Jabez Bunting was buried near John Wesley, but other early Methodists actually ended up in Wesley’s grave. They considered it high honor to have their death dust mingled with that of the great evangelist. The crowded tomb is located behind Wesley’s Chapel on London’s City Road. In the late 1770s Wesley built his new chapel there, then built a manse next door. He moved in on September 10, 1779, writing in his journal, “This night I lodged in the new house in London. How many more nights have I to spend here?”
The answer—11 years. He died in ripe old age, his longevity attributable to several secrets contained in his new home. Today’s visitors are shown an exact replica of his chamber horse. Wesley valued exercise and considered horseback riding the best, so he designed a towering chair with tall coils and springs that allowed him to bounce up and down, hair flying and falling, until his heart was racing and his clothing drenched with sweat.
Wesley’s house also contains a primitive tabletop device for generating electricity. He believed that regular shocks of electricity were good for one’s health, and he became such a forceful advocate of electrical medicine that his sick friends lined up at his door each day for “treatment.”
The real power room of Methodism was Wesley’s tiny prayer closet with its small table, tall window, and open Bible. It adjoined his bedroom, and here Wesley stayed spiritually fit.
It was here at 49 City Road in London, a narrow brick building of five floors, that Wesley realized he was dying. He went to his room and asked for a half hour alone. The message flew through London, “Mr. Wesley is very ill! Pray!” Friends gathered, and on February 27, 1791, he recited a hymn to them: I’ll praise my maker while I’ve breath / And when my voice is lost in death, / Praise shall employ my nobler powers. / My days of praise shall ne’er be past. He spoke his last words, “The best of all is, God is with us. Farewell.” And then John Wesley, who often said that his followers “died well,” did so himself.
As the saying goes, “Exercise is good for your body, but religion helps you in every way. It promises life now and forever.” These words are worthwhile and should not be forgotten. (1 Timothy 4:8-9)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Sept. 10.
ALSO ON THIS DAY
1067 – Lady Godgifu (Godiva) Buckingham, an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman and Christian, known for founding several monasteries, dies. She allegedly rode through town naked (after requesting her people to close their doors and cover their windows) because it was the only way her husband would agree to relieve oppressive taxes on his people.
1898 – Alexander Crummell, an African-American priest of the Episcopal Church who labored all his life to obtain equality for African Americans—died in New Jersey. He will be remembered in the Episcopal Church calendar.