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when it ceased to be a great force in English life and thought. In France and Germany it found fresh soil, and conditions more favourable to its growth. In England it failed, as Dr. Cairns reminds us, because it lacked "faith in a Divine mission." For the same

For the same reason its opponents, while fully meeting Deistical arguments and establishing their own thesis, failed to awaken the real spiritual life of the nation. And so the real vanquisher of Deism, as also the destroyer of the conditions out of which it sprang, was neither the idealism of Berkeley, the ethical philosophy of Butler, nor the shrewd common sense of Paley, but apologetic work of a very different type. “In the rise of Methodism and other great impulses," says Cairns, “it was found that one of the most decided evangelic miracles-the descent of the angel to heal stagnation by commotion and trouble-had been repeated, though not always owned by those who waited for it; and in the brightening energy and hopefulness ere long sent forth by the living Spirit of God, from a country which had thus preserved the continuity of its religious history, over every branch of the Anglo-Saxon race and into all the world, it was felt that the weakness of Christianity had departed, and that a more heroic age had begun.”] This estimate is confirmed by Lecky, Green, and other historians of this period, not excepting the sceptical Leslie Stephen.

Lack of space forbids our entering at any length on this most fertile thenie. To trace the rise and progress of that spiritual movement, which shook England from its centre to its remotest circumference, which filled the English-speaking world with new life and energy, which, reacting on all other Churches, quickened the whole spiritual life of that age, and filled the world with new forms of Christian energy and enterprise, is not possible to us at present. Nor is such a work necessary for the readers of this paper; they are familiar with this noble story-a story to which not only historians of Methodism, but all true historians, are now beginning to do justice. Lecky in his History does honour to Wesley and the movement of which he was the originator; says that the “career of the elder Pitt, and the splendid victories by land and sea won during his ministry, ... must yield in real

· Lectures, p. 118.

"1

The work of Wesley and Whitefield.

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importance to that religious revolution begun by the preaching of the Wesleys and of Whitefield. The creation of a large, , powerful, and active sect, extending over both hemispheres, and numbering many millions of souls, was but one of its consequences. It also exercised a profound and lasting influence upon the spirit of the Established Church, upon the amount and distribution of the moral forces of the nation, and even upon the course of its political history.”l While this is now acknowledged by all, there is sometimes freshness of impression in simply seeing a familiar picture from a slightly different point of view; thus in relation to the unbelief of the eighteenth century the origin and progress of Methodism is peculiarly suggestive. As there were “reformers before the Reformation,” so there were spiritual influences at work before the appearing of Wesley; indeed, Wesley himself has to be accounted for, and is the outcome in one way of these influences. We must not forget to do justice to Law and the Moravian Brethren, and to other faithful and more or less enlightened men, struggling against the dominant unbelief and spiritual indifference of their time. All these points of interest we must leave untouched. What is specially important to be considered is the character of the new forces at work against deism after the appearing of Wesley. Not even Leslie Stephen, ready as he is to sneer at aspects of Methodism, and to look down with agnostic disdain on the new life of that period, can call the sermons of either Wesley or Whitefield " dull," whatever charges may be made against them on other grounds.

Mr. Leslie Stephen, speaking of much of the ordinary preaching of the age, calls it “good commonplace morality, defended by ordinary common sense. Don't get drunk, or you will ruin your health ; nor commit murder, for you will come to the gallows ; every man should seek to be happy, and the way to be happy is to be thoroughly respectable."2 Wesley and Whitefield had other ideas about preaching, and other aims and objects in addressing their fellow-men. Once more the preacher stood before his hearers, not as an elegant essayist, or a philosopher reasoning about natural religion, or the elements of probability, but as one of the old prophets, his lips touched

History, vol. ii. chap. ix. “The Religious Revival.” ? English Thought, vol. ii. “ The Religions Reaction.”

with fire from God's altar, his soul full of compassion for perishing men. Once more the preacher regarded himself as an ambassador of Christ, and with all the earnestness and energy of his being delivered his Master's message. His themes were not the reasonableness of Christianity or the chances of a future life based upon mathematical calculations and theories of human probability,' but sin and death, the wrath of God, the judgment-seat of Christ, the world to come, with its joys and terrors, or the infinite love and mercy of God revealed in the Cross of Christ. God and Christ, heaven and hell, sin and atonement, judgment and salvation, were no longer mere theological terms devoid of all true significance—they were great and awful realities. And as these new preachers discussed such themes with all the earnestness of their strong natures, with all the enthusiasm of God-quickened men, they thrilled the hearts of their fellows, making them realise the terrible meaning of life and the need of salvation. Hence the tears that streamed down the grimy cheeks of colliers and miners; hence the awful sense of eternity and the importance of salvation there and then that took possession of human hearts. These preachers did not care to argue much about the existence of God, the probabilities connected with a future life, or the reasonableness of Christianity. To them Christ was a real Being, and His Gospel a real salvation; to them this salvation was not merely a future prospect, but a present and conscious possession; to them the Bible did not merely contain things of high value, was not simply a confirmation of the eternal Gospel, “old as the creation,” and written on the natural heart of man,-it was the word of the living God, the full and final word on all matters connected with man's highest life here and hereafter. Believing all this with intensity of faith, they spoke out of full hearts, and their word was with power; their gospel became the “power of God unto salvation” to many thousands. Hence the new life and quickening experienced far and wide; hence the crowds that gathered round these new

