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Rioting at Bristol.

fruitfulness, as that exceeds the rocks of Scilly." He rode
straight to Newport, where he "found a little society in
tolerable order." He preached in the market-place to a
large but noisy congregation. He walked to Carisbrook
castle, and tells of the deep well, from which water was then
drawn by an ass sixty years old.

171

Newport was the only place in the island at which Wesley
preached. On July 12, he started thence for Cornwall.
On reaching Bristol, he performed a service worth mentioning.
At the end of May, hundreds of colliers, on account of the
dearness of corn, had risen in riot; had smashed the windows
of the council house; and forcibly boarded a vessel laden
with grain for exportation. They had pelted the constables
and city guards with stones, and committed other outrages,
when a troop of the Scots Greys arrived, who killed four of
the rioters, and took thirty prisoners. At Wesley's coming,
they were still in gaol; and he writes: "July 17.-At their
earnest desire, I preached to the poor colliers confined in
Newgate on account of the late riot. They would not hear
the gospel while they were at liberty.
profit by it now!"

1

God grant they may

He spent three weeks in Cornwall; met the stewards; examined the societies; and told the Methodists of St. Ives, that they must cease smuggling, or he would not visit them again. Here he was seized with illness,-a flux, a continual headache, violent and frequent vomitings, and cramp in his feet and legs. By this he was made a prisoner for a week, when he recommenced preaching, and, on August 21, got back to Bristol.

Kingswood school, as usual, required attention. He writes: Surely the importance of this design is apparent, even from the difficulties that attend it. I have spent more money, and time, and care, on this, than almost any design I ever had; and still it exercises all the patience I have. But it is worth all the labour."

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On September 3, he "began visiting the little societies in Somersetshire and Wiltshire;" and, at Paulton, had an encounter with Stephen Plummer, a quondam Methodist, but

1 London Magazine, 1753.

1753

Age 50

1753 Age 50

now an insane Quaker. Wesley preached, and, as soon as he
had done, Stephen began an outpouring. Wesley listened
for half an hour; but, finding that his old acquaintance was
no nearer the end of his discourse, he rose up to leave. Ste-
phen's "sister then begged him to suspend his oration; on
which he flew into a violent rage, and roared louder and
louder, till an honest man took him in his arms, and gently
removed him." Wesley adds: "What a wise providence was
it, that this poor young man turned Quaker some years before
he ran mad! So the honour of turning his brain now rests
upon them, which otherwise must have fallen upon the Me-
thodists."

Taking the Isle of Wight on his way, Wesley arrived in
London, on October 9.

Almost for the first time, an estrangement now sprang up
between Wesley and his brother. Their friendship, hitherto,
had been of the most tender and confidential kind; but, for
some reason, Charles began to be reserved, and, to some
extent, restive. He was a married man, and had a happy
home; and children were being born, whose claims were
scarcely compatible with the domestic absences occasioned by
his itinerant life. Added to this, Wesley's wife was per-
petually brewing mischief. Towards Charles and his "dear
Sally," she entertained and cherished feelings of strong
aversion, which she was seldom backward to express. All
this may help to explain the following extracts from two
letters, from Wesley to his brother, and dated respectively
October 20, and October 31.

"I came back from Bedford last night. I know not whether it was
your will or no (I believe not), but I am sure it was God's will for you,
to call there. How do you judge whether a thing be God's will or no?
I hope not by inward impressions. Let us walk warily. I have much
constitutional enthusiasm; and you have much more. I give you a
dilemma. Take one side or the other. Either act readily in connection
with me, or never pretend it. Rather disclaim it; and openly avow you
do and will not. By acting in connection with me, I mean, take counsel
with me once or twice a year as to the places where you will labour.
Hear my advice before you fix whether you take it or no.
At present
you are so far from this, that I do not even know when and where you
intend to go. So far are you from following any advice of mine; nay,
even from asking it. And yet I may say, without vanity, that I am a
better judge of this matter than either Lady Huntingdon, Sally, Jones, or

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Wesley and his Friends.

173

any other nay than your own heart, that is, will. You told William
Briggs, that you never declined going to any place because my wife was
there. I am glad of it. If so, I have hope we may sometime spend a little
time together. Why do you omit giving the sacrament in Kingswood?
What is reading prayers at Bristol, in comparison of this? I am sure, in
making this vehement alteration, you never consulted me.
"My love to my sister. Adieu !" 1

His brother was not the only one, among his friends, that
gave Wesley trouble. Hence the following extracts from two
other letters.

"You give five reasons why the Rev. Mr. P—— will come no more among us:-1. 'Because we despise the ministers of the Church of England.' This I flatly deny; I am answering letters this very post, which bitterly blame me for just the contrary. 2. Because so much backbiting is suffered amongst our people.' It is not suffered: all possible means are used, both to prevent and remove it. 3. Because I, who have written so much against hoarding up money, have put out £700 to interest.' I never put sixpence out to interest since I was born; nor had I ever £100 together, my own, since I came into the world. 4. 'Because our lay preachers have told many stories of my brother and me.' If they did, I am sorry for them: when I hear the particulars, I can answer, and perhaps make those ashamed who believed them. 5. 'Because we did not help a friend in distress.' We did help him as far as we were able. You conclude with praying, that 'God would remove pride and malice from amongst us.' Of pride I have too much; of malice I have none : however, the prayer is good, and I thank you for it."

