be, 'a by-word, a proverb of reproach.' But in a storm I think, 'What, if the gospel be not true? Then thou art of all men most foolish. For what hast thou given thy goods, thine ease, thy friends, thy reputation, thy country, thy life? For what art thou wandering over the face of the earth?—A dream! a cunningly devised fable!'

Oh! who will deliver me from this fear of death? What shall I do? Where shall I fly from it? Should I fight against it by thinking, or by not thinking of it? A wise man advised me some time since, 'Be still and go on.' Perhaps this is best, to look upon it as my cross; when it comes to let it humble me and quicken all my good resolutions, especially that of praying without ceasing; and at other times to take no thought about it, but quietly to go on in the work of the Lord.'

Lands at Deal

We went on with a small, fair wind, till Thursday in the afternoon; and then sounding, found a whitish sand at seventy-five fathom; but having had no observation for several days, the captain began to be uneasy, fearing we might either get unawares into the Bristol Channel, or strike in the night on the rocks of Scilly.

Saturday, 28.—Was another cloudy day; but about ten in the morning, the wind continuing southerly, the clouds began to fly just contrary to the wind, and, to the surprise of us all, sank so under the sun so that at noon we had an exact observation; and by this we found we were as well as we could desire, about eleven leagues south of Scilly.

Sunday, 29.—We saw English land once more; which, about noon, appeared to be the Lizard Point. We ran by it with a fair wind; and at noon the next day made the west end of the Isle of Wight.

Here the wind turned against us and in the evening blew fresh so that we expected (the tide being likewise strong against us) to be driven some leagues backward in the night; but in morning, to our great surprise, we saw Beach Head just before us, and found we had gone forwards near forty miles.

Toward evening was a calm; but in the night a strong north wind brought us safe into the Downs. The day before, Mr. Whitefield had sailed out, neither of us then knowing anything of the other. At four in the morning we took boat, and in half an hour landed at Deal; it was Wednesday, February 1, the anniversary festival in Georgia for Mr. Oglethorpe's landing there.

It is now two years and almost four months since I left my native country in order to teach the Georgian Indians the nature of Christianity. But what have I learned myself in the meantime? Why (what I the least of all suspected), that I who went to America to convert others was never myself converted to God.1 "I am not mad," though I thus speak; but "I speak the words of truth and soberness"; if haply some of those who still dream may awake and see that as I am, so are they.

In London Again

Wednesday, February 1.—After reading prayers and explaining a portion of Scripture to a large company at the inn, I left Deal and came in the evening to Feversham.

I here read prayers and explained the second lesson to a few of those who were called Christians, but were indeed more savage in their behavior than the wildest Indians I have yet met with.

Friday, 3.—I came to Mr. Delamotte's, at Blendon, where I expected a cold reception. But God had prepared the way before me; and I no sooner mentioned my name than I was welcomed in such a manner as constrained me to say: "Surely God is in this place, and I knew it not! Blessed be ye of the Lord! Ye have shown more kindness in the latter end than in the beginning."

In the evening I came once more to London, whence I had been absent two years and nearly four months.

Many reasons I have to bless God, though the design I went upon did not take effect, for my having been carried into that strange land, contrary to all my preceding resolutions. Hereby I trust He hath in some measure "humbled me and proved me, and shown me what was in my heart" [Deut. 8:2]. Hereby I have been taught to "beware of men." Hereby I am come to know assuredly that if "in all our ways we acknowledge God, he will," where reason fails, "direct our path" by lot or by the other means which He knoweth. Hereby I am delivered from the fear of the sea, which I had both dreaded and abhorred from my youth.

Hereby God has given me to know many of His servants, particularly those of the Church of Herrnhut [the Moravians]. Hereby my passage is opened to the writings of holy men in the German, Spanish, and Italian tongues. I hope, too, some good may come to others hereby. All in Georgia have heard the Word of God. Some have believed and have begun to run well. A few steps have been taken toward publishing the glad tidings both to the African and American heathens. Many children have learned "how they ought to serve God" and to be useful to their neighbor. And those whom it most concerns have an opportunity of knowing the true state of their infant colony and laying a firmer foundation of peace and happiness to many generations.

Saturday, 4.—I told my friends some of the reasons which a little hastened my return to England. They all agreed it would be proper to relate them to the trustees of Georgia.

