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THREN? Think well of and honour one another? Wish all good, all grace, all gifts, all success, yea, greater than our own to each other? Expect God will answer our wish, rejoice in every appearance thereof, and praise him for it? Readily believe good of each other, as readily as we once believed evil ?
“ Speak respectfully, honourably, kindly of each other ; defend each other's character? Speak all the good we can of each other : Recommend one another where we have influence : Each help the other on in his work, and enlarge his influence by all the honest means we can?
“ This is the union which I have long sought after. And is it not the duty of every one of us so to do? Would it not be far better for our. selves ? A means of promoting both our holiness and happiness? Would it not remove much guilt from those who have been faulty in any of these instances ? And much pain from those who have kept themselves pure ? Would it not be far better for the people, who suffer severely from the clashings and contentions of their leaders, which seldom fail to occasion many unprofitable, yea, hurtful disputes among them? Would it not be better even for the poor, blind world, robbing them of their sport,
O! they cannot agree among themselves ! Would it not be better for the whole work of God, which would then deepen and widen on every side?
«6 « But it will never be: It is utterly impossible ! Certainly, it is with men. Who imagines we can do this ? That it can be effected by any human power ? All nature is against it, every infirmity, every wrong temper and passion ; love of honour and praise, of power, of pre-eminence; of anger, resentment, pride ; long-contracted habits, and prejudice lurking in ten thousand forms.* The devil and all his angels are against it. For if this takes place, how shall his kingdom stand? All the world, all that know not God are against it, though they may seem to favour it for
Let us settle this in our hearts, that we may be utterly cut off from all dependance on our own strength or wisdom.
“ But, surely, with God all things are possible. Therefore, all things are possible to him that believeth.' And this union is proposed only to them that believe, that show their faith by their works.
6 When 'Mr. C. was objecting the impossibility of ever effecting such a union, I went up stairs, and after a little prayer, opened Kempis on these words :
Expecta Dominum : Viriliter age : Noli diffidere: Noli discedere ; sed corpus et animam expone constanter pro gloriâ Dei.t
“ I am, Dear Sir,
66 John Wesley. “ SCARBOROUGH, April 29, 1764."
Of thirty-four clergymen to whom he addressed the above, only three vouchsafed him an answer! The one which he received from the late Vicar of Shoreham, in Kent, is such a picture of that blessed man, (now . with God,) that, I doubt not, it will be acceptable to my readers.
“ SHOREHAM, April 30, 1764. “My REVEREND AND DEAR BROTHER,-Yours of the 29th instant gave me both pain and pleasure.
* Most certainly only the principle of perfect love will bear such fruit.
t"Wait upon the Lord: Play the man: Doubt not: Shrink not: But sacrifice soul and body continually for the glory of God."
“ I was highly delighted with your ardent wishes and endeavours for promoting the spirit of the Gospel among the preachers and other professors of it; but deeply concerned at the disappointment and opposition you have met with !
“ It has been always a leading principle with me, (and I pray God confirm and strengthen it more and more,) to love all those labourers of Christ, who give proof by their diligence, their holy and heavenly behaviour, that they • love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity;' even though their sentiments, in many things, should differ from mine.
“ And therefore, though it be absurd to expect an entire union of sentiments in all things; yet the endeavouring, by every Christian method, to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,' is the indispensible duty of all Christians. Where this spiritual peace and union are not, there faith
working by love is not : And where this divine faith is wanting, there Christ is wanting : There his Spirit is wanting : And then neither circumcision nor uncircumcision will avail us any thing !'
“ In this melancholy situation, whilst we are strangers to the divine fruits of the Holy Spirit, let our gifts and talents be what they may ; let us speak with the tongues of men and of angels ;' we are yet nothing in the sight of God! Nay, though his Spirit should spread the Gospel
, by our ministry, in the hearts of thousands; yet our own souls will remain but a barren wilderness ! and Christ may say, “ I never knew
“ How ought we, therefore, always to pray, that the peace of God may ever rule in our hearts ;' that we may be rooted and grounded in love ;' and that we may constantly • follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another !'
“This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ : And may God impress it thoroughly upon the minds and hearts of all ! And
may the poor despised flock . grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ !'
