« PreviousContinue »
pounds behind him; praying, God be merciful to me, an unprofitable servant. He desired this inscription, if any, should be put upon his tombstone.'
“He made it his request to his wife and me, to forget all that is past, which I very readily agreed to; and once more offered her my service in great sincerity. Neither will I suspect hers; but hope she will do as she says.
"I have been generally blamed for my absence in this time of danger. Several asked, “Does Mr. Charles know of his brother's illness ?' and were answered, “Yes, yes; many have informed him.' All my correspondents agreed in their accounts that my brother was much better: of which his ministering last Sunday at the chapel left me no doubt. Then they might have apprized me of his danger; but none thought of me till Tuesday, when they looked for his death every hour. He had ordered letters to be wrote by Charles Perronet to the Preachers to meet on the 21st instant; but not a word of notice was sent to me. Now I hear, several letters were wrote me on Tuesday night; but I have left them unreceived at Bristol.
“I attended my brother while he rode out for the air, and was surprised to see him hold out for three quarters of an hour, and even gallop back the whole way.
“In the afternoon I met the Leaders, and spoke them comfort; then called on my patient, J. Hutchinson, whose journey has done him more good than harm.
“My text at the Foundery was, 'And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to his will, He heareth us. And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” (1 John v. 14, 15.) Whether the congregation received benefit, I know not, being myself confused, and overwhelmed with trouble and sorrow.
“God made me to the society, I trust, a son of consolation. I showed them the cause of my brother's danger, even our own unprofitableness, and the nation's rejecting his testimony. I strongly exhorted them to repent, and do their first works; and on no other condition to hope for my brother's recovery. I told them I was persuaded his time was come; and he would have died now, had not the prayer of faith interposed, and God commanded the shadow to go backward : that still his life was altogether precarious, and they must wrestle on, before the decree brought forth, for a full reverse of the sentence. In prayer God gave us strong cries and tears, and consolation of hope. I told them that I neither could nor would stand in my brother's place; (if God took him to himself ;) for I had neither a body, nor a mind, nor talents, nor grace, for it. True
“The whole society appear alive, so stirred up, so zealous, so prayerful, as I never knew them. Many backsliders are returning to us. Many secret friends now show themselves. The strangers stop us in the streets with their inquiries; and the people in general seem to find out the value of a blessing they are going to lose.
“I carried Mr. Hutchinson to a quieter lodging, which the friendly Mr. Lloyd offered us at his house. John Jones comes post-haste from Bristol ; spent the useful evening with us; and then slept with me at the Foundery.
“ Monday, Dec. 3d. I was at a loss for a subject at five, when I opened the Revelation, and with fear and trembling began to expound it. Our Lord was with us of a truth, and comforted our hearts, with the blessed hope of his coming to reign before his ancients gloriously. Martin Luther, in a time of trouble, used to say, Come, let us sing the fortysixth psalm. I would rather say, “Let us read the Revelation of Jesus Christ. What is any private or public loss, or calamity; what are all the advantages Satan ever gained, or shall gain, over particular men, or churches, when all things, good and evil, Christ's power, and Antichrist's, conspire to hasten the grand event, to fulfil the mystery of God, and make all the kingdoms of the earth become the kingdoms of Christ?
" I asked each of the select band, whether they could pray in faith for my brother's life. God has kept them all in darkness and suspense. Those who have most power with Him have received no certain answer, being constrained to give him up first, if haply they may then receive him again, as from the dead. Some have told me, it was parting with a right eye, with one much dearer than their natural father. Many have found strong, increasing hope of his recovery ; and a few, whose experience I less depend on, are confident
“I called on loving, faithful Damaris Perronet, and then visited my patient at Mr. Lloyd's. With him I stayed till near one, the time I had appointed for prayer at the Foundery. Many faithful souls then joined me in behalf of my brother; or, rather, of the Church and nation. Neither was our Lord absent. Great comfort and confidence we received, that all shall work together for good ; even for the glory of God, and furtherance of the Gospel.
“From intercession I waited on my sister, to Dr. Fothergill, who is much pleased with his patient's present case, and greatly approves of his hastening to the Hotwells at Bristol. To-morrow afternoon he promises to visit him at Lewisham.”
In the course of this day, Mr. Charles Wesley addressed the following letter to his wife. It contains some particulars which he has not inserted in his journal, relative to his present circumstances and those of his brother.
“Dearest Sally, I hope you have recovered your fright. My brother may live, if he hastens to Bristol. Prayer is made daily by the church to God for him: yet no one, that I can find, has received his petition. Whether he comes or not, I am stationed here till after Christmas.
“My brother entreated me yesterday, and his wife, to forget all that is past, on both sides. I sincerely told him I would, for his sake, as well as Christ's sake. My sister said the same.
“ Mrs. Blackwell and Dewal send you a loving heart. They have but one, you know, between them. Dudy Perronet salutes you in great love, as does Mr. Lloyd.
“ Next Friday we spend in prayer for my brother, meeting at five, seven, ten, and one. Join all who love him for his work's sake.
“Who is your chaplain? When none is near, you should read prayers yourself, as my mother, and many besides, have done. Be much in private prayer. What the Lord will do with me I know not; but am fully persuaded I shall not long survive my brother. Farewell.”
He adds, in his journal, “Dec. 4th. I proceeded in the Revelation, and found the blessing promised to those who read or hear the words of that book. From six to seven I employed with the Preachers in prayer for my brother and the Church.
" This morning I got the long-wished-for opportunity of talking fully to him of all which has passed since his mar. riage : and the result of our conference was, perfect peace and harmony.
“Mrs. Dewal and Blackwell observed what a fair opportunity my wife might have had for inoculating with her sister. I answered, that I left every one to his own conscience; but for my part, I looked upon it as taking the matter out of God's hands; and I should choose, if it depended on me, to trust her entirely to Him. Before five I returned to the Foundery, and found two letters from Lady Huntingdon: the first informing me they apprehended my wife was taken ill of the small-pox, as soon as I left her : the second, that it was come out, and the confluent kind. She had been frightened, after my departure, with one's abruptly telling her my brother was dead, and sickened immediately."
On receiving the sad intelligence of his wife's dangerous illness, Mr. Charles Wesley consulted his friend Mr. Lloyd, of Devonshire-square, who advised him by all means to fly where his heart directed. He preached in the evening on, “Let not your heart be troubled : ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions ; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John xiv. 1, 2.) The next morning, taking the advice of his friend, he left London for Bristol, where he arrived about four o'clock in the afternoon of the next day. “I found my dearest friend,” says he,“ on a restless bed of pain, loaded with the worst kind of the worst disease. Mrs. Vigor and Jones were ministering to her day and night. Sister Burgess, a most tender, skilful Christian woman, was her nurse. Good Lady Huntingdon attends her constantly twice a day, having deferred her journey to her son, on this account.
“She had expressed a longing desire to see me just before I came, and rejoiced for the consolation. I saw her alive, but O how changed! "The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint! From the sole of the foot, even unto the head, there is no soundness in her; but wounds and putrefying sores. Yet under her sorest burden she blessed God, that she had not been inoculated, receiving the disease as immediately sent from God. I found the door of prayer
wide open, and entirely acquiesced in the divine will. I would not have it otherwise. God choose for me and mine, in time and eternity !”
For the long space of twenty-two days Mrs. Wesley continued in imminent danger, from this dreadful disease, uncertain respecting the issue. A part of this anxious time her husband was compelled to spend in London, supplying the chapels there; his afflicted brother being still laid aside from his ministry. He preached comfort to others while his own heart was sad; daily apprehending that the next post would bring the intelligence that his wife was no more. In this emergency Mr. Whitefield gave striking proof of that generous and sympathetic spirit by which he was actuated. He wrote a letter to Mr. John Wesley, full of encouragement and affection, which has been often printed, and is well known. Two letters of a similar kind he also addressed to his friend Charles, which are equally worthy of being preserved as an honour to his memory. They were both written in London, and sent to Charles in Bristol.
“Dec. 13th, 1753. My dear Friend,—The Searcher of hearts alone knows the sympathy I have felt for you and yours; and in what suspense my mind hath been concerning the event of your present circumstances. I pray and inquire, inquire and pray again ; always expecting to hear the worst. Ere this can reach you, I expect the lot will be cast, either for life or death. I long to hear, that I may partake, like a friend, either of your joy or sorrow. Blessed be God for that promise, whereby we are assured that all things work together for good to those who love Him! This may make us, at least, resigned when called to part with our Isaacs. But who knows the pain of parting, when the wife and the friend are conjoined ? To have the desire of one's eyes cut off with a stroke, what but grace, omnipotent grace, can enable us to bear it? But who knows? perhaps the threatened stroke may be recalled ; and my dear friend enjoy his dear yokefellow's company a little longer. Surely the Lord of all lords is preparing you for further usefulness by these complex trials. We must be purged, if we would bring forth more fruit.
“Your brother, I hear, is better. To-day I intended to have seen him ; but Mr. Blackwell sent me word, he thought