Page images
PDF
EPUB

of our Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for thee, the words struck through my heart, and I knew God for Christ's sake had forgiven me all my sins.'

“ I asked whether her father (Dr. Annesley) had not the same faith ; and whether she had not heard him preach it to others. She answered, he had it himself; and declared a little before his death, that for more than forty years he had no darkness, no fear, no doubt at all, of his being accepted in the Beloved ; but that, nevertheless, she did not remember to have heard him preach, no, not once, explicitly upon

it. Whence she supposed he also looked upon it as the peculiar blessing of a few; not as promised to all the people of God."*

A few days after this conversation she accompanied her son John to Kennington, and heard him preach in the open air, to about twenty thousand people. About three years afterward, she died in the faith and hope of the gospel ; having “no doubt, or fear, nor any desire (but as soon as God should call) to depart and to be with Christ.” “On the day of her death,” says Mr. John Wesley, “ I went to my mother, and found her change was

I sat down on the bedside. She was in her last conflict, unable to speak, but, I believe, quite sensible. Her look was calm and serene, and her eyes ward, while we commended her soul to God. From three to four the silver cord was loosing, and the wheel breaking at the cistern ; and then, without any struggle, or sigh, or groan, the soul was set at liberty. We stood round the bed, and fulfilled her last request, utter. ed a little before she lost her speech, Children, as soon as I am released, sing a psalm of praise to God.'"

Having given an account of her funeral, he adds, “We set up a plain stone at the head of her grave, inscribed with the following words :— Here lies the body of Mrs. Susanna Wesley, the youngest and last sur. viving daughter of Dr. Samuel Annesley,

« • In sure and certain hope to rise,

And claim her mansion in the skies,
A Christian here her flesh laid down,
The cross exchanging for a crown.
*Works, vol. iii, p. 152, Am. edit.

near.

fixed up. 6 • True daughter of affliction, she,

Inured to pain and misery,
Mourn'd a long night of griefs and fears,

A legal night of seventy years.
". The Father then reveal'd his Son,

Him in the broken bread made known:
She knew and felt her sins forgiven,

And found the earnest of her heaven.
« « Meet for the fellowship above,

She heard the call, Arise, my love!
I come, her dying looks replied,

And lamblike as her Lord she died.'” By some writers these lines have been severely criti. cised, as not doing justice to the high intellectual cha. racter of this very excellent woman ; and by others they have been praised for their poetic beauty. The most obvious circumstance connected with them is, that they present a correct and striking picture of the minds of the two brothers, by whom they were used. These men of taste and of cultivated understanding knew ber high mental character better than any of her modern admirers ; for she had been the best earthly “ guide of their youth ;" but they knew that, through life, with all her sincerity, she had fallen short of the full Christian salvation, not having even dared to ask of God the direct and abiding witness of her adoption. That she had at last obtained this pearl of great price, and with her latest breath declared its reality and value, was to them an occasion of holy gratitude and rejoicing. Had their revered mother possessed the intellect of Bacon or of Newton, their glorying on her account would still have been, that Christ was formed in her heart by faith ; and that she had borne a clear and distinct witness to the truth of that neglected doctrine which it was the chief business of their lives to promul. gate. With St. Paul, they resolved to “know nothing," comparatively, not even intellect, or literature, or phi. losophy, “ but Christ and him crucified.” With respect

sentiment, Mrs. Wesley's epitaph is such a one as Ignatius or Polycarp might have written. It is Christ. ian all over.

In the early part of their itinerant ministry the two

Wesleys visited Wales, where they found Mr. Howell Harris, an educated layman, successfully engaged in the same service. His views of Christian theology were Calvinistic ; and hence he rather laboured in con. nection with Mr. Whitefield than with them ; yet they were all of one heart, though not of one judgment, on every subject. They cultivated each others friendship, and for many years were the helpers of each other's joy. After Mr. Harris had laboured with uncommon zeal and effect, chiefly in the principality, to bring sinners to Christ, he for a time sunk into a state of dejection and comparative inactivity, from which Mr. Charles Wesley endeavoured to rouse him by the following stir. ring epistle, which we believe was never before printed. It is a fine illustration of the writer's mighty faith and burning love.

AN EPISTLE TO HOWELL HARRIS, FROM THE

REV. CHARLES WESLEY.

Received March 3, 1755.
Awake, old soldier! to the fight half-won,
And put thy strength, and put thine armour on!
Nor dream thyself a vessel cast aside,
Broken by stubborn will, and marrd by pride.
Most proud, self-willed, and wrathful as thou art,
Yet God hath surely seen thy simple heart,
Quench'd with his blood the oft-rekindled fires,
Nor left thee [ever] to thy vain desires ;

But saved ten thousand times from Satan's power,
And snatch'd thee from the gulf wide-yawning to devour.

