To Mrs. Wyndowe LONDON, January 7, 1766.
MY DEAR SALLY,--From the time that I first took acquaintance with you at Earl's Bridge, [Wesley spent an hour at Byford on March 16, 1789. The Diary note is, '11 Byford, tea, within; 12 chaise' (Journal, vii. 478d).] I have still retained the same regard for you. Therefore I am always well pleased with hearing from you, especially when you inform me that you are pursuing the best things. And you will not pursue them in vain if you still resolutely continue to spend some time in private every day. It is true you cannot fix any determinate measure of time because of numberless avocations. And it is likewise true that you will often find yourself so dead and cold that it will seem to be mere labour lost. No; it is not. It is the way wherein He that raises the dead has appointed to meet you. And we know not how soon He may meet you, and say, 'Woman! I say unto thee, Arise!' Then the fear of [death] which has so long triumphed over you shall be put under your feet. Look up! my friend! Expect that He who loves you will soon come and will not tarry! To His care I commit you; and am, my dear Sally, Yours most affectionately. Mrs. Wyndowe, Byford, Near Stroud, Gloucestershire.
To Thomas Rankin
COLCHESTER, January 23, 1766. DEAR TOMMY,--Suppose the numbers swell to an hundred (as probably they will), consider what it would amount to to give seventy persons 50s. apiece before I am reimbursed for the expense of the edition! [Explanatory Notes upon the Old Testament, vol. i. (4to, 852 pp.), had been published in 1765. See letter of June 20.] Indeed, I did not think of this till my brother mentioned it. But all the preachers shall, if they desire it, have them at half price.
I am glad John Ellis takes care of the books while you are in Newcastle Circuit. When Matthew Lowes returns, let Moseley Cheek go into the Barnard Castle Circuit. At Lady Day, or within a few days after, you should return thither yourself. Speak quite freely to John Fenwick. You may trust him.--I am, dear Tommy, Your affectionate friend and brother. To Mr. Thomas Rankin, At the Orphan House, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
To George Merryweather
 LONDON, February 8, 1766.
MY DEAR BROTHER,--Where Christian perfection is not strongly and explicitly preached there is seldom any remarkable blessing from God, and consequently little addition to the Society and little life in the members of it. Therefore, if Jacob Rowell is grown faint and says but little about it, do you supply his lack of service. Speak, and spare not. Let not regard for any man induce you to betray the truth of God. Till you press the believers to expect full salvation now you must not look for any revival.
It is certain God does at some times, without any cause known to us, shower down His grace in an extraordinary manner. And He does in some instances delay to give either justifying or sanctifying grace for reasons which are not discovered to us. These are some of those secrets of His government, which it hath pleased Him to reserve in His own breast. I hope you and your wife keep all you have and gasp for more.--I am Your affectionate brother.
To Peggy Dale
 February 8, 1766.
MY DEAR SISTER,--Away with those doubts! They did not come from Him that calleth you. O let nothing induce you to cast away that confidence which hath great recompense of reward! Beware, my dear friend, of the Reasoning Devil, whose way is first to tempt, and then to accuse. There is a right temper, a sorrow for our little improvements, which exceedingly resembles envy. But the anointing of the Holy One will teach you to distinguish one from the other. You are saved of the Lord. Distrust Him not. Much less deny what He has done for you and in you. If you did, how could [you] be thankful for it Look unto Jesus and stand fast!-- I am, my dear Peggy, Your affectionate brother.
To his Brother Charles LEWISHAM, February 28, 1766.
DEAR BROTHER,--We must, we must, you and I at least, be all devoted to God! Then wives and sons and daughters and everything else will be real, invaluable blessings. Eia, age; rumpe moras! [Virgil's Aeneid, iv. 569: 'Come on, act; break off delay.'] Let us this day use all the power we have! If we have enough, well; if not, let us this day expect a fresh supply. How long shall we drag on thus heavily, though God has called us to be the chief conductors of such a work Alas! what conductors! If I am (in some sense) the head and you the heart of the work, may it not be said, 'The whole head is sick and the whole heart faint' Come, in the name of God, let us arise and shake ourselves from the dust! Let us strengthen each other's hands in God, and that without delay. Have senes sexagenarii (who would have thought we should live to be such!) time to lose Let you and I and our house serve the Lord in good earnest! May His peace rest on you and yours! Adieu!
I desire all the Society to meet me on Tuesday evening (March 11) after preaching. [He met the Bristol Society at this time, See Journal, v. 159.]
I. TO JOHN DOWNES, Rector of St. Michael's, Wood Street, author of Methodism Examined and Exposed.
II. TO DR. WARBURTON, Bishop of Gloucester, 'occasioned by his tract on The Office and Operations of the Holy Spirit.'
CONTROVERSIAL - I
TO JOHN DOWNES, RECTOR OF ST. MICHAEL'S, WOOD STREET
LONDON, November 17, 1759.
REVEREND SIR,--1. In the tract which you have just published concerning the people called Methodists you very properly say: 'Our first care should be candidly and fairly to examine their doctrines. For, as to censure them unexamined would be unjust, so to do the same without a fair and impartial examination would be ungenerous.' And again: 'We should in the first place carefully and candidly examine their doctrines.' (Page 68.) This is undoubtedly true. But have you done it Have you ever examined their doctrines yet Have you examined them fairly fairly and candidly candidly and carefully Have you read over so much as the Sermons they have published or the Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion I hope you have not; for I would fain make some little excuse for your uttering so many senseless, shameless falsehoods. I hope you know nothing about the Methodists, no more than I do about the Cham of Tartary; that you are ignorant of the whole affair, and are so bold only because you are blind. Bold enough! Throughout your whole tract you speak satis pro imperio, [Terence's Phormio, 1. iv. 19: 'With authority enough.']--as authoritatively as if you was, not an archbishop only, but Apostolic Vicar also; as if you had the full papal power in your hands, and fire and faggot at your beck! And blind enough; so that you blunder on through thick and thin, bespattering all that come in your way, according to the old, laudable maxim, 'Throw dirt enough, and some will stick.'
2. I hope, I say, that this is the case, and that you do not knowingly assert so many palpable falsehoods. You say: 'If I am mistaken, I shall always be ready and desirous to retract my error' (page 56). A little candour and care might have prevented those mistakes; this is the first thing one would have desired. The next is that they may be removed; that you may see wherein you have been mistaken, and be more wary for the time to come.
3. You undertake to give an account, first, of the rise and principles, then of the practices, of the Methodists.
On the former head you say: 'Our Church has long been infested with these grievous wolves, who, though no more than two when they entered in, and they so young they might rather be called wolflings' (that is lively and pretty!), 'have yet spread their ravenous kind through every part of this kingdom. Where, what havoc they have made, how many of the sheep they have torn, I need not say.' (Pages 4-5.) 'About twenty-five years ago these two bold though beardless divines' (pity, sir, that you had not taught me twenty-five years ago sapientem pascere barbam, [Horace's Satires, II. iii. 35: 'What time, by his instructions cheered. He bade me train his sapient beard.'] and thereby to avoid some part of your displeasure), 'being lifted up with spiritual pride, were presumptuous enough to become founders of the sect called Methodists' (page 6). 'A couple of young, raw, aspiring twigs of the ministry dreamed of a special and supernatural call to this' (page 25). No, sir; it was you dreamed of this, not we. We dreamed of nothing twenty-five years ago but instructing our pupils in religion and learning and a few prisoners in the common principles of Christianity. You go on: 'They were ambitious of being accounted missionaries, immediately delegated by Heaven to correct the errors of bishops and archbishops and reform their abuses, to instruct the clergy in the true nature of Christianity, and to caution the laity not to venture their souls in any such unhallowed hands as refused to be initiated in all the mysteries of Methodism' (pages 20-1). Well asserted indeed; but where is the proof of any one of these propositions I must insist upon this--clear, cogent proof; else they must be set down for so many glaring falsehoods.
4. 'The Church of Rome (to which on so many accounts they were much obliged, and as gratefully returned the obligation) taught them to set up for infallible interpreters of Scripture' (page 54). Pray on what accounts are we 'obliged to the Church of Rome' and how have we 'returned the obligation' I beg you would please (1) to explain this; and (2) to prove that we ever yet (whoever taught us) 'set up for infallible interpreters of Scripture.' So far from it, that we have over and over declared, in print as well as in public preaching, 'We are no more to expect any living man to be infallible than to be omniscient.'[Works, vi. 4.]
5. 'As to other extraordinary gifts, influences, and operations of the Holy Ghost, no man who has but once dipped into their Journals and other ostentatious trash of the same kind can doubt their looking upon themselves as not coming one whit behind the greatest of the Apostles' (page 21). I acquit you, sir, of ever having 'once dipped into that ostentatious trash.' I do not accuse you of having read so much as the titles of my Journals. I say my Journals; for (as little as you seem to know it) my brother has published none. [Extracts were published in 1793 in Whitehead's Life of John and Charles Wesley, and in Jackson's Charles Wesley in 1841. The Journal itself did not appear till 1849.] I therefore look upon this as simple ignorance. You talk thus because you know no better. You do not know that in these very Journals I utterly disclaim the 'extraordinary gifts of the Spirit,' and all other 'influences and operations of the Holy Ghost' than those that are common to all real Christians. And yet I will not say this ignorance is blameless. For ought you not to have known better Ought you not to have taken the pains of procuring better information when it might so easily have been had Ought you to have publicly advanced so heavy charges as these without knowing whether they were true or no
6. You proceed to give as punctual an account of us tanquam intus et in cute nosses [Persius' Satires, iii. 30 (adapted): 'As if you had the most intimate knowledge of us.']: 'They outstripped, if possible, even Montanus for external sanctity and severity of discipline' (page 22). 'They condemned all regard for temporal concerns; they encouraged their devotees to take no thought for any one thing upon earth, the consequence of which was a total neglect of their affairs and an impoverishment of their families' (page 23). Blunder all over! We had no room for any discipline, severe or not, five-and-twenty years ago, unless college discipline; my brother then residing at Christ Church and I at Lincoln College. And as to our 'sanctity' (were it more or less), how do you know it was only external Was you intimately acquainted with us I do not remember where I had the honour of conversing with you. Or could you (as the legend says of St. Pachomius [Pachomius founded seven monasteries in the Theban desert.]) 'smell an heretic ten miles' off And how came you to dream, again, that we 'condemned all regard for temporal concerns, and encouraged men to take no thought for any one thing upon earth' Vain dream! We, on the contrary, severely condemn all who neglect their temporal concerns and who do not take care of everything on earth wherewith God hath entrusted them. The consequence of this is that the Methodists (so called) do not 'neglect their affairs and impoverish their families,' but by diligence in business 'provide things honest in the sight of all men': insomuch that multitudes of them, who in time past had scarce food to eat or raiment to put on, have now 'all things needful for life and godliness,' and that for their families as well as themselves.
7. Hitherto you have been giving an account of two wolflings only; but now they are grown into perfect wolves. Let us see what a picture you draw of them in this state, both as to their principles and practice.
You begin with a home-stroke: 'In the Montanist you may behold the bold lineaments and bloated countenance of the Methodist' (page 17). I wish you do not squint at the honest countenance of Mr. Venn, who is indeed as far from fear as he is from guile. But if it is somewhat 'bloated,' that is not his fault; sickness may have the same effect on yours or mine.
But to come closer to the point: 'They have darkened religion with many ridiculous fancies, tending to confound the head and to corrupt the heart' (page 13). 'A thorough knowledge of them would work in every rightly-disposed mind an abhorrence of those doctrines which directly tend to distract the head and to debauch the heart by turning faith into frenzy and the grace of God into wantonness' (pages 101-2). 'These doctrines are unreasonable and ridiculous, clashing with our natural ideas of the divine perfections, with the end of religion, with the honour of God, and man's both present and future happiness. Therefore we pronounce them " filthy dreamers," turning faith into fancy, the gospel into farce; thus adding blasphemy to enthusiasm.' (Pages 66-8.)
Take breath, sir; there is a long paragraph behind. 'The abettors of these wild and whimsical notions are (1) close friends to the Church of Rome, agreeing with her in almost everything but the doctrine of Merit; (2) they are no less kind to infidelity, by making the Christian religion a mere creature of the imagination; (3) they cut up Christianity by the roots, frustrating the very end for which Christ died, which was that by holiness we might be " made meet for the inheritance of the saints "; (4) they are enemies not only to Christianity but to " every religion whatsoever," by labouring to subvert or overturn the whole system of morality; (5) consequently they must be enemies of society, dissolving the band by which it is united and knit together.' In a word: 'All ancient heresies have in a manner concentred in the Methodists; particularly those of the Simonians, Gnostics, Antinomians' (as widely distant from each other as Predestinarians from Calvinists!), 'Valentinians, Donatists, and Montanists.' (Pages 101-2.) While your hand was in, you might as well have added Carpocratians, Eutychians, Nestorians, Sabellians. If you say, 'I never heard of them,' no matter for that; you may find them, as well as the rest, in Bishop Pearson's index.
Well, all this is mere flourish, raising a dust to blind the eyes of the spectators. Generals, you know, prove nothing. So, leaving this as it is, let us come to particulars.
But first give me leave to transcribe a few words from a tract published some years ago. 'Your Lordship premises, " It is not at all needful to charge the particular tenets upon the particular persons among them." Indeed, it is needful in the highest degree. . . . Just as needful as it is not to put a stumbling-block in the way of our brethren; not to lay them under an almost insuperable temptation of condemning the innocent with the guilty. [See letter of June 11, 1747, sects. 4, 6, to Bishop Gibson.]
And it is now far more needful than it was then; as that title of reproach, Methodist, is now affixed to many people who are not under my care nor ever had any connexion with me. And what have I to do with these If you give me a nickname, and then give it to others whom I know not, does this make me accountable for them either for their principles or practice In no wise. I am to answer for myself and for those that are in connexion with me. This is all that a man of common sense can undertake or a man of common humanity require.
Let us begin, then, upon even ground; and if you can prove upon me, John Wesley, any one of the charges which you have advanced, call me not only a wolf, but an otter if you please.
8. Your first particular charge (which, indeed, runs through your book, and is repeated in twenty different places) is that we make the way to heaven too broad, teaching men may be saved by faith without works. Some of your words are,--'They set out with forming a fair and tempting model of religion, so flattering the follies of degenerate man that it could not fail to gain the hearts of multitudes, especially of the loose and vicious, the lazy and indolent. They want to get to heaven the shortest way and with the least trouble. Now, a reliance on Christ and a disclaiming of good works are terms as easy as the merest libertine can ask. They persuade their people that they may be saved by the righteousness of Christ without any holiness of their own-- nay, that good works are not only unnecessary, but also dangerous; that we may be saved by faith without any other requisite, such as gospel obedience and an holy life. Lastly: The Valentinians pretended that, if good works were necessary to salvation, it was only to animal men--that is, to all who were not of their clan; and that, although sin might damn others, it could not hurt them. In consequence of which they lived in all lust and impurity, and wallowed in the most unheard-of bestialities. The Methodists distinguish much after the same manner.' (Pages 52, 31, 38, 14.)
