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1759 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.
1759 Age 56
to defend myself, so far as truth and justice permit. Yet still I am (if a
"JOHN WESLEY." I 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, 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. *
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.
3. “Advices with respect to Health, Extracted from a late Author." 12mo, 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." In 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
· 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.)
C. Wesley's Journal, vol. ii., p. 245. 8 S. Francks' manuscript letter.
1759 enough, as that “a poultice of boiled nettles” will cure the Age 56 pleurisy, and the quinsy ; that erysipelas in the head or face
will be remedied by applying “warm treacle to the soles of
12mo, 30 pages. This, at the time, was an important publication. The doctrine of Christian perfection was obtaining great attention, and the sentiments of the Methodists respecting it were not harmonious. At the conference of 1758, it had been earnestly considered ; and again at the conference of 1759. Wesley saw that there was a danger of a diversity of opinions insensibly stealing in among the Methodists and their preachers; and hence the publication of his tract;—not to prove the doctrine, nor to answer the objections against it; but simply to declare his own views concerning it. He affirms that, on this subject, his thoughts are just the same as he had entertained for above twenty years. His sentiments had been controverted, and lampooned, but they were not altered. All sorts of constructions had been put upon his doctrine, but very rarely the right one. “What," he asks, " is Christian perfection ?" Answer—"The loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. This implies that no wrong temper remains in the soul; and that all the thoughts, words, and actions are governed by pure love."
The controversy, just at present, was chiefly on the point whether a man, who had attained Christian perfection, was still liable to ignorance and mistake, and needed Christ in His priestly office. Wesley's opinion was the affirmative of this; but some of his followers were evidently disposed to hold the negative, and thereby to set the doctrine of perfection far too high. Some talked about their attainments too much; some thought it þest not to talk at all : Wesley advised those who had obtained the blessing to speak of it to their fellow Christians, but not to the unconverted; and he requested his preachers to prevent such from being unjustly or unkindly treated by their religious associates who were less advanced in grace. He specifies the proofs whereby it may be known whether an entirely sanctified man's profession is correct.
Taking pleasant in preference to unpleasant, though equally 1759 wholesome, food; smelling a flower, eating a bunch of grapes, Age 56 marriage, attention to worldly business, were all of them things perfectly compatible with Christian perfection.
The mentioning of such matters may seem somewhat frivolous; but, in reality, it is not so. These were things seriously discussed by earnest, if not well informed, Methodists in 1759; and these and kindred questions agitated the Methodist societies for some years afterwards.
Some were disposed to doubt the high profession of their sanctified brethren, because they did nothing except what was done by “common believers "; others because they felt "no power in their words and prayers”; and others, because, notwithstanding their profession, they failed to “come up to their idea of a perfect Christian.” These were objections which Wesley had to meet. His task was delicate and difficult ; but he lays it down, that no one ought to believe that he is fully sanctified, till he has “the testimony of the Spirit, witnessing his entire sanctification, as clearly as his justification”; and that all ought to wait for this great change, "not in careless indifference, or indolent inactivity ; but in vigorous, universal obedience, in a zealous keeping of all the commandments, in watchfulness and painfulness, in denying ourselves, and taking up our cross daily; as well as in earnest prayer and fasting, and a close attendance on all the ordinances of God.” He adds: “If any man dream of attaining it any other way, yea, or of keeping it when it is attained, he deceiveth his own soul. It is true, we receive it by simple faith ; but God does not, will not, give that faith, unless we seek it with all diligence, in the way which He hath ordained.” 1
From the above brief notices, the reader will form an idea of the excitement created in the Methodist societies, in 1759, by the doctrine of Christian perfection. The subject will have to be repeatedly introduced in succeeding years.
1 Wesley's Works, vol. xi., p. 378, etc.
1760. ESLEY began the year 1760 at Norwich, by holding a
service at four o'clock in the morning. On January 7, he returned to London, and preached in West Street chapel, now enlarged and thoroughly repaired.
Wesley was a philanthropist; hence the following letter, published in Lloyd's Evening Post, of February 22, 1760.
“ WINDMILL Hill, February 18, 1760. SIR,—On Sunday, December 16 last, I received a £20 bank bill, from an anonymous correspondent, who desired me to lay it out, in the manner I judged best, for the use of poor prisoners. I immediately employed some in whom I could confide, to inquire into the circumstances of those confined in Whitechapel and New prison. I knew the former to have very little allowance, even of bread, and the latter none at all. Upon inquiry, they found one poor woman in Whitechapel prison, very big with child, and destitute of all things. At the same time, I casually heard of a poor man, who had been confined for nine months in the Poultry Compter, while his wife and three children (whom he before maintained by his labour) were almost perishing through want. Not long after, another poor woman, who had been diligent in helping others, was herself thrown into Whitechapel prison. The expense of discharging these three, and giving them a few necessaries, amounted to £10 1os. One pound and fourteen shillings I expended in stockings and other clothing, which was given to those prisoners who were in the most pressing want. The remainder, £7 16s. was laid out in bread, which was warily distributed thrice a week. I am, therefore, assured that the whole of this sum was laid out in real charity. And how much more noble a satisfaction must result from this, to the generous benefactor, than he could receive from an embroidered suit of clothes, or a piece of plate, made in the newest fashion ! Men of reason, judge !
“I am, sir, your humble servant,
“ JOHN WESLEY.” On the 3rd of March, Wesley left London, on a tour which occupied the next six months.
At Towcester, he found one converted person ; and at Birmingham, a society of a little more than fifty. At Wednesbury, he preached in the new chapel, whose congregation, either in number or seriousness, had few superiors. In fact,