« PreviousContinue »
three additions : one, a prayer for the English in America; another, on the destruction of Lisbon; and a third for the year 1756. A part of that on the overthrow of Lisbon was afterwards inserted in the general Wesleyan Collection. It begins,
Woe to the men on earth who dwell,
Nor dread the Almighty's frown.
Some of the omitted stanzas are the following :
A voice out of the temple cries,
And from the eternal throne,
When God declares “'Tis done!”
To' applaud his righteous ire;
That set the world on fire.
The mighty shock seems now begun,
Beyond example great ;
As at their instant fate!
Sign of the general doom!
And Babel's hour is come.
Such was the manner in which this man of God aided the devotions of the more religious part of the nation, and endeavoured to render the afflictive dispensations of divine Providence subservient to the cause of piety, and the improvement of public morals. His hymns, which far surpassed in power and correct versification all similar compositions that had before appeared in the English language, must have produced considerable effect at the time, adapted as they were to public events upon which every eye was intensely fixed.
The early part of the year 1756 Mr. Charles Wesley appears to have spent in Bristol ; for there he printed the tracts which have been just mentioned, adapted to the state of the nation. His brother was in London and the neighbourhood during this period. Taking Bristol and Wales in his way, Mr. John Wesley embarked for Ireland at the end of March, and remained there till the middle of August following; and it is probable that Charles took his place in
the metropolis : for as the societies there were accustomed to
The Conference of this year was held in Bristol. It did
have done with Conferences for ever." The remark was made under the influence of momentary excitement, and did not express the fixed purpose of his mind. Accordingly he met his brother and the Preachers at this their annual assembly in Bristol. About fifty of them were present: a large number for that time; but less by ten than were in Leeds the year before. The Rules of the society, of the bands, and of Kingswood School, were carefully reviewed ; and some verbal alterations were made in those of the bands. The others remained as they were, and all pledged themselves afresh to observe and enforce them. The question of remaining in the Church was also brought under consideration; and a unanimity like that of the last year prevailed. Mr. John Wesley says, “We largely considered the necessity of keeping in the Church, and using the Clergy with tenderness; and there was no dissenting voice. God gave us all to be of one mind and of one judgment. My brother and I closed the Conference by a solemn declaration of our purpose never to separate from the Church ; and all our brethren concurred therein.” *
About a fortnight after the conclusion of this Conference, Mr. Charles Wesley left home, on a visit to the societies in the principal towns of Staffordshire, Yorkshire, and Lancashire ; for the purpose of correcting what he might find amiss, of encouraging them in their Christian course, of preaching to them the word of life, and of extending the work of God wherever there should be an open door.
This was a very eventful journey; and the record which he kept of his daily proceedings and observations throws great light
upon the state of feeling among the Methodists with respect to the established Church. The alienation of affection from the Church, which he had observed and lamented in some of the Preachers, was by no means confined to them. The fact is undeniable, the Clergy, with few exceptions, did not like the Methodists, and pursued a conduct towards them which was the reverse of conciliatory. Not a few of them neither preached the truth, nor lived as became their sacred office.. Mr. Charles Wesley also found, in various places, that persons of Dissenting principles had become members of the Methodist societies, and used their influence to draw away their brethren from the ministrations of the Clergy. Several of them had indeed become members of Dissenting churches, that they might enjoy a ministry which more fully accorded with their own views, and receive the Lord's supper at the hands of men whose practice was agreeable to their profession. The attempt to force the Methodists to an attendance upon the services of the Church, by refusing to them the sacraments from their own Preachers, and by closing their chapels during the Sabbath, except early in the morning, and in the evening, drove many of them into a state of actual separation both
from the Church and their own societies, and placed them in the hands of Dissenters. At Leeds Mr. Edwards had assumed the character of an Independent Minister, as Charles Skelton had done in the south, and drawn away the greater part of the society with him. Titus Knight afterwards followed the same course in Halifax; and several of the Baptist and Independent churches in Lancashire and the west of Yorkshire were formed in these times, in a great measure out of the Methodist societies, because of the position in which these societies were placed in regard of the national Establishment, and the spirit of the Clergy. It will be observed, that Mr. Whitefield was at this time travelling over the same ground, and co-operated with his friend Mr. Charles Wesley, in the kindest manner, to keep the Methodist societies together, and induce them, according to their original order, to attend the prayers and sacrament in their several parish churches.