Sir, you are not awake yet. You are dreaming still, and fighting with shadows of your own raising. The 'model of religion with which the Methodists set out' is perfectly well known; if not to you, yet to many thousands in England who are no Methodists. I laid it before the University of Oxford, at St. Mary's, on January 1, 1733. You may read it when you are at leisure; for it is in print, entitled The Circumcision of the Heart. And whoever reads only that one discourse with any tolerable share of attention will easily judge whether that 'model of religion flatters the follies of degenerate man' or is likely to 'gain the hearts of multitudes, especially of the loose and vicious, the lazy and indolent'! Will a man choose this as 'the shortest way to heaven and with the least trouble' Are these 'as easy terms as any libertine' or infidel 'can desire' The truth is, we have been these thirty years continually reproached for just the contrary to what you dream of: with making the way to heaven too strait, with being ourselves 'righteous overmuch,' and teaching others they could not be saved without so many works as it was impossible for them to perform. [see letter of June 11, 1731, to his mother.] And to this day, instead of teaching men that they may be saved by a faith which is without good works, without 'gospel obedience and holiness of life,' we teach exactly the reverse, continually insisting on all outward as well as all inward holiness. For the notorious truth of this we appeal to the whole tenor of our sermons, printed and unprinted--in particular to those upon Our Lord's Sermon on the Mount, [Discourses I.-XIII. See Works, v. 246-433.] wherein every branch of gospel obedience is both asserted and proved to be indispensably necessary to eternal salvation.
Therefore, as to the rest of the 'Antinomian trash' which you have so carefully gathered up--as 'that the regenerate are as pure as Christ Himself, that it would be criminal for them to pray for pardon, that the greatest crimes are no crimes in the saints,' &c. &c. (page 17)--I have no concern therewith at all, no more than with any that teach it. Indeed, I have confuted it over and over in tracts published many years ago.
9. A second charge which you advance is that 'we suppose every man's final doom to depend on God's sovereign will and pleasure' (I presume you mean on His absolute, unconditional decree), that we 'consider man as a mere machine,' that we suppose believers 'cannot fall from grace' (page 31). Nay, I suppose none of these things. Let those who do answer for themselves. I suppose just the contrary in Predestination Calmly Considered, a tract published ten years ago.[See Works, x. 204-59.]
10. A third charge is: 'They represent faith as a supernatural principle, altogether precluding the judgement and understanding, and discerned by some internal signs; not as a firm persuasion founded on the evidence of reason, and discernible only by a conformity of life and manners to such a persuasion' (page 11).
We do not represent faith 'as altogether precluding,' or at all 'precluding, the judgement and understanding'; rather as enlightening and strengthening the understanding, as clearing and improving the judgement. But we do represent it as the gift of God--yea, and a 'supernatural gift': yet it does not preclude 'the evidence of reason'; though neither is this its whole foundation. 'A conformity of life and manners' to that persuasion 'Christ loved me and gave Himself for me' is doubtless one mark by which it is discerned, but not the only one. It is likewise discerned by internal signs: both by the witness of the Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit--namely, 'love, peace, joy, meekness, gentleness,' by all 'the mind which was in Christ Jesus.'
11. You assert, fourthly: 'They speak of grace, that it is as perceptible to the heart as sensible objects are to the senses; whereas the Scriptures speak of grace, that it is conveyed imperceptibly; and that the only way to be satisfied whether we have it or no is to appeal not to our inward feelings but our outward actions' (page 32).
We do speak of grace (meaning thereby that power of God which worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure), that it is 'as perceptible to the heart' (while it comforts, refreshes, purifies, and sheds the love of God abroad therein) 'as sensible objects are to the senses.' And yet we do not doubt but it may frequently be 'conveyed to us imperceptibly.' But we know no scripture which speaks of it as always conveyed and always working in an imperceptible manner. We likewise allow that outward actions are one way of satisfying us that we have grace in our hearts. But we cannot possibly allow that 'the only way to be satisfied of this is to appeal to our outward actions and not our inward feelings.' On the contrary, we believe that love, joy, peace are inwardly felt, or they have no being; and that men are satisfied they have grace, first by feeling these, and afterward by their outward actions.
12. You assert, fifthly: 'They talk of regeneration in every Christian as if it was as sudden and miraculous a conversion as that of St. Paul and the first converts to Christianity, and as if the signs of it were frightful tremors of body and convulsive agonies of mind; not as a work graciously begun and gradually carried on by the blessed Spirit in conjunction with our rational powers and faculties, the signs of which are sincere and universal obedience' (page 33).
This is part true, part false. We do believe regeneration (or, in plain English, the new birth) to be as miraculous or supernatural a work now as it was seventeen hundred years ago. We likewise believe that the spiritual life, which commences when we are born again, must in the nature of the thing have a first moment as well as the natural. But we say again and again we are concerned for the substance of the work, not the circumstance. Let it be wrought at all, and we will not contend whether it be wrought gradually or instantaneously. 'But what are the signs that it is wrought' We never said or thought that they were either 'frightful tremors of body' or 'convulsive agonies of mind' (I presume you mean agonies of mind attended with bodily convulsions); although we know many persons who, before this change was wrought, felt much fear and sorrow of mind, which in some of these had such an effect on the body as to make all their bones to shake. Neither did we ever deny that it is 'a work graciously begun by the Holy Spirit,' enlightening our understanding (which, I suppose, you call 'our rational powers and faculties') as well as influencing our affections. And it is certain He 'gradually carries on this work' by continuing to influence all the powers of the soul, and that the outward sign of this inward work is 'sincere and universal obedience.'
13. A sixth charge is: 'They treat Christianity as a wild, enthusiastic scheme, which will bear no examination' (page 30). Where or when In what sermon In what tract, practical or polemical I wholly deny the charge. I have myself closely and carefully examined every part of it, every verse of the New Testament, in the original, as well as in our own and other translations.
14. Nearly allied to this is the threadbare charge of enthusiasm, with which you frequently and largely compliment us. But as this also is asserted only, and not proved, it falls to the ground of itself. Meantime your asserting it is a plain proof that you know nothing of the men you talk of. Because you know them not, you so boldly say, 'One advantage we have over them, and that is reason.' Nay, that is the very question. I appeal to all mankind whether you have it or no. However, you are sure we have it not, and are never likely to have. For 'reason,' you say, 'cannot do much with an enthusiast, whose first principle is to have nothing to do with reason, but resolve all his religious opinions and notions into immediate inspiration.' Then, by your own account, I am no enthusiast; for I resolve none of my notions into immediate inspiration. I have something to do with reason; perhaps as much as many of those who make no account of my labours. And I am ready to give up every opinion which I cannot by calm, clear reason defend. Whenever, therefore, you will try what you can do by argument, which you have not done yet, I wait your leisure, and will follow you step by step which way soever you lead.
15. 'But is not this plain proof of the enthusiasm of the Methodists, that they despise human learning and make a loud and terrible outcry against it' Pray, sir, when and where was this done Be so good as to point out the time and place; for I am quite a stranger to it. I believe, indeed, and so do you, that many men make an ill use of their learning. But so they do of their Bibles; therefore this is no reason for despising or crying out against it. I would use it just as far as it will go; how far I apprehend it may be of use, how far I judge it to be expedient at least, if not necessary, for a clergyman, you might have seen in the Earnest Address to the Clergy. [See letter of Jan. 7, 1756, n.] But in the meantime I bless God that there is a more excellent gift than either the knowledge of languages or philosophy: for tongues and knowledge and learning will vanish away; but love never faileth.
16. I think this is all you have said which is any way material concerning the doctrines of the Methodists. The charges you bring concerning their spirit or practice may be dispatched in fewer words.
And, first, you charge them with pride and uncharitableness: 'They talk as proudly as the Donatists of their being the only true preachers of the gospel, and esteem themselves, in contradistinction to others, as the regenerate, the children of God, and as having arrived at sinless perfection' (page 15).
All of a piece. We neither talk nor think so. We doubt not but there are many true preachers of the gospel, both in England and elsewhere, who have no connexion with, no knowledge of us. Neither can we doubt but that there are many thousand children of God who never heard our voice or saw our face. And this may suffice for an answer to all the assertions of the same kind which are scattered up and down your work. Of sinless perfection, here brought in by head and shoulders, I have nothing to say at present.
17. You charge them, secondly, 'with boldness and blasphemy, who, triumphing in their train of credulous and crazy followers, the spurious' (should it not be rather the genuine) 'offspring of their insidious craft, ascribe the glorious event to divine grace, and in almost every page of their paltry harangues invoke the blessed Spirit to go along with them in their soul-awakening work-- that is, to continue to assist them in seducing the simple and unwary' (page 41).
What we ascribe to divine grace is this: the convincing sinners of the errors of their ways, and the 'turning them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God.' Do not you yourself ascribe this to grace And do not you too invoke the blessed Spirit to go along with you in every part of your work If you do not, you lose all your labour. Whether we 'seduce men into sin' or by His grace save them from it is another question.
18. You charge us, thirdly, with 'requiring a blind and implicit trust from our disciples' (page 10), who accordingly 'trust as implicitly in their preachers as the Papists in their Pope, Councils, or Church' (page 51). Far from it: neither do we require it; nor do they that hear us place any such trust in any creature. They 'search the Scriptures,' and hereby try every doctrine whether it be of God; and what is agreeable to Scripture they embrace, what is contrary to it they reject.
19. You charge us, fourthly, with injuring the clergy in various ways: 'They are very industrious to dissolve or break off that spiritual intercourse which the relation wherein we stand requires should be preserved betwixt us and our people.' But can that spiritual intercourse be either preserved or broke off which never existed What spiritual intercourse exists between you, the Rector of St. Michael, and the people of your parish I suppose you preach to them once a week, and now and then read prayers. Perhaps you visit one in ten of the sick. And is this all the spiritual intercourse which you have with those over whom the Holy Ghost hath made you an overseer In how poor a sense, then, do you watch over the souls for whom you are to give an account to God! Sir, I wish to God there were a truly spiritual intercourse between you and all your people! I wish you 'knew all your flock by name, not excepting the men servants and women servants'! Then you might cherish each, 'as a nurse her own children,' and 'train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.' Then might you 'warn every one and exhort every one,' till you should 'present every one perfect in Christ Jesus.'
'But they say our sermons contradict the Articles, Homilies, and Liturgy of our own Church--yea, that we contradict ourselves, saying one thing in the desk and another in the pulpit.' And is there not cause to say so I myself have heard several sermons preached in churches which flatly contradict both the Articles, Homilies, and Liturgy--particularly on the head of Justification. I have likewise heard more than one or two persons who said one thing in the desk and another in the pulpit. In the desk they prayed God to 'cleanse the thoughts of their hearts by the inspiration of His Holy Spirit': in the pulpit they said there was 'no such thing as inspiration since the time of the Apostles.'
'But this is not all. You poison the people by the most peevish and spiteful invectives against the clergy, the most rude and rancorous revilings, and the most invidious calumnies.' (Page 51.) No more than I poison them with arsenic. I make no peevish or spiteful invectives against any man. Rude and rancorous revilings (such as your present tract abounds with) are also far from me. I dare not 'return railing for railing,' because (whether you know it or no) I fear God. Invidious calumnies likewise I never dealt in; all such weapons I leave to you.
20. One charge remains, which you repeat over and over, and lay a peculiar stress upon. (As to what you talk about perverting Scripture, I pass it by as mere unmeaning commonplace declamation.) It is the poor old worn-out tale of 'getting money by preaching.' This you only intimate at first: 'Some of their followers had an inward call to sell all that they had and lay it at their feet' (page 22). Pray, sir, favour us with the name of one, and we will excuse you as to all the rest. In the next page you grow bolder, and roundly affirm: 'With all their heavenly-mindedness, they could not help casting a sheep's eye at the unrighteous mammon. Nor did they pay their court to it with less cunning and success than Montanus. Under the specious appearance of gifts and offerings, they raised contributions from every quarter. Besides the weekly pensions squeezed out of the poorer and lower part of their community, they were favoured with very large oblations from persons of better figure and fortune; and especially from many believing wives, who had learned to practice pious frauds on their unbelieving husbands.'
I am almost ashamed (having done it twenty times before) to answer this stale calumny again. But the bold, frontless manner wherein you advance it obliges me so to do. Know then, sir, that you have no authority, either from Scripture or reason, to judge of other men by yourself. If your own conscience convicts you of loving money, of 'casting a sheep's eye at the unrighteous mammon,' humble yourself before God, if haply the thoughts and desires of your heart may be forgiven you. But, blessed be God, my conscience is clear. My heart does not condemn me in this matter. I know, and God knoweth, that I have no desire to load myself with thick clay; that I love money no more than I love the mire in the streets; that I seek it not. And I have it not, any more than suffices for food and raiment, for the plain conveniences of life. I pay no court to it at all, or to those that have it, either with cunning or without. For myself, for my own use, I raise no contributions, either great or small. The weekly contributions of our community (which are freely given, not squeezed out of any) as well as the gifts and offerings at the Lord's Table never come into my hands. I have no concern with them, not so much as the beholding them with my eyes. They are received every week by the stewards of the Society, men of well-known character in the world; and by them constantly distributed within the week to those whom they know to be in real necessity. As to the 'very large oblations wherewith I am favoured by persons of better figure and fortune,' I know nothing of them. Be so kind as to refresh my memory by mentioning a few of their names. I have the happiness of knowing some of great figure and fortune, some right honourable persons. But if I were to say that all of them together had given me seven pounds in seven years I should say more than I could make good. And yet I doubt not but they would freely give me anything I wanted; but, by the blessing of God, I want nothing that they can give. I want only more of the spirit of love and power and of an healthful mind. As to those 'many believing wives who practice pious frauds on their unbelieving husbands,' I know them not--no, not one of that kind; therefore I doubt the fact. If you know any such, be pleased to give us their names and places of abode. Otherwise you must bear the blame of being the lover if not the maker of a lie.
Perhaps you will say, 'Why, a great man said the same thing but a few years ago.' What if he did Let the frog swell as long as he can, he will not equal the ox. He might say many things, all circumstances considered, which will not come well from you, as you have neither his wit, nor sense, nor learning nor age, nor dignity. Tibi parvula res est: Metiri se quemque suo modulo ac pede verum est. [Horace's Epistles, 1. vii. 98. Wesley here gives a free and edged translation: 'You are not upon a level with Bishop Warburton. Let every man know his own size.' See next letter.] If you fall upon people that meddle not with you, without either fear or wit, you may possibly find they have a little more to say for themselves than you was aware of. I 'follow peace with all men'; but if a man set upon me without either rhyme or reason, I think it my duty to defend myself so far as truth and justice permit. Yet still I am (if a poor enthusiast may not be so bold as to style himself your brother), reverend sir, Your servant for Christ's sake.
II -- TO DR. WARBURTON, BISHOP OF GLOUCESTER
 November 26, 1762.
MY LORD,--Your Lordship well observes, 'To employ buffoonery in the service of religion is to violate the majesty of truth and to deprive it of a fair hearing. To examine, men must be serious.' (Preface, p. 11.) I will endeavour to be so in all the following pages; and the rather, not only because I am writing to a person who is so far and in so many respects my superior, but also because of the importance of the subject: for is the question only, What I am a madman or a man in his senses a knave or an honest man No; this is only brought in by way of illustration. The question is of the office and operation of the Holy Spirit; with which the doctrine of the New Birth, and indeed the whole of real religion, is connected. On a subject of so deep concern I desire to be serious as death. But, at the same time, your Lordship will permit me to use great plainness. And this I am the more emboldened to do because, by naming my name, your Lordship, as it were, condescends to meet me on even ground.
I shall consider first what your Lordship advances concerning me, and then what is advanced concerning the operations of the Holy Spirit.
1. First. Concerning me. It is true I am here dealing in crambe repetita, [Juvenal's Satires, vii. 154: 'Twice-cooked cabbage.'] reciting objections which have been urged and answered an hundred times. But as your Lordship is pleased to repeat them again, I am obliged to repeat the answers.
Your Lordship begins: 'If the false prophet pretend to some extraordinary measure of the Spirit, we are directed to try that spirit by James iii. 17' (page 117). I answer: (1) (as I have done many times before) I do not pretend to any extraordinary measure of the Spirit. I pretend to no other measure of it than may be claimed by every Christian minister. (2) Where are we directed to 'try prophets' by this text How does it appear that it was given for any such purpose It is certain we may try Christians hereby whether they are real or pretended ones; but I know not that either St. James or any other inspired writer gives us the least hint of trying prophets thereby.
Your Lordship adds: 'In this rule or direction for the trial of spirits the marks are to be applied only negatively. The man in whom they are not found hath not the " wisdom from above." But we are not to conclude that he has it in whom any or all of them are found.' (Page 118.) We are not to conclude that he is a prophet, for the Apostle says nothing about prophets; but may we not conclude the man in whom all these are found has 'the wisdom from above' Surely we may, for these are the essential parts of that wisdom; and can he have all the parts and not have the whole
Is not this enough to show that the Apostle is here giving 'a set of marks,' not 'to detect impostor prophets,' but impostor Christians those that impose either upon themselves or others, as if they were Christians when they are not
In what follows I shall simply consider the argument without directly addressing your Lordship.
'Apply these marks to the features of modern fanatics, especially Mr. John Wesley. He has laid claim to almost every apostolic gift in as full and ample a manner as they were possessed of old.' (Page 119.)
The miraculous gifts bestowed upon the Apostles are enumerated in two places: (1) Mark xvi. 17-18: 'In My name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.' (2) I Corinthians xii. 8-10: 'To one is given the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge; to another faith; to another the gifts of healing; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another the discernment of spirits; to another tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.'
Do I lay claim to almost every one of these 'in as full and ample a manner as they were possessed of old'
Five of them are enumerated in the former catalogue; to three of which - speaking with new tongues, taking up serpents, drinking deadly things - it is not even pretended I lay any claim at all. In the latter, nine are enumerated. And as to seven of these, none has yet seen good to call me in question--miraculous wisdom, or knowledge, or faith, prophecy, discernment of spirits, strange tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. What becomes, then, of the assertion that I lay 'claim to almost every one of them in the most full and ample manner'
Do I lay claim to any one of them To prove that I do my own words are produced, extracted from an account of the occurrences of about sixteen years.
I shall set them down naked and unadorned: 1 . 'May 13, 1740. The devil stirred up his servants to make all the noise they could.' 2. 'May 3, 1741. I explained to a vast multitude of people, " What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God " The devil's children fought valiantly for their master, that his kingdom should not be destroyed; and many stones fell on my right hand and my left.' 3. 'April 1, 1740. Some or other of the children of Belial had laboured to disturb us several nights before. Now all the street was filled with people shouting, cursing, swearing, and ready to swallow the ground with rage.' (Page 120.) 4. 'June 27, 1747. I found only one person among them who knew the love of God before my brother came. No wonder the devil was so still; for his goods were in peace.' 5. 'April 29, 1752. I preached at Durham to a quiet, stupid congregation.' (Page 121.) 6. 'May 9, 1740. I was a little surprised at some who were buffeted of Satan in an unusual manner by such a spirit of laughter as they could in no wise resist. I could scarce have believed the account they gave me had I not known the same thing ten or eleven years ago, when both my brother and I were seized in the same manner.' If any man call this hysterics, I am not concerned; I think and let think. 7. 'May 21, 1740. In the evening such a spirit of laughter was among us that many were much offended. But the attention of all was soon fixed on poor Lucretia Smith, whom we all knew to be no dissembler. One so violently and variously torn of the evil one did I never see before. Sometimes she laughed till almost strangled: then broke out into cursing and blaspheming. At last she faintly called on Christ to help her, and the violence of her pangs ceased.' Let any who please impute this likewise to hysterics; only permit me to think otherwise. 8. 'May 17, 1740. I found more and more undeniable proofs that we have need to watch and pray every moment. Outward trials, indeed, were now removed: but so much the more did inward trials abound; and " if one member suffered, all the members suffered with it." So strange a sympathy did I never observe before: whatever considerable temptation fell on any one, unaccountably spreading itself to the rest, so that exceeding few were able to escape it.' (Pages 122-3.)
I know not what these eight quotations prove, but that I believe the devil still variously tempts and troubles good men, while he 'works with energy in the children of disobedience.' Certainly they do not prove that I lay claim to any of the preceding gifts. Let us see whether any more is proved by the ten next quotations: 1. 'So many living witnesses hath God given that His hand is still stretched out to heal' (namely, the souls of sinners, as the whole paragraph fixes the sense) 'and that signs and wonders are even now wrought' (page 124) (namely, in the conversion of the greatest sinners). 2. 'Among the poor colliers of Placey, Jo. Lane, then nine or ten years old, was one of the first that found peace with God' (ibid.). 3. 'Mrs. Nowers said her little son appeared to have a continual fear of God and an awful sense of His presence. A few days since, she said he broke out into prayers aloud and said, " I shall go to heaven soon."' This child, when he began to have the fear of God, was, as his parents said, just three years old. 4. I did receive that 'account of the young woman of Manchester from her own mouth.' But I pass no judgement on it, good or bad; nor, 5. On 'the trance' (page 126), as her mother called it, of S--T-- , [See Journal, iii.254-6.] neither denying nor affirming the truth of it. 6. 'You deny that God does work these effects-- at least, that He works them in this manner: I affirm both. I have seen very many persons changed in a moment from the spirit of fear, horror, despair, to the spirit of love, joy, and praise. In several of them this change was wrought in a dream, or during a strong representation to their mind of Christ either on the cross or in glory.' (Page 127.)
'But here the symptoms of grace and of perdition are interwoven and confounded with one another' (page 128). No. Though light followed darkness, yet they were not interwoven, much less confounded with each other. 7. 'But some imputed the work to the force of imagination, or even to the delusion of the devil' (ibid.). They did so; which made me say, 8. 'I fear we have grieved the Spirit of the jealous God by questioning His work' (ibid.). 9. 'Yet he says himself, " These symptoms I can no more impute to any natural cause than to the Spirit of God. I make no doubt it was Satan tearing them as they were coming to Christ."' (Page 129.) But these symptoms and the work mentioned before are wholly different things. The work spoken of is the conversion of sinners to God; these symptoms are cries and bodily pain. The very next instance makes this plain. 10. 'I visited a poor old woman. Her trials had been uncommon; inexpressible agonies of mind, joined with all sorts of bodily pain; not, it seemed, from any natural cause, but the direct operation of Satan.' (Page 130.)
Neither do any of those quotations prove that I lay claim to any miraculous gift.
'Such was the evangelic state of things when Mr. Wesley first entered on this ministry; who, seeing himself surrounded with subjects so harmoniously disposed, thus triumphantly exults.' To illustrate this let us add the date: 'Such was the evangelic state of things, August 9, 1750' (on that day I preached that sermon), 'when Mr. Wesley first entered on this ministry.' Nay, that was in the year 1738. So I triumphed because I saw what would be twelve years after!
Let us see what the ten next quotations prove. 1. 'In applying these words, " I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance," my soul was so enlarged that methought I could have cried out (in another sense than poor vain Archimedes [See letter in Dec. 1751, sect. 3, to Bishop Lavington, vol. iii. p. 296.]), " Give me where to stand, and I will shake the earth "' (page 130). I meant neither more nor less (though I will not justify the use of so strong an expression) than I was so deeply penetrated with a sense of the love of God to sinners that it seemed, if I could have declared it to all the world, they could not but be moved thereby.
'Here, then, was a scene well prepared for a good actor, and excellently fitted up for the part he was to play' (page 131). But how came so good an actor to begin playing the part twelve years before the scene was fitted up
'He sets out with declaring his mission. 2. " I cried aloud, All things are ready; come ye to the marriage. I then delivered my message."' And does not every minister do the same whenever he preaches
But how is this 'He sets out with declaring his mission.' Nay, but this was ten years after my setting out.
3. 'My heart was not wholly resigned; yet I know He heard my voice' (page 132). 4. 'The longer I spoke the more strength I had, till at twelve I was as one refreshed with wine' (page 133). 5. 'I explained the nature of inward religion, words flowing upon me faster than I could speak' (ibid.). 6. 'I intended to have given an exhortation to the Society; but as soon as we met, the Spirit of supplication fell upon us' (on the congregation as well as me), 'so that I could hardly do anything but pray and give thanks' (ibid.). I believe every true Christian may experience all that is contained in these three instances. 7. 'The Spirit of prayer was so poured upon us all that we could only speak to God' (ibid.). 8. 'Many were seated on a wall, which in the middle of the. sermon fell down; but not one was hurt at all: nor was there any interruption either of my speaking or of the attention of the hearers' (page 134). 9. 'The mob had just broke open the doors, and while they burst in at one door we walked out at the other; nor did one man take any notice of us, though we were within five yards of each other' (page 135). The fact was just so. I do not attempt to account for it, because I cannot. 10. 'The next miracle was on his friends.' They were no friends of mine. I had seen few of them before in my life. Neither do I say or think it was any miracle at all that they were all 'silent while I spake,' or that 'the moment I had done the chain fell off and they all began talking at once.'
Do any or all of these quotations prove that I 'lay claim to almost every miraculous gift'
Will the eight following quotations prove any more 1. 'Some heard perfectly well on the side of the opposite hill, which was sevenscore yards from the place where I stood' (ibid.). I believe they did, as it was a calm day, and the hill rose gradually like a theatre. 2. 'What I here aver is the naked fact. Let every one account for it as he sees good. My horse was exceeding lame, and my head ached much. I thought, Cannot God heal man or beast by means or without Immediately my weariness and headache ceased, and my horse's lameness in the same instant.' (Page 136.) It was so; and I believe thousands of serious Christians have found as plain answers to prayer as this. 3. William Kirkman's case [See letter in Dec. 1748, sect. XII. 4, to Vincent Perronet.] proves only that God does what pleases Him, not that I make myself either 'a great saint or a great physician' (page 137). 4. 'R-- A-- [Is this Richard Annesley, Wesley's uncle See Journal, iv. 101.] was freed at once without any human means from a distemper naturally incurable' (page 138). He was; but it was before I knew him. So what is that to me 5. 'I found Mr. Lunell in a violent fever. He revived the moment he saw me, and began to recover from that time. Perhaps for this also was I sent.' (Ibid.) I mean, perhaps this was one end for which the providence of God brought me thither at that time. 6. 'In the evening I called upon Ann Calcut. She had been speechless for some time. But almost as soon as we began to pray, God restored her speech. And from that hour the fever left her.' 7. 'I visited several ill of the spotted fever, which had been extremely mortal. But God had said, " Hitherto shalt thou come." I believe there was not one with whom we were but he recovered.' (Page 139.) 8. 'Mr. Meyrick had been speechless and senseless for some time. A few of us joined in prayer. Before we had done his sense and his speech returned. Others may account for this by natural causes. I believe this is the power of God.' (Ibid.)
But what does all this prove Not that I claim any gift above other men, but only that I believe God now hears and answers prayer even beyond the ordinary course of nature; otherwise the clerk was in the right who, in order to prevent the fanaticism of his rector, told him, 'Sir, you should not pray for fair weather yet; for the moon does not change till Saturday.'
While the two accounts (pages 143, 146) which are next recited lay before me, a venerable old clergyman calling upon me, I asked him, 'Sir, would you advise me to publish these strange relations or not' He answered, 'Are you sure of the facts' I replied, 'As sure as that I am alive.' 'Then,' said he, 'publish them in God's name, and be not careful about the event.'
The short of the case is this. Two young women were tormented of the devil in an uncommon manner. Several serious persons desired my brother and me to pray with them. We with many others did; and they were delivered. But where meantime were 'the exorcisms in form, according to the Roman fashion' I never used them; I never saw them; I know nothing about them.
'Such were the blessings which Mr. Wesley distributed among his friends. For his enemies he had in store the judgements of Heaven.' (Page 144.) Did I then ever distribute or profess to distribute these Do I claim any such power This is the present question. Let us calmly consider the eight quotations brought to prove it.
1, 'I preached at Darlaston, late a den of lions. But the fiercest of them God has called away by a train of surprising strokes.' (Ibid.) But not by me; I was not there. 2. 'I preached at Roughlee, late a place of furious riot and persecution, but quiet and calm since the bitter rector is gone to give an account of himself to God' (page 145). 3. 'Hence we rode to Todmorden, where the minister was slowly recovering from a violent fit of the palsy with which he was struck immediately after he had been preaching a virulent sermon against the Methodists' (page 145). 4. 'The case of Mr. Weston was dreadful indeed, and too notorious to be denied' (ibid.). 5. 'One of the chief of those who came to make the disturbance on the 1st instant hanged himself' (page 146). 6. 'I was quite surprised when I heard Mr. Romley [See Journal, iii. 359, 525.] preach; that soft, smooth, tuneful voice, which he so often employed to blaspheme the work of God, was lost, without hope of recovery' (ibid.). 7. 'Mr. Cowley spoke so much in favour of the rioters that they were all discharged. A few days after, walking over the same field, he dropped down and spoke no more.' (Page 147.)
And what is the utmost that can be inferred from all these passages That I believe these things to have been judgements. What if I did To believe these things to have been judgements is one thing; to claim a power of inflicting judgements is another. If, indeed, I believe things to be judgements which are not, I am to blame. But still this is not 'claiming any miraculous gift.'
But 'you cite one who forbid your speaking to some dying criminals, to answer for their souls at the judgement-seat of Christ' (ibid.). I do; but, be this right or wrong, it is not 'claiming a power to inflict judgements.'
'Yes, it is; for these judgements are fulminated with the air of one who had the divine vengeance at his disposal' (page 147). I think not; and I believe all impartial men will be of the same mind.
