Page images

hurry or fear, but calmly waited till God should require his soul of him.

“I asked J. Parks if she was not afraid when they tore her from me. She said, “No, no more than I am now; I could trust God for you as well as myself. From the beginning I had a full persuasion, that God would deliver you ; I knew not how, but I left that to him, and was as sure as if it were already done.' I asked if the report was true, that she had fought for me. She said, “No; I knew God would fight for his children.' And shall these souls perish at the last?

“When I came back to Francis Ward's, I found many of our brethren waiting upon God. Many also whom I never had seen before came to rejoice with us; and the next morning, as I rode through the town in my way to Nottingham, every one I met expressed such a cordial affection, that I could scarce believe what I saw and heard.

“I cannot close this head without inserting as great a euriosity in its kind as, I believe, was ever yet seen in England, which had its birth within a very few days of this remarkable occurrence at Walsal.

Staffordshire. «« To all high-constables, petty-constables, and other of his

Majesty's peace-officers within the said county, and particularly to the constable of Tipton, (near Walsal,)

“Whereas we, his Majesty's justices of the peace for the said county of Stafford, have received information that several disorderly persons, styling themselves Methodist preachers, go about raising routs and riots, to the great damage of his Majesty's liege people, and against the peace of our sovereign lord the king :

6. These are, in his Majesty's name, to command you and every one of you, within your respective districts, to make diligent search after the said Methodist preachers, and to bring him or them before some of us, his said Majesty's justices of the peace, to be examined concerning their unlawful doings. «Given under our hands and seals, this October, 1743,

5.J. LANE,

6. W. PERSEHOUSE.' “N. B. The very justices to whose houses I was carried, and who severally refused to see me!”

Having made his escape from the Staffordshire rioters, Mr. Wesley went to Nottingham, where he was met by his brother, who encountered similar treatment in various parts

day of

of the country. Charles says in his Journal, “My brother came, delivered out of the mouth of the lions! His clothes were torn to tatters. He looked like a soldier of Christ. The mob of Wednesbury, Darlaston, and Walsal, were permitted to take and carry him about for several hours with a full intent to murder him : but his work is not yet finished. or he had been now with the souls under the altar."

From Nottingham Mr. Charles Wesley hastened to Wednesbury, to strengthen and encourage the persecuted society, He found them assembled, standing fast in one mind and spirit, and in nothing terrified by their adversaries. He preached twice to them, and admitted several new members into the society. He also admitted upon trial, “ the young man whose arm had been broken, and Munchin, the late captain of the mob.” “ He has been constantly under the word,” says Mr. Charles Wesley, “ since he rescued my brother. I asked him what he thought of him. Think of him!' said he, that he is a man of God; and God was on his side, when so many of us could not kill one man.'"

The following scene occurred at Devizes :“February 25th, 1747,” says Mr. Charles Wesley, was a day never to be forgotten. At seven o'clock, I walked quietly to Mrs. Philips's, and began preaching a little before the time appointed. For three quarters of an hour, I invited a few listening sinners to Christ. Soon after, Satan's whole army assaulted the house. We sat in a little ground-room, and ordered all the doors to be thrown open. They brought a hand-engine, and, began to play into the house. We kept our seats, and they rushed into the passage : just then Mr. Borough, the constable, came, and seizing the spout of the engine, carried it off. '. They swore if he did not deliver it, they would pull down the house. At that time they might have taken us prisoners; we were close to them, and none to interpose ; but they hurried out to fetch the larger engine. In the mean time we were advised to send for the Mayor; but Mr. Mayor was gone out of town, in the sight of the people, which gave great encouragement to those who were already wrought up to a proper pitch by the curate, and the gentlemen of the town; particularly Mr. Sutton and Mr. Willy, dissenters, the two leading men. Mr. Sutton frequently came out to the mob, to keep up their spirits. He sent word to Mrs. Philips, that if she did not turn that fellow out to the mob, he would send them to drag him out. Mr, Willy passed by again and again, assuring the rioters he would stand by them, and secure them from the law, do what they would.”

The rioters 6 now began playing the larger engine ; which broke the windows, flooded the roomş, and spoiled the

goods. We were withdrawn to a small upper room in the back part of the house ; seeing no way to escape their violence, as they seemed under the full power of the old murderer. They first layed hold on the man who kept the society-house, dragged him away, and threw him into the horsepond ; and it was said, broke his back. We gave ourselves unto prayer, believing the Lord would deliver us; how, or when, we saw not; nor any possible way of escaping; we therefore stood still to see the salvation of God. Every now and then, some or other of our friends would venture to us ; but rather weakened our hands, so that we were forced to stop our ears, and look up. Among the rest, the mayor's maid came, and told us her mistress was in tears about me ; and begged me to disguise myself in women's clothes, and try to make my escape. Her heart had been turned toward us by the conversion of her son, just on the brink of ruin. God laid his hand on the poor prodigal, and instead of running to sea, he entered the society. The rioters without continued playing their engine, which diverted them for some time; but their number and fierceness still increased ; and the gentlemen supplied them with pitchers of ale, as much as they would drink. They were now on the point of breaking in, when Mr. Borough thought of reading the proclamation: he did so at the hazard of his life. In less than the hour, of above a thousand wild beasts, none were left, but the guard. Our constable had applied to Mr. Street, the only justice in town, who would not act. We found there was no help in man, which drove us closer to the Lord; and we prayed, with little intermission, the whole day.

