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my own works as visiting the sick or clothing the naked: and the union with God thus pursued was as really my own righteousness as any I had before pursued under another name. In this refined way of trusting to my own works, and my own righteousness, (so zealously inculcated by the Mystic writers,) I dragged on heavily, finding no comfort or help therein, till the time of my leaving England.”
Mr. Wesley's character while at Oxford can never be properly understood without referring to the instructions he had received from his pious parents, especially his excellent mother. It was an exceedingly defective Christianity in which he was trained: even his mother-the daughter, it should be remembered, of Dr. Annesley, the Dissenter"knew," as the venerable and truly evangelical biographer of Mr. Wesley has happily expressed it, "only the baptism of John;" but, defective as it was, no one can read the correspondence between the parents and the son, and the son's own account of himself as given above, without being convinced that it was Christianity, and not Pharisaism. The dispensation into which the family had sunk was low and obscure, but not lower, as to personal justification and its results, than that in which the generality of the Dissenters of the day were living. We who live in better days, instead of making the fall of either Church or Dissenters an occasion of unhallowed exultation, and into this Mr. Philip has on more than one occasion allowed himself to be betrayed,-ought rather to ask, as a warning to ourselves, how it was that parties, placed in such widely different circumstances, should yet have wandered so far from the state in which their com mon ancestors had dwelt. If the descendants of Latimer and Ridley had forgotten their fathers, had the descendants even of the Bartholo mew confessors so faithfully remembered theirs?
What, then, did Mr. Wesley in his religious inquiries overlook? We answer, The way of simple, spiritual faith in Christ: the faith by which forgiveness of sin is sealed upon the conscience, and the soul is regenerated by the Spirit of adoption shedding abroad the love of God. This he learned chiefly among the Moravians during his mission to Georgia, and after his return. On the twenty-fourth of May, 1738, he experienced the blessing he had so long desired, but which he had so imperfectly obtained, because it was so mistakenly sought; and embraced the earliest opportunity of preaching the same holiness before the University of Oxford which he had preached in 1733, but which he now likewise preached with clearness and power in connection with the way in which it was to be sought and found.*
Now, in what manner has Mr. Philip allowed himself to speak of Mr. Wesley during his residence at Oxford?
"This little band had then existed during five years, and were called, in derision, Methodists.' Their regular habits and rigid virtue were proverbial throughout the University and the city. They were the friends of the poor, and the patrons of the serious. But, with all these excellences of character, the Wesleys united much enthusiasm, and
* The sermon on "The Circumcision of the Heart" was preached at St. Mary's, January 1st, 1733; that on “Salvation by Faith” was preached some time in 1738. A comparison of these two sermons will show the nature of his religious views before and after his mission to Georgia. We shall be very glad to be assured that among Mr. Philip's friends the way of salvation by faith is understood and preached as understood and preached by Wesley and Whitefield.
an almost incredible ignorance in regard to the gospel. Their avowed object in all their voluntary privations and zealous efforts, was, to save their souls, and to live wholly to the glory of God: a noble enterprise, certainly; but undertaken by them from erroneous motives, and from wrong principles. For any relief which their consciences seem ed to have obtained from the death of the Son of God, and the free salvation proclaimed in virtue of it, the gospel might have been alto. gether untrue or unknown; so grossly ignorant were the whole band at one time. And yet, at this period, Mr. John Wesley was a Fellow of Lincoln College, and teaching others. Nine years before he had been ordained by Dr. Potter, who was afterward Archbishop of Canterbury." (Page 15.)
We fear there were many ministers out of the church who not only knew as little of the way of obtaining religion as Mr. Wesley, but whose views of its nature and evidences would come far short of those which the foregoing extracts will prove to have been held by him. Neither the order of the establishment, nor the liberty of dissent, had prevented darkness from almost covering the land. The sneer at Mr. Wesley's fellowship, and at Dr. Potter's archbishopric, might have been spared. This, perhaps, may be what Mr. Philip calls his own way of narration: it may be so; it is not the way, however, in which serious history should be narrated by a minister of Christ. As to the erroneousness of Mr. Wesley's motives, that must be an overlooked error in language. Mr. Wesley sought to be inwardly and outwardly devoted to God, because it was meet and right that he should be so; because thus only could he save his soul alive; because thus only could he fulfil the purposes of his being, and glorify his great Maker. He mistook the way of attainment. He saw not the method of access to the mercy-seat by simple faith in the atonement. The mistake was a great one, but it was very common both in and out of the esta blishment; and a Christianly philosophical consideration of all the circumstances of the case would have prevented both the taunt in which Mr. Philip always seems at home, and the use of such expressions as "almost incredibly and grossly ignorant."