'These are some of the extraordinary gifts which Mr. Wesley claims' (page 149). I claim no 'extraordinary gift' at all; nor has anything to the contrary been proved yet, so much as in a single instance.
'We come now to the application of this sovereign test, James iii. 17.' But let us see that we understand it first. I beg leave to consider the whole: 'Who is a wise and knowing man among you Let him show his wisdom,' as well as his faith, 'by his works,' not by words only. 'But if ye have bitter zeal and strife in your heart, do not glory and lie against the truth'; as if any such zeal, anything contrary to love, could consist with true wisdom. 'This wisdom descendeth not from above; but is earthly, sensual, devilish: for where bitter zeal and strife are, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom which is from above' (which every one that hath is a real Christian, and he only) 'is first pure,' free from all that is earthly, sensual, devilish; 'then peaceable,' benign, loving, making peace; 'gentle,' soft, mild, yielding, not morose or sour; 'easy to be entreated,' to be persuaded or convinced, not stubborn, self-willed, or self-conceited; 'full of mercy,' of tenderness and compassion; 'and good fruits,' both in the heart and life. Two of these are immediately specified: 'without partiality,' loving and doing good to all, without respect of persons; 'and without hypocrisy,' sincere, frank, open.
I desire to be tried by this test. I try myself by it continually; not, indeed, whether I am a prophet (for it has nothing to do with this), but whether I am a Christian.
1. The present question, then, is not What is Mr. Law or What are the Moravians but What is John Wesley
And (1) Is he pure or not 'Not pure; for he separates reason from grace' (page 156). A wonderful proof! But I deny the fact. I never did separate reason from grace. 'Yes, you do; for your own words are, " The points we chiefly insisted on were four: (1) That orthodoxy, or right opinion, [See letter of Sept. 18, 1756, sect. 7.] is at best but a very slender part of religion, if it can be allowed to be any part of it at all "' (page 157).
After premising that it is our bounder duty to labour after a right judgement in all things, as a wrong judgement naturally leads to wrong practice, I say again, Right opinion is at best but a very slender part of religion (which properly and directly consists in right tempers, words, and actions), and frequently it is no part of religion: for it may be where there is no religion at all; in men of the most abandoned lives; yea, in the devil himself.
And yet this does not prove that I 'separate reason from grace,' that I 'discard reason from the service of religion.' I do continually 'employ it to distinguish between right and wrong opinions.' I never affirmed 'this distinction to be of little consequence,' or denied 'the gospel to be a reasonable service' (page 158).
But 'the Apostle Paul considered right opinions as a full third part at least of religion: for he says, " The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth." By goodness is meant the conduct of particulars to the whole, and consists in habits of social virtue; and this refers to Christian practice. By righteousness is meant the conduct of the whole to particulars, and consists in the gentle use of Church authority, and this refers to Christian discipline. By truth is meant the conduct of the whole, and of particulars to one another, and consists in orthodoxy or right opinion; and this refers to Christian doctrine.' (Page 159.)
My objections to this account are, first, it contradicts St. Paul; secondly, it contradicts itself.
First. It contradicts St. Paul. It fixes a meaning upon his words foreign both to the text and context. The plain sense of the text, taken in connexion with the context, is no other than this: (Eph. v. 9) 'The fruit of the Spirit' (rather 'of the light,' which Bengelius proves to be the true reading--opposite to 'the unfruitful works of darkness' mentioned verse 11) 'is,' consists, 'in all goodness, kindness, tenderheartedness' (iv. 32)--opposite to 'bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil-speaking' (verse 31); 'in all righteousness,' rendering unto all their dues--opposite to 'stealing' (verse 28); 'and in all truth,' veracity, sincerity--opposite to 'lying' (verse 25).
Secondly. That interpretation contradicts itself; and that in every article. For, 1. If by 'goodness' be meant 'the conduct of particulars to the whole,' then it does not consist in habits of social virtue: for social virtue regulates the conduct of particulars not so properly to the whole as to each other. 2. If by 'righteousness' be meant 'the conduct of the whole to particulars,' then it cannot consist in the gentleness of Church authority; unless Church governors are the whole Church, or the Parliament the whole Nation. 3. If by 'truth' be meant 'the conduct of the whole and of particulars to one another,' then it cannot possibly consist in orthodoxy or right opinion: for opinion, right or wrong, is not conduct; they differ toto genere. If, then, it be orthodoxy, it is not 'the conduct of the governors and governed toward each other.' If it be their conduct toward each other, it is not orthodoxy.
Although, therefore, it be allowed that right opinions are a great help and wrong opinions a great hindrance to religion, yet, till stronger proof be brought against it, that proposition remains unshaken, 'Right opinions are a slender part of religion, if any part if it at all' (page 160).
As to the affair of Abbe Paris, whoever will read over with calmness and impartiality but one volume of Monsieur Montgeron will then be a competent judge. Meantime I would just observe that if these miracles were real they strike at the root of the whole Papal authority, as having been wrought in direct opposition to the famous Bull Unigenitus. (Page 161.)
Yet I do not say, 'Errors in faith have little to do with religion,' or that they 'are no let or impediment to the Holy Spirit' (page 162). But still it is true that 'God generally speaking begins His work at the heart' (ibid.). Men usually feel desires to please God before they know how to please Him. Their heart says 'What must I do to be saved' before they understand the way of salvation.
But see 'the character he gives his own saints!" The more I converse with this people the more I am amazed. That God hath wrought a great work is manifest by saving many sinners from their sins. And yet the main of them are not able to give a rational account of the plainest principles of religion."' They were not able then, as there had not been time to instruct them. But the case is far different now.
Again: Did I 'give this character,' even then, of the people called Methodists in general No, but of the people of a particular town in Ireland, where nine in ten of the inhabitants are Romanists.
'Nor is the observation confined to the people. He had made a proselyte of Mr. Drake, [See letter of Sept. 25, 1755.] Vicar of B[awtry]. And, to show he was no discredit to his master, he gives him this character: " He seemed to stagger at nothing, though as yet his understanding is not opened."' (Page 162.)
Mr. Drake was never a proselyte of mine; nor did I ever see him before or since. I endeavoured to show him that we are justified by faith. And he did not object; though neither did he understand.
'But in the first propagation of religion God began with the understanding, and rational conviction won the heart' (page 163). Frequently, but not always. The jailer's heart was touched first, then he understood what he must do to be saved. In this respect, then, there is nothing new in the present work of God. So the lively story from Moliere is just nothing to the purpose. ['But, for this discordancy, between his Mission and St. Paul's, he has a salvo. He observes occasionally, in several places of his Journal, that God now not only does a new work, but by new ways. This solution of our spiritual empiric will perhaps put the reader in mind of the quack in Moliere, who, having placed the liver on the left side and the heart on the right, and being told that the structure of the parts was certainly otherwise, replied: Oui, cela etoit autre fois ainsi; mais nos avons change tout cela, et nous faisons maintenant la medecine d'une methode toute nouvelle.'--The Doctrine of Grace, pp. 163-4; p. 136, 2nd Edn.] In drawing the parallel between the work God has wrought in England and in America I do not so much as 'insinuate that the understanding has nothing to do in the work' (page 165). Whoever is engaged therein will find full employment for all the understanding which God has given him.
'On the whole, therefore, we conclude that wisdom which divests the Christian faith of its truth, and the test of it, reason, and resolves all religion into spiritual mysticism and ecstatic raptures, cannot be the wisdom from above, whose characteristic is purity' (page 166).
Perhaps so. But I do not 'divest faith either of truth or reason'; much less do I resolve all into 'spiritual mysticism and ecstatic raptures.' Therefore, suppose purity here meant sound doctrine (which it no more means than it does a sound constitution), still it touches not me, who, for anything that has yet been said, may teach the soundest doctrine in the world.
(2) 'Our next business is to apply the other marks to these pretending sectaries. The first of these, purity, respects the nature of " the wisdom from above," or, in other words, the doctrine taught.' (Page 167.) Not in the least. It has no more to do with 'doctrine' than the whole text has with 'prophets.' 'All the rest concern the manner of teaching.' Neither can this be allowed. They no farther concern either teaching or teachers than they concern all mankind.
But to proceed: 'Methodism signifies only the manner of preaching; not either an old or a new religion: it is the manner in which Mr. Wesley and his followers attempt to propagate the plain old religion' (page 168). And is not this sound doctrine Is this 'spiritual mysticism and ecstatic raptures'
'Of all men, Mr. Wesley should best know the meaning of the term; since it was not a nickname imposed on the sect by its enemies, but an appellation of honour bestowed upon it by themselves.' In answer to this, I need only transcribe what was published twenty years ago:--
'Since the name first came abroad into the world, many have been at a loss to know what a Methodist is; what are the principles and the practice of those who are commonly called by that name; and what the distinguishing marks of this sect, " which is everywhere spoken against."
'And it being generally believed that I was able to give the clearest account of these things (as having been one of the first to whom that name was given and the person by whom the rest were supposed to be directed), I have been called upon, in all manner of ways and with the utmost earnestness, so to do. I yield at last to the continued importunity both of friends and enemies; and do now give the clearest account I can, in the presence of the Lord and Judge of heaven and earth, of the principles and practice wherein those who are called Methodists are distinguished from other men.
'I say those who are called Methodists; for let it be well observed that this is not a name which they take to themselves, but one fixed upon them by way of reproach without their approbation or consent. It was first given to three or four young men at Oxford by a student of Christ Church; either in allusion to the ancient sect of physicians (so called from their teaching that almost all diseases might be cured by a specific method of diet and exercise), or from their observing a more regular method of study and behaviour than was usual with those of their age and station.' [Preface to The Character of a Methodist. See Works, viii. 339; and letter of Aug. 24, 1758.]
I need only add that this nickname was imposed upon us before 'this manner of preaching' had a being--yea, at a time when I thought it as lawful to cut a throat as to preach out of a church.
'Why, then, will Mr. Wesley so grossly misrepresent his adversaries as to say that, when they speak against Methodism, they speak against the plain, old doctrine of the Church of England' (Tract, p. 169.) This is no misrepresentation. Many of our adversaries all over the kingdom speak against us eo nomine for preaching these doctrines, Justification by Faith in particular.
However, 'a fanatic manner of preaching, though it were the doctrine of an apostle, may do more harm to society at least than reviving old heresies or inventing new. It tends to bewilder the imaginations of some, to inflame the passions of others, and to spread disorder and confusion through the whole community.' (Page 169.) I would gladly have the term defined. What is a 'fanatic manner of preaching' Is it field-preaching But this has no such effect, even among the wildest of men. This has not 'bewildered the imagination' even of the Kingswood colliers or 'inflamed their passions.' It has not spread disorder or confusion among them, but just the contrary. From the time it was heard in that chaos, Confusion heard the voice, and wild uproar Stood ruled, . . . and order from disorder sprung. [Paradise Lost, iii. 710-13.]
'But St. James, who delivers the test for the trial of these men's pretensions' (the same mistake still), 'unquestionably thought a fanatic spirit did more mischief in the mode of teaching than in the matter taught; since of six marks, one only concerns doctrine, all the rest the manner of the teacher' (page 170). Nay, all six concern doctrine as much as one. The truth is, they have nothing to do either with doctrine or manner.
'From St. Paul's words, "Be instant in season, out of season," he infers more than they will bear; and misapplies them into the bargain' (page 171). When and where I do not remember applying them at all.
'When seasonable times are appointed for holy offices, to fly to unseasonable is factious' (page 172). But it is not clear that five in the morning and seven in the evening (our usual times) are unseasonable.
2. We come now directly to the second article. '"The wisdom from above is peaceable." But the propagation of Methodism has occasioned many and great violations of peace. In order to know where the blame hereof lies, let us inquire the temper which "makes for peace." For we may be assured the fault lies not there, where such a temper is found.' (Page 173.) Thus far we are quite agreed. 'Now, the temper which makes for peace is prudence.' This is one of the tempers which make for peace; others are kindness, meekness, patience. 'This our Lord recommended by His own example' (pages 174-7). 'But this Mr. Wesley calls "the mystery of iniquity and the offspring of hell"' (page 178). No, not this; not the prudence which our Lord recommends. I call that so, and that only, which the world, the men who know not God, style Christian prudence. By this I mean subtlety, craft, dissimulation; study to please man rather than God; the art of trimming between God and the world, of serving God and mammon. Will any serious man defend this And this only do I condemn.
But you say, '"Good sort of men," as they are called, are "the bane of all religion"' (pages 179-80). And I think so. By this 'good sort of men' I mean persons who have a liking to but no sense of religion, no real fear or love of God, no truly Christian tempers. 'These steal away the little zeal he has--that is, persuade him to be peaceable.' No; persuade me to be like themselves-- without love either to God or man.
'Again, speaking of one, he says, "Indulging himself in harmless company"' (vulgarly so called), '"he first made shipwreck of his zeal, then of his faith." In this I think he is right. The zeal and faith of a fanatic are such exact tallies that neither can exist alone. They came into the world together to disturb society and dishonour religion.'
By zeal I mean the flame of love or fervent love to God and man; by faith, the substance or confidence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Is this the zeal and faith of a fanatic Then St. Paul was the greatest fanatic on earth. Did these come into the world to 'disturb society and dishonour religion'
'On the whole, we find Mr. Wesley by his own confession entirely destitute of prudence. Therefore it must be ascribed to the want of this if his preaching be attended with tumult and disorder.' (Page 181.) 'By his own confession' Surely no. This I confess, and this only: what is falsely called prudence I abhor; but true prudence I love and admire.
However, 'You set at naught the discipline of the Church by invading the province of the parochial minister' (page 182). Nay, if ever I preach at all, it must be in the province of some parochial minister. 'By assembling in undue places and at unfit times.' I know of no times unfit for those who assemble; and I believe Hanham Mount and Rose Green were the most proper places under heaven for preaching to the colliers in Kingswood. 'By scurrilous invectives against the governors and pastors of the national Church.' This is an entire mistake. I dare not make any 'scurrilous invectives' against any man. 'Insolences of this nature provoke warm men to tumult.' But those insolences do not exist; so that, whatever tumult either warm or cool men raise, I am not chargeable therewith.
'To know the true character of Methodism.' The present point is to know the true character of John Wesley. Now, in order to know this we need not inquire what others were before he was born. All, therefore, that follows of old Precisians, Puritans, and Independents may stand just as it is. (Pages 184-6.)
But 'Mr. Wesley wanted to be persecuted' (page 187). As this is averred over and over, I will explain myself upon it once for all. I never desired or wanted to be persecuted. Lives there who loves his pain I love and desire to 'live peaceably with all men.' 'But persecution would not come at his call.' However, it came uncalled; and more than once or twice it was not 'mock persecution.' It was not only the huzzas of the mob: showers of stones are something more than huzzas. And whosoever saw the mob either at Walsall or Cork (to instance in no more) saw that they were not 'in jest,' but in great earnest, eagerly athirst, not for sport, as you suppose, but for blood.
