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1763 one of the most elegant places which I have seen in Wales. Age 60 The little chapel, and all things round about it, are finished in an uncommon taste; and the gardens, orchards, fishponds, and mount adjoining, make the place a little paradise. He thanks God for these things, and looks through them. About sixscore persons are now in the family; all diligent, all constantly employed; all fearing God and working righteousness."
Wesley continues: "August 20.-We took horse at four in the morning, and rode through one of the pleasantest countries in the world. I will be bold to say, all England does not afford such a line of fifty miles' length, for fields, meadows, woods, brooks, and gently rising mountains, fruitful to the very top."
On completing his Welsh tour, Wesley wrote: "I was more convinced than ever, that the preaching like an apostle, without joining together those that are awakened, and training them up in the ways of God, is only begetting children for the murderer. How much preaching has there been for these twenty years all over Pembrokeshire! But no regular societies, no discipline, no order or connection; and the consequence is, that nine in ten of the once awakened are now faster asleep than ever."
These are weighty words, and well worth pondering by those, in modern days, who advocate a revision of the laws respecting Methodists meeting together in weekly class. Wesley spoke from experience; these are theorists, who, in the absence of experience, will do well to hesitate before they step.
During his journey in Wales, Wesley informed himself respecting a Welsh extravagance, referred to in the following letter, published in Lloyd's Evening Post, for June 27, 1763.
"There is here" [at Lancroyes] "what some call a great reformation in religion among the Methodists; but the case is really this. They have a sort of rustic dance in their public worship, which they call religious dancing, in imitation of David's dancing before the ark. Some of them strip off their clothes, crying out, Hosannah, etc., in imitation of those that attended our Saviour when He rode into Jerusalem. They call this the glory of the latter day; and when any person speaks to them of their extravagance, the answer they give is, ‘You have the mark of the enemy
in your forehead.' people."
Such are the delusion and uncharitableness of this
These Welsh jumpers are called Methodists; but they were Methodists over whom Wesley had no control. He writes:
"1763, August 27.—Mr. Evans gave me an account, from his own knowledge, of what has made a great noise in Wales. It is common, in the congregations attended by Mr. W. W., and one or two other clergymen, after the preaching is over, for any one that has a mind, to give out a verse of a hymn. This they sing over and over with all their might, perhaps above thirty, yea, forty times. Meanwhile the bodies of two or three, sometimes ten or twelve, are violently agitated; and they leap up and down, in all manner of postures, frequently for hours together.' I think, there needs no great penetration to understand this. They are honest, upright men, who really feel the love of God in their hearts. But they have little experience, either of the ways of God, or the devices of Satan. So he serves himself in their simplicity, in order to wear them out, and to bring a discredit on the work of God."
Strangely enough this jumping in public worship found an advocate in good William Williams, the Welsh hymnist, who wrote a pamphlet in defence of it. To the injury of religion it was perpetuated for many years.
At the end of August, Wesley came to Bristol, in the neighbourhood of which he remained a month, frequently preaching out of doors, and expressing the opinion, that in no other way could the outcasts of men be reached. He cautioned the Bristol Methodists, not to "love the world, neither the things of the world"; and writes, in language and tone which ought to be a warning to the Methodists of the present day: "This will be their grand danger; as they are industrious and frugal, they must needs increase in goods. This appears already; in London, Bristol, and most other trading towns, those who are in business have increased in substance sevenfold, some of them twenty, yea, an hundredfold. What need, then, have these of the strongest warnings, lest they be entangled therein, and perish!”
On October 1, he returned to London, and says: "I found our house in ruins, great part of it being taken down, in order to a thorough repair. But as much remained.
1 Evans's "Sketch of all Religions."
1763 as I wanted; six foot square suffices me by day or by ge 60 night." He adds: "All this week, I endeavoured to confirm those who had been shaken as to the important doctrine of Christian perfection, either by its wild defenders, or wise opposers, who much availed themselves of that wildness."
He then made a three weeks' tour to Norwich, where he read the rules of the society, adding: "Those who are resolved to keep these rules may continue with us, and those only." He told them he would immediately put a stop to Methodist preaching in the time of Church service; and wound up by saying: "For many years I have had more trouble with this society, than with half the societies of England put together. With God's help, I will try you one year longer; and I hope you will bring forth better fruit."
On October 29, Wesley returned to London, where he continued the remainder of the year. He visited the classes, and found that, since February, one hundred and seventyfive persons had left the society, one hundred and six of whom were Thomas Maxfield's friends. All his leisure hours he employed in reading over, with the London preachers, the publications of himself and his brother; considering the objections that had been made against them; and correcting whatever they judged wrong either in matter or expression.
