« PreviousContinue »
Gresham College, at St. George's church, in Hanover-square, and at Westminster-abbey, when vacancies occurred, and was rejected in every instance. When he preferred his request at St. Paul's, he was rudely repelled by the Reverend gentle. men in whom the appointment was vested, with the abrupt and unseemly answer, “We want no Wesleys here !” being apprehensive, it would seem, that, under his “volant touch," the tones of the organ would imbue the worshippers with the spirit of Methodism. Be this as it may, these Ecclesiastics certainly needed some one to teach them Christian courtesy. The King heard of their incivility, and sent for the unfortunate organist to Windsor, where he expressed regret at what had occurred; and added, “Never mind. The name of Wesley is always welcome to me.”
After the King had lost his sight, Mr. Charles Wesley was one day with His Majesty alone, when the venerable Monarch said, “Mr. Wesley, is there anybody in the room but you and me?” “No, your Majesty," was the reply. The King then said, “It is my judgment, Mr. Wesley, that your uncle, and your father, and George Whitefield, and Lady Huntingdon, have done more to promote true religion in the country than all the dignified Clergy put together, who are so apt to despise their labours."
In one of his visits to Carlton-house, during the residence of the Prince Regent there, one of the pages refused to admit him by the front entrance, and ordered him to go round, and seek admission by a less honourable way. He obeyed. The Prince saw him approach, and inquired why he came in that direction. Charles explained ; and the Prince, sending for the
page, gave him such a rebuke as he was not likely soon to forget; and commanded, that whenever Mr. Wesley came, he should be treated with all possible respect.
While Mr. Charles Wesley, jun., enjoyed the patronage of the father, he was not less esteemed by the daughter. He had the honour of teaching music to the Princess Charlotte, from whom he received a silver snuff-box, with a suitable inscription, upon which he set a high value.
He used to say, that when he was once dining with the late Bishop Burgess, who always manifested a strong regard for the Wesley family, a young Clergyman at the table, who seemed desirous of displaying an orthodox contempt for
Methodism, addressing the learned Prelate, said, "My Lord, when I was passing through — I saw a man preaching to a crowd of people in the open air. I suppose he was one of John Wesley's Itinerants.” “Did you stop to hear him?" answered the Bishop. “O no, my Lord,” said the Clergyman: “I did not suppose he could say anything that was worth hearing.” The Bishop ended the conversation by sig. nificantly saying, “I should think you were very much mistaken. It is very probable, that man preached a better sermon than either you or I could have done. Do you
Do you know, Sir, that this gentleman,” pointing to Charles, “ is John Wesley's nephew ?"
When Charles was rising into life he was an object of deep solicitude both with his father and his uncle, who were anxious that he should become a spiritual man. They saw and lamented the vanity of his mind, and urged him to a decided surrender of himself to his Saviour, that he might live for God and eternity. In one of his letters the affectionate father says, “Be content with your station, and seek not great things. Aspiring, living above themselves, in one word, ambition, is the ruin of the nation. It is natural to us, especially to youth ; but what is religion for, if not to conquer our passions ? If you, and your brother, and sister, would enter the kingdom of heaven, you must leave ambition, vanity, pride, behind you, and be of the few, not of the many."
His uncle also offered him the most valuable counsel in the following letters :-“August 4th, 1781. Dear Charles, - It has been much upon my mind to-day, that I am still indebted to you. There is a debt of love, which I should have paid
But I must not delay it any longer. “I have long observed you with a curious eye; not as a musician, but as an immortal spirit, that is come forth from God, the Father of spirits, and is returning to Him in a few moments. But have you well considered this ? Methinks if you had, it would be ever uppermost in your thoughts. For what trifles, in comparison of this, are all the shining baubles of the world !
"Wise is the man that labours to secure
The mighty, the important stake ;
And by all methods strives to make
“God has favoured you with many advantages. You have health and strength, and a thousand outward blessings. And why should not you have all the inward blessings which God has prepared for those that love Him? You are goodhumoured, mild, and harmless. But unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God. But ask, and you shall receive ; for it is nigh at hand! I am, dear Charles,
" Your affectionate uncle.” “ Sept. 8th, 1781. Dear Charles,-Your letter gave me a good deal of satisfaction. You received my advice just as I hoped you would. You are now as it were in the crisis of your fate: just launching into life, and ready to fix your choice, whether you will have God or the world for your happiness. Scripture and reason tell you now, what experience will confirm, if it pleases God to prolong your life, that He 'made your heart for himself; and it cannot rest till it rests in Him.' You will be in danger of being diverted from this thought by the fashion of the world. The example of those that are round about us is apt to get within our guard. And indeed their spirit steals upon us in an unaccountable manner, and inclines us to think as they think. Yet you cannot avoid being very frequently among elegant men and women, that are without God in the world. And as your business, rather than your choice, calls you into the fire, I trust you will not be burned : seeing He whom you desire to serve is able to deliver you, even out of the burning, fiery furnace. I am, dear Charles,
Your very affectionate uncle.” When Charles was about twenty-five years of age he cherished an attachment to a young girl, of good repute, but without the distinctions of birth and fortune. His parents opposed the match, partly upon this ground: but his uncle John, who decidedly preferred good sense, piety, and virtue before money and an honourable ancestry, encouraged him in the courtship, and gave him fifty pounds as a wedding-present. The father, however, had other objections to the intended marriage, which he expressed in the following valuable letter to his son. It affords a striking illustration of the character of both.
