Imágenes de páginas

derived it from his parents. The daughter of the eminent nonconformist rector of Cripplegate, Dr. Annesley, who, at thirteen years


had studied the statechurch controversy, and made up her mind, with force of reason too, to contemn her father's decision, and take her place for life on the other side, cannot be supposed to have been wanting in firmness; who, further, would never renounce her Jacobite respect for the jus divinum of the Stuart kings, nor say Amen to her husband's prayers for him of the Revolution, nor bow beneath the thousand ills of her married life, and pursued the onward, even, and unwearying tenor of her way, undismayed by censure, uncrushed by poverty and domestic cares, unchanging and unchanged to the last, could not be wanting in it. Nor was the sire less endowed with it, though there was more of petulant and human passion in its display in him. The man whose whole life was a perpetual struggle with circumstances, and war with opinions, and a series of ill-rewarded efforts—the wight who stole away from the dissenting academy, whence they sohoed him in vain, and without consulting friend or relative, tramped it to Oxford, and entered himself a penniless servitor; who afterwards, a right loyal but very threadbare clergyman, rode off in a huff from his wife, nor rejoined her for a twelvemonth, till the death of King William released him from his sturdily kept but unrighteous vow—who “ fought with wild beasts,” for high church of the highest order, and shrank from no cuffs he caught in such a cause; and who, when his “ Job” was consumed in the fire that burnt his parsonage, sat down to renew the labour of



re-compose write his learned Latin folio: these are so many indi

and re

cations of indomitable firmness, that we should be blind as moles to overlook its presence in his character. John Wesley had the same unbending sinew. He too was made of stern unpliant stuff, and to drive the Tiber back to its sources were as easy a task as to turn him back from a course deliberately chosen with the approval of his judgment. Opponents, strong and numerous enough, he had to encounter, to justify concession, had he been so disposed, nor was reason always so visibly on his side but he might have paused. We shall name an occasion or two such as rarely occur in the life of a good man, which signalised the lordliness of his will, and proved him to be endowed with a rare determination. We omit the ridicule and minor

persecutions provoked by the religious singularities of his early career, as not sufficient to turn even an aspenminded man who had any earnest devotion about him, from his way, and note his first most trying decision, that by which he was led to renounce his father's living

Shortly before his father's decease it occurred to the head of the family, looking anxiously forward to its fortunes, and those of his parish, how desirable it would be that his son John should succeed him in his cure, at once for the perpetuation of the religious care he had exercised over his parishioners, and that his wife and daughters might retain their accustomed home at the

parsonage. Here was every consideration to move a susceptible man, -regard for souls, veneration for a parent in the ministry, respect for hoar hairs grown grey in the service of the church, and Christian and family ties of more than ordinary strength, all put before him in a strain of uncommon force and pathos

by his father in his final appeal. Thus wrote the aged father to his son at Oxford :

“ Thus is the case before us: put all the circumstances together: if you are not indifferent whether the labours of an aged father, for above forty years in God's vineyard, be lost, and the fences of it trodden down and destroyed; if you consider that Mr. W. must in all probability succeed me if you do not, and that the prospect of that mighty Nimrod's coming hither shocks my soul, and is in a fair way of bringing down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave ;-if you have any care for our family, which must be dismally shattered as soon as I am dropt—if you reflect on the dear love and longing which this poor people has for you, whereby you will be enabled to do God the more service, and the plenteousness of the harvest consisting of near two thousand souls, whereas you have not many more souls in the University-you may perhaps alter your mind, and bend your will to His, who has promised if in all our ways we acknowledge Him, he will direct our paths."

We do not profess to be ourselves the rock fortress that could have withstood such artillery as this. We incline to fear that the red hot shot of arguments like these must have fired our magazine and blown up our defences. But none of these things moved our hero. He was devout, affectionate, and filial, but firm; so notoriously so, that his elder brother Samuel, writing to him on the subject, in December, 1734, says: “Yesterday I received a letter from my father, wherein he tells me you are unalterably resolved not to accept of a certain living if you could get it. After this declaration I believe no one can move your mind but Him who made it.” The question was, in fact, decided, and he was not to be shaken from his determination, the ground of decision being, not the comparative merits of Epworth and Oxford, as fields of usefulness, but something more exclusively personal. He felt as many a man in earnest about salvation has felt before and since, that the care of his own soul is of prime importance, and must be especially regarded in every measure we adopt; that the neglect of self is ill compensated by saving benefit to others, or any advantage of an earthly kind. For reasons given with great length and clearness, in a letter to his father, he concluded a continued residence at Oxford essential to his soul's peace and welfare. "The point is," he says," whether I shall or shall not work out my salvation, whether I shall serve Christ or Belial.” The semi-monastic life of the university was essential to the very life of piety in his heart, according to his views at that juncture; therefore Epworth, with its long list of prudential makeweights, kicked the beam.

Now Wesley was HUMANLY right. His personal relation to eternity outweighed all other considerations to his awakened soul. He felt, as few men feel, how solemn a thing it is to die. His resolution was based upon the sentiment of his own hymn in after days:

“A charge to keep I have,

A God to glorify,
A never dying soul to save,

And fit it for the sky.” And Wesley was DIVINELY right. If ever the Spirit of God had to do with the moral movements of men, its operation is discernible in this case. It was of infinite moment to the world that Wesley's decision should have been what it was, and of equal moment to his own peace of conscience that it should have been correct. The mode in which he viewed the question, sets him right in the court of conscience, and the results that

followed justified his decision. His father would have involved him in a maze of nice casuistry—puzzled him by a complex tangle of motives and influences—but wiser than he, and more free from bias, the son looks at it in the simple, proper light, that of duty, and gives utterance to the following sentiments, which are sublimely true:

“I do not say that the glory of God is to be my first, or my principal consideration, but my only one: since all that are not implied in this are absolutely of no weight; in presence of this they all vanish away, they are less than the small dust of the balance. And indeed till all other considerations were set aside, I could never come to any clear determination ; till my eye was single my whole body was full of darkness. Every consideration distinct from this threw a shadow over all the objects I had in view, and was such a cloud as no light could penetrate. Whereas so long as I can keep my eye single, and steadily fixed on the glory of God, I have no more doubt of the way wherein I should go, than of the shining of the sun at noon-day.”

Well said, clear head, and stoutly done, brave heart, though there were natural yearnings and fond misgivings in thy way! IN QUESTIONS OF DUTY thou didst clearly see DUTY ALONE IS TO BE CONSULTED. Thou didst not consult with flesh and blood; these had crushed thy conscience and warped thy will, and reversed thy decision. Thou didst take the matter to the infallible oracle, Him that sitteth upon the throne; like Hezekiah thou didst lay it upon the altar of the Most High, and tremulously say, “ That which I know not teach thou me,” and thou wert rewarded with a divine intimation, “ This is the way!" Thou didst thus hate thy father and thy mother, and thy house, and take up thy cross for Christ's sake and the Gospel's;

« AnteriorContinuar »