Wesley's Secrets of His Long Life

On his 85th birthday on Saturday, June 28 of 1789, John Wesley entered in his journal the reasons for his long life.

He starts with thanksgiving to the Lord and a reflection on his health:
It is true, I am not so agile as I was in times past. I do not run or walk so fast as I did; my sight is a little decayed; my left eye is grown dim and hardly serves me to read. I have daily some pain in the ball of my right eye, as also in my right temple (occasioned by a blow received some months since), and in my right shoulder and arm, which I impute partly to a sprain, and partly to the rheumatism.

I find likewise some decay in my memory, with regard to names and things lately past; but not at all with regard to what I have read or heard twenty, forty, or sixty years ago, neither do I find any decay in my hearing, smell, taste, or appetite (though I want but a third part of the food I did once); nor do I feel any such thing as weariness, either in traveling or preaching. I am not conscious of any decay in writing sermons which I do as readily, and I believe as correctly, as ever.

The first reason for his good health and long life is the power of God "fitting me for the work to which I am called, as long as He pleases to continue me therein". If God has a task for a person, it doesn't matter what his age is, His grace will empower His servant to finish the divine assignment.

The second reason, Wesley observes, subordinately to the first, was the prayers of His children.

Then he asks if the health could not also be attributed to the following reasons, though in a lesser way:
1. To my constant exercise and change of air?
2. To my never having lost a night's sleep, sick or well, at land or at sea, since I was born?
3. To my having slept at command so that whenever I feel myself almost worn out I call
it and it comes, day or night?
4. To my having constantly, for about sixty years, risen at four in the morning?
5. To my constant preaching at five in the morning, for above fifty years?
6. To my having had so little pain in my life; and so little sorrow, or anxious care?

Finally, he observes that he has pain daily in his "eye, or temple, or arm; yet it is never violent and seldom lasts many minutes at a time" and wonders if this is or is not a sign sent to him of the closing of his days.

Two years later, on March 2, 1791, a few months before his 87th birthday, he entered into glory; but not before having already preached many more times to numerous others. His last entry in his journal was on Sunday, February 24, 1791, a few days before his death:
l explained, to a numerous congregation in Spitalfields church, "the whole armor of God." St. Paul's, Shadwell, was still more crowded in the afternoon, while I enforced that important truth, "One thing is needful"; and I hope many, even then, resolved to choose the better part.

Did some candle ever fully burn out well just for the One who lighted it? John Wesley did, and when he died he had not only given the world all of his possessions, but also a host of writings and the Methodist Church.

Read Wesley's Journal at CCEL


  1. 1789 until 1971 that's what I call a life time! Allmost 200 years!

  2. Hi Eric, Thanks for the correction! Appreciate that!


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