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The Letters of John Wesley





To the Rev. Mr. Heath

EPWORTH, July 3, 1790.

DEAR SIR, -- I was concerned at not hearing anything of or from you for so long a season; but was not surprised, as I have been so frequently forgotten by my friends. And yet I thought Mrs. Heath and my dear children would remember me during the short time that I have to stay upon earth. This is not likely to be long. In August last [See letter of June 6.] my strength and my sight failed me nearly at once; but they have been restored in some degree, so that my work (blessed be God) is not hindered....

If I live to see Dr. Coke (who is now in Ireland) we must have an laircissement on this head. I should be exceedingly glad to have another sight of you and your dear family. If I see him, I will talk about it with Dr. Coke. As he sent you out I really think he should bring you back. I will advance fifty pounds for you all to employ as you think best. [Coke was President of the Irish Conference, which met in Dublin on July 2. See letter of June 25, 1789.] The peace of God rest upon you and yours! --I am, dear sir,

Your ever affectionate friend and brother.

To John King [1]

EPWORTH, July 3, 1790.

MY DEAR BROTHER, -- Mr. Mather said nothing to me about you; nor did Brother Hopkins say anything more than you heard. Have a care of evil surmising. If you can provide preaching for the Sundays during the Conference, you may come to Bristol. -- I am

Your affectionate brother.

To Mr. King, At the Preaching-house,

In Stockton-upon-Tees.

To his Niece Sarah Wesley

LONDON, July 13, 1790.

MY DEAR SALLY, -- As my friends would take no denial I stole two or three days to see them, only by adding an hundred and fifty miles to my journey. If my life is prolonged till October, I hope we shall meet then. If not, we shall meet in a better place. It is remarkable that you should be at that gentleman's house. I do not remember I ever saw him but once. That was when I was at Temple Church, and he was laughing and making sport most of the time. [Mr. L-----. See letter of July 31 to her.]

If you had covered the wound with white paper wetted with spittle, it would have stuck on till you was well. 'Perhaps it might still. But if not, the coal poultice will cure you in a few days. Pound common coal at fire; sift it through a sieve; mix this powder with warm water; put this poultice, half an inch thick, into a linen between on the sore, changing it every four-and-twenty hours. But you will have need of patience. -- I am, my dear Sally,

Yours most affectionately.

To Mrs. Cock

NEAR BRISTOL, July 22, 1790.

MY DEAR SISTER, -- I have reason to bless God that I can still see a little; so that I can as yet go on in my business: and it is enough if we are enabled either to do or to suffer His holy and acceptable will. It is no wonder if among yourselves there arise men speaking perverse things. Wherever our Lord sows His good seed Satan will endeavor to sow his tares also; and they are suffered, the tares and the wheat, to grow up together for a season, to exercise our faith and patience. I hope Mr. Stevens will be more and more useful among you, as his eye is single; therefore there can be no objection to his continuing with you a little longer. [William Stevens was appointed to Portsmouth in 1790; he died in 1813.] I am always glad to hear a little of your experience; and, indeed, the more the better. Wishing you and yours every blessing, I remain,

Yours most affectionately.

To Sarah Rutter [2]

BRISTOL, July 27, 1790.

MY DEAR SISTER, -- I thank you for forwarding me the account of your brother's death. There is something in it very remarkable.

You do well in taking care of the lambs of the flock. See that you never be weary of that labor of love. [See letters of Dec. 5, 1789, and Oct. 18, 1790.]

Mr. Jenkins will stay with you another year. I hope you can now give God your whole heart. O let not your sisters stay behind you. -- I am, dear Sally,

Yours affectionately.

To William Robarts

BRISTOL, July 28, 1790.

MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I am glad you have at last done with temporal business. I believe you was called to better things long ago.

To-morrow se'nnight I hope to set out for Wales, where I purpose, God willing, to spend about three weeks and then about a month in and near Bristol. [The Conference had begun in Bristol on July 27. Wesley left for Wales on August 5, got back to Bristol on the 21st, and left on Sept. 27.] You will then be able to inform me where you purpose to settle. O work while the day is! Perhaps it will be short with you as well as with, dear Billy,

Your affectionate brother.

To John King [3]

BRISTOL, July 31, 1790.

MY DEAR BROTHER, -- It is well if anything can restore Brother Clarke's health. He seems to be nearly worn out as well as me. If anything can give him a new constitution, it will be a long journey. Therefore, when he strangely consented to go to Dublin, I could not say anything either for it or against it. And I did not know whether the thing were not from God when I saw both him and his wife so thoroughly willing to give up all. Indeed, designing and crafty men have blown up such a flame in Dublin as none can quench but a man of faith and love. If I should live, I do not purpose he should stay there any longer than a year. But who knows what a year may [bring] forth It may carry both me and you and them into a better world! Therefore let us live to-day! -- I am

Your affectionate brother.

To Sarah Mallet

BRISTOL, July 31, 1790.

DEAR SALLY, -- I do not remember the receiving of any letter from you which I have not answered. I should be afraid my silence might give you pain; and that I would not do on any account. I am glad you have broken off that intercourse which could not but be a snare to you. Nothing is more profitable to us than to cut off a right hand or pluck out a right eye. If you go on in the work to which God has called you, you will frequently have occasion for that. You will have trials upon trials. But what then Is not His grace sufficient for you And has He not in every temptation made a way for you to escape that you might be able to bear it Let not your hands hang down; God is on your side. And if you are reproached for His name's sake, happy are you; and the spirit of glory and of God shall rest upon you. If you have a desire to have any books, let me know, and I will give orders to the Assistant. [See letters of Dec. 15, 1789, and Dec. 13, 1790.] It is well that you are acquainted with our sister [Elizabeth Reeve. See letters of Feb. 21, 1789, and Dec. 13, 1790.] that likewise is sometimes employed in the same labor of love; Providence has marked you out for friends to each other, and there should be no reserve between you. Pour all your thoughts and troubles and temptations into each other's bosom. God will often comfort and strengthen you by each other! May His peace continually abide with you both! -- I am, my dear Sally,

Yours affectionately.

