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thus speaks of his father's end, which had deeply impressed him. “The few words he could utter,” he writes to his brother from Epworth, in April 1735, “I saved, and I hope never to forget; ‘Nothing too much to suffer for heaven. The weaker I am in body, the stronger and more sensible support I feel from God. The inward witness,—this is the proof, the strongest proof of Christianity: God does chasten me with pain, yea, all my bones with strong pain, but I thank him for all, I bless him for all, I love him for all.'

It was under such training that Charles Wesley grew.

His father had said in his last moments, laying his hand affectionately on the dutiful head of the lad, “Be steady, the Christian faith will surely revive in this kingdom. You shall see it, though I shall not."

There was indeed need of revival. For so general was the spirit of infidelity, that the authorities of Oxford issued a warning edict against it in 1732, and the Master of University College preached two sermons to the young men on the subject. In this matter however, as in others where the morals of England were concerned, it was not by authority but by suasion, not by might but by worth, that reformation was to be achieved.

The other associate of John Wesley was George Whitefield. This singular man, little less famous than Wesley, sprung from the lowest ranks. Born at the Bell Inn in Gloucester in 1714, educated in the parish school of St. Mary's, then a drawer in the Inn, he

arrived, by a series of strange circumstances, at Pembroke College, Oxford, in the position of a Servitor.

His mother's affection had discovered the boy's capacity, to which his own careless habits had made him indifferent ; for the character of Whitefield was very distinct from that of Wesley. His passions were strong ; he had desires for good, but a keen appetite for evil; and, as these tendencies alternately swayed him, he vacillated between plans of virtue and the indulgence of vice. At times he studied Thomas à Kempis, and attended assiduously his church. At times he associated with rakish companions, joined in their sports, and plunged in their debaucheries. Yet, during this season of passion and remorse, the mind shewed its bent. Already, as a boy at school, he displayed a taste for oratory and dramatic representation; and his composition of sermons, during that period, proved that to the ministry of the Church his tastes were even then directed. But, before he went to Oxford, the lad of seventeen underwent a change. He threw off his associates, broke through his worst habits, and set himself, with firm purpose, to practise virtue. His attendance on public worship was regular, his prayers fervent, his study of Scripture sincere. On his arrival at Oxford, he looked with sympathy to the small band, who were now attracting the notice and ridicule of the undergraduates.

To this band he joined himself, followed their doctrine, adopted their practice, and vied with them in the severe asceticism of their early habits. We are reminded,

when reading the narrative of their practices, of those of the Tractarian school; abstinence from food, pushed to the injury of health, long fasts, protracted vigils, bodily mortification, painful postures, wearying observances, were used by them, as by all men of earnest superstition, to subdue the senses and tame the will; and in all cases with a like result, a harassing sentiment of utter failure. During this stage of Methodism there was sincerity, but exaggeration; zeal and superstition. Never indeed did men set themselves to work out their salvation with a more desperate resolution, than did those, whose errors it is our duty to censure, but who present to us a spectacle of fortitude and fervency, which it is impossible not to admire.

Of the company, then gathering at Oxford, and which now began to be familiarly known by the nickname of Methodists, John Wesley was the leader. He owed this preeminence not to his ambition, but to his earnestness, his activity, and perseverance. Whatever he did, he did with all his heart. To him therefore, his companions naturally turned for counsel and direction.

One day in the week he gave to correspondence with religious enquirers. He studied hard, had great collectedness of mind, and had brought his feelings under severe control. To himself he was stern, forbearing to others; his time was given up to works of charity, to visiting the prisons, and to the poor. His brother Charles, more gentle and sensitive, turned with deference to the guidance of that stronger mind.

CHAPTER III.

THE DAY OF ASCETICISM—THE DAWN OF TRUTH.

At this time, in 1735, the call of duty, as they interpreted it, led both the Wesleys to America. In their mission to Georgia, they first fell in with Moravians, on shipboard, and afterwards in the colony; and their intimacy with them formed a turning-point in their history.

In their conversation with the Moravians, and still more in the observation of their happiness, the Wesleys perceived the mistake into which they had fallen ; they discovered that the ascetic life, on which they had relied as an instrument of progress, was ineffectual,--that the effort to subdue the passions of their nature by violence and mortification, might exhaust, but could not reclaim them. A greater power, they now perceived, was needed. Their first meeting with the Moravians was followed, some years after, in England, by further intercourse more intimate and influential. But in their

conversation with them, at this time, and in the observation of their mode of life, they first discovered that there were ways of attaining piety more effectual than those on which they had hitherto relied.

But the glimpses of this truth began to dawn on them slowly. They carried to Georgia the formality and rigid rules of a monastic life. Wesley, a stickler for the strictest observance of the rubric, introduced into the practice of the church in the colony new modes of administering the ordinances. He rejected many persons from the sacrament; he would not give the communion to Dissenters, unless re-baptized; he repelled sponsors, if they were not communicants; and he would not read the burial service over schismatics.

These practices, and this temper, became a source, to him, of numberless trials, during the two years of his colonial residence. Loudly did Governor Oglethorpe complain, that, while in bringing the Wesleys to the colony, he had hoped to introduce love, meekness, and harmony, he found the churches emptied, and the congregations estranged; strict observances, but a demoralized population.

After two wretched years passed in America, Wesley returned to England. His work in the colony had been a failure. His own state of mind we gather from his diary. He had been zealous beyond example, rigorous to himself, fertile in efforts; but in his labours he had gathered neither fruits nor friends. He was

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