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An Adventurous Ride.

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On June 25, he came to Kendal, where "the people had been so harassed by seceders, and disputers of every kind, that they were now dry and dead as stones." The next day he preached four times, and rode fifty miles, without weariness. He then made his way to Otley, Guiseley, Keighley, Bradford, Birstal, Leeds, Wakefield, Dewsbury, Halifax, Huddersfield, and Manchester. For the last ten days, he had preached three times every day, and many of the times in the open air. He then proceeded to Bolton, Wigan, Liverpool, Warrington, Chester, Macclesfield, Congleton, Burslem, Madeley, and Shrewsbury. The enumeration of these places will furnish an idea, not only of Wesley's labours, but of the chief towns where Methodism had been introduced.

From Shrewsbury, he went through Wales to Bristol. On the first day's journey, he and his companion were in the saddle from four o'clock in the morning till eight at night, when they found they had missed their way. They were told to ride in a certain direction; but their path soon ended in a bog. Then an honest man mounted his horse, and galloped before them, up hill and down, till he brought them into a road, which, he said, led to Roesfair. They rode on, till another met them, and said, "No; this is the way to Aberystwith. If you would go to Roesfair, you must turn back, and ride down. to yonder bridge." At the bridge, the master of a little public house directed them to the next village, where they inquired again, and were again set exactly wrong. Having wandered an hour upon the mountains, "through rocks, and bogs, and precipices," they got back to the bridge, whence they had been directed. It was now past ten o'clock, and they had been riding and preaching for the last eighteen hours; but to obtain rest was impracticable; for the public house was full of drunken, roaring miners; and, besides that, there was but one bed in the roadside inn, and neither grass, nor hay, nor corn for cattle. At length, they hired one of the miners, who was "miserably drunk," to walk with them to Roesfair whither they were travelling. On his way, the man fell all his length into a river, which partly restored his senses. Between eleven and twelve they reached their destination; but, even here, provender for their beasts of burden there was none; and, to make bad things worse, the

1764 Age 61

1764 Age 61

ostler and the miner, after the travellers were gone to bed, mounted the jaded animals for a ride; and, next morning, the mule of Wesley's friend was found cut in several places, whilst Wesley's horse was bleeding from a wound, two inches deep, made, it seemed, by a stroke with a pitchfork. Wesley got safe to Bristol on August 4.

Here we must pause, in his itinerancy, to notice other matters, which occurred during his five months' journey.

One is a letter referring to exercise on horseback, not inappropriate to the adventure just related. The letter was addressed to his friend, Mr. Ebenezer Blackwell, who had begun to drive his carriage.

66 LIVERPOOL, July 14, 1764 "DEAR SIR, My brother informs me, that you have been so extremely ill, that your life was hardly expected. I really am under apprehensions lest that chariot should cost you your life. If, after having been accustomed to ride on horseback for many years, you should now exchange a horse for a carriage, it cannot be that you should have good health. It is

vain thing to expect it. I judge of your case by my own. I must be on horseback for life, if I would be healthy. Now and then, indeed, if I could afford it, I should rest myself for fifty miles in a chaise; but, without riding near as much as I do now, I must never look for health.

"I am, dear sir,

"Your very affectionate servant,
"John WeslEY.”

Let the railway riding and carriage driving public of the present day take a hint from this.

Another letter may be inserted here, which shows, that, in the Methodist movement, Wesley was now without a counsellor. His brother, to whom the letter was addressed, had retired into comparative seclusion; and there was no one to occupy his place. The letter also contains historical allusions of considerable importance.

"HADDINGTON, May 25, 1764

"DEAR BROTHER,-Is there any reason why you and I should have no further intercourse with each other? I know none; although possibly there are persons in the world, who would not be sorry for it. I hope you find peace and unity in the south, as we do in the north; only the seceders and Mr. Sandeman's friends are ready to eat us up. And no wonder; for these, as well as deists and Socinians, I oppose ex professo. But how do

'Wesley's Works, vol. xii., p. 178.

Difficulty.

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Thomas Maxfield and his friends go on? quietly, or gladiatorio animo? And how are John Jones, Downes, and Richardson? and my best friend, and yours?

"The frightful stories, written from London, had made all our preachers in the north afraid even to mutter about perfection; and, of course, the people, on all sides, were grown good Calvinists in that point. It is what I foresaw from the beginning; that the devil would strive, by Thomas Maxfield and company, to drive perfection out of the kingdom.

"O let you and I hold fast whereunto we have attained; and let our yea be yea, and our nay nay! I feel the want of some about me, that are all faith and love. No man was more profitable to me than George Bell, while he was simple of heart. O for heat and light united! My love to Sally. Adieu!

"JOHN WESLEY."1

The next matter to be mentioned was of paramount importance. The desertion of Maxfield, the retirement of Wesley's brother, and the Greek ordination of John Jones have been already noticed. Just at this juncture, Providence raised up the Rev. John Richardson, a young Yorkshireman, who was episcopally ordained, had a curacy in Sussex, and, in 1762, was made a happy witness of the power of Divine truth under a sermon preached by Thomas Rankin. Within a year after this, Richardson relinquished his curacy, joined the Methodists, and became Wesley's assistant in London. Still, Wesley, in the spring of 1764, was in the greatest difficulty. He was bound to visit his country societies; his brother declined to supply his place in London, and also objected to John Jones taking any part in administering the sacraments during Wesley's absence. Things were in this position when Wesley wrote to his brother as follows.