The notices which Mr. Charles Wesley has given, in his journal of this tour, concerning the societies formed by his old friend and companion, Mr. Ingham, and of his inter
word of his grad
tward Birwing former zeal, and the village te Birmingham, voice. He be Ivarmed a
course with his clerical brethren, Mr. Crook, of Hunslet, and
"Sept. 20th. Mr. Williamson, of York, are interesting and valuable. When he met with a pious Clergyman, his soul exulted within him; and he thought that the whole Church of England was just about to be purified from lukewarmness and formality, and appear in all the beauty and glory of New-Testament Christianity. What he desired, he readily believed. Most of Mr.
Ingham's societies were afterwards broken up, through the lli, ei !, i influence of Antinomian tenets, borrowed from Sandeman and Glass, which involved them in fatal disputes. A copious
meet the extract from Mr. Charles Wesley's private journal is here
fresh ho subjoined :
' Sept. 17th, 1756. At seven I left Bristol, with John Downes, and came to Walbridge by two. In the evening several attended the word, and seemed stirred up to watch and pray. I spake to each of the little, steady society. Forty-three have kept together, for years, under the care of our brother Watts. There are no disputes or disorders
POLE among them. I added a few words, exhorting them to continue steadfast in the communion of the Church of England. We were much refreshed, and parted in great love.
“ Sept. 18th. I set out at six, and in three hours reached Cheltenham. The twelve miles thence to Evesham cost us near six hours : but we rode the short, that is, the vale, way; and have taken our leave of it for ever. By four we got, weary enough, to Mr. Canning's. The preaching-room was full. I exhorted them to watch and pray always, that they might be counted worthy to escape all these things which shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. Again, at seven in the morning, and at five in the evening, they received my saying, the Lord applying his own word, both to awaken and to confirm.
"I went to church, morning and afternoon; and between the services visited three or four of the society, who had been disabled by age and infirmity from assembling with their brethren, and were therefore neglected, as not belonging to them. I wrote their names again in the society-book, with Mr. Canning's family, and J. Watson's, who seemed all resolved to do the first works. I did not forget to confirm the brethren in their calling; that is, to live and die in the Church of England.
Sept. 20th. After commending them to God, and to the word of his grace, I rode with our loving guide, J. Watson, toward Birmingham. At Studley he left us, full of his former zeal, and resolved to carry fire among his neighbours of the village to which he is removed. About two we got to Birmingham, and soon after heard at the door Mr. l'anson's voice. He brought life with him. As a watchman of Israel, I warned a numerous audience of the sword coming. The word seemed to sink into their hearts. I had not time to meet the society ; but in conversing with several I conceived fresh hopes that they will at last become a settled people. Some who had forsaken us, I received in again.
“Sept. 21st. The Lord gave us a parting blessing. Mr. l'anson's chaise kept pace with us to Ashby, where our brother Adams received us joyfully. The wild beasts here are tamed, at least, if not converted. None molested while I pointed them to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world. We prayed earnestly for these hardened sinners. I was comforted with the little company of twenty-one, who meet to build up each other. Great life and love was in the midst of them.
Sept. 22d. I warned them of the impending judgments, and left them standing on the watch-tower. We passed a profitable hour at Donnington-Park, with Mr. H. Mr. l'anson attended us five or six miles on our way to Nottingham, which we reached by two. I spent the afternoon in taking down the names of the society, and conversing with them. We rejoiced to meet once more, after so long a separation. My subject, both at night and in the morning, was, 'I will bring the third part through the fire.' It was a time of solemn rejoicing. There had been, twelve months ago, a great revival and increase of the society; but Satan was beginning again to sow his tares. My coming at this season will, I trust, be the means of preventing a division.
“Sept. 23d. It rained hard all night. John Downes's lame horse detained him at Nottingham, by which the poor people got another sermon. At seven I set out in the rain with a blind guide, who at last blundered out his way to Sheffield. Here also I delivered my own soul; and the people seemed awakened and alarmed. I spake plainly and lovingly to the society of continuing in the Church and