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is described in the New Testament, and was practised in the apostolical churches. The resemblance between the primitive Christians and the Wesleyan societies has indeed been confessed by a competent and disinterested witness, Archdeacon Paley, himself not very prone to indulge in enthusiastic ardour, or flights of imagination. “ After men became Christians,” says he, “much of their time was spent in prayer and devotion, in religious meetings, in celebrating the eu. charist, in conferences, in exhortations, in preaching, in an affectionate intercourse with one another, and correspondence with other societies. Perhaps their mode of life, in its form and habit, was not very unlike the unitas fratrum, or the modern Methodists."*
The Methodist ministry, under which these effects are produced, has, from the beginning, unquestionably been sanctioned by the divine influence and blessing. The success of Mr. Wesley's preaching has been attributed to his simple and effective eloquence, gently touching the springs of human action; and to the interesting objects by which he was often surrounded, especially when addressing multitudes in the open air. But those who thus speak forget that the same effects were produced under the preaching of other men, many of whom were “rude in speech ;” and that they were also produced in plain chapels, in barns, in private houses, and in the entire absence of those objects which are assumed to possess a charm so powerful. It should be observed, too, that the preaching in ques. tion was not formed according to the rules of art, like that of the French orators who figured in the court of Louis XIV. It was not characterized by pretty and elegant turns of thought; nor was it generally ad. dressed to persons of poetic and tender sensibilities; but more frequently to men who were brutally ignorant, and diabolically wicked. Yet many of these were converted from the error of their way. Theirs was not a sentimental conversion, but a thorough renewal of their nature. They were turned from the love and practice of sin to both inward and outward holiness ; and the change was permanent. From the time of
* Evidences of Religion, Part First, chap. 1.
their conversion till their spirits returned to God, their deportment was blameless, and their spirit devout, cheerful and benevolent.
Here again, according to the Bible, (and its teach. ing on this subject is confirmed by true philosophy,) the hand of God is to be acknowledged. Even apostolical preaching, without the gracious operation of the Holy Spirit, must have been powerless and ineffectual. “I have planted,” says St. Paul, “and Apollos watered;" but the apostle, with all his acquired learning, and inspired theology, and Apollos, eloquent as he was, and mighty in the Scriptures, must both have laboured in vain, had no supernatural agency been put forth. “God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth ; but God that giveth the increase,” i Cor. iii, 6, 7. Without him talents of the highest order may be put in requisition ; philosophy, learning, fancy, argument, taste, may put forth all their energies ; yet the calous and depraved heart of fallen man will not surrender itself to Christ. Men are saved only when the gospel comes to them “not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance," i Thess, i, 5. Throughout the New Testament, therefore, the success of the Christian ministry is assumed to be a subject of prayer to the God of all grace. For when Christ is not present, in the power of his Spirit, the demon of human depravity sets the preacher at defiance. “ The carnal mind,” which is enmity against God,” will never yield to any power less than divine. The Wesleys and their fellow-labourers were eminently men of prayer. They called incessantly upon God, that he would not only touch their lips with fire, but apply the truths of his law and gospel to the understandings and consciences of their hearers; and the result is matter of history. The promised sign was given. Thousands of men, proverbially profligate and wicked, were undeniably made partakers of the divine nature; and wherever the “clean heart” and the 66 right spirit” are found, they exist as the direct “ creation" of God, Psalm li, 10.
