« FöregåendeFortsätt »
it was far otherwise here. They remained as statues from the beginning of the sermon to the end. I preached again at six in the evening, on, Seek ye the Lord while he may be found. I used great plainness of speech towards high and low, and they all received it in love ; so that the prejudice which had been several years planting, was torn up by the roots in one hour. After preaching, one of the Bailiffs of the town, with one of the Elders of the kirk, came to me, and begged I would stay with them a while ; nay, if it were but two or three days, and they would fit up a far larger place than the school, and prepare seats for the congregations. Had not my time been fixed, I should gladly have complied. All that I could now do, was to give them a promise, that Mr. Hopper would come back the next week, and spend a few days with them. And it was not without a fair prospect : The congregations were very numerous, many were cut to the heart, and several joined together in a little Society.”
Mr. Southey has observed, that “ resentment was a plant that could never take root in the heart of Wesley.” We must doubt of this, as we do not hold Christian Perfection quite so high, as Mr. Southey seems to do, in this instance. But we do believe, that, by the grace of God, it never did. We have seen how deeply Mr. Wesley, like his Divine Master, was wounded in the house of his friends. Resentment, it is true, was refused admission ; but something more is needed, than the absence of that root of bitterness, to constitute Christian friendship ; and especially that oneness so essential in those who conduct a work of God, particularly a work so new, being wholly Scriptural, and so great as we have seen this to be.
Mr. C. Wesley was now become, in a great degree, a domestic man; and the want of that activity which we have heretofore seen in his labours of love, much impaired his own comforts, and laid him open to strong temptation. Mr. John Wesley has remarked to me,_" While my brother remained with me, he was joyous in his spirit, and his labour saddened him not. But when he departed from that activity, to which the Lord called him, and in which he so greatly blessed him, his spirit became depressed ; and being surrounded with croakers,' he often looked through the same clouds which enveloped them."- In this point, Dr. Whitehead's opinion coincides.
“ In August, 1751,” says the Doctor, “Mr. C. Wesley wrote to his brother, under great oppression of mind, and in very strong language. Whenever he saw some things wrong, his fears suggested to him, that there might be many more which he did not see ; and the natural warmth of his temper,”—and, I will add, his great sincerity,—" led him to use expressions abundantly more severe than the case required.” But the Preachers, against whom, as the Doctor observes," he had no material charge, but the want of qualifications for their office,” (and that chiefly on report,) soon obtained fresh encouragement from his brother ; which was another means of weakening the union that had long subsisted between them."
Having met in London, the two brothers went down to Shoreham in November, and talked the matter over, in the presence of Mr. Perronet, whom Mr. C. Wesley used to call “our Archbishop.” A less except, ionable days-man could not have been found; a man full of faith and love, and entirely devoted to God, and to his work. He had fitted up
a large outer room in the parsonage-house, (which I had the privilege of visiting,) where the Preachers used to meet the pious people of the parish: The good man rejoicing in all that he heard, and in all the good that was done. In his presence the two brothers expressed their entire satisfaction in the end which each had in view; namely, the glory of God, and the salvation of souls. They both acknowledged the sincerity of each, in desiring union between themselves, as the means to that end ; and after much conversation, they both agreed to act in concert with respect to the Preachers, so that neither of them should admit or refuse any, but such as both admitted or refused.- About six weeks afterwards, they were at Shorehanı again, and then signed the following articles of agreement :
“ With regard to the Preachers, we agree,
“1. That none shall be permitted to preach in any of our Societies, till he be examined, both as to his grace and gifts ; at least, by the Assistant, who, sending word to us, may, by our answer, admit him a Local Preacher.
“ 2. That such Preacher be not immediately taken from his trade, but be exhorted to follow it with all diligence.
“3. That no person shall be received as a Travelling Preacher, or be taken from his trade, by either of us alone, but by both of us conjointly, giving him a note under both our hands.
“4. That neither of us will re-admit a Travelling Preacher laid aside, without the consent of the other.
“ 5. That if we should ever disagree in our judgment, we will refer the matter to Mr. Perronet.
66. That we will entirely be patterns of all we expect from every Preacher; particularly of zeal, diligence, and punctuality in the work; by constantly preaching and meeting the Societies ; by visiting, yearly, Ireland, Cornwall, and the North ; and, in general, by superintending the whole work, and every branch of it, with all the strength which God shall give us. We agree to the above written, till this day next year, in the presence of Mr. Perronet.
