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heart, and mind, and soul, and strength. The necessity of a holy life, as the fruit of faith, and as emanat. ing from the principle of divine love, they enforced with unceasing earnestness, and with a constant reference to the strict account which every one must soon render to the Judge of quick and dead. The offices of Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit, in their direct connection with the present and everlasting salvation of mankind, formed the prominent subjects of their ministrations. In Christianity they found a perfect remedy for all the miseries of our fallen world ; and hence they preached under a plenary conviction of the absolute truth of the doctrine which they incul. cated, and felt it to be worthy of all acceptation. In these respects their fellow.labourers were like-minded with them. They described the new birth as consisting in an entire change of heart from sin to holiness; and with peculiar earnestness they declared it to be absolutely and universally necessary in order to final salvation. On this vital subject their ministry was marked by an especial solemnity and force.
The principles by which Mr. Wesley was guided, in the formation of his theological views, and the man. ner in which he endeavoured to teach mankind, he has distinctly stated in the incomparable preface to his Sermons, which he first published in the year 1746. “I design plain truth," says he, “ for plain people. Therefore of set purpose I abstain from all nice and philosophical speculations, from all perplexed and in. tricate reasonings; and, as far as possible, from even the show of learning, unless in sometimes citing the original scriptures. I labour to avoid all words which are not easy to be understood, all which are not used in common life; and in particular, those kind of technical terms that so frequently occur in bodies of di. vinity, those modes of speaking which men of reading are intimately acquainted with, but which, to common people, are an unknown tongue.'
“ To candid reasonable men I am not afraid to lay open what have been the inmost thoughts of my
heart. I have thought I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spi.
rit, come from God, and returning to God; just hovering over the great gulf, till a few moments hence I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity. I want to know one thing, the way to heaven, how to land safe on that happy shore.
God himself has con. descended to teach the way: for this very end he came down from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it. Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri. Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men.
I sit down alone. Only God is here. In his presence I open, I read his book ; for this end, to find the way to heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does any thing appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the father of lights, · Lord, is it not thy word, If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God? Thou givest liberally, and upraidest not. Thou hast said, If any.be willing to do thy will, he shall know. I am willing to do, let me know thy will.' I then search after, and consider, parallel passages of Scripture, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. I meditate thereon with all the attention and earnest. ness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remain, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God; and then the writings whereby being dead they yet speak. And what I thus learn, that I teach."
With respect to the right manner of preaching, he thus speaks in his notes on our Lord's sermon upon the mount : Through this whole discourse we cannot but observe the most exact method which can possibly be conceived. Every paragraph, every sentence, is closely connected with that which precedes, and that which follows it. And is not this the pattern to every Christian preacher? If any, then, are able to follow it without any premeditation, well; if not, let them not dare to preach without it. No rhapsody, no inco. herency, whether the things spoken be true or false, comes from the Spirit of Christ.”
Mr. Wesley has recorded his sentiments with respect to style in the preface to the second series of his
sermons, which he published in 1788, only three years before he died. “ Is there need,” says he, “ to apologize to sensible persons for the plainness of my style? A gentleman whom I much love and respect lately in. formed me, with much tenderness and courtesy, that men of candour made great allowance for the decay of my faculties, and did not expect me to write now, either with regard to sentiment or language, as I did thirty or forty years ago. Perhaps they are decayed, though I am not conscious of it. But is not this a fit occasion to explain myself concerning the style I use from choice, not necessity? I could even now write as floridly and rhetorically as even the admired Dr. B-.* But I dare not, because I seek t: e honour that cometh of God only! What is the praise of man to me, that have one foot in the grave, and am stepping into the land whence I shall not return? Therefore I dare no more write in a fine style than wear a fine coat. But were it otherwise, had I time
I should still write just as I do; I should purposely decline what many admire—a highly ornamented style. I cannot relish French oratory. I despise it from my heart. Let those that please be in raptures at the pretty elegant sentences of Massillon or Bordaloue ; but give me the plain, nervous style of Dr. South, Dr. Bates, or Mr. John Howe : and for ele. gance, show me any French writer who exceeds Dean Young, or Mr. Seed. Let who will admire the French frippery: I am still for plain, sound English.
