Leisure and I have taken leave of one another. I propose to be
busy as long as I live, if my health is so long indulged me.
In health and sickness I hope I shall ever continue with the
same sincerity, your loving brother,
April 17, 1726.
Dear Son,—I hope Sander will be with you on Wednesday morn,
with the horses, books, bags, and this. I got your mother to
write the inclosed (for you see I can hardly scrawl), because it
was possible it might come to hand on Tuesday; but my head was
so full of cares that I forgot on Saturday last to put it into
the post-house. I shall be very glad to see you, though but for
a day, but much more for a quarter of a year. I think you will
make what haste you can. I design to be at the “Crown,” in
Bawtry, on Saturday night. God bless and send you a prosperous
journey to your affectionate father,
The day after receiving this John and Charles set out and rode down to Lincolnshire together.
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
John Wesley laid his Bible down beside him on the rustic seat under the filbert-tree, and leaned back against the trunk with half-closed eyes. By and by he frowned, and the frown, instead of passing, grew deeper. His sermons, as a rule, arranged themselves neatly and rapidly, when once the text was chosen: but to-day his thoughts ran by fits and starts, and confusedly—a thing he abhorred.
In truth they kept harking back to the text, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses. . . .” He had chosen it with many searchings of heart, for he knew that if he preached this sermon it would exasperate his father. Had he any right, knowing this, to preach it from his father’s pulpit? After balancing the pro’s and contra’s, he decided that this was a scruple which his Christian duty outweighed. He was not used to look back upon a decision once taken: he had no thought now of changing his mind, but the prospect of a breach with his father unsettled him.
While he pondered, stabbing the turf with his heel, Molly came limping along the garden-path. Her face was white and drawn. She had been writing for two hours at her father’s dictation, and came now for rest to the seat which she and Hetty had in former days made their favourite resort.