urgency. Undoubtedly familar with Ephesians 5:16 he may have
read John Wesley's famous sermon On Redeeming the Time.
Blake had little to say about Wesley and nothing I can find re the Wesleyans-- for some rather obvious reasons: in those days
Wesley's Methodists were part of the Anglican Church for which
Blake had little or no use; they were not churches, but chapels!
(In UMC and other Methodists groups today many churches carry the name of Wesley Chapel.)
How did John Wesley impact our hero? At one place he gives the credit due:
"But then I rais'd up Whitefield, Palamabron raisd up Westley,In one particular the two men had much in common.
And these are the cries of the Churches before the two
Faith in God the dear Saviour who took on the likeness of men:
Becoming obedient to death, even the death of the Cross
The Witnesses lie dead in the Street of the Great City
No Faith is in all the Earth: the Book of God is trodden under
He sent his two Servants Whitefield & Westley; were they Prophets
Or were they Idiots or Madmen? shew us Miracles!"
Can you have greater Miracles than these? Men who devote
Their lifes whole comfort to intire scorn & injury & death"
Milton Plate 22 and 23)
Wesley wrote a sermon on Ephesian 5, verse 16:
"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
Blake described this same sense of urgency in the beginning of
Chapter Four of Jerusalem (Plate 77), which includes:
"We are told to abstain from fleshly desires that we may lose no time from the Work of the Lord. Every moment lost, is a moment that cannot be redeemed every pleasure that intermingles with the duty of our station is a folly unredeemable & is planted like the seed of a wild flower among our wheat."
And even more pointed are two lines near the end of Gates of Paradise (For the Sexes):
"But when once I did descry The Immortal Man that cannot Die
Thro evening shades I haste away To close the Labours of my Day" (Erdman 269)
For all of us as the years grow longer and the days shorter, we may have a similar sense of urgency, depending upon to what degree we can say "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people" (Luke 2:29-31). Such was the case with William Blake.