Wesley Center Online

The Journal and Letters of Francis Asbury - Volume 2


Chapter 8


April 21, 1802 May 23, 1804

Another letter to George Roberts is from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Asbury gives a report of the work on the shore.

ANNAMESSEX,[ Eastern Shore of Maryland. ] [MD.]

April 27, 1802

[To George Roberts][ Pastor of Light Street Church, Baltimore]

My very dear George:

I am often reflecting upon my folly, in my gay hours, half asleep and then awake. I told you I did not pity you when you were enslaving yourself for me, the conference, and the church, and your own family. I will not apologize but confess my fault and ask your pardon; it was an unguarded word. We have had very changeable weather and stretching work, but hitherto the Lord hath helped me, and my Brother Whatcoat.[ Bishop Whatcoat.] We have good prospects in all the circuits, but Talbot, and Milford are all for ingathering.

We shall have a complete house in Chester Town, after piety and policy have had their perfect work. By act of assembly, the house is to be set upon the publick square, where the market house stood, where they were opposed by the great in some attempts to fix else where. It was like the Light Street mysterious providence in Cambridge, the objects [objectors] have built a neat two story house with galleries, all round, when behold our most excellent church is but one story, and one front gallery. So much for a seige of twenty years in Salisbury after being defeated twice.[ Two lines torn off. ]----- In Snowhill [Md.] we have a house going up. I was told the Presbyterians offered to share with the Methodists if they would furnish the meeting house but our people would not. They were too big. I have found out the secret of the money paid in Philadelphia[St. George's Church. (See letter, December 31, 1801, to Ezekiel Cooper.)] by the Society. A good brother went into the county begging and then went to the society with, what will you give if we can clear out the whole, so the matter ended. I hope you will be at home by the time this comes to hand. I have done with this coat, you may do what you please with it. I have changed my mind about two coats. I intend to have a bath cloak of black or white, and have it short so as just to touch the pommel of the saddle and to cover my arms.

I wish you to be wholly for God, preach constantly upon the travail of souls, and perfect love, and practical godliness. It is thought by some old members our young converts are very light in experience, but they are on the way. God will deepen his ----[ Letter defaced. ] in souls. Christ's fan is in his hand. My love to all that ask after me. You see I am sleepy all on the wing. We have little rest, day or night. Oh for divine support. I must leave my old rags with you, give them house room. There are some little irregularities among the people but I think the best way to expel them is to treat them with neglect.

Oh my brother I hope you will by all means attend the market places: Oh for Christ's sake seek his lost sheep, the outcast of men. You are strong in help, make the best of your time. If Nicholas [Nicholas Snethen, Methodist preacher. ] is not gone I wish him to bring the oldest number of my Journal, one that is the oldest date, from Mrs. Gough.[ Mrs. Gough of Perry Hall, Maryland. ] Mr. Bassett[Mr. Bassett of Delaware.] wishes you to be at their: meeting, it is a new thing in Israel. I hope the conference will be returned '.. to Dover on Duck Creek and I will cover that meeting. I am ever thine,

F. Asbury P.S.

Stith Mead had written to Asbury, evidently in reference to moving a preacher/row the North to the South. Asbury indicates that the suggestion is impractical. He is reporting on the work; and he is urging the brethren, as usual, to report.


May 31, 1802 [To Stith Mead] [Presiding elder on the Georgia District, South Carolina Conference.]

My very dear Mead:

We have received your letters of []. We can only say there are some very strange men in the work, that are good and useful men, to be good men, and he is one. I think it is time now at least that every conference should find some of its members to fill any and every place in the union. To think of sending a man at such expense and distance is altogether out of the question, we have uncommon calls and uncommon supplies in the north. I expect we take and make about fifty married men, some with three, others with five and some with eight or ten children.

As to the work, it is glorious in Milford, [N.J.]. We have added 1600 in Talbot, 2000 in the Conferences of Baltimore and Philadelphia, about ten thousand souls have been added in eleven months in the two conferences. As to brother Milligan,[ Thomas Milligan was on the Broad River Circuit in 1801 and in 1802.] you can put him or any other preacher you have in Augusta. I have and shall supply the west from the Baltimore Conference with volunteers. Tomorrow our Conference will begin in [New] York. We hope for a shake in this seat of pride, policy, and outside piety.

I am now in doubt about going five hundred miles farther east to the Monmouth Conference.[ See Journal, June 7, 1802.] This I can do, and reach Cumberland. I want the advice of Conference, and the consent of Nicholas[Nicholas Snethen, preacher who traveled with Asbury.] to take my place westward to fill my appointments.

We have great and gracious openings. I wish you to be very accurate in your accounts of the work of God and as concise, and yet let nothing of moment slip. [I] desire the preachers to furnish you with testimonies extraordinary of the work. These accounts read in the cities make the people feel amazingly. I suppose if I had sounded a trumpet before I read the accounts of the Presbyterians and Methodists, in Kentucky, Cumberland, North and South Carolina; which I read in our old church[John Street Church. (See Journal, June 1, 1802.)] yesterday I should have had thousands. We have taken a holding in Philadelphia last Conference. The Conference made an offer to them[The long-expected split in St. George's Church at Philadelphia had taken place. A new church had been formed in the Academy which became Union Church. George Roberts was appointed pastor. (See letter to Roberts, June 3, 1802.)] of a preacher and they accepted one George Roberts, the old side John McClaskey. We hope that division will be held by a wonder, but it will cost the separates twenty thousand dollars to purchase and prepare a church in one of the best stands in the city, an old academy turned into an elegant church so they will have to pay for their folly or virtue. I am with great respect, thine,

Francis Asbury

Drew University Library

George Roberts had been moved from Baltimore; and the appointments for 1802 show Philadelphia, Thomas McClaskey and George Roberts. The Journal indicates that McClaskey and Roberts moved that the brethren who had bought the Academy in Philadelphia be offered a preacher. The conference agreed. It seems that Roberts was appointed to the new Academy Church. Asbury seems to be threatening to move Roberts to New York.


June 3, 1802

[To George Roberts][ George Roberts, pastor in Philadelphia. He had been moved from Baltimore since the last letter.]

My very dear Brother:

I am of one mind. Who can turn me. I heard by the private owners that you were to be restricted to the Academy.[ The new church in Philadelphia, which was organized by those who split off from St. George's Church. It later became Union Methodist Church. (G. A. Phoebus, Beams of Light on Early Methodism in America, 276.)] I utterly disapprove the motion You must not only be free, but faithful, to preach at any time or place, for our other congregations. If the others can not cool off, we must submit t( future awful consequences. What, you confined in your labours to 100 ii society and 1000 in congregation when you may preach to 10,000 or more by going into other churches If you come to [New] York, I shall, and I doubt not but the society will provide for and gladly receive you. It ii almost reduced to a certainty that this conference will advise me to visit the Eastern Conference, and if they do, I shall submit. Nicholas,[ Nicholas Snethen, his traveling companion.] will go upon my appointment, and it will keep me within call till August. I doubt if the station in [New] York will be completely filled till 3 months are past, at least till I return. We have formed a new district; and several matters are weighty with me. We have great harmony. Several married preachers that have local families want stations; that probably will have to wait, or stretch their loves. The northern hive has swarmed. We have taken in about 21 or 22 but be assured we are at low water mark for religion in New York. ,

Upon my new plan of going east, I shall be in Philadelphia August tha first day, and Sabbath. I have not much time to write ----.[ Several words are marked out.] If that implacable enmity does not subside, I shall only have to say, I doubt not only the religion but the honor of such men, and they will not commr themselves to me, to say no more, that their religion is much like Satan it cannot be of God.

I am with respect as ever yours,

Francis Asbury

My dear Brother:[ Here is a typical Richard Whatcoat note like those which are so often found at the end of Asbury's letters.]

Let not him that putteth on the Armour boast as him that putteth off. Think not that the policy of hell can be conquered at one stroke. The Dragon is for us and the old man dies hard. The Breath water will put out fire, and time will bring mighty things to pass. My prayers and heaven's blessing attend thee.

Richard Whatcoat

Methodist Historical Society of the Baltimore Conference (Lovely Lane Museum)

Asbury is traveling through New England and writes again to George Roberts in Philadelphia, who is still having trouble with the new Academy Church. The letter is mainly concerned with the publication of the Journal and the letters which had come to him. The committee in Philadelphia seems to have had charge of the publication.

BOSTON, MASS.[ Asbury must have written this early in the morning before leaving for Lynn. (See Journal, June 22-23, 1802.)]

June 23, 1802

[To George Roberts][ Pastor, Philadelphia.]

My very dear Friend:

Grace and peace attend your spirit and the blessing of God be upon your labours. By this you will find that your letter had to follow me to Boston. I had hardly time to breathe after ending [] upwards of thirty miles; before I had to read letters, and preach, in the finished house, to a very serious senseless people, I Peter iii, 15.1 called at Prescott, they have finished their house. I called at New London, Brother Whatcoat preached, I scolded; the youngsters are wild and wicked. At General Lippet's[General Lippet's" was at Cranston, Rhode Island. (See Journal, 1852 ed., June 19, 1802.)] we had an unwieldy crowd, we had to ordain a Joshua Soule.[ He became a bishop and author of the Constitution and Restrictive Rules.] I am according to my motto faint yet pursuing. I am pleased to hear that you have taken a reef in the mainsail, I hope you will in time take another; these high toned brethren must come down.

I wish you to preach but twice in the Academy Church, upon Sabbath Days, that will be sufficient, then you can go to St. Georges, Ebenezer, or Bethel. I am greatly concerned that we should publish a narrative of the work of God in letters. I have selected some scraps of letters that have been lying by me for years, they are marked and filed; Sister Dickins[John Dickins' widow] has them, and a book also. I wish the committee to devote an hour every day to make a choice collection for the press by the time I return. The manuscript I have, and what letters may come into my hands will be given up at my return. Brother Cooper [Ezekiel Cooper, Book Agent.] has spoken to me upon the subject but I wish great attention to be paid to the work; and that any thing trite, or trifling should be struck out. I wish nothing but the wheat would be sent out in all our publications, and put upon a good letter, and very good paper.

You are at liberty to review my manuscript journals as a committee, and put in a word or two where the sense is not clear, and to strike out whole sentences, if you please. I am very sorry more care was not taken in Benjm. Abbott's [A preacher who died in 1796. (See Minutes.) He was a very prominent itinerant preacher.] Journal. His reflections upon Brother Garrettson [The preacher, Freebom Garrettson.] and myself might as well been left out. We have no need to reflect upon or against another, the world, the apostate Methodist will do that. I hope you will visit and comfort Sister Dickins.[ Her son, Asbury, had been in some trouble. (See letter above, December 30, 1801.)] I judge she will have a heavy sea, my prayers attend thee. Give my Christian salutations to all you choose to represent me to. I am as ever yours

Fran. Asbury

P.S. I am sorry any disappointments should be made but we listened to our assistants. Brother Whatcoat's appointments are out through the Lake Country, and I shall come nearly upon the same route. My appointments are gone, only it will be a delay; except in Kentucky. The Chaplain is here and I think he had better stay between Boston and Providence al least for a year.

Methodist Historical Society of the Baltimore Conference (Lovely Lane Museum)

Asbury's mother's maiden name was Rogers. John Rogers is a cousin on his mother's side of the house. Mrs. Asbury has died, and Asbury has received some news of her demise. He writes to John Rogers for more news of his home and the people there. As ever, he is concerned with the spiritual life of the person to whom he is writing.


August 1, 1802

[To Mr. John Rogers][ The envelope is addressed to Mr. John Rogers, 161 High Street, Walsall, Staffordshire.]

My very dear Cousin:

I am exceedingly grateful to you that you have taken the trouble to write me a confirmation of my dear mother's removal to glory. I most sincerely wished to have heard of her exercises and views when near her journey's end. It was what I was daily looking for the time of life she was brought to. I hope her prospects were good for glory and that she is gone to her eternal rest. As to her property I never expected or desired a farthing, my only wish that it might be appropriate, as all we could spare for between forty and fifty years had been for the support of the gospel, at that dark place of my nativity. If they are unable as a society to support the cause I would contribute a small annual sum, so that the lamp might be kept burning in the Tabernacle.

I hope my dear cousin you will correspond once a year with me. Our continent from the north east to the south west is two thousand two hundred miles. My work is to visit seven conferences in one year, and to ride upward of four thousand miles. I am twice in the year, in the extremities, and twice in the center; and more accessible parts. As to the work of God, it is astonishing thousands out live six millions in the United States, thousands are converted annually,[ Asbury seems to be saying that converted people outlived those who had not been converted. The population of the United States in 1802 was nearly six million (see census for 1800).]

the work is spreading among both Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists, hundreds under operations of grace, at one meeting.

You will see by our annual minutes our increase: and the work is but beginning but we are amazingly scattered over the whole continent. Is she that was the Widow Griffin now living and in what circumstances and in what station be pleased to write me if she has religion. Is Mrs. Moorhead the person I knew to be once the wife of Mr. Moorhead Oh, my dear cousin I fear you have gained the world and lost your religion. Oh, may our God have compassion upon you and heal your soul that you may live in Christ, in Jesus. I am afraid you live in a public way, you and your wife were frugal thrifty people, as you ought to lay aside, your business if you save wherewith to support you, and make the best of your last days. You must be temperate if you are nervous.

Who is that that wrote to me, under the name of John Rogers, that took my other likeness I have no conception of any such person. He says he lived with a Reverend Hadden in Wednesbury and now lives in London. If you wish to write soon, direct to me in Light Street, Baltimore. I am so well known,[ It is a most remarkable thing that Methodism had spread to this extent in America.] any letter in any publick town or city upon the continent; as we have societies in most of them, the letter will be sent immediately to our preachers that are upon the stations. I hope if you are able you will be very particular in writing of your soul, of your sisters, of your sons, and daughters. Present me to all known, and unknown friends, that ask after me.

