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AUTHOR OF THE ENTHUSIASM OF METHODISTS ANI)
Igedum! Pauca accipe contra.--HOR.
N. B. The Author's words are inserted between inverted commas.
1. IN your late pamphlets you have undertaken to prove that Mr. Whitefield and I are gross enthusiasts; and that our “ whole conduct is but a counter-part of the most wild fanaticisms of the most abominable communion in its most corrupt ages,” (preface, p. 3.) You endeavour to support this charge against us, by quotations from our own writings : compared with quotations from celebrated writers of the Romish communion. 2. It lies upon me to answer for one.
But I must not burden you with too long an answer; lest “for want either of leisure or inclination,” (preface, p. 5,) you should not give this, any more than my other tracts, a reading. In order therefore to spare both you and myself, I shall at present consider only your first part; and that as briefly as possible. Accordingly I shall not meddle with your other quotations ; but leaving them to whom they may concern, shall only examine, whether those you have made from my writings, prove the charge of enthusiasm, or not.
This, I conceive, will be abundantly sufficient to decide the question between you and me. If these do prove the charge, I am cast: if they do not, if they are the words of truth and soberness, it will be an objection of no real weight, against sentiments just in themselves, though they should also be found in the writings of Papists ; yea, of Mahometans or Pagans. 3. Let the eight pages you borrow, stand as they are.
I presume they will do neither good nor harm. In the tenth you say, “The Methodists act on the same plan with the Papists ; not perhaps from compact and design; but a similar configuration and texture of brain, or the fumes of imagination producing similar effects. From a commiseration of horror, arising from the grievous corruptions of the world, perhaps from a real motive of sincere piety, they both set out with warm pretences to a reformation." Sir, this is an uncommon thought! That sincere piety should arise from the "configuration and texture of the brain !" As well as, that
"pretenees to a reformation" should spring from a "real motive oí sincere piety!"
4. You go on, “Both commonly begin their adventures with field-preaching,” (Enthusiasm, &c. p. 11.) Sir, do you condemn field-preaching toto genere, as evil in itself ? Have a care! or you (I should say, the gentleman that assists you will speak a little too plain, and betray the real motives of his sincere antipathy to the people called Methodists. Or do you condemn the preaching on Hannam-mount, in particular, to the colliers of Kingswood? If you doubt, whether this has “ done any real good,” it is a very easy thing to be informed. And I leave it with all impartial men, whether the good which has in fact been done by preaching there, and which could not possibly have been done any other way, does not abundantly “justify the irregularity of it.” p. 15.
5. But think I am herein “inconsistent" with myself. For I say, • The uncommonness is the very circumstance that recommends it." (I mean, that recommended it to the colliers of Kingswood.) And yet I said, but a page or two before, . We are not suffered to preach in the churches: else we should prefer them to any places whatsuever.' Sir, I still aver, both the one and the other. I do prefer the preaching in a church when I am suffered : and yet, when I am not, the wise providence of God overrules this very circumstance for good: many coming to hear, because of the uncommonness of the thing, who would otherwise not have heard at all.
6. Your second charge is, That I “ abuse the clergy, throw out so much gall of bitterness against them! And impute this black art of calumny to the Spirit and power given from God,” (p. 15.) Sir, I plead not guilty to the whole charge. And you have not cited one line to support it. But, if you could support it, what is this to the point in hand ? I presume calumny is not enthusiasm. Perhaps you will say, But it is something as bad.' True: but it is nothing to the purpose : even the “ imputing this to the Spirit of God," as you here represent it, is an instance of art, not of enthusiasm.
7. You charge me thirdly, with “putting on a sanctified appearance, in order to draw followers, by a demure look, precise behaviour, and other marks of external piety. For which reason," you say, “Mr. Wesley made and renewed that noble resolution, not willingly to indulge himself in the least levity of behaviour, or in laughter, no, not for a moment;-to speak no word not tending to the glory of God; and not a tittle of worldly things,” (p. 18, 19.) Sir, you miss the mark again. If this “sanctified appearance” were "put on” to “ draw followers," if it were for this reason (as you flatly affirm it was,) that “Mr. Wesley made and renewed that noble resolution :” (it was made eleven or twelve years before, about the time of my removal to Lincoln College,) then it can be no instance ef enthusiasm, and so does not fall within the design of your present work. Unless your titlepage does not belong to your book: for that confines you to the enthusiasm of the Methodists.
