« PreviousContinue »
me with, (whether others will believe I do it or not,) in advancing the true Christian knowledge of God, and the love and fear of God among men; in reforming (if so be it please him to use me still) those who are yet without God in the world ; and in propagating inward and pure religion, righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.'
Sincerely wishing your lordship all happiness in time and ja eternity, I remain your lordship's most obedient servant,
JOHN WESLEE. November 27, 1750.
SIR, 1. You have undertaken to prove, (as I observed in my former Letter, a few sentences of which I 'beg leave to repeat,) That the whole conduct of the Methodists is but a counterpart of the most wild fanaticisms of popery,” (Preface to the First Part, p. 3.) You endeavour to support this charge, by quotations from our own writings, compared with quotations from Popish authors.
It lies upon me to answer for one. But in order to spare both you and myself
, I shall at present consider only your Second 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 examine, Whether those you have made from my writings prore the charge for which they were made or not.
If they do, I submit. But if they do not, if they are the words of truth and soberness,' it is an objection of no real weight, against any sentiment, just in itself, though it should also be found in the writings of Papists ; yea, of Mahometans or Pagans.
2. In your first section, in order to prove the “Vain boasting of the Methodists,” you quote a part of the following sentence. When hath religion, I will not say since the reformation, but since the time of Constantine the Great, made so large a progress in any nation, within so short a space ? (I beg any impartial person to read the whole passage, from the 383d to the 343d page of the Third Appeal, Vol. VIII.) I repeat the question, giving the glory to God. And, I trust, without eitheir boasting or enthusiasm.
In your second, you cite (and murder) four or five lines, (p. 1, 9,) from one of my Journals, “as instances of the persuasive eloquence of the Methodist preachers.” But it unfortunately happens, that neither of the sentences you quote, were spoken by any preacher: at all. You know full well, the one was used only in a private let
the other by a woman on a bed of sickness. 3. You next undertake to prove “ the most insufferable pride and vanity of the Methodists,” (Section III. p. 12, &c.) For this end you quote five passages from my Journals, and one from the Third Appeal.
The first was written (First Journal, Vol. I. p. 170, &c.) in the anguish of my heart, to which I gave vent (between God and my own soul) by breaking out, not into “ confidence of boasting,” as you term it, but into those expressions of bitter sorrow. • I went to America to convert the Indians. But 0, who shall convert me ??. Some of the words which follow, you have picked out, and very honestly laid before your reader, without either the beginning or end, or one word of the occasion or manner wherein they were spoken.
Your next quotation is equally fair and generous. Are they read in philosophy? So was I, &c.' (First Journal, p. 172, &c. This whole "string of self-commendation,” as you call it, being there brought, ex professo, to prove, that notwithstanding all this, which I once piqued myself upon, I was at that hour in a state of damnation !
The third (Fourth Journal, Vol. I. p. 347,) is a plain narrative of the manner wherein many of Bristol expressed their joy on my coming unexpectedly into the room, after I had been some time at London. And this, I conceive, will prove the charge of high treason, as well as that of “ insufferable pride and vanity.”
You say, fourthly, “A dying woman, who had earnestly desired to see me, cried out, as I entered the room, « Art thou come--thou blessed of the Lord ? (Ibid. p. 354.) She did so. And what does this prove?
The fifth passage is this : 'In applying which, my soul was so enlarged, that methought I could have cried out in another sense than poor, vain Archimedes) Give me where to stand, and I will shake the earth! My meaning is, I found such freedom of thought and speech, (jargon, stuff, enthusiasm to you) that methought could I have then spoken to all the world, they would all have shared in the blessing
The passage which you quote from the Third Appeal, I am obliged to relate more at large.