66 JOHN WESLEY.
Dr. Whitehead observes, “ Mr. John Wesley was prevailed upon, with some difficulty, to sign these articles.” But he soon found, that, from the causes already mentioned, his brother was unable to execute so large an engagement with any efficiency. Mr. J. Wesley may, therefore, from this time, be considered as the sole director of the work : Not from the heathenish principle which Dr. Whitehead imputes to him, without any evidence, viz. that he would be aut Cæsar, aut nullus,* but from necessity. He could not admit of any partner who would not superintend the whole work and every part of it, as above stated. Mr. C. Wesley, however, occasionally assisted his brother, especially in London and Bristol, and his ministrations were always acceptable and profitable to the people.
About this time, Mr. Wesley received a letter from that distinguished servant of Christ, the Rev. Mr. Milner, who had been at Chester, and wrote as follows, on the temper of the Bishop towards the Methodists:
* He would be supreme, or he would be nobody.
“ The Bishop,” says he, “ I was told, was exceeding angry at my fate excursion into the North in your company. But I found his Lordship in much better temper than I was bid to expect by my brother Graves,* who was so prudent, that he would not go with one so obnoxious to the Bishop's displeasure, and all the storm of anger fell upon him. When he told me how he had been treated, for speaking in your defence, I was fully persuaded all the bitterness was past, and accordingly found it
I told his Lordship, that God was with you of a truth ; and he seemed pleased with the relation of the conversion of the barber at Bolton; and with your design of answering Taylor's book on Original Sin.--I have made no secret of your manner of proceeding, to any with whom I have conversed, since I had the happiness of being in your company. And to the Bishop I was very particular in telling him, what an assembly of worshippers there is at Newcastle : How plainly the badge of Christianity, love, is there to be seen.
When his Lordship talked about ORDER, I begged leave to observe, that I had nowhere seen such a want of it, as in his own cathedral; the preacher so miserably at a loss, that the children took notice of it; and the choristers so rude, as to be talking and thrusting one another with their elbows. At last I told him, there was need of some extraordinary messengers from God, to call us back to the doctrines of the Reformation ; for I did not know one of my brethren in Lancashire, that would give the Church's definition of faith, and stand to it. And alas, I had sad experience of the same falling away in Cheshire ; for one of his son's curates would not let me preach for him, because of that definition of faith.”
In the ensuing year, Mr. Wesley continued his labours and travels, with the same vigour and diligence, through various parts of England and Ireland.—February, 1753, he makes the following observations: “ I now looked over Mr. Prince's History. What an amazing difference is there, in the manner wherein God has carried on his work in England and in America ! There, above a hundred of the established clergy, men of
age and experience, and of the greatest note for sense and learning in those parts, are zealously engaged in the work. Here, almost the whole body of aged, experienced, learned clergy, are zealously engaged against it; and few, but a handful, of raw young men engaged in it, without name, learning, or eminent sense! And yet by that large nuniber of honourable men, the work seldom flourished above six months at a time, and then followed a lamentable and general decay, before the next revival of it ; whereas that which God hath wrought by these despised instruments, has continually increased for fifteen years together ; and at whatever time it has declined in any one place, it has more eminently flourished in others.'
To know the whole of a man's character, it is not sufficient to view him as he appears before the public, but in his more retired moments, and particularly in his private correspondence. The two following letters will show the temper in which Mr. Wesley answered charges that were privately brought against him, either from prejudice or misapprehension. “ You give," says he, “five reasons why the Rev. Mr. P. will come no more amongst us : 1. Because we despise the Ministers of the Church of England. - This I flatly deny. I am answering letters this very post, which bitterly blame mo for just the contrary. 2. • Because so much
* Afterwards Mr. Fletcher's Curate.
backbiting and evil-speaking is suffered amongst our people.:-It is not suffered : All possible means are used, both to prevent and remove it. 3. Because I, who have written so much against hoarding up money, have put out seven hundred pounds to interest.'-I never put sixpence out to interest since I was born; nor had I ever one hundred pounds together, my own, since I came into the world. 4. • Because our Lay. Preachers have told many stories of my brother and me.'— If they did, I am sorry
for them: When I hear the particulars I can answer, and, perhaps, make those ashamed who believed them. 5. Because we did not help a friend in distress.'—We did help him as far as we were able.—But we might have made his case known to Mr. G., Lady H., &c.'—So we did more than once; but we could not pull money from them whether they would or no. Therefore, these reasons are of no weight.—You conclude with praying, that God would remove pride and malice from amongst us.'--Of pride, I have too much ; of malice, I have none : However, the prayer is good, and I thank you for it.”
