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I can scarce think so meanly of you, as that you would be discouraged with the crackling of thorns under a pot.' . Be not high-minded, but fear. Preserve an equal temper of mind under whatever treatment you meet with from a not very just or well-natured world. Bear no more sail than is necessary, but steer steady. The less
yourselves for these unfashionable duties, (as there is no such thing as works of supererogation,) the more all good and wise men will value you, if they see your actions are of a-piece; or, which is infinitely more, He by whom actions and intentions are weighed, will both accept, esteem, and reward you.”
Upon this encouragement we still continued to meet together as usual ; and to confirm one another, as well as we could, in our resolutions, to communicate as often as we had opportunity ; (which is here once a week ;) and do what service we could to our acquaintance, the prisoners, and two or three poor families in the town. But the outcry daily increasing, that we might show what ground there was for it, we proposed to our friends, or opponents, as we had opportunity, these or the like questions
I. Whether it does not concern all men of all conditions to imitate Him, as much as they can, “who went about doing good ?”
Whether all Christians are not concerned in that command, “ While we have time let us do good to all men ?"
Whether we shall not be more happy hereafter, the more good we do now?
Whether we can be happy at all hereafter, unless we have, according to our power, “ fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited those that are sick, and in prison;" and made all these actions subservient to a higher purpose, even the saving of souls from death ?
Whether it be not our bounden duty always to remember, that He did more for us than we can do for him, who assures us, “ Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me?"
II. Whether, upon these considerations, we may not try to do good to our acquaintance? Particularly, whether we may not try to con vince them of the necessity of being Christians ?
Whether of the consequent necessity of being scholars ?
Whether of the necessity of method and industry, in order to either learning or virtue?
Whether we may not try to persuade them to confirm and increase their industry, by communicating as often as they can ?
Whether we may not mention to them the authors whom we con ceive to have wrote the best on those subjects ?
Whether we may not assist them, as we are able, from time to time, to form resolutions upon what they read in those authors, and to execute them with steadiness and perseverance ?
III. Whether, upon the considerations above mentioned, we may not try to do good to those that are hungry, naked, or sick ? ticular, whether, if we know any necessitous family, we may not give them a little food, clothes, or physic, as they want ?
Whether we may not give them, if they can read, a Bible, Common-Prayer Book, or Whole Duty of Man.
Whether we may not, now and then, inquire how they have used them; explain what they do not understand, and enforce what they do?
Whether we may not enforce upon them, more especially, the necessity of private prayer, and of frequenting the church and sacrament ?
Whether we may not contribute, what little we are able, toward having their children clothed and taught to read ?
Whether we may not take care that they be taught their catechism, and short prayers for morning and evening?
IV. Lastly, Whether, upon the considerations above mentioned, we may not try to do good to those that are in prison? In particular, Whether we may not release such well-disposed persons as remain in prison for small sums?
Whether we may not lend smaller sums to those that are of any trade, that they may procure themselves tools and materials to work with ?
Whether we may not give to them who appear to want it most, a little money, or clothes, or physic?
Whether we may not supply as many as are serious enough to read, with a Bible, and Whole Duty of Man ?
Whether we may not, as we have opportunity, explain and enforce these upon them, especially with respect to public and private prayer and the blessed sacrament?
I do not remember that we met with any person who answered any of these questions in the negative; or who even doubted, whether it were not lawful to apply to this use that time and money which we should else have spent in other diversions. But several we met with who increased our little stock of money for the prisoners and the poor, by subscribing something quarterly to it; so that the more persons we proposed our designs to, the more we were confirmed in the belief of their innocency, and the more determined to pursue them, in spite of the ridicule, which increased fast upon us during the winter. However, in spring I thought it could not be improper to desire further instructions from those who were wiser and better than ourselves; and, accordingly, (on May 18, 1731,) I wrote a particular account of all our proceedings to a clergyman of known wisdom and integrity. After having informed him of all the branches of our design, as clearly and simply as I could, I next acquainted him with the success it had met with, in the following words :-“ Almost as soon as we had made our first attempts this way, some of the men of wit in Christ Church entered the lists against us; and, between mirth and anger, made a pretty many reflections upon the Sacramentarians, as they were pleased to call us. Soon after, their allies at Merton changed our title, and did us the honour of styling us, The Holy Club. But most of them being persons of well-known characters, they had not the good fortune to gain any proselytes from the sacrament, till a gentleman, eminent for learning, and well esteemed for piety, joining them, told his nephew, that if he dared to go to the weekly communion any longer, he would immediately turn him out of doors. That argument, indeed, had no success : the young gentleman communicated next week. Upon which his uncle, having again tried to convince him that he was in the wrong way, by shaking him by the throat to no purpose, changed his method, and by mildness prevailed upon him to absent from it the Sun
day following; as he has done five Sundays in six ever since. This much delighted our gay opponents, who increased their number apace ; especially when, shortly after, one of the seniors of the college having been with the Doctor, upon his return from him sent for two young gentlemen severally, who had communicated weekly for some time, and was so successful in his exhortations, that for the future they promised to do it only three times a year.
About this time there was a meeting (as one who was present at it informed your son) of several of the officers and seniors of the college, wherein it was consulted what would be the speediest way to stop the progress of enthusiasm in it. The result we know not, only it was soon publicly reported, that Dr. and the censors were going to blow up The Godly Club. This was now our common title; though we were sometimes dignified with that of The Enthusiasts, or The Reforming Club."
