England Report
Manchester and London
July 17-27, 2005

London
Due to the type of airline tickets we were using, we were unable to get a flight out until Wednesday, the 27th of July, so we decided to head to London after church on Sunday and take in some of the sites of the city.

On Monday, we visited Westminster Abbey, considered to be Britain’s greatest religious building. It is very close to the Parliament building, Buckingham Palace, and Number 10 Downing Street (where the Prime Minister resides and offices). This church has been the site of the coronation ceremony for most of England’s kings and queens since William the Conquerer in the year 1066. Construction of the current structure began in the thirteenth century. It is also the place where many of England’s most illustrious figures have been buried.

One commentator described Westminster Abbey as orbis miraculum, a wonder of the world. It truly is an astonishing and remarkable building, and it’s an amazing architectural feat, especially considering the time in which it was built.

One thing that struck Tony is that one of the magnificent chapels was said to have been built by one of England’s kings “to assure him a place in God’s heavenly kingdom.” While the chapel is impressive, to say the least, what a tragedy to miss out on the simple truth of Scripture: Salvation is a free gift from God based on what Jesus did for us – it is not of works!

On Tuesday, we visited St. Paul’s Cathedral. St. Paul’s was originally established in 604 A.D. by Mellitus, a disciple of Augustine. However, the current structure of St. Paul’s was built following the fire of London in 1666 by the great architect and builder, Sir Christopher Wren. This is the kind of building that can only be described by such words as grandeur, splendor, and magnificence. It is wonderfully ornate, and its beauty is captivating. We got the impression that if we sat there for days, we still would not be able to take it all in.

From there, we went to John Wesley’s home and chapel. Wesley spent the last eleven years of his life here (when he wasn’t traveling and preaching), and it was here that he died in 1791, having fulfilled 65 years of ministry, 52 of that as an itinerant preacher. Wesley traveled an average of 5,000 miles a year by horseback. The tour of the home and chapel were full of fascinating details about the life of the Wesleys, such as:

  • Seeing the organ that belonged to Charles Wesley
  • Discovering that John Wesley was a mere 5’2” tall, and yet what a giant he is in church history
  • Finding out that Wesley enjoyed Benjamin Franklin’s writings on electricity, and having an interest in medicine, he had a machine built that was essentially an early form of electroshock therapy – Wesley used this machine attempting to help people with headaches and depression.
  • 300 itinerant ministers and 1,000 pastors were raised up under his ministry.

Having just released a book about supportive ministry, Tony was thrilled to find a set of guidelines that John Wesley had written for his assistant ministers. In that day, his assistant ministers would live in his house (one family to a room), and were required to awaken every morning at 4:00 a.m., be in a church service by 5:00 a.m., and to be in bed by 9:00 p.m.

We had a delightful guide, who explained to us (with the flair of British charm) that Wesley was “somewhat of a control freak” and “a very opinionated man who didn’t mind telling you what he thought.”

“Wesley’s Rules of an Assistant” were adopted in 1744, and they certainly reflect the language of his day. Many elements in these rules are timeless in their wisdom, but a few of these points will raise some eyebrows today!

1.  Be diligent. Never be unemployed a moment, never be triflingly employed, never while away time; spend no more time at any place than is strictly necessary.

2.  Be serious. Let your motto be, ‘holiness unto the Lord.’ Avoid all lightness as you would avoid hell-fire and laughing as you would cursing and swearing.

3.  Touch no woman. Be as loving as you will but hold your hands off ‘em. Custom is nothing to us.

4.  Believe evil of no one. If you see it done, well. Else take heed how you credit it. Put the best construction on every thing. You know the judge is always supposed to be on the prisoner’s side.

5.  Speak evil of no one, else your word especially would eat as doth a canker. Keep your thoughts within your own breast till you come to the person concerned.

6.  Tell everyone what you think wrong in him and that plainly and as soon as may be; else it will fester in your heart. Make all haste, therefore, to cast the fire out of your bosom.

7.  Do nothing ‘as a gentleman.’ You have no more to do with this character than with that of a dancing master. You are the servant of all; therefore,

8.  Be ashamed of nothing but sin; not of fetching wood or drawing water, if time permits: not of cleaning you own shoes or your neighbour’s.

9.  Take no money of anyone. If they give you food when you are hungry or clothes when you need them, it is good. But not silver or gold. Let there be no pretence to say we grow rich by the gospel.

10.  Contract no debt without my knowledge.

11.  Be punctual: do everything exactly at the time. And in general, do not mend our rules but keep them, not for wrath but for conscience’ sake.

12.  Act in all things not according to your own will but as a son in the gospel. As such, it is your part to employ your time in a manner which we direct: partly in visiting the flock from house to house (the sick in particular); partly, in such a course of reading, meditation and prayer as we advise from time to time. Above all, if you labor with us in the Lord’s vineyard, it is needful you should do that Bunhill Cemetery. Tony and Lisa Cooke 2005 trip to London and Manchester, England.part of the work which we direct, at those times and places which we judge most for his glory.

Directly across the street from Wesley’s chapel and house is the Bunhill Cemetery, where several notable people are buried, including Susanna Wesley (John’s mother), John Bunyan (author of Pilgrim’s Progress), and Isaac Watts (author of such hymns as, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”).

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