« FöregåendeFortsätt »
a visit, and was received in a very friendly manner by a few persons of respectability and influence. At Peele-town, Mr. Corbet said, he would gladly have asked him to preach in his church, but the bishop had forbidden. On this occasion Mr. Wesley observes, “ Is' any clergyman obliged, either in law or conscience, to obey such a prohibition ? By no
The will even of the King does not bind any English subject, unless it be seconded by an express law. How much less the will of a bishop? But did not you take an oath to obey him ? No: Nor any clergyman in the three kingdoms. This is a mere vulgar error. Shame that it should prevail almost universally !"
Before Mr. Wesley's next visit, the Bishop was dead. His successor was a man of a very different spirit ; and has proved a blessing to the Island. When Mr. Wesley arrived, all was peace.
Before his departure, he made the following remarks, with which I shall conclude this account :
Having now visited the Island round, East, South, North, and West, I was thoroughly convinced, that we have no such Circuit as this, either in England, Scotland, or Ireland. It is shut up from the world : And having little trade, is visited by scarce any strangers. Here are no disputers ; no opposition, either from the Governor, (a mild, humane man,) from the Bishop (a good man) or from the bulk of the Clergy. One or two of them did oppose for a time: but they seem now to understand us better. So that the scandal of the cross seems to have for the present ceased. The natives are a plain, artless, simple people ; few of them are rich or genteel ; the far greater part moderately poor. And most of the strangers that settle among them, are men that have seen affliction.” The word of the Lord has therefore free course, and the fruits of righteousness and peace have increased to this day.
About the time of the Conference this year, a Travelling Preacher, the late Mr. J. H., who had been well received by the people, and who had enjoyed a large share of Mr. Wesley's confidence for several years, withdrew from the Connexion, and went among the Quakers. There had been a misunderstanding between them, for some time before he took this step; and soon afterwards he wrote his determination to Mr. Wesley. Mr. Charles Wesley was in the habit of corresponding with this preacher, and happening to see the letter, requested his brother to let him answer it. The request was granted ; and as the answer is written with candour, contains some good observations on young converts, and points out one striking trait in Mr. John Wesley's character, I shall insert it. The date is October, 1777.*
“ I thank you,” says he, “ for your affectionate letter.t It confirms and increases my love towards you. Your phrase and dress make no difference to us.--Let us abide in the love of Jesus, and we must continue to love one another.-Out of true impartial love to you both, I long for peace between you and
brother. But alas ! you do not love each other so well as I do Mutual confidence is lost, and then what union can there be ? I submit to the permissive will of Providence.
“ If I know my own heart, I have nothing there but tender disinterested love for him and for you : And it is, and must be, a serious grief to me that you are not cordially affected to each other. But we might
* This letter is taken from Mr. Charles Wesley's papers in short hand. * I suppose, one that Mr. Charles had received from him.
part friends, who can never part.— I wished to see you; I should not have said one word against your religion ; but I should have taken the liberty of giving you a friendly caution or two, lest Satan get an advantage over you, or us.
“ You know, when a man leaves one religious party or society, it is a theme both to him and them. Those of his old friends who loved him merely as a member of their society, will cease to love him on that account : Those who have little or no grace, will partly treat him as a deserter, and express their anger or ill-will by speaking against him. This stabbing a man in the back, as soon as he turns it upon us, I abhor and protest against ; and discourage to the utmost of my power. One, who forsakes his former friends, will be tempted to speak evil of them, and mention their faults, real or supposed, to justify himself for leaving them, or to recommend himself to his new friends. I always stood in doubt of such converts ; whether from the Calvinists, Moravians, Dissenters,
other. Beside, a young convert is always most zealous in making proselytes ; which awakens suspicion in the deserted party, and arms them against depredations.
“My brother showed me your last: I desired him to let me answer it. Hope of a free conversation with you, hindered me from writing. You know, I have talked with you concerning him, without reserve: I could not have used such confidence towards another. Still I am as incapable of mistrusting you, as you are of trusting him. things I have more fellowship with you, than I have with him : My love for both is the same. But,
• You expect he will keep his own secrets! Let me whisper it into your ear ; he never could do it since he was born. It is a gift which God has not given him. But I shall speak to him, and put a stop to what you justly complain of, and let all be buried in oblivion—I wish you may never have an uneasy thought on our account. Speak not therefore of my brother; think no evil of him ; forget him, if you can, entirely, till you meet above.
“ You are now entering on a new scene of things. You have no doubt of God's calling you among the Friends. I judge nothing before the time : Time will show. I heartily pray God, you may do and receive much more good among them, than you did among us.* If God give you discernment and favour, and you are the approved instrument of reviving his work, and their first love, I shall rejoice and be thankful that you ever left us. But if (which God forbid !) you should bury your talent, do no good, and only change one form for another ; alas ! alas! my brother, you will prove yourself mistaken, and lose many jewels which might have been added to your crown.t.
