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in the open air, rain, and thunder, and lightning did not disperse the multitudes who gathered round him. He himself could not but be conscious of his own power. Preaching at Clifton Church, and seeing many of the rich there, he says, “ heart was much pained for them, and I was earnestly desirous that some, even of them, might enter into the kingdom of heaven. But full as I was, I knew not where to begin in warning them to flee from the wrath to come, till my Testament opened on these words, I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance ; in applying which my soul was so enlarged, that methought I could have cried out in another sense than poor vain Archimedes, Give me where to stand, and I will shake the earth.”
On his first arrival in Bristol, that part of the Methodist discipline was introduced which he had adopted from the Moravians, and male and female bands were formed, as in London, that the members might meet together weekly, to confess their faults one to another, and pray one for another. « How dare any man,” says Wesley, “ deny this to be, as to the substance of it, a means of grace ordained by God? unless he will affirm with Luther, in the fury of his solifidianism, that St. James's epistle is an epistle of straw. A more important measure was the foundation of the first Methodist preaching house; and this, like the other steps which led inevitably to a separation from the Church, was taken without any such design, or any perception of its consequences. The rooms in which the Societies at Bristol had hitherto met in Nicholas-Street, Baldwin-Street, and the Back-Lane, were small, incommodious, and not entirely safe. They determined, therefore, to build a room large enough for all the members, and for as many of their acquaintance as might be expected to attend : a piece of ground was obtained in the Horse-Fair, near St. James's church-yard, and there, on the 12th of May 1739, “ the first stone was laid with the voice of praise and thanksgiving.” Wesley himself had no intention of being person. ally engaged either in the direction or expence of the work; for the property had been settled upon eleven feoffees, and upon them he had supposed the whole responsibility would rest. But it soon appeared that the work would be at a stand if he did not take upon himself the payment of all the workmen; and he found himself presently incumbered with a debt of more than an hundred and fifty pounds, which he was to discharge how he could, for the subscription of the Bristol societies did not amount to a fourth part of the sum. In another, and more important point, his friends in London, and Whitefield more especially, had been farther-sighted than himself; they represented to him that the feoffees would always have it in their power to turn him out of the room after he had built it, if he did not preach to their liking; and they declared that they would have nothing to do with the building, nor contribute any thing towards it, unless he instantly discharged all feoffees, and did every thing in his own name. Though Wesley had not foreseen this consequence, he immediately perceived the wisdom of his friends' advice: no man was more alive to the evils of congregational tyranny; he called together the feoffees, cancelled the writings without any opposition on their part, and took the whole trust, as well as the whole management, into his own hands. Money,” he says,
“ it is true, I had not, nor any human prospect or probability of procuring it; but I knew the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; and in his name set out, nothing doubting.”
After he had been about three months in Bristol, there came pressing letters from London, urging him to return thither as soon as possible, because the brethren in Fetter-Lane were in great confusion, for want of his presence and advice. For awhile, therefore, he took leave of his growing congregation, saying, that he had not found such love, “ no, not in England,” nor so child-like, artless, teachable a temper, as God had given to these Bristolians.
WHITEFIELD IN LONDON. — FRENCH PROPHETS.
EXTRAVAGANCIES OF THE METHODISTS.
During his abode at Bristol, Wesley had had many thoughts concerning the unusual manner of his ministering. He who had lately attempted with intolerant austerity, to enforce the discipline of the Church, and revive practices which had properly been suffered to fall into disuse, had now broken through the forms of that Church, and was acting in defiance of her authority. This irregularity he justified, by a determination to allow no other rule of faith, or practice, than the Scriptures; not, perhaps, reflecting that in this position he joined issue with the wildest religious anarchists. “God in Scripture,” he reasoned, “ commands me according to my power, to instruct the ignorant, reform the wicked, confirm the virtuous; man forbids me to do this in another's parish, that is, in effect, to do it at all, seeing I have now no parish of my own, nor probably ever shall; whom then shall I hear, God or man? If it be just to obey man rather than God, judge you ; a dispensation of the Gospel is committed to me, and woe is me if I preach not this Gospel. But where shall I preach it upon what are called Catholic principles ? — Why not in any of the Christian parts of the habitable earth, for all these are, after a sort, divided into parishes ?' This reasoning led him to look upon all the world as his parish. “ In whatever part of it I am,” he says, “ I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty, to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation. This is the work which I know God has called me to, and sure I am that His blessing attends it: His servant I am, and as such am employed (glory be to Him) day and night in His service; I am employed according to the plain direction of His word, as I have opportunity of doing good unto all men. And His Providence clearly concurs with His word, which has disengaged me from all things else, that I might șingly attend on this very thing, and go about doing good.”
Some of the disciples in London meantime, had pursued their master's fundamental principle farther than he had any intention of following it. A layman, whose name was Shaw, insisted that a priesthood was an unnecessary and unscriptural institution, and that he himself had as good a right to preach, baptize, and administer the sacraments, as any other man. Such a teacher found ready believers; the propriety of lay-preaching was contended for at the society in Fetter-Lane, and Charles Wesley strenuously opposed what he called these pestilent errors. In spite of his opposition, a certain Mr. Bowers set the first example. Two or three more ardent innovators declared that they would no longer be members of the Church of England. “ Now,” says Charles, in his journal,