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The Letters of John Wesley



To his Mother [1]

LINCOLN COLLEGE, February 28, 1732.

DEAR MOTHER,--In the week after Easter I hope to find you a little better recovered, else our visit will give us small entertainment. Were it not that we desire to have as much as we can of yours and my father's company while we are yet alive together, we should scarce be induced to go an hundred and twenty miles to see Epworth steeple.

One consideration is enough to make me assent to his and your judgment concerning the Holy Sacrament; which is, that we cannot allow Christ's human nature to be present in it, without allowing either con- or trans-substantiation. But that His divinity is so united to us then, as He never is but to worthy receivers, I firmly believe, though the manner of that union is utterly a mystery to me.

That none but worthy receivers should find this effect is not strange to me, when I observe how small effect many means of improvement have upon an unprepared mind. Mr. Morgan and my brother were affected, as they ought, by the observations you made on that glorious subject; but though my understanding approved what was excellent, yet my heart did not feel it. Why was this, but because it was pre-engaged by those affections with which wisdom will not dwell because the animal mind cannot relish those truths which are spiritually discerned Yet I have those writings which the Good Spirit gave to that end! I have many of those which He hath since assisted His servants to give us; I have retirement to apply these to my own soul daily; I have means both of public and private prayer; and, above all, of partaking in that sacrament once a week. What shall I do to make all these blessings effectual, to gain from them that mind which was also in Christ Jesus

To all who give signs of their not being strangers to it, I propose this question (and why not to you rather than any), -- Shall I quite break off my pursuit of all learning, but what immediately tends to practice I once desired to make a fair show in languages and philosophy, but it is past; there is a more excellent way: and if I cannot attain to any progress in the one without throwing up all thoughts of the other--why, fare it well! Yet a little while, and we shall all be equal in knowledge, if we are in virtue.

You say you ' have renounced the world.' And what have I been doing all this time What have I done ever since I was born Why, I have been plunging myself into it more and more. It is enough. 'Awake, thou that sleepest.' Is there not 'one Lord, one Spirit, one hope of our calling' one way of attaining that hope Then I am to renounce the world, as well as you. That is the very thing I want to do; to draw off my affections from this world, and fix them on a better. But how What is the surest and the shortest way Is it not to be humble Surely this is a large step in the way. But the question recurs, How am I to do this To own the necessity of it is not to be humble. In many things you have interceded for me and prevailed. Who knows but in this too you may be successful If you can spare me only that little part of Thursday evening which you formerly bestowed upon me in another manner, I doubt not but it would be as useful now for correcting my heart as it was then for forming my judgment. [See Telford's Wesley, p. 21.]

When I observe how fast life flies away, and how slow improvement comes, I think one can never be too much afraid of dying before one has learned to live; I mean, even in the course of nature. For were I sure that 'the silver cord' should not be violently 'loosed,' that 'the wheel' should not ' be broken at the cistern,' till it was quite worn away by its own motion, yet what a time would this give for such a work A moment to transact the business of eternity ! What are forty years in comparison of this So that were I sure of what never man yet was sure of, how little would it alter the case! How justly still might I cry out:

Downward I hasten to my destined place;

There none obtain Thy aid, none sing Thy praise!

Soon shall I lie in death's deep ocean drowned:

Is mercy there, is sweet forgiveness found

O save me yet, while on the brink I stand;

Rebuke these storms, and set me safe on land !

O make my longings and Thy mercy sure!

Thou art the God of power. [Prior's Considerations on Part of the 88th Psalm.]

A year ago Mr. Morgan was exceedingly well pleased with the thought of dying shortly. He will not now bear to have it named, though he can neither sleep, read, stand, nor sit. Yet without hands, or feet, or head, or heart, he is very sure his illness is not increased. Surely now he is a burthen to himself and almost useless in the world; his discharge cannot be far off.

