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burden of them intolerable.”. Yet he knew not the way to obtain deliverance. . He went from one church to another, hoping to obtain information, but in vain. He then applied to the different denominations of Dissenters, but among them he found no relief. He united in worship with the Friends, or Quakers, for about three months, but this too was fruitless ; yea; so ardently did he desire to know The “ good and the right way,” he determined, to “ try
all things," that he might “ hold fast that which is good:” he even attended the mass at the Roman Catholic chapel; but soon found the way of truth was not there, and was sur. feited with their mode of worship. His earnest prayer to God was all this time, “ What I know not, teach thoạ me;' and that he would not suffer him to “ wander out of the way of understanding,” but unite him to a people who worshipped him in spirit and in truth.
Never did the Father of our spirits create a desire in our hearts but with an intention to fulfil it. Never did he incite a soul to pray, but to bring him to the throne of
grace, that he might there wait for that salvation which Jesus Christ has purchased by his blood, and is exalted to his me. diatorial throne to bestow. Mr. Nelson soon happily found this truth verified ; and being in London, he heard the Rev. G. Whitfield preach. This man of God was unto him as one who played well on an instrument, yet, at that time, he did not fully understand his doctrine. A short time after he heard the Rev. John Wesley, and then it was that “the gospel came to him, not in word only, but in power, in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” “ The word of the Lord was quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow;" and was to him, “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Al his sins were now brought afresh to his remembrance, the secrets of his heart were disclosed, and he felt himself guilty and undone. But at the same time, Mr. Wesley exhibited the Lord Jesus Christ as the propitia. tion for sin, through faith in his blood.” He preached Jesus Christ in all his fulness and sufficiency, and said, “Be. hold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world !” Yea, he preached not only a full
, but a present salvation, and that was just such preaching as suited the state of Mr. Nelson. He therefore heard this pleasing news with peculiar delight, and with a kind of holy transport; and from that moment was led “ quietly to hope and to wait for the salvation of God.” He sought the Lord diligently in the use of all the instituted ordinances of his house ; such as prayer, reading the scriptures, hearing sermons, partaking of the Lord's supper, fasting, &c. and in this way God met with him in mercy. He enabled him to act faith in Jesus, as his sin-atoning Saviour, and in that moment he received the “ knowledge of salvation by the remission of his sins.” He was " justified freely thro' the redemption that is in Christ Jesus," and " being justified by faith, he had peace with God,” and “ the love of God was now shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost given unto him.”
Mr. Nelson was a strong, robust man; and as was his body, so was his mind; his courage and magnanimity were great, and he possessed uncommon zeal and fortitude. Having himself 6 tasted that the Lord is gracious," having “ felt the powers of the world to come, « knowing" in himself “ the terrors of the Lord," and seeing “ the world lying in” the arms of " the wicked one,” his spirit (like St. Paul's at Athens) was “ stirred within him," and he began to persuade men” to repent, and “ warned them to flee from the wrath to come.”
At that period Methodism was in its infancy : Mr. Wesley and his brother Charles, with their then fellow labourer, Mr. G. Whitfield, had been very successful in calling sinners to " repentance towards God, and to faith in the Lord' Jesus Christ," but they were all regularly ordained ministers, of the established church, and, therefore, had a legal right, according to the constitution of both church and state, to preach. But now God was about to “ create a new thing in the earth ;' and, to afford persons of every description an opportunity of hearing the gospel, and of disseminating his truth through every corner of the land, and even ultimately
to distant regions, he was graciously pleased to step out of his ordinary way, and to raise up a race of men from among the people, who were neither sought for nor expected.
It has been insinuated by the enemies, of Mr. Wesley, that he had a design from the beginning to place himself at the head of a sect, and was determined to have mạen under him to serve him as his sons in the gospel yea, it has been suggested, that when; he failed in his attempts among his brethren the clergy, rather than miss in his grand object, he turned his attention to, and, sought the service of, laymen. This is a vile slander upon the character of that great man.
