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upon the men who differ from him on the five points has also been most salutary, though few of them like to confess it. They have served to produce a more guarded and practical style of preaching and writing than formerly prevailed. Where are the Ministers now who would openly declare from the pulpit, that all the sins of the elect, past, present, and to come, are for ever cancelled ? and that David was as much a child of God when committing adultery and murder, as when he was leading the devotions of the tabernacle? Yet these points, with others of a similar nature, were strenuously contended for in the controversy with Mr. Fletcher; and such was the Antinomianism which he attempted to "check."
Few books in the English language have been more extensively read, during the last seventy years, than those of “the saintly Fletcher;" and the demand for them increases almost every year, both in England and upon the American continent. They are the most sought after and admired by persons of the deepest piety. To say that they “ elicit no truth,” “illustrate no difficult” scripture, and serve only to “ inflame the spirit of party,” is to contradict the testimony of twice ten thousand witnesses possessed of spiritual discernment, and of heavenly affections. It is as palpable an absurdity as to say, that Mr. Whitefield's preaching was of no possible benefit to mankind.
Mr. Charles Wesley took a lively interest in the rise and progress of this controversy, though his name has rarely been connected with it. He corresponded with his friend, the Vicar of Madeley, and encouraged him in his arduous undertaking. Mr. Fletcher transmitted his manuscripts to him for revision, begging of him to expunge every expression that was calculated to give unnecessary pain, and to pay especial attention to the grammar and theology of the whole. He also confided to Mr. Charles Wesley the task of conducting them through the press, the correction of which was inconvenient to himself, because of his distance from London. The fact is, that nearly everything that Mr. Fletcher published, not even excepting his political tracts, and his treatise on original sin, passed under the eye and hand of Mr. Charles Wesley before it was given to the world. Their correspondence, therefore, was frequent and confidential, especially while this controversy was in progress. Not that the compositions
of his friend needed much emendation ; but his criticisms gave Mr. Fletcher confidence, and were highly valued. In 1775 Mr. Fletcher said to him, “ Nobody helps me but you ; and you know how little you do it. Deprive me not of that little. Your every hint is a blessing to me.” In another letter he says, “You have your enemies, as well as your brother. They complain of your love for music, company, fine people, great folks, and of the want of your former zeal and frugality. I need not put you in mind to cut off all sinful appearances. You were taught to do this before I knew anything of the matter. Only see you abound more and more, to stop the mouth of your adversaries, or of your jealous friends.”
An extract from one of Mr. Charles Wesley's letters Mr. Fletcher has inserted in his answer to Sir Richard Hill. It accounts for some unguarded expressions in his early hymns. “I was once," says he, “on the brink of Antinomianism, by unwarily reading Crisp and Saltmarsh. Just then, warm in my first love, I was in the utmost danger, when Providence threw in my way Baxter's treatise, entitled, “An Hundred Errors of Dr. Crisp demonstrated. My brother was sooner apprehensive of the dangerous abuse which would be made of our unguarded hymns and expressions than I was. Now I also see and feel we must all sink, unless we call St. James to our assistance. Yet let us still insist as much or more than ever on St. Paul's justification. What God has joined together let no man put asunder. The great Chillingworth saw clearly the danger of separating St. James from St. Paul. He used to wish that whenever a chapter of St. Paul's justification was read, another of St. James might be read at the same time.”
Though Lady Huntingdon was no party to the base attacks which were made upon Mr. Wesley's moral character, her cagerness to fix upon him the charge of heretical pravity inflicted a deep wound in the generous and upright mind of Charles; whose correspondence with her was indeed resumed, but never with its former cordiality and warmth.
Mr. Charles Wesley had the solid gratification of seeing his brother, as well as Mr. Fletcher, retire from this controversy with an untarnished reputation. Neither of them wrote anything of which their friends could be justly ashamed ;
they freely attacked the principles of their opponents, but made no dishonourable reference to private character; and the absolute failure of all the attempts which were made to fix a stain upon Mr. John Wesley's morals, only served to establish the conviction of his purity. His assailants showed what they would have done, had they possessed the power ; but, with all their means and appliances, they could adduce no proof whatever in support of their unchristian and cruel insinuations, which therefore recoiled upon their own heads.