“ I think a preacher or a writer of sermons, has lost his way when he imitates any of the French orators; even the most famous of them; even Massillon, or Bourdaloue. Only let his language be plain, proper, and clear, and it is enough. God himself has told us how to speak, both as to the matter and the manner,
If any man speak’ in the name of God, • let him speak as the oracles of God.' And if he would imitate any part of these above the rest, let it be the first epis. tle of St. John. This is the style, the most excellent style, for every gospel preacher. And let him aim at no more ornament than he finds in that sentence, which
* Dr. Blair is most probably the writer here intended.
is the sum of the whole gospel, •We love him, because he first loved us.
The Wesleys preached and exhorted, that they might make the most unlettered of their hearers understand the true nature of Christianity, and induce them to work out their salvation with fear and trembling; and they felt that unless they succeeded in this, they only spent their strength for nought. They engaged in the duties of the ministry under a deep sense of their responsibility both to God and man, and left all self-dis. play and artificial modes of address to the vain men who seek their reward in popular admiration.
Mr. John Wesley's gigantic labours excited the kind sympathy of one of the Irish prelates, who ordained Mr. Thomas Maxfield, the first of the lay-preachers, priest; saying, at the same time, “Mr. Maxfield, I ordain you to assist that good man, (Mr. Wesley,) that he may not work himself to death."*
THE REVIVAL AND SPREAD OF RELIGION THROUGH
THE LABOURS OF THE TWO WESLEYS, AND OF THEIR COADJUTORS.
AMONG other significant directions which Mr. Wesley gave to his preachers was this :-“Go always, not only to those who want you, but to those who want
He adopted the same principle as the rule of his own proceedings; and hence he went, not to those places where he was likely to meet with a kind reception, but where the people were the most ignorant, wicked, and neglected. In those times the criminal law of England was terribly sanguinary. Executions were numerous and frequent; and to the end of their lives the brothers were in the habit of visiting convicts under sentence of death, and of affectionately pointing them to the throne of the divine mercy, from which no penitent and believing suppliant was ever
sent empty away. They felt that Christ's atonement met all the necessities of the most guilty and abject of mankind. With the same feeling they visited, in the first instance, the most wretched of the uninstructed masses in the mining and manufacturing districts, and then the more scattered population in other parts of the land. It often happened that their clerical garb failed entirely to secure for them the slightest respect, and their lives were in the greatest jeopardy. In not a few instances the clergy, forgetting what was becoming in the character which they sustained, were directly concerned in exciting the hostility of mobs against them, particularly in Staffordshire; and at Epworth, the clergyman, in a state of drunkenness, assaulted Mr. Wesley before a thousand people, assembled together in the church, and drove him away from the Lord's table, because he preached in the fields. Yet the brothers, with admirable calmness and fidelity, pursued their course of duty “through good report, and through evil report ;" and lived to see nearly the whole land, including the Isle of Man, and the Norman islands, divided into circuits, and regularly occupied by their zealous, intrepid, and self-denying fellow-labourers. Numerous societies were also formed, the members of which, submitting to a system of godly discipline and order, were everywhere seen “walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost."
Perhaps the most distinguished and honourable con. vert of whom the devoted brothers could boast was their venerable mother ; a woman of great personal beauty, of high moral worth, and of a very strong and cultivated mind. On the third of September, 1739, Mr. John Wesley says, “I talked largely with my mother, who told me that, till a short time since, she had scarce heard such a thing mentioned, as the having forgiveness of sins now, or God's Spirit bearing witness with our spirit : much less did she imagine that this was the common privilege of all true believers. Therefore,' said she, “I never durst ask for it myself. But two or three weeks ago,
while my son Hall was pronouncing those words, in delivering the cup to me, The blood