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his passion for saying all he wished to say in as few words as possible, would, under any circumstances, have prevented him from using the verbosity of others. Lavington's pamphlet was anonymous; but there was little doubt respecting its author. Though a bishop, his composition is loose and faulty, and is characterized by the most glaring grammatical mistakes. He might be a punster and buffoon ; but his performance does him no honour as a scholar. If the blunders in his pamphlet had been found in his youthful essays, they would have been more likely to have secured him a flagellation in the Winchester school, where it was his privilege to be, than to obtain the applause of his tutors and friends. His gift was not genius, nor yet grace; but a sort of merryandrewism, more laughable than learned, and more suited for a stage than for a bishop's throne.
Wesley tells him, that it is well he hides his name ; otherwise he would be obliged to hide his face ; for some of his sentences are neither sense nor grammar. He writes: "I must beg you, sir, in your third part, to inform your reader, that whenever any solecism or mangled sentences appear in the quotations from my writings, they are not chargeable upon me; that if the sense be mine (which is not always), yet I lay no claim to the manner of expression; the English is all your own.”
Wesley's letter was addressed to an anonymous author; but that author was a bishop, and for a bishop to be lectured about his bad English was a pill which his grace must have found difficult to swallow. The next quotation, however, must have been bitterer still.
“You proceed to prove my enthusiasm from my notions of conversion. And here great allowances are to be made, because you are talking of things quite out of your sphere ; you are got into an unknown world! Do you know what conversion is ? 'Yes; is to start up perfect men at once' (page 41). Indeed, sir, it is not. A man is usually converted long before he is a perfect man. It is probable most of the Ephesians to whom St. Paul directed his epistle were converted. Yet they were not come' (few if any), 'to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.' I do not, sir, indeed I do not, undertake to make you understand these things. I am not so vain as to think it is in my power. It is the utmost of my hope to convince you, that you understand just nothing about them.”
1750 The following is Wesley's concluding paragraph. Age 47
“Any scribbler, with a middling share of low wit, not encumbered with good nature or modesty, may raise a laugh on those whom he cannot confute, and run them down whom he dares not look in the face. By this means, even a comparer of Methodists and papists may blaspheme the great work of God, not only without blame, but with applause; at least, from readers of his own stamp. But it is high time, sir, you should leave your skulking place. Come out, and let us look each other in the face. I have little leisure, and less inclination, for controversy. Yet I promise, if you will set your name to your third part, I will answer all that shall concern me, in that, as well as the preceding. Till then,
“I remain, sir,
“JOHN WESLEY." This was galling; the bishop felt it so; and, as we shall see hereafter, allowed his indignation to boil over. Southey says, that Wesley did not treat Bishop Lavington with the urbanity which he usually displayed towards his opponents. This is scarcely true; but if it were, his grace of Exeter deserved all
We regret, that we shall be obliged to renew acquaintance with him. Meanwhile, let us briefly say, that this buffooning bishop was born at Mildenhall in 1683. On leaving the school at Winchester, he was removed to New College, Oxford, where he graduated for the civil law, and obtained a fellowship. At the age of thirty-four, he was made rector of Hayford Warren; then prebendary of Worcester ; then canon of St. Paul's; and then bishop of Exeter. He died on the 13th of September, 1762 ; exactly fifteen days after the following entry in Wesley's journal :
“Sunday, August 29, 1762.— I preached, at eight, on Southernhay Green” [Exeter] “to an extremely quiet congregation. At the cathedral, we had an useful sermon, and the whole service was performed with great seriousness and decency. Such an organ I never saw or heard before, so large, beautiful, and so finely toned ; and the music of Glory be to God in the highest,' I think, exceeded the “Messiah’ itself. I was well pleased to partake of the Lord's supper with my old opponent, Bishop Lavington. O may we sit down together in the kingdom of our Father !"
'HE year upon
vast anxiety and trouble, and, of course, like previous Age 48 years, was characterized by unceasing activity on the part of the great chiefs of the Methodist movement. Charles Wesley was from four to five months in London, about the same in Bristol, and spent the rest in an important visit to the numerous societies in the midland counties and the north of England. Whitefield gave the first two months of the year to the metropolis, the next three to the west of England and to Wales, more than two to Ireland and Scotland, and then, in August, set sail for America. Wesley himself spent eight months in itinerancy, and the rest in London.
