« AnteriorContinuar »
the colouring of those writers who were not directly concerned in it; or of those who might be so anxious about its public reputation, as to forget, that the circumcision of the heart; is justified only by those children of the light and of the day who prove its power, and cry Abba, Father, by the spirit of adoption ; and whose praise is not of men, but of God. It is much to be desired also to see such an account made living and powerful by being personified ;—to see an individual thus, walking worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.
A general history of this work, including all the important circumstances, has been already published, espcially in the journals of the Rev. Mr. John Wesley, the father of Methodism, so called. In these we see, as in the Gospel, the grain of mustard seed, increasing, and becoming a great tree, to the astonishment of those who witnessed its small beginning,who fo saw the cloud arise little as a human hand." The display given us in that account, is distinguished by the same simplicity, purity, and classical beauty, which arc observable in all the writings of that eminent instrument of God. This farge survey is highly satisfactory; but the aid of living testimony is necessary to bring it home to the hearts of those whose inquiry is, What shall I do to be saved ? How shall I walk with God?
Religion is nothing less than the life of God in the soul of man. It is the offspring of God through faith, and is not, and cannot, be attached to churches or religious communities, though they are so highly necessary to its propagation and increase. It never was so attached ; though while the covenant of God was established with
the nation of the Jews, it had that appearance. But even then, all, were not Israel, who were of Israel. The children of the promise, and not the children of the flesh, were counted for the seed. The Gospel, however, to the stumbling of the greatest part of that people, put an end to that appearance. The national covenant answered the design of Him who gave it. It foretold, typified, and prepared the way of the only begotten Son of God. But who could abide the day of his coming ? Who could stand when he appeared? It is true, He was meek and lowly in heart, and his every word and action, towards even the greatest transgressors, demonstrated that He came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them. But he exposed and resisted all those who walked in the deceivableness of unrighteousness, and who boasted, like their fathers, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are we! He looked for personal religion ; and all who attached it to names, ordinances, or communities, he answered with-Ye worship ye know not what.
He enforced poverty of spirit, mourning, meekness, mercifulness, and purity of heart; showing thus the beginning and progress of religion, as given to guilty sinful, helpless creatures, in whom dwells no good thing ; and who are thus to be made rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom of heavan : and who thus alone can be made new creatures, and meet for the inheritance among the saints in light; whose robes are washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb.
These pure and high principles of Holy Writ, go agreeable to the exalted character of Jehovah, and to the fallen and wretched condition of man, were sought out and adopted by the band of brothers in the University of Oxford, nearly ninety years ago. One great
truth involved the whole as necessary to salvationWithout holiness no man shall see the Lord. They immediately followed after this, making every sacrifice, and ordering their whole life that they might attain it. Some time after the Lord showed them that His way of conferring holiness was by faith ? and that he justifies men, as being ungodly, through the redemption that is in Jesus, before he sanctifies them. They now knew the whole truth, and the Lord thrust them forth from their beloved retirement, to raise a holy people. This was the one design of these chosen instruments, and every thing short of it they counted, to use the language of St. Paul, zood, hay, or stubble.
But did they spend their strength for nought ? Were they disappointed of their hope? Were not a holy people raised up? Let the Life of Mrs. Fletcher speak. Let the pious reader say, if he be not introduced, in these memoirs, among the excellent of the earth ;-All of whom with one voice would testify,
« Blind we were, but now we see,
Deaf, we hearken, Lord! to Thee;
“Some who have separated from other communities," says Mr. Wesley, “ laid the foundation of that work, in judging and condemning others : we, on the contrary, in judging and condemning ourselves."
I cannot therefore but greatly rejoice that these memoirs are given to the public, and especially to that community of which the writer was so long a highly honoured and useful member. I cannot but think they will be a great blessing to the people of God of every denomination ; and especially to all who desire to walk
even as Christ also walked, and who are conscious of an evil nature, opposing that will of God which is their sanc. tification. In this point of view especially, these memoirs will be considered, I think, as very precious to all who fight this good fight of faith. The reader will find in them no paint ; nothing to set the writer off ; no extravagance; but plain life, raised and sanctified by constant attention to the duties and sacrifices of the Gospel ; and issuing in a constant pleading of the great and precious promises, by which we are made partakers of the Divine Nature: with unremitting efforts to walk by that rule, whether ye eat or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Luther observed, that there never was a work of God in the earth that lasted longer, in any community, than the common life of man"; that is, upon an average, about thirty years. Generally about that period the vineyard which the Lord planted with his own righthand, has been let out to husbandmen, who, yielding to their natural propensities, and accommodating the work of the Lord to the course of this world, have not been careful to render to him the required fruit. Hence the visible state of decay or of death, in those communities which once manifested the Divine hand of Him who formed them. But this work has lasted nearly thrice that time! There are none alive who witnessed its beginning, and but very few who knew its early days. If any such meet with this work, they will call to mind the very glorious time when it was altogether the work of God; when it was unsupported by any worldly power or wisdom, and had all that is earthly, sensual, and devilish, combined against it. They will see also a consistency in the design, and in the mode of execution, which je
truly edifying, and not of this world. The instruments employed in this work, and especially that one so eminently called thereto, were not careful for such prosperity as worldly men desire. They knew, like their blessed Master, that all whom their Father gave them would come unto them, and they did not desire to bring the world into his fold. The world is called, and redeemed : but to add to the family of God all who obeyed that call, was their only ambition, and the object of their incessant labours.
The great superintendent of this work, under God, looked not for what the world calls great talents in his helpers. In this respect also he gladly used those whom the Father gave him; who were witnesses of the truths which they were called to teach. Men who knew God (in the only way in which he can be truly and powerfully known) as being merciful to their unrighteousness, and remembering their sins no more. He was careful also to see that the true fruit accompanied their ministry, The justification of the ungodly, and the sanctification of the unholy. He used to say, “ The best physician is not he who writes the best recipes, but he who makes the most cures.”. When men of learning united with him in this divine work, he greatly rejoiced, and gladly received them. The late Mr. Fletcher was an eminent instance of that kind. His learning was deep, extensive, clear, and various; but like his venerable friend, whom he always called Father, he counted even all these estimable advantages as dung and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. So abased was this great man in his own eyes, and so entirely did he take the divine mould of the Gospel, that there was not one of those helpers in the work whom he did not re