But though I do not desire persecution, I expect it. I must, if I believe St. Paul: 'All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution' (2 Tim. iii. 12); either sooner or later, more or less, according to the wise providence of God. But I believe 'all these things work together for good to them that love God.' And from a conviction of this they may even rejoice when they are 'persecuted for righteousness' sake.'
Yet, as I seldom 'complain of ill treatment,' so I am never 'dissatisfied with good ' (page 188). But I often wonder at it; and I once expressed my wonder nearly in the words of the old Athenian--'What have we done that the world should be so civil to us' [See letter of July 18, 1747.]
You conclude the head: 'As he who persecutes is but the tool of him that invites persecution' (I know not who does), 'the crime finally comes home to him who set the rioter at work' (page 191). And is this all the proof that I am not peaceable Then let all men judge if the charge is made good.
3, 'The next mark of the celestial wisdom is, it is "gentle and easy to be entreated," compliant and even obsequious to all men.' And how does it appear that I am wanting in this Why, he is 'a severe condemner of his fellow citizens and a severe exactor of conformity to his own observances.' Now the proof: (1) 'He tells us this in the very appellation he assumes' (page 192). Nay, I never assumed it at all. (2) But 'you say, "Useless conversation is an abomination to the Lord." And what is this but to withstand St. Paul to the face' Why, did St. Paul join in or condemn useless conversation I rather think he reproves it. He condemns as sapros logos, 'putrid, stinking conversation,' all that is not good, all that is not 'to the use of edifying,' and meet to 'minister grace to the hearers' (Eph. iv. 29). (3) Mr. Wesley 'resolved never to laugh nor to speak a tittle of worldly things' (page 193)--'though others may, nay must.' Pray add that with the reason of my so resolving--namely, that I expected to die in a few days. If I expected it now, probably I should resume the resolution. But, be it as it may, this proves nothing against my being both gentle and easy to be entreated. (4) 'He says Mr. Griffith was a clumsy, overgrown, hardfaced man' (page 194). So he was. And this was the best of him. I spare him much in saying no more. But he is gone: let his ashes rest. (5) 'I heard a most miserable sermon, full of dull, senseless, improbable lies.' It was so from the beginning to the end. I have seldom heard the like. (6) '"The persecution at St. Ives"' (which ended before I came; what I saw I do not term persecution) '" was owing to the indefatigable labours of Mr. Hoblyn and Mr. Symonds, gentlemen worthy to be had in everlasting remembrance."Here he tells us it is his purpose to gibbet up the names of his two great persecutors to everlasting infamy.' (Page 195.) These gentlemen had occasioned several innocent people to be turned out of their livelihood; and others to be outraged in the most shocking manner, and beat only not to death. My purpose is, by setting down their names, to make others afraid so to offend. Yet I say still, God forbid that I should rail either at a Turk, infidel, or heretic. But I will bring to light the actions of such Christians to be a warning to others. And all this I judge to be perfectly consistent with 'the spirit of meekness' (page 196).
4. 'The fourth mark is "full of mercy and good fruits." Let us inquire into the "mercy and good fruits" of Mr. Wesley.' (Page 198.)
(1) And, first: 'He has no mercy on his opposers. They pass with him under no other title than that of the devil's servants and the devil's children.' (Ibid.) This is far from true. Many have opposed and do oppose me still, whom I believe to be children and servants of God. 'We have seen him dispatching the principal of these children of the devil without mercy to their father' (page 199). No, not one. This has been affirmed over and over, but never proved yet. I fling about no exterminating judgements of God; I call down no fire from heaven. 'But it would be for the credit of these new saints to distinguish between rage and zeal.' That is easily done. Rage is furious fire from hell; zeal is loving fire from heaven. (2) 'If what has been said above does not suffice, turn again to Mr. Wesley's Journals: "Mr. Simpson, while he was speaking to the Society against my brother and me, was struck raving mad"' (page 200). He was so before an hundred witnesses, though I was the last to believe it. 'But it seems God is at length entreated for him, and has restored him to a sound mind.' And is my relating this fact an instance of 'dooming men to perdition' (3) 'John Haydon cried aloud, "Let the world see the just judgement of God"' (page 201). He did. But let John Haydon look to that. It was he said so, not I. (4) 'I was informed of an awful providence. A poor wretch, who was here the last week, cursing and blaspheming, and labouring with all his might to hinder the word of God, had afterwards boasted he would come again on Sunday, and no man should stop his mouth then. But on Friday God laid his hand upon him, and on Sunday he was buried.' (Page 202.) And was not this an awful providence But yet I do not doom even him to perdition. (5) 'I saw a poor man, once joined with us, who wanted nothing in this world. A day or two before, he hanged himself, but was cut down before he was dead. He has been crying out ever since, God had left him because he had left the children of God.' This was his assertion, not mine. I neither affirm nor deny it. (6) The true account of Lucy Godshall is this: 'I buried the body of Lucy Godshall, After pressing toward the mark for more than two years, since she had known the pardoning love of God, she was for some time weary and faint in her mind, till I put her out of the bands. God blessed this greatly to her soul, so that in a short time she was admitted again. Soon after, being at home, she felt the love of God in an unusual manner poured into her heart. She fell down upon her knees and delivered up her soul and body into the hands of God. In the instant the use of all her limbs was taken away and she was in a burning fever. For three days she mightily praised God and rejoiced in Him all the day long. She then cried out, "Now Satan hath desired to have me that he may sift me as wheat." Immediately darkness and heaviness fell upon her, which continued till Saturday, the 4th instant. On Sunday the light shone again upon her heart. About ten in the evening one said to her, "Jesus is ready to receive your soul." She said, "Amen! Amen!" closed her eyes, and died.' (Journal, iii. 44-5.) Is this brought as a proof of my inexorableness or of my dooming men to perdition
(7) 'I found Nicholas Palmer in great weakness of body and heaviness of spirit. We wrestled with God in his behalf; and our labour was not in vain. His soul was comforted, and a few hours after he quietly fell asleep.' A strange proof this likewise, either of inexorableness or of 'dooming men to perdition.' Therefore this charge too stands totally unsupported. Here is no proof of my unmercifulness yet.
'Good fruits come next to be considered, which Mr. Wesley's idea of true religion does not promise. He saith' (I will repeat the words a little at large, that their true sense may more clearly appear), '"In explaining those words, The kingdom of God, or true religion, is not meats and drinks, I was led to show that religion does not properly consist in harmlessness, using the means of grace, and doing good, that is, helping our neighbours, chiefly by giving alms; but that a man might both be harmless, use the means of grace, and do much good, and yet have no true religion at all."' (Tract, p. 203.) He may so. Yet whoever has true religion must be 'zealous of good works.' And zeal for all good works is, according to my idea, an essential ingredient of true religion.
'Spiritual cures are all the good fruits he pretends to' (pages 204-5). Not quite all, says William Kirkman with some others. 'A few of his spiritual cures we will set in a fair light: "The first time I preached at Swalwell"' (chiefly to colliers and workers in the ironwork) '"none seemed to be convinced, only stunned."' I mean amazed at what they heard, though they were the first principles of religion. 'But he brings them to their senses with a vengeance.' No, not them. These were different persons. Are they lumped together in order to set things in 'a fair light' The whole paragraph runs thus: 'I carefully examined those who had lately cried out in the congregation. Some of these, I found, could give no account at all how or wherefore they had done so; only that of a sudden they dropped down, they knew not how; and what they afterward said or did they knew not. Others could just remember they were in fear, but could not tell what they were in fear of. Several said they were afraid of the devil, and this was all they knew. But a few gave a more intelligible account of the piercing sense they then had of their sins, both inward and outward, which were set in array against them round about; of the dread they were in of the wrath of God, and the punishment they had deserved, into which they seemed to be just falling without any way to escape. One of them told me, "I was as if I was just falling down from the highest place I had ever seen. I thought the devil was pushing me off, and that God had forsaken me." Another said, "I felt the very fire of hell already kindled in my breast; and all my body was in as much pain as if I had been in a burning fiery furnace." What wisdom is this which rebuketh these, that they should hold their peace Nay, let such an one cry after Jesus of Nazareth till He saith, "Thy faith hath made thee whole."' (Journal, iii. 59-60.)
Now follow the proofs of my driving men mad: (1) 'Another of Dr. Monro's patients came to ask my advice. I found no reason to believe she had been any otherwise mad than every one is that is deeply convinced of sin.' (Tract, p. 208.) Let this prove all that it can prove. (2) 'A middle-aged woman was really distracted.' Yes, before I ever saw her or she me. (3) 'I could not but be under some concern with regard to one or two persons, who were tormented in an unaccountable manner, and seemed to be indeed lunatic as well as sore vexed.' True; for a time. But the deliverance of one of them is related in the very next paragraph. (4) 'Two or three are gone quite distracted' (page 209)--'that is, they mourn and refuse to be comforted till they have redemption.' (5) 'I desired one to visit Mrs. G--in Bedlam, put in by her husband as a madwoman.' But she never was mad in any degree, as he himself afterwards acknowledged. (6) 'One was so deeply convinced of her ungodliness that she cried out day and night, "Lord, save, or I perish!" All the neighbours agreed she was stark mad.' But I did not make her so. For this was before she ever saw my face. Now let every one judge whether here is yet a single proof that I drive men mad.
'The time when this spiritual madness was at its height he calls a glorious time' (page 210). I call that a glorious time when many notorious sinners are converted to God (whether with any outward symptoms or none, for those are no way essential), and when many are in the triumph of faith greatly rejoicing in God their Saviour.
'But though Mr. Wesley does so well in turning fools into madmen, yet his craftmaster is certainly one Mr. Wheatley, of whom he gives this extraordinary account' (page 211):
'"A poor woman" (on Wednesday, September 17, 1740) "said it was four years" (namely, in September 1736, above a year before I left Georgia) "since her son, by hearing a sermon of Mr. Wheatley's, fell into great uneasiness. She thought he was ill, and would have sent for a physician. But he said, No, no; send for Mr. Wheatley. He was sent for, and came; and, after asking a few questions, told her, The boy is mad: get a coach, and carry him to Dr. Monro: use my name; I have sent several such to him." Who this Mr. Wheatley is I know not.' He was lecturer at Spitalfields Church. The event was, after the apothecary had half murdered him, he was discharged, and the lad soon recovered his strength. His senses he never had lost. The supposing this was a blunder from the beginning.
'These are the exploits which M--,--. Wesley calls blessings from God' (page 212). Certainly I do, both repentance and faith. 'And which therefore we may call the good fruits of his ministry.' May God increase them an hundredfold! 'What the Apostle calls "good fruits," namely, doing much good, Mr. Wesley tells us belongs not to true religion.' I never told any man so yet. I tell all men just the contrary.
I may then safely leave all mankind to judge whether a single article of the charge against me has yet been made good. So much for the first charge that I am a madman. Now for the second that I am a knave.
5. The proof is short: 'Every enthusiast is a knave: but he is an enthusiast; therefore he is a knave.' I deny both the first and second proposition. Nay, the first is proved thus: 'Enthusiasm must always be accompanied with craft and knavery' (page 213). It is often so, but not always; for there may be honest enthusiasts. Therefore the whole account of that odd combination which follows is ingenious, but proves nothing. (Pages 214-18.)
Yet I must touch upon one or two parts of it. 'An enthusiast thinks he is dispensed with in breaking, nay that he is authorized to break, the common laws of morality.' Does every enthusiast Then I am none; for I never thought any such thing. I believe no man living is authorized to break, or dispensed with in breaking, any law of morality. I know whoever (habitually) breaks one of the least of these 'shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.'
'Can any but an enthusiast believe that he may use guile to promote the glory of God' Yes, ten thousand that are no enthusiasts firmly believe thus. How few do we find that do not believe it! that do not plead for officious lies! How few will subscribe to St. Augustine's declaration (to which I assent with my whole heart), 'I would not tell a wilful lie to save the souls of the whole world!'
But to return: "'The wisdom from above is without partiality and without hypocrisy." Partiality consists in dispensing an unequal measure in our transactions with others; hypocrisy, in attempting to cover that unequal measure by prevarication and false presences.'
The former of these definitions is not clear; the latter neither clear nor adequate to the defined.
But let this pass. My partiality is now the point. What are the proofs of it (1) 'His followers are always the children of God, his opposers the children of the devil' (page 220). Neither so, nor so. I never affirmed either one or the other universally. That some of the former are children of God and some of the latter children of the devil I believe. But what will this prove
'His followers are directed by inward feelings, the impulses of an inflamed fancy' (no more than they are directed by the Alcoran); 'his opposers by the Scripture.' What, while they are cursing, swearing, blaspheming, beating and maiming men that have done them no wrong, and treating women in a manner too shocking to be repeated (2) The next proof is very extraordinary. My words are, 'I was with two persons, who, I doubt, are properly enthusiasts: for, first, they think to attain the end without the means, which is enthusiasm properly so called. Again, they think themselves inspired of God, and are not. But false imaginary inspiration is enthusiasm. That theirs is only imaginary inspiration appears hence--it contradicts the law and the testimony.' (Page 221.)
Now, by what art of man can this be made a proof of my partiality Why, thus: 'These are wise words. But what do they amount to Only to this--that these two persons would not take out their patents of inspiration from his office.' But what proof is there of this round assertion Truly, none at all.
Full as extraordinary is the third proof of my partiality. 'Miss Gr-- [Probably Miss Gregory. See Journal, ii. 430d, iii. 46-7.] told Mrs. Sparrow Mr. Wesley was a Papist. Upon this Miss Gr--is anathematized. And we are told that in consequence she had lately been raving mad, and as such was tied down in her bed. Yet all these circumstances of madness have befallen his favourite saints, whom he has vindicated from the opprobrium.' (Page 222.)
The passage in my Journal stands thus: 'Mrs. Sparrow told me two or three nights since, "Miss Gr-- met me and said, I assure you Mr. Wesley is a Papist." Perhaps I need observe no more upon this than that Miss Gr-- had lately been raving mad in consequence of a fever (not of an anathema, which never had any being); that as such she was tied down in her bed; and as soon as she was suffered to go abroad went to Mr. Whitefield to inquire of him whether she was not a Papist. But he quickly perceived she was only a lunatic, the nature of her disorder soon betraying itself.' Certainly, then, my allowing her to be mad is no proof of my partiality. I will allow every one to be so who is attended with 'all these circumstances of madness.'
(4) 'He pronounces sentence of enthusiasm upon another, and tells us wherefore without any disguise: "Here I took leave of a poor, mad, original enthusiast, who had been scattering lies in every quarter."' [See Journal, iii. 181-2. The asylum in Box (Wilts.) adjoined the churchyard. The parson's fee for the burial of a lunatic was one penny; three pence for a sane person.] It was the famous John Adams, since confined at Box, whose capital lie (the source of the rest) was that he was a prophet greater than Moses or any of the Apostles. And is the pronouncing him a madman a proof of my partiality
(5) 'I had much conversation with Mr. Simpson, an original enthusiast I desired him in the evening to give an exhortation. He did so, and spoke many good things in a manner peculiar to himself'--without order or connexion, head or tail, and in a language very near as Mystical as that of Jacob Behmen. 'When he had done, I summed up what he had said, methodizing and explaining it. Oh what pity it is this well-meaning man should ever speak without an interpreter!' (Page 223.)