That a great improvement has taken place in the
Established Church of this country, is a fact which no candid observer can deny, and in which every good man must rejoice. There has been within her pale a great increase of spiritual religion, and of active laborious zeal. The efforts of churchmen in providing evangelical instruction in neglected districts at home, in the distribution of the holy Scriptures, in extending the benefits of education, and in sending missionaries to the heathen, exceed those of former times beyond all comparison. Several of her children delight to contemplate this improved state of things as a benefit which has been conferred upon her altogether inde. pendent of Methodism, and especially of Wesleyan Methodism. Far be it from us to say any thing on this subject that can be considered justly offensive to any sincere and upright churchman who is sensitive concerning his church's honour. The facts of the case, however, should be stated, that disinterested ob. servers may form their own judgment on the question. We think it undeniable, 1. That this revival of spi. ritual religion did not appear in the Church till the voices of the Wesleys and Mr. Whitefield had been heard in almost every part of the land, and the in. fuence of their labours was strongly felt. 2. That several of the more devout, zealous, and influential of the clergy, during the last century, were avowedly in close connection with the Wesleys. Such were Piers and Perronet in Kent; Grimshaw in the west of York. shire; Sellon in Leicestershire; Fletcher in Madeley; and Crosse in Bradford. Mr. Crosse even proposed to resign his vicarage, and become a Methodist preacher; and for one year his name actually stood on the Mi. nutes of Conference. He was induced to abandon his design by the advice of Dr. Coke and of some other Methodist preachers, who thought that he might more effectually serve the cause of Christ in the Church than in the Methodist connection. Mr. Ber. ridge, and some others of the clergy, stood in nearly the same relation to Mr. Whitefield, in whose taber. nacles they not unfrequently preached. 3. Several others of the more pious and spiritual of the clergy were for
many years the personal friends of the two
Wesleys. Though some of them disapproved of the anti-Calvinistical theology of the Wesleys, and of the alleged irregularities of Methodism, yet they either corresponded with the two brothers, invited them to preach in their churches, or had frequent interviews with them, and were unquestionably affected and stimulated by their spirit and proceedings. This was the case with Walker and Thompson in Cornwall; Vivian in Devonshire; Venn in Huddersfield; Crooke in Leeds and Hunslet ; Hervey in Northamptonshire; Jones in Southwark; Stillingfieet in Hotham; Jesse in the east of Yorkshire; Easterbrook in Bristol ; Simpson in Macclesfield ; and many others. 4. Within the last fifty years many clergymen, of the character in ques. tion, have been members of Wesleyan families, in which they received their early religious light and impressions. Others of them were educated by Lady Huntingdon, at her College of Trevecka, and were first made acquainted with divine truth in connection with what is called Calvinistic Methodism. 5. Wesleyan Methodism has greatly contributed to raise the tone of public feeling on the subject of religion, so as to induce greater circumspection in the clerical character than was previously either expected or required. Irregularities which were formerly tolerated in the ministers of religion, as matters of course, would now become subjects of general complaint and animadversion. The influence of the ministry is greatly increased by its superior purity. 6. It will hardly be denied that, in some instances at least, among other motives churchmen have been stimulated by the active and aggressive character of Methodism to the erection of new churches, the formation of schools, and the establishment of Sun. day evening lectures; from all of which the church has been essentially benefited, and the national interests promoted. Whatever of spiritual good exists in any section of the universal church is produced by the gracious power of him who worketh all in all; and if the Holy Spirit has, in his mercisul, sovereignty, made Methodism, in any of its forms, a means of spiritual life and purity to the Establishment of this
country, there is neither eandour nor piety in the denial of the fact.*
That the Church of England has been of the great. est advantage to the Wesleyan connection, considered as a distinct community, is freely conceded. It was in the Church that the venerable founders of our so. cieties were trained, and Mr. Wesley declares himself to have been more confirmed in the doctrine of sal. vation by faith by reading the homilies, than by any other means. Sellon and Fletcher, the ablest defenders of the Wesleyan theology against the attacks which were made upon it during the last century, were both clergymen. When the early Methodist preachers went through the land, declaring the necessity of inward religion, as distinguished from mere forms of worship and from moral duties, they found the way so far made ready for them by the Church, that an appeal to the liturgy, articles, and homilies, was almost everywhere responded to; and a nominal Christianity prepared the way for tható kingdom” which “is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." The incomparable liturgy of the Established Church is regularly used in many of the Wesleyan chapels in England, and in all the mission chapels in the West Indies. Translations of it have been made by Wesleyan missionaries into various languages, for the use of their congregations, especially in the East. It is also always used in the administration of the Lord's supper, both at home and abroad. At the same time the sanctified learning which is displayed in the profound and orthodox writings of the divines of the Church of England has ever been of the greatest benefit to the Wesleyan body, as it has to the more serious and religious part of the community in general. This is a debt which can never be repaid. The writings of churchmen in opposition
* “No fear of misrepresentation, or of obloquy, shall ever deter me from declaring my belief that Wesley and Whitefield were chosen instruments of Providence, for giving a great impulse to religious feeling when it was needed most."-Southey's Collo. quies, vol. i, p. 383.