WESLEY read prayers and expounded a portion of Scripture to a large company at Deal before he set out for London. He reached “Feversham” on the same evening. He now caught his first glimpse of English life after his absence in America, and of the need for a great revival of true religion in his native land. “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 behaviour than the wildest Indians I have yet met with.” He expected a cold reception from Mr. Delamotte’s family at Blendon, but he no sooner mentioned his name than their welcome constrained him to say, “Surely God is in this place, and I knew it not!” His brother Charles, who had been in England for fourteen months, had prepared the way for him here. Mrs. Delamotte and her whole family had been won over. She had been indignant with the Wesleys because her son Charles had gone with them to Georgia, but some weeks before Wesley’s visit she had acknowledged that she loved her son too well. From that time her behaviour to Charles Wesley was entirely changed.
In the evening of Friday, February 3rd, 1738, Wesley was again in London. None of his friends knew of his return. When his brother Charles was told, on the Friday afternoon, that John had come back, he could not believe it till he saw him. They met that night, when Charles learned the deplorable state of the colony. Mr. Oglethorpe, who was in England, was evidently annoyed by the unvarnished account which Wesley gave to the Board of Management. The trustees themselves were surprised to hear such news, and to learn how scanty the population was. Wesley said that he had reason to believe that some of them had not forgiven him for his statements. Mr. Oglethorpe told Charles that his brother must take care, as there was a strong spirit raised against him, and people said he had come over to do mischief to the colony. Wesley’s sole purpose, of course, was to help the settlers, and he was not the man to hide any of the facts. In October the trustees removed Causton from all his offices, and refused to accept his accounts as correct.
More important events now claim attention. Among the reasons to bless God which Wesley mentions in connection with his mission to Georgia was his introduction to many members of the Moravian Church at Hernhuth, and the fact that he had learned German, Spanish, and Italian, so that his “passage was opened to the writings of holy men” in those languages. The day before he gave the trustees of Georgia an account of the colony, he met, at the house of a Dutch merchant, Mr. Weinant, Peter Bhler and two friends who had just landed from Germany. When Wesley found that they had no friends in London, he secured them lodgings near Mr. Hutton’s, in Westminster, where he generally stayed whilst in London. From that time he lost no opportunity of conversing with them. Bhler was twenty-five years old. He had studied theology at the University of Jena, and had just been ordained by Zinzendorf for work in Carolina. On February 17th the Wesleys travelled to Oxford with their new friend. Wesley talked much with him, but did not understand his views, and was greatly puzzled when Bhler said, “My brother, my brother, that philosophy of yours must be purged away.” Bhler, in a letter to Count Zinzendorf, gives his impressions of his new friends: “I travelled with the two brothers, John and Charles Wesley, from London to Oxford. The elder, John, is a good natured man; he knew he did not properly believe on the Saviour, and was willing to be taught. His brother, with whom you often conversed a year ago, is at present very much distressed in his mind, but does not know how he shall begin to be acquainted with the Saviour. Our mode of believing in the Saviour is so easy to Englishmen that they cannot reconcile themselves to it; if it were a little more artful, they would much sooner find their way into it.”
Wesley spent a couple of days at Oxford, where he preached at the Castle on Sunday to a numerous and serious congregation. Then he returned to London. Ten days later he saw his mother once more at Salisbury. He was just ready to start for Tiverton to visit his eldest brother, when he received a message that Charles was dying at Oxford. He set out without delay, but found, to his great relief that the danger was past. By this means he renewed his intercourse with Bhler, who was still at Oxford, and had been at Charles Wesley’s side in his illness. “By him,” he says, “(in the hand of the great God), I was, on Sunday, the 5th” (March, 1738), “clearly convinced of unbelief of the want of that faith whereby alone we are saved.” Wesley immediately concluded that he was unfit to preach. He consulted Bhler, who urged him to go on. “But what can I preach” said Wesley. “Preach faith till you have it,” said his friend “and then, because you have it, you will preach faith.” This sound advice Wesley followed. It is interesting to know that the first person to whom he offered salvation by faith was a prisoner who lay under sentence of death at the Castle. Here, in the place to which his friend Morgan had introduced him more than seven years before, he began his work as a preacher of the righteousness of faith. The incident is the more remarkable because Bhler had many times asked Wesley to speak to this man, but he had refused because he was a zealous assertor of the impossibility of a death-bed repentance. Wesley’s prejudices were yielding at last.
