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1763 Age 60
are "modern pretenders to supernatural informations”; they are "hurried away with the exorbitancies of ungoverned piety"; they are "enthusiastic preachers, 'who are mindful enough of one part of St. Paul's injunction to Timothy, 'to give attendance to exhortation, and to doctrine,' but alas! if they really would, they could not give heed to the first and fundamental part of it-reading."
Another onslaught was made by a greater Church dignitary than Mr. Backhouse. Dr. Thomas Rutherforth was a fellow of the Royal Society, archdeacon of Essex, regius professor of divinity at Cambridge, and an author of repute; though Warburton says of him: "If he knows no more of theology than he does of morals, he is the meanest pedant of the age.” In 1763, Rutherforth published "Four Charges to the Clergy of the Archdeaconry of Essex"; in which he took the liberty to tell his readers, that though "the Methodists pretend to be the genuine sons of the Church of England, they adopt the language and opinions of the conventicle; for they maintain, that every believer, provided he has the gift of utterance, is qualified to preach, and that human learning is rather an impediment than otherwise." His pamphlet of ninety-five pages, octavo, is dull and dreary, though upon the whole, respectful. Five years afterwards, Wesley wrote an answer to it, from which the following are extracts. Rutherforth charges Wesley with maintaining contradictions. Wesley replies :
"If all my sentiments were compared together, from the year 1725 to 1768, there would be truth in the charge; for, during the latter part of this period, I have relinquished several of my former sentiments. During these last thirty years, I may also have varied in some of my sentiments and expressions without observing it. I will not undertake to defend all the expressions which I have occasionally used during this time, but must desire men of candour to make allowance for those
'Quas aut incuria fudit,
Aut humana parum cavit natura.'
It is not strange if, among these inaccurate expressions, there are some seeming contradictions, especially considering, I was answering so many different objectors, frequently attacking me at once. Nevertheless, I believe there will be found few, if any, real contradictions in what I have published for near thirty years."
Again, Dr. Rutherforth had objected to the Methodists,
Wesley and Dr. Rutherforth.
on the ground of their doctrine of assurance. Wesley's reply 1763 to this is well worth pondering.
"I believe a few, but very few, Christians have an assurance from God of everlasting salvation; and that is the thing which the apostle terms full assurance of hope.
"I believe more have such an assurance of being now in the favour of God as excludes all doubt and fear; and this, if I do not mistake, the apostle means by the full assurance of faith.
"I believe a consciousness of being in the favour of God, (which I do not term full assurance, since it is frequently weakened, nay, perhaps interrupted, by returns of doubt or fear,) is the common privilege of Christians, fearing God and working righteousness. Yet I do not affirm there are no exceptions to this general rule; but, I believe, this is usually owing either to disorder of body, or to ignorance of the gospel promises. Therefore, I have not, for many years, thought a consciousness of acceptance to be essential to justifying faith.
"After I have thus explained myself once for all, I hope all reasonable men will be satisfied; and whoever will dispute with me on this head must do it for disputing's sake."
Rutherforth's main accusation, however, is that the Methodists teach, that "Christianity rejects the aid of human learning." To this Wesley replies: "Mr. Berridge thinks it does; but I am not accountable for him, from whom, in this, I totally differ." In proof of this he appeals to his "deliberate thoughts on human learning" in his "Serious Address to the Clergy"; to his establishment of Kingswood school; and to the fact that, though his preachers did not profess to know the languages and philosophy, yet some of them understood both one and the other better than great part of his pupils at the university did. He continues:
"What I believe concerning learning is this: that it is highly expedient for a guide of souls, but not absolutely necessary. What I believe to be absolutely necessary is, a faith unfeigned, the love of God and our neighbour, a burning zeal for the advancement of Christ's kingdom, with a heart and life wholly devoted to God. These I judge to be necessary in the highest degree; and next to these a competent knowledge of Scripture, a sound understanding, a tolerable utterance, and a willingness to be as the filth and offscouring of the world."1
Noble words are these of Wesley. Let all Methodist quarterly and district meetings and conferences act upon them.
Wesley's Works, vol. xiv., p. 329.
1763 The most furious attack on Wesley, in 1763, was by WarAge 60 burton, bishop of Gloucester, in an octavo volume of 259 pages, first published in 1762, and entitled, "The Doctrine of Grace: or, The Office and Operations of the Holy Spirit vindicated from the Insults of Infidelity, and the Abuses of Fanaticism." Warburton allows, that Wesley is "an extraordinary man"; but finds fault with him for having "laid claim to almost every apostolic gift and grace in as full a measure as they were possessed of old." In earnest raillery, and trenchant language, the Gloucester prelate professes to establish this, by citations from Wesley's Journals. To attempt a summary of his episcopal scoldings is impracticable; indeed, it would be of little use. It is a curious fact, that Warburton sent the manuscript to Wesley before the work was printed, with a request to notice its errors. Wesley says: "the manuscript abounded with quotations from poets, philosophers, etc., both in Greek and Latin. After correcting the false readings, improper glosses, and other errors, I returned it." This incident helps to explain a sentence in one of Wesley's letters to his brother, dated "January 5, 1762": "I was a little surprised to find Bishop Warburton so entirely unacquainted with the New Testament; and, notwithstanding all his parade of learning, I believe he is no critic in Greek."
