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addressed by his pious and anxious father, who was then in London, and the son in Bristol :
“ March 6th, 1773. Come now, my good friend Samuel, and let us reason together. God made you for himself; that is, to be for ever happy with Him. Ought you not, therefore, to serve and love Him? But you can do neither, unless He gives you the power. “Ask,' He says himself, and it shall be given you:' that is, pray Him to make you love Him; and pray for it every morning and night, in your own words, as well as in those which have been taught you. You have been used to say your prayers in the sight of others. Henceforth go into a corner by yourself, where no eye but God's may see you. There pray to your heavenly Father, who seeth in secret; and be sure He hears every word you speak, and sees everything you do, at all times, and in all places.
“ You should now begin to live by reason and religion. There should be sense, even in your play and diversions : therefore I have furnished you with maps and books and harpsichord. Every day get something by heart, whatever your mother recommends. Every day read one or more chapters in the Bible. I suppose your mother will take you now, in the place of your brother, to be her chaplain, to read the psalms and lessons when your sister does not. Mr. Fry must carry you on in your writing. I do not doubt your improvement both in that and music. God will raise you up friends when I am in my grave, where I shall be very soon: but your heavenly Father lives for ever, and you may live for ever with Him, and will, I hope, when you die.
“ Foolish people are too apt to praise you. If they see anything good in you, they should praise God, not you, for it. As for music, it is neither good nor bad in itself. You have a natural inclination to it : but God gave you that ; therefore God only should be thanked and praised for it. Your brother has the same love of music, much more than you; yet he is not proud or vain of it. Neither, I trust, will you be. You will send me a long letter of an answer, and always look upon me both as
“ Your loving father and your friend.” The kind instructions of this Christian parent were not received with due filial deference; and hence he had occasion to mourn over his son, who, as he advanced in life, departed
more and more from the good and the right way. Among the friends of the family was the well-known Mary Freeman Shepherd, a relation of Mr. Blackwell, the banker. She possessed a masculine intellect, and superior literary attainments; but was a Roman Catholic, and withal eccentric and revengeful. She gained considerable ascendency over the mind of Samuel, and led him to an open avowal of his Popery; for, unknown to his father, he had joined the Church of Rome, and was not unfrequently seen figuring away in the idolatrous services of the mass.
She was strongly suspected of being one principal cause of his apostasy ; but this she absolutely denied, and declared that he was a disciple of the Pope before she had any acquaintance with him whatever; and that a young Frenchman, one of Samuel's companions, had induced him to renounce the Protestant faith. The fact is, he was not pious, but was led by a blind sentimentality; and the blandishments of Papal worship presented the finest scope for the exercise of his musical talents.
It was deemed requisite that his connexion with the Church of Rome should be disclosed to his unsuspecting father; and a consultation was held among his new friends as to the manner in which this should be done. It was suggested that Samuel himself was the most suitable person to inform his parent of the change which had taken place in his views. But he declined the task, and declared that he could not bear to witness the distress into which he knew the discovery would plunge his susceptible and aged father, whose tenderest affection he had shared from his infancy. then recommended that Father O'Leary, the Popish Priest, should be the bearer of the unwelcome intelligence. This was strenuously opposed by Mrs. Shepherd, who observed that Mr. Charles Wesley was a Clergyman, a scholar, and a gentleman; and was therefore entitled to superior respect. Whereas Father O'Leary had written against Mr. John Wesley in the spirit and manner of a buffoon; and to send such a man, with such a message, would be nothing less than an insult. A father's feelings were not to be wantonly trifled with.
At last it was agreed to request the Duchess of Norfolk, as the highest Roman Catholic Peeress in the realm, to wait upon Mr. Charles Wesley, at his house in Chesterfield-street,
ration ! ?
and inform him that his son had renounced the Protestant faith, and become a member of the Church to which she herself belonged. There was a propriety in this arrangement, because her own son had subjected her to a similar trial, by renouncing the Church of Rome, and embracing the Protestant religion. She assented to this proposal, and communicated to the venerable man, trembling with age and infirmity, the intelligence which embittered the residue of his life. Being aware of her intended visit, he received her in his robes, as a Priest of the Church of England. She soon perceived the deep distress of mind into which he was thrown by the disclosures which she made to him respecting his unhappy son, and attempted to soothe him by suggesting that the young convert might be acting under the influence of divine grace, and be swayed by the love of God. The father, who too well knew the character of his son, and the nature of the errors which he had embraced, pacing his large
drawing-room in great agitation, exclaimed, “Say, the loaves alad eduand fishes, Madam! say, 'the loaves and fishes !"»
Mr. Charles Wesley passed through various sorrows in the course of his eventful life ; but nothing grieved him so much as his Samuel's entrance into the idolatrous Church of Rome, against which he believed the severest threatenings of holy Scripture to be levelled. He regarded that community as thoroughly corrupt, and therefore a declared object of the divine vengeance. In his closet, when he thought of his son, his feelings rose to agony, as his private papers most affectingly declare. He wept and made supplication for his child, whom he now regarded as lost to him and the rest of the family. The very sight of one who was so dear to him, now a captive in mystic Babylon, caused his heart to bleed afresh. He did not think that his son would permanently remain a Romanist. The abominable superstitions, and still more abominable immoralities, of the corrupt community into which Samuel had entered, the father thought, would ere long appear in all their atrocity; and he was afraid lest the young man, having forsaken his former guides, would take refuge in infidelity, as ten thousand educated Romanists have done. As the unhappy wanderer refused any longer to listen to his father's instructions, that father could only commend him to God's mercy in incessant prayer.
The other children were the sorrowing witnesses of their grey-headed father's anguish: and hence the affecting entry of his daughter in one of his manuscript books, where she found a hymn of prayer for Samuel's recovery, when, some years before, he was afflicted with the small-pox: “Alas ! this prayer was raised for his son Samuel ! How little do parents know what evils are prevented by early death !”
The following stanzas, selected from many others of a similar kind, show the manner in which Mr. Charles Wesley felt and prayed in regard of his youngest-born, now doubly dead :
Farewell, my all of earthly hope,
I offer up my son !
But give I God a sacrifice
The answer sad express, -
Which breaks through fond excess !
Yet since he from my heart is torn,
The darling snatch'd away :
And keep him to that day.
Keep (for I nothing else desire)
And freely I resign
To see his face no more!
But hear my agonizing prayer,
To meet me in the skies,
For ever from my eyes !
Bereaved by his revoking word,
I will not cease
And I depart in peace.
But while an exile here I live,
And in thy Spirit to groan,
Presented at thy throne.
Still let thine eye his steps pursue,
Where'er he rashly strays ;
And the destroyer's ways.
That poison of the Romish sect,
With close serpentine art,
Preserve his simple heart.
Surround him with thy guardian power When ended the satanic hour,
And darkness flees away, When infidels without disguise Tear open his unwilling eyes,
And drag him into day.
See the true ancient church appears,
Who Christ and God disown!
Adorn the Papal throne.
Shock'd at the hypocrites profane,
From worse, if worse can be ;