A short journey to Manchester, which he took in the middle of March with his friend Mr. Kinchin, Dean and Fellow of Corpus Christi College, another Oxford Methodist, shows how carefully he embraced every opportunity of doing good. All hearts seemed to open to him and his friend. They had prayer at the inns, and spoke to the servants as well as to those whom they met on their journey, with the happiest effect. Peter Bhler had returned from London when they again reached Oxford. He amazed Wesley more and more by his description of the holiness and happiness which are the fruits of living faith. Wesley began to read the Greek Testament again that he might judge whether this teaching was of God. He and Mr. Kinchin visited the condemned prisoner. They prayed with him, first using several forms of prayer, and “then in such words as were given” them at the moment. The man, who had knelt down in great heaviness, rose up after a time, saying eagerly, “I am now ready to die. I know Christ has taken away my sins; and there is no more condemnation for me.” Soon afterwards he died in perfect peace, up to this time, in every religious Society he visited, Wesley had been accustomed to use a collect or two, then the Lord’s Prayer. Afterwards he expounded a chapter in the New Testament, and concluded with three or four collects and a psalm. On the Saturday after the scene in the Castle, his heart was so full in a meeting of Mr. Fox’s Society that he could not confine himself to the forms of prayer generally used. “Neither do I purpose,” he adds, “to be confined to them any more, but to pray indifferently, with a form or without, as I may find suitable to different occasions.” This marks a notable step in Wesley’s preparation for his evangelistic work.
Before the end of April he was convinced that Bhler’s views on the nature and fruits of faith were truly Scriptural. As yet he could not understand how it could be instantaneous, but, to his astonishment, the Acts of the Apostles showed that nearly all the conversions there described were instantaneous. He was ready to conclude that such wonders were only wrought in the first ages of Christianity, but the testimony of several living witnesses taught him that God still wrought thus in many hearts. “Here ended my disputing,” he says; “ I could now only cry out, ‘Lord, help Thou my unbelief ! “ Wesley found his friends as much prejudiced against instantaneous conversions as he himself had been. When he spoke on the subject at Blendon, Charles Wesley was very angry, and told him he did not know what mischief he had done by talking thus. Both of the brothers refer to the conversation in their journals. Charles says, “We sang, and fell into a dispute whether conversion was gradual or instantaneous. My brother was very positive for the latter, and very shocking: mentioned some late instances of gross sinners believing in a moment. I was much offended at his worse than unedifying discourse. Mrs. Delamotte left us abruptly. I stayed, and insisted, a man need not know when first he had faith. His obstinacy in favouring the contrary opinion drove me at last out of the room. Mr. Broughton was only not so much scandalised as myself.” Wesley had struggled too long with his own doubts to be impatient with those who had not yet reached the same position as himself. He adds to his own account of his brother’s indignation at this discussion the significant words, “And, indeed, it did please God then to kindle a fire, which, I trust, shall never be extinguished.”
Wesley was recalled from Oxford on the 1st of May by the return of his brother’s illness. He found Charles at the house of James Hutton, near Temple Bar. Here, on the same evening, a little Society, formed by the advice of Bhler, met for the first time. It was afterwards transferred to Fetter Lane. The Wesleys were closely associated with it until the excesses of the Moravian teachers compelled them to withdraw. The friends agreed to meet every week, to form themselves into bands of five to ten members, and to speak freely to each other about their religious life. The bands were to have a general meeting every Wednesday evening, and a lovefeast once a month on a Sunday evening from seven to ten. All who wished to join the Society were to remain on trial for two months. Two days after the Society was formed Charles Wesley was convinced by a long and particular conversation with Bhler of the true nature of evangelical faith. Next day this friend, who had been so greatly blessed to the brothers, embarked for Carolina. Wesley says, "Oh, what a work hath God begun since his coming into England, such an one as shall never come to an end till heaven and earth pass away !"
The brothers were now resolutely seeking after this living faith. Their friend Mr. Stonehouse, the Vicar of Islington, was also convinced of the truth. On Whit-Sunday, rather more than a fortnight after Bhler left London, Charles Wesley found the joy and peace he sought. He was suffering from another attack of his pleurisy. Just as he was . about to remove from James Hutton’s to his father’s, Mr. Bray, “a poor, ignorant mechanic,” who knew nothing but Christ, came to see him. Charles felt that he was sent to supply Bohler's place, and removed to his house in Little Britain instead of going to Westminster. Here he found peace. John Wesley and some friends had visited him on the morning of Whit-Sunday, and had sung a hymn to the Holy Ghost. Afterwards John went to hear Dr. Heylyn, the popular Rector of St. Mary-ic-Strand. He was well known to the Doctor, in concert with whom it had been arranged that he should prepare an edition of A Kempis. His friend and counsellor, William Law, had also been Heylyn’s curate in the days when he was such “a gay parson that Dr. Heylyn said his book” (“ The Serious Call“) “would have been better if he had travelled that way himself.” * Wesley assisted the Doctor with the Communion, as his curate was taken ill in the church. After this service he heard the surprising news that his brother had found rest to his soul.
Wesley remained in much heaviness until the following Wednesday, May 24th, 1738. At five that morning he opened his Testament on the words, “There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises.” In the afternoon some one asked him to go to St. Paul’s. The anthem was, “Out of the deep have I called unto Thee, 0 Lord. . . . 0 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.”
That evening he went very unwillingly to a Society in Aldersgate Street where some 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.” Wesley at once began to pray earnestly for his enemies, and publicly testified to all present what he now felt. He was much tempted when he returned home, but when he prayed the temptations fled. He soon found how different they were from his former struggles. Then he was sometimes, if not often, conquered; now he was always conqueror.
Charles Wesley’s journal gives us a happy description of this memorable night: “Towards ten, my brother was brought in triumph by a troop of our friends, and declared, ‘I believe.’ We sang the hymn with great joy, and parted with prayer.” “The hymn” was one Charles Wesley had composed the previous day on his own conversion. He had laid it aside for fear of pride, but resumed it when Mr. Bray encouraged him “to proceed, in spite of Satan.” Now the brothers were able to sing it together.
Oh, how shall I the goodness tell,
Father, which Thou to me hast showed
That I, a child of wrath and hell,
I should be called a child of God,
Should know, should feel, my sins forgiven,
Blest with this antepast of heaven! *
The position which Wesley now took up gave no small scandal to some of his old friends. The Huttons, of Westminster, and his brother Samuel were especially troubled. Mrs. Hutton wrote to Samuel Wesley at Tiverton within a fortnight after the memorable scene at Aldersgate Street. Whilst her husband was reading a sermon of Bishop Blackall’s to one of the religious Societies of the time assembled in his study, Wesley stood up and startled them by the statement that five days before he was not a Christian. Mr. Hutton answered, “Have a care, Mr. Wesley, how you despise the benefits received by the two Sacraments.” Mrs. Hutton was not in the study at the time. Wesley, however, repeated his statement in the parlour, where they met for supper. Mrs. Hutton then said, “If you have not been a Christian ever since I knew you, you have been a great hypocrite, for you made us all believe that you were one.” Wesley explained his meaning. “When we renounce everything but faith and get into Christ, then, and not till then, have we any reason to believe that we are Christians.” The Huttons were in the parlour, with their son and daughter, their niece, two or three ladies who boarded at the house, two or three of Wesley’s “deluded followers,” and two or three gentlemen who knew Wesley, but did not yet share “his notions.” Mrs. Hutton dreaded the effect on her own children, who reverenced Wesley so greatly. She calls him “my son’s pope.”