To his Niece Sarah Wesley

BRISTOL, July 31, 1790.

MY DEAR SALLY, -- If your hurt is not yet healed, [See letter of July 13.] apply thereupon the poultice of powdered coal prescribed in the Primitive Prysick. In a few days it will cure any sore on a human body. I scarce ever knew it fail. The two grand medicines for a sin-sick soul are pain and pleasure. We hope [that] is most proper in any particular case. God is certainly the best Judge; and we may safely say,

I'll trust my great Physician's skill;

What He prescribes can ne'er be ill.

As Mr. L----- was at [Temple Church] too distant for me to see his behavior, I am in hopes there was a mistake, and that the case was really such as he describes it. The rather because I do not remember there was anything tending to move laughter either in the subject or the sermon.

Mr. Henderson [Richard Henderson, of Hunham. See letter of Sept. 9, 1765.] has been ill for a long time and is far from well now. I saw him yesterday and he seems to have himself small hopes of recovery. I should be glad [to meet] any of the Miss Mores [Hannah More and her sisters, who were her friends. Charles Wesley and Wilberforce first met at Miss More's. See Telford's C. Wsslay, pp. 266, 280.]; but I doubt my conversation would not suit them, I have little relish for anything which does not [concern] the upper world. Peace be with all your spirits! -- I am, my dear Sally,

Your ever affectionate Uncle.

To Miss Wesley, In Chesterfield Street,

Marybone, London.

To William Wilberforce [4]

BRISTOL, July 1790.

Last month a few people met together in Lincolnshire to pray and praise God in a friend's house. There was no preaching at all. Two neighboring Justices fined the man of the house twenty pounds. I suppose he was not worth twenty shillings. Upon this his household goods were distrained and sold to pay the fine. He appealed to the Quarter Sessions; but all the Justices averred the Methodists could have no relief from the Act of Toleration because they went to church, and that so long as they did so the Conventicle Act should be executed upon them.

Last Sunday, when one of our preachers was beginning to speak to a quiet congregation, a neighboring Justice sent a constable to seize him, though he was licensed, and would not release him till he had paid twenty pounds, telling him his license was good for nothing because he was a Churchman.

Now, sir, what can the Methodists do They are liable to be ruined by the Conventicle Act, and they have no relief from the Act of Toleration! If this is not oppression, what is Where, then, is English liberty the liberty of Christians yea, of every rational creature, who as such has a right to worship God according to his own conscience But, waiving the question of right and wrong, what prudence is there in oppressing such a body of loyal subjects If these good magistrates could drive them not only out of Somersetshire but out of England, who would be gainers thereby Not His Majesty, whom we honor and love; not his Ministers, whom we love and serve for his sake. Do they wish to throw away so many thousand friends, who are now bound to them by stronger ties than that of interest If you will speak a word to Mr. Pitt on that head, you will oblige, &c.

To Mrs. Armstrong

BRISTOL, August 4, 1790.

MY DEAR SISTER, -- A few days ago I was thinking much of you, probably at the very time you was writing. I was wishing to hear something of you or from you, so that your letter came exactly in time. It gives me pleasure to find that your heart is still tending to its center. Cheerfulness is a great blessing; but it is exceeding liable to be carried to an extreme, especially where it is a natural liveliness of temper, which I believe is your case. I have often loved you for it, especially as it was joined with softness and not harshness. But I thought it was apt to betray you into levity either of spirit or of conversation; whereas we can hardly grow without deep and steady seriousness. My sight is no worse than it was some months since, and my strength is considerably increased. It is not impossible I may live till spring; and if I do so, I am likely to see Ireland once more. The hope of seeing one that loves me (as I am persuaded Jenny Armstrong does) would be no small inducement to my undertaking a voyage, although the sea affected me the last time more than it ever did before. [See letter of June 24, 1789.] However, receive at least this token of real affection from, my dear Jenny,

Yours in wider love.

To Jane Armstrong, Athlone.

To Thomas Roberts [5]

HAVERFORDWEST, August 13, 1790.

DEAR TOMMY, -- Now I shall make a trial of you whether I can confide in you or no. Since I came hither I have been much concerned. This is the most important circuit in all Wales; but it has been vilely neglected by the Assistant, whom, therefore, I can trust no more. I can trust you even in so critical a case. I desire, therefore, that, whoever opposes, you will set out immediately, and come hither as soon as ever you can. I wish you could meet me at Cardiff or Cowbridge. You will see by the printed plan when I shall be at either of those places. If you have not notice enough to do this, meet me to-morrow se'nnight at the New Passage, unless you can get a passage by the weekly boat to Swansea. If it be possible, do not fail. It may be this may be the beginning of a lasting friendship between you and, dear Tommy,

Yours, &c.

To Sarah Baker

HAVERFORDWEST, August 14, 1790.

MY DEAR SISTER, -- I will endeavor to be at Cowbridge [See letter of Oct. 27, 1784, to her.] on Thursday the 19th instant before two o'clock. My design was to have dined at Mr. [Flaxman's]; but I now purpose to wait upon Mrs. Paynton. I am glad to hear Betsy is with you; and am, dear Sally,

Yours very affectionately.



To William Mears

PEMBROKE, August 15, 1790.