Let this passage likewise stand as it is, and who can guess how it is to prove my partiality But by a sleight of hand the thing is done. 'How differently does Mr. Wesley treat these two enthusiasts! The first is accused of spreading lies of his master.' No, he never was any disciple of mine. 'On which Mr. Wesley took his leave of him;--a gentle expression, to signify the thrusting him out head and shoulders from the society of saints.' It signifies neither more nor less than that I went out of the room and left him. 'The other's enthusiasm is made to consist only in want of method.' No. His enthusiasm did not consist in this: it was the cause of it. But he was quite another man than John Adams; and I believe a right honest man.
(6) 'I was both surprised and grieved at a genuine instance of enthusiasm. John Brown, who had received a sense of the love of God a few days before, came riding through the town, hallooing and shouting, and driving all the people before him, telling them God had told him he should be a king and should tread all his enemies under his feet. I sent him home immediately to his work; and advised him to cry day and night to God that he might be lowly in heart, lest Satan again "get an advantage over him."'
What this proves, or is intended to prove, I cannot tell. Certainly neither this nor any of the preceding passages prove the point now in question--my partiality. So this likewise is wholly unproved still.
'We shall end, where every fanatic leader ends, with his hypocrisy' (page 227). Five arguments are brought in proof of this. I shall take them in their order. (1) 'After having heaped up miracles one upon another, he sneaks away under the protection of a puny wonder: "About five I began near the Keelmen's Hospital, many thousands standing round. The wind was high just before, but scarce a breath was felt all the time we assembled before God. I praise God for this also. Is it enthusiasm to see God in every benefit we receive "It is not; the enthusiasm consists in believing those benefits to be conferred through a change in the established course of nature. But here he insinuates that he meant no more by his miracles than the seeing God in every benefit we receive.' (Pages 228-9.) That sudden and total ceasing of the wind I impute to the particular providence of God. This I mean by seeing God therein. But this I knew many would count enthusiasm. In guarding against it, I had an eye to that single incident, and no other. Nor did I insinuate anything more than I expressed in as plain a manner as I could.
A little digression follows: 'A friend of his advises not to establish the power of working miracles as the great criterion of a divine mission, seeing the agreement of doctrines with Scripture is the only infallible rule' (page 230). 'But Christ Himself establishes the power of working miracles as the great criterion of a divine mission' (page 231). True, of a mission to be the Saviour of the world; to put a period to the Jewish and introduce the Christian dispensation. And whoever pretends to such a mission will stand in need of such credentials.
(2) 'He shifts and doubles no less' (neither less nor more) 'as to the ecstasies of his saints. Sometimes they are of God, sometimes of the devil; but he is constant in this--that natural causes have no hand in them.' This is not true: in what are here termed ecstasies, strong joy or grief, attended with various bodily symptoms, I have openly affirmed again and again that natural causes have a part; nor did I ever shift or double on the head. I have steadily and uniformly maintained that, if the mind be affected to such a degree, the body must be affected by the laws of the vital union. The mind I believe was in many of those cases affected by the Spirit of God, in others by the devil, and in some by both; and in consequence of this the body was affected also. (3) 'Mr. Wesley says, "I fear we have grieved the Spirit of the jealous God by questioning His work, and by blaspheming it, by imputing it to nature, or even to the devil"' (pages 232-3). True; by imputing the conviction and conversion of sinners, which is the work of God alone (because of these unusual circumstances attending it), either to nature or to the devil. This is flat and plain. No prevarication yet. Let us attend to the next proof of it: 'Innumerable cautions were given me not to regard visions or dreams, or to fancy people had remission of sins because of their cries or tears or outward professions. The sum of my answer was, You deny that God does now work these effects--at least, that He works them in this manner. I affirm both. I have seen very many persons changed in a moment from a spirit of fear, horror, despair, to a spirit of love, joy, peace. What I have to say touching visions and dreams is this: I know several persons in whom this great change was wrought in a dream, or during a strong representation to the eye of their mind of Christ either on the cross or in glory. This is the fact; let any judge of it as they please. And that such a change was then wrought appears, not from their shedding tears only, or falling into fits, or crying out (these are not the fruits, as you seem to suppose, whereby I judge), but from the whole tenor of their life, till then many ways wicked, from that time holy and just and good.' 'Nay, he is so convinced of its being the work of God, that the horrid blasphemies which ensued he ascribes to the abundance of joy which God had given to a poor mad woman' (page 234). Do I ascribe those blasphemies to her joy in God No; but to her pride. My words are: 'I met with one who, having been lifted up with the abundance of joy which God had given her, had fallen into such blasphemies and vain imaginations as are not common to men. In the afternoon I found another instance, nearly, I fear, of the same kind-- one who set her private revelations (so called) on the selfsame foot with the written Word.' (Page 235.)
But how is this to prove prevarication 'Why, on a sudden he directly revokes all he had advanced. He says: "I told them they were not to judge of the spirit whereby any one spoke, either by appearances, or by common report, or by their own inward feelings--no, nor by any dreams, visions, or revelations supposed to be made to the soul, any more than by their tears or any involuntary effects wrought upon their bodies. I warned them that all these things were in themselves of a doubtful, disputable nature; they might be from God or they might not, and were therefore not simply to be relied on any more than simply to be condemned, but to be tried by a farther rule, to be brought to the only certain test, the law and the testimony." Now, is not this a formal recantation of what he had said just above' (Page 235.) Nothing less, as I will show in two minutes to every calm, impartial man. What I say now I have said any time this thirty years; I have never varied therefrom for an hour: 'Everything disputable is to be brought to the only certain test, "the law and the testimony."' 'But did not you talk just now of visions and dreams' Yes; but not as of a test of anything: only as a channel through which God is sometimes pleased to convey 'love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, temperance,' the indisputable fruit of His Spirit; and these, we may observe, wherever they exist, must be inwardly felt. Now, where is the prevarication where the formal recantation They are vanished into air.
But here is more proof: 'At length he gives up all these divine agitations to the devil. "I inquired," says he, "into the case of those who had lately cried out aloud during the preaching. I found this had come upon every one of them in a moment, without any previous notice. In that moment they dropped down, lost all their strength, and were seized with violent pain. Some said they felt as if a sword were running through them; others as if their whole body was tearing in pieces. These symptoms I can no more impute to any natural cause than to the Spirit of God. I make no doubt but it was Satan tearing them as they were coming to Christ."' (Page 236.)
'Now, these were the very symptoms which he had before ascribed to the Spirit of God' (page 237). Never in my life. Indeed, some of them I never met with before. Those outward symptoms which I had met with before, bodily agitations in particular, I did not ascribe to the Spirit of God, but to the natural union of the soul and body. And those symptoms which I now ascribe to the devil I never ascribed to any other cause. The second proof of my prevarication or hypocrisy is therefore just as conclusive as the first.
3. Now for the third: 'Mr. Wesley before spoke contemptuously of orthodoxy to take in the sectaries. But when he would take off Churchmen, then orthodoxy is the unum necessarium.' Did I ever say so No more than, in the other extreme, speak contemptuously of it. 'Yes, you say, "I described the plain, old religion of the Church of England, which is now almost everywhere spoken against under the new name of Methodism."' Very well; and what shadow of prevarication is here May I not still declare the plain, old religion of the Church of England, and yet very consistently aver that right opinion is a very slender part of it
4. The next passage, I am sorry to say, is neither related with seriousness nor truth: 'We have seen him inviting persecution.' Never; though I 'rejoiced,' in the instance alleged, at having an opportunity of calling a multitude of the most abandoned sinners to repentance.
What is peculiarly unfair is the lame, false account is palmed upon me by 'So he himself tells the story.' I must therefore tell the story once more in as few words as I can:--
'Sunday, August 7, 1737. I repelled Mrs. Williamson from the communion. Tuesday, 9. I was required by Mr. Bailiff Parker to appear at the next court. Thursday, 11. Mr. Causton, her uncle, said to me, "Give your reasons for repelling her before the whole congregation." I answered, "Sir, if you insist upon it, I will." But I heard no more of it. Afterward he said (but not to me) "Mr. Wesley had repelled Sophy out of revenge, because he had made proposals of marriage to her, which she rejected." Tuesday, 16. Mrs. Williamson made affidavit of it. Thursday, September 1. A Grand Jury prepared by Mr. Causton found that "John Wesley had broken the laws of the realm, by speaking and writing to Mrs. Williamson against her husband's consent, and by repelling her from the communion."
'Friday, 2, was the third court-day at which I appeared, since my being required so to do by Mr. Parker. I moved for an immediate hearing, but was put off till the next court-day. On the next court-day I appeared again, as also at the two courts following, but could not be heard. Thursday, November 3, I appeared in court again; and yet again on Tuesday, November 22, on which day Mr. Causton desired to speak with me, and read me an affidavit in which it was affirmed that I "abused Mr. Causton in his own house, calling him liar, villain, and so on." It was likewise repeated that I had been reprimanded at the last court by Mr. Causton as an enemy to and hinderer of the public peace.
'My friends agreed with me that the time we looked for was now come. And the next morning, calling on Mr. Causton, I told him I designed to set out for England immediately.
'Friday, December 2. I proposed to set out for Carolina about noon. But about ten the Magistrates sent for me, and told me I must not go out of the province; for I had not answered the allegations laid against me. I replied, "I have appeared at six or seven courts in order to answer them. But I was not suffered so to do." After a few more words, I said, "You use me very ill; and so you do the Trustees. You know your business, and I know mine."
'In the afternoon they published an order forbidding any to assist me in going out of the province. But I knew I had no more business there. So as soon as Evening Prayer was over, the tide then serving, I took boat at the Bluff for Carolina.'
This is the plain account of the matter. I need only add a remark or two on the pleasantry of my censurer. 'He had recourse as usual to his revelations: "I consulted my friends whether God did not call me to England"' (page 242). Not by revelations-- these were out of the question; but by clear, strong reasons. 'The Magistrate soon quickened his pace by declaring him an enemy to the public peace.' No; that senseless assertion of Mr. Causton made me go neither sooner nor later. 'The reader has seen him long languish for persecution.' What, before November 1737 I never languished for it either before or since. But I submit to what pleases God. 'To hide his poltroonery in a bravado, he gave public notice of his apostolical intention' (page 243). Kind and civil! I may be excused from taking notice of what follows. It is equally serious and genteel.
'Had his longings for persecution been without hypocrisy.' The same mistake throughout. I never longed or professed to long for it at all. But if I had professed it ever since I returned from Georgia, what was done before I returned could not prove that profession to be hypocrisy. So all this ribaldry serves no end; only to throw much dirt, if haply some may stick.
Meantime how many untruths are here in one page! (1) 'He made the path doubly perplexed for his followers. (2) He left them to answer for his crimes. (3) He longed for persecution. (4) He went as far as Georgia for it. (5) The truth of his mission was questioned by the Magistrate, and (6) decried by the people, (7) for his false morals. (8) The gospel was wounded through the sides of its pretended missionary. (9) The first Christian preachers offered up themselves.' So did I. 'Instead of this, our paltry mimic' (page 244). Bona verba! Surely a writer should reverence himself, how much soever he despises his opponent. So, upon the whole, this proof of my hypocrisy is as lame as the three former.
5. 'We have seen above how he sets all prudence at defiance.' None but false prudence. 'But he uses a different language when his rivals are to be restrained.' No; always the same, both with regard to false prudence and true.
'But take the affair from the beginning. He began to suspect rivals in the year thirty-nine; for he says, "Remembering how many that came after me were preferred before me."' The very next words show in what sense. They 'had attained unto the law of righteousness': I had not. But what has this to do with rivals
However, go on: 'At this time, December 8, 1739, his opening the Bible afforded him but small relief. He sunk so far in his despondency as to doubt if God would not lay him aside and send other labourers into His harvest.' But this was another time. It was June 22; and the occasion of the doubt is expressly mentioned: 'I preached, but had no life or spirit in me, and was much in doubt' on that account. Not on account of Mr. Whitefield. He did not 'now begin to set up for himself.' We were in full union; nor was there the least shadow of rivalry or contention between us. I still sincerely 'praise God for His wisdom in giving different talents to different preachers' (page 250), and particularly for His giving Mr. Whitefield the talents which I have not.
6. What farther proof of hypocrisy Why, 'he had given innumerable flirts of contempt in his Journals against human learning' (pages 252-3). Where I do not know. Let the passages be cited; else, let me speak for it ever so much, it will prove nothing. 'At last he was forced to have recourse to what he had so much scorned; I mean prudence' (page 255). All a mistake. I hope never to have recourse to false prudence; and true prudence I never scorned.
'He might have met Mr. Whitefield half-way; but he was too formidable a rival. With a less formidable one he pursues this way. "I laboured," says he, "to convince Mr. Green"' (my assistant, not rival) '"that he had not done well in confuting, as he termed it, the sermon I preached the Sunday before. I asked, Will you meet me half-way"' (The words following put my meaning beyond all dispute.) '"I will never publicly preach against you: will not you against me'' [ See Journal, iv. 94; and for a letter to William Green, October 25, 1789. ] Here we see a fair invitation to Mr. Green to play the hypocrite with him.' (Ibid.) Not in the least. Each might simply deliver his own sentiments without preaching against the other. 'We conclude that Mr. Wesley, amidst his warmest exclamations against all prudence, had still a succedaneum, which indeed he calls prudence; but its true name is craft' (page 257). Craft is an essential part of worldly prudence. This I detest and abhor. And let him prove it upon me that can. But it must be by better arguments than the foregoing. Truly Christian prudence, such as was recommended by our Lord and practiced by Him and His Apostles, I reverence and desire to learn, being convinced of its abundant usefulness.
I know nothing material in the argument which I have left untouched. And I must now refer it to all the world whether, for all that has been brought to the contrary, I may not still have a measure of the 'wisdom from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.'
I have spoke abundantly more concerning myself than I intended or expected. Yet I must beg leave to add a few words more. How far I am from being an enemy to prudence I hope appears already. It remains to inquire whether I am an enemy to reason or natural religion.
'As to the first, he frankly tells us the father of lies was the father of reasonings also. For he says, "I observed more and more the advantage Satan had gained over us. Many were thrown into idle reasonings."' (Page 289.) Yes, and they were hurt thereby. But reason is good, though idle reasonings are evil. Nor does it follow that I am an enemy to the one because I condemn the other.
'However, you are an enemy to natural religion. For you say, "A Frenchman gave us a full account of the Chicasaws. They do nothing but eat and drink and smoke from morning till night, and almost from night till morning. For they rise at any hour of the night when they awake, and, after eating and drinking as much as they can, go to sleep again. Hence we could not but remark what is the religion of nature, properly so called, or that religion which flows from natural reason unassisted by revelation."' (Page 290.) I believe this dispute may be cut short by only defining the term. What does your Lordship mean by natural religion a system of principles But I mean by it in this place men's natural manners. These certainly 'flow from their natural passions and appetites' with that degree of reason which they have. And this in other instances is not contemptible, though it is not sufficient to teach them true religion.
II. I proceed to consider, in the second place, what is advanced concerning the operations of the Holy Spirit.
'Our blessed Redeemer promised to send among His followers the Holy Ghost, called "the Spirit of truth" and "the Comforter," which should co-operate with man in establishing his faith and in perfecting his obedience, or (in other words) should sanctify him to redemption' (page 2).
Accordingly 'the sanctification and redemption of the world man cannot frustrate nor render ineffectual. For it is not in his power to make that to be undone which is once done and perfected.' (Page 337.)
I do not comprehend. Is all the world sanctified Is not to be sanctified the same as to be made holy Is all the world holy And can no man frustrate his own sanctification
'The Holy Ghost establishes our faith and perfects our obedience by enlightening the understanding and rectifying the will' (page 3).
'In the former respect, 1. He gave the gift of tongues at the day of Pentecost.
'Indeed, enthusiasts in their ecstasies have talked very fluently in languages they had a very imperfect knowledge of in their sober intervals.' I can no more believe this on the credit of Lord Shaftesbury and a Popish exorcist than I can believe the tale of an hundred people talking without tongues on the credit of Dr. Middleton. [See letter of Jan. 4, 1749, sect.vi. 12-14, p. 367]
'The other gifts of the Spirit St. Paul reckons up thus: "To one is given the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge, to another the gifts of healing, to another working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discerning of spirits"' (page 23). But why are the other three left out--faith, divers kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues
I believe the 'word of wisdom' means light to explain the manifold wisdom of God in the grand scheme of gospel salvation; the 'word of knowledge,' a power of explaining the Old Testament types and prophecies. 'Faith' may mean an extraordinary trust in God under the most difficult and dangerous circumstances; 'the gifts of healing,' a miraculous power of curing diseases; 'the discerning of spirits,' a supernatural discernment whether men were upright or not, whether they were qualified for offices in the Church, and whether they who professed to speak by inspiration really did so or not.
But 'the richest of the fruits of the Spirit is the inspiration of Scripture' (page 30). 'Herein the promise that "the Comforter" should "abide with us for ever" is eminently fulfilled. For though His ordinary influence occasionally assists the faithful of all ages, yet His constant abode and supreme illumination is in the Scriptures of the New Testament. I mean, He is there only as the Illuminator of the understanding.' (Page 39.)
But does this agree with the following words--'Nature is not able to keep a mean: but grace is able; for "the Spirit helpeth our infirmities." We must apply to the Guide of truth to prevent our being "carried about with divers and strange doctrines."' (Page 340.) Is He not, then, everywhere to illuminate the understanding as well as to rectify the will And, indeed, do we not need the one as continually as the other
'But how did He inspire the Scripture He so directed the writers that no considerable error should fall from them.' (Page 45.) Nay, will not the allowing there is any error in Scripture shake the authority of the whole
Again: what is the difference between the immediate and the virtual influence of the Holy Spirit I know Milton speaks of 'virtual or immediate touch [Paradise Lost, viii. 617.]'; but most incline to think virtual touch is no touch at all.
'Were the style of the New Testament utterly rude and barbarous and abounding with every fault that can possibly deform a language, this is so far from proving such language not divinely inspired that it is one certain mark of this original' (page 55).
A vehement paradox this! But it is not proved yet, and probably never will.
'The labours of those who have attempted to defend the purity of Scripture Greek have been very idly employed' (page 66).
Others think they have been very wisely employed, and that they have abundantly proved their point.
Having now 'considered the operations of the Holy Spirit as the Guide of truth, who clears and enlightens the understanding, I proceed to consider Him as the Comforter who purifies and supports the will' (page 89).
'Sacred antiquity is full in its accounts of the sudden and entire change made by the Holy Spirit in the dispositions and manners of those whom it had enlightened; instantaneously effacing their evil habits and familiarizing them to the performance of every good action' (page 90).
'No natural cause could effect this. Neither fanaticism nor superstition, nor both of them, will account for so sudden and lasting a conversion.' (Ibid.)
'Superstition never effects any considerable change in the manners. Its utmost force is just enough to make us exact in the ceremonious offices of religion or to cause some acts of penitence as death approaches.' (Page 91.)
'Fanaticism, indeed, acts with greater violence, and, by influencing the will, frequently forces the manners from their bent, and sometimes effaces the strongest impressions of custom and nature. But this fervour, though violent, is rarely lasting; never so long as to establish the new system into an habit. So that when its rage subsides, as it very soon does (but where it drives into downright madness), the bias on the will keeps abating till all the former habitudes recover their relaxed tone.' (Page 92.)
Never were reflections more just than these. And whoever applies them to the matters of fact which daily occur all over England, and particularly in London, will easily discern that the changes now wrought cannot be accounted for by natural causes;-- not by superstition, for the manners are changed, the whole life and conversation; not by fanaticism, for these changes are so lasting 'as to establish the new system into an habit'; not by mere reason, for they are sudden: therefore they can only be wrought by the Holy Spirit.
As to Savonarola's being a fanatic or assuming the person of a prophet, I cannot take a Popish historian's word. And what a man says on the rack proves nothing, no more than his dying silent. Probably this might arise from shame and consciousness of having accused himself falsely under the torture.
'But how does the Spirit as Comforter abide with us for ever He abides with the Church for ever, as well personally in His office of Comforter, as virtually in His office of Enlightener.' (Page 96.)
Does He not, then, abide with the Church personally in both these respects What is meant by abiding virtually And what is the difference between abiding virtually and abiding personally
'The question will be, Does He still exercise His office in the same extraordinary manner as in the Apostles' days' (page 97).
I know none that affirms it. 'St. Paul has determined this question. "Charity," says he, "never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away" (I Cor. xiii. 8, &c.).'
'The common opinion is that this respects another life, as he enforces his argument by this observation: "Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now we know in part; but then shall we know, even as also we are known"' (page 99).
'But the Apostle means charity is to accompany the Church in all its stages, whereas prophecy and all the rest are only bestowed during its infant state to support it against the delusions and powers of darkness' (page 100).
'The Corinthians abounded in these gifts, but were wanting in charity. And this the Apostle here exposes by proving charity to be superior to them all both in its qualities and duration. The first three verses declare that the other gifts are useless without charity. The next four specify the qualities of charity. The remaining six declare its continuance,--"Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away." In the next verse he gives the reason,--"For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away": that is, when that Christian life, the lines of which are marked out by the gospel, shall arrive to its full vigour and maturity, then the temporary aids, given to subdue prejudice and to support the weak, shall, like scaffolding, be removed. In other words, when that Christian life, wherein the Apostles and first Christians were but infants, shall arrive to its full vigour and maturity in their successors, then miracles shall cease.' (Page 102.) But I fear that time is not yet come. I doubt none that are now alive enjoy more of the vigour and maturity of the Christian life than the very first Christians did.
'To show that the loss of these will not be regretted when the Church has advanced from a state of infancy to manhood ' (alas the day! Were the Apostles but infants to us), 'he illustrates the case by an elegant similitude,--"When I was a child, I spake as a child; . . . but when I became a man, I put away childish things." His next remark, concerning the defects of human knowledge, is only an occasional answer to an objection. And the last verse shows that the superior duration of charity refers to the present life only,--"Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." That is, you may perhaps object, Faith and hope will likewise remain in the Church, when prophecy, tongues, and knowledge are ceased: they will so; but still charity is the greatest, because of its excellent qualities.' (Page 107.) 'The last verse shows'! Is not this begging the question How forced is all this! The plain natural meaning of the passage is, Love (the absolute necessity and the nature of which is shown in the foregoing verses) has another commendation--it 'never faileth,' it accompanies and adorns us to eternity. 'But whether there be prophecies, they shall fail,' when all things are fulfilled and God is all in all. 'Whether there be tongues, they shall cease': one language shall prevail among all the inhabitants of heaven, while the low, imperfect languages of earth are forgotten. The 'knowledge,' likewise, we now so eagerly pursue shall then 'vanish away.' As starlight is lost in that of the midday sun, so our present knowledge in the light of eternity. 'For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.' We have here but short, narrow, imperfect conceptions, even of the things round about us, and much more of the deep things of God; and even the prophecies which men deliver from God are far from taking in the whole of future events. 'But when that which is perfect is come,' at death and in the last day, 'that which is in part shall be done away.' Both that low, imperfect, glimmering light, which is all the knowledge we can now attain to; and these slow and unsatisfactory methods of attaining, as well as of imparting it to others. 'When I was a child, I talked as a child, I understood as a child, I reasoned as a child.' As if he had said, In our present state we are mere infants compared to what we shall be hereafter. 'But when I became a man, I put away childish things'; and a proportionable change shall we all find when we launch into eternity. 'Now we see' even the things which surround us by means of 'a glass' or mirror, in a dim, faint, obscure manner, so that everything is a kind of riddle to us; 'but then' we shall see, not a faint reflection, but the objects themselves' 'face to face,' directly and distinctly. 'Now I know but in part.' Even when God reveals things to me, great part of them is still kept under the veil. 'But then shall I know even as I also am known'--in a clear, full, comprehensive manner; in some measure like God, who penetrates the centre of every object, and sees at one glance through my soul and all things. 'And now,' during the present life, 'abide these three, faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these,' in its duration as well as the excellence of its nature, 'is love.' Faith, hope, love, are the sum of perfection on earth; love alone is the sum of perfection in heaven.
'It appears, then, that the miraculous powers of the Church were to cease upon its perfect establishment' (page 107). Nothing like it appears from this scripture. But supposing it did, is Christianity perfectly established yet even nominal Christianity Mr. Brerewood took large pains to be fully informed; and, according to his account, [Enquiries touching the Diversity of Languages and Religions through the chiefe parts of the World (1614), p. 118. ] five parts in six of the known world are Mahometans or Pagans to this day. If so, Christianity is yet far from being perfectly established, either in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America.
'Having now established the fact' (wonderfully established!), 'we may inquire into the fitness of it. There were two causes of the extraordinary operations of the Holy Spirit--one to manifest His mission (and this was done once for all), the other to comfort and instruct the Church.' (Page 110.)
'At His first descent on the Apostles, He found their minds rude and uninformed, strangers to all heavenly knowledge, and utterly averse to the gospel. He illuminated their minds with all necessary truth. For, a rule of faith not being yet composed' (No! Had they not 'the Law and the Prophets') 'some extraordinary infusion of His virtue was still necessary. But when this rule was perfected, part of this office was transferred upon the Sacred Canon; and His enlightening grace was not to be expected in such abundant measure as to make the recipients infallible guides.' (Page 112.)
Certainly it was not. If this is all that is intended, no one will gainsay.
'Yet modern fanatics pretend to as high a degree of divine communications as if no such rule were in being' (I do not); 'or, at least, as if that rule needed the farther assistance of the Holy Spirit to explain His own meaning.' This is quite another thing. I do firmly believe (and what serious man does not) omnis scriptura legi debet eo Spiritu quo scripta est: 'We need the same Spirit to understand the Scripture which enabled the holy men of old to write it.'
'Again, the whole strength of human prejudices was then set in opposition to the gospel, to overcome the obstinacy and violence of which nothing less than the power of the Holy One was sufficient. At present, whatever prejudices may remain, it draws the other way.' (Page 113.) What, toward holiness toward temperance and chastity toward justice, mercy, and truth Quite the reverse. And to overcome the obstinacy and violence of the heart-prejudices which still lie against these, the power of the Holy One is as necessary now as ever it was from the beginning of the world.
'A farther reason for the ceasing of miracles is the peace and security of the Church. The profession of the Christian faith is now attended with ease and honour.' 'The profession,' true; but not the thing itself, as 'all that will live godly in Christ Jesus' experience.
'But if miracles are not ceased, why do you not prove your mission thereby' As your Lordship has frequently spoke to this effect, I will now give a clear answer. And I purposely do it in the same words which I published many years since....[See sect. v of the letter of June 17, 1746, to Thomas Church, which Wesley quotes here.]
'But "why do you talk of the success of the gospel in England, which was a Christian country before you was born" Was it indeed Is it so at this day I would explain myself a little on this head also.
'And (1) None can deny that the people of England in general are called Christians. They are called so, a few only excepted, by others as well as by themselves. But I presume no man will say the name makes the thing, that men are Christians barely because they are called so. It must be allowed (2) That the people of England generally speaking have been christened or baptized; but neither can we infer, "These were once baptized, therefore they are Christians now." It is allowed (3) That many of those who were once baptized, and are called Christians to this day, hear the word of God, attend public prayers, and partake of the Lord's Supper. But neither does this prove that they are Christians. For, notwithstanding this, some of them live in open sin; and others, though not conscious to themselves of hypocrisy, yet are utter strangers to the religion of the heart, are full of pride, vanity, covetousness, ambition, of hatred, anger, malice, or envy, and consequently are no more spiritual Christians than the open drunkard or common swearer.
'Now, these being removed, where are the Christians from whom we may properly term England a Christian country the men who have "the mind which was in Christ" and who "walk as He also walked" whose inmost soul is renewed after the image of God, and who are outwardly holy, as He who hath called them is holy There are doubtless a few such to be found. To deny this would be "want of candour." But how few! how thinly scattered up and down! And as for a Christian visible Church, or a body of Christians visibly united together, where is this to be seen Ye different sects, who all declare, Lo, here is Christ I or, Christ is there! Your stronger proofs divinely give, And show me where the Christians live!
'And what use is it of, what good end does it serve, to term England a Christian country Although it is true most of the natives are called Christians, have been baptized, frequent the ordinances; and although here and there a real Christian is to be found, "as a light shining in a dark place,"--does it do any honour to our great Master among those who are not called by His name Does it recommend Christianity to the Jews, the Mahometans, or the avowed heathens Surely no one can conceive it does. It only makes Christianity stink in their nostrils. Does it answer any good end with regard to those who are called by this worthy name I fear not, but rather an exceeding bad one. For does it not keep multitudes easy in their heathen practice Does it not make or keep still greater numbers satisfied with their heathen tempers Does it not directly tend to make both the one and the other imagine that they are what indeed they are not, that they are Christians while they are utterly without Christ and without God in the world To close this point: if men are not Christians till they are renewed after the image of Christ, and if the people of England in general are not thus renewed, why do we term them so "The god of this world hath" long "blinded their hearts." Let us do nothing to increase their blindness, but rather to recover them from that strong delusion, that they may no longer believe a lie.
'Let us labour to convince all mankind that to be a real Christian is to love the Lord our God with all our heart and to serve Him with all our strength; to love our neighbour as ourselves, and therefore to do unto every man as we would he should do unto us. [See letter of June 17 1746, sect. vi. 3-4.]
To change one of these heathens into a real Christian, and to continue him such, all the ordinary operations of the Holy Spirit are absolutely necessary.