The other letter, from which I shall give an extract, was written apparently to a gentleman of some rank and influence. “ Some time since,” says Mr. Wesley, “ I was considering what you said, concerning the want of a plan in our Societies. There is a good deal of truth in this remark. For though we have a plan, as to our spiritual economy, (the several branches of which are particularly recited in the Plain Account of the People called Methodists,) yet it is certain, we have barely the first outlines of a plan with regard to our temporal concerns.
The reason is, I had no design for several years to concern myself with temporals at all; and when I began to do this, it was wholly and solely with a view to relieve, not to employ, the poor; except now and then, with respect to a small number; and even this I found was too great a burden for me, as requiring more money, more time, and more thought, than I could possibly spare.
than I could possibly spare;' for the whole weight lay on me. If I left it to others, it surely came to nothing. They wanted either understanding, or industry, or love, or patience, to bring any thing to perfection.
• Thus far I thought it needful to explain myself, with regard to the economy of our Society. I am still to speak of your case, of my own, and of some who are dependant upon me.
“ I do not recollect, for I kept no copy of my last, that I charged you with want of humility or meekness. Doubtless, these may be found in the most splendid palaces. But did they ever move a man to build a splendid palace ? Upon what motive you did this, I know not; but you are to answer it to God, not to me.
“ If your soul is as much alive to God, if your thirst after pardon and holiness is as strong, if you are as dead to the desire of the eye and the pride of life, as you were six or seven years ago, I rejoice; if not, I pray God you may; and then you
will know how to value a real friend. « With regard to myself, you do well to warn me against popularity, a thirst of power, and of applause ; against envy, producing a seeming contempt for the conveniences or grandeur of this life; against an affected humility; against sparing from myself to give to others, from no other motive than ostentation. I am not conscious to myself
, that this is my However, the warning is always friendly'; and it is always seasonable, considering how deceitful my heart is, and how many the VOL. II,
enemies that surround me.- - What follows I do not understand: "You behold me in the ditch, wherein you helped, though innocently, to cast me, and with a Levitical pity, passing by on the other side.'-—He and you, Sir, have not any merit, though Providence should permit all these sufferings to work together for my good.'- I do not comprehend one line of this, and therefore cannot plead either guilty, or not guilty.--I presume, they are some that are dependant on me, who,' you say, "keep not the commandments of God; who show a repugnance to serve and obey; who are as full of pride and arrogance, as of filth and nastiness; who do not pay lawful debts, nor comply with civil obligations; who make the waiting on the offices of religion a plea for sloth and idleness; who, after I had strongly recommended them, did not perform their moral duty, but increased the number of those incumbrances which they forced on you against your will.'—To this, I can only say, 1. I know not whom you mean ; I am not certain that I can so much as guess at one of them. 2. Whoever they are, had they followed my instructions, they would have acted in a quite different manner.
will tell me them by name, I will renounce all fellowship with them.”—That is, after due inquiry. This I must add ; for, I am certain, he would not renounce fellowship with the poorest man in the world, to please the greatest King.
MR. WESLEY'S DANGEROUS ILLNESS-MR. C. WESLEY'S RENEWED LA
BOURS-MR. WESLEY'S REASSUMPTION OF ITINERANCY HIS CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE REVEREND MR. WALKER, OF TRURO-HIS PROPOSAL FOR A UNION OF THE EVANGELICAL CLERGY OF THAT DAY-ACCOUNT OF MR. GRIMSHAW.
MR. WESLEY had hitherto enjoyed remarkable health, considering his great and continued labours, and exposures of
every kind. But, October 19, 1753, soon after his return to London, he was taken ill. In a short time his complaint put on the appearance
of an ague. Before he was perfectly recovered, he repeatedly catched cold, and was presently threatened with a rapid consumption.-
November 26, Dr. Fothergill told him, he must not stay in town one day longer : That if any thing would do him good, it must be the country air, with rest, asses milk, and riding daily. In consequence of this advice, he retired to Lewisham, to the house of his friend Mr. Blackwell, the Banker. Here, not knowing how it might please God to dispose of him, and wishing to prevent vile panegyric" in case of death, he wrote as follows:
THE BODY OF JOHN WESLEY,
A BRAND PLUCKED OUT OF THE BURNING :
WHO DIED OF A CONSUMPTION IN THE FIFTY-FIRST YEAR
OF HIS AGE;