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Christ Church; Mr. Morgan, Commoner of ChristChurch ; and Mr. Kirkman, of Merton-College, began to spend some evenings in a week together in reading chiefly the Greek Testament. The next year two or three of Mr. John Wesley's pupils desired the liberty of meeting with them; and afterwards one of Mr. Charles Wesley's pupils. It was in. 1732, that Mr. Ingham, of Queen's-College, and Mr. Broughton, of Exeter-College, were added to their number. To these in April, was joined, Mr. Clayton, of Brazen-Nose, with two or three of his pupils. About the same time, Mr. James Hervey was permitted to meet with them; and, in 1735, Mr. Whitfield."
The exact regularity of their lives, as well as studies, occasioned a young Gentleman, of ChristChurch, to say, “Here is a new set of Methodists sprung up;" alluding to some ancient Physicians, who were so called. The name was new and quaint, so it took immediately; and the Methodists were known all over the University,
They were all zealous members of the Church of England; not only tenacious of all her doctrines, so far as they knew them, but of all her discipline, to the minutest circumstance. They were likewise zealous observers of all the University-Statutes, and that for conscience' sake. But they observed neither these nor any thing else, any further than they conceived it was bound upon them by that one book, the Bible; it being their one desire and design to be down-right Bible Christians : taking the Bible, as interpreted by the primitive Church and our own, for their whole and sole rule.”
“ The one charge then advanced against them was, that they were righteous overmuch;” that they were abundantly too scrupulous and too strict,
carrying things to great extremes. In particular, that they laid too much stress upon the rubrics and canons of the church; -that they insisted too much on observing the statutes of the University; and that they took the Scriptures in too strict and literal a sense; so that, if they were right, few indeed would be saved.'
“ In October, 1735, Messrs. John and Charles Wesley, and Mr. Ingham, left England, with a design to go and preach to the Indians in Georgia. But the rest of the gentlemen continued to meet, till one and another was ordained, and left the University. By which means, in about two years time, not one of them was left."
“ In February, 1738, Mr. Whitfield went over to Georgia, with a design to assist Mr. John Wesley; but Mr. Wesley just then returned to England. Soon after he had a meeting with Messrs. Ingham, Stonehouse, Hall, Hutchings, Kitchin, and a few other clergymen, who all appeared to be of one heart, as well as of one judgment, resolved to be Bible-Christians at all events; and wherever they were, to preach with all their might, plain old Bible Christianity.”
They were hitherto perfectly regular in all things and zealously attached to the Church of England. Meantime they began to be convinced, that “ by grace we are saved, through faith;” that justification by faith is the Doctrine of the Church, as well as of the Bible. As soon as they believed, they spake; salvation by faith being now their standing topic. Indeed this implied three things: 1. That men are all by nature, dead in sin, and consequently, children of wrath: 2. That they are justified by faith alone :
3. That faith produces inward and outward holiness. And these points they insisted on day and night. In a
short time, they became popular preachers, the congregations were large wherever they preached. The former name was revived, and all these gentlemen, with their followers, were entitled methodists."
“ In March, 1741, Mr. Whitfield being returned to England, entirely separated from Mr. Wesley and his friends, because he (Mr. Wesley) did not hold the decrees." Here was the first breach which warm men persuaded Mr. Whitfield to make, merely for a difference of opinion. Those indeed who believed general redemption, had no desire at all to separate. But those who held particular redemption, would not hear of any accommodation, being determined to have no fellowship with men that “ were in such dangerous errors.
So there were now two sorts of Methodists so called; those for particular, and those for general redemption !
In a few years, Mr. Romaine, and Mr. Madan, both of London, Mr. Venn, Vicar of Huddersfield, Mr. Berridge, Vicar of Everton, and a few other clergymen, who, although they had no connexion with each other, yet preaching salvation by faith, and endeavouring to live as becometh the Gospel, they were soon denominated Methodists. And this was the general lot of all who preached about the fall and depravity of human nature, the plan of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, and who strenuously insisted upon the necessity of outward and inward holiness.
Perhaps it is necessary to inform the reader, that between Mr. Wesley's return from America, and his beginning to form Societies in England, he had paid a visit to the Unitas Fratrum, or Moravian Brethren, at Hernhuth, in Upper Lusatia, in the dominions of the Emperor of Austria. He had become acquainted with some of this sect on his passage to America, and he enlarged that ac
quaintance during his continuance there. And he had conceived such a high opinion of their piety, their doctrines, and discipline, that he resolved to spend some time at their Head-Quarters for his own personal edification. And indeed, the Moravians were to Mr. Wesley what Acquila and Priscilla were to Apollos, that is, they taught him the
way of God more perfectly than he before knew it. It was from them, that he imbibed the doctrine of instantaneous justification by faith, and that of the direct witness of the Spirit. And he also took from them the practices so universal among the Wesleyan Methodists, namely the meeting in classes and bands, as well as the holding of Love-feasts. Methodism, in fact, is but a second edition of Moravianism, amended and enlarged. In some of his first movements, after his return from Hernhuth, he seems to have wished to have cultivated not only a friendship, but a real christian union with the Moravian Brethren then in England, and especially with those in London. But obstacles occurred, and such insuperable difficulties were thrown in the way, that he ceased to assemble with them, as he had done for a little time, and even published the differences between them and him. However, he seems to have retained a great regard for the Moravians as long as he lived. And there can be no doubt, that he, numbers of his followers, and many Moravians, are for ever intermingled with the general assembly who inherit glory, and sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb.
As the Moravians are a remarkable people, and have occupied a distinguished place in the true Church of Christ, and do so at the present; and as it is the intention of the author of this work, to give a choice selection, briefly expressed, of such information as may contribute to the instruction and gratification of his readers, when not foreign to the main object, a short account of the Moravians will very properly come in here.
The Unitas Fratrum, or United Brethren, or Moravian Brethren, claim spiritual kindred, not only with Martin Luther, John Huss, and Jerome of Prague, but trace their descent from the Waldensis and Albigensis. Martin Luther was born in 1483, in Saxony, and died in 1552. He was the great champion of the Reformation of Christianity from Popery. But the outlines of his history are generally known. John Huss lived more than a century before Luther, being born in Bohemia in 1376, where he became minister of a Church, The writings of our countryman, John Wickliffe, before mentioned, discovered to him the corruptions of the church of Rome, and excited him to promote a reformation, in which he was so far successful as to have a number of followers, who were therefore called Hussites. The clergy instigated the Pope to issue a Bull against these reputed heretics : but as Huss was favoured and protected by the king of Bohemia, he was sheltered for a season, and the work of Reformation went on. When the council of Constance was called, John Huss was cited to appear, to give an account of his doctrine; and to encourage him so to do, the Emperor Sigismund sent him a safe conduct, or pass-port, and engaged for his security. On the strength of this, he made his appearance, but was almost instantly thrown into prison, and treated as a criminal. And after being confined for several months, he was sentenced to be burnt as an incorrigible heretic, which torment he endured in 1415 with steady fortitude. His persecutors threw his ashes into the river Rhine.
Jerome of Prague, so called because he was born at Prague in Bohemia, was a disciple of John Huss, and a man of considerable learning. The councił of Constance cited him before them at the same