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Wesley’s Congregation Stoned

1742. Monday, January 25 (London).—While I was explaining at Long Lane, “He that committeth sin is of the devil” [I John 3:8], his servants were above measure enraged:  they not only made all possible noise (although, as I had desired before, no man stirred from his place or answered them a word); but violently thrust many persons to and fro, struck others, and broke down part of the house. At length they began throwing large stones upon the house, which, forcing their way wherever they came, fell down, together with the tiles, among the people, so that they were in danger of their lives. I then told them, “You must not go on thus; I am ordered by the magistrate, who is, in this respect, to us the minister of God, to inform him of those who break the laws of God and the King: and I must do it if you persist herein; otherwise I am a partaker of your sin."

When I ceased speaking they were more outrageous than before. Upon this I said, “Let three or four calm men take hold of the foremost and charge a constable with him, that the law may take its course.” They did so and brought him into the house, cursing and blaspheming in a dreadful manner. I desired five or six to go with him to Justice Copeland, to whom they nakedly related the fact. The justice immediately bound him over to the next sessions at Guildford.

I observed when the man was brought into the house that many of his companions were loudly crying out, “Richard Smith, Richard Smith!” who, as it afterwards appeared, was one of their stoutest champions. But Richard Smith answered not; he was fallen into the hands of One higher than they. God had struck him to the heart; as also a woman, who was speaking words not fit to be repeated and throwing whatever came to hand, whom He overtook in the very act. She came into the house with Richard Smith, fell upon her knees before us all, and strongly exhorted him never to turn back, never to forget the mercy which God had shown to his soul. From this time we had never any considerable interruption or disturbance at Long Lane; although we withdrew our persecution upon the offender’s submission and promise of better behavior.

Tuesday, 26.—I explained at Chelsea the faith which worketh by love. I was very weak when I went into the room; but the more “the beasts of the people” increased in madness and rage, the more was I strengthened, both in body and soul; so that I believe few in the house, which was exceedingly full, lost one sentence of what I spoke. Indeed they could not see me, nor one another at a few yards distance, by reason of the exceedingly thick smoke, which was occasioned by the wildfire, and things of that kind, continually thrown into the room. But they who could praise God in the midst of the fires were not to be affrighted by a little smoke.

Monday, February 15.—Many met together to consult on a proper method for discharging the public debt; it was at length agreed 1) that every member of the society, who was able, should contribute a penny a week; 2) that the whole society should be divided into little companies or classes—about twelve in each class; and 3) that one person in each class should receive the contribution of the rest and bring it in to the stewards weekly.

Friday, March 10.—I rode once more to Pensford at the earnest request of serious people. The place where they desired me to preach was a little green spot near the town. But I had no sooner begun than a great company of rabble, hired (as we afterwards found) for that purpose, came furiously upon us, bringing a bull, which they had been baiting, and now strove to drive in among the people. But the beast was wiser than his drivers and continually ran either on one side of us or the other, while we quietly sang praise to God and prayed for about an hour.  The poor wretches, finding themselves disappointed, at length seized upon the bull, now weak and tired after having been so long torn and beaten both by dogs and men; and, by main strength, partly dragged, and partly thrust, him in among the people.

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