In The Methodist hymn book, illustrated with biography, history, incident and anecdote George John Stevenson says of the Charles Wesley hymn Come, sinners to the gospel feast based on Luke 14:16-24.
This is one of Charles Wesley's finest compositions, offering to all a free and full salvation. It was first published in 1747, and forms No. 50 of "Hymns for those that seek and those that have Redemption in the blood of Jesus Christ;" a tract of 68 pages, containing 52 hymns. The original has 24 stanzas, only nine of which Mr Wesley has selected, and of these he has made various alterations in four of the verses, some of which are undoubted improvements. Mr James Nichols printed an edition of this hymn, with notes from the author's MS in 1842. The first edition of the Redemption Hymns appeared in 1747; the fourth edition in 1755; the seventh edition in 1765. The hymn which immediately follows this in the original tract is the well-known Pilgrim's Hymn, "How happy is the Pilgrim's lot!"
The tune here affixed (Invitation) is that used in the "Great Festival Hymns," by Mr Lampe.
Early in the year 1879, a chair of historic interest was presented to the Preachers' Meeting at Boston (in the United States of America), belonging to the Methodist Episcopal Church. Three years previously, the great historic elm tree on Boston common was blown down during a heavy storm; the Boston preachers and their friends resolved to have a large arm-chair made of some of the wood of the tree, to be preserved as a memorial of the introduction of Methodism into Boston, in July, 1790, by Jesse Lee, who, finding all church buildings closed against him, borrowed a table of someone living near the common, and, carrying it himself to the friendly shade of this huge old elm, mounted it and began singing lustily that grand old invitation hymn of Methodism - "Come, sinners, to the Gospel feast, Let every soul be Jesus' guest," and thus struck the key-note to a new Gospel to Calvinistic New England.* On this occasion between two and three thousand persons assembled in his congregation, and at the close he announced himself to preach at the same place on the following Sabbath. On that occasion a much larger congregation assembled. The chair constructed from one of the large spreading branches of this famous tree is large enough to comfortably accommodate any bishop; it is constructed in the most substantial manner, and elegantly carved by hand. The back panel contains a representation of the tree, beautifully carved, and faithfully representing the appearance of the tree the day before its destruction. On the day of its presentation to the Preachers' Meeting, an able historical paper was read by Dr W F Mallalieu, and an historical poem by Rev W S Studley, DD
Sarah Baker, of Culmstock, Tiverton, lived more than forty years ignorant of God and unconcerned about her soul's salvation. In the year 1799, she was going one Sabbath afternoon to church. Mr. Rouse, a local preacher, was preaching in a house on her way; from curiosity, she stayed to listen at the window, and it pleased the Lord to apply the word spoken with power to her heart, and to give her to feel the need of a Saviour. As the preacher was giving out the words of the hymn - "This is the time, no more delay," etc she resolved to accept the offered mercy; she sought the Lord, and found Him, to the joy of her heart. She never lost her confidence in God ; and, though poor in this world's goods, she was rich in faith, giving glory to God. In great peace she fell asleep in Jesus, 29th June, 1838, aged 82.
* Shame he expresses himself in that way