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Walter Sellon's noble Scheme.


Such was the noble scheme of good Walter Sellon, more 1760 than seventy years before the first Methodist theological Age 57 institution was opened. Wesley answered the letter on September 4; but unfortunately his answer has not been found.

After the Bristol conference, Wesley set out, on September 1, for Cornwall. At Launceston, he found "the small remains of a dead, scattered society"; and was not surprised, as they "had scarce any discipline, and only one sermon in a fortnight." He found another such society at Camelford; "but their deadness was owing to bitterness against each other." At Port Isaac, the society "diligently observed all the rules, with or without a preacher. They constantly attended the church and sacrament, and met together at the times appointed." Thirty out of the thirty-five members were walking in the light of God's countenance. At St. Agnes, he was "surprised and grieved to find, that, out of ninety-eight members, all but three or four had forsaken the Lord's table." At St. Ives, a rock served him as "a very convenient pulpit; and nearly all the town, high and low, rich and poor, assembled together." At St. Just, "abundance of backsliders were present, ten of whom he rejoined to the society, and also added new members."

Some idea of Wesley's labours may be formed from the fact that, during his Cornish visit, besides visiting the societies and travelling, he preached thirty times in eleven days. This is not an unfair specimen of his ministerial labours, all over the United Kingdom.

On his return from Cornwall, he found the society at Plymouth reduced from seventy members to thirty-four; and even these were as "" dead as stones." He preached in the church of Maryweek, also at Collumpton, Halberton, Tiverton, and other places, and got back to Bristol on October 3.

During this interval, Wesley wrote as follows to his brother Charles, who was out of health.

"PLYMOUTH, September 28, 1760.

"DEAR BROTHER,—I care not a rush for ordinary means; only that it is our duty to try them. All our lives, and all God's dealings with us, have been extraordinary from the beginning. We have reason, therefore, to expect, that what has been will be again. I have been preternaturally restored more than ten times. I suppose you will thus be restored for the


1760 journey; and that, by the journey, as a natural means, your health will be re-established; provided you determine to spend all the strength which God shall give you in this work.

Age 57

"Cornwall has suffered miserably by my long absence, and the unfaithfulness of the preachers. I left seventeen hundred in the societies, and I find twelve hundred. If possible, you should see Mr. Walker. He has been near a month at the Hot Wells. He is absolutely a Scot in his opinions, but of an excellent spirit. My love to Sally. Adieu. "JOHN WESLEY."

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Wesley spent a month at Bristol, and in its vicinity. He preached a charity sermon in Newgate for the use of poor prisoners. He visited again the French captives at Knowle; and, “in hope of provoking others to jealousy, made another collection for them, and ordered the money to be expended in linen and in waistcoats." Three days were employed in speaking "severally" to the members of the Bristol society, of whom he writes: "As many of them increase in worldly goods, the great danger I apprehend now is, their relapsing into the spirit of the world; and then their religion is but a dream." He also took another step of vast importance. He requested the children of the members of society to meet him. Eighty came. Half of these he divided into two classes, two of boys, and two of girls; and appointed proper leaders to meet them separate; he himself meeting them all together twice a week. Were not these Methodism's first catechumen classes? We think so.

It was during Wesley's present visit to the city of Bristol, that George II. suddenly expired, in his palace at Kensington, in the seventy-seventh year of his age, and the thirty-fourth of his reign. Wesley writes, perhaps with more loyalty than discrimination: "October 25-King George was gathered to his fathers. When will England have a better prince?" The following Friday was set apart by Wesley and the Bristol society, "as a day of fasting, and prayer for the blessing of God upon the nation, and, in particular, on his present majesty. They met at five, at nine, at one, and at half past eight."

On November 8, after an eight months' absence, Wesley got back to London, where, with the exception of a visit to

1 Wesley's Works, vol. xii., p. 112.

John Newton.


Canterbury and Dover, he continued during the remainder of 1760 the year. At the latter place, he found "a serious, earnest people, and some of the best singers in England." He visited the sick in London, and met the penitents, "a congregation which," he says, "he wished always to meet himself." He preached, he prayed, and, as we shall see shortly, wrote letters to the newspapers. The year, from first to last, was full of labour.

Before proceeding to less pleasant topics, the introduction of another letter to Wesley from the pious John Newton may not be deemed an intrusion. Newton had preached for the Dissenters, but was dissatisfied with their ecclesiastical economy. He wished to become a clergyman, but the bishop refused to ordain him. Wesley seems to have proposed to him to join the ranks of the Methodist itinerant preachers. The following is his answer.

"November 14, 1790.

"REVEREND AND DEAR SIR,-How shall I thank you for the obliging notice you take of me? I wonder you can find time, in the midst of so many more important concerns, to encourage so poor a correspondent. In one sense only, I think myself not altogether unworthy your friendship; that is, I am not ungrateful. I honour and esteem you; I pray for your success, and sincerely rejoice in it. I know no one to whom my heart is more united in affection, nor to whom I owe more, as an instrument of Divine grace.

