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Charles, thou art a Priest of Baal. I do not receive thee.' I told him, 'Satan, thou art a liar, and knowest I am a Priest of God, and servant of Jesus Christ; and this poor soul shall know it, when thou art cast out by our prayers. This you may keep to yourself. I shall never print it in my journal.
“After preaching at the chapel, I obeyed a summons from Mrs. Rich, and found her with our friends from the hill. Much talk we had of you. The particulars expect in my next. Good night.”
The notice which Mr. Charles Wesley gives of his visit to a maniac at Chelsea, is curious and characteristic. Unlike his brother, he was strongly inclined to scepticism on the subject of modern diabolical possessions ; and he here casts a slur upon
the account of such cases which John had inserted in his printed Journal. Yet here he expresses a concurrence in his brother's opinion, but intimates that he would not publish it to the world. In this he shows more reserve, but less singleness of mind, than his brother usually exhibited. John did not hesitate openly to declare the honest convictions of his heart, whatever the world might think of his views, and of the facts to which they related.
Towards the close of the year 1755, two marriages were about to take place, in which Mr. Charles Wesley took a lively interest, and in which he was engaged to officiate. One was that of George Stonehouse, at Dornford; and the other that of Miss Degge, a very intelligent and pious lady, and an intimate and esteemed friend, who had promised her hand to a nobleman belonging to the Rutland family. She was the niece of Mrs. Gumley, the lady of the Colonel of that name.
Mr. Charles Wesley was hence induced to think of his own marriage; of the providential steps which led to it, and the results to which it had given rise. The consequence was a feeling of lively gratitude to God, and to all the parties concerned, which he thus expressed in a letter to his wife, accompanied by an account of the terrible earthquake which had just occurred at Lisbon :
“In reading over the passages of our history,” says he, you cannot think what love I feel towards every one of our family. Your mother, sister, father, cousins, nurse, so behaved as to deserve my esteem and love during life. I look back with delight on every step, every circumstance, in
that whole design of providential love. I rejoice with grateful joy at our blessed union, and feel my obligations to every person instrumental therein. Above all, I desire to thank my great Benefactor for giving you to my bosom, and to fulfil his gracious end by leading you to the marriage of the Lamb.
“We had a glorious watch-night. I must defer my journey to Canterbury, because next Friday is our day of fasting and humiliation. Give them at Clifton notice.
“I send you a copy of a letter from a merchant at Lisbon, dated, Nov. 4th, 1755 :Dear Sir,—You will have heard of a violent earthquake we have had at Lisbon, which has demolished the whole city, and the greatest part of its inhabitants. To give you a description of this dreadful calamity would make your heart bleed. Those who have saved their lives think that sufficient, though they have lost their whole fortune. We have had continual shocks these three days. This morning we had two, and expect more, as the weather continues very hot. It is now as hot as it is with you at midsummer. My uncle and his family, with myself, were miraculously preserved. One half of the English as well as the Portuguese merchants will be ruined; for what the earthquake spared, a violent fire, which still rages, destroys. There is no knowing yet who is dead, and who living. The villages within several miles of this place are entirely destroyed. This I write from my encampment in a field, belonging to my uncle's country house, about a mile and a half from Lisbon. God grant England may never experience such a disaster !'
“ Send me a copy of my hymns on our wedding-day. Have you paid our landlord ?"
“Dec. 4th, Dornford. My dearest Sally anticipates what I am going to write. George and Susanna are inseparably
We are just returned from church. · The day so calm, so cool, so bright,' looks like April 8th.* You only are wanting in Miss Stonehouse's place. She shows great selfcommand. We had a most successful journey. It would have done you good to have accompanied us.
All here regret your absence.
• Mr. Charles Wesley's own wedding-day.
“Miss Degge's marriage may be delayed some days or weeks. I shall write more determinately from London, for which I set out to-morrow. By the 7th of next month I may turn my face westward, unless the French interpose. The Lord fill your heart with prayer and love! Farewell.”
“Dec. 7th. On Thursday morning I set out at eight, without bidding the bride good morrow, and rode to Tetsworth, in a severe frost. There we were glad to take shelter in a post-chaise.
ร : “My brother tells me the French are expected every hour, by General Hawley, in battle array; that the Government have not the least doubt of the invasion, but will do their best to repel force by force. I question whether my brother's soldiers, with all his haste and pains to train them up, will not be too tardy to rescue us.
