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The end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good
By faith,--choosing rather to suffer affliction with the peoplo of God, than to
These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he gooth, Rev. xiv, 4
OFFICE, 200 MULBERRY-STREET.
J. Collord, Printer.
A SHORT time after I was appointed to the Birmingham district, the papers of the late Mrs. Fletcher were put into my hands. I was informed at the same time, that the venerable person whose life was recorded in them had mentioned me as one that she wished should prepare and publish her papers; and that an application to that effect would have been made to me before that time, but that the distance of my former appointment had prevented it, Mrs. Fletcher having laid an injunction on her friend, to whom, by will, she had committed them, not to give them absolutely into the hands of any person whatsoever.
I examined those papers with no common interest. They gave an account not only of the writer's own life, but involved, in some respects, that of her admirable hus. band. I was certain that those records were desired, and would be received, by the most pious in these kingdoms, not as a common religious biography, but as the record of an uncommon work of God; and that they would not be expected to fall short of any account which has come forth in that great revival of scriptural Christianity in our day, concerning which we have so often been con. strained to say, What hath God wrought ?
I have often wished to see such a display of that work as would show its genuine nature and fruits, free from
the colouring of those writers who were not directly con. • cerned 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, Fa. ther, 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 per. sonified ;—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 im. portant circumstances, has been already published, espe. cially in the journals of the Rev. Mr. John Welsey, the father of Methodism, so called. In these we see, as in the Gospel, the grain of mustard seed increasing and be. coming a great tree, to the astonishment of those who wit. nessed its small beginning,—who “ 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 are observable in all the writ. ings of that eminent instrument of God. This large sur. vey 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 reli. gious communities, though they are so highly necessary to its propagation and increase. It never was so attach. ed; 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 very word and action, toward 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 deceiva. bleness 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 per. sonal religion; and all who attached it to names, ordi. nances, 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 heaven : 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, so 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 in. volved the whole as necessary to salvation,-Without ho. liness no man shall see the Lord. They immediately fol." lowed 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, wood, hay, or stubble.
But did they spend their strength for naught? 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 she be not introduced, in these më. moirs, 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 theo ;
Lame, and lo! we leap for joy.” “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 me. moirs are given to the public, and especially to that com. munity of which the writer was so long a highly honoured