« AnteriorContinuar »
They add, “ We are sensible that history is a narrative of facts, properly connected and elucidated. Such we trust, the following will be found. Mr. Wesley needs no panegyrist. His works shall praise him in the gates."
They seemed to have proceeded under the impression of this last idea through the whole of the work. It is not a panegyric, but a regular, unadorned statement, or narrative of matters of fact, set forth in order. Had they chosen to eulogize they had abundance of matter to work upon. But they left the facts recorded to speak to the minds of their numerous readers. Hence the book is not written in the style so much used by the writers of the Romish church, and which has been too much imitated by many Protestant authors. They have not over-coloured his virtues in order to dazzle the eyes of the spectators.
Before I quit this subject, I would just remark, that Dr. Whitehead also published a life of . Mr. Wesley, and a life of his brother Charles along with it. And what is more than could have been looked for in those days, the two different lives, the one by Dr. Coke and Mr. Moore, and the other by Dr. Whitehead, lie very peaceably in the same warehouse, are advertised in the same catalogue, are sold from the same Methodist book-room, at the City-Road, London; and are found together upon the shelves of many Methodists, and as free from all strife and contention as I believe their authors will be when they all meet together in a better country, to which, I believe, two of them are already gone.
It was at an early stage of the French Revolution that Dr. Coke resolved to visit France. The national church was overturned, and the churches declared national property, though the reign of terror had not yet fully commenced. The intolerant laws against the Protestants, which had been in force since the revocation of the edict of Nantz, were abolished; the Doctor, therefore, felt a desire to try whether any good could be done in that country by the preaching of the gospel. He had been some time studying the French language, but he was not, as yet, able to preach extempore in that language; but he could write and read it, . though it may be taken for certain that he was deficient in the pronunciation of it. Methodism had already gained some little footing in Normandy, in consequence of the visits of some preachers from the Norman isles. The Doctor, taking one or two of those preachers with him, visited Paris, hired a church, and published for preaching. His congregations were but small, though he preached, that is, read a sermon, several times. His encouragements were not sufficient to induce a continuance of the attempt, and as he had engaged the church for some time, and at some considérable expense, he was in danger of being a good deal out of pocket; but a lady, a nun, who had attended his preaching, gave him full credit for the piety of his intentions, and sent him an invitation to take breakfast with her at her nunnery. According to the rule of those places, there was an iron grating between them; he sat on one side, and she on the other, handing him his tea, &c. through a hole in that partition. She told him that she had heard the Methodists when in London, that she thought well of his motives for visiting Paris, and as she knew his expenses must be considerable, especially for the hire of the church, presented him with a sum of money that would about bear him harmless.
and were too generally flying from Popery into Deism, to pay much attention to any thing a stranger could say to them about the plain unadorned religion of the bible. But though Dr. Coke could do nothing at that time in France, he warmly cherished the desire and expectation of accomplishing something after the fever of the revolution should be over and peace re-established. With a view to this, he had a French emigrant for his companion for several years, to assist him in perfecting himself in the knowledge and pronunciation of the French tongue. . But it is time for us once more to follow the Doctor across the Western Main, in his fifth visit to the shores of America, and we shall find that in these visits he never went empty-handed. He did not, indeed, carry out large quantities of silver and gold, but he took with him what was more valuable, and what they needed much more, namely, servants of the most high God, to shere unto them the way of salvation. However he was more slenderly stocked this voyage than usual :-he took out with him only Mr. Graham, as a missionary to the West Indies.
I once thought of inserting in this place the Doctor's Journal of his “ Fifth Tour to America," but fearing I should not have room for more important matter, I am induced to omit it, only extracting from it the principal particulars :
On the first of September, 1792, he and Mr. Graham embarked at Ĝravesend, and the next day set sail for America. At the Captain's desire they immediately began to have prayers in the ship. He says, “I find a ship a most convenient place for study; though it is sometimes great exercise to my feet, legs, and arms, to keep myself steady to write. From the time I rise till bed-time, except during meals, I have the cabin-table to myself, and work at it incessantly. I have six canary-birds over my head, which sing most delightfully.”. October 9th he wrote in his Journal, mm" This is my birth-day, I am now forty-five. Let me take a view of my past life. What is the sum of all? What have I done? And what am I? I have done nothing; no, nothing; and I am a sinner! God be merciful to me!”
Oct. 20, he says" I renewed my covenant with God this morning, in a solemn and happy temper as ever I experienced; my first espousals to God not excepted.”
Oct. 30th, 1792, he landed at Newcastle, in the State of Delaware. He rode seventy miles in a day and a few hours, and arrived at Baltimore just in time enough to take some refreshment and a little sleep, before the commencement of the General Conference, which lasted fifteen days.
On the 29th of November, he had a remark. able deliverance at New York. He went to the wharfs to look out for a vessel to carry him to the West Indies, and in ascending the side of a brig his foot slipt.-He alighted on something at the edge of the water, which supported him; and with the assistance of those who were near, he was raised on board. But when he looked back on the situation in which he had been a few moments before, he was struck with awe : his danger had been imminent. « Six times," said he, “ I have been in the very jaws of death, upon or near the water, and yet am still preserved, a monument of mercy in every respect !" .
It was at this time that he prepared for the press his sermon on “ The Witness of the Spirit.”
On the 12th of December, he sailed for St. Eustatius, in the West Indies, being accompanied by Mr. Black, the presiding elder in the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Here he
found there had been some fierce persecution of the Methodists. The governor of St. Eustatius was a rough, rude man, and would not suffer them to preach : and the poor slaves, from one end of the island to the other, who met together to sing and pray, and talk on religious subjects, were cart-whipped, and many of them imprisoned.The consequence was, that the society was almost dispersed. About half a dozen little classes met in corners; and yet there was not a single christian minister, of any denomination, in the whole island. From St. Eustatius he sailed for St. Christopher's, and there received information that a dreadful persecution had arisen in St. Vincent's, and that Mr. Lumb was at that time in the common prison of the island, for preaching the gospel, as is mentioned at large in my account of the mission in St. Vincent's.
The Doctor paid a visit to the island of Grenada. He lodged at Mr. Dents, the rector of St. George's, preached in his church, and was pleased and refreshed with the state of the society; and after remaining about a week in Grenada, he departed for Tortola, and in his way touched at Nevis and St. Christopher's. After spending three days in Tortola, he embarked for Antigua, and on the 9th of February, the West India Conference commenced, which continued five days. The Doctor says—“ We examined all the important minutes of the preceding Conferences, and left nothing unconsidered, I think, which would be useful to each other, or to the work in general. Our debates were free and full : all the preachers seemed to speak their whole mind on every important subject, and, I believe, much profit will accrue to the work from the regulations which we then made. One of the sermons which I preached