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The theology of which the Count was now the abettor, Mr. Charles Wesley regarded as unscriptural and dangerous. It was that of Antinomianism and of universal restoration. The alienation of pious men from the Church of England, for the purpose of forming them into a distinct and separate Church, in which this distinguished foreigner had consi. derable success, Mr. Charles Wesley deprecated as an evil of fearful magnitude. To the conversion of men from sin to holiness he attached the utmost possible importance; but proselytism, and especially proselytism to inglorious silence and inactivity, he could not endure.
These various Epistles, with another of earlier date, which was addressed “to a Friend,” Mr. Charles Wesley transcribed into a volume, to which he gave the title, “Epistles to Moravians, Predestinarians, and Methodists. By a Clergyman of the Church of England.” It bears the following motto :“And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also must I bring, and they shall hear my voice : and there shall be one fold, and one Shepherd.” (John x. 16.) The probability is, that he intended at some time to commit the whole to the press : but that design he did not fulfil.
ings nito had just been in some places, to otween the Fred
The circumstances of the British nation at the beginning of the year 1756 were such as to excite the most painful feelings in every pious, humane, and patriotic mind. A terrible mortality had just been prevalent among the cattle, in various parts of England, so as, in some places, to leave scarcely any alive. Serious quarrels were commenced between the French and English colonies in North America ; and many of the Protestants there were exposed to robbery and murder from their Romish neighbours. Lisbon had just been swallowed up by an earthquake. France assumed a hostile attitude; and her army, bent upon plunder, and full of hatred to Protestantism, threatened to cross the Channel, subvert the liberties of England, and seize the property which was there amassed. The people at home, having been long inured to peace, were supine, and indisposed to arm themselves, even in self-defence. What the issue would be, no one could divine ; but the providential horizon was dark, and many persons apprehended great national suffering, with perhaps the subversion of Protestantism in this its strong-hold.
In this emergency the Methodists, like faithful watchmen, sounded the trumpet of danger. Mr. Whitefield published a stirring “Address to Persons of all Denominations, occasioned by the Alarm of an intended Invasion ;” in which he depicted, in strong colours, the cruel and intolerant spirit of Popery; and called upon all who valued their religion and liberty to apply themselves by prayer and personal effort to preserve both inviolate.
Mr. John Wesley, it would appear from a passage in one of his brother's letters, advised some of his people to learn the military exercise, that they might be the better prepared to defend their country and homes, in case the threat of invasion should be carried into execution. He also published his “Serious Thoughts occasioned by the late Earthquake at Lisbon ;” addressed particularly to the higher classes of society, many of whom, influenced by a sceptical philosophy,
saw nothing in the earthquake and the pestilence but the regular operations of nature. Mr. Wesley strongly asserts the moral government of God; the duty of penitence before Him on account of private and national sins; and recommends true spiritual religion, as the best preparative for all calamities ; since it alleviates the sorrows of life, and prepares men for a world of security and blessedness, where neither sickness nor death can enter.
At the same time he published his modest, but faithful, “Address to the Clergy,” as the men who ought to lead the way in the national reformation. A few devoted men had been raised up in the Church; but the great body of the Clergy still slumbered at the post of duty; or only exerted their energies to obstruct the revival of religion which had now been some years in progress. If any man in the land was justly authorized to admonish these unfaithful watchmen, it was John Wesley; for no man of his age had either done or suffered so much for the public welfare, or had been so successful in stemming the torrent of iniquity, and in turning men to righteousness. From what was believed to be the bed of death, he had recently been raised almost by miracle : but he still regarded eternity as near; for his health was far from being established. One evening, in returning from preaching, he says, “I came, as well as usual, to Moorfields; but there my strength entirely failed, and such a faintness and weariness seized me, that it was with difficulty I got home. I could not but think, how happy it would be, (suppose we were ready for the Bridegroom,) to sink down, and steal away, at once, without any of the hurry and pomp of dying! Yet it is happier still to glorify God in our death, as well as our life.” * The charge of arrogance and presumption, which some preferred against him on account of this “Address," was nothing to a man who was just ready to step into the world of spirits. His main concern was, by fulfilling his task of duty, to meet his Almighty Judge with acceptance.
