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REV. MR. JOHN WESLEY'S JOURNAL,
FROM MAY 14, 1768, TO SEPTEMBER 1, 1770.
SATURDAY, May the 14th, 1768. I walked once more through Holyrood-House, a noble pile of building; but the greatest part of it left to itself, and so (like the palace at Scone) swiftly running to ruin. The tapestry is dirty and quite faded; the fine ceilings dropping down, and many of the pictures in the gallery torn or cut through. This was the work of good General Hawley's soldiers, (like General, like men!) who, after running away from the Scots at Falkirk, revenged themselves on the harmless canvas !
Sun. 15. At eight I preached in the High-school yard; and I believe not a few of the hearers were cut to the heart. Between twelve and one a far larger congregation assembled on the Castle-Hill: and I believe my voice commanded them all, while I opened and enforced those awful words, "I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God." In the evening our house was sufficiently crowded, even with the rich and honourable. Who hath warned these to flee from the wrath to come?" O may they at length "awake, and arise from the dead!
Mon. 16. I preached in the evening at Dunbar, near the shore, to an unusually large congregation. Tues. 17. I looked over Dr. Shaw's Travels: great part of them is very dull and unentertaining; but some remarks are extremely curious. I was a little surprised at one of them: namely, that the celebrated Mount Atlas is
not higher than many of our English mountains, and nothing near so high as the Alps. But it was much farther from Rome. So travellers might make it as high as the moon, and few in Italy could contradict them.
Wed. 18. I came to poor dead Berwick. However, I found a few living souls even here. At seven, I preached in the Town-hall, to an exceeding serious, though not numerous congregation. The next evening I preached in the Market-place at Alnwick.
Fri. 20. I went on in reading that fine book, Bishop Butler's Analogy. But I doubt it is too hard for most of those, for whom it was chiefly intended. Freethinkers, so called, are seldom close thinkers. They will not be at the pains of reading such a book as this. One that would profit them, must dilute his sense, or they will neither swallow nor digest it.
Sat. 21. About noon I preached at Morpeth, and in the evening at Newcastle, in the Old Custom-house, a large commodious room near the Key-side, the grand resort of publicans and sinners.
Sun. 22. I preached in the morning under the trees in Gateshead, to a large and serious multitude; and, at two, on the Fell, to a much larger. But the largest of all attended at the Garth-Heads in the evening; and great part of them were not curious hearers, but well acquainted with the things of the kingdom of God.
Wed. 25, and the two following days, being at Sunderland, I took down from one who had feared God from her infancy, one of the strangest accounts I ever read: and yet I can find no pretence to disbelieve it. The wellknown character of the person excludes all suspicion of fraud, and the nature of the circumstances themselves excludes the possibility of a delusion.
It is true, there are several of them which I do not comprehend; but this is with me a very slender objection; for what is it which I do comprehend, even of the things I see daily? Truly not
"The smallest grain of sand or spire of grass."
I know not how the one grows, or how the particles of the other cohere together. What pretence have I then to deny well-attested facts, because I cannot comprehend them?
It is true likewise, that the English in general, and
indeed most of the men of learning in Europe, have given up all accounts of witches and apparitions, as mere old wives' fables. I am sorry for it; and I willingly take this opportunity of entering my solemn protest against this violent compliment, which so many that believe the Bible pay to those who do not believe it. I owe them no such service. I take knowledge, these are at the bottom of the outcry which has been raised, and with such insolence spread throughout the nation, in direct opposition, not only to the Bible, but to the suffrage of the wisest and best of men, in all ages and nations. They well know, (whether Christians know it, or not,) that the giving up witchcraft is, in effect, giving up the Bible; and they know, on the other hand, that if but one account of the intercourse of men with separate spirits be admitted, their whole castle in the air (Deism, Atheism, Materialism) falls to the ground. I know no reason, therefore, why we should suffer even this weapon to be wrested out of our hands. Indeed there are numerous arguments besides, which abundantly confute their vain imaginations. But we need not be hooted out of one; neither reason nor religion requires this.
One of the capital objections to all these accounts, which I have known urged over and over, is this, "Did you ever see an apparition yourself? No. Nor did I ever see a murder; yet I believe there is such a thing; yea, and that, in one place or another, murder is committed every day. Therefore I cannot, as a reasonable man, deny the fact, although I never saw it, and perhaps never may. The testimony of unexceptionable witnesses fully convinces me both of the one and the other.