I have no correspondent in England but Dr. Coke. I should wish to exchange a letter with you once in a year. We have peace, some liberty and some slavery. African slavery, in America, great plenty except Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. All men are free to hear and pay who they please, or have nothing like law mixt with our Gospel, all societies are equal and free, no usurpation over conscience or money. I am very rapid in my writing and riding.

I am dear cousin, your most affectionate friend and brother.

Francis Asbury

P.S. Please to accept one number of my second Journal and the Annual Minutes 1802.

Drew University Library

Bishop Whatcoat is getting more and more blind. Asbury misses him and gives a report of the work. He has evidently had a question from Whatcoat as to whether he should come to Camden, South Carolina, for the conference. Asbury tells Whatcoat that he must make the decision.

[PIPE CREEK, MD.][ From Pipe Creek, Maryland. Name of creek supplied from Journal since the letter is effaced.]

August 10, 1802

[To Bishop Whatcoat][ To Bishop Whatcoat though there is no address with the letter.]

My very dear Brother:

I am resting a day, and now give you a few lines. My dear Mother died January the 6th. I had my difficulties in New York. I found the people in St. George's in a great flame with Brother McClaskey for reproving them publickly for some of their wild working in meetings. How far he was right in the taming and doing the work, I am not able to say. I opened Bethesda, that is the College Church, upon Exodus xx, 24 verse, last clause. In Baltimore they are but so and so to accommodate the police of the City, the[y] have resolved to conclude all meetings at half after nine. The fever is very serious in Philadelphia, by our last accounts the people were fleeing.

I have received a narrative of that great work in Elizabeth-Town. I have a letter narrative of the annual Meeting at Dover. Mr. Bassett[Richard Bassett, a prominent layman, became governor of Delaware. ] thinks hundreds were awakened, as Thomas Smith[Thomas Smith, pastor.] found 100 before he had been round Dover Circuit. I have received a second letter from James Jenkin[Report from South and North Carolina. Jenkins was presiding elder on the Camden District.] of three general meetings, one at Waxaws another near Rutherford Court House, and a third at the Hanging Rock among our people, and asked with great displays of the power of God. Mr. Jenkin writes "Daniel Asbury [Daniel Asbury was on the Yadkin Charge on the Salisbury District.] writes" they join fifty in going round the Yadkin Circuit and they think 1000 have been added in the Salisbury District since the Virginia Conference in March.

I must leave you to your own providence to come or not to Camden Conference. We shall all rejoice to see you, and you need not fear there will be enough to do, for you, and me and we ought in a particular manner to attend the Conference, and always to keep together upon the low lands, where the sea of troubles, always rolls upon me. I wish to have you, if you were blind, and could not preach at all, that we might only consult each other in matters of such great moment. I have left you all the letters I have received from the Doctor.[ Bishop Coke.] When or where it will reach you, I know not, I am in health and peace of mind. I commend you to God and the word of his grace, as ever yours; and mine, to seek and find in all times of need.

I am your tried brother of Europe, and America,

Francis Asbury

Garrett Biblical Institute Library

Again Asbury is writing to Bishop Richard Whatcoat. He is talking of visiting Whatcoat in South Carolina.

SHEPHERDSTOWN, VA.[ Now West Virginia.]

August 18, 1802

[To Bishop Whatcoat][ Envelope has Bishop Whatcoat, Pittsburg, West Pennsylvania.]

My very dear Soul:

Make haste that we may insure a meeting in glory. I find that your plans will put it entirely out of your power of coming to Charleston. I would have said the Camden Conference. I hope you will come strait and steady down to Dromgooles,[ Edward Dromgoole on Brunswick Circuit, Virginia.] come by Alexandria, Dumfries, Fredericksburg, Richmond, and Petersburg. I have sent you the minutes inclosed. We grow upon the Western Shore,[ Western Shore of Maryland.] some good times in Baltimore, circuit and city, great times in Calvert.[ Joseph Toy was on the Calvert Circuit on the Baltimore District.] Brother Toy does well, and does wonders. Frederick, it is a growing season in some places. I have formed a plan to go to the North Western Territory next fall and you can stay in Maryland and go down the strait way to Camden in the South. I pray for thee that thy strength may not fail.

F. Asbury

Garrett Biblical Institute Library

Many of Asbury's letters are in the nature of reports of the work. Except for letters there was no other source in those days for news. Here he is reporting on the camp meeting. He is also urging Thornton Fleming to report. He has much in his mind the "focus" which he later tried to get Alexander M'Caine to write. It was to be the history of early American Methodism. Unfortunately it was never written.


August 21, 1802

[To Thornton Fleming][ Presiding elder, Pittsburgh District. The first listing of the names of the districts in the General Minutes in 1801 calls the district in western Pennsylvania and western Virginia "Pittsburgh." Sometimes Asbury called it "Ohio." In 1804 the name of the district was changed to "Monongahela," which name was continued until the Pittsburgh Conference was formed in 1825. In 1800 circuits in Ohio began to be included in the district, and in 1804 an Ohio District was formed. When the Ohio Conference was formed in 1812, the appointments in western Pennsylvania and western Virginia continued in the Baltimore Conference until 1825. (W. G. Smeltzer.)]

My very dear Brother:

I have delayed writing because I expected to have seen you. Sometimes I feel myself in a great fit of writing to the preachers, as if it came by fancy or inspiration. The exceeding great harmony I have found in the Connexion eastward, added to this the supply of ministers, and the prospects are very great for the time. In [New] Jersey we have a powerful work, Maryland, east and west. The Delaware yearly meeting attended by 5, 6, or 7,000, for five days, and most of the nights, was marked with great honor and glory. I hope 4 or 500 souls were blest, either with awakening, converting, or sanctifying grace. I hope, my brother, you will keep a small journal at hand, and select at least one narrative of all the extraordinary things of the great meetings, and of the number of souls professing awakening, justifying, sanctifying, or reclaiming grace. These things published as in "focus" from various parts, will amazingly move professors.[ Professing Christians.] Oh, my

brother, be wholly for God. I hope, if I live, to visit Redstone and Chillicothe on my way to the yearly conference in 1803 at Kentucky.

It is with pleasure we hear of a great revival of religion, from the extreme part of Kentucky to the center, to Cumberland, to North and South Carolina, and Georgia, you will see the souls God hath given us in fellowship by the Minutes. I hope for twenty thousand this coming year. You will do well to stir up the preachers and people to get as much money in readiness as they possibly can, where they do their work.

We must strive to be as independent as we can; let all the people bear their own burden. I have no doubt but our Baltimore Conference will be moved, and it ought to go round to the different districts that belong to the Conference.

You will excuse me, my writings are very desultory. I am hasting to the Cumberland Conference.[ The Western Conference that year was held at Cumberland, Tennessee, on October 2,1802.] My Christian salutations attend all that ask after me.

I am as ever thine,

Francis Asbury

The Pittsburgh Conference Journal, Februarys, 18 34. Transcribed by W. G. Smeltzer

Roberts was in a ticklish situation with the Academy Church in Philadelphia. Asbury is conscious that he has not pleased either group. He refers to the Journals again. They had come off the press. He was not very well pleased. Thomas Haskins had edited them, and Cooper had had responsibility for the printing as the Book Agent. Asbury again makes suggestions as to making peace. In conclusion he discusses union with the Presbyterians.


August 23, 1802

[To George Roberts][ Pastor, Philadelphia, in the new college church referred to by Asbury as the "Academy Church." (See letters to Roberts above, June 3 and June 23, 1802.)]

My dear Brother:

May grace and peace attend you in your critical and dangerous station. I may well say of the dear Philadelphians, with Jeremiah, oh that I have in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring man that I might leave my people. My wish will shortly be obtained. Your conjectures about my conversation with Brother C.[ Must be the Chandler referred to later in letter. He was the Rev. William P. Chandler, one of the Philadelphia preachers.] is not well founded. I cannot recollect anything of the kind. As to my staying here or there, or yonder; if there is no conference held in the city, the other Bishops[Coke and Whatcoat.] will do better than I shall. Indeed both sides have so committed themselves, in my view, that I stand nearly on equal ground with both, and this judicious party on each side must know. It is this spirit of the times; it is the spirit of that city that both wrought through every religious society in the city. We have more real distress with those societies, than the whole connection.

If the church in St. George's would ruin me, the members of the other societies would have gone far, to do it, if I would have given them a preacher,[ At the last conference the conference had voted to offer a preacher to the "Academy "congregation which had separated from St. George's. Roberts had been appointed.] as a separate society, before the last vote of conference took place. I could make quotations of their words and letters. I believe both parties are mistaken, and see and judge, erroneously. I have thought that the people in Saint George's would perhaps commit themselves as the college society hath done; and perhaps may have to perform 12 months quarintines.

I cannot blame Brother Cooper [Ezekiel Cooper, Book Agent.] for my journals, first from my great affection to Thomas Haskins [Thomas Haskins, grocer in Philadelphia, trustee of St. George's, former traveling preacher. ] and high opinion of his literary abilities. I wished him to read, correct and strike out what was improper. Secondly, I desired Brother Cooper to print it as it was, except some pointings. I had stricken out many things; and oh that I had stricken out many more but I left chasms and incoherences in the copy. If I had left him [Cooper] at liberty it would have been done better.

The talk about ruining me I have had liberally for a whole year, from the members of the college society, wonder not, but allow me to think they have you go on such hints. As to the smallness of the congregation; if they go to one house they cannot go to the other. That side of the question, told me the congregation had fallen off amazingly. As to Chandler, they have paid him off and if they have paid him more than his due, the conference may look to that, as he and every preacher must answer at the great day of the Conference: if they are impeachable bring the charges forward. I know but one way for peace. That is to appoint meeting after meeting of both the warm men on both sides, and let them bleed one another freely; and answer face to face as to that I hear. I have two ears, one for each party, but if I could hear them make good their charges one against another, like men, and not to say Christian; I should hope for better times-backbiting and fighting in the dark. I despise report, say they, and we will report. You will see I am not in a high ease, for many you [The sentence is not clear.] will supply if's and I's and but's, or what else. I feel for our cities.

Yesterday I preached in the borough of Winchester in our house and also administered the Sacrament. The traveling [Reference to preachers. ] line were young and sick, the elder shift left me to serve alone. In the afternoon I went to the woods, and read some letters and preached and almost the whole city came out. I am feverish and feeble today and lame in the mouth. My jaws are not well. I have a horse and a mere bishop's levee [The small salary he received. ] of the fraternity about me. Maryland grows, the work goes on in several counties. The Redstone District flourishes.

In Salisbury District [North Carolina. ] the supposition is one thousand added since the conference in April. God is eminently working in the Carolinas and the union groweth between the Methodists and the Presbyterians. Oh shame of men. deviled with ---- demons, firm concord yield, and Methodists and Presbyterians unite whilst the Methodists in the city of brotherly love, --- [but] there is but little religion, in reunion. You will bear with me. I am weak, the weather is hot, what I do is in haste but in love and pity. My prayer is that God may keep you body and soul.

Your brother as ever in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Francis Asbury

Methodist Historical Society of the Baltimore Conference (Lovely Lane Museum)

A Letter of Jesse Lee to Francis Asbury

Asbury had been asking for reports. Here is one from Jesse Lee, and it was evidently what Asbury wanted. The letter shows that they were having another revival in Virginia. Here Lee is reporting on some of the oldest Methodist churches in America. The first of these revivals was in 1775 and 1776 when George Shadford was on the Brunswick Circuit. This letter is referred to in Asbury's letter to Thornton Fleming of December 2, 1802.

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA September 16, 1802

[To Francis Asbury][ This letter from Jesse Lee to Asbury tells of needs of growth in Virginia and North Carolina. Lee was presiding elder in Virginia on the Norfolk District.]

I received your letter from Philadelphia, and was made glad to hear of the great things that God was doing in the north. You can recollect with pleasure the glorious things that were wrought in this district in the year 1789, but the unhappy division [Led by James O'Kelly.] which took place soon after, chiefly by one man, to the injury of many precious souls, was one great hindrance to the work. But the Lord has given some late gracious intimations of his presence amongst us once more, may we hope never more to leave us as a people. The work began on Whitsuntide, at a quarterly-meeting at Mabry's Chapel,[ Sometimes spelled Mabry's or Maybury's Chapel. It was on the Greensville Circuit. Joseph Moore and David M. Hume were the pastors. (See Minutes, 1802.) ] at which time and place about ten souls professed to be converted; and from thence it spread through many parts of the circuit; and I humbly hope from that time one hundred and fifty souls have been I brought to God. I

It will give you great consolation to hear that God has visited the families of the ancient Methodists, especially in the young and rising generation; among these are the Dromgooles, Wyches, Hobbses, and Pelhams. We had thirteen that professed converting grace at Merit's[Sometimes spelled Merritt. ] Chapel, Brunswick Circuit. In Greensville Circuit there is a gracious work. It spread about Salem, from the last yearly Conference, and it came up from Brunswick Circuit. At Ira Ellis's Meeting-house, at the last quarterly meeting, we had twelve converted, if no more; among these Edward Dromgoole's second son and daughter professed to be born again. In short, the Lord is bringing home abundance of the ancient Methodist children.

Sussex Circuit, that you recollect was favored in the last revival, is visited in this; I understand that about one hundred have been converted in the space of six weeks. It began at Jones's Chapel, at our quarterlymeeting ; sixteen souls professed to have found a change. You will recollect how it was at this chapel in the year 1787, and God is gracious still. In the settlement of Lloyd's Chapel numbers have been brought to Christ. There has been a great and gracious work in the Amelia Circuit. Many souls have been converted in Mecklenburg Circuit. The work is considerably great in Bertie Circuit.[ Part of the Norfolk District was in North Carolina in Bertie and Camden counties.] There is a small revival in Portsmouth Circuit. Camden Circuit has gained a little. I hear that John Chalmers, Sr., has been at Norfolk, and the flame is kindled, and many are converted. Remember me in all your prayers. I am, sir, yours in love,

Jesse Lee

M. H. Moore, Pioneers of Methodism in North Carolina and Virginia, 126-28

Here is another letter to Thornton Fleming in which Asbury is giving reports and asking for reports. It seems that there had been no camp meetings in Fleming's territory. Asbury urges Fleming to start camp meetings. He is also sending a list of some preaching appointments in Fleming's district.


