Page images

made no pretensions whatever to religious strictness: but he had known her from a child, and had taken a particular liking to her lively manner, and very pleasing appearance. John Wesley's impressible nature inclined him to conceive such attachments, and the childlike innocence of his heart disposed him to express them with the most amiable simplicity. The gaiety of his nature was so undiminished in its substance, while it was divinely disciplined in its movements, that to the latest hour of his life there was nothing innocently pleasant with which he was not pleased, and nothing naturally lovely which in its due proportion he was not ready to love. To interesting females, especially, this affection continually shewed itself: of its nature and kind, what he says of my sister gives a striking manifestation. The closest view of another world increases, instead of abating its warmth, and raises it into a holy solicitude which I am happy to think has not been disappointed. She survived Mr. Wesley about ten years, but shewed nothing correspondent to his wish until within a month or two of her death. Then, without any apparent cause, except the grace of God concurring with her rapid decline, all her dispositions were so altered, as to make the last weeks of her life a continued exercise of joyful hope and pious resignation.

Thus, my dear madam, as you were pleased with my more general remarks on John Wesley's character, I have wished, as far as possible, to make you partake in my closer observation of him and nearer acquaintance with him. I only hope, that

; and

the particulars I have brought before you may prove in some degree interesting, or, at least, not tiresome.

I will now only add, that Mr. and Mrs. have been here for a fortnight. They came from South Wales to Ireland, to have once more the pleasure of seeing Mr. and Mrs. seldom, in this world, has such an exercise of kindness been requited with greater mutual satisfaction and pleasure; in which, I myself have most cordially participated. They are an amiable and estimable pair; and sincerely as I was interested for them, when I had the pleasure of being with them in this house before, my value and regard for them have got a strength and warmth by this renewal of intercourse, which it is peculiarly delightful to derive from a second meeting, after a long interval, in so changeful a state of things. The pleasure felt in such a case seems greatly akin to the immutable satisfactions of a future life.

I need not take off my pen to ask your friends of this house, whether I shall express (what in truth I could not express) their deep love to you, and never-ceasing solicitude for your comfort and happiness. Their feelings could not be overstated; and I trust you will believe that they are emulated, if not equalled, by the affection and gratitude of, my dear madam,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

You will not wonder that I value Mr. Wesley infinitely more for the lasting influence his character and views are yet likely to have upon minds capable of catching the beams of light he has emitted, than as the originator of a religious community, however respectable in itself, or beneficial to its members. It is my opinion (however, possibly, erroneous), that the Methodist community, in spite of every effort to prevent it, will undergo the same changes which all similar bodies have, hitherto, passed through, and which Mrs. Barbauld has admirably described in her

Essay on the Devotional Taste.” Its beneficial influences on thousands of its members, especially while it was most completely in its perihelion, I have no disposition to depreciate. But, Puritans, Pietists, Jansenists, German Lutherans, and Swiss Calvinists, have all had their aphelion. And, therefore, were a sect or a society the only memorial of John Wesley's character and services, his name might, at length, seem to hold but a common place in the annals of the world.

But, to me, Mr. Wesley appears to have, on

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

far other accounts, an immense and imperishable value. On an attentive retrospect of the Christian Church, I am impressed with a persuasion, that whatever may have been the attainments of distinguished individuals, the science of experimental Christianity (if I may venture to use such a term) was meant to be progressively evolved, and that the depths of Holy Scripture were to be laid open in such proportion and succession as should best suit the growing capability of minds, and the eventual accomplishment of the divine scheme of beneficence. I think, too, it has been very generally, hitherto, the plan of Providence to employ a simultaneous plurality (or, rather, in most instances, a duality) of agencies. And, while I should conceive this providential expedient to be itself an evidence of existing immaturity, I should be inclined to infer comparative advancement of the great scheme, and somewhat of approach to its completion, when I should see, in any one agency (though it were, itself, only a member of a remarkable duality of agencies) a union of effective influences, hitherto, in a very great measure at least, mysteriously disunited.

What I mean by duality of agencies, appears to me to be exemplified in the two early distinctions of the Catholic Church, - the Greek and the Latin. And I think that their different providential functions became severally complete in the immortal labours of Chrysostom and Augustin. In the latter, the re-animating energies of the Gospel, their deep necessity and their infallible effiçacy, are profoundly and wisely demonstrated :

while, in the former, the heights of Christian virtue are pointed to, not only as what ought to be aimed at, but as what may be actually reached and enjoyed, when the immortal mind of man has obtained new life and new wings from the omnipotent Spirit of God. On the other hand, Chrysostom seems to have had far less skill in the remedial operation of Christianity than Augustin ; while the latter had so contemplated the moral disease of the human mind, as greatly to have lost sight of its restored capability,

The concurrent dualities which have so often occurred in later times, I must not advert to. But all of them may have somewhat resembled that first remarkable duality which I have sufficiently pointed out. In fact, its virtual continuance has been such, that Mr. Wesley represents it as generally obseryable in the beginning of his sermon on Isaiah, v. 4; 1st head, 5th section.

It is in the view, then, of this long-continued and generally prevalent disjunction of great Christian principles, that I make my chief estimate of Mr. Wesley's value. Though he was himself a member of a very signal duality, yet it has ever seemed to me that he has done more to unite the vital principles of the two schools — that of Augustin and that of Chrysostom-than ever was done before. His own persuasion of this fact is strongly expressed in the passage just referred to. And, however I may dissent from some of the terms which he there uses, I am convinced that his claim to providential distinction, in that respect, has a solid basis of truth.

« PreviousContinue »