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Long as my God shall lend me breath,
My every pulse shall beat for Him. Mr. John Wesley's kindness to his brother's family, after their bereavement, was in perfect consistency with his character, and honourable to him in the highest degree. This is strikingly apparent from the following letters, selected from several others which he addressed to his sister-in-law, and his intelligent niece :
“ Blackburn, April 21st. You will excuse me, my dear sister, for troubling you with so many letters; for I know not how to help it: I find you and your family so much upon my heart, both for your own sakes, and for the sake of my brother. But I am much easier now, that I find you are joined with honest John Collinson, whom I know to be not only a man of probity, but likewise a man of diligence and understanding. I am therefore persuaded he will spare no pains in doing for you what you wish to be done. So that I shall be hardly wanted among you, as he will fully supply my lack of service. I only wish both Charles and Sammy may follow your example, in keeping little company, and those of the best sort; men of sound understanding, and solid piety; for such only are fit for the acquaintance of men of sense. I commit you all to Him that loves you; and am, my dear sister,
“Ever yours.” On his arrival in London, in the month of July, he says in his Journal, “ I spent an hour in Chesterfield-street, with my widowed sister and her children. They all seemed inclined to make the right use of the late providential dispensation." A few days after this interview he resumed his correspondence:
“ City-road, July 25th. My dear Sister,—You know well what a regard I had for Miss Gwynne, before she was Mrs. Wesley. And it has not ceased from that time till now. I am persuaded it never will. Therefore I will speak without reserve just what comes into my mind. I have sometimes thought you are a little like me. My wife used to tell me, ‘My dear, you are too generous. You don't know the value of money.' I could not wholly deny the charge. Possibly you may sometimes lean to the same extreme. I know you are of a generous spirit. You have an open heart, and an open hand.
But may it not sometimes be too open, more so than your circumstances will allow? Is it not an instance of Christian, as well as worldly, prudence, to cut our coat according to our cloth? If your circumstances are a little narrower, should you not contract your expenses too? I need but just give you this hint, which I doubt not you will take kindly from, my dear Sally,
" Your affectionate friend and brother." “ North-Green, August 7th. Dear Sister,-As the Conference ended yesterday afternoon, my hurry is now a little abated. I cannot blame you for having thoughts of removing out of that large house. If you could find a lodging to your mind, it would be preferable on several accounts: and perhaps you might live as much without care as you did in the great mansion at Garth.
“I was yesterday inquiring of Dr. Whitehead, whether Harrogate would not be better for Sally than the sea-water. He seems to think it would : and I should not think much of giving her ten or twenty pounds, to make a trial. But I wish she could see him first, which she may do any day between seven and eight in the morning. I am, my dear Sally,
“Yours most affectionately.” “ City-road, Dec. 21st. My dear Sister,—It is undoubtedly true, that some silly people (whether in the society or not I cannot tell) have frequently talked in that manner, both of my brother and me. They have said that we were well paid for our labours. And indeed so we were, but not by man.
Yet this is no more than we were to expect, especially from busy bodies in other men’s matters. And it is no more possible to restrain their tongues, than it is to bind up the wind. But it is sufficient for us, that our own conscience condemned us not; and that our record is with the Most High.
“ What has concerned me more than this idle slander is a trial of another kind. I supposed, when John Atlay left me, that he had left me one or two hundred pounds beforehand. On the contrary, I am one or two hundred pounds behindhand, and shall not recover myself till after Christmas. Some of the first moneys I receive, I shall set apart for
you ; and in everything that is in my power, you may depend upon the willing assistance of, dear Sally,
“ Your affectionate friend and brother."
The following are some of his letters to his niece, written about the same period :
April 21st. What a comfort it is, my dear Sally, to think, * The Lord liveth !' nay, and that our intercourse with our human friends will be more perfect hereafter than it can be while we are encumbered with the house of clay. You did not send me those verses before. They were very proper to be his last, as being worthy of one bought by the blood of the Lamb, and just going forth to meet Him !
“Now, my Sally, make the best of life. Whereunto you have attained, hold fast. But you have not yet received the Spirit of adoption, crying, Abba, Father! See that you do not stop short of it. The promise is for you! If you feel your want, it will soon be supplied; and God will seal that word upon your heart, “I am merciful to thy unrighteousness; and thy sins and iniquities I remember no more.' Dear Sally, adieu !”
