Page images
PDF
EPUB

had written an answer at the Orphan House, which thought revised, and much approved of by some good and judicious divines, I think had some too strong expressions about absolute reprobation, which the apostle leaves rather to be inferred than expressed. The world was angry at me for the former, and numbers of my own spiritual children for the latter. One that got some hundreds of pounds by my sermons, being led away by the Moravians, refused to print for me any more. And others wrote to me, that God would destroy me in a fortnight; and that my fall was as great as Peter's. Instead of having thousands to attend me, scarce one of my spiritual children came to see me from morning to night. Once at Kennington Common, I had not above a hundred to hear me. At the same time, I was much embarrassed in my outward circumstances. A thousand pounds I owed for the Orphan House. Two hundred and fifty pounds bills, drawn upon Mr. Seward, now dead, were returned upon me. I was also threatened to be arrested for two hundred pounds more. My travelling expences also to be defrayed. A family of a hundred to be daily maintained, four thousand miles off, in the dearest place of the King's dominions.

“ Ten thousand times would I rather have died, than part with my old friends. It would have melted any heart to have heard Mr. C. Wesley and me weeping, after prayer, that, if possible, the breach might be prevented. Once I preached in the Foundery, (a place which Mr. John Wesley had procured in my absence) on Gal. iii. but no more. All my work was to begin again. One day I was exceedingly refreshed in reading Beza's life of Calvin, wherein were these words: · Calvin is turned out of Geneva, but behold a new church arises.' A gentlewoman lent me three hundred pounds to pay the present Orphan House demand: And a serious person (whom I never saw or heard of) giving me one guinea, I had such confidence, that I ran down with it to a friend, and expressed my hope, that God who sent this person with a guinea, would make it up fifteen hundred, which was the sum I thought would be wanted.

Never had I preached in Moorfields on a week day. But in the strength of God, I began on Good-Friday, and continued twice a-day, walking backward and forward from Leadenhall, for some time preaching under one of the trees, and had the mortification of seeing numbers of my spiritual children, who but a twelvemonth ago could have plucked out their eyes for me, running by me whilst preaching, disdaining so much as to look at me, and some of them

putting

putting their fingers in their ears, that they might not hear one word I said. A like scene opened at Bristol, where I was denied preaching in the house I had founded: Busy bodies on both sides, blew up the coals. A breach ensued. But as both sides differed in judgment, and not in affection, and aimed at the glory of our common Lord; though we hearkened too much to tale-bearers on both sides, we were kept from anathematizing each other, and went on in our usual way; being agreed in one point, endeavouring to convert souls to the ever-blessed Mediator."

In consequence of this, one Mr. Cennick, a preacher, who could not fall in with Mr. Wesley's sentiments, and one or two more in like circumstances, having joined Mr. Whitefield, they began a new house in Kingswood, and soon established a school among them that favoured Calvinistical principles. And here, and in several other places, they preached to very large and serious congregations, in the same manner as he had done in America. Thither he intended to return as soon as possible. Mean time, it being inconvenient, on account of the weather, to preach morning and evening in Moorfields, some free-grace dissenters (who stood by him closely in that time of trial) got the loan of a piece of ground, and engaged with a carpenter to build a large temporary shed, to screen the auditory from cold and rain, which he called a Tabernacle, as it was only intended to be made use of for a few months, during his stay in his native country. The place fixed upon was very near the Foundery, which he disliked, because he thought it looked like erecting altar against altar; but upon this occasion he remarks, “ All was wonderfully overruled for good, and for the furtherance of the gospel. A fresh awakening immediately began. Congregations grew exceeding large, and, at the people's desire, I sent (necessity reconciling me more and more to lay-preaching) for Messrs. Cennick, Harris, Seagrave, Humphries, &c. &c. to assist.” Fresh doors were now opened to him, and invitations sent to him from many places where he had never been. At a common, near Braintree in Essex, upwards of ten thousand persons attended. At Halstead, Dedham, Coggeshall, Wethersfield, Colchester, Bury, Ipswich, the congregations were very large and much affected. At this time also, he was strongly solicited by religious persons, of different persuasions, to visit Scotland. Several letters had passed between him and the Messrs. Erskines, some time before, and he had a great desire to see them. He therefore took his passage from London to Leith,

where could

where (after five days, which he employed in writing many excellent letters to his orphans, &c. see Letter cccxi. to cccxxxvii.) he arrived July 30, 1741. Several persons of distinction most gladly received him, and would have had him preach at Edinburgh directly; but he was determined that the Rev. Messrs. Erskines should have the first offer, and therefore went immediately to Dunfermline, and preached in Mr. Erskine's meeting-house. Great persuasions were used to detain him at Dunfermline, and as great to keep him from preaching for and visiting the Rev. Mr. Wardlaw, who had been colleague to Mr. Ralph Erskine above twenty years, and who, as well as the Rev. Mr. Davidson, a dissenting minister in England, that went along with Mr. Whitefield, were looked upon as perjured, for not adhering to the solemn league and covenant. This was new language to him, and therefore unintelligible. But that he might be better informed, it was proposed that the Rev. Mr. Moncrieff, Mr. Ebenezer Erskine, and others, members of the Associate Pres. bytery, should convene in a few days, in order to give him farther light. In the mean time, Mr. Ralph Erskine accompanied him to Edinburgh, where he preached in the Orphan House Park (field-preaching being no novelty in Scotland) to a very large

and affected auditory, upon these words: The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. The next day he preached in the West Kirk, and expressed great pleasure in hearing two gospel sermons from the Rev. Mr. Gusthart and the Rev. Mr. M Vicar. And the following day he preached in the Canongate church, where Mr. Ralph Erskine went up with him into the pulpit.

According to promise, he returned with him to Dunfermline, where Mr. E. Erskine, and several of the Associate Presbytery, were met together. When Mr Whitefield came, they soon proposed to proceed to business. He asked them, for what purpose? They answered, to discourse, and set him right about church-government, and the solemn league and covenant. He replied, they might sare themselves that trouble, for he had no scruple about it; and that settling church-government, and preaching about the solemn league and covenant, was not his plan. He then told them something of his experience, and how he was led into his present way of acting. One of them, in particular, said he, was deeply affected. And Mr. E. Erskine desired they would have patience with him, for that having been born and bred in England, and never studied the point, he

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »