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1753

Age 50

you very much, that you suffer yourself to be so much imposed upon, and to print your impositions so inconsiderately. You have now attempted a second time to ruin my character." He then denies, that he was the inventor of the artificial mount, but does not affirm that it was not employed. He concludes as follows: “Dear Mr. Whitefield, when the secret intentions of man, together with all his unjust deeds, will be judged, how glad would you be then, not to have treated our society in general, and, in particular, that venerable person against whom your letter is chiefly levelled, and poor 1, in so injurious, yea, I may say, impudent and wicked a manner. PETER BOHLER."

Hutton's letter eulogizes the count in the highest terms. “When he awakes in the morning, he is all sweetness, calmness, tender harmoniousness with those about him ; and, all the day long, he is busied in doing and contriving the kindest offices for mankind." He is “usefully employed constantly eighteen hours in twenty-four, and very frequently more ; and is a man of no expense at all upon his person, so that any one receiving £50 a year to find him in all necessaries, to his satisfaction, would certainly be no loser by the bargain.” And yet, “many bulls of Bashan round about, as brute beasts without understanding, roared madly against him; and, by dáubings and grotesque paintings, described him as a Mahommed, a Cæsar, an impostor, a Don Quixote, a devil, the beast, the man of sin, the whore, the antichrist.”

It is right to add, that Thomas Rhodes, whose case Whitefield had quoted, says, in a letter dated October 21, 1733 : "what Mr. Whitefield has written concerning the United Brethren and me, is, the greatest part, entire falsities, and the remainder are truths set in a false light.” He admits, however, the sale of his estate.

Far from pleasant is the task of raking into dunghills such as this; but history cannot afford to forget unpleasant facts. Whitefield's letter, perhaps, was obtrusive, and officious, and, to some extent, incorrect.; but there can be no doubt, that its leading allegations were founded upon truth.

Happily for himself, Wesley was not an actor in this humbling fracas; and yet, before the year was ended, he was involved within its meshes. In October, he spent four days at

1753 Bedford, where a Moravian congregation had been founded in Age 50

1744, and where, in 1747, "the chief labourer" startled some of the Brethren by announcing : “My brethren, we have received new orders. In London, Yorkshire, and all other places, no person is to go out of the town without the leave of the chief labourer. So it must be here. Observe, no one must go out of town, no not a mile, without leave from me." In 1750, they built a chapel ; squabbles followed; and Wesley, apparently by request, went, at the time above stated, to visit them. He writes : “I met the little society, just escaped with the skin of their teeth. From the account which each of these gave, it appeared clear to a demonstration (1) That their elders usurped a more absolute authority over the conscience, than the Bishop of Rome himself does. (2) That, to gain and secure this, they used a continued train of guile, fraud, and falsehood of every kind. (3) That they scrape their votaries to the bone as to their worldly substance, leaving little to any, to some nothing, or less than nothing. (4) That still they are so infatuated as to believe, that theirs is the only true church upon earth.”

But leaving the Moravians, let us track Wesley's footsteps during the year 1753.

The first two months were spent in London. He visited “the Marshalsea prison, a nursery of all manner of wickedness.” “O shame to man,” he writes, “that there should be such a picture of hell upon earth! And shame to those who bear the name of Christ, that there should need any prison at all in Christendom.”

He visited many of the sick and poor, and writes: “Who could see such scenes unmoved? There are none such in a pagan country. If any of the Indians in Georgia were sick, those that were near them gave them whatever they wanted. Oh who will convert the English into honest heathen? I found some in their cells underground; others in their garrets, half starved both with cold and hunger; but I found not one of them unemployed, who was able to crawl about the

So wickedly, devilishly false is that common objection, ‘They are poor, only because they are idle.' If you saw these things with your own eyes, could you lay out money in ornaments and superfluities ?”

room,

Benjamin Franklin, and Electricity.

161

Just at this juncture, Wesley began to turn his attention to 1753 a subject, which afterwards became one of the greatest dis- Age 50 coveries of the age.

A year previous to this, Benjamin Franklin had established the important fact of the identity of lightning and the electric fluid. From time to time, he had sent accounts of his experiments to the Royal Society of England ; but the communications were not admitted into the printed transactions of that learned body. They were given, however, to Mr. Cave, the editor of the Gentleman's Magazine, who had sense enough to see their superlative importance, and who published them in a pamphlet, with a preface written by Dr. Fothergill. By additions subsequently made, the pamphlet grew into a quarto volume; was translated into French, German, and Latin; and attracted the attention of all the philosophers in Europe. The result was, that even the Royal Society began to reconsider the very experiments which they had treated with ridicule; and admitted Franklin, in 1953, into their honourable corporation, bestowing upon him the Copley medal, and all without solicitation, and without the payment of the customary fees.

