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the sorrows of death compass me, and the overflowings of ungodliness snake me afraid.
5. Concerning the gate of religion, (if I may be allowed so to speak,) the true, Christian, saving faith, we believe it implies abundantly more than an assent to the truth of the Bible. Even the devils believe, that Christ was born of a virgin ; that he wrought all kinds of miracles; that for our sakes he suffered a most painful death to redeem us from death everlasting. These articles of our faith the very devils believe, and so they believe all that is written in the Old and New Testament. And yet for all this faith, they be but devils. They remain still in their damnable estate, lacking the very true Christian faith. The right and true Christian faith is, Not only to believe that the holy Scriptures and the articles of our faith are true, but also to have a sure trust and confidence to be saved from everlasting damnation through Christ.? Perhaps it may be expressed more clearly thus: “A sure trust and confidence which a man hath in God, that by the merits of Christ his sins are forgiven, and he reconciled to the favour of God.'
For giving this account of Christian faith, (as well as the preceding account of repentance, both which I have here also purposely described, in the very terms of the Homilies,) I have been again and again, for near these eight years past, accused of enthusiasm : sometimes by those who spoke to my face, either in conversation, or from the pulpit : but more frequently by those who chose to speak in my absence : and not seldom from the press. I wait for those who judge this to be enthusiasm, to bring forth their strong
Till then, I must continue to account all these the words of truth and soberness.
6. Religion itself, (I choose to use the very words, wherein I described it long ago,) we define, The loving God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves, and in that love abstaining from all evil, and doing all possible good to all men.' The same meaning we have sometimes expressed a little more at large, thus :
Religion we conceive to be no other than love; the love of God and of all mankind : the loving God with all our heart, and soul, and strength, as having first loved us, as the fountain of all the good we have received, and of all we ever hope to enjoy: and the loving every soul which God hath made, every man on earth as our own soul.
This love we believe to be the medicine of life, the never failing remedy for all the evils of a disordered world, for all the miseries and vices of men. Wherever this is, there are virtue and happiness, going hand in hand. There is humbleness of mind, gentleness, long-suffering, the whole image of God, and at the same time, a · peace that passeth all understanding, and joy unspeakable, and full
of glory. This religion we long to see established in the world, a religion of love, and joy, and peace; having its seat in the heart, in the inmost soul, but ever showing itself by its fruits : continually springing forth, not only in all innocence, (for love worketh no ill to
his neighbour,) but likewise in every kind of beneficence spreading virtue and happiness all around it.'
If this can be proved by Scripture or reason, to be enthusiastic or erroneous doctrine, we will then plead guilty to the indictment, of teaching error and enthusiasm. But if this be the genuine religion of Christ, then will all who advance this charge against us, be found false witnesses before God, in the day when he shall judge the earth.
7. However, with regard to the fruits of our teaching, you say, “ It is to be feared, the numbers of serious men who have been perplexed and deluded, are much greater than the numbers of notorious sinners, who have been brought to repentance and good life, (p. 113.) Indeed, if you could prove,—that the Methodists were in general, very wicked people before they followed you, and that all you have been teaching them is, the love of God and their neighbour, and a care to keep his commandments, which accordingly they have done since, you would-stop the mouths of all adversaries at once. But—we have great reason to believe, that the generality of Methodists, before they became so, were serious, regular, and welldisposed people.” p. 103.
If the question were proposed, “Which are greater, the numbers of serious men who have been perplexed and deluded, or of notorious sinners who have been brought to repentance and good life” by these preachers, throughout England within seven years : it might be difficult for you to fix the conclusion. For England is a place of wide dimensions; nor is it easy to make a satisfactory computation, unless you confine yourself within a smaller compass. Suppose then we were to contract the question, in order to make it a little less unwieldly. We will bound our inquiry for the present, , within a square of three or four miles. It may be certainly known by candid men, both what has been and what is now done within this distance. And from hence they may judge of those fruits elsewhere, which they cannot be so particularly informed of.