“I am, Dear Sir,
66 VINCENT PERRONET."
Mr. Hampson, in his Life of Mr. Wesley, mentions the above circular letter, (the only one he ever sent,) and the failure of the projected union; and then adds, “ His only resource, therefore, was in LayPreachers.” Must not his readers imagine from this observation, that those Preachers were employed subsequently to that proposal, and to supply its failure ?. Whereas the real truth is, they were employed more than twenty years before the proposal was made! Besides, the very words of the letter clearly evidence, that no such union was proposed as would make the least difference with respect to the Preachers. It is, therefore, surprising that Mr. Hampson, who was himself employed as an Itinerant Preacher for several years, should deviate so much from the real truth. Many other particulars in the Life he has written, are related with the same fidelity and candour. This surprise, however, is now swallowed up in the passing strangeness of a writer who has reiterated the notion in a biography, published in the
Having spoken so little concerning the calling of those preachers who laboured with Mr. Wesley, being desirous my readers might chiefly
attend to him whose Memoirs I write, and to the great work in which he was engaged, I believe it will not be unacceptable to lay before them his thoughts on this subject after twenty years' trial. He has given them very fully in a letter to the Rev. Mr. Walker, of Truro, written about this time, which I here subjoin :
“REVEREND AND Dear Sir, I have one point in view,- To promote, as far as I am able, vital, practical religion ; and by the grace of God, to beget, preserve and increase the life of God in the souls of men. On this single principle I have hitherto proceeded, and taken no step but in subserviency to it. With this view, when I found it to be absolutely necessary for the continuance of the work which God had begun in many souls, (which their regular pastors generally used all possible means to destroy,) I permitted several of their brethren, whom I believe God had called thereto and qualified for the work, to comfort, exhort, and instruct those who were athirst for God, or who walked in the light of his countenance. But, as the persons so qualified were few, and those who wanted their assistance very many, it followed, that most of these were obliged to travel continually from place to place; and this occasioned several regulations from time to time, which were chiefly made in our Conferences.
“So great a blessing has, from the beginning, attended the labours of these Itinerants, that we have been more and more convinced, every year, of the more than lawfulness of this proceeding; and the inconveniences, most of which we foresaw from the very first, have been both fewer and smaller than were expected. Rarely two in one year, out of the whole number of preachers, have either separated themselves, or been rejected by us. A great majority have all along behaved as becometh the gospel of Christ, and, I am clearly persuaded, still desire nothing more than to spend and be spent for their brethren.
" But you advise, • That as many of our preachers as are fit for it, be ordained : and that the others be fixed to certain societies, not as preachers, but as readers or inspectors.'
“You oblige me by speaking your sentiments so plainly: With the same plainness I will answer. So far as I know myself, I have no more concern for the reputation of Methodism, or my own, than for the reputation of Prester John. I have the same point in view as when I set out, the promoting, as I am able, vital, practical religion : and in all our discipline, I still aim at the continuance of the work which God has already begun in so many souls. With this view, and this only, I permitted those whom, I believed, God had called thereto, to comfort, exhort, and instruct their brethren. And if this end can be better answered some other
way, I shall subscribe to it without delay. “ But is that which you propose a better way? This should be coolly and calmly considered.
“ If I mistake not, there are now in the county of Cornwall, about four-and-thirty little societies, part of whom now experience the love of God : part are more or less earnestly seeking it. Four preachers, Peter Jaco, Thomas Johnson, William Crabb, and William Alwood, design, for the ensuing year, partly to call other sinners to repentance, but chiefly to feed and guide those few feeble sheep; to forward them, as of the ability which God giveth, in vital, practical religion.
“ Now suppose we can effect, that Peter Jaco and Thomas Johnson be ordained and settled in the curacies of Buryan and St. Just: and suppose William Crabb and William Alwood fix at Launceston and Plymouth Dock as Readers and Exhorters : Will this answer the end which I have in view, so well as travelling through the county?
“ It will not answer it so well, even with regard to those societies, among whom Peter Jaco and Thomas Johnson are settled. Be their talents ever so great, they will ere long grow dead themselves, and so will most of those that hear them. I know, were I myself to preach one whole year in one place, I should preach both myself and most of my congregation asleep. Nor can I believe, it was ever the will of our Lord, that any congregation should have only one teacher. We have found, by long and constant experience, that a frequent change of teachers is best. This preacher has one talent, that another. No one whom I ever yet knew, has all the talents which are needful for beginning, continuing and perfecting the work of grace in a whole congregation.
