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1765 country,” it is far from certain that Wesley was its author. Age 62 Still, it is not unlikely that one was connected with the other.
At all events, both substantially aim at the same thing, namely, to show that, though marriage is not sinful, it is a high state of perfection, and the result of a great gift of God, to be able to live a single life.
In 1765, also was published, “The Christian's Pocket Companion: consisting of select Texts of the New Testament, with suitable observations in prose and verse. By John Barnes, Carmarthen.” 372 pages. The preface to this Welsh production was written by Wesley, and is as follows :
“ To the Reader. Perhaps few books, lately published, have been more useful, to serious and pious readers, than that entitled “The Golden Treasury. It will be easily observed, that this is wrote on the same plan, containing a short exercise of devotion for every day of the year. The chief difference, between the one and the other, I apprehend, is this,-they do not only contain the first principles of religion, repentance towards God, and faith in Christ, the doctrine of justification, and the new birth ; but likewise the whole work of God in the soul of man, till being rooted and grounded in love he is able to comprehend, with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, and to be filled with all the fulness of God. “PEMBROKE, July 30, 1764.
“JOHN WESLEY." 4. In Lloyd's Evening Post, for June 5, 1765, appeared the following advertisement.
“On Thursday the 1st of August will be published, price 6d., Number I. of Explanatory Notes upon the Old Testament. By John Wesley, M.A., late fellow of Lincoln college, Oxford. Conditions. 1. That this work will be printed in quarto, on a superfine paper. 2. That it will be comprised in about 60 numbers (as near as can be computed) making two handsome volumes. 3. That each number will contain three sheets of letterpress, printed on a new type. 4. That the first number will be considered as a specimen, and, if not approved of, the money paid for it
· Dr. Adam Clarke, in the general preface to his commentary, says that Wesley's notes on the Old Testament are “meagre and unsatisfactory”; and, that Wesley himself told him, that this was owing to “Mr. Pine, the printer, who having set up and printed off several sheets in a type much larger than was intended, it was found impossible to get the work within the prescribed limits of four volumes, without retrenching the notes, or cancelling what was already printed. The former measure was unfortunately adopted.” It is difficult to reconcile Clarke's statement with Wesley's advertisement.
Wesley's “Notes on the Old Testament.”
shall be returned. 5. That the work will be delivered weekly to the sub- 1765 scribers, without interruption, after the publication of the first number. 6. That the whole will be printed in an elegant manner, no way
inferior to the very best work of the kind ever offered to the public. Bristol : Printed by William Pine. Sold by J. Fletcher & Co., in St. Paul's Churchyard, London ; and by the Booksellers of Great Britain and Ireland.”
Such was the advertisement. The work was really published in three quarto volumes, making 2622 printed pages, the preface being dated “ April 25, 1765," and the last page of the work, “December 24, 1766.” Wesley writes :
“ About ten years ago, I was prevailed upon to publish Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament. When that work was begun, and, indeed, when it was finished, I had no design to attempt anything further of the kind. Nay, I had a full determination not to do it, being thoroughly . fatigued with the immense labour of writing twice over a quarto book containing seven or eight hundred pages.
“But this was scarce published, before I was importuned to write Explanatory Notes upon the Old Testament. This importunity I have withstood for many years.
Over and above the deep conviction I had of my insufficiency for such a work, of my want of learning, of understanding, of spiritual experience, for an undertaking more difficult by many degrees than even writing on the New Testament, I objected, that there were many passages in the Old which I did not understand myself, and consequently could not explain to others, either to their satisfaction or my own. Above all, I objected the want of time : not only as I have a thousand other employments, but as my day is near spent, as I am declined into the vale of years."
