Eyewitnesses of John Wesley

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bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Henry Crabb Robinson (1775-1867) was a literary man and diarist. He is remembered today, if at all, because of the meticulous diaries he kept for many years.

In his youth, he saw and heard John Wesley on one occasion:

It was, I believe, in October, 1790, and not long before his death, that I heard John Wesley in the great round meeting-house at Colchester. He stood in a wide pulpit, and on each side of him stood an assistant minister, and the two of them held him up, having their hands under his arm-pits. His feeble voice was barely audible. But his reverend countenance, especially his long, white locks, formed a picture never to be forgotten. There was a vast crowd of lovers and admirers. It was a pantomime, but the pantomime went to the heart. Of the kind I never saw anything comparable to it in after life...

Robinson was 15 at the time; Wesley was 87, and only five months away from his translation to glory.

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Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was, of course, one of the most famous literary men of his century. It seems he and John Wesley were friends. Some excerpts from James Boswell's famous biography:

He said, "John Wesley's conversation is good, but he is never at leisure. He is always obliged to go at a certain hour. This is very disagreeable to a man who loves to fold his legs and have out his talk, as I do. (Friday, April 3, 1778)

Of John Wesley, he said, "He can talk well on any subject." BOSWELL: Pray, Sir, what has he made of his story of a ghost?" JOHNSON: "Why, Sir, he believes it; but not on sufficient authority. He did not take time enough to examine the girl. It was at Newcastle, where the ghost was said to have appeared to a young woman several times, mentioning something about the right to an old house, advising application to be made to an attorney, which was done; and, at the same time, saying the attorney would do nothing, which proved to be the fact. "This (says John) is a proof that a ghost knows our thoughts." Now (laughing), it is not necessary to know our thoughts to tell that an attorney will sometimes do nothing. Charles Wesley, who is a more stationary man, does not believe the story. I am sorry that John did not take more pains to inquire into the evidence for it." MISS SEWARD: (with an incredulous smile) "What, Sir! about a ghost?" JOHNSON: (with solemn vehemence) "Yes, Madam: this is a question which, after five thousand years, is yet undecided; a question, whether in theology or philosophy, one of the most important that can come before the human understanding." (Wednesday, April 15, 1778)

Johnson once wrote a letter of introduction for James Boswell to Wesley:

To the Reverend Mr. John Wesley: Sir: Mr. Boswell, a gentleman who has been long known to me, is desirous of being known to you, and has asked this recommendation, which I give him with great willingness, because I think it very much to be wished that worthy and religious men should be acquainted with each other. I am, Sir, your most humble servant. Sam. Johnson. May 3, 1779

Johnson once dined with a group of friends, the company including ...and Mrs. Hall, sister of the Reverend Mr. John Wesley, and resembling him, as I thought, both in figure and manner. (Sunday, April 15, 1781)

A little eyewitness testimony regarding Wesley...
 
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