Abbildungen der Seite

Rev. Dr. Free.


Age 55

single volume, the opinions of Wesley on all the subjects 1758 which, at that time, excited the attention of the Methodists. Two more publications, belonging to the year 1758, remain to be noticed.

1. "The Great Assize; a sermon preached at the assizes, in St. Paul's church, Bedford, on March 10, 1758." 8vo, 36 pages.

2. Two separate letters to the Rev. Dr. Free,1 an everlasting pamphleteer, of the most scurrilous genus. Free was a native of Oxford, and was now forty-seven years of age, and vicar of East Coker, in the county of Somerset ; also Thursday lecturer of St. Mary-Hill, London, and lecturer at Newington, Surrey. He lived long enough to be senior doctor of the Oxford university, and died in distress and poverty in 1791.2 His publications against the Methodists. were: 1. "A Display of the Bad Principles of the Methodists," 1758. 2. "Rules for the Discovery of False Prophets; or, the dangerous impositions of the people called Methodists, detected at the bar of Scripture and reason. A sermon preached before the university at St. Mary's, in Oxford, on Whit Sunday, 1758." 3. His "Edition of the Rev. Mr. Wesley's Penny Letter." 4. His "Edition of Mr. Wesley's Second Letter." 5. His "Speech to the London Clergy, at Sion College." All these were published during the years 1758 and 1759. The following are spicy specimens of the style adopted by this clerical reviler. There is, says he, "in Mr. Wesley's second letter, such a strange mixture of sanctity and prevarication, such praying, sneering, canting, and recanting, expunging and forging, that I no longer feel bound to give him a civil answer." Again: "Wesley raves, and rants, and domineers, and scolds." He is, in the estimation of this Oxford doctor, a perfect "weathercock." He has "the itch of fame and popularity; and the romantic project of being the founder of a sect has prompted him to go a madding himself wherever he could find people likeminded." For their benefit, he has "extracted near fourteen volumes, all quintessences, from the fanaticism of the Ger


1 Both 12mo, pages 10 and 16.
2 Nichols' "Literary Anecdotes."


1758 mans, the English, and other nations." He "prints and disAge 55 tributes gratis his lying, and blasphemous, and delusive pamphlets, to the remotest corners of the land." Free informs his readers, that the name of Methodists was first given to Wesley and his friends, at Oxford, because they affected to be so "uncommonly methodical, as to keep a diary of the most trivial actions of their lives, such as, how many dishes of tea they drank, and how many slices of bread and butter they eat, how many country dances they called for at their dancing club, and how many pounds of a leg of mutton they might devour after practising a fast."

No wonder that we find the following entries in Wesley's Journal for 1758. "May 2.-I wrote a short answer to Dr. Free's weak, bitter, scurrilous invective against the people called Methodists. But I doubt whether I shall meddle with him any more: he is too dirty a writer for me to touch." Again: "August 24-I wrote a second letter to Dr. Free, the warmest opponent I have had for many years. I leave him now to laugh, and scold, and witticise, and call names, just as he pleases; for I have done."

ESLEY begun the year 1759 at Bristol.

On January


10, he left for London, where he continued the next. six weeks. At this period, the nation was in great excitement, arising from the threatened invasion of the French; and the 16th of February was appointed to be observed as a public fast. On that day, Wesley preached, at five in the morning, at Wandsworth; at nine and at three, in the church at Spitalfields; and at half-past eight, in the Foundery. At the last mentioned service, Lady Huntingdon was present.

Her ladyship, feeling the peril of the country, instituted a series of prayer-meetings in her own mansion, which were conducted by Whitefield, by the two Wesleys, and by Messrs. Venn, Romaine, Madan, Jones, Fletcher, Downing, and Maxfield; and at which, among others, there were present the Earl and Countess of Dartmouth, the Earl and Countess of Chesterfield, Sir Charles and Lady Hotham, Mrs. Carteret, Mrs. Cavendish, and other persons of distinction.' This, to Wesley, was a new kind of congregation; but he writes: “O what are the greatest men to the great God? As the small dust of the balance." Charles Wesley says of the service, which was principally conducted by his brother: "All the ministers prayed in turn. It was a most blessed time of refreshment. My brother preached, and won all our hearts. I never liked him better, and was never more united to him, 'since his unhappy marriage.""

