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was converted ; became a member of the Methodist society, which was then formed; and, for fifty-nine years, lived the life of an earnest Christian, and then expired, saying, “Dying is hard work, but the grace of God is sufficient for me."
Wesley returned to Newcastle on the ist of June, preaching at Alnwick and Morpeth on his way. In a few days, he proceeded to Barnardcastle, where there was a remarkable revival of religion. A few months before, the societies throughout “the dales," or Barnardcastle circuit, had been exceeding lifeless. Samuel Meggot recommended them to observe every Friday with fasting and prayer. The result has just been stated. Twenty in Barnardcastle had found peace with God, and twenty-eight had been sanctified.
For sixteen years, Methodism had existed in this small country town, and here, as in other places, had been baptized in suffering. Many a time had Catherine Graves, one of the first members, been hunted by the rabble, and been pricked with pins for the purpose of drawing blood, and thereby depriving her of the power of sorcery ; but now the Barnardcastle Methodists, comparatively speaking, were no longer a feeble folk. They built themselves a chapel; and became the head of perhaps the widest Methodist circuit then existing. They were pious, but they were poor, and contributed, upon an average, not more than a farthing per member per week; and, of course, their circuit allowances were upon a corresponding scale. The following is a verbatim et literatim extract from their stewards' book, for the quarter ending Midsummer, 1768. To Diner and Letters
• £i 0 Mr. Rowell and Family .
5 15 Mr. Bramer and Wife
5 15 Mr. Hunter and Wife
£27 7 0
· Methodist Magazine, 1813, p. 74.
In other words, in 1768, three married Methodist ministers, 1763 and an unmarried one, cost the Barnardcastle circuit about £109 8s. a year; or, including house rent, doctors' bills, circuit horse, allowances for wives, conference expenses, and interest on borrowed money, about ten shillings and sixpence per minister per week. O tempora ! O mores!
In his journey southwards, Wesley omitted visiting several of his preaching places in the north of Yorkshire. One of these was Helmsley, to which the following letter, by Dr. Conyers, refers.
“June 7, 1763. “REVEREND AND DEAR SIR,-I have had information, from many hands, of your design of calling upon me at Helmsley, in your return from Scotland. I take this opportunity, frankly and freely, to declare to you, that my house and my heart are, and ever shall be, open to you. I presume our archdeacon will be with me, from Stokesley, on Wednesday evening, as he always takes a bed, and spends a night or two with me, when he is upon his visitation, which is at this place on Friday next. How far you may alter your design of preaching here, on that account, I leave to yourself. I speak this not out of fear ; for I love you as I love my own soul : my only apprehension is, that he, being upon the spot, may shut my church doors against you. But if you only mean a friendly visit to me, I shall be glad to see you, let who will be here; and it will be the comfort of my heart, to have you preach to my flock in every room of my house, at any time when you come this way. As far as the doctrine you teach has come to my knowledge, I know not one part to which I could not subscribe, both with hand and heart.
“I am, reverend and dear sir, your affectionate friend and servant in Christ,
“RICHARD CONYERS.” 1
On the 13th of June, Wesley came to Epworth, where, while he was preaching, “a kind of gentleman” hired a company of boys and a drunken man to disturb the congregation. The boys shouted ; the drunkard, as well as he could articulate, bawled ribaldry and nonsense; and the gentleman, with a French horn, did his utmost in blowing blasts of discord; but, despite the hubbub, the congregation quietly listened to the preacher's sermon.
From Epworth, Wesley proceeded to Doncaster, Leeds, Dewsbury, and Manchester. While at Manchester, he paid his first visit to Matthew Mayer, at Portwood Hall, near
· Methodist Magazine, 1782, p. 216.
1763 Stockport, now a young man twenty-three years of age, a Age 60 Methodist of about four years' standing, but who had found
peace with God only a few months before. In conjunction with John Morris, he had established weekly prayermeetings at Davyhulme, Dukinfield, Ashton under Lyne, and other places, in one of which John Whitehead, the biographer of Wesley, was converted. Wesley invited young Mayer to accompany him to Birmingham, which invitation was accepted ; and thus commenced a remarkable career of earnest and successful preaching, which lasted fifty years.
Matthew Mayer never became, in the common sense of the designation, an itinerant preacher; and yet he itinerated tens of thousands of miles; and there are few towns, or even large villages, in Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, the south of Lancashire, or the west of Yorkshire, in which there were not numerous living witnesses of the Divine, converting power that attended his preaching. Matthew Mayer was one of the most remarkable local preachers that Methodism has ever had. He died in 1814, and Joseph Benson went all the way from London to Lancashire, in the depth of winter, purposely to preach his funeral sermon.
Wesley left Stockport on the 20th of June, and reached the metropolis four days afterwards. Finding that the ferment, arising out of Thomas Maxfield's separation, still continued, he resolved to remain in London until after his conference had met.
Unfortunately, no explicit record of the proceedings of this conference exists. It is known that the first edition of what are called “The Large Minutes " was published in 1753. A second edition, containing the added legislation of the last ten years, was issued in 1763. Comparing the two, we find the following decisions arrived at during the interval between the dates just mentioned.
"We believe the design of God, in raising up the preachers called Methodists, is to reform the nation, and, in particular, the Church ; to spread scriptural holiness over the land.” ]
2. “The greatest hindrance to field preaching is to be expected from the rich, or cowardly, or lazy Methodists. But regard them not, neither
1 “Minutes of Several Conversations,” etc. 1763 : 12mo.
