A LETTER TO THE RIGHT REVEREND
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THE LORD BISHOP OF GLOUCESTER:
OCCASIONED BY HIS TRACT
“ON THE OFFICE AND OPERATIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.”
To examine, men must be serious.” (Preface, p. 11.) I will endeavor to be so in all the following pages; and the rather, not only because I am writing to a person who is so far, and in so many respects, my superior, but also because of the importance of the subject: For is the question only, What I am? a madman, or a man in his senses? a knave, or an honest man? No; this is only brought in by way of illustration. The question is, of the office and operation of the Holy Spirit; with which the doctrine of the new birth, and indeed the whole of real religion, is connected. On a subject of so deep concern, I desire to be serious as death. But, at the same time, your Lordship will permit me to use great plainness. And this I am the more emboldened to do, because by naming my name, your Lordship, as it were, condescends to meet me on even ground.
I shall consider, First, what your Lordship advances concerning me: and, Then, what is advanced concerning the operations of the Holy Spirit.
First. Concerning me. It is true I am here dealing in crambe repetita , f25 reciting objections which have been urged and answered a hundred times.
But as your Lordship is pleased to repeat them again, I am obliged to repeat the answers.
Your Lordship begins: “If the false prophet pretend to some extraordinary measure of the Spirit, we are directed to try that spirit by James 3:17.” (Page 117.) I answer, 1. (as I have done many times before,) I do not pretend to any extraordinary measure of the Spirit. I pretend to no other measure of it than may be claimed by every Christian Minister. 2. Where are we directed to “try Prophets” by this text? How does it appear that it was given for any such purpose? It is certain we may try Christians hereby, whether they are real or pretended ones; but I know not that either St. James, or any other inspired writer, gives us the least hint of trying Prophets thereby.
Your Lordship adds, “In this rule or direction for the trial of spirits, the marks are to be applied only negatively. The man in whom they are not found hath not the ‘wisdom from above.’ But we are not to conclude, that he has it in whole any or all of them are found.” (Page 118.) We are not to conclude that he is a Prophet, for the Apostle says nothing about Prophets; but may we not conclude, the man in whom all these are found has “the wisdom from above?” Surely we may; for these are the essential parts of that wisdom; and can he have all the parts and not have the whole?
Is not this enough to show, that the Apostle is here giving “a set of marks,” not “to detect impostor-prophets,” but impostor-Christians? those that impose either upon themselves or others, as if they were Christians when they are not?
In what follows, I shall simply consider the argument, without directly addressing your Lordship. “Apply these marks to the features of modern fanatics, especially Mr. John Wesley. He has laid claim to almost every apostolic gift, in as full and ample a manner as they were possessed of old.” (Page 119.)
The miraculous gifts bestowed upon the Apostles are enumerated in two places: First, Mark 16:17,18: “In my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
Second, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10: “To one is given the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge; to another faith; to another the gifts of healing; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another the discernment of spirits; to another tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.”
Do I lay claim to almost every one of these “in as full and ample a manner as they were possessed of old?”
Five of them are enumerated in the former catalogue; to three of which — speaking with new tongues, taking up serpents, drinking deadly things — it is not even pretended I lay any claim at all. In the latter, nine are enumerated. And as to seven of these, none has yet seen good to call me in question; — miraculous wisdom, or knowledge, or faith, prophecy, discernment of spirits, strange tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.
What becomes then of the assertion, that I lay “claim to almost every one of them in the most full and ample manner?”
Do I lay claim to any one of them? To prove that I do, my own words are produced, extracted from an account of the occurrences of about sixteen years.
I shall set them down naked and unadorned: 1. “May 13, 1740. The devil stirred up his servants to make all the noise they could.” 2. “May 3, 1741. I explained, to a vast multitude of people, ‘What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?’ The devil’s children fought valiantly for their master, that his kingdom should not be destroyed. And many stones fell on my right hand and my left.” 3. “April 1, 1740. Some or other of the children of Belial had labored to disturb us several nights before. Now all the street was filled with people, shouting, cursing, swearing, and ready to swallow the ground with rage.” (Page 120.) 4. “June 27, 1747. I found only one person among them who knew the love of God, before my brother came. No wonder the devil was is still; ‘for his goods were in peace.’” 5. “April 29, 1752. I preached at Durham to a quiet, stupid congregation.” (Page 121.) 6. “May 9, 1740. I was a little surprised at some who were buffeted of Satan in an unusual manner, by such a spirit of laughter as they could in nowise resist. I could scarce have believed the account they gave me, had I not known the same thing ten or eleven years ago, when both my brother and I were seized in the same manner.” (If any man call this hysterics, I am not concerned: I think and let think.) 7. “May 21, 1740. In the evening such a spirit of laughter was among us, that many were much offended. But the attention of all was soon fixed on poor L—— S——, whom we all knew to be no dissembler. One so violently and variously torn of the evil one did I never see before.
Sometimes she laughed till almost strangled; then broke out into cursing and blaspheming. At last she faintly called on Christ to help her; and the violence of her pangs ceased.” (Let any who please impute this likewise to hysterics: Only permit me to think otherwise.) 8. “May 17, 1740. I found more and more undeniable proofs, that we have need to watch and pray every moment. Outward trials, indeed, were now removed: But so much the more did inward trials abound; and ‘if one member suffered, all the members suffered with it.’ So strange a sympathy did I never observe before; whatever considerable temptation fell on anyone, unaccountably spreading itself to the rest, so that exceeding few were able to escape it.” (Pages 122, 123.)
I know not what these eight quotations prove, but that I believe the devil still variously tempts and troubles good men; while he “works with energy in the children of disobedience.” Certainly they do not prove that I lay claim to any of the preceding gifts. Let us see whether any more is proved by the ten next quotations: 1. “So many living witnesses hath God given, that his hand is still stretched out to heal,” (namely, the souls of sinners, as the whole paragraph fixes the sense,) “and that signs and wonders are even now wrought” (page 124) (namely, in the conversion of the greatest sinners). 2. “Among the poor colliers of Placey, Jo. Lane, then nine or ten years old, was one of the first that found peace with God.” (Ibid .) 3. “Mrs. Nowers said her little son appeared to have a continual fear of God, and an awful sense of his presence. A few days since, she said, he broke out into prayers aloud, and said, ‘I shall go to heaven soon.’” This child, when he began to have the fear of God, was, as his parents said, just three years old. 4. I did receive that “account of the young woman of Manchester from her own mouth.” But I pass no judgment on it, good or bad; nor, 5. On “the trance,” (page 126,) as her mother called it, of S. T., neither denying nor affirming the truth of it. 6. “You deny that God does work these effects; at least, that he works them in this manner: I affirm both. I have seen very many persons changed in a moment, from the spirit of fear, horror, despair, to the spirit of love, joy, and praise. In several of them this change was wrought in a dream, or during a strong representation to their mind of Christ, either on the cross, or in glory.” (Page 127.) “But here the symptoms of grace and of perdition are interwoven and confounded with one another.” (Page 128.) No. Though light followed darkness, yet they were not interwoven, much less confounded with each other. 7. “But some imputed the work to the force of imagination, or even to the delusion of the devil.” (Ibid .) They did so; which made me say, 8. “I fear we have grieved the Spirit of the jealous God, by questioning his work.” (Ibid .) 9. “Yet he says himself, ‘These symptoms I can no more impute to any natural cause, than to the Spirit of God. I make no doubt, it was Satan tearing them, as they were coming to Christ.’” (Page 129.) But these symptoms, and the work mentioned before, are wholly different things.
The work spoken of is the conversion of sinners to God; these symptoms are cries and bodily pain. The very next instance makes this plain. 10. “I visited a poor old woman. Her trials had been uncommon; inexpressible agonies of mind, joined with all sorts of bodily pain; not, it seemed, from any natural cause, but the direct operation of Satan.” (Page 130.)
Neither do any of those quotations prove that I lay claim to any miraculous gift. “Such was the evangelic state of things when Mr. Wesley first entered on this ministry; who, seeing himself surrounded with subjects so harmoniously disposed, thus triumphantly exults.” To illustrate this, let us add the date: “Such was the evangelic state of things, August 9, 1750;” (on that day, I preached that sermon;) “when Mr. Wesley first entered on this ministry.” Nay, that was in the year 1738. So I triumphed, because I saw what would be twelve years after.
Let us see what the ten next quotations prove. 1. “In applying these words, ‘I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,’ my soul was so enlarged, that me thought I could have cried out, (in another sense than poor vain Archimedes,) ‘Give me where to stand, and I will shake the earth.’” (Page 130.) I meant neither more nor less (though I will not justify the use of so strong an expression) than, I was so deeply penetrated with a sense of the love of God to sinners, that it seemed, if I could have declared it to all the world, they could not but be moved thereby. “Here then was a scene well prepared for a good actor, and excellently fitted up for the part he was to play.” (Page 131.) But how came so good an actor to begin playing the part twelve years before the scene was fitted up?
He sets out with declaring his mission. 2. ‘I cried aloud, All things are ready: come ye to the marriage . I then delivered my message.’” And does not every Minister do the same whenever he preaches?
But how is this? “He sets out with declaring his mission.” Nay, but this was ten years after my setting out. 3. “My heart was not wholly resigned. Yet I know he heard my voice.” (Page 132.) 4. “The longer I spoke, the more strength I had; till at twelve, I was as one refreshed with wine.” (Page 133.) 5. “I explained the nature of inward religion, words flowing upon me faster than I could speak.” (Ibid .) 6. “I intended to have given an exhortation to the society. But as soon as we met, the Spirit of supplication fell upon us, (on the congregation as well as me,) so that I could hardly do anything but pray and give thanks.” (Ibid .) I believe every true Christian may experience all that is contained in these three instances. 7. “The Spirit of prayer was so poured upon us all, that we could only speak to God.” (Ibid .) 8. “Many were seated on a wall, which, in the middle of the sermon, fell down; but not one was hurt at all. Nor was there any interruption, either of my speaking, or of the attention of the hearers.” (Page 134.) 9. “The mob had just broke open the doors, and while they burst in at one door, we walked out at the other. Nor did one man take any notice of us, though we were within five yards of each other.” (Page 135.) The fact was just so. I do not attempt to account for it; because I cannot. 10. “The next miracle was on his friends.” They were no friends of mine. I had seen few of them before in my life. Neither do I say or think it was any miracle at all, that they were all “silent while I spake;” or that “the moment I had done, the chain fell off, and they all began talking at once.”
Do any or all of these quotations prove, that I “lay claim to almost every miraculous gift?”
Will the eight following quotations prove any more? 1. “Some heard perfectly well on the side of the opposite hill, which was seven score yards from the place where I stood.” (Ibid .) I believe they did, as it was a calm day, and the hill rose gradually like a theater. 2. “What I here aver is the naked fact. Let every one account for it as he sees good. My horse was exceeding lame; and my head ached much. I thought, cannot God heal man or beast by means or without? Immediately my weariness and headache ceased, and my horse’s lameness in the same instant. (Page 136.) It was so; and I believe thousands of serious Christians have found as plain answers to prayer as this. 3. William Kirkman’s case proves only that God does what please him; not that I make myself either “a great saint or a great Physician.” (Page 137.) 4. “R. A. was freed at once, without any human means, from a distemper naturally incurable.” (Page 138.) He was; but it was before I knew him. So, what is that to me? 5. “I found Mr. Lunell in a violent fever. He revived the moment he saw me, and began to recover from that time. Perhaps for this also I was sent.” (Ibid. ) I mean, Perhaps this was one end for which the providence of God brought me thither at that time. 6. “In the evening, I called upon Ann Calcut. She had been speechless for some time. But almost as soon as we began to pray, God restored her speech. And from that hour the fever left her.” 7. “I visited several ill of the spotted fever, which had been extremely mortal. But God had said, ‘Hitherto shalt thou come.’ I believe there was not one with whom we were, but he recovered.” (Page 139.) 8. “Mr. Meyrick had been speechless and senseless for some time. A few of us joined in prayer. Before we had done, his sense and his speech returned. Others may account for this by natural causes. I believe this is the power of God.” (Ibid .)
But what does all this prove? Not that I claim any gift above other men; but only that I believe God now hears and answers prayer, even beyond the ordinary course of nature: Otherwise, the Clerk was in the right, who, in order to prevent the fanaticism of his Rector, told him, “Sir, you should not pray for fair weather yet; for the moon does not change till Saturday.”
While the two accounts (pp. 143, 146) which are next recited lay before me, a venerable old Clergyman calling upon me, I asked him, “Sir, would you advise me to publish these strange relations, or not?” He answered, “Are you sure of the facts?” I replied, “As sure as that I am alive.” “Then,” said he, “publish them in God’s name, and be not careful about the event.”
