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Perth

In 1768 John Wesley found 'not above two believers, and scarce five awakened persons' there, but in 1772 he was presented with the Freedom of the City. Nevertheless, in 1774 he wrote that the 'generality of the people' were 'so wise that they need no more knowledge, and so good that they need no more religion'; so he gave them three rousing sermons, two on hell and one on the day of judgment. The early society met in a room in the Meal Vennel; a property in South Street was bought in 1836 and finally in 1880 the present church in newly laid-out Scott Street was built.

Quotations

John Wesley's Journal:

April 1768: 'I had received magnificent accounts of the work of God in this place; so that I expected to find a numerous and lively society. Instead of this I found not above two believers, and scarce five awakened persons in it. Finding I had all to begin, I spoke exceeding plain in the evening to about a hundred persons at the room; but, knowing this was doing nothing, on Sunday the 24th I preached about eight at the end of Watergate. A multitude of people were soon assembled, to whom I cried aloud, "Seek ye the Lord while He may be found; call ye upon Him while He is near." All were deeply attentive, and I had a little hope that some were profited.

'At the old kirk we had useful sermons, both in the morning and at five in the afternoon. Immediately after service I preached on "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." The congregation was so exceeding large that I doubt many could not hear. After preaching, I explained the nature of a Methodist society; adding that I should not look on any persons at Perth as such unless they spoke to me before I left the city. Four men and four women did speak to me, two of whom I think were believers; and one or two more seemed just awakening, and darkly feeling after God. In truth, the kingdom of God among these, is as yet but as a grain of mustard seed.'

April 1770: 'This evening the Tolbooth contained the congregation, and at eight in the morning. The stormy weather would not suffer me to preach abroad in the evening; so we retired into the court-house, as many as could, and had a solemn and comfortable hour.'

April 1772: 'I reached Perth in the evening, and sent to the Provost to desire the use of the Guildhall, in which I preached on Sunday the 26th in the morning and (it being very cold) in the evening. Afterwards I accepted of the Provost's invitation to lodge at his house, and spent an agreeable evening with him, and three ministers, concluding with solemn prayer.'

[Four days later] 'In the evening I preached once more at Perth to a large and serious congregation. Afterwards they did me an honour I never thought of - presented me with the freedom of the city…'

May 1774: 'Here likewise the morning preaching had been given up: consequently the people were few, dead, and cold.These things must be remedied, or we must quit the ground.

[Two days later] 'I returned to Perth and preached in the evening to a large congregation. But I could not find the way to their hearts. The generality of the people here are so wise that they need no more knowledge, and so good that they need no more religion! Who can warn them that they are brimful of wisdom and goodness to flee from the wrath to come?

[Next day, Sunday] 'I endeavoured to stir up this drowsy people by speaking as strongly as I could at five on "Awake, thou that sleepest"; and at seven on "Where their worm dieth not," and in the evening on "I saw the dead, smll and great, stand before God." '

May 1776: '…the next day [I] went to Perth, where (it being supposed no house would contain the congregation) I preached at six on the South Inch, though the wind was cold and boisterous. Many are the stumbling-blocks which have been laid in the way of this poor people. They are removed, but the effects of them still continue.'


April 1784: 'We went to Perth, now but the shadow of what it was, though it begins to lift up its head. It is certainly the sweetest place in all North Britain, unless perhaps Dundee. I preached in the Tolbooth to a large and well-behaved congregation. Many of them were present again at five in the morning.'

Sources

  • Wesley F. Swift, 'John Wesley at Perth', in WHS Proceedings, 28 pp.28-29
  • S. Davis, in WHS(S), 1981 pp.10-14

Entry written by: MB
Category: Place

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