He then proceeds to state, that he cannot entertain the thought of “composing a body of notes on the whole of the Old Testament”; but that he will give the pith of Matthew Henry's Exposition ; leaving out the whole of what Henry wrote in favour of particular redemption; also all his Latin sentences, abundance of his quaint sayings, and the far greater part of his inferences from and improvements of the chapters. His notes however would not be “a bare abridgment of Mr. Henry's Exposition"; for he would make as many additions from Mr. Pool's Annotations as he made extracts from Mr. Henry's Exposition; and would add to the whole such further observations, either of his own or of other authors, as might occur to him. Here and there he had made a verbal alteration in the text; but, he says, “I have done this very
1765 sparingly, being conscious of my very imperfect acquaintance Age 62 with the Hebrew tongue.” He concludes : “ my design is not
to write sermons, not to draw inferences from the text, or to show what doctrines may be proved thereby, but to give the direct literal meaning of every verse, of every sentence, and, as far as I am able, of every word, in the oracles of God.”
THE 'HE following is Wesley's first entry in his Journal for 1766
1766. “ January 1.—A large congregation met in the Age 63 Foundery at four o'clock, and ushered in the new year with the voice of praise and thanksgiving. In the evening we met as usual in Spitalfields to renew our covenant with God. This is always a refreshing season, at which some prisoners are set at liberty.”
Wesley was still suffering from the fall of his horse, and, to some extent, was crippled ; but, on January 13, he set out on his accustomed Norfolk visit.
On reaching Yarmouth, he wrote: “The word of God was increasing here, when poor Benjamin Worship was converted to Calvinism. Immediately, he declared open war, tore the society in pieces, took all he could to himself, wholly quitted the Church, and raised such a scandal as will not soon be removed." This was an early rupture. It was hardly six years ago since Howel Harris had come to Yarmouth, with his regiment of volunteers, and, in martial costume, begun to preach the gospel of the Prince of Peace. Among others then converted was this selfsame Benjamin Worship, a young solicitor, who became classleader and local preacher; and now tore the infant society in pieces, organised a society of his own, obtained a small chapel in one of the rows, preached for about two years, and then had the mortification to see the whole collapse. John Simpson, a draper, took Worship's place among the few forsaken Methodists; but, strangely enough, he also turned Calvinist, took possession of the meeting-house, and so divided the small society that only eight poor members were left remaining; and, before the year 1780, Methodism in Yarmouth was utterly defunct. Shortly after, a new society was formed; and, in 1783, a chapel was built, and was opened by Wesley, who says: “Often this poor society has been wellnigh shattered in pieces : first by Benjamin Worship, then a furious Calvinist, tearing away near half of them ; next by
1766 John Simpson, turning antinomian, and scattering most that Age 63 were left. It has pleased God, contrary to all human proba
bility, to raise a new society out of the rest ; nay, and to give them courage to build a new preaching house, which is well finished, and contains about five hundred persons."
Wesley returned to London on January 24, and, finding the London society £610 in debt, three meetings were held, at which more than the whole was readily subscribed. The number of members had been reduced from 2800 to 2200. "Such,” says Wesley, “is the fruit of George Bell's enthusiasm, and Thomas Maxfield's gratitude.”
Whitefield was now in London, his health greatly enfeebled, often well-nigh breathless, but still struggling to preach three or four times a week.1 Wesley writes: " January 31—Mr. Whitefield called upon me.
He breathes nothing but peace and love. Bigotry cannot stand before him, but hides its head wherever he comes."
From this period, there was a closer union between Whitefield and Wesley than there had been for the last quarter of a century. They had occasionally exchanged letters; and, sometimes, preached in each other's pulpits; but there had been no hearty cooperation. Wesley's plan of union among the evangelical clergymen of the Church of England had failed; he now entered into an alliance with Whitefield and the Countess of Huntingdon. In the month of October, 1765, her ladyship's chapel at Bath had been opened by Whitefield, who had been succeeded by Messrs. Madan, Romaine, and Fletcher. About the same time, Charles Wesley named his third daughter Selina, as a mark of respect to the countess; and, on August 21, 1766, wrote: “This morning I and my brother spent two blessed hours with George Whitefield. The threefold cord, we trust, will never more be broken. On Tuesday next, my brother is to preach in Lady Huntingdon's chapel at Bath. That and all her chapels are now put into the hands of us three." 3
This was an important meeting. Wesley had just held his
1 Whitefield's Works, vol. iii., pp. 335, 336.