The short of the case is this: Two young women were tormented of the devil in an uncommon manner. Several serious persons desired my brother and me to pray with them. We, with many others, did; and they were delivered. But where, meantime, were the “exorcisms in form, according to the Roman fashion?” I never used them: I never saw them: I know nothing about them. “Such were the blessings which Mr. W. distributed among his friends. For his enemies he had in store the judgments of Heaven.” (Page 144.) Did I then ever distribute, or profess to distribute, these? Do I claim any such power? This is the present question. Let us calmly consider the eight quotations brought to prove it. 1. “I preached at Darlaston, late a den of lions. But the fiercest of them God has called away, by a train of surprising strokes.” (Ibid .) But not by me: I was not there. 2. “I preached at R., late a place of furious riot and persecution; but quiet and calm, since the bitter Rector is gone to give an account of Himself to God.” (Page 145.) 3. “Hence we rode to T——n, where the Minister was slowly recovering from a violent fit of the palsy, with which he was struck immediately after he had been preaching a virulent sermon against the Methodists.” (Page 145.) 4. “The case of Mr. W——n was dreadful indeed, and too notorious to be denied.” (Ibid .) 5. “One of the chief of those who came to make the disturbance on the first instant hanged himself.” (Page 146.) 6. “I was quite surprised when I heard Mr. R. preach; that soft, smooth, tuneful voice, which he so often employed to blaspheme the work of God, was lost, without hope of recovery.” (Ibid .) 7. “Mr. C. spoke so much in favor of the rioters, that they were all discharged. A few days after, walking over the same field, he dropped down, and spoke no more.” (Page 147.)
And what is the utmost that can be inferred from all these passages? That I believe these things to have been judgments. What if I did? To believe these things to have been judgments is one thing; to claim a power of inflicting judgments is another. If, indeed, I believe things to be judgments which are not, I am to blame. But still this is not “claiming any miraculous gift.”
But “you cite one who forbid your speaking to some dying criminals, to answer for their souls at the judgment seat of Christ.” (Ibid .) I do; but, be this right or wrong, it is not “claiming a power to inflict judgments.” “Yes, it is: For these judgments are fulminated with the air of one who had the divine vengeance at his disposal.” (Page 147.) I think not: And I believe all impartial men will be of the same mind. “These are some of the extraordinary gifts which Mr. W. claims.” (Page 149.) I claim no extraordinary gift at all; nor has anything to the contrary been proved yet, so much as in a single instance. “We come now to the application of this sovereign test, James 3:17.”
But let us see that we understand it first. I beg leave to consider the whole: “Who is a wise and knowing man among you? Let him show his wisdom,” as well as his faith, “by his works,” not by words only. “But if ye have bitter zeal and strife in your heart, do not glory and lie against the truth;” as if any such zeal, anything contrary to love, could consist with true wisdom. “This wisdom descendeth not from above; but is earthly, sensual, devilish: For where bitter zeal and strife are, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom which is from above,” — which every one that hath is a real Christian, and he only, — “is first pure,” free from all that is earthly, sensual, devilish: “then peaceable,” benign, loving, making peace; “gentle,” soft, mild, yielding, not morose, or sour; “easy to be entreated,” to be persuaded or convinced, not stubborn, self-willed, or self-conceited; “full of mercy,” of tenderness and compassion; “and good fruits,” both in the heart and life. Two of these are immediately specified; “without partiality,” loving and doing good to all, without respect of persons; “and without hypocrisy,” sincere, frank, open.
The present question then is, (not what is Mr. Law, or what are the Moravians, but) what is John Wesley? And,
(1.) Is he pure or not? “Not pure; for he separates reason from grace.” (Page 156.) A wonderful proof! But I deny the fact. I never did separate reason from grace. “Yes, you do; for your own words are, ‘The points we chiefly insisted on were four:
(2.) That orthodoxy, or right opinion, is at best but a very slender part of religion; if it call be allowed to be any part of it at all.’” (Page 157.)
After premising that it is our bounden duty to labor after a right judgment in all things, as a wrong judgment naturally leads to wrong practice, I say again, right opinion is at best but a very slender part of religion, (which properly and directly consists in right tempers, words, and actions,) and frequently it is no part of religion. For it may be where there is no religion at all; in men of the most abandoned lives; yea, in the devil himself.
And yet this does not prove that I “separate reason from grace;” that I “discard reason from the service of religion.” I do continually “employ it to distinguish between right and wrong opinions.” I never affirmed “this distinction to be of little consequence,” or denied “the gospel to be a reasonable service.” (Page 158.)
But “the Apostle Paul considered right opinions as a full third part, at least, of religion. For he says, ‘The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth.’ By goodness is meant the conduct of particulars to the whole, and consists in habits of social virtue; and this refers to Christian practice. By righteousness is meant the conduct of the whole to particulars, and consists in the gentle use of church authority; and this refers to Christian discipline. By truth is meant the conduct of the whole, and of particulars to one another, and consists in orthodoxy or right opinion; and this refers to Christian doctrine.” (Page 159.)
My objections to this account are, First, It contradicts St. Paul; Secondly, It contradicts itself.
First. It contradicts St. Paul. It fixes a meaning upon his words, foreign both to the text and context. The plain sense of the text, taken in connection with the context, is no other than this: ( Ephesians 5:9:) “The fruit of the Spirit” (rather, “of the light,” which Bengelius proves to be the true reading, opposite to “the unfruitful works of darkness,” mentioned verse 11) “is,” consists, “in all goodness, kindness, tender-heartedness,” ( 4:32,) — opposite to “bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking;” (verse 31;) “in all righteousness,” rendering unto all their dues, — opposite to “stealing;” (verse 28;) “and in all truth,” veracity, sincerity, — opposite to “lying.” (verse 25.)
Secondly. That interpretation contradicts itself; and that in every article.
For, 1. If by “goodness” be meant “the conduct of particulars to the whole,” then it does not consist in habits of social virtue. For social virtue regulates the conduct of particulars, not so properly to the whole as to each other. 2. If by “righteousness” be meant “the conduct of the whole to particulars,” then it cannot consist in the gentleness of Church authority; unless Church Governors are the whole Church, or the Parliament the whole nation. 3. If by “truth” be meant “the conduct of the whole, and of particular to one another,” then it cannot possibly consist in orthodoxy or right opinion. For opinion, right or wrong, is not conduct: They differ toto genere . If, then, it be orthodoxy, it is not “the conduct of the governors and governed toward each other.” If it be their conduct toward each other, it is not orthodoxy.
Although, therefore, it be allowed that right opinions are a great help, and wrong opinions a great hindrance, to religion, yet, till stronger proof be brought against it, that proposition remains unshaken, “Right opinions are a slender part of religion, if any part of it at all.” (Page 160.) “(As to the affair of Abbe Paris, whoever will read over with calmness and impartiality but one volume of Monsieur Montgeron, will then be a competent judge. Meantime I would just observe, that if these miracles were real, they strike at the root of the whole Papal authority; as having been wrought in direct opposition to the famous Bull Unigenitus.)” (Page 161.)
Yet I do not say, “Errors in faith have little to do with religion;” or that they are “no let or impediment to the Holy Spirit.” (Page 162.) But still it is true, that “God generally speaking, begins his work at the heart.” (Ibid .)
But see “the character he gives his own saints! ‘The more I converse with this people, the more I am amazed. That God hath wrought a great work is manifest, by saving many sinners from their sins. And yet the main of them are not able to give a rational account of the plainest principles of religion.’” They were not able then, as there had not been time to instruct them. But the case is far different now.
Again: Did I “give this character,” even then, of the people called Methodists, in general? No, but of the people of a particular town in Ireland, where nine in ten of the inhabitants are Romanists. “Nor is the observation confined to the people. He had made a proselyte of Mr. D., Vicar of B. And, to show he was no discredit to his master, he gives him this character: ‘He seemed to stagger at nothing, though as yet his understanding is not opened.’” (Page 162.)
Mr. D. was never a proselyte of mine; nor did I ever see him before or since. I endeavored to show him that we are justified by faith. And he did not object; though neither did he understand. “But in the first propagation of religion, God began with the understanding, and rational conviction won the heart.” (Page 163.)
Frequently, but not always. The jailer’s heart was touched first, then he understood what he must do to be saved. In this respect then there is nothing new in the present work of God. So the lively story from Moliere is just nothing to the purpose.
In drawing the parallel between the work God has wrought in England and in America, I do not so much as “insinuate that the understanding has nothing to do in the work.” (Page 165.) Whoever is engaged therein will find full employment for all the understanding which God has given him. “On the whole, therefore, we conclude, that wisdom which divests the Christian faith of its truth, and the test of it, reason, and resolves all religion into spiritual mysticism and ecstatic raptures, cannot be the wisdom from above, whose characteristic is purity.” (Page 166.)
Perhaps so, but I do not “divest faith either of truth or reason:” much less do I resolve all into “spiritual mysticism and ecstatic raptures.” Therefore suppose purity here meant sound doctrine , (which it no more means than it does a sound constitution,) still it touches not me, who, for anything that has yet been said, may teach the soundest doctrine in the world.
(3.) “Our next business is to apply the other marks to these pretending sectaries. The First of these, purity, respects the nature of the ‘wisdom from above,’ or, in other words, the doctrine taught.” (Page 167.) Not in the least. It has no more to do with “doctrine,” than the whole text has with “Prophets.” “All the rest concern the manner of teaching.” Neither can this be allowed. They no farther concern either teaching or teachers, than they concern all mankind.
But to proceed: “Methodism signifies only the manner of preaching; not either an old or a new religion; it is the manner in which Mr. W. and his followers attempt to propagate the plain old religion.” (Page 168.) And is not this sound doctrine? Is this “spiritual mysticism and ecstatic raptures?” “Of all men, Mr. W. should best know the meaning of the term; since it was not a nick-name imposed on the sect by its enemies, but an appellation of honor bestowed upon it by themselves.” In answer to this, I need only transcribe what was published twenty years ago: — “Since the name first came abroad into the world, many have been at a loss to know what a Methodist is; what are the principles and practice of those who are commonly called by that name; and what are the distinguishing marks of the sect, which ‘is everywhere spoken against.’ “And it being generally believed that I was able to give the clearest account of these things, (as having been one of the first to whom the name was given, and the person by whom the rest were supposed to be directed,) I have been called upon, in all manner of ways, and with the utmost earnestness, so to do. I yield at last to the continued importunity both of friends and enemies; and do now give the clearest account I can, in the presence of the Lord, the Judge of heaven and earth, of the principles and practice whereby those who are called Methodists are distinguished from other men. “I say, those who are called Methodists; for, let it be well observed, that this is not a name which they take upon themselves, but one fixed on them by way of reproach, without their approbation or consent. It was first given to three or four young men at Oxford, by a Student of Christ’s Church; either in allusion to the ancient sect of Physicians, (so called from their teaching that almost all diseases might be cured by a specific method of diet and exercise,) or from their observing a more regular method of study and behavior than was usual with those of their age and station.” (Preface to “the Character of a Methodist.” ) I need only add, that this nickname was imposed upon us before “this manner of preaching” had a being; yea, at a time when I thought it as lawful to cut a throat, as to preach out of a church. “Why then will Mr. W. so grossly misrepresent his adversaries, as to say, that, when they speak against Methodism, they speak against the plain, old doctrine of the Church of England?” (Tract , p. 169.) This is no misrepresentation. Many of our adversaries, all over the kingdom, speak against us, eo nomine , for preaching these doctrines, justification by faith in particular.
However, a “fanatic manner of preaching, though it were the doctrine of an Apostle, may do more harm to society at least, than reviving old heresies, or inventing new. It tends to bewilder the imaginations of some, to inflame the passions of others, and to spread disorder and confusion through the whole community.” (Page 169.) I would gladly have the term defined.
What is a “fanatic manner of preaching?” Is it field-preaching? But this has no such effect, even among the wildest of men. This has not “bewildered the imagination” even of the Kingswood colliers, or “inflamed their passions.” It has not spread disorder or confusion among them, but just the contrary. From the time it was heard in that chaos, Confusion heard the voice, and wild uproar Stood ruled, and order from disorder sprang. “But St. James, who delivers the test for the trial of these men’s pretensions,” (the same mistake still,) “unquestionably thought a fanatic spirit did more mischief in the mode of teaching, than in the matter taught; since of six marks, one only concerns doctrine, all the rest the manner of the Teacher.” (Page 170.) Nay, all six concern doctrine, as much as one.
The truth is, they have nothing to do either with doctrine or manner. “From St. Paul’s words, ‘Be instant in season, out of season,’ he infers more than they will bear; and misapplies them into the bargain.” (Page 171.) When and where? I do not remember applying them at all. “When seasonable times are appointed for holy offices, to fly to unseasonable is factious.” (Page 172.) But it is not clear, that five in the morning, and seven in the evening, (our usual times,) are unseasonable. 2. We come now directly to the second article. “‘The wisdom from above is peaceable.’ But the propagation of Methodism has occasioned many and great violations of peace. In order to know where the blame hereof lies, let us inquire the temper which ‘makes for peace.’ For we may be assured the fault lies not there, where such a temper is found.” (Page 173.) Thus far we are quite agreed. “Now, the temper which makes for peace is prudence.” This is one of the tempers which make for peace; others are kindness, meekness, patience. “This our Lord recommended by his own example.” (Page 174-177.) “But this Mr. W. calls, ‘the mystery of iniquity, and the offspring of hell.’” (Page 178.) No, not this; not the prudence which our Lord recommends. I call that so, and that only, which the world, the men who know not God, style Christian prudence. By this I mean subtlety, craft, dissimulation; study to please man rather than God; the art of trimming between God and the world, of serving God and mammon. Will any serious man defend this? And this only do I condemn.
