THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE DAY OF THE LORD
This is John Wesley’s 1774 playbill, THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE DAY OF THE LORD. This broadside measures about 17 1/2 inches wide by about 22 1/2 inches tall. I post these broadsides up on trees, boards, etc. at events. I print these on laid paper using a large format laser printer. I sell these broadside for $24.95 in my Etsy Store at the following link: Purchase Here
Read much more about this interesting and unique broadside below:
The original Playbill was printed in London and now resides in the British Museum. This broadside was designed to be pasted up alongside the various theatre playbills in popular theater districts around London. Their intent was to “divert the minds of the dissipated and gay from the vain Amusements of the Theatre, and instead, to fix their attention to the awful Circumstances which shall usher in and succeed THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE DAY OF THE LORD.”
The first time that this playbill was used was June 4, 1774 in Richmond (up the Thames from London). It was created by Rev. John Wesley and the printers, E. Palmer & Son, London, England. Similar playbills were printed and used in England and the United States for at least three decades (1774 – 1817). Records indicate that other editions were printed in 1774 in Baltimore, in Windsor, Vermont in 1789 and in New York in 1798. I own the only original of one that was printed in New York City between 1800 and 1817. I also make replicas of that one. I intend to give away a smaller version of my broadside that is from New York with every order of this 1774 broadside for those that ask, until I run out of them.
Historic documents such as these broadsides allow us a glimpse into the morality and social conventions of the era which we try to recreate. These playbills will be great conversation starters displayed at your next event. Be sure to hang them up around the entertainment area at all your 18th century events. They will draw crowds and cause discussions.
Wesley wrote, “This is dear-bought gain. And so is whatever is procured by hurting our neighbour in his soul; by ministering, suppose, either directly or indirectly, to his unchastity, or intemperance, which certainly none can do, who has any fear of God, or any real desire of pleasing Him. It nearly concerns all those to consider this, who have anything to do with taverns, victualling-houses, opera-houses, play-houses, or any other places of public, fashionable diversion. If these profit the souls of men, you are clear; your employment is good, and your gain innocent; but if they are either sinful in themselves, or natural inlets to sin of various kinds, then, it is to be feared, you have a sad account to make. O beware, lest God say in that day, ‘These have perished in their iniquity, but their blood do I require at thy hands!’”
This playbill may be a little hard to read here, so I have included its transcription below. It is worth reading.
By command of the King of Kings, (a) and at the desire of all who love his appearing, (b) at the Theatre of the universe, (c) on the eve of time, (d) will be performed, The great assize, or day of judgment. (e) The Scenery, which is now actually preparing, will not only surpass every Thing that has yet been seen, but will infinitely exceed the utmost Stretch of human Conception (f). There will be a just Representation of all the Inhabitants of the World, in their various and proper Colours; and their Customs and Manners will be so exactly and so minutely delineated, that the most secret Thought will be discovered (g). For God shall bring every Work into Judgment, with every secret Thing, whether it be Good, or whether it be evil. Eccles. xii. This Theatre will be laid out after a new Plan, and will consist of Pit and Gallery only; and, contrary to all others, the Gallery is fitted up for the Reception of the People of high (or heavenly) Birth (h), and the Pit for those of low (or earthly) Rank (i). – N. B. The Gallery is very spacious (k), and the Pit without Bottom (l). To prevent Inconvenience, there are separate Doors for admitting the Company; and they are so different, that none can mistake that are not wilfully blind. The Door which opens into the Gallery is very narrow, and the Steps up to it are somewhat difficult; for which Reason there are seldom many People about it (m). But the Door that gives Entrance into the Pit is very wide, and very commodious; which causes such Numbers to flock to it, that it is generally crowded (n). – N. B. The strait Door leads towards the Right-Hand, and the broad one to the Left (o). It will be in vain for one in a tinsel’d Coat and borrowed Language to personate one of high Birth, in order to get Admittance into the upper Places (p); for there is One of wonderful and deep Penetration, who will search and examine every individual (q); and all who cannot pronounce Shibboleth (r) in the Language of Canaan (s), or has not received a white Stone and new Name (l), or cannot prove a clear Title to a certain Portion of the Land of Promise (u), must be turned in at the left Door (w). The Principal Performers Are described in 1 Thess. iv. 16. – 2 Thess. i. 7, 8, 9. – Matt. xxiv. 30, 31. – xxv. 31, 32. – Daniel vii, 9, 10. – Jude 14. 15. – Rev. xx. 12 to 15, &c. But as there are some People much better acquainted with the Contents of a Play-Bill than the Word of God, it may not be amiss to transcribe a Verse or two for their Perusal. “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with his mighty Angels, in flaming Fire, taking Vengeance on them that obey not the Gospel, ” but “to be glorified in his Saints. A fiery Stream issued and came forth from before him: A thousand thousands ministred unto him, and ten thousand Times ten thousand stood before him: The Judgment was set, and the Books were opened; and whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire.” Act First of this Grand and Solemn Piece Will be opened by an Arch-Angel, with the Trump of God (x). For the Trumpet shall sound, and the Dead shall be raised. 1 Cor. xv. 52. Act Second Will be a Procession of Saints in White (y), with Golden Harps, accompanied with Shouts of Joy, and Songs of Praise (z). Act Third Will be an Assemblage of all the Unregenerate (a). The Music will consist chiefly of Cries (b), accompanied with Weeping, Wailing, Mourning, Lamentation, and Woe (c). To conclude with an Oration by the Son of God. It is written in the 25th of Matthew, from the 34th Verse to the End of the Chapter; but for the Sake of those who seldom read the Scriptures, I shall here transcribe two Verses: “then shall the King say to them on his Right-Hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the Foundation of the World: Then shall he say also unto them on the Left-Hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels.” After which the Curtain will drop, Then, O to tell! John v. 28, 29. – – Some raised on high, and others dom’d to Hell! Rev. v. 8, 9. – xiv. 3, 4. – – These praise the Lamb, and sing redeeming Love, Luke xvi. 22, 23. – – Lodg’d in his Bosom, all his Goodness prove:-xix. 14, 27. – – While those who trumpled under-foot his Grace Matt. xxv. 30. – 2 Thess. i. 9. – Are banish’d now for ever from his Face; Luke xvi. 26. – – Divided thus, a Gulph is fix’d between, Matt. xxv. 46. – – And (everlasting) closes up the Scene. Thus will I do unto thee, O Israel; and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel. Amos iv. 12. Tickets for the Pit, at the easy Purchase of following the vain Pomps and Vanities of the fashionable World, and the Desires and Amusements of the Flesh (d): To be had at every Flesh-Pleasing Assembly. If ye live after the Flesh ye shall die. Rom. viii. 13. Tickets for the Gallery at no less Rate than being converted (e), Forsaking all (f). Denying Self, taking up the Cross (g) and following Christ in the Regeneration (h): To be had no where but in the Word of God, and where that Word appoints. He that hath Ears to hear let him hear. And be not deceived: God is not mocked. For whatsoever a Man soweth, that shall he also reap. – Matt. xi. 15. – Gal. vi. 7. N. B. No Money will be taken at the Door (i), nor will any Tickets give Admittance into the Gallery, but those sealed by the Holy Ghost (k), with Immanuel’s Signet (l). Watch therefore; be ye also ready; for in such an Hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh. Matt. xxiv. 42, 44.