A couple of expressions will show that Mr. Philip has neither studied the facts nor the principles of the case sufficiently to write "the phi losophy of Whitefield's Life," though he modestly intimates that, if the time were come, he is the man!*
"It is highly probable that such young men would underrate the cold systematic lectures of a professor. William Law was at the time their oracle. He had said to John Wesley, who was likely to circu late the notion, You would have a philosophical religion, but there can be no such thing. Religion is the most simple thing; it is only, We love him because he first loved us.' Such indefinite maxims" (St. John's beautiful passage, an indefinite maxim!) "assimilated but too readily with the mystic temper of the persons they were addressed to; and silent contemplation, in solitude, being the very spirit of Law's system, Wesley and his associates were not likely to relish argumentative theology." (Page 15.)
"The time is not yet come for the philosophy of Whitefield's Life. It is, however, fast approaching; and therefore my mass of facts will soon be turned to good account BY MYSELF or some one." (Preface.)
VOL. IX.-April, 1888.
Mr. Wesley was at this time a hard scholar, an assiduous tutor, a first-rate logician, a Greek lecturer and moderator. No one would relish good lectures and good arguments more than he would. And as to Mr. Law's quotation from St. John, Mr. Wesley was accustomed, throughout life, to use it, as briefly but comprehensively describing the nature of religion. The way of personal attainment he afterward learned; namely, that by faith in Christ, we obtain the Spirit of adoption, who sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts, so that we are brought to love him in return. He never renounced the maxim, but added to it the way of faith in Christ. Mr. Philip should carefully study those chapters of the first volume of Mr. Moore's Life of Wesley, (published about ten years ago,) which relate to the earlier part of Mr. Wesley's career; he would then know something more about both the principles and facts of the case, and we think he would not then allow himself to pen such a paragraph as the following:
I duly appreciate the benevolence, the zeal, and the sincerity of the Wesleys; but in this instance, and at that time, those virtues rank no higher in them than the same virtues in Mohammedans and Hin. doos;—amount to no more at Oxford than they would at Mecca or Benares. Now if, instead of the Wesleys, the same number of Waha. bees had been about Whitefield, inculcating their simplified Islamism, who would have ascribed to them, or to it, any usefulness? Both would have been arraigned as diverting him from the gospel of Christ; nor would the sincerity of the Wahabees, or the self-denying character of their habits, have shielded either from severe reprehension. The only apology that any one would have thought of offering for them would have been, I wot that through ignorance ye did it.' In like manner, I am quite ready to say of the Wesleys, I bear them record, that they had a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge;' a fact which neutralizes their Oxford piety into well-meant superstition." (Page 22.)
"Neutralizes their Oxford piety into well-meant superstition!" That Mr. Wesley's piety was very defective and obscure, we have already said that not only his friend and biographer, but himself, admitted. It was reserved, however, for Mr. Robert Philip, of Maberley chapel, who believes himself qualified to write the philosophy of one of the most important periods of English ecclesiastical history, to show that this "Oxford piety" was only " well-meant superstition ;" on a par with the metaphysical subtleties of Hindoo devotees, and Mohammedan Waha. bees! Whatever on this subject Mr. Philip has written accurately, had been written before; whatever is new is mistaken: he deserves that we should use a stronger term.
Another instance of Mr. Philip's "own way of telling the facts of personal history" may be given. Speaking of Whitefield's visit to Gloucester before his ordination, he says,—
"His zeal was now according to knowledge; his object at once definite and Scriptural; his measures direct and rational; and his motives truly evangelical. Drawing his own hope and consolation immediately from the oracles of God, he led others direct to the same source, shutting up to the faith those he associated with. In this respect, Whitefield presents a striking contrast to Wesley, at the commencement of his public exertions. The latter, though equally conscientious, was so crazed with the crude notions of the Mystics,
that when he left Oxford to visit Georgia, Law's Christian Perfection' was almost his text-book, while instructing his fellow-passengers. Accordingly, the success of the two, at the time, was as different as the means which they severally adopted. While Whitefield won souls by reading the Scriptures, Wesley, by inculcating the austerities of the ascetics, labored in vain: he was long esteemed an Ishmael,' for his hand was against every man, and every man's hand was against him." (Page 31.)
We may observe, by the way, that Mr. Philip seems scarcely to understand the great fault of Law, (we do not now include any reference to his Behmanism,) which was, that he called "to a Serious and Holy Life" without showing how the call was to be obeyed. To him who has come to the blood of sprinkling, and received the end of his faith, the salvation of his soul, supposing him still to live by faith in the Son of God, as having loved him, and given himself for him,— Law will be an excellent closet companion. If his "Serious Call" were more read by some of the high religious professors of the day, they would be not at all the worse for it. But letting that pass, and coming to the "contrast" between Wesley and Whitefield which Mr. Philip would so distinctly mark, we find that the latter, while at Gloucester, wishing to give a public testimony of his repentance, as to seeing and acting plays, and hearing the strollers had come to town," he was "stirred up" to do what? Publish a scriptural demonstration of the evils of play-going? No, indeed,—but " to extract," he therefore had and read the larger work,—" to extract Mr. Law's excellent treatise, entitled 'The absolute unlawfulness of Stage Entertainments.'" He adds,
"The printer, at my request, put a little of it in the news for six weeks successively, and God was pleased to give it his blessing." (Page 30.)