But you “say, ‘Good sort of men,’ as they are called, are ‘the bane of all religion.’” (Pages 179, 180.) And I think so. By this “good sort of men,” I mean, persons who have a liking to, but no sense of, religion; no real fear or love of God; no truly Christian tempers. “These steal away the little zeal he has, that is, persuade him to be peaceable.” No; persuade me to be like themselves, — without love either to God or man. “Again, speaking of one, he says, ‘Indulging himself in harmless company,’” (vulgarly so-called,) “‘ he first made shipwreck of his zeal, then of his faith.’ In this I think he is right. The zeal and faith of a fanatic are such exact tallies, that neither can exist alone. They came into the world together, to disturb society: and dishonor religion.”
By zeal, I mean the flame of love, or fervent love to God and man; by faith, the substance or confidence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Is this the zeal and faith of a fanatic? Then St. Paul was the greatest fanatic on earth. Did these come into the world to “disturb society and dishonor religion?” “On the whole, we find Mr. W., by his own confession, entirely destitute of prudence. Therefore it must be ascribed to the want of this, if his preaching be attended with tumult and disorder.” (Page 181.) By his own confession? Surely no. This I confess, and this only: What is falsely called prudence, I abhor; but true prudence I love and admire.
However, “You set at nought the discipline of the Church, by invading the province of the parochial Minister:” (Page 182.) Nay, if ever I preach at all, it must be in the province of some parochial Minister. “By assembling in undue places, and at unfit times.” I know of no times unfit for those who assemble. And I believe Hannam Mount and Rose Green were the most proper places under heaven for preaching to the colliers in Kingswood. “By scurrilous invectives against the Governors and Pastors of the National Church.” This is an entire mistake. I dare not make any “scurrilous invectives” against any man. “Insolencies of this nature provoke warm men to tumult.” But these insolencies do not exist. So that whatever tumult either warm or cool men raise, I am not chargeable therewith. “To know the true charter of Methodism.” The present point is, to know the true character of John Wesley. Now, in order to know this, we need not inquire what others were before he was born. All therefore that follows, of old Precisians, Puritans and Independents, may stand just as it is. (Pages 181-186.)
But “Mr. W. wanted to be persecuted.” (Page 187.) As this is averred over and over, I will explain myself upon it, once for all. I never desired or wanted to be persecuted. Lives there who loves his pain?
I love and desire to “live peaceably with all men.” “But persecution would not come at his call.” However, it came uncalled; and, more than once or twice, it was not “mock persecution.” It was not only the huzzas of the mob; showers of stones are something more than huzzas. And whosoever saw the mob either at Walsal or Cork, (to instance in no more,) saw that they were not “in jest,” but in great earnest, eagerly athirst, not for sport, (as you suppose,) but for blood.
But though I do not desire persecution, I expect it. I must, if I believe St. Paul: “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution;” ( 2 Timothy 3:12;) either sooner or later, more or less, according to the wise providence of God. But I believe, “all these things work together for good to them that love God.” And from a conviction of this, they may even rejoice when they are “persecuted for righteousness’ sake.”
Yet, as I seldom “complain of ill treatment,” so I am never “dissatisfied with good.” (Page 188.) But I often wonder at it: And I once expressed my wonder nearly in the words of the old Athenian: “What have we done, that the world should be so civil to us?”
You conclude the head: “As he who persecutes is but the tool of him that invites persecution,” (I know not who does,) “the crime finally comes home to him who set the rioter at work.” (Page 191.) And is this all the proof that I am not peaceable? Then let all men judge if the charge is made good. 3. “The next mark of the celestial wisdom is, it is ‘gentle, and easy to be entreated;’ compliant and even obsequious to all men.” And how does it appear that I am wanting in this? Why, he is “a severe condemner of his fellow-citizens, and a severe exactor of conformity to his own observances.” Now, the proof:
(1.) “He tells us this in the very appellation he assumes.” (Page 192.)
Nay, I never assumed it at all.
(2.) But “you say, ‘Useless conversation is an abomination to the Lord.’ And what is this, but to withstand St. Paul to the face?” Why, did St. Paul join in or condemn useless conversation? I rather think he reproves it. He condemns as saprov logov “putrid, stinking conversation,” all that is not good, all that is not “to the use of edifying,” and meet to “minister grace to the hearers ( Ephesians 4:29.)
(3.) Mr. Wesley “resolved never to laugh, nor to speak a tittle of worldly things;” (page 193;) — “though others may, nay, must.” Pray add that, with the reason of my so resolving, namely, that I expected to die in a few days. If I expected it now, probably, I should resume the resolution. But, be it as it may, this proves nothing against my being both gentle, and easy to be entreated.
(4.) “He says, Mr. G—— was a clumsy, overgrown, hardfaced man.” (Page 194.) So he was. And this was the best of him. I spare him much in saying no more. But he is gone; let his ashes rest.
(5.) “I heard a most miserable sermon, full of dull, senseless, improbable lies.” It was so, from the beginning to the end. I have seldom heard the like.
(6.) “‘The persecution at St. Ives’” (which ended before I came; what I saw I do not term persecution ) “‘was owing to the indefatigable labors of Mr. H. and Mr. S., gentlemen worthy to be had in everlasting remembrance.’ Here he tells us, it is his purpose to gibbet up the names of his two great persecutors to everlasting infamy,” (Page 195.)
These gentlemen had occasioned several innocent people to be turned out of their livelihood; and others to be outraged in the most shocking manner, and beat only not to death. My purpose is, by setting down their names, to make others afraid so to offend. Yet I say still, God forbid that I should rail, either at a Turk, infidel, or heretic. But I will bring to light the actions of such Christians, to be a warning to others.
And all this I judge to be perfectly consistent with “the spirit of meekness.” (Page 196.) 4. “The Fourth mark is, ‘full of mercy and good fruits.’ Let us inquire into the ‘mercy and good fruits’ of Mr. W.” (Page 198.)
(1.) And, First: “He has no mercy on his opposers. They pass with him under on other title, than that of the devil’s servants, and the devil’s children.” (Ibid .) This is far from true. Many have opposed and do oppose me still, whom I believe to be children and servants of God. “We have seen him dispatching the principal of these children of the devil, without mercy, to their father.” (Page 199.) No, not one. This has been affirmed over and over, but never proved yet. I fling about no exterminating judgments of God; I call down no fire from heaven. “But it would be for the credit of these new saints, to distinguish between rage and zeal.” That is easily done. Rage is furious fire from hell; zeal is loving fire from heaven.
(2.) “If what has been said above does not suffice, turn again to Mr. W.’s Journals: ‘Mr. S., while he was speaking to the society against my brother and me, was struck raving mad.’” (Page 200.) He was so, before a hundred witnesses; though I was the last to believe it. “But, it seems, God is at length entreated for him, and has restored him to a sound mind.” And is my relating this fact an instance of “dooming men to perdition?”
(3.) “John Haydon cried aloud, ‘Let the world see the just judgment of God.’” (Page 201.) He did. But let John Haydon look to that. It was he said so, not I.
(4.) “I was informed of an awful providence. A poor wretch, who was here the last week, cursing and blaspheming, and laboring with all his might to hinder the word of God, had afterwards boasted, he would come again on Sunday, and no man should stop his mouth then. But on Friday God laid his hand upon him, and on Sunday he was buried.” (Page 202.) And was not this an awful providence? But yet I do not doom even him to perdition.
(5.) “I saw a poor man, once joined with us, who wanted nothing in this world. A day or two before, he hanged himself, but was cut down before he was dead. He has been crying out ever since, God had left him, because he had left the children of God.” This was his assertion, not mine. I neither affirm nor deny it.
(6.) The true account of Lucy Godshall is this: “I buried the body of Lucy Godshall. After pressing toward the mark for more than two years, since she had known the pardoning love of God, she was for some time weary, and faint in her mind, till I put her out of the Bands.
God blessed this greatly to her soul, so that, in a short time, she was admitted again. Soon after, being at home, she felt the love of God in an unusual manner poured into her heart. She fell down upon her knees, and delivered up her soul and body into the hands of God. In the instant, the use of all her limbs was taken away, and she was in a burning fever. For three days, she mightily praised God, and rejoiced in him all the day long. She then cried out, ‘Now Satan hath desired to have me, that he may sift me as wheat.’ Immediately darkness and heaviness fell upon her, which continued till Saturday, the 4th instant.
On Sunday the light shone again upon her heart. About ten in the evening, one said to her, ‘Jesus is ready to receive your soul.’ She said, ‘Amen! Amen!’ closed her eyes, and died.” (Vol. I. p. 397.) Is this brought as a proof of my inexorableness, or of my dooming men to perdition?
(7.) “I found Nicholas Palmer in great weakness of body, and heaviness of spirit. We wrestled with God in his behalf; all our labor was not in vain. His soul was comforted; and a few hours after he quietly fell asleep.” A strange proof this likewise, either of inexorableness, or of “dooming men to perdition!” Therefore this charge too stands totally unsupported. Here is no proof of my unmercifulness yet. “Good fruits come next to be considered, which Mr. Wesley’s idea of true religion does not promise. He saith,” (I will repeat the words a little at large, that their true sense may more clearly appear,) “‘In explaining those words, The kingdom of God , or true religion, is not meats and drinks, I was led to show, that religion does not properly consist in harmlessness, using the means of grace, and doing good, that is, helping our neighbors, chiefly by giving alms; but that a man might both be harmless, use the means of grace, and do much good, and yet; have not religion at all.’” (Tract , p. 203.) He may so. Yet whoever has true religion, must be “zealous of good works.” And zeal for all good works is, according to my idea, an essential ingredient of true religion. “Spiritual cures are all the good fruits he pretends to.” (Pages 204, 205.)
Not quite all, says William Kirkman, with some others. “A few of his spiritual cures we will set in a fair light: ‘The first time I preached at Swalwell,’” (chiefly to colliers, and workers in the iron work,) “‘none seemed to be convinced, only stunned.’” I mean amazed at what they heard, though they were the first principles of religion. “But he brings them to their senses with a vengeance.” No, not them. These were different persons. Are they lumped together, in order to set things in a fair light? The whole paragraph runs thus: “I carefully examined those who had lately cried out in the congregation. Some of these, I found, could give no account at all, how or wherefore they had done so; only that of a sudden they dropped down, they knew not how; and what they afterward said or did they knew not. Others could just remember, they were in fear, but could not tell what they were in fear of. Several said they were afraid of the devil; and this was all they knew. But a few gave a more intelligible account of the piercing sense they then had of their sins, both inward and outward, which were set in array against them round about; of the dread they were in of the wrath of God, and the punishment they had deserved, into which they seemed to be just falling, without any way to escape. One of them told me, ‘I was as if I was just falling down from the highest place I had ever seen. I thought the devil was pushing me off, and that God had forsaken me. Another said, ‘I felt the very fire of hell already kindled in my breast; and all my body was in as much pain, as if I had been in a burning fiery furnace. ‘What wisdom is this which rebuketh these, that they should hold their peace? Nay, let such an one cry after Jesus of Nazareth, till he saith,’ Thy faith hath made thee whole.”’ (Journal , Vol. I. p. 407.)
(1.) “Another of Dr. Monro’s patients came to ask my advice. I found no reason to believe she had been any otherwise mad, than every one that is deeply convinced of sin.” (Tract, p. 208.) Let this prove all that it can prove.
(2.) “A middle-aged woman was really distracted.” Yes, before I ever saw her, or she me.
(3.) “I could not but be under some concern with regard to one or two persons, who were tormented in an unaccountable manner, and seemed to be indeed lunatic, as well as sore vexed.” True; for a time. But the deliverance of one of them is related in the very next paragraph.
(4.) “Two or three are gone quite distracted; that is, they mourn and refuse to be comforted till they have redemption.” (Page 209.)
(5.) “I desired one to visit Mrs. G in Bedlam, put in by her husband, as a madwoman.” but she never was mad in any degree, as he himself afterwards acknowledged.
(6.) “One was so deeply convinced of her ungodliness, that she cried out day and night, ‘Lord, save, or I perish!’ All the neighbors agreed she was stark mad.” But I did not make her so. For this was before she ever saw my face. Now, let every one judge, whether here is yet a single proof that I drive men mad. “The time when this spiritual madness was at its height, he calls a glorious time.” (Page 210.) I call that a glorious time when many notorious sinners are converted to God; (whether with any outward symptoms or none, for those are no way essential;) and when many are in the triumph of faith, greatly rejoicing in God their Savior. “But though Mr. Wesley does so well in turning fools into madmen, yet his craftmaster is certainly one Mr. Wheatley, of whom he gives this extraordinary account:” (Page 211:) “A poor woman (on Wednesday, September 17, 1740) said, it was four years (namely, in September 1736, above a year before I left Georgia) since her son, by hearing a sermon of Mr. Wheatley’s fell into great uneasiness. She thought he was ill, and would have sent for a Physician.
But he said, ‘No, no; send for Mr. Wheatley.’ He was sent for, and came; and after asking a few questions, told her, ‘The boy is mad. Get a coach, and carry him to Dr. Monro. Use my name. I have sent several such to him.’ Who this Mr. Wheatley is, I know not.” He was Lecturer at Spitalfields Church. The event was, after the Apothecary had half murdered him, he was discharged, and the lad soon recovered his strength.
His senses he never had lost. The supposing this was a blunder from the beginning. “These are the exploits which Mr. Wesley calls blessings from God.” (Page 212.) Certainly I do, both repentance and faith. “And which therefore we may call the good fruits of his ministry.” May God increase them an hundred fold! “What the Apostle calls ‘good fruits,’ namely, doing much good, Mr. Wesley tells us belongs not to true religion.” I never told any man so yet. I tell all men just the contrary.
I may then safely leave all mankind to judge, whether a single article of the charge against me has yet been made good. So much for the first charge, that I am a madman. Now for the second, that I am a knave. 5. The proof is short: “Every enthusiast is a knave; but he is an enthusiast; therefore he is a knave.” I deny both the first and second proposition.
Nay, the first is proved thus: “Enthusiasm must always be accompanied with craft and knavery.” (Page 213.) It is often so, but not always; for there may be honest enthusiasts. Therefore the whole account of that odd combination which follows is ingenious, but proves nothing. (Pages 214-218.)
Yet I must touch upon one or two parts of it. “An enthusiast thinks he is dispensed with in breaking, nay, that he is authorized to break, the common laws of morality.” Does every enthusiast? Then I am none; for I never thought any such thing. I believe no man living is authorized to break, or dispense with in breaking, any law of morality. I know, whoever (habitually) breaks one of the least of these, “shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” “Can any but an enthusiast believe, that he may use guile to promote the glory of God? “Yes, ten thousand that are no enthusiasts firmly believe this. How few do we find that do not believe it! that do not plead for officious lies! How few will subscribe to St. Augustine’s declaration, (to which I assent; with my whole heart,) “I would not tell a wilful lie, to save the souls of the whole world!”
But to return: “‘The wisdom from above is without partiality and without hypocrisy.’ Partiality consists in dispensing an unequal measure in our transactions with others; hypocrisy, in attempting to cover that unequal measure by prevarication and false pretenses.”
But let this pass. My partiality is now the point. What are the proofs of it?
(1.) “His followers are always the children of God, his opposers the children of the devil.” (Page 220.) Neither so, nor so. I never affirmed either one or the other universally. That some of the former are children of God, and some of the latter children of the devil, I believe.
But what will this prove? “His followers are directed by inward feelings, the impulses of an inflamed fancy;” (no more than they are directed by the Alcoran;) “his opposers, by the Scripture.” What, while they are cursing, swearing, blaspheming; beating and maiming men that have done them no wrong; and treating women in a manner too shocking to be repeated?
(2.) The next proof is very extraordinary. My words are, “I was with two persons, who, I doubt, are properly enthusiasts: For, first, they think to attain the end without the means, which is enthusiasm properly so called. Again, they think themselves inspired of God, and are not. But false imaginary inspiration is enthusiasm. That theirs is only imaginary inspiration appears hence, — it contradicts the law and the testimony.” (Page 221.)
Now, by what art of man can this be made a proof of my partiality? Why thus: “These are wise words. But what do they amount to? Only to this; that these two persons would not take out their patents of inspiration from his office.” But what proof is there of this round assertion? Truly, none at all.
(3.) Full as extraordinary is the third proof of my partiality. “Miss Gr—— told Mrs. Sp——, Mr. Wesley was a Papist. Upon this Miss Gr—— is anathematized. And we are told that, in consequence, she had lately been raving mad, and, as such, was tied down in her bed. Yet all these circumstances of madness have befallen his favorite saints, whom he has vindicated from the opprobrium.” (Page 222.)
The passage in my Journal stands thus: “Mrs. Spa—— told me, two or three nights since, ‘Miss Gr—— met me, and said, I assure you, Mr. Wesley is a Papist.’ Perhaps I need observe no more upon this, than that Miss Gr—— had lately been raving mad, in consequence of a fever;” (not of an anathema, which never had any being;) “that, as such, she was tied down in her bed; and as soon as she was suffered to go abroad, went to Mr. Whitefield, to inquire of him whether she was not a Papist. But he quickly perceived she was only a lunatic; the nature of her disorder soon betraying itself.” Certainly then my allowing her to be mad is no proof of my partiality. I will allow every one to be so who is attended with “all these circumstances of madness.”
(4.) “He pronounces sentence of enthusiasm upon another, and tells us wherefore, without any disguise: ‘Here I took leave of a poor, mad, original enthusiast, who had been scattering lies in every quarter.’” It was the famous John Adams, since confined at Box, whose capital lie, the source of the rest, was, that he was a prophet, greater than Moses, or any of the Apostles. And is the pronouncing him a madman a proof of my partiality?
(5.) “I had much conversation with Mr. Simpson, an original enthusiast. I desired him in the evening to give an exhortation. He did so, and spoke many good things, in a manner peculiar to himself:” — without order or connection, head or tail; and in a language very near as mystical as that of Jacob Behmen. “When he had done, I summed up what he had said, methodizing and explaining it. O what a pity it is, this well-meaning man should ever speak without an interpreter!” (Page 223.)
Let this passage likewise stand as it is, and who can guess how it is to prove my partiality? But by a slight-of-hand the thing is done. “How differently does Mr. Wesley treat these two enthusiasts! The first is accused of spreading lies of his master.” (No, he never was any disciple of mine.) “On which Mr. W. took his leave of him; — a gentle expression, to signify the thrusting him out, head and shoulders, from the society of saints.” It signifies neither more nor less than that I went out of the room and left him. “The other’s enthusiasm is made to consist only in want of method.” No. His enthusiasm did not consist in this. It was the cause of it.
But he was quite another man than John Adams; and, I believe, a right honest man.
(6.) “I was both surprised and grieved at a genuine instance of enthusiasm. I. B., who had received a sense of the love of God a few days before, came riding through the town, hallooing and shouting, and driving all the people before him, telling them God had told him he should be a King, and should tread all his enemies under his feet. I sent him home immediately to his work; and advised him to cry day and night to God that he might be lowly in heart, lest Satan should again ‘get an advantage over him.’” What this proves, or is intended to prove, I cannot tell. Certainly, neither this, nor any of the preceding passages, prove the point now in question, — my partiality. So this likewise is wholly unproved still. “We shall end, where every fanatic leader ends, with his hypocrisy.” (Page 227.) Five arguments are brought in proof of this. I shall take them in their order.
(1.) “After having heaped up miracles one upon another, he sneaks away under the protection of a puny wonder: ‘About five I began near the Keelmall’s Hospital, many thousands standing round. The wind was high just before, but scarce a breath was felt all the time we assembled before God. I praise God for this also. Is it enthusiasm to see God in every benefit we receive?’ It is not; the enthusiasm consists in believing those benefits to be conferred through a change in the established course of nature. But here he insinuates, that he meant no more by his miracles, than the seeing God in every benefit we receive.” (Pages 228, 229.) That sudden and total ceasing of the wind I impute to the particular providence of God. This I mean by seeing God therein. But this I knew many would count enthusiasm. In guarding against it, I had an eye to that single incident, and no other. Nor did I insinuate anything more than I expressed in as plain a manner as I could.
A little digression follows: “A friend of his advises, not to establish the power of working miracles, as the great criterion of a divine mission; seeing the agreement of doctrines with Scripture is the only infallible rule.” (Page 230.) “But Christ himself establishes the power of working miracles, as the great criterion of a divine mission.” (Page 231.) True, of a mission to be the Savior of the world; to put a period to the Jewish, and introduce the Christian, dispensation. And whoever pretends to such a mission will stand in need of such credentials.
(2.) “He shifts and doubles no less” (neither less nor more) “as to the ecstasies of his saints. Sometimes they are of God, sometimes of the devil; but he is constant in this, — that natural causes have no hand in them.” This is not true: In what are here termed ecstasies, strong joy or grief, attended with various bodily symptoms, I have openly affirmed, again and again, that natural causes have a part: Nor did I ever shift or double on the head. I have steadily and uniformly maintained, that, if the mind be affected to such a degree, the body must be affected by the laws of the vital union. The mind I believe was, in many of those cases, affected by the Spirit of God, in others by the devil, and in some by both; and, in consequence of this, the body was affected also.
(3.) “Mr. W. says, ‘I fear we have grieved the Spirit of the jealous God by questioning his work, and by blaspheming it, by imputing it to nature, or even to the devil.’” (Pages 232, 233.) True; by imputing the conviction and conversion of sinners, which is the work of God alone, (because of these unusual circumstances attending it,) either to nature or to the devil. This is flat and plain. No prevarication yet. Let us attend to the next proof of it: “Innumerable cautions were given me, not to regard visions or dreams, or to fancy people had remission of sins because of their cries, or tears, or outward professions. The sum of my answer was, You deny that God does now work these effects; at least that he works them in this manner. I affirm both. I have seen very many persons changed in a moment from a spirit of fear, horror, despair, to a spirit of love, joy, peace. What I have to say touching visions and dreams is this: I know several persons in whom this great change was wrought in a dream, or during a strong representation to the eye of their mind of Christ, either on the cross, or in glory. This is the fact; let any judge of it as they please. And that such a change was then wrought, appears (not from their shedding tears only, or falling into fits, or crying out; these are not the fruits, as you seem to suppose, whereby I judge, but) from the whole tenor of their life; till then many ways wicked, from that time holy, and just, and good.” “Nay, he is so convinced of its being the work of God, that the horrid blasphemies which ensued, he ascribes to the abundance of joy which God had given to a poor mad woman.” (Page 234.) Do I ascribe those blasphemies to her joy in God? No; but to her pride. My words are, “I met with one, who, having been lifted up with the abundance of joy which God had given her, had fallen into such blasphemies and vain imaginations as are not common to men. In the afternoon I found another instance, nearly, I fear, of the same kind; one who set her private revelations, so called, on the self-same foot with the written word.” (Page 235.)
But how is this to prove prevarication? “Why, on a sudden, he directly revokes all he had advanced. He says, ‘I told them they were not to judge of the spirit whereby any one spoke, either by appearances, or by common report, or by their own inward feelings; no, nor by any dreams, visions, or revelations, supposed to be made to the soul, any more than by their tears, or any involuntary effects wrought upon their bodies. I warned them that all these things were in themselves of a doubtful, disputable nature: They might be from God, or they might not; and were therefore not simply to be relied on, any more than simply to be condemned; but to be tried by a farther rule, to be brought to the only certain test, the law and the testimony. ’ Now, is not this a formal recantation of what he had said just above?” (Page 235.) Nothing less, as I will show in two minutes, to every calm, impartial man. What I say now, I have said any time this thirty years; I have never varied therefrom for an hour: “Everything disputable is to be brought to the only certain test, ‘the law and the testimony.’” “But did not you talk just now of visions and dreams?” Yes; but not as of a test of any thing; only as a channel through which God is sometimes pleased to convey “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, temperance,” the indisputable fruit of his Spirit: And these, we may observe, wherever they exist, must be inwardly felt. Now where is the prevarication, where the formal recantation? They are vanished into air.
But here is more proof: “At length he gives up all these divine agitations to the devil: ‘I inquired,’ says he, ‘into the case of those who had lately cried out aloud during the preaching.’ I found this had come upon every one of them in a moment, without any previous notice. In that moment they dropped down, lost all their strength, and were seized with violent pain.
Some said they felt as if a sword were running through them; others, as if their whole body was tearing in pieces. These symptoms I can no more impute to any natural cause, than to the Spirit of God. I make no doubt but it was Satan tearing them as they were coming to Christ.” (Page 236.) “Now, these were the very symptoms which he had before ascribed to the Spirit of God.” (Page 237.) Never in my life. Indeed some of them I never met with before. Those outward symptoms which I had met with before, bodily agitations in particular, I did not ascribe to the Spirit of God, but to the natural union of the soul and body. And those symptoms which I now ascribe to the devil, I never ascribed to any other cause. The Second proof of my prevarication or hypocrisy is therefore just as conclusive as the First. 3. Now for the Third: “Mr. W. before spoke contemptuously of orthodoxy, to take in the Sectaries. But when he would take off Churchmen, then orthodoxy is the unum necessarium ” Did I ever say so? No more than, in the other extreme, speak contemptuously of it. “Yes, you say, ‘I described the plain, old religion of the Church of England, which is now almost everywhere spoken against under the new name of Methodism.’” Very well; and what shadow of prevarication is here? May I not still declare the plain, old religion of the Church of England, and yet very consistently aver, that right opinion is a very slender part of it? 4. The next passage, I am sorry to say, is neither related with seriousness nor truth: “We have seen him inviting persecution.” Never; though I “rejoiced,” in the instance alleged, at having an opportunity of calling a multitude of the most abandoned sinners to repentance.