But suppose this would better answer the end, with regard to those two societies, would it answer in those where William Alwood and William Crabb were settled as Inspectors or Readers ? First, who shall feed them with the milk of the word ? The ministers of their parishes? Alas! they cannot : they themselves neither know, nor live, nor teach the Gospel. These Readers ? Can then either they, or I, or you, always find something to read to our congregation, which will be as exactly adapted to their wants, and as much blessed to them as our preaching 3 And here is another difficulty still : What authority have I to forbid their doing what I believe God has called them to do? I apprehend, indeed, that there ought, if possible, to be both an outward and inward call to this work: yet, if one of the two be supposed wanting, I had rather want the outward than the inward call. I rejoice that I am called to preach the Gospel both by God and man: yet I acknowledge, I had rather have the divine without the human, than the human without the divine call.
“ But waiving this, and supposing these four societies to be better provided for than they were before : What becomes of the other thirty? Will they prosper as well when they are left as sheep without a shepherd ? The experiment has been tried again and again, and always with the same effect. Even the strong in faith grew weak and faint: many of the weak made shipwreck of the faith ; the awakened fell asleep; sinners, changed for a while, returned as a dog to the vomit;-and so, by our lack of service, many of the souls perished for whom Christ died. Now, had we willingly withdrawn our service from them, by voluntarily settling in one place, what account of this could we have given to the Great Shepherd of all our souls ?
“ I cannot therefore see, how any of those four preachers, or any other in like circumstances, can ever, while they have health and strength, ordained or unordained, fix in one place, without a grievous wound to their own conscience, and damage to the general work of God. Yet, I trust, I am open to conviction ; and your farther thoughts on this or any subject, will be always acceptable to,
* Reverend and Dear Sir,
66 JOHN WESLEY. * To the Reverend Mr. Walker."
I cannot here omit mentioning that excellent and laborious minister, the late Mr. GRIMSHAW, Rector of Haworth in Yorkshire, who about this time went to his reward. He was indeed a man of God. He heartily joined Mr. Wesley in his work; and was so great an instrument of promoting the revival in Yorkshire, that I shall be excused in giving Mr. Wesley's own account of his truly Christian life and apostolic labours.
" It was at this time that Mr. Grimshaw fell asleep. He was born September 3, 1708, at Brindle, six miles South of Preston in Lancashire, and educated at the schools of Blackburn and Heskin, in the same county. Even then the thoughts of death and judgment made some impression upon him. At eighteen he was admitted at Christ's College, in Cambridge. Here bad example so carried him away, that for more than two years he seemed utterly to have lost all sense of seriousness; which did not revive till the day he was ordained Deacon, in the year 1731. On that day, he was much affected with the sense of the importance of the ministerial office. And this was increased by his conversing with some at Rochdale, who met once a week to read, and sing, and pray. But on his removal to Todmorden soon after, he quite dropped his pious acquaintance, conformed to the world, followed all its diversions, and contented himself with doing his duty' on Sundays.
“ But, about the year 1734, he began to think seriously again. He left off all his diversions ; he began to catechise the young people, to preach the absolute necessity of a devout life ; and to visit his people, not in order to be merry with them as before, but to press them to seek the salvation of their souls.
“At this period also, he began himself to pray in secret four times a day. And the God of all grace, who prepared his heart to pray, soon gave the answer to his
prayer : : Not indeed as be expected; not in joy or peace, but by bringing upon him very strong and painful convictions of his own guilt and helplessness, and misery; by discovering to him, what he did not suspect before, that his heart was deceitful and despe rately wicked ;' and, what was more afflicting still, that all his duties and labours could not procure him pardon, or gain him a title to eternal life. In this trouble he continued more than three years, not acquainting any one with the distress he suffered ; till one day, (in 1742,) being in the utmost agony of mind, there was clearly represented to him [to his mental eye,] Jesus Christ, pleading for him with God the Father, and gaining a free pardon for him. In that moment, all his fears vanished away, and he was filled with joy unspeakable. I was now,' says he,
willing to renounce myself, and to embrace Christ for my all in all. O what light and comfort did I enjoy in my own soul, and what a taste of the pardoning love of God !
“ All this time, he was an entire stranger to the people called Methodists, whom afterwards he thought it his duty to countenance, and to labour with in his neighbourhood. He was an entire stranger also to all their writings, till he came to Haworth : And then the good effects of his preaching soon became visible. Many of his flock were brought into deep concern for salvation, and were, in a little time after, filled with peace and joy through believing. And, as
And, as in ancient times, the whole congregation have been often seen in tears, on account of their provocations against God, and under a sense of his goodness in yet sparing them. Vol. II.