ON October 2 1st, 1735, John and Charles Wesley sailed for Georgia. A charter had been obtained from George II. in June, 1732, creating the narrow strip of country between South Carolina and Florida into a British colony. It lay between the river Savannah on the north and the Alabama on the south, with a coast line of rather more than sixty miles. This territory was vested in twenty-one trustees, of whom Colonel (afterwards General) Oglethorpe was the chief. As a member of Parliament, he had interested himself greatly in the sufferings of small debtors, and had obtained a committee to inquire into the state of the prisons. Many unfortunate debtors were thus released. Oglethorpe’s practical sympathy led him to devise some means of support for his new constituency. The colony was thus founded for the benefit of the poor, and he became its governor. Parliament voted io,ooo, the Bank of England 10,000, and before long 36,000 was raised to carry out the work.
In February, 1733, one hundred and twenty emigrants, under the care of Oglethorpe, reached the spot where Savannah now stands. A year later, a party of Protestants, driven out from Salzburg, in Germany, because they had renounced popery, settled in the colony where England had offered them an asylum. Some Scotch Highlanders and Moravians followed. The emigrants with whom the Wesleys sailed were the fifth company that went to find a home in Georgia. Oglethorpe had returned to England after spending a year in the colony, bringing with him some of the Indians of the district, whose visit helped largely to increase public interest in the whole scheme.
Dr. Burton, of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, was one of the trustees for the colony. He was no stranger to the Oxford Methodists, and urged them to undertake a mission to Georgia. Oglethorpe, who had been a friend and correspondent of Samuel Wesley, was also anxious to secure the co-operation of his sons. John Wesley sought advice from his brother Samuel and from William Law. He also went to Manchester to consult his friend Clayton. Thence he travelled to Epworth, to lay his plan before his mother. Her answer was, “Had I twenty sons, I should rejoice if they were all so employed.” Wesley therefore expressed his willingness to undertake the mission on September i 8th. He was sent out by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, who allowed him fifty pounds a year. His motives in accepting this mission were a sincere desire to work out his own salvation and a longing to preach Christ to the Indians. He imagined that the pomp and show of the world could have no place in the wilds of America.
Charles Wesley, much against the will of his brother Samuel, accepted the position of secretary to the Governor. He was ordained just on the eve of the voyage. Benjamin Ingham, at John Wesley’s express request, accompanied the brothers. Charles Delamotte, the son of a Middlesex magistrate, could not bear to be separated from Wesley. His family were greatly opposed to his going out, but at last granted a reluctant consent. These were the four friends who sailed in the Simmonds. At Westminster, on Tuesday afternoon, October 14th, they took boat for Gravesend, where their vessel lay. Dr. Burton, Mr. Morgan, and Mr. James Hutton accompanied them. Charles Morgan was the brother of their early friend who had broken the ice for the Wesleys at Oxford, and induced them to visit the prisoners and the sick. It is pleasant to find him filling his brother’s place in this farewell scene. Mr. Tyerman says that he and Kirkham, after the Oxford days, “drift away into the great ocean of forgetfulness and leave no trace behind them.” Wesley’s journals show, however, that he visited Morgan near Dublin in July, 1769. James Hutton had been introduced to the Wesleys at Oxford, whilst there on a visit. He invited the brothers to stay at his father’s house in Westminster when they came to town. The Huttons lived in College Street, next door to the house in which Samuel Wesley resided whilst usher of Westminster School. When John Wesley came to London, a sermon he preached to the conversion of young Hutton and his sister. James Hutton greatly wished to go to Georgia, but his parents were not willing for him to take a step which would interfere so much with his business prospects. Morgan and Hutton remained at Gravesend on Wednesday and Thursday. Each day the friends received the Lord’s Supper together.
