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About eight, it being rainy and very dark, we lost our way; but before nine, came to Shipston, having rode over, I know not how, a narrow foot bridge, which lay across a deep ditch near the town. After supper I read prayers to the people of the inn, and explained the Second lesson; hope not in vain.
The next day we dined at Birmingham, and, soon after we left it, were reproved for our negligence there, (in letting those who attended us go, without either exhortation or instruction,) by a severe shower of hail. At Hedgeford, about five, we endeavoured to be more faithful; and all who heard seemed serious and affected.
In the evening we came to Stafford. The mistress of the house joined with us in family prayer. The next morning, one of the servants appeared deeply affected, as did the ostler before we went. Soon after breakfast, stepping into the stable, I spake a few words to those who were there. A stranger who heard me said, “ Sir, I wish I was to travel with you." And when I went into the house, followed me, and began abruptly, “ Sir, I believe you are a good man, and I come to tell you a little of my life.” The tears stood in his eyes all the time he spoke; and we hoped not a word which was said to him was lost.
At Newcastle, whither we came about ten, some to whom we spoke at our inn were very attentive; but a gay young woman waited on us, quite unconcerned : however, we spoke on. When we went away, she fixed her eyes, and neither moved nor said one word, but appeared as much astonished as if she had seen one risen from the dead.
Coming to Holms chapel about three, we were surprised at being shown into a room, where a cloth and plates were laid. Soon after two men came in to dinner. Mr. Kinchin told them, if they pleased, that gentleman would ask a blessing for them. They stared, and, as it were, consented; but sat still while I did it, one of them with his hat on. We began to speak on turning to God, and went on, though they appeared utterly regardless. After a while their countenances changed, and one of them stole off his hat, and laying it down behind him, said, all we said was true; but he had been a grievous sinner, and not considered it as he ought; but he was resolved, with God's help, now to turn to him in earnest. We exhorted him and his companion, who now likewise drank in every word, to cry mightily to God, that he would “ send them help from his holy place.”
Being faint in the evening, I called at Altringham, and there lit upon a Quaker, well skilled in, and therefore (as I soon found) sufficiently fond of, controversy. After an hour spent therein, (perhaps not in vain,) I advised him to dispute as little as possible; but rather follow after holiness; and walk humbly with his God.
Late at night we reached Manchester. Friday, the 17th, we spent entirely with Mr. Clayton, by whom, and the rest of our friends here, we were much refreshed and strengthened. Mr. Hoole, the rector of St. Ann's church, being taken ill the next day, on Sunday, 19, Mr. Kinchin and I officiated at Salford chapel in the morning, by which means Mr. Clayton was at liberty to perform the service of St. Ann's; and in the afternoon I preached there on those words of St. Paul, “ If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.”
Early in the morning we left Manchester, taking with us Mr. Kinchin's brother, for whom we came, to be entered at Oxford. We were fully determined to lose no opportunity of awakening, instructing, or exhorting, any whom we might meet with in our journey. At Knutsford, where we first stopped, all we spake to thankfully received the word of exhortation. But at Talk-on-the-Hill, where we dined, she with whom we were, was so much of a gentlewoman, that for near an hour our labour seemed to be in vain. However, we spoke on. Upon a sudden, she looked as one just awaked out of a sleep. Every word sunk into her heart. Nor have I seen so entire a change both in the eyes, face, and manner of speaking, of any one in so short a time.
About five, Mr. Kinchin riding by a man and woman double-horsed, the man said, “ Sir, you ought to thank God it is a fair day; for if it rained, you would be sadly dirty with your little horse.” Mr. Kinchin answered, “True: and we ought to thank God for our life, and health, and food, and raiment, and all things.” He then rode on, Mr. Fox following; the man said, “Sir, my mistress would be glad to have some more talk with that gentleman.” We stayed, and when they came up, began to search one another's hearts. They came to us again in the evening, at our inn at Stone, where I explained both to them and many of their acquaintance who were come together, that great truth,—Godliness hath the promise both of this life, and of that which is to come.
Tues. 21.-Between nine and ten we came to Hedgeford. Just then, one was giving an account of a young woman, who had dropped down dead there the day before. This gave us a fair occasion to exhort all that were present, “so to number” their own “ days," that they might apply their “ hearts unto wisdom.”
In the afternoon one overtook us, whom we soon found more inclined to speak than to hear. However, we spoke, and spared not. In the evening we overtook a young man, a Quaker, who afterward came to us, to our inn at Henley, whither he sent for the rest of his family, to join with us in prayer: to which I added, as usual, the exposition of the Second lesson. Our other companion went with us a mile or two in the morning; and then not only spoke less than the day before, but took in good part a serious caution against talkativeness and vanity.
