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adigitur, sensum genuinum, ut et obligationi Sacramenti mòdum ac mensuram, præstitui a mente non præstantis sed exigentis juramentum."That the true sense of the words of an oath, and the mode and extent of its obligation, are not to be determined by him who takes it, but by him who requires it. Therefore it is not I, but the Highpriest of God, before whom I contracted that engagement, who is to judge of the nature and extent of it.
“ Accordingly, the post after I received yours, I referred it entirely to him, proposing this single question to him, Whether I had, at my ordination, engaged myself to undertake the cure of a parish or no ? His answer runs in these words : It doth not seem to me, that at your ordination you engaged yourself to undertake the cure of any parish, provided you can, as a clergyman, better serve God and his church in your present or some other station.'—Now that I can, as a clergyman, better serve God and his Church in my present station, I have all reasonable evidence.”
The late Dr. Priestley, upon a view of Mr. John Wesley's refusal to apply for the living of Epworth, and of his invincible resolution in every thing which appeared to him to concern religion, has declared, “he wanted only rational principles of religion, to be one of the first of human characters.” Had he had only what the Doctor calls rational principles of religion, he might have gone the usual rounds of parochial duty at Epworth, and, it may be, might have succeeded to what is termed a better living. But, however he might in that case have been admired as a scholar and a man, he certainly never would have been ranked with the Reformers or Apostles ; nor would the present, not to say “future generations, rise up," as the Doctor says they will," and call him blessed."
MR. WESLEY'S MISSION TO AMERICA, IN WHICH HE WAS ACCOMPANIED
BY HIS BROTHER CHARLES.
In the midst of the debate described in the last Chapter, Mr. Wesley wrote to his mother, without taking the least notice of it; nor do I find that she wrote to him on that subject. She had approved of her eldest 'son's refusal to apply for the living, as we shall see hereafter, and could not therefore join in pressing it on her second son.
His letter is on the subject of Christian Liberty, concerning which he wished to have his mother's opinion. He says, “ I have had a great deal of conversation lately on the subject of Christian Liberty, and should be glad of your thoughts, as to the several notions of it which good men entertain. I perceive different persons take it in at least six different senses.-1. For liberty from wilful sin in opposition to the bondage of natural corruption.—2. For liberty as to rites and points of discipline. So Mr. Whiston says, “ Though the stations were instituted by the Apostles, yet the liberty of the Christian law dispenses with them on extraordinary occasions.-3. For liberty from denying ourselves in little things; for trifles,
it is commonly thought, we may indulge in safely, because Christ has made us free. This notion, I a little doubt, is not sound.-4. For liberty from fear, or a filial freedom from fear on account of his past sins ; for he believes in Christ, and hope frees him from fear of losing his present labour, or of being a castaway hereafter.-5. Christian Liberty is taken by some, for a freedom from restraint, as to sleep or food. So they would say, your drinking but one glass of wine, or my rising at a fixed hour, was contrary to Christian Liberty.—Lastly, it is taken for freedom from rules : If by this be meant, making our rules yield to extraordinary occasions, well; if the having no rules at all, this liberty is as yet too high for me ; I cannot attain unto it.”
Mr. Wesley had now separated himself from all the world, and of course was intent on the wisdom from above." His speculations are remarkable for brevity, order, and clearness,-a consequence of that “single eye” which he possessed. But the promise made to all such inquirers, was not yet fulfilled in the evangelical sense. He did not yet feel his need of it, but was making the best use of the old stock. Christian Liberty has been much treated of, and often
by those who were ignorant of its whole nature. In the last century, a Jesuit wrote largely upon it, professing to solve doubts, and give relief to afflicted consciences. The whole of his discourse may be judged of by one particular : If any person doubted whether
any action amounted to mortal sin, and his Confessor could not give him satisfaction, he was to consult four Doctors of Divinity. If they should agree, that it did not amount thereto, he might dismiss all fear! A witty writer replied, and entitled his
answer, “ The Art of Chicanery with respect to God ;"—that is, the Art of outwitting God! Mr. Wesley was happily free from those depths of Satan : but he was not yet competent to discuss the subject of Christian Liberty: For 1. He was not then justified, --consequently not free from the guilt of sin. He could not therefore judge of the “ glorious liberty of the children of God,” which he ably stated
afterwards in several of his sermons.-2. He had no clear conception of that“ unction of the Holy One," whereby we are to “know all things” necessary for our walk with God.-"Walk in the Spirit,”—and " Walk in the light, as He is in the light,” were precepts as yet too high for him. He had not passed the “strait gate," and could scarcely estimate the privileges of the “ narrow way.” But the day of liberty drew near,— liberty from the guilt, the power, and the nature of sin ; liberty to do the whole will of Him that called him, without the shackles of unnecessary scruples, or unprofitable reasonings.
