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* We answer, (on the Scripture hypothesis) It is the gift of God.' No man is able to work it in himself. It is a work of Omnipotence. It requires no less power thus to quicken a dead soul, than to raise a body that lies in the


It is a new creation, and none can create a soul anew but He who at first created the heavens and the earth.

“May not your own experience teach you this ? Can you give yourself this faith ? Is it now in your power to see, or hear, or taste, or feel God? Have you already, or can you raise in yourself any perception of God, or of an invisible world ? I suppose you do not deny that there is an invisible world : you will not charge it in poor old Hesiod, to Christian prejudice of education, when he says, in those well-known words,

Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth

Unseen, whether we wake, or if we sleep. Now is there any power in your soul, whereby you discern either these, or Him that created them? Or can all your wisdom and strength open an intercourse between yourself and the world of spirits ? Is it in your power to burst the veil that is on your heart, and let in the light of eternity? You know it is not. You not only do not, but cannot (by your own strength,) thus believe. The more you labour so to do, the more you will be convinced • it is the gift of God.'

“ It is the gift of God, which he bestows not on those who are worthy of his favour, not on such who are previously holy, and so fit to be crowned with all the blessings of his goodness: But on the ungodly and unholy; on those who till that hour were fit only for everlasting destruction ; those in whom was no good thing, and whose only plea was God be merciful to me a sinner.' No merit, no goodness in man precedes the forgiving love of God. His pardoning mercy supposes nothing in us, but a sense of mere sin and misery ; and to all who see, and feel, and own their wants, and their utter inability to remove them, God freely gives Faith, for the sake of Him in whom he is always well pleased.

“ We grant nothing is more unreasonable, than to imagine that such mighty effects as these can be wrought by that poor, empty, insignificant thing, which the world calls FAITH, and you among them. But supposing there be such a faith on the earth, as that which the Apostle speaks of, such an intercourse between God and the soul, what is too hard for such a faith? You yourselves may conceive, that all things are possible to him that thus believeth :' To him that thus walks with God, that is now a citizen of heaven, an inhabitant of eternity. If therefore

you tend with us, you must change the ground of your


You must flatly deny, there is any faith upon earth ; but perhaps this you might think too large a step. You cannot do this without a secret condemnation in your own breast. O that you would at length cry to God for that heavenly gift! whereby alone this truly reasonable religion, this beneficent love of God and man can be planted in your heart.'

It could not be expected, that a minister of Christ thus impressed, and who had known what it was to pass from “the death of sin to a life of righteousness,” would ultimately bury himself in the recesses of a College, or be satisfied with the mere rounds of parochial duty. Beholding the world lying in the wicked one, and knowing that he possessed, by the free



mercy of God, a medicine for its every wound, he could not refrain from inviting all men to taste its healing power.

« Comprehending now, with all saints, the height and depth, the length and

will con

breadth, of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge," he would be constrained to proclaim that mercy which he felt to the perishing sons of men. Indeed, no man who knows what true religion is, but must see, if there be any truth in the doctrine of providential interposition, that such a man was designed by the Head of the Church to fill a larger sphere than the parish of Epworth, or any similar situation.

To judge of Mr. Wesley's conduct, we must consider, not the state of the Church of England, or of the nation, in the present day, in which the meliorating effects of Methodism are so manifest; and of which the zealous activity of the Evangelical Clergy, (who, with all their attention to order, cannot wholly escape the opprobrium which Mr. Wesley submitted to bear,) is a full proof; but rather the awful state of the Church and the nation, when his public life commenced, of which he has himself given a fearful description in his “ Appeals to Men of Reason and Religion.” But Mr. Southey is here an unexceptionable witness, and his statement renders it unnecessary to go to other authorities. He does not, indeed, feel like the man of God; but it is plain the humiliating picture has affected even him, while he traces, in his ninth chapter, the decay of piety in the church, especially from the time of the Restoration. He quotes the excellent Archbishop Leighton, who described the church as a fair carcass without a spirit : In doctrine, in worship, and in the main part of its government, he thought it the best constituted of any national church in the world, but one of the most corrupt in its administration. Bishop Burnet confirms this testimony, and declares that “the Clergy in his time had less authority, and were under more contempt, than those of any church in Europe ; for they were much more remiss in their labours, and the least severe in their lives." We have this awful portrait heightened by a reference also to the importation of “ a fashion for the speculative impiety of France,"--of" a shallow philosophy of home growth,”—of “the schools of dissent becoming schools of unbelief," of the neglect of religious education among the higher classes,-of the greater part of the nation being " totally uneducated,”-of their being 66 Christians but in name, and, for the most part, in a state of heathen, or worse than heathen, ignorance.” This was the state in which the two Wesleys and their coadjutors found the church and the nation. The great evil from which all the rest flowed, was the almost total extinction of the doctrines of the Reformation in the pulpit, and in the opinions both of the Clergy and Laity; so that when they were preached by those men of God, not only on the authority of the Scriptures, but on that of the formularies of the church itself, they were regarded as absurd and dangerous novelties. The clergy were generally grossly ignorant of theology, though there

