Page images

of his metres, and in the general structure of his verse, he is not equal to Charles Wesley, any more than in richness of evangelical sentiment, and in deep religious experience. The Doctor teaches Christians to sing, with mixed emotions of desire, hope, and doubt,

Could we but climb where Moses stood,

And view the landscape o'er,
Not Jordan's streams, nor death's cold flood,

Should fright us from the shore.”

Whereas Charles Wesley has attained the desired eminence, and thence triumphantly exclaims,

The promised land, from Pisgah's top,

I now exult to see!
My hope is full (O glorious hope !)

Of immortality.

It was no hyperbole, but a sober truth, which the pious Fletcher uttered when he said, “One of the greatest blessings that God has bestowed upon the Methodists, next to the Bible, is their Collection of Hymns.”

The special providence of God is strikingly seen in raising up John and Charles Wesley as the chief instruments of the revival of religion to which the name of Methodism has been given. They were one in mind and heart; both were highly gifted, and have been a means of conferring the most substantial benefits upon the grateful people who have entered into their labours : yet their endowments and services were vastly dissimilar; and their work would have been seriously defective had either of them been wanting. John was a means, under God, of giving the Methodists their theology and discipline; yet, with these mighty advantages, what could they do without the hymns of Charles? How could they give adequate expression to the feelings of their hearts in their various religious services, if this “sweet singer" had never lived, or had directed his genius for poetry to other objects ? An eminent man is reported to have said, “ Let who may legislate for any people ; only let me compose the ballads which they sing, and I will form their character.” is doubtful whether any human agency whatever has contributed more directly to form the character of the Methodist societies than the hymns of Charles Wesley, which they are constantly in the habit of singing, and with which their memories are therefore richly charged. The sermons of the Preachers, the instructions of the Class-Leaders, the prayers of the people, both in their families and social meetings, are all tinged with the sentiments and phraseology of his hymns. In his beautiful and expressive lines many of them are accustomed to give utterance to their desires and hopes, their sorrows and fears, their confidence and joy; and in innumerable instances they have expired with his verses upon their lips. Multitudes of them have died, whispering in faint accents, but with holy joy and hope,

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

They have found his hymns and spiritual songs to breathe the very language of heaven; and they have only exchanged them for the song of Moses and of the Lamb.

It is an important fact, that this gifted man, apparently without design, has anticipated all the wants of the Wesleyan Connexion, with respect to devotional poetry. He has supplied it with hymns adapted to every religious service, even Missionary Meetings, which were unknown in his time, and (strange as it may seem !) even the ordination of Ministers. He did indeed speak to the people in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, to their edification and comfort. In every place, and at all times, he “had a hymn, had a psalm,” suited to the occasion; for he was

“ Married to immortal verse, Such as the meeting soul may pierce.”

At funerals, at weddings, in the domestic circle, in the public congregation, at the table of the Lord, he was prepared to lead the devotions of those around him. When attended by immense multitudes in the open air, and under the wide

canopy of heaven, he called upon them to sing with heart and

Ye mountains and vales, in praises abound;
Ye hills and ye dales, continue the sound :
Break forth into singing, ye trees of the wood,
For Jesus is bringing lost sinners to God.
Atonement He made for every one ;
The debt He hath paid, the work He hath done :
Shout all the creation, below and above,
Ascribing salvation to Jesus's love.


When assembled with his Christian friends in a tea-party, he attempted to stir up their pure minds, by calling upon them to join in this lively and joyous strain :

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

“ Smit with the love of sacred song,"

he thus bursts forth

Along the hill or dewy mead
In sweet forgetfulness I tread,

Or wander through the grove ;
As Adam in his native seat,
In all His works my God I meet,

The object of my love.

I see his beauty in the flower ;
To shade my walks, and deck my bower,

His love and wisdom join ;
Him in the feather'd quire I hear,
And own, while all my soul is ear,

The music is divine.

In yon unbounded plain I see
A sketch of His immensity,

these ample skies,
Whose presence makes the happy place,
And opens in the wilderness

A blooming paradise.

would He now himself impart,
And fix the Eden in my heart,

The sense of sin forgiven!
How should I then throw off my load,
And walk delightfully with God,

And follow Christ to heaven!

On the return of his wife's birth-day, he invited her to join in the holy and joyous strain :

Come away to the skies,

My beloved, arise,
And rejoice on the day thou wast born ;

On the festival day

Come exulting away,
To thy heavenly country return.

We have laid up our love

And treasure above,
Though our bodies continue below;

The redeem'd of the Lord,

We remember his word,
And with singing to Sion we go.

With thanks we approve

The design of the love,
Which hath join'd us in Jesus's name,

So united in heart,

That we never can part,
Till we meet at the feast of the Lamb.

There, there at his feet

We shall suddenly meet,
And be parted in body no more ;

We shall sing to our lyres,

With the heavenly quires,
And our Saviour in glory adore.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

It may truly be said of him, as of the heavenly minstrels, that his “harp” was ever tuned ; » and that whenever he

“ Introduced
His sacred song, he waken'd raptures high.”

In every object of nature, in every event of life, and especially in the gracious provisions of the Gospel, he saw the hand and heart of God;

“ Then into hymns
Burst forth, and in celestial measures moved."

His heart overflowed with sacred verse till it ceased to beat ; and his tuneful voice was never silent till it was silenced in death. He is gone; but the imperishable fruit of his sanctified genius remains, as one of the richest legacies ever bequeathed to the church by her faithful sons.

As to himself, he still lives in the region of holy music and holy love ; and there sings

[ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »