Friday, October 31, 1735

We sailed out of the Downs. At eleven at night I was waked by a great noise. I soon found there was no danger. But the bare apprehension of it gave me a lively conviction what manner of men those ought to be who are every moment on the brink of eternity.

Fri. October 24, 1735

Fri. 24 . — Having a rolling sea, most of the passengers found the effects of it. Mr. Delamotte was exceeding sick for several days; Mr. Ingham, for about half an hour. My brother’s head ached much. Hitherto it hath pleased God, the sea has not disordered me at all; nor have I been hindered one quarter of an hour from reading, writing, composing, or doing any business I could have done on shore.

During our stay in the Downs, some or other of us went, as often as we had opportunity, on board the ship that sailed in company with us, where also many were glad to join in prayer and hearing, the word.

Tuesday, October 21, 1735

We sailed from Gravesend. When we were past about half the Goodwin Sands, the wind suddenly failed. Had the calm continued till ebb, the ship had probably been lost. But the gale sprang up again in an hour, and carried us into the Downs.

We now began to be a little regular. Our common way of living was this: From four in the morning till five each of us used private prayer. From five to seven we read the Bible together, carefully comparing it (that we might not lean to our own understandings) with the writings of the earliest ages. At seven we breakfasted. At eight were the public prayers. From nine to twelve I usually learned German, and Mr. Delamotte, Greek. My brother wrote sermons, and Mr. Ingham instructed the children. At twelve we met to give an account of one another what we had done since our last meeting, and what we designed to do before our next. About one we dined.

The time from dinner to four we spent in reading to those whom each of us had taken in charge, or in speaking to them severally, as need required. At four were the evening prayers; when either the second lesson was explained (as it always was in the morning), or the children were catechized and instructed before the congregation. From five to six we again used private prayer. From six to seven I read in our cabin to two or three of the passengers (of whom there were about eighty English on board), and each of my brethren to a few more in theirs.

At seven I joined with the Germans in their public service, while Mr. Ingham was reading between the decks to as many as desired to hear. At eight we met again to exhort and instruct one another. Between nine and ten we went to bed, where neither the roaring of the sea nor the motion of the ship could take away the refreshing sleep which God gave us.

Monday, October 20, 1735

Believing the denying ourselves, even in the smallest instances, might, by the blessing of God, be helpful to us, we wholly left off the use of flesh and wine and confined ourselves to vegetables food—chiefly rice and biscuit.

Friday, October 17, 1735

I began to learn German in order to converse with the Germans, six-and-twenty of whom we had on board. On Sunday, the weather being fair and calm, we had the morning service on quarterdeck. I now first preached extempore and then administered the Lord’s Supper to six or seven communicants.
To his Brother Samuel


October 15, 1735.

DEAR BROTHER, -- I presented Job to the Queen on Sun­day, and had many good words and smiles. [A folio volume in Latin, entitled Dissertationes in Librum Jobi, by his father, and dedicated by per­mission to Queen Caroline. John Wesley presented a copy to her Majesty on Oct. 12, 1735. Dr. Clarke (Wesley Family, i. 330) says that Wesley told him that when he was introduced the Queen was romp­ing with her maids of honor. She stopped her play, heard him gra­ciously, and when he presented the book on bended knee she looked at the outside, said ' It is very prettily bound,' and laid it down in a window without opening a leaf. He rose, bowed, and retired. The Queen bowed, smiled, spoke several kind words, and immediately resumed her sport.] Out of what is due to me on that account, I beg you would first pay yourself what I owe you; and if I live till spring, I can then direct what I would have done with the remainder.

The uncertainty of my having another opportunity to tell you my thoughts in this life obliges me to tell you what I have often thought of, and that in as few and plain words as I can. Elegance of style is not to be weighed against purity of heart; purity both from the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life. Therefore whatever has any tendency to impair that purity is not to be tolerated, much less recom­mended, for the sake of that elegance. But of this sort (I speak not from the reason of the thing only, nor from my single experience) are the most of the classics usually read in great schools; many of them tending to inflame the lusts of the flesh (besides Ovid, Virgil's Aeneid, and Terence's Eunuch), and more to feed the lust of the eye and the pride of life. I beseech you, therefore, by the mercies of God, who would have us holy, as He is holy, that you banish all such poison from your school; that you introduce in their place such Christian authors as will work together with you in building up your flock in the knowledge and love of God. For assure yourself, dear brother, you are even now called to the convert­ing of heathens as well as I.

