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simplicity and solemnity of their forms of worship, more particularly on the election and ordination of a bishop, appeared to him a lively image of primitive Christianity. He reckoned a temporary absence from his English friends richly overpaid by being admitted to the fellowship of the Moravian church; and he shewed in a remarkable manner his high respect for them, by referring to their decision, though he was, after all, not able to give up his inclinations to their authority, whether or no he should seek the fair Sophia Causton in marriage. From them, even now, he had adopted the most absurd and presumptuous of their peculiarities, the practice of referring important questions in faith, in piety, or worldly prudence, to the decision of a lot, or of a passage in Scripture fortuitously opened: and he was still more disposed to become their pupil on his arrival in England, from certain conclusions which he formed during his homeward voyage, as to his present state of blindness and imperfection. There was, necessarily, much on his mind, during that voyage, to depress and agitate his spirits, in the recollection of the obloquy he had lately passed through, in the doubt which could not but arise as to the wisdom or correctness of many circumstances of his behaviour, and in the disappointment of the schemes which he had laid down, and the hopes with which he had quitted England. He had done nothing of all those things which had been the objects of his voyage; and, with talents of which he well knew the value, and a zeal which, if left without employment, was sure to devour its possessor, he had no regular channel of utility before him sufficiently extensive and conspicuous to gratify his ardent and ambitious character. To do good in the usual way was not what suited him. He desired (as William Law once told him) to convert the world;' and he had not paid sufficient attention to the wise counsel with which Law had followed up this picture of his character, that it became him to wait God's time,' and to be content to serve him with thankfuluess in whatever situation, however obscure and lowly, he might please to make use of his services.
But, while thus labouring under the uneasiness of ambition without a proper vent, he had other causes of disquietude. Like many other men of ardent imagination, he was constitutionally timorous and subject to strong impressions of bodily fear, for which, in his situation on ship board, where he had little to do but to watch his own sensations, (a morbid habit at the best,) he seems to have found frequent occasion. During these times it is singular that he was sometimes afflicted with uneasy doubts, not only as to his own spiritual state, but as to the truth of the religion for which he had made so many sacrifices. His natural good sense, indeed, at first, reminded him that this fear of death was a trial, not a sin,
that he was to look upon it as his cross, when it came, to let it humble him and quicken all his good resolutions, especially that of praying without ceasing; and at other times to take no thought about it, but quietly to go on in the work of the Lord.' But his nerves were not in a fit state to be governed by his better reason : he compared his present uneasiness with the tranquillity of the Moravians, and, forgetting that these Moravians had been occupied, and therefore tranquil, he began to fancy that his faith was to blame, and that it was not enough to believe that Christ died for the sins of all men, and, therefore, of the man John Wesley; but that he needed a personal and perfect assurance of his own acceptance with God, which was to free him at once from all sin, all doubt, and all fear. Such an assurance was taught by some of the Moravian preachers of that time, (though the present leaders of that people have got rid of much which was absurd or obnoxious in the tenets of their founders,) and it was taught by none with greater zeal or eloquence than by a German named Peter Boehler, whose constant auditor and humble disciple Wesley became on his arrival in London. When Boehler, however, told him that this faith must be an instantaneous, as well as a free and direct operation of God's spirit on the mind, the reason of Wesley still revolted and provoked from the Moravian the reproof. Mi frater, mi frater, excoquenda est ista tua philosophia.' But by this time, the impression was made, and, after a little longer selftorment, by seeking a degree of confidence in his soul which he could not find there, he felt, as he himself tells us, his heart strangely warmed, he felt that he did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given him that he had taken away his sins.'
This is pretty nearly the process of what Wesley himself called his conversion, a term to which, even on his own shewing, it had apparently very little claim. From what was he converted? and to what? From a dissolute course of life? That no one would have ventured to lay to his charge. From wrath, envy, malice? This he does not so much as insinuate. From a trust in his own merits? His own previous self-condemnation is a proof that he placed no confidence in them. From doubts of the truth of the Christian religion? These he already knew how to conquer, by regarding them as temptations, and making them additional motives for humility, watchfulness, and prayer. What new truths did he now acquire or assent to? That Christ died for his sins? Christ died for the sins of all who seek salvation through him; and, if his heart condemned him not, but bore witness, as it must have done, that he did thus seek it, then the spirit of God, undoubtedly, bore witness with his rit, that he was one of those to whom
the promises of the Gospel were addressed. How little analogy did his case offer to those conversions which are recorded in the New Testament, and on which he laid so much stress as being, like his own, instantaneous! With the term instantaneous we have no disposition to quarrel. A man must begin to believe at some time or other; and if the truths of Christianity are first impressed on his heart after he arrives at years of discretion, he may, beyond a doubt, remember, in certain cases, the very day and hour in which he first received conviction. And this must necessarily have been the case when men were converted, as in the early days of Christianity, from an utter ignorance of Christ, or an utter hatred of his name, not by the gradual process of ratiocination and frequent discussion, by arguments frequently recalled, and prayer for divine illumination long persevered in, but by the effect of some single striking discourse, or the sight of some undoubted and conspicuous miracle. The only danger is lest, by making that circumstance a necessary mark of conversion which was, in fact, only an incidental accompaniment of it, we should presumptuously confine the Grace of God to a single mode of operation, and exclude from our scheme that which is, probably, the most common of all his dispensations, wherein the seed sown at baptism grows up thenceforth, through the means of education and example, and by the continually renewed though silent influences of that Spirit by whom we were then first sanctified.
