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Charles acknowledged the excellence of his brother's motives, and appears to have been auxious that, as the Methodists were to exist as a separate society, that society should still be under the absolute controul of one so wise, so good, and who differed in so few points from that church which he had virtually deserted. He died without pain or disease, in the eightieth year of his age, and was buried, by his own desire, not in his brother's burying-ground, because it was not consecrated, but in the church-yard of Maryle-bone, and his pall was supported by eight clergymen of the Church of England.
Of John Wesley, and of the revolution which he effected in the religious world, our opinion may be collected from the manner in which we have already expressed ourselves. He was, unquestionably, a man of very eminent talents and acquirements. His genius, naturally clear and vivid, had been developed and matured during his residence at Oxford, by an unremitting attention to the studies of the place, studies to which he always looked back with pleasure; and which, during his long and busy life, he was careful to keep up by the aid of an industry and a management of time which none that we know of have excelled, and few indeed have equalled. He always rose, for above fifty years together, at four in the morning. He read even while on horseback; and, during the latter part of his life, when his long journies were made in a carriage, he boasted that he had generally from ten to twelve hours in the day which he could devote to study and composition. Accordingly, besides the ancient languages, he was competently skilled in many of the tongues of modern Europe, and his journals display throughout a remarkable and increasing familiarity with the general reading, the poetry, and ephemeral productions of his day. Dr. Johnson has borne witness to the vivacity of his conversation, and to the frugality with which his time was measured. He strictly adhered to his own rules in this respect, nor can better rules be devised for obtaining leisure, even amid the pressure of business the most varied and extensive. Though I am always in haste,” he said of himself, “I am never in a hurry; because I never undertake more work than I can go through with perfect calmness of spirit.'
Unquestionably this well-arranged and preconcerted activity was one principal feature of his character, and mainly conduced to form and preserve in him that masterly spirit of government which has distinguished him from all other founders of sects or religious societies. Francis of Assissi was a tool in the hands of more artful followers, and the same may be suspected even of Mahomet. The vast structure which Benedict reared was not his own invention, but a revisal and reform of ancient institutions; and the Jesuits are indebted for theirs to wiser and more
worldly heads than Loyola: but every thing in Methodism originated, every thing centred, every thing terminated in Wesley. His supremacy, while he lived, was more absolute and undisputed than any thing of the kind which the world has seen. Whatever differences, whatever disaffection arose, only served, in the event, to strengthen his authority; and he left behind him, in full vigour, a system which, whatever be its other demerits, is more applicable to general purposes than the discipline of the Moravians; while not even that discipline is so well qualified to secure its own union, and the absolute submission of the members.
Of the sincerity of his piety, that his heart was really and entirely in the system which he established, and that he conceived it to be calculated, beyond all other institutions, to promote the glory of God and the virtue and happiness of mankind, the intensity of bis labours would be alone no insufficient proof, if it were not still further attested by the greatness of his charity. When he entered at college, his income was 301. a year, of which he gave forty shillings in alms. As his circumstances improved by the improvement of his fellowship, he still spent only 281. on himself, and bestowed the whole surplus on the poor. In his latter days he received very large sums of money as presents, and from the sale of bis different publications, of which he was himself both printer and publisher; but whatever exceeded his own frugal maintenance and his travelling expenses, was immediately dispersed in benevolence. At bis death, a memorandum was found in his cash account-book, written with a tremulous hand, and dated some months preceding. For upwards of eighty-six years I have kept my accounts exactly: I will not attempt it any longer, being satisfied with the continual conviction that I save all I can and give all I can ; that is, all I have.' It is affirmed that, in the course of his life, he gave away not less than thirty thousand pounds in this manner!
The faults or infirmities of Wesley were by no means such as materially to detract from his many great and excellent qualities. Of these defects, the most striking was, perhaps, bis ambition; which, if it always found its vent in benevolent and pious enterprizes, made him less scrupulous as to the means by which such enterprizes were to be carried on, and induced him to keep in view more steadily than even higher objects, the extension of his own renown, and the maintenance of his personal dominion. Through his whole life he endured no superior or equal, and his admirable brother, and saintly disciples Fletcher and Coke were, in all respects, not his coadjutors, but his instruments. The same character made him uneasy and restless while employed in a narrow sphere, and as cold and harsh in the performance of his domestic duties as
he was conciliatory and fascinating in the intercourse of his public life. To do good was his delight; but he desired to do it on a grand scale. 'To instruct a parish or a colony was wearisome; but it was glorious to convert the world.
Nor as a reasoner or a politician was he always ingenuous or just. Where it answered his purpose he sometimes softened down and explained away those doctrines on which, at other times, he insisted most strongly. He was guilty of equivocation with Bishop Gibson; with Gibbon; and when it was necessary to get rid of the unfavourable inpression which had been excited against him in America by his work against the Insurgents. He must have been sensible of his inconsistency in professing himself a member of the Church of England while so many of his measures tended to overturn her authority. It was impossible that a mind like his could have been satisfied by the arguments wbich he employed to reconcile his schism with his avowed desire of union; and the Moravians had good reason to complain of him, as either having, for many months, connived at guilt, or having, after his quarrel with them, calumniated innocence.
