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and wonder, as we read them, whether we shall ever again open the records of honesty and worth.
It was at this time, and under this state of things, that God was pleased, in His mercy, to rouse England in a singular way.
In the year 1738, while George II. reigned, while Walpole was Premier, but his long reign drew to a close ; when Pitt had just begun to run his course in Parliament, and Bolingbroke was declaiming philosophy, and Chesterfield, rules of taste; and Pope wrote satires; and Thomson had just published his Seasons; and Isaac Watts still wrote hymns; and Young meditated his Night Thoughts; Garrick and Samuel Johnson had entered London to seek their fortunes; and the gloomy Swift had produced his last work; and Butler, having written his Analogy, had stepped into the Bishoprick of Bristol ; and Bishop Wilson still lived to bless the island of Man, John Wesley, came, a sturdy traveller, from Herrnhut to London. Unknown, unsung by poets, unheeded by statesmen, unheard of in court or country, he entered London to make for himself a greater name than Carteret or Pelham; and to leave a larger and more lasting party, than followed Pulteney or Walpole. It is a matter of interest, to enquire by what method this man produced on his age so strong an impression; and by what acts or services, he won for himself so great a name.
I have already spoken of the moral character of England, and of the decline which involved her religious parties. But we must remember, that, while this decline had swept all other sects into the vortex of error or indifference, the Church of England stood, lowered indeed, and weakened, but entire. The Puritans had sunk, and the Presbyterians had fallen, but there still were found in the Church many earnest men, who continued buoyant amidst a general decline. It is true that they were not numerous enough to correct the national degeneracy; nor could their services, however pure, nor their form of prayer, however spiritual, avail without the living pastor. For the purest ritual falls dead from the mouth of a drowsy advocate, and even Scripture passes, like the wind, from careless lips to heedless ears. Yet the Liturgy was of lasting value. It encased the truth. It held it fast, and kept it sound for better times. It did more. It instructed minds that were in earnest. So that even this age had, the high places of the Church, Butler, Sherlock, and Benson, and the apostolic piety of Bishop Wilson; in humbler stations, many pastors as faithful as the good Rector of Epworth. These men led their flocks, by paths unknown to the world, to sources of strange comfort,-comfort, which they had themselves derived from the services of their Church; and to which they guided their humble followers.
Nor should we forget, that when better times came,
often (as in the case of Whitefield and Wesley, and, in later days, of Simeon and Venn) thoughts of good and its inspirations fell on them, through these services of deep solemnity,—through the sober words of antient prayer. This testimony is due to the Church of England; before we enter on the review of her shortcomings and faults. And even in these it will appear, while we trace the rise of Methodism, that its love of order, plan of discipline, and scheme of subordination were derived from minds trained within the Church, and submitted by long use to her strictest rules. It was reluctantly, that John Wesley left the path of ecclesiastical order for a more eccentric orbit; and even in traversing this, he still turned his eye back to the firmament, which he had left with an unwilling heart. His course was determined by circumstances, not altogether under his control; partly, by the impulse of his associates,not least by the influence of that remarkable man, of whom I shall speak first, because, in his history we trace most plainly the impelling forces, out of which Methodism sprung.