The Sinzmonds lay for a week at Gravesend after the party went on board. Mr. Oglethorpe thoughtfully assigned them two cabins in the forecastle, in order that they might have more privacy. That which the Wesleys occupied was of good size, so that the four friends could comfortably meet together in it to read and pray. They found twenty-six Moravians on board, going out to the colony under the care of David Nitschman, their bishop. As soon as his friends returned to London, John Wesley began to learn German in order to converse with them. The Methodists were now busily employed. They rose at four and went to bed between nine and ten. Every moment of the day was mapped out. The first hour after they rose was given to private prayer; then they read the Scriptures, and compared them with the writings of the primitive Church. Breakfast was ready at seven. Public prayers were at eight. The friends then separated to various studies until noon. John Wesley learnt German. Charles wrote sermons. At twelve they met to pray and devise plans for the good of themselves or their fellow-passengers. Dinner was at one. John Wesley then talked with the passengers about religion until four o’clock, the hour for public prayers. From five to six was spent in retirement. At six, supper was served. John Wesley then read in his cabin to a few of the passengers, and at seven attended the Moravian service. The friends spent another hour together, and then lay down to rest on their mats and blankets. Neither the roaring of the sea nor the motion of the ship could disturb their well-earned rest.! It is evident that the little company of Methodists were as devoted to their work in board ship as at the University.
Besides the crew and the Germans, there were about eighty English passengers on board. The Simmonds was a vessel of two hundred and twenty tons, under the command of Captain Joseph Cornish; the other vessel, the London Merchant, also chartered by the trustees, was about the same size. Her captain was called John Thomas. One of his Majesty’s sloops, the Hawk, Captain ~. Joseph Gascoigne, which had been ordered to proceed to Georgia for the defence of the colony from the Spaniards, sailed with them, but soon parted company under stress of weather. Mr. Oglethorpe was to have sailed in the Hawk, but he preferred to stay with the emigrants. He spared no pains to secure the comfort of his company. When the weather was fine he visited the London Merchant to see that all on board were properly cared for. The. Methodist party dined at Oglethorpe’s table. There were two hundred and twenty-seven passengers in the two ships.
The vessels were detained at Cowes till December ; 10th. Charles Wesley, who was known to the clergyman, preached three or four times in the church during the five weeks spent here. At last they were able to set sail with forty vessels that had been becalmed like themselves. Their voyage was a succession of storms. John Wesley,~ ashamed of his unwillingness to die, asked himself; “How is it thou hast no faith” The good impression already made on his mind by the humility and devotion of the Moravians was increased by their fearlessness in the tempest. He found that they were delivered from the spirit of fear, as well as from pride, anger, and r~e~Wliflit’ they were singing a psalm the sea broke over the vessel split the main sail in piece and poured in between the decks as if the great deep had already swallowed them up. The Germans calmly sang on. Even the women and children were not afraid to die. Their spirit made the deeper impression on Wesley because the English passengers were trembling and screaming with terror. It was too good an opportunity to be lost. He went about among his own countrymen trying to show them the difference between him that beareth God and him that dareth Him not.
On the 5th of February, 1736, the Simmonds sailed into the Savannah river. Next morning, at eight, the emigrants set foot on American soil. Wesley and his friends knelt down with the Governor to thank God for their safety amid all the perils of the sea. Mr. Oglethorpe then took boat for Savannah, leaving the emigrants to assemble on shore and await his return. Next day he was with them again. Mr. Spangenberg, a Moravian minister from Savannah, came with him. Wesley sought his advice about his own work. Spangenberg asked him a few questions. His first inquiry, “Does the Spirit of God bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God” surprised Wesley so that he did not know what to answer. The German observing this, asked, “Do you know Jesus Christ” He paused, and said, “I know He is the Saviour of the world.” “True,” was the reply; “but do you know He has saved you” Wesley answered, “I hope He has died to save me.” Spangenberg only added, “Do you know yourself” Wesley replied, “I do.” “But I fear they were vain words,” is his comment. Wesley’s heart gave to this faithful friend. He made many inquiries about the Moravian Church at Hernhuth, and spent much time in the company of the German settlers.
