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up. But still, there is I know not what in them whom we have known from the beginning, and who have borne the burden and heat of the day, which we do not find in those who have risen up since, though they are of upright heart. Perhaps too, those who have but lately come into the harvest are led to think and speak more largely of justification, and the other first principles of the doctrine of Christ. And it may be proper for them so to do. Yet we find a thirst after something farther. We want to sink deeper and rise higher in the knowledge of God our Saviour. We want all helps for walking closely with Him whom we have received, that we may the more speedily come to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
“Mr. Berridge seems to be one of the most simple, as well as most sensible, men of all whom it pleased God to employ in reviving primitive Christianity. They come now twelve or fourteen miles to hear him. His word is with power : he speaks as plain and home as John Nelson, but with all the propriety of Mr. Romaine, and the tenderness of Mr. Hervey.
“At Colchester, likewise, the word of God has free course-only no house will contain the congregation. On Sunday, I was obliged to preach on St. John's Green ; the people stood on a smooth sloping ground, sheltered by the walls of an old castle, and behaved as men who felt that God was there.
“I am persuaded your ladyship still remembers, in your prayers, your willing servant, for Christ's sake,
“JOHN WESLEY.” I Such was Wesley's critique upon the converted clergymen with whom he had been recently associated. One of them, a young man, died three years after this, and deserves a passing notice.
The Rev. Thomas Jones, A.M., of St. Saviour's, Southwark, was now in the thirtieth year of his
age. Eight years before, he had been converted, and had begun to preach, with great eloquence and power, the truth which he himself had been brought to experience. His health was feeble; but his ministry was mighty. His zeal was greater than his strength, and frequently provoked the opposition of his enemies. He began to read prayers and to expound the Scriptures, in the chapel of an almshouse in his parish; but the chapel was closed against him. He set up a weekly lecture in his church; but, before long, the use of the pulpit, for that purpose, was denied to him. He carried religious
1 “ Life and Times of Lady Huntingdon," vol. i., p. 399.
tracts and books to all his parishioners; and catechized child 1759 ren once a week, in his own private residence. In his thirty- Age 56 third year, a fever seized him ; and, after seven days' illness, he died triumphantly on the 6th of June, 1762, leaving a young widow to bewail her loss. As a preacher, he was too earnest to be polished, and was far more wishful, that his hearers should be benefited by the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, than that they should be merely pleased with the excellency of speech or wisdom. He writes: "I seldom begin to compose my sermons till Saturday in the afternoon, and often not till late in the evening. I have such a variety of business on my hands, that I can never find time to smooth my language, nor to embellish my discourses with pretty conceits, but am obliged to send them abroad into the world in puris naturalibus.”]
The following is an extract from a letter, written to Wesley, by this young clergyman, three weeks after the holding of the intercession meetings in the house of the Countess of Huntingdon.
“CASTLE STREET, SOUTHWARK, March 21, 1759. “DEAR AND HONOURED SIR, I wish I knew how to express the sense I have of your kind and obliging notice of me. I can hardly expect a greater blessing, as to this world, than the offer you make me of your acquaintance. I hope the same gracious Father of all, who has induced you to make the proposal, will also enable you to give me such instructions as my youth and inexperience need. Let me beg all friendly admonition, all brotherly, yea fatherly, freedoms from you. I crave your fervent prayers, that I may be daily more humble, unaffectedly humble, dead to the world and self, and alive unto our dear redeeming God.
“I am, with many thanks, and great respect, dear and honoured sir, your affectionate and obliged brother in Christ Jesus,
“ THOMAS JONES.” 2 On the 6th of March, Wesley came to Norwich, where he continued until April 2. Norwich had become a Methodist station of great importance. Already, Wesley had converted an old foundery into a meeting-house, and now he occupied James Wheatley's chapel. Wheatley's society, once consisting of hundreds of members, had mouldered into nothing.
· See Jones's Works.
1759 Of the fifteen or sixteen hundred persons who had been Age 56 paying seatholders, not one was left; but every one that
pleased went into the seats without any questions asked. “Everything,” says Wesley, “was to be wrought out of the ore, or rather out of the cinders."
Difficulties never discouraged, but rather made Wesley daring. He preached morning and evening in the Foundery; and, in less than a week, gathered a society of one hundred ; and, in less than a month, by one means and another-by the recovery of Wheatley's lost sheep, and by fresh conversionsthat society was increased to nearly six hundred persons; and Wesley believed that, if he could have remained a fortnight longer, it would have become a thousand. He instituted classes, and did his best to discipline the members. At society meetings, he required every one to show his ticket on entering. He insisted, that the men and women should sit apart, a regulation that appeared novel, if not harsh, among those who had been the loving lambs of James Wheatley's flock. He also found that, from the first, it had been a custom, in Wheatley's chapel, to have the galleries full of spectators while the Lord's supper was administered. This he judged to be highly improper; and, therefore, ordered that none should be admitted, but those who desired to communicate. The only concession which he made to existing prejudices was this. He writes : “as a considerable part of them were Dissenters, I desired every one to use what posture he judged best. Had I required them to kneel, probably half would have sat : now all but one kneeled down.” Such was the beginning of Wesley's society at Norwich. It will often require notice in succeeding pages. Wesley wrote as follows to his friend, Mr. Ebenezer Blackwell.