On the 1st of March, Wesley set out for Norwich, taking Everton and Colchester on his way. He wrote to Lady Huntingdon as follows.

"The agreeable hour, which I spent with your ladyship, the last week, recalled to my mind the former times, and gave me much matter of thankfulness to the Giver of every good gift. I have found great satisfaction in conversing with those instruments whom God has lately raised

1 "Life and Times of Lady Huntingdon," vol. i., p. 395.
2 C. Wesley's Journal, vol. ii., p. 219.


1759 Age 56

But still, there is I know not what in them whom we have known
from the beginning, and who have borne the burden and heat of the day,
which we do not find in those who have risen up since, though they are
of upright heart. Perhaps too, those who have but lately come into the
harvest are led to think and speak more largely of justification, and the
other first principles of the doctrine of Christ. And it may be proper
for them so to do. Yet we find a thirst after something farther. We
want to sink deeper and rise higher in the knowledge of God our Saviour.
We want all helps for walking closely with Him whom we have received,
that we may the more speedily come to the measure of the stature of the
fulness of Christ.

"Mr. Berridge seems to be one of the most simple, as well as most sensible, men of all whom it pleased God to employ in reviving primitive Christianity. They come now twelve or fourteen miles to hear him. His word is with power: he speaks as plain and home as John Nelson, but with all the propriety of Mr. Romaine, and the tenderness of Mr. Hervey.

"At Colchester, likewise, the word of God has free course-only no house will contain the congregation. On Sunday, I was obliged to preach on St. John's Green; the people stood on a smooth sloping ground, sheltered by the walls of an old castle, and behaved as men who felt that God was there.

"I am persuaded your ladyship still remembers, in your prayers, your willing servant, for Christ's sake,


Such was Wesley's critique upon the converted clergymen with whom he had been recently associated. One of them, a young man, died three years after this, and deserves a passing notice.

The Rev. Thomas Jones, A.M., of St. Saviour's, Southwark, was now in the thirtieth of his age. year Eight years before, he had been converted, and had begun to preach, with great eloquence and power, the truth which he himself had been brought to experience. His health was feeble; but his ministry was mighty. His zeal was greater than his strength, and frequently provoked the opposition of his enemies. He began to read prayers and to expound the Scriptures, in the chapel of an almshouse in his parish; but the chapel was closed against him. He set up a weekly lecture in his church; but, before long, the use of the pulpit, for that purpose, was denied to him. He carried religious

1 "Life and Times of Lady Huntingdon," vol. i., p. 399.

Rev. Thomas Jones.


tracts and books to all his parishioners; and catechized child- 1759 ren once a week, in his own private residence. In his thirty- Age 56 third year, a fever seized him; and, after seven days' illness, he died triumphantly on the 6th of June, 1762, leaving a young widow to bewail her loss. As a preacher, he was too earnest to be polished, and was far more wishful, that his hearers should be benefited by the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, than that they should be merely pleased with the excellency of speech or wisdom. He writes: "I seldom begin to compose my sermons till Saturday in the afternoon, and often not till late in the evening. I have such a variety of business on my hands, that I can never find time to smooth my language, nor to embellish my discourses with pretty conceits, but am obliged to send them abroad into the world in puris naturalibus."1

The following is an extract from a letter, written to Wesley, by this young clergyman, three weeks after the holding of the intercession meetings in the house of the Countess of Huntingdon.


"DEAR AND HONOURED SIR,—I wish I knew how to express the sense I have of your kind and obliging notice of me. I can hardly expect a greater blessing, as to this world, than the offer you make me of your acquaintance. I hope the same gracious Father of all, who has induced you to make the proposal, will also enable you to give me such instructions as my youth and inexperience need. Let me beg all friendly admonition, all brotherly, yea fatherly, freedoms from you. I crave your fervent prayers, that I may be daily more humble, unaffectedly humble, dead to the world and self, and alive unto our dear redeeming God.

"I am, with many thanks, and great respect, dear and honoured sir, your affectionate and obliged brother in Christ Jesus,


On the 6th of March, Wesley came to Norwich, where he continued until April 2. Norwich had become a Methodist station of great importance. Already, Wesley had converted an old foundery into a meeting-house, and now he occupied James Wheatley's chapel. Wheatley's society, once consisting of hundreds of members, had mouldered into nothing.

1 See Jones's Works.

2 Methodist Magazine, 1780, p. 165.

« ZurückWeiter »