Praying Charlie by John Wesley

CHARLES BRIDGEMAN had no sooner learned to speak, but he betook himself to prayer.

2. He was very prone to learn the things of God.

3. He would be sometimes teaching those persons that waited upon him their duty.

4. He learned by heart many good things before he was well fit to go to school. And when he was sent to school, he carried it so that all that observed him, either did or might admire him. O, the sweet temper, the good disposition, the sincere religion which was in the child!

5. When he was at school what was it that he desired to learn but Christ and him crucified?

6. So religious and savoury were his words, his actions so upright, his devotions so hearty, his fear of God so great, that many were ready to say as they did of John,—What manner of child shall this be?

7. He would be much in reading the Holy, Scriptures.

8. He was desirous of more spiritual knowledge, and would be oft asking very serious and admirable questions.

9. He would not stir out of doors before he had poured out his soul to the Lord in prayer.

10. When he ate any thing, he would be sure to lift up his heart unto the Lord for a blessing upon it; and when he had moderately refreshed himself by eating, he would not forget to acknowledge God's goodness in feeding him.

11. He would not lie down in his bed till he had been upon his knees; and when sometimes he had forgotten his duty, he would quickly get out of his bed, and kneeling down upon his bare knees, ask God's forgiveness of that sin.

12. He would rebuke his brethren, if they were at any time too hasty at their meals, and did eat without asking a blessing; his check was this: "Dare you do thus? God be merciful to us! this bit of bread might choke us."

13. His sentences were wise and weighty, and might well become some ancient Christian.

14. His sickness was a lingering disease: against which, to comfort him, one tells him of possessions that must fall to his portion; "And what are they?" said he, "I had rather have the kingdom of heaven than a thousand such inheritances."

15. When he was sick he seemed much taken up with heaven, and asked very serious questions about the nature of the soul.

16. After he was pretty well satisfied about that, he inquired how his soul might be saved? The answer being made, "By the applying of Christ's merit by faith:" he was pleased with the answer, and was ready to give any one that should desire it an account of his hope.

17. Being asked whether he had rather live or die? he answered, "I desire to die, that I may go to my Saviour."

18. His pains increasing upon him, one asked him whether he would rather still endure those pains or forsake Christ? "Alas!" said he, "I know not what to say, being a child: for these pains may stagger a strong man; but I will strive to endure the best I can." Upon this he called to mind that martyr, Thomas Bilney, who, being in prison the night before his burning, put his finger into the candle to know how he could endure the fire; "O," said the child, "had I lived then, I would have run through the fire to have gone to Christ."

19. His sickness lasted long: and at least three days before his death he prophesied his departure, and not only that he must die, but the very day. "On the Lord's day," said he, "look to me;" neither was this a word of course, which you may guess by his frequent repetition, every day asking till the day came indeed, "What, is Sunday come?" At last, the looked-for day came on; and no sooner had the sun beautified that morning with its light, but he falls into a trance, his eyes were fixed, his face cheerful, his lips smiling, his hands and arms clasped in a bow, as if he would have embraced some blessed angel that was at hand to receive his soul. But he comes to himself, and tells them how he saw the sweetest body that ever eyes beheld, who bid him to be of good cheer, for he must presently go with him.

20. One that stood near him, as now suspecting the time of his dissolution nigh, bid him say, "Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit, which is thy due; for why? thou hast redeemed it, O Lord, my God, most true!"

21. The last words which he spoke were exactly these: "Pray, pray, pray, nay, yet pray, and the more prayers the better all prospers; God is the best physician; into thy hands I commend my spirit. O Lord Jesus receive my soul: now close mine eyes: forgive me, father, mother, brother, sister, all the world. Now I am well; my pain is almost gone, my joy is at hand. Lord, have mercy on me. O Lord, receive my soul unto thee." And thus he yielded up his spirit unto the Lord when he was about twelve years old.