MY DEAR BROTHER, -- It is my desire that all things be done to the satisfaction of all parties. [Mears was a useful local preacher in Rochester. Compare letter of Oct. 29, 1786.] If therefore it be more convenient, let Brother Pritchard's family [John Pritchard was at Chatham and Charles Boon at Canterbury in 1790.] and Sister Boon lodge at Chatham house. Why have you not set on foot a weekly subscription in order to lessen your debt Have neither the preachers nor the people any spirit Who begins I will give two shillings and sixpence a week (for a year), if all of you together will make up twenty shillings. -- I am, dear Billy,

Your affectionate brother.

To his Niece Sarah Wesley [6]

NEAR COWBRIDGE, August 18, 1790.

MY DEAR SALLY,--I always mildly reprove the profane person or (what is worse) the profane gentlemen; and many of them will receive it civilly if not thankfully. They all know (captains as well as common men) that swearing is not necessary; and even now we have captains of our men-of-war who do not swear at all. The captain of the ship ['The Samuel, Captain Percy' (Journal, i. 413).] wherein I came from America did not swear at all; and never was man better obeyed.

You have certainly need for thankfulness as well as patience, and you should be sure to take as much exercise every day as you can bear. I wish you would desire George Whitfield to send you the chamber-horse [For indoor exercise. See letters of July 17, 1785, and March 13, 1788.] out of my dining-room, which you should use half an hour at least daily.

If I live to see London, I think I must take you to Twicken-ham. Surely Mr. Galloway owes to the world a true account of the American revolution. All the question is whether it should be published during his life.

What says my brother -

When loss of friends ordained to know,

Next pain and guilt the sorest ill below. [S. Wesley, Jun., on Dr. Gastrell.]

But this you did not take into the question. Neither that--

Let each his friendly aid afford,

And feel his brother's care.

Perpetual cheerfulness is the temper of a Christian, which is far enough from Stoicism. Real Christians know it is their duty to maintain this, which .is in one sense to rejoice evermore.

I think Sammy and you should converse frequently and freely together. He might help you, and you might help him. I take him to have a mind capable of friendship, and hope if I live to be more acquainted with him.

The gentleman you mention just called upon me, but did not stay, as I had company with me. To-morrow I hope to be at Bristol. -- I am, my dear Sally,

Most affectionately yours.

To James Creighton [7]

COWBRIDGE, August 19, 1790.

DEAR SIR, -- The proposal concerning a lecture for the instruction of the preachers, full counsel must mature. If I live to return to London, we may then consider it at large. When we meet we may talk largely on the subject, and weigh what may be said for and against it.

I have often advised those who wrote me accounts of lives and deaths, 'Write enough; I can shorten your accounts as I please.' Few people know what part of this is material. You and I must determine this.

Do not scruple to speak to Mr. Dickinson concerning the funerals, which I will confirm in due time. And speak twice or thrice in public of coming punctually at the time; telling 'otherwise we will not stay for you.' Mr. Peacock [John Peacock in the Grimsby Circuit.] may have what books he pleases either for himself or for the poor.

Peace be with you and yours! I hope to be at Bristol on Saturday; and am, dear sir,

Your affectionate friend and brother.

To Rev. Mr. Creighton, At the New Chapel,

Moorfields, London.

To Joseph Burgess [8]

BRISTOL, August 22, 1790.

MY DEAR BROTHER, -- You are called to do all the good you can for the present in Ireland. Your staying there a little longer may be a blessing to many souls. I believe we can easily procure another preacher to supply your place at Liverpool for a month or two; so you need be in no pain upon that account. A little difficulty in setting out is a good omen.

Wishing all happiness to you and yours, I am, dear Joseph,

Your affectionate brother.



To Jasper Winscom

BRISTOL, August 28, 1790.

DEAR JASPER, -- I do not see how you can be spared from your own circuit till another is procured to take your place. [Winstom had been Assistant in the Isle of Wight, and was now appointed to Oxfordshire.] Neither do I conceive how Sarum Circuit can bear the expense of another preacher. I am wellnigh tired of it. I have had more trouble with this circuit than with ten circuits besides.

You did exceeding well in adjusting matters at Whitchurch; but I am sorry for poor Sister Haime. [John Haime, Wesley's soldier preacher, died at Whirchurch on Aug. 18, 1784. See letter in March 1744 to him.] I am sure she was a good woman once.

I do not understand what you mean as to Winton. How did William Thom raise them eight pounds [William Thom had been Assistant at Saturn.] And on what account did you pay six pounds -- I am

Your affectionate friend and brother.

To Mr. -----

BRISTOL, September 2, 1790.

MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I hope it will be found that your wife's tendon is not broken but only sprained.

I cannot make any alteration in the plan of my journey, which gives me about as much work as I can do. -- I am

Your affectionate brother.

To Adam Clarke [9]

BRISTOL, September 9, 1790.

DEAR ADAM, -- Did not the terrible weather that you had at sea make you forget your fatigue by land Come, set one against the other, and you have no great reason to complain of your journey. You will have need of all the courage and prudence which God has given you. Indeed, you will want constant supplies of both. Very gently and very steadily you should proceed between the rocks on either hand. In the great revival at London my first difficulty was to bring in temper those who opposed the work, and my next to check and regulate the extravagances of those that promoted it. And this was far the hardest part of the work, for many of them would bear no check at all. But I followed one rule, though with all calmness: 'You must either bend or break.' Meantime, while you act exactly right, expect to be blamed by both sides. I will give you a few direction: (1) See that no prayer-meeting continue later than nine at night, particularly on Sunday. Let the house be emptied before the clock strikes nine. (2) Let there be no exhortation at any prayer-meeting. (3) Beware of jealousy or judging another. (4) Never think a man is an enemy to the work because he reproves irregularities. Peace be with you and yours! -- I am, dear Adam,

Your affectionate friend and brother.



To Robert Carr Brackenbury

BRISTOL, September 15, 1790.

