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Wesley's first Visit to Norwich.
merely, but for four. With the exception of a single line 1754 being substituted for a plainly ornamented border, the follow- Age 51 ing is a copy :
“To him that overcometh will I grant
On the 8th of July, Wesley, though still in enfeebled health, set out, for the first time, to Norwich, accompanied by his brother, by Charles Perronet, and by Robert Windsor. The whole city was in an uproar respecting the infamous conduct of James Wheatley. The mayor was employed in taking the affidavits of the women whom Wheatley had endeavoured to corrupt. The people were so scandalized and exasperated, that they were ready to rise, and tear the poor wretch to pieces. For four days, the Wesley brothers remained, in retirement, at the residence of Captain Gallatin, transcribing the “Notes on the New Testament.” On the 14th, Charles ventured to preach in the open street, and the congregation was "tolerably quiet, all things considered.” Five days later, his brother returned to London-being so seriously unwell as to necessitate his again taking the advice of Dr. Fothergill. Charles continued at Norwich some weeks longer. His congregations became large; and, on one occasion, he had three magistrates and nine clergymen among his auditors. He received the sacrament from the hands of the bishop; and took a lease for seven years, of a large old brewhouse, to serve as a place for preaching. A little society of eighteen members was instituted. Wheatley's people were furious and abusive. The city swarmed with papists, antinomians, and Socinians. The opposition was fierce, and, in some instances, brutal; but Charles Wesley was thoroughly aroused; became
as courageous as ever; and preached with amazing power, and with great success. Methodism was now fairly started in the city of Norwich,
On his return to London, Wesley was ordered, by Dr. Fothergill, to repair to the Hotwells, at Bristol, without delay. He did so; but such was his restless activity, that, within three weeks, he started on a preaching tour to Taunton, Tiverton, and other places. On September 5, he held the quarterly meeting of the Cornish stewards at Launceston. At Plymouth, he preached in the new chapel, recently erected, but which, though three or four times the size of the old one, was not large enough to contain the congregation. On September 10, he got back to Bristol,
at least as well as when” he left it. In eight days, he had preached eight times, besides travelling, visiting, and meeting his societies.
He now spent three weeks more at Bristol, during which he opened the first Methodist chapel at Trowbridge, a chapel built by Lawrence Oliphant, who, while a soldier, had been converted under the preaching of John Haime, in Flanders. Wesley writes: “September 17.-I rode to Trowbridge, where one who found peace with God while he was a soldier in Flanders, and has been much prospered in business since his discharge, has built a preaching house at his own expense. He had a great desire that I should be the first who preached in it; but, before I had finished the hymn, it was so crowded, and consequently so hot, that I was obliged to go out and stand at the door ; there was a multitude of hearers, rich and poor.”
About the time that Wesley preached at the opening of Trowbridge chapel, Samuel Bowden, M.D., bespattered the Wiltshire Methodists by the publication of a satirical poem, entitled “The Mechanic Inspired ; or, the Methodist's Welcome to Frome," dedicated to Lord Viscount Dungarvan. A few of the first lines of this scurrilous production will suffice as a specimen of all the rest :
“Ye vagabond Levites, who ramble about,
To gull with your priestcraft an ignorant rout,
The dupes of sly, Romish, itinerant liars,
With holy grimace, and sanctified sob.” 1
On September 27, Wesley thought he "had strength enough to keep a watchnight, which he had not done before for eleven months;" but, at eleven o'clock, he almost lost his voice ; and, the next evening, at Weavers' Hall, Bristol, it entirely failed. He now set out for London, halting at Salisbury on the way. While here, he walked to Old Sarum, "which," says he, "in spite of common sense, without house or inhabitants, still sends two members to the parliament.”
On October 4, he arrived in London, where he seems to have continued during the remainder of the year. It was a year of great feebleness and affliction ; but Wesley, though an invalid, crowded into it as much work as would have been done by any ordinary man in the best of health. What were the works he published ?
1. “An Extract of the Rev. John Wesley's Journal, from November 25, 1746, to July 20, 1749." 12mo, 139pages.
2. “An Answer to all which the Rev. Dr. Gill has printed on the Final Perseverance of the Saints." 12mo, 12 pages.
This is a poem of thirty-seven stanzas of eight lines each, many of which are scorchingly sarcastic. The tract is now extremely scarce, and hence we give the following lengthened quotations. The devil, addressing the elect, is made to say
“God is unchangeable,
And therefore so are you,
Who once His goodness knew.
You cannot wholly fall,
Like non-elected Paul.
1 " Methodism in Frome," p. 11.
Though you continue not,
Yet God remains the same,
Your everlasting name.
God's threatenings all are vain,
You fancy them sincere;
And cast away your fear.
To frighten you from ill,
The reprobate to feel.
Who never came to God,
From grace, who never stood.
He shuts His mercy's door,
Threatens to love no more.
The grace they did not share,
That ne'er were written there.
Cast all your fears away,
My son, be of good cheer,
For you must persevere.
And tell it it might fall ?
And sin and forfeit all ?
What naughty men be they,
To take the children's bread,
And force them to take heed !
And did they make it weep?
Thy sorrows all to sleep.
Wesley's Publications in 1754.
They shall not vex it so,
By bidding it take heed;
Still bowing down your head.
My other gospel own,
And all the work is done.”
3. During the year 1754, Wesley also published eight additional volumes of his "Christian Library," from Vol. XXXIV. to Vol. XLI, inclusive, and containing invaluable extracts from the works of Dr. Goodman, Archbishop Leighton, Dr. Isaac Barrow, Dr. Samuel Annesley, Dr. Henry More, Dr. Stephen Charnock, Dr. Edmund Calamy, Dr. Richard Lucas, Bishop Reynolds, Richard Baxter, Madame Bourignon, and others.