“Newcastle-upon-Tyne, May 29th. My dear Sally,—How often does our Lord say to us, by his adorable providence, • What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter :' and how unspeakable is our gain, if we learn only this, to trust God farther than we can see Him! But it is a stroke that you have long expected. One of fourscore has lived out his date of years. And it is not strange, that he is taken away, but that I am left. The great lesson which you have to learn is, 'Take no thought for the morrow :' if you do, your fault brings its own punishment. You are to live to-day. You have still a friend, the medicine of life! And you have your great Friend always at hand. There is a rule for you : When I am in heaviness, I will think upon God;' and it is not lost labour. "May the peace of God rest upon you.' So prays
“ Yours in tender affection.” “ Bristol, Sept. 26th. Dear Sally,—The reading of those poisonous writers, the Mystics, confounded the intellects both of my brother and Mr. Fletcher, and made them afraid of (what ought to have been their glory) the letting their light shine before men. Therefore I do not wonder that he was so unwilling to speak of himself, and consequently that you knew so little about him. The same wrong humility continually inculcated by those writers, would induce him to dis
continue the writing his journal. When I see those detached papers you speak of, I shall easily judge whether any of them are proper to be published. Do you not want money? You can speak freely to, my dear Sally,
“ Yours most affectionately." Among other valuable manuscripts which were left by Mr. Charles Wesley were three small quarto volumes of hymns, and poems on various subjects; he left also a poetic version of a considerable part of the book of Psalms, which was inserted, with short notes, in the Arminian Magazine. But his chief work, and that upon which he bestowed the greatest pains, consists of hymns on the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, in five quarto volumes. The following memoranda, at the end of the last volume, show something of the labour which the pious author expended upon the work “ Finished, April 24, 1765.
Gloria Tri-uni DEO!
HALLELUJAH !” Many of these,” says the Rev. John Wesley, "are little, if any, inferior to his former poems, having the same justness and strength of thought, with the same beauty of expression ; yea, the same keenness of wit on proper occasions, as bright and piercing as ever.” Having at a subsequent period read them with greater care, he adds, “Some are bad; some mean; some most excellently good. They give the true sense of Scripture, always in good English, generally in good verse. Many of them are equal to most, if not to any, he ever wrote ; but some still savour of that poisonous Mysti
cism, with which we were both not a little tainted before we went to America. This gave a gloomy cast, first to his mind, and then to many of his verses. This made him frequently describe religion as a melancholy thing : this so often sounded in his ears, "To the desert !' and strongly persuaded in favour of solitude."
These invaluable compositions have become, by purchase, the property of the Wesleyan Conference, and it is hoped will, at some future period, form a part of a uniform edition of the entire Works of this Prince of devotional poets.
A passage in a private letter of the late Mr. Wilberforce, published by his sons in his Life, requires some explanation in this place. That excellent man says, "From respect to that great and good man, Mr. Charles Wesley, I many years ago prevailed on two friends to join in allowing his widow an annuity, which she still receives. I have often, I own, thought it a great reflection on the Methodists, that they suffered such a person to be in real want, as she was when I undertook her cause." *
Had Mr. Wilberforce acquainted himself with the facts of this case, perhaps he would have thought "the Methodists” less to blame than he assumed. It has been already stated that Mr. John Wesley secured to his brother, on his marriage with Miss Gwynne, the payment of one hundred pounds a year, during his life, which was to be continued to his wife, in case she should survive him. This sum, which was independent of the salary that he received from the Stewards of the societies to whom he preached, was duly paid as long as Mr. John Wesley lived; and he made provision in his will for its payment to his brother's widow to the end of her life. After Mr. John Wesley's death, Mrs. Wesley and her family, thinking perhaps that the continued union of the Methodist Connexion was doubtful, and this annuity uncertain, requested that the principal might be paid, and proposed to relinquish all future claims. A request coming from such a quarter could not be denied. But instead of purchasing another annuity with the money, or lending it on better security than it was thought the Methodist Conference could give, Mrs. Wesley and her family lived upon it, till it was all expended.
Vol. iii., p. 511.