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be so certain of the pardon of our sins, as to be assured they will never rise up against us, I firmly believe. We know that they will infallibly do so if we apostatize; and I am not satisfied what evidence there can be of our final perseverance, till we have finished our course. But I am persuaded we may know if we are now in a state of salvation, since that is expressly promised in the Holy Scriptures to our sincere endeavours, and we are surely able to judge of our own sincerity.” He was startled at that part of our articles which bears a Calvinistic appearance.
o As I understand faith, said he, “ to be an assent to any truth upon rational grounds, I do not think it possible, without perjury, to swear I believe any thing, unless I have reasonable grounds for my persuasion. Now, that which contradicts reason cannot be said to stand upon reasonable grounds, and such, undoubtedly, is every proposition which is incompatible with the divine justice or mercy. What then shall I say of predestination ? If it was inevitably decreed from eternity that a determinate part of mankind should be saved, and none beside them, a vast majority of the world were only born to eternal death, without so much as a possibility of avoiding it. How is this consistent with either the divine justice or mercy? Is it merciful to ordain a creature to everlasting misery? Is it just to punish man for crimes which he could not but commit? That God should be the author of sin and injustice, which must, I think, be the consequence of maintaining this opinion, is a contradiction to the clearest ideas we have of the divine nature and perfections.". His mother, to whom these feelings were imparted, agreed with him that the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination was shocking, and ought utterly to be abhorred. The church doctrine, she argued, if it were properly understood, in no wise derogated from God's free grace, nor impaired the liberty of man ; for there could be no more reason to suppose that the prescience of God is the cause why so many finally perislı, than that our knowing the sun will rise tomorrow is the cause of its rising. But she wondered 'why men would amuse themselves with searching into the decrees of God, which no human art could fathom, and not rather employ their time and powers in making their own election sure. “Such studies,” she said, “tended more to confound than to inform the understanding: but as he had entered upon it, if her thoughts did not satisfy him, he had better consult his father, who was surely much better qualified for a casuist than herself.”
The course of these studies, aided also by his meeting, for the first time, with a religious friend, produced a great change in Wesley's frame of mind. He began to alter the whole form of his conversation, and to set in earnest upon a new life. He communicated every week, and began to pray for that inward holiness, of the necessity of which Bishop Taylor had convinced him, and to aim at it with his utmost endeavours. Thus prepared in heart as well as in knowledge, he was ordained in the autumn of the year 1725 by Dr. Potter, then
bishop of Oxford, and afterwards primate. In the ensuing spring he offered himself for a fellowship at Lincoln College. Even in college elections there is play enough for evil passions, and too much license allowed them. Though Wesley was not yet eccentric in his habits of life, the strictness of his religious principles was sufficiently remarkable to afford subject for satire; and his opponents hoped to prevent his success by making him ridiculous. Upon this occasion his father told him it was a callow virtue that could not bear being laughed at. His mother encouraged him in a different manner.
If,” said she, “ it be a weak virtue that cannot bear being laughed at, I am sure it is a strong and well-confirmed virtue that can stand the test of a brisk buffoonery. Many people, though well inclined, have yet made shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, merely because they could not bear raillery. I would therefore advise those who are in the beginning of a Christian course, to shun the company of profane wits, as they would the plague or poverty; and never to contract an intimacy with any
but such as have a good sense of religion.” Notwithstanding this kind of opposition, he attained the object in view, and was elected fellow in March 1726, having been much indebted to his brother Samuel's influence, and to the good. will of the rector of the college, Dr. Morley. This was a great joy to his father, who was now far advanced in the vale of years. In writing to congratulate him he
“ What will be my own fate before the summer be over, God knows : sed passi
graviora. - Wherever I am, my Jack is Fellow of Lincoln."
This removal enabled him to rid himself of all unsympathizing acquaintance, in a manner which he related, sixty years afterwards, in his sermon on leaving the world. " When it pleased God,” he says,
“ to give me a settled resolution to be not a nominal, but a real Christian, (being then about twenty-two years of age,) my acquaintance were as ignorant of God as myself. But there was this difference: I knew my own ignorance; they did not know theirs. I faintly endeavoured to help them, but in vain. Meantime I found, by sad experience, that even their harmless conversation, so called, damped all my good resolutions. But how to get rid of them was the question which I re
mind again and again. I saw no possible way, unless it should please God to remove me to another College. He did so, in a manner utterly contrary to all human probability. I was elected fellow of a college, where I knew not one person. I foresaw abundance of people would come to see me, either out of friendship, civility, or curiosity, and that I should have offers of acquaintance new and old; but I had now fixed my plan. Entering now, as it were, into a new world, I resolved to have no acquaintance by chance, but by choice, and to choose such only as I had reason to believe would help me on my way to heaven. In consequence of this, I narrowly observed the temper
and behaviour of all that visited me. I saw no reason to think that the greater part of these truly
volved in my
loved or feared God. Such acquaintance, therefore, I did not choose : I could not expect they would do me any good. Therefore, when
any these came, I behaved as courteously as I could : but to the question, • When will you come to see me? I returned no answer. When they had come a few times, and found I still declined returning the visit, I saw them no more. And I bless God," he adds, “ this has been my invariable rule for about threescore years. I knew many reflections would follow ; but that did not move me, as I knew full well it was my calling to go through evil report and good report.”
From this time Wesley began to keep a diary, according to a practice which at one time was very general among persons religiously disposed. To this practice the world owes some valuable materials for history as well as individual biography; but perhaps no person has, in this manner, conveyed so lively a picture of himself as Wesley. During a most restless life of incessant occupation, he found time to register not only his proceedings, but his thoughts, his studies, and his occasional remarks upon men and books, and not unfrequently upon miscellaneous subjects, with a vivacity which characterised him to the last. Eight months after his election to a fellowship, he was appointed Greek lecturer and moderator of the classes. At that time disputations were held six times a week at Lincoln College ; and however the students
may have profited by them, they were of singular use to the moderator. “ I could not