So many souls are committed to your charge by God, to be prepared for a happy eternity. You are to instruct them, not only in the beggarly elements of Greek and Latin, but much more in the gospel. You are to labor with all your might to convince them that Christianity is not a negation or an external thing, but a new heart, a mind conformed to that of Christ, ' faith working by love.'
We recommend you and yours to God. Pray for us. -- I am

Your affectionate Brother and servant in Christ.

Tuesday, October 14, 1735

Mr. Benjamin Ingham, of Queen College, Oxford; Mr. Charles Delamotte, son of a merchant, in London, who had offered himself some days before; my brother, Charles Wesley, and myself, took boat for Gravesend, in order to embark for Georgia. Our end in leaving our native country was not to avoid want (God having given us plenty of temporal blessings) nor to gain the dung or dross of riches or honor; but singly this — to save our souls; to live wholly to the glory of God. In the afternoon we found the “Simmonds” off Gravesend and immediately went on board.
To Dr. Burton [4]

October 10, 1735.

DEAR SIR, -- I have been hitherto unwilling to mention the grounds of my design of embarking for Georgia, for two reasons,---one, because they were such as I know few men would judge to be of any weight: the other, because I was afraid of making favorable judges think of me above what they ought to think; and what a snare this must be to my own soul I know by dear-bought experience.

But, on farther reflection, I am convinced that I ought to speak the truth with all boldness, even though it should appear foolishness to the world, as it has done from the begin­ning; and that, whatever danger there is in doing the will of God, He will support me under it. In His name, therefore, and trusting in His defense, I shall plainly declare the thing as it is.

My chief motive, to which all the rest are subordinate, is the hope of saving my own soul. I hope to learn the true sense of the gospel of Christ by preaching it to the heathen. They have no comments to construe away the text; no vain philosophy to corrupt it; no luxurious, sensual, covetous, ambitious expounders to soften its unpleasing truths, to recon­cile earthly-mindedness and faith, the Spirit of Christ and the spirit of the world. They have no party, no interest to serve, and are therefore fit to receive the gospel in its simplicity. They are as little children, humble, willing to learn, and eager to do the will of God; and consequently they shall know of every doctrine I preach whether it be of God. By these, therefore, I hope to learn the purity of that faith which was once delivered to the saints; the genuine sense and full extent of those laws which none can understand who mind earthly things.

A right faith will, I trust, by the mercy of God, open the way for a right practice; especially when most of those temptations are removed which here so easily beset me. Toward mortifying the desire of the flesh, the desire of sensual pleasures, it will be no small thing to be able, without fear of giving offense, to live on water and the fruits of the earth. This simplicity of food will, I trust, be a blessed means, both of preventing my seeking that happiness in meats and drinks which God designed should be found only in faith and love and joy in the Holy Ghost; and will assist me---especially where I see no woman but those which are almost of a different species from me--to attain such a purity of thought as suits a candidate for that state wherein they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

Neither is it a small thing to be delivered from so many occasions, as now surround me, of indulging the desire of the eye. They here compass me in on every side; but an Indian hut affords no food for curiosity, no gratification of the desire of grand or new or pretty things: though, indeed, the cedars which God hath planted round it may so gratify the eye as to better the heart, by lifting it to Him whose name alone is excel­lent and His praise above heaven and earth.

If by the pride of life we understand the pomp and show of the world, that has no place in the wilds of America. If it mean pride in general, this, alas ! has a place everywhere: yet there are very uncommon helps against it, not only by the deep humility of the poor heathens, fully sensible of their want of an instructor, but that happy contempt which cannot fail to attend all who sincerely endeavor to instruct them, and which, continually increasing, will surely make them in the end as the filth and offscouring of the world. Add to this, that nothing so convinces us of our own impotence as a zealous attempt to convert our neighbor; nor, indeed, till he does all he can for God, will any man feel that he can himself do nothing.

Farther: a sin which easily besets me is unfaithfulness to God in the use of speech. I know that this is a talent entrusted to me by my Lord, to be used, as all others, only for His glory. I know that all conversation which is not seasoned with salt, and designed at least to administer grace to the hearers, is expressly forbid by the Apostle, as corrupt communication, and as grieving the Holy Spirit of God; yet I am almost continually betrayed into it by the example of others striking in with my own bad heart. But I hope, from the moment I leave the English shore, under the acknowledged character of a teacher sent from God, there shall no word be heard from my lips but what properly flows from that character: as my tongue is a devoted thing, I hope from the first hour of this new era to use it only as such, that all who hear me may know of a truth the words I speak are not mine but His that sent me.