Dear mother, there is but one cause of uneasiness which I sometimes find in your behavior towards me. You perform the noblest offices of love for me, and yet blame the Fountain from whence they flow. You have more than once said you loved me too well and would strive to love me less. Now this it is I complain of. You do not think natural affection evil in itself; far from it. But you say you have but little time to stay in the world, and therefore should not have much affection for anything in it. Most true: not any of those things which perish with the world. But am I one of those

If you think I am' sick unto death,' love me the more, and you will the more fervently pray for me that I may be healed. If you rather incline to think that there is hope of my recovery, then what if you are to leave the world in a little time Whom God hath joined can Death put asunder According to your supposition that unbodied spirits still minister to those who were their kindred according to the' flesh, not a moment! Certainly, not long. Yet a little while, and if you return not to me, you will certainly be overtaken by

Your dutiful and affectionate Son.

From Richard Morgan to his Son William [2]

DUBLIN, March 15, 1732.

You shall no longer be tied to any fixed allowance; what sums are necessary for your health shall immediately be remitted. But then I must tell you, it is for those uses alone, your health and education, that I mean to supply you. You must leave me to judge for myself what portion of my substance it is fit for me to dispose of to charitable uses, of which I will be the distributor myself. You have no substance of your own; and it is but common justice that what I put into your hands should be disposed of according to my directions. I am told by a most worthy clergyman that it is sinful to do otherwise. Perhaps you may think your exhibition so much your own that you may dispose of it as you please. But that is not so; because what I put into your hands is an addition to it, to afford you physic and a comfortable subsistence with reasonable and moderate recreations, which I willingly allow you. You may imagine I am not thus particular without some grounds. You can't conceive what a noise that ridiculous Society which you are engaged in has made here. Besides the particulars of the great follies of it at Oxford, which to my great concern I have often heard repeated, it gave me sensible trouble to hear that you were noted for your going into the villages about Holt, entering into poor people's houses, calling their children together, teaching them their prayers and catechism, and giving them a shilling at your departure.

I could not but advise with a wise, pious, and learned clergyman. He told me that he has known the worst of consequences follow from such blind zeal, and plainly satisfied me that it was a thorough mistake of true piety and religion. I proposed writing to some prudent and good man at Oxford to reason with you on those points and to convince you that you were in a wrong way. He said in a generous mind, as he took yours to be, the admonition and advice of a father will make deeper impression than all the exhortation of others. He concluded that you was young as yet, and that your judgment was not come to its maturity; but as soon as your judgment improved, and on the advice of a true friend, you would see the error of the way you was in_, and think (as he does) that you may walk uprightly and safely without endeavoring to outdo all the good bishops, clergy, and other pious and good men of the present and past ages; which God Almighty give you grace and sense to understand aright.

From Richard Morgan to Charles Wesley

DUBLIN, September 5, 1732.

From the intimacy which I understood to have been contracted between you and my dear son, I make no doubt but that you must have some concern upon you at the reading the account of his death, as I have the greatest in writing it. His distemper threw him into a fever, of which he died the 26th past about four in the morning. The Wesleys he raved of most of all in his sickness. This is the soonest that I could attempt writing anything about him since my affliction was consummated.

[After giving orders for disposing of his son's goods, he goes on:]

You see I make very free with you. But the candor and generosity which I have heard you commended for embolden me to it; and I shall (I hope) find some opportunities to make some amends, and beg you will upon all occasions let me know when I can be serviceable to you in anything in this kingdom. If I can, you may be assured I will.

This is a melancholy subject which I am obliged to write' to you upon. I must therefore conclude, and for this time subscribe myself

Your afflicted but affectionate humble servant,


To Richard Morgan [3]

OXON, October 18, 1732

SIR, -- The occasion of my giving you this trouble is of a very extraordinary nature. On Sunday last I was informed (as no doubt you will be ere long) that my brother and I had killed your son; that the rigorous fasting which he had imposed upon himself by our advice had increased his illness and hastened his death. Now, though, considering it in itself, ' it is a very small thing with me to be judged by man's judgment'; yet, as the being thought guilty of so mischievous an imprudence might make me less able to do the work I came into the world for, I am obliged to clear myself of it by observing to you, as I have done to others, that your son left off fasting about a year and an half since; and that it is not yet half a year since I began to practice it.

I must not let slip this occasion of doing my part towards giving you a juster notion of some other particulars, relating both to him and myself, which have been industriously misrepresented to you.

In March last he received a letter from you, which, being then not able to read, he desired me to read to him; several of the expressions whereof I perfectly remember, and shall do till I too am called hence. I then determined that, if God was pleased to take away your son before me, I would justify him and myself; which I now do with all plainness and simplicity, as both my character and cause require.

In one practice for which you blamed your son, I am only concerned as a friend, not as a partner. That, therefore, I shall consider first. Your own account of it was in effect this: 'He frequently went into poor people's houses in the villages about Holt, called their children together, and instructed them in their duty to God, their neighbor, and themselves. He likewise explained to them the necessity of private as well as public prayer, and provided them with such forms as were best suited to their several capacities. And being well apprised how much the success of his endeavors depended on their goodwill towards him, to win upon their affections he sometimes distributed among them a little of that money which he had saved from gaming and the other fashionable expenses of the place.' This is the first charge against him; upon which all that I shall observe is, that I will refer it to your own judgment whether it be fitter to have a place in the catalogue of his faults or of those virtues for which he is 'now numbered among the sons of God.'

If all the persons concerned in 'that ridiculous Society, whose follies you have so often heard repeated,' could but give such a proof of their deserving the glorious title [The Holy Club.] which was once bestowed upon them, they would be well contented that their ' lives ' too ' should be counted madness, and their end thought to be without honor.' But the truth is, their title to holiness. stands upon much less stable foundations; as you will easily perceive when you know the ground of this wonderful outcry, which it seems England is not wide enough to contain.

In November 1729, at which time I came to reside at Oxford, your son, my brother and myself, and one more agreed to spend three or four evenings in a week together. Our design was to read over the classics, which we had before read in private, on common nights, and on Sunday some book in divinity. In the summer following, Mr. Morgan told me he had called at the jail, to see a man that was condemned for killing his wife; and that, from the talk he had with one of the debtors, he verily believed that it would do much good if any one would be at the pains now and then of speaking with them. This he so frequently repeated, that on the 24th of August, 1730, my brother and I walked down with him to the Castle. We were so well satisfied with our conversation there, that we agreed to go thither once or twice a week; which we had not done long, before he desired me, August 31, to go with him to see a poor woman in the town who was sick. In this employment too, when we came to reflect upon it, we believed that it would be worth while to spend an hour or two in a week; provided the minister of the parish in which any such person was were not against it. But that we might not depend wholly on our own judgments, I wrote an account to my father of our whole design; withal begging that he, who had lived seventy years in the world, and seen as much of it as most private men have ever done, would advise us whether we had yet gone too far, and whether we should now stand still or go forward.

Part of his answer, dated September 28, 1730, was this:

And now, as to your own designs and employments, what can I say less of them than Valde probo; and that I have the highest reason to bless God that He has given me two sons together in Oxford to whom He has given grace and courage to turn the war against the world and the devil, which is the best way to conquer them They have but one more enemy to combat with, the flesh; which if they take care to subdue by fasting and prayer, there will be no more for them to do, but to proceed steadily in the same course, and expect the crown which fadeth not away. You have reason to bless God, as I do, that you have so fast a friend as Mr. Morgan, who, I see, in the most difficult service, is ready to break the ice for you. You do not know of how much good that poor wretch who killed his wife has been the providential occasion. I think I must adopt Mr. Morgan to be my son, together with you and your brother Charles; and when I have such a ternion to prosecute that war, wherein I am now miles emeritus, I shall not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.

I am afraid lest the main objection you make against your going on in the business with the prisoners may secretly proceed from flesh and blood. For who can harm you if you are followers of that which is so good, and which will be one of the marks by which the Shepherd of Israel will know His sheep at the last Day though if it were possible for you to suffer a little in the cause, you would have a confessor's reward. You own none but such as are out of their senses would be prejudiced against your acting in this manner, but say, 'These are they that need a physician.' But what if they will not accept of one who will be welcome to the poor prisoners Go on, then, in God's name in the path to which your Savior has directed you, and that track wherein your father has gone before you! For when I was an undergraduate at Oxford, I visited those in the Castle there, and reflect on it with great satisfaction to this day. Walk as prudently as you can, though not fearfully, and my heart and prayers are with you.

Your first regular step is to consult with him (if any such there be) who has a jurisdiction over the prisoners; and the next is to obtain the direction and approbation of your Bishop. This is Monday morning, at which time I shall never forget you. If it be possible, I should be glad to see you all three here in the fine end of the summer. But if I cannot have that satisfaction, I am sure I can reach you every day, though you were beyond the Indies. Accordingly, to Him who is everywhere I now heartily commit you, as being Your most affectionate and joyful Father.

In pursuance of these directions, I immediately went to Mr. Gerard, the Bishop of Oxford's chaplain, who was likewise the person that took care of the prisoners when any were condemned to die (at other times they were left to their own care): I proposed to him our design of serving them as far as we could, and my own intention to preach there once a month, if the Bishop approved of it. He much commended our design, and said he would answer for the Bishop's approbation, to whom he would take the first opportunity of mentioning it. It was not long before he informed me he had done so, and that his lordship not only gave his permission, but was greatly pleased with the undertaking, and hoped it would have the desired success.

Soon after, a gentleman of Merton College, who was one of our little company, which now consisted of five persons, acquainted us that he had been rallied the day before for being a member of The Holy Club; and that it was become a common topic of mirth at his college, where they had found out several of our customs, to which we were ourselves utter strangers. Upon this I consulted my father again, in whose answer were these words:

December I.

This day I received both yours, and this evening in our course of reading I thought I found an answer that would be more proper than any I myself could dictate; though since it will not be easily translated, I send it in the original. as p pepa t paase, pepessea t aa [2 Cor. vii. 4: ' Great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful.' (R.V. 'Great is my glorying on your behalf: I am filled with comfort, I overflow with joy.')] What would you be Would you be angels I question whether a mortal can achieve to a greater degree of perfection than steadily to do good, and for that very reason patiently and meekly to suffer evil. For my part, on the present view of your actions and designs, my daily prayers are that God would keep you humble; and then I m sure that if you continue to suffer for righteousness' sake, though it be but in a lower degree, the Spirit of grace and glory shall in some good measure 'rest upon you.' Be never weary of well-doing: never look back; for you know the prize and the crown are before you: though I can scarce think so meanly of you as that you would be discouraged with the crackling of thorns under a pot. Be not high-minded, but fear. Preserve an equal temper of mind under whatever treatment you meet with from a not very just or well-natured world. Bear no more sail than is necessary, but steer steady. The less you value yourselves for these unfashionable duties (as there is no such thug as works of supererogation), the more all good and wise men will value you, if they see your actions are of a piece; or, which is infinitely more, He by whom actions and intentions are weighed will both accept, esteem, and reward you.

Upon this encouragement we still continued to sit together as usual; to confirm one another as well as we could in our resolutions to communicate as often as we had an opportunity (which is here once a week); and to do what service we could to our acquaintance, the prisoners, and two or three poor families in the town. But the outcry daily increasing, that we might show what ground there was for it, we proposed to our friends, or opponents, as we had opportunity, these or the like questions: --

I. Whether it does not concern all men of all conditions to imitate Him, as much as they can, ' who went about doing good'

Whether all Christians are not concerned in that command, ' While we have time, let us do good to all men'

Whether we shall not be more happy hereafter, the more good we do now

Whether we can be happy at all hereafter, unless we have, according to our power, 'fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited those that are sick and in prison'; and made all these actions subservient to an higher purpose, even the saving of souls from death

Whether it be not our bounden duty always to remember that He did more for us than we can do for Him, who assures us, 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me'

II. Whether, upon these considerations, we may not try to do good to our acquaintance Particularly, whether we may not try to convince them of the necessity of being Christians Whether of the consequent necessity of being scholars

Whether of the necessity of method and industry, in order to either learning or virtue

Whether we may not try to persuade them to confirm and increase their industry, by communicating as often as they can

