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and Titus were ordered by the Apostle to ordain Bishops in every place ; and, surely, they could not impart to them an authority which they did not themselves possess.”—He looked earnestly at me for some time, but not with displeasure. He made no reply, and soon introduced another subject. I said no more. The man of one book would not dispute against it. I believe he saw his love to the church, from which he never deviated unnecessarily, had, in this instance, led him a little too far.
He had foreseen, that the increase of the Societies, so far beyond all that he had looked for in his own days, would necessarily oblige the people to assemble in their own chapels, and, at length, to have all the privileges which the Holy Scriptures secure to all Christian believers. In many places, the parish church would not contain the Methodist So. ciety, even if the other parishioners were excluded, in order to accommodate them. To give, therefore, to the people under his care all the advantages needful for their growth in grace, and yet continue a friendly connexion with the Established Church, seemed to him a desideratum. Here a change, in some degree, seemed as necessary, therefore, as in America, though for a different reason. He had firmly resisted, for many years, every effort made by those who were for a more liberal plan, as they termed it. Even Thomas Walsh, in that early day, deplored his obstinacy respecting the Roman Catholics. He expostulated with him in the bitterness of his soul, not through any enmity to the Established Church, with which he constantly communicated, but from tender love to those desolate children of his faith and prayer, and for whom chiefly he was prodigal of life. “Sir,” said he, “ they must have the ordinances of Christ, but they will not go to church. They will not hear those men, whose ungodly lives they daily behold; but they will joyfully communicate with those, by whom they have been brought to God. You may open the kingdom of heaven to those multitudes, who have hitherto walked in the way to hell, as they have been led. Beware how you shut it against them !”—Mr. Wesley reverenced this man of God--this debtor to all mer'—this Apostle of the Roman Catholics,beyond all the men of his day ; but he was steadfast and unmoveable in his great views, not seeing, even in that hard case, a good reason for deviating. I believe, this conversation was the last they had on earth
; and I am constrained to believe, that Mr. Wesley's inflexibility hastened the lamented death of that great and good man. Many sorrows compassed him about, while hard and continual labours shattered the clay tenement; but this seemed to oppress him more than all. He found rest in a premature grave, giving up his soul into the hands of his merciful and faithful Creator, exclaiming, “ My Beloved is mine and I am his !-his for ever !”
But while Mr. Wesley yielded to the good reason, when it appeared nearly thirty years after, he yielded with the same unostentatious simplicity which marked his path from the beginning. He was much grieved with something of the contrary spirit which was manifest in his sons in the Gospel, who were chiefly employed in conducting that necessary work. We have already seen something of it in his letter to Mrs. Gilbert. A letter now before me, and which he wrote when I was with bim, will clearly show, how much he felt that deviation from the simplicity which is in Christ, in those whom he much loved. It was written to
Mr. Asbury, and is dated London, Sept. 20, 1788. After speaking on some general subjects, he adds,
" There is, indeed, a wide difference between the relation wherein you stand to the Americans, and the relation wherein I stand to all the Methodists. You are the elder brother of the American Methodists : I am, under God, the father of the whole family. Therefore, I naturally care for you all in a manner no other person can do. Therefore, I, in a measure, provide for you all; for, the supplies which Dr. Coke provides for you, he could not provide, were it not for me-were it not that I not only permit him to collect, but also support him in so doing.
“ But, in one point, my dear brother, I am a little afraid, both the Doctor and you differ from me. I study to be little ; you study to be great. I creep; you strut along. I found a school ; you a college ! Nay, and call it after your own names !* O beware! Do not seek to be something! Let me be nothing, and · Christ be all in all !
“One instance of this, of your greatness, has given me great concern. How can you, how dare you, suffer yourself to be called Bishop ? I shudder, I start at the very thought! Men may call me a knave or a fool; a rascal, a scoundrel, and I am content: But they shall never, by my consent, call me Bishop! For my sake, for God's sake, for Christ's sake, put a full end to this ! Let the Presbyterians do what they please, but let the Methodists know their calling better.
“ Thus, my dear Franky, I have told you all that is in my heart : And let this, when I am no more seen, bear witness how sincerely I am “ Your affectionate friend and brother,
" JOHN WESLEY."
There were very few men that stood higher in Mr. Wesley's esteem, for disinterested attachment to the cause of God, and arduous labour therein, than Mr. Asbury, who lived and died honoured by all his brethren. Mr. Wesley, in writing to him, as above stated, acted according to his own rule. (See page 36.)—" Tell every one what you think wrong in him, and that plainly ; else it will fester in your heart. Make all haste to cast the fire out of your bosom.”—Mr. Asbury meekly bore the fatherly reproof; but he was not convinced, that he had acted wrong : And, certainly, every church of Christ derives from its Divine HEAD, and only Master, a right to whatever the Holy Scriptures makes their privilege, or marks the office of its Pastors.—That Mr. Asbury lost none of his veneration for his Father in the Gospel, on this occasion, will appear from the following extract from his Journal, lately published:
“ The public papers have announced the death of that dear man of God, John Wesley. He died in his own house, in London, in the eighty-eighth year of his age, after preaching the Gospel sixty-four years.-When we consider his plain and nervous writings ; his uncommon talent for sermonizing and journalizing ; that he had such a steady flow of animal spirits ; so much of the spirit of government in him ; his knowledge, as an observer; his attainments, as a scholar ; his experience, as a Christian ; I conclude, his equal is not to be found among all the sons he hath brought up, nor his superior among all the sons of Adam. For myself, notwithstanding my long absence from Mr. Wesley, and a few unpleasant expressions in some of his letters written to me, (occasioned by the misrepresentations of others,) 'I feel the stroke most sensibly; and, I expect, I shall never read his works without reflecting on the loss which the church of God and the world have sustained by his death."
* Cokesbury College, twice burned down. The name was formed from the name of its founders-Coke and Asbury.
Mr. Asbury was, however, mistaken when he supposed, that Mr. Wesley was influenced by “the misrepresentations of others," and not by the facts stated, when he wrote those letters.
I have thought it my duty thus to show, how invariably Mr. Wesley cherished those principles which so eminently shone in the early period of his Christian course, and which issued in what
be called a hatred of all display, excepting that of truth, love, and victory over the world, to the latest period of his life, and even when the Lord had given him so great a people, and such a number of able coadjutors. But did he not, upon this occasion, a little forget what he had written, in his Address to the Societies in America, after their separation from the mother country ?'*—“They are now at full liberty simply to follow the Scriptures and the Primitive Church : and we judge it best, that they should stand fast in the liberty wherewith God has so strangely made them free.”—But the association in his mind, between the assumed title, and the display connected with it in the later ages of the church, was too strong. He could not, at that moment, separate the plain laborious Bishops of the American Societies, where there is no legal establishment, from the dignified Prelates of the mighty Empire of Great Britain. That our brethren who are in that office, are true Scriptural Bishops, I have no doubt at all ; nor do I wish that the title should be relinquished, as it is grown into use, and is known, by every person in the United States, to designate men distinguished only by their simplicity and abundant labours.
There was no danger that a man of this spirit should be suffered to deviate from the truth, in any essential point, in conducting this work of God. Mr. Wesley firmly adhered to the Scriptures, the Primitive Church, and the Church of England. When the necessity of the case, however, was apparent, he minded only the Scriptures, believing that men may err, but the word of God shall abide for ever.' Where the necessity did not appear, he highly respected antiquity, and would never deviate from the accumulated wisdom of ages, or shock the common sense of mankind. The moment he saw the necessity of giving an entire Gospel ministry to his people, he revolted from conferring it in any way not sanctioned by the Apostolic practice, or the usage of the purest ages that succeeded them. Hence, he never would acknowledge any ministry that was not conferred in the Scriptural, Apostolic, and ancient way, by laying on of hands.' Of all the men who ever attempted to break down these fences, there were none he loved more than the two sons of his venerable friend, the Vicar of Shoreham, Charles and Edward Perronet, and Nicholas Norton, whom I personally knew and highly respected. These men were truly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon them the ministry of the word.' They felt and walked in the power of it; but when they would maintain, that the Spirit's call to teach implied also a call to the full Pastorship, and would no longer be indebted to what they called a carnal ministry, in partaking of the ordi
* See page
nances of Christ, he withstood them with all the authority that the Chief Shepherd had given him. Several letters passed between them on this subject. They contended for liberty of conscience. This he fully allowed, but at the same time, maintained his own liberty, and the authority which, he believed, the Lord had given him, respecting the people of his charge. “ You believe," said he, “ it is a duty to administer: Do so, and herein follow your own conscience. I verily believe, it is a sin ; which, consequently, I dare not tolerate ; and herein í follow my conscience. Yet this is no persecution, (which they, in their letters, alleged it to be,] were I to separate from our society those who practise what, I believe, is contrary to the word, and destructive of the work of God.-Keep from proselyting others, and keep your opinion till doomsday, self-inconsistent, unprimitive, and unscriptural as it is.”
When, however, Dr. Hey, of Leeds, whose Life has been recently published, (and in which some of these things are noted,) and others, attempted to hedge him in on the other hand, and so constrain him to make that, which he fully believed to be a revival of Primitive Christianity, a mere appendage to the church as by law established, they found, he would not walk in the trammels of men, or consent to their narrow and, sometimes, worldly proposals.* When his own beloved brother
* Mr. Wesley has repeatedly observed to me, that he could rarely keep professional men, either in law or medicine, long in the society. While young, in their apprenticeship, or pursuing their studies, they held fast their first desire, --- To fee from the wrath to come, and to be saved from their sins," (the one purpose for which the Wesleyan Methodists are asso. ciated,) and were thankful for the help which the society afforded. This was the case with Dr. Hey, (I use the title by which he was commonly known,) for a longer period than usual. After he rose to eminence in his profession, the society, by its strict discipline, became rather a burden than a help. He then began, as his respectable biographer, Mr. Pearson, informs us, to reason upon his situation, " and finally determined, in the year 1781, on the expediency of withdrawing from the Methodists." But Dr. Hey could not submit to retire in the usual quiet way. He drew up a long statement of his fears for the Established Church, and added a set of propositions, amounting to an entire change of the whole Methodist Constitution, and to which the whole connexion must submit, as the condition of his remaining with them! He desired permission of Mr. Wesley to read this statement to the Conference, then assembled at Leeds, which was readily granted.