What is peculiarly unfair, is, the lame, false account is palmed upon me, by “So he himself tells the story.” I must therefore tell the story once more, in as few words as I can: — “Sunday, August 7, 1737. I repelled Mrs. W. from the communion.
Tuesday, 9. I was required by Mr. Bailiff Parker to appear at the next court. Thursday, 11. Mr. Causton, her uncle, said to me, ‘Give your reasons for repelling her before the whole congregation.’ I answered: ‘Sir, if you insist upon it, I will.’ But I heard no more of it. Afterward he said, (but not to me,) ‘Mr. W. had repelled Sophy out of revenge, because he had made proposals of marriage to her, which she rejected.’ Tuesday, 16. Mrs. W. made affidavit of it. Thursday, September 1. A Grand Jury, prepared by Mr. Causton, found, that ‘John Wesley had broken the laws of the realm, by speaking and writing to Mrs. W. against her husband’s consent, and by repelling her from the communion.’ “Friday, 2, was the third court-day at which I appeared, since my being required so to do by Mr. Parker. I moved for an immediate hearing, but was put off till the next court-day. On the next court-day I appeared again, as also at the two courts following; but could not be heard. Thursday, November 3, I appeared in court again; and yet again on Tuesday, November 22, on which day Mr. C. desired to speak with me, and read me an affidavit, in which it was affirmed, that I ‘abused Mr. C. in his own house, calling him liar, villain, and so on.’ It was likewise repeated, that I had been reprimanded at the last court, by Mr. C., as an enemy to, and hinderer of, the public peace. “My friends agreed with me, that the time we looked for was now come. And the next morning, calling on Mr. C., I told him, I designed to set out for England immediately. “Friday, December 2, I proposed to set out for Carolina about noon. But about ten, the magistrates sent for me, and told me, I must not go out of the province; for I had not answered the allegations laid against me. I replied, ‘I have appeared at six or seven courts, in order to answer them. But I was not suffered so to do.’ After a few more words, I said, ‘You use me very ill. And so you do the Trustees. You know your business, and I know mine.’ “In the afternoon, they published an order, forbidding any to assist me in going out of the province. But I knew I had no more business there. So as soon as Evening Prayer was over, the tide then serving, I took boat at the Bluff, for Carolina.”
This is the plain account of the matter. I need only add a remark or two on the pleasantry of my censurer. “He had recourse, as usual, to his revelations. ‘I consulted my friends, whether God did not call me to England.”’ (Page 242.) Not by revelations; these were out of the question; but by clear, strong reasons. “The Magistrate soon quickened his pace, by declaring him an enemy to the public peace.” No; that senseless assertion of Mr. C. made me go neither sooner nor later. ‘The reader has seen him long languish for persecution.’” What, before November, 1737? I never languished for it, either before or since. But I submit to what pleases God. “To hide his poltroonery in a bravado, he gave public notice of his apostolical intention.” (Page 243.) Kind and civil! I may be excused from taking notice of what follows. It is equally serious and genteel. “Had his longings for persecution been without hypocrisy.” The same mistake throughout. I never longed or professed to long for it at all. But if I had professed it ever since I returned from Georgia, what was done before I returned could not prove that profession to be hypocrisy. So all this ribaldry serves no end; only to throw much dirt, if haply some may stick.
Meantime, how many untruths are here in one page!
(1.) “He made the path doubly perplexed for his followers.
(2.) He left them to answer for his crimes.
(3.) He longed for persecution.
(4.) He went as far as Georgia for it.
(5.) The truth of his mission was questioned by the Magistrate, and
(6.) decried by the people,
(7.) for his false morals.
(8.) The gospel was wounded through the sides of its pretended Missionary.
(9.) The first Christian Preachers offered up themselves.” So did I. “Instead of this, our paltry mimic.” (Page 244.) Bona verba! Surely a writer should reverence himself, how much soever he despises his opponent. So, upon the whole, this proof of my hypocrisy is as lame as the three former. 5. “We have seen above, how he sets all prudence at defiance.” None but false prudence. “But he uses a different language when his rivals are to be restrained.” No; always the same, both with regard to false prudence and true. “But take the affair from the beginning. He began to suspect rivals in the year thirty-nine; for he says, ‘Remembering how many that came after me were preferred before me.’” The very next words show in what sense.
They “had attained unto the law of righteousness;” I had not. But what has this to do with rivals?
However, go on: “At this time, December 8, 1739, his opening the Bible afforded him but small relief. He sunk so far in his despondency, as to doubt if God would not lay him aside, and send other laborers into his harvest.” But this was another time. It was June 22; and the occasion of the doubt is expressly mentioned: “I preached, but had no life or spirit in me, and was much in doubt,” on that account. Not on account of Mr. Whitefield. He did not “now begin to set up for himself.” We were in full union; nor was there the least shadow of rivalry or contention between us.
I still sincerely “praise God for his wisdom in giving different talents to different Preachers;” (page 250;) and particularly for his giving Mr. Whitefield the talents which I have not. 6. What farther proof of hypocrisy? Why, “he had given innumerable flirts of contempt in his Journals against human learning.” (Pages 252, 253.)
Where? I do not know. Let the passages be cited; else, let me speak for it even so much, it will prove nothing. “At last he was forced to have recourse to what he had so much scorned, I mean, prudence.” (Page 255.)
All a mistake. I hope never to have recourse to false prudence; and true prudence I never scorned. “He might have met Mr. Whitefield half way; but he was too formidable a rival. With a less formidable one he pursues this way. ‘I labored,’ says he, ‘to convince Mr. Gr——,’” (my assistant, not rival,) “that he had not done well, in confuting, as he termed it, the sermon I preached the Sunday before. I asked, Will you meet me half way?’” (The words following put my meaning beyond all dispute:) “‘I will never publicly preach against you. Will not you against me?’ Here we see a fair invitation to Mr. Gr—— to play the hypocrite with him.” (Ibid .) Not in the least. Each might simply deliver his own sentiments without preaching against the other. “We conclude that Mr. Wesley, amidst his warmest exclamations against all prudence, had still a succedaneum, which indeed he calls prudence; but its true name is craft.” (Page 257.)
Craft is an essential part of worldly prudence. This I detest and abhor.
And let him prove it upon me that can. But it must be by better arguments than the foregoing. Truly Christian prudence, such as was recommended by our Lord, and practiced by Him and his Apostles, I reverence, and desire to learn, being convinced of its abundant usefulness.
I know nothing material in the argument which I have left untouched. And I must now refer it to all the world, whether, for all that has been brought to the contrary, I may not still have a measure of the “wisdom from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”
I have spoke abundantly more concerning myself than I intended or expected. Yet I must beg leave to add a few words more. How far I am from being an enemy to prudence, I hope appears already. It remains to inquire, whether I am an enemy to reason or natural religion. “As to the first, he frankly tells us, the father of lies was the father of reasonings also. For he says, ‘I observed more and more the advantage Satan had gained over us. Many were thrown into idle reasonings.’” (Page 289.) Yes, and they were hurt thereby. But reason is good, though idle reasonings are evil. Nor does it follow that I am an enemy to the one, because I condemn the other. “However, you are an enemy to natural religion. For you say, ‘A Frenchman gave us a full account of the Chicasaws. They do nothing but eat, and drink, and smoke, from morning till night, and almost from night till morning. For they rise at any hour of the night when they awake, and, after eating and drinking as much as they can, go to sleep again. Hence we could not but remark what is the religion of nature, properly so called, or that religion which flows from natural reason, unassisted by Revelation.’” (Page 290.) I believe this dispute may be cut short by only defining the term. What does your Lordship mean by natural religion ? a system of principles? But I mean by it, in this place, men’s natural manners. These certainly “Sow from their natural passions and appetites,” with that degree of reason which they have. And this, in other instances, is not contemptible; though it is not sufficient to teach them true religion.
I proceed to consider, in the Second place, what is advanced concerning the operations of the Holy Spirit. “Our blessed Redeemer promised to send among his followers the Holy Ghost, called ‘the Spirit of Truth’ and ‘the Comforter,’ which should cooperate with man, in establishing his faith, and in perfecting his obedience; or, in other words, should sanctify him to redemption.” (Page 2.)
Accordingly, “the sanctification and redemption of the world, man cannot; frustrate nor render ineffectual. For it is not in his power to make that to be undone, which is once done and perfected.” (Page 337.)
I do not comprehend. Is all the world sanctified? Is not to be sanctified the same as to be made holy? Is all the world holy? And can no man frustrate his own sanctification? “The Holy Ghost establishes our faith, and perfects our obedience, by enlightening the understanding, and rectifying the will.” (Page 3.) “In the former respect, 1. He gave the gift of tongues at the day of Pentecost. “Indeed, enthusiasts, in their ecstasies, have talked very fluently in languages they had a very imperfect knowledge of in their sober intervals.”
I can no more believe this on the credit of Lord Shaftesbury and a Polish exorcist, than I can believe the tale of an hundred people talking without tongues, on the credit of Dr. Middleton. “The other gifts of the Spirit St. Paul reckons up thus: ‘To one is given the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge; to another the gifts of healing; to another working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another the discerning of spirits.’” (Page 23.) But why are the other three left out? — Faith, divers kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.
I believe the “word of wisdom” means, light to explain the manifold wisdom of God in the grand scheme of gospel salvation; the “word of knowledge,” a power of explaining the Old Testament types and prophecies. “Faith” may mean an extraordinary trust in God, under the most difficult and dangerous circumstances; “the gifts of healing,” a miraculous power of curing diseases; “the discerning of spirits,” a supernatural discernment, whether men were upright or not; whether they were qualified for offices in the Church; and whether they who professed to speak by inspiration, really did so or not.
But “the richest of the fruits of the Spirit is the inspiration of scripture.” (Page 30.) Herein the promise, that “the Comforter” should “abide with us for ever,” is eminently fulfilled. For though his ordinary influence occasionally assists the faithful of all ages, yet his constant abode and supreme illumination is in the Scriptures of the New Testament. I mean, “he is there only as the Illuminator of the understanding.” (Page 39.)
But does this agree with the following words? — “Nature is not able to keep a mean: But grace is able; for ‘the Spirit helpeth our infirmities.’ We must apply to the Guide of truth, to prevent our being ‘carried about with divers and strange doctrines.’” (Page 340.) Is he not, then, everywhere, to illuminate the understanding, as well as to rectify the will? And indeed, do we not need the one as continually as the other? “But how did he inspire the Scripture? He so directed the writers, that no considerable error should fall from them.” (Page 45.) Nay, will not the allowing there is any error in Scripture, shake the authority of the whole?
Again: What is the difference between the immediate and the virtual influence of the Holy Spirit? I know, Milton speaks of “virtual or immediate touch.” But most incline to think, virtual touch is no touch at all. “Were the style of the New Testament utterly rude and barbarous, and abounding with every fault that can possibly deform a language; this is so far from proving such language not divinely inspired, that it is one certain mark of this original.” (Page 55.)
A vehement paradox this! But it is not proved yet, and probably never will. “The labors of those who have attempted to defend the purity of Scripture Greek have been very idly employed.” (Page 66.)
Others think they have been very wisely employed, and that they have abundantly proved their point.
Having now “considered the operations of the Holy Spirit, as the Guide of truth, who clears and enlightens the under standing, I proceed to consider him as the Comforter, who purifies and supports the will.” (Page 89.) “Sacred antiquity is full in its accounts of the sudden and entire change made by the Holy Spirit in the dispositions and manners of those whom it had enlightened; instantaneously effacing their evil habits, and familiarizing them to the performance of every good action.” (Page 90.) “No natural cause could effect this. Neither fanaticism nor superstition, nor both of them, will account for so sudden and lasting a conversion.” (Ibid .) “Superstition never effects any considerable change in the manners.
Its utmost force is just enough to make us exact in the ceremonious offices of religion, or to cause some acts of penitence, as death approaches.” (Page 91.) “Fanaticism, indeed, acts with greater violence, and, by influencing the will, frequently forces the manners from their bent, and sometimes effaces the strongest impressions of custom and nature.
But this fervor, though violent, is rarely lasting; never so long as to establish the new system into an habit. So that when its rage subsides, as it very soon does, (but where it drives into downright madness,) the bias on the will keeps abating, till all the former habitudes recover their relaxed tone.” (Page 92.)
Never were reflections more just than these. And whoever applies them to the matters of fact, which daily occur all over England, and particularly in London, will easily discern, that the changes now wrought cannot be accounted for by natural causes:Not by superstition; for the manners are changed; the whole life and conversation: Not by fanaticism; for these changes are so lasting, “as to establish the new system into a habit:” Not by mere reason; for they are sudden; therefore they can only be wrought by the Holy Spirit.