Whether we may not mention to them the authors whom we conceive to have wrote best on those subjects

Whether we may not assist them, as we are able, from time to time, to form resolutions upon what they read in those authors, and to execute them with steadiness and perseverance

III. Whether, upon the considerations above-mentioned, we may not try to do good to those that are hungry, naked, or sick In particular, whether, if we know any necessitous family, we may not give them a little food, clothes, or physic, as they want

Whether we may not give them, if they can read, a Bible, Common Prayer Book, or Whole Duty of Man

Whether we may not now and then inquire how they have used them; explain what they don't understand, and enforce what they do

Whether we may not enforce upon them more especially the necessity of private prayer and of frequenting the church and sacrament

Whether we may not contribute what little we are able toward having their children clothed and taught to read

Whether we may not take care that they be taught their Catechism and short prayers for morning and evening

IV. Lastly: Whether, upon the considerations above-mentioned, we may not try to do good to those that are in prison In particular, Whether we may not release such well-disposed persons as remain in prison for small sums

Whether we may not lend smaller sums to those that are of any trade, that they may procure themselves tools and materials to work with

Whether we may not give to them who appear to want it most a little money, or clothes, or physic

Whether we may not supply as many as are serious enough to read them with a Bible and Whole Duty of Man

Whether we may not, as we have opportunity, explain and enforce these upon them, especially with respect to public and private prayer and the blessed sacrament

I do not remember that we met with any person who answered any of these questions in the negative, or who even doubted whether it were not lawful to apply to this use that time and money which we should else have spent in other diversions. But several we met with who increased our little stock of money for the prisoners and the poor by subscribing something quarterly to it; so that the more persons we proposed our designs to, the more were we confirmed in the belief of their innocency, and the more determined to pursue them, in spite of the ridicule which increased fast upon us during the winter. However, in spring I thought it could not be improper to desire farther instructions from those who were wiser and better than ourselves; and accordingly (on May 18, 1731) I wrote a particular account of all our proceedings to a clergyman [This was probably Joseph Hoole, Vicar of Haxey, whose young brother, Nathaniel, was Samuel Wesley's curate, for the benefit of whom he wrote his noble Letter to a Curate. Hoole was in the house at Epworth at the time of the mysterious knockings, and Mrs. Wesley wrote him a full account of the fire in 1709. John Wesley often visited him at Haxey while serving as his father's curate. See letter of Dec. 6, 1726.] of known wisdom and integrity. After having informed him of all the branches of our design as clearly and simply as I could, I next acquainted him with the success it had met with, in the following words: ' Almost as soon as we had made our first attempts this way, some of the men of wit in Christ Church entered the lists against us; and, between mirth and anger, made a pretty many reflections upon the Sacramentarians, as they were pleased to call us. Soon after, their allies at Merton changed our title, and did us the honor of styling us The Holy Club. But most of them being persons of well-known characters, they had not the good fortune to gain any proselytes from the sacrament, till a gentleman, eminent for learning, and well esteemed for piety, joining them, told his nephew that if he dared to go to the weekly communion any longer he would immediately turn him out of doors. That argument, indeed, had no success: the young gentleman communicated the next week; upon which his uncle, having again tried to convince him that he was in the wrong way by shaking him by the throat to no purpose, changed his method, and by mildness prevailed upon him to absent from it the Sunday following; as he has done five Sundays in six ever since. This much delighted our gay opponents, who increased their numbers apace; especially when, shortly after, one of the seniors of the College having been with the Doctor, upon his return from him sent for two young gentlemen severally, who had communicated weekly for some time, and was so successful in his exhortations that for the future they proposed to do it only three times a year. About this time there was a meeting (as one who was present at it informed your son) of several of the officers and seniors of the College, wherein it was consulted what would be the speediest way to stop the progress of enthusiasm in it. The result we know not, only it was soon publicly reported that Dr. Terry ['Terry' is inserted in a copy of the first edition of the Works now in Richmond College. Thomas Terry, of Canterbury, matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford; Proctor 1708-9, Regius Professor of Greek .1712-35, Canon of Christ Church 1713-35' Chaplain to the King and Rector of Chalfont St. Giles 1725-35. He died Sept. 15, 1735, and was buried in Christ Church Cathedral.] and the censors were going to blow up The Godly Club.' (This was now our common title; though we were sometimes dignified with that of The Enthusiasts or The Reforming Club.)

