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LETTER OF CHARLES SKELTON.

VOL. II.-PAGE 45.

The following letter was inserted in the second volume of the “Arminian Magazine.” It shows of what spirit Mr. Skelton was when he was an Itinerant Preacher. The remark at the end of it was made by Mr. Wesley, to whom the letter was most probably addressed.

“Bristol, April 8th, 1749. Rev. Sir, -I came to Bristol this day, and received yours; and, as you desire it, will lay all the affair before

you. “February 20th, being in London, I went up into my room to sit and read. As I was sitting, it came into my mind, that there were six malefactors to be executed that day; and it was exceedingly impressed upon me to go and see them executed. But I thought it was only curiosity; so I rested myself contented. In a few moments it was so much the more impressed upon my mind, that

go I must. I then went down stairs, and asked of our brother Salthouse, whether there was a horse in the stable, that I might go and see the men executed. He answered, “There is; but if you would be advised by me, do not ride: it is dangerous. I then thought I would not go ; so went into my room again, and sat down to read. But before I had sat half an hour I was quite uneasy, and found that go I must. I went down, and put on my great coat. One asked me, where I was going : I told her, to see the men. She asked, how far I would go : I told her, only to Holborn. When I came to Snow-hill, three had passed by in a cart; and the other three were just coming, drawn upon a sledge. Two of the three were praying to the Virgin Mary. They passed by, with several horse following them, and thousands of foot. I then turned to go home, when it came into my mind exceeding strong, 'If the Scriptures are of God, those poor men can never enter into his kingdom ; seeing there is no other name given whereby man can be saved but the name of Jesus Christ.' And again, “How can they hear without a Preacher ?' I looked back, but the men were quite gone out of my sight. I then thought, What can I or any man do for them in such a circumstance, but pray for them ? and I turned again to go towards home. But I had not taken above three or four steps, till it was strongly impressed upon my mind to follow them. But I thought, How is it possible that I can get at them, seeing there are so many thousands of people between them and me? The more I reasoned, the more I was lost, till the Lord almost dragged me to it. At last I turned, and began to run. The people all opened wherever I came ; so that my way was entirely free. I do not know that I bade one soul stand by ; but as God opened the way, so I went through thousands of foot, and hundreds of horse. I came up to the men at the upper-end of Holborn. When I came up to them, the same two were praying to the Virgin Mary, and likewise to the other saints. I spoke to them in the presence of God, and told them, that not all the saints in heaven would avail them; but unless Christ saved them, they must perish. I told them, that there was no other name given whereby they could be saved but the name of Jesus Christ. I then proved to them, that Christ was the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; and that if they would now cry to Jesus for mercy, mercy and salvation were nigh them. The word came like daggers to their hearts, and the arrows of God stuck fast within them. They let their books drop out of their hands, and their cry was, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy upon us! One drop, Lord Jesus, one drop of thy most precious blood shall soften and break our hearts in pieces!! The waters of repentance ran like rivers down their cheeks; their hearts bursting within them. The Lord broke in upon one of them, and filled him with his love. At the same time he received the gift of prayer; and prayed the most evangelically I ever heard. When the other had seen what God had done for his soul, it made him cry out so much the more, ‘Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy upon me! Lord, save me, or I perish !' He then arose, and got round the other to get at me, and cried, “O dear, dear Sir, is there mercy for me?' I insisted upon the promise, that there is, even for you, the chief of sinners. He then flung himself back, and cried out amain, in vehemence of spirit, ' Lord, save me, or I am damned ! 0 God, break my heart that is like a rock. Now, now, O Lord, let me feel one drop of the blood of Jesus. While he was thus wrestling, the Lord broke his heart in pieces; and immediately tears of joy ran from his eyes like a fountain : so that both could now rejoice in God their Saviour.

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“When we came to the gallows, the other three men waited in the cart for the hangman to come up, who was with us. He went up into the cart to tie them up; and while he was tying them, I went to prayer with the three that I was with. I then stood up on the side of the sledge, in the midst of many thousand souls. Many took off their hats while I was at prayer; and at the end of every sentence did say such hearty Amens, that the place echoed with the sound. Then the hangman came and took them out of the sledge, to tie them up with the other three. While he was doing this, I was talking to the other man that was on the sledge. He was sixty years of age, but utterly unconcerned. When all their ropes were tied, the Ordinary of Newgate read the form of words; and orders were given, that they should draw down their caps. Those two men looked round upon the people smiling, and then lifted up their hearts, and said, “Now, O Lord, into thy hands do we commit our spirits.

“O Lord, not unto me, but unto thy name be all the glory! I am, Rev. Sir,

“ Your obedient son in the Gospel,

“CHARLES Skelton.” Did God design, that this light should be hid under a bushel ? in a little, obscure, Dissenting meeting-house?

AN EPISTLE TO THE REV. MR. JOHN WESLEY, BY

CHARLES WESLEY, PRESBYTER OF THE CHURCH OF
ENGLAND.