Then let our Saviour.God have all the praise,
And humbly call to mind the former days,
When He who waked thy soul to second birth
Sent forth a new-born child to shake the earth,
To tear the prey out of the lion's teeth,
And spoil the trembling realms of hell and death;
By violent faith to seize the kingdom given,
And open burst the gates of vanquish'd heaven.
Still doth thy lingering indolence require
A pattern fair, to set thy soul on fire ?
Behold his shining footsteps from afar,
And trace with me that thunderbolt of war !
Legions of fiends and men in vain oppose ;
A single champion, 'gainst a world of foes,
He rushes on, the bloody sign lifts up,

And shouts exulting from the mountain top!
His voice the strongest holds of hell o'erturns,
His word as fire in the dry stubble burns,
Impetuous as a torrent pours along,
Or blasts like lightning the rebellious throng ;
Smote by his sling, and scatter'd by his eye,
Goliath falls, and the Philistines fly;
Where'er he turns, appallid with sudden dread
Flies the foul monster vice, and hides his head;

Satan, with all his wicked spirits, gives place,
And mourns his works destroy'd before the stripling's face.

Who is this stripling ? (let my friend inquire,)
So void of fear, so full of heavenly fire ?
Say, hast thou ever known him ? Search and try,
And read his features with a curious eye;
Mark well his love, simplicity, and zeal,
And tell thy heart—if thou be Harris still.
If thou art Harris still, awake, arise,
Renew the fight, relabour up the skies.
But first thyself with deep abhorrence see,
And humbly own, “ The Saviour wants not thee ;"
Able from other quicken'd stones to raise
Children of God, and instruments of grace.
He knows to baffle and abase the proud,
And justly styles himself the jealous God;
Nor will his glory to another give,
Or share with worms his high prerogative.
“ There is none God but God :" let all confess
The Father's fulness in the Prince of Peace.
Fall every soul before Emmanuel's throne,
And cry, “ Exalted be the Lord alone.”
Allows my Howell's heart the Saviour's claim ?
Bows all within thee to the awful name?
Who honour'st Him thou must thyself despise,
Thou must be poor and vile in thy own eyes ;
Vile dust and sinful ashes, beast and fiend!
By thee and me shall the Redeemer send ?
Is His great Spirit bound ? or unconfined ?
Restrain'd to us, or free for all mankind ?
Freely he works, if thou and I stand still;
Blows as he lists, and sends by whom he will ;
Chooses the weak, the foolish, and the base,
To preach his gospel, and advance his praise ;
To blast the strong, deject the towering thought,
Confound the wise, and bring the great to nought:

That none may arrogate Jehovah's right,
Nor flesh presume to boast in Jesus' glorious sight.

Purged from all self-esteem and self-regard,
A vessel for the master's use prepared,

Conscious of all thy weaknesses and wants,
The chief of sinners, and the least of saints,
Go forth a witness of th’ atoning Lamb,
Go forth, completely arm'd with Jesus' name.
Trust in his name, for thou hast proved hiin true ;
And, waiting on thy Lord, thy strength renew.
He looks thee back thy strength; the gift receive,
And, daily dying, by the gospel live.
Live for his sake who bled upon the cross ;
Live, to be sacrificed for Jesus' cause.
When thou the travail of thy soul hast seen,
More outcasts found, and forced them to come in,
To feel the virtue of thy gospel word,
And know and glorify their pardoning Lord;
When thou the work assign'd hast fully done,
And made the Saviour's grace to thousands known;
Commanded then with triumph to remove,

Incline thy head, like Him who reigns above, And die to pay him back his dear, expiring love. It was by the instrumentality of Howell Harris that Mr. Marmaduke Gwynne, of Garth, in Wales, was brought to the knowledge of the truth. His house was for some years a home to the Wesleys, when they visit. ed the principality; and as he was a magistrate, he was able to afford them protection against mobs, and persecuting individuals. The daughter of Mr. Gwynne afterward became the wife of Mr. Charles Wesley, whom she survived many years.

The work which spread with rapidity at home, also broke out in the British army, then serving in Flan. ders. John Haime, belonging to the Queen's Regiment of Dragoons, having been brought to the knowledge of God in England, was stirred up to preach to his companions in arms, many of whom were grossly wicked. The consequence was, that some hundreds of them were converted, and united together in religious society. John often preached from twenty to thirty times in a week, and was so intent upon promoting the spiritual good of others as often to forget to take his necessary food. The following extract from his Life will serve to show something of his spirit, and that of his brethren :“On the 1st of May, 1745, we had a full trial of our faith at Fontenoy. Some days before, one of our brethren, standing at his tent-door, broke out into raptures of joy, knowing his departure was at hand; and

« PreviousContinue »