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Letters to Thomas Rankin.
"ST. JOHN'S, September 11, 1765.
66 DEAR TOMMY,-There is a good work in Cornwall. But where the great work goes on well, we should take care to be exact in little things. I will tell you several of these, just as they occur to my mind.
"Grace Paddy, at Redruth, met in the select society, though she wore a large glittering necklace, and met no band.
"They sing all over Cornwall a tune so full of repetitions and flourishes, that it can scarce be sung with devotion. It is to these words, 'Praise the Lord, ye blessed ones.' Away with it: let it be heard no more.
They cannot sing our old common tunes. Teach these everywhere. Take pains herein.
"The societies are not half supplied with books; not even with Jane Cooper's Letters, or the two or three sermons which I printed last year; no, not with the shilling hymn-book, or 'Primitive Physic.'
"They almost universally neglect fasting.
"The preaching houses are miserable, even the new ones. They have neither light nor air sufficient; and they are far, far too low, and too small. Look at Yarm house.
"Recommend the 'Notes on the Old Testament,' in good earnest. Every society, as a society, should subscribe. Remind them, everywhere, that two, four, or six might join together for a copy, and bring the money to their leader weekly.
"We have need to use all the common sense God has given us, as well as all the grace.
"I am, dear Tommy, your affectionate friend and brother,
Tommy Rankin was a faithful man, and if things in Cornwall were not all right it was not Tommy's fault. Hence another of Wesley's own peculiar letters, written two months afterwards.2
"LONDON, November 18, 1765.
“DEAR TOMMY,-You have satisfied me with regard to the particulars which I mentioned in my letter from Cornwall. Only, one thing I desire you to remember. Never sit up later than ten o'clock; no, not for any reason (except a watchnight), not on any pretence whatever. In general, I desire you would go to bed about a quarter after nine.
"Likewise be temperate in speaking; never too loud; never too long: else Satan will befool you; and, on pretence of being more useful, quite disable you from being useful at all.
"Richard Henderson desired, that he might be the bookkeeper this year in Wiltshire, and save me two shillings in the pound. But whoever you approve of, so do I. Write to Mr. Franks accordingly.
"I am, dear Tommy, your affectionate friend and brother,
1 Wesley's Works, vol. xii., p. 301. VOL. II.
2 Ibid. p. 302.
1765 On September 21, Wesley returned to Bristol, where he Age 62 found fifty members fewer than he had left twelve months before. He writes: "One reason is, Christian perfection has been little insisted on; and wherever this is not done, be the preachers ever so eloquent, there is little increase, either in the number or the grace of the hearers." "There are now about twenty persons here, who believe they are saved from sin; but, if these lose what they have received, nothing will be more easy than to think they never had it. There were four hundred in London, who, unless they told me lies, had the same experience. If near half of these have lost what they had, I do not wonder if they think they never had it; it is so ready a way of excusing themselves for throwing away the blessed gift of God."1
It was about this period that Captain Webb and Wesley became acquainted.2 Thomas Webb was now in the thirtyfirst year of his age. Seven years before, he had been with General Wolfe, in Canada, where he lost his right eye, and was wounded in his right arm. He found peace with God on March 23, 1765, while conversing in Bristol with Mr. Cary, a Moravian minister; and, soon after, was introduced among the Bristol Methodists by the Rev. James Roquet. Immediately after his conversion, he began to preach at Bath; and, in 1769, was one of the principal agents employed in planting Methodism in America. About the year 1783, he settled in England, and spent the remainder of his life, till 1796, in preaching Christ. He was twice married, and had two sons and a daughter. The sons became resident in America; the daughter died at Stourport, three years after her father. 5 Wesley had a high respect for the brave captain, and, by applying to Lord North, obtained him a pension of a hundred pounds a year. "The captain," says he, "is all life and fire; and many are convinced under his preaching, some are justified, and a few built up in love." Charles
1 Methodist Magazine, 1799, p. 201.
Drew's Life of Coke, p. 47.
3 Pritchard's funeral sermon for Webb. 4 Sprague's "Annals of American Methodist Pulpit." * Methodist Magazine, 1799. p. 272. Ibid. 1850, p. 161.
Wesley's Works, vol. iii., p. 461.
Wesley's opinion, as might be expected, was more qualified. 1765 "He is," he writes, "an inexperienced, honest, zealous, loving Age 62 enthusiast."1
We shall meet with Captain Webb again; suffice it to add here, that, to the end of life, he furnished a bright example of Christian diligence and zeal. For several years, he annually made a summer's visit to the French prisoners at Winchester, addressing them in their own language, which he had studied while in Canada. Portsmouth, also, was often favoured with his services. Here crowds of soldiers and sailors listened, with all possible veneration, to the Christian or, and, under the spontaneous effusions of his holy eloquence, trembled, as they would not have trembled in the midst of battle, and wept on account of sin, when they would have scorned to weep on account of pain. In Bristol and its vicinity, his labours were greatly blessed; and to him, in an eminent degree, Bristol is indebted for the erection of Portland chapel, where he lies interred. The good old captain was carried to his grave by six local preachers, and his pall was borne by six itinerants. His funeral sermon was preached and published by John Pritchard. "Webb," says Dr. Dixon, "seems to have been a perfect embodiment of the true genius and spirit of primitive Methodism." He was not perfect, and John Pawson found great fault with Pritchard's funeral sermon, for being far too eulogistic of the captain's virtues; 5 but, maugre Pawson's criticism, there cannot be a doubt, that the brave and generous wounded old warrior was as courageous and as zealous, in the cause of Christ, as he ever was in the service of his country. His native talent was respectable; he had seen much of life; his education enabled him to read his Greek Testament, which is still a much prized relic in America; his enthusiasm was almost unbounded; and his impassioned eloquence sometimes overwhelming. His name must be for ever illustrious in the history of Methodism in the United States; and he well
1 Wesley's Works, vol. xii., p. 391. 2 Methodist Magazine, 1849, p. 386. Dixon's "Methodism in America," p. 162. Stevens' History of Methodist Episcopal
3Ibid. 1845, p. 427.
1765 deserved the eulogium on his monument in Portland chapel, Age 62 Bristol: "Brave, active, courageous, faithful, zealous, and
Wesley left Bristol on October 21, and reached London three days afterwards. On October 28, he writes: "I breakfasted with Mr. Whitefield, who seemed to be an old, old man, being fairly worn out in his Master's service, though he has hardly seen fifty years; and yet it pleases God, that I, who am now in my sixty-third year, find no disorder, no weakness, no decay, no difference from what I was at five-and-twenty; only that I have fewer teeth, and more grey hairs."
During the first week in December, Wesley paid a visit to the societies at Canterbury, Dover, Margate, and Faversham. At Canterbury, he found all the members, without exception, "upright and blameless in their behaviour." At Dover, where the Methodists met in a cooper's shop, some had formerly indulged in smuggling, but they had ceased to "rob the king," and were now in prosperity.
At Margate, the society were "earnestly opposed" by the parson of the parish, who thought he was "doing God service." At Faversham, says Wesley, "the mob and the magistrates had agreed together to drive Methodism out of the town. After preaching, I told them what we had been constrained to do by the magistrate at Rolvenden; who, perhaps, would have been richer, by some hundred pounds, had he never meddled with the Methodists; concluding, 'Since we have both God and the law on our side, if we can have peace by fair means, we had much rather; but if not, we will have peace.'"
From a manuscript, written by Miss Perronet, we learn that, five months before Wesley's visit to Faversham, Mrs. Pizing had gone to Canterbury, to consult with Charles Perronet, respecting her husband, who had been threatened with expulsion from the situation he held, if he continued to attend the Methodist services at Faversham, or entertained the preachers at his house. The mob, also, were determined to assault the congregation, and to punish them with vengeance. Charles Perronet exhorted Mrs. Pizing and her husband to continue faithful; and Miss Perronet went to visit them. During her stay, many of the female members, as
A serious Accident.
sisters Butler, Godfrey, Pizing, Clark, Whitehead, and 1765 Rigden, found peace with God; and there was, what Miss Age 62 Perronet designates, "a blessed work of God among them." These were some of the poor Methodists threatened by the mob and magistrates of Faversham.
Wesley's friendship with the Perronet family was of long standing, and was unabated. On December 15, he buried the remains of Henry, one of the vicar's sons, who "had been a child of sorrow from his infancy," but who died in hope and happiness. Wesley spent some days at the Shoreham parsonage, endeavouring to comfort his old and faithful friend; he himself suffering at the time from a serious accident, which occurred to him while he was on his way to the house of mourning. In riding through Southwark, his horse fell, with Wesley's leg under it. A gentleman picked him up, and took him into an adjoining shop, where he was exceeding sick, but was relieved by hartshorn and water. After a brief rest, he called a coach, and proceeded on his journey, but soon found himself severely bruised in his right arm, his breast, his knee, his leg, and ankle, all of which were greatly swollen. Arriving at Shoreham, he applied treacle plasters twice a day; and, within a week, was able to return to London in a carriage, where, to the treacle applications, he added electrifying every morning and every night. He gradually improved; but, for many months afterwards, he was a serious sufferer, though he refused to permit his pain to interrupt his work. "I am not quite free," he wrote, on May 6, 1766, "from the effects of my fall at Christmas, and perhaps never shall be in this world. Sometimes my ankle, sometimes my knee, and frequently my shoulder, complains. But, blessed be God, I have strength sufficient for the work to which I am called. When I cannot walk any farther, I can take a horse, and now and then a chaise; so that, hitherto, I have not been hindered from visiting any place which I purposed to see before I left London." 1
Comparatively speaking, there was, in 1765, a cessation of the printed attacks on Methodism. There was one, however, which must be mentioned: "Mumbo Chumbo: a Tale
Wesley's Works, vol. xii., p. 179.