Though Wesley had now attained to the righteousness of faith, his mind was not fully at rest. He was often in heaviness through manifold temptation, and was not a little perplexed by the conflicting counsels of his friends. At last he made up his mind to visit the Moravian settlement at Hernhuth. He had fully resolved on this journey before he left Georgia, and had written to Count Zinzendorf. He now saw that the time for his visit 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.” Three weeks after his “conversion” he sailed from Gravesend to Rotterdam.
Before describing this interesting visit it is necessary to speak of Wesley’s correspondence with his friend and adviser William Law. He met with Law’s “Christian Perfection” soon after he became Fellow of Lincoln College, and when the “Serious Call” was published it exercised a powerful influence on his mind. He had already determined to live a religious life. He was much offended by several things in Law’s books, and “had objections to almost every page,” * but they convinced him more than ever of the exceeding height, breadth, and depth of the law of God. The light flowed in upon his soul so mightily that everything appeared in a new aspect, and he determined to keep all the commandments of God.t He paid several visits to Mr. Law at Putney, and in 1734 consulted him about one of his pupils, who had lost all relish for religious duties.
After Peter BOhler left London Wesley wrote to Mr. Law. He had been trying for twelve years to order his life according to the “Serious Call ;“ for two years he had regularly preached after the model of Law’s books. Now that the light had come, he naturally remembered his master. On May 14th, 1738, he wrote a letter in which he explained to Mr. Law how his teaching had broken down in practice. Both he and his hearers acknowledged that the Law was wonderful, but all were convinced that it was impossible to make it the rule of life. Wesley adds, “Under this heavy yoke I might have groaned till death had not a holy man, to whom God lately directed me, upon my complaining thereof; answered at once, ‘Believe, and thou shalt be saved.” He inquires why Mr. Law did not give him this advice, and beseeches him to consider whether the true reason was not that he did not possess this faith himself:
The last paragraph of the letter might have been softened with advantage, but Wesley would not have felt justified without speaking plainly. “Once more, sir, let me beg you to consider whether your extreme roughness and morose and sour behaviour, at least on many occasions, can possibly be the fruit of a living faith in Christ If not, may the God of peace and love fill up what is yet wanting in you.” Mr. Overton, Law’s biographer, says that “there was an asperity of manner, a curtness of expression, an impatience of everything that appeared to him absurd and unreasonable,. . . which made most men with whom he came into contact rather afraid of him.” So much for the truth and meaning of the charge. There is nothing in this letter that is inconsistent with Wesley’s high esteem for the man who had so greatly influenced his religious life and character. The utmost that can be said is that it is very plain speaking. But that was characteristic of Wesley, and surely twelve years of bondage to form may justify such freedom, quite apart from the more important fact that Wesley had learned the way of faith, to which he feared that his friend was still a stranger.
Law replied on May 19th. He reminds Wesley that he himself had prepared a translation of A Kempis, and asks that the fault of not leading him to faith may be divided between them, He satisfactorily explains his conversation with Bohler, to which Wesley had referred. He reminds Wesley that he had put the “Theologia Ger manica” into his hands, and if that book did not plainly lead to Christ, he “was content to know as little of Christianity” as Wesley was pleased to believe. This letter has been described as a triumphant answer, which clearly proves that Wesley was no match for his distinguished correspondent. But whatever Law may have felt about Christianity, he had not guided the Wesleys into the way of faith. They were groaning under the yoke till BOhler was sent to lead them into peace. That fact remains, and Law’s letter did not shake Wesley’s position. Wesley was far too able a reasoner to lose sight of the essential point. Hence his answer to Mr. Law, which must be acknowledged to be a complete reply. He carefully separates all extraneous questions, and quietly holds Mr. Law to the main issue, that he had not done anything to lead him to grasp that great truth “He is our propitiation, through faith in His blood.” This letter is so important that .a facsimile is given of the draft copy which afterwards came into the hands of the Rev. Henry Moore. The corrections show with what care Wesley prepared his reply.