Mr. Wesley's father died in April, 1735, and the living of Epworth was given away in May; so that he now considered himself as settled at Oxford, without any risk of being farther molested in his quiet retreat. But a new scene of action was soon proposed to him, of which he had not before the least conception. The trustees of the new colony of Georgia were greatly in want of proper persons to send thither, to preach the Gospel, not only to the colony, but to the Indians. They fixed their eyes upon Mr. John Wesley and some of his friends, as the most proper persons, on account of the regularity of their behaviour, their abstemious
way of living, and their readiness to endure hardships. On the 28th of August, being in London, he met with his friend Dr. Burton, for whom he had a great esteem ; and the next day was introduced to
Mr. Oglethorpe, where the matter was proposed to him, and strongly urged upon him by such arguments as they thought most likely to dispose his mind to accept of the proposal. It does not appear, that Mr. Wesley gave them any positive answer. He thought it best to take the opinion of his friends. Accordingly he wrote to his brother Samuel, and visited Mr. Law, and in three or four days, set out for Manchester, to consult Mr. Clayton, Mr. Byrom, and several others whose judgment he respected. From thence he went to Epworth, and laid the matter before his mother. Her answer, as he related it to me, was worthy of the mother and the son: “ Had I twenty sons, I should rejoice that they were all so employed, though I should never see them more.” His eldest sister also consented to his acceptance of the proposal. His brother Samuel did the same. Mr. Wesley still hesitated; and on the 8th of September, Dr. Burton wrote to him, pressing him to a compliance. His letter is directed to Manchester, and franked by Mr. Oglethorpe.
September 8, 1735. C. C. C. Ozón. “Dear Sir, I had it in commission to wait upon you at Oxford, whither by this time I imagined you might be arrived. Your short conference with Mr. Oglethorpe has raised the hopes of many good persons, that you and yours would join in an undertaking, which cannot be better executed than by such instruments. I have thought again of the matter, and upon the result of the whole, cannot help again recommending the undertaking to your choice : and the more so, since in our inquiries, there appears such an unfitness in the generality of people. That state of ease, luxury, levity, and inadvertency, observable in most of the plausible and popular Doctors, are disqualifications in a Christian teacher, and would lead us to look for a different set of people. The more men are inured to contempt of ornaments and conveniences of life, to serious thoughts and bodily austerities, the fitter they are for a state which more properly represents our Christian pilgrimage. And if, upon consideration of the matter, you think yourselves (as you must do, at least amidst such a scarcity of proper persons) the fit instruments for so good a work, you will be ready to embrace this opportunity of doing good ; which is not in vain offered to you. Be pleased to write a line signifying your thoughts to me, or Mr. Oglethorpe ; and if by advice I can be assisting to you, you may command my best, best services.
“ Yours affectionately,
" JOHN BURTON. “P. S. Mr. Horn telling me, he heard you were at Manchester, I presume you are with Mr. Clayton, deliberating about this affair."
Mr. Wesley now consented to go to Georgia, and Dr. Burton wrote to him again on the 18th of the same month, as follows : “It was with no small pleasure, that I heard your resolution on the point under consideration. I am persuaded, that an opportunity is offered of doing much good in an affair, for the conducting of which we can find but few
proper instruments. Your undertaking adds greater credit to our proceedings; and the propagation of religion will be the distinguishing honour of our colony. This has ever in like cases, been the desideratum : a defect seemingly lamented, but scarce ever remedied. With greater satisfaction, therefore, we enjoy your readiness to undertake the work. When
it is known that good men are thus employed, the pious and charitable will be the more encouraged to promote the work. You have too much steadiness of mind, to be disturbed by the light scoffs of the idle and profane. Let me put a matter to be considered by your brother Charles. Would it not be more advisable that he were in Orders
On the 28th of the same month, a few days before Mr. Oglethorpe intended to sail, Dr. Burton wrote again to Mr. Wesley, giving him advice on several points respecting his future situation. Among other things he observes,—“ Under the influence of Mr. Oglethorpe, giving weight to your endeavours, much may be effected under the present circumstances. The apostolical manner of preaching from house to house, will, through God's grace, be effectual to turn many to righteousness. The people are babes in the progress of their Christian life, to be fed with milk instead of strong meat ; and the wise householder will bring, out of his stores, food proportioned to the necessities of his family. The circumstances of your present Christian pilgrimage will'furnish the most affecting subjects of discourse ; and what arises pro re natâ, will have greater influence than a laboured discourse on a subject in which men think themselves not so immediately concerned. With regard to your behaviour and manner of address, that must be determined according to the different circumstances of persons,'&c. But you will always in the use of means, consider the great end, and therefore your applications will of course vary. You will keep in view the pattern of that Gospel preacher St. Paul, who became "all things to all men, that he might gain some. Here is a nice trial of Christian prudence : Accordingly, in every case you would distinguish between what is essential, and what is merely circumstantial to Christianity ; between what is indispensible, and what is variable ; between what is of Divine and what is of human authority. I mention this, because men are apt to deceive themselves in such cases, and we see the traditions and ordinances of men frequently insisted on with more rigour than the commandments of God, to which they are subordinate. Singularities of less importance are often espoused with more zeal, than the weighty matters of God's law. As in all points we love ourselves, so especially in our hypotheses. Where a man has, as it were, a property in a notion, he is most industrious to improve it, and that in proportion to the labour of thought he has bestowed upon it; and as its value rises in imagination, we are in proportion more unwilling to give it up, and dwell upon it more pertinaciously, than upon considerations of general necessity and use. This is a flattering mistake, against which we should guard ourselves. I hope to see you at Gravesend, if possible. I write in haste what occurs to my thoughts :- disce, docendus adhuc, quæ censet amiculas.* May God prosper your endeavours for the propagation of his Gospel !"