An hour after, we were overtook by an elderly gentleman, who said he was going to enter his son at Oxford. We asked, “ At what college?” He said he did not know: having no acquaintance there on whose recommendation he could depend. After some conversation, he expressed a deep sense of the good providence of God; and told us, he knew God had cast us in his way, in answer to his prayer. In the evening we reached Oxford, rejoicing in our having received so many fresh instances of that great truth, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”
Thur. 23.-I met Peter Böhler again, who now amazed me more and more, by the account he gave of the fruits of living faith,—the horiness and happiness which he affirmed to attend it. The next morning I began the Greek Testament again, resolving to abide by the law and the testimony;" and being confident, that God would hereby show me, whether this doctrine was of God.
Sun. 26.-) preached at Whitam, on “ the new creature," and went in the evening to a society in Oxford, where, (as my manner then was
at all societies,) after using a collect or two and the Lord's Prayer, I expounded a chapter in the New Testament, and concluded with three or four more collects and a psalm.
Mon. 27.—Mr. Kinchin went with me to the Castle, where, after reading prayers, and preaching on, “ It is appointed unto men once to die,” we prayed with the condemned man, first in several forms of prayer, and then in such words as were given us in that hour. He kneeled down in much heaviness and confusion, having " no rest in" his “bones, by reason of” his “ sins.” After a space he rose up, and eagerly said, “I am now ready to die. I know Christ has taken away my sins; and there is no more condemnation for me.” The same composed cheerfulness he showed, when he was carried to execution : and in his last moments he was the same, enjoying a perfect peace, in confidence that he was " accepted in the Beloved.”
Sat. April 1.-Being at Mr. Fox's society, my heart was so full that I could not confine myself to the forms of prayer which we were accustomed to use there. Neither do I purpose to be confined to them any more ; but to pray indifferently, with a form or without, as I may find suitable to particular occasions.
Sun. 2.–Being Easter day, I preached in our college chapel, on, « The hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” I preached in the afternoon, first at the Castle, and then at Carfax, on the same words. I see the promise ; but it is afar off.
Believing it would be better for me to wait for the accomplishment of it in silence and retirement, on Monday, 3, I complied with Mr. Kinchin's desire, and went to him at Dummer, in Hampshire. But I was not suffered to stay here long; being earnestly pressed to come up to London, if it were only for a few days. Thither, therefore, I returned, on Tuesday, 18th.
Sat. 22.-I met Peter Böhler once more. I had now no objection to what he said of the nature of faith ; namely, that it is to use the words of our Church) “a sure trust and confidence which a man hath in God, that through the merits of Christ his sins are forgiven, and he reconciled to the favour of God.” Neither could I deny either the happiness or holiness which he described, as fruits of this living faith. “ The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God:” and, “He that believeth hath the witness in himself," fully convinced me of the former : as, “Whatsoever is born of God, doth not commit sin;" and, “Whosoever believeth is born of God," did of the latter. But I could not comprehend what he spoke of an instantaneous work. I could not understand how this faith should be given in a moment: how a man could at once be thus turned from darkness to light, from sin and misery to righteousness and joy in the Holy Ghost. I searched the Scriptures again, touching this very thing, particularly the Acts of the Apostles. But, to my utter astonishment, found scarce any instances there of other than instantaneous conversions ; scarce any so slow as that of St. Paul, who was three days in the pangs of the new birth. I had but one retreat left ; namely, “ Thus, I grant God wrought in the first ages of Christianity ; but the times are changed. What reason have I to believe, he works in the same manner now?"
But on Sunday, 23, I was beat out of this retreat too, by the concurring evidence of several living witnesses; who testified, God had thus wrought in themselves; giving them in a moment, such a faith in the blood of his Son, as translated them out of darkness into light, out of sin and fear into holiness and happiness. Here ended my disputing I could now only cry out, “ Lord, help thou my unbelief !”
I asked P. Böhler again, whether I ought not to refrain from teaching others. He said, “No; do not hide in the earth the talent God hath given you.” Accordingly, on Tuesday, 25, I spoke clearly and fully at Blendon to Mr. Delamotte's family, of the nature and fruits of faith. Mr. Broughton and my brother were there. Mr. Broughton's great objection was, he could never think that I had not faith, who had done and suffered such things. My brother was very angry, and told me, I did not know what mischief I had done by talking thus. And, indeed, it did please God then to kindle a fire, which I trust shall never be extinguished.