“Our enemies, at their return, made their main assault at the back door, swearing horribly, they would have me if it cost them their lives. Many seeming accidents concurred to prevent their breaking in. The man of the house came home, and instead of turning me out, as they expected, took part with us, and stemmed the tide for some time. They now got a notion that I had made my escape; and ran down to the inn' and played the engine there. They forced the innkeeper to turn out our horses, which he immediately sent to Mr. Clarke's; which drew the rabble and their engine thither. But the resolute old man charged, and presented his gun, till they retreated. Upon their revisiting us, we stood in jeopardy every moment. Such threatenings, curses, and blasphemies, I have never heard. They seemed kept out by a continual miracle. I remembered the Roman senators sitting in the forum, when the Gauls broke in upon them; but thought there was a fitter posture for Christians, and told my companion they should take us off our knees. We were kept from all hurry, and discomposure of spirit, by

[ocr errors]

a divine power resting upon us. We prayed and conversed as freely as if we had been in the midst of our brethren; and had great confidence that the Lord would either deliver us from the danger, or in it. In the height of the storm, just when we were falling into the hands of the drunken enraged multitude, Mr. Minton was so little disturbed that he fell fast asleep.

'They were now close to us on every side, and over our heads untiling the roof. A ruffian cried out, ` Here they are, behind the curtain. At this time we fully expected their appearance, and retired to the furthermost corner of the room ; and I said, THIS IS THE CRISIS. In that moment Jesus rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. We heard not a breath without, and wondered what was become of them. The silence lasted for three quarters of an hour, before any one came near us; and we continued in mutual exhortation and prayer, looking for deliverance. I often told my companions, Now God is at work for us : he is contriving our escape ; he can turn these leopards into lambs ; can command the heathen to bring his children on their shoulders, and make our fiercest enemies the instruments of our deliverance.' About three o'clock Mr. Clarke knocked at the door, and brought with him the persecuting constable. He said, 'Sir, if you will promise never to preach here again, the gentlemen and I will engage to bring you safe out of town. My answer was, “I shall promise no such thing : setting aside my office, I will not give up my birthright as an Englishman, of visiting what place I please of his Majesty's dominions.' Sir,' said the constable,' we expect no such promise that you will never come here again ; only tell me that it is not your present intention, that I may tell the gentlemen, who will secure your quiet departure. I answered, 'I cannot come again at this time, because I must return to London a week hence. But, observe, I make no promise of not preaching here, when the door is opened ; and do not you say that I do.'

"He went away with this answer, and we betook ourselves to prayer and thanksgiving. We perceived it was the Lord's doing, and it was marvellous in our eyes. The hearts of our adversaries were turned. Whether pity for us, or fear for themselves, wrought strongest, God knoweth ; probably the latter; for the mob were wrought up to such a pitch of fury, that their masters dreaded the consequence, and therefore went about appeasing the multitude, and charging them not to touch us in our departure.

“While the constable was gathering his posse, we got our things from Mr. Clarke's, and prepared to go forth. The whole multitude were without, expecting us, and saluted with

a general shout. The man Mrs. Naylor had hired to ride before her was, as we perceived, one of the rioters. This hopeful guide was to conduct us out of the reach of his fellows. Mr. Minton and I took horse in the face of our enemies, who began clamouring against us; the gentlemen were dispersed among the mob to bridle them. We rode a slow pace up the street, the whole multitude pouring along on both sides, and attending us with loud acclamations. Such fierceness and diabolical malice I have not before seen in human faces. They ran up to our horses as if they would swallow us, but did not know which was Wesley. We felt great peace, and acquiescence in the honour done us, while the whole town were spectators of our march. When out of sight we mended our pace, and about 7 o'clock came to Wrexall. The news of our danger was got thither before us; but we brought the welcome tidings of our deliverance. We joined in hearty prayer to our Deliverer, singing the hymn,

Worship, and thanks, and blessing,” &c.







[ocr errors]

Soldier of Christ, adieu !

Thy conflicts here are past ;
The Lord hath brought thee through,

And given the crown at last :
Rejoice to wear the glorious prize,
Rejoice with God in paradise.
There all thy sufferings cease,

There all thy griefs are o'er;
The prisoner is at peace,

The mourner weeps no more :
From man's oppressive tyranny
Thou livest, thou livest for ever free.
Torn from thy friends below,

In banishment severe,
A man of strife and wo,

No more thou wander'st here ;

« PreviousContinue »