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1756 he laboured under a severe illness, which incapacitated him for duty, for more than eight months. This, however, was a most important season to him. He had time to reflect upon his principles and his conduct; and he used to observe, that, after that period, he was no longer able to preach the sermons which he had previously composed. His views of eternal things had now become clearer; his meditations on the attributes of God more profound ; his views of the greatness of the salvation of Christ more distinct; and the whole of his religion had received that tincture of more elevated devotion, which rendered his conversation and preaching doubly instructive.” *
The endeavour to prove that Mr. Venn acquired and maintained his enlightened and effective piety, independently of Methodistical influence, is therefore a hopeless task. Nor is the attempt itself to be commended. Whatever spiritual good exists in any man, he has received it from the God of all grace, who, in the exercise of his sovereign wisdom and mercy, selects and employs what instrumentality He pleases in the accomplishment of his own designs; nor have any of his creatures a right to say to Him, “ What doest thou ?” The fact is undeniable, that John and Charles Wesley were the personal friends of Mr. Venn, when this justly-celebrated Clergyman obtained his best and highest qualifications for the sacred office. Charles was also a spiritual adviser of Mr. Venn's amiable and intelligent wife, at the commencement of her pious course. If they were both benefited by the counsel, prayers, and spirit of the brothers, neither their posterity, nor the members of the Church to which they belonged, have any reason to be ashamed. But whether they are or not, the case is not altered. The biographers of Mr. Venn may “wash him with nitre, and take much sope,” yet they will never be able to remove from his character and memory the glorious reproach of Methodism.
Though the Wesleys and Mr. Whitefield were still unable to think alike concerning the five perplexing points at issue between the disciples of Calvin and Arminius; and it was requisite, on this account, that they should pursue an independent course; yet they still remained one in heart; and in
• Life of Venn, p. 24. Sixth edition.
this respect set before the world an edifying example of Christian forbearance. Up to the year 1753, Mr. Whitefield and his people worshipped in their wooden Tabernacle, near Moorfields; but at this period they united to form a more substantial and commodious erection upon the same site. While this work was in progress the Wesleys favoured them with the use of the Foundery. This seasonable kindness Mr. Whitefield acknowledges in the following characteristic letter to Mr. Charles Wesley, which he evidently wrote in the ful. ness of his grateful and generous heart :
“ London, March 3d, 1753. My dear friend, -I thank you and your brother, most heartily, for the loan of the chapel. The favour shall be returned, if ever you have the like occasion to borrow. Blessed be God, the work goes on well. On Thursday morning the first brick was laid, with a sweet solemnity. I preached from Exodus xx., and the latter part of the 24th verse. Afterwards we sung, and prayed for God's blessing upon 'all places where his glorious 'name is recorded. The wall is now about a yard high. The building is to be eighty foot square. It is upon the old spot. We have purchased the house; and, if we finish what we have begun, shall be rent-free for forty-six years. We have above £1,100 in hand. This, I think, is the best way to build. Mr. Steward's death so affected me, that, when I met the workmen that night, to contract about the building, I could scarce bear to think of building tabernacles.
“ Strange that so many should be so soon discharged, and we continued! Eighteen years have I been waiting for the coming of the Son of God: but I find we are immortal till our work is done. O that we may never live to be ministered unto, but to minister! Mr. Steward spoke for his Lord as long as he could speak at all. He had no clouds, or darkness. I was with him till a few minutes before he slept in Jesus. I have good news from several parts. A door is opening at Winchester. Surely the little leaven will ferment, till the whole kingdom be leavened. Even so, Lord Jesus. Amen! Pray, how does our elect Lady? I hope to write to her Ladyship next post.