DEAR SIR, -- Your letter gave me great satisfaction. I wanted to hear where and how you were; and am glad to find you are better in bodily health, and not weary and faint in your mind. [See letters of Nov. 7, 1788, and Dec. 7, 1790, to him.] My body seems nearly to have done its work and to be almost worn out. Last month my strength was nearly gone, and I could have sat almost still from morning to night. [The Diary shows that he was far from idle, despite his weakness. See Journal, viii. 83-90 (Diary for Aug.), 94.] But, blessed be God, I crept about a little and made shift to preach once a day. On Monday I ventured a little further; and after I had preached three times (once in the open air) I found my strength so restored that I could have preached again without inconvenience. I am glad Brother D----- has more light with regard to full sanctification. [Was this William Dieuside, in Guernsey] This doctrine is the grand depositum which God has lodged with the people called Methodists; and for the sake of propagating this chiefly He appeared to have raised us up.

I congratulate you upon sitting loose to all below, steadfast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free. Moderate riding on horseback, chiefly in the South of England, would improve your health. If you choose to accompany me in any of my little journeys on this side Christmas, whenever you was tired you might go into my carriage. I am not so ready a writer as I was once; but I bless God I can scrawl a little--enough to assure you that I am, dear sir;

Your affectionate friend and brother.

To his Niece Sarah Wesley

BRISSTOL, September 27, 1790.

MY DEAR SALLY, -- Will it not be best for you to spend a little time at Margate [She went there. See next letter.] as soon as possible I hope to be in town on Saturday, October 3. And before the end of October you should be at the City Road, if not [already gone] to Twickenham. I believe sea-bathing will brace your nerves; but I pray [you not to drink] sea-water. [See letter of Sept. 8, 1788.] If you look into the Primitive Physick, you will see what] is the diet-drink [In the Primitive Physick under the head of 'Scorbutick Sores' is given a drink to be taken 'fasting and at four in the afternoon.' This is probably the 'diet-drink' to which he refers. It is called 'a diet-drink' in the later editions. See W.H.S. iv. 72.] therein prescribed for scorbutic sores; though your disorder is not come so far, I expect it would thoroughly purify your blood in a month's time.

I shall be right glad to see Mr. Galloway. [For Joseph Galloway, see letter of Aug. 18.] A few such acquaintance as him and Miss Galloway I wish you to have.

I wish you was likewise acquainted with that lovely woman Mrs. Wolff [Mrs. Wolff, of Balham. From their house Wesley went home to City Road to die.]; 'the perfect pattern of true womanhood.' Peace be with all your spirits ! -- My dear Sally, adieu!

To Miss Wesley, In Chesterfield Street,

Marybone, London.

To his Niece Sarah Wesley

LONDON, October 5, 1790.

DEAR SALLY, -- I am glad you are situated so comfortably. Mrs. Whitcomb does really fear God, and I hope before you leave her house will know what it is to love Him. Providence has not sent you to spend a little time in Margate merely on your own account. [See previous letter.] Before you leave it she with several others shall have reason to praise God that you came. See that you lose no time. A word spoken in season, how good is it! Warn every one and exhort every one, if by any means you may save some. 'In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for thou knowest not which shall prosper.' Say not, 'I can do nothing, I am slow of speech.' True; but who made the tongue You have seen Sister Boon, a loving, simple-hearted woman. [Wife of Charles Boon, now at Canterbury. She was probably living at Chatham. See letter of Aug. 15.] Be a follower of her, as she is of Christ. Why should you not meet in her class I think you will not be ashamed. Is it not a good opportunity of coming a little nearer to them that love you well Let me have the comfort of one relation at least that will be an assistant to me in the blessed work of God.

I must visit other places before I come into Kent, as well as visit the classes in London; so that I cannot be at Margate till the latter end of next month. If you stay there till then, you will see me, otherwise probably in London. Everywhere you will be welcome to, my dear Sally,

Your affectionate Uncle.

To Joseph Sutcliffe [10]

COLCHESTER, October 12, 1790.

DEAR JOSEPH, -- I have heavy news to tell you, perhaps [to] try all the resignation which you have. After long weighing the matter in my mind, I cannot think of a preacher more proper to save Mr. Brackenbury's life [See letter of Sept. 15.] and prevent his preaching himself to death (which he has almost done already) than Joseph Sutcliffe. I must [ask] you to go as soon as possible by Southampton to the Isle of Jersey. [Evidently to take the place of John Bredin. See letter of Jan. 3, 1791.] You will find a most hearty welcome both from him and from all the people. Understand it will be a cross; but I believe it will be a blessed one. I have wrote this morning for another to come and supply your place in Oxfordshire. -- I am, dear Joseph,

Your affectionate friend and brother.



To Thomas Taylor

NORWICH, October 14, 1790.

DEAR TOMMY, -- It is a pity that good and useful man should be torn away from the people. But we know no way to help it. So 'what can't be cured must be endured.'

According to your account, Brother Shaw [Thomas Shaw, his colleague in Hull, was 'remarkable for dis- interestedness and zeal'; he died in 1801.] and his wife have seventeen pounds a year. My judgment is, and yours was, that . . . out of the common stock. But I think one that has as much or more already cannot honestly demand or receive anything out of it. Peace be with you and yours! -- I am, dear Tommy,

Your affectionate friend and brother.

To Jasper Robinson [11]

NORWICH, October 17, 1790.

DEAR JASPER, -- Surely never was there more need than there is at present, that you should all continue instant in prayer. If God is for us, who can be against us But I am afraid lest God should be angry with us. It should be with us a time of much self-examination. Every member of our Society should weigh himself in the balances of the Sanctuary, and try whether his walk is acceptable before God. All the world can do us no hurt unless God has a controversy with us.

I know nothing of Bro. Ramshaw's changing with Bro. Evans unless they and you desire it. -- I am, dear Jasper,

Your affectionate friend and brother,

To George Snowden

NORWICH, October 17, 1790.

DEAR GEORGE, -- I have sent John Bredin word that he is to return to Ireland and be a superannuated preacher. He is not able to act as a traveling preacher. His shattered constitution will not admit of it. [See letter of June 1, 1789.] I never thought of appointing him for the Bath Circuit. It was he himself that desired it.

Now, George, be zealous! Warn every one and exhort every one, that by all means you may save some. Everywhere restore either preaching or prayer-meeting in the morning. The more we deny ourselves the more we grow in grace. Let Sister Snowden also stir up the gift of God that is in her; no preacher's wife should be useless. -- I am, dear George,

Your affectionate friend and brother.

To Mr. George Snowden, At the

Preaching-house, In Bath.

To Sarah Rutter [12]

NORWICH, October 18, 1790.

MY DEAR SISTER, -- You gave me a very agreeable account of the state of our friends at St. Neots. I did not doubt, but if you yourself stirred up the gift of God which was in you, God would give a blessing thereto, and you soon would see the fruit of your labor. You have good encouragement to proceed. Still thus make use of the faith and talents which God hath given you, and He will give you more faith and more fruit; for there is no end of His mercies. I want to spend a little time with you at St. Neots. When I am able to fix the day, Mr. Bradford will send you a line beforehand. Peace be with all your spirits! -- I am, dear Sally,

Yours affectionately.

To Mr. York

LONDON, October 22, 1790.

MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I think you know I would refuse you nothing which I could allow with a clear conscience. But I cannot, I dare not consent to the violation of that rule which was fixed in the late Conference: 'No preacher is to preach three times in a day to the same congregation.' It is neither good for his body nor soul. -- I am, my dear brother,

Your affectionate brother.

To Mr. York, In Stourport,

Near Kidderminster.

To James Macdonald [13]

LONDON, October 23, 1790.

MY DEAR BROTHER, -- You have great reason to praise God for the late glorious work at and near Newry. And I make no doubt but it will continue, yea and increase, if the subjects of it continue to walk humbly and closely with God. Exhort all our brethren steadily to wait upon God in the appointed means of prayer and fasting. The latter of which has been almost. universally neglected by the Methodists both in England and Ireland. But it is a true remark of Kempis, 'The more thou deniest thyself, the more thou wilt grow in grace.' -- I am

Your affectionate friend and brother.

To Thomas Roberts

LONDON, October 23, 1790.

DEAR TOMMY, -- 'Tis well if you do not bring upon yourself more trouble than you are aware of by going out of the circuit before all things are thoroughly settled therein. However let it be so, if you can provide tolerably well for it in your absence. You have great [need] to make haste back; for a circuit does ill without its assistant. [Wesley had sent him to Carmarthen, though he was stationed at Bristol. See letters of Aug. 13, 1790, and Feb. 8, 1791.] -- I am, dear Tommy,

Your affectionate friend and brother.

To Mr. Roberts, At the Preaching-house belonging

To the Rev. Mr. Wesley in Carmarthen.

To his Niece Sarah Wesley

HINXWORTH, October 27, 1790.

MY DEAR SALLY, -- I am glad you have found benefit at Margate; and am persuaded the sea and the journey together will help you, not only as to your particular complaint but as to your health in general.

On Saturday I am to return to London, and to remain a fortnight before I begin my next journey. So you should contrive to be with us when you can. You know you are always welcome. I [stay] here to write two or three lines before I set out for Bedford, [He left Hinxworth at twelve that morning for Bedford.] lest you should fear your letter had miscarried. -- Dear Sally, adieu!

To Adam Clarke

BEDFORD, October 28, 1790.

DEAR ADAM, -- I am glad my letter had so good an effect. I dearly love our precious Society in Dublin and cannot but be highly sensible of anything that gives them disturbance. I am glad our leaders have adopted that excellent method of regularly changing the classes. Wherever this has been done, it has been a means of quickening both the leaders and the people. I wish this custom could be effectually introduced. You did well to prevent all irregular and turbulent prayer-meetings, [See letter of Sept. 9] and at all hazards to keep the meetings of the Society private.

Poor Mr. Smyth is now used just as he used me. He must either bend or break. Although you cannot solicit any of Bethesda to join with us, yet neither can you refuse them when they offer themselves. You do well to show all possible courtesy to Mr. Wm. Smyth and his family [See letter of June 16, 1788.] as long as the Society in Dublin numbers upwards of a thousand you will have no reason to complain.

Do not make too free with opium. I believe the remedy in the Primitive Physick (a dram of salts of tartar and a dram of cochineal in a large quantity of toast and water) might warm your bowels. -- I am, dear Adam,

Your affectionate friend and brother.

To Mr. Adam Clarke, At the New Room,

In Dublin.

To Samuel Bardsley [14]

NEAR LONDON, October 29, 1790.

DEAR SAMMY, -- The person that was appointed to come down to Bideford has been prevented from coming by want of health. And I believe it was well: it has confirmed me in a resolution which I had formed before -- not to send more preachers into any circuit than that circuit can provide for. We are almost ruined by not observing this rule. I will observe it better for the time to come. -- I am, dear Sammy,

Your affectionate brother.

To George Holder

LONDON, October 30, 1790.

DEAR GEORGE, -- The Assistant in every circuit (not the leaders) is to determine how each Preacher is to travel. If Jonathan Hern [His colleague in the Dales Circuit. See letter of Nov. 8.] will not or cannot take his turn with his fellow laborers, I must send another that will. I do not like dividing circuits. Could not three or more of the northern places be added to the Sunderland or Newcastle circuits, in order to lessen yours and bring it into a six weeks' circuit Pray send me the manner of your traveling through your circuit. I think I shall order it better. -- I am, with love to Sister Holder, dear George,

Your affectionate friend and brother.



To Samuel Wood [15]

[October, 1790.]

DEAR BROTHER, -- I have delivered my opinion upon this subject in one of the sermons in the Arminian Magazine, and I again say that though a parent has not a positive authority yet he has a negative i.e., though a child is not obliged to marry whom its parent pleases, yet it ought not to marry whom he forbids, especially a daughter; and when a marriage has been contrary to a religious and prudent parent's opinion and counsel, I have rarely known it to be a happy one. -- I am

Your affectionate brother.

To Ann Bolton

HIGH WYCOMBE, November 4, 1790.

MY DEAR SISTER, -- The more I consider your case, the more I am convinced that you are in the school of God and that the Lord loveth whom He chasteneth. From the time you omitted meeting your class or band you grieved the Holy Spirit of God, and He gave a commission to Satan to buffet you I nor will that commission ever be revoked till you begin to meet again. Why, were you not a mother in Israel a repairer of the waste places a guide to the blind a healer of the sick a lifter up of the hands which hung down Wherever you came, God was with you and shone upon your path. Many daughters had done virtuously; but thou excelledst them all. Woman, remember the faith! In the name of God, set out again and do the first works! I exhort you for my sake (who tenderly love you), for God's sake, for the sake of your own soul, begin again without delay. The day after you receive this go and meet a class or a band. Sick or well, go! If you cannot speak a word, go; and God will go with you. You sink under the sin of omission! My friend, my sister, go! Go, whether you can or not. Break through! Take up your cross. I say again, do the first works; and God will restore your first love! and you will be a comfort, not a grief, to

Yours most affectionately.

To John Valton [16]

LONDON, November 6, 1790.

MY DEAR BROTHER, -- When you went into the West I was fully persuaded our Lord would go with you and prosper your labor. And I make no doubt He will fulfill in you all the good pleasure of His goodness and all the work of God with power.

You do not know the Cornish yet. Many of them have little sense and a great inclination to criticize.

Rob. Empringham is a sound though not a bright preacher. Brother Leggat's far from a contemptible one. If they use the preachers I send thus, they shall. If Jno. Bredin goes for some months, who will keep him I will have no demand made on the Conference. -- I am, with kind love to Sister Valton,

Ever yours.

To Mr. Valton, At the New Room,


To George Holder

LONDON, November 8, 1790.

MY DEAR BROTHER, -- If you and your wife strengthen each other's hands in God, then you will surely receive a blessing from Him. But [it] is not abundance of money or any creature that can [make] us happy without Him.

'Delight ye in the Lord and He will give you your heart's desire.'

It cannot be that the people should grow in grace unless they give themselves to reading. A reading people will always be a knowing people. A people who talk much will know little. Press this upon them with your might; and you will soon see the fruit of your labors.

I wish [every] circuit in England had three preachers, neither more nor less. This is worth thinking of. The Dales Circuit is too large. Five or six might be taken out of it, and given to Sunderland, Newcastle, and Alnwick. [The preachers in the Dales for 1790-1 were George Holder, Jonathan Hern, John Wittam; William Blaghorne, supernumerary. See letter of Oct. 30.] Peace be with your spirit! -- I am

Your affectionate friend and brother.

To Mrs. Cock

LONDON, November 9, 1790.

MY DEAR SISTER, -- How unsearchable are the counsels of God! How little are we able to account for His ways! When I saw the wonderful manner wherein He had dealt with you from your early years, when I talked with you in Jersey, and when I conversed more largely with you in Guernsey, I thought He was preparing you for a large sphere of action. Surely you was not then designed to be shut up in a little cottage and fully taken up with domestic cares! I was in hopes of seeing all the graces which He had given you employed in far other things. However, although I cannot deny that you are now acting in a lower sphere than was originally designed you, yet I trust you still enjoy communion with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. I hope you are still sensible wherever you go of the presence of the ever-blessed Trinity, and that you continually enjoy that loving-kindness which is better than life itself.

I wish you would inform me of your present outward and inward state. Have you all things that are needful for the body Do your brethren and sisters treat you with tender affection or with coldness Are the preachers free and loving to you Is your soul as much alive as ever Are the consolations of the Holy One small with you, or are they as frequent and as plentiful as ever Write as particularly as you can to

Yours most affectionately.

To the Custom House [17]

CITY ROAD, November 14, 1790.

GENTLEMEN, -- Two or three days ago Mr. Ireland sent me as a present two dozen of French claret, which I am ordered to drink during my present weakness. At the White Swan it was seized. Beg it may be restored to

Your obedient servant.

Whatever duty comes due I will see duly paid.

To Richard Whatcoat [18]

[November, 1790.]

The work (of the Lord) in Virginia far exceeds anything I have heard or read of since the primitive times! There seems to be a general expectation of great things in the Church of God throughout our Connection in these kingdoms. You, my brother, I trust, are all alive to bring sinners to Jesus Christ, and to spend and be spent in the glorious cause of the Anointed. O 'tis worth living for! Give my love to the preachers in your district.

Your brother in Christ.

To Adam Clarke

LONDON, November 26, 1790.

DEAR ADAM, -- The account you send me of the continuance of the great work of God in Jersey gives me great satisfaction. To retain the grace of God is much more than to gain it: hardly one in three does this. And this should be strongly and explicitly urged on all who have tasted of perfect love. If we can prove that any of our Local Preachers or Leaders, either directly or indirectly, speak against it, let him be a Local Preacher or Leader no longer. I doubt whether he shall continue in the Society. Because he that can speak thus in our congregations cannot be an honest man. I wish Sister Clarke to do what she can, but no more than she can. Betsy Ritchie, Miss Johnson, and M. Clarke are women after my own heart. Last week I had an excellent letter from Mrs. Pawson (a glorious witness of full salvation), showing how impossible it is to retain pure love without growing therein.

