S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
[John Wesley] seems to have been impressed with sentiments of religion at a very early age; and partook of the Lords Supper when he was only eight years old. From all that he himself has related to us, we have reason to believe that he never lost those serious impressions . And how great was his labour to save souls from death! He was indeed a perfect foe to rest, though no man was more fitted to enjoy whatsoever of wise, or good, or useful, or elegant, can be found in retirement. Even unto hoary hairs, and beyond the usual life of man, he was abundant in labours. His strength at more than fourscore years was not labour and sorrow. He, to the last, sought not to do his own will, but the will of Him that sent him. He soared above that harmless wish which the generality of mankind indulge, to crown
He slackened not his pace to the last week of his life. He resigned his soul and his charge together into the hands of his merciful and faithful Redeemer . His conversation was always pleasing, and frequently interesting and instructive in the highest degree. By leading, travelling, and continual observation, he had acquired a fund of knowledge, which he dispensed with a propriety and perspicuity that we believe has been rarely equalled. The Greek and Latin classics were as familiar to him as the most common English authors; and so were many of the best French writers. Yet, though so richly furnished, we believe those of the most improved taste have never observed in him the affectation of learning. He joined in every kind of discourse that was innocent. As he knew that all nature is full of God, he became all things to all men in conversing on those subjects. But his delight was to speak of God as being in Christ, reconciling the world to himself; and he strove to bring every conversation to this point.
Coke and Moores Life of the Rev. John Wesley, Lond., 1837, 43, 553, 555.
The late Dr. Samuel Johnson, with whom Mrs. Hall, Mr. [John] Wesleys sister, was intimate for some years, desired that she would procure him an interview with her brother. She made known his desire to Mr. Wesley, and a day was accordingly appointed for him to dine with the Doctor at his house in Salisbury Court. The Doctor conformed to Mr. Wesleys hours, and appointed two oclock: the dinner, however, was not ready till three. They conversed till that time. Mr. Wesley had set apart two hours to spend with his learned host. In consequence of this, he rose up as soon as dinner was ended, and departed. The Doctor was extremely disappointed, and could not conceal his chagrin. Mrs. Hall said, Why, Doctor, my brother has been with you two hours! He replied, Two hours, madam! I could talk all day, and all night too, with your brother. We have already mentioned his exactness in redeeming time . In many things he was gentle and easy to be entreated: in this point decisive and inexorable. One day his chaise was delayed beyond the appointed time. He had put up his papers, and left his apartment. While waiting at the door, he was heard to say, by one that stood near him, I have lost ten minutes forever.
Coke and Moores Life of the Rev. John Wesley, Lond., 1837, 556.
His face was one of the finest we have seen. A clear, smooth forehead, an aquiline nose, an eye the brightest and the most piercing that can be conceived, and a freshness of complexion scarcely ever to be found at his years, and expressive of the most perfect health, conspired to render him a venerable and most interesting figure . [In his demeanour] there was a cheerfulness mingled with gravity,a sprightliness which was the natural result of an unusual flow of spirits, and was accompanied by every mark of the most perfect tranquillity.
John Hampson: Memoirs of the late Rev. John Wesley, Sund., 1791, 3 vols. 12mo.
John Wesleys 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 his talk out, as I do . He can talk well on any subject.
It will hardly be denied that even in this frail and corrupted world we sometimes meet persons who in their very mien and aspect, as well as in their whole habit of life, manifest such a stamp and signature of virtue as to make our judgment of them a matter of intuition, rather than a result of continued examination. I never met a human being who came more perfectly within this description than John Wesley. It was impossible to converse with him, I might say, to look at him, without being persuaded not only that his heart and mind were animated with the purest and most exalted goodness, but that the instinctive bent of his nature accorded so congenially with his Christian principles as to give a pledge for his practical consistency in which it was impossible not to place confidence . His countenance, as well as his conversation, expressed an habitual gayety of heart which nothing but conscious virtue and innocence could have bestowed. He was, in truth, the most perfect specimen of moral happiness which I ever saw; and my acquaintance with him has done more to teach me what a heaven upon earth is implied in the maturity of Christian piety than all I have elsewhere seen, or heard, or read, except in the sacred volume.
Alexander Knox: Southeys Life of John Wesley, 3d ed., 1846, ii. 417.