Part of the answer I received was as follows :-
hand. I waived my answer till I had an opportunity of consulting your father, who, upon all accounts, is a more proper judge of the affair than I am. But I could never find a fit occasion for it. As to my own sense of the matter, I confess, I cannot but heartily approve of that serious and religious turn of mind that prompts you and your associates to those pious and charitable offices; and can have no notion of that man's religion, or concern for the honour of the University, that opposes you, as far as your design respects the colleges. I should be loath to send a son of mine to any seminary, where his conversing with virtuous young men, whose professed design of meeting together at proper times was to assist each other in forming good resolutions, and encouraging one another to execute them with constancy and steadiness, was inconsistent with any received maxims or rules of life among the members. As to the other branch of your design, as the town is divided into parishes, each of which has its proper incumbent, and as there is probably an ecclesiastic who has the spiritual charge of the prisoners, prudence may direct you to consult them: for though I dare not say you would be too officious, should you of your own mere motion seek out the persons that want your instructions and charitable contributions ; yet, should you have the concurrence of their proper pastor, your good offices would be more regular, and less liable to censure."
Your son was now at Holt: however, we continued to meet at our usual times, though our little affairs went on but heavily without him. But at our return from Lincolnshire, in September last, we had the pleasure of seeing him again ; when, though he could not be so active with us as formerly, yet we were exceeding glad to spend what time we could in talking and reading with him. It was a little before this time my brother and I were at London, when going into a bookseller's shop, (Mr. Rivington's in St. Paul's Church-yard,) after some other conversation, he asked us whether we lived in town; and upon our answering, “ No; at Oxford :"_" Then, gentlemen,” said he, “ let me earnestly recommend to your acquaintance a friend I have there, Mr. avton, of Brazennose." Of this, having small leisure for contracting
cquaintance, we took no notice for the present. But in the spring following, (April 20,) Mr. Clayton meeting me in the street, and giving Mr. Rivington's service, I desired his company to my room, and then commenced our acquaintance. At the first opportunity I acquainted him with our whole design, which he immediately and heartily closed with: and not long after, Mr. M- having then left Oxford, we fixed two evenings in a week to meet on, partly to talk upon that subject, and partly to read something in practical divinity.
The two points whereunto, by the blessing of God and your son's help, we had before attained, we endeavoured to hold fast: I mean, the doing what good we can; and, in order thereto, communicating as often as we have opportunity. To these, by the advice of Mr. Clayton, we have added a third,
the observing the fasts of the Church ; the general neglect of which we can by no means apprehend to be a lawful excuse for neglecting them. And in the resolution to adhere to these and all things else which we are convinced God requires at our hands, we truse we shall persevere till he calls us to give an account of our stewardship. As for the names of Methodists, Supererogation-men, and so on, with which some of our neighbours are pleased to compliment us, we do not conceive ourselves to be under any obligation to regard them, much less to take them for arguments. “To the law and to the testimony” we appeal, whereby we ought to be judged. If by these it can be proved we are in an error, we will immediately and gladly retract it: if not, we “have not so learned Christ,” as to renounce any part of his service, though men should “say all manner of evil against us,” with more judgment and as little truth as hitherto. We do, indeed, use all the lawful means we know, to prevent “ the good which is in us” from being “evil spoken of;" but if the neglect of known duties be the one condition of securing our reputation, why fare it well ;-we know whom we have believed, and what we thus lay out He will pay us again. Your son already stands before the judgment seat of Him who judges righteous judgment; at the brightness of whose presence the clouds remove : His eyes are open, and he sees clearly whether it was “blind zeal, and a thorough mistake of true religion, that hurried him on in the error of his way;" or whether he acted like a faithful and wise servant, who, from a just sense that his time was short, made haste to finish his work before his Lord's coming, that “when laid in the balance” he might not “ be found wanting.”
I have now largely and plainly laid before you the real ground of all the strange outcry you have heard ; and am not without hope that by this fairer representation of it than you probably ever received before, both you and the clergyman you formerly mentioned may have a more favourable opinion of a good cause, though under an ill name.
you have or no, I shall ever acknowledge my best services to be due to yourself and your family, both for the generous assistance you have given my father, and for the invaluable advantages your son has (under God) bestowed on,
and most obedient seryant.
ON THE DEATH OF
MR, MORGAN, OF CHRIST CHURCH.
BY THE REV. MR. SAMUEL WESLEY.
We fools counted his life madness,
IF aught beneath them happy souls attend, Let Morgan hear the triumph of a friend, And hear well pleased. Let libertines so gay With careless indolence despise the lay; Let critic wits, and fools for laughter born, Their verdict pass with supercilious scorn; Let jovial crowds, by wine their senses drown'd, Stammer out censure in their frantic round; Let yawning sluggards faint dislike display, Who, while they trust to-morrow, lose to-day ;Let such as these the sacred strains condemn; For 'tis true glory to be hiss'd by them.
Wise in his prime, he waited not for noon; Convinced, that mortal never lived too soon. As if foreboding then his little stay, He made his morning bear the heat of day. Fix'd, while unfading glory he pursues, No ill to hazard, and no good to lose : No fair occasion glides unheeded by ; Snatching the golden moments as they fly, He by few fleeting hours ensures eternity. Friendship’s warm beams his artless breast inspire, And tend'rest reverence for a much-loved sire. He dared for heaven this flattering world forego, Ardent to teach, as diligent to know; Unwarp'd by sensual views, or vulgar aims, By idle riches, or by idler names ; Fearful of sin in every close disguise ; Unmoved by threatening or by glozing lies. Seldom indeed the wicked came so far, Forced by his piety to defensive war; Whose zeal for other men's salvation shown, Beyond the reach of hell secured his own. Gladd’ning the poor, where'er his steps he turn'd; Where pined the orphan, or the widow mourn'd; Where prisoners sigh'd beneath guilt's horrid stain The worst confinement and the heaviest chain; Where death's sad shade the uninstructed sight Veild with thick darkness in the land of light.