'But what are they' I sum them up (as I did in the Farther Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion) in the words of as learned and orthodox a divine as ever England bred:--
'Sanctification being opposed to our corruption, and answering fully to the latitude thereof, whatsoever of holiness and perfection is wanting in our nature must be supplied by the Spirit of God. Wherefore, we being by nature totally void of all saving truth and under an impossibility of knowing the will of God, this "Spirit searcheth all things, yea even the deep things of God," and revealeth them unto the sons of men; so that thereby the darkness of their understanding is expelled, and they are enlightened with the knowledge of God. The same Spirit which revealeth the object of faith generally to the universal Church, doth also illuminate the understanding of such as believe, that they may receive the truth. For faith is the gift of God, not only in the object, but also in the act. And this gift is a gift of the Holy Ghost working within us. And as the increase of perfection, so the original of faith, is from the Spirit of God by an internal illumination of the soul.
'The second part of the office of the Holy Ghost is the renewing of man in all the parts and faculties of his soul. For our natural corruption consisting in an aversation of our wills and a depravation of our affections, an inclination of them to the will of God is wrought within us by the Spirit of God.
'The third part of this office is to lead, direct, and govern us in our actions and conversations. "If we live in the Spirit," quickened by His renovation, we must also "walk in the Spirit," following His direction, led by His manuduction. We are also animated and acted by the Spirit of God, who giveth "both to will and to do."
'And "as many as are thus led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God" (Rom. viii. 14). Moreover, that this direction may prove more effectual, we are guided in our prayers by the same Spirit, according to the promise, "I will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication" (Zech. xii. 10). Whereas, then, "this is the confidence we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us"; and whereas "we know not what we should pray for as we ought, the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. viii. 26). "And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (verse 27). From which intercession (made for all true Christians) He hath the name of the Paraclete given Him by Christ, who said, "I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Paraclete" (John xiv. 16, 26). For "if any man sin, we have a Paraclete with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous," saith St. John. "Who maketh intercession for us," saith St. Paul (Rom. viii. 34). And we have "another Paraclete," saith our Saviour (John xiv. 16), "which also maketh intercession for us," saith St. Paul (Rom. viii. 27). A Paraclete, then, in the notion of the Scriptures, is an Intercessor.
'It is also the office of the Holy Ghost to assure us of the adoption of sons, to create in us a sense of the paternal love of God towards us, to give us an earnest of our everlasting inheritance. "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. And, because we are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. For we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but we have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father; the Spirit itself bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God." As, therefore, we are born again by the Spirit, and receive from Him our regeneration, so we are also by the same Spirit assured of our adoption. Because, being "sons, we are also heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ," by the same Spirit we have the pledge, or rather the earnest, of our inheritance. "For He which establisheth us in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and hath given us the earnest of His Spirit in our hearts; so that we are sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance." The Spirit of God, as given unto us in this life, is to be looked upon as an earnest, being part of that reward which is promised, and, upon performance of the covenant which God hath made with us, certainly to be received.' [Works, viii. 99-101; Pearson's An Exposition of the Creed, art. VIII. ii. on The Office of the Spirit.]
It now rests with your Lordship to take your choice, either to condemn or to acquit both: either your Lordship must condemn Bishop Pearson for an enthusiast, or you must acquit me; for I have his express authority on my side concerning every text which I affirm to belong to all Christians.
But I have greater authority than his, and such as I reverence only less than the oracles of God: I mean that of our own Church. I shall close this head by setting down what occurs in her authentic records concerning either our receiving the Holy Ghost or His ordinary operations in all true Christians.
In her Daily Service she teacheth us all to 'beseech God to grant us His Holy Spirit, that those things may please Him which we do at this present, and that the rest of our life may be pure and holy'; to pray for our sovereign Lord the King, that God would 'replenish him with the grace of His Holy Spirit'; for all the Royal Family, that 'they may be endued with His Holy Spirit and enriched with His heavenly grace'; for all the clergy and people, that He would 'send down upon them the healthful Spirit of His grace'; for the catholic Church, that 'it may be guided and governed by His good Spirit'; and for all therein, who at any time make their common supplications unto Him, that 'the fellowship' or communication 'of the Holy Ghost may be with them all evermore.'
Her Collects are full of petitions to the same effect. 'Grant that we may daily be renewed by Thy Holy Spirit' (Collect for Christmas Day). 'Grant that in all our sufferings here, for the testimony of Thy truth, we may by faith behold the glory that shall be revealed, and, being filled with the Holy Ghost, may love and bless our persecutors' (St. Stephen's Day). 'Send Thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity' (Quinquagesima Sunday). 'O Lord, from whom all good things do come, grant to us Thy humble servants that by Thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by Thy merciful guidance may perform the same' (Fifth Sunday after Easter). 'We beseech Thee, leave us not comfortless, but send to us the Holy Ghost to comfort us' (Sunday after Ascension Day). 'Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgement in all things, and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort' (Whit Sunday). 'Grant us, Lord, we beseech Thee, the Spirit to think and do always such things as be rightful' (Ninth Sunday after Trinity). 'O God, forasmuch as without Thee we are not able to please Thee, mercifully grant that Thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts' (Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity). 'Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love Thee and worthily magnify Thy holy name' (Communion Office).
'Give Thy Holy Spirit to this infant (or this person), that he may be born again. Give Thy Holy Spirit to these persons' (N.B. already baptized), 'that they may continue Thy servants.'
'Almighty God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate these persons by water and the Holy Ghost, strengthen them with the Holy Ghost the Comforter, and daily increase in them the manifold gifts of Thy grace' (Office of Confirmation). From these passages it may sufficiently appear for what purposes every Christian, according to the doctrine of the Church of England, does now receive the Holy Ghost. But this will be still more clear from those that follow; wherein we may likewise observe a plain, rational sense of God's 'revealing' Himself to us, of the 'inspiration' of the Holy Ghost, and of a believer's 'feeling' in himself the 'mighty working' of the Spirit of Christ:--
'God gave them of old, grace to be His children, as He doth us now. But, now by the coming of our Saviour Christ, we have received more abundantly the Spirit of God in our hearts.' (Homily on Faith, Part II.)
'He died to destroy the rule of the devil in us, and He rose again to send down His Holy Spirit to rule in our hearts' (Homily on the Resurrection).
'We have the Holy Spirit in our hearts as a seal and pledge of our everlasting inheritance' (ibid.).
'The Holy Ghost sat upon each of them, like as it had been cloven tongues of fire, to teach that it is He that giveth eloquence and utterance in preaching the gospel, which engendereth a burning zeal towards God's Word, and giveth all men a tongue; yea a fiery tongue.' (N.B.--Whatever occurs, in any of the Journals, of God's 'giving me utterance' or 'enabling me to speak with power' cannot therefore be quoted as enthusiasm without wounding the Church through my side.) 'So that if any man be a dumb Christian, not professing his faith openly, he giveth men occasion to doubt lest he have not the grace of the Holy Ghost within him.' (Homily on Whit Sunday, Part I.)
'It is the office of the Holy Ghost to sanctify; which the more it is hid from our understanding' (that is, the particular manner of His working), 'the more it ought to move all men to wonder at the secret and mighty workings of God's Holy Spirit, which is within us. For it is the Holy Ghost that doth quicken the minds of men, stirring up godly motions in their hearts. Neither does He think it sufficient inwardly to work the new birth of men, unless He does also dwell and abide in them. "Know ye not," saith St. Paul, "that ye are the temples of God, and that His Spirit dwelleth in you Know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost, which is within you" Again he saith, "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit." For why "The Spirit of God dwelleth in you." To this agreeth St. John: "The anointing which ye have received" (he meaneth the Holy Ghost) "abideth in you" (I John ii. 27). And St. Peter saith the same: "The Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you." Oh what comfort is this to the heart of a true Christian, to think that the Holy Ghost dwelleth in him! "If God be with us," as the Apostle saith, "who can be against us" He giveth patience and joyfulness of heart in temptation and affliction, and is therefore worthily called "the Comforter" (John xiv. 16). He doth instruct the hearts of the simple in the knowledge of God and His Word; therefore He is justly termed "the Spirit of truth" (John xvi. 13). And (N.B.) where the Holy Ghost doth instruct and teach, there is no delay at all in learning.' (Ibid.)
From this passage I learn (1) that every true Christian now 'receives the Holy Ghost' as the Paraclete or Comforter promised by our Lord (John xiv. 16); (2) that every Christian receives Him as 'the Spirit of all truth' (promised John xvi. 13) to 'teach him all things'; and (3) that the anointing mentioned in the First Epistle of St. John 'abides in every Christian.'
'In reading of God's Word, he profiteth most who is most inspired with the Holy Ghost' (Homily on Reading the Scripture, Part I.).
'Human and worldly reason is not needful to the understanding the Scripture; but the "revelation of the Holy Ghost," who inspireth the true meaning unto them who with humility and diligence search for it' (Part II.).
'Make him know and feel that there is no other name given under heaven unto men whereby we can be saved.' 'If we feel our conscience at peace with God, through remission of our sins, all is of God.' (Homily on Rogation Week, Part III.)
'If you feel such a faith in you, rejoice in it, and let it be daily increasing by well working' (Homily on Faith, Part III.).
'The faithful may feel wrought, tranquillity of conscience, the increase of faith and hope, with many other graces of God' (Homily on the Sacrament, Part I.).
'Godly men feel inwardly God's Holy Spirit inflaming their hearts with love' (Homily on Certain Places of Scripture, Part I.).
'God give us grace to know these things, and feel them in our hearts! This knowledge and feeling is not of ourselves. Let us therefore meekly call upon the bountiful Spirit, the Holy Ghost, to inspire us with His presence, that we may be able to hear the goodness of God to our salvation. For without His lively inspiration we cannot so much as speak the name of the Mediator: "No man can say Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost." Much less should we be able to believe and know these great mysteries that be opened to us by Christ. "But we have received," saith St. Paul, "not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God"; for this purpose, "that we may know the things which are freely given to us of God." In the power of the Holy Ghost resteth all ability to know God and to please Him. It is He that purifieth the mind by His secret working. He enlighteneth the heart to conceive worthy thoughts of Almighty God. He sitteth on the tongue of man to stir him to speak His honour. He only ministereth spiritual strength to the powers of the soul and body. And if we have any gift whereby we may profit our neighbour, all is wrought by this one and selfsame Spirit.' (Homily for Rogation Week, Part III.)
Every proposition which I have anywhere advanced concerning those operations of the Holy Ghost, which I believe are common to all Christians in all ages, is here clearly maintained by our own Church.
Being fully convinced of this, I could not well understand for many years how it was that, on the mentioning any of these great truths, even among men of education, the cry immediately arose, 'An enthusiast, an enthusiast!' But I now plainly perceive this is only an old fallacy in a new shape. To object enthusiasm to any person or doctrine is but a decent method of begging the question. It generally spares the objector the trouble of reasoning, and is a shorter and easier way of carrying his cause.
For instance: I assert that 'till a man "receives the Holy Ghost" he is without God in the world; that he cannot know the things of God unless God reveal them unto him by His Spirit-- no, nor have even one holy or heavenly temper without the inspiration of the Holy One.' Now, should one who is conscious to himself that he has experienced none of these things attempt to confute these propositions either from Scripture or antiquity, it might prove a difficult task. What, then, shall he do Why, cry out, 'Enthusiasm! Fanaticism!' and the work is done.
'But is it not mere enthusiasm or fanaticism to talk of the new birth' So one might imagine from the manner in which your Lordship talks of it: 'The Spirit did not stop till it had manifested itself in the last effort of its power--the new birth. The new birth began in storms and tempests, in cries and ecstasies, in tumults and confusions. Persons who had no sense of religion --that is, no ecstatic feelings, or pains of the new birth. What can be the issue of the new birth, attended with those infernal throes Why would he elicit sense from these Gentiles, when they were finally to be deprived of it in ecstasies and new births All these circumstances Mr. Wesley has declared to be constant symptoms of the new birth.' (Pages 123, 126, 180, 170, 225, 222.)
So the new birth is throughout the whole tract the standing topic of ridicule.
'No, not the new birth itself, but your enthusiastic, ridiculous account of it.' What is, then, my account of the new birth I gave it some years ago in these words:--
'It is that great change which God works in the soul when He brings it into life; when He raises it from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. It is the change wrought in the whole soul by the almighty Spirit of God, when it is "created anew in Christ Jesus," when it is "renewed after the image of God in righteousness and true holiness; when the love of the world is changed into the love of God, pride into humility, passion into meekness, hatred, envy, malice into a sincere, tender, disinterested love to all mankind. In a word, it is that change whereby the earthly, sensual, devilish mind is turned into "the mind which was in Christ Jesus."' [Sermon on the New Birth. See Works, vi. 71.]
This is my account of the new birth. What is there ridiculous or enthusiastic in it
'But what do you mean by those tempests, and cries, and pains, and infernal throes attending the new birth' I will tell you as plainly as I can, in the very same words I used to Dr. Church, after premising that some experience much, some very little, of these pains and throes:--
'"When men feel in themselves the heavy burthen of sin, see damnation to be the reward of it, behold with the eye of their mind the horror of hell, they tremble, they quake, and are inwardly touched with sorrowfulness of heart, and cannot but accuse themselves, and open their grief unto Almighty God, and call unto Him for mercy. This being done seriously, their mind is so occupied, partly with sorrow and heaviness, partly with an earnest desire to be delivered from this danger of hell and damnation, that all desire of meat and drink is laid apart, and loathing of worldly things and pleasures comes in place, so that nothing then liketh them more than to weep, to lament, to mourn, and both with words and behaviour of body to show themselves weary of life."
'Now, permit me to ask, What, if, before you had observed that these were the very words of our own Church, one of your acquaintance or parishioners had come and told you that, ever since he heard a sermon at the Foundery, he saw damnation before him, and beheld with the eye of his mind the horror of hell What, if he had trembled and quaked, and been so taken up, partly with sorrow and heaviness, partly with an earnest desire to be delivered from the danger of hell and damnation, as to weep, to lament, to mourn, and both with words and behaviour to show himself weary of life Would you have scrupled to say, "Here is another deplorable instance of the Methodists driving men to distraction"'
I have now finished, as my time permits, what I had to say, either concerning myself or on the operations of the Holy Spirit. In doing this I have used great plainness of speech, and yet I hope without rudeness. If anything of that kind has slipped from me, I am ready to retract it. I desire, on the one hand, to 'accept no man's person'; and yet, on the other, to give 'honour to whom honour is due.'
If your Lordship should think it worth your while to spend any more words upon me, may I presume to request one thing of your Lordship--to be more serious It cannot injure your Lordship's character or your cause. Truth is great, and will prevail.
Wishing your Lordship all temporal and spiritual blessings, I am, my Lord, Your Lordship's dutiful son and servant.
Edited by Jerry James (Pastor), and converted to HTML by Steven F. Johnson.1998 Wesley Center for Applied Theology. All rights reserved. No for-profit use of this text is permitted without the express, written consent of the Wesley Center for Applied Theology of Northwest Nazarene College, Nampa, Idaho 83686 USA.