The Doctor being introduced, a most extraordinary scene was exhibited. A member of a particular society, without one other meinber to second or countenance him, gravely proposing to the Methodist Conference, (assembled to consult about, and transact the business of the whole connexion, according to the rules that govern the body,) to consent to the overthrow of their whole discipline, and to act immediately on the speculations of Dr. Hey! He declaring, as Mr. Pearson informs us, “ that, if they rejected his proposals, he could no longer remain a member!" In an Independent congregation, perhaps, this would have excited but little surprise; but, I believe, we may safely say, that such a proposal was never before made to any such united body of people. We may also add, I think, never did such a proposal meet with a more gentle dismissal : Mr. Wesley only observing, (after hearing quite enough to learn the Doctor's design,) that, “as much business lay before them, brother Hey must defer reading the remainder of his paper to another opportunity.” But brother Hey troubled them no more. He withdrew from the society, and, no doubt, in his own eyes, in a very honourable way; observing, (which, we are told, he often did,) “He did not leave the Methodists--they left him."
We readily allow, that Mr. Wesley and the Methodist Conference refused to have Dr. Hey to rule over them, and, of consequence, to rule over the whole connexion. But the society at Leeds continued, in company with Dr. Hey, to attend the hurch and Sacrament; but he would no longer go with them to the Society, or partake of that Christian fellowship which had been, for so many years, light and life to him. About twenty years ago, when I was stationed at Leeds, I had the privilege of attending the Church and Sacrament, with a goodly company of the Methodists; and so far we still claimed a brotherhood with Dr. Hey, who had departed from the society more than twenty years before. He well knew, and so does his biographer, that he might have continued a Churchman and a Methodist to the hour of his death, if he had been so minded. But to use a common saying, the good man “saw things in another light.” Perhaps, the fear expressed by the Apostle, 2 Cor. xi, 3, may give some elucidation to the worthy Doctor's departure from the friends of his youth, and from his first calling.
and partner in the work would have aided their views, even this did not shake him. He would go on with his Divine Leader, and they found, that, as it was said of old, they could not bind him for the maidens, or
among the merchants,' either of the world or of the church. There were not wanting those who, from the beginning of the work, having departed from simplicity, fondly hoped, that he also would,
“ Though born for the universe, narrow his mind,
And to party give up what was meant for mankind.” But they prevailed not. He held on his even course, and “squared his useful life below by reason and by grace.” To use his own expression, he crept along, through honour and through dishonour ;' and could neither be beat down nor turned out of the way. The Lord shined upon his path, and none of his works have been burned. Even in this last, and by those who watched for his halting, supposed to be his greatest deviation, the wisdom that is from above' is apparent. The amazing extension, and wholly religious nature of the work, speaks for itself ; evidencing the utter impossibility, that it ever could be strictly united to any human system; while its friendliness to all, and especially to our venerable establishment, shows it to be the work of · Him who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. That time now appears swiftly approaching.
CONTINUANCE OF MR. WESLEY'S LABOURS-HIS VISIT TO IRELAND
ACCOUNT OF THE WORK OF GOD IN THE FRENCH ISLANDS-MR. WESLEY'S. VISIT TO THEM-LATTER DAYS AND DEATH OF MR. CHARLES WESLEY-A REVIEW OF HIS CHARACTER.
DURING the latter years of Mr. Wesley's life, he was a wonder unto many. To see a man, at the age of fourscore years and upwards, persevering in daily labours, from which even
the young and vigorous would recede, as from an intolerable burden : To see him rising in the morning at four; travelling often from thirty to sixty or seventy miles a day; preaching daily two, three, or four, yea, sometimes five sermons ; reading, writing, visiting the sick, conversing with his friends, and superintending the societies wherever he came : And, in all this labour and care, to see him a stranger to weariness, either of body or mind :- This was a new thing in the earth, and excited the admiration of mankind.
I have already noted the observations which he made on his birthday, in Holland, in the year 1783, that, “ by the mercy of God, his eyes were not waxed dim, and what strength of body or mind he had thirty years before, the same he had then.” And we find similar remarks yearly in his Journal till the
1787. In that year, he visited Ireland ; and, passing through the North of that kingdom, he called upon a respectable Clergyman, whose kind attentions in his sickness at Tandragee, in the year 1775, had laid bim under obligations. After he had quitted this agreeable family, reflecting on some painful deviations which he had observed, he sent the ClergyVol. II.