Part of the answer I received was as follows:

GOOD SIR,--A pretty while after the date, yours came to my hand. I waived my answer till I had an opportunity of consulting your father, who, upon all accounts, is a more proper judge of the affair than I am. But I could never find a fit occasion for it. As to my own sense of the matter, I confess I cannot but heartily approve that serious and religious turn of mind that prompts you and your associates to those pious and charitable offices; and can have no notion of that man's religion, or concern for the honor of the University, that opposes you, as far as your design respects the Colleges. I should be loath to send a son of mine to any seminary where his conversing with virtuous young men, whose professed design of meeting together at proper times was to assist each other in forming good resolutions and encouraging one another to execute them with constancy and steadiness, was inconsistent with any received maxims or rules of life among the members. As to the other branch of your design: as the town is divided into parishes, each of which has its proper incumbent, and as there is probably an ecclesiastic who has the spiritual charge of the prisoners, prudence may direct you to consult them. For though I dare not say you would be too officious, should you of your own mere motion seek out the persons that want your instructions and charitable contributions; yet, should you have the concurrence of their proper pastor, your good offices would be more regular and less liable to censure.

Your son was now at Holt: however, we continued to meet at our usual times, though our little affairs went on but heavily without him. But at our return from Lincolnshire in September we had the pleasure of seeing him again; when, though he could not be so active with us as formerly, yet we were exceeding glad to spend what time we could in talking and reading with him. It was a little before this time my brother and I were at London, when going into a bookseller's shop (Mr. Rivington, in St. Paul's Churchyard [Charles Rivington published The Christian's Pattern (Wesley's translation of Kempis) in 1735. See letter of May 28, 1725,n.]), after some other conversation, he asked us whether we lived in town; and upon our answering, ‘No; at Oxford,’ – ‘Then, gentlemen,’ said he, ‘let me earnestly recommend to your acquaintance a friend I have there, Mr. Clayton, of Brazen-nose.’ [John Clayton, son of a Manchester bookseller, was born in 1709, entered Brasenose in 1726, and was Hulme's exhibitioner in 1729. He was college tutor. He returned to Manchester in 1733, and became Chaplain of the Collegiate Church. Wesley visited him there on his return from Georgia; but after Wesley's evangelical conversion Clayton held aloof from him. See Tyerman's Oxford Methodists, pp. 24-56.] Of this, having small leisure for contracting new acquaintance, we took no notice for the present. But in the spring following (April 20), Mr. Clayton meeting me in the street, and giving Mr. Rivington's service, I desired his company to my room, and then commenced our acquaintance. At the first opportunity I acquainted him with our whole design, which he immediately and heartily closed with; and not long after, Mr. Morgan having then left Oxford, we fixed two evenings in a week to meet on, partly to talk upon that subject, and partly to read something in practical divinity.

The two points whereunto, by the blessing of God and your son's help, we had before attained, we still endeavor to hold fast: I mean, the doing what good we can; and, in order thereto, communicating as oft as we have an opportunity. To these, by the advice of Mr. Clayton, we have added a third -- the observing the fasts of the Church, the general neglect of which we can by no means apprehend to be a lawful excuse for neglecting them. And in the resolution to adhere to these and all things else which we are convinced God requires at our hands, we trust that we shall persevere till He calls us too to give an account of our stewardship. As for the names of Methodists, Supererogation Men, and so on, with which some of our neighbors are pleased to compliment us, we do not conceive ourselves under any obligation to regard them, much less to take them for arguments. To the law and to the testimony we appeal, whereby we ought to be judged. If by these it can be proved that we are in an error, we will immediately' and gladly retract it; if not, we have not so learned Christ as to renounce any part of His service, though men should say all manner of evil against us, with more judgment and as little truth as hitherto. We do, indeed, use all the lawful means we know to prevent the good which is in us from being evil spoken of: but if the neglect of known duties be the one condition of securing our reputation -- why, fare it well; we know whom we have believed, and what we thus lay out He will pay us again. Your son already stands before the judgment-seat of Him who judges righteous judgment; at the brightness of whose presence the clouds remove: his eyes are open, and he sees clearly whether it was 'blind zeal and a thorough mistake of true religion that hurried him on in the error of his way'; or whether he acted like a faithful and wise servant, who, from a just sense that his time was short, made haste to finish his work before his Lord's coming, that when laid in the balance he might not be found wanting.

