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to the last ; hoping that you will gladly remove stumblingblocks out of the way of the weak, and alter such expressions as may create prejudice in the hearts of those who are inclined to admit it. If you come this way, Sir, I will show you the Minutes of what I wrote in Wales, in defence of what is called your dreadful heresy : For, as to the writing itself, I have it not; Lady H. would never return it to me.
Dear Sir, we can never make too much of JESUS CHRIST : Some may preach and exalt him out of contention, but let us do it willingly and Scripturally; and the Lord will stand by us. I beg, I entreat Him, to stand by you; particularly at this time to give you the simplicity of the dove, and the wisdom of the serpent ; the condescension of a child, and the firmness of a father.
“I write to Mr. Shirley, to expostulate with him to call in his circular letter. He is the last man who should attack you. His sermons contain propositions much more heretical and anti-Calvinistic, than your Minutes. If my letters have not the desired effect, I shall probably, if you approve of them and will correct them, publish them for your justification. I find Mr. Ireland is to write, to make you tamely recant, without measuring swords, or breaking a pike with our real Protestants. I write to him also.”
The Honourable and Reverend Walter Shirley, the brother of the unhappy Earl Ferrars, and Chaplain to his sister the pious Countess of Huntingdon, was a truly pious man, and affectionately attached for several years to Mr. Wesley, who had been the principal instrument of his conversion. The following letter will clearly show that piety and attachment :
“LOUGHREA, Aug. 21, 1759. “REVEREND AND DEAR SIR,-Your obliging and truly Christian letter was welcome to my soul, ten thousand, thousand times ; and brought along with it a warm satisfaction, which could only be exceeded by the pleasure of a personal conversation with you. And I am not without hopes, that, when
you shall think fit to visit those blessed seminaries of true vital religion in this kingdom, of your own planting, you will take an opportunity of honouring this place, and more particularly my house, with the presence of one, whose labours in the Gospel of my dear Master are so eminent.
“I thank you greatly for your Alarm : Indeed, the devil could not make use of a more subtle, specious insinuation to dissuade us from pursuing the attack with vigour, than that of Christian prudence. I trust he sees himself baffled, through your timely caution. But, alas ! what confidence is there to be put in the weakness of man! It is in the Lord's strength alone that I shall be able to triumph over this, and all other temptations.
“ I highly honour and love Mr. Berridge, and Mr. Grimshaw. May God bless them with increasing success, that they may see the travail of their souls and be satisfied! And may He endue me with the same noble courage, that his name may be magnified even in this place!
" What will you say, dear Sir? Will you not give up every favourable opinion of so unworthy a minister as I am, when I inform you, that, though there are many under my charge, who confess they have been awakened ; yet I dare not boast of any confirmed converts (now living) Vol. II.
through my preaching and ministry? I bless my God, however, for one dear soul, who departed in peace.
“I am now about to leave them for two or three months, being in a very bad state of bodily health, and advised to go to Bath. Let me entreat your earnest prayers to the God of all grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord, that I may not be found an unprofitable servant ; and that I may return to my dear parishioners, under the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of peace.
“ That you may finish your course with joy, and in God's good season enter into the full possession of the fruits of your labours, is the sincere prayer of “ Your affectionate Brother,
66 W. SHIRLEY. 66 To the Rev. J. Wesley."
A few years after this, Mr. Shirley adopted the creed of his noble sister, and, entering into all her views, became the champion of the cause which appeared to them of so much importance to “ evangelical truth."
Tuesday, August 6, the Conference began at Bristol. On Thursday morning, Mr. Shirley and his friends* were admitted ; when a conversation took place for about two hours, on the subject which occasioned their visit. Though the party had shown much violence in writing, yet the interview with the Conference was managed with much temper and moderation. Mr. Wesley showed great love to his old friend.
