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providence and grace of God, as the grand and only means of comfort and salvation, he is constantly directing her attention.
His social and pastoral habits are also here strongly exhibited. He had an extensive circle of friends, by whom he was tenderly beloved. With them and their families he sympathized in all the joys and afflictions of life. When they were in sickness and sorrow he visited them, for the purpose of encouragement and prayer; and he brought their respective cases before the Lord, in the assemblies of his people, especially upon sacramental occasions, when they were commended to the divine mercy by the united intercessions of the brotherhood. The society in London was numerous, and deaths among the members were frequent. The calm and triumphant manner in which he often saw his spiritual children, and those of his brother, die in the Lord, filled him with humility, thankfulness, and solemn joy; and his earnest hope of future glory led him to desire immediately to follow them to the heavenly paradise. Lady Huntingdon opened t her house in London for divine worship, and the ministry of Christ's Gospel. Here Mr. Whitefield and other eminent Ministers held forth the word of life, and were heard by several of the nobility and gentry, who cultivated a taste for spiritual religion. In these holy exercises Mr. Charles Wesley occasionally took part, and was equally esteemed and beloved by those who had an opportunity of attending his ministrations. His intercourse with persons of rank, who sought his acquaintance for the purpose of religious edification, was frequent; but never abused. He asked for no worldly preferment. He "coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.” He affected not the delicacies of rich men's tables. He lowered not the dignity of the ministerial character, by flattering the great, conniving at their vices, softening the truth of God, or assuming an effeminacy of manners. There was in him a simplicity, a generous frankness, and a warmth of affection, which endeared him to all who were able to appreciate moral worth. His official services in London were numerous.
His labours were divided among four principal chapels, besides subordinate places of Worship, and occasional services, of which he was not sparing. He regularly preached in the
+ Foundery; in the West-street chapel, Seven-Dials; in the Snowsfields chapel, Southwark; and in that which the French Protestants had formerly occupied at Spitalfields, but had now vacated for a larger in the same neighbourhood. In one or other of these chapels he appears, when in London, to have administered the Lord's supper every Sabbath-day; and sometimes in two of them, beginning one of these sacred services at the early hour of five o'clock in the morning. He and the society were exemplary in their attendance upon this ordinance; and they generally found it to be accompanied by an especial blessing. In the administration of this sacrament, as well as in that of baptism, he always used the form contained in the Book of Common Prayer ; but he did not confine himself to it. He was often drawn out largely in extemporary prayer. His “Hymns for the Lord's Supper,” accompanied by an extract from Dr. Brevint's treatise, and from Thomas à Kempis, were freely used by the society. Thus employed, he was blessed, and made a blessing. The anointing of the Holy One rested upon him in sensible and rich effusions; for he was happy and useful; people crowded in great numbers to hear him; and the members of the society walked in faith and love. Between his doctrine and his practice there was a beautiful harmony. Speaking of Jesus, "the great Shepherd of the sheep,” the Evangelist says, “In the day time He was teaching in the temple; and at night He went out, and abode in the mount that is called the Mount of Olives. And all the people came early in the morning to Him in the temple, for to hear Him.” (Luke xxi. 37, 38.) From these words Mr. Charles Wesley takes occasion to sing,
The servant of the Lord,
Who Jesu's charge receives,
A wrestling Jacob, lives.
His sacred labours share,
His night in fervent prayer.
Before the rising morn
He comes his flock to feed ;
And seek their daily bread.
Their love and earnestness
The Pastor's zeal improve;
Their earnestness and love.
It will be observed, that among his personal friends, with whom he was accustomed in those times to meet by appointment, were Mr. and Mrs. Venn, whom he has also mentioned with respect in others of his letters. This excellent Clergyman, who was afterwards successively Vicar of Huddersfield and of Yelling, now held the curacy of Clapham, and the lectureship of two or three churches in London. His wife was the daughter of Dr. Bishop, of Ipswich, who preached the Lady Moyer Lectures in 1724–25: a Divine of considerable attainments. The son and grandson of Mr. Venn, who have vetorn
q written his Life, seem very anxious to sever him, in the public som seni! estimation, from all connexion with the Methodists in the finishes early periods of his religious career.
The grandson, speaking of Mr. Venn, and of his contemporaries among the evangelical Clergy, says, “I apprehend its'extiesiaus may be shown, that, for the most part, these men derived biogge, se their views of the truth directly from the word of God; that their labours were chiefly devoted to the revival of true religion in the Church; and that those labours were, under God, the main cause of the revival which followed.
