Imágenes de páginas

divines. If the government had continued in the Cromwell family, this patronage would have raised him to distinction. He obtained the living of Blandford in his own county, and was ejected from it for non-conformity; being thus adrift, he thought of emigrating to Maryland, or to Surinam, where the English were then intending to settle a colony, but reflection and advice determined him to take his lot in his native land. There, by continuing to preach, he became obnoxious to the laws, and was four times imprisoned: his spirits were broken by the loss of those whom he loved best, and by the evil days; he died at the early age of three or four and thirty; and such was the spirit of the times, that the Vicar of Preston, in which village he died, would not allow his body to be buried in the church. Bartholomew was then living, but the loss of this, his only son, brought his

hairs with sorrow to the grave. This John Wesley married a woman of good stock, the niece of Thomas Fuller, the church historian, a man not more remarkable for wit and quaintness, than for the felicity with which he clothed fine thoughts in beautiful language. He left two sons, of whom Samuel, the younger, was only eight or nine years old at the time of his father's death. The circumstances of the father's life and sufferings, which have given him a place among the confessors of the nonconformists, were likely to influence the opinions of the son; but happening to fall in with bigotted and ferocious men, he saw the worst part of the dissenting character. Their defence of the execution of King


sion, if he has not the works of John Howe, and can procure them in no other way, should sell his coat and buy them; and if that will not suffice, let him sell his bed too and lie on the floor ; and if he spend his days in reading them, he will not complain that he lies hard at night."-But“ if the theological student should part with his coat or bis bed, to procure the works of Howe, he that would not sell his shirt to procure those of John Owen, and especially his Exposition, of which every sentence is precious, shows too much regard for his body, and too little for his immortal mind.”

History of the Dissenters, vol. ii. pp. 223. 236.

Charles offended him, and he was at once shocked and disgusted by their* calf's head club; so much so, that he separated from them, and, because of their intolerance, joined the church which had persecuted his father. This conduct, which was the result of feeling, was approved by his ripe judgment, and Samuel Wesley continued through life a zealous churchman. The feeling which urged him to this step must have been very powerful, and no common spirit was required to bear him through the difficulties which he brought upon himself; for, by withdrawing from the academy at which he had been placed, he so far offended his friends, that they lent him no further support, and in the latter years of Charles II. there was little disposition to encourage proselytes who joined a church which the reigning family was labouring to subvert. But Samuel Wesley was made of good mould; he knew and could de. pend upon himself; he walked to Oxford, entered himself at Exeter College as a poor scholart, and be

* So Samuel Wesley the son states, in a note to his elegy upon his father. According to him, if his words are to be literally understood, the separation took place when Mr. Wesley was but a boy. There is, however, reason for supposing that he was of age at the time, as will be shown in the note next ensuing.

† In Dr. Whitehead's lives of the Wesleys, and in the life which is prefixed to the collected edition of Mr. Wesley's works, it is said that Wesley the father was about sixteen when he entered himself at Exeter College. But as he was born “about the year 1662, or perhaps a little earlier,” he must have been not less than two-and-twenty at that time, as the following extracts from the registers of Exeter College will prove : Deposit of caution money.

Return of caution money.

Sept. 26.
1684. Mro. Hutchins pro

Samuele Westley, paup.
schol. de Dorchester, £3.

Dec. 22.

Samueli Westley pro
seipso, £3.

Ric. Hutchins.
Samuel Westley.

Ric. Hutchins.
Guil. Crabb.

Feb. 9.

Mro. Paynter pro Sam.
Westley, p. schol. olim
admisso, £3.

Jan. 10.
1687. Mihi ipsi pro impensis.

Coll. debitis ad fest.
Nat. 87. £3.

Guil. Paynter.
Ric. Hutchins.

Jo. Harris,

gan his studies there with no larger a fund than two pounds sixteen shillings, and no prospect of any future supply. From that time, till he graduated, a single crown was all the assistance he received from his friends. He composed exercises for those who had more money than learning; and he gave instruction to those who wished to profit by his lessons; and thus by great industry, and great frugality, he not only supported himself but had accumulated the sum of ten pounds fifteen shillings, when he went to London to be ordained. Having served a curacy there one year, and as chaplain during another on board a king's ship, he settled upon a curacy in the metropolis, and married Susannah, daughter of Dr. Annesley, one of the ejected ministers.

No man was ever more suitably mated than the elder Wesley. The wife whom he chose, was, like himself, the child of a man eminent among the nonconformists, and, like himself, in early youth she had


To these extracts, for which I am obliged to a fellow of Exeter College, through the means of a common friend, these explanatory observations are annexed. - In the entries of deposits the name first signed is that of the bursar, as R. Hutchins, G. Paynter: the name which follows is that of the depositor sometimes, but more usually that of his tutor or friend. Crabb was dean of the college when Westley entered.

“ The Pauper Scholaris was the lowest of the four conditions of members not on the foundation, as the annexed table, copied from one prefixed to the caution book, shows : Summæ ri. Commensalium 1. Sociorum

£6. tradendæ admissoruin ad Bursario piro

2. Propriam

conditionuin | 2. Battallariorium

scire. (3. Pauperum Scholarium .

£3. “I understand that some of these poor scholars were servitors, but not all.

“ There seems reason to suspect that Dec. 22, 1686, in the first entry of return, should be 1685; for otherwise Samuel Westley will appear to have had two cautions in at once ; and from the state of his finances this is peculiarly improbable.”

The name is spelled Westley with a t, in these entries, and in his own signature.

[ocr errors]


chosen her own path; she had examined the* controversy between the Dissenters and the Church of England with conscientious diligence, and satisfied herself that the schismatics were in the wrong. The dispute, it must be remembered, related wholly to discipline ; but her inquiries had not stopt there, and she had reasoned herself into Socinianism, from which she was reclaimed by her husband. She was an admirable woman, of highly improved mind, and of a strong and masculine understanding, an obedient wife, an exemplary mother, a fervent Christian. The marriage was blest in all its circumstances : it was contracted in the prime of their youth: it was fruitful; and death did not divide them till they were both full of days. They had no less than nineteen children; but only three sons and three daughters seem to have grown up; and it is probably to the loss of the others that the father refers in one of his letters, where he says, that he had suffered things more grievous than death. The manner in which these children were taught to read is remarkable:

* “ There is nothing I now desire to live for (says Mrs. Wesley in a letter to her son Samuel, dated Oct. 11, 1709,) but to do some small service to my children ; that, as I have brought them into the world, I may, if it please God, be an instrument of doing good to their souls. I had been several years collecting from my little reading, but chiefly from my own observation and experience, some things which I hoped might be useful to you all. I had begun to correct and form all into a little manual, wherein I designed you should have seen what were the particular reasons which prevailed on me to believe the being of a God, and the grounds of natural religion, together with the motives that induced me to embrace the faith of Jesus Christ ; under which was comprehended my own private reasons for the truth of revealed religion ; and because I was educated among the Dissenters, and there was something remarkable in my leaving them at so early an age, not being full thirteen, I had drawn up an account of the whole transaction, under which I had included the main of the controversy between them and the established church, as far as it had come to my knowledge, and then followed the reasons which had determined my judgment to the preference of the Church of England. I had fairly transcribed a great part of it, but before I could finish my design, the flames consumed both this and all my other writings."

the mother never began with them till they were five years old, and then she made them learn the alphabet perfectly in one day: on the next they were put to spell and to read one line, and then a verse, never leaving it till they were perfect in the lesson.

Mr. Wesley soon attracted notice by his ability and his erudition. Talents found their way into public less readily in that age than in the present; and therefore, when they appeared, they obtained attention the sooner. He was thought capable of forwarding the plans of James II. with regard to religion; and preferment was promised him if he would preach in behalf of the king's measures. But instead of reading the king's declaration as he was required, and although surrounded with courtiers, soldiers, and informers, he preached boldly against the designs

of the court, taking for his text the pointed language of the prophet Daniel, “ If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thy hand, O king! But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” When the Revolution was effected, Mr. Wesley was the first who wrote in its defence: he dedicated the work to Queen Mary, and was rewarded for it with the living of Epworth, in Lincolnshire. It is said that if the queen had lived longer he would have obtained more preferment. His wife differed from him in opinion concerning the Revolution, but as she understood the duty and the wisdom of obedience, she did not express her dissent; and he discovered it a year only before King William died, by observing that she did not say Amen to the prayers for him. Instead of imitating her forbearance, he questioned her upon the subject, and when she told him she did not believe the Prince of Orange was king, he vowed never again to cohabit with her till she did. In pursuance of this unwarrantable vow he immediately took horse and rode away; nor did she bear of him again, till the death of the king, about twelve months



« AnteriorContinuar »