December 2, 1802

[To Thornton Fleming][ Presiding elder, Pittsburgh District.]

My dear Brother:

May grace and peace attend you and yours. The God of all grace hath manifested Himself gloriously. In our Western Conference we have had in this year upwards of 3,000, and our Southern Conference will be but little short of that number, from the present appearances: and I calculate, if the Lord is with us and we are with Him, we shall have a general and yearly increase of 21,000 in the seven conferences.

The camp meetings are as extraordinary in North and South Carolina, and Georgia, as they have been in Cumberland and Kentucky; hundreds have fallen, and many have been soundly converted. It would not be the work of God if there were not some opposition; but it is not worth our notice to stand to parley with the enemies of the work. I have heard of two men that preached against the work, one in particular, that was suddenly called away by death. If a man should thus sin against God by opposing his work, who shall entreat for him But some may do it ignorantly and in unbelief. Of these men I have written upon, one was in North Carolina, and the other in Georgia. I have the name and efficient testimony of one, the other I have not.

My brother, perhaps you would do well, when you can, to keep a register [Asbury is again instructing Fleming to keep records and make reports. (See letter, August 21, 1802.)]of your quarterly meetings, as we do of our conferences; and that, especially, when your members are numerous and your business is critical, and not trust yourself to memory in the important matters of the Church of God. By this means you will put it greatly out of the power of deceitful and designing men to misrepresent your proceedings, by having it in your power to apply to your church records.

I wish you would also hold camp meetings; they have never been tried without success. To collect such a number of God's people together to pray, and the ministers to preach, and the longer they stay, generally, the better-this is field fighting, this is fishing with a large net.

I have formed a design of coming, next Fall, through your District. The Western Conference, next year, will be held in Kentucky, the first October.[ The Western Conference referred to was held at Mount Gerizim, Kentucky, October 2, 1803. (Source- The General Minutes.)]

My plan and purpose is to be at Bath [This is now Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Asbury stopped there whenever his journeys took him along the Potomac that he might avail himself of the curative properties of the mineral springs located at that place.] the second Sabbath in August, and to call a general meeting for three or four days to attack Satan's seat. Thence take my route up the Allegheny,[ This refers to the Allegheny Mountains over which he needed to pass, not to the river of the same name in western Pennsylvania.] on to Redstone, and to the new state, and down the west side of the Ohio to Kentucky;[ Asbury did make this trip in 1803. It was the first of his western journeys in which he passed through Ohio. He made this journey annually from 1803 to 1815 except in 1804 and 1806, coming from Baltimore or Philadelphia over the mountains, through the Pittsburgh region, and continuing on into Ohio.] if you can mark the route, and give me a view of the plan at conference, we shall know more about it. I presume Brother Whatcoat will be with me, as I cannot consent to be absent from any conference without I am prevented by sickness. I think we had better travel together next year.

We have brought all the conferences as forward as we can in the year in order to go and spend what time we can in the western country. Anc although I have had a powerful rheumatic shock, such as I never had ii my life, and that by being exposed in the wilderness, I must try it again, and take my tent with me in future. I must have something to try me and keep me down, under such gales of prosperity of the church of God, that I may not be exalted above measure. I must have something to humble me and keep me in my place. I hope Sister Fleming is in a good state of health. The work is going on in Winchester.[ There is an omission here in the letter as printed in the Journal. The editor explains as follows: "Here is a chasm of 12 lines in the letter owing to a part being torn off, and from the fragment left the sense could not be ascertained."]

I had also to cut off 1,000 at this end of the continent, as I had laid on* near 1,000 at the other end. Brother Snethen [Nicholas Snethen, his traveling companion.] supplied my appointments to Kentucky, and then went on my route to Georgia. I came upon a straight easy course to Camden, South Carolina, and have a few days upon hand to write letters. Jesse Lee writes that they have a blessed work in the south district of Virginia, in Norfolk, Portsmouth, and most of the circuits, and on those where the work first appeared in '87, Sussex and Brunswick.[ The first great revival in Brunswick was in 177S-76, the second in 1787.] In Salisbury District near a thousand souls have been addedJ I am, as ever to you two, that are but one.

Affectionately, Farewell,

Francis Asbury

The Pittsburgh Conference Journal, February 15, 1834. Transcribed with notes by W. G. Smellier

After giving an account of his travels, Asbury discusses with Ezekiel Cooper questions relating to the book business. Cooper was handling these matters. Asbury is especially interested in his own books. It seems he had, published three. He also gives the plan for his route north and makes comment in the postscript on the situation at St. George's Church.



December 23, 1802

To Ezekiel Cooper}[ The Book Agent, Philadelphia.     ]

My very dear Brother:

            May grace and peace be with you now and ever.

            I opened your letter with expectations of general intelligence from the north, as I have been absent for near 4 months, but merchants must square their accounts. My indisposition and lameness prevent me from the continuance of my route to Georgia and as I had laid on near 1000 miles at the East, I had to take off 400 at the south; by this means I received your letter a few days ago. I have not seen N. Snethen since I saw him on New York. He supplied my appointments to Kentucky but was lamed in his route, by the fall of his horse; he lay in Kentucky till after the Cumberland Conference; and then hearing that I was crippled he roused up, and crossed the Alps[Allegheny Mountains. ] and my path, and supplied the appointments in Georgia; and I came down the state of South Carolina, directly to Camden.

            As to Bishop Whatcoat, I have not seen him since we parted in the district of Maine on the fourth of July, if you know where he is give my love to him. I have one thing to comfort me in all my toil and pain, and care, that is the revival of religion. Our Western Conference after twenty years labor is productive, we have added 3000 this year. The camp meetings in North and South Carolina and Georgia, have been equal if not superior to Cumberland, and Kentucky, and must supply an addition of hundreds and thousands to the Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptist Societies. I calculate if our God is with us, we shall make an addition in membership in the seven annual conferences annually, 21,000 and oh that they may be all Christians.

            I should be accordingly sorry if you should think that any person suspected your honesty, integrity, or frugality, and industry. If any man envy our stations, or income, such do not consider our labor, or covet that. Indeed I have thought you have saved your wages in your work. It is my continual testimony that you are too close to the interests of the Connection; and others think with me; that our books ought to be made of better paper and binding. It appears that the cry for my own books[His Hymn Book and Heart and Church Divisions. There was a third. He seems to refer to a book on Godliness in this letter.] is greater than ever, the Presbyterians would purchase and many others.

            I am of opinion that our books should be kept in the stores in small towns, and country stores, especially southward. I believe you might trust Isaac Smith with Hymn books.

            I doubt not some will complain, that books not ours; and not so spiritual are printed, which they will call uncanonical and introduced whereas if our own special books, could be printed, others might then be advisable . I have not perhaps heard the last of true Godliness; although no book is much more approved or profitable; you think often, as have need to do; of the moral "of not pleasing every body." I have not seen Dr. Coke's[Bishop Coke.] letters, but I have heard of them.

            You wish to know my route to the north. I have sent the plan to Brother Snethen,[ Nicholas Snethen, Asbury's traveling companion.] as I had neither time nor ability to copy. I must write to you now, as I do it once a year; at and after the Camden Conference. I shall not have time. I have thought very seriously that as I cannot think of being absent at any of the conferences and considering Brother Whatcoat's age and his not being able, or both not been in the habit of holding conferences; for next year I think of our travelling together. I must abridge both my preaching and travelling too extensively, not withstanding Brother Snethen is so universally approved as a preacher among preachers, and people, it is a burden in part to me, and the Conferences to support him out of our small allowances; and when anything is complained of as a grievance, I wish a relief. It is the spirit of the day, "save my money" in my route this year in attending the seven conferences. I have put the Connection to the expense of travel, and travelling expenses 131 dollars.

            Be pleased to inform Brother Sharp[Solomon Sharp was presiding elder on the New Jersey District. Evidently his time was up.] I received his letter, and that I am not able to say where his next appointment will be. It may be he may recross the Delaware, but we must move constitutionally from New Jersey, his term is out. I will give you what information I can from my head of my route. January 1803 the third Sabbath in Charleston, the fourth in Georgetown, the fifth in Fayetteville, February 1st Sabbath in Wilmington, the second in Newbern, the third in Washington, the fourth in Halifax. March the fourth, conference in Virginia. Bishop Whatcoat or myself at Norfolk, the second Sabbath of month, the third, Petersburg, the fourth, Fredericksburg, the fifth, Baltimore. As to my appointments through the Peninsula I cannot be correct but I will send them forward.

                                                                        Everlasting love be with thee and yours,

                                                                        F. Asbury

P.S. As to the state of the Trustees in Philadelphia I shall be happy to find they have done their worst at dividing and will now do their best. N.B. If you could collect and have bound for me a complete Book of yearly minutes to the present year you would exceedingly oblige me but I doubt

you have them now.

The Rev. William O. Hackett, Georgetown, Delaware, owns original and supplied photostat

            George Roberts was at this time possibly Asbury's closest friend and confidant among the pastors. The letter has been defaced in several places, and it is not possible to fill the blanks. Asbury's comments on baptism are wry interesting.

                                                                        CAMDEN, S.C.

                                                                        December 30, 1802

[To George Roberts][ Pastor of Light Street Church in Baltimore. The name was torn from the letter but it is clear the letter is to Roberts,]

My very dear Brother:

            My indisposition hath prevented me on my route to Georgia, and brought me the 10th day over to Camden. I retired to a brotherly friend's house to write a few letters, and I shall forestall a letter to you, because in the time of conference, and immediately after, I shall be in haste. I have learned in affliction and the keenest pain to say the will of the Lord be done, and it is all right, for although I have laid on near one thousand miles east I was for going on to Georgia till the Lord stopped me. I have the only consolation, a minister of Christ can have, to see the prosperity of the work; and the confidence and love of the preachers and people, and not Methodists alone. Nothing else can be wanting, but more thousands in the nation.

            We have added upwards of three thousand in the Western Conference this year; and we shall not fall much short in the South Conference. The campmeetings have been blessed in North and South Carolina, and Georgia. Hundreds have fallen and have felt the power of God. I wish most sincerely that we could have a campmeeting at Duck Creek[Maryland.] out in the plain south of the town, and let the people come with their tents, wagons, provisions and so on. Let them keep at it night and day, during the conference; that ought to sit in the meeting. Since I began ---- I have received 3 letters ---- M'Caine,[ Alexander M'Caine, Methodist preacher.] to ---- Thomas Lyell[Thomas Lyell, a Methodist preacher who became an Episcopal preacher.] and another.______ are well and_______. in Philadelphia, we have large accounts from Norfolk and Portsmouth ---- of a work begun by old Father Chalmers.[ Father Chalmers was one of the earliest Methodists.] Jesse Lee wrote a few days ago good news of his district,[ Norfolk District.] at large. I hope you are not offended, and therefore will not write.

            Once a year I am willing to write a long letter to my brethren. My brethren in writing are not all like you, they do not write long letters of general intelligence. They must suppose that I wish to hear of every district, circuit and society where there is any revival, and anything extraordinary that has taken place.

            of religion and some fellowship and friendship subsists between us and these; yet there is a jealousy in us; but the walls of prejudice are falling. Many young people, and some elders come over to us, but as to John's[John the Baptist.] people; they are contrary to all people and they sweep the young people into the water, that got converted at the great meeting, and our preachers in general, in exposed settlements, go on and preach baptism for baptism, and mode for mode, and the tide turns of sprinkling and pouring for dipping. In general I am persuaded we have not preached sufficiently on baptism and Christian perfection.

            Your letter will come too late I fear for answer, however strife continues in St. Georges[St. George's Church, Philadelphia. (See letters to Thomas Haskins, 1801; also letter to Cooper, December 31, 1801, and letter to trustees, December 31, 1801.) ] but ---- I hope both parties have --- has been long war between the ---- shall the sword reach to the very --- terminate in the destruction of the house of Saul. Oh that they would strive to do their best as brethren.

            Our preachers are in general health and union. I shall be thankful of your advice. It is a burden to me and the conference to keep my assistant, and although the people and preachers are charmed with Brother Snethen,[ Nicholas Snethen was his traveling companion.    ] the case is so that I think Brother Whatcoat[Bishop Whatcoat.] and myself ought to travel together, for although he cannot do much in conference he is an excellent counsellor. It is so with me that I cannot content myself to be absent from one conference in the union; if I should be lame or die in the attempt. My way will be only to preach about three times a week and make no more such air balloon plans. Hard necessity unforeseen justifies my sending Brother Snethen, and the people were generally satisfied and my laming at Cumberland made it so he had to supply the whole western and southern route; only I came down this state. I have had one thought about our citizens in general. I wish they would lay aside the use of wine and strong drink in general. God would suddenly and certainly work. I am determined not to go out of my way on that matter for five hundred presidents and all the bishops in the world. I am sincerely thine.

                                                                        Francis Asbury

                                                                        Methodist Historical Society of the Baltimore                                                                            Conference (Lovely Lane Museum)

            Here Asbury is writing to Roberts about the Book Concern and its connection with the Chartered Fund. He is making it clear that the pension fund is the concern not simply of the Philadelphia Conference but of the vhole church. He also delivers his soul on the matter of slavery.

                                                                        CAMDEN, S.C. January 5, 1803

[To George Roberts][ Pastor, Philadelphia]

My very dear Brother:

            We have this morning adjourned the Camden Conference after a close application of five days, in conference and congregations. We have had great peace, upwards of 3000 have been added in this as also in the Western Conference. I was exceedingly pleased that you enclosed the account of the Chartered fund. It came in time. We have had our talk about the Book Concern. Camden Conference, elected a committee to prepare a letter for you as a member of the Book Committee; and as a member of the Philadelphia Conference with whom the weighty matters of our stationery are intrusted. You will see the contents which I approve. I have in a previous letter insinuated the same sentiments to him[Evidently Ezekiel Cooper, Book Agent. ] and I thought it my duty to commend you to them as being upon the spot.

            I took the liberty to tell how we proceeded in appointing a committee to examine the book stewards concern: and how you rose up in the conference and spoke and they said you were right in so doing and that the interest of one was the interest of all the conferences. This is the substance as to the Philadelphia affairs, so they are and so they will be. There is no doubt that M'Caine [Alexander M'Caine.] will be at the Baltimore Conference. Be assured I shall not be sorry to see you there if you can make your way. I have thought that in the above ----[ Letter defaced. ] Book Committee and next conference in--- be better fixed. I wish the conferences see and vote by ballot. I have no desire even to nominate in any case. Let them choose by ballot whom they please.

            My dear mother[His mother, Elizabeth, or Eliza, had recently died in England.] was in such an advanced age that she gave her property into improper hands that what little there was will not profit me or the connection, which my mother and myself wished to give our all to the church. William Bruff is gone and I suppose the principal and interest of 600 pounds is gone with him from me. I have brought a charge lastyear of 128 dollars against the Connection, salary and expense of which I was 12 dollars deficient. I made a demand upon the Camden conference for a seventh, 20 dollars. I have a letter or letters, in which it appears that after near 20 years exceeding great and precious promises we may depend upon Dr. Coke.[ Coke promised to come to America to stay.   

] I gave him to understand he must be all or none, at least he formed that idea.

            Whenever the General Conference or the Bishop shall see fit to exonerate from stationing the ministry, then I can save myself. If they do not I must ease myself by going upon more straight lines, but it will be very difficult for me to divide the stationing with any man, but Brother Whatcoat.[ Bishop Whatcoat. ] Peoples, presiding elders, bishops may dictate but if they control they govern. As to any vindication pamphlets or subjects upon slavery; I have done with the parsimonious niggardly method of printing and selling these matters. If it was to do again; I would have Snethen's[Nicholas Snethen.    ] answers to Mr. O'Kelly given away. I would pay the money out of my own pocket. The General Conference has made no law against giving away.

            The South Conference have passed an order that Brother Snethen should collect "Othello upon slavery" or anything excellent, to print and give away, and they will have the work done in Baltimore. They think they will force conviction upon the people this way; as it is not meet to preach upon the subject. There are such heaps of slaves, always present and in the houses, there are always two or three in the houses. Brother Hagerty[John Hagerty.    ] will be employed and something will be done every year to oppose. I shall be pleased to hear from you at Washington in North Carolina, about the first week in February. Let me have general information of the state of the work. As I have wrote you a long letter you will excuse me now as I have only one day to finish my correspondence. I am still the same, thy friend and brother

                                                                        Francis Asbury

                                                                        Methodist Historical Society of the Baltimore                                                                            Conference (Lovely Lane Museum)

A Letter of John J. Jacob to Asbury

            John J. Jacob lived near Romney, West Virginia, and is buried in the cemetery in .Romney. He was a local preacher for years, but was ordained elder August 25, 1812, by Asbury. He freed his slaves soon after his conversion, and the manumission record is in the clerk's office in Romney. He was a devoted Christian. Jacob formerly lived at Old Town, Maryland.

                                                                        HAMPSHIRE COUNTY, VIRGINIA[Now West                                                                               Virginia.]

                                                                        March 21, 1803

To Francis Asbury[This is the kind of report Asbury was asking for so frequently. It was published in the only set of reports that were printed. Jacob's ordination certificate is in Duke University Library.]

            On Saturday, December 19th, we had preaching at Old Town, but no move; but in the class, the Lord was powerfully and graciously present. Tuesday night, prayer meeting at Cresap's; we had life and power and mine awakenings. Wednesday night at 'squire Martin's, four or five were ((inverted, and many awakened. On Sunday, at 'squire Martin's, we had > great day. There was trembling and quaking among sinners on every side, and bursting praises from the Christians. On Tuesday night, we had meeting at sister Breeze's, there was a goodly company, much weeping, some rejoicing-many awakened, and four or five professed faith. On Wednesday, prayer meeting at J. Cresap's. We had a gracious season on Thursday night, at Luther Martin's-a time of great awakening among sinners, and much rejoicing among Christians. On Friday we rested; but too or three got together at 'squire Martin's and one soul was set at lerty.

            On Saturday, January the 1st, 1803, we had a meeting at Brother McLaughlin's a crowded house, and much of the sweet presence of Jesus; we continued the meeting at night, the flame rose higher and higher- about nine o'clock, I invited the weary and heavy laden to come home to the Redeemer and join the fold of Christ; they did not want much inviting, but came forward boldly to the number of twelve. They all came and kneeled at the table.

            On Sunday, we had meeting at William Pool's: the new converts carried the flame with them. Perhaps it was the greatest day I ever saw, the Lord

 was of a truth in the midst, the solemn air that sat on all face the floods of tears and lamentations, the shouts of praise, and almost general spirit of prayer among all sorts of people, made this day a never to be forgotten. This day twenty-one new members were added to the church. The meeting, with small intermission, continued till past nine o'clock at night, when Brother Martin and myself, having no help, were obliged to send the people home, being quite exhausted.

            From what has been said, you have had a view of the beginning of this glorious work, I shall now confine myself chiefly to those times when new members were added, as this will give you an idea of its progress. The Sunday night following, we had prayer meeting at 'squire Martin's; one converted, and nine added. The next night we had two converted. The Thursday week after, two were added: on Saturday one was converted in my own house, and many awakened. On Sunday, at McLaughlin's, the largest congregation by far that ever was seen here. Sinners trembled on every side. It was a day of remarkable power, and nine were added.

            On Monday, January 31st, we had a love-feast. It is impossible to describe the inexpressible sweetness of that day. The young converts spoke to admiration; two or three were justified by faith this day. At night we had prayer meeting at T. Cresap's; and two were added. On Sunday, February 13th, I Preached at McLaughlin's, and seven were added. Sunday 20th, meeting at Old Town, we had a gracious day, four were added. On Sunday 27th, at Pool's, we had a glorious day, nine were added here, and three at Old Town.

            Thursday, March 3rd, in my own house; we had such a time in family worship, as I never saw before. The next Wednesday night, at the widow Breeze's, two were added. Saturday, we had meeting at McLaughlin's, in the day, and at S. Taylor's at night, five were added this day and night. Thursday, March 17th, we had meeting at Brother Martin's, two were added.

            Thus I have given you in a few words as possible a sketch of the beginning and progress of the most remarkably gracious work among us. It has not reached far as yet, but appears to be spreading.


                                                                        J.J. Jacob [when this letter was printed, it was signed 1.1. Jacob. However, Jacob's name wa&j John J. Jacob. Frequently in transcribing Asbury's letters, a J was mistaken for an I.j (See Journal note, July 21, 1785

            There are three records in the courthouse at Romney, West Virginia, of John J. Jacob's emancipation of his slaves. There are two for April 10, 1788, and one for May! 15, 1789.                                  

The first reads:

"Jno. J. Jacob to Sundry Slaves A Manumission Exam."

"To all to whom these Presents Shall come-Be it known that I, John Jeremiah Jacob of Hampshire County in the Common Wealth of Virginia taking into consideration the injustices of the oppressive practice of holding mankind endowed with Immortal Souls, Susceptible of the Grace of God and the gift of eternal Life in perpetual Bondage and being desirous to glorify God, in my conduct, by doing to others as I would have them do unto Me. And in order to bear a testimony thereof before God and all Mankind, Do by these presents declare that the following Negroes Shall be liberated, emancipated, and forever Discharged from my Service, claim, or demand, or the Service, claim or demand of my heirs on the days to their names respectively annexed, to wit. . . ." (From deed books at Romney, West Virginia.) He names the slaves and the dates when they shall be manumitted.]

            Letters to Bishop Asbury from various people. South Carolina Conference, Historical Society, Wofford College I

            Charles Atmore was known to Asbury through Atmore's biographies of Methodist preachers. Asbury is giving Atmore a report of the work in America.

            To Charles Atmore [Charles Atmore (1759-1826), converted under Joseph Pilmoor, sent out as a preacher by John Wesley in 1781. His Methodist Memorial, published in 1801, was the first collection of the biographies of Methodist preachers who had died during the eighteenth century. In 1811 he was president of the Conference. The Methodist Memorial noted a few who served overseas; but in 1802 Atmore published a separate Appendix, "containing a concise history of the Introduction of Methodism on the Continent of America, and short Memoirs of the Preachers who have departed this Life since that period." In his introduction Atmore says: "Of all the Preachers who had been sent over from Europe, Mr. Francis Asbury (to his honour be it recorded) alone resolved to continue in America, and determined not to desert his post nor forsake the flock in that 'day of trouble and rebuke.' " It seems most likely that Atmore came in touch with Asbury by means of his Methodist Memorial and its Appendix. (Frank Baker.)]

My very dear Brother, not less so by being only known by name:

            The present year is marked with great grace to the inhabitants of the United States. Great things have been done in the western states of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio, by meetings held by encampments for several days and nights together. These meetings have obtained in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. Some of these meetings have been held four, others six, and one nine days and nights, with small intermissions. One hundred and seven have been added in a town in Virginia of about one hundred families, at a nine days meeting. The Presbyterians, over half the Continent, are stirred up, and are in church and congregational union with the Methodists. And they both feed their flocks together, like the ministers and people of God.

            We are always pleased to hear from, and honor the members and ministers of the ancient Connection in Europe. We are one body. We have one Name, one Gospel, one Christ, one God, one Holy Spirit, one heaven. And as it comforts us, (when we find some barren spots,) that there are so many fruitful hills of Zion, you will rejoice that God is with a branch of the Methodist connection in this country. I hope we shall continue to preach a. present and full salvation, and fill up life to the best of purposes.

            I am now in the 58th year of my age, frequently subject to an inflammatory rheumatism, and sometimes disabled for a season. Then 1 revive again, and limp along. I was born and brought up in a temperate climate with great indulgence, and lived in retirement till I was twenty-one years of age. Now my constitution is broken, thro' heats and colds, and I have grey hairs in abundance upon me. I have been thirty-seven years in the connection, and thirty-two in America. I hope to hold out a little longer, and then to meet my dear English brethren, preachers and people, in a better world.

                                                                        "There all the ship's company meet Who said with                                                                                 the Savior beneath."[ This is from one of Charles Wesley's best-known and best-loved Funeral Hymns. (Frank Baker.)]

            I thought when I came to America, four years would be long enough for me to stay; but the children whom God had given us, asked. Will you leave us in our time of distress and so here I am. Give me your prayers, and present Francis Asbury in love to all you please, as their and your friend and brother in Jesus.

Francis Asbury

The Methodist Magazine, 1804, 135. Transcribed by Frank Baker

Stith Mead was very close to Asbury. Like other letters, this reports on the state of the church. Asbury indicates that Bishop Whatcoat is quite unwell. Asbury has had his inflammation and fevers. His comment on the Boston churches is most interesting.


To Stith Mead[Stith Mead was presiding elder on the Augusta District in Georgia.]

My very dear Brother:                      3

            I was pleased to receive a letter from you, of the good things ofGeorgiaH I have visited North Carolina and Virginia as also Maryland, East and West Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont. In these Eastern states there is a great talk about what is done south and west, but the awful state of the churches here resembles those seven churches Christ wrote to. We have some living preachers and people and some revivals but New England, is like the old; settled upon the lees of the form of godliness, where there was once some power. I was in ill health when I passed Baltimore, and Philadelphia, more immediately: in visiting the Peninsula, and at the Philadelphia Conference but I have recovered in the eastern states, but we have such mountains to contend with in earth and people.

           Brother Whatcoat[Bishop Whatcoat.        ] has had something serious in a discharge of blood at the urinary passage, that may either change his habits or his citizenship, from this to a better world. I believe we shall keep together this year if possible, we are now in haste for the new state[Ohio.] and Kentucky, going down the west of the Ohio. We wish to go down to the centre of South Carolina, to take a view of the work, to Charleston. 1 reviewed my plan, and think if life and limbs should serve we cannot be at Augusta till the first of December. I would not hazard any appointments for fear I should fail again and quite lose the confidence of the people, but if you should have appointments, we can fall in with you or perhaps attend some campmeetings or stop a while in Augusta, or if an opening, we may go to Savannah, as God in his providence may direct. It is so with me that if I go upon the low lands or expose myself I am subject to inflamation or intermitting fevers this was the case when I visited the east of Maryland last.

            I hope and trust that if it was lawfull to set the Lord a time; that in seven years, the United States will flame with the glory of God. Well might a blessed God say, I would thou wast cold or hot. Oh this lukewarm work, and water, how disagreeable to God, and men. I could name but will not some are dead; I hope not damned, I could name two congregations I was told their ministers to congregations in Boston for 1000 dollars each. One of the congregations brought the money home and put to interest for 20 and 30 per cent, all is mixed up together and bought and sold. They have the impudence to make our people pay their priests, and force it from them. Nay, they have the assurance to tax one of our traveling preachers that, I hope they will put to jail, and I will help to support him there sooner than he shall pay their unjust demands. I am pleased to hear you are engaged to preach purity.

            Kempis[Thomas a Kempis, the great saint.] says they that travel much are rarely sanctified. Oh my brother to converse with all sorts of spirits, tempers, all characters, all opinions, in all companies, we have boarded two days and bedded one night in taverns, all board, all tables, all families, such a life is ours. Two old men unknown padding along. Hail the South and West, they are cold or hot, a people I know I can trust by the mercies of my God, sweetening every toil, makes every region pleasing. If anything very special comes to light, send me if you can a line west by October to Kentucky Conference. I received the bill, by remittance, in full for the horse and chaise and have destroyed your note. Prayer meetings are good discipline, will help on the work of God. We have, if we have calculated aright added 18,000 in four conferences. I cheered myself and friends and consider that we should add 21,000 in the seven Conferences, but the wastage is so great and people die greatly, and remove into the new settlements. Perhaps 19,000 will be as much as we shall reach.

