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self; for by withdrawing from the academy at which he had been placed, he so far offended his friends, that they lent him no farther support, and in the latter years of Charles II. there was little disposition to encourage proselytes who joined a church which the reigning family was labouring to subvert. But Samuel Wesley was made of good mould: he knew and could depend upon himself: he walked to Oxford, entered himself at Exeter College as a poor scholar ", and began his studies there with no larger a fund than two pounds sixteen shillings, and no prospect of any
In Dr. Whitehead's lives of the Wesleys, and in the life which is prefixed to the collected edition of Mr. Wesley's works, it is said that Wesley the father was about sixteen when he entered himself at Exeter college. But as he was born“ about the year 1662, or perhaps a little earlier,” he must have been not less than two-and-twenty at that time, as the following extracts from the registers of Exeter College will prove:
Deposit of caution money.
Return of caution money.
Samuele Westley, paup.
Westley, p. schol. olim
Coll. debitis ad fest.
To these extracts, for which I am obliged to a fellow of Exeter Cololege, through the means of a common friend, these explanatory observations are annexed.“ In the entries of deposits the name first signed is that of the bursar, as R. Hutchins, G. Paynter : the name which fol.
ply. From that time, till he graduated, a single crown was all the assistance he received from his friends. He composed exercises for those who had more money than learning; and he
instruction to those who wished to profit by his lessons; and thus by great industry, and great frugality, he not only supported himself, but had accumulated the sum of ten pounds fifteen shillings, when he went to London to be ordained. Having served a curacy there one year, and as chaplain during another on board a king's ship, he settled upon a curacy in the metropolis, and married Susannah, daughter of Dr. Annesley, one of the ejected ministers.
No man was ever more suitably mated than the elder Wesley. The wife whom he chose was, like himself, the child of a man eminent among the non-conformists, and, like himself, in early youth she had chosen her own path : she had examined the * controversy between the Dissenters and the Church of England with conscientious diligence, and satisfied herself that the schismatics were in the wrong. The dispute, it must be remembered, related wholly to discipline; but her enquiries had not stopt there, and she had reasoned herself into Socinianism, from which she was reclaimed by her husband. She was an admirable woman, of highlyimproved mind, and of a strong and masculine understanding, an obedient wife, an exemplary mother, a fervent Christian. The marriage was blest in all its circumstances : it was contracted in the prime of their youth: it was fruitful; and death did not divide them till they were both full of days.
lows is that of the depositor sometimes, but more usually that of his tutor or friend. Crabb was dean of the college when Westley entered.
“ The Pauper Scholaris was the lowest of the four conditions of members not on the foundation, as the annexed table, copied from one prefixed to the caution book, shews :
Summæ '1. Commensalium 1. Sociorum ....... £6.
2. Propriam ...... £5.
£3. « I understand that some of these poor scholars were servitors, but not all.
“ There seems reason to suspect that Dec. 22. 1686, in the first entry of return, should be 1685; for otherwise Samuel Westley will appear to bave had two cautions in at once; and from the state of his finances this is peculiarly improbable."
The name is spelled Westley with a t, in these entries, and in his own signature.
* “ There is nothing I now desire to live for (says Mrs. Wesley in a letter to her son Samuel, dated Oct. 11. 1709,) but to do some small service to my children ; that, as I have brought them into the world, I may, if it please God, be an instrument of doing good to their souls. I had been several years collecting from my little reading, but chiefly from my own observation and experience, some things which I hoped might be useful to you all. I had begun to correct and form all into a little manual, wherein I designed you should have seen what were the particular reasons which prevailed on me to believe the being of a God, and the grounds of natural religion, together with the motives that induced me to embrace the faith of Jesus Christ; under which was com. prehended my own private reasons for the truth of revealed religion; and because I was educated among the Dissenters, and there was something remarkable in my leaving them at so early an age, not being full thirteen, I had drawn up an account of the whole transaction, under which I had included the main of the controversy between them and the established church, as far as it had come to my knowledge, and then followed the reasons which had determined my judgement to the preference of the Church of England. I had fairly transcribed a great part of it, but before I could finisb my design, the flames consumed both this and all my other writings.”
They had no less than nineteen children; but only three sons and three daughters seem to have grown up; and it is probably to the loss of the others that the father refers in one of his letters, where he says, that he had suffered things more grievous than death. The manner in which these children were taught to read is remarkable: the mother never began with them till they were five years old, and then she made them learn the alphabet perfectly in one day: on the next they were put to spell and to read one line, and then a'verse, never leaving it till they were perfect in the lesson.
Mr. Wesley soon attracted notice by his ability and his erudition. Talents found their way into public less readily in that age than in the present ; and therefore, when they appeared, they obtained attention the sooner. He was thought capable of forwarding the plans of James II. with regard to religion; and preferment was promised him if he would preach in behalf of the king's measures. But instead of reading the king's declaration as he was required, and although surrounded with courtiers, soldiers, and informers, he' preached boldly against the designs of the court, taking for his text the pointed language of the prophet Daniel, “ If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thy hand, O king ! But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” When the Revolution was effected, Mr. Wesley was the first who wrote
in its defence : he dedicated the work to Queen Mary, and was rewarded for it with the living of Epworth, in Lincolnshire. It is said that if the queen had lived longer he would have obtained more preferment. His wife differed from him in opinion concerning the Revolution, but as she understood the duty, and the wisdom of obedience, she did not express her dissent; and he discovered it a year only before King William died, by observing that she did not say Amen to the prayers for him. Instead of imitating her forbearance, he questioned her upon the subject, and when she told him she did not believe the Prince of Orange was king, he vowed never again to cohabit with her till she did. In pursuance of this unwarrantable vow he immediately took horse and rode away; nor did she hear of him again, till the death of the king, about twelve months afterwards, released him from his rash and criminal engagement. John was their first child after this separation.
In the reign of Queen Anne Mr. Wesley's prospects appeared to brighten. A poem which he published upon the battle of Blenheim pleased the duke of Marlborough, and the author was rewarded with the chaplainship of a regiment. A farther and better reward was held out to his expectations ; and he was invited to London by a nobleman who promised to procure him a prebend. This the Dissenters, with whom he was engaged in controversy, were at that time powerful enough to prevent. No enmity is so envenomed as that of religious faction. The Dissenters hated Mr. Wesley cordially, because