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A writer, signing himself “ Philodemas," sent an abusive 1762 letter to Lloyd's Evening Post, stating that, on going to a Age 59 friend's house on the evening of February 28, he found the family in the utmost consternation, because they were momentarily expecting the world to be dissolved; and then he proceeds to denounce Methodism as “the most destructive and dangerous system to government and society that ever was established. Neither good subjects, good servants, nor good wives could reasonably be expected to be found amongst the Methodists. Nursed up in enthusiasm and pretended miracles, attended with the dangerous doctrine of assuring grace, they had learned to look upon the rest of their fellow creatures as a set of wretches reserved for vengeance hereafter. There was scarce a street in the metropolis, where the common people lived, but what was infected, more or less, with this heretical system ; some boasting their sins were forgiven ; some in despair; many raving mad ; and others neglecting their necessary occupations for the sake of it, and living in beggary and misery." 1 Wesley replied to this as follows.
“ March 18, 1763. “Sir,-A pert, empty, self sufficient man, who calls himself “Philodemas,' made use of your paper, a few days ago, to throw abundance of dirt at the people called Methodists. He takes occasion from the idle prophecy of Mr. Bell, with whom the Methodists have nothing to do, as he is not, nor has been for some time, a member of their society. Had he advanced anything new, or any particular charge, it would have deserved a particular answer. But, as his letter contains nothing but dull, stale, general slanders, which have been confuted ten times over, it would be abusing the patience of your readers to say any more concerning it.
“I am, sir, your humble servant,
"JOHN WESLEY."? After all, this deplorable outburst of fanaticism, in the London society, was not without good results. It was now, in 1763, that Wesley wrote his important sermon on “Sin in Believers," in which he says: “I cannot, by any means, receive this assertion, that there is no sin in a believer from the moment he is justified ; first, because it is contrary to the whole tenour
Lloyd's Evening Post, March 2, 1763.
; Ibid. March 21, 1763.
1762 of Scripture ; secondly, because it is contrary to the experience
of the children of God; thirdly, because it is absolutely new, Age 59
never heard of in the world till yesterday, when those under the direction of the late Count Zinzendorf preached it ; and lastly, because it is naturally attended with the most fatal consequences; not only grieving those whom God hath not grieved, but perhaps dragging them into everlasting perdition."
It was now also, that Wesley published his “Cautions and Directions given to the greatest Professors in the Methodist societies;" which, in brief, were as follows: 1. Watch and pray continually against pride. 2. Beware of enthusiasm. 3. Beware of antinomianism. 4. Beware of sins of omission. 5. Beware of desiring anything but God. 6. Beware of schism. 7. Be exemplary in all things. The reader, who wishes to have a full view of the extravagances of those who professed sanctification in 1762, will do well to read Wesley's “Cautions and Directions," at length, as elaborated by himself. An enormous evil had sprung up, and it was one of the greatest facts of his eventful life, that Wesley was able to check the bad and to preserve the good.
On April 28, 1763, Maxfield fully and finally separated himself from Wesley, the latter taking as his text on the occasion, “If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” In 1767, Maxfield, in his vindication of himself, gave his views of sanctification,-views misty, mystical, and muddy, and, to say the least, widely different from those of Wesley.
He became Wesley's enemy. “He spake,” says Wesley, “all manner of evil of me, his father, his friend, his greatest earthly benefactor. To Mr. M—n he said, “Mr. Wesley believed and countenanced all which Mr. Bell said ; and the reason of our parting was this: he said to me one day, Tommy, I will tell the people you are the greatest gospel preacher in England ; and you shall tell them I am the greatest !
For refusing to do this, Mr. Wesley put me
That Maxfield should utter such calumnies is almost incredible; and yet, it is certain that, in his “Vindication," he writes of his old friend in terms not the most respectful. He talks of Wesley's “penny history of Methodism"; whines about Wesley injuring his character, and thereby his
Maxfield's Whinings, and Bell's Ending. 441
usefulness; complains of Wesley keeping scores, if not hun 1762
“ Here Philip lies, on the Dalmatian shore,
To me he owes it, for he was my son.”
George Bell, for many years, was Maxfield's survivor, but made no pretension to religion. “He recovered his senses, " says Southey,“ to make a deplorable use of them ; passing from one extreme to another, the ignorant enthusiast became an ignorant infidel; turned fanatic in politics, as he had done in religion; and, having gone through all the degrees of disaffection and disloyalty, died, at a great age, a radical reformer.”
We only add that, in 1762, Charles Wesley, who had been laid aside by ill health from preaching, published, in two volumes, his “ Short Hymns on Select Passages of the Holy
Wesley's Works, vol. iv., p. 232.