The scene of Wesley’s ministry was the town of Savannah, which lay on an eminence forty or fifty feet above a bend of the fine river, which at that point was about a thousand feet across. The settlement was a mile and a quarter in circumference. It had forty houses, all of the same size, belonging to the first settlers, and a hundred to a hundred and fifty built more recently, some of which were two or even three stories high. Their planed boards and a coat of paint gave an air of comfort to these homes.* The Court House served as a church. Wesley found Mr. Quincy, the minister whom he was to succeed, still in Savannah, so that he did not get possession of his wooden parsonage until the middle of March. He lived on board the Simmonds for three weeks; then he and Mr. Delamotte lodged with the Germans. During these first weeks Wesley had some pleasant intercourse with the Indians, who gave him a very hearty reception. He hoped that God had a great I work for him to do amongst them.
On Sunday, March 7th, Wesley began his ministry at Savannah by preaching on the Epistle for the day, the thirteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. He described the death-bed of his father at Epworth, and another death-bed which he had seen in Savannah. The people crowded into the church, and listened with deep seriousness and attention to their new pastor. Such was the general interest awakened by his ministry that ten days later a ball arranged by a gentleman had to be given up. The church was full for prayers, whilst the ball-room was almost empty. The influence which he exerted may also be seen from another incident. A lady assured him when he landed that be would see as well-dressed a congregation as most he had seen in London. Wesley found that she was right. He soon began to expound the Scriptures which relate to dress with a forcible application. From that time he saw neither gold nor costly apparel in the church. The ladies of his congregation were generally dressed in plain linen or woollen.t About seven hundred people were under his pastoral care.’ Savannah itself had about 518 inhabitants.t The Parsonage, which comfortably accommodated Wesley and his friends, had many conveniences, with a good garden. Charles Wesley and Ingham went on to Frederic; a hundred miles south of Savannah; John Wesley and Delamotte remained in Savannah. Before the end of the month Wesley had arranged weekly Communion and morning and evening prayers. Delamotte had begun to teach a few orphan children. Their work was interrupted by the arrival of Ingham from Frederica with news of Charles Wesley’s painful situation. Neither the form nor the power of godliness existed among the settlers there. They had slandered Charles Wesley to the Governor, and Mr. Oglethorpe had weakly allowed himself to deal most harshly with his secretary. Charles Wesley was denied even the commonest comforts, and his life was in peril through the malice of his unscrupulous enemies. John Wesley and Delamotte started in haste to Frederica, whilst Ingham remained in charge of the church and school at Savannah. The troubles at Frederica were greatly relieved by this visit, but little could be done in such a soil. By the middle of May business brought Charles Wesley to Savannah, and John took his place for five weeks in Frederica. He laboured with great zeal, but with small success. After Charles Wesley sailed for England in August, 1736, John Wesley spent some days in Frederica. He found less prospect than ever of doing good. Many of the people were “extremely zealous and indefatigably diligent” to hinder the work, and few of those who were of a better mind durst show their feeling for fear of the displeasure of the opponents. He says, “After having beaten the air in this unhappy place for twenty days, on January 26th, 1737, I took my final leave of Frederica. It was not any apprehension of my own danger, though my life had been threatened many times, but an utter despair of doing good there, which made rue content with the thought of seeing it no more.”