Mr. Law wrote another letter, but it calls for no special comment. Law protested against any attempt to make him responsible for defects in Wesley’s knowledge. His impression of Wesley is interesting. “You seemed to me to be of a very inquisitive nature, and much inclined to meditation.” For this reason he had put the “Theologia Germanica” into his hands. Charles Wesley’s journal for 1739 describes an interesting visit which he paid to Law, with his friend John Bray. Law was sorry that the Methodists had not been dispersed into livings where they might have leavened the Church. Charles Wesley told him his experience. “‘Then am I,’ said he, ‘far below you (if you are right), not worthy to bear your shoes.’ He agreed to our notion of faith, but would have it that all men held it; was fully against the laymen’s expounding, as the very worst thing, both for themselves and others. I told him he was my schoolmaster to bring me to Christ; but the reason why I did not come sooner to Him was my seeking to be sanctified before I was justified. . . . Joy in the Holy Ghost, he told us, was the most dangerous thing God could give. I replied, ‘But cannot God guard His own gifts’ He often disclaimed advising, ‘seeing we had the Spirit of God,’ but mended upon our hands, and at last came almost quite over.” This is a pleasant sequel to the correspondence.
In 1756 Wesley published “An Extract of a Letter to the Rev. Mr. Law.” This was occasioned by some of Law’s later writings, which Wesley thought erroneous and likely to lead many astray. This has been described as an “angry pamphlet,” as his first letter to Law has been called an “angry letter.”t Anger is far enough from both. They are calm and dispassionate throughout. Law describes it as “a juvenile composition of emptiness and pertness, below the character of any man who had been serious in religion but half a month.” The pamphlet can be found in Wesley’s Works,t and every one may judge how far these strictures are deserved. Wesley quietly comments on various passages from Law’s writings. “I have now, sir, delivered my own soul; and I have used great plainness of speech, such as I could not have prevailed on myself to use to one whom I so much respect on any other occasion.” This is a fair description of a calm, well-reasoned treatise, which, notwithstanding Law’s strictures on its emptiness and pertness, clearly shows what a blow that eminent writer had struck at the roots of all vital Christianity by his perilous Mysticism. Dr. Byrom, Law’s devout disciple, who was also the friend of Wesley, notes in his journal, that he urged Wesley “to repent of that wicked letter.” Wesley stayed with his old friend a considerable time, and talked very freely with him, but Byrom was only able to prevail upon him to say that if he published a second edition of the letter, “he would soften some expressions in it.” Two years later, in April, 1761, when Wesley was again in Manchester, Byrom returned to the subject, but could not bring Wesley to say anything more about this tract than he did on his previous visit. He added, “I do not treat him” (Law) “with contempt, as he does me.” Mr. Overton t does ample justice to Wesley’s position in this publication. He says, “The letter was not ‘wicked,’ nor ‘unchristian,’ nor ‘ungentlemanly,’ nor did it deserve the entire obliteration which Byrom suggested. The question with him would be, Is such teaching likely to do my people practical harm And remembering that he had seen what had been the practical effect of the sort of diluted Mysticism of the London Moravians upon his people, we can hardly wonder that he concluded that arm would be done. Hence this well-meant, if not very judicious attempt to counteract the evil.”
Wesley had taught his people to read Law’s “Serious Call “and his “Christian Perfection.” He often referred to Law in the highest terms, as “that strong and elegant writer,” “that great man,” etc. In his sermon “On a Single Eye,” he spoke of the “Serious Call” as “a treatise which will hardly be excelled, if it be equalled, in the English tongue, either for beauty of expression or for justness and depth of thought.” These words were spoken only eighteen months before Wesley’s death. His brother Charles used to call Law “our John the Baptist.” He shut the brothers up under “the law of commandments contained in ordinances” till they groaned for deliverance. Many painful years might have been spared them had he acted the part of Peter BOhler, and led them to rest on the atonement of Christ for salvation. The Wesleys had a strong case against him in this respect, and John Wesley stated it fairly, with a sincere desire for the best interests of a man whom he never ceased to love and honour. His pamphlet supplied the people whom Wesley had taught to read his earlier books with a much-needed antidote to Law’s later views.