1762 Scriptures,” in the preface to which he says: “Several of the Age 59 hymns are intended to prove, and several to guard, the doctrine of Christian perfection.
I durst not publish one without the other. In the latter sort I use some severity; not against particular persons, but against enthusiasts and antinomians, who, by not living up to their profession, give abundant occasion to them that seek it, and cause the truth to be evil spoken of.”
Mr. Jackson writes :
“ Until this time, it had been understood, that Mr. Charles Wesley agreed with his brother on this as well as every other doctrine of Christian verity; although he had repeatedly used unguarded expressions in his hymns, which could not be justified. But now his views on this subject appear to have undergone a change, in consequence of the extravagance and pride of which he was a distressed witness. He did not, from this time, contend, as do many, for the necessary continuance of indwelling sin till death ; but he spoke of Christian perfection as a much higher attainment than either he or his brother had previously regarded it. In his estimation, it is not to be obtained by a present act of faith in the mercy, truth, and power of God; but is rather the result of severe discipline, comprehending affliction, temptation, long continued labour, and the persevering exercise of faith in seasons of spiritual darkness, when the heart is wrung with bitter anguish. By this painful and lingering process, he believed that the death of the old man' is effected, and a maturity is given to all the graces of the Christian character. Hence, he condemned “the witnesses,' as he called them ; that is, the persons who testified of the time and manner in which they were delivered from the root of sin, and made perfect in love, regarding them as self deceived. In some of his ‘Short Hymns,' he has given considerable importance to these peculiarities of opinion.
“This change in Mr. Charles Wesley's manner of speaking on the subject of Christian perfection, as might be expected, gave considerable uneasiness to his brother, who felt it to be very undesirable that they should even seem to contradict each other in their ministry and writings. In a letter, therefore, to Miss Furley, he says, “Take care you are not hurt by anything in the “Short Hymns," contrary to the doctrines you have long received.' And, on the same subject, he also says, in a letter to Charles,—That perfection which I believe, I can boldly preach ; because I think I see five hundred witnesses of it. Of that perfection which you preach, you think you do not see any witness at all. Why, then, you must have far more courage than me, or you could not persist in preaching it. I wonder you do not, in this article, fall in plumb with Mr. Whitefield. For do not you, as well as he, ask, “Where are the perfect ones ?” I verily believe there are none upon earth; none dwelling in the body. I cordially assent to his opinion, that there is no such perfection
Wesley, on Christian Perfection.
here as you describe ; at least, I never met with an instance of it; and I 1762 doubt I never shall. Therefore I still think, to set perfection so high
Age 59 is effectually to renounce it.'
“At a subsequent period, he again addressed Charles on the same subject. “Some thoughts,' says he, ‘occurred to my mind this morning, which, I believe, it may be useful to set down ; the rather, because it may be a means of our understanding each other clearly ; that we may agree as far as ever we can, and then let all the world know it.
“ I was thinking on Christian perfection, with regard to the thing, the manner, and the time.
“1. By perfection I mean the humble, gentle, patient love of God and man, ruling all the tempers, words, and actions ; the whole heart, and the whole life.
“I do not include a possibility of falling from it, either in part or in whole. Therefore, I retract several expressions in our hymns, which partly express, partly imply, such an impossibility. And I do not contend for the term sinless, though I do not object against it. Do we agree or differ here? If we differ, wherein ?
"62. As to the manner, I believe this perfection is always wrought in the soul by faith, by a simple act of faith ; consequently, in an instant. But I believe a gradual work, both preceding and following that instant. Do we agree or differ here?
“6 3. As to the time, I believe this instant generally is the instant of death, the moment before the soul leaves the body. But I believe it may be ten, twenty, or forty years before death. Do we agree or differ here?
“I believe it is usually many years after justification ; but that it may be within five years, or five months after it. I know no conclusive argument to the contrary. Do you ?
““If it must be many years after justification, I would be glad to know how many. Pretium quotus arrogat annus ? And how many days, or months, or even years, can you allow to be between perfection and death? How far from justification must it be ? and how near to death?
“ If it be possible, let you and me come to a good understanding, both for our own sakes, and for the sake of the people.'
“What answer Mr. Charles Wesley returned to this candid and sensible letter, we have no means of ascertaining.” 1
The reader must excuse this long digression, on the ground, (1) That the enthusiasm of this period was one of the great events in Wesley's history, and issued not only in a disruption of the London society, but in serious results which were more than coeval with Wesley's life. John Pawson, in a manuscript letter, dated “London, January 13, 1796,” remarks : “We have a very blessed work here; but the old people are so
· Jackson's Life of C. Wesley, vol. ii., p. 210.