were some splendid exceptions. Many of the clergy, who had made Divinity their study,

. were notoriously inclined to heterodoxy, respecting the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. There was something of Ultra-Calvinism, and much of frigid unevangelical Arminianism. Natural religion, so called, was the great subject of study, (when theology was studied at all,) and it was even made the test and standard of revealed truth. The doctrine of the opus operatum of the Papists as to sacraments, (lately revived, and too much sanctioned in the church,) was the faith of the divines of the older school ;. and a refined system of ethics, uncon

. nected with Christian motives, and disjointed from the vital principles




of religion in the heart, the favourite theory of the modern. The great body of the clergy neither knew nor cared about systems of any kind ; and in a vast number of instances, they were immoral,-often grossly so. The populace in the large towns were ignorant and profligate ; the inhabitants of villages added, to ignorance and profligacy, brutish and barbarous manners. A more striking instance of the rapid decay of religious light and influence in a country, scarcely occurs than in ours, from the Restoration till the rise of Methodism. It affected not only the church, but the dissenting sects in no ordinary degree. The Presbyterians had commenced their downward course through Arianism to Socinianism; and those who still held the doctrines of Calvin, had, in

; too many instances, fallen into the fatal errors of Antinomianism. There were exceptions, but this was the general state of religion and morals in the country when the Messrs. Wesley, Whitefield, and a few kindred spirits, went forth to sacrifice ease, reputation, and even life itself, if necessary, to produce a reformation.

We have seen how richly furnished the minds of those men were for the work which lay before them. They had the usual advantages of learning : but this was not their chief qualification. They had proved religion till it had become their happiness. They were chosen from the world, and possessed of a righteousness truly divine. They saw from the holy Scriptures, that this happiness was purchased for all men, and promised to all who should believe for it. But how should they believe for that of which they did not hear ? A necessity was thus laid upon

them to preach it to all men : and they awfully felt, that their own perseverance depended on their declaring it to others. Every parish minister, thus called, must act in his parish as the Messrs. Wesley now began to act in every part of the British empire, or he cannot keep the life of God. They still cleaved to the Church which they truly loved ; but being shut out generally from her pulpits, they had no alternative but to become, what has been called, irregular. Their hearts bowed to the opprobrium. Here then began

Their race of glory and their race of shame. And here we see the man, who, while he was a pupil of the pious Law, could not see how any man could take charge of one hundred souls, had now a heart to declare, that “ he looked upon all the world as his parish!” He knew and felt, that He who had quickened his dead soul, could of the stones raise up children to himself. They went forth, therefore, in his name, and God confirmed the word with signs following.

Upon the necessity of some great exertion to reclaim the nation, and upon the fruits and effects of Mr. Wesley's labours, Mr. Southey is again an undeniable witness. The most urgent representations, the most convincing arguments, he observes, would have been disregarded in that age. The great struggle of infidelity had not yet commenced ; and it was not then foreseen that the very foundations of civil society would be shaken, because governments had neglected their most awful and important duty. But the present consequences of this neglect were obvious and glaring, in the rudeness of the peasantry, the brutality of the town populace, and the general deadness to religion all over the land. Trusting in the Lord, these men of God, who had first cared for their own souls, went forth, and every trial tended to strengthen and confirm them,--that they were, indeed, doing the will of God, and that the work Vol. I.


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was truly His. Sinners were converted, drunkards were reclaimed, the penitent who came in despair was sent away in hope, and often with peace and joy in believing.” These effects Mr. Southey farther observes, were public and undeniable ; and looking forward in exulting faith, Mr. Wesley doubted not that a general reformation would be accomplished, and also the fulfilment of those prophecies which assure us that the kingdom of God our Father shall come, and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” How the Lord would bring this about, he knew not. He did not dare to speculate or contrive : it would have been contrary to the faith he had received. His only care was, never to go beyond the plain duty of the day, or depart in any wise from the word of Him whom he served. All minor considerations were swallowed up in this-God, he believed, had called him to the work, and He would provide for its accomplishment.



