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WESLEY'S LAST HOURS
BY ONE WHO WAS PRESENT
On Thursday [February 24, 1791] Mr. Wesley paid his last visit to that lovely place and family, Mr. Wolff's, at Balaam, which I have often heard him speak of with pleasure and much affection. Here Mr. Rogers said he was cheerful, and seemed nearly as well as usual till Friday, about breakfast time, when he seemed very heavy.
About eleven o'clock Mrs. Wolff brought him home: I was struck with his manner of getting out of the coach, and going into the house, but more so as he went upstairs, and when he sat down in the chair. I ran for some refreshment, but before I could get anything for him he had sent Mr. R--- out of the room, and desired not to be interrupted for half an hour by anyone, adding, not even if Joseph Bradford come.
Mr. Bradford came a few minutes after, and as soon as the limited time was expired, went into the room; immediately after he came out and desired me to mull some wine with spices and carry it to Mr. Wesley: he drank a little and seemed sleepy. In a few minutes he was seized with sickness, threw it up, and said, "I must lie down." We immediately sent for Dr. Whitehead: on his coming in Mr. Wesley smiled and said, "Doctor, they are more afraid than hurt." He lay most of the day, with a quick pulse, burning fever and extremely sleepy.
Saturday the twenty-sixth, he continued much the same; spoke but little, and if roused to answer a question, or take a little refreshment (which was seldom more than a spoonful at a time) soon dozed again.
On Sunday morning, with a little of Mr. Bradford's help, Mr. Wesley got up, took a cup of tea, and seemed much better. Many of our friends were all hopes: yet Dr. Whitehead said he was not out of danger from his present complaints.
Monday the twenty-eighth his weakness increased apace and his friends in general being greatly alarmed, Dr. Whitehead was desirous they should call in another physician. Mr. Bradford mentioned his desire to our Honored Father, which he absolutely refused, saying, "Dr. Whitehead knows my condition better than anyone; I am perfectly satisfied and will not have anyone else." He slept most of the day, spoke but little; yet that little testified how much his whole heart was taken up in the case of the churches, the glory of God, and the things pertaining to that kingdom to which he was hastening. Once in a low, but very distinct manner, he said, "There is no way into the holiest but by the blood of Jesus." Had he had strength at the time, it seemed as if he would have said more.
Tuesday, March 1, after a very restless night (though, when asked whether he was in pain, he generally answered "No," and never complained through his whole illness, except once, when he said that he felt a pain in his left breast when he drew his breath), he began singing:
All glory to God in the sky,
And peace upon earth be restored.
[Having sung two verses] his strength failed, but after lying still awhile he called on Mr. Bradford to give him a pen and ink; he brought them, but the right hand had well nigh forgot its cunning, and those active fingers which had been the blessed instruments of spiritual consolation and pleasing instruction to thousands, could no longer perform their office. Some time after, he said to me, "I want to write": I brought him a pen and ink, and on putting the pen into his hand and holding the paper before him, he said, "I cannot." I replied, "Let me write for you, sir; tell me what you would say." "Nothing," returned he, “but that God is with us." In the forenoon he said, “I will get up." While his things were getting ready, he broke out in a manner which, considering his extreme weakness, astonished us all, in these blessed words:
I'll praise my Maker while I've breath,
And when my voice is lost in death,
Praise shall employ my nobler pow'rs;
My days of praise shall ne'er be past,
While life, and thought, and being last,
Or immortality endures.
Which were also the last words our Reverend and dear Father ever gave out in the City Road Chapel, namely, on Tuesday evening before preaching from, "We through the Spirit wait," and so forth.
When he got into his chair, we saw him change for death: but he, regardless of his dying frame, said, with a weak voice, "Lord, Thou givest strength to those that can speak, and to those that cannot: Speak, Lord, to all our hearts, and let them know that Thou loosest tongues." He then sang:
To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Who sweetly all agree.
Here his voice failed him, and after gasping for breath, he said, "Now we have done--let us all go." We were obliged to lay him down on the bed from which he rose no more: but after lying still, and sleeping a little, he called me to him and said, "Betsy, you Mr. Bradford, and the others pray and praise." We knelt down, and truly our hearts were filled with the Divine Presence; the room seemed to be filled with God.
A little after he spoke to Mr. Bradford about the key and contents of his bureau; while he attended to the directions given him, Mr. Wesley called me and said, "I would have all things ready for my Executors, Mr. Wolff, Mr. Horton, and Mr. Marriott"--here his voice again failed; but taking breath he added, "Let me be buried in nothing but what is woolen, and let my corpse be carried in my coffin into the Chapel." Then, as if done with all below, he again begged we would pray and praise.
The next pleasing awful scene was the great exertion he made in order to make Mr. B. (who had not left the room) understand that he fervently desired a sermon he had written on the love of God should be scattered abroad, and given away to everybody. Something else he wished to say, but, alas! his speech failed; and those lips which used to feed many were no longer able (except when particular strength was given) to convey their accustomed sounds.
A little after, Mr. Horton coming in, we hoped that if he had anything of moment on his mind, which he wished to communicate, he would again try to tell us what it was, and that either Mr. Horton, or some of those who were most used to hear our dear Father's dying voice would be able to interpret his meaning; but though he strove to speak, we were still unsuccessful. Finding we could not understand what he said, he paused a little, and then with all the remaining strength he had, cried out, "The best of all is, God is with us"; and then, as if to assert the faithfulness of our promise-keeping Jehovah and comfort the hearts of his weeping friends, lifting up his dying arm in token of victory and raising his feeble voice with a holy triumph not to be expressed, again repeated the heart-reviving, words, "The best of all is, God is with us!"
Some time after, giving him something to wet his parched lips, he said, "It will not do, we must take the consequence; never mind the poor carcass.” Pausing a little, he cried, "The clouds drop fatness!" and soon after, "The Lord is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge!" He then called us to prayer. Mr. Broadbent was again the mouth of our full hearts, and though Mr. Wesley was greatly exhausted by these exertions, he appeared still more fervent in spirit. Most of the night following, though he was often heard attempting to repeat the psalm before-mentioned, he could only get out,
I'll praise---I'll praise---!
On Wednesday morning we found the closing scene drew near. Mr. Bradford, his faithful friend and most affectionate son, prayed with him, and the last word he was heard to articulate was, "Farewell!" A few minutes before ten, while Miss Wesley, Mr. Horton, Mr. Brackenbury, Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, Dr. Whitehead, Mr. Broadbent, Mr. Whitefield, Mr. Bradford, and E. R. were kneeling around his bed; according to his often expressed desire, without a lingering groan, this man of God gathered up his feet in the presence of his brethren!
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