Abbildungen der Seite

1762 Age 59

to shock both the ear and the understanding of all who make any pretensions to religion or common sense.'


Another hostile publication, issued in 1762, was a miscellaneous octavo volume, of 380 pages, entitled, "Various Tracts by the Rev. James Penn, A.B., under Grammar Master of Christ's Hospital, and Lecturer of the united parishes of St. Ann and Agnes, and St. John Zachary, Aldersgate." The reverend pedagogue tells his readers, that "Methodism, which arose from a slender beginning, is branched out into various sects, and has met with such success as to become alarming It had its origin partly from the neglect of the superior clergy of the duties of their function; and this neglect continued is its great support. The clergy have talked, they have wrote, they have preached against the Methodists and their tenets, with justice indeed, but not without acrimony; and this has rendered their design abortive, and not a little served the cause of their adversaries. Unless some expedient is found to check the progress of the enthusiasm, it will soon become formidable, and have its spacious tabernacles in every city and county, as well as in London and Middlesex. It has encouraged a great number of laymen, many of whom are the refuse of the people, or the meanest of mechanics, to assume the ministerial office, and bellow out, in the lanes and alleys of the city, their wild notions, in a language rude, irrational, unintelligible. In their places of worship, here sits melancholy, there despair. Sighs and groans are heard from one corner; frightful and hideous looks are seen at another. The words of some speak assurance of their salvation, and an uncommon familiarity with their Maker; whilst others are overwhelmed with a horrible dread of damnation."

The reader has had enough of the Rev. James Penn; but we add another extract, which, will convey an idea of the reverend author's principles. "A man's character is no more to be suspected by his being at a playhouse, than at a church. All are not saints, who frequent the latter; nor are all to be accounted sinners, who go to the former. Players are no more to be condemned, because some of the audience depart unimproved, than the preacher censured, if some of his

1 Monthly Review, 1762.

Wesley's Publications in 1762.


congregation should go away unedified." In the list of subscribers to Mr. Penn's octavo volume, the names of fifty clergymen are given.

Wesley's works, published in 1762, were as follows.

1. "Cautions and Directions given to the greatest Professors in the Methodist Societies." These were afterwards embodied in the "Plain Account of Christian Perfection."

2. "A Letter to the Rev. Mr. Horne: occasioned by his late Sermon preached before the University of Oxford." 8vo, 22 pages.

This was a pamphlet, principally on the subject of justification by faith and works. Dr. Horne was now a young man of thirty-two years of age; a thorough Hutchinsonian; and a considerable author. He subsequently became chaplain to George III.; vice chancellor of Oxford; dean of Canterbury; and, in 1790, bishop of Norwich. He was learned, pious, and benevolent; and will always be remembered for his "Commentary on the Book of Psalms." Wesley's letter is exceedingly respectful; as indeed it ought to be. He writes: "If I have said anything offensive, anything that implies the least degree of anger or disrespect, it was entirely foreign to my intention. Nor indeed have I any provocation. I have no room to be angry at your maintaining what you believe to be the truth of the gospel: even though I might wish you had omitted a few expressions."

3. Another of Wesley's publications was a small tract, entitled: "A Blow at the Root; or Christ stabbed in the House of his Friends." 12mo, II pages. The title resembles the title of another pamphlet published "By an impartial Hand" some years previous,-"A Blow at the Root: or an attempt to prove that no time ever was, or very probably ever will be, so proper and convenient as the present, for introducing a further Reformation into our National Church, Universities, and Schools. Most humbly dedicated to his royal highness, William Duke of Cumberland." The object of Wesley's tract, however, was widely different from the object of this. His intention was to refute a heresy recently sprung up, "that Christ had done, as well as suffered, all: that His righteousness being imputed to us, we need none of our own: that, seeing there was so much righteousness and holiness in


Age 59


Age 59

Him, there needs no more in us; that, to think we have any, or to desire to seek any, is to renounce Christ: that, from the beginning to the end of salvation, all is in Christ, nothing in man; and that those who teach otherwise are legal preachers, and know nothing of the gospel."