“I should think worse of our society than you do, if they felt no sorrow at parting with you-Some whom I know, will seldom think of you without a sorrowful tear. The days of my mourning are just ended. My hope of you is steady, that if you hold out a little longer, I shall find you again among the blessed in that day.”
* This good man was possessed of eminent ministerial gifts, but he fell into the Mystic delusion from which Mr. Wesley had escaped. He then became high-minded and censorious; and Mr. Charles Wesley, in his hours of depression, used too much to listen to him. The Quakers were jealous of him, and kept him silent a long time, to his great mortification : But it was the very thing he needed. It was good medicine to heal his sickness.
+ This was precisely the issue. In one of Mr. H.'s last conversations with me a few years ago, he said, " I would not have thy people to think of changing: They may be disappointed.” He was then in a sweet and humble spirit, very different from that in which he left us; and I rejoiced in hope of meeting him where those who overcome, shall be pillars in the temple of God to go out no more.
Hítherto the Society in London had occupied the old Foundery, near Upper Moorfields, as a place of worship; but were now making preparations to quit it. They had obtained the promise of a lease from the city, of a piece of ground in the City-road; and, every thing being prepared, the day was fixed for laying the foundation of a chapel. * The rain,” says Mr. Wesley, “befriended us much, by keeping away thousands who purposed to be there. But there were still such multitudes, that it was with great difficulty I got through them to lay the first stone. Upon this was a plate of brass, covered with another stone, on which was engraved, · This was LAID BY John Wesley, ON APRIL 1, 1777. Probably this will be seen no more, by any human eye; but will remain there, till the earth and the works thereof are burnt up.”
By the end of October, 1778, the chapel was built, and ready to be opened. “ November 1,” says Mr. Wesley, “ was the day appointed for opening the new chapel in the City-road. It is perfectly neat, but not fine; and contains far more than the Foundery: I believe, together with the morning chapel, as many as the Tabernacle. Many were afraid, that the multitudes, crowding from all parts, would have occasioned much disturbance : But they were happily disappointed ; there was none at all. All was quietness, decency, and order. I preached on part of Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the Temple ; and, both in the morning and afternoon, God was eminently present in the midst of the congregation.”
In February, 1779, Mr. John Wesley observes, “ Finding many serious persons were much discouraged by prophets of evil, confidently foretelling very heavy calamities, which were coming upon our nation; I endeavoured to lift up their hands, by opening and applying those comfortable words, Psalm xliii, 5, 6, 'Why art thou so heavy, O my soul? Why art thou so disquieted within me? O put thy trust in God; for 1 will yet give him thanks, who is the help of my countenance and my God.""--The next day was the National Fast. And he observes, “ So solemn a one I never saw before. From one end of the city to the other, there was scarce any one seen in the streets. All places of public worship were crowded in an uncommon degree ; and an unusual awe sat on most faces. I preached on the words of God to Abraham, interceding for Sodom, • I will not destroy it (the city) for ten's sake.""
Dr. Whitehead here also well observes, “When we find a man constantly travelling through all parts of the nation ; holding intercourse with immense multitudes of people, by means of the pulpit and private correspondence : and exerting all his influence on every occasion of public distress or alarm, to soften and quiet the minds of the people, we must call him a national blessing. And such was the constant practice of Mr. Wesley for more than half a century !"
In the beginning of this year, 1780, a great clamour was raised against the Bill passed in favour of the Roman Catholics. A “ Protestant Association” was formed to obtain a repeal of it; and, in the end, much mischief was done ;-not without suspicion, however, that the outrages which followed were greatly promoted and increased by Papists, and by others in disguise. The one party wished to disgrace “ the Asso
ciation;" the other, the ministry. But before these things happened, a pamphlet was written in defence of the object the Association had in view; and an answer to it soon appeared. These pamphlets were put into Mr. Wesley's hands; and, having read them, he wrote a letter on the subject, dated January 21, which he sent to the Printer of the Public Advertiser. In this letter, after premising, that persecution had nothing to do with the matter, and that he wished no man to be persecuted for his religious principles; he lays down this general proposition, " That no Roman Catholic does or can give security to a Protestant Government, for his allegiance and peaceable behaviour.” He rested the proof of this proposition on the following arguments :
“ 1. It is a Roman Catholic maxim, established not by private men, but by a public Council, that No farth is to be kept with heretics. This has been openly avowed by the Council of Constance ;* but it never was openly disclaimed. Whether private persons avow or disavow it, it is a fixed maxim of the Church of Rome.