"Bristol, August 30th, 1782. Dear Charles,--If any man would learn to pray, the proverb says, let him go to sea.
I say, if any man would learn to pray, let him think of marry
ing. For if he thinks aright, he will expect the blessing and success from God alone, and ask it in frequent and earnest prayer. Hitherto, my dear Charles, your thoughts of marriage have not made you more serious, but more light, more unadvisable, more distracted. This has slackened my desire to see you settled before I leave you. You do not yet take the way to be happy in a married state. You do not sufficiently take God into your council. No one step or action in life has so much influence upon eternity as marriage. It is a heaven or a hell, they say, in this world : much more so in the next. Hear the angel in Watts's ode :-
* Mark, said he, that happy pair,
Where kindred souls their God pursue,
They break with double vigour through
The dull, incumbent air.' “In order to your social happiness, make God your friend. Be in earnest to please Him. You began well by rising at six. Your plea of the necessity sometimes of sitting up late, will not serve you. Never sit up late, but when
cannot help it, and resolve to get a habit of rising. I must own I have no heart or hope till you recover your rising.
“I called this morning on Wasborough. He has lost both his brothers. But the hand of the diligent maketh rich. Yesterday he taught twenty-nine scholars. He has fitted up a room for you, whenever you are disposed to come, and teach him harmony gratis. His son he promises you on your own terms. David Williams sends you his daughter only.
“ You have now had a taste of a Churchwarden's feast. What have you lost by not having been at a hundred such feasts! The world live to eat. We eat to live. The more experience you gain, the more clearly you will be convinced that the way of the world, in most things, is just the reverse of what is right, and wise, and good. Give my respects to Dr. Shepherd. God have you in his keeping !”
By some means or other the courtship was broken off, and Charles does not appear to have ever again seriously entertained the thought of marriage. Nor indeed is it probable, considering the peculiar character of his mind, that this disappointment caused him any deep or lasting regret. His temper was gay and casy, and music was all the world to him.
It was more than his business and delight. It seemed to be the very end of his being. With his organ his heart was never sad. He could play well; and he knew it. Hence the frequency of his father's admonitions, calling him to humility and soberness of temper. “You are right,” says he, “in keeping up your interest with Dr. W . You are kind in excusing his and your other Doctor's vanity. It would be intolerable for you to cast the first stone at either. Modesty, you allow, becomes a mathematician, but not a musician. But you had better be a Newton in music, and leave others to commend you. You are too humble. Swift, you know, was too proud to be vain.
“Self-love is not in itself sinful. There is a right and just self-love, which sets a man upon securing his only true, that is, his eternal, happiness. This self-love, my dear Charles, is at present dormant in you: but I hope it will wake before your eyes are closed. Do not defer beginning, because you cannot be equal to me.' You may, if you please. You certainly may follow me to paradise.”
If Mr. Charles Wesley was deeply concerned on account of the elder of his sons, because he was a stranger to the spirit of Christianity, though moral and harmless, he had reason to be much more anxious for Samuel, who was less tractable, and in whom the absence of true piety was more apparent. Mr. Madan, who was an adept in music, was Samuels godfather; and when the boy displayed his early powers as a musician, this Clergyman carried him from place to place, among his friends, as a sort of prodigy. The child, though very young, was sensible and observant. He therefore felt that he was degraded, and conceived a prejudice against his father for suffering him to be thus exhibited as a boyish wonder. This to him was an essential injury, and the beginning of that downward course which he afterwards bitterly lamented. From this time he was indisposed to pay a just deference to his father's judgment; and he lost that tender filial affection which, had it been cherished in all its power, would have operated as a restraint upon his passions, and have kept him in the way of receiving spiritual good. The weakening of this principle in the child of a pious parent is an evil of the most serious magnitude.
When Samuel was about seven years of age he was thus