“I am aware that a different view of the case is often given ; and that the labours of Mr. Whitefield and the Wesleys are regarded not only as the means of the revival of religion among persons connected with their societies, but also of that which took place among the Clergy. A preface, and more especially a preface to a somewhat bulky volume, is not the place for entering at large into a question which may be controverted; but I may be permitted, perhaps, to point out how far the present volume seems to support the view of this question which I have ventured to suggest.
“The case of Mr. Venn himself is clearly stated in the Memoir, in these words :- This change of his sentiments was not to be ascribed to an intercourse with others : it was the steady progress of his mind, in consequence of a faithful and diligent application to the holy Scriptures, unbiassed by an attachment to human systems. It was not till some years afterwards, that he became acquainted with any of those
Preachers who are usually known by the name of evangelical ; that is, in conformity with the motives and hopes held out to us in the Gospel of Christ.""*
It is added, with reference to the same subject, “ As far as we can trace the operation of human agency, it seems to me, that the effects of the labours of the Wesleys, and their immediate co-adjutors, were chiefly manifest in the extension of Methodism; as the effects of the evangelical Clergy were in the improved tone of religion in the established Church : that there were thus two kindred, but separate and independent, streams of light, penetrating the gloom which brooded over the Christian community. That which flowed in the channel of Methodism burst forth, indeed, in a more resplendent and sudden blaze : the other proceeded by a more gradual and quiet, but progressive, course." +
All this doubtless appears plausible and satisfactory to a Churchman, who deprecates every deviation from his own ecclesiastical order ; but it is merely a matter of theory and opinion, which we believe no man ever did or can prove. No revival of religion appeared in the national Church, until some years after the Wesleys and Mr. Whitefield entered upon their bold and irregular course : and certainly the means which they employed to rouse a slumbering Church and people were no secret. This thing was not done in a corner. Preaching in fields and market-places, as well as in private houses, barns, and churches, and travelling through the length and breadth of the land, they caused their voices to be everywhere heard, and forced religion upon the attention of all classes of the community. Their doctrines, proceedings, and character, therefore, became subjects of general inquiry and discussion. The very fact, that gentlemen of education and talent voluntarily exposed themselves to the violence of mobs, and stood forth under the summer's sun, and the winter's snow, calling the outcasts of mankind to repentance, was in itself calculated to make a deep impression upon every thoughtful mind. At the same time these apostolic men widely dispersed tracts, pamphlets, and books, of various sizes, in prose and verse, explaining the nature of Christian godliness, recommending it as the one thing needful,
* Preface to the Life of the Rev, Henry Venn.
and enforcing the universal necessity of repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. How far the excellent Clergymen who were raised up to revive religion more immediately in the Church were influenced by these means, in the beginning of their religious inquiries and convictions, perhaps they themselves were not able, in every instance, to ascertain. Most of them, however, in the progress of their course, were brought into direct personal intercourse with the Wesleys and Mr. Whitefield, and were enlightened, animated, and encouraged by the conversation, ministry, and example of these men of God.
So far as Mr. Venn is concerned, the case is clear. He became deeply serious about the time of his ordination in 1747 ; a period at which Mr. Whitefield and the Wesleys had been distributing their writings, and preaching in all directions, for several years, and had succeeded in making a deep impression upon the public mind. Mr. Venn was born in London, and partly educated there, and the neighbourhood, and partly in Bristol ; and these cities are well known to have been the principal scenes of Methodistical labour and excitement in those times. He must have been both blind and deaf, neither to have seen nor heard anything of the men who, in his immediate vicinity, were actually “turning the world upside down.” For some time after his ordination, Mr. Venn's views of evangelical truth were very defective; yet, as he addicted himself to prayer, fasting, and the study of the Bible, his light increased, and he saw more distinctly the way of salvation through the great and only atonement. In 1754 he accepted the curacy of Clapham, and obtained his London lectureships ; in 1757 he married Miss Bishop; and in 1759 he was appointed to the vicarage of Huddersfield. When resident in London he had frequent intercourse with John and Charles Wesley; as is manifest from various notices in John's Journal, and other writings,* and from Charles's letters : and it is acknowledged by the biographers of Mr. Venn that, during this period, his knowledge of divine things, and his personal piety, were greatly improved. They say, “In
. In a letter addressed by Mr. John Wesley to Mr. Blackwell, and dated, Bandon, July 12th, 1758, it is said, “ You people in England are bad correspondents. Both Mr. Downing, Mr. Venn, and Mr. Madan, are a letter in my debt."-Wesley's Works, vol. xii., p. 171. Third edit.