“2. One branch of the spiritual power of the Pope is, and has been for ages, the power of granting pardons for all sins, past, present, and to come! But those who acknowledge him to have this spiritual power, can give no security for their allegiance,- Ergo.
“3. The power of dispensing with any promise, oath, or vow, is another branch of the spiritunl power of the Pope. And all who acknowledge his spiritual power, must acknowledge this : But whoever acknowledges this dispensing power of the Pope, cannot give security for his allegiance to any Government.— Nay, not only the Pope, but even a Priest, has power to pardon sins! This is an essential doctrine of the Church of Rome. But they who acknowledge this, cannot possibly give any security for their allegiance to any Government.
Setting then religion aside, it is plain, that, upon principles of reason, no Government ought to tolerate men, † who cannot give any security to that Government for their allegiance and peaceable behaviour. But this no Romanist can do, not only while he holds. that • No faith is to be kept with heretics,' but so long as he acknowledges either priestly absolution, or the spiritual power of the Pope.”
A Mr. O'Leary, a Capuchin Friar, wrote a reply to these propositions, and endeavoured to explain away the obnoxious decree of the Council of Constance. The propositions, however, remained unanswered, and the decree of the Council could not be got over. The Rev. Mr. Skelton, an eminently pious and learned Minister of the Church of Ireland, celebrated for several useful publications, especially a remarkable one, published during the Rebellion in Scotland, entitled “ THE HOPES OF THE CHEVALIER,” returned Mr. Wesley his thanks, for his letters in answer to Mr. O'Leary. He used to speak much of them; and the gentleman who delivered his thanks to Mr. Wesley, (with whom I then was in Dublin,) observed, “Sir, Mr. Skelton declared to me, that your propositions were a wall of adamant ; and that Mr. O'Leary's arguments were as boiled peas shot against it.”
* By the decree of this Council, John Husse and Jerome of Prague were burned alive, notwithstanding the safe-conduct, wo and from the Council, granted to each of them by the Emperor.
+ He meant, that they ought not to give them political power. No man abhorred persecution on account of religion more than Mr Wesley. Soon after this, he published his admirable tract, entitled, POPERY CALMLY CONSIDERED.
This mighty fabric of Popery is evidently nodding to its fall. It has continued so long, partly by the support of political power, but chiefly because so many truly-devoted souls have been found within its pale. It may truly be called the Christianity of the WORLD. But the Bible has gone forth, as it never did before, and the Faith that overcometh the world' keeps pace with it. In a little time, none will be found to submit to the antichristian yoke, but those who reject the word of God. Those who receive the truth will come forth, saying to the would be UNIVERSAL Bishop, as the Greek Church said long ago, in departing,
Thy greatness we know, thy covetousness we cannot satisfy, thy intolerable insolence we can no longer endure :-LIVE TO THYSELF !" It will then suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.'
In the course of this year, 1780, some persons in America, attached to the doctrines and to the ritual of the Church of England, wrote to Mr. Wesley, requesting that he would get a young man ordained for them, by one of the Bishops in this country. They did not apply to “ the Society for propagating Christian Knowledge in Foreign Parts," because they did not want pecuniary assistance from that fund. Mr. Wesley wrote to Dr. Lowth, Bishop of London, begging the favour, that he would ordain a pious young man for them. The Bishop refused; and August 10, Mr. Wesley sent him the following letter:
" MY LORD,Some time since I received your Lordship's favour, for which I return your Lordship my sincere thanks. Those persons did not apply to the Society, because they had nothing to ask of them. They wanted no salary for their Minister; they were themselves able and willing to maintain him. They therefore applied, by me, to your Lordship, as members of the Church of England, and desirous so to continue, begging the favour of your Lordship, after your Lordship had examined him, to ordain a pious man who might officiate as their Minister.
“But your Lordship observes, There are three Ministers in that country already ?" True, my Lord : But what are three, to watch over all the souls in that extensive country ? Will your Lordship permit me to speak freely? I dare not do otherwise. i am on the verge of the grave, and know not the hour when I shall drop into it. Suppose there were threescore of those Missionaries in the country, could I in conscience recommend these souls to their care? Do they take any care of their own souls? If they do, (I speak it with concern!) I fear they are almost the only Missionaries in America that do. My Lord, I do not speak rashly: I have been in America; and so have several with whom I have lately conversed. And both I and they know, what manner of men the far greater part of these are. They are men who have neither the
power of religion nor the form ; men that lay no claim to piety, nor even decency.
“Give me leave, my Lord, to speak more freely still : Perhaps, it is the last time I shall trouble your Lordship. I know your Lordship’s abilities and extensive learning : 'I believe, what is far more, that your Lordship fears God. I have heard that your Lordship is unfashionably diligent in examining the candidates for holy orders: Yea, that your Lordship is generally at the pains of examining them yourself. ÉxaVOL. II.