But in whatever manner our conversion is brought about, the conversion implies a real and almost total change of heart and habits. And what change took place in Wesley at this time, excepting that he felt more comfortable in himself, and more satisfied with his own spiritual condition? If he were unreasonably distressed before, this might indeed be an effect of grace, and a merciful deliverance from certain temptations which previously beset his Christian course: but it is plain that so far from being the beginning of that course it was not even necessary to its accomplishment; since even if he had died while under the influence of his former low spirits, no one would say that his condition would have been either dangerous or doubtful. And to preach that such a change as this, in opposition to the work of God's spirit in baptism, is the regeneration spoken of in Scripture, and that no man can be saved without such an immediate and perceptible work of God's spirit on the soul; is in effect, to revive the worst error of the Mystics, and to lead men to judge of their own condition, not by the testimony of conscience and Scripture, but by feelings and raptures which, as Wesley himself admitted, in the case of the French prophets, were of 'a doubtful and disputable nature.' The point was, in fact, abandoned by the founder of methodism in his old age, when he confessed that
he had not for many years, thought a consciousness of acceptance to be essential to justifying faith. And how uncertain and how transient is the comfort which, even in the present life, such rapturous persuasions usually afford, may be learned from his own example. So far was he from being really assured by his fancied assurance, so far was he from being set free from all troublesome doubts and filled with all joy and peace in believing, that we find him first flying to Germany, to get rid, at the springhead of Moravianism, of the uneasy thoughts by which he was 'sawn asunder,' and thence returning to England still dissatisfied. Nor was it till his mind had become fully occupied with a great and novel enterprize, of which the object, whether wisely pursued or no, was God's glory and the good of mankind, that his ambition and his talents found the vent which they required, and that, amid the varied stimulants of opposition and success, persecution and popularity, his character recovered its cheerful tone, and he went on his way rejoicing. Let us not be suspected of undervaluing that comfort and internal peace which the world cannot give, and which are, generally speaking, the portion of men so sincerely pious as Wesley was. But it is of consequence that all pious persons should be aware that, if we are idle, even religion cannot make us happy, and that the most certain cure for low spirits and constitutional dejection is the zealous discharge of our active and social duties, in conjunction with and springing from religion.
During his visit to Germany, Wesley saw some reasons to withdraw his confidence from his Moravian teachers. Of that religious community, Mr. Southey, we understand, has been accused of speaking with undue severity. We know not how he has deserved this charge. The peculiarities of their doctrine and discipline were necessarily to be mentioned as connected with the life of Wesley. He was bound, in fairness, as an historian, to notice whatever was blameable in either, and we do not see how he could do otherwise than reprobate institutions, which, when carried into effect to their utmost strictness, had a natural tendency to dissolve the relation between parents and children, brothers and sisters, and to substitute the discipline of a convent for the graces and charities of social and domestic life. We think, however, that he refines too far on the consequences of that system by which human beings were sorted like cabbage plants, and shut up in different wards of the same vast hospital, according to their ages, sexes and conditions; when he ascribes to this cause those fanatical expressions and indecent images which, in the last generation, polluted the devotional works of the Moravians, and which have been subjects of shame and sorrow to their more enlightened descendants. It is true that, in a society where the youth of both sexes seldom
saw and never conversed with each other, where mutual inclination, even where it was excited, was not consulted in their marriages, and where man and wife were coupled by the selection of the clergy, or by the decision of a lot, there could be nothing resembling love in its ideal sense. And it is probable that, wherever this separation of the sexes is found, a certain grossness of feeling and expression will be found also. But, on the other hand, that this separation does not necessarily lead to those filthy refinements in imagery of which the early Moravians were guilty, is proved by the fact that the modern Moravians, though living under the same discipline, are free from the offence; and that other sects to whom that discipline is unknown have fallen into the same error. The young lady whose orgasm of amorous piety is mentioned by Mr. Southey, vol. i. p. 225, was no Moravian, neither was the author of the nauseous ballad, of which he has given an extract, addressed to virgins and widows.' Nor should it be omitted that the devout Mrs. Rowe, in her poems published before the appearance of either Wesley or the Moravians, has talked, if we are not mistaken, in a manner little less objectionable, of her passion for Him whom angels adore; nor that similar flights occur continually in the hagiology of the Romish church. The truth is that, at a certain stage of enthusiasm, a temptation to grossness always supervenes, and, by whatever means the spirits are raised beyond their moderate level, their exaltation must necessarily border on that which is produced by the strongest of our animal passions. The language of Solomon's song is a precedent but too easily laid hold of by persons thus situated. But, however it may be supposed to apply to the mutual affection and relation between Christ and the Universal Church, (allegorically represented as a single virgin,) it is the most perilous and deadly downfal to which piety can be led by enthusiasm, to apply such images and such language to cases of individual conversion, or to use them as patterns and guides of individual devotion and meditation.
But though the Moravians, more than most other sects with which we are acquainted, were at one time guilty of this abuse, (an abuse which their patron, Count Zinzendorf, was himself too prone to encourage in them,) it would be a great mistake to suppose either that their morals were corrupt or that they are still chargeable with the faults of their fathers.
'Fortunately for themselves, and for that part of the heathen world among whom they have laboured, and still are labouring with exemplary devotion, the Moravians were taught by their assailants to correct this perilous error in time. They were an innocent people, and could therefore with serenity oppose the testimony of their lives to the tremendous charges which, upon the authority of their own