Account of Mrs. Sarah Ryan

Account of Mrs. Sarah Ryan. Arminian Magazine II (1779): 298-310

Editor’s Introduction: Sarah Ryan was born October 20, 1724 and, like many later female converts to Methodism, was early in life drawn to religion.  She saw George Whitefield preach in London sometime during 1741 and soon after became involved with John Wesley’s Methodist community at the Foundry.  Around 1743, at the age of nineteen and having gone into service, Sarah married a corkcutter who was both already married and virtually penniless.  This man ran off soon after their marriage and Ryan was again married to a sailor named Mr. Ryan who also virtually abandoned her – going sea and eventually on to America.  During this time Ryan married again, this time to an Italian named Solomon Benreken, who also abandoned her.  Ryan was never legally divorced from any of these men, thus resulting in the negative accounts of her character that plagued both her life and legacy (for example Luke Tyerman’s particularly acerbic account in his Life of Wesley).

Despite her personal struggles, however, Ryan was active in the Methodist community, even on occasion preaching to mixed crowds.  She was a frequent correspondent of John Wesley and in 1757 he appointed the housekeeper of the New Room in Bristol and then the Kingswood School.  Legend has it that it was in fact Wesley’s frequent, intense, correspondence with Ryan that sparked his wife’s jealousy and ended in their virtual separation.  Ryan was also deeply involved with the most important community of women in early Methodism.  In 1762 Ryan moved to London and, with Mary Bosanquet Fletcher, Sarah Crosby (both of whom were also female preachers), and Mary Clark and helped establish the Leytonstone orphanage – a charitable endeavor that was eventual moved to Yorkshire, in part because of Ryan’s failing health.  This circle of women was vastly influential, both in promoting the work of Methodism, and in nurturing young women to become leaders, teachers, and preachers in the movement.  In fact, the immensely influential Mary Bosanquet considered Ryan to be her “mother in Christ” and it was by forming these bonds of affection that these women were able to influence the Methodist movement at large.  Sarah Ryan died August 17, 1768 – shortly after the move to Yorkshire – but nevertheless she continued to have an outsized influence on Methodism through her writing and, most importantly, the work of her “daughters” in Christ.

ACCOUNT OF SARAH RYAN

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As it is not thought advisable to insert any Account of Dr. C.¹ AT PRESENT; the following Account of a Woman of LONG and DEEP Experience, will be deemed a good Substitute, by all Lovers of real Religion.

March 19,

1. I was born October 20, 1724, of poor, but morallygood parents. They brought up their children according to the best light they had, in all the outward duties of religion;

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but inward, vital Christianity, I was an utter stranger to. From the earliest time I can remember, the desire of praise was my predominant passion; nor did I curb it at all: for I thought it right to be admired, and fought after it in all my actions. But my merciful God did not leave me to follow my own imaginations, but often checked me by that thought, “Must all men die? Must all have an end? And must I die?” Sometimes I was so sunk at the thought, as to be truly miserable: not that I had much concern about an after-state; death itself was the thing I feared.

2. As I grew in years, my ill tempers gathered strength. I was artful, subtle, cunning; often loved and made lies, and had little regard either to justice, mercy, or truth: and yet something of fear followed me. Hence on Sunday night, I did not dare to sleep, without reading a chapter in the Bible. Indeed, I had a great love for reading; and about this time met with an old book, which treated of Faith. It gave me great pleasure, and I was often reading it, to see if I could find out what Faith was: but it was too hard for me; and the more I read, the more I was confounded.

3. About this time my mother insisted on my going to church: but I liked better to go to the meeting, thinking I understood what I heard there better, and being often affected by the prayers. But my father’s circumstances now turning out bad, I was constrained, young as I was, to go out into the world. I soon sunk more deeply than ever into the spirit of the world: and, as I increased in years, so I did in vice, above many of my fellows. The third of praise and of pleasure swelled my soul, and tossed me about, as a bubble on the water.

4. When I was about seventeen. I heard Mr. Whitefield. He preached upon the Prodigal Son. I was greatly affected, wept most of the time, and resolved to hear him at all opportunities: nor did the impressions I then received, entirely wear off ever since. Soon after I went to live with some who

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had much of the form of religion. Here I had several such drawings of the Father (though I knew not then they were) as made me seem to be out of the body; and I could scarce cast my eyes on any thing, but I saw God in it: nor had I any fear of his wrath, but always saw him as a loving Father. Hence I went to live with some who truly feared God, where I met with one of Mr. Wesley’s society; she was a great help to me. I cried and prayed, and was greatly distressed for God. But soon my unstable mind drove me among a people who had a name to live, but were dead; and my evil heart quickly led me to join with them in great extravagancies: yet I continued to talk of religion; so that I was now a downright hypocrite.