Wesley’s visit to the Moravian settlement of Hernhuth, on the borders of Bohemia, in 1738 gave him confidence in the teaching by which he had gained peace of mind and heart. Continental travelling was not very pleasant in those days. At Goudart several inns refused to entertain the party. With much difficulty they “at last found one, where they did us the favour to take our money for some meat and drink and the use of two or three bad beds.” Ingham, Wesley’s companion in Georgia, was with him. There were three other English travellers and three Germans. At Frankfort Wesley had a pleasant interview with Peter BOhler’s father. At Marienborn he found Count Zinzendorf, who had hired a large house, where about ninety people of different nationalities lived together. Wesley lodged with one of the members of this community a mile from Marienborn. He had come to seek living proofs of the power of faith; people saved from inward and outward sin by “the love of God shed abroad in their hearts,” and from all doubt and fear by the abiding witness of “the Holy Ghost given unto them.” These witnesses he now constantly met with. He usually spent the day in talking with those who could either speak Latin or English, as he could not converse easily in German. He stayed a fortnight, heard Zinzendorf preach, and attended a conference where the Count spoke largely on justification and its fruits.
On August 1st, after a journey which illustrates the annoyances to which travellers on the Continent were exposed in those days, Wesley reached the Moravian settlement. Hernhuth lay about thirty miles from Dresden, on the border of Bohemia. About a hundred houses stood on some rising ground, with high hills at a distance. There were evergreen woods on two sides, gardens and cornfields on the others. The settlement was on the highway from Zittau to Lbau. The Orphan House stood in the middle of the one long street, an apothecary’s shop below, a chapel, which would seat about six hundred people, above. At a small distance from either end of the Orphan House ran a row of houses, forming two squares. The Count’s house was a small plain building, like the rest, with a large garden, in which vegetables and fruit were grown for the common use.
Wesley and his friends had a convenient lodging assigned them in the house for strangers. He found a Mr. Hermsdorf, whom he had often talked with in Georgia; and this friend did everything in his power to make the visit useful and agreeable. Wesley zealously attended public services, lovefeasts, and conferences. Christian David, the founder of the Church at Hernhuth, came two days after Wesley reached the place. He had been converted from Popery, and had preached far and wide throughout Moravia, till his name was a household word. When persecution arose his converts found a retreat at Hernhuth. David was only a carpenter, but he was a man of great devotion and spiritual insight. Wesley heard him preach four times. Each time he chose just the topic that the English visitor would have desired him to choose. The abstract of these discourses in the journals shows with what care Wesley weighed his teaching. Christian David gave him a clear and full account of his own life and of the founding of the settlement at Hernhuth. These particulars, with the experience of other members of the community and a description of its discipline and constitution, will be found at length in Wesley’s second journal. He was greatly refreshed in spirit by his sojourn at Marienborn and Hernhuth. So many living witnesses to the reality of saving faith inspired him with confidence. He could doubt no more. “I would gladly have spent my life here,” be says; “but my Master calling me to labour in another part of His vineyard, on Monday, 14th, I was constrained to take my leave of this happy place; Martin DOber, and a few others of the brethren, walking with us about an hour. Oh, when shall THIS Christianity cover the earth, as the ‘waters cover the sea’”
Wesley reached London on Saturday night, September 16th, 1738, a month after he left Hernhuth. He had been absent from England three months. On Sunday he says, “I began to declare in my own country the glad tidings of salvation, preaching three times, and afterwards expounding the Scripture to a large company in the Minories.” This was at the house of Mr. Sims, where Charles Wesley had preached the two previous Sunday evenings, the first time to two hundred, and the next to three hundred hearers. The brothers met each other on the night of John’s arrival. “We took sweet counsel together,” Charles says, “comparing our experiences.” Next night also he writes, “My brother entertained us with his Moravian experiences.” Charles also had much to tell. Mrs. Delamotte and her son William, who had been greatly prejudiced against the new teaching, had now received it to their own salvation. He was able to speak of Jack Delamotte, the first convert of the hymnology of the revival. In singing “Who for me, for me, hast died,” he had found the words sink into his soul, and could have sung for ever, being full of delight and joy. Charles returned from Blendon in June, rejoicing that seven souls had been led to Christ by his ministry. His visits to Newgate and the hour spent under the gallows at Tyburn, which he describes as the most blessed hour of his life, all showed John what a work God had already begun. Nor was he without a share in the harvest. At Blendon, whilst Charles was reading his brother’s sermon on faith, the gardener found that blessing. Next evening, when he read it again at the house of Mr. Piers, the Vicar of Bexley, “God set His seal to the truth of it, by sending His Spirit upon Mr. Searl and a maidservant, purifying their hearts by faith.” Such facts show how the brothers must have rejoiced together. John had come from Germany, laden with testimonies to the power of grace. Charles had been reaping in English homes and in Englisn prisons the success which showed that the fields were White already to harvest.
