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Wesley’s Living Arguments

Sunday, 20.—Seeing many of the rich at Clifton Church, my heart was much pained for them and I was earnestly desirous that some even of them might “enter into the kingdom of heaven.” But full as I was, I knew not where to begin in warning them to flee from the wrath to come till my Testament opened on these words: "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” [Mark 2:17]; in applying which my soul was so enlarged that methought I could have cried out (in another sense than poor vain Archimedes), “Give me where to stand, and I will shake the earth.” God’s sending forth lightning with the rain did not hinder about fifteen hundred from staying at Rose Green.  Our Scripture was, “It is the glorious God that maketh the thunder. The voice of the Lord is mighty in operation; the voice of the Lord is a glorious voice” [see Ps. 29:3, 4]. In the evening He spoke to three whose souls were all storm and tempest, and immediately there was a great calm.

During this whole time I was almost continually asked, either by those who purposely came to Bristol to inquire concerning this strange work, or by my old or new correspondents, “How can these things be?” And innumerable cautions were given me (generally grounded on gross misrepresentations of things) not to regard visions or dreams, or to fancy people had remission of sins because of their cries, or tears, or bare outward professions. To one who had many times written to me on this head, the sum of my answer was as follows:

“The question between us turns chiefly, if not wholly, on matter of fact. You deny that God does now work these effects; at least, that He works them in this manner. I affirm both, because I have heard these things with my own ears and have seen with my eyes. I have seen (as far as a thing of this kind can be seen very many persons changed in a moment from the spirit of fear, horror, despair, to the spirit of love, joy, and peace; and from sinful desire, till then reigning over them, to a pure desire of doing the will of God. These are matters of fact whereof I have been, and almost daily am, an eye- or ear-witness.

“What I have to say touching visions or dreams, is this: I know several persons in whom this great change was wrought in a dream, or during a strong representation to the eye of their mind, of Christ either on the cross or in the glory. This is the fact; let any judge of it as they please. And that such a change was then wrought appears (not from their shedding tears only, or falling into fit, or crying out; these are not the fruits, as you seem to suppose, whereby I judge, but) from the whole tenor of their life, till then many ways wicked; from that time holy, just, and good.

“I will show you him that was a lion till then and is now a lamb; him that was a drunkard and is now exemplarily sober; the whoremonger that was who now abhors the very ‘garment spotted by the flesh.’ These are my living arguments for what I assert, namely, ‘that God does now, as aforetime, give remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost even to us and to our children; yea, and that always suddenly as far as I have known, and often in dreams or in the visions of God.’ If it be not so, I am found a false witness before God. For these things I do, and by His grace, will testify.”

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