"I am at some seasons impatient enough to be employed; but I am really afraid of setting myself to work. It appears, by the event, that, in the attempts I have already made, I have mistaken, either the place, or the manner, in which I am to appear.

66 I forgot to tell you in my last, that I had the honour to appear as a Methodist preacher. I was at Haworth; Mr. Grimshaw was pressing, and prevailed. I spoke, in his house, to about one hundred and fifty persons; a difficult auditory in my circumstances, about half Methodists, and half Baptists. I was afraid of displeasing both sides; but my text, John i. 29, led me to dwell upon a point in which we were all agreed; and, before I had leisure to meddle with doctrines (as they are called), the hour was expired. In short, it was a comfortable opportunity.

"Methinks here again, you are ready to say, Why not go on in the same way? what more encouragement can you ask, than to be assisted and accepted? My answer is, I have not either strength of body or mind sufficient for an itinerant preacher. My constitution has been broken for some years. To ride an hour in the rain, or more than thirty miles in a day, usually unfits me for everything. You must allow me to pay some regard to flesh and blood, though I would not consult them. Besides, I

1760 have a maintenance now in my hands,' the gift of a kind Providence; and Age 57 I do not see that I have a call to involve myself, and a person who has entrusted all her concerns to me, in want and difficulties. I have likewise an orphan sister, for whom it is my duty to provide; consequently, it cannot be my duty to disable myself from fulfilling what I owe to her. The weightiest difficulty remains; too many of the preachers are very different from Mr. Grimshaw; and who would wish to live in the fire? So, though I love the Methodists, and vindicate them from unjust aspersions upon all occasions, and suffer the reproach of the world for being one myself, yet, it seems not practicable for me to join them farther than I do. For the present, I must remain as I am, and endeavour to be as useful as I can in private life.

"Have there been any more prosecutions upon the Conventicle Act? I have been informed, that a bill is in embryo to restrain the clergy to their own parishes.

"Pray for me, dear sir. Mrs. Newton sends her love, and will rejoice to see you. Will you permit me to subscribe myself, your unworthy but affectionate and obliged brother in the gospel hope,

"JOHN NEWTON." 2 The year 1760 was full of varied, anxious, and painful


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One matter must be mentioned, though Wesley himself was not concerned in it, except as he deeply sympathised with the noble and afflicted family. Earl Ferrars, cousin of Lady Huntingdon, and brother of the Hon. and Rev. Walter Shirley, at the commencement of the year, deliberately shot Mr. Johnson, his steward, who had been a servant in the family for thirty years. Horace Walpole's version of the matter is, that Earl Ferrars' wife was the fortuneless sister of Sir William Meredith; and that the earl maintained, that she trepanned him into marriage while he was in a state of drunkenness. Before his marriage, Mrs. Clifford was his mistress, by whom he had several children; and, from the first, his wife was hated. He always carried pistols to bed with him, and often threatened to kill her before morning. By an act of parliament, she obtained a divorce, and an allowance out of his estates; one of the

1 Mr. Newton now filled the office of tide surveyor at Liverpool, and was in possession of a comfortable salary. In this same year, 1760, he published a volume of his sermons, though he was not ordained for four years afterwards. The emoluments of his Olney curacy were only £60 per annum. ("Life of Rev. John Newton.")

2 Methodist Magazine, 1780, p. 441.

Execution of Earl Ferrars.


receivers for that purpose being his steward, Mr. Johnson. 1760 Finding that Johnson had paid Lady Ferrars £50 without his Age 57 knowledge, the earl resolved to murder him, and shot him accordingly. He was arrested, and lodged in the Tower of London. The trial, in Westminster Hall, in the month of April, lasted for three days, the sentence being, that the earl be hanged, and his body delivered to Surgeons' Hall, to be dissected and anatomized. Charles Wesley attended the trial, and tells us "most of the royal family, the peeresses, the chief gentry of the kingdom, and the foreign ambassadors were present." A plea of lunacy was set up. Walter Shirley and Dr. Munro were the best witnesses; but their testimony failed to prove his madness. One hundred and six of the peers of England, including Lord Talbot, his friend, and Lord Westmoreland, his father-in-law, pronounced the prisoner guilty, and his doom was fixed. The execution took place on the 5th of May; the unhappy culprit having spent the night previous in playing at piquet with the warders of the prison. He rode to Tyburn in his own landau and six, wearing his wedding clothes, and chewing pigtail tobacco; his mistress throwing a letter into his carriage, telling him that the crowd was so enormous she was unable to meet him at a certain place as she had promised. A mourning coach and six, with some of his lordship's friends, and a hearse and six, to carry his corpse to Surgeons' Hall, followed in a procession, which took two hours and three quarters in making its way through the streets of London, from the Tower to the place of execution. After hanging an hour and five minutes, the body was dissected; and then the mangled remains of the highborn murderer were delivered to his friends, and interred in Leicestershire. On the table in his room, just before he went to execution, he wrote:

"In doubt I lived, in doubt I die,

Yet stand prepared the vast abyss to try,

And undismayed expect eternity." 1

Such was the end of this godless noble, the near relative of

Walpole's Letters, vol iii.; and London Magazine and Christian Magazine, for 1760.

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