Are you a Christian?
PRINCIPLES OF A METHODIST.
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WRITTEN IN 1740.
Occasioned by a late Pamphlet, entitled,
“A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PRINCIPLES OF METHODISM.”
TO THE READER.
1. I HAVE often wrote on controverted points before; but not with an eye to any particular person. So that this is the first time I have appeared in controversy, properly so called. Indeed I have not wanted occasion to do it before; particularly when, after many stabs in the dark, I was publicly attacked, not by an open enemy, but by my own familiar friend. But I could not answer him. I could only cover my face and say, Kai su eiv ekeinwn Kai su teknon ; “Art thou also among them? Art thou, my son?”
2. I now tread an untried path “with fear and trembling;” fear, not of my adversary, but of myself. I fear my own spirit, lest I “fall where many mightier have been slain.” I never knew one man (or but one) write controversy, with what I thought a right spirit. Every disputant seems to think (as every soldier) that he may hurt his opponent as much as he can; nay, that he ought to do his worst to him, or he cannot make the best of his own cause; that so he do not belie or wilfully misrepresent him, he must expose him as far as he is able. It is enough, we suppose, if we do not show heat or passion against our adversary. But, not to despise him, or endeavor to make others do so, is quite a work of supererogation. 3. But ought these things to be so? (I speak on the Christian scheme.)
Ought we not to love our neighbor as ourselves? And does a man cease to be our neighbor, because he is of a different opinion; nay, and declares himself so to be? Ought we not, for all this, to do to him as we would he should do to us? But do we ourselves love to be exposed, or set in the worst light? Would we willingly be treated with contempt? If not, why do we treat others thus? And yet who scruples it? Who does not hit every blow he can, however foreign to the merits of the cause: Who, in controversy, casts the mantle of love over the nakedness of his brother?
Who keeps steadily and uniformly to the question, without ever striking at the person? Who shows, in every sentence, that he loves his brother only less than the truth? 4. I have made a little faint essay towards this. I have a brother who is as my own soul. My desire is, in every word I say, to look upon Mr. Tucker as in his place; and to speak no tittle concerning the one in any other spirit than I would speak concerning the other. But whether I have attained this or no, I know not; for my heart is “deceitful and desperately wicked.” If I have spoken anything in another spirit, I pray God it may not be laid to my charge; and that it may not condemn me in that day when the secrets of all hearts shall be made manifest! Meanwhile, my heart’s desire and prayer to God is, that both I, and all who think it their duty to oppose me, may “put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven us.”