Accordingly, the next morning I waited on Mr. Oglethorpe but had not time to speak on that head. In the afternoon I was desired to preach at St. John the Evangelist's. I did so on those strong words, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature" [II Cor. 5:17]. I was afterward informed many of the best in the parish were so offended that I was not to preach there any more.

Monday, 6.—I visited many of my old friends, as well as most of my relations. I find the time is not yet come when I am to be "hated of all men." Oh, may I be prepared for that day!

Wesley Meets Peter Bohler

Tuesday, 7.—(A day much to be remembered.) At the house of Mr. Weinantz, a Dutch merchant, I met Peter Bohler, Schulius Richter, and Wensel Neiser, just then landed from Germany. Finding they had no acquaintance in England, I offered to procure them a lodging and did so near Mr. Hutton's, where I then was. And from this time I did not willingly lose any opportunity of conversing with them while I stayed in London.

Wednesday, 8.—I went to Mr. Oglethorpe again but had no opportunity of speaking as I designed. Afterward I waited on the board of trustees and gave them a short but plain account of the state of the colony; an account, I fear, not a little differing from those which they had frequently received before, and for which I have reason to believe some of them have not forgiven me to this day.

Sunday, 12.—I preached at St. Andrew's, Holborn on "Though I give all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing" [I Cor. 13:3]. Oh, hard sayings! Who can hear them? Here, too, it seems, I am to preach no more.

Friday, 17.—I set out for Oxford with Peter Bohler, where we were kindly received by Mr. Sarney, the only one now remaining here of many who, at our embarking for America, were used to "take sweet counsel together" and rejoice in "bearing the reproach of Christ."

Saturday, 18.—We went to Stanton Harcourt. The next day I preached once more at the castle in Oxford, to a numerous and serious congregation.

All this time I conversed much with Peter Bohler, but I understood him not; and least of all when he said, "My brother, my brother, that philosophy of yours must be purged away."

Monday, 20.—I returned to London. On Tuesday I preached at Great St. Helen's on "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" [Luke 9:23].

Sunday, 26.—I preached at six, at St. Lawrence's; at ten, in St. Catherine Cree's Church; and in the afternoon, at St. John's, Wapping. I believe it pleased God to bless the first sermon most, because it gave most offense; being, indeed, an open defiance of that mystery of iniquity which the world calls "prudence," grounded on those words of St. Paul to the Galatians, "As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ" [Gal. 6:12].

Monday, 27.—I took coach for Salisbury and had several opportunities of conversing seriously with my fellow travelers.

Tuesday, 28.—I saw my mother once more. The next day I prepared for my journey to my brother at Tiverton. But on Thursday morning, March 2, a message that my brother Charles was dying at Oxford obliged me to set out for that place immediately. Calling at an odd house in the afternoon, I found several persons there who seemed well-wishers to religion, to whom I spake plainly; as I did in the evening both to the servants and strangers at my inn.

Wesley's Four Resolutions

With regard to my own behavior, I now renewed and wrote down my former resolutions.

  1. To use absolute openness and unreserve with all I should converse with.
  2. To labor after continual seriousness, not willingly indulging myself in any the least levity of behavior, or in laughter; no, not for a moment.
  3. To speak no word which does not tend to the glory of God; in particular, not to talk of worldly things. Others may, nay, must. But what is that to thee? And,
  4. To take no pleasure which does not tend to the glory of God; thanking God every moment for all I do take, and therefore rejecting every sort and degree of it which I feel I cannot so thank Him in and for.

Saturday, March 4.—I found my brother at Oxford, recovering from his pleurisy; and with him Peter Bohler; by whom, in the hand of the great God, I was, on Sunday, the fifth, clearly convinced of unbelief, of the want of that faith whereby alone we are saved.

Immediately it struck into my mind, "Leave off preaching. How can you preach to others, who have not faith yourself?" I asked Bohler whether he thought I should leave it off or not. He answered, "By no means." I asked, "But what can I preach?" He said, "Preach faith till you have it; and then, because you have it, you will preach faith."

Accordingly, Monday, 6, I began preaching this new doctrine, though my soul started back from the work. The first person to whom I offered salvation by faith alone was a prisoner under sentence of death. His name was Clifford. Peter Bohler had many times desired me to speak to him before. But I could not prevail on myself so to do; being still, as I had been many years, a zealous asserter of the impossibility of a deathbed repentance.

Incidents on the Manchester Road

Tuesday, 14.—I set out for Manchester with Mr. Kinchin, fellow of Corpus Christi, and Mr. Fox, late a prisoner in the city prison.