Wesley’s labours were now confined to Savannah. He had less prospect than ever of preaching to the Indians, for which purpose alone he had gone to America. The trustees for the colony had appointed him minister of Savannah without his knowledge, but he only consented to hold that post until the way opened for his mission to the heathen. The serious parishioners had importunately urged him to watch over them a little longer till some~ one could supply his place, and he was the more wil1ing to accede to this request because the Indians were engaged in wars, which left them no time, they said, to listen to the Gospel. At the end of February, I7~7, Mr. Ingham started for England to enlist fresh workers~ for the mission. By his hands Wesley forwarded a letter of thanks for the parochial library sent out by Dr. Bray and his associates to Savannah. In it he gives an account of the school which Mr. Delamotte conducted. There were thirty or forty children, who learned to read, write, and cast accounts. Before morning school, and also after the work of the day was over, Delamotte catechised the younger children; in the evening the older scholars were instructed. Mr. Wesley catechised all on Saturday afternoon, and on Sunday before evening service. Immediately after the Second Lesson a select number of the scholars repeated their Catechism in the church. Wesley afterwards explained and applied what had been repeated both to the children and the congregation. Some of the boys in Delamotte’s school were inclined to despise those who came without shoes or stockings. Wesley, therefore, took his friend’s post, and went to his work barefoot. The boys were amazed, but Wesley kept them to their books, and before the end of the week had cured them of their vanity. The pains taken with the children bore good fruit. On Whit Sunday, 1737, four of them, who had been carefully trained every day for several weeks, were admitted to the Communion at their own earnest and repeated desire. Their zeal stirred up many of their companions. The children began to attend more carefully to the teaching, and a remarkable seriousness appeared in their whole behaviour and conversation.
Wesley’s later Sundays in America were full of work. He read prayers in English from five to half-past six, at nine in Italian to a few Vaudois. From half-past ten to half-past twelve he had an English service, with sermon and Communion. At one he held a French service, at two instructed the children, at three read evening prayers. After this Wesley joined with as many as his largest room would hold in reading, prayer, and praise, and at six attended the Moravian service, “not as a teacher, but a learner.” On Saturdays he read prayers in French and German in two neighbouring settlements. In cases of serious illness he visited the sick every day. His work in Savannah won him general respect. He says that he had ease, honour, and abundance—what he neither desired nor expected in America.
A fortnight later the storm began to burst. On Sunday, August 7th, he says, “1 repelled Mrs. Williamson from the Holy Communion.” This lady was the niece of Mr. Causton, the storekeeper and chief magistrate of Savannah. During the voyage to America, Mr. Oglethorpe had been much struck with Wesley’s ability, and felt that if it were not for what he regarded as his religious enthusiasm, he might greatly help him in the colony. He tried, there.. fore, to get Wesley married. Miss Sophia Hopkey, Mr. Causton’s niece, was the lady whom he thought most eligible. She was beautiful, elegant in her manners, and intelligent. Wesley was introduced to her a month after his arrival in Georgia. Miss Hopkey afterwards went to Frederica. John Wesley wrote about her to his brother on March 22nd. “1 conjure you,” he says, “spare no time, no address or pains, to learn the true cause of the former distress of my friend. I much doubt you are in the right. God forbid that she should again, in like manner, miss the mark. Watch over her; help her as much as possible. Write to me how I ought to write to her.” *
When Wesley visited Frederica in October he found that tier religious life had suffered much in that uncongenial place. “Even poor Miss Sophy was scarce the shadow of what she was when I left her. I endeavoured to convince her of it, but in vain; and to put it effectually out of my power so to do, she was resolved to return to England immediately. I was at first a little surprised, but I soon collected my spirits and remembered my calling.” After speaking of his efforts for the people he adds: “My next step was to divert Miss Sophy from the fatal resolution of going to England. After several fruitless attempts I at length prevailed; nor was it long before she recovered the ground she had lost.” The young lady became his comforter when the Governor returned from an expedition and took no notice of Wesley. When he mentioned this to her she sad, “Sir, you encouraged me in my greatest trials; be not discouraged yourself. Fear nothing; if Mr. Oglethorpe V 11 not, God will help you.” Two days later they took boat together for Savannah. They were six days on the way. Mr. Wesley significantly describes it as “a slow and dangerous, but not a tedious passage.”
