« PreviousContinue »
against the law of my mind, and my might, and laboured to prove, still bringing me into captivity to that faith might be where these were the law of sin.'
not; especially where the sense of “ 10. In this vile, abject state of forgiveness was not: for all the bondage to sin, I was indeed fight- scriptures relating to this, I had ing continually, but not conquering. been long since taught to construe Before, I had willingly served sin ; away, and to call all Presbyterians now, it was unwillingly; but still I who spoke otherwise. Besides, I served it. I fell and rose, and fell well saw, no one could (in the na. again. Sometimes I was overcome, ture of things) have such a sense of and in heaviness; sometimes I over. forgiveness, and not feel it. But I came, and was in joy. For as in felt it not. If then there was no the former state, l had some fore. faith without this, all my pretensions tastes of the terrors of the law, so to faith dropped at once. bad I in this, of the comforts of “ 12. When I met Peter Böbler the Gospel. During this whole again, he consented to put the disstruggle between nature and grace, pute upon the issue which I desired, (which had now continued above ten viz., Scripture and experience. í years,) I had many remarkable re first consulted the Scripture. But turns to prayer; especially when I when I set aside the glosses of inen, was in trouble. I had many sensic and simply considered the words of ble comforts, which are indeed no God, comparing them together, enother than short anticipations of the deavouring to illustrate the obscure life of faith. But I was still under by the plainer passages, I found the law, not under grace: the state they all made against me, and was most who are called Christians are forced to retreat to my last hold, content to live and die in. For I • That experience would never agree was only striving with, not freed with the literal interpretation of from, sin; neither bad I the witness those scriptures. Nor could I, of the Spirit with my spirit; and in- therefore, allow it to be true, till I deed could not ; for I sought it not found some living witnesses of it.”. by faith, but (as it were) by the He replied, 'He could show me works of the law.
such at any time; if I desired it, the “11. In my return to England, next day. And accordingly, the January, 1738, being in imminent next day, he came with three others, danger of death, and very uneasy all of whom testified of their own on that account, I was strongly con- personal experience, that a true vinced that the cause of that unea- living faith in Christ is inseparable siness was unbelief, and that the from a sense of pardon for all past, gaining a true, living faith, was the and freedom from all present, sins. one thing needful for me. But still They added with one mouth, that I fixed not this faith on its right ob- this faith was the gift, the free gift of ject: I meant only faith in Gon, not God, and that He would surely be. faith in or through Christ. Again, stow it upon every soul who earnestI knew not that I was wholly void of ly and perseveringly sought it. I this faith ; but only thought I had was now thoroughly convinced; and, not enough of it. So that when Peter by the grace of God, I resolved to Böhler, whom God prepared for me seek it unto the end : 1. By absoas soon as I came to London, af- lutely renouncing all dependence, in firmed of true faith in Christ, (which whole or in part, upon my own is but one,) that it bad those two works or righteousness, on which I fruits inseparably attending it, do- had really grounded my hope of salminion over sin, and constant peace vation, though I knew it not, from from a sense of forgiveness,' I was my youth up. 2. By adding to the quite amazed, and looked upon it as constant use of all the other means a new Gospel. If this was so, it of grace, continual prayer for this was clear I had not faith. But I very thing,-justifying, saving faith; was not willing to be convinced of a full reliance on the blood of Christ this. Therefore I disputed with all shed for me ; a trust in him as my
Christ, as my sole justification, sanc- to the transports of joy that usually tification, and redemption.
attend the beginning of it, especially “ 13. I continued 'thus to seek it, in those who have inourned deeply, (though with strange indifference, God sometimes giveth, sometimes dulness, and coldness, and unusually withholdeth them, according to the frequent relapses into sin,) till Wed- counsels of his own will. nesday, May 24th. I think it was “16. After my return home, I about five this moruing that I was much buffeted with temptations; opened my Testament on those but cried out, and they fled away. words :--Tà Héylota ruiv kaì ripia They returned again and again. I επαγγέλματα δεδώρηται, ίνα γένησθε as often lified up my eyes, and He θείας κοινωνοί φύσεως. .
