Yesterday at my house the first appreciable snow fell. I'll intersperse my blog entry today with pictures I took of my wintry day.
John Wesley was no feeble man; we went to great lengths to preach the gospel—including in Winter. Let me recount two stories from Wesley's Journal. The first is an entry for April 1, 1743:
"I had a great desire to visit a little village called Placey, about ten measured miles north of Newcastle. It is inhabited by colliers only, and such as had been always in the first rank for savage ignorance and wickedness of every kind. Their grand assembly used to be on the Lord’s day; on which men, women, and children met together to dance, fight, curse and swear, and play at chuck ball, spanfarthing, or whatever came next to hand. I felt great compassion for these poor creatures from the time I heard of them first; and the more, because all men seemed to despair of them.
"Between seven and eight I set out with John Healy, my guide. The north wind, being unusually high, drove the sleet in our face, which froze as it fell and cased us over presently. When we came to Placey, we could very hardly stand. As soon as we were a little recovered I went into the square and declared Him who 'was wounded for our transgressions' and 'bruised for our iniquities.' The poor sinners were quickly gathered together and gave earnest heed to the things which were spoken. And so they did in the afternoon again, in spite of the wind and snow, when I besought them to receive Him for their King; to 'repent and believe the gospel.'"
Can you imagine standing in wind and snow to preach outside? It says much to the desire of the Anglican evangelist—and his eager hearers.
The second story comes almost four years later. For February 17-18, 1747, we have the following:
"We set out as soon as it was well light; but it was really hard work to get forward; for the frost would not well bear or break; and the untracked snow covering all the roads, we had much ado to keep our horses on their feet. Meantime the wind rose higher and higher till it was ready to overturn both man and beast. However, after a short bait at Bugden, we pushed on and were met in the middle of an open field with so violent a storm of rain and hail as we had not had before. It drove through our coats, great and small, boots, and everything, and yet froze as it fell, even upon our eye-brows; so that we had scarcely either strength or motion left when we came into our inn at Stilton.
"We now gave up our hopes of reaching Grantham, the snow falling faster and faster. However, we took the advantage of a fair blast to set out and made the best of our way to Stamford Heath. But here a new difficulty arose, from the snow lying in large drifts. Sometimes horse and man were well-nigh swallowed up. Yet in less than an hour we were brought safe to Stamford. Being willing to get as far as we could, we made but a short stop here; and about sunset came, cold and weary, yet well, to a little town called Brig-casterton.
"Wednesday, 18.—Our servant came up and said, 'Sir, there is no traveling today. Such a quantity of snow has fallen in the night that the roads are quite filled up.' I told him, 'At least we can walk twenty miles a day, with our horses in our hands.' So in the name of God we set out. The northeast wind was piercing as a sword and had driven the snow into such uneven heaps that the main road was impassable. However, we kept on, afoot or on horseback, till we came to the White Lion at Grantham."