            By letter from Dr. Coke, he will be at our General Conference to stay in America if nothing unexpected does not intervene. We have a considerable supply of preachers, but not more than we have work for, but many have families that we cannot support. The Philadelphia Conference were insolvent between $2000 and $3000. They have to cut off the supply for the children. The Boston Conference raised about $82 for the married and $42 for the single brethren.

            I must conclude with my love to thyself and all you may please to present me to.

                                                                        As ever yours,

                                                                        F. Asbury

                                                                        Methodist Historical Society of the Baltimore                                                                            Conference (Lovely Lane Museum)

            There is no heading to this letter other than "My dear Brother.'1'1 It may have been George Roberts, and probably was, though there are somA references to the Book Concern and the work of Ezekiel Cooper, the Book Agent. It is most informative as to Asbury's reference to the episcopacy. It is interesting to remember that these ideas concerning the bishops wer^ never put into practice.

                                                                        PHILADELPHIA, PA.

                                                                        July 19, 1803

To George Roberts

My dear Brother:[ This letter has no name to indicate to whom written. ]  

            I know in some measure what is right and what is wrong. Evils of such magnitude will not be cured in a day. You have a partial station,[ Asbury says in the Journal that he preached once at the Academy while he wax in the city. (See Journal, 1852 ed., Friday, July 22, 1803.)] you must, it is your duty to be partial to save the people you have charge of. know the aggravating cases, but you have said they were such as would new justify division! Oh division! to divide the Body of Christ, you will not wonder at my want of confidence in the matter as well as the former. Lay no bet upon the General Conference, perhaps it would be better to leave the present preachers with them till peace is made. I am afraid the General Conference will have too much work laid up for them. I would wish thein| to have but very little, as for the Book Concern, I wish it was divided, one part in New York the other in Baltimore, with proper men to manage the, work under the special notice of the conferences nominated. I think John Wilson[A preacher in New York. He became book editor after Ezekiel Cooper.] a very proper Mon. As a clerk he is masterly and a tolerable linguist.

            I am happy to feel very willing the Conference should make or unmake me as they please, but as to presiding elders I am well assured that we send such boys that we need presiding elders to keep discipline, and are a most useful and respectable body of men. I am of an opinion that every yearly conference ought to have liberty to elect their own bishop, perhaps when they have one hundred members, and these bishops should be stationed for 6 years and visit the four or five districts regularly; that if there should be general bishops to visit they ought to be chosen by the General Conference and if it was not myself, I would say the senior resident Bishop should always reside on the stations. I think that each conference could bring a bishop under the same discipline as they do the presiding elders. The seven conferences will soon be one hundred strong. When this is the case they will have a preacher in charge and nearly as much territory as I had at the first. I am very unwilling to be shouldered forward in the business.

            I most sincerely wish the temporal and spiritual part of our discipline to be separated. I think if the General Conference is not connected it will be the greatest curse the Methodists ever had. It ought only to meet once in six years and none under six or eight years, to meet in it. As to complaints about the books, .we had them heavily laid in, at the New York Conference. I fear we shall lose the admission of thousands of members this year. The General Conference ----[ Letter defaced.   ] ---- to kill the presiding eldership, others to make archbishops-Some to get a toleration for --- --- others to have our local preachers ordained over congregations to escape taxing. We have tax ---- at Wilbraham and oh that they would take him to jail because he will not pay them ---.

                                                                        Francis Asbury[The letter is not signed.   ]

                                                                        Drew University Library

            This is one of the few letters extant in which Asbury deals with a particular preacher's case. Lyell had become a problem and became more so until he located.

                                                                        PHILADELPHIA, PA.

                                                                        July 21, 1803

To Thomas Morrell[Pastor in New York. ]

My dear Brother:

            Grace and mercy crown thee. Since I came to this city I received a letter from Brother Lyell[[Thomas Lyell had been a very useful preacher. He was pastor in Richmond, Virginia, in 1799 when the new First Church building was erected. However, this is the beginning of the end of Lyell as a Methodist preacher. On May 11, 1804, Asbury records in the Journal, 1852 edition, that he received a letter from Lyell saying he wished to be located. Asbury says, "I am willing that he should belong to the church (Episcopal) people: I believe they have more need of him than the Methodists have. I answered Mr. Lyell by telling him that I would do what I could to procure him a location at the Boston Conference." Lyell became a preacher in the Episcopal Church.]

 by order and wish of elder Pickering[George Pickering, presiding elder on the New England District.] to detain Brother Lyell longer in the Boston District, thinking it would be me for the Glory of God, for Brother Lyell to stay longer. I have but one only source of supply, to send Brother Michael Coate, that will be along as soon as possible. I wish you to write to Brother Lyell to Newport and let him know according to his and elder Pickering's wish, I excuse his coming this year to New York, and that he should continue under the direction of elder Pickering for the present year.

                                                                        In haste and yet yours, most affectionately,

                                                                        Francis Asbury

Garrett Biblical Institute Library

            Preceding letters have referred repeatedly to the division in the church in Philadelphia. It is clear that Ezekiel Cooper had been tied in with one of the factions. Asbury had been pointed with him in trying to heal the division. Now Asbury has come to the end of his patience; and following a vote of the conference, Asbury is asking him to move to Baltimore.

                                                                        SOUNDERSBURG, PA.

                                                                                    July 24, 1803

To Ezekiel Cooper[Book Agent.  ]

My dear Brother:

As the Executive of the Conference, and your friend, I think it my duty to tell you that I think it your duty, in obedience to the Conference, to move to Baltimore[In Phoebus, Beams of Light on Early Methodism in America, 280-81, are listed Cooper's objections to going to Baltimore. There are nine of these. Interestingly, he did not go to Baltimore. One of the points he made was that the General Conference had fixed the Book Concern in Philadelphia and that the Philadelphia Conference had no power to remove it. The General Conference of 1804 decided that the Book Concern should be located in New York. Ezekiel Cooper was re-elected as Book Agent, and John Wilson was elected Assistant Book Agent. Cooper was stationed 1805-6 in Brooklyn and in 1807-8 in New York. In 1809 he resumed his itinerant labors and was assigned to Delaware. Eight years later he located. He spent the next eight years in this relation on the supernumerary list in the Philadelphia Conference. During the latter part of his life he resided in Philadelphia. He died at eighty-four years of age in the sixty-second year of his ministry. (See Stevens, History of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Vol. III.)] about the first of October. You know there have been many changes among your brethren. I hope that you also will bear your part. It is my wish, if I cannot keep the people out of contention, to save the preachers. As to any reports that are false and groundless, you can easily combat them in Baltimore as well as in Philadelphia, by word or letter.                             ,

            I think of any preacher that has been stationed in Philadelphia for six or seven years, I would conclude it was time for him to be removed if he was not local, and altogether out of my power. I wish every person that can be moved to be moved, and everything that can be done for peace and union to be done.

            You are not ignorant that other preachers have been called suspended, and some removed at a word, to serve the wishes of some dissatisfied minds. You will take your turn with others, and as there was such unanimity in the vote of the Conference, it ought to have weight with you. As an individual your going or staying is nothing to me. I have no spleen against you. I only want peace in the societies, by any good means. I wonder why you should wish to stay where you must have had great distress of mind, and I have thought it may be the cause of your ill health. I am most sincerely, your friend,

                                                                        F. Asbury

                                                                        Garrett Biblical Institute Library

            A shortened form of this letter was published in Briggs, Bishop Asbury:

a Biographical Study. Coke was in England, and Asbury is giving him a yearly report of the work in America.

                                                                        NEAR LITTLE YORK, PENNSYLVANIA

                                                                        July 28, 1803

To Thomas Cokey [Bishop Coke.]

My very dear Brother:

            To whom I wish grace, mercy, and peace, in life and death. This will probably be the last letter I shall write you till the General Conference. Brother Whatcoat [Bishop Richard Whatcoat.

] and myself, since April, have had a tour of 1800 miles from Baltimore thro' Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Northamptonshire, and Vermont. I am now, after three days recess, setting out on a new route to the new state of Ohio, and to Kentucky. I purpose then to recross the Allegheny mountains to the south, that I may be at the Conference in Augusta, January 1, 1804. Our seven conferences are so appointed, and it will require between 4 and 5000 miles riding to attend them all; and the journies must be completed in less than ten months.

            You will see by our returns that our number is increased above 17,000 this year; and, considering that many have died, and removed, we have certainly added above 20,000. As to the northern and eastern churches, I fear they are as lukewarm as any churches in the whole world, a few ministers and people, however, are roused from their lethargy: and our prospects become more pleasing daily in those parts. We have sent three choice young men as missionaries into Lower Canada.[ Samuel Howe, Reuben Harris, and Luther Bishop. (See Minutes, 1802 and 1803.)] In many parts of Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia, it seems as if there would never be a cessation of the work of God; but that we should spread and groifc continually as in days past. In the heat and haste, I cannot write largely I am, with the same friendship as ever, your's,

                                                                        Francis Asbury

            P.S. Brother Whatcoat is under a serious affliction thro' the gravel. shall leave him to rest in Maryland, till the General Conference. I go on sick or well, lame or blind, sometimes not able to mount or remount^' without help in my rheumatic complaints. But we must be at home every where, if it be under a tree, and prepared to meet death at any place with pleasure, thro' grace. I thought once, should I live to see preaching established in all the states, and one hundred in society in each of them, I should be satisfied. Now, I want millions where millions are. Farewell! Farewell! My love to all you please to mention my name to in Great Britain, by word or letter.[ Coke was about to depart for America]

                                                                        The Methodist Magazine, 1803, 47

           At Pittsburgh, Asbury wrote two letters to George Roberts, one on August 18 and the other the next day, August 19. He is reporting upon his journey, his health, and the work. A notation on the envelope has "Pittsburgh, Aug. 1803." However, as this letter indicates, he was at the camp meeting, "30 miles from Pittsburgh."

                                                                        CAMPMEETING, PA.

                                                                        August 18, 1803

To George Roberts[Pastor, Philadelphia.]

My dearly beloved George:

By the grace of God I have now hobbled along near 410 miles from the city of strife, but in this wilderness I have only a lodging place as a wa)| fairing man that tarries but a night. I have been chiefly in Penn's woodseast and west. I feel as if God would shake this wealthy and sinfully secure people and work powerfully among the sections and remnants of the people in their narrow lives of parties and opinions.

            I have had a serious dysentery for two weeks. In the first, I crossed the great mountains alone, in part, the last I rested, but was very unwell. I am now in better state (all is well). It was needful my stomach and bowels should be scoured before I go into the new state [Ohio.] where it is more sickly and the lands are low. I am now waiting upon a campmeeting that begins this day, near the Monongehela River, near a place of notoriety called the Old Fort, 30 miles from Pittsburgh. It is the first of the kind attempted in this country, and we expect thousands. I shall not close this letter till I see what is done, if anything special, you shall hear.

            Report says there was a mighty falling among the Presbyterians, but it is reported they are without conviction or conversion, some at least. They say the elders go among them and hold the candles but they will not or cannot say anything to the distressed. They want God to work alone. They want God to work without man or means except preaching and ordinance to see if his work is real. The people report they bark and snatch, and make strange noises. No wonder if they are left poor souls to themselves to contend with the devil and sin, and sinners. Mark, these are only reports. I think it is either judicially come upon these people or it is because they are come to the birth and there is not strength to bring forth for them and the people, that are stricken, educated in the doctrine that they can do nothing, they will not attempt to do anything. Here I will stop till I come to Pittsburgh if spared and receive thine and have something more to write.

                                                                        F. Asbury

                                                                        Methodist Historical Society of the Baltimore                                                                            Conference (Lovely Lane Museum)

            The preceding letter to George Roberts was written before Asbury came to the camp meeting. Now he is reporting on the camp meeting. This letter was not finished on the nineteenth. He also reports/or the twentieth and twentysecond. This letter and the preceding letter are written together as if one letter.

                                                                        PITTSBURGH, PA. [Though this letter has Pittsburgh, it is evident that it was started at the camp meeting thirty miles from Pittsburgh. Evidently Asbury took it to Pittsburgh and mailed it there as it is postmarked "Pittsburg."]

                                                                        August 19, 1803

To George Roberts[Pastor, Philadelphia.]

This day I came to camp a very feeble Mon. The camp is upon a most agreeable mount under a noble lofty shade-2000 hearers at the sound of the trumpet came to the big stand to hear the little preacher Francis. Several have been stricken, 6 hopefully brought through, oh that there may be hundreds this night. General Fleming with many others will lodge in the camp. No Presbyterians have appeared of the ministerial lines as yet.j I hope we shall have 2 if not 3000 tomorrow. I am very unwell. I mean to go and fire a gun each day and retreat. I wish that the city of Philadelphia had a 4 days seige of preaching day and night with a new preacher everg other time, 2 sermons and exhortations in the morning and the same in the afternoon or night. And they keep at it till something would be done in the Academy and St. George's,

            Oh what a foolish child of old age I am. Just as if the citizens would bei such fools as the backwoods people. Be assured we had great order and great attention. Oh to see old men and old women dwelling in tents, their wagons and horses put away, not a trifler upon the ground this day, but many fainting and falling and crying for mercy. I will stop now, 20th of August. Sabbath Day 21 I preached at the camp, Isaiah Iv, 6-7. Monday 22 I preached again, I Corinthians xv, 58. It was an open season. The exercise continued the greater part of the night, many powerfully stricken, we guessed at near one hundred, how many converted we know not. Several sermons and exhortations by night and day, about 15 travelling and local preachers and people from one to two thousand every day. Great order was observed. We had watchmen by day and night to guard the camp. A poor Roman brought whiskey to give away, but some of thej guards seized his bottle.

            Tuesday the provisions of many families failed and they had been 6 or 7 days from home. They struck their tents and moved their waggons, but as we were coming away many were coming and I desired Thornton Fleming [Presiding elder, Pittsburgh District.     ] and James Quinn[Pastor, Redstone Circuit.] to go and preach to the people. What the end will be I cannot say or when! Brother Renshaw was a strict observer and took notes. I will desire him to write to some of you some correct accounts. I am very weak with the heat and the state of body I am in, but I am greatly comforted to see the zeal of our brethren. I hope the preachers in the city live in great love. I cannot write you all but you are welcome to my letters in communion.

                                                                        My love to all you please to present it to,

                                                                        F. Asbury

            P.S. I must ask your pardon for writing so bad but I have had so little rest and hardly a place or home for anything and my lameness and affliction presseth me down.

            Methodist Historical Society of the Baltimore Conference (Lovely Lane Museum)

Asbury was traveling through Pennsylvania in August, 1803, going west, Bishop Whatcoat became sick and "concluded he must stop, or go on with me and die by inches." Asbury needed another companion. He wrote the letter on August 26. (See Journal.) Henry Boehm joined Asbury and trawled with him, but it is not stated how long. Asbury arrived at Isaac Meek's in Ohio on Monday, September 12, and left on Tuesday. Evidently Daniel Hitt and his brother, Benjamin, met Asbury at Meek's a few days later. They had ridden 120 miles together after leaving Meek's by September 17.

                                                                        PENTZ, NEAR YORK, PA.[ Place and date supplied                                                                       from internal evidence of letter and the Journal.]

                                                                        August 26, 1803

To Daniel Hitt

My dear Child:[ Daniel Hitt, presiding elder on the Alexandria District.]

            I thought, by your not appearing sooner, that you were sick. I feel peculiar delicacy about your going at all. Your brother says you are much weakened and dejected: as such I fear to take you into the wilderness and to leave you there. You are now in a healthy country, and among your friends; and there I wish you to stay. If Benny[Benjamin Hitt, who with his brothers Daniel and Martin were preachers. ] can come, if you can spare him, unless you wish him to stay and take care of you. I can employ John Cullison[Pastor at West Wheeling, Ohio.] to go to Hockhocking. I shall wait at Meek's[Isaac Meek lived just across the Ohio River in Ohio from Brook County, West Virginia.] till Tuesday: I could till Thursday, but then the ride would be too dreadful. I have been pretty severely wrought in this District with labor and affliction. I am better, but I find it hard to spare myself. We have good prospects in this country. As to wine, barks, and Twilington,[ A medicine evidently.] I have them at your service. I have also most excellent laudanum; forty or fifty drops might break the ague. But I had one man to die in my company, and always feel afraid of forcing sick men. Brother Whatcoat said he must leave me or die, and that by inches. Your brother will tell you my talking, as you have my writing. Thine as ever,

                                                                        F. Asbury

            The Quarterly Review of the M.E. Church, South, XIV (I860), 472

            This is only a fragment of the letter which Asbury wrote to Coke at this time. We are indebted to Drew for this much of it.

To Thomas Coke[Hardly anything is known about Coke's last visit to America in the autumn . 1803. This extract, however, has been used by various of his biographers, occasional with slight emendation and the rephrasing of Drew's hints about the remainder of ti letter. Drew's extract and notes from the original must probably be regarded as o chief authority until the original turns up.

On this, his last, visit to America, Coke carried the address from the British Conference, dated August 5, 1803, asking for his return to England if possible, but adding "for your sakes, we anxiously desire his preservation among you, which we pray you may long enjoy." (See letter of May 9, 1800.) In Coke's letter of January 6, 180 however, he confesses to the American Methodists that on this occasion in 180 "I had at the British Conference which was held just previous to my sailing, various severe struggles in my mind, whether I should take my solemn final farewell of n European Brethren or not. I did repeatedly give them strong reason to doubt wheth they should ever see me again, & was faithful in repeating to them the solemn engagements I was under to you. But I accepted of their address as an honest Man, though greatly love & respect my European Brethren." Coke then records how, when ' arrived at Petersburg, in Virginia, he had made up his mind to stay in America, intending first to visit the North, and to return in time for the General Conference. A viv impression that he should go to meet Asbury at the Georgia Conference, howevf caused him to set off for Georgia. He reached Augusta, Georgia, just before Asbury late December. The cold-shouldering which he experienced at the conference convince him that he "ought not to labor in America, unless the General Conference wou consent to comply in some degree with its engagements." (See Duren, Asbury, 260-6.(Frank Baker.)]

... I was a little surprised at the reception of a letter dated Petersburg only about fifteen days after one dated Dublin, July 4, 1803. You hav hastened your escape from the storm and tempest of war and of water. 1 may you find a safe retreat, and a field of great usefulness upon ov continent.

                                                                        Francis Asbury

            Drew adds: "This letter, which is dated Charleston, Nov. 23, 1803, an is addressed to Bishop Coke, Light-Street chapel, Baltimore, points 01 a track of nearly 5000 miles in length, which he was earnestly invited ( pursue, in order that he might visit the seven annual Conferences on the continent prior to his return. This was a tour, which, according to M Asbury's letter, would take him about nine months to accomplish."

            Samuel Drew, The Life of the Rev. Thomas Coke, LL.D., 1817, 315

This note is a draft upon the treasurer of the Chartered Fund for or, hundred dollars to be paid to Ezekiel Cooper. The money was to comefroi the funds deposited by the South Carolina Conference.       


January 4, 1804

To the Treasurer[There is no indication to whom it was written. It is not in Asbury's handwriting. ]

            To the Treasurer of the Fund, chartered in its State of Pennsylvania for the support of its supernumerary and superannuated preachers, and its orders of Preachers, etc., & of its Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

            Pay on sight to the Revd. Ezekiel Cooper, Elder of its Methodist Church aforesaid one hundred dollars on account of its Annual Southern Conference of its said church sitting in Augusta aforesaid, this day and year above written.

                                                                        Francis Asbury

                                                                        Thomas Coke

Drew University Library

            As usual Asbury is in South Carolina in January. He has held the conference at Mr. Cantaloups house in Augusta, Georgia. He found Coke already in Augusta. Now he has come to Camden. He makes plans for Bishop Coke and also some observations. Uppermost in his mind are the problems of Philadelphia, the printing business, and the division of the churches.

                                                                        CAMDEN, S.C.

                                                                        January 11, 1804

To George Roberts[Pastor in Philadelphia. He was moved to Baltimore in 1804. (See Minutes.) He had been serving the Academy Church.]

My very dear Brother:

           Grace, mercy, love and peace, be with thee and thine now and forever. My life is growing shorter, so must my letters, you will accept one for two. I have been supported to travel upwards of 2000 miles since my departure from Philadelphia. God is good. I know I feel our prospects are great westward and southward. Our increase in the two conferences between 3 and 4000, exclusive of the wastages of such a body. By going immediately to Charleston, I missed your letter. My overseer[He called Stith Mead overseer. (See letter, January 21, 1804.)] held me to it last month in the woods of Georgia. Open houses, frequent rains. My children love me to death, and would do it to death; if I would suffer it.

            We have upwards of 30 in the West and about 40 in the South Conference, preachers, but we want many more. Bishop Coke was at Augusta, he is now in Charleston, he is going by advice to Boston, he will be in Philadelphia March 3. He will take his old lodging if convenient. From what I can judge the British Conference[The British Conference insisted Coke be loaned to them.] will be half undone if he is absent, they have and will have wave after wave. Therefore I hope the General Conference will permit the Doctor to go without any difficulties. I am deeply sensible that neither Dr. Coke nor any other person can render me any essential services in the Annual Conferences, more than the members of said conferences can do, unless they will take the whole wod out of my hands.                      

            We cannot attempt printing any original books in America unless the preachers choose to make little books and run the venture. Let us only get the form well formed and two reprinting offices established. One in Baltimore, on the authority of the Baltimore Conference and in New York the same, their limits of sale fixed, the appropriations of the profits settled. 1 would have a temporal economy and a spiritual pure form of doctrine and discipline fixed. We may send our papers to the Arminian Magazine Only establish pure reprinting press. I wish the society would lift 40 or 5C dollars to the Doctor's travelling expenses. You and the Union Church are fixed. St. George's [Joshua Wells was pastor at St. George's Church. ] have the man of their choice. I must appoint a man of my choice then you may live together until unity or death.

            As to Francis and Philadelphia farewell. Farewell, so is my mind al present. What changes I know not may take place to change my mind. You say you love me. I believe you do, you will consider a short letter when 1 tell you I love you and you will not wish me to come into the fore of Brotherly strife. I have no more letters from C. C.[ Probably Cornelius Comegys, a layman who had been a trustee of the Charterel Fund along with Jacob Baker. (Jesse Lee, A Short History of the Methodists, 270.) ] He has my mind I advise the Doctor to preach for both but to lodge at Jacob's [Very probably Jacob Baker's.] if convenient as aforetime. Brother Shaffer and his trustees may work it as they please. If the Philadelphia Conference will suffer themselves to be imposed upon, they may. Farewell! My Christian salutations to all friend;and especially Sister Roberts.

                                                                        Fr. Asbury

                                                                        P.S. You may write to me in Norfolk by March 22.

            Methodist Historical Society of the Baltimore Conference (Lovely Lane Museum)

            Thomas Sargent was pastor with George Roberts in Baltimore in 180'. and was reappointed there in 1805. In 1806 he was appointed to Alexandria Virginia, in the Baltimore Conference. George Roberts was pastor at Light Street in 1804 and 1805. He located in 1806. Michael Coate was in New York in 1803 and 1804, and was moved to Philadelphia in 1805 and to Baltimore in 1807. Evidently Asbury had in mind moving Coate to Baltimore in 1804. However, Coatees marriage in that year prevented the move. Coate's brother Samuel had been pastor in Baltimore in 1802-3.

                                                                        CAMDEN, S.C.

                                                                        January 14, 1804

To Thomas Sargent

My very dear Brother:

            Grace and peace attend thy spirit, now and ever. While I was premeditating an answer to thy letter, according to thy wishes; a second came from Elder Roberts, informing me that matters had not succeeded to thy wishes, and that you were about to return to your station. I had thought it might have been agreeable to Michael[Probably Michael Coate, who was in New York.] to have returned.[ Reference to "returned" is not clear.] I hope you will rub it out till Conference, and then a change may take place. I hope you will feel easy under your disappointment in your appointment; marriage[Reference is evidently to Michael Coate's marriage in 180 to Mrs. Mahetable Briggs, widow of John Briggs. (See Minutes, 1815.) ] is an holy and honorable station, but critical and important; and better to be done but once in a man's life, for life, home, health is an object upon both sides. We must hope there is a providence in these things, and a man will be able to suit himself better or it may be better to continue, single in this all men must judge for themselves, that is, Christian men and ministers.

           I rejoice exceedingly at the prospects of the work of God. Our Western Conference commands 1200 miles in length, and six hundred in width swiftly peopling[Asbury's method of figuring not clear.] by one hundred thousand every month in a year besides that are born annually, healthy, fertile lands, and a renewal of religion. The Kentucky or Western Conference is the eye and centre of the West, at present we have upwards of 30 travelling preachers; in the South Conference about 40. We have great openings and I feel as if 1804 would be a year exceeding all we have yet known in America.

            Men of little minds will be imitating bad examples, and the malignant fever of division may spread from great to little men, and from great to small places: we have great revivals of religion in our cities and towns but is in building churches, in church divisions, in struggles for power to rule the ministry and form them to their own wishes, and parties and passions.

            Oh Timothy keep that which is committed to thy charge, never be bought or sold or swayed from rectitude and rules of right. I am happy to hope the travelling ministry and Conference will keep clear of parties.

            We have great union in the body and we should pray for a healing, lovin' spirit. I have sent off your letter but your people were not in my way.

            My love and Christian salutations to all you please. I am as ever thine

                                                                        Francis Asbury

            Methodist Historical Society of the Baltimore Conference (Lovely Lane Museum)

            The Journal records that Asbury came to Mr. Remberfs on Black River on Monday, the sixteenth of January. On Saturday, the twentieth, and. Sunday, the twenty-first, he preached at Rembert's Chapel. A large part of the letter is taken up with a discussion of what to do about Bishop Coke

                                                                        BLACK RIVER, S.C.

                                                                        January 21, 1804

To Daniel Hitt[Presiding elder on the Alexandria District (Virginia), Baltimore Conference.]

My dear Daniel:

            By the Grace of God: God is good, is gracious to me. I passed with great ease the Alps of America: and had to drop down upon the head waters of Seleuda; and made my way to Charleston, and spent one wee in our own house.[ The preachers' house built upon the pattern of Wesley's preachers' houses for sing preachers.] Here Mr. Brazer, only surviving minister of M Hammett's [Hammett had led a split in Charleston, the Primitive Methodist. Both the plate. "referred to here had been Hammett churches. On January 28 and 29 Asbury preach( in Georgetown House, which he called "Mr. Hammett's house, now fallen into 01 hands." Hammett was a British preacher who came to America in 1791.] fraternity, has had conversation with me and Bishop Col about giving up the whole concern to us. At present we preach in Georgia town and Charleston House, formerly called Mr. Hammett's. We ha\ the only possession of Georgetown House.

            From Charleston I made my way to Augusta. Overseer Mead[Stith Mead, pastor at Augusta, Georgia.  ] too care to keep me hard at it in Georgia in the penance houses in the count of last month. I have returned to answer my letters from the North; an then to proceed to Georgetown, Wilmington, Newbern, Washington N.C., Tarborough, Norfolk, and on to the Virginia Conference. W have had some remarkable seasons of grace; rather, I may say, "they, our brethren, have, in Georgia, South and North Carolina, and ol Virginia, as you have doubtless heard, from the latter. It is said one hundred souls were converted at a meeting in Brunswick, [ Brunswick Circuit, Virginia.] exclusive of Negroes.

