Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

his rzes sm."

The seller tried to be off his bargain. “Sir,” he writes,
“I am surprised-you give it under your hand, that
you will put me in possession of a piece of ground, spe-
cified in an article between us, in fifteen days time. Three
months are passed, and that article is not fulfilled- and
now you say, you cannot conceive what I mean by
troubling you. I mean to have that article fulfilled. I
think my meaning is very plain.
I am, Sir, your humble servant,

John WESLEY."

zich the

to God God be

An impostor had collected money, under the guise of a Methodist preacher. Wesley inserts this advertisement.*

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

“Whereas one Thomas Mann, alias Smith, has lately appeared in Cumberland and other parts of England, preaching (as he calls it), in a clergyman's habit, and then collecting money of his hearers; this is to certify whom it may concern, that the said Mann is no clergyman, but a cheat and impostor, and that no preacher in connection with me asks

money

of

JOHN WESLEY." A dispute arose about the meeting-house t at Bristol. The Trustees claimed the right of appointing preachers, at least after Wesley's death. He would not hear of this for a moment, and his short letter settles the

* Journal, ii. p. 103. + This meeting-house has been again the subject of litigation in 1854.

any one.

[blocks in formation]

question in a few words,* His societies he kept strictly in hand; they must go right, or be put right-mended or ended. Members must obey him or go.t

So also he ruled his preachers. They were sons -but the father must be obeyed. To him they brought their doubts. From Wigan one of his preachers writes, puzzled whether to go or stay. He laid his case before Wesley. The next post brought the answer in three lines. “Considering the love of the people for you, and your usefulness, I judge that Providence clearly calls you to remain at Wigan.” Take an opposite case. McNab rebelled at Bath, defied Wesley, and tried to seduce the Society. Wesley hastened to Bath, called together the Society, read the twelfth rule, which was, “Above all, you are to preach when and where I appoint,” expelled McNab, and withdrew.

No doubt Wesley's power was enormous, and we may ask also, how it came to pass that men submitted to it. It was not his talent that cowed them, nor his force of will, but his rare disinterestedness. He had faults like other

men, and he was not without his weaknesses—but his character was of transparent clearness; on the purity of his motives there did not light through his long life, even from the foulest breath, one speck of stain. He was often attacked. The jealousy of his wife raised scandalous reports against him. They were circulated

* Vol. xiii. pp. 262, 263.

See the case of Norwich, xiii. p. 341.

eagerly, – they were paraded in newspapers; they were laid hold of by his enemies,* who had already lampooned the Methodist leader through the press and on the stage. Charles Wesley was alarmed; he hurried to his brother, who was about to take an excursion with his niece to Canterbury and Dover, and entreated him to defer his journey, and expose the calumnies. With most men his appeal would have had weight. It had none with Wesley “ Brother, when I devoted to God my ease, my time, my life, did I except my reputation ? No. Tell Sally I will take her to Canterbury to-morrow.”

But the purity of his character was his best defence. It was clear like a fountain, clear to the bottom. Those, who disliked him, acknowledged this.† His disciples felt that, if he exercised great authority, it was for their good. If his power was paternal, so was his affection.

Large sums passed through his hands. Preachers, stewards, were nominated by him. All the chapels of the Society depended on him to name their preach

He placed and displaced every captain in the ranks of his large army; yet all felt that these great powers were a burden to him, not a gain. He bore them, but he drew nothing from them-neither gain, nor pleasure through the sense of power. Whatever wealth he had, he got by his own efforts. His head and hands earned it.

ers.

* C. Wesley's Life, ii. p. 283. See testimony of Dr. Howell's, a high Calvinist. C. Wesley's Life ii. p. 281.

more.

He gained it by His writings ;- but wealth he trod under foot. “Food and raiment I have. I have a place where to lay my head. I have what is needful for life and godliness. And I apprehend this is all the world can afford. The King of the earth can give me no

For as to gold and silver, I count it dung and dross: I trample it under my feet. I seek it not ; I only fear lest any of it should cleave to me, or I should not be able to shake it off, before my spirit returns to God. Hear ye this, all you who have discovered the treasures which I am to leave behind me. If I leave behind me ten pounds (above my debts and my books, , or what may happen to be owing on account of them), you and all mankind bear witness against me, that I lived and died a thief and a robber."

It was the conviction of this singleness of motive, conveyed by all his acts, that gave John Wesley his power. He had the energy, tact, and talent to use itbut the source of his power was in his character.

* Works, viii. p. 38.

CHAPTER X.

THE PROGRESS OF METHODISM.

METHODISM spread under John Wesley's exertions from 1738 to 1784, extended to our Colonies, and reached a high position in the West Indies and North America.

In the latter, Whitefield's labours had produced an immense effect. Crowds had heard him and had been awakened. In New York the first effort to establish Methodist societies was made by an Irishman, who had been a local preacher in Ireland. In 1768 the first society was formed there. This was succeeded by one in Philadelphia. From Pennsylvania applications for preachers reached Wesley ; followed by a petition from Charlestown. Two preachers, in 1769, went from the Conference in England, and these were followed by four others in 1771 and 1773. They labored in Maryland, Virginia, and New York, and in 1773 the Methodists numbered one thousand members.

But the revolution came, and on its causes and issues Wesley had expressed himself strongly. This had the

« VorigeDoorgaan »