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1 Sherlock puts it : "It is ten to one against you. (Deists), that if you follow the world you will get nothing or little by it; and, therefore, there are the same odds on the other side, that if you follow religion you lose nothing by it; so that supposing religion to be uncertain, yet a man does not venture much for it,” etc.- English Thought, vol. ii. p. 342. Such pru. dential calculations do not much influence the souls of men.

Spiritual results of Methodism.

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preachers wherever they stood up to speak. Men who could see nothing in the logic of Berkeley or the ethics of Butler, for whom Paley's twelve men had no message, saw before them, felt within them, new manifestations of Divine power. God not only lived and reigned somewhere and somehow; He was actually present among them. The triumphs of Christianity and the living power of Christ were not merely found in the records of early history, in the thousands at Pentecost, or the heroes and martyrs of a later age; they were to be seen and felt in every city, town, and village of old England. Thus without any reasoning, with but little argument, the Deistic position was completely undermined, and the walls of the proud Jericho of eighteenth-century unbelief fell flat before the blasts of the new evangel. As if by magic the whole scene was changed. The closing decades of one of the “dreariest” of centuries are among the most fertile in Christian enterprise that the world has seen. The impulse of the Wesleys and others was felt by all the Churches, and many who criticised much of their methods caught the inspiration of their spirit. The Church that could find no room within its pale for the work of a Wesley, received new life and power from its rejected sons, and all over England new life began to make its appearance. Hence the splendid efforts of philanthropists, the movements in favour of compassion for the suffering, and liberty for the slave; hence the new kindling of the fire of evangelistic zeal and the missions at home and abroad that were its first result;1 hence the formation of the great Societies that have for their object the sending forth of labourers into God's vineyard, and the giving of the word of life to every weary son and daughter of humanity.

As when, after the frosts, snows, and dreary days of winter, the fresh breath of spring life touches the apparently lifeless trees and plants, and, lo! they are covered with rich buds and blossoms, the promise of richer life to come, so the fresh inspiration of Christ's own life, through the Wesleys and their fellow-workers, touching the dormant life of Churches, the cold indifference and all but paralysed energies of Christian men filled not only England, but the whole English-speaking world

See Dr. Christlieb's little book, The Foreign Missions of Protestantism. Nisbet and Co.

VOL. XXXI.-NO. CXIX.

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with the buds, blossoms, flowers, and fruits of a new and a richer spiritual life.

This quickening power, at once Heaven-sent and Heavenfostered, was the truest apology for Christianity, and the most effective reply to the arguments of Deism in old England. It was felt by all, says Cairns, “that the weakness of Christianity had departed, and that a more heroic age had begun.”

J. FORDYCE.

ART. III.-A Bible Reviser of the Fourth Century.

THERE
THERE are few events of greater interest and significance, in

this age of religious forces so various and opposite, than the appearance, with the consent and co-operation of all sections of the Church, of a revised version of the English Bible. When we think of the length of time during which the version of 1611 has retained its hold on all English-speaking peoples, and the warmth and sincerity of the praise still bestowed on it, even by those most earnest in advocating its revision, it might well have seemed that, in spite of its minor defects, the proposal to revise it would have received but little support. Especially might the strong conservative instinct of the great body of Christians have been expected, in view of the powerful critical and agnostic movements of the day, to have resisted strenuously a step which might appear fitted to undermine the general confidence regarding the teaching of the inspired Word. It is therefore a ground of profound thankfulness to God-may it not be taken as another added to the many indications, in all the ages, of a Divine guidance of the Church ?—that the conservative instinct, in its own place most valuable, has not in this instance been permitted to go to an extreme; but that the various sections of the Church, by taking the movement for revision into their own hands, and dedicating to its accomplishment the gifts of their ablest men, have shown their wise confidence in the ability of the truth they believe in to protect itself.

Besides the conservative instinct of the Church, the strong sceptical tendencies of the day might have been thought fatal

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