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inspiration." You do: you expect he will immediately and directly help your infirmities. Sometimes, it is true, he does this, by the mediation or intervention of other men: but at other times, particularly in private prayer, he gives that help directly from himself
. “But is this all you mean by particular, immediate inspiration ?” It is, and so I have declared a thousand times in private, in public, by every method I could devise. It is pity, therefore, that any should still undertake to give an account of my sentiments, without either hearing or reading what liay. Is this doing as we would be done to ?
8. I answer, secondly, There is no analogy between claiming "this inspiration of the Spirit,” who you allow, “assists and will assist all true believers to the end of the world :" p. 18.) and claiming those extraordinary operations of the Spirit, which were vouchsafed to the apostles. The former, both you and I pretend to : yea, and enjoy; or we are no believers. The latter you do not pretend to: nor do I ; nor any that are in connexion with me. 9. " But you do pretend to them.
do pretend to them. For you pray that signs and wonders may still be wrought in the name of Jesus." True: but what signs and wonders? The conversion of sinners; the healing the broken in heart: the turning men from darkness to light, from the
power of Satan unto God.' These and these only are the signs and wonders which were mentioned in that prayer. And did I not see these signs and wonders still wrought, I would sooner hew wood, or draw water, than preach the gospel. For those are to me very awful words, which our Lord speaks of prophets or teachers ; Ye shall know them,' (whether they are true or false prophets by their fruits: Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit—Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire.' What fruit you have brought forth at Reymerston, I know not; God knoweth.
10. " Your followers, however, do pretend to the grace of a mira. culous conversion." Is there any conversion that is not miraculous ? Is conversion a natural or supernatural work? I suppose all who allow there is any such thing, believe it to be supernatural. And what is the difference between a supernatural and a miraculous work, I am yet to learn.
But they say, that at such a time, and in such a manner, the livine illumination shone upon them ; Jesus knocked at the door of their hearts, and the Holy Ghost descended upon their souls.'” That is, in plain terms, raillery apart, at a particular time, which they cannot easily forget, God did, in so eminent a mamer as they never experienced before, “ enlighten their understanding,” (they are your own words) “ comfort and purify their hearts, and give his h:evenly Spirit to dwell in them.” But what has all this to do with those extraordinary operations of the Holy Spirit ?”
11. • Under these pretended impressions, their next advance is, to a call to preach the word themselves; and forth they issue, as under the immediate inspiration of God's Spirit, with the language of Apossles, and zeal of martyrs, to publish the gospel, as if they were among our remotest ancestors, strangers to the name of Christ.” (p. 20, 21.)
The plain truth is this. One in five hundred of those whom Gost SO “ enlightens and comforts," sooner or later, believes it to be his duty to call other sinners to repentance. Such an one commonly stifles this conviction, till he is so uneasy he can stifle it no longer. He then consults one or more of those whom he believes to be competent judges: and under the direction of these, goes on, step by step. from a narrower to a larger sphere of action. Meantime he endeavours to use only the language of the Apostles," to speak the things of the Spirit, in the words of the Spirit. And be longs and prays for “the zeal of martyrs,” continually finding the need thereof; seeing our present countrymen are as great strangers to the mind that was in Christ, as cur ancestors were to his name.
12. " But the Holy Spirit no longer comes from heaven like a rushing mighty wind. It no longer appears in cloven tongues, as of fire." I wonder who imagines it does? “We now discern not between his suggestions and the motions of our rational nature.” Many times we do not: but at other times, God may give such peace or joy. and such love to himself and all mankind, as we are sure are not " the motions of our own nature. To say, then, that the Holy Spirit began his work at such a time, and continued it so long in such a manner, is as vain as to account for the blowing of the wind.” Hold! " Accounting for,” is not the thing. To make a parallel, it must be. is as vain as to say, that the “wind began to blow at such a time,"
continued so long in such a manner.” And where is the vanityof this? Why may I not say, either that the "wind began to blow at such a time,” and “ blew so long in such a manner:" or that God “ began at such a time” to comfort my soul ? That he "continued" that consolation "so long?" And in “such a manner," by giving me either peace and joy in believing, or a lively hope of the glory of God?
