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Wesley, on the work at Everton.


of all; for the young fellow always took care to arrange that. 1759 the feeding of the pigs and the din consequent thereon, Age 56 should be contemporaneous with his uncle's preaching. At length, however, the spinning room and the swinish residence underneath were taken down; a small chapel was erected on the site; and an adjoining workhouse was converted into the home of itinerant Methodist preachers.1

At Everton, Wesley observed a remarkable difference, in the manner of the work, since his previous visit. "None now were in trances, none cried out, none fell down or were convulsed; only some trembled exceedingly, a low murmur was heard, and many were refreshed." He continues: "the danger was, to regard such extraordinary circumstances too much, as if they were essential to the inward work. Perhaps the danger is, to regard them too little; to condemn them altogether; to imagine they had nothing of God in them, and were an hindrance to His work. Whereas the truth is: (1) God suddenly and strongly convinced many, that they were lost sinners; the natural consequences whereof were sudden outcries and strong bodily convulsions. (2) To strengthen and encourage them that believed, and to make His work more apparent, He favoured several of them with Divine dreams, others with trances and visions. (3) In some of these instances, after a time, nature mixed with grace. (4) Satan likewise mimicked this work of God, in order to discredit the whole work; and yet, it is not wise to give up this part, any more than to give up the whole. At first, it was, doubtless, wholly from God. It is partly so at this day; and He will enable us to discern how far, in every case, the work is pure, and where it mixes or degenerates. The shadow is no disparagement of the substance, nor the counterfeit of the real diamond."

Wesley returned to London on November 28; and on December 9, "for the first time, held a lovefeast for the whole society." Hitherto, none had been admitted to Methodist lovefeasts except the members of the bands, that is, persons who were justified; now the members of the classes, that is, persons who were penitent, were allowed to

1 Methodist Magazine, 1780, p. 104; and 1833, p. 52.

1759 join in the same privilege of Christian fellowship, and to Age 56 evince brotherly affection by taking together "a little plain cake and water."

December 12, he spent part of the afternoon in the British. Museum, recently instituted. On the 14th, he was at, what he calls, "a Christian wedding, two or three relatives and five clergymen " forming the company. On the 19th, he read over a chancery bill, in a suit to recover £10, which filled a hundred and ten sheets of paper. He desired the plaintiff and defendant to meet him, and settled the matter by arbitration. On the 23rd, he opened the new chapel at Colchester, which he describes as "twelve square," and as "the best building, of the size, for the voice, that he knew in England." The end of the year he spent at Norwich, where he found the society "fewer in number, but of a teachable spirit, willing to be advised, and even reproved."

We have tracked the steps of Wesley during the year 1759. Before closing the chapter, two or three other matters must be noticed.

One was a savage onslaught, made upon Methodism, by the Rev. John Downes, rector of St. Michael, Wood Street, and lecturer of St. Mary-le-bow, London. This was a large pamphlet entitled, "Methodism Examined: being the substance of four discourses from Acts xx. 28-30." The reader must be troubled with a few selections from this malignant morceau, especially as Wesley condescended to notice it.

The founders of Methodism, in 1734, were two bold, though beardless divines, so young, that they might rather be called wolflings than wolves, novices in divinity, and lifted up with spiritual pride. They were ambitious of being accounted ministers of greater eminence and authority than either bishops or archbishops; missionaries immediately delegated by heaven, to correct the clergy in the true nature of Christianity, and to caution the laity not to venture their souls in any such unhallowed hands as refused to be initiated into all the mysteries of Methodism. Their Journals were ostentatious trash, filled with jargon, that passed for inspiration. Their followers seem to look upon every place upon which they tread, as holy ground; they are comforted and refreshed with their very shadows passing over them; and they follow in crowds, wherever it is noised about, that they are to vociferate."

"The Methodists deny the necessity of good works; they make their boast, that they are the only persons who know the truth as it is in Jesus

Rev. John Downes.


Christ, and that all others are unenlightened, and uninformed, interpreting the Scriptures according to the letter which killeth, but ignorant of the Spirit which giveth life. They endeavour to support their weak and wild notions by the abuse and perversion of Scripture, and talk as proudly as the Donatists of their being the only true preachers of gospel truth. They insult the Established Church, despise dominions, speak evil of dignities, and trample all rule and authority beneath their feet. Their doctrines or notions coincide with many of the oldest and rankest heresies, that ever defiled the purity and disturbed the peace of the Christian church; particularly those of the Simonians, the Gnostics, the Valentinians, the Donatists, the predestinarians, the Montanists, and the antinomians. They treat Christianity as a wild, enthusiastical scheme, which will bear no examination; they will have it, that we may be saved by faith in Christ, without any other requisite on our part; they consider man as a mere machine, unable to do anything towards his own salvation; they represent faith as a supernatural principle, altogether precluding the judgment and understanding, and discerned by internal signs and operations; and they build all their notions upon Scripture authority, putting sacred texts to the torture, and racking them till they speak to their purpose. The whole strength of their cause lies in the perversion of the Scriptures, and the abuse of the clergy. By the most peevish and spiteful invectives, the most rude and rancorous revilings, the most invidious calumnies, they strive to poison the minds of the people against their true and rightful pastors."

Such are extracts from what Mr. Downes designates "the full portrait of that frightful monster called Methodism." The following is a sort of summing up.


These new gospel preachers are close friends to the Church of Rome, by harmonizing or agreeing with her in almost everything except the doctrine of merit; they are no less kind to the cause of infidelity, by making the Christian religion a light and airy phantom, which one single breath of the most illiterate freethinker can easily demolish; they cut up Christianity by the roots, by insinuating that a good life is not necessary to justification; they are enemies, not only to the Christian, but to every religion whatsoever, in which reason or common sense hath any share, by labouring to subvert the whole system of morality, and by erecting a proud and enthusiastic faith upon the ruins of practical holiness and virtue."

Poor Mr. Downes-fiery, furious, and false, but not foolishdied soon after this; and his widow published, by subscription, in 1761, two volumes of his sermons, to illustrate and confirm his anti-Methodistic principles, the list of subscribers including the Archbishop of Canterbury, several bishops, and, marvellously enough, two of Wesley's old friends at Manchester,

1759 Age 56


the Rev. John Clayton, and Dr. Byrom. The sermons are Age 56 marked by the same bitterness as the pamphlet. Methodist preachers are designated "canting zealots," and Methodists themselves are "crazy converts." They are "dirty dabblers,” "conveying to the world a foul torrent of falsehood and infamy, through the pure channel of the holy Scriptures." "From every pulpit, into which the new style preachers can by any means thrust their heads, they bellow vile and clamorous reflections." "Methodism is the greatest tax upon ignorance and superstition, that this kingdom perhaps ever knew." Its preachers "choose rather to talk than to work for their bread, to get their living rather by their lungs than by their labour." "They turn religion into riot, prayer into strife, themselves into wolves, and the temple of the Lord into a den of devils."

But enough of the trenchant railings of the Rev. Mr. Downes, a man possessed of talents that ought to have been devoted to a better cause. Let us see how Wesley dealt with him, in his letter, dated November 17, 1759. He correctly accuses him of uttering "many senseless, shameless falsehoods," but, as an excuse for him, adds: "I hope you know nothing about the Methodists, no more than I do about the Cham of Tartary; that you are ignorant of the whole affair, and are so bold, only because you are blind. Bold enough! Throughout your whole tract, you speak satis pro imperio, as authoritatively as if you were, not an archbishop only, but apostolic vicar also; as if you had the full papal power in your hands, and fire and fagot at your beck! And blind enough; so that you blunder on, through thick and thin, bespattering all that come in your way, according to the old laudable maxim, 'Throw dirt enough, and some will stick."" Wesley tells him that, if he can prove any one of the charges he has advanced against him, he may call him not only a wolfling or a wolf, but an otter, if he pleases. He then, in pungent, pointed sentences, replies to his reviler's accusations, and concludes thus.

"If you fall upon people that meddle not with you, without either fear or wit, you may possibly find, that they have a little more to say for themselves than you were aware of. I'follow peace with all men'; but

if a man set upon me without either rhyme or reason, I think it my duty

Wesley's Publications in 1759.


to defend myself, so far as truth and justice permit. Yet still I am (if a
poor enthusiast may not be so bold as to style himself your brother),
"Reverend sir, your servant for Christ's sake,

Before proceeding to notice Wesley's publications, in 1759, it may be interjected that, in the month of November in this year, "faithful Sam Francks," as Charles Wesley calls him, became Wesley's book steward,3 an office which he continued to hold till 1773, when, in a fit of despair, he hung himself, in the old Foundery; and, strange to say, a fortnight afterwards, Matthews, the Foundery schoolmaster, copied his mad example.*

I. "An Extract of the Rev. Mr. John Wesley's Journal, from November 2, 1751, to October 28, 1754." 12mo, 90 pages.

2. "A short Exposition of the Ten Commandments. Extracted from Bishop Hopkins." 12mo, 96 pages.

Extracted from a

3. "Advices with respect to Health.

late Author." 12m0, 218 pages.

The "late author" was Dr. Tissot. Wesley, in his preface, pronounces the opinion that Tissot's work was "one of the most useful books of the kind that had appeared in the present century. His descriptions of diseases were admirable; his medicines few, simple, cheap, and safe." He deprecates, however, "his violent fondness for bleeding, his love of glysters, his uncleanly ointment for the itch, and his vehement recommendation of the Peruvian bark, as the only infallible remedy either for mortifications or intermittent fevers." reference to the bark, he says, that he himself " took some pounds of it when he was young, for a common tertian ague," but without any good effect, and that he "was cured unawares by drinking largely of lemonade."

Wesley appends to Tissot's advices a number of his own prescriptions, in the form of notes, some of which are curious

1 Wesley's Works, vol. ix., p. 104. In the year following, Mr. Downes's widow published a letter against Wesley, which, says he, "scarce deserves any notice at all, as there is nothing extraordinary in it, but an extraordinary degree of virulence and scurrility." (Lloyd's Evening Post, Nov. 24, 1760.)

2 C. Wesley's Journal, vol. ii., p. 245.

8 S. Francks' manuscript letter.

• Manuscript.


Age 56

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