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fore men, and that not barely through the chinks of a bushel for fear the wind should blow it out: the design of lighting it was, that it might give light to all who went into the house of God. And to this academical studies are only preparatory.'
He concluded, with singular force and eloquent earnestness, in these words : “ We are not to fix our view on one single point of duty, but to take in the complicated view of all the circumstances in every state of life that offers. Thus is the case before us : put all the circumstances together: if you are not indifferent whether the labours of an aged father, for above forty years in God's vineyard, be lost, and the fences of it trodden down and destroyed ;-if you consider that Mr. M. must in all probability succeed me if you do not, and that the prospect of that mighty Nimrod's coming hither shocks my soul, and is in a fair way of bringing down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave;
have any care for our family, which must be dismally shattered as soon as I am dropt ;--if you reflect on the dear love and longing which this poor people has for you, whereby you will be enabled to do God the more service, and the plen. teousness of the harvest, consisting of near two thousand souls, whereas you have not many more souls in the University,- you may perhaps alter your mind, and bend your will to His, who has promised if in all our ways we acknowledge Him, He will direct our paths,
Samuel, when he heard that his brother had declared himself unalterably resolved not to accept
the living if he could get it, knew him, as he said, well enough to believe that no one could move his mind, except He who made it. Without, therefore, drawing the saw of controversy, as he called it, he set before him his own example.
66 I left Oxford,” said he, “ with all its opportunity of good, on a worldly account, at my father's desire. I left my last settlement by the same determination, and should have thought I sinned both times if I had not followed it.” And he pressed upon John the simple proposition, that having taken orders, he was solemnly engaged to undertake the cure of souls before God, and his High Priest, and his Church. Wesley replied both to his father and his brother in a manner more characteristic of the man than creditable to his judgement. He argued as if his own salvation would be rendered impossible at Epworth: he could not, he said, stand his ground there for a month, against intemperance in sleeping, eating, and drinking; his spirit would thus be dissolved; the cares and desires of the world would roll back with a full tide upon him, and while he preached to others, he should be a castaway himself. Uninterrupted freedom from trifling acquaintance was necessary for him : he dreaded, as the bane of piety, the company of good sort of men, lukewarm Christians, persons that have a great concern for religion, but no sense of it.
They undermine insensibly,” says he, “all my resolutions, and quite steal from me the little fervour I have. I never come from among these saints of the world (as John Valdesso calls them)
faint, dissipated, and shorn of all my strength, but I say, God deliver me from a half Christian !'' Agitur de vitâ et sanguine Turni : the point was, whether he should serve Christ or Belial. He stood in need of persons nearly of his own judgement, and engaged in the same studies; persons who were awakened into a full and lively conviction that they had only one work to do upon earth ; who had absolutely devoted themselves to God; who took up their cross daily; who would constantly watch over his soul, and, according to the occasion, administer reproof, advice, or exhortation with all plainness and all gentleness. But this was a blessing which he could enjoy no where but at Oxford. There also he knew none of the cares of the world; he heard of such things, and read of them, but he knew them not: whatever he wanted was provided for him there, without any expence of thought. There, too, he endured that contempt which is a part of the cross, that every man who would follow his Saviour must bear. Every true Christian, he said, is contemned by all who are not so, and who know him to be such : until he be thus contemned no man is in a state of salvation ; for though a man may be despised without being saved, yet he cannot be saved without being despised. More good also, he averred, was to be done to others by his continuance at Oxford; the schools of the prophets were there: was it not a more extensive benefit to sweeten the fountain, than to purify a particular stream ? And for the argument, that Epworth was a wider sphere of action, where he would have the charge of two thousand souls, he' exclaimed, “ Two thousand souls! I see not how any man living can take care of an hundred.” If any stress be laid upon the love of the people at Epworth, - " I ask how long will it last? Only till I come to tell them plainly that their deeds are evil, and to make a particular application of that general sentence, to say to each, Thou art the man! Alas, Sir, do I not know what love they had for you at first ? And how have they used you since? Why, just as every one will be used whose business it is to bring light to them that love to sit in darkness !” To the concluding part of his father's letter he replied thus : “ As for the flock committed to your care, whom for many years you have diligently fed with the sincere milk of the word, I trust in God your labour shall not be in vain, either to yourself or
them. Many of them the Great Shepherd has, by * your
hand, delivered from the hand of the de. stroyer, some of whom are already entered into peace, and some remain unto this day. For yourself, I doubt not, but when your warfare is accomplished, when you are made perfect through sufferings, you shall come to your grave, not with sorrow, but as a ripe shock of corn, full of
years and victories. , And He that took care of the
poor sheep before you were born, will not forget them when you are dead."
This letter convinced Samuel how unavailing it must needs be to reason farther with one who was possessed by such notions. Nevertheless, as John
had requested to know his farther thoughts, he asked him if all his labours were come to this, that more 'was absolutely necessary for the very being of his Christian life, than for the salvation of all the parish priests in England. “ What you say of contempt,” said he, “ is nothing to the purpose : for if
go to Epworth, I will answer for it you shall, in a competent time, be despised as much as your heart can wish.” But he maintained that there was not in Euclid a proposition more certain than this, that a man must be esteemed in order to be useful; and he rested the case upon his former argument, that a general resolution against undertaking the cure of souls, was contrary to his engagement at ordination : “ The order of the Church,” said he, “ stakes you down, and the more you struggle will hold the faster. You must, when opportunity offers, either perform that promise or repent of it: utrum mavis ? which do you prefer?" Wesley admitted the force of his ordi, nation oath, but denied that it had this meaning. But acknowledging the established principle, that the mode and extent of the obligation which an oath imposes are not to be determined by him who takes, but by him who requires it, he wrote to the Bishop who ordained him, proposing this single question, whether, at ordination, he had engaged himself to undertake the cure of a parish or not? The Bishop's answer was in these words, “ It doth not seem to me that, at your ordination, you engaged yourself to undertake the cure of any parish, provided you can, as a clergyman, better serve