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use his own judgment, since every man must give an account of himself to God. Abhor every approach, in any kind or degree, to the spirit of persecution. If you cannot reason or persuade a man into the truth, never attempt to force him into it. If love will not compel him to come, leave him to God, the Judge of all. Yet, expect not that others will thus deal with you. No: Some will endeavour to fright you out of your principles ; some, to shame you into a more popular religion, to laugh and rally you out of your singularity: But from none of these will you be in so great danger, as from those who assault you with quite different weapons, with softness, good nature, and earnest professions of (perhaps real) good will. Here you are equally concerned, to avoid the very appearance of anger, contempt, or unkindness, and to hold fast the whole truth of God, both in principle and in practice. This, indeed, will be interpreted as unkindness. Your former acquaintance will look upon this, that you will not sin or trifle with them, as a plain proof of your coldness towards them; and this burden you must be content to bear : But labour to avoid all real unkindness, all disobliging words, or harshness of speech; all shyness, or strangeness of behaviour : speak to them with all the tenderness and love, and behave with all the sweetness and courtesy you can; taking care not to give any needless offence to neighbour or stranger, friend or enemy.
“ Perhaps, on this very account, I might advise you FIFTHLY, Not to talk much of what you suffer ; of the persecution you endured at such a time, and the wickedness of your persecutors.' Nothing more tends to exasperate them than this : and therefore, although there is a time when these things must be mentioned, yet, it might be a general rule, to do it as seldom as you can with a safe conscience. For, besides its tendency to inflame them, it has the appearance of evil, of ostentation, of magnifying yourselves. It also tends to puff you up with pride, and to make you think yourselves some great ones, as it certainly does to excite or increase in your heart ill-will, and all unkind tempers. It is, at best, loss of time ; for, instead of the wickedness of men, you might be talking of the goodness of God. Would it not be far more profitable for your souls, instead of speaking against them, to pray for them? To confirm your love towards those unhappy men, whom you believe to be fighting against God, by crying mightily to him in their behalf, that he may open their eyes, and change their hearts ?
“ I have now only to commend you to the care of Him who hath all power in heaven and in earth ; beseeching Him, that, in every circumstance of life, you may stand firm as the beaten anvil to the stroke ! desiring nothing on earth, 'accounting all things but dung and dross, that you may win Christ; and always remembering, It is the part of a good champion, to be flead alive, and to conquer.!
MR. WESLEY'S CORRESPONDENCE WITH SOME EMINENT MEN, IN SCOT
LAND AND ENGLAND-ROUGH SKETCH CONCERNING JUSTIFYING FAITH-OPENING OF KINGSWOOD SCHOOL.
MR. WESLEY and his brother were now much spoken of in Scotland ; and a few of the most pious ministers there, though differing from the two brothers on some points of doctrine, yet rejoiced in the great revival of practical religion in England, by their means.
Mr. James Robe, Minister of Killsyth, having received from a friend some account of them, wrote as follows :-" I was much pleased with what you wrote to me of the Messrs. Wesley. I rejoice that justification, the imputed righteousness of Jehovah our Righteousness, received by faith alone, and gospel holiness, are the subjects of their sermons ; and the debated points, (various sentiments about which are not inconsistent with saving faith and our acceptance with God,) are laid aside. I embrace fellowship with them, and pray that the Lord of the vineyard may give them success in preaching the faith of Christ, so much needed in England.
• As many as be perfect, let them be thus minded ; and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless whereunto we have attained, let us valk by the same rule, let us mind the same things.' How good would it be for the Christian world, if this were believed, and regarded as the word of God! When the happy days upon the wing are come, so it will be : And in as far as any have really shared in the late revival, it is so with them in some good measure. I learned something new, as to the exhorters, from the account you gave of them. I look upon them as so many licensed probationers, or useful public teachers ; which is the case of our probationers. It provides me with an answer to objections, besides that of the extraordinary circumstances of the Established Church. you to salute the two brothers for me, much in the Lord. I wrote to my correspondents formerly, upon yours to me from Newcastle, that there were hopes of their joining in our concert for prayer and praise, for the revival of real Christianity. Now I can write that they have acceded; and I hope we shall expressly remember one another before the throne of grace.”
Mr. James Erskine, who frequently in the course of this year (1745,) corresponded with Mr. Wesley, transmitted this part of Mr. Robe's letter to him; and with a liberality not common to Scotchmen at that time, he asks “ Are the points which give the different denominations to Christians, and from whence proceed separate communions, animosities, evil-speakings, surmises, and, at least, coolness of affection, aptness to misconstrue, slowness to think well of others, stiffness in one's own conceits, and over-valuing one's own opinion, &c, &c, are these points, (at least among the far greatest part of Protestants,) as important, as clearly revealed, and as essential, or as closely connected with the essentials of practical Christianity, as the loving of one another with a pure heat fervently, and not forsaking,' much less refusing, the
I beg he,
assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some was,' and now of almost all is ?”—Every candid man will most certainly answer this question in the negative. And it requires no great degree of discernment to perceive, that the narrow party-spirit which prevails among most denominations of Christians with regard to communion and church fellowship, even where it is acknowledged that the essential doctrines of the gospel are held fast, is one grand hinderance of brotherly love, and of a more general diffusion of real experimental religion.
In the latter end of this year, Mr. Wesley had expressed a desire to be useful to the Scots, and to preach the Gospel in Scotland. His friend Mr. James Erskine wrote to him on the subject, and set before him some of the difficulties he would have to struggle with in the attempt. Mr. Erskine, in his letter, expresses an ardent wish for union and Chris. tian fellowship among all those of different denominations and opinions, who love the Lord Jesus Christ. He reprobates the animosity and bigotry, too prevalent among them, under the specious name of zeal for the truth. He then sets before him some of the difficulties he would meet with in attenipting to preach and form societies in Scotland : “ You have,” says some sentiments and ways of speaking different from the generality, and almost from all the real Christians of the Presbyterian persuasion in Scotland, among whom, from my long acquaintance with my countrymen, I cannot help thinking, are about five in six of the real Christians there. And to my regret, of these worthy people, I fear three out of five are wofully bigoted: A vice too natural to us Scots, from what our countryman, George Buchanan, wrote was our temper-perfervidum Scotoruin ingenium : • The vehement temper of the Scots.' And some of you English have as much of it as any Scot; but it is not so national with you, as among the Scots. You would have the same prejudices to struggle with among the Presbyterians, that Mr. Whitefield had, that is, that you are of the Church of England, and use the Liturgy. And you would have more, because of the difference of sentiment and ways of speaking, as to some doctrines, about which, his opinions and expressions were the same as theirs : And though this might make you more acceptable to most of the Episcopal persuasion, yet your way of speaking of Christian perfection, and their regard for what they call church-order and regularity, would make them Ay from you; for which last, the Presbyterians would not be so offended with you; and your urging so strict holiness in practice would recommend you to the Presbyterians, but I am afraid not to the Episcopalians. And your doctrine of man's utter ruin by the fall, and utter inability to do any thing for his own recovery; and the necessity of regeneration, and an interest in Christ by faith alone, that works by love, and produces holiness in heart and life, &c, would be sweet to the Presbyterians, but not to many of the Episcopalians.
“ Mr. Whitefield, in fewer months than one would have thought could have been done in as many years, overcame the prejudices of the far greatest part of the Presbyterians, especially the most religious, only by preaching that faith and holiness you preach; by meddling with no debates, and by the power of the Lord signally accompanying his administrations ; awakening, converting, and building up almost wherever he went, in places remote from one another. The same evangelical doctrine, of faith, holiness, regeneration, and divine influence, &c, and such
blessed divine power on your administrations, managed with Christian prudence and simplicity, and that wisdom from above which is profitable to direct, would likewise overcome the strong prejudices against you and your
brother. “ But Mr. Whitefield had one other advantage,
would not have at present. The sermons and other things he had printed, were earnestly read by the Presbyterians, and were to their taste; as well as his sermons, conversations, and prayers among them. And there is hardly any thing printed by your brother and you, in which I fear they would not find some thought or expression that would stumble and offend them.”-Mr. Wesley, however, did not go to Scotland till some years after this periode
It was in this year also, that Mr. Wesley began a private correspondence with a Clergyman of considerable abilities, and probably of high station, if not the highest, in the church. He concealed his real name, and only said, as he lived at a considerable distance from London, a letter would find him, directed to John Smith, at Mr. Richard Mead's, the Golden Cross, Cheapside. He introduced himself to Mr. Wesley in a very candid and liberal manner, and preserved candour and good temper through the greatest part of their controversy. He introduces himself thus :
“REVEREND SIR,—The labouring to bring all the world to solid inward vital religion, is a work so truly Christian and laudable, that I shall ever highly esteem those who attempt this great work, even though they should appear to me to be under some errors in doctrine, some mistakes in their conduct, and some excess in their zeal. You may, therefore, expect in a candid adversary; a contender for truth, and not for victory; one who would be glad to convince you of any error which he apprehends himself to have discovered in you; but who would be abundantly more glad to be convinced of errors in himself. Now, the best way to enable you to set me right wherever I may
wrong, will be by pointing out to you, what I have to object to those works of yours which have fallen into my hands; and, for order sake, I shall reduce my objections to matter of doctrine, to matter of phraseology, and to matter of fact.”—He then mentions several particulars under the different heads, which he discusses with an open manly freedom, and a good degree of ingenuity and ability. He concludes his first letter thus, Having now freely told you what I take to be
I shall readily and thankfully attend to whatever you shall point out amiss in I am desirous to retract and amend whatever is wrong
your general design of promoting true religion, I am a hearty friend ; nay, to your particular scheme and singularities, I am no enemy.
If I come not fully into your scheme, it is not for want of good will, but for want of evidence and conviction that it is true. I
God to grant me all needful illumination; and I pray you to tell me what is lacking on my part.
Mr. Wesley received and considered this letter with the same friendliness, and answered it with the same openness and candour. determined,” says he in his reply, “ from the time I received yours, to answer it as soon as I should have opportunity. But it was the longer delayed, because I could not persuade myself to write at all, till I had
66 I was
leisure to write fully. And this I hope to do now; though I know you not, not so much as your name.
But I take it for granted, you are a person that fears God, and that speaks the real sentiments of his heart. And on this supposition I shall speak without any suspicion or reserve.
“I am exceedingly obliged by the pains you have taken to point out to me, what you think to be mistakes. It is a truly Christian attempt, an act of brotherly love, which I pray God to repay sevenfold into your bosom. Methinks, I can scarce look upon such a person, on one who is a contender for truth, and not for victory,' whatever opinion he may entertain of me, as an adversary at all. For what is friendship, if I am to account him mine enemy who endeavours to open my eyes, or to mend my heart ?" And in the conclusion of his letter, he says, “ Smite me friendly and reprove me : It shall be a precious balm ; it shall not break
my head. I am deeply convinced, that I know nothing yet as I ought to know. Fourteen years ago, I said with Mr. Norris,* • I want heat more than light :' But now I know not which I want most. Perhaps, God will enlighten me by your words. O speak and spare not. At least you will have the thanks and prayers of “ Your obliged and affectionate servant,
" JOHN Wesley." Dr. Whitehead observes, “ John Smith, for so we must call him for the sake of distinction, prefaces his second letter in the following manner : “I heartily thank you
handsome letter. I have yielded it that attention which I think it justly deserves ; and am now sat down to give you my thoughts upon it. I shall first most readily take notice of those things wherein I stand corrected, and am gone over to you : And next I shall, with some reluctance, proceed to those in which we seem unfortunately to differ.'—But though he yielded up several things to Mr. Wesley, in whole, or in part, yet he pressed him on one or two points of doctrine ; and I think his objections had afterwards some influence on Mr. Wesley's mind. There are six on each side, written with ability and spirit. I think Mr. Wesley's opinions will admit of more illustrations and clearer evidence, than he has given them in this controversy. He himself afterwards stated some points to much greater advantage. I should, therefore, be sorry to see these letters published without occasional remarks, by some person who thoroughly understands the subjects therein discussed.”
* John Norris, the person here mentioned, was born in 1657, at Collingborne-Kingston, in Wiltshire, where his father was then minister. He was a learned divine and Platonic philosopher. He was educated first at Winchester School, and, in 1676, sent to Oxford. In 1680, he was elected Fellow of All Souls, soon after he had taken his degree of Bachelor of Arts. In 1684, he commenced Master of Arts, and the same year opened a correspondence with that learned mystic divine, Dr. Henry Moore, of Christ's College in Cambridge. He had also a correspondence with the learned Lady Masham, D. Cudworth's daughter, and the ingenious Mrs. Astel. In 1691, his distinguished merit procured him the rectory of Bemerton, near Sarum. This living, upwards of two hundred pounds a year, was a comfortable provision for his fainily, and the easiness of the parochial duty gave him leisure to pursue his favourite studies. He died in 1711. Mr. Norris published two octavo volumes on “ The Theory of the Ideal World”. In this work he opposed Locke, and adorned Malebranche's opinion, of seeing all things in God, with all the advantages of style and perspicuity of expression. His philosophical errors may easily be pardoned, on account of the general excellence of his
writings, especially on subjects of practical divinity, which are universally esteemed. Mr. Wesley published extracts from two of his works, 6 A Treatise on Christian Prudence,” and “Reflections on the Conduct of Human Life." No person can read these without reaping advantage; and young persons ought to study them with diligence and attention.