His vanity was a slighter failing, and for which many more excuses might be inade. After the success which he had met with, and the popularity which he had enjoyed, he must have been more than human had he not been sometimes elevated in his own opivion. Yet it was
no common degree of vanity which could prompt him to preach on, and apply to himself, such a text as Isaiah Ixi. 1, 2.; or which could make him talk, as he did in one of bis journals, of being followed by the Iosunnas of the multilude. Perhaps something of the same spirit might be traced in the singular but graceful manner in which he departed from the usual fashion of wearing the hair; and it is to this, unquestionably, that we may ascribe the confidence with which he spoke and wrote on subjects with which he was least acquainted, which made him speak slightingly of Newton, and contemptuously of Locke, and which gave to the world the most extraordinary Treatise on Diseases and their Remedies, which has appeared on this side of Moorfields.
To the same source may be referred, in a great degree, the credulity of which there are so many instances given in Mr. Southey's volumes. Believing himself to be an extraordinary person, and engaged in au enterprize of the most important character, he lent a ready faith to whatever marvels had a tendency to designate him as the favourite of God, or the peculiar object of Satan's fury. If any among his hearers pretended to visions, or to be the victim of diabolical possession, he never seems to have thought it necessary to examine into truth of the ecstasies, but to have taken
all for granted: because, when such a wondrous work was advancing in the world, such wonders and such supernatural agency were in their place, and reasonably to be expected. If his horses fell lame, it was the malice of the old Murderer’ which had power over them. If his progress was cheered by a favourable change of weather, he immediately recognized the peculiar tinger of Providence encouraging him to persevere in his labours. His fondness for divination by lot, and by the casual opening of a Bible, could only be explained froin his believing himself entitled, from his character and situation, to ask and expect the peculiar and immediate guidance of the Almighty. And it is strange tbat, while so many of his objectionable opinions were softened down by age and experience, this presumptuous habit appears to have attended him through life, unchecked by repeated failures, and the public reproof of his coadjutor and rival, Whitefield; unless indeed we suppose that the reproof itself contributed to its continuance.
As a logician he piqued himself, as we have seen, on his skill; and it must be allowed that his writings in general are distinguished by a remarkable force, acuteness, and vivacity of conception and expression. Yet, it is also remarkable that the doctrines which be most anxiously insisted on through life, were not only incapable of being moulded into any consistent system, but were, many of them, in direct opposition to each other. His tenet of assurance was decidedly Calvinistic; and one which could not, without great violence to common sense, be separated from the notion of absolute election. His doctrine of Christian perfection had as direct a tendency to make men Mystics or Antinomians; for what can be the use of ordinances to him who needs no further grace; and what is law to bim who cannot sin ? Yet Wesley was too good a logician to be a Calvinist; he was too pure and holy to fall into the Antinomian errors, and he had too cool a head to remain long a Mystic. How strange that he did not perceive that bis eclectic divinity could not stand by itself, and that if he went thus far he must go farther! Nor is it easy to apprehend how his powerful mind, while it honestly lamented the disorders and vices, the pride, envy, and slander which prevailed in his societies, should not have perceived that the details of bis discipline were of themselves calculated to generate such a spirit, and to undo, in a great measure, in the minds of his followers, the good which his preaching and example had produced in them.
Of that preaching we have already given a favourable specimen, and it would be vain to deny it the praise of no common degree of impressive eloquence. His general fault was a too indiscriminate use of the terrors of the Lord;' a too constant attempt to stimulate the unconverted soul to a sense of the danger and misery of
its condition by the use of all the most dreadful imagery which a vivid imagination could supply, assisted by the menaces of scripture and the refinements of the monks of the middle
That such alarming sermons were often productive of the best effects, and that, amid bis rude and stubborn hearers, they produced this effect where no milder strain could have succeeded, we are fully ready to allow. But he prided himself too much on the manner in which he wielded the thunder, regardless of the effect which it daily produced on those whose nerves were weak or consciences tender; and the evil was increased and rendered less excusable when, instead of warning them to fly from the wrath to come by repentance, he referred them to their inward feelings, and bade them seek for comfort and safety in a fancied new birth and a presumptuous self-assurance of salvation.
How far the prevalence of Methodism is favourable or otherwise to the cause of religion, is a point on which mankind will, of course, think very differently. Of its direct and incidental advantages, and of the evils which have sprung from it, we have already spoken sufficiently. Those evils are many of them, indeed, no other than the natural and necessary consequences of every great religious ferment; the offences,' to which all such agitating revivals are liable, whether in themselves beneficial or otherwise. But in the very system and machinery of methodism, there is much, very much, which in our opinion tends to increase these evils. Besides the folly of restricting men from recreations which keep the mind in health; discouraging, if not prohibiting, the accomplishments which give a grace to life; separating its members from general society, and breaking up families and friendships; besides the unreasonable and monastic moroseness of Wesley's system of education, his total ignorance of the nature of children, and the abominable abuses to which, among adults, his band meetings, covenants and mutual confessions were liable; it cannot be denied that his system, even at the best, tended to produce more of the appearance than the reality of religion.
. It dealt too much in serisations, and in outward manifestations of theopathy; it made religion too much a thing of display, and affair of sympathy and confederation; it led persons too much from their homes and their closets; it imposed too many forms; it required too many professions; it exacted too many exposures. And the necessary consequence was, that many, when their enthusiasm abated, became mere formalists, and kept up a Pharisaical appearance of holiness, when the whole feeling had evaporated.'-- vol.ii. p. 528.
When such is the case, we certainly dare not resign ourselves to the pleasing hope expressed by Mr. Southey, that Methodism, as it is now constituted, can again draw towards the establishment