In this crisis of the national affairs Mr. Charles Wesley was not behind his brethren in effective zeal, though his services were of a somewhat different kind. The Government appointed the 6th of February as a day of fasting and public
• Journal, Dec. 12th, 1753.
humiliation before God; and he composed and printed seventeen hymns adapted to the solemn occasion.* Several of them are of considerable length; and in sublimity and force are equal to any compositions that had ever proceeded from his pen. They express the deepest sorrow on account of the national guilt; the profoundest alarm at the prospect of God's impending judgments; and strong confidence in Him as the only refuge in the time of danger. Three of these hymns were afterwards inserted in the general Wesleyan Collection. They are,
Righteous God, whose vengeful phials ;
Stand the’ omnipotent decree ; and,
How happy are the little flock. Two stanzas in the first of these hymns were omitted by Mr. John Wesley, when he made the general Collection, as not suited to popular use. One of these is remarkable :
Earth, unhinged as from her basis,
Owns her great Restorer nigh;
Poor distracted sinners cry;
Faint beneath their fearful load :
Claps his hands to meet his God.
The bold personification of the sea, contained in the last two lines, doubtless refers to a fact which John Wesley thus states in his “ Serious Thoughts.” “Who can account for
"Concerning the observance of this day in London, Mr. John Wesley says, “ The fast-day was a glorious day ; such as London has scarce seen since the Restoration. Every church in the city was more than full ; and a solemn seriousness sat on every face. Surely God heareth the prayer; and there will be a lengthening of our tranquillity. Even the Jews observed this day with a peculiar solemnity. The form of prayer which was used in their synagogue began, 'Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for He hath torn, and He will heal us; ' and concluded with those remarkable words :- Incline the heart of our Sovereign Lord King George, as well as the hearts of his Lords and Counsellors, to use us kindly, and all our brethren the children of Israel; that in his days, and in our days, we may see the restoration of Judah, and that Israel may dwell in safety, and the Redeemer may come to Zion. May it be thy will ! And we all say, Amen.'”_Journal,
the late motion in the waters; not only that of the sea, and of rivers communicating therewith, but even that in canals, fish-ponds, cisterns, and all either large or small bodies of water? It was particularly observed, that, while the water itself was so violently agitated, neither did the earth shake at all, nor any of the vessels which contained that water. Was such a thing ever known or heard of before ?”
The following stanzas are also very striking. They are selected from a hymn, in six parts, founded upon the fourth chapter of Jeremial's prophecies :
I saw the earth by sin destroy'd,
And, lo, it lay wrapp'd up in night,
And robb’d of all its heavenly light.
I saw, and, lo, the mountains shook,
The hills moved lightly to and fro,
Nor man nor beast appear'd below.
I saw, and, lo, the fruitful place
Was to a ghastly desert turn’d ;
The ghastly desert droop'd and mourn'd.
The nation suddenly o'erthrown
I saw before the waster's sword;
In presence of their angry Lord.
This tract, possessing so much poetic beauty and strength, breathing the most fervent and elevated piety, and so well adapted to the existing state of things, quickly passed to a second edition, in the title of which the reference to the fast-day was omitted ; that day having passed away.
The publication of this admirable tract was not the only service which Mr. Charles Wesley rendered to the cause of religion and of the nation in this season of distress. He also reprinted, with enlargements, the “ Hymns for Times of Trouble and Persecution," which he had composed during the Rebellion of 1745, as being applicable to the present state of the country, menaced, as in the former instance, by Papal intolerance. At the same time he put to press another edition of his “Hymns on the Earthquake of 1750,” with