Are you a Christian?
SECOND LETTER TO THE AUTHOR OF “THE ENTHUSIASM OF METHODISTS AND PAPISTS COMPARED.”
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Ecce iterum Crispinus — JUVENAL.
TO THE RIGHT REVEREND THE LORD BISHOP OF EXETER.
My Lord,1. I WAS grieved when I read the following words in the Third Part of the “Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists compared:” — “A sensible, honest woman told the Bishop of Exeter, in presence of several witnesses, that Mr. John Wesley came to her house, and questioned her, whether she had ‘an assurance of her salvation’ Her answer was, that she hoped she should be saved, but had no absolute assurance of it.’ ‘Why then,’ replied he, ‘you are in hell, you are damned already.’ This so terrified the poor woman, who was then with child, that she was grievously afraid of miscarrying, and could not, in a long time, recover her right mind. For this, and the Methodists asking her to live upon free cost, she determined to admit no more of them into her house. So much is her own account to his Lordship, on whose authority it is here published.” 2. This renewed the concern I felt some time since, when I was informed (in letters which I have still by me) of your Lordship’s publishing this account, both at Plymouth in Devonshire, and at Truro in Cornwall, before the Clergy assembled from all parts of those counties, at the solemn season of your Lordship’s visiting your diocese. But I was not informed that your Lordship showed a deep concern for the honor of God, which you supposed to be so dreadfully violated, or a tender compassion for a Presbyter whom you believed to be rushing into everlasting destruction. 3. In order to be more fully informed, on Saturday, August 25, 1750, Mr. Trembath, of St. Ginnys, Mr. Haime, of Shaftesbury, and I, called at Mr. Morgan’s, at Mitchel. The servant telling me her master was not at home, I desired to speak with her mistress, the “honest, sensible woman.” I immediately asked, “Did I ever tell you or your husband that you would be dammed if you took any money of me?” (So the story ran in the first part of the “Comparison;” it has now undergone a very considerable alteration.) “Or did you or he ever affirm,” (another circumstance related at Truro,) “that I was rude with your maid?” She replied, vehemently, “Sir, I never said you was, or that you said any such thing. And I do not suppose my husband did. But we have been belied as well as our neighbors.” She added, “When the Bishop came down last, he sent us word that he would dine at our house; but he did not, being invited to a neighboring gentleman’s. He sent for me thither, and said, ‘Good woman, do you know these people that go up and down? Do you know Mr. Wesley? Did not he tell you, you would be damned if you took any money of him? And did not he offer rudeness to your maid?’ I told him, ‘No, my Lord; he never said any such thing to me, nor to my husband that I know of. He never offered any rudeness to any maid of mine. I never saw or knew any harm of him: But a man told me once (who I was told was a Methodist Preacher) that I should be damned if I did not know my sins were forgiven.’” 4. This is her own account given to me. And an account it is, irreconcilably different (notwithstanding some small resemblance in the last circumstance) from that she is affirmed to have given your Lordship.
Whether she did give that account to your Lordship or no, your Lordship knows best. That the Comparer affirms it, is no proof at all; since he will affirm any thing that suits his purpose. 5. Yet I was sorry to see your Lordship’s authority cited on such an occasion; inasmuch as many of his readers, not considering the man, may think your Lordship did really countenance such a writer; one that turns the most serious, the most awful, the most venerable things into mere farce; that makes the most essential parts of real, experimental religion matter of low buffoonery; that, beginning at the very rise of it in the soul, namely, “repentance towards God, a broken and a contrite heart,” goes on to “faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,” whereby “he that believeth is born of God,” to “the love of God shed abroad in the heart,” attended with “peace and joy in the Holy Ghost,” — to our subsequent “wrestling not” only “with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers and wicked spirits in high places,” — and thence to “perfect love,” the “loving the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength;” and treats on every one of these sacred topics with the spirit and air of a Merry Andrew. What advantage the common enemies of Christianity may reap from this, your Lordship cannot be insensible. 6. Your Lordship cannot but discern how the whole tenor as his book tends to destroy the Holy Scriptures, to render them vile in the eyes of the people, to make them stink in the nostrils of infidels. For instance: After reading his labored ridicule of the sorrow and fear which usually attend the first repentance, (called by St. Chrysostom, as well as a thousand other writers, “the pangs or throes of the new birth,”) what can an infidel think of those and the like expressions in Scripture: “I have roared for the very disquietness of my heart: Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and an horrible dread hath overwhelmed me?” After his flood of satire on all kind of conflicts with Satan, what judgment can a Deist form of what St. Paul speaks concerning the various wrestling of a Christian with the wicked one? Above all, how will his bringing the lewd heathen poets to expose the pure and spiritual love of God, naturally cause them to look with the same eyes on the most elevated passages of the inspired writings?
What can be more diverting to them than to apply his glukupikron erwtov “bittersweet of love,” to many expressions in the Canticles? (On which, undoubtedly, he supposes the Fair Circassian to be a very just paraphrase!) “Ay,” say they, “the very case: ‘Stay me with apples; for I am sick of love.’” 7. Probably the Comparer will reply, “No; I do not ridicule the things themselves; repentance, the new birth, the fight of faith, or the love of God; all which I know are essential to religion; but only the folly and the enthusiasm which are blended with these by the Methodists.” But how poor a pretense is this! Had this really been the case, how carefully would he have drawn the line under each of these heads, — between the sober religion of a Christian and the enthusiasm of a Methodist! But has he done this? Does he take particular care to show under each what is true, as well as what is false, religion? where the former ends and the latter begins? what are the proper boundaries of each? Your Lordship knows he does not so much as endeavor it, or take any pains about it; but indiscriminately pours the flood out of his unclean mouth, upon all repentance, faith, love, and holiness. 8. Your Lordship will please to observe that I do not here touch in the least on the merits of the cause. Be the Methodists what they may, fools, madmen, enthusiasts, knaves, impostors, Papists, or anything, yet your Lordship perceives this does not in any degree affect the point in question:
Still it behooves every Christian, nay, every reasonable Heathen, to consider the subject he is upon, and to take care not to bring this into contempt, (especially if it be of the last importance,) however inexcusable or contemptible his opponents may be. 9. This consideration, my Lord, dwelt much upon my mind when I read the former parts of the Comparison. I immediately saw there was no encountering a buffoon by serious reason and argument. This would naturally have furnished both him and his admirers with fresh matter of ridicule. On the other hand, if I should let myself down to a level with him, by a less serious manner of writing than I was accustomed to, I was afraid of debasing the dignity of the subject. Nay, and I knew not but I might catch something of his spirit. I remembered the advice, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.” ( Proverbs 26:4.)
And yet I saw there must be an exception in some cases, as the words immediately following show: “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.” I conceive, as if he had said, “Yet it is needful, in some cases, to ‘answer a fool according to his folly,’ otherwise he will be ‘wiser in his own conceit, than seven men that can render a reason.’” I therefore constrained myself to approach, as near as I dared, to his own manner of writing. And I trust the occasion will plead my excuse with your Lordship, and all reasonable men. 10. One good effect of my thus meeting him on his own ground is visible already. Instead of endeavoring to defend, he entirely gives up, the First Part of his Comparison. Indeed, I did not expect this, when I observed that the Third Part was addressed to me. I took it for granted, that he had therein aimed at something like a reply to my answer: But going on, I found myself quite mistaken. He never once attempts a reply to one page, any otherwise than by screaming out, “Pertness, scurrility, effrontery;” and in subjoining that deep remark, “Paper and time would be wasted on such stuff.” (Third Part, preface, p. 15.) 11. I cannot but account it another good effect, that he is something less confident than he was before. He is likewise not more angry or more bitter, for that cannot be, but a few degrees more serious: So that I plainly perceive this is the way I am to take if I should have leisure to answer the Third Part; although it is far from my desire to write in this manner; it is as contrary to my inclination as to my custom. 12. But is it possible that a person of your Lordship’s character should countenance such a performance as this? It cannot be your Lordship’s desire to pour contempt on all that is truly venerable among men! to stab Christianity to the heart, under a color of opposing enthusiasm; and to increase and give a sanction to the profaneness which already over spreads our land as a flood. 13. Were the Methodists ever so bad, yet are they not too despicable and inconsiderable for your Lordship’s notice? “Against whom is the King of Israel come out? against a flea? against a partridge upon the mountains?”
Such they undoubtedly are, if that representation of them be just which the Comparer has given. Against whom (if your Lordship espouses his cause) are you stirring up the supreme power of the nation? Against whom does your Lordship arm the Ministers of all denominations, particularly our brethren of the Established Church? inciting them to paint us out to their several congregations as not fit to live upon the earth. The effects of this have already appeared in many parts both of Devonshire and Cornwall. Nor have I known any considerable riot in any part of England, for which such preaching did not pave the way. 14. I beg leave to ask, would it be a satisfaction to your Lordship if national persecution were to return? Does your Lordship desire to revive the old laws, de haeretico comburendo? Would your Lordship rejoice to see the Methodists themselves tied to so many stakes in Smithfield? Or would you applaud the execution, though not so legally or decently performed by the mob of Exeter, Plymouth-Dock, or Launceston? My Lord, what profit would there be in our blood? Would it be an addition to your Lordship’s happiness, or any advantage to the Protestant cause, or any honor either to our Church or nation? 15. The Comparer, doubtless, would answer, “Yes; for it would prevent the horrid consequences of your preaching.” My Lord, give me leave to say once more, I willingly put the whole cause upon this issue. What are the general consequences of our preaching? Are there more tares or wheat? more good men destroyed, (as Mr. Church once supposed,) or wicked men saved? The last places in your Lordship’s diocese, where we began constant preaching, are near Liskeard in Cornwall, and at Tiverton in Devonshire. Now, let any man inquire here,
(1.) What kind of people were those a year ago, who now constantly hear this preaching?
(3.) What effect have these doctrines had upon their hearers?
And if you do not find,
(1.) That the greater part of these were, a year or two ago, notoriously wicked men:
(3.) That they have since exercised themselves herein, and continue so to do; — I say, if any reasonable man, who will be at the pains to inquire, does not find this to be an unquestionable fact, I will openly acknowledge myself an enthusiast, or whatever else he shall please to style me. 16. I beg leave to conclude this address to your Lordship with a few more words transcribed from the same letter: “Allow Mr. Wesley,” says Mr. Church, “but these few points, and he will defend his conduct beyond exception.” (Second Letter to Mr. Church, Vol. VIII. p. 477.) That is most true. If I have indeed been advancing nothing but the true knowledge and love of God; if God has made me an instrument in reforming many sinners, and bringing them to inward and pure religion; and if many of these continue holy to this day, and free from all wilful sin; then may I, even I, use those awful words, “He that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.” But I never expect the world to allow me one of these points.
