1669 - 1742
While her husband was absent
in London in 1711, attending Convocation,
Mrs. Wesley adopted the practice of reading
in her family, and instructing them. One of
the servants told his parents and they wished
to come. These told others, and they came,
till the congregations amounted to forty,
and increased till they were over two hundred,
and the parsonage could not contain all that
came. She read to them the best and most awakening
sermons she could find in the library, talked
to the people freely and affectionately. There
meetings were held "because she thought
the end of the institution of the Sabbath
was not fully answered by attending Church
unless the intermediate spaces of time were
filled up by other acts of devotion."
Inman, the Curate, was a
very stupid and narrow man. He became jealous
because her audience was larger than his,
and he wrote to Mr. Wesley, complaining that
his wife, in his absence, had turned the parsonage
into a conventicle; that the Church was likely
to be scandalized by such irregular proceedings;
and that they ought to be tolerated no longer.
Mr. Wesley wrote to his wife that she should
get some one else to read the sermons. She
replied that there was not a man there who
could read a sermon without spoiling it.
Inman, the Curate, still
complained, and the Rector wrote to Mrs. Wesley
that the meetings should be discontinued.
Mrs. Wesley answered him by showing what good
the meetings had done, and that none were
opposed to them but Mr. Inman and one other.
She then concludes with these wonderful sentences:
"If after all this you think fit to dissolve
this assembly do not tell me you desire me
to do it, for that will not satisfy my conscience;
but send your positive command in such full
and express terms as may absolve me from all
guilt and punishment for neglecting this opportunity
for doing good when you and I shall appear
before the great and awful tribunal of our
Lord Jesus Christ.
Were not these the first
Methodist meetings held by the Wesleys?
Can we wonder that Isaac
Taylor says that "the mother of the Wesleys
was the mother of Methodism;" and that
in her characteristic letter, when she said,
"'Do not advise me, but command me to
desist,'" she was bringing to its place
a corner-stone of the future of Methodism."
Who can tell the influence
those meetings of their mother in the parsonage
had upon John and Charles in future years,
who were then little boys, and always present!