The same faithfulness I hope to show through His grace in dispensing the rest of my Master's goods, if it please Him to send me to those who, like His first followers, have all things common. What a guard is here against that root of evil, the love of money, and all the vile attractions that spring from it ! One in this glorious state, and perhaps none but he, may see the height and depth of that privilege of the first Christians, 'as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things.'

I then hope to know what it is to love my neighbor as myself, and to feel the powers of that second motive to visit the heathens, even the desire to impart to them what I have received--a saving knowledge of the gospel of Christ. But this I dare not think on yet. It is not for me, who have been a grievous sinner from my youth up, and am yet laden with foolish and hurtful desires, to expect God should work so great things by my hands; but I am assured, if I be once fully converted myself, He will then employ me both to strengthen my brethren and to preach His name to the Gentiles, that the very ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God.

But you will perhaps ask: 'Cannot you save your own soul in England as well as in Georgia ?' I answer,--No; neither can I hope to attain the same degree of holiness here which I may there; neither, if I stay here, knowing this, can I reasonably hope to attain any degree of holiness at all: for whoever, when two ways of life are proposed, prefers that which he is convinced in his own mind is less pleasing to God and less conducive to the perfection of his soul, has no reason from the gospel of Christ to hope that he shall ever please God at all or receive from Him that grace whereby alone he can attain any degree of Christian perfection.

To the other motive--the hope of doing more good in America--it is commonly objected that 'there are heathens enough in practice, if not theory, at home; why, then, should you go to those in America ? ' Why ? For a very plain reason: because these heathens at home have Moses and the Prophets, and those have not; because these who have the gospel trample upon it, and those who have it not earnestly call for it; ' there­fore, seeing these judge themselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, I turn to the Gentiles.'

If you object, farther, the losses I must sustain in leaving my native country, I ask,--Loss of what ? of anything I desire to keep ? No; I shall still have food to eat and raiment to put on--enough of such food as I choose to eat and such raiment as I desire to put on; and if any man have a desire of other things, or of more food than he can eat, or more rai­ment than he need put on, let him know that the greatest blessing which can possibly befall him is to be cut off from all occasions of gratifying those desires, which, unless speedily rooted out, will drown his soul in everlasting perdition.

'But what shall we say to the loss of parents, brethren, sisters--nay, of the friends which are as my own soul, of those who have so often lifted up my hands that hung down and strengthened my feeble knees, by whom God hath often enlightened my understanding and warmed and enlarged my heart ?' What shall we say? Why, that if you add the loss of life to the rest, so much the greater is the gain; for though ' the grass withereth and the flower fadeth, the word of our God shall stand for ever.' Say that, when human instruments are removed, He, the Lord, will answer us by His own self; and the general answer which He hath already given us to all questions of this nature is: ' Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left father, or mother, or lands, for My sake, but shall receive an hundredfold now in this time with persecutions, and in the world to come eternal life.'

From the Minutes of the Trustees Octo 10, 1735

Octo. 10, 1735. — John Wesley appointed Missionary at Savannah.

October 1735 -- the beginings of our Journey

Gentle reader, I recall a letter I wrote to a father of one of my peers, a Mr. Morgans and in it lies a describes the incidents which led to the formation of the Holy Club and to the social activities from which, that which some derisively call "Methodism" has evolved. Perhaps this letter can help better elucidate my desire to minister to those in the Americas.

The letter was written from Oxford in 1732.

Dear Mr. Morgan

November, 1729, at which time I came to reside at Oxford, your son my brother, myself, and one more agreed to spend three or four evenings in a week together. Our design was to read over the classics, which we had before read in private, on common nights, and on Sunday some book in divinity. In the summer following, Mr. M. told me he had called at the gaol to see a man who was condemned for killing his wife; and that, from the talk he had with one of the debtors, he verily believed it would do much good if anyone would be at the pains of now and then speaking with them.

This he so frequently repeated that on August 24, 1730, my brother and I walked with him to the castle. We were so well satisfied with our conversation there that we agreed to go thither once or twice a week; which we had not done long before he desired me to go with him to see a poor woman in the town, who was sick. In this employment too, when we came to reflect upon it, we believed it would be worth while to spend an hour or two in a week; provided the minister of the parish, in which any such person was, were not against it. But that we might not depend wholly on our own judgments, I wrote an account to my father of our whole design; withal begging that he, who had lived seventy years in the world and seen as much of it as most private men have ever done, would advise us whether we had yet gone too far and whether we should now stand still or go forward.

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

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

Upon encouragement we still continued to meet together as usual; and to confirm one another, as well as we could, in our resolutions to communicate as often as we had opportunity (which is here once a week); and do what service we could to our acquaintance, the prisoners, and two or three poor families in the town.

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