Wishing you every blessing to you and all the family.--I am, dear Adam,

Your affectionate friend and brother.

To Robert Carr Brackenbury [19]

LONDON, December 7, 1790.

DEAR SIR,--It gave me pleasure to see your letter dated Portsmouth, and to hear that your health is better. I hope you will be able to spend a little time with us here. And if you choose to lodge in my house, I have a room at your service; and we have a family which I can recommend to all England as adorning the doctrine of God our Savior. --

I am, dear sir, Your very affectionate friend and brother.

To Sarah Mallet [20]

NEAR LONDON, December 13, 1790.

DEAR SALLY,--I am glad you put me in mind of the books. Brother George Whitfield had quite forgotten them. I will refresh his memory. Tell me of anything you want, and I love you too well to let you want long. Some time ago it seems you had suffered that word to slip out of your mind, 'My child, if thou wilt serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation.' Particularly if thou wilt exhort others to serve Him then expect a flood of temptation. That which you mention is common to man; but when Satan attacks us so violently, he provokes to jealousy One that is stronger than he. I am glad that you have been at and about Diss, and there is a good understanding between you and your sister. [Elizabeth Reeve. See letter of July 31.] Let that be the only contention between you, which shall be most zealous and most humble. I was well pleased when together to find that you could speak to me without reserve, as I trust you will always do. For has not God given me to you for a tender guard of your youth And I believe you will find few that will watch over you more tenderly than, dear Sally,

Yours affectionately.

To Ann Bolton

LONDON, December 15, 1790.

MY DEAR SISTER, -- There can be no possible reason to doubt concerning the happiness of that child. He did fear God, and according to his circumstances work righteousness. This is the essence of religion, according to St. Peter. His soul, therefore, was 'darkly safe with God,' although he was only under the Jewish dispensation.

When the Son of Man shall come in His glory and assign every man his own reward, that reward will undoubtedly be proportioned (1) to our inward holiness, our likeness to God; (2) to our works; and (3) to our sufferings. Therefore whatever you suffer in time you will be an unspeakable gainer in eternity. Many of your sufferings, perhaps the greatest part, are now past. But your joy is to come! Look up, my dear friend, look up! and see your crown before you! A little longer, and you shall drink of the rivers of pleasure that flow at God's right hand for evermore. Adieu!

To Mrs. Charles Wesley

WEST STREET, December 20, 1790.

MY DEAR SISTER, -- As I do not have much money before-hand, I have not at present an hundred pounds in possession. [See letter of Dec. 21, 1788.] But I have desired Mr. Whitfield to gather up so much as soon as possible. I hope he will be able to do it in a week or two; and then you will be welcome to that or any other help that is in the power of

Your affectionate brother.

To Mrs. Wesley, In Chesterfield Street, Marybone.

Editor's Introductory Notes

[1] This letter has special interest as the last Wesley wrote from his native place. He attended church the next day, where there were live times as many present and ten times as many at the Lord's table as usual; and after the afternoon service he preached in the marketplace 'to such a congregation as was never seen at Epworth before.' See Journal, viii. 78-9.

[2] Wesley's last Conference began in Bristol on the day this letter was written.

George Rutter had died of consumption on April 20 in his twenty-fourth year. For his sister's account of him, see Arminian Magazine, 1792, pp. 238-40.

[3] Clarke told Brackenbury on May 22, 'My health is much worse. I am obliged to make use of the doctor, which is the last shift.' Several of the preachers advised his appointment to Dublin; but Wesley hesitated on account of Clarke's health. He was at last persuaded to consent. See Life by his Son, i. 277; Dunn's Clarke, p. 77.

[4] Moore says Wesley 'stated the case to a Member of Parliament, a real friend to religious liberty.' It was probably to William Wilberforce, who was not only a friend of liberty but intimate with Pitt.

Dr. Whitehead had some doubt whether 'Somersetshire' was not inserted in the last paragraph for 'Lincolnshire,' and his suggestion is followed when the letter appears in Wesley's Works. But Henry Moore writes: 'It was in Somersetshire Mr. Andrew Inglis was fined thus during the Bristol Conference in the year 1790. The lawyer at the head of this persecution boasted that he would drive Methodism out of Somersetshire. "Yes," said Mr. Wesley, "when he drives God out of it." There were evidently two cases, one of which was in Lincolnshire. The other case was that of one of the preachers, Andrew Inglis, the Assistant at Sheffield, who preached abroad on his way to the Conference in Bristol, and the clerical Magistrate fined him 20, as the Act directs. It was in vain that he pleaded being a native of Scoff and, a Presbyterian, and a licensed preacher. The Magistrate, knowing what was being done in Lincolnshire, felt disposed, how contrary soever it might be to law, to play the same game. Inglis's case before Conference was worse, because he had paid the fine out of the public collections! The preachers regarded his timidity with great displeasure; as having dishonored himself, and all our former sufferers. Dr. Coke in particular was much moved and said, 'I envy the situation in which you then stood, being ready to go to prison for the Lord's work.' See Moore's Wesley, ii. 383n; Sutcliffe's manuscript History of Methodism, p. 1194; and letter of June 26.

[5] Thomas Roberts, a young preacher, had just been appointed to Bristol. John M'Kersey at Pembroke had neglected his duty. He is second preacher at Hexham in 1791. Roberts and Henry Moore met Wesley at Newport on August 21. See Journal, viii. 88d; and letters of February 12, 1789, and October 23, 1790, to him.