About eight, it being rainy and very dark, we lost our way; but before nine, came to Shipston, having ridden over, I know not how, a narrow footbridge, which lay across a deep ditch near the town. After supper I read prayers to the people of the inn and explained the second lesson; I hope not in vain.

The next day we dined at Birmingham; and, soon after we left it, were reproved for our negligence there, in letting those who attended us go without either exhortation or instruction, by a severe shower of hail.

In the evening we came to Stafford. The mistress of the house joined with us in family prayer. The next morning one of the servants appeared deeply affected, as did the hostler, before we went. Soon after breakfast, stepping into the stable, I spoke a few words to those who were there. A stranger who heard me said, "Sir, I wish I were to travel with you"; and when I went into the house, followed me and began abruptly, "Sir, I believe you are a good man, and I come to tell you a little of my life." The tears stood in his eyes all the time he spoke; and we hoped not a word which was said to him was lost.

At Newcastle, whither we came about ten, some to whom we spoke at our inn were very attentive; but a gay young woman waited on us, quite unconcerned: however, we spoke on. When we went away, she fixed her eyes and neither moved nor said one word but appeared as much astonished as if she had seen one risen from the dead.

Coming to Holms Chapel about three, we were surprised at being shown into a room where a cloth and plates were laid. Soon after two men came in to dinner, Mr. Kinchin told them, if they pleased, that gentleman would ask a blessing for them. They stared and, as it were, consented; but sat still while I did it, one of them with his hat on. We began to speak on turning to God, and went on, though they appeared utterly regardless. After a while their countenances changed, and one of them stole off his hat; laying it down behind him, he said that all we said was true; but he had been a grievous sinner and not considered it as he ought; but he was resolved, with God's help, now to turn to Him in earnest. We exhorted him and his companion, who now likewise drank in every word, to cry mightily to God that He would "send them help from his holy place."

Late at night we reached Manchester.

Companions on Horseback

Friday, 17.—Early in the morning we left Manchester, taking with us Mr. Kinchin's brother, for whom we came, to be entered at Oxford. We were fully determined to lose no opportunity of awakening, instructing, or exhorting any whom we might meet with in our journey. At Knutsford, where we first stopped, all we spake to thankfully received the word of exhortation. But at Talk-on-the-hill, where we dined, she with whom we were was so much of a gentlewoman that for nearly an hour our labor seemed to be in vain. However, we spoke on. Upon a sudden, she looked as one just awakened out of a sleep. Every word sank into her heart. Nor have I seen so entire a change both in the eyes, face, and manner of speaking of anyone in so short a time.

About five, Mr. Kinchin riding by a man and woman double-horsed, the man said, "Sir, you ought to thank God it is a fair day; for if it rained, you would be sadly dirty with your little horse." Mr. Kinchin answered, "True; and we ought to thank God for our life, and health, and food, and raiment, and all things." He then rode on, Mr. Fox following, the man said, "Sir, my mistress would be glad to have some more talk with that gentleman." We stayed, and when they came up, began to search one another's hearts. They came to us again in the evening, at our inn at Stone, where I explained both to them and many of their acquaintance who were come together, that great truth—godliness hath the promise both of this life and of that which is to come.

Tuesday, 21.—Between nine and ten we came to Hedgeford. In the afternoon one overtook us whom we soon found more inclined to speak than to hear. However, we spoke and spared not. In the evening we overtook a young man, a Quaker, who afterward came to us, to our inn at Henley, whither he sent for the rest of his family, to join with us in prayer; to which I added, as usual, the exposition of the second lesson. Our other companion went with us a mile or two in the morning; and then not only spoke less than the day before but took in good part a serious caution against talkativeness and vanity.

An hour after we were overtaken by an elderly gentleman who said he was going to enter his son at Oxford. We asked, "At what college?" He said he did not know, having no acquaintance there on whose recommendation he could depend. After some conversation, he expressed a deep sense of the good providence of God; and told us he knew God had cast us in his way in answer to his prayer. In the evening we reached Oxford, rejoicing in our having received so many fresh instances of that great truth, "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" [Prov. 3:6].

Preaches in Oxford Castle

Thursday, 23.—I met Peter Bohler again, who now amazed me more and more by the account he gave of the fruits of living faith—the holiness and happiness which he affirmed to attend it. The next morning I began the Greek Testament again, resolving to abide by "the law and the testimony"; I was confident that God would hereby show me whether this doctrine was of God.