sent me help from his holy place. given unto us exceeding great and And herein I found the difference precious promises, even that ye between this and my former state should be partakers of the divine chiefly consisted. I was striving, nature. (2 Pet. i. 4.) Just as I yea, fighting with all my might unwent out, I opened it again on those der the law, as well as under grace; words: Thou art not far from the but then I was sometimes, if not ofkingdom of God. In the afternoon ten, conquered : now, I was always I was asked to go to St. Paul's. The conqueror. anthem was, Vut of the deep have “ 17. Thursday, May 25th.--The I called unto thee, O Lord: Lord, moment I awaked, Jesus, Master,' hear my voice. Olet thine ears was in my heart and in my mouth; consider well the voice of my com- and I found all my strength lay in plaint. If thou, Lord, wilt be ex. keeping my eye fixed upon him, and ireme to mark what is done amiss, my soul waiting on him continually. O Lord, who may abide it? But Being again at St. Paul's in the afthere is mercy with thee; therefore ternoon, I could taste the good word thou shalt be feared. O Israel, trust of God in the anthem, which began, in the Lord: for with the Lord My song shall be always of the there is mercy, and with him is loving-kindness of the Lord : with plenteous redemption. And he shall my mouth will I ever be showing redeem Israel from all his sins.' forth thy truth from one generation
“ 14. In the evening I went very to another. Yet the enemy injected unwillingly to society in Alders- a fear, “If thou dost believe, why is gate-street, where one was reading there not a more sensible change?' Luther's preface to the Epistle to answered, (yet not 1,) 'That I the Romans. About a quarter be. know not. But this I know, I have fore nine, while he was describing now peace with God. And I sin the change which God works in the not to-day, and Jesus my Master heart through faith in Christ, I felt has forbid me to take thought for my heart strangely warmed. I felt the morrow.' I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, “ 18. ' But is not any sort of fear,' for salvation; and an assurance was continued the tempter, a proof given me, that he had taken away that thou dost not believe?' I demy sins, even mine, and saved me sired my Master to answer for me; and from the law of sin and death. opened his book upon those words .“ 15. I began to pray with all my of St. Paul : Without were fightmight for those who had in a more ings, within were fears.' Then, inespecial inanner despitefully used ferred I, well may fears be within me and persecuted me. I then tes- me; but I must go on, and tread tified openly to all there what I now them under my feet." first felt in my heart. But it was According to Mr. Wesley's statenot long before the enemy sug- ment, the change which he describes gested, * This cannot be faith; for took place at what he calls “a socia where is thy joy?' Then was I ety in Aldersyate-street.” This was taught, that peace and victory over doubtless one of the “religious sio are essential to faith in the Cap- societies ” of wbich Dr. Woodward tain of our salvation; but that, as published an account in the begin.
ning of the last century. They are gracious conduct of the Holy Spirit, often referred to in Mr. Wesley's through our Lord Jesus Christ, to Journal ; and he appears frequently excite, advance, and perfect all good to bave attended their meetings at this period of his life.