• There is one more excuse for denying this work of God, taken from the instruments employed therein ; that is, that they are wicked inen; and a thousand stories have been handed about to prove it. Yet I cannot but remind considerate men, in how remarkable a manner the wisdom of God has, for many years, guarded against this pretence, with regard to my brother and me in particular. This pretence, i. e. “of not employing fit instruments.” These words are yours, though you insert them as mine. The pretence I mentioned was, “That they were wicked men.' And how God guarded against this, is shown in what follows. · From that time, both my brother and I (utterly against our will) came to be more and more observed and known; till we were more spoken of than perhaps two so inconsiderable persons ever were before in the nation. To make us more public still, as honest madmen at least, by a strange concurrence of providences, overturning all our preceding resolutions, we were hurried away to America.'
Afterward it follows, · What persons could in the nature of things have been (antecedently) less liable to exception, with regard to their moral character at least, than those the all-wise God hath now employed ? Indeed I cannot devise what manner of men could have been more unexceptionable on all accounts. Had God endued us with greater natural or acquired abilities, this very thing might have been turned into an objection. Had we been remarkably defective, it would have been matter of objection on the other hand. Had we been Dissenters of any kind, or even Low-Church-Men (so called) it would have been a great stumbling-block in the way of those who are zealous for the church. And yet, had we continued in the impetuosity of our high-church zeal, neither should we have been willing to converse with dissenters, nor they to receive any good at our hands.' Sir, Why did you break off your quotation in the middle of this paragraph, just at • more unexceptionable on all accounts ?? Was it not on purpose to give a wrong turn to the whole ? To conceal the real and obvious meaning of my words, and put one upon them that never entered into my thoughts?
5. You have reserved your strong reason for the last, namely, my own confession. “ Mr. Wesley says himself, by the most infallible of proofs, inward feeling, I am convinced of pride, f.c." Sir, be pleased to decipher that ởc. Or I will spare you the pains and do it myself, by reciting the whole sentence.
By the most intallible of proofs, inward feeling, I am convinced, -1. Of unbelief, having no such faith in Christ, as will prevent my heart from being troubled, which it could not be, if I believed in God, and rightly believed also in him.2. Of pride throughout my life past, inasmuch as I thought I had, what I find I have not.' First Journal, Vol. I. p. 169.) Now, Sir, you have my whole confession. I entreat you to make the best of it.
“ But I myself acknowledge, three Methodists to have fallen into pride.” Sir, I can tell you of three more. And yet it will not follow, that the doctrines I teach, “ lead men into horrid pride and blasphemy."
6. In the close of your fourth section, you charge me with, "shufAling and prevaricating, with regard to extraordinary gifts, and miraculous powers.” Of these I shall have occasion to speak by and by. At present I need only return the compliment, by charging you with gross,
wilful prevarication, from the beginning of your book to the end. Some instances of this have appeared already. Many more will appear in due time.
7. Your fifth, (Fourth Journal, Vol. I. p. 313,) charges me with an affectation of prophesying. Your first proof of it is this— It was about this time the soldier was executed. For some time I had visited him every day. But when the love of God was shed abroad in his heart, I told him, do not expect to see me any more.--I believe Satan will separate us for a season. Accordingly, the next day, I was informed, the commanding officer had given strict orders that neither Mr. Wesley, nor any of his people, should be admitted.') did believe so, having seen many such things before: yet without affecting a spirit of prophecy.
But that I do claim it, you will prove, secondly, from my mentioning the great work which God intends, and is now beginning to work over all the earth' By what art you extract such a conclusion out of such premises, i know not. That God intends this, none, who believe the Scripture, doubt. And that he has begun it, both in Europe and America, any who will make use of their eyes and ears, may know without any “miraculous gist of prophesying."
8. In your sixth section, you assert, “ That I lay claim to other miraculous gifts,” (page 45, &c.) As you borrow this objection from Mr. Church, I need only give the same answer I gave before. (Letter to Mr. Church, Vol. VIII. p. 404.) “I shall give” (says Mr. Church) “ but one account more, and that is, what you give of yourself.” The sum whereof is, ' At two several times, being ill, and in violent pain, I prayed to God, and found immediate ease. I did so. I assert the fact still. “ But if these” (you say) “ are not miraculous cures, all this is rank enthusiasm."
I will put your argument in form: He that believes those are miraculous cures, which are not, is a tank enthusiast. But
you believe those to be miraculous cures, which are not: Therefore you are a rank enthusiast.
