From [Benjamin Ingham]. He is in receipt of Charles's last in which was requested an account of the work of God among Ingham and his followers. Brother Telchig can inform Charles in person of most things. The clergy here [?Yorkshire] are generally very hostile and some bitterly so. They both preach and speak against Ingham and not one of them will now talk to him, although he had been very friendly with some of them. A few have claimed in the pulpit that he is led by devils, some say that he is deluded and others do not know what to think. They threatened persecution for some time until they discovered that threats had no effect. A neighbouring Justice of the Peace 'ordered a constable to discharge me twice but he did not execute his orders & the Justice says we are above his hands, & his wife has come several times to hear me'.
Lies and slanders are constantly spread about. Some say they [the Evangelicals] are Jesuits and Spaniards etc that they have caused the war, and are responsible for any misfortune that may happen. It is alleged that the private meetings are hatching plots '& yt we whore together: yt I lie with young women...'
Ingham knows of no instance in these parts of anybody 'being awakend, receiving remission of sins & the full assurance of faith all at once - persons sometimes have great joy when they are 1st awakend, but is neither forgiveness of sins nor ye assurance of faith but it is given to draw ym forward. Some souls are [unreadable word] greatly when they are first awakened & may be wthin a few days or week receive great joy & are in a flaming zeal, but neither is ys forgiveness of sin nor assurance of faith [butt it is ye good gift of God - erased]. Others are in a great earnestness & have great joy for half a year or a year but neither is ys forgiveness of sins nor assurance of faith but it is ye good gift of God to help ym forward in ye way to Heaven. Before anyone can receive remission of sin, he must 1st be convinced of SIN not only for his gross outward sins but of yt whole body of sin yt is in him wch ye scripture call unbelief: yt is a departing from God in every respect. The conviction of sin begets a Godly sorrow or mourning wch bring the soul very low...and when God sees ye heart sufficiently broken & contrite then he pardons the person; the fruit of which pardon or justification is peace...'
This peace does not however free the person from doubt and temptation, and so is not 'full assurance of faith'. If the assurance is given there can be no doubt, and that is a gift beyond price. Before it is given the person must be humble and have self-knowledge. Yet all people may attain it, and will thenceforth be entirely free from doubt whatever the world may do. Some young converts think that the first joy is assurance but they will find afterwards that they are wrong in this belief.
Ingham feels that the most dangerous time 'in the Xtian race' is when a person receives forgiveness of sins, especially if he is filled with joy for a long time - 'Indeed all states of great joy are dangerous if not humbly received. If persons have not now a guide or are not guidable, its ten to one but they run into error & bypaths...' Many are led astray at that point and progress no further. He has met several people like that and does not know how to help them. 'I believe indeed they will be saved, yet yir [their] degree in glory will be low, they are but in ye 1st state of ye new birth'.
Charles asked what are the marks of a person who is justified 'but not sealed'? Ingham cannot offer any certain marks but such persons are 'meek, simple, child-like, they have doubts and fears within [unreadable word] are in a wilderness state - In this state they are to be kept still & quiet to search more deeply into their hearts so yt they may become more & more poor in spirit or humble they are likewise to be taught wholly to depend upon Xt. By all means keep ym from confusion, as they are very apt to do ?ym receive inconceivable damage; but if they continue still, meek & gentle searching into their hearts & depending upon Xt, they will find their hearts to be sweetly drawn after Xt, they will begin to loath & abhor sin & to hunger & thirst after righteousness; they will get strength daily. Xt will begin to manifest himself by degrees ye darkness vanish...they will go from strength to strength...& then they will begin to see things clearly & to understand wt ye Lord has done for ym. So by degrees yy [they] will come to have ye assurance of faith'.
Charles also asked whether 'in this intermediate state they are children of wrath or heirs of ye promises? wthout doubt yy are the children of God, yy are in a state of Salvation. A child may be heir to an estate before it can speak or knows wt an estate is: so we may be heirs of Heaven before we know it or are sure of it. However ye assurance of faith is to be sought after, it may be attained, it will be given to all yt go forward; but to none till yy know ymselves. We must 1st be humble & poor in spirit...we must have a constant fixt abiding feeling sense of our own weakness unworthyness corruption sin & misery...If I was to be wth yu I cd explain things more clearly but I am a novice, a beginner, a babe in Xt...'
[Annotated by Charles Wesley - 'Benj Ingham 1740 of the newly justified'.]
- The clergyman Benjamin Ingham (1712-72) was a member of the Holy Club at Oxford University and later accompanied the Wesleys to Georgia. In 1739 he began evangelising his native Yorkshire, enjoying great success. In 1742 he placed his societies under Moravian control, but later separated from them and founded his own Inghamite Church, a vestige of which still survives. He was close to the Wesleys on a personal level, but differed from them on several doctrinal points. In 1741 he married Lady Margaret Hastings, a daughter of the Earl of Huntingdon, and sister-in-law of the famous Countess of Huntingdon. Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974).