Moravianism was more than ever a vexata quæstio. Whitefield, in a letter dated March 30, 1751, remarks :-“I doubt not but there are many holy souls among the Moravians ; but their not preaching the law, either as a schoolmaster to show us our need of Christ, or as a rule of life, after we have closed with Him, is what I can in nowise concur with. These their two grand mistakes, together with their unscriptural expressions in their hymns, and several superstitious fopperies lately intruded among them, make me think they are sadly departed from the simplicity of the gospel.” 1
A friend, writing to Wesley, at the commencement of the year, observes :
“ No doubt God had wise ends in permitting the Unitas Fratrum to appear, just as the people of God began to unite together ; but we cannot fathom His designs. Very probably we should have been now a very different people from what we are, had we had only our own countrymen to cope with. We should then have set the plain gospel of Christ against what is palpably another gospel. But this subtle poison has more or less infected almost all among us. We would put gospel heads on bodies ready to indulge unholy tempers. Although as a society we stand as clear of joining with the Beast as any other, yet we have not purged out all his
1 Whitefield's Works, vol. ii., p. 407.
1751 leaven ; the antinomian leaven is not yet cast out. All our preaching at Age 48
first was pointed at the heart; and in almost all our private conversation, 'Do you feel the love of God in your heart ? Does His Spirit reign there? Do you walk in the Spirit ? Is that mind in you which was in Christ ?' were frequent questions among us. But while these preachers to the heart were going on gloriously in the work of Christ, the false apostles stepped in, laughed at all heart work, and laughed many of us out of our spiritual senses ; for, according to them, we were neither to see, hear, feel, nor taste the powers of the world to come, but to rest contented with what was done for us seventeen hundred years ago. “The dear Lamb,' said they, 'has done all for us; we have nothing to do, but to believe.' Here was a stroke at the whole work of God in the heart! And ever since, this German spirit has wrought among us, and caused many to rest in a barren, notional faith, void of that inward power of God unto salvation.”
One of the Moravians themselves, who had been the physician in one of their religious houses, and had also been a preacher among them both at home and abroad, and who, with his wife, still attended their services, informed Wesley of his own knowledge of sensual abominations practised by the brethren and sisters at Leeds and Bedford, which, though referred to in Wesley's Journal, we shall not pollute our pages by printing. No wonder, after Wesley had committed the man's statement to writing, and had submitted it to him for his own correction, he should exclaim in a burst of sorrowful indignation, “Was there ever so melancholy an account? and what is human nature ! How low are they fallen, who were once burning and shining lights, spreading blessings wherever they came!”
Wesley has oft been blamed for speaking far too harshly of his old Moravian friends; but those who blame him are either ignorant of facts like those alluded to above, or they wickedly wink at their existence. Moravianism in England, in 1751, had become, to a great extent, a luscious morsel of antinomian poison; and it was a painful knowledge of this distressing fact, which led Wesley to adopt the course he did.
One pamphlet, published at the close of 1750, has not been mentioned, though there is little doubt that Wesley was its author. His name does not appear; but that was not unusual, for many of his tracts and pamphlets were printed without his name, or with his initials only. The preface is dated "London, October 2, 1750," though Wesley then had retired for a month to Kingswood, for the purpose of writing
Zinzendorf and the Moravians.
books. The style is his to a nicety, and the most incredulous 1751 will find it difficult to doubt that Wesley was the writer. The Age 48 pamphlet was not published in his own edition of his collected works in 1771; but that is not conclusive evidence against its authenticity, for other pamphlets were similarly omitted, as, for instance, his “Extract of Zinzendorf's Discourses," seventyeight pages, and his Zinzendorf's Hymns, twelve pages. Its title is as follows : “ The Contents of a Folio History of the Moravians, or United Brethren, printed in 1749, and privately printed and sold under the title of Acta Fratrum Unitatis in Anglia,' with suitable remarks. Humbly addressed to the Pious of every Protestant Denomination in Europe and America. By a Lover of the Light. London : 1750." 12mo, 60 pages. On the title page there is the following text : “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption."
Rightly to understand the merits of this peculiar and now extremely scarce publication, it is necessary to look back upon the Moravian history of the previous five years.
As early as 1746, Zinzendorf was anxious to have the Moravians legally acknowledged by the British parliament, and to secure for them a legal standing. To accomplish this, he, with effrontery worthy of a better cause, made friends with Potter, the archbishop of Canterbury; with Sherlock, bishop of London ; with Thomas Penn, the proprietor of Pennsylvania; and with General Oglethorpe, governor of Georgia. He succeeded in bringing the cause of the Brethren before the king's privy council, and, in 1747, contrived to get an act through parliament, exempting the Moravians, in British North America, from taking oaths. But even this was not enough to satisfy Zinzendorf's ambition. In this act there was only a tacit and indefinite acknowledgment of his church. He wished for more, and, in order to get it, agreed with his friends to petition that the Moravians in England might have the same exemption, as those in the American colonies; and that they should have the further privilege of not bearing arms. The petition stated, that the Brethren were descended from the ancient Bohemian and Moravian church; that, in their doctrinal views, they followed the Augsburg Confession of 1530, and the synod of Berne in 1532 ; that they consisted VOL. II.