Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

SO

in this feeling of Catholic charity, to which his heart always inclined him.

His brother, who had been longer in acknowledging the want of efficient faith, attained it first. “ I received,” says Wesley, “ the surprising Dews that he had found rest to his soul. His bodily strength (though it was just after a second return of pleurisy) returned also from that hour. Who is so great a God as our God!” He continued him. self the three following days under a continual sense of sorrow and heaviness: this was his language ; -“ Oh, why is it that so great, wise, so holy a God will use such an instrument as me! Lord, let the dead bury their dead! But wilt thou send the dead to raise the dead? Yea, thou sendest whom thou wilt send, and showest mercy by whom thou wilt show mercy, Amen! Be it then according to thy will! If thou speak the word, Judas shall cast out devils.” And again he thus expressed himself. “ I feel that I am sold under sin. I know that I deserve nothing but wrath, being full of all abominations. works, my righteousness, my prayers, need an atonement for themselves. I have nothing to plead. --God is holy, I am unholy. God is a consuming fire, I am altogether a sinner, meet to be consumed. --- Yet I hear a voice,- Believe, and thou shalt be saved. He that believeth is passed from death unto life. -Oh, let no one deceive us by vain words as if we had already attained this faith! By its fruits we shall know. -Saviour of men, save us from trusting in any thing but Thee !

All my

Draw us after thee!-Let us be emptied of ourselves, and then fill us with all peace and joy in believing, and let nothing separate us from thy love in time or eternity.” This was his state till Wednesday May 24th, a remarkable day in the history of Methodism, for upon that day he dates his conversion,-a point, say his official biographers, of the utmost magnitude, not only with respect to himself but to others.

On the evening of that day he went very unwillingly to a Society in Aldersgate Street, where one of the assembly was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans.- What followed is considered by his disciples as being of deep importance ;

it
may

therefore best be given in his own words: “ About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed; I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation : and an assurance was given me, that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death. I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me. I then testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart. But it was not long before the enemy suggested, This cannot be faith, for where is thy joy?” — How many a thought arising from that instinctive logic which is grounded on common sense, has been fathered

upon the personified principle of evil ! Here was a plain contradiction in terms, — an assur

وو

ance which had not assured him. He returned home, and was buffetted with temptations; he cried out and they fled away; they returned again and again. “ I as often lifted up my eyes,” he says, “and He sent me help from his holy place. And herein I found the difference between this and my former state chiefly consisted. I was striving, yea fighting with all my might under the law, as well as under grace : but then I was sometimes, if not often conquered ; now I was always conqueror.”

Before Samuel Wesley removed to Tiverton, his house in Dean's Yard had been a home for John and Charles whenever they went to 'London. After his removal, a family of the name of Hutton, who were much attached to him, desired that his brothers would make the same use of their house, and accordingly Charles went there on his return from Georgia, and John also. When, however, they were proceeding fast toward the delirious stage of enthusiasm, Charles chose to take

up

his quarters with a poor brazier in Little Britain, that the brazier might help him forward in his conversion. A few days after John also had been converted, as he termed it, when Mr. Hutton had finished a sermon, which he was reading on a Sunday evening to his family and his guests, John stood up, and to their utter astonishment assured them that he had never been a Christian till within the last five days; that he was perfectly certain of this, and that the only way for them to become Christians was to believe and confess that they were not so now. Hutton, who was exceedingly

66

surprized at such a speech, only replied, “ Have a care, Mr. Wesley, how you despise the benefits received by the two sacraments !" - But when he re. peated the assertion at supper, in Mrs. Hutton's presence, she made answer with female readiness, “ If you were not a Christian ever since I knew you, you was a great hypocrite, for you made us all believe you were one.” He replied, “ that when we had renounced every thing but faith, and then got into Christ, then and not till then had we 'any reason to believe we were Christians." Mr. Hutton asked him, “ If faith only was necessary to save us, why did our Saviour give us his divine sermon on the mount?” But Wesley answered, " that was the letter that killeth." Hold,” said his antago

you seem not to know what you say: are our Lord's words the letter that killeth !”

But it would have been as easy to cure a fever by reasoning with the patient, as to have made Wesley at this time doubt the soundness of his new opinions. He had just been abridging the life of Mr. Haliburton: “ My son,” says Mrs. Hutton in a letter to Samuel Wesley, “ designed to print it, to show the experience of that holy man of in-dwelling, &c. Mr. Hutton and I have forbidden him to be concerned in handing such books into the world; but if your brother John or Charles think it will tend to promote God's glory they will soon convince my son that God's glory is to be preferred to his parents' commands.

It was a very great affliction to them,” she said, to see their two children drawn into these wild notions

nist,

[ocr errors]

by their great opinion of Mr. John's sanctity and judgement; she supposed that Mr. John was about to visit his brother at Tiverton; and if his brother could then either confine or convert him, it would be a great charity to many other honest, well-meaning, simple souls, as well as to her children. When he knew his behaviour, he certainly would not think him “ a quite right man ;” and unless some stop could be put to his extravagance in exhorting people to disregard all teaching but by such a spirit as came in dreams to some, and in visions to others, the mischief which he would do wherever he went, among ignorant but well-meaning Christians, would be very great. She described her son as good humoured, very undesigning, and sincerely honest; but of weak judgement, and so fitted for

any

delusion. He had been ill of a fever, and so many of these fancied saints gathered about him, that she expected his weak brain would have been quite turned.

To this letter, which represented a real and by no means a light affliction, Samuel Wesley returned such an answer as might have been expected from a good and religious man of sound judgement. . “ Falling into enthusiasm,” said he, “ is being lost with a witness; and if you are troubled for two of your children, you may be sure I am so, for two whom I may in some sense call mine, who if once

Mrs. Hutton says in one of her letters, “ your brothers are much more obligated to you than many children are to their parents; you doing for them as a most kind and judicious parent, when you had not the same obligation.” — It seems probable that both Jobn and Charles were beholden to him for the means of their education.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »