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seems, are composed of song-tunes and psalm-tunes indiscriminately; music without words; and I suppose one may say consequently without devotion. On a certain occasion, when her niece was sitting at her side, she asked his opinion concerning the lawfulness of such amusements as are to be found at Vauxhall and Ranelagh ; meaning only to draw from him a sentence of disapprobation, that Miss Green might be the better reconciled to the restraint under which she was held, when she found it warranted by the judgment of so famous a Divine. But she was disappointed. He accounted them innocent, and recommended them as useful. Curiosity, he said, was natural to young persons; and it was wrong to deny them a gratification which they might be indulged in with the greatest safety; because the denial being unreasonable, the desire of it would still subsist. It was but a walk, and a walk was as harmless in one place as another; with other arguments of a similar import, which might have proceeded with more grace, at least with less offence, from the lips of a sensual layman. He seems, together with others of our acquaintance, to have suffered considerably in his spiritual character by his attachment to music.” *
That Mr. Charles Wesley could not be the person here intended is undeniable, unless Cowper was criminally inattentive to facts, and guilty of the foulest calumny, which is disproved by the goodness of his heart. No proof whatever exists that Mr. Charles Wesley suffered any spiritual declension through “ attachment to music.” He loved to hear it indeed; (for who does not?) but he had only a superficial acquaintance with it as a science. In early life he occasionally played on the flute; but he had discontinued that practice long before Cowper became an author. He confesses that he could not judge of the performances of his sons, but was guided by the opinions of others. When the sons had chosen music as a profession, they were bound to excel in it to the utmost limit of their ability; and it could be no fault in the father to encourage them in that which was matter of duty.
But “sabbatical concerts,” partly religious and partly
• Grimshawe's Cowper, vol. i., p. 292.
secular, he had none. On this subject we have the express and solemn testimony of his younger son, who was living when Cowper's letter was published, and to whom the question of its reference to his father was proposed by the writer of this narrative. He promptly returned a written declaration on the subject, in which he says, “ The occasional performances by my brother of some portions of sacred music on Sunday, were never desecrated by the admixture of 'songtunes,' or any other airs but those dedicated exclusively to sacred subjects.” Samuel Wesley was resident in the house of his father at the time here referred to, and is therefore a competent witness in the case. The playing of song-tunes on the Sabbath can never be reconciled with Christian morality. But if holy music is a part of the employment and happiness of heaven, as the Scriptures declare it is, it cannot be inappropriate to the evening of the Lord's day, when used devotionally: and no evidence exists that Mr. Charles Wesley ever countenanced it in any other form. According to Samuel Wesley's account, his brother occasionally played upon the harpsichord or the organ, in their father's house, on the Sabbath-day; and no one else. He had no fellow-performers. Whereas Occiduus had a whole band of musicians. “ The full concerto swelled upon the ear” of the passer-by; and those who witnessed the scene were ready to imagine that Nebuchadnezzar had summoned his whole band, to play upon “ the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer,” in honour of the golden image which he had set up in the plain of Dura. “All elbows shook” in the orchestra, and the listening crowd below were thrown into ecstasies. Can it be needful to adduce any other proof, that Charles Wesley's house was not the scene of these profane exhibitions ? and that he had no concern in them whatever?
To theatrical amusements, as pregnant with the most frightful evils, he was religiously opposed, and therefore could not be the man who “accounted them as innocent, and recommended them as useful.” When Cowper wrote his poem and his letter, in which he censures Occiduus, Mr. Charles Wesley's hymns for watch-night services had been in public circulation nearly forty years; and in one of them he had by name, and in terms the most unqualified, con
demned the amusements of the theatre, and of similar places of resort :
The civiler crowd
Acknowledge His power,
To the masque and the ball
Or in pleasures excel,
In a marginal note, designed to explain the last of these terribly-expressive lines, it is said that Vauxhall and Ranelagh gardens are here especially meant. One direct effect of Mr. Charles Wesley's ministry was to detach play-goers from their diversions, as both vain and sinful. When Mrs. Rich, of the Covent-garden theatre, received his doctrine, and acknowledged him as her spiritual adviser, as has been already stated, she abandoned the stage for ever, to the grief and mortification of her husband, who had derived considerable gains from her powers as an actress. It is also remarkable, that at the very time when Cowper was writing, Samuel Wesley desired to attend the theatres, and his father would not suffer him. The son was greatly offended with the restraint which was imposed upon him; but he lived long enough to see that it was salutary, and kindly intended. That Mr. Charles Wesley ever encouraged any one to attend such places, Samuel, who had felt the weight of his father's authority on this subject, declared to be “flagrantly untrue," and opposed to his “consistent and unflinching enmity to vicious temptation.” It is, in fact, doubtful whether any man of his age was a more strenuous and successful opponent of all such dissipating and unhallowed amusements. The conclusion, therefore, that Occiduus was some other person, and not the poet of Methodism, is inevitable. If the description of Occiduus be applied to him, it is notoriously untrue.