PRINTED IN 1755, AND REPRINTED IN 1785.

Vol. II.-PAGE 81.

My first and last unalienable friend,
A brother's thoughts with due regard attend,
A brother, still as thy own soul beloved,
Who speak to learn, and write to be reproved :
Far from the factious, undiscerning crowd,
Distress’d, I fly to thee, and think aloud ;
I tell thee, wise and faithful as thou art,
The fears and sorrows of a burden'd heart,
The workings of (a blind or heavenly ?) zeal,
And all my fondness for the Church I tell,
The Church, whose cause I serve, whose faith approve,
Whose altars reverence, and whose name I love.

But does she still exist in more than sound?
The Church-alas! where is she to be found?
Not in the men, however dignified,
Who would her creeds repeal, her laws deride,
Her prayers expunge, her Articles disown,
And thrust the filial Godhead from his throne.
Vainest of all their anti-Christian plea,

“ The temple of the Lord are we!”
“ We have the Church, nor will we quit our hold;
Their hold of what? the altar? or the gold ?

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VOL. II.

The altars theirs, who will not light the fire ;
Who

spurn the labour, but accept the hire,
Who, not for souls, but their own bodies, care,
And leave to underlings the task of prayer ?
As justly might our christen’d Heathens claim,
Thieves, drunkards, whoremongers, the sacred name ;
Or rabble rout succeed in their endeavour,
With, “ High Church, and Sacheverel for ever!”
As Arians be for orthodox allow'd,
For saints, the sensual, covetous, and proud,
And Satan's synagogue for the true church of God !

Then let the zealous orthodox appear,
And challenge the contested character :
Those who renounce the whole Dissenting tribe,
Creeds, Articles, and Liturgy subscribe ;
Their parish church who never once have miss’d,
At schism rail, and hate a Methodist;
“ The company of faithful souls” are these,
Who strive to 'stablish their own righteousness,
But count the faith divine a madman's dream?
Howe'er they to themselves may pillars seem,
Of Christ, and of his church, they make no part ;
They never knew the Saviour in their heart.

But those who in their heart have Jesus known,
Believers justified by faith alone,
Shall we not them the faithful people own?
In whom the power of godliness is seen,
Must we not grant the Methodists the men ?
No; though we granted them from schism free,
From wild enthusiastic heresy,
From every wilful crime, and moral blot,
Yet still the Methodists the church are not ;
A single faculty is not the soul,
A limb the body, or a part the whole.

Whom, then, when every vain pretender's cast,
With truth may we account the church at last ?
“ All who have felt, deliver'd from above,
The holy faith that works by humble love ;
All that in pure religious worship join,
Led by the Spirit, and the word divine,
Duly the Christian mysteries partake,
And bow to Governors for conscience' sake :"
In these the Church of England I descry,
And vow with these alone to live and die.

Yet while I warmly for her faith contend,
Shall I her blots and blemishes defend ?

Inventions added in a fatal hour,
Human appendages of pomp and power;
Whatever shines in outward grandeur great,
I give it up,-a creature of the State.
Wide of the Church, as hell from heaven is wide,
The blaze of riches, and the glare of pride,
The vain desire to be entitled, “ Lord,”
The worldly kingdom, and the princely sword.

But should the bold usurping spirit dare
Still higher climb, and sit in Moses' chair,
Power o'er my faith and conscience to maintain,
Shall I submit, and suffer it to reign?
Call it the Church, and darkness put for light,
Falsehood with truth confound, and wrong with right?
No; I dispute the evil's haughty claim,
The spirit of the world be still its name ;
Whatever call’d by man, 'tis purely evil,
'Tis Babel, antichrist, and Pope, and devil !

Nor would I e'er disgrace the Church's cause
By penal edicts, and compulsive laws,
(Should wicked powers, as formerly, prevail
To' exclude her choicest children from her pale,)
Or force my brethren in her forms to join,
As every jot and tittle were divine,
As all her orders on the Mount were given,
And copied from the hierarchy of heaven.
Let others for the shape and colour fight
Of garments short or long, or black or white;
Or fairly match'd in furious battle join
For and against the sponsors and the sign ;
Copes, hoods, and surplices the Church miscall,
And fiercely run their heads against the wall:
Far different care is mine ; o'er earth to see
Diffused her true essential piety,
To see her lift again her languid head,
Her lovely face from every wrinkle freed,
Clad in the simple, pure, primeval dress,
And beauteous with internal holiness,
Wash'd by the Spirit and the Word from sin,
Fair without spot, and glorious all within.

Alas! how distant now, how desolate,
Our fallen Zion, in her captive state !
Deserted by her friends, and laugh'd to scorn,
By inbred foes and bosom vipers torn,
With grief I mark their rancorous despite ;
With horror hear the clam'rous Edomite;
“ Down with her to the ground,” who fiercely cries,
No more to lift her head, no more to rise !

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