However, I must go on as God shall enable me. I must lay out whatsoever talents he entrusts me with, (whether others will believe I do it or no,) in advancing the true Christian knowledge of God, and the love and fear of God among men; in reforming (if so be it please him to use me still) those who are yet without God in the world; and in propagating inward and pure religion, “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
Sincerely wishing your Lordship all happiness in time and in eternity, I remain Your Lordship’s most obedient servant, JOHN WESLEY. November 27, Sir, 1. YOU have undertaken to prove, (as I observed in my former letter, a few sentences of which I beg leave to repeat,) that the “whole conduct of the Methodists is but a counterpart of the most wild fanaticisms of Popery.” (Preface to the First Part, p. 3.)
You endeavor to support this charge by quotations from our own writings, compared with quotations from Popish authors.
It lies upon me to answer for one. But in order to spare both you and myself, I shall at present consider only your Second Part, and that as briefly as possible. Accordingly, I shall not meddle with your other quotations, but, leaving them to whom they may concern, shall examine whether those you have made from my writings prove the charge for which they were made or no.
If they do, I submit. But if they do not, if they are “the words of truth and soberness,” it is an objection of no real weight against any sentiment, just in itself, though it should also be found in the writings of Papists; yea, of Mahometans or Pagans. 2. In your first section, in order to prove the “vain boasting of the Methodists,” you quote a part of the following sentence: “When hath religion, I will not say, since the Reformation, but since the time of Constantine the Great, made so large a progress in any nation, within so short a space?” (I beg any impartial person to read the whole passage, from the eighty-fourth to the ninetieth page of the Third Appeal. ) I repeat the question, giving the glory to God; and, I trust, without either boasting or enthusiasm.
In your second, you cite (and murder) four or five lines from one of my Journals, “as instances of the persuasive eloquence of the Methodist Preachers.” (Pages 1, 9.) But it unfortunately happens, that neither of the sentences you quote were spoke by any Preacher at all. You know full well the one was used only in a private letter; the other by a woman on a bed of sickness. 3. You next undertake to prove “the most insufferable pride and vanity of the Methodists.” (Section iii., p. 12 etc.) For this end you quote five passages from my Journals, and one from the Third Appeal.
The first was wrote in the anguish of my heart, to which I gave vent (between God and my own soul) by breaking out, not into “confidence of boasting,” as you term it, but into those expressions of bitter sorrow: “I went to America to convert the Indians. But O! who shall convert me?” (Vol. I. p. 74.) Some of the words which follow you have picked out, and very honestly laid before your reader, without either the beginning or end, or one word of the occasion or manner wherein they were spoken.
Your next quotation is equally fair and generous: “Are they read in philosophy? So was I,” etc. (Ibid . p. 76, etc.) This whole “string of self-commendation,” as you call it, being there brought, ex professo, to prove that, notwithstanding all this, which I once piqued myself upon, I was at that hour in a state of damnation!
The third is a plain narrative of the manner wherein many of Bristol expressed their joy on my coming unexpectedly into the room, after I had been some time at London. (Vol. I. p. 311.) And this, I conceive, will prove the charge of high treason, as well as that of “insufferable pride and vanity.”
You say, fourthly, “A dying woman, who had earnestly desired to see me, cried out, as I entered the room, ‘Art thou come, thou blessed of the Lord?’” (Ibid . p. 320.) She did so. And what does this prove?
The fifth passage is this: “In applying which 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.’” My meaning is, I found such freedom of thought and speech, (jargon, stuff, enthusiasm to you,) that methought, could I have then spoken to all the world, they would all have shared in the blessing. 4. The passage which you quote from the Third Appeal, I am obliged to relate more at large: — “There is one more excuse for denying this work of God, taken from the instruments employed therein; that is, that they are wicked men; and a thousand stories have been handed about to prove it. “Yet I cannot but remind considerate men, in how remarkable a manner the wisdom of God has, for many years, guarded against this pretense, with regard to my brother and me in particular” “This pretense, that is, ‘of not employing fit instruments.’” These words are yours, though you insert them as mine. The pretense I mentioned, was, ‘that they were wicked men.” And how God guarded against this, is shown in what follows: “From that time, both my brother and I, utterly against our will, came to be more and more observed and known; till we were more spoken of than perhaps two so inconsiderable persons ever were before in the nation. To make us more public still, as honest madmen at least, by a strange concurrence of providences, overturning all our preceding resolutions, we were hurried away to America.”
Afterward it follows: “What persons could, in the nature of things, have been (antecedently) less liable to exception, with regard to their moral character at least, than those the all-wise God hath now employed? Indeed I cannot devise what manner of men could have been more unexceptionable on all accounts. Had God endued us with greater natural or acquired abilities, this very thing might have been turned into an objection. Had we been remarkably defective, it would have been matter of objection on the other hand. Had we been Dissenters of any kind, or even Low-Churchmen (so called), it would have been a great stumbling-block in the way of those who are zealous for the Church. And yet had we continued in the impetuosity of our High-Church zeal, neither should we have been willing to converse with Dissenters, nor they to receive any good at our hands.”
Sir, why did you break off your quotation in the middle of this paragraph, just at, “more unexceptionable on all accounts?” Was it not on purpose to give a wrong turn to the whole? to conceal the real and obvious meaning of my words, and put one upon them than never entered into my thoughts? 5. You have reserved your strong reason for the last, namely, my own confession: “Mr. Wesley says himself, ‘By the most infallible proofs, inward feeling, I am convinced of pride, etc.’” Sir, be pleased to decipher that etc. Or I will spare you the pains, and do it myself, by reciting the whole sentence: — “By the most infallible of proofs, inward feeling, I am convinced, “
(2.) Of pride throughout my life past, inasmuch as I thought I had what I find I have not.” (Vol. I. p. 72.)
Now, Sir, you have my whole confession. I entreat you to make the best of it.
But I myself “acknowledge three Methodists to have fallen into pride.”
Sir, I can tell you of three more. And yet it will not follow, that the doctrines I teach “lead men into horrid pride and blasphemy.” 6. In the close of your fourth section, you charge me with “shuffling and prevaricating with regard to extraordinary gifts and miraculous powers.”
Of these I shall have occasion to speak by and by. At present I need only return the compliment, by charging you with gross, wilful prevarication, from the beginning of your book to the end. Some instances of this have appeared already. Many more will appear in due time. 7. Your fifth charges me with an “affectation of prophesying.” Your first proof of it is this: — “It was about this time that the soldier was executed. For some time I had visited him every day. But when the love of God was shed abroad in his heart, I told him, ‘Do not expect to see me any more: I believe Satan will separate us for a season.” Accordingly, the next day, I was informed, the commanding officer had given strict orders, that neither Mr. Wesley, nor any of his people, should be admitted.” (Vol. I. p. 266.) I did believe so, having seen many such things before; yet without affecting a spirit of prophecy.
But that I do claim it, you will prove, Secondly, from my mentioning “the great work which God intends, and is now beginning, to work over all the earth.” By what art you extract such a conclusion out of such premises, I know not. That God intends this, none who believe the Scripture doubt.
And that he has begun it, both in Europe and America, any, who will make use of their eyes and ears, may know without any “miraculous gift of prophesying.” 8. In your sixth section, you assert, that I lay claim to other miraculous gifts. (Page 45.) As you borrow this objection from Mr. Church, I need only give the same answer I gave before. “‘I shall give,’” says Mr. Church, “‘but one account more, and that is, what you give of yourself.’ The sum whereof is, ‘At two several times, being ill, and in violent pain, I prayed to God, and found immediate ease.’ I did so. I assert the fact still. ‘But if these,’ you say, ‘are not miraculous cures, all this is rank enthusiasm.’ “I will put your argument in form: — “He that believes those are miraculous cures which are not is a rank enthusiast: “But you believe those to be miraculous cures which are not: “Therefore you are a rank enthusiast. “Before I answer, I must know what you mean by miraculous: If you term everything so which is ‘not strictly accountable for by the ordinary course of natural causes,’ then I deny the latter part of the second proposition. And unless you can make this good, unless you can prove the effects in question are strictly accountable for by the ordinary course of natural causes, your argument is nothing worth.” (First Letter to Mr. Church, Vol. VIII. p. 412.)
Having largely answered your next objection relating to what I still term “a signal instance of God’s particular providence,” (Ibid . pp. 410, 452,) I need only refer you to those answers, not having leisure to say the same thing ten times over.
Whether I sometimes claim, and sometimes disclaim, miracles, will be considered by and by.
In your seventh section, you say, “I shall now give some account of their grievous conflicts and combats with Satan.” (Page 51, etc.) O Sir, spare yourself, if not the Methodists! Do not go so far out of your depth. This is a subject you are as utterly unacquainted with, as with justification, or the new birth.
But I attend your motions. “Mr. Wesley,” you say, “was advised to a very high degree of silence.” And he spoke to none at all for two days, and traveling fourscore miles together. “The same whim,” you go on, “has run through several of the religious orders. Hence, St. Bonaventura says, that silence in all the religious is necessary to perfection. St. Agatho held a stone in his mouth for three years, till he had learned taciturnity. St. Alcantara carried several pebbles in his mouth, for three years likewise, and for the same reason. Theon observed a continual silence for thirty years. St. Francis observed it himself, and enjoined it upon his brethren. The rule of silence was religiously observed by St. Dominic.”
You begin, “The same whim which led Mr. Wesley to observe an absolute silence for two days;” and so run on to St. Bonaventura, St. Agatho, and I know not whom. But did Mr. Wesley “observe an absolute silence for two days?” No; not for one hour. My words, “I spoke to none at all for fourscore miles together,” (Vol. I. p. 313,) imply neither more nor less than that I spoke to none “concerning the things of God,” as it is in the words immediately preceding. And you know this as well as I. But it is all one for that. Wit, not truth, is the point you aim at.