Mr. Charles Wesley at this time resided at Oxford, and when his brother consented to Dr. Burton's proposal, he also declared his willingness to accompany him in this new and untried path, which promised nothing except what they ardently desired, a more complete deliverance from the world. This design, respecting Charles, his brother Samuel vehemently opposed, but in vain. Mr. Charles engaged himself as secretary to Mr. Oglethorpe, and also as secretary for Indian affairs. A little before they left England, Dr. Burton suggested, as the reader will have
*“Yet hear what thy unskilful friend can say." CREECH,
seen, that it might be well if Mr. Charles Wesley were also ordained before he left this country. Mr. John Wesley overruled his brother's inclination in this thing also, and he was ordained Deacon by Dr. Potter, Bishop of Oxford ; and the Sunday following, Priest by Dr. Gibson, Bishop of London.*
Mr. Wesley now prepared for his voyage to America. While he was abroad, Mr. Gambold,f who had been intimately acquainted with him at Oxford, wrote some account of his proceedings there, and endeavoured to delineate his character. He sent it to one of Mr. Wesley's relations ; and I shall conclude this chapter with the following abstract from it. It properly closes the account of the academical career of the two brothers.
6 About the middle of March, 1730, I became acquainted with Mr. Charles Wesley, of Christ Church. I had been for two years before in deep melancholy ; --s0 it pleased God to disappoint and break a proud spirit, and to embitter the world to me as I was inclining to relish its vanities. During this time, I had no friend to whom I could open my mind ; no man did care for my soul, or none at least understood her paths. The learned endeavoured to give me right notions, and the friendly to divert me. One day an old acquaintance entertained me with some reflections on the whimsical Mr. Charles Wesley; his preciseness, and pious extravagancies. Upon hearing this, I suspected he might be a good Christian. I therefore went to his room, and without ceremony desired the benefit of his conversation. I had so large a share of it afterwards, that hardly a day passed, while I was at College, but we were together once, if not oftener.
“ After some time he introduced me to his brother John, of Lincoln College : ? For he is somewhat older,' said he, “than I am, and can resolve your
doubts better.' I never observed any person have a more real deference for another, than he had for his brother; which is the more remarkable, because such near relations, being equals by birth, and conscious to each other of all the little familiar passages of their lives, commonly stand too close to see the ground there may be for such submission. Indeed he followed his brother entirely ; could I describe one of them I should describe both. I shall therefore say no more of Charles, but that he was a man formed for friendship ; who by his cheerfulness and vivacity would refresh his friend's heart : With attentive consideration, he would enter into, and settle all his concerns as far as he was able: He would do any thing for him, great or small, and, by a habit of mutual openness and freedom, would leave no room for misunderstanding.
“ The Wesleys were already talked of for some religious practices, which were first occasioned by Mr. Morgan of Christ Church. He was a young man of an excellent disposition. He took all opportunities to make his companions in love with a good life ; to create in them a reverence for the public worship ; to tell them of their faults with a sweetness and simplicity that disarmed the worst tempers. He delighted much in works of charity; he kept several children at school ; and, when he found beggars in the street, would bring them into his * Mr. C. Wesley's letter to Dr. Chandler.
† After some years, Mr. Gambold left the Church of England, joined the Moravians, merely, as he had stated, for the benefit of retirement and Christian friendship, and became one of their bishops.