Wesley lost no time in replying to Warburton's attack. This he did, in "A Letter to the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Gloucester. Occasioned by his tract on the office and operations of the Holy Spirit. London: 1763,” 12m0, 144 pages. The character and substance of Wesley's answer may be inferred from its concluding paragraphs.
"I have now finished what I had to say, either concerning myself, or on the operations of the Holy Spirit. In doing this, I have used great plainness of speech, and yet, I hope, without rudeness. If anything of that kind has slipped from me, I am ready to retract it. I desire, on the one hand, to accept no man's person; and yet, on the other, to give honour to whom honour is due.
"If your lordship should think it worth your while to spend any more words upon me, may I presume to request one thing of your lordship,-to be more serious? It cannot injure your lordship's character, or your
1 Everett's Life of Dr. A. Clarke, vol. i., p. 244.
2 Wesley's Works, vol. xii., p. 114.
Warburton, Bishop of Gloucester.
Warburton's book was principally an attack on Wesley and Conyers Middleton; but as the title page, at least, referred to the "office and operations of the Holy Spirit," others, beside Wesley, deemed it their duty to call the jaunty bishop to account for his errors and omissions. Whitefield, though scarcely alluded to by Warburton, sent forth a pamphlet of twenty-four pages, in which he charges the bishop with having, "in effect, robbed, the church of its promised Comforter; and, thereby, left us without any supernatural influence or Divine operations whatsoever." The Rev. John Andrews, LL.B., of St. Mary hall, Oxford, published a book of 224 pages to correct his lordship's notions; for which his lordship dismissed him from a small Church benefice that he had previously bestowed upon him. John Payne also, once a bookseller, but afterwards accountant of the Bank of England, issued a volume of five hundred pages, accusing the bishop of unfairness to Mr. Law. Dr. Thomas Leland, a fellow of Trinity college, Dublin, the most admired preacher of that city, and whose classical learning Dr. Johnson considered to be unrivalled, gave to the world his "Dissertation on the Principles of Human Eloquence," in which he refuted the arguments used by Warburton in reference to the style and composition of the New Testament. Thus the irate bishop got into a nest of hornets. Wesley considered, that he himself had so "untwisted the bishop's arguments," that to put them together again was a thing impossible.1 Andrews so stung his lordship, that his lordship dismissed him from his sée. And Leland so vanquished his antagonist, that, instead of the bishop defending his own, Dr. Hurd, in a tone of sarcasm and contempt, thought proper to answer on behalf of his episcopal master, and, three years afterwards, was made archdeacon of his master's diocese. Samuel Charndler, also, of Newington, appeared as the bishop's champion, in "An Answer to the Rev. Mr. John Wesley's Letter to William, Lord Bishop of Gloucester." 8vo, 22 pages. With no slight degree of egotism, he tells his readers, that his "remarks are not the fruits of idle conceit, or mere conjecture, not party suggestions, or newfangled notions, but a plain series of well
'Wesley's Works, vol. x., p. 340.
1763 considered thoughts." He informs Wesley, that Methodist "doctrine has filled Bedlam and the several madhouses in Age 60 England with shoals of patients"; that he had “occasioned many and great violations of the peace"; and that he is "well skilled in the rudiments of deceit." Poor Samuel Charndler, by the side of Bishop Warburton, was a Lilliputian playing antics in the presence of a Patagonian giant.
The other publications of Wesley, in 1763, were as follows. 1. "Letters wrote by Jane Cooper, to which is prefixed some account of her Life and Death." 12mo, 41 pages. Jane Cooper was born in Norfolk, in 1738; and, in the twentieth year of her age, came to London as a domestic servant; was converted; and joined the Methodists. Four years afterwards she died of smallpox, and Wesley buried her. She was evidently one of Wesley's pattern saints, and professed to live in the enjoyment of Christian holiness. Indeed, her experience forms a part of Wesley's "Plain Account of Christian Perfection." Considering her social position, her letters are remarkable productions. "All here," says Wesley, "is strong, sterling sense, strictly agreeable to sound reason. Here are no extravagant flights, no mystic reveries, no unscriptural enthusiasm. The sentiments are all just and noble; the result of a fine natural understanding, cultivated by conversation, thinking, reading, and true Christian experience.” The last words of this servant maid were: "My Jesus is all in all to me; glory be to Him through time and eternity." Wesley calls her "a pattern of all holiness, and of the wisdom which is from above."
2. "Farther Thoughts upon Christian Perfection." 12mo, 39 pages. This has been already noticed.
3. As also the following: "A Sermon preached before the Society for the Reformation of Manners; on Sunday, January 30, 1763. At the chapel in West Street, Seven Dials." 8vo, 31 pages. At the end of it, the names of five gentlemen are given, who would receive subscriptions to the funds of the society, on behalf of which it was delivered.
4. The substance also of another pamphlet has been already given: "Minutes of several Conversations between the Rev. Mr. John and Charles Wesley, and others." 30 pages.