O God! “I sigh to say, How great thy love!
All kinds of sinners dost thou save.”
 

5. God was not yet weary of me, neither left me to the hardness of my heart; but still followed me with secret desires, and drawings from above. I now got into a Predestinarian family, and was quickly deep in their opinions. Here I heard much about Faith, and easily persuaded myself, that I was a believer: and, indeed, “All but the power of Faith I had.” Yet I was not happy- I sinned and repented, and sinned again, having great desires to be a Christian, but no power.

6. Being now about twenty, and having thoughts of marrying, never did I pray more earnestly for any thing, than I did, that I might be married to Christ, although I knew not what it meant: and this I continued to do, till I was married to the person on whom I had fixed my heart. Then I thought myself happy enough, without Christ: but God said, This is not thy rest. All my comforts vanished at once; and the man I loved went away, and left me once more to the wide world. Destitute and distressed, I went to live in a Jew’s family, and soon cast off both the form and power of religion. I sought pleasure,

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and nothing else: present happiness was the thing I resolved to have.

7. After about a year and a half, I left them, and married again. This opened a door for great trials. Satan threw many snares in my way, and I became a captive to my evil desires. Happy I must be; happy I would be, though it were to the damnation of my soul. But was I happy? O, my God? briers and thorns surrounded me. What horrors, what fears, what dread! I should have been glad to be any thing but a human creature. The Spirit drove me one way, my passions another; so that I was all a troubled sea. About seven years I lived in this distressed condition. My husband then going to sea, I went to live in the Jewish family again; where, in a little time, fell sick. They were exceeding kind, and sent for my mother to nurse me. But I had no thought of God, till one night I dreamed I was in Mr. Wesley’s society-room, and saw an angel, who quickly disappeared, and I awoke. Falling asleep again, I thought I was in the fame place, and saw a beautiful garden, and the angel walking up to me, till he laid his hand upon my arm, and said three times, “Come out from these Jews, or you will be damned.” I turned and said, “If I live, I will amend my life.” It disappeared, and I awoke.

8. Their passover coming on, they sent me to the Hospital. As soon as I was taken in, those words came with power, In your patience possess your soul: as your day, so your strength shall be. Finding what people they were that were all about me, I felt great pity for them. I longed to convince them of the state they were in, and to bring them to Christ. I went all round, from bed to bed; and many had ears to hear. When I came out, I was in great straits, having now my mother also to maintain: but my heavenly Father did not let me long want what was sufficient for life and godliness.

9. About this time a temptation to great evil, was laid in my way: but as soon as it was presented to me, O what a turn

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turn I took! Blessed be the Lord! what was like to be the occasion of my destruction, was the occasion of my repentance. I felt in the instant such an hatred to sin, as I never felt before. Mr. R[yan]. at this time coming from sea, I was exceedingly tried: but I now saw the hand of the Lord in all, till he went to sea again. Having soon after occasion to go to the Captain’s wife, I found her to be one of the people called Methodists. After some talk, she said, she was going to the Foundery.² I found a desire to go too, which I did. Mr. John Wesley preached. Something said in my heart, “This is the truth: this is the truth I shall live and die by.” As soon as the society begun, as I was leaning my head, all attention, I saw, by the eye of my mind, Jesus standing as he stood before Thomas, and saying, Reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side.³ My soul was melted down before him, and I longed to be joined with this people. And now I was more earnest to be a Christian than ever. I applied to Mr. Wesley the following week, and he received me into the society; for which I was very thankful.

10. I now met in class, not doubting but I had Faith, and spoke there as a Believer for a whole year. My husband then came home again, and tried me exceedingly. But I now bowed down my stubborn neck, and said, “It is the Lord.” I read my sin in my punishment, and was vile in my own eyes: but I still thought myself a Believer, till I came acquainted with S. C.4 who, after talking with me for some time, told me, “My Faith was vain, and I ought to pray, that I might know my sins were forgiven.” I thought this a very presumptuous way of talking; yet it made a deep impression upon me: so that I began to doubt, Whether I had Faith, or not? And the more I considered, the more I was convinced, I never had. Soon after, I began to feel the necessity of knowing my sins were forgiven: and for a time I continued seeking after it; but then grew as dead and cold as ever.