It is only justice to Lady Huntingdon to say, that she did not retain to the end of her life the hostility to Mr. Wesley which marked her conduct when the controversy respecting the Minutes was begun. At that period her biographer says no less than “sixty Clergymen were employed by her;" that she was the acknowledged head of a large body of people. Her inability to bear a rival in Mr. Wesley, who dissented from her creed, and the conspiracy which she headed, to ruin his character, and put an end to his influence, for giving a doctrinal warning to his Preachers, of which she chose to disapprove, have left a blot upon her spiritual escutcheon which no ingenuity can obliterate. The part which she took in reference to the Circular was altogether unjustifiable, and was especially revolting in a person of her sex. But considering the adulation which she was accustomed to receive from many quarters, as “the elect lady” of the age, and the unnatural position in which she was placed, the wonder is that she acted with so much humility and gentleness. If no man is wise at all times, we have no right to demand absolute discretion in a woman. It is honourable to Lady Huntingdon that she lived to regret the part which she had unhappily taken in respect of her spiritual father, and early religious friend and adviser.
She survived Mr. Wesley about five months. After his death a small tract was published, containing the interesting particulars of his last illness, with the expressions to which he gave utterance in the immediate prospect of dissolution. It was drawn up with the beautiful simplicity of truth, and bore the initials of his friend Elizabeth Ritchie. A copy of this document fell into the hands of Lady Huntingdon, who read it with superior interest, because, according to the natural course of things, the time of her own departure was at hand.
She sent for Joseph Bradford, who for many years had been Mr. Wesley's travelling companion, and asked him if this account of Mr. Wesley was true; and whether he really died acknowledging his sole dependence upon the meritorious sacrifice of Christ, for acceptance and eternal life. He assured her Ladyship that the whole was strictly true; and that, from his own knowledge he could declare, whatever reports to the contrary had been circulated, the principles which Mr. Wesley recognised upon his death-bed had invariably been the subjects of his ministry. She listened with eager attention to this statement; confessed, she had believed that he grievously departed from the truth ; and then, bursting into tears, expressed her deep regret at the separation which had in consequence taken place between them. The spell, which ought never to have bound her spirit, was then broken. During his life-time it does not appear that she was at all reconciled to him; but when he had yielded up his soul to God, and was placed beyond the reach of human censure, she acknowledged him, not as "a dreadful heretic," but as “a good Minister of Jesus Christ.” * They now see eye to eye; and their former misunderstandings are forgotten; or, if remembered at all, are seen in connexion with that sacrificial blood through which they were mercifully atoned for and forgiven.
• The particulars of this interview Mr. Bradford related to the Rev. George Morley, by whom they were kindly communicated to the writer of this narrative,
MR. CHARLES WESLEY removed his family from Bristol to London in the year 1771. He did not fix his residence in Hackney or Stoke-Newington, as he once intended, but in Chesterfield-street, St. Mary-le-bone. The circumstances which led him to reside there deserve to be recorded. When the Methodists of London and Bristol were subscribing towards a London residence for this honoured Minister, the proposal reached the ear of Mrs. Gumley, the aunt of Lady Robert Manners, (formerly Miss Degge,) and she immediately stopped further proceedings, by handing over, gratuitously, to her friends Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wesley, the lease (which had upwards of twenty years to run) of her handsome town residence. The house was richly furnished, and completely prepared for occupation. The cellars were well stocked with wine, and even with barrels of table-beer. All these accommodations this excellent lady generously presented to the Methodist Clergyman and his family, whom, it is needless to say, she highly esteemed. She did this at the very time that Lady Huntingdon withdrew her friendship from the Wesleys, because they refused, after her example, to change their creed. The house was subject to a yearly ground-rent, of which the half-yearly receipts remain. It was about three miles from the Foundery, where his brother generally resided when in London ; so that they were at an inconvenient distance from each other. John regretted this, because it prevented him from consulting Charles on many subjects connected with their work, in which it was desirable that they should act by united counsels.
Before Mr. Charles Wesley removed the rest of his family from Bristol, he brought with him to London his eldest son, who bore his father's name, and when a mere boy commanded universal admiration by his extraordinary musical genius. The father was highly gratified with his son's abilities, and the respect which was everywhere shown him ; but his own health was so delicate, that he was apprehensive of a speedy