The next six months were spent between London and Oxford, with one visit to Bristol. Wesley preached in all churches that were open to him, and in various “Societies.” He visited Newgate and the Castle and city prisons at Oxford. He lost no opportunity of doing good. The journals show that Wesley’s mind was not yet fully established in the faith. Charles Delamotte, his old companion in Georgia, troubled him not a little. He stayed with Wesley at Oxford four or five days, and told his friend that he was still trusting in his own works, and did not believe in Christ. Wesley begged of God an answer of peace, and opened on those words, “As many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.”
On the threshold of the Great Revival, a few words may be devoted to its special teaching. Throughout life Wesley was faithful to all the doctrines of the Reformation and the English Church. Repentance for sin, justification by faith, and holiness of heart and life were the constant themes of his ministry and his writings. His long bondage to doubt made him careful to show the way of acceptance. The doctrine of assurance, on which he laid such stress, appears in an alluring light in his brother’s hymns and in his own sermons. Wesley rendered inestimable service by bringing out into clear Light the blessed truth that no Christian need walk in darkness, but may rejoice in the assurance of acceptance with God. Entire sanctification was set in its proper light as the goal towards which every Christian should press. Wesley fixed no time and prescribed no methods for this work. He was content to urge his people to grow in grace, and to strive to gain all tne mind that was in Christ.
The opening paragraphs of his “Earnest Appeal to Men )f Reason and Religion” are perhaps the finest epitome of the ruling purpose of the Great Revival. The lifeless, formal religion of the time was a sad contrast to that religion of love which they had found. The love of God and all mankind “we believe to be the medicine of life, the never-failing remedy for all the evils of a disordered world, for all the miseries and vices of men. Wherever this is, there are virtue and happiness going hand in hand. There is humbleness of mind, gentleness, long-suffering, the whole image of God, and at the same time a peace that passeth all understanding, and joy unspeakable and full of glory. . . . This religion we long to see established in the world, a religion of love, and joy, and peace, , having its seat in the inmost soul, but ever showing itself by its fruits, continually springing forth, not only in all innocence (for love worketh no ill to his neighbour), but likewise in every kind of beneficence, spreading virtue and happiness all around it.” Wesley then shows how he and his friends had long wandered in darkness, having no man to guide them into “the straight way to the religion of love, even by faith.” The blessed change it had wrought in their own souls gave them confidence in urging all to seek the same joy. “By this faith we are saved from all uneasiness of mind, from the anguish of a wounded spirit, from discontent, from fear and sorrow of heart, and from that inexpressible listlessness and weariness, both of the world and ourselves, which we had so helplessly laboured under for many years, especially when we were out of the hurry of the world and sunk into calm reflection. In this we find that love of God and of all mankind which we had elsewhere sought in vain. This, we know and feel, and therefore cannot but declare, saves every one that partakes of it both from sin and misery, from every unhappy and every unholy temper.”