30 pages. P. 2. 1763 : 12mo. 30 pages. P. 3. I “Minutes of Several Conversations, etc.
Conference Minutes, between 1753 and 1763.
stewards, leaders, nor people. Whenever the weather will permit, go out in God's name into the most public places, and call all to repent and believe the gospel. Every assistant, at least, in every circuit, should endeavour to preach abroad every Sunday ; especially in the old societies, lest they settle upon their lees.”!
3. In order to prevent strangers being present more than twice or thrice at society meetings, “See that all, in every place, show their tickets before they come in. If the stewards and leaders are not exact and impartial herein, employ others which have more resolution.” ?
4. “ Examining and instructing the people” [under our care] their own houses, at times set apart for that purpose, has never been effectually done yet; though Thomas Walsh took some steps therein. Who will take up that cross? It will be of great use to others, and a blessing to his own soul. Do all you can herein, if not all you would. Inquire in each house, ‘Have you family prayer? Do you read the Scripture in your family ? Have you a fixed time for private prayer?' Examine each as to his growth in grace, and discharge of relative duties." 3
5. “Should we insist everywhere on the band rules? particularly that relating to ruffles ?
“Answer. By all means. This is no time to give any encouragement to superfluity of apparel. Therefore, give no band tickets to any in England or Ireland, till they have left them off. In order to this, (1) Read, in every society, the 'Thoughts concerning Dress.' (2) In visiting the classes, be very mild, but very strict. (3) Allow no exempt case, not even of a married woman ; better one suffer than many.
“ To encourage meeting in band : (1) In every large society, have a lovefeast quarterly for the bands only. (2) Never fail to meet them, apart from the society, once a week. (3) Exhort all believers to embrace the advantage. (4) Give a band ticket to none till they have met a quarter on trial.” 4
6. “At each meeting of children, in every place, we may first set them a lesson in the "Instructions,' or “Tokens for Children.' (2) Hear them repeat it.
(3) Explain it to them in an easy, familiar manner. (4) Often ask, “What have I been saying ?' and strive to fasten it on their hearts." 5
7. “Ought any woman to marry without the consent of her parents ?
“Answer. In general she ought not. Yet there may be an exception. For if (1) a woman be under necessity of marrying ; if (2) her parents absolutely refuse to let her marry any Christian : then she may, nay ought, to marry without their consent. Yet even then a Methodist preacher ought not to marry her.” 6
8. “ Read the sermon upon evil speaking, in every society. Extirpate smuggling, buying or selling uncustomed goods, out of every society ;
; Ibid. p. 6. 3 Ibid. p. 5:
4 Ibid. p. 6. 6 Ibid. p. 7.
2 Ibid. p. 4.
1763 particularly in Cornwall, and in all seaport towns. Let no person remain
with us, who will not totally abstain from every kind and degree of it. Extirpate bribery; receiving anything, directly or indirectly, for voting in any election. Show no respect of persons herein, but expel all who touch the accursed thing. Let this be particularly observed at Grimsby and St. Ives.” 1
9. Let every preacher in town “examine carefully what state the sick is in ; and instruct, reprove, or exhort accordingly.”
10. “Rarely spend above an hour at a time in conversing with any one. Earnestly recommend the five o'clock hour to all.” 3
11. The preachers were requested to offer constantly and fervently, at set times, private, family, and public prayer ; consisting of deprecation, petition, intercession, and thanksgiving. They were to forecast, wherever they were, how to secure the hour at five in the evening, and the hour before or after morning preaching, for private devotion. They were constantly to read the Scriptures, Wesley's tracts, and the Christian Library. They were to devote their mornings to reading, writing, prayer, and meditation. They were always to have a New Testament in their pockets ; and were to see that Wesley's Notes thereon were in every society, and were to explain them to the congregations. They were devoutly to use the Lord's supper at every opportunity. They were advised to fast every Friday, Wesley avowing his purpose generally to eat only vegetables on Friday, and to take only toast and water in the morning. They were to meet every society weekly; also the leaders, and the bands, if any. They were diligently to inquire into the state of the books, to do all they could to propagate them. They were to keep watchnights once a month, and lovefeasts twice a year for the whole society. They were to visit every society once a quarter ; to take a regular catalogue of the members, at least, once a year; and to write Wesley an account of all the defects of “the common preachers,” which they could not themselves cure. They were steadily to watch against the world, the devil, themselves, and besetting sins; and to deny themselves every useless pleasure of sense, imagination, and honour. They were recommended to use only that kind and that degree of food, which was best both for the body and the soul; to eat no flesh and no late suppers; and to take only three meals a day.*
“ What can be done to make the people sing true ? Answer. (1) Learn to sing true yourselves. (2) Recommend the tunes everywhere. (3) If a preacher cannot sing himself, let him choose two or three persons in every place, to pitch the tune for him." ;
13. “ What is it best to take after preaching ?
“ Answer. Lemonade; candied orange peel; or a little soft, warm ale. But egg and wine is downright poison. And so are late suppers.”
1 “Minutes of Several Conversations," etc. 1763: 12mo. 30 pages. Pp. 7, 8.
3 Ibid. p. II.
6 Ibid. p. 18. 6 Ibid. p. 18.
2 Ibid. p. 9.