Inquire then, “Which are greater, the numbers of serious men, perplexed and deluded by these teachers, or of notorious sinners brought to repentance and good life," within the forest of Kingswood ? Many indeed of the inhabitants are nearly as they were ; are not much better or worse for their preaching; because the neighbouring clergy and gentry have successfully laboured to deter them from hearing it. But between three and four hundred of those who would not be deterred, are now under the care of those preachers. Now, what number of these were “serious Christians" before Were fifty? Were twenty? Were ten? Peradventure there might five such be found. But it is a question, whether there could or not. The remainder were gross, open sinners, common swearers, drunkards, sabbath-breakers, whoremongers, plunderers, robbers, implacable, unmerciful, wolves and bears in the shape of men. Do you desire instances of more "notorious sinners” than these? I know not if Turkey or Japan can afford them. And what do you include in “ repentance and a good life? Give the strictest defini
tion thereof that you are able : and I will undertake, these once .. notorious sinners, shall be weighed in that balance, and not found wanting.
8. Not that all the “Methodists (so called) were very wicked people before they followed us." There are those among them, and not a few, who are able to stop the boasting of those that despise them, and to say Wherein soever any of you is bold, I am bold also : only they count all these things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. But these we found, as it were, when we sought them not. We went forth to seek that which was lost: (more eminently lost,) to call the most flagrant, hardened, desperate sinners to repentance. To this end we preached in the Horse-lair at Bristol, in Kingswood, in Newcastle : among the colliers in Staffordshire, and the tinners in Cornwall : in Southwark, Wapping, Moorfields, Drury-Lane, at London. Did any man ever pick out such places as these, in order to find " serious, regular, well-disposed people ?" How many such might then be in any of them I know not. But this I know, that four in five of those who are now with us, were not of that number, but were wallowing in their blood, till God by us said unto them, Live.
Sir, I willingly put the whole cause on this issue: what are the general consequences of this preaching? Are there more tures or cheat? More “good men destroyed,” (that is the proper question, or “wicked men saved?” The last place where we began constant preaching, is a part of Wiltshire and Somersetsbire, near Bath. Now let any man inquire at Rhode, Bradford, Wraxall, or among the colliers at Coleford, 1. What kind of people were those, “ before they followed these men ?" 2. What are the main doctrines they have been teaching for this twelvemonth? 3. What effect have these doctrines upon their followers ? What manner of lives do they lead now! And if you do not find, 1. That three in four of these were two years ago notoriously wicked men. 2. That the main doctrines they have heard since were, “Love God and your neighbour, and carefully keep his commandments. And, 3. That they have since exercised themselves herein, and continue so to do: I say, if you or 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 whatsoever else you shall please to style me.
Only one caution I would give to such an inquirer, let him not ask the colliers of Coleford, “Were not the generality of you, before you followed these men, serious, regular, well-disposed people? Were you not “ offended at the profaneness and debauchery of the age?
And was it not this disposition, which at first made you liable to receive these impressions?" (p. 103.) Because if he talk thus to some of those who do not yet “follow these men,” perbaps he will not live to bring back their answer.
But will this, or a thousand such instances as these, “stop the mouths of all adversaries at once?” O Sir, would one expect such
a thought as this, in one that had read the Bible? What if you could convert as many sinners as St. Paul himself? Wouki' that “stop the mouths of all your adversaries?" Yea, if you could convert three thousand at one sermon, still you would be so far from * stopping all their mouths at once,” that the greater part of them would gnash upon you with their teeth,' and cry, ‘Away with such a fellow from the earth.'
I never therefore expect to persuade the world,” the majority of mankind, that I have been" for some years “advancing nothing but what has a clear, immediate connexion with the true knowledge and love of God: that God hath been pleased to use me, a weak, vile worm, in reforming many of my fellow-sinners, and making them, at this day, living witnesses of inward and pure religion: and that many of these, from living in all sin, are quite changed, are become so far holy, that though they are not free from all sin, yet no sin hath dominion over them. And yet I do firmly believe, “it is nothing but downright prejudice, to deny or oppose any of these particulars.” Preface, p. v.