13. "Not that we are without a memorabie instance of this instantaneous impulse, in the sudden conversion of St. Paul.” (page 23.) A poor instance this; for it does not appear, that his was a suddene conversion. It is true, 'A great light suddenly shone round about him ;' but this light did not convert him. After he had seen this, he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.' And probably during the whole time. God was gradually working” in his heart, till he arose, and being baptized, washed away his sins. and was filled with the Holy Ghost.'
14. But to return. "Their teachers claim a particular and immediate inspiration in their nauseous effusions." (page 22.) Certainly they claim either a particular and immediate inspiration (as above explained) or none at all. But this is no other inspiration (call it in fielence, if you please, though it is a far stronger term) than every one must ha before he can either understand, or preach, or live the gospel. "But there is not in Scripture the least promise of encouragement to expect any particular inspiration.” Ves, surely, such an inspiration as this; you have allowed it over and over. And what erternal evidence of this, would you have? I will believe, you are
thus inspired, if you convert sinners to God, and if you yourself are - boly in all manner of conversation.'
15. Is there “no need of this inspiration now, because the prejudices of mankind are in favour of the gospel, and the profession of it is under the protection and encouragement of the civil power ?” “ The prejudices of mankind are in favour of the gospel!" What, the prejudices of the bulk of mankind? To go no farther than England. Are the bulk of our nation prejudiced in favour of the genuine gospel? Of the holiness which it enjoins; of chastity and temperance; of denying ourselves, and taking up our cross daily; of dying to the world, and devoting all our heart, and all our life to God? Are they prejudiced in favour of presenting our souls and bodies a constant, holy sacrifice to God? What less than this is gospel holiness? And are the prejudices of mankind in favour of this?
16. Likewise how far this real Christianity is under the protection and encouragement of the civil power,” I know not. But I know, all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution,' domestic persecution, if no other; for the foes of' such a man shall be they of his own household. There shall be,' and there are now, five in one house, three against two, and two against three :' and that not for being Methodists, for having a nick-name (although that may be the pretence, for want of a better: for who scruples to throw a man into the ditch, and then beat him, because his clothes are dirty ?) but for living godly; for loving and serving God, according to the best light they have? And certainly these need the assistance of God's Spirit, to strengthen and comfort them, that they may suffer all things, rather than turn aside, in any point from the gospel-way.
17. “ But the Scriptures are a complete and a sufficient rule. Therefore to what purpose could any further inspiration serve ? All farther inspiration is unnecessary: the supposed need of it is highly injurious to the written word. And the pretension thereto, (which must be either to explain, or to supply it) is a wicked presumption, with which Satan bath filled their hearts, to lie of the Holy Ghost.” (p. 27, 28.)
High sounding words! But, blessed be God, they are only brutum fulmen ; they make much noise, but do not wound.“ To what purpose could any further inspiration serve ?” Answer yourself: "To enlighten the understanding, and to rectify the will.” Else, be “the Scriptures" ever so “complete," they will not save your soul. How then can you imagine it is “ unnecessary ?" And that “the supposed need of it is injurious to the written word ?" And when you say yourself," the Spirit is to teach us all things, and to guide us into ail truth :" judge you, whether this is to “explain,” or to “supply the written word." "O he does this by the written word.” True; but also by his holy inspiration.' So the compilers of our liturgy speak : who, therefore, according to you, are guilty of "wicked presumption, with which Satan filled their hearts, to lie of the Holy Ghost.
18. These also are the men upon whom you fall in the following warm words. “The power of enthusiasm over an heated imagination, may be very great.