“NORWICH, March 12, 1759. “ DEAR SIR, I know not, if, in all my life, I have had so critical a work on my hands, as that wherein I am now engaged. I am endeavouring to gather up those who were once gathered together, and afterwards scattered, by James Wheatley. I have reunited about seventy of them, and hope this evening to make up a hundred. But many of them have wonderful spirits; having been always accustomed to teach their teachers; so that how they will bear any kind of discipline, I cannot tell.
1 Wesley's Works, vol. xiii., P. 326.
Wesley Journeying to the North.
“At Colchester, the case is far otherwise. About a hundred and sixty simple, upright people are there united together, who are as little children, minding nothing but the salvation of their souls ; only, they are greatly distressed for a larger house. I desired them to look out for a piece of ground. It is true, they are poor enough ; but, if it be God's work, He will provide the means. “I remain, dear sir, your very affectionate servant,
“JOHN WESLEY.” 1
Colchester was evidently a favourite place; but it is only fair to add, that many of the hundred and sixty Methodists were either expelled, or seceding, Dissenters. Some of them had never had the rite of baptism administered ; and it is a fact worth noticing, that, during this very visit, Wesley baptized seven of them, all adults, and two of them by dipping
Having spent a month at Norwich, Wesley, on April 2, set out on his long journey to the north.
At Boston, in Lincolnshire, he found a small society, and a more unawakened and rude congregation than he had seen for years. From Boston, he "rode over the fens, fifteen miles broad, and near thirty miles long," to Coningsby, where he had "a numerous congregation, of a far different spirit.” At Horncastle, he was roughly saluted by a mob. At Grimsby, he preached in the old churchyard; at Epworth, in the new chapel, and in the market-place; and at Selby, in a garden. At York, he opened the new unfinished chapel in Peasholm Green, and visited two prisoners in the castle, "the most commodious prison in Europe.” At Tadcaster, he had a well behaved congregation in a garden. At Stainland, he preached in a handsome chapel, “near the top of a mountain," his friend Grimshaw reading prayers. At Manchester, "wretched magistrates, by refusing to suppress, had encouraged the rioters, and had long occasioned tumults: but some were now of a better spirit.” At Maxfield, "abundance of people ran together, but wild as colts untamed. Before he had done, all but four or five lubberly men seemed almost persuaded to be Christians.” At Stockport, where Methodist meetings were held in a thatched shed
1 Wesley's Works, vol. xii., p. 175.
1759 belonging to William Williamson, Wesley preached on PettyAge 56 car Green, the shed being far too small to contain his con
gregation. The society was small, and could send only half a sovereign as its quarterage to the Manchester circuit meeting; but, soon afterwards, Matthew Mayer and other persons of respectability were converted; and old Hillgate chapel was erected, the pulpit of which James Chadwick carried upon his shoulders, a distance of nine miles, from a place near Altrincham. This humble edifice, without gallery and without pews, was opened by Grimshaw of Haworth; and Methodism in Stockport was permanently founded.
From Stockport, Wesley proceeded to Northwich, Chester, and Mold in Wales. At Liverpool, the congregations were exceeding large ; but many of the people “seemed to be like wild asses' colts." He made his way to Wigan, Bolton, Lancaster, Whitehaven, Cockermouth, Wigton, Dumfries, and Glasgow. At the last mentioned place, he found the little society, which he had formed two years ago, all split to pieces. He tried to reorganise the members, and left about forty, who agreed to meet Mr. Gillies weekly. “If this be done,” says Wesley, "I shall try to see Glasgow again: if not, I can employ my time better."
Leaving Glasgow, he went to Edinburgh, Musselburgh, and Dunbar. At Berwick, he preached to "a drowsy congregation” in the town hall; at Alnwick, in the court house, to a congregation having the power as well as the form of godliness." On reaching Newcastle, June 5, he wrote:
Certainly, if I did not believe there was another world, I should spend all my summers here; as I know no place in Great Britain comparable to it for pleasantness. But I seek another country, and, therefore, am content to be a wanderer upon earth.” Concerning Gateshead, he says: “In earnestness, the colliers of Gateshead utterly shame the colliers of Kingswood; scarce thirty of whom think it worth while to hear the word of God on a weekday, not even when I preach : and here the house will scarce contain the weekday congregation of a local preacher."
It was during this northern visit, that Wesley opened the