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gregation of Methodists, and which influenced, by its variety and pathos, the hearts of thousands. His hymns are still on the lips of the miners of Cornwall, and the colliers of Somerset or Durham; they are familiar to the negroes of the West Indies, and are the solace of the slaves of the United States.
By all these various means the Methodist movement advanced. On all hands the change in the moral state of England began to show itself. The licentious habits of the vulgar were checked, and the immorality of the middle class, with the carelessness of the clergy, abated. The higher classes were least affected by the movement. Wesley had no liking for them ; his sympathies lay with the poor. Still, even the listless indifference of the wealthy began to yield; and men enquired, with some anxiety, what was the cause of this great movement. A strange movement it was, which held up a life of primitive piety and rules of strictest morals, to a society that had relished the philosophy of Bolingbroke, the morality of Walpole, and the precepts of Chesterfield. Strange it was to pass from the atmosphere of the court of George the Second, and the conversation of his queen and courtiers, to the drawing-room of Lady Huntingdon and the home of Charles Wesley. Marvellous it was to rise from the Arian speculations of Clark, and the Unitarian confessions of clergymen, who met at a London Tavern to shake off subscription to the Thirtynine Articles, to visit the societies of those who
aimed at reviving ascetic purity, and recalled in their practice the virtues of the apostolic age. Never was so strange a contrast, or so abrupt a revival. The movement began to tell; it made men think; they raised their eyes from the sermons of Hoadley and the sayings of Selwyn, to the writings of John Wesley and his coadjutors. Even Dr. Johnson, the great moralist, was interested ; and Bolt Court, with Fleet Street, began to marvel at the doings of Kingswood and the Foundry. Yet this was the work of one man, and was effected within twenty years.
.* If any one would trace the results of Wesley's mission, he may see it in the changes in English literature, politics, and manners. The religious earnestness, which characterised the first years of the nineteenth century, contrasts with the disregard of church services, both on the part of clergy and laity, which was observable in the last half of the eighteenth century.† Gambling was so general then, that a bill was brought in to repress it (in 1782): drinking was the fashion of the age ; of the scandalous state of the universities we have testimonies from Dr. Johnson, Gibbon, and Lord Chesterfield. Of the principles of public men, we learn from the examples of Walpole and the first Lord Holland. Lord Hervey's Memoirs depict the morality of the court; the popular
* By examining Wesley's Journal from 1738 to 1758, we perceive that the Methodist work was fully established within that period.
+ See Mahon's History, vii. 473, and examples might be multiplied.
novels attest the condition of the educated. But, after twenty years of Wesley's labours, a great improvement came. Among the clergy, indifference gave way to the piety of Venn, Grimshawe, Newton, and Scott. The poetry of Swift made place for that of Cowper ; and the novels of Smollett and Sterne, (17441759) and Mrs. Behn, were replaced by those of Dr. Johnson, Goldsmith, (1760), and Miss Burney (1778). The movement in Sunday schools began in 1781 ; and the labours of Howard, Clarkson, and Wilberforce, characterized the latter part of the century. Howard * as we know, owed his first impulse to a sermon of Wesley, and his exertions may be traced to the religious principles which gave nerve to his benevolence.
* Howard began his work in 1773.
THE ORGANIZATION OF METHODISM.
WESLEY's scheme was to draw together all those, within the Church, who were devout, and to induce them to ive lives accordant with the precepts of the Church of England. He wished no change in the doctrines of the Church, he only asked that men should practise what they heard in its walls. He would preserve the Church's standard, but have men rise and act up to it. But his scheme involved several difficulties.
In making men conform to rules of piety, he could not exclude from his Society earnest persons of different sects. Those, who joined the Methodist societies, were therefore drawn from various communions, and Wesley suffered them to continue in the communion to which they had belonged. The effect of this was to engender hostility, at all events indifference to the Church among the Methodist body.
Wesley had early found that addresses from the pulpit must be fortified by rules of life, and that a scheme of united action must be devised. Hence arose the polity
of Methodism; which grew out of wants detected and practical rules laid down.
The character of Wesley's mind was suggestive rather than reflective ; practical, not philosophical. He had the qualities which make an administrator, rather than the forethought which constitutes a legislator. In his system we find rules and expedients; we must not look for deep forethought. The want of this has limited the power of Methodism, and abridged its sphere.
If we follow for a moment the history of the movement, we shall understand its nature and the characteristics of its founder. Methodist societies,* as Wesley tells us, first sprung up in Oxford in 1725. They grew out of the attempt, made by a few young men, to follow in practice the rules of holy living laid down by Jeremy Taylor. In ten years these societies had advanced so little, that the associates of the new fraternity did not exceed fourteen. On the return of Wesley from Georgia, in 1738, he found himself detained in London, and, while there, was importuned to preach. He preached with such effect, that churches were crowded; and his popularity gave such umbrage, that the clergy closed their buildings against him. Thus it was that, daring to be silent,” he resorted to Moorfields, and many persons, awakened by his sermons, became inquirers. To satisfy them, he fixed a time and place for conference with them. Twelve came; then forty ; then * Sermons,
132. Wesley's Works, vol. vii. p. 402.