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Separation from the Church.
united body; and that it is mere cowardice, fear of persecution, 1758 that makes them desire to remain in union. He asserts, that
Age 55 the Methodists are not a party, but living witnesses, raised up by God, for the benefit of all. He suggests, that it should be a sacred rule with all the preachers, to evince “no contempt, no bitterness to the clergy,” and also, “to frequent no Dissenting meeting"; for, if the preachers did this, the people would imitate their example ; and this, in point of fact, would be separation. Many of the Dissenting ministers were "new-light men, denying the Lord that bought them, and overturning His gospel from the very foundations ”; or they were predestinarians, whose doctrines were not wholesome food, but deadly poison, The singing at Dissenting meetings was slow, and drawling; and the prayers were objectionable in tone, language, and length. He concludes, by expressing a wish, that all the Methodist preachers, except those who have scruples concerning it, would attend the services of the Church as often as they conveniently could; and that they would prepare themselves to answer the arguments usually employed in favour of separation.
To this notable pamphlet, Charles Wesley appended seven “Hymns for the Use of the Methodist Preachers;" and says: “I subscribe to the twelve reasons of my brother with all my heart. I am quite clear, that it is neither expedient, nor lawful, for me to separate. I never had the least inclination or temptation so to do. My affection for the Church is as strong as ever. Would to God, that all the Methodist preachers were, in this respect, likeminded with-CHARLES WESLEY.”
In the year 1758, Wesley issued a remarkable izmo volume of 246 pages, entitled “A Preservative against unsettled Notions in Religion.” In his Journal he says: “I designed it for the use of all those who are under my care, but chiefly of the young preachers.” In his brief preface, he observes : “My design, in publishing the following tracts, is not to reclaim, but to preserve: not to convince those who are already perverted, but to prevent the perversion of others. I do not, therefore, enter deep into the controversy even with deists, Socinians, Arians, or papists : much less with those who are not so dangerously mistaken, mystics, quakers, ana
1758 baptists, presbyterians, predestinarians, or antinomians. I Age 55 only recite, under each head, a few plain arguments, which, by
the grace of God, may farther confirm those who already know the truth as it is in Jesus.”
The first piece in the volume is “An extract of A Short and Easy Method with the Deists,” by the celebrated Charles Leslie. The second, "A treatise concerning the Godhead of Jesus Christ, translated from the French.” The third, Wesley's own production, is entitled, “The Advantage of the members of the Church of England over those of the Church of Rome.” The fourth is, "An extract of a letter to the Rev. Mr. Law, occasioned by some of his late writings :" the letter here, in part, republished, was the one which Wesley addressed to Law in 1756. The fifth piece is “A letter to a Person lately joined with the People called Quakers," which Wesley first wrote in 1748. The sixth is “A treatise on Baptism,”—a treatise really written by his father, though published as his own in 1756. The seventh is “A letter to the Rev. Mr. Towgood, of Exeter ; occasioned by his Dissent from the Church of England fully justified,'"the object of Wesley's letter being "to show that a dissent from the Church of England is not the genuine and just consequence of the allegiance which is due to Christ as the only lawgiver in the church.” The eighth, entitled “Serious Thoughts concerning Godfathers and Godmothers," was first published in 1752. The ninth, “The Scripture Doctrine of Predestination, Election, and Reprobation," was extracted from a late author, and published, in the first instance, by Wesley in 1741. The tenth, “An extract from A Short View of the Difference between the Moravian Brethren, and the Rev. Mr. John and Charles Wesley:" the eleventh, “An extract from A Dialogue between an Antinomian and his Friend": both issued in 1745. The twelfth, "A letter to the Rev. Mr. Hervey,” written in 1756, and which Hervey said was “palpably weak," and dealt “only in positive assertions and positive denials.” 1 The last, his “Reasons against a Separation from the Church of England."
This was an important work, comprising, as it did, in a
Hervey's Works, vol. vi., p. 343.
single volume, the opinions of Wesley on all the subjects 1758 which, at that time, excited the attention of the Methodists. Age 55
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." Svo, 36 pages.
2. Two separate letters to the Rev. Dr. Free, 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
| Both 12mo, pages 10 and 16.
mans, the English, and other nations.” He “prints and distributes 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."
. On January 1759 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.