I have now largely and plainly laid before you the real ground of all the strange outcry you have heard; and am not without hope that by this fairer representation of it than you probably ever received before, both you and the clergyman you formerly mentioned may have a more favorable opinion of a good cause, though under an ill name. Whether you have or no, I shall ever acknowledge my best services to be due to yourself and your family, both for the generous assistance you have given my father, [Richard Morgan subscribed for five copies of Samuel Wesley’s Dissertation on Job; his son also was a subscriber. See letter of Oct. 15 1735.] and for the invaluable advantages your son has (under God) bestowed on, sir,

Your ever obliged and most obedient servant.

Editor's Introductory Notes

[1] Mrs. Wesley wrote on February 21, 1732. She was in less pain than she had been in; but she depreciates herself: ' I never did much good in my life when in the best health and rigor.' She is much. averse to writing anything about her way of education: ' It cannot, I think, be of service to any one to know how I, that have lived such a retired life, for so many years (ever since I was with child of you) used to employ my time and care in bringing up my children.' Her son had told her about a friend's views as to the real presence of Christ in the sacrament, and she gives her opinion: ' Surely the divine presence of our Lord, thus applying the virtue and merits of the great Atonement to each true believer, makes the consecrated bread more than a sign of Christ’s body; since, by His so doing, we receive not only the sign but with it the thing signified, all the benefits of His incarnation and passion; but still, however this divine institution may seem to others, to me it is full of mystery.'

For some time Wesley had been concerned about William Morgan's illness, and told his mother of it. She replies in the same letter: ' I am heartily sorry. for Mr. Morgan. It is no wonder that his illness should at last affect his mind; it is rather to be wondered that it has not done it long ago. It is a common case, and what all who are afflicted with any indisposition a great while together experience as well as he.'

See Stevenson's Wesley Family, pp. 167-8; and the next two letters.

[2] The Morgan letters are invaluable in tracing the course of Methodism in Oxford. William Morgan, the young Irish student who was one of the first members of the Holy Club in I729, was a Commoner of Christ Church. He led the Wesleys to visit the prisoners at the Castle in Oxford and to engage in visiting the sick. His father, however, did not approve of his charitable gifts, and wrote him this letter, saying that he was only willing to supply money for his health and education.

Morgan, who had been in ill-health at Holt in June I731 left Oxford on June 5, 1732, for Dublin, and died on August 25. On September 5 his father sent Charles Wesley an account of the sad event. Samuel Wesley, jun., wrote some beautiful in memoriam verses, which are prefixed to Wesley's Journal. For further details of Morgan's illness, see letter of November 22, 1733.

[3] On November 25, 1732, Richard Morgan wrote to thank the Wesleys and 'the author of those lines you sent me,' that is their brother Samuel, for the regard they had shown to his son's memory. The letter is given in the Journal, viii. 260-1.

Wesley printed this letter with some variations as an introduction to his Journal, where valuable notes on it axe given in the Standard Edition. The ' one more ' who met with the Wesleys and Morgan in November 1729 was Robert Kirkham; the fifth member of the Holy Club was probably Mr. Boyce.

In the letter of December 1, 1730, the Rector also wrote: ' I hear my son John has the honor of being styled the "Father of the Holy Club": if it be so, I am sure I must be the grandfather of it; and I need not say that I had rather any of my sons should be so dignified and distinguished than to have the title of His Holiness.' He urged them to show the manly firmness to their persecutors which was highly becoming to a mind conscious of acting well. See Moore's Wesley, i. 171

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