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of the threefold union of Moravians, Lutherans, and Reformed, Age 48 or, in other words, the three principal sections of the protestant church; that their proper ecclesiastical title was " Unitas Fratrum"; and that, in support of these pretensions, they could adduce, before a parliamentary committee, not fewer than one hundred and thirty-five different documents.
Strangely enough, a committee of the House of Commons was appointed, with Oglethorpe for its chairman. The report of the committee was read and ordered to be printed; and Oglethorpe was commissioned to draw up a bill, founded upon the report presented, and to bring it before the house. The bill passed the House of Commons on the 18th of April, 1749. On being introduced into the House of Lords, the lord chancellor objected to almost every line of it; and especially against the power vested in Zinzendorf, as the Advocatus Fratrum, in ecclesiastical matters,-a power authorising him, though a foreigner, to enjoin upon the bishops and ministers of the Church of England to give certificates, that the parties holding them were members of the Unitas Fratrum, which certificates the British authorities were to accept as legal. Zinzendorf, in a conversation with Lord Halifax, had said: "Against the will of the king, I would not like to press the matter; but a limitation of the act I will not accept. Everything or nothing! No modifications!" This was German swagger. Finding the lord chancellor earnest in his objection, he was fain, rather than lose his bill, to leave out the words which put the bishops and clergy of the Church of England beneath his power, and proposed the following as a substitute: "that the verbal declaration of the individual, together with the certificate of a bishop or minister of the Brethren, shall be sufficient proof of membership." With this alteration, the bill became law, on the 12th of May, 1749. By this act of parliament, Zinzendorf gained the following points :
1. The Unitas Fratrum were acknowledged as an ancient protestant episcopal church.
2. Those of its members, who scrupled to take an oath, were exempted from doing so on making a declaration in the presence of Almighty God, as witness of the truth.
3. They were exempted from acting as jurymen.
"Acta Fratrum in Anglia."
4. They were exempted from military service, in the American colonies, under reasonable conditions.'
This was a singular episode in Moravian history. Zinzendorf was proud of it; and well he might. It was scarcely fifteen years since the Moravians first set foot in England. They had been torn by faction, and persecuted by furious mobs. Their tenets, in many instances, were far from orthodox. Many of their practices were silly and objectionable. Their hymns and literature were loathsomely luscious, and familiarly irreverent. Their leader, though a German noble, and, upon the whole, benevolent and devout, was ambitious and overbearing, if not insane; and yet, the British parliament had already given them not only a legal standing, but an ecclesiastical cognomen of their own selecting, and had granted them exemptions, which they had no right to claim. How was this? We can hardly tell; but a German sat on the British throne, and his court, to a great extent, was a German court.
A few months after the Moravian bill was passed by parliament, Zinzendorf had put to the press, in his own private printing office, a folio volume, entitled "Acta Fratrum in Anglia," containing (1) all the past public negotiations in England; (2) an exposition of the doctrine, liturgy, and constitutions of the Brethren's congregations. This was the "folio history," of which the pamphlet, that we have attributed to Wesley, professes to give the "contents." The following are a few of the writer's running observations.
"The absurdities of this history are fairly confuted by only repeating them." Referring to the expression, "blood and wounds theology," he asks,-"Is this honouring the name and sacrifice of the glorious Son of God? O count! art thou wiser, or more inspired, than Paul or Peter ? If thou art not, surely thou art lost in thine own greatness, and swallowed up in the delusions of the devil." (Page 38.)
"Here follows a dark apology for their enigmatical jargon, in which they say, 'The people who pick up and pervert our practical phrases incur a terrible guilt thereby.' I. The much greater part of their phrases are altogether unintelligible to any but themselves, and therefore none but some of themselves can pervert them. 2. Those phrases that have a little common sense in them are so encumbered with nonsense and
1 See Hutton's Memoirs, and Spangenberg's Life of Zinzendorf.
1751 Age 48
error, that it is hardly possible not to reprove them, which I suppose is called perverting them." (Page 43.)
"As to ordinances, the Unitas Fratrum have 'baptism, with a covenant water certainly impregnated with the blood of Christ'; and the Lord's supper, which they call 'a partaking of the corpse of our Saviour, at receiving which, they prostrate themselves in awe of His tremendous majesty.' I cannot once imagine, they have any design to promote popery; but, O count! don't you see, that these expressions might have been used by Ignatius Loyola, in honour of holy water and his wafer god?" (Page 44.)
"Their thoughts on marriage are dark and mysterious. They call it, 'an holy mystery, a sacramentum magnum? And by their own account, their hymns on this subject are not fit to be read by any that attach bad ideas to bad expressions; but say they, 'We hold forth chaste matter under usual and express words.' O ye dreamers! When will ye hold forth nothing but what is taught by God and the holy Scriptures? Why do you choose to express yourselves as if taught in the school of Ignatius Loyola ?" (Page 45.)
"Will you receive advice, ye Unitas Fratrum? Then, for the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ, appear to the world clothed in the robes of innocency and truth. Lay aside your darkness, and bring all your words to light. If you have any meaning, reveal it for the good of souls; if you have no meaning, call yourselves anything but Christians." (Page 50.)
Attached to the pamphlet is a postscript addressed to those of the Unitas Fratrum, who once were Methodists. The following is an extract :
"Is not your doctrine dull, flat, and insipid? Does it not come from a floating imagination? Is not its chief aim to fill the mind with ideas of the Lamb's heart? of soaking and melting in blood? of playing near, and creeping into the side-hole? of pretty, happy sinnership? of beating the little sinner on the bill when he has been naughty? and of a thousand such strange, unheard of absurdities? Your doctors, by playing with words, and jingling soft sounds, may delight the fancy; but whoever they are that look for sense, must miss of edification." (Page 57.)
Such are fair specimens of the short critiques of the curious "contents" of Zinzendorf's folio history of the "Acta Fratrum in Anglia." It is painful to have to record quarrels among old friends and brethren; but facts are too serious to be blinked for an author's private pleasure. As a sort of counterpoise to this unpleasantness, we subjoin an extract from a letter, addressed to Wesley, by Cennick, at this time the most laborious and successful Moravian preacher in the sister island.
"DUBLIN, June 25, 1751.
"MY DEAR BROTHER,-Yesterday I received yours, and assure you, I am sincere in my desires and proposals of speaking and writing freely to each other; and wish heartily, that Christians conferring together had hindered the making that wide space between us and you. Perhaps He that maketh men to be of one mind in a house, may nevertheless, in our days, begin the gathering together in one the people of God that are scattered abroad. I think, if I could see the dawn of that gracious day, I would wish no more, but be content to labour myself to death, and finish my pilgrimage with a cheerfulness inexpressible. Till then, as long as people in many things think differently, all must be allowed their Christian liberty; and though some may remove from you to us, or from us to you, without becoming bitter, and with upright views to please our Saviour, I can see no harm in it. I really love the servants and witnesses of Jesus in all the world. I wish all to prosper. I salute Mrs. Wesley; and assure you, I am your affectionate loving brother,
This is very beautiful, especially remembering the past and present days. Wesley entitles the letter, "Sincere professions of Christian love." They do Cennick credit, and were grateful to the heart and mind of Wesley.
Cennick's letter concludes with a salutation to Mrs. Wesley; and we must now refer to another painful subject-Wesley's marriage. This took place in the month of February. The exact day is doubtful. Wesley says it was a few days after February 2. The Gentleman's Magazine has the following in its list of marriages: "February 18.-Rev. Mr. John Wesley, Methodist preacher, to a merchant's widow in Threadneedle Street, with a jointure of £300 per annum"; and the London Magazine: "February 19.-Rev. Mr. John Wesley, to Mrs. Vazel, of Threadneedle Street, a widow lady of large fortune." The large fortune consisted of £10,000, invested in three per cent. consols, and was wholly secured to herself and her four children.
Charles Wesley seems to have been introduced to her in July, 1749, at Edward Perronet's, and describes her then as "a woman of sorrowful spirit." Mr. Moore remarks, that Mrs. Vazeille (her proper name), from all that he had heard
1 Methodist Magazine, 1779, p. 260.
2 The Rev. Charles Manning is said to have performed the marriage
3 Methodist Magazine, 1847, p. 868; and Southey's Life of Wesley.
of her from Wesley, and from others, seemed at the time. to be well qualified for her new position. "She appeared to be truly pious, and was very agreeable in her person and manners. She conformed to every company, whether of the rich or of the poor; and had a remarkable facility and propriety in addressing them concerning their true interests." Mr. Watson observes, that "she was a woman of cultivated understanding, as her remaining letters testify; and that she appeared to Mr. Wesley to possess every other qualification, which promised to increase both his usefulness and happiness, we may conclude from his having made choice of her as his companion." Mr. Jackson says: "Neither in understanding nor in education was she worthy of the eminent man to whom she was united; and her temper was intolerably bad. During the lifetime of her first husband, she appears to have enjoyed every indulgence; and, judging from some of his letters to her, which have been preserved, he paid an entire deference to her will. Her habits and spirit were ill adapted to the privations and inconveniences which were incident to her new mode of life, as the travelling companion of Mr. John Wesley." 2 Hampson remarks: "The connection was unfortunate. There never was a more preposterous union. It is pretty certain that no loves lighted their torches on this occasion; and it is as much to be presumed, that neither did Plutus preside at the solemnity. Mrs. Wesley's property was too inconsiderable, to warrant the supposition that it was a match of interest. Besides, had she been ever so rich, it was nothing to him; for every shilling of her fortune remained at her own disposal; and neither the years, nor the temper of the parties, could give any reason to suppose them violently enamoured. That this lady accepted his proposals, seems much less surprising than that he should have made them. It is probable, his situation at the head of a sect, and the authority it conferred, was not without its charms in the eyes of an ambitious female. But we much wonder, that Mr. Wesley should have appeared so little acquainted with himself and with human nature.
1 Life of Wesley, vol. ii., p. 172.
2 C. Wesley's Life, vol. i., p. 568.