My supposed inconsistency, with regard to the Moravians, which you likewise drag in (as they say) by head and shoulders, I have shown, again and again, to be no inconsistency at all; particularly in both the Letters to Mr. Church. 10. Well, but as to conflicts with Satan: “Nor can Mr. Wesley,” you say, “escape the attacks of this infernal spirit,” namely, “suggesting distrustful thoughts, and buffeting him with inward temptations.” Sir, did you never hear of any one so attacked, unless among the Papists or Methodists?
How deeply then are you experienced both in the ways of God, and the devices of Satan!
You add, with regard to a case mentioned in the Fourth Journal, Vol. I. p. 271, “Though I am not convinced that these fits of laughing are to be ascribed to Satan, yet I entirely agree, that they are involuntary and unavoidable.” I am glad we agree so far. But I must still go farther: I cannot but ascribe them to a preternatural agent; having observed so many circumstances attending them which cannot be accounted for by any natural causes.
Under the head of conflicts with Satan, you observe farther, “Mr. Wesley says, while he was preaching, the devil knew his kingdom shook, and therefore stirred up his servants to make a noise; that, September 18, the prince of the air made another attempt in defense of his tottering kingdom; and that another time, the devil’s children fought valiantly for their master.” I own the whole charge; I did say all this. Nay, and if need were, I should say it again.
You cite one more instance from my Fourth Journal: “The many-headed beast began to roar again.” So your head is so full of the subject, that you constrain even poor Horace’s bellua multorum capitum into the devil!
These are all the combats and conflicts with Satan which you can prove I ever had. O Sir, without more and greater conflicts than these, none shall see the kingdom of God. 11. In the following sections, you are equally out of your element. The first of them relates to “spiritual desertions;” (Section viii., p. 75, etc.;) all which you make the subject of dull ridicule, and place to the account of enthusiasm. And the case of all you give in the following words: “We may look upon enthusiasm as a kind of drunkenness, filling and intoxicating the brain with the heated fumes of spirituous particles. Now, no sooner does the inebriation go off, but a coldness and dullness takes place.” 12. As wildly do you talk of the doubts and fears incident to those who are “weak in faith.” (Section ix., p. 79, etc.) I cannot prevail upon myself to prostitute this awful subject, by entering into any debate concerning it with one who is innocent of the whole affair. Only I must observe that a great part of what you advance concerning me is entirely wide of the question. Such is all you quote from the First, and a considerable part of what you quote from my Second, Journal. This you know in your own conscience; for you know I speak of myself during the whole time, as having no faith at all. Consequently, the “rising and falling” I experienced then have nothing to do with those “doubts and fears which many go through, after they have by faith received remission of sins.”
The next words which you cite, “thrown into great perplexities,” I cannot find in the page you refer to, neither those that follow. The sum of them is, that “at that time I did not feel the love of God, but found deadness and wanderings in public prayer, and coldness even at the holy communion.”
Well, Sir, and have you never found in yourself any such coldness, deadness, and wanderings? I am persuaded you have. And yet surely your brain is always cool and temperate! never “intoxicated with the heated fumes of spirituous particles!” 13. If you quote not incoherent scraps, (by which you may make anything out of anything,) but entire connected sentences, it will appear that the rest of your quotations make no more for your purpose than the foregoing.
Thus, although I allow, that on May 24, “I was much buffeted with temptations; but I cried to God, and they fled away; that they returned again and again; I as often lifted up my eyes, and he sent me help from his holy place;” (Vol. I. p. 103;) it will only prove the very observation I make myself: “I was fighting both under the law and under grace. But then I was sometimes, if not often, conquered; now I was always conqueror.”
That sometime after, I “was strongly assaulted again, and after recovering peace and joy, was thrown into perplexity afresh by a letter, asserting that no doubt or fear could consist with true faith; that my weak mind could not then bear to be thus sawn asunder,” will not appear strange to any who are not utter novices in experimental religion. No more than that, one night the next year, “I had no life or spirit in me, and was much in doubt, whether God would not lay me aside, and send other laborers into his harvest.” 14. You add, “He owns his frequent relapses into sin, for near twice ten years. Such is the case of a person who tells us that he carefully considered every step he took; one of intimate communication with the Deity!” Sir, I did not tell you that; though, according to custom, you mark the words as mine. It is well for you, that forging quotations is not felony.
My words are, “O what an hypocrite have I been (if this be so) for near twice ten years! I But I know it is not so. I know every one under the law is even as I was;” namely, from the time I was twelve years old, till considerably above thirty. “And is it strange,” you say, “that such a one should be destitute of means to resolve his scruples? should be ever at variance with himself, and find no place to fix his foot?”
Good Sir, not too fast. You quite outrun the truth again. Blessed be God, this is not my case. I am not destitute of means to resolve my scruples. I have some friends, and a little reason left. I am not ever at variance with myself; and have found a place to fix my foot: — Now I have found the ground wherein Firm my soul’s anchor may remain; The wounds of Jesus, for my sin Before the world’s foundation slain.
And yet one of your assertions I cannot deny; namely, that you “could run the parallel between me and numbers of fanatical Papists:” And that not only with regard to my temper, but my stature, completion, yea, (if need were,) the very color of my hair. 15. In your next section, you are to give an account of the “spiritual succors and advantages received either during these trials or very soon after.” (Section x. p. 92, etc.) It is no wonder you make as lame work with these, as with the conflicts which preceded them. “As the heart knoweth its own bitterness, so a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.” But it is no business of mine, as you have not done me the honor to cite any of my words in this section. 16. “The unsteadiness of the Methodists, both in sentiments and practice,” (Section xi. p. 95, etc.) is what you next undertake to prove.
Your loose declamation with which you open the cause, I pass over, as it rests on your own bare word; and haste to your main reason, drawn from my sentiments and practice with regard to the Moravians. “He represents them,” you say, “in the blackest colors; yet declares, in the main, they are some of the best people in the world. His love and esteem for them increases more and more. His own disciples among the Methodists go over to them in crowds.
But still Methodism is the strongest barrier against the Moravian doctrines and principles.”
Sir, I bear you witness you have learned one principle, at least, from those with whom you have lately conversed; namely, that no faith is to be kept with heretics; of which you have given us abundant proof. For you know I have fully answered every article of this charge; which you repeat, as if I had not opened my lips about it. You know that there is not one grain of truth in several things which yon here positively assert. For instance: “His love and esteem of them increases more and more.” Not so; no more than my love and esteem for you. I love you both; but I do not much esteem either. Again: “His own disciples among the Methodists go over to them in crowds.” When? Where? I know not that ten of my disciples, as you call them, have gone over to them for twice ten months. O Sir, consider!
How do you know but some of your disciples may tell your name? 17. With the same veracity you go on: “In ‘The Character of a Methodist,’ those of the sect are described as having all the virtues that can adorn the Christian profession. But in their ‘Journals’ you find them waspish, condemning all the world, except themselves; and among themselves perpetual broils and confusions, with various other irregularities and vices.”
(1.) The tract you refer to (as is expressly declared in the preface) does not describe what the Methodists are already; but what they desire to be, and what they will be then when they fully practice the doctrine they hear.
You add: “Sometimes they are so far from fearing death, that they wish it:
But the keenness of the edge is soon blunted. They are full of dreadful apprehensions that the Clergy intend to murder them.” Do you mean me, Sir? I plead, Not Guilty. I never had any such apprehension. Yet I suppose you designed the compliment for me, by your dragging in two or three broken sentences from my First Journal. But how little to the purpose! seeing at the time that was written, I had never pretended to be above the fear of death. So that this is no proof of the point in view, — of the “unsteadiness of my sentiments or practice.” 18. You proceed: “One day they fancy it their duty to preach; the next, they preach with great reluctance.” Very true! But they fancy it their duty still; else they would not preach at all. This, therefore, does not prove any inequality either of sentiment or practice. “Mr. Wesley is sometimes quite averse from speaking, and then perplexed with the doubt, Is it a prohibition from the good Spirit, or a temptation from nature and the evil one?”
Just of a piece with the rest. The sentence runs thus: “I went several times with a design to speak to the sailors, but could not. I mean, I was quite averse from speaking. Is not this what men commonly mean by, ‘I could not speak?’ And is this a sufficient cause of silence or no? Is it a prohibition from the good Spirit, or a temptation from nature or the evil one?” Sir, I was in no doubt at all on the occasion. Nor did I intend to express any in these words; but to appeal to men’s conscience, whether what they call “a prohibition from the good Spirit,” be not a mere “temptation from nature or the evil one.” 19. In the next section you are to show “the art, cunning, and sophistry of the Methodists, who, when hard pressed by argument, run themselves into inconsistency and self-contradiction; and occasionally either defend or give up some of their favorite notions and principal points.” (Section xii. p. 102.)
I dare say, Sir, you will not put them to the trial. Argument lies out of the way of one, — Solutos Qui captat risus hominum famamque dicacis. f7 But to the proof: “Mr. Wesley,” you say, “at one time declares for a disinterested love of God; at another, declares, There is no one caution in all the Bible against the selfish love of God.”
Nay, Sir, I will tell you what is stranger still: Mr. Wesley holds, at one time, both sides of this contradiction. I now declare both that “all true love is disinterested, ‘seeketh not her own;’ and that there is no one caution in all the Bible against the selfish love of God.”
What, have I the art to slip out of your hands again? “Pardon me,” as your old friend says, “for being jocular.” 20. You add, altius insurgens : “But it is a considerable offense to charge another wrongfully, and contradict himself about the doctrine of assurance.” To prove this upon me, you bring my own words: “The assurance we preach is of quite another kind from that Mr. Bedford writes against. We speak of an assurance of our present pardon; not, as he does, of our final perseverance.” (Vol. I. p. 160.) “Mr. Wesley might have considered,” you say, “that when they talk of ‘assurance of pardon and salvation,’ the world will extend the meaning of the words to our eternal state.” I do consider it, Sir; and therefore I never use that phrase either in preaching or writing. “Assurance of pardon and salvation” is an expression that never comes out of my lips; and if Mr. Whitefield does use it, yet he does not preach such an assurance as the privilege of all Christians. “But Mr. Wesley himself says, that, ‘though a full assurance of faith does not necessarily imply a full assurance of our future perseverance, yet some have both the one and the other.’ And now what becomes of his charge against Mr. Bedford? And is it not mere evasion to say afterwards, ‘This is not properly an assurance of what is future?’” Sir, this argument presses me very hard! May I not be allowed a little evasion now? Come, for once I will try to do without it, and to answer flat and plain.
And I answer,
(1.) That faith is one thing; the full assurance of faith another.
(3.) Some Christians have only the first of these; they have faith, but mixed with doubts and fears. Some have also the full assurance of faith, a full conviction of present pardon; and yet not the full assurance of hope; not a full conviction of their future perseverance.
(4.) The faith which we preach, as necessary to all Christians, is the first of these, and no other. Therefore,
(5.) It is no evasion at all to say, “This (the faith which we preach as necessary to all Christians) is not properly an assurance of what is future.” And consequently, my charge against Mr. Bedford stands good, that his Sermon on Assurance is an ignoratio elenchi, an “ignorance of the point in question,” from beginning to end. Therefore, neither do I “charge another wrongfully, nor contradict myself about the doctrine of assurances.” 21. To prove my art, cunning, and evasion, you instance next in the case of impulses and impressions. You begin, “With what pertinacious confidence have impulses, impressions, feelings, etc., been advanced into certain rules of conduct! Their followers have been taught to depend upon them as sure guides and infallible proofs.”
To support this weighty charge, you bring one single scrap, about a line and a quarter, from one of my Journals. The words are these: “By the most infallible of proofs, inward feeling, I am convinced.” Convinced of what? It immediately follows, “Of unbelief, having no such faith as will prevent my heart from being troubled.”
I here assert, that inward feeling or consciousness is the most infallible of proofs of unbelief, — of the want of such a faith as will prevent the heart’s being troubled. But do I here “advance impressions, impulses, feelings, etc., into certain rules of conduct?” or anywhere else? You may just as well say, I advance them into certain proofs of transubstantiation.
Neither in writing, in preaching, nor in private conversation, have I ever “taught any of my followers to depend upon them as sure guides or infallible proofs” of anything.
Nay, you yourself own, I have taught quite the reverse; and that at my very first setting out. Then, as well as ever since, I have told the societies, “they were not to judge by their own inward feelings. I warned them, all these were in themselves of a doubtful, disputable nature. They might be from God, or they might not, and were therefore to be tried by a further rule, to be brought to the only certain test, the law and the testimony.” (Vol. I. p. 206.)
This is what I have taught from first to last. And now, Sir, what becomes of your heavy charge? On which side lies the “pertinacious confidence” now? How clearly have you made out my inconsistency and self-contradiction! and that I “occasionally either defend or give up my favorite notions and principal points!” 22. “Inspiration, and the extraordinary calls and guidances of the Holy Ghost, are” what you next affirm to be “given up.” (Section xiii. p. 106, etc.) Not by me. I do not “give up” one tittle on this head, which I ever maintained. But observe: Before you attempt to prove my “giving them up,” you are to prove that I laid claim to them; that I laid claim to some extraordinary inspiration, call, or guidance of the Holy Ghost.
You say, my “concessions on this head” (to Mr. Church) “are ambiguous and evasive.” Sir, you mistake the fact. I make no concessions at all, either to him or you. I give up nothing that ever I advanced on this head; but when Mr. Church charged me with what I did not advance, I replied, “I claim no other direction of God’s, but what is common to all believers. I pretend to be no otherwise inspired than you are, if you love God.” Where is the ambiguity or evasion in this? I meant it for a flat denial of the charge. 23. Your next section spirat tragicum satis charges the Methodists “with skepticism and infidelity, with doubts and denials of the truth of Revelation, and Atheism itself.” (Section xiv. p. 110, etc.) The passages brought from my Journals to prove this charge, which you have prudently transposed, I beg leave to consider in the same order as they stand there.
The First you preface thus: “Upon the people’s ill usage (or supposed ill usage) of Mr. Wesley in Georgia, and their speaking of all manner of evil falsely (as he says) against him; and trampling under foot the word, after having been very attentive to it; what an emotion in him is hereby raised! ‘I do hereby bear witness against myself, that I could scarce refrain from giving the lie to experience, and reason, and Scripture, all together.’” The passage, as I wrote it, stands thus: “Sunday, March 7. I entered upon my ministry at Savannah. In the Second Lesson, (Luke 18,) was our Lord’s prediction of the treatment which he himself, and consequently his followers, were to meet with from the world. “Yet notwithstanding these plain declarations of our Lord, notwithstanding my own repeated experience, notwithstanding the experience of all the sincere followers of Christ, whom I ever talked with, read or heard of, nay, and the reason of the thing, evincing to a demonstration, that all who love not the light must hate him who is continually laboring to pour it in upon them; I do here bear witness against myself, that, when I saw the number of people crowding into the church, the deep attention with which they received the word, and the seriousness that afterwards sat on all their faces; I could scarce refrain from giving the lie to experience, and reason, and Scripture, all together. I could hardly believe that the greater, the far greater, part of this attentive, serious people, would hereafter trample under foot that word, and say all manner of evil falsely of him that spoke it.” (Vol. I. p. 27.)
Sir, does this prove me guilty of skepticism or infidelity; of doubting or denying the truth of Revelation? Did I speak this, “upon the people using me ill, and saying all manner of evil against me?” Or am I here describing “any emotion raised in me hereby?” Blush, blush, Sir, if you can blush.
You had here no possible room for mistake. You grossly and wilfully falsify the whole passage, to support a groundless, shameless accusation. 24. The second passage (written January 24, 1737-8) is this: “In a storm, I think, What if the gospel be not true? Then thou art of all men most foolish? For what hast thou given thy goods, thy ease, thy friends, thy reputation, thy country, thy life? For what art thou wandering over the face of the earth? A dream; a cunningly devised fable.” (Vol. I p. 74.)
I am here describing the thoughts which passed through my mind when I was confessedly an unbeliever. But even this implies no skepticism, much less Atheism; no “denial of the truth of Revelation;” but barely such transient doubts as, I presume, may assault any thinking man that knows not God.
The third passage (which you tack to the former, as if they were one and the same) runs thus: “I have not such a peace as excludes the possibility either of doubt or fear. When holy men have told me I had no faith, I have often doubted whether I had or no. And those doubts have made me very uneasy, till I was relieved by prayer and the Holy Scriptures.” (Vol. I. p. 162.)
Speak frankly, Sir: Does this prove me guilty of skepticism, infidelity, or Atheism? What else does it prove? Just nothing at all, but the “pertinacious confidence” of him that cites it. 25. You recite more at large one passage more. The whole paragraph stands thus: — “St. Paul tells us, ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, temperance.’ Now, although, by the grace of God in Christ, I find a measure of some of these in myself, viz, of peace, longsuffering, gentleness, meekness, temperance; yet others I find not. I cannot find in myself the love of God or of Christ. Hence my deadness and wanderings in public prayer. Hence it is that, even in the holy communion, I have rarely any more than a cold attention. Hence, when I hear of the highest instance of God’s love, my heart is still senseless and unaffected.
Yea, at this moment, (October 14, 1738,) I feel no more love to Him, than one I had never heard of.” (Vol. I. p. 162.)
To any who knew something of inward religion I should have observed, that this is what serious Divines mean by desertion. But all expressions of this kind are jargon to you. So, allowing it to be whatever you please, I ask only, Do you know how long I continued in this state? how many years, months, weeks, or days? If not, how can you infer what my state of mind is now from what it was above eleven years ago?
Sir, I do not tell you, or any man else, that “I cannot now find the love of God in myself;” or that now in the year 1751, I rarely feel more than a cold attention in the holy communion: So that your whole argument, built on this supposition, falls to the ground at once. 26. Sensible, I presume, of the weakness of this reason, you immediately apply to the passions, by that artful remark: “Observe, reader, this is the man who charges our religion as no better than the Turkish pilgrimages to Mecca, or the Popish worship of our Lady of Loretto!” Our religion!
How naturally will the reader suppose, that I fix the charge either on the Protestant religion in general, or on that of the Church of England in particular! But how far is this from the truth!
My words concerning those who are commonly called religious are, “Wherein does their religion consist? in righteousness and true holiness; in love stronger than death; fervent gratitude to God, and tender affection to all his creatures? Is their religion the religion of the heart; a renewal of the soul in the image of God? Do they resemble Him they worship? Are they free from pride, from vanity, from malice, from envy; from ambition and avarice, from passion and lust, from every uneasy and unlovely temper?
Alas! I fear neither they (the greater part at least) nor you have any more notion of this religion, than the peasant that holds the plough, of the religion of a Gymnosophist. “It is well if the genuine religion of Christ has any more alliance with what you call religion, than with the Turkish pilgrimages to Mecca, or the Popish worship of our Lady of Loretto. Have not you substituted, in the place of the religion of the heart, something, I do not say, equally sinful, but equally vain and foreign to the worshipping of God in spirit and in truth? What else can be said even of prayer, public or private, in the manner wherein you generally perform it? as a thing of course, running round and round, in the same dull track, without either the knowledge or the love of God; without one heavenly temper, either attained or improved?” (Farther Appeal, Third Part, Vol. VIII. p. 202.)
Now, Sir, what room is there for your own exclamations? — “What sort of heavenly temper is his? How can he possibly, consistently with charity, call this our general performance? ” Sir, I do not. I only appeal to the conscience of you, and each particular reader, whether this is, or is not, the manner wherein you (in the singular number) generally perform public or private prayer. “How, possibly, without being omniscient, can he affirm, that we (I presume you mean all the members of our Church) pray without one heavenly temper? or know anything at all of our private devotions? How monstrous is all this!” Recollect yourself, Sir. If your terror is real, you are more afraid than hurt. I do not affirm any such thing.
I do not take upon me to know anything at all of your private devotions.
But I suppose I may inquire, without offense, and beg you seriously to examine yourself before God.
So you have brought no one proof, that “skepticism, infidelity, and Atheism are either constituent parts or genuine consequences of Methodism.” Therefore your florid declamation, in the following pages, is entirely out of its place. And you might have spared yourself the trouble of accounting for what has no being, but in your own imagination. 27. You charge the Methodists next with “an uncharitable spirit.” (Section xv. p. 115, etc.) All you advance in proof of this, as if it were from my writings, but without naming either page or book, I have nothing to do with. But whatever you tell me where to find, I shall carefully consider.
I observe but one single passage of this sort; and that you have worn threadbare already: “By the most infallible of proofs, inward feeling, I am convinced of levity and luxuriancy of spirit, by speaking words not tending to edify; but most by my manner of speaking of my enemies. ” Sir, you may print this, not only in italics, but in capitals, and yet it would do you no service. For what I was convinced of then was not uncharitableness, but, as I expressly mentioned, “levity of spirit.” 28. Of the same “uncharitable nature,” you say, is “their application of divine judgments to their opposers.” (Section xvi. p. 119, etc.) You borrow two instances from Mr. Church: But you omit the answers, which I shall therefore subjoin.
His words are, “You describe Heaven as executing judgments, immediate punishments, on those who oppose you. You say, ‘Mr. Molther was taken ill this day. I believe it was the hand of God that was upon him.’” (First Letter to Mr. Church Vol. VIII. p. 409.) “I do; but I do not say, as a judgment for opposing me. That you say for me.” “Again, you mention,” says Mr. Church, “as an awful providence, the case of ‘a poor wretch, who was last week cursing and blaspheming, and had boasted to many, that he would come on Sunday, and no man should stop his mouth; but on Friday God laid his hand upon him, and on Sunday he was buried.’” “I do look on this as a manifest judgment of God on a hardened sinner for his complicated wickedness.”
To repeat these objections, without taking the least notice of the answers, is one of the usual proofs of your charitable spirit. 29. You pass on to “the Methodists’ uncharitable custom of summoning their opponents to the bar of judgment.” (Section xvii. p. 123, etc.)
You bring two passages from my writings to prove this. The First is, “Calling at Newgate, (in Bristol,) I was informed, that the poor wretches under sentence of death were earnestly desirous to speak with me; but that Alderman Beecher had sent an express order that they should not. I cite Alderman Beecher to answer for these souls at the judgment-seat of Christ.”
The Second passage is still more wide from the point. The whole of it is as follows: — “I have often inquired, who were the authors of this report, (that I was a Papist,) and have generally found, they were either bigoted Dissenters, or (I speak it without fear or favor) Ministers of our own Church. I have also frequently considered, what possible ground or motive they could have thus to speak; seeing few men in the world have had occasion so clearly and openly to declare their principles as I have done, both by preaching, printing, and conversation, for several years last past. And I can no otherwise think, than that either they spoke thus (to put the most favorable construction upon it) from gross ignorance; they knew not what Popery was; they knew not what doctrines these are which the Papists teach; or they wilfully spoke what they knew to be false, probably thinking thereby to do God service. Now, take this to yourselves, whoever ye are, high or low, dissenters or Churchmen, Clergy or laity, who have advanced this shameless charge, and digest it how you can. “But how have ye not been afraid, if ye believe there is a God, and that he knoweth the secrets of your hearts, (I speak now to you Preachers, more especially, of whatever denomination,) to declare so gross, palpable a lie, in the name of the God of truth? I cite you all, before ‘the Judge of all the earth,’ either publicly to prove your charge, or, by publicly retracting it, to make the best amends you can, to God to me, and to the world.” (Vol. I. p. 219.)
Sir, do I here “summon my opponents to the bar of judgment?” So you would make me do, by quoting only that scrap, “I cite you all, before ‘the Judge of all the earth!’” You then add, with equal charity and sincerity, “Here you have the true spirit of an enthusiast, flushed with a modest assurance of his own salvation, and the charitable prospect of the damnation of others.” O Sir, never name modesty more!
Here end your labored attempts to show the “uncharitable spirit” of the Methodists; who, for anything you have shown to the contrary, may be the most charitable people under the sun. 30. You charge the Methodists next with “violation and contempt of order and authority;” (Section xviii. p. 124;) namely, the authority of the governors of the Church. I have answered every article of this charge, in the Second and Third Parts of the “Farther Appeal,” and the “Letter to Mr. Church.” When you have been so good as to reply to what is there advanced, I may possibly say something more.
What you offer of your own upon this head, I shall consider without delay: — “Women and boys are actually employed in this ministry of public preaching.” Please to tell me where. I know them not, nor ever heard of them before.
You add, what is more marvellous still, “I speak from personal knowledge, that sometimes, a little before delivering of the elements at the communion, three or four Methodists together will take it into their heads to go away; that sometimes, while the sentences of the offertory were reading, they have called out to the Minister who carried the bason, reproaching him for asking alms of them; that sometimes, when the Minister has delivered the bread into their hands, instead of eating it, they would slip it into their pockets.” Sir, you must show your face, before these stories will find credit on your bare asseveration. “Yet they are surprised,” you say, “that every man in his senses does not, without the least hesitation, join them.”
Sir, I am surprised (unless you are not in your senses) at your advancing such a barefaced falsehood. 31. You go on: “Under this head may, not improperly, be considered their undutiful behavior to the civil powers.” What proof have you of this?
Why, a single sentence, on which I laid so little stress myself, that it is only inserted by way of parenthesis, in the body of another sentence: “Ye learned in the law, what becomes of Magna Charta, and of English liberty and property? Are not these mere sounds, while, on any pretense, there is such a thing as a press-gang suffered in the land?”
Upon this you descant: “The legislature has, at several times, made Acts for pressing men. But no matter for this; touch but a Methodist, and all may perish, rather than a soldier be pressed. He who had before bound himself not to speak a tittle of worldly things is now bawling for liberty and property.”
Very lively this! But I hope, Sir, you do not offer it by way of argument.
You are not so unlearned in the law, as not to know, that the legislature is out of the question. The legislature, six years ago, did not appoint press-gangs, but legal officers to press men. Consequently, this is no proof (and find another if you can) of our undutiful behavior to the civil powers. 32. “Another natural consequence,” you say, “of Methodism, is their mutual jealousies and envyings, their manifold divisions, fierce and rancorous quarrels, and accusations of one another.” (Vol. I. p. 252.)
I shall carefully attend whatever you produce on this head: And if you prove this, I will grant you all the rest.
You First cite those words: “Musing on the things that were past, and reflecting how many that came after me were preferred before me, I opened my Testament on those words: ‘The Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness; but Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.’” And how does this prove the manifold divisions and rancorous quarrels of the Methodists?
Your Second argument is: “Mr. Whitefield told me, he and I preached two different gospels;” (his meaning was, that he reached particular, and I universal, redemption;) “and therefore he would not join with me, but publicly preach against me.” (Section xix. p. 341, etc.)
Well, Sir, here was doubtless a division for a time; but no fierce and rancorous quarrel yet.
You say, Thirdly, “They write and publish against each other.” True; but without any degree either of fierceness or rancor.
You assert, Fourthly, “Mr. Wesley, in his sermon ‘On Free Grace,’ opposes the other for the horrible blasphemies of his horrible doctrine.”
Sir, away with your flourishes, and write plain English. I opposed the doctrine of predestination, which he held. But without any degree either of rancor or fierceness. Still, therefore, you miss the mark.
You quote, Fifthly, these words: “I spent an hour with Mr. Stonehouse. O what piqanologia, ‘persuasiveness of speech,’ is here! Surely all the deceivableness of unrighteousness.” (Vol. I. p. 290.) But there was no fierceness or rancor on either side.
The passage, a fragment of which you produce as a Sixth argument, stands thus: “A few of us had a long conference together. Mr. C. now told me plainly, he could not agree with me, because I did not preach the truth, particularly with regard to election.” He did so; but without any rancor.
We had a long conference; but not a fierce one. (Vol. I. p. 293.)
You, Seventhly, observe, “What scurrility of language the Moravians throw out against Mr. Wesley!” Perhaps so. But this will not prove that “the Methodists quarrel with each other.” “And how does he turn their own artillery upon them!” This is your Eighth argument. But if I do, this no more proves the “mutual quarrels of the Methodists,” than my turning your own artillery upon you. 33. Having, by these eight irrefragable arguments, clearly carried the day, you raise your crest, and cry out, “Is this Methodism?
And reign such mortal feuds in heavenly minds?”
Truly, Sir, you have not yet brought one single proof (and yet, I dare say, you have brought the very best you have) of any such feuds among the Methodists as may not be found among the most heavenly-minded men on earth.
But you are resolved to pursue your victory, and so go on: “What are we to think of these charges of Whitefield, and Wesley, and the Moravians, one against another?” The Moravians, Sir, are out of the question; for they are no Methodists; and as to the rest, Mr. Whitefield charges Mr. Wesley with holding universal redemption, and I charge him with holding particular redemption. This is the standing charge on either side. And now, Sir, “what are we to think?” Why, that you have not proved one point of this charge against the Methodists.
However, you stumble on: “Are these things so? Are they true, or are they not true? If not true, they are grievous calumniators; if true, they are detestable sectarists. Whether true or false, the allegation stands good of their fierce and rancorous quarrels, and mutual heinous accusations.”
Sir, has your passion quite extinguished your reason? Have fierceness and rancor left you no understanding? Otherwise, how is it possible you should run on at this senseless, shameless rate? These things are true which Mr. Whitefield and Wesley object to each other. He holds the decrees; I do not: Yet this does not prove us “detestable sectarists.” And whether these things are true or false, your allegation of our “fierce and rancorous quarrels, and mutual heinous accusations,” cannot stand good, without better proof than you have yet produced. 34. Yet, with the utmost confidence, quasi re bene gesta, you proceed, “And how stands the matter among their disciples? They are all together by the ears, embroiled and broken with unchristian quarrels and confusions.”
How do you prove this? Why thus: “Mr. Wesley’s Fourth Journal is mostly taken up in enumerating their wrath, dissensions, and apostasies.”
But to come to particulars: You First cite these words, “At Oxford, but a few who had not forsaken them.”
My words are, “Monday, October 1, 1738. I rode to Oxford, and found a few who had not yet forsaken the assembling themselves together.” This is your First proof that “the Methodists are all together by the ears.” Your Second is its very twin-brother. “Tuesday, 2. I went to many who once heard the word with joy; but ‘when the sun arose they withered away.’” (Vol. I. p. 227.)
Your Third is this: “Many were induced (by the Moravians) to deny the gift of God, and affirm they never had any faith at all.” (Ibid . p. 248.) You are at liberty to enjoy this argument also; and let it prove what it can prove.
You, Fourthly, cite these words: “Many of our sisters are shaken, grievously torn by reasonings. But few come to Fetter-Lane, and then after their names are called over they presently depart. Our brethren here (those who were proselytes to the Moravians) have neither wisdom enough to guide, nor prudence enough to let it alone. They (the Moravians) have much confounded some of our sisters, and many of our brothers are much grieved.” (Ibid . p. 255.)
The passage you quote, in the Fifth place, is, “I believe — are determined to go on according to Mr. Molther’s direction, and I suppose (says the writer of the letter) above half our brethren are on their knees. But they are so very confused, they do not know how to go on, and yet are unwilling to be taught, except by the Moravians.” (Ibid .)
Add to this: (I recite the whole passages in order; not as you had mangled, and then jumbled them together:) “Wednesday, December 19. I came to London, though with a heavy heart. Here I found every day the dreadful effects of our brethren’s reasoning and disputing with each other. Scarce one in ten retained his first love; and most of the rest were in the utmost confusion,” (they were so, more or less, for several months,) “biting and devouring one another.”
This also prove so much, neither more nor less, that some of the Methodists were then in confusion. And just so much is proved by your Sixth quotation: “Many were wholly unsettled,” (by the Moravians, taking advantage of my absence,) “and lost in vain reasonings and doubtful disputations; — not likely to come to any true foundation.” (Ibid . p. 259.)
Your Seventh quotation (I recite the whole sentence) runs thus: “April 19.
I received a letter informing me that our poor brethren at Fetter-Lane were again in great confusion.” This quotation proves just as much as the preceding, or as the following: “The plague” (of false stillness) “was now spread to them also;” namely, to the “little society at Islington.” (Ibid . p. 269.)
Your Ninth is this: “I went to the society, but I found their hearts were quite estranged. Friday, 4. I met a little handful of them, who still stand in the old paths.” (Ibid . p. 280.)
Thus far you have been speaking of the Methodists in London. And what have you proved concerning them? Only that the Moravians, mixing with them twelve years ago, while they were young and inexperienced, set them a disputing with each other, and thereby occasioned much confusion for several months. But you have not proved that the Methodists in general were, even then, “all together by the ears;” and much less, that they have been so ever since, and that they are so now. 35. I now attend you to Kingswood. Not to “Bristol and Kingswood,” which you artfully join together. The society at Bristol was no more concerned with the disputes in Kingswood, than with those in London.
Here the First quotation, though containing but two lines, is extracted from three different paragraphs; in one of which I say: “I had many unpleasing accounts (in December 1740) concerning our little society in Kingswood.”
In the Second: “I went to Kingswood, if haply I might repair the breaches which had been made” by the Predestinarian Preachers. In the Third: “I labored to heal the jealousies and misunderstandings which had arisen.” (Vol. I. p. 293.)
The Second passage, part of which you quote, is this: “I returned early in the morning to Kingswood; but my congregation was gone to hear Mr. C.; so that I had not above two or three men, and as many women.” (lbid . p. 294.)
The Third is, “January 1. I explained, ‘If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.’ But many of our brethren had no ears to hear, having disputed away both their faith and love.” (Ibid . p. 295.)
The Fourth, “February 21. I inquired concerning the divisions and offenses which began afresh to break out in Kingswood. In the afternoon I met a few of the Bands; but it was a cold, uncomfortable meeting.” (Ibid . p. 299.)
You have picked out here and there a word from several pages, in order to furnish out a Fifth quotation. The most material part of it is this: “Saturday, 28. I read the following paper at Kingswood: ‘For their scoffing at the word and Minister of God, for their backbiting and evil-speaking, I declare the persons above mentioned to be no longer members of this society’” (Ibid. p. 301.) “And we had great reason to bless God, that, after fifty two were withdrawn, we have still upwards of ninety left.” (Ibid . p. 302.)
Who those other “forty were, that,” you say, “left them,” I know not.
Perhaps you may inform me.
Upon the whole, all these quotations prove only this: That about eleven years ago, Mr. C., falling into predestination, set the society in Kingswood a disputing with each other, and occasioned much confusion for some months. But still you have not gone one step toward proving, (which is the one point in question,) that the Methodists in general were, even then, “all together by the ears;” and much less, that they have been so ever since, and that they are so now.
However, you fail not to triumph, (like Louis le Grand, after his victory at Blenheim,) “What shall we say now? Are these the fruits of Methodism?”
No, Sir. They are the fruits of opposing it. They are the tares sown among the wheat. You may hear of instances of the same kind, both in earlier and later ages.
You add, “This is bad enough; but it is not the worst. For consider, what becomes of those that leave them?” Why, Sir, what, if “their last end be worse than their first?” Will you charge this upon me? By the same rule, you must have charged upon the Apostles themselves whatever befell those who, having “known the way of righteousness,” afterwards “turned back from the holy commandment once delivered to them.” 36. You conclude this section: “Mr. Wesley will probably say, ‘Must I be answerable for the Moravians, against whom I have preached and written?’ True, since he and the Moravians quarreled. But who gives them a box on the ear with the one hand, and embraces them with the other?
Who first brought over this wicked generation? Who made a Moravian his spiritual guide? Who fantacized his own followers, and deprived them of their senses? Whose societies (by his own confession) run over in shoals to Moravianism forty or fifty at a time? Would they have split upon this rock, if they had not been first Methodists? Lastly: Where is the spawn of Moravianism so strongly working as in the children of Methodism?”
Sir, you run very fast. And yet I hope to overtake you by and by. “Mr. Wesley,” you say, “has preached against the Moravians, since he quarreled with them.” Sir, I never quarreled with their persons yet: I did with some of their tenets long ago. He “gives them a box on the ear with the one hand, and embraces them with the other.” That is, I embrace what is good among them, and at the same time reprove what is evil. “Who first brought over this wicked generation?” Not I, whether they be wicked or not. I once thought I did; but have since then seen and acknowledged my mistake. “Who made a Moravian his spiritual guide?” Not I; though I have occasionally consulted several. “Who fantacized his own followers, and deprived them of their senses?” Not I. Prove it upon me if you can. “Whose societies (by his own confession) run over in shoals to Moravianism, forty or fifty at a time?” Truly, not mine. Two-and-fifty of Kingswood society ran over to Calvinism, and, a year before, part of Fetter-Lane society gradually went over to the Moravians. But I know none of ours that went over “in shoals.” They never, that I remember, gained five at a time; nor fifty in all, to the best of my knowledge, for these last ten years. “Would they” (of Fetter-Lane) “have split on this rock, if they had not first been Methodists?” Undoubtedly they would; for several of them had not first been Methodists. Mr. Viney, for instance, (as well as several others,) was with the Germans before ever he saw me. “Lastly:
Where is the spawn of Moravianism working so strongly as in the children of Methodism?” If you mean the errors of Moravianism, they are not working at all in the generality of the children of Methodism; the Methodists in general being thoroughly apprised of, and fully guarded against, them.
So much for your modest assertion, that the Methodists in general are “all together by the ears;” the very reverse of which is true. They are in general in perfect peace. They enjoy in themselves “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding.” They are at peace with each other; and, as much as lieth in them, they live peaceably with all men. 37. Your next charge is, that “Methodism has a tendency to undermine morality and good works.” (Section xx. p. 146, etc.) To prove this you assert,
(1.) “That the Methodists are trained up to wait in quietness for sudden conversion; whence they are naturally led to neglect the means of salvation.” This is a mistake all over. For neither are they taught to wait in quietness (if you mean any more than patience by that term) for either sudden or gradual conversion; neither do they, in fact, neglect the means. So far from it, that they are eminently exact in the use of them.
(2.) “The doctrine of assurance of pardon and salvation, present and future, causes a false security, to the neglect of future endeavors.”
Blunder upon blunder again. That all Christians have an assurance of future salvation, is no Methodist doctrine; and an assurance of present pardon is so far from causing negligence, that it is of all others the strongest motive to vigorous endeavors after universal holiness.
(3.) “Impulses and impressions being made the rule of duty, will lead into dangerous errors.” Very true: But the Methodists do not make impulses and impressions the rule of duty. They totally disclaim any other rule of duty than the written word.
(5.) “The Moravian Methodists trample down morality, and multitudes of the Wesleyans have been infected.” The Moravian Methodists! You may as well say, the Presbyterian Papists. The Moravians have no connection with the Methodists. Therefore, whatever they do, (though you slander them too,) they and not we are to answer for. The Methodists at present, blessed be God, are as little infected with this plague (of condemning or neglecting good works) as any body of people in England or Ireland. 38. From these loose assertions you proceed to quotations from my writings, every one of which I shall consider, to show that, not in one or two, but in every one, you are a wilful prevaricator and false accuser of your neighbor.
You say, First, “The Moravians.” Hold, good Sir! you are out of the way already. You well know, the Moravians are to answer for themselves. Our present question concerns the Methodists only.
You say, Secondly, “A general temptation prevails among the societies of Methodists, of leaving off good works.” (Vol. I. p. 273.) Sir, you are wrong again. The societies of Methodists are not there spoken of; but the single society of Fetter-Lane. Among these only that temptation then prevailed.
You quote, Thirdly, as my words, “The poor, confused, shattered society had erred from the faith.” My own words are, “I told the poor, confused, shattered society, wherein they had erred from the faith;” (Ibid . p. 274;) namely, with regard to the ordinances; not in general, as your way o expressing it naturally imports. Nor had all the society erred even in this point. Many of them were still unshaken.
You quote, Fourthly, “A woman of Deptford spoke great words and true.
She ordered Mr. Humphreys to leave off doing good.”
Must not every reader suppose, as you have placed these words, that they were all spoke at one time? and that the “great words and true” were those whereby she “ordered Mr. Humphreys to leave off doing good?”
What then must every honest man think of you, when he observes, that one half of the sentence (which you thus artfully put together) stands in another page, and at a considerable distance from the other and that I immediately subjoin to the latter clause, “We talked largely with her, and she was humbled to the dust, under a deep sense of the advantage Satan had gained over her.”
You quote, Fifthly, a part of the following sentence, to prove that I “undermine morality and good works:” “His judgment concerning holiness is new. He no longer judges it to be an outward thing, to consist either in doing no harm, in doing good, or in using the ordinances of God.” (And yet how strongly do I insist upon all these!
What then will you prove by this?
You quote, Sixthly, part of these words: — “They speak of holiness as if it consisted chiefly, if not wholly, in these two points: First, the doing no harm: Secondly, the doing good, as it is called; that is, the using the means of grace, and helping our neighbor.” (Vol. I. p. 225.)
And this you term, “disparaging good works!” Sir, these things, considered barely as to the opus operatum, are not good works. There must be something good in the heart, before any of our works are good. Insomuch that, “though I give all my goods to feed the poor, and have not” this, “it profiteth me nothing.”