“Allow Mr. Wesley," you say, “but these few points, and he will defend his conduct—beyond exception.”—That is most true. If I have” indced "been advancing nothing but the true knowledge and love of God:” if God has made me an instrument in reforming inazy 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 he trusts me with, (whether others will believe I do it or not,) in advancing the 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.
10. But you believe, “I only corrupt those who were good Christians before, teaching them to revile and censure their neighbours, and to abuse the clergy, notwithstanding all their meekness and gentleness, as I do myself.” “I must declare," say you, "we hare in general answered your pretence, with all meekness and temperthe railing and reviling have been chiefly on the side of the Methouists,” p. 16.
Your first charge ran thus, (Rem. p. 15.) “How have such abuses as these been thrown out by you-against our--regular clergy, not the highest or the worthiest excepted!” I answered, * I am altogether clear in this matter, as often as it has been objected: neither do I desire to receive any other treatment from the clergy, than they have received from me to this day,' p. 30.
You reply, 1. “One instance of your misrepresenting and injuring a preacher of our church I mentioned;” (p. 105.) “Mentioned?" Well: but did you prove it was an injury or misrepresentation? I know not that you once attempted it. 2. You next quote part of a letter from the third Journal; wherein (according to your account) the “most considerable of our clergy are abused, and at once accused in a very gross manner,” (p. 106.) Set down the whole paragraph, and I will prove, that this also is naked truth, and no abuse at all. You say, 3. “You approved of Whitefield's railing against the clergy”-i. e. 1 say, Mr. Wh. preached, concerning the Holy Ghost which all who believe are to receive ; not without a just, though severe censure of those, who preach as if there were no Holy Ghost,' (Third Journal, Vol. I. p. 270.) Nor is this railing, but melancholy truth. I have myself heard several preach in this manner. 4. You cite my words, Wo unto you, ye blind leaders of the blind! How long will ye pervert the right ways of the Lord ? And add, “ I appeal to yourself, whether you did not design this reflection against the clergy in general who differ from you?” No more than I did against Moses and Aaron. I expressly specify whom I design : «Ye who tell the mourners in Zion, much religion hath made you mad.' You say, 5. (with a N. B.).“ All the clergy who differ from you, you style so, (p. 282,) in which and the foregoing page you causelessly slander them, as speaking of their own holiness ---as that for the sake of which, on account of which we are justified before God."
Let any serious person read over those pages. I therein slander no man. I speak what I know; what I have both heard and read. The men are alive, and the books are extant. And the same conclusion I now defend, touching that part of the clergy who preach or write thus, viz. “If they preach the truth as it is in Jesus, I am found a false witness before God. But if I preach the way of God in truth, then they are blind leaders of the blind.'. 6. You quote these words,
Nor can I be said to intrude into the labours of those who do not labour at all; but suffer thousands of those for whom Christ died, to perish for lack of knowledge,' (Third Journal, Vol. I. p. 273.) I wrote that letter near Kingswood. I would to God the observation were not terribly true ! 7. The first passage you cite from the Earnest Appeal, evidently relates to a few only among the clergy: and if the charge be true, but of one in five hundred, it abundantly supports my reasoning. 8. In the next passage, I address all those, and those only, who affirm that I preach for gain.
You conclude, “ The reader has now before him the manner in which you have been pleased to treat the clergy-and your late sermon—is too fresh an instance of the like usage of the universities." It is an instance of speaking the truth in love.' So I desire all mankind may use me. Nor could I have said less either to the university or the clergy, without sinning against God and my own soul.
11. But I must explain myself a little on that practice, which you so often term “abusing the clergy.” I have many times great sorrow and heaviness in my heart, on account of these my brethren. And this sometimes constrains me to speak to them, in the only way which is now in my power: and sometimes (though rarely) to speak of