Monday, 27.—Mr. Kinchin went with me to the castle, where, after reading prayers and preaching on "It is appointed unto men once to die," we prayed with the condemned man, first in several forms of prayer and then in such words as were given us in that hour. He kneeled down in much heaviness and confusion, having "no rest in" his "bones, by reason of" his "sins." After a space he rose up, and eagerly said, "I am now ready to die. I know Christ has taken away my sins; and there is no more condemnation for me." The same composed cheerfulness he showed when he was carried to execution; and in his last moments he was the same, enjoying a perfect peace, in confidence that he was "accepted in the Beloved."

Sunday, April 2.—Being Easter day, I preached in our college chapel on "The hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the son of God: and they that hear shall live" [John 5:25]. I preached in the afternoon, first at the castle, and then at Carfax, on the same words. I see the promise, but it is afar off.

Believing it would be better for me to wait for the accomplishment of it in silence and retirement, on Monday, 3, I complied with Mr. Kinchin's desire and went to him at Dummer, in Hampshire. But I was not suffered to stay here long, being earnestly pressed to come up to London, if it were only for a few days. Thither, therefore, I returned, on Tuesday, 18.

Talks with Bohler

I asked P. Bohler again whether I ought not to refrain from teaching others. He said, "No; do not hide in the earth the talent God hath given you." Accordingly, on Tuesday, 25, I spoke clearly and fully at Blendon to Mr. Delamotte's family of the nature and fruits of faith. Mr. Broughton and my brother were there. Mr. Broughton's great objection was he could never think that I had not faith, who had done and suffered such things. My brother was very angry and told me I did not know what mischief I had done by talking thus. And, indeed, it did please God then to kindle a fire, which I trust shall never be extinguished.

On Wednesday, 26, the day fixed for my return to Oxford, I once more waited on the trustees for Georgia; but, being straitened for time, was obliged to leave the papers for them, which I had designed to give into their own hands. One of these was the instrument whereby they had appointed me minister of Savannah; which, having no more place in those parts, I thought it not right to keep any longer.

P. Bohler walked with me a few miles and exhorted me not to stop short of the grace of God. At Gerard's Cross I plainly declared to those whom God gave into my hands the faith as it is in Jesus: as I did next day to a young man I overtook on the road and in the evening to our friends at Oxford. A strange doctrine, which some who did not care to contradict yet knew not what to make of; but one or two, who were thoroughly bruised by sin, willingly heard and received it gladly.

In the day or two following, I was much confirmed in the "truth that is after godliness" by hearing the experiences of Mr. Hutchins, of Pembroke College, and Mrs. Fox: two living witnesses that God can (at least, if He does not always) give that faith whereof cometh salvation in a moment, as lightning falling from heaven.

Monday, May 1.—The return of my brother's illness obliged me again to hasten to London. In the evening I found him at James Hutton's, better as to his health than I expected; but strongly averse to what he called "the new faith."

This evening our little society began, which afterward met in Fetter Lane.

Wednesday, 3.—My brother had a long and particular conversation with Peter Bohler. And it now pleased God to open his eyes so that he also saw clearly what was the nature of that one true living faith, whereby alone, "through grace, we are saved."

Thursday, 4.—Peter Bohler left London in order to embark for Carolina. Oh, what a work hath God begun since his coming into England! Such a one as shall never come to an end till heaven and earth pass away.

Sunday, 7.—I preached at St. Lawrence's in the morning, and afterward at St. Katherine Cree's Church. I was enabled to speak strong words at both; and was therefore the less surprised at being informed that I was not to preach any more in either of those churches.

Sunday, 14.—I preached in the morning at St. Ann's, Aldersgate; and in the afternoon at the Savoy Chapel, free salvation by faith in the blood of Christ. I was quickly apprised that at St. Ann's, likewise, I am to preach no more.

Friday, 19.—My brother had a second return of his pleurisy. A few of us spent Saturday night in prayer. The next day, being Whitsunday, after hearing Dr. Heylyn preach a truly Christian sermon (on "They were all filled with the Holy Ghost." "And so," said he, "may all you be, if it is not your own fault"), and assisting him at the holy communion (his curate being taken ill in the church), I received the surprising news that my brother had found rest to his soul. His bodily strength returned also from that hour. "Who is so great a God as our God?"