You observe, by the way, “The Mystic divinity was once the Methodists’ doctrine.” Sir, you have stepped out of the way, only to get another fall. The Mystic divinity was never the Methodists’ doctrine.
They could never swallow either John Tauler or Jacob Behmen; although they often advised with one that did. 39. You say, Seventhly, “I do not find that Mr. Wesley has ever cited those express passages of St. James.” Sir, what if I had not? (I mean in print.) I do not cite every text from Genesis to the Revelation. But it happens I have. Look again, Sir; and, by and by, you may find where.
You say, Eighthly, “Mr. Wesley affirms, that the condition of our justification is faith alone, and not good works.” Most certainly I do. And I learned it from the Eleventh and Twelfth Articles, and from the Homilies of our Church. If you can confute them, do. But I subscribe to them, both with my hand and heart.
You say, Ninthly, “Give me leave to make a remark. The Methodists wandered many years in the new path of salvation by faith and works, which was the time, too, of their highest glory and popularity. During this time, they were seducing their disciples into the most destructive errors.”
Excuse me, Sir. While they preached salvation by faith and works, they had no disciples at all, unless you term a few pupils such; nor had they any popularity at all. They then enjoyed (what they always desired) a quiet, retired life, But whatever disciples we had, they were not seduced by us into the error of justification by works. For they were in it before ever they saw our face, or knew there were such men in the world.
You say, Tenthly, “Mr. Wesley only contends, that it is possible to use them without trusting in them.” Not in that page; because the proposition I am confuting is, “It is not possible to use them without trusting in them.” (Vol. I. p. 258.)
You added, “And now, are not such disparaging expressions” (a mere possibility of using them without trusting in them) “a great discouragement to practice?”
To go no farther than the very first page you refer to, (Vol. I. p. 258,) my express words are these: — “I believe the way to attain faith is to wait for Christ in using all the means of grace. “Because I believe, these do ordinarily convey God’s grace even to unbelievers.” Is this “contending, only for a mere possibility of using them without trusting in them?”
Not only in this, and many other parts of the Journals, but in a sermon wrote professedly on the subject, I contend that all the ordinances of God are the stated channels of his grace to man; and that it is our bounden duty to use them all, at all possible opportunities. So that to charge the Methodists in general, or me in particular, with undervaluing or disparaging them, shows just as much regard for justice and truth, as if you was to charge us with Mahometanism. 40. Tedious as it is to wade through so many dirty pages, I will follow you step by step, a little farther. Your Eleventh proof, that we “undermine morality and good works,” is drawn from the following passage: — “I know one ‘under the law’ is even as I was for near twice ten years. Every one when he begins to see his fallen state, and to feel the wrath of God abiding on him, relapses into the sin that most easily besets him, soon after repenting of it. Sometimes he avoids, and at many other times he cannot persuade himself to avoid, the occasions of it. Hence his relapses are frequent, and, of consequence, his heart is hardened more and more. Nor can he, with all his sincerity, avoid any one of these four marks of hypocrisy, till, ‘being justified by faith,’ he ‘hath peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.’” (Vol. I. p. 222.)
You, Sir, are no competent judge in the cause. But to any who has experienced what St. Paul speaks in his seventh chapter to the Romans, I willingly submit this whole question. You know by experience, that if anger was the sin that did so easily beset you, you relapsed into it for days, or months, or years, soon after repenting of it. Sometimes you avoided the occasions of it; at other times you did not. Hence your relapses were frequent, and your heart was hardened more and more: And yet all this time you was sincerely striving against sin; you could say, without hypocrisy, “The thing which I do, I allow not; the evil which I would not, that I do. To will is even now present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”
But the Jesuits, you think, “could scarce have granted salvation upon easier terms. Have no fear, ye Methodists.” Sir, I do not grant salvation, as you call it, upon so easy terms. I believe a man in this state is in a state of damnation. “Have no fear!” say you? Yea, but those who are thus “under the law” are in fear all the day long. “Was there ever so pleasing a scheme?” Pleasing with a vengeance! As pleasing as to be in the belly of hell. So totally do you mistake the whole matter, not knowing what you speak, nor whereof you affirm.
You are, indeed, somewhat pitiable in speaking wrong on this head, because you do it in ignorance. But this plea cannot be allowed when you gravely advance that trite, threadbare objection concerning the Lord’s supper, without taking any notice that I have answered it again and again, both to Mr. Church and to the late Lord Bishop of London. 41. Your Thirteenth proof is this: “Mr. Wesley has taught us that infirmities are no sins.” Sir, you have taught me to wonder at nothing you assert; else I should wonder at this. The words I suppose you refer to, stand in the sermon “On Salvation by Faith;” though you do not choose to show your reader where they may be found: “He that is by faith born of God sinneth not,
(1.) By any habitual sin: Nor,
(2.) By any wilful sin: Nor,
(3.) By any sinful desire; for he continually desireth the holy and perfect will of God: Nor,
(4.) Doth he sin by infirmities, whether in act, word, or thought; for his infirmities have no concurrence of his will, and, without this, they are not properly sins.” And this, you seriously declare, “is a loop-hole to creep out of every moral and religious obligation!”
In the same paragraph, you say I have strongly affirmed that “all our works and tempers are evil continually; that our whole heart is altogether corrupt and abominable, and consequently our whole life; all our works, the most specious of them, our righteousness, our prayers, needing an atonement themselves.” (Vol. I. pp. 76, 97, 161, 214.)
I do strongly affirm this. But of whom? In all these places, but the last, of myself only. In every one, but this, I speak in the singular number, and of myself when confusedly an unbeliever. And of whom do I speak in that last place? Of unbelievers, and them only. The words are, “All our tempers and works in our natural state are only evil continually.”
I have now weighed every argument you have brought, to prove that the “Methodists undermine morality and good works.” A grievous charge indeed! But the more inexcusable is he who advances it, but is not able to make it good in any one single instance. Pardon my pertness, Sir, in not barely affirming, (that is your manner,) but proving, this: Nay, and in telling you, that you cannot make amends to God, to me, or to the world, without a retractation as public as your calumny. 42. You add, “How the case stands, in fact, as to the number of converts among the Methodists, and real reformation of life to the certain and known duties of the gospel, is matter of difficult determination.” Not at all. What is easier to be determined, than,
(1.) That A. B. of Exeter, or Tiverton, was for many years a notorious drunkard, common-swearer, or Sabbath-breaker?
(2.) That he is not so now; that he is really reformed from drunkenness, swearing, Sabbath-breaking, to sobriety and the other certain and known duties of the gospel? “But from what inquiry” you “can make, there is no reason to think them, for the generality, better than their neighbors.” Better than their neighbors?
Why, are they no worse than their neighbors? Then, what have you been doing all this time? But whether they are better or worse than their neighbors, they are undeniably better than themselves: I mean, better than they were before they heard this preaching “in the certain and known duties of the gospel.”
But you desire us to “consider their black art of calumny; their uncharitableness; their excessive pride and vanity; their skepticism, doubts, and disbelief of God and Christ; their disorderly practices, and contempt of authority; their bitter envying and inveterate broils among themselves; their coolness for good works.” Sir, we will consider all these, when you have proved them. Till then this is mere brutum fulmen. f11 43. You proceed: “If we take Mr. Wesley’s own account, it falls very short of any considerable reformation.” You mean, if we take that part of his account which you are pleased to transcribe. Atticam elegantiam! f12 But let any impartial man read my whole account, and then judge.
However, hence you infer that “the new reformers have made but a slow and slight progress in the reformation of manners.”
As a full answer to this I need only transcribe a page or two from the last “Appeal,” pp. 237, 238, etc.: — “God begins a glorious work in our land. You set yourself against it with your might; to prevent its beginning where it does not yet appear, and to destroy it wherever it does. In part yon prevail.
You keep many from hearing the word that is able to save their souls. Others who have heard it, you induce to turn back from God, and to list under the devil’s banner again. Then you make the success of your own wickedness an excuse for not acknowledging the work of God! You urge, ‘that not many sinners were reformed! and that some of those are now as bad as ever!’ “Whose fault is this? Is it ours, or your own? Why have not thousands more been reformed? Yea, for every one who is now turned to God, why are there not ten thousand? Because you and your associates labored so heartily in the cause of hell; because you and they spared no pains, either to prevent or to destroy the work of God. By using all the power and wisdom you had, you hindered thousands from hearing, the gospel, which they might have found to be the power of God unto salvation. Their blood is upon your heads. By inventing, or countenancing, or retailing lies, some refined, some gross and palpable, you hindered others from profiting by what they did hear. You are answerable to God for these souls also. Many who began to taste the good word and run the way of God’s commandments, by various methods you prevailed on to hear it no more. So they soon draw back to perdition. But know, that, for every one of these also, God will require an account of you in the day of judgment! “And yet, in spite of all the malice and wisdom and strength, not only of men, but of ‘principalities and powers,’ of the ‘rulers of the darkness of this world,’ of the ‘wicked spirits in high places,’ there are thousands found, who are ‘turned from dumb idols to serve the living and true God.’ What a harvest then might we have seen before now, if all who say they are ‘on the Lord’s side,’ had come, as in all reason they ought, ‘to the help of the Lord against the mighty!’ Yea, had they only not opposed the work of God, had they only refrained from his messengers, might not the trumpet of God have been heard long since in every corner of our land? and thousands of sinners in every county been brought to ‘fear God and honor the King?’” 44. Without any regard to this, your next assertion is, “That the Methodists are carrying on the work of Popery.” (Section xxi. p. 164, etc.)
Your First argument is, “They have a strain of Jesuitical sophistry, artifice, and craft, evasion, reserve, equivocation, and prevarication.” So you say. But you do not so much as aim at any proof.
Sir, Mr. W. does not say this. It is one that occasionally wrote to him. But if he had, what would you infer? that he is a Papist? Where is the consequence? Why, you say, “Was not this as good an argument for transubstantiation, as several produced by the Papists?” Yes, exactly as good as either their arguments or yours; that is, just good for nothing.
Your Third argument runs thus: “We may see in Mr. W.’s writings, that he was once a strict Churchman, but gradually put on a more catholic spirit, tending at length to Roman Catholic. He rejects any design to convert others from any communion; and consequently not from Popery.”
This is half true, (which is something uncommon with you,) and only half false. It is true, that, for thirty years last past, I have “gradually put on a more catholic spirit;” finding more and more tenderness for those who differed from me, either in opinions or modes of worship. But it is not true that I “reject any design of converting others from any communion.” I have, by the blessing of God, converted several from Popery, who are now alive and ready to testify it.