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11. In April 1754, I had stifled all my desires, when by the importunity of S[arah] C[rosby] I went one Sunday, though very unwillingly, to Spitalfields Church.5 Mr. John Wesley preached on the parable of the sower.6 As he was describing the stony and thorny ground, I knew all he said belonged to me: but when he spake of the good ground, I could claim no part in it; only I found a wish, that I could! When sermon was ended, as I stood in a careless manner, a thought passed through my mind, “O that I may have a blessing!” It was immediately answered in me, “Though shalt have a blessing.” In the same moment I felt my foul all desire, and it was said to me, Ask, and thou shalt receive:7 upon which, clasping my hands on my breast. I said, “I will ask, and I shall receive.” But my body was so weak, I could hardly stand, while I was enabled to say, from my inmost soul,

“My soul is on thy promise cast:
The promise is for me!8
 

And all the way, as I went up with much difficulty to the table, I was still faying, “for me, Lord; for me. When I came up, my strength being quite gone, I threw my body across the rails, and, being overwhelmed with the power of God, was utterly regardless of outward things. Mr. Wesley offered me the bread, but I was not able to take it; so he passed by me, and gave it me when he came back. When he spoke those words, “The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ,” they pierced my heart, and filled my foul with love to him. Immediately I said, “This is the Faith by which the martyrs went to the flames.” I felt a change through my whole soul, and longed to be alone.9 As soon as I got home, I fell on my knees, and cried, “Lord, are my sins forgiven?” I was answered, There is no condemnation for them that art in Christ Jesus.10 But this did not satisfy. I wanted a clear witness, that my sins were forgiven; and ardently did I wish for

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the next Sunday, hoping I should receive it at the table. For three weeks I had expected it in every means of grace,11 when being one night at my class, with my sister, who was in great distress, I felt the burden of her soul laid upon mine in an inexpressible manner: and while I was exhorting her to believe, the power of God overwhelmed my soul, so that I fell back in my chair, and my eye-sight was taken from me: but in the same moment the Lord Jesus appeared to my inward sight, and I cried out three times, “O the beauty of the lovely Jesus, Behold him in his vesture dipt in blood!” A little after, my leader asked me, “Do you now believe?” I faintly answered, “Yes.” But I felt something of a doubt still, and wanted a stronger witness. The next morning these words were applied with power. “Thy sins are cast as a stone into the deep waters.”12 I answered, “Now I do believe. Now I know my sins are forgiven me.”

12. I came home rejoicing, and continued for about six weeks full of light, happiness, and heaven. I then dreamed I saw a bank full of green plants just coming up. While I was admiring them, one came, and began to dig it up, when to my great surprise, as he turned up the shovel, there appeared a large body of all venomous creatures joined in one. Lifting up my hands and eyes, I said, “How could these plants grow with such creatures at the root?” Then he laid them down on the ground, and they were spread almost all over the place. Afterwards a company of people, coming from the Foundery, began to kill them, in which I likewise was employed: but two clung about me for a long time. At last they also were killed, and I awaked. Reflecting on this, I thought the bank was my heart; the plants, the graces God had sown therein; the man was the preacher; the venemous creatures were my inbred corruptions: the two last of which were Pride and Unbelief.

13. From this time I was shewn more of my heart, than ever I had seen before. This caused me many times to doubt, whether

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I had any true faith or no? And feeling such enmity against God, I often thought, “Must I always bear this burden? “If God can deliver me from it, he shall. I long to worship him in the beauty of holiness.” But all this time I was exceedingly distressed and tempted of the devil. And when I attempted to pray those thoughts were continually suggested to me, That the Lord Jesus was only an impostor, and the Scripture a cunningly devised fable. For near a year these suggestions followed me, and I was unable to answer them: yet in the midst of these temptations, I had continually texts of Scripture brought to my mind, such as, Thou shalt mount up with wings: as of an eagle. I will shew thee how great things thou shalt suffer for my name’s sake.13 Meantime, I saw more and more clearly the depth of iniquity that was in my heart.

14. About this time God shewed me an idol that till then lay concealed in my breast; and I now saw that this was the thing that stood between God and my soul, and, that, if I would give it up, my soul should grow like a cedar in Lebanon. And I was earnestly desirous so to do, to break through, and forsake all for God. But I was not able: I could no more do it, than I could cease to breathe. In this condition I was, when one day coming into the room to meet my band, I said, “None of you shall deceive me any longer; I will not believe I have a grain of living faith.”

