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souls of men. In attempting to attain to this state of conformity to the will of God, they directed their special attention to the precepts and example of Christ, but with only an inadequate recognition of His priestly office and character. They did not, indeed, deny the fact that He died as a propitiatory sacrifice for sin, and ever lives to plead the merit of His death in behalf of sinners upon earth ; but they did not with sufficient explicitness regard His mediation as the only ground of their acceptance with God. To the real nature and the appointed method of a sinner's justification, their attention was seldom, if ever, directed; and much less had they any just conception of the connexion between the forgiveness of sin and personal sanctification. Entire devotedness to God was the one object of their desire and aim; supposing that their sins would be forgiven in the hour of death, or in the day of judgment; but upon what ground, or in what manner, they knew not, and forbore to inquire. The thought, that they must be delivered from the curse of the violated law of God, before He would impart the Holy Spirit to them in the fulness of His sanctifying power, appears never to have entered their minds.
In this state they were found by Peter Böhler, a pious evangelist from Germany, according to their own confession,
“ Lost, and confused, and dark, and blind ;” working in chains; striving against sin, and yet enslaved by it; seeking rest for their souls, not by simple faith in the blood of the cross, but as it were by the works of the law. By this enlightened stranger they were taught to come to Christ as mere sinners; guilty, to be forgiven ; miserable, to be made happy ; assured that in this manner they would obtain full and free acceptance with God, be filled with
peace and joy, love God from a sense of His love to them, and be delivered from the bondage of sin both in heart and life.
These seasonable instructions they gratefully accepted, and immediately realized their truth. From this time their spiritual enjoyments were rich and abounding. They understood the Holy Scriptures as they had never understood them before; and they longed to make known to others the nature, value, high importance, and the appointed method, of the salvation which they themselves enjoyed. From the pulpits of the metropolitan churches they immediately began to preach, with becoming warmth and earnestness, the doctrine of present salvation from sin by faith in Christ crucified; and thousands of people flocked to hear the joyful tidings, which not a few of them received in the love of the truth. But to the generality of the clergy and the parochial authorities the doctrine was unwelcome; and the heat which was caused by the presence of eager crowds was annoying to the regular church-goers; so that the pulpits were at once closed against the brothers, whose teaching was as strange to the ears of London as was that of St. Paul to the Athenians, and that of the Protestant Reformers to the people of their day. Their doctrine was charged with novelty, though it had been taught by the martyrs of Smithfield, as well as by the apostles of Christ, and was embodied in the formularies of the national Church.
With their strong conviction of the truth of what they taught, confirmed by deep personal experience, it was impossible that they should remain silent, commissioned as they felt themselves to be by the Great Head of the church. The only resource that was left to them was the open air; and, therefore, in fields, under the wide canopy of heaven, they took their stand, called sinners to repentance, and offered to all who obeyed the call a full, free, and present salvation. They met with most encouraging success ; so that, in a short time, of some thousands it might
“They have heard the glad sound, they have liberty found
Through the blood of the Lamb,
To an intelligent observer, who was duly attentive to the signs of the times, it must have appeared manifest, that a ministry different in many respects from that which then prevailed in England would speedily appear. The people who received the doctrine of present salvation from the guilt, the misery, and the dominion of sin, freely obtained by faith in Christ crucified, and who realized its truth in their own happy experience, would desire in perpetuity to hear the same doctrine, and other essential verities connected with it. Never would they be satisfied with
sermons which treated only of moral duties, and which failed to present either evangelical motives, or spiritual privileges and blessings. A craving for intellectual food, adapted to their present religious state, was created in them, and must be gratified. When St. Paul and Barnabas preached “the word of this salvation” in the synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia, the generality of the Jews rejected the gracious message; but the Gentiles, under the influence of better feel. ings, earnestly “besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.” (Acts xiii. 42.) So the Methodist converts, to whom the teaching of the Wesleys was the power of God unto salvation, desired to hear the same truth “ the next Sabbath," and the Sabbath after that, to the very end of life.
But where could they hear it? Not in the parish. churches, except in some rare cases; nor in Dissenting meeting-houses, where many of the congregations listened to an ultra-Calvinism, or to an Arianized Gospel, which acknowledged no propitiatory sacrifice for sin, and no sanctifying Spirit. Whereas the Methodist converts could be satisfied with nothing less than the Gospel in its integrity, as they had heard it from the lips of the zealous and gifted brothers, but whom they could only occasionally hear; these faithful men extending their labours to the neglected masses of England, from the Land's-End to the Tweed. It was clear, then, that Methodism must have a ministry of its own; a ministry recognising the redemption of all mankind by the death of the incarnate Son of God, and offering to the vilest and the worst a salva
tion free as the air they breathed. Christians are to live by faith, and to walk by faith. But “ faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God;" and faith is sustained, increased, and perfected by the same means. The Methodist converts yearned for a ministry which would stir up their pure minds by way of remembrance, setting before them, as a common privilege, the abiding witness of personal adoption, progressive and entire sanctification, and the means by which they might make their calling and election sure.
But how could such a ministry be obtained ? This question, it would appear, Mr. John Wesley, with all his sagacity and foresight, had never duly considered. He had been educated in the belief that no man is authorized to preach the Gospel but under the direct sanction of a diocesan prelate, the imposition of whose hands is essential to a valid ordination. This prejudice he was at length compelled to abandon. From among his own spiritual children, the members of his own societies, it pleased God to raise up such a ministry as was needed; just as He raised up pastors and teachers in the apostolic churches. This unexpected phenomenon first appeared in the person of Thomas Maxfield, a member of the society connected with the Foundery in London. He was a young man of deep piety, and acceptable talents, full of holy zeal, and greatly beloved by the people. With their approval, and in the absence of the Wesleys, he began to preach, probably urged by others beyond his own first intention. The