The Life of Wesley [by Southey] will probably live. Defective as it is, it contains the only popular account of a most remarkable moral revolution, and of a man whose eloquence and logical acuteness might have made him eminent in literature, whose genius for government was not inferior to that of Richelieu, and who, whatever his errors [it would be difficult to name them] may have been, devoted all his powers, in defiance of obloquy and derision, to what he sincerely considered as the highest good of his species.
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay: Southeys Colloquies on Society: Edin. Rev., Jan. 1830.
Voltaire and Wesley were of the same generation; they were contemporaries through a longer course of time [than Luther and Loyola]; and the influences which they exercised upon their age and upon posterity have not been less remarkably opposed. While the one was scattering, with pestilent activity, the seeds of immorality and unbelief, the other, with equally unweariable zeal, laboured in the cause of religious enthusiasm. The works of Voltaire have found their way wherever the French language is read; the disciples of Wesley, wherever the English is spoken. The principles of the archinfidel were more rapid in their operation: he who aimed at no such evil as that which he contributed so greatly to bring about, was himself startled at their progress: in his latter days he trembled at the consequences which he then foresaw; and indeed his remains had scarcely mouldered in the grave before those consequences brought down the whole fabric of government in France, overturned her altars, subverted her throne, carried guilt, devastation, and misery into every part of his own country, and shook the rest of Europe like an earthquake. Wesleys doctrines, meantime, were slowly and gradually winning their way; but they advanced every succeeding year with accelerated force, and their effect must ultimately be more extensive, more powerful, and more permanent; for he has set mightier principles at work . The Emperor Charles V. and his rival of France appear at this day infinitely insignificant, if we compare them with Luther and Loyola; and there may come a time when the name of Wesley will be more generally known, and in remoter regions of the globe, than that of Frederic or of Catherine. For the works of such men survive them, and continue to operate when nothing remains of worldly ambition but the memory of its vanity and its guilt.
Robert Southey: Life of John Wesley, 3d edit., 1846, i. 2.
In his will [John Wesley] directed that six poor men should have twenty shillings each for carrying his body to the grave; for I particularly desire, said he, that there may be no hearse, no coach, no escutcheon, no pomp except the tears of them that loved me and are following me to Abrahams bosom. I solemnly adjure my executors, in the name of God, punctually to observe this. At the desire of many of his friends, his body was carried into the chapel the day preceding the interment, and there lay in a kind of state becoming the person, dressed in his clerical habit, with gown, cassock, and band; the old clerical cap on his head; a Bible in one hand, and a white handkerchief in the other. The face was placid, and the expression which death had fixed upon his venerable features was that of a serene and heavenly smile. The crowds who flocked to see him were so great that it was thought prudent, for fear of accidents, to accelerate the funeral and perform it between five and six in the morning. The intelligence, however, could not be kept entirely secret, and several hundred persons attended at that unusual hour. Mr. Richardson, who performed the service, had been one of his preachers almost thirty years. When he came to that part of the service, Forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God to take unto himself the soul of our dear brother, his voice changed, and he substituted the word father; and the feeling with which he did this was such that the congregation, who were shedding silent tears, burst at once into loud weeping.
Robert Southey: Life of John Wesley, 3d edit., 1846, ii. 402.
No wonder that the clergy were corrupt and indifferent amid this indifference and corruption. No wonder that sceptics multiplied and morals degenerated, so far as they depended on the influence of such a king. No wonder that Whitefield cried out in the wilderness,that Wesley quitted the insulted temple to pray on the hill-side. I look with reverence on these men at that time. Which is the sublimer spectacle,the good John Wesley surrounded by his congregation of miners at the pits mouth, or the queens chaplains mumbling their morning office in their anteroom, under the picture of the great Venus, with the door opening into the adjoining chamber, where the queen is dressing, talking scandal to Lord Hervey, or uttering sneers at Lady Suffolk, who is kneeling with the basin at her mistresss side?
I this day [June 28, 1788] enter on my eighty-sixth year; and what cause have I to praise God, as for a thousand spiritual blessings, so for bodily blessings also! How little have I suffered yet by the rush of numerous years! To what cause can I impute this, that I am as I am? First, doubtless, to the power of God, fitting me for the work to which I am called, as long as he pleases to continue me therein; and next, subordinately to this, to the prayers of his children.