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5. The "Sermon on Sin in Believers" was written March 1763 28, 1763. Its object is to refute the doctrine of Zinzendorf, that all true believers are entirely sanctified. The sermon is one of Wesley's ablest homilies; and, doubtless, had its origin in the excitement arising out of the subject of Christian perfection. “I wrote it," says he, "in order to remove a mistake which some were labouring to propagate,—that there is no sin in any that are justified."
6. "An Extract from Milton's 'Paradise Lost,' with Notes." 18m0, 320 pages. Wesley's object, in this publication, may be gathered from his preface. "This inimitable work, amidst all its beauties, is unintelligible to abundance of readers: the immense learning, which Milton has everywhere crowded together, making it quite obscure to persons of a common education. This difficulty I have endeavoured to remove in the following extract: first, by omitting those lines which I despaired of explaining to the unlearned; and secondly, by adding short and easy notes. To those passages, which I apprehend to be peculiarly excellent, either with regard to sentiment or expression, I have prefixed a star; and these, I believe, it would be worth while to read over and over, or even to commit to memory."1
7. "A Survey of the Wisdom of God in Creation; or, a Compendium of Natural Philosophy." 2 vols., 12mo. This work was begun as early as the year 1758;2 and was published by subscription. In a circular to his assistants, Wesley
1 The following are the first lines of the paragraphs, in Book I., which Wesley distinguishes as "peculiarly excellent." They will serve as specimens of all the others.
Say first, for heaven hides nothing from thy view."
"He scarce had ceased when the superior fiend.”
1763 said: "Spare no pains to procure subscriptions for the PhiloAge 60 sophy. It will be the most complete thing of its kind in the English tongue." A second edition, in three volumes, was issued in 1770; a third, in five volumes, in 1777. In the London Magazine, for 1774, a long letter, signed "Philosophaster," was addressed to Wesley, criticising some of his statements. In his reply," Wesley, in some points, acknowledges himself to be in error; but not in others; and then concludes: "Permit me, sir, to give you one piece of advice. Be not so positive; especially with regard to things which are neither easy nor necessary to be determined. I ground this advice on my own experience. When I was young, I was sure of everything. In a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as before. At present, I am hardly sure of anything, but what God has revealed to man."
1 Wesley's Works, vol. xii., p. 435- 2 London Magazine, 1765, p. 26.
HARLES Wesley, in feeble health, seems to have spent 1764
in America, and so much an invalid, that he could only preach about thrice a week. Though distant, he affectionately remembered his old friend Wesley. Hence the following.
"PHILADELPHIA, September 25, 1764.
Reverend and DEAR SIR,-Your kind letter, dated in January last, through the negligence of those that received the parcel, did not reach me till within these few days. I have been mercifully carried through the summer's heat; and, had strength permitted, I might have preached to thousands and thousands thrice a day. Zealous ministers are not so rare in this new world as in other parts. Here is room for a hundred itinerants. Fain would I end my life in rambling after those that have rambled away from Jesus Christ. I am persuaded you are likeminded. I wish you and all your dear fellow labourers much prosperity. I do not repent being a poor, despised, cast out, and now almost worn out itinerant. I would do it again, if I had my choice. If you and all yours would join in praying over a poor, worthless, but willing pilgrim, it would be a very great act of charity, he being, though less than the least of all, "Reverend and very dear sir, ever yours in Jesus,
(6 GEORGE WHITEFIELD."1
Whitefield was away from England; but even that was not enough to save him from the malignant attacks of his English enemies. At the very commencement of the year, the half insane watchmaker, mentioned in a previous chapter, published another of his shilling pamphlets, with the fantastic title: "Remarks upon the Life, Character, and Behaviour of the Rev. George Whitefield, as written by himself, from the time of his birth to the time he departed from his Tabernacle; demonstrating, by astronomical calculation, that his ascension, meridian, and declination were necessarily actuated by planetary influence, and that his doctrine was not Divine mission, but from a mere fatality evident, as daily seen in the sad catastrophe of his unhappy, gloomy, and misguided fol
