The following extracts have previously appeared in vegetarian publications and are re-presented for their historical merit:
We give with pleasure the following extracts which have been selected by a literary friend from John Wesley's published journals: -
Oct.20th, 1735 (on board ship bound for Georgia). - Believing the denying ourselves even in the smallest instances, might, by the blessing of God, be helpful to us, we wholly left off the use of flesh and wine and confined ourselves to vegetable food, chiefly rice and biscuit.
Oct.21.- We now began to be a little regular. Our common way of living was this: From four in the morning till five, each of us used private prayer. From five to seven we read the Bible together, carefully comparing it (that we might not lean to our own understandings) with the writings of the earliest ages. At seven we breakfasted. At eight were the public prayers. From nine to twelve I usually learned German, and Mr. Delamotte Greek; my brother write sermons, and Mr. Ingham instructed the children. At twelve we met to give an account to one another of what we had done since our last meeting, and what we designed to do before our next. About one we dined. The time from dinner to four we spent in reading to those whom each of us had taken in charge, or in speaking to them severally, as need required. At four were the evening prayers, when either the second lesson was explained (as it always was in the morning) or the children were catechised and instructed before the congregation. From five to six we again used private prayer. From six to seven I read in our cabin to two or three of the passengers (of whom there were about eighty English on board), and each of my brethren to a few more in theirs. At seven I joined with the Germans in their public service, while Mr. Ingham was reading between the decks to as many as desired to hear. At eight we met again to exhort and instruct one another. Between nine and ten we went to bed, where neither the roaring of the sea nor the motion of the ship could take away the refreshing sleep which God gave us.
March 30th, 1736 (in Georgia). - The next day Mr. Delamotte and I began to try whether life might not as well be sustained by one sort as by variety of food. We chose to make the experiment with bread, and were never more vigorous and healthy than when we tasted nothing else. "Blessed are the pure in heart!" who, whether they eat or drink, or whatever they do, have no end therein but to please God!
June 28th, 1770 - I can hardly believe that I am this day entered into the sixty-eighth year of my age. How marvelous are the ways of God! How has He kept me even from a child! From thirteen to fourteen I had little but bread to eat, and not great plenty of that. I believe this was so far from hurting me that it laid the foundation of lasting health. When I grew up, in consequence of reading Dr. Cheyne, I chose to eat sparingly and drink water. This was another great means of continuing my health till I was about seven-and-twenty. I then began spitting of blood, which continued several years. A warm climate cured this. I was afterwards brought to the brink of death by a fever, but it left me healthier than before. Eleven years after I was in the third stage of consumption; in three months it pleased God to remove this also. Since that time I have known neither pain nor sickness, and am now healthier than I was forty years ago! This hath God wrought!"
The Dietic Reformer and Vegetarian Messenger - June 1877.
"In his Journal he writes: "I wonder any should disagree about the eating of blood who have read the fifteenth chapter of the Acts, and considered that no Christian in the universe did eat it till the Pope repealed the law which had remained at least ever since Noah's flood."
That Wesley himself certainly throve on his diet cannot be gainsaid. Writing to the Bishop of London in 1747, he exclaims: "Thanks be to God! Since the time I gave up the use of flesh meat and wine, I have been delivered from all physical ills," whilst a contemporary writes of him as follows: "A clear smooth forehead, an aquiline nose, an eye the brightest, 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. In his countenance and demeanour there was a cheerfulness mingled with gravity; a sprightliness which is the natural result of an unusual flow of spirits. His aspect, particularly in profile, had a strong character of acuteness and penetration.... A narrow, plaited stock, a coat with small upright collar, no buckles at his knees, no silk or velvet in any part of his apparel, and a head as white as snow, gave an idea of something primitive and apostolical, while an air of neatness and cleanliness suffused over his whole person."
The Vegetarian News - December 1932.
"It cannot be claimed for John Wesley that he never fell from grace in the matter of diet, for he records that one day in Georgia, to please the General, he took flesh and wine, in consequence of which he was seized with fever the next day and confined to his bed. He states in his Journal that if ever he touched flesh food, he had a headache afterwards."
"Charles Wesley Also Among The Prophets. That John Wesley, the founder of modern Methodism, wrote and spoke approvingly of the vegetarian system of diet is well known. Not only so, but it is clear that, for some time at least, he also practiced it. Less well known, however, is the fact that his brother Charles, the eminent hymn-writer, was likewise a vegetarian, as an article in the Methodist Recorder recently recalls. Married in 1749, Charles Wesley, with his bride, whose maiden name was Sarah Gwynne, went to live at Bristol. Mrs. Wesley was the daughter of a country squire who, we are told, "lived in ample style in a great rambling house with his nine sons and daughters, his twenty servants and his private chaplain." The article continues:
Charles Wesley was forty-two when he married; his bride was twenty-two, and they were supremely happy from first to last. She never regretted giving up all the comfort of her well-to-do home to become the wife of a poor Methodist preacher whose income was about £100 a year. According to the dutiful ways of brides in those days, Charles Wesley's "dear Sally" promised "not to interfere with the missionary journeys of her husband or with his vegetarian* diet!"
The note of exclamation here, if we are not mistaken, has got displaced, the feeling of surprise being on the part of the writer in our Methodist contemporary, though absent from the mind of the chronicler he essays to quote. But how comes it, we ourselves wonder, that all Methodists nowadays are not also vegetarians?"
The Vegetarian News - August 1935.
*The term "vegetarian" only entered usage in the 1840's and was previously referred to as a "Pythagorean" or "vegetable diet."
All excerpts used with kind permission of The Vegetarian Society. #