As to Savanarola’s being a fanatic, or assuming the person of a Prophet, I cannot take a Popish historian’s word. And what a man says on the rack proves nothing; no more than his dying silent. Probably this might arise from shame, and consciousness of having accused himself falsely under the torture. “But how does the Spirit, as Comforter, abide with us for ever? He abides with the Church for ever, as well personally in his office of Comforter, as virtually in his office of Enlightener.” (Page 96.)
Does he not then abide with the Church personally in both these respects?
What is meant by abiding virtually? And what is the difference between abiding virtually , and abiding personally? “The question will be, Does he still exercise his office in the same extraordinary manner as in the Apostles’ days?” (Page 97.)
I know none that affirms it. “St Paul has determined this question. ‘Charity,’ says he, ‘never faileth: But whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.’ ( 1 Corinthians 13:8, etc.)” “The common opinion is, that this respects another life, as he enforces his argument by this observation: ‘Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: Now we know in part; but then shall we know, even as also we are known.’” (Page 99.) “But the Apostle means, charity is to accompany the Church in all its stages; whereas prophecy and all the rest are only bestowed during its infant state, to support it against the delusions and powers of darkness.” (Page 100.) “The Corinthians abounded in these gifts, but were wanting in charity.
And this the Apostle here exposes, by proving charity to be superior to them all, both in its qualities and duration. The three first verses declare that the other gifts are useless without charity. The next four specify the qualities of charity; the remaining six declare its continuance: ‘Charity never faileth: But whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.’ In the next verse he gives the reason; ‘For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away:’ That is, when that Christian life, the lines of which are marked out by the gospel, shall arrive to its full vigor and maturity, then the temporary aids, given to subdue prejudice, and to support the weak, shall, like scaffolding, be removed. In other words, when that Christian life, wherein the Apostles and first Christians were but infants, shall arrive to its full vigor and maturity in their successors, then miracles shall cease.” (Page 102.) But I fear that time is not yet come.
I doubt, none that are now alive enjoy more of the vigor and maturity of the Christian life than the very first Christians did. “To show that the loss of these will not be regretted when the Church has advanced from a state of infancy to manhood,” (alas the day! Were the Apostles but infants to us?) “he illustrates the case by an elegant similitude: ‘When I was a child, I spake as a child; — but when I became a man, I put away childish things.’ His next remark, concerning, the defects of human knowledge, is only an occasional answer to an objection. And the last verse shows that the superior duration of charity refers to the present life only: ‘Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three: But the greatest of these is charity.’ That is, you may perhaps object, Faith and hope will likewise remain in the Church, when prophecy, tongues, and knowledge are ceased: They will so; but still charity is the greatest, because of its excellent qualities.” (Page 107.) The last verse shows! Is not this begging the question? How forced is all this! The plain natural meaning of the passage is, love (the absolute necessity and the nature of which is shown in the foregoing verses) has another commendation, — it “never faileth;” it accompanies and adorns us to eternity. “But whether there be prophecies, they shall fail,” when all things are fulfilled, and God is all in all: “Whether there be tongues, they shall cease.” One language shall prevail among all the inhabitants of heaven, while the low, imperfect languages of earth are forgotten. The “knowledge,” likewise, we now so eagerly pursue, shall then “vanish away.” As star-light is lost in that of the mid-day sun, so our present knowledge in the light of eternity. “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.” We have here but short, narrow, imperfect conceptions, even of the things round about us, and much more of the deep things of God. And even the prophecies which men deliver from God are far from taking in the whole of future events. “But when that which is perfect is come,” at death, and in the last day, “that which is in part shall be done away.” Both that low, imperfect, glimmering light, which is all the knowledge we can now attain to; and these slow and unsatisfactory methods of attaining, as well as of imparting it to others. “When I was a child, I talked as a child, I understood as a child, I reasoned as a child.” As if he had said, In our present state, we are mere infants compared to what we shall be hereafter. “But when I became a man, I put away childish things;” and a proportionable change shall we all find, when we launch into eternity. Now we see even the things which surround us by means of a glass or mirror, in a dim, faint, obscure manner, so that every thing is a kind of riddle to us; but then we shall see, not a faint reflection, but the objects themselves, face to face, directly and distinctly. “Now I know but in part.” Even when God reveals things to me, great part of them is still kept under the veil. “But then shall I know even as I also am known;” in a clear, full, comprehensive manner, in some measure like God, who penetrates the center of every object, and sees, at one glance, through my soul and all things. “And now,” during the present life, “abide these three, faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these,” in its duration, as well as the excellence of its nature, “is love.” Faith, hope, love, are the sum of perfection on earth; love alone is the sum of perfection in heaven. “It appears, then, that the miraculous powers of the Church were to cease upon its perfect establishment.” (Page 107.) Nothing like it appears from this scripture. But supposing it did, is Christianity perfectly established yet? even nominal Christianity? Mr. Brerewood took large pains to be fully informed; and, according to his account, five parts in six of the known world are Mahometans or Pagans to this day. If so, Christianity is yet far from being perfectly established, either in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America. “Having now established the fact,” (wonderfully established!) “we may inquire into the fitness of it. There were two causes of the extraordinary operations of the Holy Spirit, — one to manifest his mission, (and this was done once for all,) the other to comfort and instruct the Church.” (Page 110.) “At his first descent on the Apostles, he found their minds rude and uninformed, strangers to all heavenly knowledge, and utterly averse to the gospel. He illuminated their minds with all necessary truth. For a rule of faith not being yet composed,” (No! Had they not “the Law and the Prophets?) “some extraordinary infusion of his virtue was still necessary.
But when this rule was perfected, part of this office was transferred upon the sacred Canon; and his enlightening grace was not to be expected in such abundant measure, as to make the recipients infallible guides.” (Page 112.)
Certainly it was not. If this is all that is intended, no one will gainsay. “Yet modern fanatics pretend to as high a degree of divine communications, as if no such rule were in being;” (I do not;) “or, at least, as if that rule needed the further assistance of the Holy Spirit to explain his own meaning.” This is quite another thing. I do firmly believe, (and what serious man does not?) omnis scriptura legi debet eo Spiritu quo scripta est: “We need the same Spirit to understand the Scripture, which enabled the holy men of old to write it.” “Again, the whole strength of human prejudices was then set in opposition to the gospel, to overcome the obstinacy and violence of which, nothing less than the power of the Holy One was sufficient. At present, whatever prejudices may remain, it draws the other way.” (Page 113.) What, toward holiness? toward temperance and chastity? toward justice, mercy, and truth? Quite the reverse. And to overcome the obstinacy and violence of the heart-prejudices which still lie against these, the power of the Holy One is as necessary now, as ever it was from the beginning of the world. “A further reason for the ceasing of miracles is, the peace and security of the Church. The profession of the Christian faith is now attended with ease and honor.” The profession true; but not the thing itself, as “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus” experience. “But if miracles are not ceased, why do you not prove your mission thereby?” As your Lordship has frequently spoke to this effect, I will now give a clear answer. And I purposely do it in the same words which I published many years since: — “1. I have in some measure explained myself on the head of miracles, in the Third Part of the ‘Farther Appeal.’ But since you repeat the demand, (though without taking any notice of the arguments there advanced,) I will endeavor once more to give you a distinct, full, and determinate answer. “
(1.) And, First, I acknowledge that I have seen with my eyes, and heard with my ears, several things, which, to the best of my judgment, cannot be accounted for by the ordinary course of natural causes, and which, I therefore believe, ought to be ‘ascribed to the extraordinary interposition of God.’ If any man choose to style these miracles , I reclaim not. I have diligently inquired into the facts. I have weighed the preceding and following circumstances. I have strove to account for them in a natural way; but could not, without doing violence to my reason. Not to go far back, I am clearly persuaded that the sudden deliverance of John Haydon was one instance of this kind; and my own recovery, on May the 10th, another. I cannot account for either of these in a natural way. Therefore I believe they were both supernatural. “
(2.) I must, Secondly, observe, that the truth of these facts is supported by the same kind of proof as that of all other facts is wont to be, namely, the testimony of competent witnesses; and that the testimony here is in as high a degree as any reasonable man can desire.
Those witnesses were many in number: They could not be deceived themselves; for the facts in question they saw with their own eyes, and heard with their own ears. Nor is it credible, that so many of them would combine together with a view of deceiving others; the greater part being men who feared God, as appeared by the general tenor of their lives. Thus, in the case of John Haydon: This thing was not contrived and executed in a corner, and in the presence of his own family only, or three or four persons prepared for the purpose. No; it was in an open street in the city of Bristol, at one or two in the afternoon; and, the doors being open from the beginning, not only many of the neighbors from every side, but several others, (indeed, whosoever desired it,) went in, till the house could contain no more.
Nor yet does the account of my own illness and recovery depend, as you suppose, on my bare word. There were many witnesses both of my disorder on Friday and Saturday, and my lying down most part of Sunday; (a thing they were well satisfied could not be the effect of a slight indisposition;) and all who saw me that evening, plainly discerned (what I could not wholly conceal) that I was in pain; about two hundred of whom were present when I was seized with the cough, which cut me short, so that I could speak no more; till I cried aloud, ‘Lord, increase my faith! Lord, confirm the word of thy grace!’ The same persons saw and heard, that at the instant I changed my posture, and broke out into thanksgiving; that quickly after, I stood upright, (which I could not before,) and showed no sign either of sickness or pain. “
(3.) Yet I must desire you well to observe, Thirdly, that my will, or choice, or desire, had no place either in this, or any case of this kind, that has ever fallen under my notice. Five minutes before, I had no thought of this. I expected nothing less. I was willing to wait for a gradual recovery, in the ordinary use of outward means. I did not look for any other cure, till the moment before I found it. And it is my belief, that the case was always the same with regard to the most real and undoubted miracles. I believe God never interposed his miraculous power, but according to his own sovereign will; not according to the will of man; neither of him by whom he wrought, nor of any other man whatsoever. The wisdom as well as the power are his; nor can I find that ever, from the beginning of the world, He lodged this power in any mere man, to be used whenever that man saw good. Suppose, therefore, there was a man now upon earth, who did work real and undoubted miracles, I would ask, By whose power doth he work these, and at whose pleasure? his own, or God’s? Not his own, but God’s. But it so, then your demand is made, not on man, but on God. I cannot say it is modest, thus to challenge God; or well suiting the relation of a creature to his Creator. “2. However, I cannot but think there have been already so many interpositions of divine power, as will shortly leave you without excuse, if you either deny or despise them. We desire no favor, but the justice that diligent inquiry may be made concerning them. We are ready to name the persons on whom the power was shown which belongeth to none but God; (not one or two, or ten or twelve only;) to point out their places of abode; and we engage they shall answer every pertinent question fairly and directly; and, if required, shall give all their answers upon oath, before any who are empowered to receive them. It is our particular request, that the circumstances which went before, which accompanied, and which followed after, the facts under consideration, may be thoroughly examined, and punctually noted down. Let but this be done, (and is it not highly needful it should? at least by those who would form an exact judgment,) and we have no fear that any reasonable man should scruple to say, ‘This hath God wrought.’ “As there have been already so many instances of this kind, far beyond what we dared to ask or think, I cannot take upon me to say, whether or no it will please God to add to their number. I have not herein ‘known the mind of the Lord,’ neither am I ‘his couselor.’ He may, or he may not; I cannot affirm or deny. I have no light, and I have no desire either way. ‘It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.’ I desire only to be as clay in his hand. “3. But what, if there were now to be wrought ever so many ‘real and undoubted miracles?’ (I suppose you mean, by undoubted , such as, being sufficiently attested, ought not to be doubted of.) ‘Why, this,’ you say, ‘would put the controversy on a short foot, and be an effectual proof of the truth of your pretenses.’ By no means. As common as this assertion is, there is none upon earth more false. Suppose a Teacher was now, on this very day, to work real and undoubted miracles; this would extremely little shorten the controversy between him and the greatest part of his opposers: For all this would not force them to believe; but many would still stand just where they did before; seeing men may harden their hearts against miracles, as well as against arguments. “So men have done from the beginning of the world, even against such signal, glorious miracles, against such interpositions of the power of God, as may not be again till the consummation of all things. Permit me to remind you only of a few instances, and to observe, that the argument holds a fortiori; for who will ever be empowered of God again to work such miracles as these were? Did Pharaoh look on all that Moses and Aaron wrought, as an effectual proof of the truth of their pretenses? even when the ‘Lord made the sea to be dry land, and the waters were divided; when the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall on the right and on the left?’ ( Exodus 14:21,22.) Nay, The wounded dragon raged in vain; And, fierce the utmost plagues to brave, Madly he dared the parting main, And sink beneath the o’erwhelming wave.