But to set this aside, it has been confidently alleged, that many of these have seen their error, and have been clearly convinced, that the supposed preternatural operation was the mere contrivance of artful men. The famous instance of this, which has been spread far and wide, was the drumming in Mr. Mompesson's house at Tedworth; who, it was said, acknowledged "it was all a trick, and that he had found out the whole contrivance. Not so. My eldest brother, then at Christ-Church, Oxon, inquired of Mr. Mompesson, his fellow-collegian, "Whether his father had acknowledged this or not? He answered, The resort of gentlemen to my father's house was so great, he could not bear the expense. He therefore took
no pains to confute the report that he had found out the cheat; although he, and I, and all the family knew, the account which was published to be punctually true.
This premised, I proceed to as remarkable a narrative as any that has fallen under my notice. The reader may believe it if he pleases, or may disbelieve it, without any offence to me. Meantime, let him not be offended if I believe it, till I see better reason to the contrary. I have added a few short remarks, which may make some passages a little more intelligible.
“1. Elizabeth Hobson was born in Sunderland, in the year 1744. Her father dying when she was three or four years old, her uncle, Thomas Rea, a pious man, brought her up as his own daughter. She was serious from a child, and grew up in the fear of God. Yet she had deep and sharp convictions of sin, till she was about sixteen years of age, when she found peace with God, and from that time the whole tenor of her behaviour was suitable to her profession."
On Wednesday, May the 25th, 1768, and the three following days, I talked with her at large; but it was with great difficulty I prevailed on her to speak. The substance of what she said was as follows::
2. "From my childhood, when any of our neighbours died, whether men, women, or children, I used to see them either just when they died, or a little before. And I was not frightened at all, it was so common. Indeed, many times I did not then know they were dead. I saw many of them by day, many by night. Those that came when it was dark brought light with them. I observed, little children and many grown persons had a bright, glorious light round them; but many had a gloomy, dismal light, and a dusky cloud over them.
3. "When I told my uncle this, he did not seem to be at all surprised at it.1 But at several times he said, 'Be not afraid; only take care to fear and serve God. As long as he is on your side, none will be able to hurt you.' At other times he said, (dropping a word now and then, but seldom answering me any questions about it,) Evil spirits very seldom appear, but between eleven at night and two in the morning: but after they have appeared to a
It appears highly probable, that he was himself experimentally acquainted with these things.
person a year, they frequently come in the day-time. Whatever spirits, good or bad, come in the day, they come at sunrise, at noon, or at sun-set.' 1
4. When I was between twelve and thirteen, my uncle had a lodger, who was a very wicked man. One night I was sitting in my chamber, about half an hour after ten, having by accident put out my candle, when he came in, all over on a flame. I cried out, William, why do you come in so to fright me?' He said nothing, but went away. I went after him into his room, but found he was fast asleep in bed. A day or two after he fell ill, and within the week died in raging despair.
5. "I was between fourteen and fifteen, when I went very early one morning to fetch up the kine. I had two fields to cross into a low ground, which was said to be haunted. Many persons had been frighted there; and I had myself often seen men and women (so many, at times, that they are out of count) go just by me, and vanish away. This morning, as I came toward it, I heard a confused noise, as of many people quarrelling. But I did not mind it, and went on, till I came near the gate. I then saw on the other side a young man dressed in purple, who said, 'It is too early: go back from whence you came. The Lord be with you, and bless you.' And presently he was gone.
6. When I was about sixteen, my uncle fell ill, and grew worse and worse for three months. One day, having been sent out on an errand, I was coming home through a lane, when I saw him in the field coming swiftly toward me. I ran to meet him, but he was gone. When I came home, I found him calling for me. As soon as I came to his bedside, he clasped his arms round my neck, and bursting into tears, earnestly exhorted me to continue in the ways of God, kept his hold, till he sunk down and died; and even then they could hardly unclasp his fingers. I would fain have died with him, and wished to be buried with him, dead or alive.
7. "From that time I was crying from morning to night, and praying that I might see him. I grew weaker and weaker, till one morning, about one o'clock, as I was lying, crying as usual, I heard some noise, and rising up, saw him come to the bedside. He looked much displeased,
1 How strange is this! But how little do we know concerning the laws of the invisible world!