1 Methodist Magazine, 1782, p. 439.
1764 lowers. The whole being a choice new year's gift for Age 61 Methodists, and one of the most valuable prizes that ever was drawn since Methodism has been in being. By John Harman, astronomer." Well might the Monthly Review remark: "Harman styles himself regulator of enthusiasts,' and astronomer'; we look upon him as a comical genius, who has contrived to plague the Methodists and their great leader, in the style of an almanack maker, and with all the antiquated jargon of astrology."1
During the month of January, Wesley, besides preaching in London and its immediate vicinity, visited Dorking, HighWycombe, Oxford, and Witney.
Within three miles of the last mentioned town, at South Leigh, Wesley preached his first sermon, in the year 1725; but, oddly enough, this was the first time that he preached at Witney itself.2
Wesley writes: "This is such a people as I have not seen ; so remarkably diligent in business, and, at the same time, of so quiet a spirit, and so calm and civil in their behaviour."
Near to Witney, at Blandford Park, resided Mr. Bolton and his unmarried sister, whose house, for many years, was one of Wesley's much loved haunts. Miss Bolton was one of Wesley's favourite correspondents, and Mr. Bolton one of his best local preachers. On one occasion, when the two friends were snugly seated in Mr. Bolton's parlour, and Wesley, as usual, was employed with his book and pen, the Witney host, wishful to draw his guest into conversation, began remarking how much pleasanter it was to live in the country than in town; "All is silent," said he, "all retired, and no distracting noises of the busy multitude intrude themselves." "True, Neddy," replied Wesley with his usual quickness, "but noisy thoughts may." The hint sufficed, and Neddy subsided into silence.
On February 2, Wesley reopened the old Foundery, in London, which had been closed, for several weeks, in order to be repaired and otherwise improved. "It is now," says he, "not only firm and safe, but clean and decent, and capable of receiving several hundreds more."
1 Monthly Review, 1764, p. 76.
2 Youth's Instructor, 1832, p. 38.
On February 6, he opened the new chapel at Wapping. 1764 Ten days later, he writes: "I once more took a serious walk Age 61 through the tombs in Westminster Abbey. What heaps of unmeaning stone and marble! But there was one tomb which showed common sense; that beautiful figure of Mr. Nightingale, endeavouring to screen his lovely wife from death. Here, indeed, the marble seems to speak, and the statues appear only not alive.”
It is well known, that the Rev. Martin Madan, minister at the Lock hospital, and his curate, the Rev. Thomas Haweis, were both most passionately fond of music, and themselves composers. Once a year, their chapel was turned into a concert room for the performance of oratorios; and, on two occasions at least, Wesley was a listener. He writes: "1764, February 29-I heard 'Judith,' an oratorio, performed at the Lock. Some parts of it were exceeding fine; but there are two things in all modern pieces of music, which I could never reconcile to common sense. One is, singing the same words ten times over; the other, singing different words by different persons, at one and the same time. And this, in the most solemn addresses to God, whether by way of prayer or thanksgiving. This can never be defended by all the musicians in Europe, till reason is quite out of date."
He was present again the year following, when "Ruth" was the oratorio performed, and observed: "The sense was admirable throughout; and much of the poetry not contemptible. This, joined with exquisite music, might possibly make an impression even upon rich and honourable sinners."
Some will wonder at Wesley attending the performance of oratorios; but why so? Fault may properly be found with Martin Madan for using a place of worship for such performances; but Martin Madan was merely copying the example of his superiors, who, even then, once a year, gave the use of their cathedrals to the choirs of Gloucester, Hereford, and Worcester, for the same musical purposes. Indeed, some of the early Methodists adopted the same doubtful usage. We have before us more than one of Handel's oratorios, specially printed, for performance in Oldham Street chapel,
1 1 Lady Huntingdon's Life and Times, vol. i., p. 364.