converse sparingly and warily with them that are dead while they live
In January 1748, John Wesley recounts a time when a zombie horde (mob) attacked him at William Stone’s house (reminiscent of a Night of the Living Dead movie) and how he barely escaped with his life.
After we were gone into the house, they began throwing great stones, in order to break the door. … When I went up two pair of stairs and stood close on one side, where we were a little sheltered—a large stone struck [my friend] on the forehead, and the blood spouted out like a stream. He cried out, “O sir, are we to die tonight? What must I do? What must I do?”
I said, “Pray to God. He is able to deliver you from all danger.” He took my advice and began praying in such a manner as he had scarcely done ever since he was born. …
The mob had just broken open the door when we came into the lower room; and exactly while they burst in at one door, we walked out at the other. Nor did [any] take any notice of us, though we were within five yards of each other [and they] filled the house at once…
Another time, he recounts his fight with zombies and their rough treatment of his friends:
Yesterday between twelve and one o’clock, while I was speaking to some quiet people without any noise or tumult, a … [horde] came ….in a tumultuous and riotous manner, … I had scarcely gone ten yards when [one] struck me with his fist in the face with all his might; quickly after, another threw his stick at my head: I then made a little stand;
… one of them beat me down to the ground; and when I rose again, the whole body came about me like lions and forced me back into the house.
“While [I slipped out] at one door, … the others … [were] treated still worse; … The mob immediately closed them in, tossing them to and fro with the utmost violence … They made them run for their lives, amidst showers of dirt and stones, without any regard to age or sex.
In June of 1767, John Wesley wrote a letter to his brother Charles about the pressing zombie outbreak in Athlone that hindered the work of God and which would likely be the reason his ministry would end there.
I have been surprised that it has spread so far, … those who would profit by us have need to make haste, as we are not likely to serve them long.
Perhaps, Wesley assumed that their attacks would result in his own death, for he knew his adversary and their unholy appetite well:
In all these circumstances, we may be assured, our great adversary will not be wanting to improve his opportunity. He, who is always “walking about, seeking whom he may devour,”
Wesley was afraid that many friends would fall into the hands of the undead and that for others the magnitude of such horrors would cause them to reject God. For many were holding this view after witnessing the violence:
God does not regard, does not govern, the earth; or, at least, that he does not govern it aright, not by the rules of justice and mercy. [And their hearts were stirred] up against God, to renew [their] natural enmity against him.
Given his experiences and fearing a larger outbreak, John Wesley described those that “are dead while they live” so that his brother and others would be able to spot them. These are those who have:
- littleness of grace
- [reject] all arguments and persuasions
- rush into sin, as on horse into the battle
- they neither burn nor shine
- they commit apostasy
- they pray little and with little fervency
- there is much of the spirit of the world in their hearts
- there is much conformity to the world in their lives
Wesley continues to describe the undead and warns us that the outbreak was not contained.
That foul monster, … that we meet, [we find] cruelty of every kind. And all these abominations are not only found in Mahometan or Pagan countries, where their horrid practice may seem to be the natural result of equally horrid principles; but in those that are called Christian countries, yea, in the most knowing and civilized states and kingdoms.
Wesley knew that the zombie pandemic was highly contagious so he warns us that we must be alert and diligent to guard ourselves so that we should not become ensnared by them and share their fate.
We ought, therefore, Lastly, to watch and pray, and use our utmost endeavours to avoid falling into darkness.
And we must even examine ourselves to see if (after contact) we have been infected and are really among the undead.
But who are the living witnesses of these things? I beseech you, brethren, as in the presence of God … that each of you would ask his own heart, “Am I of that number?
However despite such ill treatment at their hands, Wesley never lost sight of what these zombies once were (nor what that might become).
A still deeper sorrow we may feel for those who are dead while they live; … And this anguish of spirit may be heightened to an inconceivable degree, by the consideration, that he who is now posting to destruction [ie zombies] once ran well in the way of life. Whatever he was in time past, serves now to no other purpose, than to make our reflections on what he is more piercing and afflictive.
That no doubt made them to difficult to fight, yet Wesley inspires us not to give up but continue to stand strong against the zombies.
I did go thus far for many years, as many of this place can testify; using diligence to eschew all evil, … [and to please the Lord] who had called me to “fight the good fight,”
Wesley was eager to find a cure for the zombies, so that instead of being almost alive, they could have a full and abundant life. But for that to occur it wasn’t only the head of the zombie that must be dealt with but the heart as well.
we all thus experience what it is to be, not almost only [ie a zombie]; but altogether [alive]; being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus; knowing we have peace with God through Jesus Christ; rejoicing in hope of the glory of God; and having the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost given unto us!
Having fought and survived many zombie encounters, Wesley offers some advice for when the zombie outbreak reaches you (as it is sure to do).
Our great care should be, so to behave ourselves under it, so to wait upon the Lord therein, that it may fully answer all the design of his love, in permitting it to come upon us; that it may be a means of increasing our faith, of confirming our hope, of perfecting us in all holiness … till we are received into his everlasting kingdom!
This is a mashup and parody of some of Wesley’s writings in the spirit of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer. They are meant to communicate some of the same points that the originals did. Enjoy.