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discharged, he had received a penny. She imme. diately cried out, this will do for my son ; and turning to him said, Will you go to Oxford, George ? Happening to have the same friends as this young man, she waited on them without delay; they promised their interest to obtain a servitor's place in the same college, and in reliance upon this George returned to the grammar-school. Here he applied closely to his books, and shaking off, by the strong effort of a religious mind, all evil and idle courses, produced, by the influence of his talents and example, some reformation among his schoolfellows. He attended public service constantly, received the sacrament monthly, fasted often, and prayed often more than twice a day in private. At the age of eighteen he was removed to Oxford; the recommendation of his friends was successful; another friend borrowed for him ten pounds, to defray the expence of entering; and with a good fortune beyond his hopes, he was admitted servitor immediately.
Servitorships are more in the spirit of a Roman Catholic than of an English establishment. Among the Catholics religious poverty is made respectable, because it is accounted a virtue ; and humiliation is an essential part of monastic discipline. But in our state of things it cannot be wise to brand men with the mark of inferiority; the line is already broad enough. Oxford would do well if, in this respect, it imitated Cambridge, abolished an invidious distinction of dress, and dispensed with services which, even when they are not mortifying to those who perform them, are painful to those to whom they are performed. Whitefield found the advantage of having been used to a public house ; many
who could choose their servitor preferred him, because of his diligent and alert attendance; and thus, by help of the profits of the place, and some little presents made him by a kind-hearted tutor, he was enabled to live without being beholden to his relations for more than four-and-twenty pounds in the course of three years. Little as this is, it shows, when compared with the ways and means of the elder Wesley at college, that half a century had greatly enhanced the expenses of Oxford. At / first he was rendered uncomfortable by the society into which he was thrown; he had several chamber fellows, who would fain have made him join them in their riotous mode of life; and as he could only escape from their persecutions by sitting alone in his study, he was sometimes benumbed with cold; but when they perceived the strength as well as the singularity of his character, they suffered him to take his own way in peace.
Before Whitefield went to Oxford, he had heard of the young men there who “ lived by rule and method,” and were therefore called Methodists. They were now much talked of, and generally despised. He, however, was drawn toward them by kindred feelings, defended them strenuously when be heard them reviled, and when he saw them go through a ridiculing crowd to receive the sacra. ment at St. Mary's, was strongly inclined to follow their example. For more than a year he yearned to be acquainted with them ; and it seems that the sense of his inferior condition kept him back. At
length the great object of his desires was effected. A pauper had attempted suicide, and Whitefield sent a poor woman to inform Charles Wesley that he might visit the person, and minister spiritual medicine: the messenger was charged not to say who sent her; contrary to these orders, she told his name, and Charles Wesley, who had seen him frequently walking by himself, and heard something of his character, invited him to breakfast the next morning. An introduction to this little fellowship soon followed; and he also, like them, “ began to live by rule, and to pick up the very fragments of his time, that not a moment of it might be lost.”
They were now about fifteen in number: when first they began to meet, they read divinity on Sunday evenings only, and pursued their classical studies on other nights; but religion soon became the sole business of their meetings: they now regularly visited the prisoners and the sick, commu. nicated once a week, and fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays, the stationary days of the Ancient Church, which were thus set apart, because on those days our Saviour had been betrayed and crucified. They also drew up a scheme of selfexamination, to assist themselves, by means of prayer and meditation, in attaining simplicity and the love of God. Except that it speaks of obeying the laws of the Church of England, it might fitly be appended to the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. Its obvious faults were, that such selfexamination would leave little time for any thing else; that the habits of life which it requires and pre-supposes would be as burthensome as the rules
of the monastic orders; and that the proposed simplicity would generally end in producing the worst of artificial characters; for where it made one out of a thousand a saint, it would make the rest inevi. tably formalists and hypocrites. Religion is defined in this scheme to be a recovery of the image of God. It cannot be doubted that they who framed it were filled with devotion the most fervent, and charity the most unbounded, however injudicious in many respects the means were whereby they thought to promote and strengthen such dispositions in themselves. But Wesley, when he had advanced in his career, looked back upon himself as having been at this time in a state of great spi. ritual ignorance: and the two leading ministers, who drew up for the use of the Methodists, and under the sanction of the collected preachers, the life of their founder, remark, that in this scheme · the great sincerity and earnestness of Wesley and his friends are discernable, but that “ the darkness of their minds as to gospel truths is very evident to those who are favoured with true evangelical views.”
To the younger members of the University their conduct, which now rather affected singularity than avoided it, was matter of general ridicule ; and there were elder and wiser heads who disapproved their course, as leading fast toward enthusiasm and extravagance. Wesley had not yet that confidence in his own judgement by which he was afterwards so strongly characterized, and he wrote to his father for advice. The principles upon
which he proceeded were unexceptionable, the motives excellent: and the circumstances which gave offence, and excited just apprehension, would not only be unintentionally softened in his own representation, but would lose much of their weight when reported from a distance, and through this channel, to one who was prepossessed by natural affection. The father says in reply, “ As to your designs and employments, what can I say less of them than valde probo: and that I have the highest reason to bless God for giving me two sons together at Oxford, to whom he has given grace and courage to turn the war against the World and the Devil, which is the best way to conquer them.”
them.” He advised them to obtain the approbation of the Bishop for visiting the prisoners ; and encouraged them by saying, that when he was an under-graduate he had performed this work of charity, and reflected on it with great comfort now in his latter days.
66 You have reason,” he says, “ to bless God, as I do, that you have so fast a friend as Mr. Morgan, who I see, in the most difficult service, is ready to break the ice for you. I think I must adopt him to be my son together with you and your brother Charles; and when I have such a Ternion to prosecute that war, wherein I am now miles emeritus, I shall not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate. If it be possible, I should be glad to see you all three here in the fine end of the sum
But if I cannot have that satisfaction, I am sure I can reach you every day, though you were beyond the Indies.” He exhorted them to walk