From that time I continued in great distress and anguish of soul till Easter-Eve; when I found a weak, faint hope, that God would manifest himself to me the next day- The service was at West-Street:14 as I went thither, I thought, “if I might but find my Lord, I would not grudge going all the way on my bare knees.” Just then, a friend coming up, I took hold on her arm, and in that moment these words came with power,

Swift as, their rising Lord to find,
The two disciples ran,
We seek the Saviour of mankind,
And shall not seek in vain.
 

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15. I found nothing particular in the first part of the service, Afterwards I found a desire to pray, but could not: till a thought came into my mind, “I will pray, and not rise from my knee till God has answered me.” I then kneeled down though quite cold: but in a little while my desires revived; and while I was praying to find the Lord Jesus, the Resurrection, and the Life, it came with power to my soul. “Believest thou that I am able to do this?” I answered, “Yea, Lord, I do believe thou art; and I insist on thy meeting me at thy table.” As I went up, I still continued to hold the Lord to his promise: and it was to me according to my faith. Just as I came to the rails, God spoke these words to my soul,

“Lift your eyes of faith, and look
To the signs he did ordain!
Thus the bread of Life was broke!
Thus the Lamb of God was slain!
Thus was shed on Calvary,
His last drop of blood for thee!”
 

Immediately I was filled with light and joy and love, and said with confidence, “Thou art the resurrection and the life.” Notwithstanding which, after the service, I began to reason, whether it really was of God? But I thought “I will tell S. C. and if she believes it, I will take it as a token of the truth of it.” I beckoned her to me; but before I spoke, she said, “I know what you have to say; you have found the Lord.” I fell back in my feat, and was quite overwhelmed with the power and love of God.

16. For six weeks I went on in glorious light, and was carried above temptation. But after this I began again to see the evil that was still in my heart, and now appeared more dreadful than ever. Likewise, my old temptation, of denying the divinity of Christ, violently returned upon me. At the same time,

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time, I saw more clearly than ever, that my heart was not whole with God, but was fixed on my husband (the idol before mentioned): and this I was fully convinced, must inevitably separate my soul from him, if it were not cast out; but I had no more power to do this, than to create a world. For some time I continued much the same, and yet between whiles happy in God.

17. And now I received a letter from my husband, reminding me of an agreement between us, that I should follow him to New-England, as soon as he was settled there. He desired I would write immediately and tell him whether I would come or no? This was a trial indeed; and so exceedingly did my heart go after him, that my eyes were quite closed; and I really imagined, that it was the will of God, that I should go to him. But after some time, I thought I will ask Mr. Wesley’s advice, which I accordingly did. After we had conversed a little, he said, “Can he maintain you there.” I answered, “Yes: but can I go, and save my foul?” He replied “What do you think of it, Sally?” Instantly light broke in, and I said, “No, Sir, I cannot.” I went home, and soon after wrote, and told him, “At the peril of my soul I dare not come.” No sooner had I sent away the letter, but my soul was set at liberty, my idolatrous affection was under my feet, and my heart set on God.

18. For some time I went on joyfully, but then I fell into reasoning again; the fruit of which was, that my idolatrous affection returned as strong as ever: but still I was resolved, not to let the Lord go, till he had delivered me from it. But how shall I describe the various temptations that now assaulted me? My foul was in continual bondage, so that I could do nothing without feeling condemnation. It seemed to me, that I sinned wilfully, and that continually: yet I had some comfort, when S. C. came in one day, and said, “O Sister Ryan, you will soon receive a great blessing!” Not long after, when one told me, “I believe, God has taken away the root

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of evil out of my heart;” these words were immediately spoke to my foul, Go ye on to perfection. I was very happy for two days; but on the third, I felt such enmity against her, as I cannot describe. This continued six weeks; near the end of which, as she was one day praising and exalting Christ, I found such a bitter enmity in my heart, that I could hardly bear her in my sight. I began to consider, “What can be the meaning of this?” And was answered, “Thy enmity is not against her, but me. I threw down my work, ran upstairs, and, falling on my knees, began to bewail my wretched nature, feeling such loathing of myself, that it seemed I could not live, if God did not soon deliver me: yet many times did I reason with myself, whether God would ever save me from all sin: once in particular, when being in great anguish of soul, I took up the Bible, and opened on those words, I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord; thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart, Jer. xxix. 11, 12, 13.