8. But to consider this point in another view. “You accuse ng
& sputting on a sanctified appearance, a demure look, precise behaviour, and other marks of external piety." "How are you assured, Sir, this was barely external ? And that it was a bare appearance of sanctity? You affirm this as from personal knowledge. Were you then acquainted with me three or four and twenty years ago? “He made and renewed that noble resolution, in order to draw followers.” Sir, how do you know that? Are you in God's place, that you take upon you to be the searcher of hearts ? " That noble resolu• tion, not willing to indulge himself in the least levity of behaviour.”
Sir, I acquit you of having any concern in this matter. But I appeal to all who have the love of God in their hearts, whether this is not a rational, scriptural resolution, worthy the vocation where with we are called :—or in laughter, no, not for a moment." No, nor ought I to indulge in it at all : if I am conscious to myself, it hurts my soul. In which, let every man judge for himself. “To speak no word not tending to the glory of God.”-A peculiar instance of enthusiasm this! “And not a tittle of worldly things." The words immediately following are, Others may, nay, must. But what is that to me? (Words which in justice you ought to have inserted ;) who was then entirely disengaged from worldly business of every kind. Notwithstanding which, I have often since engaged therein, when the order of Providence plainly required it.
9. Though I did not design to meddle with them, yet I must here take notice of three of your instances of Popish enthusiasm. The first, is, That “ Mechtildis tortured herself for having spoken an idle · word,” (p. 19.) (The point of comparison liés not in torturing herself; but in her doing it on such an occasion :) the second, “That not a word fell from St. Katharine of Sienna, that was not religious and holy:" the third, “ That the lips of Magdalen di Pazzi, were never opened but to chant the praises of God." I would to God the comparison between the Methodists and Papists would hold in this respect! Yea, that you, and all the clergy in England, were guilty of such enthusiasm.
10. You cite as a fourth instance of my enthusiasm, that I say, * A Methodist (a real Christian) cannot adorn himself, on any pretence, with gold or costly apparel,” (p. 21.) If this be enthusiasm, let the apostle look to it. His words are clear and express. If you can find a pretence to set them aside, do: I cannot; nor do I desire it.
11. My “ seeming contempt of money," (p. 26,) you urge as a fifth instance of enthusiasm. Sir, I understand you.
You were obliged to call it seeming, lest you should yourself confute the allegation brought in your title-page. But if it be only seeming, whatever it prove besides, it cannot prove that I am an enthusiast.
12. Hitherto you have succeeded extremely ill. You have brought five accusations against me: and have not been able to make one good. However, you are resolved to throw dirt enough, that some may stick. So you are next to prove upon me, “a restless impa. tience and insatiable thirst of travelling, and undertaking dangerous
voyages, for the conversion of infidels; together with declared contempt of all dangers, pains, and sufferings, and the designing, loving, and praying for ill usage, persecution, martyrdom, death, and hell,”
In order to prove this uncommon charge, you produce (p. 31) four scraps of sentences, which you mark as my words, though as they stand in your book, they are neither sense nor grammar. But you do not refer to the page or even the treatise, where any one of them may be found. Sir, it is well you hide your name: or you would be obliged to hide your face, from every man of candour, or even common humanity.
13. “Sometimes indeed,” you say, “Mr. Wesley complains of the scoffs both of the great vulgar, and the small,” (p. 32,) to prove which, you disjoint and murder (as your manner is) another of my sentences. But at other times the note is changed, and « till he is despised no man is in a state of salvation.” “ The note is changed !" How so? When did I say otherwise than I do at this day, viz. That none are children of God, but those who are hated, or despised by the children of the Devil.'