I preached at St. John's, Wapping at three and at St. Bennett's, Paul's Wharf, in the evening. At these churches, likewise, I am to preach no more. at St. Antholin's I preached on the Thursday following.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I had continual sorrow and heaviness in my heart.

Wednesday, May 24.—I think it was about five this morning that I opened my Testament on those words, "There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, even that ye should be partakers of the divine nature" [II Peter 1:4]. Just as I went out, I opened it again on those words, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God" [Mark 12:34]. In the afternoon I was asked to go to St. Paul's. The anthem was, "Out of the deep have I called unto Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice. Oh, let Thine ears consider well the voice of my complaint. If Thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who may abide it? For there is mercy with Thee; therefore shalt Thou be feared. O Israel, trust in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his sins."

"I Felt My Heart Strangely Warmed"

In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.

I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me. I then testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart. But it was not long before the enemy suggested, "This cannot be faith; for where is thy joy?" Then was I taught that peace and victory over sin are essential to faith in the Captain of our salvation; but that, as to the transports of joy that usually attend the beginning of it, especially in those who have mourned deeply, God sometimes giveth, sometimes withholdeth, them according to the counsels of His own will.

After my return home, I was much buffeted with temptations, but I cried out, and they fled away. They returned again and again. I as often lifted up my eyes, and He "sent me help from his holy place." And herein I found the difference between this and my former state chiefly consisted. I was striving, yea, fighting with all my might under the law, as well as under grace. But then I was sometimes, if not often, conquered; now, I was always conqueror.

Thursday, 25.—The moment I awakened, "Jesus, Master," was in my heart and in my mouth; and I found all my strength lay in keeping my eye fixed upon Him and my soul waiting on Him continually. Being again at St. Paul's in the afternoon, I could taste the good word of God in the anthem which began, "My song shall be always of the loving-kindness of the Lord: with my mouth will I ever be showing forth thy truth from one generation to another." Yet the enemy injected a fear, "If thou dost believe, why is there not a more sensible change? I answered (yet not I), "That I know not. But, this I know, I have now peace with God.' And I sin not today, and Jesus my Master has forbidden me to take thought for the morrow."

Wednesday, June 7.—I determined, if God should permit, to retire for a short time into Germany. I had fully proposed, before I left Georgia, so to do if it should please God to bring me back to Europe. And I now clearly saw the time was come. My weak mind could not bear to be thus sawn asunder. And I hoped the conversing with those holy men who were themselves living witnesses of the full power of faith, and yet able to bear with those that are weak, would be a means, under God, of so establishing my soul that I might go on from faith to faith, and from "strength to strength."

[The next three months Wesley spent in Germany visiting the Moravians.]

Wesley Preaches in Newgate Gaol

Sunday, September 17. (London).—I began again to declare in my own country the glad tidings of salvation, preaching three times and afterward expounding the Holy Scripture, to a large company in the Minories. On Monday I rejoiced to meet with our little society, which now consisted of thirty-two persons.

The next day I went to the condemned felons in Newgate and offered them free salvation. In the evening I went to a society in Bear Yard and preached repentance and remission of sins. The next evening I spoke the truth in love at a society in Aldersgate Street: some contradicted at first, but not long; nothing but love appeared at our parting.

Friday, November 3.—I preached at St. Antholin's; Sunday, 5, in the morning, at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate; in the afternoon, at Islington; and in the evening, to such a congregation as I never saw before, at St. Clement's, in the Strand. As this was the first time of my preaching here, I suppose it is to be the last.

Sunday, December 3 (Oxford).—I began reading prayers at Bocardo (the city prison), a practice which had been long discontinued. In the afternoon I received a letter, earnestly desired me to publish my account of Georgia; and another, as earnestly dissuading me from it "because it would bring much trouble upon me." I consulted God in His Word, and received two answers: the first, Ezekiel 33:2—6; the other, "Thou therefore endure hardship, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" [II Tim. 2:3].

Tuesday, 5.—I began reading prayers and preaching in Gloucester Green workhouse; and on Thursday, in that belonging to St. Thomas's parish. On both days I preached at the castle. At St. Thomas's was a young woman, raving mad, screaming and tormenting herself continually. I had a strong desire to speak to her. The moment I began she was still. The tears ran down her cheeks all the time I was telling her, "Jesus of Nazareth is able and willing to deliver you."

Monday, 11.—Hearing Mr. Whitefield was arriving from Georgia, I hastened to London from Oxford; and on Tuesday, 12, God gave us once more to take sweet counsel together.

1 I am not sure of this.

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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