Sidor som bilder

Joanna Southcote—and every village conjuror, and every sylvan fortune-teller, bave owed, and do owe the

great influence they have exerted, and still, spite of the schoolmaster, do exert over human imbecility, to the well ascertained phenomenon in the moral world, that with the many, pretension and power bear a strict proportion one to the other. The innumerable instances in which pretensions to miraculous aid have been exposed, would, one might expect, bave disabused the human mind, and created a strong presumption against all supernatural claims. But the many

think not; and therefore these pretences, though old and much used, are not worn out. Appearances rather than realities, especially if they are gaudy and imposing, still lead the unreflecting—that is, the majority. Tokens of greatness and sublimity, however unreal, strike their imaginations and captivate their hearts. Though, therefore, Wesley came late in the day, and took


with an instrument used long enough to have lost all power, yet the ignorance of those on whom he operated, and the susceptibility of their souls of the wild and the wondrous, supplied all deficiences, and enabled the Christian magician to wield with effect his enchanted and enchanting wand. Wesley, from his youth up, was a seer of sights, a dreamer of dreams, and a miracle-monger. Nature, in constructing his frame, meant him for a wonder-worker. Had he been sent into the world at an earlier period, he would probably have perished amid the explosion of crucibles, in the pursuit of the black art—have out-done Dr. Faustus himself- -or have been burned for dealing with, and not as be did, opposing the Devil! As it was, he restored in the Christian Church the age of miracles, and, as a natural consequence, brought thousands under the rod of his supernatural sway.

We shall add a few illustrations of the extent to which he believed bimself (as appears) aided from on high. At an early period of bis itinerant labours, he went to Wednesbury, with a view to aid his persecuted converts. In this district, riotous mobs bad assembled; men, women, and children, were abused in the most shocking and disgraceful manner-being beaten, stoned, covered with mud, and even pregnant women shamefully ill-treated. The houses of his followers, too, were broken open, and their goods spoiled or carried away. Wesley appears in the midst, and all is still!“ He preached," says one of his

[ocr errors]

biographers, “at noon, in a ground near the town, on Jesus Christ the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; and, in Mr. W.'s words, • No creature offered to molest us, either going or coming; but the Lord fought for us, and we held our peace. Afterward the mob beset the house where Wesley was. • We prayed God to disperse them,' he says, “and so it was one went this way, and another that, so that in half-an-hour not a man was left.' The mob, however, returned again. The cry of one and all was, 'Bring out the minister-we will bave the minister.' 'I desired,' continues Wesley, one to take the captain by the hand, and bring him into the house; after a few sentences interchanged between us, the lion was become a lamb. I desired him to go and bring one or two of the most angry of his companions. He brought in two who were ready to swallow the ground with rage; but in two minutes they were as calm as he.' Wesley then went out to address the people, and they insisted on bis going with

m to the justice. On his way, he was in great and many perils; and he records the following circumstances as particularly remarkable:' •1. That many endeavoured to throw me down, while we were going down the bill on a slippery path to the town—as well judging, that if I was once on the ground, I should hardly rise any more; but I made no stumble at all, nor the least slip, till I was entirely out of their hands. 2. That although many strove to lay hold of my collar or clothes, to pull me down, they could not fasten at all: only one got fast hold of the flap of my waist-coat, which was soon left in his hand. 3. That a lusty man, just behind, struck at me several times with a large oaken stick; with which, if he had struck me once on my head, it would have saved him all farther trouble. But every time the blow was turned aside, I know not how. 4. That another came rushing through the press, and raising his arm to strike, on a sudden let it drop, and only stroked my head, saying, what soft hair he has.' 5. That I stopped exactly at the Mayor's door, as if I had known it -which the mob doubtless thought I did—and found him standing in the shop; which gave the first check to the madness of the people. 6. That the very first men whose hearts were turned, were the heroes of the town—the captains of the rabble on all occasions—one of them have ing been a prize-fighter at the bear gardens. When I came back to Francis Ward's, I found many of the brethren waiting upon God."

The following is an extract from a history of Methodism, written by a Methodist preacher. “July 18, 1775, the eleventh Conference was held, immediately after a severe illness which Mr. Wesley had in the north of Ireland. At that time, Mr. Payne, one of the preachers, prayed that God would add to the life of his aged servant fifteen years.' Mr. Gayer, at whose house Mr. Wesley lay, declared, that he had no doubt God would answer the prayer.' It is remarkable, that Mr. Wesley lived after this, fifteen years and a few months.” In his Journal, Wesley tells us, that he visited, one night, a believer, who was not expected to live till morning: he had lost his speech and his senses. Wesley and his companions prayed -the man's speech and senses were restored. “ Now, be that will account for this by natural causes, has my free leave; but I choose to say, this is the power of God.” In the same manner, he was himself cured instantaneously of a fever and a toothach; nay, bis horse partook of the benefit of his prayers! “My horse was so exceedingly lame, that I was afraid I must have lain by. By riding thus seven miles, I was thoroughly tired, and my