“My poor wife hath had another plunge. We thought she was taken with a palsy ; but, blessed be God, she is now recovering. Our joint love attends you, and yours, and your
brother, and his household. That you all may increase with all the increase of God, is the earnest prayer of, my dear friend,
“ Yours most affectionately in our common Lord.” In the loss of his friends by death Mr. Whitefield suffered only a common lot. The Wesleys drank largely of the same bitter cup. On the 10th of August this year Mr. John Meriton closed his earthly career. It will be recollected, that this Clergyman was a member of the first Methodist Conference; he travelled extensively as a Minister of the truth; and meekly bore his share of the reproach and violence which were awarded to all those faithful men who attempted to awaken and convert a slumbering and guilty people. Where he died we are not informed; and the only particulars respecting his end that have been preserved are to be gathered from the following hymn, which Mr. Charles Wesley wrote on the occasion. Having finished his sufferings and his work, this good man slept in Jesus.
And hath he bow'd his head,
And render'd up the ghost ?
To that immortal host ?
And solemnly proclaim
The triumph of the Lamb.
The Lamb of God alone
Supplied his Spirit's might,
The good, though doubtful, fight;
On sovereign mercy cast,
And landed safe at last.
Long was he toss'd below
On life's tempestuous sea,
And weight of misery ;
By flattering hopes deceived,
And rather died than lived.
The soul is now at rest,
The exile roams no more,
On that celestial shore :
A life that cannot die,
A mansion in the sky.
Jesus, take all the praise,
The praise is all thy due;
And make us conquerors too :
And found its saving power,
For death's triumphant hour.
O that we then, like him,
Might quietly resign
Into those hands of thine !
O that we then might prove,
* Like him, the crowning grace, And join our glittering friends above
In everlasting lays !
It appears to have been in the autumn of the year 1753, that Mr. Charles Wesley paid his last visit to Cornwall, leaving his wife in Bristol, with his only child, a son about twelve months old. All the information that we have concerning this journey is contained in the two subjoined letters, addressed to his wife, and a fragment of a third, in which he says that he was going to see the Land's End. The letters breathe his usual spirit of zeal and enterprise, and intimate that the work of God was in a state of encouraging progress.
"Redruth, Oct. 4th. Here am 1-mourning under my disappointment. I comforted myself all the way with assured hopes of a letter_waiting here to welcome a poor traveller. But my beloved Sally has missed an opportunity of comforting me. Yet I will not forbear writing, in the midst of my best business, to one whom my soul loves, whose perfection I long for, whom I trust to meet at the marriage of the Lamb.
" It would have done you good to have been with us at St. Mewan's, on Monday evening, while the great congregation felt
* The' overwhelming power of saving grace.'
Next morning we were in like manner refreshed at St. Ewe. Last night at Penrhyn our hearts were comforted with our Lord's presence. I find my way prepared in every place, and want nothing but you to be a partaker of our joy.
“A dear friend of ours brought up an evil report of this land. It flows with milk and honey. I scarce believe it to be Cornwall, the accommodations everywhere are so good, and the people so cleanly: not a whit inferior to those in the north. Very many loving friends of yours, whom you never saw, inquire after you. By and by I shall allure you hither, especially if Becky will bear you company. This day se'n. night I expect to revisit this place. If I do not first hear from you, I question whether I shall have the heart to write again before my return to Bristol. You may suppose me something eager to know what is become of our son and heir, our sister, friends in Garth, London, Bristol, &c. What are you about ? How do you go on in your family? whether my brother is come? whom have you heard at the room ? what visits have you made, or received ? and, above all, how your own soul prospers ? and what benefit you reap from daily retirement ?
“ John Trembath cleaves to me. He sends his love. Give mine to dearest Beck, &c. Remember me in all your prayers. I am in my calling, quite contented, and cheerfully labouring in the vineyard. May the peace and love of God spring up in your hearts, and keep them always ! Farewell.
“ Wednesday night. I am come from preaching to a most attentive multitude. This place seems quite subdued to our Lord. Their hearts are all bowed before Him. He gives me uncommon strength. A very great door is opened. The poor people have got in their harvest, and are now at leisure to be gathered in themselves. The heavens smile upon us, and the weather seems made on purpose for preaching. I generally begin a quarter before six, and continue till past seven. It is now past nine, my hour of rest. The everlasting arms be underneath you! Adieu.”
“ Gwennap, Oct. 11th. My very dear Sally, --1 bless God