John Wesley’s Aldersgate experience



On Wednesday, May 24, 1738, a very troubled John Wesley awoke early in the morning. Around 5 a.m. he opened his Bible and read, “There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, even that ye should be partakers of the divine nature.” He opened it again and read, “Thou art not far from the Kingdom of God.” 

That afternoon he visited St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. St Paul’s is a massive Gothic building which is 400 feet tall and dominates London’s skyscape. The choir’s anthem was, “Out of the depths have I called unto Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice. O let Thine ears consider well the voice of my complaint. If Thou, Lord, will be extreme to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who may abide it? For there is mercy with Thee; therefore shalt Thou be feared. O Israel, trust in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his sins.”

In the evening he went very unwillingly to a German society (prayer meeting) on Aldersgate Street in London. The German Christians (Moravians) had been very influential for Wesley while he was in Georgia and on the boat crossing the Atlantic on the way to the New World. During this prayer meeting someone read Martin Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. Who was this “someone?” I believe it could have been a painter named William Holland. I believe this because William Holland had read Luther’s preface to another Epistle a few days earlier when Charles Wesley was present. John’s reaction to this reading was deeply profound.