Hitherto Wesley had consorted but little with Dissenting ministers. He had visited Doddridge, and had been in friendly communication with Gillies and a few of the presbyterians of North Britain; but that was well-nigh all. With a heart big enough to embrace all men, without distinction of nation, sect, or colour, he had, hitherto, intentionally or otherwise, been as exemplary an observer of the etiquette of episcopal caste as almost any high church ritualist could wish. In December, 1763, he added to his friends the presbyterian minister of Staplehurst, in Kent. A few months before, the Rev. Jacob Chapman, the minister alluded to, wrote to Wesley, saying: "I am a minister of the presbyterian denomination; but my Master has enabled me to love real Christians of all denominations. I have reason to bless God for my acquaintance with the Methodists; they have been
Rev. Facob Chapman.
great blessings to me and my dear wife. The Lord has inclined us to receive the preachers most freely and joyfully."1 Mr. Chapman was not an episcopalian; but he was a Christian, and, on December 7, Wesley went to visit him. He writes: "Mr. Chapman, who loves all that love Christ, received us gladly. At six, the congregation, gathered from many miles round, seemed just ripe for the gospel; so that, contrary to my custom in a new place, I spoke merely of 'the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.'"
Immediately after Wesley's return to London, Mr. Chapman wrote him as follows.
“STAPLEHURST, December 10, 1763.
"Reverend SIR,-You shall be always most heartily welcome to the best part of my house, for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose you are, and whom you serve. Whatever preachers you send, we shall joyfully receive, be their opinions what they may. I would like those best, who are most like Christ. I very greatly approve of the rules of the society, and very fervently love you; and I trust never to let a day pass without praying for you. I make no doubt, the lay preachers are sent by our Lord as extraordinary messengers; and that His design is, that they should go about calling poor sinners to repent and believe the gospel, and consequently that they are not to settle anywhere. This is a very difficult office. The Lord strengthen them for the arduous undertaking."2
The friendship, thus begun, was long continued. Mr. Chapman's house and chapel were open to the Methodist preachers. He himself became a member of the Methodist society, and was as docile and humble as though he had been one of the most illiterate among the people. His stipend was £80 per annum; he lived on £20, and gave away the rest in charity. He almost, if not entirely, used a vegetarian diet, and principally for the purpose of being able to relieve the necessities of his poorer brethren. He survived Wesley; and when visited by Robert Miller, about the year 1790, gave him the heartiest welcome, saying: "I have entertained the preachers for seven-and-twenty years, and hope they will never forsake me while I live." Mr. Miller adds: "Mr. Chapman was one of the best men I ever knew";3 and good old
'Methodist Magazine, 1782, p. 550.
3 Ibid. 1801, p. 194.
2 Ibid. 1782, p. 667.
1763 John Reynolds testified: "Of all the men of God, with Age 60 whom I have had the happiness to be acquainted, in a life of more than threescore years, I have never known one who appeared to possess so much of the mind of Christ as Mr. Chapman."1
The world is full of changes. Man's circle of acquaintance alters in character, though not materially in size. New friends spring up on earth; but old friends are removed to heaven. Thus it was with Wesley. In 1763, he became acquainted with Mr. Chapman; in the same year, he was bereaved of Dr. Byrom.
Byrom was the son of a linen draper, and born at Kersal, near Manchester, in 1691. After being educated in his native town, and at the Merchant Taylors' school in London, he was, at the age of sixteen, admitted a pensioner of Trinity college, Cambridge. In 1714, he was elected fellow of his college, and, in the same year, became a contributor to Addison's Spectator. Two years later, he resigned his college preferment, and went to Montpelier, to study physic. On his return to England, he assumed the office of teacher of shorthand writing, of which he was preeminently a master. On the death of his brother, he came into possession of the family estate, at Kersal, and gave himself up to the enjoyment of domestic and social felicity. He was a profound admirer of the great English mystic, William Law; but was also a man of unaffected piety. At a time when much obloquy was attached to the name of Methodist, he was not ashamed of being known as the particular friend of Wesley. He died September 28, 1763.2 His only son died ten years afterwards.
In many respects, Byrom was a remarkable man. stature, he was one of the tallest men in England; so that, in the course of fifty years, he appears to have met only two others taller than himself. In stenography, he was the greatest proficient then existing. The extent, variety, and accuracy of his literary studies were amazing, as is shown by his manu
1 Methodist Magazine, 1821, p. 883.
2 Life of Byrom, prefixed to his Poems.
Lloyd's Evening Post, April 23, 1777.
Methodist Magazine, 1863, p. 905.