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Wesley Protests Against Lawlessness

Thursday, 25.—I rode with Mr. Grimshaw to Roughlee. At half-hour after twelve I began to preach.  I had about half finished my discourse when the mob came pouring down the hill like a torrent. After exchanging a few words with their captain, to prevent any contest I went with him as he required.  When we came to Barrowford, two miles off, the whole army drew up in battle array before the house into which I was carried with two or three of my friends. After I had been detained above an hour, their captain went out, and I followed him and desired him to conduct me whence I came. He said he would; but the mob soon followed after; at which he was so enraged that he must needs turn back to fight them, and so left me alone.

A further account is contained in the following letter, which I wrote the next morning—

Widdop, Aug. 26, 1748

Sir,--Yesterday between twelve and one o’clock, while I was speaking to some quiet people without any noise or tumult, a drunken rabble came with clubs and staves, in a tumultuous and riotous manner, the captain of whom, Richard B., by name, said he was a deputy-constable and that he was come to bring me to you. I went with him; but I had scarcely gone ten yards when a man of his company struck me with his fist in the face with all his might; quickly after, another threw his stick at my head: I then made a little stand; but another of your champions, cursing and swearing in the most shocking manner and flourishing his club over his head, cried out, ‘Bring him away!’

“With such convoy I walked to Barrowford, where they informed me you were, their drummer going before to draw all the rabble together from all quarters.

“When your deputy had brought me into the house, he permitted Mr. Grimshaw, the minister of Haworth, Mr. Colbeck, of Keighley, and one more, to be with me, promising that none should hurt them. Soon after you and your friends came in and required me to promise I would come to Roughlee no more. I told you I would sooner cut off my hand than make any such promise; neither would I promise that none of my friends should come. After abundance of rambling discourse (for I could keep none of you long to any one point), from about one o’clock till between three and four (in which one of you frankly said, ‘No; we will not be like Gamaliel, we will proceed like the Jews’), you seemed a little satisfied with my saying, ‘I will not preach at Roughlee at this time.’ You then undertook to quiet the mob to whom you went and spoke a few rods, and their noise immediately ceased. I then walked out with you at the back door.

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