head ached more than it had done for some months. I then thought, cannot God heal either man or beast, by any means, or without any?' Immediately my weariness and headach ceased, and my horse's lameness in the same instant; nor did he halt any more, either that day or the next.” His followers, as might have been expected, have not been behind their master. “In the beginning of the year 1787,” says the historian before quoted, “ Mr. now Dr. Clarke, visited the Isle of Alderney. When he arrived, he knew not where to go. For some time he was perplexed, till that word of the God of missionaries, powerfully impressed his mind, Into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house; and in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give.' On this he took courage, and proceeded to the town. After having walked some way into it, he took particular notice of a very poor cottage, into which he found a strong inclination to enter. He did so with a • Peace be to this house,' and found in it an old man and woman, who, as soon as they understood bis business, bade him . welcome to the best food they had—to a little chamber wbere he might sleep—and what was still more acceptable, to their house to preach in. He now saw

some of

clearly the hand of Providence in his favour, and was much encouraged. The Lord owned his labours, while be staid in the

island.” In the words of Lord Jobn Russell, “ They (Wesley's followers) multiply miracles far beyond the regular and limited practice of the Romish Church. If a Methodist preacher wants a dinner, a suit of clothes, or a few pence to pay a turnpike, he puts up a prayer, and his want is miraculously supplied. Thus, between forgery and fanaticism, sober and genuine Christianity is utterly lost."

Miracles on behalf of the preachers, led, by a natural consequence, to miracles among the people. Wesley gives an account of a woman, who was “ above measure enraged at the new way,” but whom nevertheless he persuaded to kneel down and join in prayer

with him. " In a few minutes, she fell into an extreme agony both of body and soul, and soon after cried out with the utmost earnestness, Now I know that I am forgiven for Christ's sake.' One day that Wesley was preaching at Bristol, “ the persons present called upon God to confirm his word.' Immediately one of the congregation cried out aloud, as if in the agonies of death; but upon their continuing in prayer, sbe burst out in thanksgiving to God. Two other persons presently began to roar, and likewise finished with praise.” When preaching at Newgate, Wesley called upon God to bear witness to his word. “ Immediately one, and another, and another, sunk to the earth; they dropped on every side, as if thunderstruck.” A Quaker, who inveighed against the Methodists, attending one of their meetings, dropped down as if struck with lightning. After a terrible agony, he lifted up bis head, and cried aloud, “ Now I know thou art a prophet of the Lord.” Soon a new symptom was produced. The unbappy patients fancied themselves tormented by Satan, and uttered all kinds of blasphemy and imprecation. A woman in one of these frenzies, called out, “I am damned, damned-lost for ever! Six days ago you might have helped me, but it is past! I am the devil's now: I have given myself to him

-his I am-bim I must serve- with him I must go to hell-I will be bis I will serve him-I will go with him to hell-I cannot be saved, I will not be saved—I must, I will, I will be damned!” With much more, equally absurd and raving. At length, as Wesley says, “God in a moment spoke peace unto the soul;" « that is,” says the noble author before named, “ when nature was exhausted with such violent efforts, these lunatics sunk down, and upon recovering-finding themselves weak and calmwere told they were in a state of grace!”

These strong out-pourings of the spirit, were just suited to those who are used to all things strong-—strong; potations, strong emotions, strong passions. Wine is the beverage of the gentleman-spirits, of the people. So with religion. The one is swayed by the still small voice of nature and of grace; the other requires the whirlwind and the storm of religious feeling. The one adores his Maker in the sunshine and the shower; the other is insensible to every thing but the awful tokens of his power in the earth. quake and the tornado. Wesley suited—by náture he was enabled to suit_his ministrations to the people's aptitudes. He was a vender of intoxicating draughts, and therefore he was sought after by the many. His influence, in this particular, did not rest with his own church. He gave a tone to the exertions of other orators, who sought to win over the people. And thus miraculous influences have run down the land like a stream, furnishing a topic of sneering and reproach to the unbeliever, and a subject of deep regret to every friend of rational and sober piety.

G. C. S.

Dr. Channing's Election Sermon.

(Continued from page 10.) I PROCEED to point out some of the means by which this spiritual liberty may be advanced; and, passing over a great variety of topics, I shall confine myself to two:Religion and Government.

I begin with Religion, the mightiest agent in human affairs. To this belongs pre-eminently the work of freeing and elevating the mind. All other means are comparatively impotent. The sense of God is the only spring, by which the crushing weight of sense, of the world, and temptation, can be withstood. Without a consciousness of our relation to God, all other relations will prove adverse to spiritual life and progress. I have spoken of the religious sentiment as the mightiest agent on earth. It has accomplished more, it has strengthened men to do and suffer more, than all other principles. It can sustain the mind against all other powers. Of all principles

« FöregåendeFortsätt »