I now proceed to detail the particulars of the call (which Mr. Wesley received through Mr. Whitefield) to Bristol, which was followed by such remarkable consequences. It appears that Mr. Wesley himself complied with this invitation with great reluctance; and not till he had used every means he could, to know what was the will of the Lord concerning him. His brother Charles, we have seen, was extremely averse to his going there, which seems to have been one cause of his hesitation. Another he himself has often mentioned. He thought much at this time, of death : and as his constitution seemed to him not likely to support itself long under the great and continual labours he was engaged in, he judged it probable that his course was nearly finished. At this time, those fine lines of his friend Mr. Gambold were almost continually in his mind :

Ere long when Sov'reign wisdom wills,

My soul an unknown path shall tread,
And strangely leave, who strangely fills

This frame, and waft me to the dead.
( what is death? 'Tis life's last shore,

Where vanities are vain no more:
Where all pursuits their goal obtain,

And life is all retouched again :
Where, in their bright results, shall rise

Thoughts, virtues, friendships, griefs, and joys. He did not, therefore, dare to waste a moment, or undertake any employment which he had reason to believe was not agreeable to the will of God. He was, however, at last prevailed on to go, and for this he had cause to praise the Wise Disposer of all things.

Mr. Whitefield had, a little before, begun to preach in the fields and highways near Bristol ; the religious societies, raised up on Dr. Horneck’s plan, which first received him, not being able to provide room for aftenth parth of the people that crowded to hear him; he, therefore, pressed Mr. Wesley to come and help him. When he arrived, he also began to expound in one of the society-rooms. But being encouraged


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by considering the example of our Lord, who preached upon a mountain, and having no place that could contain the multitudes that flocked together, “I submitted,” says he, “to be yet more vile, and proclaimed in the highways the glad tidings of salvation, speaking from a little eminence in a ground adjoining to the city, to about three thousand people. The Scripture on which I spoke was this : [Is it possible any one should be ignorant that it is fulfilled in every true minister of Christ ?] The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted; to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind ; to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.»

It appears that his adopting this way of preaching the Gospel to the poor was not of choice. " When,” says he, “ I was told I must preach no more in this, and this, and another church, so much the more those who could not hear me there, flocked together when I was at any of the societies; where I spoke more or less, though with much inconvenience, to as many as the room I was in would contain. But after a time, finding those rooms could not contain a tenth part of the people that were earnest to hear, I determined to do the same thing in England, which I had often done in a warmer climate ; namely, when the house would not contain the congregation, to preach in the open air.

This I accordingly did, first in Bristol, where the society rooms were exceeding small; and at Kingswood, where we had no room at all; afterwards

; in or near London.

And I cannot say, I have ever seen a more awful sight, than when on Rose-Green, or on the top of Hanham-Mount, some thousands of people were joined together in solemn waiting upon God, while

They stood, and under open air adored

The God who made both air, earth, heaven, and sky. And whether they were listening to his word, with attention still as night; or were lifting up their voice in praise, as the sound of many waters : Many a time have I been constrained to say in

my heart, How dreadful is this place ! This also is no other than the house of God! This is the gate of heaven!

“ Be pleased to observe, 1. That I was forbidden, as by a general consent, to preach in any church, (though not by any judicial sentence,) for preaching such doctrine. This was the open avowed cause ; there was at that time no other, either real or pretended, except that the people crowded so. 2. That I had no desire or design to preach in the open air, till after this prohibition. 3. That when I did, as it was no matter of choice, so neither of premeditation. There was no scheme at all previously formed, which was to be supported thereby ; nor had I any

other end in view than this, to save as many souls as I could. 4. Field-preaching was, therefore, a sudden expedient, a thing submitted to, rather than chosen ; and, therefore, submitted to because I thought preaching even thus better than not preaching at all : First, in regard to my own soul, because a dispensation of the Gospel being committed

, to me,' I did not dare not to preach the gospel.' SECONDLY, in regard to the souls of others, whom I every where saw, ' seeking death in the error of their life.

He still continued to expound in the society-rooms; but it was in the

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