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Wesley gives the following account of his death :* - John Downs has lived and died the death of the righteous. For several months past, he has been greatly alive to God, walked closely with him, and visibly growing Ever since the time that he resolved to preach again,
he has preached as often as he really could, and with great success.
On Friday morning he rose full of faith, and love, and joy. He declared it was the happiest day of his life, and that he had not been so well in body for years. He expressed his joy in showers of tears—He was led to pray for the people, so as never before. Going out to the chapel at Weststreet, he said, I used to go to preach trembling, and with reluctance, but now I go in triumph. His text was, • Come unto me, all ye
that labour and are heavy laden,' &c. His words were unusually weighty, and with power, but few. He perceived, that he could not finish his discourse, and gave out this verse of the hymn,
Father, I lift my heart to thee,
No other help I know. His voice failing, he fell on his knees, as meaning to pray ; but he could not be heard. The Preacher ran and lifted him from his knees, for he could not raise himself. They carried him to bed, where he lay quiet and speechless till eight on Saturday morning, and then fell asleep. 0 for an end like his ! It is the most enviable, the most desirable I ever heard of. His widow I visited yesterday afternoon. She surprised me, and all who saw her ; so supported, so calm, so resigned. A faithful friend received her into her house. She had one sixpence in the world, and no more. But her Maker is her husband : We all agreed, it is the Lord's doing, and is marvellous in our sight.”
In 1775, Mr. Wesley visited Ireland in his usual course ; and in June, being then in the North, on his return from Londonderry, he had the most severe illness he had ever before experienced. It was, however, in part, brought on, and afterwards increased by his own imprudence. I shall give the circumstances in his own words : “ Tuesday, 13, (of June,) I was not very well in the morning, but supposed it would soon go off. In the afternoon, the weather being extremely hot, I lay down on the grass in Mr. Lock's orchard at Cockhill. This I had been accustomed to do for forty years, and never remember to have been *hurt by it. Only I never before lay on my face, in which posture I fell asleep. I waked, a little, and but a little, out of order, and preached with ease to a multitude of people. Afterwards I was a good deal worse ; however, the next day I went on a few miles to the Grange. The table was placed there in such a manner, that all the time I was preaching, a strong and sharp wind blew full on the left side of
head: And it was not without a good deal of difficulty that I made an end of my sermon. I now found a deep obstruction in my breast. My pulse was exceeding weak and low. I shivered with cold, though the air was sultry hot, only now and then burning for a few minutes. I went early to bed, drank a draught of treacle and water, and applied treacle to the soles of my feet. I lay till seven on Thursday, the 15th, and felt considerably better. But I found near the same obstruction in my breast: I had a low, weak pulse: I burned and shivered by turns; and if I ventured to cough, it jarred my head exceedingly. In going on to Derry-Anvil, I wondered what was the matter, that I could not attend to what I was reading ; no, not for three minutes together, but my thoughts were perpetually shifting. Yet all the time I was preaching in the evening, (though I stood in the open air, with the wind whistling round my head, my mind was as composed as ever.-Friday, 16, in going to Lurgan, I wondered again that I could not fix my attention to what I read : Yet while I was preaching in the evening on the Parade, I found my mind perfectly composed, although it rained a great part of the time, which did not well agree with my head.—Saturday, 17, I was persuaded to send for Dr. Laws, a sensible and skilful physician. He told me, ' I was in a high fever, and advised me to lie by. I told him, that could not be done ; as I had appointed to preach in several places, and must preach as long as I could speak. He then prescribed a cooling draught, with a grain or two of camphor, as my nerves were universally agitated.
* Taken from his Diary in short-hand.
This I took with me to Tandragee; but when I came there, I was not able to preach ; my understanding being quite confused, and my strength entirely gone. Yet I breathed freely, and had not the least thirst, nor any pain from head to foot.
“ I was now at a full stand, whether to aim at Lisburn, or to push forward for Dublin : But my friends doubting whether I could bear so long a journey, I went straight to Derry-Aghy, a gentleman's seat on the side of a hill, three miles beyond Lisburn. Here nature sunk, and I took to my bed; but I could no more turn myself therein, than a newborn child. My memory failed as well as my strength, and well nigh my understanding. Only those words ran in my mind, when I saw Miss Gayer on one side of the bed, looking at her mother on the other,
She sat, like patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief. “I can give no account of what followed for two or three days, being more dead than alive. Only I remember it was difficult for me to speak, my throat being exceedingly dry. But Joseph Bradford tells me, I said on Wednesday, “It will be determined before this time to-morrow;' that my tongue was much swoln, and as black as a coal ; that I was convulsed all over: and, for some time, my heart did not beat perceptibly, neither was any pulse discernible.
“In the night of Thursday, the 22d, Joseph Bradford came to me with a cup, and said, Sir you must take this.' I thought I will, if I can, to please him ; for it will do me neither harm nor good. Immediately it set me a vomiting: My heart began to beat, and my pulse to play again : And from that hour, the extremity of the symptoms abated. The next day I sat up several hours, and walked four or five times across the room.-On Saturday, I sat up all day, and walked across the room many times, without any weariness.—On Sunday I came down stairs, and sat several hours in the parlour.—On Monday, I walked before the house.—On Tuesday, I took an airing in the chaise : And on Wednesday, trusting in God, to the astonishment of my friends, I set out for Dublin."
About this time, Mr. Wesley published his “Calm Address to the American Colonies," then at war with England, the mother country. This tract made a great noise, and raised him many adversaries. Being frequently asked, why he published it ? He answered, in Lloyd's Evening Post,
“ Not to get money. Had that been my motive, I should have Vol. II.
swelled it into a shilling pamphlet, and have entered it at Stationer's Hall.-Not to get preferment for myself, or my brother's children: Not to please any man living, high or low. I know mankind too well. I know they that love you for political service, love you less than their dinner; and they who hate you, hate you worse than the devil.—Least of all did I write, with a view to inflame any : Just the contrary. I contributed my mite towards putting out the flame which rages all over the land,” &c.
Dr. Whitehead observes upon this, “Many of his friends, however, were of opinion, that he would have acted a more wise and better part, had he never meddled with political disputes.* Observation had convinced them, that Ministers of the Gospel, by interfering with politics, have seldom done any good, and often much' harm; having frequently hindered their own usefulness, and made a whip for their own backs." This also is very likely. But Mr. Wesley suffered for teaching men to • fear God, and honour the King.' He meddled no more with politics than St. Paul did. But he had harder work than the Apostle, on this point ; viz., " to show to many of God's people their transgressions.'
In the beginning of the year 1776, Mr. Fletcher was recovering from a severe illness. Mr. Wesley, having a high opinion of the salutary effects of easy journeys through the country, in such cases, invited Mr. Fletcher to come out, and accompany him through some of the societies in the spring. Part of Mr. Fletcher's answer is as follows: “I received last night the favour of yours, from Bristol. My grand desire is, to be just what the Lord would have me to be. I could, if you wanted a travelling assistant, accompany you, as my little strength would admit, in some of your excursions. But your recommending me to the societies as one who might succeed you, should the Lord take you hence before me, is a step to which I could by no means consent. It would make me take my horse and gallop away. Beside, such a step would, at this juncture, be, I think, peculiarly improper.- We ought to give as little hold to the evil surmisings and rash judgments of our opponents as may be.-What has made me glut our friends with my books, is not any
love to such publications, but a desire to make an end of the controversy.t It is probable that my design has miscarried; and that I have disgusted, rather than convinced, the people. I agree with you, Sir, that now is the time to pray both for ourselves and our King, for the Church of England, and that part of it which is called the Methodists. I cast my mite of supplication into the general treasure. The Lord guide, support, and strengthen you more and more unto the end !"
An order had been made by the House of Lords, in May, this year, 66 That the Commissioners of his Majesty's Excise do write circular letters to all such persons whom they have reason to suspect to have plate, as also to those who have not paid regularly the duty on the same,” &c.-In consequence of this order, the Accomptant-General for Household Plate, sent Mr. Wesley, in September, a copy of the order, with the following letter :
6 REVEREND SIR, -As the Commissioners cannot doubt but you * It was very natural for them to think so. They took counsel with flesh and blood, which he never dared to do.
+ That is, the American controversy; wherein this man of peace and love wrote more largely and more strongly than Mr. Wesley had done.
have plate, for which you have hitherto neglected to make an entry, they have directed me to send you the above copy of the Lords' order, and to inform you, they expect that you forthwith make due entry of all your plate ; such entry to bear date from the commencement of the plateduty, or from such time as you have owned, used, had, or kept any quantity of silver plate, chargeable by the Act of Parliament; as, in default hereof, the Board will be obliged to signify your refusal to their Lordships.
“ N. B. An immediate answer is desired.”.
Mr. Wesley answered as follows:
“SIR,- I have two silver teaspoons at London, and two at Bristol. This is all the plate which I have at present; and I shall not buy any more, while so many round me want bread.
“ I am, Sir,
46 JOHN WESLEY,"
LABOURS AND OPPOSITION IN THE ISLE OF MAN-SECESSION OF AN
EMINENT PREACHER-PROTESTANT ASSOCIATION-MR. WESLEY'S
In the year 1776, the Methodist Preachers visited the Isle of Man.* The year before, a Local Preacher from Liverpool, Mr. John Trook, had paid them a visit, and spent some time with them. He repeated his visit this year, and Societies were already formed in seven different places, and they reckoned 157 members in the Island. It happened
* This island is mentioned by several ancient authors. Cæsar calls it Mona; but the Mona of Tacitus can only be applied to Anglesey. Pliny calls it Monabia : And in Ptolemy, we find Monaida, that is, the farther or more remote Mön. Orosius styles it Menavia ; and tells us, that it was extremely fertile. Bede, who distinguishes clearly two Menavian Islands, names this the Northern Menavia, bestowing the epithet of Southern upon Anglesey. Alured of Beverly also speaks of it as one of the Menavian Islands. The Britons, in their own language, called it Manaw, more properly Main au, that is, “a little island,” which seems to be Latinized in the word Menavia. All which proves, that this small Isle was early inhabited, and as well known to the rest of the world, as either Britain or Ireland.
The Isle of Man was, for a long time, an independent State, governed by its own Princes. At length, however, they became feudatories to the Kings of England, resorted to their Court, were kindly received, and had pensions bestowed upon them. Upon the demise of Magnus, the last King of this isle, without heirs male, Alexander III, King of Scots, who had conquered the other isles, seized likewise upon this; which, as part of that kingdom, came into the hands of Edward I, who directed William Huntercumbe, Warden of that isle for him, to restore it to John Baliol, who had done homage to him for the kingdom of Scotland.
But it seems there was still remaining a Lady named Austrica, who claimed this sovereignty as nearest of kin to the deceased Magnus. This claimant being able to obtain
here, as in most places of Great Britain and Ireland, that the first preaching of the Methodists produced no commotions or riots among the common people. I am, indeed, fully convinced, that the lower orders of the people would never become riotous on account of religion, were they not excited to it, under false pretences, by persons who have some influence over them, and who endeavour to keep behind the scene. The Preachers, however, did not long enjoy peace. Two or three illminded persons, of some influence in the island, formed a plan of opposition, which, in such cases, is but too often successful. These persons, to give greater weight to their opposition, so far prejudiced the mind of the Bishop against these new comers, that he wrote a pastoral letter, directed to all the rectors, vicars, chaplains, and curates within the isle and diocess of Man.
In this letter his Lordship states the ground of his opposition thus : “Whereas we have been informed, that several unordained, unauthorized, and unqualified persons from other countries, have, for some time past, presumed to preach and teach publicly, and hold and maintain conventicles ; and have caused several weak persons to combine themselves together in a new society, and have private meetings, assemblies, and congregations, contrary to the doctrines, government, rites, and ceremonies of the Established Church, and the civil and ecclesiastical laws of this Isle. We do, therefore, for the prevention of schism and the re-establishment of that UNIFORMITY in religious worship which so long hath subsisted among us, hereby desire and require each and every of you, to be vigilant and use your utmost endeavours to dissuade your respective flocks from following, or being led and misguided by such incompetent teachers,” &c, &c.- After expatiating a little on this part of his charge, he tells his clergy that if they could not prevail with the people by persuasion, they must get a knowledge of the names of such persons as attended at “these unlawful meetings,” as he calls them, and especially of such as enjoyed any office or privilege by episcopal license, and present them to his Reverend Vicars General, or to some of them. He then requires every one of his clergy, to repel any Methodist Preacher from the sacrament, if he should offer himself at the table to receive it. He farther directs, that this pastoral letter should be read, plenâ Ecclesiâ, in full church, the next Sunday after the receipt thereof.
The storm now became violent, and Methodism was threatened with a total shipwreck on the island. The preachers and people, however, weathered it out; and in the end of May, 1777, Mr. Wesley paid them
nothing from John Baliol, applied herself to King Edward, as the superior Lord. He, upon this application, by his writ, which is yet extant, commanded both parties, in order to determine their right, to appear in the King's Bench. The suit, it seems, was successful; for we know, that this lady, by a deed of gift, conveyed her claim to Sir Simon de Montacute; and after many disputes, invasions by the Scots, and other accidents, the title was examined in Parliament, in the seventh of Edward III, and solemnly adjudged to William de Montacute; to whom, by letters patent dated the same year, that monarch released all claim whatsoever. It descended afterwards to the Duke of Athol, from whom the English Government purchased it, in the year 1765, the Duke retaining his landed property. The manorial rights and emoluments, the patronage of the Bishopric, and other ecclesiastical benefices, are unalievably vested in the Crown, and the Island subjected to the regulations of the British Excise and Customs.- The inhabitants of the Isle are of the Church of Eng. land, and the Bishop is styled, Bishop of Sodor and Man. By an Act of Parliament, the thirty-third of Henry VIII, this Bishopric is declared to be in the province of York.Encyclop. Brit.