4. This was followed by another on the same subject, with the title, "Thoughts on the Imputed Righteousness of Christ," 12mo, 11 pages. The cause of this publication was the issue of a tract, in the name of Wesley, not one word of which was his, and which, as will be seen hereafter, he found it necessary to repudiate in 1763.

This was not much for a man like Wesley to produce; but it must be remembered, that, owing to his brother's illness, he was now single handed; and that, besides being "in journeyings often, and in perils; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst," there came upon him preeminently, and almost exclusively, "the care of all the churches."

[ocr errors]


N almost every successive year, the Methodist movement 1763 devolved more and more on Wesley. His brother was Age 60 in feeble health, had an increasing family, and employed himself almost exclusively in writing hymns, and in preaching to the Methodists of London and of Bristol. Whitefield's asthma had become chronic, and well-nigh disabled him. He spent the first six months of 1763 chiefly in the north of England and in Scotland; but, for six weeks of that period, he was entirely silent; and during the remainder, his preaching was often intermitted, and in no instance was more frequent than once a day. Three months were occupied with his voyage to America, where he landed about the beginning of September, and speaks of himself as "wearied and almost worn out"; and where he was not able to preach more than twice or thrice a week. Comparatively speaking, his work was already done; though still preaching, it was as an invalid. For the last five and twenty years, it would be difficult to say whether Whitefield or Wesley, simply considered as evangelists, had been in labours more abundant. For twenty-eight years after this, Wesley was almost the only itinerant clergyman living. Grimshaw was dead; Whitefield, to a great extent, was disabled, and, as early as the year 1770, was removed to the rest of heaven; Charles Wesley had already become a settled minister; Berridge's itinerancy was confined to his own comparatively small circuit, and to his visits to the metropolis; Romaine, Venn, Rowland Hill, and others, had pastoral charges, which necessarily prevented them leaving home, as often as they wished. Wesley, and Wesley only, was unfettered. He was without a church, and really without a home. His wife made him miserable, and he had no children to demand his time. His health was as vigorous as ever, and his heart as warm; and hence, while all his old clerical friends either died, or were disabled, or otherwise were obliged to relinquish the itinerant ministry, he and

1763 he alone ended as he first began; and, from 1735 to 1791, a Age 60 period of five and fifty years, lived not the enviable life of a settled pastor, but the homeless life of a wandering evangelist, and devoted his health, energies, and talents to a work resembling his who said, "I am a debtor both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians"; "so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ."

At the commencement of 1763, Wesley was in the midst of the fanatical troubles, chiefly created by Bell and Maxfield. The following letters refer to these affairs. They were all published in the London Chronicle.

"SOUTHWARK, January 6, 1763.

“SIR,—One Bell, said to be a Lifeguardsman, holds forth to an assembly, near Hanover Square. He is supposed to belong to the Methodists; but he advances things which many Methodists abhor. Nevertheless, his delusions spread. Many of his followers think themselves perfect, and declare they shall never die, 'because,' as they say, 'our dear Lord, who certainly will come a second time, is at the door, and we shall see Him come.'

"God only knows where this folly of Mr. Bell's may end, if not soon stopped. Soon after the Reformation in Germany, many sprung up who held that they were perfect; they despised authority, and declared Christ was at the door (as Mr. Bell does) to destroy the world. Many of them, men and women, worshipped naked, and appeared so in the streets of Amsterdam and elsewhere, declaring that, as clothes came in only in consequence of sin, so they being free from sin were to wear none.


"WINDMILL HILL, January 7, 1763.

"SIR,-When I returned to London two or three months ago, I received various accounts of some meetings for prayer, which had lately been held by Mr. Bell and a few others. Some highly applauded them; others utterly condemned; some affirmed they had done much good; others that they had done much hurt. This convinced me, that it was requisite to proceed with caution, and to do nothing rashly. The first point was to form my own judgment, and that upon the fullest evidence. To this end I first talked with Mr. Bell himself, whom I knew to be an honest, well meaning man. Next, I told him they were at liberty, for a few times, to meet under my roof. They did so, both in the society room at the Foundery, and in the chapel at West Street. By this means, I had an opportunity of hearing them myself, which I did at both places. I was

1 London Chronicle, Jan. 8, 1763.

« ZurückWeiter »