But it mast be under the ferment of that old,
sour leaven, hypocrisy, to rise to that daring height." I think not: I think they were neither hypocrites nor enthusiasts, though they teach me to pray for, consequently to expect, (unless I am an hypocrite indeed,) God's holy inspiration,' both in order to think the things that be good,' and also, perfectly to love him, and worthily to magnify his holy name.'
19. You go on. They boast that their heart is clean, and their spirit right within them.” Sir, did you ever read morning prayer on the tenth day of the month? You then said, “Make me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.' Did you mean what you said ? said ? If
you did not, you were guilty of the grossest hy. pocrisy. If you did, when did you expect God would answer that prayer? When your body was in the grave! Too late! Unless we have clean hearts before we die, it had been good we had never been born!
20. But they boast they are pure from sin, harmless, and undeGiled” So, in a sound sense, is every true believer. “Nay, they boast, that their bodies are a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. Sir, is not your's? Are not your soul and body such a sacrifice holy, acceptable to God? As the Lord God liveth, before whom we stand, if they are not, you are not a Christian. If you are not an holy, living sacrifice, you are still *dead in trespasses and sins.' You are an ·alien from the commonwealth of Israel, without Chris. tian hope, without God in the world!
21. You add, “ Thus have I exposed their boasted claim to a particular and immediate inspiration.” (p. 30.) No, Sir, you have only exposed yourself. For all that we claim you allow. "I have shown what a miserable farce is carrying on, beneath the mask of a more refined holiness.” No tittle of this have you shown yet. And before you attempt again to show any thing concerning us, let me en treat you, Sir, to acquaint yourself better with our real sentiments. Perhaps you may then find, that there is not so wide a difference as you imagined, between you, and, Rev. Sir, your servant for Christ's sake,
JOHN WESLEY. Laken-heath, Nov. 17, 1758.
TO THE REVEREND DR. FREE,
Tullamore, May 2, 1758. Rev. Sir,
1. A LITTLE tract, appearing under your name, was yesterday put into my hands. You therein call upon me, to speak, “ If I have any exceptions to make to what is advanced,” and promise to “reply as fairly and candidly as I can expect, provided those exceptions be drawn up, as you have set the example, in a short compass, and in the manner wherein all wise and good people would choose to manage a religious dispute," p. 22.
2. “In a short compass,” Sir, they will certainly be drawn up, for my own sake, as well as yours. For I know the value of time, and would gladly employ it all in what more immediately relates to eternity. But I do not promise to draw them up in that manner, whereof you have set the example. I cannot : I dare not : for 1 fear God, and do really believe there is a judgment to come. Therefore I dare not * return evil for evil;' neither railing for railing.' Nor can I allow, that your manner of treating this subject, is that “wherein all wise and good people would choose to manage a religious dispute.” Far, very far from it. I shall rejoice, if a little more fairness and candour should appear in your future writings. But I cannot expect it; for the nigræ succus loliginis, wormwood and gall, seem to have infected your very vitals.
3. The quotation from Bishop Gibson, which takes up five out of nineteen pages, I have particularly answered already, in “ A Letter to the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of London :" and in a manner wherewith I have good reason to believe his lordship was entirely satisfied. With his lordship, therefore, I have no present concern : my business is now with you only. And seeing you are “now ready (as you express it) to run a tilt," I must make what defence I can. Only you must excuse me from meeting you on the same ground, or fighting you with the same weapons. My weapons are only truth and love. May the God of truth and love strengthen my weakness !
4. I waive what relates to Mr. V-'s personal character, which is too well known to need my defence of it: as likewise the concurrence, (real or imaginary I cannot tell) which gave birth to your perform
All that I concern myself with is your five vehement assertions, with regard to the people called Methodists. These I shah consider in their order, and prove to be totally false and groundless.
5. The first is this, " Their whole ministry is an open and avowed opposition to one of the fundamental articles of our religion,” (p. 4.)