I must beg you, Sir, in your third part to inform your reader, that whenever any solecism or mangled sentences, appear in the quotations from my writings, they are not chargeable upon me: that it the sense be mine, (which is not always; sometimes you do me too much honour, even in this :) yet I lay no claim to the manner of expression : the English is all your own.
14.“ Corporal severities or mortification by tormenting the flesh," (p. 31,) is the next thing you charge upon me. Almost two sentences you bring in proof of this. The one, “ Our bed being wet,” (it was in a storm at sea,) “ I laid me down on the floor, and slept sound till morning : and I believe I shall not find it needful to go to bed, as it is called, any more.” But whether I do or not, how will you prove, that my motive is, To “gain a reputation for sanctity?” I desire (if it be not too great a favour) a little evidence for this.
The other fragment of a sentence speaks, "of bearing cold on the naked head, rain and wind, frost and snow,” (p: 32.) True ; but not as matter of “mortification, by tormenting the flesh.” Nothing less. These things are not spoken of there, as voluntary instances of mortification : (you yourself know perfectly well, they are not ; only you make free with your friend :) but as some of the unavoidable inconveniences, which attend preaching in the open air.
Therefore you need not be so "sure that the apostle condemns that coudre cauctos, not sparing the body, as useless and superstitious, and that it is a false show of humility,” (p. 33.) Humility is entirely out of the question, as well as chastity ; in the case of hardships en dured, but not properly chosen) out of love to the souls for which Christ died.
15. You add a word or two of my “ ardent desire of going to hell, which you think I “ adopted from the Jesuit Nieremberg,” (p. 34.) Sir, I know not the man. I am wholly a stranger both to his person
and to his doctrine, but if this is his doctrine, I disclaim it from my heart. I ardently desire that both you and I may go to heaven.
But “Mr. Wesley says, "A poor old man decided the question of disinterested love. --He said, I do not care what place I am in. Let God put me where he will, or do with me what he will, so I may set forth his honour and glory,” (p. 35.) He did so. And what then? Do these words imply, “an ardent desire of going to hell ?" I do not suppose the "going to hell" ever entered into his thoughts. Nor has it any place in my notion of disinterested love. How you may understand that term, I know not.
But you will prove, I have this desire, whether I will or not. You are sure, this was my “original meaning,” (p. 36,) in the words cited by Mr. Church,
Doom is thou canst to endless pain,
Or drive me from thy face:' “God's power or justice,” you say, “must be intended; because he speaks of God's love in the very next lines,
But if thy stronger love constrains,
Let me be sar'd by grace.' Sir, I will tell you a secret. Those lines are not mine. How. ever, I will once more venture to defend them, and to aver, that your consequence is good for nothing. “ If this love is spoken of in the latter lines, then it is not in the former.” No! Why not? I take it to be spoken of in both. The plain meaning of which is, “If thou art not love, I am content to perish. But if thou art, let me find the effects thereof: let me be saved by grace.'
16. You next accuse me of maintaining “a stoical insensibility." This objection also you borrow from Mr. Church. You ought likewise to have taken notice, that I had answered it, and openly disowned that doctrine: I mean, according to the rules of common justice. But that is not your failing.
7. Part of your 39th page runs thus: “ With respect to all this patient enduring hardships, &c. it has been remarked by learned authors, That some persons by constitutional temper, have been fond of bearing the worst that could befall them : that others, from a sturdy humour, and the force of education, have made light of the most exquisite tortures: that when enthusiasm comes in, in aid of this natural acquired sturdiness, and men fancy they are upon God's work, and entitled to his rewards, they are immediately all on fire, for rushing into sufferings and pain.” I take knowledge of your having faithfully abridged, your own book shall I say? Or the learned Dr. Middleton's ? But what is it you are endeavouring to prove ?
Quorsum hæc tam putida tendunt ? The paragraph seems to point at me. But the plain, natural tendency of it, is to invalidate that great argument for Christianity, which is drawn from the constancy of the martyrs. Have you not here also spoken a little too plain ? Had you not better have kept the mask on a little longer ? Indeed you lamely add, “ The solid