On Wednesday, 26, the day fixed for my return to Oxford, I once more waited on the Trustees for Georgia : but being straitened for time, was obliged to leave the papers for them, which I had designed to give into their own hands. One of these was the instrument whereby they had appointed me minister of Savannah; which, haying no more place in those parts, I thought it not right to keep any longer.
P. Böhler walked with me a few miles, and exhorted me not to stop short of the grace of God. At Gerard's Cross I plainly declared to those whom God gave into my hands, the faith as it is in Jesus : as I did next day to a young man I overtook on the road, and in the evening to our friends at Oxford. A strange doctrine, which some, who did not care to contradict, yet knew not what to make of; but one or two, who were thoroughly bruised by sin, willingly heard, and received it gladly.
In the day or two following, I was much confirmed in the “ truth that is after godliness,” by hearing the experiences of Mr. Hutchins, of Pembroke College, and Mrs. Fox: two living witnesses that God can (at least, if he does not always) give that faith whereof cometh salvation in a moment, as lightning falling from heaven.
Mon. May 1.-The return of my brother's illness obliged me again to hasten to London. In the evening I found him at James Hutton's, better as to his health than I expected; but strongly averse from what he called “ the new faith.”
This evening our little society began, which afterward met in Fetter lane. Our fundamental rules were as follow:
In obedience to the command of God by St. James, and by the advice of Peter Böhler, it is agreed by us,
1. That we will meet together once a week to “ confess our faults one to another, and pray one for another, that we may be healed.”.
2. That the persons so meeting be divided into several bands, or little companies, none of them consisting of fewer than five, or more than ten narsons.
That every one in order speak as freely, plainly, and concisely as he he real state of his heart, with his several temptations and deliver
ince the last time of meeting.
4. That all the bands have a conference at eight every Wednesday evening, begun and ended with singing and prayer.
5. That any who desire to be admitted into this society be asked, • What are your reasons for desiring this ? Will you be entirely open: using no kind of reserve? Have you any objection to any of our orders ?" (which may then be read.)
6. That when any new member is proposed, every one present speak clearly and freely whatever objection he has to him.
7. That those against whom no reasonable objection appears, be in order for their trial, formed into one or more distinct bands, and some person agreed on to assist them.
8. That after two months' trial, if no objection then appear, they may be admitted into the society.
9. That every fourth Saturday be observed as a day of general intercession.
10. That on the Sunday seven-night following be a general love-feast, from seven till ten in the evening.
11. That no particular member be allowed to act in any thing contrary to any order of the society: and that if any persons, after being thrice admonished, do not conform thereto, they be not any longer esteemed as members.
Wed. 3.–My brother had a long and particular conversation with Peter Böhler. And it now pleased God to open his eyes ; so that he . also saw clearly what was the nature of that one true living faith, whereby alone, “ through grace, we are saved.”
Thur. 4.- Peter Böhler left London, in order to embark for Carolina. O what a work hath God begun, since his coming into England! Such a one as shall never come to an end, till heaven and earth pass away.
Friday and Saturday I was at Blendon. They now “believed our report.” O may “the arm of the Lord” be speedily “revealed unto them !"
Sun. 7.—I preached at St. Lawrence's in the morning ; and afterward at St. Katherine Cree's church. I was enabled to speak strong words at both; and was, therefore, the less surprised at being informed, I was not to preach any more in either of those churches.
Tues. 9.—I preached at Great St. Helen's, to a very numerous congregation, on, “ He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?i, My heart was now so enlarged, to declare the love of God, to all that were oppressed by the devil, that I did not wonder in the least, when I was afterward told, “ Sir, you must preach here no more."
Wed 10.–Mr. Stonehouse, vicar of Islington, was convinced of " the truth as it is in Jesus.” From this time till Saturday, 13, I was sorrowful and very heavy; being neither able to read, nor meditate, nor sing, nor pray, nor do any thing. Yet I was a little refreshed by Peter Böhler's letter which I insert in his own words :
CHARISSIME ET SUAVISSIME FRATER,Intentissimo amore te diligo, multùm tui recordans in itinere meo, optando et precando ut quamprimùm viscera misericordiæ crucifixi Jesu Christi, tui gratiâ jam ante sex mille annos commota, menti tuce appareant: ut gustare et tunc videre possis, quàm vehementer te Filius Dei amaverit et hucusque amet, et ut sic confidere possis in eo omni tempore, vitamque ejus in te et in carne tuâ sentire. Cave tibi a peccato incre dulitatis, et si nondum vicisti illud, fac ut proximo die illud vincas, per san