Изображения страниц

God and his Church in your present or some other station." Wesley believed he had all reasonable evidence that this was the case, and here the discussion ended. He had made it an affair of religious casuistry, and therefore the interest of his mother and sisters in the decision, nearly as this point lay at the father's heart, seems to have been totally disregarded by him as unworthy of any consideration.




WESLEY the father died in the ensuing April, at a good old age, and ripe for immortality. John and Charles were with him during the last stage of his illness. A few days before his departure he said to them, "The weaker I am in body, the stronger and more sensible support I feel from God. There is but a step between me and death. To-morrow I would see you all with me round this table, that we may once more drink of the Cup of Blessing, before we drink it new in the kingdom of God. With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I die." On the morrow he was so exceeding weak and full of pain, that he could not receive the elements without difficulty, and often repeated, "Thou shakest me, thou shakest me!" He had no fear of death, and the peace of God which he enjoyed appeared sometimes to suspend his bodily sufferings, and when they recurred, to sustain his mind above them. When, as nature seemed spent, and his speech was failing, his son John asked him whether he was not near heaven, he answered, "Yes, I am," distinctly, and with a voice of hope and joy. After John had used the commendatory prayer, he said,

"Now you have done all:" these were his last words, and he passed away so peacefully and insensibly, that his children continued over him a considerable time in doubt whether or not the spirit was departed. Mrs. Wesley, who for several days, whenever she entered his chamber, had been carried out of it in a fit, recovered her fortitude now, and said her prayers were heard, for God had granted him an easy death, and had strengthened her to bear it.

The mother and daughter.were left with little or no provision; and a brutal woman, of whom Mr. Wesley rented a few fields, seized the live stock on the very day of his funeral, for a debt of fifteen pounds. Samuel was now their support: "If you take London in your way," said Charles to him, દ my mother desires you would remember she is a Clergyman's widow. Let the Society give her what they please, she must be still, in some degree, burthensome to you, as she calls it. How do I envy you that glorious burthen, and wish I could share in it! You must put me into some way of getting a little money, that I may do something in this shipwreck of the family."

The latest human desires of this good man were, that he might complete his work upon the book of Job, pay his debts, and see his eldest son once more. The first of these desires seems to have been nearly, if not wholly accomplished; and John was charged to present the volume to Queen Caroline. Going to London on this commission, he found that the trustees of the new colony of


Georgia were in search of persons who would preach the gospel there to the settlers and the Indians, and that they had fixed their eyes upon him and his associates, as men who appeared to possess the habits and qualities required for such a service. Dr. Burton, of Corpus Christi College, was one of the trustees: he was well acquainted with Wesley, and being at this time in London, introduced him to Mr. Oglethorpe, the founder of the colony. At first when it was proposed to him to go upon this mission, he peremptorily refused. Arguments were adduced which made him less resolute in his refusal; objections which he started were obviated; and when he spake of the grief which it must give his mother if he were to accept the proposal, saying he was the staff of her age, her chief support and comfort, it was evident that he was shaken. He was asked, in reply, whether he would go if his mother's approbation could be obtained? this he thought impossible, but he consented that the trial should be made, and secretly determined, that, if she were willing, he would receive her assent as the call of God. Her answer was, "Had I twenty sons, I should rejoice that they were all so employed, though I should never see them more."

He did not, however, resolve finally upon this measure without consulting those persons whose opinions had most weight with him, among whom were William Law, and John Byrom the poet. Their approbation confirmed him in his intention, though their dissent might not have shaken his

purpose. His brother Samuel also was content that he should go: perhaps he thought it well that he should engage in a service wherein so much zeal was required, that the excess, which now led him into extravagancies, might find full employment. It was, indeed, his growing attachment to ascetic principles and habits which made him desirous of removing from the temptations of the world. He looked forward to the conversion of the Indians as comparatively an easy task: there, he said, he should have the advantage of preaching to a people not yet beguiled by philosophy and vain deceit ; and might enforce to them the plain truth of God, without its being softened and rendered useless by the comments of men. Little had he read of missionary labours, and less could he have reflected upon them when he reasoned thus! But to an unbeliever, who said to him, "What is this, sir; are you one of the knights errant? How, I pray, got Quixotism into your head? You want nothing; you have a good provision for life, and are in a way of preferment: and must you leave all to fight windmills, to convert savages in America!" he answered feelingly and calmly, Sir, if the bible be not true, I am as very a fool and madman as you can conceive; but if it be of God, I am soberminded. For he has declared, There is no man that hath left house, or friends, or brethren, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in the present time, and in the world to come everlasting life."

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »