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1763 Age 60

fection is still the cry, God will certainly give them up to some more dreadful thing. May their eyes be opened before it is too late!

"Things are not here as at Brighton. The Foundery, the Tabernacle, the Lock, the Meeting, yea, St. Dunstan's, has each its party, and brotherly love is almost lost in our disputes. Thank God, I am out of

them.

"My wife joins me in duty and affection to your ladyship, and we are your faithful servants in our most dear and eternally precious Jesus, "W. ROMAINE."1

Such, in the midst of his London troubles, was Wesley's want of sympathy and help from those whom he had been accustomed to regard as friends. Fletcher of Madeley continued faithful, but the duties of his distant vicarage were a bar to his rendering assistance in the metropolis. As early as November 22, 1762, he wrote Charles Wesley :' "Many of our brethren are overshooting sober Christianity in London. Oh that I could stand in the gap! Oh that I could, by sacrificing myself, shut this immense abyss of enthusiasm, which opens its mouth among us! The corruption of the best things is always the worst of corruptions."

In another letter, dated September 9, 1763, Fletcher writes: "If Mr. Maxfield returns, the Lord may correct his errors, and give him so to insist on the fruits of faith as to prevent antinomianism. I believe him sincere; and, though obstinate and suspicious, I am persuaded he has a true desire to know the will, and live the life of God. I reply in the same words you quoted to me in one of your letters: 'Don't be afraid of a wreck, for Jesus is in the ship.' After the most violent storm, the Lord will, perhaps all at once, bring our ship into the desired haven." 3

Fletcher thoroughly understood Wesley's doctrines; but it is clear that Romaine did not. When and where did Wesley preach "a perfection out of Christ"? What was Romaine's meaning when he employed that expression? Who can tell? Could Romaine himself? We greatly doubt it. Wesley, in the plainest language, had said all he had to say, both in the former and in the Farther Thoughts on Christian Perfection. Had Romaine read these tracts? If he had, he ought to

1" Life and Times of Countess of Huntingdon,” vol. i., p. 330. 2 Methodist Magazine, 1795, p. 49.

3 Ibid. p. 151.

"Farther Thoughts on Christian Perfection." 465

have known that they contained not a single syllable concerning any "perfection out of Christ"; if he had not, he was culpable in branding a doctrine, the meaning of which he had yet to learn. In a letter to Mrs. Maitland, dated May 12, 1763, Wesley declares, that he can say nothing on the subject of Christian perfection but what he has said already. Nevertheless, at her request, he is willing to add a few words more. He proceeds

"As to the word perfection, it is scriptural. Therefore, neither you nor I can in conscience object to it, unless we would send the Holy Ghost to school, and teach Him to speak, who made the tongue.

"By Christian perfection I mean, (as I have said again and again,) the so loving God and our neighbour, as to 'rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks.' He that experiences this is scripturally perfect. And if you do not, yet you may experience it; you surely will, if you follow hard after it, for the Scripture cannot be broken.

"What then does their arguing prove, who object against Christian perfection? Absolute or infallible perfection, I never contended for; sinless perfection I do not contend for, seeing it is not scriptural. A perfection such as enables a person to fulfil the whole law, and so need not the merits of Christ, I do not acknowledge. I do now, and always did protest against it.

"But is there no sin in those who are perfect in love? I believe not ; but, be that as it may, they feel none,-no temper contrary to pure love, while they rejoice, pray, and give thanks continually. Whether sin is suspended, or extinguished, I will not dispute. It is enough, that they feel nothing but love. This you allow we should daily press after; and this is all I contend for."1

In 1759, Wesley published his "Thoughts on Christian. Perfection"; and now he issued another 12mo tract of thirtynine pages, entitled "Farther Thoughts upon Christian Perfection," in which he says: "In most particulars, I think now as I did then; in some I do not. My present thoughts I now offer to your consideration; being still open to further conviction; and willing, I trust, to be taught of God, by whatever instrument He shall choose." He proceeds to show, that the highest degree of sanctification attainable on earth will not save a man from "unavoidable defect of understanding," and from "mistakes in many things"; and that "these mistakes will frequently occasion something wrong, both in our tempers,

› Methodist Magazine, 1797, p. 351.

VOL. II.

H H

1763 Age 60

1763 week less or more. Why his brother suffers them we cannot Age 60 tell. He threatens, but cannot find in his heart to put in execution. The consequence is, the talk of all the town, and entertainment for the newspapers." " 1

Charles Wesley, in a letter dated February 1, 1763, remarks: "Sad havoc Satan has made of the flock. What they will do after my brother's departure, I leave to the Lord; for I dare not think of it. I gave warning four years ago of the flood of enthusiasm which has now overflowed us; and of the sect of ranters that should arise out of the witnesses. My last hymns are a further standing testimony. Tell Christopher Hopper, I reverence him for his stand against the torrent." 2

This was well, so far as it went; but it would have been considerably better, if Charles Wesley had joined with his warnings and vaticinations his active cooperation to stem the torrent of which he had prophesied. Wesley wrote to him on February 8, saying: "The sooner you could be here the better; for the mask is thrown off. George Bell, John Dixon, Joseph Calvert, Benjamin Briggs, etc., etc., have quitted the society, and renounced all fellowship with us. I wrote to Thomas" (Maxfield), "but was not favoured with an answer. This morning I wrote a second time, and received an answer indeed! The substance is, 'You take too much upon you.'"3

Charles evidently declined to come to his brother's help; hence the following extracts from two other letters, dated respectively February 26 and March 6, 1763:

"I perceive, verba fiunt mortuo; so I say no more about your coming to London. Here stand I; and I shall stand, with or without human help, if God is with us. That story of Thomas Maxfield is not true. But I doubt more is true than is good. He is a most incomprehensible creature. I cannot convince him, that separation is any evil; or, that speaking in the name of God, when God has not spoken, is any more than an innocent mistake. I know not what to say to him, or do with him. He is really mali caput et fons.” ↳

A fortnight after this, Wesley wrote as follows to the Countess of Huntingdon.

1 Methodist Magazine, 1794, p. 565. 3 Wesley's Works, vol. xii., p. 116.

2 Ibid. 1794, p. 566. 4 Ibid. vol. xii., pp. 116, 117.

Wesley's Friends desert him.

"March 20, 1763.

"MY LADY,-By the mercy of God, I am still alive, and following the work to which He has called me, although without any help, even in the most trying times, from those of whom I might have expected it. Their voice seemed to be rather, 'Down with him, down with him; even to the ground? I mean (for I use no ceremony or circumlocution) Mr. Madan, Mr. Haweis, Mr. Berridge, and (I am sorry to say it) Mr. Whitefield. Only Mr. Romaine has shown a truly sympathising spirit, and acted the part of a brother. As to the prophecies of these poor wild men, George Bell and half-a-dozen more, I am not a jot more accountable for them than Mr. Whitefield is, having never countenanced them in any degree, but opposed them from the moment I heard them; neither have these extravagances any foundation in any doctrine which I teach. The loving God with all our heart, soul, and strength, and the loving all men as Christ loved us, is, and ever was, for these thirty years, the sum of what I deliver, as pure religion and undefiled. However, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved! The will of the Lord be done!

'Poor and helpless as I am,

Thou dost for my vileness care,
Thou hast called me by Thy name,
Thou dost all my burdens bear.'

463

“I am, your ladyship's servant for Christ's sake,

"JOHN WESLEY."

"1

Wesley thought he had one friend left, though only one, in Mr. Romaine; but in this he was mistaken. Hence the following, written within a week after the above.

1763

Age 60

"LAMBETH, March 26, 1763.

"MADAM,-Thanks to your ladyship for your kind remembrance of me in your last. Enclosed is poor Mr. John Wesley's letter. The contents of it, as far as I am concerned, surprised me; for no one has spoken more freely of what is now passing among the people than myself. Indeed, I have not preached so much as others whose names he mentions, nor could I. My subject is one, and I dare not vary from it. A perfection out of Christ is with me all rank pride and damnable sin. Man cannot be laid too low, nor Christ set too high. I would therefore always aim, as good brother Grimshaw expresses it, to get the old gentleman down, and keep him down; and then Christ reigns like Himself, when He is all, and man is nothing.

"I pity Mr. John from my heart. His societies are in great confusion; and the point, which brought them into the wilderness of rant and madness, is still insisted on as much as ever. I fear the end of this delusion. As the late alarming providence has not had its proper effect, and per

1 "Life and Times of Countess of Huntingdon," vol. i., p. 329.

1763 Age 60

fection is still the cry, God will certainly give them up to some more dreadful thing. May their eyes be opened before it is too late!

"Things are not here as at Brighton. The Foundery, the Tabernacle, the Lock, the Meeting, yea, St. Dunstan's, has each its party, and brotherly love is almost lost in our disputes. Thank God, I am out of them.

"My wife joins me in duty and affection to your ladyship, and we are your faithful servants in our most dear and eternally precious Jesus, "W. ROMAINE."1

Such, in the midst of his London troubles, was Wesley's want of sympathy and help from those whom he had been accustomed to regard as friends. Fletcher of Madeley continued faithful, but the duties of his distant vicarage were a bar to his rendering assistance in the metropolis. As early as November 22, 1762, he wrote Charles Wesley :' "Many of our brethren are overshooting sober Christianity in London. Oh that I could stand in the gap! Oh that I could, by sacrificing myself, shut this immense abyss of enthusiasm, which opens its mouth among us! The corruption of the best things is always the worst of corruptions."

In another letter, dated September 9, 1763, Fletcher writes: "If Mr. Maxfield returns, the Lord may correct his errors, and give him so to insist on the fruits of faith as to prevent antinomianism. I believe him sincere; and, though obstinate and suspicious, I am persuaded he has a true desire to know the will, and live the life of God. I reply in the same words you quoted to me in one of your letters: Don't be afraid of a wreck, for Jesus is in the ship.' After the most violent storm, the Lord will, perhaps all at once, bring our ship into the desired haven." 3

Fletcher thoroughly understood Wesley's doctrines; but it is clear that Romaine did not. When and where did Wesley preach "a perfection out of Christ"? What was Romaine's meaning when he employed that expression? Who can tell? Could Romaine himself? We greatly doubt it. Wesley, in the plainest language, had said all he had to say, both in the former and in the Farther Thoughts on Christian Perfection. Had Romaine read these tracts? If he had, he ought to

1" Life and Times of Countess of Huntingdon,” vol. i., p. 330. 2 Methodist Magazine, 1795, p. 49.

3 Ibid. p. 151.

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