“Great things have been done for Lisbon. A ship was immediately sent off with a thousand barrels of flour ; another_from Falmouth, laden with herrings, pickaxes, &c.; a
perise bis ; icover man-of-war, to guard the port and ruins, &c. On the day of the earthquake they were to have had an act of faith ; that clea ito is, a bonfire of the poor Jews and heretics. All the English, therefore, went out of town, as usual, and so escaped.
“You may direct for me at Mr. Wright's, Plumber, in Frith-street, Soho, Westminster, till farther orders.”
“Westminster, Dec. 26th. My beloved friend would rejoice to be among us; for the Lord is with us of a truth. The word never returns void. This morning I preached on Stephen, praying for his murderers, and pressed his example upon the hearers, feeling, at the same time, that I could myself love my worst enemy. How safe and happy should we always be, if incapable of resentment! How open to misery till we come to this! I want to see an injury done myself or friends, without feeling it: or, rather, to feel it in a way of sorrow and compassion, not of anger or revenge. Why should I be as the troubled sea through the breath of every injurious person? My peace has too long laid at
The Lord arm us both with that love which beareth all things, hopeth all things, believeth all things, endureth all things!
"Keep all Farley's newspapers against I come. We must
not despair yet of setting my brother right, and through him the Preachers.”
Such was the spirit in which Mr. Charles Wesley closed the important and eventful year of 1755. His anxieties were profound and incessant; yet he continued the exercise of his ministry with his wonted energy and success, and his everactive mind poured forth its feelings in sacred verse. Nothing could separate him, either in labour or affection, from his brother, notwithstanding their diversity of opinion respecting the national Church, and the certain prospect of their future collision on the same subject. Many of the people belonging to the societies were his own children in the Lord; and his heart clave to them in that relation, while he also regarded them as among the excellent ones of the earth.
The fine hymn beginning,
How happy are the little flock,
In all commotions rest,
was written after hearing of the destruction of Lisbon, and of the expected invasion of England by the French. He sent it in a somewhat unfinished form in a letter to his wife.
In the course of this year his poetry assumed something of a new character. He did not confine himself to the composition of hymns, but wrote several poetic Epistles to different friends, on topics which deeply interested his own mind. That which he addressed to his brother concerning the Church, and published in the month of May, has been already mentioned. Howell Harris was in danger of losing his zeal and usefulness through the influence of the principles which had laid aside Gambold and Stonehouse; and the poet of Methodism endeavoured to rouse him from the soothing dream by an Epistle of the most stirring kind ; contrasting Howell's former energy with his present supineness. The Welsh Evangelist was half inclined to be offended with the liberty thus taken ; and Charles followed up the blow, by a second Epistle, confirming the first, and describing in strong terms the antichristian tendency of the Quietism which his friend had begun to affect. The charm was broken; and the Cambrian Itinerant, by a renewal of his former activity, proved that he was “Harris still.”
Mr. Charles Wesley also addressed an Epistle to Mr. Whitefield, full of affection and poetic fire, lamenting their differences of opinion, especially the unkind and misguided warmth connected with it; and inviting that “good soldier of Jesus Christ” to an untiring perseverance in the gigantic course of labour to which they were called, and had been 80 signally sanctioned by the divine blessing. To these sentiments the generous heart of Mr. Whitefield eagerly responded. Hence Mr. John Wesley states in his Journal, under the date of Nov. 5th, “Mr. Whitefield called
upon me. Disputings are now no more. We love one another, and join hand in hand to promote the cause of our common Master.”
Two Epistles Mr. Charles Wesley also sent to the ex-Vicar of Islington, (who was wasting his life in retirement at Dornford,) anticipating, with an affection the most tender and yearning, his deliverance from the spell by which he was bound, and a renewal of his active services in the cause of Christ and of mankind. In one of these compositions he makes an affecting reference to the first Mrs. Stonehouse, who was one of his spiritual children, and was now in paradise. His “friend George” thanked him for these kind and Christian Epistles; but remarked that there were in them passages of which he did " not approve.” This was to be expected; for when reproof is just, and therefore touches the conscience, it is seldom liked. Mr. Stonehouse, however, forgave the liberty of expostulation that had been taken with him ; and at his second marriage, as we have seen, he requested Mr. Charles Wesley to perform the ceremony :) for which acceptable service he received from the happy bridegroom the sum of ten guineas ; which was doubtless found to be very useful, as the poet was at this time so straitened in his circumstances as to have intimated to his wife the necessity of giving up housekeeping for the winter.
Count Zinzendorf too was favoured with an Epistle from this faithful monitor; not indeed in the shape of compliment or congratulation, but of free and earnest rebuke. The perversion of such men as Gambold and Stonehouse was a sin which he knew not how to forgive, or even to palliate.