            Bishop Coke, after intending to the North, made a sudden tack, an came to meet me at the South Conference in Augusta. He is now in Charleston, and will set off, the last of this month, on a tour to Boston and the towns in the way, and return to the General Conference. It appears to me that he cannot well be spared from the Irish and English Connection, without irreparable damage; and I suppose he is better fitted for the whirl of public life than to be hidden in our woods. If I must bear the burden now laid upon me, I can call forth men of our own to help me, in or out of conference, men that know men and things by long experience.

            Our printing work, as to new publications, will be checked; but if the preachers choose to risk their credit, and reputation, and interest, they may print small matters. I judge it will be best to give the special charge of printing to the Baltimore Conference, and the same to the New York Conference; and let these two Conferences give special direction to the agent what books to print annually, and allow a commission for the work.

            I believe all the Doctor wants is to keep his name amongst us; and truly he has crossed the sea often enough to purchase this, and sent thousands to serve us. But I am in delicate circumstances to meddle any way. The British brethren may wish a bond of union, and they may object as much to keeping the Doctor's name in the Minute arrangement as we, while he is absent for half a year with us. In short, my enemies have charged me with rejecting Mr. Wesley, and all blame would revolve upon me if any thing in the Doctor's case was to take place; and yet, if I was to say much, I should be censured as one of the trinity of British Bishops.

            If I was to advocate his liberty to be in England, it would be said I wanted to reign alone, and was jealous of a competitor, when every man of information must know that no man need be elated with the honor, if he does his part in the work of a Bishop in America. You will think of these things.-

                                                                        As ever, thine,

                                                                        F. Asbury

            P.S. I should be glad of some brief, correct account of the work in America. I will send my Extracts of Letters[It is not clear what Asbury meant by his "Extracts of Letters." However, there is probably an explanation of the fact that some letters published in the magazines are only excerpts.] to be printed in the Arminian Magazine in Europe. The Baptists and Presbyterians publish plentifully. It will be best for us not to strive, nor cry, or cause our voices to be heard! our increase will be known, and our success will be seen enough to raise envy. The Quarterly Review of the M.E. Church, South, XV, (1861) 157, 158

            This is not a letter but is a page taken from the Journal. It is most interesting because Asbury gives what is equivalent to a defense of his "celibacy.'" It was written in Georgetown, South Carolina. He prefaces the statement by saying, "I have suffered in my flesh, and have had 'deep waters' of a temporal and spiritual nature to wade through." Though Asbury makes many statements about his preachers marrying, some of which may seem to be derogatory to women and the married state, he was not a woma. hater. Witness how often he stayed at widows' homes and how frequel were his references to women, to their affairs, to the preachers' wm to women's ministrations to him. He corresponded with many. Befoi he left England, he seems to have seriously considered marrying Nanc Brookes.

                                                                        Asbury's Defense of His Celibacy      

                                                                                    January 27, 1804

            We reached Georgetown. I have suffered in my flesh, and have ha "deep waters" of a temporal and spiritual nature to wade through.

            If I should die in celibacy, which I think quite probable, I give the following reasons for what can scarcely be called my choice. I was called [Converted.] in my fourteenth year; I began my public exercises[Preaching.] between sixteen an seventeen; at twenty-one I travelled[A traveling lay preacher, not ordained.]; at twenty-six I came to America[He arrived in America in 1771.] thus far I had reasons enough for a single life. It had been my intent of returning to Europe at thirty years of age; but the war continued, an it was ten years before we had a settled, lasting peace; this was no time to marry or be given in marriage. At forty-nine I was ordained superintendent bishop[At the Christmas Conference in 1784.] in America. Amongst the duties imposed upon me t my office was that of traveling extensively, and I could hardly expect t find a woman with grace enough to enable her to live but one week 01 of the fifty-two with her husband: besides, what right has any man to the advantage of the affections of a woman, make her his wife, and by voluntary absence subvert the whole order and economy of the marriage state, by separating those whom neither God, nature, nor the requirements of civil society permit long to be put asunder it is neither just in generous. I may add to this, that I had little money, and with this little administered to the necessities of a beloved mother[Elizabeth Asbury.] until I was fifty: seven; if I have done wrong, I hope God and the sex will forgive me: is my duty now to bestow the pittance I may have to spare upon the widows[The names of many may be found in the Journal and Letters.] and fatherless girls, and poor married men.[ The preachers were paid very little and were frequently in want when swampj by emergency expenses. Also they often failed to receive all their salaries.]

                                                                        Asbury's Journal, January 27, 1804 f

            It seems as if Kendrick was restless in Charleston, and Asbury is wgiri him to settle down. In the letter Asbury tells about other appointments and men. He shows his concern for what he calls at the time his "beloved" Charleston. In the letter he shows his sensitiveness to the criticisms of his administration. He gives his reasons for appointing Nicholas Walters to Charleston with Kendrick rather than Isaac Cook.

                                                                        GEORGETOWN, S.C.

                                                                        January 29, 1804

To Bennet Kendrick[No address, but evidently to Bennet Kendrick, pastor at Charleston, South Carolina. (See Minutes, 1804.)]

My very dear Brother:

            Grace and peace be multiplied to thee from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. As brother M'Caine[Alexander M'Caine, presiding elder of the Salisbury District in 1804.] will fill up the after service of the day, I will sit down and talk with you upon paper. I am seriously sensible of the difficulties of your charge, and I should not wonder if you confer with flesh and blood, if you should wish to quit your station: but you will remember what God has done for you, and what He may do by you, if faithful: I had my reasons for not sending brother Cook,[ Isaac Cook. (See Minutes, 1804.)] and equal reasons for appointing brother Walters.[ Nicholas Walters. (See Minutes, 1804.)] Our young men have fallen sacrifices to towns, brother Ormand lately.[ William Ormand, native of North Carolina, died in 1804. (See Minutes, 1804.)]

            I feared brother Cook had not stability enough: not that alone, but he is very active in the country; he is stationed with a married preacher, that has halted the last year, and may fail this, and leave a growing circuit, (Oconee, Ga.,) for six weeks, chiefly with only one preacher. I aim to make present and future provision in the circuits for the year. Brother Walters is an aged man, a good preacher, and has travelled over a great part of the continent, and has preached above thirty years. I hope his life will be spared. I hope we shall have better security both for his soul and body than for any younger Mon. He failed in the circuit (Broad River, Ga.) by bad health last year; and will not be able to supply one this. Brother Daugharty[Daugharty, presiding elder of the Seleuda District, South Carolina. (See Minutes, 1804.)] came from Conference with a murmur, and appears by Dr. Coke's letter, to continue so, you may let him see this letter and welcome.

            Brother Daugharty wished brother Hill,[ James Hill. (See Minutes, 1804.)] a young man of slender habits of body: that station might hazard his life or soul. He is now upon a very consequential station (Broad River, Ga.): both the preachers failed in supplies last year, not for want of piety, but health: perhaps he will have 4000 hearers. I cannot give them a preacher and take him away, as. to McDean,[ Perhaps John M'Vean, a preacher on the Camden District. (See Minutes, 1804.)] you have known his difficulties; added to this the highei expectation of the people is fixed upon him in Camden; and the circui as the colleagues with both these named men, are not so very promising i great acceptance. I cannot disappoint the people, and change the station! of the preachers upon such slight ground. We must be men and noH children,                            |

            I had rather brother Daugharty had written many letters to me, than| have influenced one that could not judge by reason of his want of information of men and things. I feel for Charleston! I do most earnestly entreat you if possibly you can to keep your station. I will look out. I know them ought to be three preachers, if you occupy three churches. If I find a ma» I can spare, and trust, I will send one between this and the General Conference. But what is it We have about forty travelling preachers in the South Conference; and we want fifty, we have about forty in the Virginia Conference, and we want sixty, Georgetown wants one wholly, so does Camden, and you want three in Charleston; Columbia goeth without, bi ' I hope brother Evans[Llewellin Evans was on the Edisto and Orangeburg Circuit in 1803. (See Minutes 1803.)] will set out again. Poor Wilmington! I have see a preacher there from the South Carolina Conference.

            My dear soul, go on, God will reward you; give this year's labors. am in peculiar circumstances. Two of the preachers have located, that had hoped would have travelled. The preachers that travel appear to be too much afraid of employing married preachers, but it must, it will be done. Brother M'Caine leaked it out that you wanted three preachers, that I also know, but I cannot, I dare not take either of the preachers from their present stations.

            The urgent letter I received from Dr. Coke has hurt my mind, that the friends should think I could pursue such a course toward the preachers, to make a breach in two districts and circuits to serve two hundred people in Charleston. The Georgians are very ----[ Defaced.] you know, that adverse part that say "Pope" and what not. To give the people a preacher an<L snatch him away. The presiding elders are afraid of moving a preacher and yet urge me to turn them over like a ball among nine-pins. I do not station the preachers among the people as if they were school-boys, and the people our servants or slaves. I do not trifle with my office in that manner, this is not the way to magnify it, we must hold the confidence the preachers and people very sacred.

                                                                                    Yours as ever,


                                                                        Southern Christian Advocate. [Transcribed by Albert                                                                D. Belts]

            For a second time within a month Asbury is writing to Kendrick. The iiwion in Charleston is being healed, and Asbury considers Kendrick a most important figure in bringing peace. He compares the Charleston and Philadelphia divisions.

                                                                        NEWBERN, N.C.

                                                                        February 20, 1804

[To Bennet Kendrick][ This letter has no address. However, the facts indicate Bennet Kendrick. He was pastor in Charleston. Jeremiah Russell was appointed to Wilmington at the South Carolina Conference in January, 1804. (Minutes.) Coke was present at the conference. (See Minutes.) Norman evidently did not go to Charleston, and Nicholas Walters was placed there. (See former letter to Kendrick, January 29, 1804.)]

My dearly beloved Brother,

            May the good will of Him that dwelt with Moses in the bush, be with thee. I conclude matters are just as you have given me information. Before you will receive this, I hope brother Norman [Kendrick had asked for help.  ] will be with you before this will come to hand, then you will do the best you can. I advise you to be steady and uniform, and go on as you have begun, step by step. You will have your difficulties on both sides the question; as to the Doctor [Bishop Coke ] I thought the Bishop did not read him right; but your statement perfectly meets my view of things. I am pleased with our prospects in Georgetown, and Wilmington, in the latter they are pleased with brother Russell[Jeremiah Russell. ] and I trust and hope they will grow this year, in grace, and numbers; dear souls, they were praying most hours of the night, whenever I waked I heard cries going to God the Lord for mercy.

            We have concluded that we must add twenty feet to the pulpit end of the house. I presume you will have the heaviest siege in Charleston this year you ever had in your life, but the grace of God is sufficient for you; it will be a great matter to heal a division,[ The Hammett division.   ] that has been made for thirteen years: we cannot cure that division[Between St. George's and the Academy Church. ] in Philadelphia, that has been but of three years' standing, and they are all violent Methodists and fit to die almost with religion, but we have strange spirits in the world, and the Church and people appear sometimes bereaved of grace and reason also. You will find it best to preach pointedly on Christian tempers and duties, to add energy and fire to your administrations; above all, meet your colleagues, and spend a prayer and band[The early Methodists had societies, classes, and bands. The band was the smallest unit within the class. (See editions of the Discipline from 1785 to 1844 for rules on the bands; see also Buckley, History of Methodism, I, 97-98.)] hour together every week, to keep love and union among yourselves, and the God of love and peace be with you all.

            Write me at farthest to Baltimore in May, or even to Norfolk about the 1st of March if any thing critical should turn up, or if Brother Normar should fail; that I may look out for help from some other quarter.

                                                                        I am most affectionately thine,

                                                                        F. Asbury

            Southern Christian Advocate. Transcribed by Albert D. Belts

A Letter from Isaac Robbins to Daniel Hitt

                                                                        FAUQUIER, VIRGINIA

                                                                        March 1, 1804

[To Daniel Hitt]

Dear Brother:

            Through the bountiful mercy of an indulgent God, I enjoy health and am satisfied it is my one desire to render it back to him again by attempting to answer in some degree the noble end for which I was created. I sometimes feel a fear, lest I should ever grieve his gracious, blessed, ever blessed spirit. I sincerely pray this fear may increase; that while I may be employing my hands to obtain a competency for my little family to live without distracting care, & to administer a little refreshment to a weary traveling pilgrim that may chance to turn in with me for a night. I may not forget from whom all blessings flow. I may not forget I have to die, and after that, stand before an impartial judge.

            I had the satisfaction of meeting with Doctor Coke, Tuesday, 22 ultimo, & after hearing him preach in Fredericksburg: he travels in the stage, has gone on to Boston, Lynn, & Marblehead (all within 20 miles of each other) and will return to be at General Conference. I had to go on before him Wednesday from Fredericksburg to Dumfries & prepare for his reception, give out an appointment by candle light. Brother Essex & myself rather suspect by his going thus on a visit before Conference, & by the answer he makes when any one asks him with respect to his future residing with us, that he contemplates on returning to England his answers are, "I am the servant of the General Conference for Jesus sake."

            Perhaps it will be well for you to write Bro. Essex by post or some other immediate conveyance, as he is on an uncertainty about his Q. Meeting, he has forgotten the time. As I could not get any to fill my next Saturday & Sabbath appointment, I am debarred the pleasure which 1 anticipated of being at your Rector-Town Quarterly Meeting. May the presence & power of almighty God be with you all. I am sorry to say, except about Greenwich, we see no appearance (but very little) of a revival. My respects to your Brother & Sister.

