He heard men and women—notorious evil-livers, some of them—crying aloud. Ah, the great simplicity of it was beyond him!—and yet not perhaps beyond him, could he believe the truth, in the bygone years never questioned by him, that Jesus Christ was very God.
He waited for the last word and strode back to his lonely home with a mind unconvinced yet wondering at the power he had witnessed, a heart bursting with love. He sat down to write at once: but tore up many letters. With Christ, to believe was to be forgiven. If Christ could not be tender to doubt, how much less would John Wesley be tender? It was not until Friday that he found courage to dispatch the following:
saw you at Epworth on Tuesday evening.
Fain would I have spoken to you, but that I am quite at a loss
to know how to address or behave to you.
Your way of thinking is so extraordinary that your presence creates an awe, as if you were an inhabitant of another world. God grant you and your followers may always have entire liberty of conscience. Will you not allow others the same?
Indeed I cannot think as you do, any more than I can help honouring and loving you. Dear sir, will you credit me? I retain the highest veneration and affection for you. The sight of you moves me strangely. My heart overflows with gratitude; I feel in a higher degree all that tenderness and yearning of bowels with which I am affected towards every branch of Mr. Wesley’s family. I cannot refrain from tears when I reflect, This is the man who at Oxford was more than a father to me; this is he whom I have heard expound, or dispute publicly, or preach at St. Mary’s, with such applause; and—oh, that I should ever add—whom I have lately heard preach at Epworth, on his father’s tombstone!
I am quite forgot. None
of the family ever honour me with a
line. Have I been ungrateful? I have been passionate, fickle, a
fool; but I hope I never shall be ungrateful.
Dear sir, is it in my power to serve or oblige you in any way?
Glad I should be that you would make use of me. God open all
our eyes and lead us into truth wherever it be!
The answer was delivered to him that same evening. It ran:
Dear Brother,—I take you at your word, if indeed it covers permission to preach in your church at Wroote on Sunday morning next. I design to take for text—and God grant it may be profitable to you and to others!—“Ask, and it shall be given you.”
From Epworth John Wesley rode on to Sheffield, and then southward through Coventry, Evesham and Painswick to Bristol, preaching as he went, sometimes thrice a day: from Bristol to Cardiff and back; and so, on Sunday evening, July 18th, towards London. On Tuesday morning he dismounted by the door of the Foundry, having left it just two months before.