“ That in order to their being of Dr. Woodward states that they one heart and of one mind in this originated about thirty-two years design, every member of this society before he wrote; and that they first shall own and manifest himself to consisted principally of young men be of the Church of England, and belonging to London and Westmins frequent the Liturgy, and other ster, who were brought under deep public exercises of the
same; religious convictions, and met toge. and that they be careful withal to ther to promote each other's spirit. express due Christian charity, canual improvement. They at length dour, and moderation towards all became numerous in London and its such Dissenters as are of good con. neighbourhood, where they were versation. patronized by the more zealous and “ Tbat the members of this soci. devout of the Clergy, by several of ety shall meet together one evening the Bishops, and even by royalty. in the week, at a convenient place, At their meetings they contributed in order to encourage each other in money, which was expended in the practical holiness, by discoursing on education of poor children, and in such subjects as tend thereunto; the relief of the afflicted. They observing the holy Scriptures as were discountenanced during the their rule, and praying to God for Popish reign of James the Second; his grace and blessing. And to this and many of the members withdrew assembly any serious person, known for a time, under an apprehension to any of the society, may be ad. of danger. They rallied again after mitted upon request. the Revolution; and several were “That at such meetings they deforined in different parts of the cline all disputes about controvercountry, where they were a means sial points, and all unnecessary of promoting an increased attend- discourse al.out state affairs, or the ance upon the religious services of concerns of trade and worldly the Church, and of suppressing vice things, and that the whole bent of and immorality. Out of them also the discourse be to glorify God, arose several Societies for the Re. and edily one another in love. formation of Manners, which called “ That it be left to every person's in the assistance of the Magistracy, discretion to contribute at every and successfully put the law in force weekly meeting what he thinks tit against Sabbath-breaking, profane towards the public stock, for pious swearing, prostitution, and various and charitable uses ; especially for other evils. It is highly honourable putting poor children to school: to them, that the schools which and the money thus collected shall they established and supported in be kept by the two Stewards of the and about London amounted to one society, who shall be chosen by hundred. To show more fully the majority of votes once a year, or character of these societies, and the oftener, to be disposed of by the principles upon which they were consent of the major part of the conducted, the following Rules of society for the uses above menthe society at Poplar are adduced :- tioned. And the said Stewards
“That the sole design of this shall keep a faithful register of what society being to promote real holi- is thus collected and distributed, 10 Dess of heart anıl life, it is abso- be perused by any meinber of the lutely necessary that the persons who society at bis request. enter into it do seriously resolve, by “That any respective member the grace of God, to apply them. may recommend any object of chaselves to all the means proper to rity to the Stewards, who shall accomplish these blessed ends : (with the consent of the rest) give trusting in the divine power and out of the common stock according
as the occasion requires ; and in a meekness and humility. Matthew case of extraordinary necessity every xi. 29. particular person shall be desired to “5. To watch against censuring contribute further, as he shall think others. Matt. vii. 1. fit.
. 6. To accustom themselves to “ That every one that absents holy thoughts in all places. Psalın himself four meetings together, cxxxix. 23. without giving a satisfactory ac- “7. To be helpful one to another. count to the Steward, shall be 1 Cor. xii. 25. looked upon as disaffected to the “8. To exercise tenderness, pasociety.
tience, and compassion towards all “That none shall be admitted men. Titus iii. 2. into this society without giving due “9. To make reflections on them. notice thereof to the Stewards, who selves when they read the holy shall acquaint the whole society Bible, or other good books, and therewith ; and after due inquiry when they hear sermons. 1 Cor. into their religious purposes and
X. 11. inanner of life, the Stewards may “ 10. To shun all foreseen occaadmit them, if the major part of the sions of evil; as evil company, society allows of it, and not other known temptations, &c. 1 Thess. wise. "And with the like joint con
V. 22. sent they may exclude any member “11. To think often on the difproved guilty of any misbehaviour, ferent estates of the glorified and after due admonition, unless he the damned in the unchangeable gives sufficient testimony of his eternity to which we are hastening. repentance and amendment before Luke xvi. 25. the whole society.
To examine themselves “It is hereby recommended to every night, what good or evil they every person concerned in this soci. have done in the day past. 2 Cor. ety, to consider the dangerous xiii. 5. snares of gaming, and the open “13. To keep a private fast once scandal of being concerned in those a month, (especially if near their games which are used in public- approach to the Lord's table,) if at houses; and that it is the safest their own disposal, or to fast from and most commendable way to some meals when they may convedecline them wholly; shunning all niently. Matt. vi. 16; Luke v. 35. unnecessary resort to such houses “14. To mortify the flesh, with and taverns, and wholly avoiding its affections and lusts. Galatians lewd playhouses.
v. 19, 24. “ That whereas the following du- “15. To advance in heavenlyties have been too much neglected, mindedness, and in all grace. 1 Peter to the scandal and reproach of our iii. 8. holy religion; they do resolve, by 16. To shun spiritual pride, and the grace of God, to make it their the effects of it ; as railing, anger, serious endeavour,
peevishness, and impatience of con“1. To be just in all their deal- tradiction, and the like. ings, even to an exemplary strict- “ 17. To pray for the whole sociness. 1 Thess. iv. 6.
ety in their private prayers. James “2. To pray many times every day; remembering our continual “ 18. To read pious books often, dependence upon God, both for spi- for their edification, but especially ritual and temporal things. i Thess. the holy Bible ; and herein particuv. 17.
larly John v. 39; _Matt. v., vi., vii.; “3. To partake of the Lord's Luke xv., xvi.; Romans xii., xiii.; supper at least once a month, if not Eph. V., vi. ; 1 Thess. v.; Rev. i., prevented by a reasonable impedi- ii, iii., xxi., xxii. And in the Old ment. i Corinthians xi. 26; Luke Testament, Leviticus xxvi. ; Deut. xxii. 19.
xxviii. ; Isaiah liii.; Ezek, xxxvi. “ 4. To practise the profoundest “19. To be continually mindful
of the great obligation of this spe- of course, would strongly recomcial profession of religion ; and to mend themselves to the anxious and walk so circumspectly, that none inquiring mind of Mr. Wesley at may be offended, or discouraged this period of his life ; especially as from it, by what they see in them; they were carried on in immediate nor occasion given to any to speak connexion with the established reproachfully of it.
Church, to which his attachment was “ 20. To shun all manner of affec- inviolable. tation and moroseness; and to be At the weekly meetings of these of a civil and obliging deportment societies, the members united in to all men.
acts of prayer and praise, forms of “That they often consider (with which were printed for their use ; an awful dread of God's wrath) the and also exhortations to piety. These sad height to which the sins of appear to have been generally read many are advanced in this our by the Stewards, as well as the holy nation, and the bleeding divisions Scriptures, and other good books. thereof in Church and State ; and When Mr. Wesley obtained “the that every member be ready to do pearl of great price," the faith of what, upon consulting with each God's elect, the man who conducted other, shall be thought advisable the religious services was reading towards the punishment of public Luther's preface to the Epistle to profaneness, according to the good the Romans. It is remarkable that laws of our land, required to be put none of Mr. Wesley's biographers in execution by the Queen's and the should have referred to this doculate King's special order ; and to do ment, which is singularly adapted to what befits them in their stations, the state of his mind at that parti. in order to the cementing of our cular period. It proves that Luther divisions.
was not only a powerful opponent “ That each member shall encou- of ecclesiastical abuses, and of those rage the catechising of young and theological errors which the Church ignorant people in their respective of Rome bas invented and main. . families, according to their stations tained; but that he was also well and abilities ; and shall observe all acquainted with the work of God in manner of religious family duties. the human heart. The preface in
“ That the major part of the question was published in English society shall have power to make a during the latter part of Queen Elinew order, to bind the whole, when zabeth's reign; and it is probable need requires, if it be approved by that it was a reprint of this translathree pious and learned Ministers of tion that was read in the meeting the Church of England, nominated which Mr. Wesley describes. This by the whole society.
book has long been extremely scarce, “ That these orders shall be read so that I have never been able to get over at least four times in the year possession of a copy : I should otherby one of the Stewards; and that wise have had great pleasure in laying with such deliberation, that each before the readers of the Wesleyan member may have time to examine Magazine the exact words to which himself hy them, or to speak bis the venerated Founder of Methodism mind in any thing relating to them. was listening when the Son of God
“ Lastly, that every member of was revealed in his heart. In the this society shall (after mature deli- absence of that tract I have no alterberation, and due trial) express bis native but to give the passages from approbation of these orders, and his Luther in an original translation. resolution to endeavour to live up They occur in the fifth volume of to them; in order to which he shall Luther's Works, in folio, A.D. 1554. constantly keep a copy of them by The small treatise from which they him.''
are selected bears the title of PrefaThese rules explain with sufficient tio methodica totius Scripturæ in distinctness the nature of the soci. Epistolam ad Romanos. It was, like eties in question. Such institutions, many other of Luther's valuable