In the other letter, Wesley writes:

"Some time since, I was considering what you said, concerning the want of a plan in our societies. There is a good deal of truth in this remark. Though we have a plan, as to our spiritual economy, it is certain, we have barely the first outlines of a plan with regard to our temporal concerns. The reason is, I had no design for several years, to concern myself with temporals at all; and when I began to do this, it was solely with a view to relieve, not to employ, the poor; except now and then, with respect to a small number; and even this I found was too great a burden for me, as requiring more money, more time, and more thought, than I could possibly spare. I say, than I could possibly spare; for the whole weight lay on me. If I left it to others, it surely came to nothing. They wanted either understanding, or industry, or love, or patience, to bring anything to perfection.

"With regard to myself, you do well to warn me against 'popularity, a thirst of power, and of applause; against envy, producing a seeming contempt for the conveniences or grandeur of this life; against an affected humility; against sparing from myself to give to others, from no other

1 Wesley's Works, vol. xii., pp. 107, 108.

1753 Age 50

1753

Age 50

motive than ostentation.' I am not conscious to myself, that this is my case. However, the warning is always friendly; and it is always seasonable, considering how deceitful my heart is, and how many the enemies that surround me." 1

For months Wesley's health had been feeble and failing. On November 12, he preached at Leigh, in Essex, where he caught cold. On his return to London, two days after, he "had a settled pain in his left breast, a violent cough, and a slow fever." At this period, Dr. John Fothergill, a Quaker, and the son of Yorkshire Quakers, was the most popular of all the metropolitan physicians, and, soon afterwards, attained a practice the profits of which amounted to £7000 a year. Like many of his sect, he had a dash of extravagant eccentricity in his mental constitution; but his heart was benevolent and good. While at Edinburgh, he gave great offence by walking up the High Street, naked to the waist, denouncing God's vengeance on the inhabitants of auld Reekie; but, excepting occasional aberrations of this description, his habits were singularly temperate and discreet; and to him Methodism owes an incalculable debt, for, under God, he saved the life of Methodism's founder in 1753. Wesley writes: "Dr. Fothergill told me plain, I must not stay in town a day longer; adding, 'If anything does thee good, it must be the country air, with rest, asses' milk, and riding daily.""

Accordingly, Wesley was, at once, removed to the country house of his friend, Mr. Ebenezer Blackwell, at Lewisham, where he was kindly tended for the next five weeks. On the evening of his arrival, he wrote his epitaph. "Not knowing," he remarks, "how it might please God to dispose of me, to prevent vile panegyric, I wrote as follows."

Here lieth the Body

of

JOHN WESLEY,

A Brand plucked out of the burning ;

Who died of a Consumption in the Fifty-first Year

of his Age,

not leaving, after his Debts are paid,

Ten Pounds behind him :

Praying,

God be merciful to me, an unprofitable Servant !

He ordered, that this, if any, inscription should be placed on his

tombstone.

1 Whitehead's Life of Wesley, vol. ii., p. 276.

Wesley dangerously ill.

175

The news of Wesley's dangerous illness, caused deep and 1753 wide spread sympathy. Charles Wesley hurried up from Age 50 Bristol, and though, he says, he found his brother considerably better, he was "still in imminent danger, being far gone, and very suddenly, in a consumption." Charles fell on his neck and wept. Wesley requested his wife and his brother to forget their past differences, and to be reconciled to each other. They readily agreed to this; and, for a time, confidence seemed to be restored between Wesley and his brother, and friendship, or something like it, appeared to be created between Charles and Wesley's wife. Charles preached at the Foundery on the power of prayer, and declared it to be his opinion, that, if the life of his brother was prolonged, it would be in answer to the prayer of faith. Whitefield was penetrated with the profoundest sorrow. He was in the west of England at the time, and wrote as follows to his old and faithful friend.

"BRISTOL, December 3, 1753.

"REV. AND VERY DEAR SIR,—If seeing you so weak when leaving London distressed me, the news and prospect of your approaching dissolution have quite weighed me down. I pity myself and the church, but not you. A radiant throne awaits you, and ere long you will enter into your Master's joy. Yonder He stands with a massy crown, ready to put it on your head amidst an admiring throng of saints and angels; but I, poor I, that have been waiting for my dissolution these nineteen years, must be left behind. Well! this is my comfort, it cannot be long ere the chariots will be sent even for worthless me. If prayers can detain them, even you, reverend and very dear sir, shall not leave us yet: but if the decree is gone forth, that you must now fall asleep in Jesus, may He kiss your soul away, and give you to die in the embraces of triumphant love! If in the land of the dying, I hope to pay my last respects to you next week. If not, reverend and very dear sir, F-a-r-e-w-e-l-l! Prae sequar, etsi non passibus æquis. My heart is too big; tears trickle down too fast; and you, I fear, are too weak for me to enlarge. Underneath you may there be Christ's everlasting arms! I commend you to His never failing mercy, and am, reverend and very dear sir, your most affectionate, sympathising, and afflicted younger brother, in the gospel of our common Lord,” "G. WHITEFIELD."

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This is beautiful. Differences of opinion had not been few between Whitefield, and his now, as he thought, dying friend. Only a few months previous to this, Wesley, at the request of

1 Methodist Magazine, 1779, p. 318.

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