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In dawn of life, to feed the poor,
Glad she her little all bestow'd;
And hast ning to be rich in God;
Her infant mind with love he fill'd;
And sweetly forced her heart to yield;
Soon was her heedless soul betray'd;
O’er pleasure's flow'ry plain she stray'd,
Sent forth glad tidings to proclaim :
His cry, “Sinners, behold the Lamb !"
And groan'd th' unutterable prayer;
Fast flow'd the dever-ceasing tear,
Sorrow and sighing fled away;
Panting His every word to obey;
Soon in affliction's furnace tried
As silver seven times purified,
Her much-loved friend torn from her breast,
Thy will be done!" she meekly cried,
Her artless tears in silence flow,
I said, “Go forth, with Jesus go!
In works of faith and lab'ring love;
And showers of blessings from above,
To one by ties peculiar join'd,
One, only less beloved than God,
My guardian angel here below!"
Pure from the dross of low desire; Well-pleased I mark'd the guiltless flame,
Nor dared to damp the sacred fire, Heaven's choicest gift on man bestow'd, Strength’ning our hearts and hands in God. 'Twas now I bow'd my aching head,
While sickness shook the house of clay; Duteous she ran with humble speed,
Love's tend'rest offices to pay,
A help prepared of Heaven thou art!
O Lord! and nought on earth shall part The souls that thou hast join'd above, In lasting bonds of sacred love." Abash'd she spoke, “ O what is this?
Far above all my boldest hope !
Thus lift his worthless handmaid up?
Heaven's latest, dearest gift I view'd;
We urged our way with strength renew'd, Our one desire, our common aim, T' extol our gracious Master's name. Companions now in weal and wo,
No power on earth could us divide;
Could tear my partner from my side ;
Was not,) clasping her hand in mine, “What force,” she said, “beneath the sky,
Can now our well-knit souls disjoịn?
Whom in one luckless baleful hour, (For ever mention'd with a tear!)
The tempter's unresisted power
O Lord! a bottomless abyss !
O'er all thy works extended is !
Suffice, I shall hereafter know !
That still I live to Thee I owe.
Teach me, from every pleasing snare
To keep the issues of my heart;
Thou my eternal portion art!
And love, O love me to the end ! In the year 1788, the son of Mr. Bennet, already mentioned, officiated at a chapel on the Pavement in Moorfields, and his mother came to London in that year on a visit to him. Mr. Thomas Olivers, having seen her, mentioned the circumstance to Mr. Wesley when I was with him, and intimated, that Mrs. Bennet wished to see him. Mr. Wesley, with evident feeling, resolved to visit her: and the next morning, he took me with him to Colebrooke-row, where her son then resided. The meeting was affecting ; but Mr. Wesley preserved more than his usual self-possession. It was easy to see, notwithstanding the many years which had intervened, that both in sweetness of spirit, and in person and manners, she was a fit subject for the tender regrets expressed in those verses which I have presented to the reader. The interview did not continue long, and I do not remember that I ever heard Mr. Wesley mention her name afterwards.
Some years after the death of her husband, Mrs. Bennet removed to Chapel-en-le-Frith, where she again joined the Methodist Society, and, according to her first faith and practice, she abounded in those works of piety and mercy, which distinguished her early days. She lived twelve years after the death of Mr. Wesley, and entered into the joy of her Lord, February the 23d, 1803, in the eighty-fifth year of her age.
Dr. Whitehead, speaking of Mr. Wesley's marriage, says that “he seems to have considered St. Paul's advice to the church at Corinth, as a standing rule to Christians in all circumstances ;” and adds, “it is really wonderful how he could fall into such an error.” But Mr. Wesley did not fall into it; the wonder is, that the Doctor should assert that he did. Mr. Wesley wrote the tract on that subject, chiefly from our Lord's words, (Matt. xix,) which were spoken at a time when the infant church was not in such circumstances as the Apostle's words imply. Mr. Southey's account is much more correct and candid: He observes, “Mr. Wesley did not suppose that such a precept could have been intended for the inany;" and that “he assented fully to the sentence of the Apostle who pronounced the forbidding to marry to be a doctrine of devils.” To the generality of men, with all its dangers and troubles, marriage is absolutely necessary in order to holiness. The Doctor, however, observes with truth, that, “had he married a woman who could have entered into his views and accommodated herself to his situation, it might have formed a basis for much happiness. But had he searched the whole kingdom on purpose, he could hardly have found a woman more unsuitable in these respects than the one he married.”
Mrs. Vizelle, (afterwards Wesley,) however, from all that I have heard from Mr. Wesley and others, had every appearance of being well qualified for the sphere into which she was introduced. She seemed truly pious, and was very agreeable in her person and manners. formed to every company whether of the rich or the poor: and she had a remarkable facility and propriety in addressing them concerning their true interests. She departed, however, from this excellent way, and the marriage consequently became an unhappy one. I cannot take upon
me to state, in every respect, all the causes of that inquietude which for some years lay so heavy upon him. It might arise, in some degree, from his peculiar situation with respect to the great work in which he was engaged. He has more than once mentioned to me, that it was agreed between him and Mrs. Wesley, previous to their marriage, that he should not preach one sermon, or travel one mile the less on that account. “If I thought I should,” said he,“ my dear, as well as I love you, I would never see your face more.”
But Mrs. Wesley did not long continue in this mind. She travelled with him for some time, but afterwards she would fain have confined him to a more domestic life ; and having found by experience that this was impossible, she unhappily gave place to jealousy. This entirely spoiled her temper, and drove her to many outrages. She repeatedly left his house, but was brought back by his earnest importunities. At last she seized on part of his Journals, and many other papers, which she would never afterwards restore ; and, taking her final departure, left word that she never intended to return. Who then can wonder, that after all this he should only observe, “ Non eam reliqui, non dimisi : non revocabo.--I have not left her ; I have not put her away; I will not call her back.” She died in the year 1781, at Camberwell
, near London. A stone is placed at the head of her grave, in the churchyard of that place, setting forth, " that she was a woman of exemplary piety; a tender parent, and a sincere friend."
What fortune she possessed at her death, she left to a Mr. Vizelle, her son by a former husband. To Mr. Wesley she bequeathed a ring. There are several letters which passed between them, relative to their mutual uneasiness. These letters I have had before me, and fully considered ; but they would add nothing material to the account which I have given. I shall, however, present my readers with a long postscript of one of his, as it is a summary of the unhappy dispute.
“ I cannot but add a few words : not by way of reproach, but of advice. God has used many means to curb your stubborn will, and break the impetuosity of your temper. He has given you a dutiful but sickly daughter : he has taken away one of your sons. Another has been a grievous cross, as the third probably will be. He has suffered you to be defrauded of much money; he has chastened you with strong pain. And still he may say, · How long liftest thou up thyself against me ? Are you more humble, more gentle, more patient, more placable than you was? I fear, quite the reverse ; I fear, your natural tempers are rather increased than diminished. O beware lest God give you up to your own heart's lusts, and let you follow your own imaginations !
“ Under all these conflicts it might be an unspeakable blessing, that you have a husband, who knows your temper and can bear with it; who, after you
have tried him numberless ways, laid to his charge things that he knew not, robbed him, betrayed his confidence, revealed his secrets, given him a thousand treacherous wounds, purposely aspersed and murdered his character, and made it your business so to do, under the poor pretence of vindicating your own character, (whereas of what importance is your character to mankind, if you was buried just now? or if you had never lived, what loss would it be to the cause of God?) who, I say, after all these provocations, is still willing to forgive you all ; to overlook what is past, as if it had not been, and to receive you with
open arms; only not while you have a sword in your hand, with which you are continually striking at me, though you cannot hurt me. If, notwithstanding, you continue striking, what can I, what can all reasonable men think, but that either you are utterly out of your senses, or your eye is not single ; that you married me only for my money; that, being disappointed, you was almost always out of humour ; that this laid you open to a thousand suspicions which, once awakened, could sleep no more ? “My dear Molly, let the time past suffice. If you
have not, (to prevent my giving it to bad women, )* robbed me of my substance too; if you do not blacken me, on purpose that when this causes a breach between us, no one may believe it to be your fault; stop, and consider what
you do: As yet the breach may be repaired; you have wronged me much, but not beyond forgiveness. I love you still, and am as clear from all other women as the day I was born. At length know me, and know yourself.
enemy I cannot be ; but let me be your friend. Suspect me no more; asperse me no more; provoke me no more. Do not any longer contend for mastery, for power, money, or praise. Be content to be a private insignificant person, known and loved by God
Attempt no more to abridge me of my liberty, which I claim by the laws of God and man. Leave me to be governed by God and my own conscience. Then shall I govern you with gentle sway, and show that I do indeed love you, even as Christ the church." Mr. Wesley, however, bore this severe trial well. He has repeatedly
that he believed the Lord overruled this whole painful business for his good; and that if Mrs. Wesley had been a better wife, and had continued to act in that way in which she knew well how to act, he might have been unfaithful in the great work to which the Lord had called him, and might have too much sought to please her according to her own views.
Soon after his marriage, he resigned his Fellowship. His letter of resignation was as follows: “ Ego Johannes Wesley, Collegii Lincolniensis in Academia Oxoniensi Socius, quicquid mihi juris est in prædicta Societate, ejusdem Rectori et Sociis sponte ac libere resigno : illis universis et singulis perpetuam pacem ac omnimodo in Christo felicitatein exoptans.-I, John Wesley, Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, freely resign to the Rector and Fellows whatsoever belongs to me in that Society: earnestly wishing them all, and to each of them, continual peace, and all felicity in Christ.”
Mr. Wesley having fully considered his situation, determined to continue in the course prescribed to him; and shaking off his trials, “like dew-drops from a lion's mane,” he set out on his northern journey. He travelled through the Societies as far as Whitehaven ; and April 20, 1751, he came to Newcastle. On the 24th, he set out with Mr. Hopper, to pay his first visit to Scotland. He was invited thither by Captain (afterwards Colonel) Galatin, who was then quartered at Musselborough. “ I had no intention,” says he, “ to preach in Scotland ; not imagining that there were any that desired I should. But I was mistaken : Curiosity, if nothing else, brought abundance of people together in the evening And whereas in the kirk, Mrs. Galatin informed me, there used to be laughing and talking, and all the marks of the grossest inattention ;
* Her jealousy having strangely induced her to bring that terrible charge against him.