                                                                        Yours affectionately,

                                                                        I. Robbins

                                    Letters to Daniel Hitt, Ohio Wesleyan University Library

            The letters written to Zachary Myles deal with British matters. Myles was an Englishman and continued his contacts with the home country, especially with his brother, William Myles, a British preacher.

                                                                        CHESTERTOWN, MD.

                                                                        May 5, 1804

To Zachary Myles[A lay merchant friend in Baltimore, brother of William Myles, Methodist preacher in England who was author of the Chronological History of the People called Methodist. Zachary is sometimes called Zachariah.]

My very dear Brother:

            I accept with pleasure the book. As to anything I can do of a like nature I am not able to say. I have an imperfect account in a daily journal. Whether it will ever be published before or after my death I cannot say. There is a delicacy attends the business. I am at present and of late in the same line, only like a post boy, we have many critics, and bookmakers upon this continent. I have learned this never to perform works of supererogation for the Connection.

            I am well pleased with what your brethren and Bro. Atmore[See letter to Atmore, June 3, 1803.   ] have done. Should any of the British Brethren write to me upon any given subject, they may expect I shall treat their letters with respect, but I may be in some distant parts of the continent. My riding a slim brute for 15,000 miles in three years will not admit me to carry only a few shirts, 2 books, the minutes, and my Journal, only a second pantaloon, so that 30 pound weight is heavy for me. I must stretch my blanket for a tent, and bed, upon the earth, if need be.

            We have about 400 effective travelling preachers and about 2000 local. I am without a register of the names of each line. We have added at least 40,000 in 4 years in the membership through the 17 United States, and the Mississippi, and Northwest Territory, including the two Canadas. I am as well pleased, the old connexion[Editor of The Arminian Magazine.] should publish our arithmetick records,[ Statistics.] as that we should in America, we all have knowledge and are increasing in book making, but perhaps we are more nice than wise, and hard to please. Will you send the British Arminian Magazine for 1803 Only wish to see if they have published any American newspapers. I ask only the loan, I suppose you know where I lodge I am yours,

                                                                        F. Asbury

                                                                        Methodist Historical Society of the Baltimore                                                                            Conference (Lovely Lane Museum)

            It is evident that, though there is no date attached to the letter, it was written at the General Conference in Baltimore. Under date of May 7,1804' Asbury refers in the Journal to this debate and the attack upon the ruling eldership. In spite of the fact that he says he did not take part in the conference debates, he is presenting his side to Ezekiel Cooper. He urges Cooper to argue the case. There was much discontent in this conference. There were 204 elders in the church, and only 111 were present. Before the end of the conference only 70 were present. In those days the discontents went home when they could not carry a point. It was the last conference when the three bishops were together. Coke was not there in 1808, and Whatcoat died after two years. Asbury made the comment to Daniel Hitt in the letter of August 22, 1804, "/ think never did a General Conference sit longer with more ado, and do less, and perhaps the less the better."

                                                                        BALTIMORE, MD.

                                                                        May-,1804[No date on original. However, Henry Willis was appointed to Fredericktown in 1803 and had been there a year. Asbury was beginning the thirty-third year of hil ministry in America. (See Minutes, 1804.) The conference began on May 7 in Baltimore and lasted until May 23. (See Journal, May 7, 1804.)]

To Ezekiel Cooper[Book Agent of the church. The Book Concern was moved to New York by the conference of 1804.]

My Brother:

            He that rules over man should be just. I am deeply sensible of the difficulties that will always attend my speaking or entering into the debates of either a general or yearly conference. If I have gained anything by serving you to my 33rd year of my age in America it is your confidence and affection. I wish some person will see when it comes to elders, (or one that has the charge of circuits, changing class leaders,) that the characters and standing of those men may be considered, as also the number that were put out of office in a certain City[Reference seems to be to Philadelphia. Ezekiel Cooper was familiar with that split, since he was there.] and the men that were imprudently put in. Then let it be seen that all the men upon that floor are presiding elders,[ In this conference Thomas Lyell moved the abolition of the presiding elders. The motion was lost. See Drinkhouse for an account of the conference. History of Methodist Reform and Methodist Protestant Church, I, 498-501.] as having charge of district, circuits, towns, or stations.

            The elders of stations say that it is their right of office to rule, who is Lord over them A few men a thousand miles distant from them may write to them. The presiding elders have given up their right of a station, or circuit, to be at the will of another. They hold their appointment 4 years or during pleasure, the pleasure of the Episcopacy, and great displeasure of the circuits' eldership, at least of some of them. I conclude then they have beaten these presiding elders, being Romans untried, and condemned. I hoped it was correction, but I am now afraid it was in some designed as destruction. These presiding elders have not asked this office, they have said we are not fit for the office in our own estimation; the Episcopacy say fit, perfectly fit, who is fit, a sense of your own unfitness will make you diffident, humble, and diligent. The elders of stations, what I would call local presiding elders, in towns, cities, and circuits, do not stand at the will, or at the change of another as to office, go where they may. In short every deacon that has the charge, every elder, that has the charge of a station or circuit is a presiding elder in a sense, and there would be no help for the greatest abuses of power was it not for the presiding elders interposition and quartermeetings. I beg you would state the case of those ejected leaders. Many will know where you mean. I am,

                                                                        F. Asbury

            P.S. I think of all the men in the connection, we ought to guard against these office right men, the local presiding elders for 3 or 4 years[This General Conference passed a restrictive rule which forbade the appointment of a preacher longer than two years. This lasted for more than fifty years. Drinkhouse, History of Methodist Reform and Methodist Protestant Church, I, 499.] in a town or city that can change or suspend leaders of 20 or 30 years standing, but let it be known for what fault. Are they erroneous or are they immoral Then expel them. Henry Willis is called a local preacher by some but how many miles has he ridden in the year attending every other Sabbath at Frederick Town, 30 miles a day a man so afflicted as he is, mark that-

                                                                        Garrett Biblical Institute Library

            The General Conference of 1804 was presided over by the three bishops, Coke, Asbury, and Whatcoat. That point is important here, as the date and place, as well as the person to whom addressed, are not in the original. Reference is made within the letter to "every one of the bishops," which naturally refers to more than two. At the Genera! Conference of 1800 there were only two bishops until Whatcoat was elected. Before the conference of 1S08 Whatcoat had died, and Coke was not present. Neither the conference of 1800 nor 1808 fits into the statements of this letter. Attacks were made in the conference on the episcopacy. Provision was made to elect a president of an annual conference "by ballot, without debate, from among the presiding elders." Provision was made for the trial of a bishop. A limitation was put on the bishops prohibiting a bishop from appointing a pastor to a charge for longer than two years. Bangs, Jesse Lee, Phoebus, Tees, and others discuss the Conference of 1804.

                                                                        BALTIMORE, MARYLAND[There is no date or place on this letter. It is clear, however, that it was written during the General Conference of 1804, which met in Baltimore from May 7 to May 23.]

                                                                        May -, 1804\

To Ezekiel Cooper[It seems that this letter was written to Ezekiel Cooper. The preceding letter of May -, 1804, written to Cooper is much like this. Roberts' name put on the envelope by someone indicates that it was written to George Roberts. However, Roberts is not listed among the members of the conference in Bangs' History ofM.E, Church, II, 151-52. Also at this time the relations between Roberts and Asbury were badly strained, as letters included in this volume show. Therefore Cooper seems to be the person to whom the letter was written.]

Dear Brother

            The minute you have to consider tomorrow morning has neither sens nor meaning in it. You might turn it to criminate or clear every one of the bishops. If ours is a travelling episcopacy, how can we exercise it if we do not travel, and how can we commit ourselves Without motion there is no transgression. If we travel at large where Through England, Scotland and Ireland, or any or all Europe, or the world or through the United States or British Provinces Oh, mend it or end it. The stationed preacher knows where he is to travel, the circuit preacher hath his circuit, the presiding elder hath his bounds. He ought to attend every quarterly meeting. Then give your bishops their work and all the men that are ambitious for the honour, give them all the honour and all the labor and all the reproach. They must travel at large, to meet all the seven conferences in a conference year, if able, and if not able as many as they car Let no excuse be admitted but lameness or blindness or a total incapacity to ride.

            Now is your time, and see ye what the noble sons of America will do. Make what bishops you please but fix their bounds of labor as well as power. Let them never stop, but by a council of the ablest physicians that shall declare them unfit for duty. Never, never, never, admit a bishop before you have his work laid out. Let him, let his ministry, let his people know what he has to do. This is one way, this is the only way to secure yourselves as a Conference. Let them[The bishops.] sit mute, while you work out their lines and if your present bishops will continue to serve you upon such conditions, well; if not they may refuse. Let a man know what he has to do then he will know when he has done. If it is five hundred or five thousand miles to ride in a year he can then tell when he has done the work appointed him. I came from my knees to write. I will not sign my name.[ The letter was unsigned.] You may take and make all the good out of this you can.

            P.S. It shall not be estimated to have the appearance of a degradation if at the end of 4 years or any period of time a preacher is taken by the bishops out of the eldership of the Districts and put into the towns or circuit stations.

            P.S. This done in some form will grace the appointments of the above nature that have and may hereafter take place and that the preachers themselves in the first instance, and all their friends in the second that do not know the causes of such changes, may be assured it is not for any fault or is anything like a degradation.

            Methodist Historical Society of the Baltimore Conference (Lovely Lane Museum)

            It was customary for the General Conference to address the British Conference. The addresses exchanged reports on the state of the church with felicitations each to the other. Here the chief question is where Coke should work.

                                                                        BALTIMORE, MD.

                                                                        May 23, 1S04

To the British Conference[Answer to the address of the British Conference.]

            Very dear and much-respected Brethren: Your very kind and affectionate Address, from your Manchester Conference, dated August 5, 1803, was presented to us by our mutual friend and brother, Dr. Coke. We always have received, and hope we ever shall receive, such Addresses from our European brethren with the most cordial sentiments of Christian friendship: for it is our ardent wish that the European and American Methodists may improve and strengthen the bonds of Christian union, and, as far as possible, reciprocally build each other up in the great and glorious work in which they are both so arduously employed. And we pray God, that our adorable Jehovah and Redeemer may graciously be pleased to prosper both you and us, in the blessed work of proclaiming the honour of our God, and of saving the precious souls of mankind.

            We truly rejoice in the information given us, that the Gospel of Christ continues to prevail among you; and that the mission among the native Irish is marked with hopeful and flattering prospects. Also we are much pleased with the account of your prosperous mission in the Principality of Wales, in the Welsh language. Whenever we hear of the prosperity of Zion, and of the success of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, it gives us a pleasure far superior to our powers of expression: hence we are ready, upon such occasions, with overflowing hearts of love and gratitude, to proclaim with shouts of joy and gladness, "Not unto us, not unto us; but unto the Lord," be more than human ascriptions of praise, of honor, and glory! May the united labors of your hands be prospered more and more!                             1

            We also feel peculiar satisfaction at the information of the union and 1 harmony which subsist among you in doctrine and discipline; and that you, our elder brethren, are steadfast and persevering in the divine articles of the essential Divinity and efficacious Atonement of Jesus Christ, and of all the benefits and privileges flowing from and connected with the same. We cordially embrace the same important truths, and are determined to stand fast and immovable in the support of this essential foundation of all our hopes.

            The Lord has greatly prospered our labors in these United States. We  have at present increased to considerably more than one hundred thousand members; and the work still goes on in a great and glorious manner. Our brethren are much in the spirit of active perseverance in this blessed work; and, by the blessing of God, our hearts are cemented together in love, and are bound in the ties of harmony and unity.

            With respect to our much-esteemed friend and beloved brother, Dr. Coke, he arrived among us last autumn, and was received by us with the sincerest sentiments of respect and affection. Since he came into these States, he has traveled about three thousand miles, visiting our principal societies, and preaching to crowded assemblies of our citizens. His time, we trust, has been profitably and acceptably spent among us, and we hope agreeably to himself. Your request for his return was taken into our most serious and solemn consideration; and, after a full and deliberate examination of the reasons which you assigned in favor of his return, we have concluded that there is a probability of his being more eminently useful at present in the way you point out, than for us to retain him; especially as our beloved Brother Asbury now enjoys better health than he did some years ago; and as we believe, with the assistance he can receive from our esteemed Brother Whatcoat, the work of superintending the Church and Societies can be accomplished in the absence of Dr. Coke. We therefore have consented to the Doctor's return to Europe, upon the express condition that he will return to us at any time, when three of our Annual Conferences shall call him; or, at farthest, that he shall return to our next General Conference.[ This 1804 address was answered by the British Conference of 1807. "The Address from the British, to the Methodists' General Conference in America," signed by John Barber as president at Liverpool on August 11,1807 (Coke was again secretary), again transmitted the quadrennial request: "What you have said concerning our present worthy Secretary, the Rev. Dr. Coke, is no matter of wonder to us, who have long known his value, the honour which our Lord has put upon him, and have enjoyed the fruit of his labor. By a vote of our Conference this day, he was requested to continue with us, in case his engagements with you, which he has repeatedly stated to us, should admit of it." Coke did not return for the General Conference of 1808 and never saw America again. The address of the British Conference of 1807 did not mention his projected visit, nor did the American leaders endeavor to enforce the strict terms of his agreement with them. Though politely expressed, there is no real warmth in the letter; and Coke's reception at the Georgia Conference at the outset of his tour in 1803 had convinced him that he was really not wanted in America. (See the letter of November 23, 1803.) (Frank Baker.)

            And now, dear brethren, we commend you to our common Lord, and to the word of His grace; hoping that you and we shall ever remain in the unity of the Spirit, and bonds of Christian and ministerial affection, until we meet together around the throne of God. Pray for us.

We are, very dear and much-respected Brethren, truly and sincerely yours, in our Lord Jesus Christ.

            Signed, by order and in behalf of the General Conference,

                                                                        Francis Asbury

                                                                        Richard Whatcoat

                                                                        John Wilson, Secretary

            Nathan Bangs, A History of the Methodist Episcopal Church, //, 155-57