Your Fourth argument is, That in a Collection of Prayers, I cite the words of an ancient Liturgy, “For the faithful departed.” Sir, whenever I use those words in the Burial Service, I pray to the same effect: “That we, with all those who are departed in thy faith and fear, may have our perfect consummation and bliss, both in body and soul:” Yea, and whenever I say, “Thy kingdom come;” for I mean both the kingdom of grace and glory. In this kind of general prayer, therefore, “for the faithful departed,” I conceive myself to be clearly justified, both by the earliest antiquity, by the Church of England, and by the Lord’s Prayer; although the Papists have corrupted this scriptural practice into praying for those who die in their sins. 45. Your Fifth argument is, “That they use private confession, in which every one is to speak the state of his heart, with his several temptations and deliverances, and answer as many searching questions as may be. And what a scene,” say you, “is hereby disclosed! What a filthy jakes opened, when the most searching questions are answered without reserve!” Hold, Sir, unless you are answering for yourself: This undoubtedly you have a right to do. You can tell best what is in your own heart. And I cannot deny what you say: It may be a very “filthy jakes,” for aught I know. But pray do not measure others by yourself. The hearts of believers “are purified through faith.” When these open their hearts one to another, there is no such scene disclosed. Yet temptations to pride in various kinds, to self-will, to unbelief in many instances, they often feel in themselves, (whether they give any place to them or no,) and occasionally disclose to their brethren.
But this has no resemblance to Popish confession; of which you are very sensible. For you cite my own words: “The Popish confession is, the confession made by a single person to a Priest. Whereas, this is the confession of several persons conjointly, not to a Priest, but to each other.” You add, “Will Mr. W. abide by this, and freely answer a question?” I will. For I desire only, “by manifestation of the truth, to commend myself to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
Your question is, “After private confessions taken in their Bands, are not reports made to Mr. W.?” I answer, No; no reports are made to me of the particulars mentioned in private Bands. “Are no delinquents, male and female, brought before him separately, and confessed by him?” No; none at all. You ask, “How then do I know the outward and inward states of those under my care?” I answer, By examining them once a quarter, more or less, not separately, but ten or fifteen together.
Therefore, every unprejudiced person must see that there is no analogy between the Popish confession to a Priest, and our confessing our faults one to another, and praying one for another, as St. James directs.
Consequently, neither does this argument, though urged with all your art and force, amount to any shadow of proof, that “the Methodists are carrying on the work of Popery.” 46. Your Sixth argument, such as it is, stands thus: “Another tendency to Popery appears by the notion of a single drop of Christ’s blood being a sufficient atonement for the sins of the whole world. For, however pious this may appear, it is absolutely false and Papistical.” Sir, this argument is perfectly new, and entirely your own. It were great pity to disturb you in the enjoyment of it.
A Seventh argument you ground on those words in the “Plain Account of the People called Methodists:” “It is a point we chiefly insist upon, that orthodoxy or right opinions is a very slender part of religion, if any part of it at all.” “The plain consequence whereof is,” (so you affirm,) “that teaching and believing the fundamental errors of Popery, with the whole train of their abominations and idolatries, are of very little moment, if any.” Strain again, Sir; pull hard, or you will never be able to drag this conclusion out of these premises.
I assert, “
(1.) That in a truly righteous man, right opinions are a very slender part of religion. “
(2.) That in an irreligious, a profane man, they are not any part of religion at all; such a man not being one jot more religions because he is orthodox.” Sir, it does not follow from either of these propositions, that wrong opinions are not an hindrance to religion; and much less, that “teaching and believing the fundamental errors of Popery, with the whole train of their abominations and idolatries.” (practiced, I presume you mean, as well as taught and believed,) “are of very little moment, if any.”
I am so far from saying or thinking this, that, in my printed letter to a Priest of that communion, (did you never read it, or hear of it before?) are these express words: “I pity you much, having the same assurance, that Jesus is the Christ, and that no Romanist can expect to be saved, according to the terms of his covenant.” (Vol. I. p. 220.) Do you term this “an extenuation of their abominations; a reducing them to almost a mere nothing?” 47. You argue, Eighthly, thus: “The Methodist doctrine of impressions and assurances holds equally for Popish enthusiasts.” This needs no answer; I have already shown that the Methodist doctrine in these respects is both scriptural and rational.
Your Ninth argument is, “Their sudden conversions stand upon the same footing with the Popish.” You should say, “are a proof that they are promoting Popery.” I leave you to enjoy this argument also.
But the dreadful one you reserve for the last; namely, our “recommending Popish books. One is the Life of Mr. de Renty, of which Mr. Wesley has published an extract.” To prove your inimitable fairness here, you scrape up again all the trash wherein the weak writer of that Life abounds, and which I had pared off and thrown away. Sir, could you find nothing to your purpose in the extract itself? I fancy you might; for I have purposely left in two or three particulars, to show of what communion he was, which I did not think it right to conceal.
You go on: “Francis of Sales is another Papist, much commended by Mr. W.; and who, he doubts not, is in Abraham’s bosom. He is the Methodists’ bosom friend.”
I believe he is in Abraham’s bosom; but he is no bosom friend of the Methodists. I question whether one in five hundred of them has so much as heard his name. And as for me, neither do I commend him much, nor recommend him at all. His Life I never saw, nor any of his Works, but his “Introduction to a Holy Life.” This the late Dr. Nichols translated into English, published, and strongly recommended. Therefore, if this be a proof of promoting Popery, that censure falls, not on me, but him.
I have now considered all the arguments you have brought to prove that the Methodists are carrying on the work of Popery. And I am persuaded, every candid man, who rightly weighs what has been said with any degree of attention, will clearly see, not only that no one of those arguments is of any real force at all, but that you do not believe yourself; you do not believe the conclusion which you make as if you would prove: Only you keep close to your laudable resolution of throwing as much dirt as possible. 48. It remains only to gather up some of your fragments, as still further proofs of your integrity.
You graciously say, “I do not lay much stress upon the charge of some of the angry Moravians against Mr. W. and brother, for preaching Popery.”
Sir, if you had, you would only have hurt yourself. For,
(1.) The Moravians never, that I know of, brought this charge at all.
(2.) When Mr. C., and two other Predestinarians, (these were the persons,) affirmed they had heard both my brother and me preach Popery, they meant neither more nor less thereby than the doctrine of universal redemption. “Some connection between the doctrines of Methodists and Papists hath been shown through this whole Comparison.” Shown! But how? By the same art of wire-drawing and deciphering, which would prove an equal concession between the Methodists and Mahometans. “Jesuits have often mingled, and been the ringleaders, among our enthusiastic sectaries.” Sir, I am greatly obliged to you for your compliment, as well as for your parallel of Mr. Faithful Commin.
And pray, Sir, at what time do you think it was that I first mingled with those enthusiastic sectaries? when I came back from Germany, or when I returned from Georgia, or while I was at Lincoln College? Although the plot itself might be laid before, when I was at Christ Church, or at the Charterhouse school.
But “a Jesuit’s or enthusiast’s declaring against Popery is no test of their sincerity.” Most sure; nor is a nameless persons declaring against Methodism any proof that he is not a Jesuit. I remember well, when a well-dressed man, taking his stand not far from Moorfields, had gathered a large company, and was vehemently asserting, that “those rogues, the Methodists, were all Papists;” till a gentleman coming by, fixed his eye on him, and cried, “Stop that man! I know him personally; he is a Romish Priest.”
I know not that anything remains on this head which bears so much as the face of an argument. So that, of all the charges you have brought, (and truly you have not been sparing,) there is not one wherein your proof falls more miserably short than in this, that “the Methodists are advancing Popery.” 49. I have at length gone through your whole performance, weighed whatever you cite from my writings, and shown at large how far those passages are from proving all, or any part, of your charge. So that all you attempt to build on them, of the pride and vanity of the Methodists; of their shuffling and prevaricating; of their affectation of prophesying; laying claim to the miraculous favors of Heaven; unsteadiness of temper; unsteadiness in sentiment and practice; art and cunning; giving up inspiration and extraordinary calls; skepticism, infidelity, Atheism; uncharitableness to their opponents; contempt of order and authority; and fierce, rancorous quarrels with each other; of the tendency of Methodism to undermine morality and good works; and to carry on the good work of Popery: — All this fabric falls to the ground at once, unless you can find some better foundation to support it. (Sections iii. — vi.; ix., xi. — xv.; xviii. — xxi.) 50. These things being so, what must all unprejudiced men think of you and your whole performance? You have advanced a charge, not against one or two persons only, but indiscriminately against a whole body of people, of His Majesty’s subjects, Englishmen, Protestants, members, I suppose, of your own Church: a charge containing abundance of articles, and most of them of the highest and blackest nature. You have prosecuted this with unparalleled bitterness of spirit and acrimony of language; using sometimes the most coarse, rude, scurrilous terms, sometimes the keenest sarcasms you could devise. The point you have steadily pursued in thus prosecuting this charge, is, First, to expose the whole people to the hatred and scorn of all mankind; and, next, to stir up the civil powers against them. And when this charge comes to be fairly weighed, there is not a single article of it true! The passages you cite to make it good are one and all such as prove nothing less than the points in question; most of them such as you have palpably maimed, corrupted, and strained to a sense never thought of by the writer; many of them such as are flat against you, and overthrow the very point they are brought to support. What can they think, but that this is the most shocking violation of the Christian rule, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself;” the most open affront to all justice, and even common humanity; the most glaring insult upon the common sense and reason of mankind, which has lately appeared in the world?
If you say, “But I have proved the charge upon Mr. Whitefield;” admit you have, (which I do not allow,) Mr. Whitefield is not the Methodists; no, nor the societies under his care; they are not a third, perhaps not a tenth, part of the Methodists. What then can excuse your ascribing their faults, were they proved, to the whole body? You indict ten men. Suppose you prove the indictment upon one, will you therefore condemn the other nine? Nay, let every man bear his own burden, since every man must give an account of himself to God.
I had occasion once before to say to an opponent, “You know not to show mercy.” Yet that gentleman did regard truth and justice. But you regard neither mercy, justice, nor truth. To vilify, to blacken, is your one point. I pray God it may not be laid to your charge! May He show you mercy, though you show none!
I am, Sir, Your friend and well-wisher, JOHN WESLEY.