[6] Wesley says in his Journal for November 13, 1779: 'I had the pleasure of an hour's conversation with Mr. G., one of the members of the first Congress in America. He unfolded a strange tale indeed! How has poor King George been betrayed on every side!' Galloway published letters criticizing the conduct of the war by General Howe. Wesley told a friend in 1781 that he saw not the least trace of the scurrility with which he had been charged by Sir William Howe 'in anything Mr. G. has published. He is above it. He is no "venal instrument of calumny"; he abhors calumny as he does rebellion.' Wesley met him at Charles Wesley's house on January 3, 1783, and dined with him on February 24, 1789. He wished Miss Wesley to know Mr. and Miss Galloway; and on February 21, 1791, took her and Miss Ritchie to dine with Galloway at Twickenham. It was 'the first and last visit to that pleasing family and lovely place.' See Journal, vi. 261-2, 385d, vii. 471d, viii. 134; Dic. of Nat. Biog.; W.H.S. iv. 114-15, ix. 5-9; and letters of June 8, 1780, and September 17, 1790.

[7] Wesley had spent some time in training his preachers, and had been well rewarded for his labor. Creighton evidently wished that something more should be done.

[8] Burgess had been admitted on trial and appointed to Liverpool. He had been a soldier in Ireland, became an earnest Methodist, and entertained Wesley several times. His son was a very useful Methodist preacher. See Crookshank's Methodism in Ireland, i. 457.

[9] Clarke wrote from Dublin on September 5, reporting their safe arrival. 'Our journey by land was long and fatiguing, particularly to my dear wife and children. Blessed be God, they are now in a measure recovered.' Thomas Rutherford had been ill, and things had got somewhat irregular. Prayer-meetings were continued at unreasonable length, 'hardly ever breaking up before ten or eleven o'clock, and frequently continued to twelve and one; and in these meetings some have taken on them to give exhortations of half an hour and sometimes forty-five minutes in length.' He finds some have a very jealous spirit, and wishes to move with caution and under Wesley's directions. See Dunn's Clarke, pp. 77-9; and letter of October 28.

[10] This letter is addressed to 'Mrs. Sutcliffe, for Rev. Jos. Sutcliffe, Oxon'; and endorsed, 'Venerable John Wesley's, four months before his death.'

Joseph Sutcliffe, M.A., was born at Baildon in Yorkshire, and became an itinerant when twenty-four. He was an attractive preacher, and was 'distinguished by a heavenly mind,' and 'favored with real genius.' He published A Commentary on the Old and New Testament (two volumes, 1834) and many other works. He died May 14, 1856, aged ninety-four.

[11] Jasper Robinson was Assistant at Grimshy, with James Evans as his colleague. John Ramshaw was at Epworth.

[12] Wesley visited St. Neots on October 28, preached, and met the Society. 'S[-----]' may mean a conversation with Miss Rutter. See Journal, viii. 110d; and letters of July 27, 1790, and February 17, 1791.

[13] Wesley did not dream of the service which James Macdonald (then his Assistant at Newry) and his descendants were to render to Methodism and to the wider world of art, literature, and politics. Macdonald became one of Wesley's preachers in 1784, served for six years as Assistant Editor of the Methodist Magazine, and lived to see a son in the ministry who became the father of Lady Burne-Jones, Lady Poynter, Mrs. Kipling, Mrs. Baldwin, and the Rev. F. W. Macdonald. His grandsons Rudyard Kipling and Stanley Baldwin (twice Prime Minister) carry on a unique succession. James Macdonald's Letters, edited by his grandson, still bear witness to his ability and his lofty character. 'I would not forget,' he wrote, 'that moral worth alone is current coin in eternity.' See letter of January 18, 1791, to him.

[14] Thomas Wride wrote from Barnard Castle on August 10 that he had heard he was appointed to Bideford, near four hundred miles away. Neither he nor his wife was fit for so long a journey, and he requested that the appointment might be changed. Having received no instructions on August 26, he asked for directions to be sent to him to Charles Harrison at Welburn, near Castle Howard, Yorks.

[15] Wood was admitted on trial as a preacher in 1789 and appointed to Coleraine. His theological attainments, sound judgment, and eminent ability in maturer years, amply justified his youthful promise. See Crookshank's Methodism in Ireland, i. 446; and Journal, vii. 73, for Wesley's advice to him about preaching in 1785 when he was a youth of seventeen.

[16] Valton had been on a preaching-tour in Cornwall during August, September, and October. 'The visit was very refreshing both to them and to him. The ground was new, and it seemed as if he could hardly leave it.' Robert Empringham and Thomas Leggat (who began to travel in 1788) were in the St. Ives Circuit. Leggat went to Helston with Valton, who says high words passed between two of the principal persons at St. Ives, which made it a very uncomfortable time. See Wesley's Veterans, vi. 110-11; W.H.S. viii. 191-2.

[17] James Ireland, a wealthy merchant, lived at Brislington, near Bristol, where in 1789 Wesley says, 'I could willingly spend some time here; but I have none to spare'; and where he paid a visit on August 27, 1790. He was Fletcher's intimate friend, of whom he wrote, 'Such a soul I never knew; such a great man, in every sense of the word.' See Journal, viii. II, 89.

This letter seems to have been returned to the dying man; and across it a Government official curtly wrote, 'No. M.W.' For the treatment of Fletcher, see letter of December 31, 1785.

[18] Methodism had not only unfurled its banner in Virginia, but planted it in almost every country east of the Alleghanies, and was bearing it successfully to the heights of the western mountains. See Stevens's American Methodism, chap. xiv.; Phcebus's Whatcoat, p. 76; and letter of July 17, 1788.

[19] Brackenbury's health was still very feeble, and he had fixed his residence at Portsmouth. He was staying in Wesley's house next year at the time of the patriarch's death. See letter of September 15.

[20] 'There is another letter, from Mr. Wesley to this young woman, a few days only before his death; but as it is written by another hand I have not published it.' Alas I See Taft's Holy Women, p. 90.

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