19. Soon after the Lord fulfilled his word. As I was one day walking across my room, it seemed to me as if something was taken out of me. I was amazed, and could not understand it: but at night, going to pray against my besetting sin, I found my prayer quite changed. “Lord,” said I, “thou haft taken the idol out of my heart: now I shall grow as a cedar in Lebanon.” Indeed, it now seemed, that nothing stood between my soul and God. I saw myself just like Noah’s dove; I had nothing whereon to rest the soal of my foot: for though I did not rest on any creature, I had not yet sunk into God; however, I found a change through my whole soul, and seemed now to run without hinderance.

20. But shortly after this, one with whom I had been long acquainted, professing to have found the blessing, I felt such enmity in my heart, as cannot be expressed, and I said, “What,

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She, Lord? What, She?” And was answered, Is thine eye evil, because I am good? Then I said, “Lord, work when, and how, and as thou pleasest, so thou do but work.” And from this time I was much encouraged to think, “I too may hope for deliverance.”

21. Being after this one day with a friend, she said, “I fear I have set you up too much, and have occasioned your thinking of yourself more highly than you ought to think, by permitting you to be at the meeting on Saturday nights, which is designed only for those who are strong in grace.” She added, “You had better not be present at that meeting.” I found no anger at this; but carrying it to the Lord, my spirit was quite broken down before him; however, I was admitted again, when one laboured to convince me, I was deceived as to the state of my soul. I found my spirit still broken down, and simple as a little child: only I was grieved. As I kneeled down to prayer, I felt myself strongly affected; and after we had prayed a short time, I said, “Lord, if thou hast this blessing to bestow on me, let some one mention me in prayer.” Presently S. C. broke out, “Lord, thou hast plucked her as a brand out of the burning, and thy light does now shine round her; what she hath gained this night, let her never lose, till she sees thy face in righteousness: and she never shall lose it.” I answered in my heart, “I never shall more;” feeling my soul greatly confirmed, and being filled with light and love.

22. As soon as we rose from our knees, I went home, saying, “The devil shall never more do by me as he has done:” for I felt my soul now stood on more than even ground with my enemies. But in all this I was deeply conscious, the root of fin was still in my heart.

23. Sometime after, being deeply affected at this, I felt a cold sweat and a trembling come over me. I knew it to be the power of God, but said nothing to those with me. After a few minutes, attempting to take up my work, which had fallen

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out of my hands, I felt my strength quite taken away, and fell out of my chair. In the moment I saw (not with my bodily eyes) the Lord Jesus standing before me, and saying, This day is salvation come to this house: I saw all my works and attainments laid at his feet, as nothing worth: and I saw my soul as it were taken up, and plunged into God. Recovering myself a little, I began, as I was able, to tell what I had seen; when S. C. cried out, “Let us pray.” And while she was at prayer, my body was’ in such an agony, as it is not possible to repeat. I said, “Pray for me, pray for me:” and would have said, “Pray in those words,

“Empty her of self and pride,
With all thy fulness fill.”
 

But I could not get out the words. However, though I could not speak them, she used nearly the same words. While she spoke them, God said to my soul, I will sweep away thy sins with the besom of desruction. Immediately I felt the Spirit of God as it were go through my whole soul. My agony ceased, and the love of Jesus was again represented to my mind: only he now seemed above me; and as I looked up, I said, “Lord, John leaned on thy breast; but I am in thy bosom.” To which my Lord replied, Neither heights, nor depths, nor things present, nor things to come, nor any other creature, shall for one moment separate thy soul from me, in time or in eternity. Quickly after, those words were spoken into my inmost soul,

“Fill’d with abiding peace divine,
With Israel’s blessing blest,
Thou, thou the church above shalt join,
And gain the heavenly rest.”
 

After I had sat silent before God some time longer, he further spake to me in the following words,

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“Well-pleas’d on thee thy God looks down,
And calls his rebel to a crown.”
 

And with these words, I saw the Lord Jesus present my soul to God the Father. I continued sitting in the same manner, and waiting what the Lord would speak, only crying out between whiles, “O, the power of God! O, the power of God!” Sometime after it came into my mind, “Would it not be better for me to retire to prayer?” But I thought, “What can I pray for? What more have I to ask for? The whole eternity of God is mine. How has he fulfilled his word, Give me thy will, and I will give thee all that I have?” And my soul continued lost in praise, in astonishment, and love.

24. The next morning I awaked with these words in my heart, “Lord, what hast thou done for my soul? Is this only an increase of joy and comfort?” I was answered, “No: thy soul hath entered into rest.” I said, “Lord, the fight is nothing, the voice is nothing: the change is all; the change is all.”

In the day I met with many things to try me. I took the opportunity of searching. Where is my will, that was always so quick to feel the slighted injury? But it was no where to be found. The same day I thought, “Satan can never tempt me more.” And, indeed, I felt that he could not at that time: but presently after, from a word which one spoke, he so tempted me, that though my soul was still exceeding happy in God, yet my body was quite wearied out; till the next morning, coming to God in prayer, I said, Father, if thou be willing, let this cup pass from me. It was answered, “Know in whom thy strength lieth:” and immediately the trial ceased.

The Sunday following, in Spitalfields Church, I saw the Lord Jesus standing, and a little child all in white before him: and he shewed me, he had made me as that child; but that I should grow up to the measure of his full stature. I came home

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full of light, joy, love, and holiness and God daily confirmed what he had done for my soul. And, blessed be his name! I now know where my strength lieth, and my soul is continually sinking more and more into God. I find my whole heart and affections entirely fixed on the Lord Jesus, I have no will, but what is conformable to his; no happiness, but in doing his pleasure. I feel I am capable, yea, very capable, of suffering; and much of this he hath been pleased to lay upon me : but through all, my soul sweetly rests on the bosom of my Beloved. I am willing to be offered up as a whole burnt-sacrifice to him: and I pray, from my inmost soul, that he would with-hold from me no suffering, that can work for his glory, only let his will be done. To him I entirely consecrate myself: to him be might, majesty, and dominion, now and for evermore!

SARAH RYAN.

Notes

1. Likely Dr. Thomas Coke, Wesley’s chief assistant from 1776 until Wesley’s death. Wesley ordained Coke as Superintendent for America in 1784. He was instrumental in the establishment of missions in America and the West Indies.

2. The Foundery was Wesley’s London headquarters. Purchased in 1739, this ex cannon foundry which Wesley described as “that vast, uncouth heap of ruins” had spaces for meetings, class and band gatherings, a publishing house and book room, a school room, and Wesley’s own living quarters.

3. See John 20:27.

4. Sarah Crosby, early Methodist class leader and female preacher. She had an impact on an entire generation of Methodist women, including Ryan, Mary Bosanquet Fletcher, and Frances Mortimer Pawson.

5. Spitalfields was a parish in the East End of London to which large groups of Huguenots emigrated. A former Huguenot chapel was purchased by the Methodists in 1750 and turned into a meeting house.

6. See Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 8.

7. See Matthew 7

8. From one of Charles Wesley’s salvation hymns, “Father, if I have sinn’d, with Thee An Advocate I have.” See The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley, Volume 3, page 32.

9. John Wesley believed that communion could be a “converting ordinance,” through which an individual could receive assurance of salvation from sins. He claimed that his mother, Susannah Wesley, was saved in this manner. For more on this and the controversy surrounding the “Means of Grace” in the early Evangelical Revival see Henry Rack, Reasonable Enthusiast, pgs. 402-409.

10. See Romans 8:1

11. According to Wesley the “means of grace” were ” outward signs, words, or actions, ordained of God, and appointed for this end, to be the ordinary channels whereby he might convey to men, preventing, justifying, or sanctifying grace,” and included things like “prayer, whether in secret or with the great congregation; searching the Scriptures (which implies reading, hearing, and meditating thereon); and receiving the Lord’s Supper, eating bread and drinking wine in remembrance of Him.” For more on this see Wesley’s sermon titled “The Means of Grace”.

12. See Exodus 15:5

13. See Isaiah 40:31

14. The West Street Chapel was a former Huguenot meeting house in West London that John Wesley first leased in 1743. Its main function was to provide a central location in London where people who could not attend their local parish church could receive the Lord’s Supper from an ordained Church of England priest.

Further Reading

Chilcote, Paul Wesley. Early Methodist Spirituality: Selected Women’s Writings. Nashville: Kingswood, 2007.

Hindmarsh, D. Bruce. The Evangelical Conversion Narrative: Spiritual Autobiography in Early Modern England. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005.

Krueger, Christine L. The Reader’s Repentance: Women Preachers, Women Writers, and Nineteenth Century Social Discourse. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1992.

Mack, Phyllis. Heart Religion in the British Enlightenment: Gender and Emotion in Early Methodism. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008.

Tyerman, Luke. The Life and Times of the Rev. John Wesley, M.A., Founder of the Methodists. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1877.

One response to “Account of Mrs. Sarah Ryan

  1. Pingback: Agnes Bulmer: Poet of Methodist Experience | 18th Century Religion, Literature, and Culture

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