Persecuted for His Faith
Speaking of his visit to Osmotherly, April 19 1747, Mr. Wesley says:
“Here John Nelson met me. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, he had preached at Acomb, and the neighboring places: on Good Friday, in particular, on Heworth Moor, to a large and quiet congregation. On Easter Sunday, at eight, he preached there again, to a large number of serious hearers. Toward the close of his discourse, a mob came from York, hired and headed by some (miscalled) gentleman. They stood still, till an eminent Papist cried out: “Why do not you knock the dog’s brains out?” On which they immediately began throwing all that came to hand, so that the congregation was quickly dispersed. John spoke a few words, and walked toward York. They followed with showers of bricks and stones: one of which struck him on the shoulder, another on the back, and, a little before he came to the city, part of a brick hit him on the back part of the head, and felled him to the ground. When he came to himself, two of Acomb lifted him up, and led him forward between them. The gentlemen followed, throwing as before, till he came to the city gate, near which lived an honest tradesman, who took him by the arm, and pulled him into his house. Some of the rioters swore they would break all his windows, if he did not turn him out. But he told them resolutely, ‘I will not; and let any of you touch my house at your peril; I shall make you remember it as long as you live.’ On this they thought good to retire.
“After a surgeon had dressed the wound in his head, John went softly on to Acomb. About nine he went out, in order to preach, and began singing a hymn. Before it was ended, the same gentlemen came in a coach from York, with a numerous attendance. They threw clods and stones so fast on
every side, that the congregation soon dispersed. John walked down into a little ground, not far from Thomas Slaton’s house. Two men quickly followed, one of whom swore desperately he would have his life. And he seemed to be in good earnest. He struck him several times, with all his force, on the head and breast; and at length threw him down, and stamped upon him, till he left him for dead. But, by the mercy of God, being carried into a house, he soon came to himself; and after a night’s rest, was so recovered, that he was able to ride to Smothery.”
Those were times that tried men’s souls but John Nelson was equal to the trial. Little did he care for persecution, whether it came from men in office, or from ”the beasts of the people:” he was bent on one thing—to make full proof of his ministry; and this he accomplished at all hazards. And though his preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, though it did not abound with learning and eloquence, yet we have abundant evidence that it was in demonstration of the Spirit and in power.