Miss Sophy took every opportunity of being in Wesley’s company. She begged him to assist her in her French, and when he was laid by with a fever, brought on by his yielding to Oglethorpe’s wish that he should show the people that he did not consider it wrong to eat animal food, she waited on him day and night during his five days’ illness. She consulted Oglethorpe as to the dress which would be most pleasing to the young clergyman, who disliked all gaudy attire. Henceforth she always dressed in white. In December, 1736, Wesley advised her to sup earlier, and not immediately before she went to bed. He says, “She did so, and on this little circumstance what an inconceivable train of circumstances depend I—not only ‘all the colour of my remaining life’ for her, but perhaps all my happiness too, in time and in eternity.” So far all seemed to favour a marriage between Wesley and this young lady. On February 5th, however, difficulties arose. It was not till another month had passed that Wesley became convinced that he ought not to marry Miss Hopkey. His friend, Mr. Delamotte, asked him if he intended to marry her, and plainly showed him the lady’s art and his own simplicity. Delamotte’s suspicions led Wesley to consult the Moravian bishop who had come over in the Simmonds. Bishop Nitschman said that the matter needed to be carefully weighed, but expressed no opinion at the moment. Some time after Wesley resolved to lay the case before the Elders of the Moravian Church. When he entered the house where they were assembled he found Delamotte with them. He explained the purpose for which he had come. The Bishop answered that they had considered his case, anc~ asked whether he would abide by their decision. Wesley, after some hesitation, replied that he would. “Then,” said Nitschman, “we advise you to proceed no further in this business.” Wesley meekly said, “The will of the Lord be done.” He behaved with great caution, though he clearly saw what pain the change in his conduct gave to Miss Hopkey. He determined, by God’s grace, to pull out his “right eye.” But he could not yet find courage for the painful task. The lady, however, helped him. She became engaged to Mr. Williamson, one of the settlers, a young “man of substance,” * on March 8th, and married him four days later. The husband, to quote Wesley’s description, was “not remarkable for handsomeness, neither for greatness, neither for wit, or knowledge, or sense, and least of all for religion.” Wesley made the following entry in his journal: “On Saturday, March 12th, God being very merciful to me, my friend performed what I could not.”
Wesley’s trouble threw fresh light on Ezekiel’s bereavement. He had often thought the command not to mourn or weep at such a loss was one of the most difficult ever given, but he never really understood the difficulty till now, when, “considering the character I bore, I could not but perceive that the word of the Lord was come to me likewise.” Forty-nine years afterwards the sorrow was still fresh in his mind. “I remember when I read these words in the church at Savannah, ‘Son of man, behold, I take from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke,’ I was pierced through as with a sword, and could not utter a word more. But our comfort is, ‘He that made the heart can heal the heart.’” It was a severe trial. Wesley had walked with Mr. Causton to his country lot on March 7th, and plainly felt that if God had given him such a retirement with the companion he desired, he might have forgotten the work for which he was born, and have set up his rest in this world.
Before long he saw that it was well he had not followed his own inclination. Mrs. Williamson was not so pious as he had supposed. On July 3rd he told her of some points in her behaviour which he thought reprehensible. She was extremely angry, said that she did not expect such treatment from him, and at the turn of the street through which they were walking home from the Communion service abruptly left him. Next day Mrs. Causton expressed regret for her niece’s behaviour, and wished to have Wesley’s objections in writing. He furnished these, and also wrote kindly to Mr. Causton. Five weeks later Wesley repelled Mrs. Williamson from the Communion. She had not expressed her regret for the faults which he had pointed out, nor made any promise of amendment. The storm now burst. Up to this time Wesley had worked in Savannah with great success. The people loved him; his services were well attended, and everything prospered. It is not correct to speak of his mission in Georgia as a failure. But all was changed by this faithful exercise of discipline. Mr. Causton was determined to revenge what he regarded as the insult offered to his niece. Wesley refused to answer for his conduct in a purely ecclesiastical matter before a civil court. Nevertheless he was summoned to appear. A grand jury, carefully chosen from those likely to condemn Wesley, found ten bills against him. He was charged with speaking and writing to Mrs. Williamson without her husband’s consent, with repelling her from the Communion, with not declaring his adherence to the Church of England, with dividing the service on Sundays, and with other matters. The first count alone was of a civil nature, and Wesley had a complete answer to that. He had only written once to Mrs. Williamson since her marriage, and that at Mr. Causton’s request, in reference to those things in her conduct which he disapproved. Wesley attended six or seven courts to answer this charge, but his enemies were careful to allow him no opportunity to clear himself. Twelve of the grand jurors who dissented from the finding of the majority sent a statement to the trustees of the colony, in which they clearly answered all the charges. As to repelling Mrs. Williamson, Wesley had often declared in full congregation that, according to the rubric, he required previous notice from any one desiring to communicate. He had actually repelled several persons for non-compliance. The other matters were either misstatements or concerned points entirely outside the province of the grand jury. The protesting minority was composed of three constables, six tithing-men, and three others. If the jury had been constituted, as it ought to have been, of the four constables and eleven tithing-men, no bill could therefore have been found against Wesley. An account of the colony, published in 1741, shows Causton’s tyranny and insolence in a very clear light. He threatened juries, contradicted his colleagues on the bench, and was perfectly intoxicated with power. He was, in fact, a man of no position or character, who had left England because of some charge in connection with the revenue.