With his characteristic keenness, Wesley laid hold of Franklin's facts as soon as they were published. They were new and startling; but he saw, that they were most momentous, and evidently entertained the hope, that they would be turned to practical account, in a way which would excite the amazement and gratitude of the human race. Hear what he says :

“ 1753, February 17.–From Dr. Franklin's letters, I learned,-1. That electrical fire is a species of fire, infinitely finer than any other yet known. 2. That it is diffused, and in nearly equal proportions, through alniost all substances. 3. That, as long as it is thus diffused, it has no discernible effect. 4. That, if any quantity of it be collected together, whether by art or nature, it then becomes visible in the form of fire, and inexpressibly powerful. 5. That it is essentially different from the light of the sun ; for it pervades a thousand bodies which light cannot penetrate, and yet cannot penetrate glass, which light pervades so freely. 6. That lightning is no other than electrical fire, collected by one or more clouds. 7. That all the effects of lightning may be performed by the artificial electric fire. 8. That anything pointed, as a spire or tree, attracts the lightning, just as a needle does the electrical fire. 9. That the electrical fire, disVOL. II.

M

1753 charged on a rat or fowl, will kill it instantly ; but discharged on one

dipped in water, it will slide off, and do it no hurt at all. In like manner, Age 50 the lightning, which will kill a man in a moment, will not hurt him, if he

be thoroughly wet. What an amazing scene is here opened, for after ages to improve upon !”

Wesley's concluding sentence is remarkable ; but even he had no idea that, in little more than a hundred years, electric fire would become the means of sending, almost instantaneously, its wondrous messages from England to India, and from shore to shore of the great Atlantic Ocean. Wesley, however, was one of the first to take an interest in the science of electricity. Six years before this, in 1747, he wrote: “I went to see what are called the electrical experiments. How must these also confound those poor half thinkers, who will believe nothing but what they can comprehend! Who can comprehend how fire lives in water, and passes through it more freely than through the air ? How flame issues out of my finger,-real flame, such as sets fire to spirits of wine? How these, and many more as strange phenomena, arise from the turning round of a glass globe ? It is all mystery; if haply, by any means, God may hide pride from man!" In 1756, he began to turn the discovery to practical account. Having procured an apparatus, he commenced electrifying persons for various disorders, and soon found his patients so numerous, that an hour every day had to be devoted to trying “the virtue of this surprising medicine.” Moorfields, Southwark, St. Paul's, and the Seven Dials were the places of rendezvous; and here thousands resorted to avail themselves of Wesley's remedy. He writes : "Hundreds, perhaps thousands, have received unspeakable good; and I have not known one man, woman, or child, who has received any hurt thereby; so that, when I hear any talk of the danger of being electrified (especially if they are medical men who talk so), I cannot but impute it to great want either of sense or honesty." “We know it is a thousand medicines in one ; in particular, that it is the most efficacious medicine in nervous disorders of every kind, which has ever yet been discovered."

On February 26, Wesley left London for Bristol, reading on the road Mr. Prince's “Christian History," concerning which he makes the following remarks :

Wesley's Advice to his Preachers.

163

“What an amazing difference is there in the manner wherein God has

1753 carried on His work in England and in America ! There, above a hundred of the established .clergy, men of age and experience, and of Age 50 the greatest note for sense and learning in those parts, are zealously engaged in the work. Here, almost the whole body of the 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 number 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, has more eminently flourished in others.”

In the same month, Wesley wrote concerning these "raw young men,” as follows:

“ LONDON, February 6, 1753. “MY DEAR BROTHER,—It is a constant rule with us, that no preacher should preach above twice a day, unless on Sunday or some extraordinary time; and then he may preach three times. We know nature cannot long bear the preaching oftener than this, and, therefore, to do it is a degree of self murder. Those of the preachers, who would not follow this advice, have all repented when it was too late.

“I likewise advise all our preachers not to preach above an hour at a time, prayer and all ; and not to speak louder than the number of hearers require.

** You will show this to all our preachers, and any that desire it may take a copy of it.

“I am your affectionate brother,

"JOHN WESLEY.” 1 Such was Wesley's advice; his example, however, was often widely different.

On March 19, Wesley and his wife set out from Bristol for the north of England.

At Evesham, he preached in the town hall, where most of the congregation were still and attentive, excepting some at the lower end, who, he says, “were walking to and fro, laughing and talking, as if they had been in Westminster Abbey.”

At Birmingham, he talked with Sarah B-, one of six wild enthusiasts, who had disturbed the society, and, by their antinomian blasphemy, shown themselves fit for Bedlam.

At Nantwich, he was “saluted with curses and hard names ;" and soon afterwards, the mob pulled down the chapel. ?

1 Methodist Recorder, Sept. 22, 1865.
2 Whitefield's Works, vol. iii., p. 35.

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