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THE

LIFE OF WESLEY;

AND THE

RISE AND PROGRESS

Methodism.

By ROBERT SOUTHEY, Esq.

POET LAUREATE,

MEMBER OF THE ROYAL SPANISH ACADEMY, OP THE ROYAL SPANISH ACADEMY

OF HISTORY, AND OF THE ROYAL INSTITUTE OF THE NETHERLANDS, &c.

Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted;
nor to find talk and discourse : but to weigh and consider.

Lord Bacon.

IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. II.

LONDON:

PRINTED FOR LONGMAN, HURST, REES, ORME, AND BROWN,

PATERNOSTER-ROW.

1820.

ENGLISH
OXFORD
LIBRARY

THE

LIFE OF WESLEY.

CHAPTER XIII. DEATH OF MRS. WESLEY. — WESLEY'S SISTERS. -

WESLEY AT EPWORTH.

METHODISM had now taken root in the land. Meeting-houses had been erected in various parts of the kingdom, and settled, not upon trusteos, (which would have destroyed the unity of Wesley's scheme, by making the preachers dependent upon the people, as among the Dissenters,) but upon him. self, the acknowledged head and sole director of the society which he had raised and organised. Funds were provided by a financial regulation so well devised, that the revenues would increase in exact proportion to the increase of the members. Assistant preachers were ready, in any number that might be required, whose zeal and activity compensated, in no slight degree, for their want of learning; and whose inferiority of rank and education disposed them to look up to Mr. Wesley with deference as well as respect, and fitted them for the privations which they were to endure, and the company with which they were to associate. A system of minute inspection had been established, which was at once so contrived as to gratify

VOL. II.

every individual, by giving him a sense of his own importance, and to give the preacher the most perfect knowledge of those who were under his charge. No confession of faith was required from any person who desired to become a member: in this Wesley displayed that consummate prudence which distinguished him whenever he was not led astray by some darling opinion. The door was thus left open to the orthodox of all descriptions, Churchmen or Dissenters, Baptists or Pædobaptists, Presbyterians or Independents, Calvinists or Arminians; no profession, no sacrifice of any kind was exacted. The person who joined the new society was not expected to separate himself from the community to which he previously belonged. He was only called upon to renounce his vices, and follies which are near 'a-kin to them. Like the Free-mason, he acquired by his initiation new connections and imaginary consequence; but, unlike the Free-mason, he derived a real and direct benefit from the change which in most instances was operated in the habits and moral nature of the proselytes.

To this stage Methodism had advanced when Wesley lost his mother, in a good old age, ready and willing to depart. Arriving in London from one of his circuits, he found her “ on the borders of eternity; but she had no doubt or fear, nor any desire but, as soon as God should call, to depart and to be with Christ.” On the third day after his arrival, he perceived that her change was near. « I sate down,” he says, “ on the bed-side. She

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