From Moorfields, London, to S W. Yesterday he rose 'with a soul as gloomy as the weather'. He was afraid that God did not approve of his intention to speak that night against separation, and had sent the rain to prevent the Society from gathering to hear him.
He had 'no relief among the preachers' discovering that neither himself nor [John] Jones could be spared from London.
Charles sent his 'curate' [?John Jones] to assist [Thomas] Maxfield. Just before Charles started to read the prayers the weather unexpectedly improved. He discoursed to the 'unjustified' from Isaiah 35, and his audience appeared to receive encouragement from what he was saying. Charles however remained in a depressed state and yet felt 'greatly assisted to pray & plead at the alter'.
After dinner at Mrs Bird's house, he returned to his lodgings but was almost immediately called back to the Foundery, where he found Lady [Huntingdon] and Miss Shirley in a distressed state after visiting their cousin [Lawrence Shirley, Earl Ferrers] in the Tower of London. The prisoner's brother has been with the accused man and fears there will be no remorse [for his committing an act of murder] 'till he is condemned to die: unless the prayers of God's faithful people can reach his heart'. To achieve this end they will therefore observe a fast. They propose allowing half an hour after the conclusion of morning prayer, and shall meet again at nine and again at the usual hour of intercession.
They spent from three until five in prayer and conference. Then Charles 'endeavoured to strengthen the weak hands by saying to them of a fearful heart "Be strong fear not, yr God will…save you"…it was near two hours past 6 before I had delivered my message. Poor Miss Shirley was lifted up out of the deep'.
Afterwards he walked to Spitalfields Chapel to address the Society on the question of separation from the Church - 'I read the reasons…enforcing each, then my hymns, & then prayed…'. His depression left him and he is confident that he is of one mind with the people. Charles had discussed this matter with his brother, and both agreed that he should speak to the people in this way. Charles voiced no criticism of the Lay-preachers. [John] Jones informs him that the [Class] leaders are horrified at the preachers 'licensing ymselves, yt is coming to the people with A LIE IN THEIR POCKET…God is plainly at work'. Charles does not like the idea of the [Class] leaders sending a petition to John against such men, but rather prays that the preachers will burn their licenses.
He met with the Select Band and all seemed satisfied with the night's work especially 'old, honest, hearty Mr Watkins'.
Another hour was spent with the preachers, and they too seem happy enough, although Charles cannot see inside their hearts. He feels that [John] Murlin is insincere. Charles has sent for Paul Greenwood.
He had breakfast at the house of Peggy Jackson, 'who hugs me as a man after her own heart, so does her sister & all the OLD women of the Society. I hope my [brother] will never call for a poll. If he does, he will miss the Principal of the Flock. Many of ym have assured me, if he leaves the Church, he will leave them also'.
He called on their dear sick friend Lady Piers, and then found 'my beloved friend Bro Shirley' and his sister at Paddington. They 'mourned & rejoiced together from 2 till 5…surely that murtherer will be given to us'.
Charles trusts that Sarah's next letter will contain good news of his little Sally and her brother, about whom there are many enquiries here.
- Publication Record: Quoted extensively by Thomas Jackson in The Journal of the Rev. Charles Wesley (1849), Volume 2, pp.228-230.
- Paul Greenwood was associated with Jonathan Maskew in the Haworth round during the 1740s. In 1752 he spent a year in Dublin before returning to England, where he itinerated mainly in the north, dying in Manchester in 1767. Source; Dr Frank Baker, The Works of John Wesley (1982) Volume 26, p.501.
- John Murlin was a Cornish itinerant, who was converted by John Downes in 1749, and was summoned from his prosperous business by John Wesley to join the itinerancy in 1754. Murlin was an exceptionally gifted preacher, whose emotional style earned him the nickname 'the weeping prophet'. Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974).