Thus, for six weeks together, did Mr. Whitefield read lectures to the newspaper readers about stage entertainments, all out of this "crude Mystic." And then, on his voyage to Gibraltar and Savannah, we find him thus writing,
“Jan. 6. Went between decks, and sat down on the ground, and read Arndt's True Christianity.'
"Jan. 9. We paid the Curate a visit" (of Margate.) row I sent him Mr. Law's Serious Call,' and
with some other books."
"March 26. Capt. M- seems in earnest about the great work of his salvation. He has read Arndt's True Christianity,' and is now reading Law's Christian Perfection :' books worth their weight in gold, and which God has blessed to the conversion of many."
We find him likewise on various occasions, circulating books which, from their titles, we should suppose he had procured from the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge. He likewise expounded, in order, the various Articles of the Creed, and seems to have made the Church lessons for the day the ground-work of his scriptural expositions. Now, how much more than this did Mr. Wesley do, on his comparatively brief voyage to Georgia, so that his conduct should be mentioned as a perfect contrast to Mr. Whitefield's, and himself as "so crazed with the crude notions of the Mystics," as to make Law's "Christian Perfection" "almost his text-book, while instructing his
"On the morChristian Perfection,'
fellow-passengers ?" We wish the reader would turn to Mr. Wesley's Journal, and read from the beginning,-" Tuesday, Oct. 14, 1735," to the day on which they "first set foot on American ground," Feb. 6,-six octavo pages. He will find that the rule was, to have the morning and evening services, always to expound one of the morning lessons, and either to expound one of the evening lessons, or to catechise the children, and instruct them before the congregation. Himself and friends, likewise, devoted from four in the morning till five to private prayer; and, "from five to seven we read the Bible together, carefully comparing it (that we might not lean to our own understandings) with the writings of the earliest ages." The day before they cast anchor he writes, "In the evening lesson were these words, A great door and effectual is opened.' O let no man shut it!" And he thus speaks of the landing: "When the rest of the people were come on shore, we called our little flock together to prayers. Several parts of the second lesson, Mark vi, were wonderfully suited to the occasion; in particular, the account of the courage and sufferings of John the Baptist; our Lord's directions to the first preachers of his gospel, and their toiling at sea, and deliverance, with those comfortable words, 'It is I, be not afraid.”” We thus see that Mr. Wesley no more neglected the Scriptures on his voyage than did Mr. Whitefield; we have seen, too, that Mr. Whitefield sent Law's "Christian Perfection" to the curate of Margate, and that he lent it to Captain M-; that he moreover speaks of it as worth its weight in gold. Now, how much greater use did Mr. Wesley make of it? Mr. Philip says, that his conduct in this respect was "a contrast” te Mr. Whitefield's; and that he was "so crazed with the crude notions of the Mystics," that he made Law's "Christian Perfection" "almost his text-book while instructing his fellow-passengers." If the reader have consulted the Journal, he will have found one single reference to Law; one, and no more. It is the following:
"Friday, 21. One recovering from a dangerous illness, desired to be instructed in the nature of the Lord's supper. I thought it first concerned her to be instructed in the nature of Christianity; and accordingly fixed an hour a day to read with her in Mr. Law's Treatise on Christian Perfection.'
And yet, having read Mr. Whitefield's Journal, and found there indisputable evidence that he made large use of Law; and Mr. Wesley's, in which he makes only one reference to it ;-journals, in which it appears that both these excellent men adopted the same general plan as to the exposition of Scripture;-Mr. Philip has ventured, in the very teeth of his authorities, to describe Mr. Wesley as so CRAZILY attached to the Mystic writers, as by his omission of the Scriptures, and his attention to Mr. Law, presenting a PERFCT CONTRAST to Mr. Whitefield! After we had compared the Journals, we began to be of opinion, and we think the reader will not dissent from us, that Mr. Philip is as unfit to detail the facts as he is to write philosophy of Mr. Whitefield's life.
One more extract, and we will dismiss the painful subject. That extract, however, is even worse than any of those that have gone before. They have betrayed flippancy and carelessness, but this discovers something more. It refers to Mr. Wesley's conduct in Georgia; an affair which has now been thoroughly canvassed, and of which