Before I answer, I must know what you mean by miraculous ? If you term every thing so, which is “not strictly to be accounted for by the ordinary course of natural causes," then I deny the latter part of the second proposition. And unless you can make this good, unless you can prove the effects in question are strictly to be accounted for, by the ordinary course of natural causes, your argument is nothing worth.'
Having largely answered your next objection relating to what I still term a signal instance of God's particular providence,' (Letter to Mr. Church,) I need only refer you to those answers, not having leisure to say the same thing ten times over. Whether I sometimes claim, and sometimes disclaim miracles, will be considered by and by In your
seventh section, you say, “I shall now give some account of their grievous conflicts and combats with Satan,” (page 51, &c.) 0, Sir, spare yourself, if not the Methodists ! Do not go so far out of your depth. This is a subject you are as utterly unacquainted with, as with justification or the new-birth. But I attend your motions. “Mr. Wesley," you say,
was advised, to a very high degree of silence. And he spoke to none at all for two days, and travelling fourscore miles together. The same whim,” (you go on “bas run through several of the religious orders. -Hence St. Bonaventura says, That silence in all the religious is necessary to perfection.--St. Agatho held a stone in his mouth for three years, till he had learned taciturnity.–St. Alcantara carried several pebbles in his mouth for three years likewise, and for the
same reason.-Theon observed a continual silence for thirty years. -St. Francis observed it himself, and enjoined it upon his brethren. -The rule of silence was religiously observed by Št. Dominic.” I have repeated more of your words than I otherwise should, in order to show to a demonstration, that a man of a lively imagination may run a parallel to any length, without any foundation in nature.
You begin, “ The same whim” (which led Mr. Wesley to observe an absolute silence for two days) - and so run on to St. Bonaventura, St. Agatho, and I know not whom.” But did Mr. Wesley “observe an absolute silence for two days ?” No; not for one hour. My words, I spoke to none at all for fourscore miles together,' (Fourth Journal, Vol. I. p. 348.) imply neither more nor less, than that I spoke to none concerning the things of God,' as it is in the words immediately preceding. And you know this as well as I. But it is all one for that. Wit, not truth, is the point you aim at.
My supposed inconsistency, with regard to the Moravians, which you likewise drag in (as they say) by head and shoulders, I have shown again and again, to be no inconsistency at all : particularly in both the letters to Mr. Church.
10. Well, but as to conflicts with Satan. “Nor can Mr. Wesley," you say, “escape the attacks of this infernal spirit, namely, suggesting distrustful thoughts, and buffeting him with inward temptations." Sir, did you never hear of any one so attacked, unless among the Papists or Methodists? How deeply then are you experienced both in the ways of God, and the devices of Satan?
You add, with regard to a case mentioned in the Fourth Journal, (Vol. I. p. 318,) “Though I am not convinced that these fits of laughing are to be ascribed to Satan, yet I entirely agree, that they are involuntary and unavoidable.” I am glad we agree so far. But I must still go farther; I cannot but ascribe them to a preternatural agent: having observed so many circumstances attending them which cannot be accounted for by any natural causes.
Under the head of conflicts with Satan, you observe farther, “Mr. Wesley says, while he was preaching, the Devil knew his kingdom shook, and therefore stirred up his servants to make a noise : that, September 18, the prince of the air made another attempt in defence of his tottering kingdom: and that another time, the Devil's children fought valiantly for their master.” I own the whole charge, I did say all this. Nay, and if need were, I should say it again.
You cite one more instance from my Fourth Journal, “ The manyheaded beast began to roar again.” So your head is so full of the subject, that you construe even poor Horace's Bellua multorum capilum into the Devil! These are all the combats and conflicts with Satan which you can prove I ever had. 0, Sir, without more and greater conflicts than these, none shall see the kingdom of God.
11. In the following sections, you are equally out of your element. The first of them, (Sect. 8, p. 75, &c.) relates to spiritual desertions ; all which you make the subject of dull ridicule, and place to the account of enthusiasm. And the cause of all you give in the follow