"LONDON, March 1, 1764.

"DEAR BROTHER,-You ‘have no thoughts of venturing to London before May!' Then I must indeed 'do the best I can.' So I must comply with the advice of the stewards, as well as my own judgment, and insist upon John Jones's assisting me on Sunday. I have delayed all this time purely out of tenderness to you. Adieu !

"JOHN WESLEY."?

This was bringing the matter to an issue; and Charles Wesley must have felt that, if John Jones, ordained by the dubious Erasmus, was really employed in giving the sacra

1 Wesley's Works, vol. xii., p. 117.

2 Ibid.

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1764 ment to the London Methodists, he had no one to blame Age 61 except himself. Mr. Jones was so annoyed by Charles Wesley's opposition, that he left the Methodist connexion, procured reordination from the Bishop of London, and was presented to the living of Harwich.

A fortnight after writing thus to Charles, Wesley went to Bristol, where his brother was residing. "Here," he says, "I met several serious clergymen. I have long desired, that there might be an open, avowed union between all who preach those fundamental truths-original sin, and justification by faith, producing inward and outward holiness; but all my endeavours have been hitherto ineffectual. God's time is not fully come."

Some further explanation of this is necessary. In the spring of the present year, Wesley had a correspondence with the Countess of Huntingdon, and with the Rev. Mr. Hart, of Bristol, respecting the desirability of promoting union among gospel preachers. The following letter has not been previously published; it was addressed to the countess.

"NEWCASTLE, May 16, 1764.

"MY DEAR LADY,—I am much obliged to your ladyship for your encouraging answer, which plainly speaks a heart devoted to God, and longing for the furtherance of His kingdom. I have likewise received an exceeding friendly letter from Mr. Hart, testifying a great desire of union among the preachers of the gospel; only he carries the point considerably farther than I do, proposing a free debate concerning our several opinions. Now this, I fear, we are not yet able to bear: I fear it might occasion some sharpness of expression, if not of spirit too, which might tear open the wounds before they are fully closed. I am far from being assured, that I could bear it myself; and perhaps others might be as weak as I. To me, therefore, it still seems most expedient to avoid disputing of every kind: at least, for a season, till we have tasted each other's spirit, and confirmed our love to each other. I own freely, I am sick of disputing: I am weary to bear it; my whole soul cries out, 'Peace! Peace !' at least with the children of God, that we may all unite our strength, to carry on the war against the rulers of the darkness of this world.' Still I ask but one thing, 'Is thy heart right, as my heart is with thine?' If it be, give me thine hand. Let us take sweet counsel together, and strengthen each other in the Lord.'

"And the advantage in the proposal I make is this: if it should be (which God forbid!) that I should find none to join me therein, I will, by God's help, comply with it myself. None can hinder this; and, I think, my brother will be likeminded, yea, and all who act in connection with us.

Proposed Clerical Union.

"Probably it might contribute much to this end, if those of our brethren who have opportunity would be at Bristol, on Thursday, the 9th of August. We might then spend a few hours in free conversation, either apart from, or in conjunction with, the other preachers. I apprehend, if your ladyship could then be near, it might be of excellent service in confirming any kind and friendly disposition, which our Lord might plant in the hearts of His servants. Surely if this can be effectually done, we shall again see Satan, as lightning, fall from heaven.

"I am, my dear lady, your ladyship's most affectionate and obedient

servant,

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"JOHN WESLEY."

Previous to this, on April 19, while at Scarborough, Wesley had drawn up a letter, which he subsequently sent to about fifty clergymen, bearing on the subject of Christian unio It is said that this letter had been submitted to Lord Dartmouth more than two years previous to this; be that as it may, it was now forwarded to the clergymen who were preaching the doctrines above mentioned. These included Messrs. Perronet, Romaine, Newton, Shirley, Adam, Fletcher, Baddiley, Roquet, Sellon, Venn, Richardson, Furley, Conyers, Berridge, and Hicks, all of whom have been alluded to in previous pages of the present history. Besides these, there were Mr. Colley, occasionally one of Wesley's assistants; Mr. Jesse, perpetual curate of West Bromwich; Mr. Talbot, vicar of St. Giles's, Reading; Mr. Stillingfleet, of Shawbury; Mr. Andrews, vicar of Stinchcombe; Mr. Jane, vicar of Acton; Mr. Hart, vicar of St. George's, Bristol; Mr. Browne, vicar of Olney; Mr. Burnett, vicar of Elland, Yorkshire; Mr. Bentley, curate of Dr. Conyers; and Messrs. Downing, Riland, Johnson, Symes, and King, of whom we know nothing.

After mentioning the above clergymen as agreeing in the three essentials-(1) original sin; (2) justification by faith; and (3) holiness of life-Wesley proceeds to state:

"I do not desire a union of opinions among these. They might agree or disagree, touching absolute decrees on the one hand, and perfection on the other. Not a union in expressions. These may still speak of the imputed righteousness, and those of the merits of Christ. Not a union with regard to outward order. Some may remain still quite regular, some quite irregular; and some partly regular, and partly irregular. But

1 See Methodist Magazine, 1849, p. 1297.

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