Who then, it may be inquired, was the mysterious personage, who thus offended against the sanctity of the Sabbath, and advised young people to attend the theatre, and other places of mere amusement ? He was “a Pastor of renown," and deemed “evangelical.” These characteristics apply directly to Mr. Madan, who was a popular Clergyman, of Calvinian tenets ; * well known to be musical in his taste and habits; and as an avowed advocate of polygamy, he could not be very nice in his views of Christian morality. Cowper also states, in one of his letters, that in writing “The Progress of Error," where the character of Occiduus is drawn, he had Madan in his eye.Madan was Cowper's cousin, with whose habits and views he was well acquainted; and many of Cowper's letters show how deeply he was offended with the unhallowed levity of his kinsman's speculations.
Should it be inquired on what ground the name of Occiduus could be given to Madan, the answer is, that the word properly signifies “ western,” and may refer to the situation of the Lock Hospital, where Mr. Madan preached, and was attended by listening multitudes. It was at the “west-end” of London, “near Hyde-park-corner," as is stated on the title-page of a volume of hymns which Madan published for the use of his congregation.
Taking all these considerations into the account, it is far more probable that Cowper intended, under the name of Occiduus, to censure the popular and speculative Madan, than Mr. Charles Wesley, who then occupied only a very subordinate place among public men, being aged, sickly, and infirm. For twenty years he had exercised his ministry in two or three Methodist chapels, into which few wealthy and fashionable religionists ever entered. To “renown,” in the popular sense of that term, he had then little claim; and it is doubtful whether, as an anti-Calvinist, Cowper would have acknowledged him to be “evangelical.” In one of his letters, written about the time that he was censuring Occiduus, Cowper mentions Mr. Fletcher, of Madeley, and expresses a doubt whether that holy man was indeed a Christian ; so prejudiced was he against what he understood to be Mr. Fletcher's anti-Calvinistical doctrine, which was substantially that of Mr. Charles Wesley.
• « The Lock chapel was the favourite resort of religious characters in the time of the Rev. Martin Madan, not only from the high popularity of his talents as a Preacher, but from the fidelity and impressive energy with which he proclaimed the fundamental doctrines of the Scripture.”_Grimshawe's Cowper, vol. iii., p. 320.
+ Southey's Cowper, vol, iv., pr. 79, 80.
The means which Mr. John and Charles Wesley felt it their duty to adopt, for the revival of true religion in the three kingdoms, after they had themselves obtained the vital Christian faith, placed them in great difficulties with regard to the established Church; and those difficulties pressed upon them with increasing weight as they advanced in life. When the societies were few in number, they were easily persuaded to attend the services of the Church, especially the Lord's supper; but in process of time many joined them who had been educated in the principles of Dissent; and several of these would on no account unite in the worship of the Establishment. Others were unwilling to attend, because they could not receive the doctrine of their respective Clergymen, or because their Clergymen were not even moral in their lives. How to meet the views of these people, without opening the Methodist chapels during the time of divine service in the churches, and without allowing the Preachers to administer the sacraments, it was not easy to determine. The very agitation of these questions Mr. Charles Wesley could not endure. All unwillingness to attend the services of the Church he regarded as little less than stubbornness and rebellion. No man ever censured ungodly Ministers with greater severity than he, especially those of the established Church ; but he would concede nothing in favour of those who had any scruples concerning the ministrations of these men. Whatever might be the personal character of the Clergy, or the doctrines they taught, he contended that the Methodists were to be preserved in strict connexion with the Church of England; even where the Clergy refused to administer to them the sacrament of the Lord's supper.
Mr. John Wesley was a more practical man. The Church was dear to him ; and, next to the salvation of souls, the object dearest to his heart was the attendance of his spiritual children upon her ordinances. But among these children he found several who never did belong to her communion, and whom he could not induce to tread her courts; and not a few