Was all this an effectual proof of the truth of their pretenses to the Israelites themselves? It was not; they were still ‘disobedient at the sea, even at the Red Sea.’ Was the giving them day by day bread from heaven, an effectual proof to those ‘two hundred and fifty of the princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown, who said, with Dathan and Abiram, Wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? we will not come up;’ ( Numbers 16:14;) nay, ‘when the ground clave asunder that was under them, and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up?’ (Verse 32.) Neither was this an effectual proof to those who saw it with their eyes, and heard the cries of those who went down into the pit; but, the very next day, they ‘murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the Lord!’ (Verse 41.) Was not the case generally the same with regard to the Prophets that followed? several of whom ‘stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire,’ and did many other mighty works; yet their own people received them not; yet ‘they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were slain with the sword, they were destitute, afflicted, tormented!’ — utterly contrary to the commonly received supposition, ‘that the working real, undoubted miracles, must bring all controversy to an end, and convince every gainsayer.’ “Let us come nearer yet. How stood the case between our Lord himself and his opposers? Did he not work real and undoubted miracles? And what was the effect? Still, ‘when he came to his own, his own received him not.’ Still ‘he was despised and rejected of men.’ Still it was a challenge not to be answered, ‘Have any of the Rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?’ After this, how can you imagine, that whoever works miracles must convince all men of the truth of his pretenses? “I would just remind you of only one instance more: ‘There sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. The same heard Paul speak; who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.’
Here was so undoubted a miracle, that the people ‘lifted up their voices, saying, The Gods are come down in the likeness of men.’ But how long were even these convinced of the truth of his pretenses? Only till ‘there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium;’ and then they ‘stoned him’ (as they supposed) ‘to death!’ ( Acts 14:7, etc.) So certain it is, that no miracles whatever, that were ever yet wrought in the world, were effectual to prove the most glaring truth to those who hardened their hearts against it. “4. And it will equally hold in every age and nation. ‘If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be’ convinced of what they desire not to believe, ‘though one rose from the dead.’ Without a miracle, without one rising from the dead, ean tiv qelh to qelhma autou poiein ‘if any man be willing to do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God:’ But if he is not ‘willing to do his will,’ he will never want an excuse, a plausible reason for rejecting it; yea, though ever so many miracles were wrought to confirm it. For, let ever so much light come into the world, it will have no effect (such is the wise and just will of God) on those who ‘love darkness rather than light.’ It will not convince those who do not simply desire to do ‘the will of their Father which is in heaven;’ those ‘who mind earthly things,’ who, if they do not continue in any gross outward sin, yet love pleasure and ease, yet seek profit or power, preferment or reputation. Nothing will ever be an effectual proof to these of the holy and acceptable will of God, unless first their proud hearts be humbled, their stubborn wills bowed down, and their desires brought, at least in some degree, into obedience to the law of Christ. “Hence, although it should please God to work anew all the wonders that ever were wrought on earth, still these men, however wise and prudent they may be in things relating to the present world, would fight against God and all his messengers, and that in spite of these miracles. Meanwhile, God will reveal his truth unto babes, unto those who are meek and lowly, whose desires are in heaven, who want to ‘know nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified.’ These need no outward miracles to show them his will; they have a plain rule, — the written word: And ‘the anointing which they have received of Him abideth in them, and teacheth them of all things.’ ( 1 John 2:27.) Through this they are enabled to bring all doctrines ‘to the law and the testimony:’ And whatsoever is agreeable to this they receive, without waiting to see it attested by miracles: As, on the other hand, whatsoever is contrary to this they reject; nor can any miracles move them to receive it. “5. Yet I do not know that God hath any where precluded himself from thus exerting his sovereign power, from working miracles in any bind or degree, in any age to the end of the world. I do not recollect any scripture wherein we are taught that miracles were to be confined within the limits either of the apostolic or the Cyprianic age; or of any period of time, longer or shorter, even till the restitution of all things. I have not observed, either in the Old Testament or the New, any intimation at all of this kind.
St. Paul indeed says once, concerning two of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, (so I think that text is usually understood,) ‘Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease.’ But he does not say, either that these or any other miracles shall cease till faith and hope shall cease also; till they shall all be swallowed up in the vision of God, and love be all in all. “I presume you will allow there is one kind of miracles (loosely speaking) which are not ceased; namely, terata yeudouv , ‘lying wonders,’ diabolical miracles, wrought by the power of evil spirits. Nor can you easily conceive that these will cease, as long as the father of lies is the prince of this world. And why should you think that the God of truth is less active than him, or that he will not have his miracles also? only not as man wills, neither when he wills; but according to his own excellent wisdom and goodness. “6. But even if it were supposed that God does now work beyond the operation of merely natural causes, yet what impression would this make upon you, in the disposition of mind you are now in? Suppose the trial was repeated, and made again tomorrow. One informs you the next day, ‘While a Clergyman was preaching yesterday, where I was, a man came who had been long ill of an incurable distemper. Prayer was made for him; and he was restored to perfect health.’ “Suppose now that this was a real fact, perhaps you would scarce have patience to hear the account of it; but would cut it short in the midst, with, ‘Do you tell this as something supernatural? Then miracles are not ceased.’ But if you should venture to ask, ‘Where was this; and who was the person who prayed?’ and it was answered, ‘At the Foundry, near Moorfields; the person who prayed was Mr. Wesley;’ what a damp comes at once! What a weight falls on your mind at the first setting out! It is well if you have any heart or desire to move one step farther, or, if you should, what a strong additional propensity do you now feel to deny the fact! And is there not a ready excuse for so doing? ‘O! they who tell the story are his own people; most of whom, we may be sure, will say anything for him, and the rest will believe anything.’ But if you at length allowed the fact, might you not find means to account for it by natural causes? ‘Great crowds, violent heats, with obstructions and irregularities of the blood and spirits,’ will do wonders. If you could not but allow it was more than natural, might not some plausible reason be found for ranking it among the lying wonders, for ascribing it to the devil rather than God? And if, after all, you was convinced it was the finger of God, must you not still bring every doctrine advanced ‘to the law and the testimony,’ the only sure and infallible test of all? What then is the use of this continual demand, ‘Show us a sign, and we will believe?’ What will you believe? I hope no more than is written in the book of God: And thus far you might venture to believe, even without a miracle. “7. Let us consider this point a little farther: What is it you would have us prove by miracles? the doctrines we preach? We prove these by Scripture and reason; and, if need be, by antiquity. What else is it then we are to prove by miracles? At length we have a distinct reply: ‘Wise and sober men will not otherwise be convinced, (that is, unless you prove it by miracles,) that God is, by the means of such Teachers and such doctrines, working a great and extraordinary work in the earth.’ “So then the determine at point which you, in their name, call upon us to prove by miracles, is this, — that God is, by these Teachers, working a great and extraordinary work in the earth. “What I mean by a great and extraordinary work is, the bringing multitudes of gross, notorious sinners, in a short space, to the fear, and love, and service of God, to an entire change of heart and life. “Now, then, let us take a nearer view of the proposition, and see which part of it we are to prove by miracles: “Is it,
(1.) That A. B. was for many years without God in the world, a common swearer, a drunkard, or a Sabbath breaker? “Or,
(2.) That he is not so now? “Or,
(3.) That he continued so till he heard this man preach, and from that time was another man? “Not so. The proper way to prove these facts is, by the testimony of competent witnesses. And these witnesses are ready, whenever required, to give full evidence of them. “Or, would you have us prove by miracles, “
(4.) That this was not done by our own power or holiness? that God only is able to raise the dead, to quicken those who are dead in trespasses and sins? “Surely no. Whosoever believes the Scriptures will want no new proof of this. “Where then is the wisdom of those men who demand miracles in proof of such a proposition? One branch of which, ‘that such sinners are reformed by means of these Teachers,’ being a plain fact, can only be proved by testimony, as all other facts are; and the other, ‘that this is a work of God, and a great and more than ordinary work,’ needs no proof, as carrying its own evidence to every thinking man. “8. To sum up this: No truly wise or sober man can possibly desire or expect miracles, to prove, either,
(1.) That these doctrines are true; — this must be decided by Scripture and reason: Or,
(2.) That these facts are true; — this can only be proved by testimony:
(4.) That such a change wrought in so many notorious sinners, within so short a time, is a great and extraordinary work of God. What then is it remains to be proved by miracles? Perhaps you will say, it is this: ‘That God has called, or sent, you to do this.’ Nay, this is implied in the Third of the foregoing propositions. If God has actually used us therein, if his work hath in fact prospered in our hands, then he hath called or sent us to do this. I entreat reasonable men to weigh this thoroughly, whether the fact does not; plainly prove the call; whether He who then enables us to save souls alive, does not commission us so to do; whether by giving us the power to pluck these brands out of the burning, He does not authorize us to exert it. O that it were possible for you to consider calmly, whether the success of the gospel of Jesus Christ, even as it is preached by us, the least of his servants, be not itself a miracle, never to be forgotten! one which cannot be denied, as being visible at this day, not in one, but an hundred places; one which cannot be accounted for by the ordinary course of any natural causes whatsoever; one which cannot be ascribed, with any color of reason, to diabolical agency; and, lastly, one which will bear the infallible test, — the trial of the written word.” (Second Letter to Dr. Church, Vol. VIII. pages 460-468.) “But ‘why do you talk of the success of the gospel in England, which was a Christian country before you was born?’ Was it indeed? Is it so at this day I would explain myself a little on this head also. “And,
(1.) None can deny that the people of England, in general, are called Christians. They are called so, a few only excepted, by others, as well as by themselves. But I presume no man will say, the name makes the thing; that men are Christians, barely because they are called so. It must be allowed,
(3.) That many of those who were once baptized, and are called Christians to this day, hear the word of God, attend public prayers, and partake of the Lord’s supper. But neither does this prove that they are Christians. For, notwithstanding this, some of them live in open sin; and others (though not conscious to themselves of hypocrisy, yet) are utter strangers to the religion of the heart; are full of pride, vanity, covetousness, ambition; of hatred, anger, malice, or envy; and, consequently, are no more spiritual Christians than the open drunkard or common swearer. “Now, these being removed, where are the Christians from whom we may properly term England a Christian country? the men who have ‘the mind which was in Christ,’ and who ‘walk as he also walked?’ whose inmost soul is renewed after the image of God; and who are outwardly holy, as He who hath called them is holy? There are doubtless a few such to be found.
To deny this would be ‘want of candor.’ But how few. How thinly scattered up and down! And as for a Christian visible Church, or a body of Christians visibly united together, where is this to be seen? Ye different sects, when all declare, Lo! here is Christ, or, Christ is there; Your stronger proofs divinely give, And show me where the Christians live! “And what use is it of, what good end does it serve, to term England a Christian country? Although, it is true, most of the natives are called Christians, have been baptized, frequent the ordinances; and although here and there a real Christian is to be found, ‘as a light shining in a dark place;’ does it do any honor to our great Master, among those who are not called by his name? Does it recommend Christianity to the Jews, the Mahometans, or the avowed Heathens? Surely no one can conceive it does. It only makes Christianity stink in their nostrils. Does it answer any good end, with regard to those who are called by this worthy name? I fear not; but rather, an exceeding bad one. For does it not keep multitudes easy in their heathen practice? Does it not make, or keep, still greater numbers satisfied with their heathen tempers? Does it not directly tend to make both the one and the other imagine, that they are what indeed they are not; that they are Christians, while they are utterly without Christ, and without God in the world? To close this point: If men are not Christians till they are renewed after the image of Christ, and if the people of England, in general, are not thus renewed, why do we term them so? ‘The God of this world hath’ long ‘blinded their hearts.’ Let us do nothing to increase their blindness; but rather to recover them from that strong delusion, that they may no longer believe a lie. “Let us labor to convince all mankind, that to be a real Christian is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and to serve him with all our strength; to love our neighbor as ourselves, and therefore to do unto every man as we would he should do unto us.” (Second Letter to Dr. Church, Vol. VIII. pages 470-472.)
To change one of these Heathens into a real Christian, and to continue him such, all the ordinary operations of the Holy Spirit are absolutely necessary. “But what are they?” I sum them up (as I did in the “Farther Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion”) in the words of as learned and orthodox a Divine as ever England bred: — “Sanctification being opposed to our corruption, and answering fully to the latitude thereof, whatsoever holiness and perfection is wanting in our nature must be supplied by the Spirit of God.
Wherefore, we being by nature totally void of all saving truth, and under an impossibility of knowing the will of God; this ‘Spirit searcheth all things, yea, even the deep things of God,’ and revealeth them unto the sons of men; so that thereby the darkness of their understanding is expelled, and they are enlightened with the knowledge of God. The same Spirit which revealeth the object of faith, generally, to the universal Church, doth also illuminate the understanding of such as believe; that they may receive the truth.