But the party in the nation was so irritated, that all accommodation became hopeless, and it was thought absolutely necessary to publish Mr. Fletcher's letters. On the 14th, Mr. Wesley wrote the following letter to Lady Huntingdon :
“ My Dear LADY,—When I received the former letter from your Ladyship, I did not know how to answer: And I judged, not only that silence would be the best answer, but also that with which your Ladyship would be best pleased. When I received your Ladyship’s of the second instant, I immediately saw that it required an answer; only I waited till the hurry of the Conference was over, that I might do nothing rashly. I know your Ladyship would not servilely deny the truth. I think, neither would I; especially that great truth, JUSTIFICATION BY Faith; which Mr. Law indeed flatly denies, (and yet Mr. Law was a child of God, but for which I have given up all my worldly hopes, my friends, my reputation ; yea for which I have so often hazarded my life, and by the grace of God will do again. The principles established in the Minutes I apprehend to be no way contrary to this ; or to that faith, that consistent plan of doctrine, which was once delivered to the saints.' I believe, whoever calmly considers Mr. Fletcher's letters will be convinced of this. I fear, therefore, 'zeal against those principles' is no less, than zeal against the truth, and against the honour of our Lord. The preservation of his honour appears so sacred to me, and has done for above these forty years, that I have counted, and do count, all things loss in comparison of it. But till Mr. Fletcher's printed letters are answered, I must think, every thing spoken against those Minutes is totally destructive of his honour, and a palpable affront to Him, both as our Prophet and Priest, but more especially as the King of his people. Those letters, which therefore could not be suppressed without betraying the honour of our ord, largely prove, that the Minutes lay no other foundation than that which is laid in Scripture, and which I have been laying, and teaching others to lay, for between thirty and forty years. Indeed it would be amazing, that God should at this day prosper my labours, as much, if not more than ever, by convincing as well as converting sinners, if I was establishing anther foundation, repugnant to the whole plan of man's salvation under the covenant of grace,
* The Calvinist ministers, who were summoned by Mr. Shirley, were not willing to enter the lists in the way that he had appointed ; and therefore the good man was attended only by a few of the Countess's students from her college at Trevecka.
as well as the clear meaning of our Established Church, and all other Protestant Churches.' This is a charge indeed! But I plead, Not guilty. And till it is proved upon me, I must subscribe myself,
“My dear Lady,
“ JOHN WESLEY."
The controversy now fully commenced, and was continued for some time, but very prudently committed almost wholly to Mr. Fletcher ; who managed it with astonishing temper and success. Indeed, the temper of this gentleman did not lead him to Polemic Divinity. He was devout and pious, to a degree seldom equalled since the days of the Apostles." But being urged into this controversy by the love of truth, and reverence for Mr. Wesley, he displayed great knowledge of his subject, and a most happy manner of treating it. In his hands, the ablest of his antagonists were as the lion in the hands of Samson. He demonstrated, that those propositions were equally agreeable to Scripture, reason, and the writings of the soundest, even of the Calvinistic divines. He largely showed, that as the day of judgment differs from the day of conversion, so must the conditions of justification. That, as in the one we are considered as mere sinners, and raised out of guilt and misery by an act of God's mercy, through faith in the merits of his Son : So, in the other, we are considered as members of the mystical body of Christ; and being enabled by his grace to do works acceptable to God, we are justified in that awful day by the evidence, though not the merit, of those works, inward and outward ; and yet, that we are indebted, for both, to that glorious act of divine love, proclaimed by St. Paul, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.' And, lastly, that the propositions in question secured the one, without at all weakening the other.
In all the controversies, in which Mr. Wesley had hitherto been concerned, he stood alone. In this he had but little to do. He wrote one or two small tracts; but, as the Reviewers of that day observed, he soon retired from the field, and went quietly on in his labour, happy in being succeeded by so able an auxiliary. Mr. Fletcher abounded in time as well as talents for the work. He equally excelled in temper as in skill. And while he exposed
the errors of his mistaken opponents, he did honour to their piety. He died in the year 1785, lamented by all the lovers of true religion and useful learning, that were acquainted either with his person or his writings. My admiration of his character would
lead me to speak much more concerning him, had not his Life been published: To that I refer my readers.
From this time, Mr. Wesley was but little troubled by the advocates for Absolute Predestination. Mr. Fletcher's Works have been a standing answer to all those who assert it; as well as highly useful to those who have been troubled concerning questions on this subject. They are published in nine volumes octavo, and are well worthy the attention of all serious persons, who will find therein, the armour of righteousness, on the right hand and on the left; the truth as it is in Jesus.'
There is no truth which has not its closely allied falsehood. This victory of the doctrine of General Redemption caused many of those who were not established in the truth of the Gospel, to run into high Arminianism, which, Mr. Fletcher had declared, was nearly allied to Pelagianism. I have myself heard one of those confident spirits, whose glorying was not good,' exultingly say, “ I know I shall be in heaven, for—I am determined to be there.”—Mr. Wesley saw the dạnger, and in his sermons he strongly enforced the humility of the Gospel, showing that it was the humility of a condemned man, who in his heart acknowledges the justice of his sentence.--Some of these superficial professors denied also, that faith was the gift of God; and would maintain, that it was in every man's power to believe the whole truth of the Gospel, even respecting his own acceptance, whenever he pleased! To counteract this pride, and yet preserve the truth, Mr. Wesley frequently preached from the words of our Lord,—'If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth,'—and he showed how faith was the gift of God,' and yet the act of man. He showed also the distinction with respect to time and calling, and that every man may believe if he will, but not when he will. Salvation is of the Lord; he draws, enlightens, convinces men of sin, and helps their unbelief;—every man may at those times believe to the salvation of his soul. The proper Scriptural fruit will accompany such a faith, and prove it to be living and powerful. These discourses were very edifying, and accompanied with uncommon power. He preached to the Conference in London, two years before his death, on Ephesians ii, 8, · By grace ye are saved through Faith,' and stated the old doctrine which he had preached, from the same words, before the University of Oxford in the year 1738. He warned the preachers against all subtle distinctions, which he pronounced to be s only fit for Jesuits,” and totally contrary to the plain Gospel of God our Saviour.' I had never heard him preach with more power or clearness, than upon that occasion.
LABOURS OF MR. WESLEY, AND HIS ASSISTANTS IN SCOTLAND-CON
TROVERSY RESPECTING MR. HERVEY'S LETTERS--RECENT REVIVAL OF THAT CONTROVERSY BY DR. ERSKINE'S BIOGRAPHER.
It has been already stated, that in the month of April, 1751, Mr. Wesley first visited Scotland, accompanied by Mr. Christopher Hopper, after having had some correspondence with Mr. Erskine on the subject. Colonel Galatin, then in quarters at Musselborough near Edinburgh had pressed him to pay him a visit. Mr. Wesley having mentioned this to Mr. Whitefield, he replied, “You have no business there : for your principles are so well known, that if you spoke like an angel, none would hear you. And if they did, you would have nothing to do but to dispute with one and another from morning to night.” He answered, “ If God sends me, people will hear. And I will give them no provocation to dispute : For I will studiously avoid controverted points, and keep to the fundamental truths of Christianity. And if any will begin to dispute, they may : But I will not dispute with them.”
He went. Hundreds and thousands flocked to hear : And he was enabled to keep his word. He avoided whatever might engender strife, and insisted upon the grand points, the religion of the heart, and salvation by faith, at all times, and in all places. And by this means, he cut off all occasion of dispute.
At Musselborough especially, he was kindly received. He had given them a promise, that Mr. Hopper should come back the next week, and spend a few days with them. Mr. Hopper did accordingly return at the time appointed, and preached morning and evening to large congregations, who heard with the greatest attention.
In April, 1753, Mr. Wesley again visited Scotland. He now entered it on the side of Dumfries. In passing the sands which lie between Bonas and that town, the innkeeper who guided him, asked with great simplicity," How much a year he got by preaching thus ?" This gave him an opportunity of explaining, to his guide, that kind of gain to which he seemed an utter stranger. He appeared to be quite amazed, and spoke not one word, good or bad, till he took his leave.
When he arrived at Glasgow, that excellent man, Dr. Gillies, received him in a truly Christian spirit; and invited him to preach in his church. Upon this Mr. Wesley remarks, “Surely with God nothing is impossible! Who would have believed five-and-twenty years ago, either that the minister would have desired it, or that I should have consented to preach in a Scotch Kirk !"—He preached also at the prison ; and then returned by Edinburgh and Tranent to England. Not long after, Mr. Wardrobe, Minister of Bathgate in Scotland, the twin-soul of Dr. Gillies, preached at Mr. Wesley's chapel in Newcastle, to the no small amazement and displeasure of some of his zealous countrymen. Some time after this, Mr. Wesley received from Dr. Gillies the following account of the death of that excellent man:
“Mr. Wardrobe died last night. He was seized on Sabbath last, just