When it became clear that he would not be allowed to justify himself, Wesley consulted his friends whether he should not return at once to England. He was not able to preach to the Indians, and felt that he could do Georgia greater service by representing the true state of things to the trustees than by remaining at Savannah. His friends all agreed that he ought to go, but not yet. This was on October 7th. Meanwhile his enemies continued to plot against him. On November 22nd, Mr. Causton went so far as to read some affidavits to Wesley, in which it was stated that he had abused Mr. Causton in his own house, calling him a liar and a villain. All Wesley’s friends now felt that the time for his departure had come. He at once told Mr. Causton that he intended to leave Savannah immediately, and put an advertisement in the Great Square stating that he would shortly sail for England, and asking that those who had borrowed books ‘from him would return them as soon as convenient. On December 2nd, two hours before he was to set out for Carolina, the magistrates sent for him, and told him he must not leave the colony, because he had not answered the allegations. Wesley easily disposed of this frivolous attempt to put him in the wrong, and refused to give bail for his appearance at their court. They then issued an order requiring all officers of the colony to prevent his departure. This step was simply taken to save appearances; the magistrates were only too glad to be relieved of the presence of a faithful reprover whom they could neither silence nor intimidate. As soon as evening prayers were over, about eight o’clock on Friday, December 2nd, 1737, Wesley took boat, with three friends, for Carolina, on his way to England.
Mr. and Mrs. Williamson and their son, who was intended for the Church, are mentioned by a correspondent of the Gentleman’s Magazine, who seems to have met them some years before at their house in Smith Street, Westminster. This writer had gone out to Georgia as a boy in the same ship as Mr. Williamson. He lodged at Mr. Causton’s, attended Wesley’s early morning prayers, and tells us that he himself was not insensible to the beauty and virtues of Miss Hopkey. Wesley had gone out as a missionary, with an allowance of L50 from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. He did not wish to accept even this small amount. He sent the trustees an account of a year’s expenses for Mr. Delamotte and himself; which, deducting extraordinary charges, such as the repairs of the Parsonage and journeys to Frederica, amounted only to 44 4$. 4d. He wished to take nothing more than this, but yielded to the advice of his brother Samuel, who pointed out it might be unjust to his successor to refuse, and that he might give his stipend away as he thought good. During the troubles of his last weeks in Savannah ten pounds arrived from the Vice-Provost of Eton. Wesley says he had been for several months without a shilling in the house, but not without peace, health, and contentment. He had given up animal food and wine before the Simmonds left Gravesend, and had confined himself chiefly to rice and biscuit. This course he followed in Georgia. Oglethorpe, as we have seen, once invited him to dinner, and begged that he would show those who reported that he held it wrong to eat animal food and drink wine that they were mistaken. Wesley complied, and was in consequence seized by a fever, which laid him aside for five days. With this exception he enjoyed splendid health in Georgia. The warm climate entirely cured him of the spitting of blood, which had lasted several years He continued to eat little, and carefully limited his hours of sleep. He was incessantly at work, visiting, preaching, and teaching the children. He took part of the three hundred acres of glebe land at Savannah to form a good garden, and fre quently worked in it with his own hands. During his journeys in the colony he often slept all night in the open air, exposed to all the dews that fell; sometimes he was wet through with dew and rain, but he never took any harm from the exposure. He wore Indian shoes, and slept rolled up in a blanket. Though he travelled through places infested with wild beasts, he would never carry a weapon. He said that he had a cane to try the depth of the rivers through which he had to wade, but would not have a ferrule at the end of it lest it should look like a weapon.t
After a trying journey of ten days, Wesley reached Charlestown. The party lost their way in the woods, and suffered greatly from cold and hunger. Mr. Delamotte, who had joined Wesley on the way, stayed with him some days. He then returned to Savannah. On the 22nd December Wesley went on board the Samuel, Captain Percy, bound for England. One of his parishioners from Savannah, a young gentleman who had been a few months in Carolina, and a Frenchman, sailed with him. At first he suffered much from the motion of the vessel, but a return to his old diet soon relieved him, There were about twenty souls on board. All received Wesley’s counsels kindly. He felt strangely reluctant to speak to them at first, and even went among the sailors for several days intending to do so without being able. At last he took courage, and spoke to every one on board. To the Frenchman, who had no one else with whom he could converse, Wesley read and explained a chapter in the New Testament every morning. He also taught two negroes and instructed the cabin-boy. His leisure was spent in abridging M. de Renty’s life, which he finished on 6th January. The vessel met a hurricane in the middle of the month, but made a good passage. On Wednesday morning, February 1st, 1738, Wesley landed safely at Deal, at half-past four.
This voyage was a time of great heart-searching. On Sunday, January 8th,* Wesley was clearly convinced of unbelief. He had not the faith in Christ that preserves from fear. St. Cyprian’s Works, which he read during his voyage, delivered him from the vain desire of solitude, by which he had long hoped to make himself a Christian. He was still troubled by the fear of death. He had shown his faith by his works, giving all his goods to the poor, and following after charity. But if a storm arose, he began to doubt. What if the Gospel were not true, if all his zeal and suffering had been in vain “I went to America to convert the Indians, but oh! who shall convert me” This was the burden of his soul in the hour when fear of death terrified him. He closes his Georgian journal with that painful summary of the lessons of his mission :—“ 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.” He speaks, as St. Paul spoke to the Corinthians, of his labours and sufferings, but confesses that these did not entitle him to be called a Christian. He had learned in the ends of the earth that he was fallen short of the glory of God. He now desired with all his heart to find that faith which would deliver him from fear and doubt, and bring the sensible assurance of acceptance with God.
The blessing for which Wesley longed was near at hand. We cannot altogether accept his statements in this review of the past. He himself saw things in their true light some years later, when, in republishing his journals, he added four brief notes. “I, who went to America to convert others, was never myself converted to God,” is his statement. His note, “I am not sure of this,” expresses the feeling with which we read his words. “I am a child of wrath,” is his groan on the ocean. “I believe not,” is the later verdict. “I had,” he says, in another note, “even then the faith of a servant, though not that of a son.” The blessing of confidence in God, which he craves, is truly described as “the faith of a son.” Wesley was only able to read his own history aright when all things had become new. He was still in darkness, but yet a few more steps, and he knew the joyful sound, and walked in the light of God’s countenance.
Whitefleld, who landed in Georgia on May 7th, 1738, bears emphatic testimony to the results of his friend’s mission. “The good Mr. John Wesley has done in America is inexpressible. His name is very precious among the people, and he has laid a foundation that I hope neither men nor devils will ever be able to shake. Oh that I may follow him as he has followed Christ.”