And as the increase of perfection, so the original of faith, is from the Spirit of God, by an internal illumination of the soul. “The second part of the office of the Holy Ghost is the renewing of man in all the parts and faculties of his soul. For our natural corruption consisting in an aversion of our wills and a depravation of our affections, an inclination of them to the will of God is wrought within us by the Spirit of God. “The third part of his office is to lead, direct, and govern us in our actions and conversations. ‘If we live in the Spirit,’ quickened by his renovation, we must also ‘walk in the Spirit,’ following his direction, led by his manuduction. We are also animated and acted by the Spirit of God, who giveth ‘both to will and to do.’ “And ‘as many as are thus led by the Spirit of God, are the sons of God.’ ( Romans 8:14.) Moreover, that this direction may prove more effectual, we are guided in our prayers by the same Spirit, according to the promise, ‘I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication.’ ( Zechariah 12:10) Whereas then, ‘this is the confidence we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us;’ and whereas, ‘we know not what we should pray for as we ought, the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groaning that cannot be uttered.’ ( Romans 8:26,27.) ‘And He that searcheth the heart knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.’ From which intercession, (made for all true Christians,) he hath the name of the Paraclete given him by Christ; who said, ‘I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Paraclete.’ ( John 14:16,26.) For, ‘if any man sin, we have a Paraclete with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,’ saith St. John. ‘Who maketh intercession for us,’ saith St. Paul. ( Romans 8:34.) And we have ‘another Paraclete,’ saith our Savior, ( John 14:16; Romans 8:27) ‘which also maketh intercession for us,’ saith St. Paul. A Paraclete then, in the notion of the Scriptures, is an Intercessor. “It is also the office of the Holy Ghost to assure us of the adoption of sons, to create in us a sense of the paternal love of God toward us, to give us an earnest of our everlasting inheritance. ‘The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. And because we are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. For we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but we have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father; the Spirit itself bearing witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.’ As, therefore, we are born again by the Spirit, and receive from him our regeneration, so we are also by the same Spirit assured of our adoption. Because, being ‘sons, we are also heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ,’ by the same Spirit we have the pledge, or rather the earnest, of our inheritance. ‘For he which establisheth us in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and hath given us the earnest of his Spirit in our hearts; so that we are sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance.’ The Spirit of God, as given to us in this life, is to be looked upon as an earnest, being part of that reward which is promised, and, upon performance of the covenant which God hath made with us, certainly to be received.”
It now rests with your Lordship to take your choice, either to condemn or to acquit both; either your Lordship must condemn Bishop Pearson for an enthusiast, or you must acquit me: For I have his express authority on my side, concerning every text which I affirm to belong to all Christians.
But I have greater authority than his, and such as I reverence only less than the oracles of God; I mean that of our own Church. I shall close this head by setting down what occurs in her authentic records, concerning either our receiving the Holy Ghost, or his ordinary operations in all true Christians.
In her Daily Service she teacheth us all to “beseech God to grant us his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him which we do at this present, and that the rest of our life may be pure and holy;” to pray for our sovereign Lord the King, that God would “replenish him with the grace of his Holy Spirit;” for all the Royal Family, that “they may be endued with his Holy Spirit, and enriched with his heavenly grace;” for all the Clergy and People, that he would “send down upon them the healthful Spirit of his grace;” for the Catholic Church, that “it may be guided and governed by his good Spirit;” and for all therein, who, at any time, make their common supplications unto him, that; “the fellowship” or communication “of the Holy Ghost may be with them all evermore.”
Her Collects are full of petitions to the same effect: “Grant that we may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit.” (Collect for Christmas Day .) “Grant that in all our sufferings here, for the testimony of thy truth, we may by faith behold the glory that shall be revealed, and, being filled with the Holy Ghost, may love and bless our persecutors.” (St. Stephen’s Day .) “Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity.” (Quinquagesima Sunday .) (“O Lord, from whom all good things do come, grant to us thy humble servants, that by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by thy merciful guidance may perform the same.” (Fifth Sunday after Easter .) “We beseech thee, leave us not comfortless, but send to us the Holy Ghost to comfort us.” (Sunday after Ascension Day .) “Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort.” (Whitsunday. ) “Grant us, Lord, we beseech thee, the Spirit to think and do always such things as be rightful.” (Ninth Sunday after Trinity .) “O God, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee, mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts.” (Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity .) “Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name.” (Communion Office .) “Give thy Holy Spirit to this infant, (or this person,) that he may be born again. Give thy Holy Spirit to these persons,” (N. B. already baptized,) “that they may continue thy servants.” “Almighty God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate these persons by water and the Holy Ghost, strengthen them with the Holy Ghost the Comforter, and daily increase in them the manifold gifts of thy grace.” (Office of Confirmation .)
From these passages it may sufficiently appear for what purposes every Christian, according to the doctrine of the Church of England, does now receive the Holy Ghost. But this will be still more clear from those that follow; wherein we may likewise observe a plain rational sense of God’s “reveling” himself to us, of the “inspiration” of the Holy Ghost, and of a believer’s “feeling” in himself the “mighty working” of the Spirit of Christ. “God gave them of old, grace to be his children, as he doth us now.
But, now by the coming of our Savior Christ, we have received more abundantly the Spirit of God in our hearts.” (Homily on Faith . Part II.) “He died to destroy the rule of the devil in us, and he rose again to send down his Holy Spirit to rule in our hearts.” (Homil on the Resurrection .) “We have the Holy Spirit in our hearts, as a seal and pledge of our everlasting inheritance.” (Ibid .) “The Holy Ghost sat upon each of them, like as it had been cloven tongues of fire, to teach that it is he that giveth eloquence and utterance in preaching the gospel, which engendereth a burning zeal towards God’s word, and giveth all men a tongue, yea, a fiery tongue.” (N. B. — Whatever occurs, in any of the journals, of God’s “giving me utterance,” or “enabling me to speak with power,” cannot therefore be quoted as enthusiasm, without wounding the Church through my side.) “So that if any man be a dumb Christian, not professing his faith openly, he giveth men occasion to doubt lest he have not the grace of the Holy Ghost within him.” (Homily on Whitsunday . Part I.) “It is the office of the Holy Ghost to sanctify; which the more it is hid from our understanding,” (that is, the particular manner of his working,) “the more it ought to move all men to wonder at the secret and mighty workings of God’s Holy Spirit, which is within us. For it is the Holy Ghost that doth quicken the minds of men, stirring up godly motions in their hearts. Neither does he think it sufficient inwardly to work the new birth of men, unless he does also dwell and abide in them. ‘Know ye not,’ saith St. Paul, ‘that ye are the temples of God, and that his Spirit dwelleth in you?
Know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost, which is within you?’ Again he saith, ‘Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.’ For why? ‘The Spirit of God dwelleth you.’ To this agreeth St. John: ‘The anointing which ye have received’ (he meaneth the Holy Ghost) ‘abideth in you.’ ( 1 John 2:27) And St. Peter saith the same: ‘The Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you.’ O what comfort is this to the heart of a true Christian, to think that the Holy Ghost dwelleth in him! ‘If God be with us,’ as the Apostle saith, ‘who can be against us?’ He giveth patience and joyfulness of heart in temptation and affliction, and is therefore worthily called ‘the Comforter.’ ( John 14:16) He doth instruct the hearts of the simple in the knowledge of God and his word; therefore he is justly termed, the ‘Spirit of Truth.’ ( John 16:13) And (N. B.) where the Holy Ghost doth instruct and teach, there is no delay at all in learning.” (Ibid .)
From this passage I learn,
(3.) That the anointing, mentioned in the First Epistle of St. John, “abides in every Christian.” “In reading of God’s word, he profiteth most who is most inspired with the Holy Ghost.” (Homily on reading the Scripture. Part I.) “Human and worldly reason is not needful to the understanding the Scripture; but the ‘revelation of the Holy Ghost,’ who inspireth the true meaning unto them who, with humility and diligence, search for it.” (Ibid . Part II.) “Make him know and feel, that there is no other name given under heaven unto men whereby we can be saved.” “If we feel our conscience at peace with God, through remission of our sins, all is of God.” (Homily on Rogation Week . Part III.) “If you feel such a faith in you, rejoice in it, and let it be daily increasing by well working.” (Homely on Faith . Part III.) “The faithful may feel wrought, tranquillity of conscience, the increase of faith and hope, with many other graces of God.” (Homily on the Sacrament . Part I.) “Godly men feel inwardly God’s Holy Spirit inflaming their hearts with love.” (Homily on certain places of Scripture . Part I.) “God give us grace to know these things, and feel them in our hearts! This knowledge and feeling is not of ourselves. Let us therefore meekly call upon the bountiful Spirit, the Holy Ghost, to inspire us with his presence, that we may be able to hear the goodness of God to our salvation. For without his lively inspiration we cannot so much as speak the name of the Mediator: ‘No man can say, Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.’
Much less should we be able to believe and know these great mysteries that be opened to us by Christ. ‘But we have received,’ saith St. Paul, ‘not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God;’ for this purpose, ‘that we may know the things which are freely given to us of God.’ In the power of the Holy Ghost resteth all ability to know God, and to please him. It is He that purifieth the mind by his secret working. He enlighteneth the heart to conceive worthy thoughts of Almighty God. He sitteth on the tongue of man, to stir him to speak his honor. He only ministereth spiritual strength to the powers of the soul and body. And if we have any gift whereby we may profit our neighbor, all is wrought by this one and, selfsame Spirit.” (Homily on Rogation Week . Part III.)
Being fully convinced of this, I could not well understand, for many years, how it was that on the mentioning any of these great truths, even among men of education, the cry immediately arose, “An enthusiast, an enthusiast!” But I now plainly perceive, this is only an old fallacy in a new shape. To object enthusiasm to any person or doctrine, is but a decent method of begging the question. It generally spares the objector the trouble of reasoning, and is a shorter and easier way of carrying his cause.
For instance: I assert, that “till a man ‘receives the Holy Ghost,’ he is without God in the world; that he cannot know the things of God, unless God reveal them unto him by his Spirit; no, nor have even one holy or heavenly temper, without the inspiration of the Holy One.” Now, should one who is conscious to himself that he has experienced none of these things, attempt to confute these propositions either from Scripture or antiquity, it might prove a difficult task. What then shall he do? Why, cry out, “Enthusiasm! Fanaticism!” and the work is done. “But is it not mere enthusiasm or fanaticism to talk of the new birth?” So one might imagine, from the manner in which your Lordship talks of it: “ The Spirit did not stop till it had manifested itself in the last effort of its power, — the new birth. The new birth began in storms and tempests, in cries and ecstasies, in tumults and confusions. Persons who had no sense of religion, that is, no ecstatic feelings, or pains of the new birth. What can be the issue of the new birth, attended with those infernal throes? Why would he elicit sense from these Gentiles, when they were finally to be deprived of it in ecstasies and new births? All these circumstances Mr. W. has declared to be constant symptoms of the new birth.” (Pages 123, 126, 180, 170, 225, 222.)
So the new birth is, throughout the whole tract, the standing topic of ridicule. “No, not the new birth itself, but your enthusiastic, ridiculous account of it.” What is then my account of the new birth? I gave it some years ago in these words: — “It is that great change which God works in the soul when he brings it into life; when he raises it from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. It is the change wrought in the whole soul by the almighty Spirit of God, when it is ‘created anew in Christ Jesus,’ when it is ‘renewed after the image of God in righteousness and true holiness;’ when the love of the world is changed into the love of God, pride into humility, passion into meekness, hatred, envy, malice, into a sincere, tender, disinterested love to all mankind. In a word, it is that change whereby the ‘earthly, sensual, devilish’ mind is turned into the mind which was in Christ Jesus.” (Vol. VI., p. 71.)
This is my account of the new birth. What is there ridiculous or enthusiastic in it? “But what do you mean by those tempests, and cries, and pains, and infernal throes attending the new birth? “I will tell you as plainly as I can, in the very same words I used to Dr. Church, after premising that some experience much, some very little, of these pains and throes: — “‘When men feel in themselves the heavy burden of sin, see damnation to be the reward of it, behold with the eye of their mind the horror of hell, they tremble, they quake, and are inwardly touched with sorrowfulness of heart, and cannot but accuse themselves, and open their grief unto Almighty God, and call unto him for mercy. This being done seriously, their mind is so occupied, partly with sorrow and heaviness, partly with an earnest desire to be delivered from this danger of hell and damnation, that all desire of meat and drink is laid apart, and loathing of worldly things and pleasures comes in place, so that nothing then liketh them more than to weep, to lament, to mourn, and both with words and behavior of body to show themselves weary of life.’ “Now permit me to ask, What, if, before you had observed that these were the very words of our own Church, one of your acquaintance or parishioners had come and told you that, ever since he heard a sermon at the Foundry, he saw damnation before him, and beheld with the eye of his mind the horror of hell? What, if he had trembled and quaked, and been so taken up partly with sorrow and heaviness, partly with an earnest desire to be delivered from the danger of hell and damnation, as to weep, to lament, to mourn, and both with words and behavior to show himself weary of life?
I have now finished, as my time permits, what I had to say, either concerning myself, or on the operations of the Holy Spirit. In doing this, I have used great plainness of speech, and yet, I hope, without rudeness. If anything of that kind has slipped from me, I am ready to retract it. I desire, on the one hand, to “accept no man’s person;” and yet, on the other, to give “honor to whom honor is due.”
If your Lordship should think it worth your while to spend any more words upon me, may I presume to request one thing of your Lordship, — to be more serious? It cannot injure your Lordship’s character or your cause. Truth is great, and will prevail.
Wishing your Lordship all temporal and spiritual blessings, I am, My Lord, Your Lordship’s dutiful son and servant, JOHN WESLEY. November 26, 1762.