« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
Far, far above thy thought,
His counsel shall appear,
Which caused thy needless fear! England and America have both prospered since that lamentable contention, beyond all calculation ; and bid fair, when 'patience shall have its perfect work,' and a firm union (so much desired !) shall be accomplished, not only to awe the antichristian powers, and secure peace to the world, but to carry the Gospel to the remotest regions of the earth.
Dr. Whitehead observes, " In June 1783, Mr. Wesley went over to Holland, and spent his birth-day, completing the eightieth year of his age, in that country. He seemed pleased with his visit, though the motives for making it are not very obvious. It is not probable, that the design originated with himself; and any conjectures concerning the reasons why others put him upon it, might be false, and appear illnatured or invidious." — Very likely they might—But, as the Doctor has well observed, in another place, “Mr. Wesley had no secrets.”—He has detailed the facts in his Journal; and I am enabled to state with whom the design originated.
Mr. William Ferguson, a member and Local Preacher in the London Society, traded to Holland for some years, and generally spent his summers there. He was a truly pious man, and could not be hid from those who had like precious faith. He soon found in Holland some who were Methodists in every thing except the name. His company was desired, not only by those of his own rank, but by many of the principal inhabitants and persons in authority. He spoke much of Mr. Wesley, and of the people under his care in England, and distributed his sermons among his new friends. Of these they expressed high approbation, and also their wishes to see the venerable Founder of Methodism among them. Mr. Ferguson pressed Mr. Wesley to visit these pious people. His own philanthrophy, always alive to that which is good, aided the request.
Accordingly, on the 12th of June, 1783, he sailed from Harwich, and landed the next day at Helvoetsluys. He was received with uncommon respect by all the people, and favoured with the company of many eminent Ministers of the church of Holland, as well as of the English Ministers in the commercial towns. With the former he conversed in Latin. In the Episcopal church at Rotterdam, he preached twice to large congregations ; the first time on God created man in his own image,' and the people “ seemed, all but their attention, dead;"> the second time, on. God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.'
At the Hague, he was invited to tea by Madam de Vassenaar, a lady of the first rank in that city. She received him with that easy openness and affability, which is almost peculiar to Christians and persons of quality: Soon after, came ten or twelve ladies more, who seemed to be of her own rank, (though dressed quite plain,) and two most agreeable gentlemen, one of whom was a Colonel in the Prince's Guards. After tea, he expounded the three first verses of the thirteenth Chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians ; and Captain M-interpreted sentence by sentence. Mr. Wesley then prayed, and Colonel - prayed after him.
On the following day, he dined at Mrs. L-'s. Her mother, upwards of seventy, seemed to be continually rejoicing in God her Saviour. The daughter breathed the same spirit ; and her grand-cbildren, three little girls and a boy, seemed to be all love. A gentleman coming in after dinner, Mr. Wesley found a particular desire to pray for him. In a little while, the stranger melted into tears, as indeed did most of the company. The next day, Madam de Vassenar invited Mr.Wesley to a meeting at a neighbouring lady's house ; where he expounded Gal. vi, 14; and Captain M-interpreted as before.
In his way from Haerlem to Amsterdam, he met with several fellow passengers who were truly serious. Some of them sung hymns in a very pleasing manner: And his and their hearts were so knit together in Christian love, that their parting at Amsterdam was very affecting.
In that city he visited a lady of large fortune, who appeared to be entirely devoted to God. “ There is such a childlike simplicity," observes Mr. Wesley, concerning Amsterdam, “in all that love God in this city, as does honour to the religion they profess.”
After performing service in the English church, he visited a Mr. B- who had, not long before, found peace with God. tleman was full of faith and love, and could hardly mention the goodness of God without tears. His lady seemed to be exactly of the same spirit. From thence he went to another house, where a large company was assembled ; and all seemed open to receive instruction, and desirous to be altogether Christians.
On the 28th of June, he made the following observation : “ I have this day lived fourscore years ; and, by the mercy of my God, my eyes are not waxed dim : and what little strength of body or mind I had thirty years since, just the same I have now. God grant I may never live to be useless. Rather
And cease at once to work and live." On the next day, he preached, in the English church at Utrecht, a very faithful, searching sermon ; and afterwards dined with a merchant, who seemed to be deeply acquainted with religion. In the evening, at the desire of several persons, he repeated in a private house, the substance of his morning's sermon, to a large company, Mr. Toydemea, the Professor of Law in the University, interpreting it sentence by sentence. The congregation then sung a Dutch hymn, and Mr. Wesley and his companions, an English one. Afterwards Mr. Regulet, a venerable old man, spent some time in prayer for the establishment of peace between the two nations.
On Tuesday, July 1, he sailed from Helvoetsluys, but, through contrary winds, did not arrive at Harwich till the Friday following. He observes on the whole, that the persons with whom he conversed in Holland, were of the same spirit with his friends in England ; and that he was as much at home in Utrecht and Amsterdam, as in Bristol and London.
In the year 1786, he again visited Holland. Nothing new arose during this tour. Many of the Ministers waited on him. Some of the churches were opened. He preached and expounded in many private houses
; and received many marks of courtesy from several pious persons of rank and fortune, particularly from Mr. Loten, one of the
Burghomasters of Utrecht, who, both at this time and on his former visit, seemed studious to show him proof of his regard and attention. Miss Loten, his daughter, a most amiable and pious young lady, continued to correspond with Mr. Wesley till his death, in the English language, which she well understood : I have read many of her letters to Mr. Wesley.
In visiting Holland, he had no design to form Societies. He made these visits partly for relaxation, and partly to indulge and enlarge his catholic spirit, by forming an acquaintance with the truly pious in foreign nations. He often, with great satisfaction, reflected on the sameness of true religion in every country. He saw that the genuine spirit of piety, in
every time and place, tends to promote union in heart and brotherly kindness. The same simplicity of manners and dress he also observed, even in those of the highest rank that professed godliness. The meetings for Christian fellowship he found to be very similar to those he had himself established. But as few of the Ministers of the church of Holland seemed to encourage or rightly understand the excellency of this great help to piety; and as the intolerant spirit of the national Establishment, at that time, prevented these pious persons from having ministers after their own heart, they were, on these accounts, deprived of the full advantages, which they might have enjoyed in more favourable circumstances. But the Lord will, in his own good time, remove from that lovely people this want of conformity to his pure Gospel.
THE REV. JOHN WESLEY, A. M.
BOOK THE EIGHTH.
THE DEED OF DECLARATION--MR. WESLEY'S ORDINATIONS SHORT
ACCOUNT OF DR. COKE.
The year 1784 is remarkable in the annals of Methodism, 1. For the solidity given to its affairs by the Deed of Declaration, enrolled in Chancery, whereby the numerous chapels of the connexion were secured to the people, for the purposes for which they had been built : And, 2. For the advancement of its spiritual privileges, by giving a full Christian ministry to the Societies in America, just then become independent of the mother country,
The Founder and chief instrument, in the hand of God, of this great work, had often, before this time, been importuned to take those steps, which, to the generality of our people, seemed necessary for those great purposes, and thus to quiet the minds of many who dreaded the dissolution of this social compact, whenever they contemplated the death of the venerable Founder. But he was not hasty to listen to those fears. He never forgot, that the work was the Lord's, and that he need not, and ought not, to be anxious about the circumstances of it, but to wait the Lord's time.
How exceedingly men have mistaken the character of Mr. Wesley ! Because he held, what the Scriptures teach concerning religious affections, it has been confidently said, and published too, that he was wholly led by impulses and inward feelings. In the whole compass of thought, there could not be a greater mistake respecting him. What his father used to observe of him, when he was a boy, was true to the last moment of his life : “ As for Jack, he will have a reason for every thing he is to do. I suppose, he would not do any thing, (non etiam crepitare) unless he had a reason for it.” Mr. Wesley observed to me one day, “ Count Zinzendorff was mistaken in his notion of the way in which the Lord leads his servants ; viz. by a divine impression. His account suits only one kind of men, and it is safe to them only while they continue entirely devoted. The Lord, on the contrary, has three ways
of guiding them, suited to the different construction of men's minds :i. To some he gives a divine impression, that what is proposed in any particular case, not expressly defined in Holy Scripture, is of Him.2. To others, who are more sober in their mental constitution, he gives an apt and convincing Scripture.-3. To others he gives a clear reason for that particular line of duty which they should then adopt. He has
chiefly led me in this last way, though I have found at times all the three concur." I had myself observed this in him. When I have spoken of the probable utility of any proposed measure, he would say, in his usual kind way, “ Come, Henry, hoc age ! • Mind the point in hand.' Give me a reason.”—The reason why he should act, as already intimated, was now very apparent; and he hesitated no longer.
With respect to the chapels, which were then greatly multiplied, the call was imperative. They were safe during his life, as the various deeds specified, that he by name, should appoint the Preachers from time to time. The generality of those deeds specified also, that, after his death, the ConferenCE OF THE PEOPLE CALLED METHODISTS should appoint the Preachers in like manner. Some of those deeds had no reference to any posthumous appointment, and so would have been completely in the power of the Trustees, at Mr. Wesley's decease. Several even of those Trustees, where the chapels were settled according to the Methodist plan, did not scruple to say,
66 That the CONFERENCE was not an assembly that the law would recognise, and that, therefore, they would, after Mr. Wesley's death, appoint whom they should think proper.” One of these said to me, They might appoint a Popish Priest, if they should think it proper.”
That there could be but little hope, that the work should continue to be a work of God, where such a power should be assumed, was very clear to all who were the subjects of that work. Upon Mr. Wesley's mind, it lay with great weight. That men, not a few of whom had departed from the society, (and some had been expelled from it,) should merely, by virtue of their legal authority over the premises, appoint Preachers to feed and guide the flock, exhibited a distressing prospect. Even where the Trustees continued members of the society, and attached to its interests, what could be expected, in a matter of such vital concern, from men so much engaged in worldly business? This has often been proved in religious communities. It was the chief cause of the decline of religion among the latter Puritans : Their lay-elders assumed, after some time, the whole authority. From this proceeded that worldly spirit and political zeal, which so greatly dishonoured that work in its last days; and which had previously overthrown both Church and State. We see also, in our day, in the sufferings of the excellent Scott, as detailed in his Memoirs lately published, what both ministers and people have to expect from such a system of Lay-Government.
The evil showed itself in prominent overt acts, previous to this period. Mr. Wesley having striven to prevail on some Trustees, in Yorkshire, to settle their chapels, so that the people might continue to hear the same truths, and be under the same discipline as heretofore, was assailed with calumny, and with the most determined opposition, as though he intended to make the chapels his own! Another set of Trustees, in the same county, absolutely refused to settle a lately-erected chapel ; and, in the issue, engaged Mr. Wesley's Book-Steward in London, who had been an Itinerant Preacher, to come to them as their Minister. This man, however, was wise in his generation ;' and insisted upon having an income of sixty pounds per annum, with the Chapel-house to live in, settled upon him during his life, before he would relinquish his place under Mr. Wesley. What will not party-spirit do! I was a witness, when, after Mr. Wesley's death, it was found, that the Preach