So far is this from the truth, that he opposed the preaching of laymen, till he dared to oppose: no longer, for fear of being found " fighting against God" When the first layman, Mr. Thomas Maxfield, attempted to preach, during the absence of Mr. Wesley from London, he repaired to town, to put an immediate stop to, what he him-, self then deemed, a dreadful innovation in the church; and but: for the remonstrances of his mother, and the good that had accrued from the preaching of Mr. Maxfield, he certainly would have executed his purpose, But is not this an irrefragable proof that he had no such, design, as some of him enemies have suggested?
appeared necessary to mention these things, because the subject of this Memoir was, perhaps, the second person that was called to exercise in this extraordinary way. And it will undeniably appear from the sequel, that he himself, when he first began to speak for God, had not the most distant idea of being a preacher; but the “love of Christ constrained him, and the word of the Lord was in him like a fire in his bones. The circumstances were as follow.
Mr. Nelson, who was by occupation a stone-mason, followed his trade in London, where he had plenty of work and good wages, so that he lacked nothing. He was also happy in the enjoyment of an abundance of the means of grace, and with his christian friends: but in the midst of all, he found a strong abiding inclination to visit the place of his nativity, not that he might preach the: gospel, that was the farthest from his views ; but, like
the woman of Samaria, and the first disciples, Andrew and Philip, that he might inform his brethren, his kinsfolk, and his neighbours, that he had found the Messiah,"
" him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus, of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” He therefore, on this embassy, set out from London to Birs-, tal; and, upon his arrival, his relations and friends came to visit him; and having received information of the great change that had taken place in him, and of his hava ing embraced what was then deemed a new faith, they came to inquire what these things meant. Mr. Nelson simply related to them what he knew from experience concerning these matters ; but some of them required proof of these things from the scriptures: this induced him to take the Bible in his hand as he sat by his fire side, and to prove the truth of what he asserted from the “ word and the testimony ;' and from this he evinced that the faith which they called new, was the old faith of the gospel, which had been insisted upon by the unanimous, voice of Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles, and there. fore stamped with the antiquity of upwards of 5000 years, and had been declared as truth by a voice from Heaven, even by him who is “ God over all, and blessed for ever.". The circumstance of Mr. Nelson thus conversing with his friends concerning these things, was soon noised abroad in the neighbourhood, and many were induced to go to him for information: This was generally, of an evening after he came from his work, and the house was frequently quite crowded. He at first only spake to them sitting, but now he was necessitated to stand, that he might be seen and heard with more ease. Such multitudes at last attended, that he was necessitated to go out of doors, which he commonly did every evening. Thus was he unawares, and without design, led to. quote, explain, compare, and enforce the important truths of the gospel ; and many were the seals of his ministry in the Lord. This was in the year 1742, and from this time he became valiant for the truth, and a 'bold champion in the cause of Jesus Christ. He feared the face of
no man, where the cause of truth was concerned, and in its defence was as “ bold as a lion.” The hardships and sufferings he endured from the hands of wicked and unreasonable meni a$ delineated by his own hand in the preceding Journal, are sufficient evidences of his zeal and constancy, of his genuine love to God, and his just concern for the best interests of mankind. He was a man of no erudition, but he nevertheless possessed a great mind, and was endowed with a strong understanding, and good natural abilities. Had these been improved by a liberal education, in the early part of life, he would doubtless have made a conspicuous figure in the world.
His shrewd remarks, and sometimes witty sayings, as recorded in his Journal, prove him to have been a man of no mean parts. His preaching was plain, and well suited to the then state of Methodism, and his hearers; but it was nevertheless « mighty to the pulling down of strong holds." His word was « not with the excellency of speech, but with the demonstration of the Spirit, and with power." When great effects are achieved by unlikely means, he who renders those means effectual, receives the greater glory. David's slaying the giant with his sling and a smooth stone from the brook, evinced the divine power much more than if he had slain him with the common instruments of death. The walls of Jericho falling down at the blowing of the rams-horns, demonstrata ed the agency of Heaven in a manner much more conspicuous, than if they had been destroyed by battering rams, and the engines of cruelty generally used in such cases. The apostle St. Paul insinuates, that the grand reason why he preached not with the wisdom of words, or by using philosophical arguments, expressed in rhetorical languaģe, was, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect, or deprived of its efficacy as a truth revealed of God. “ Thus God exploded the philosophy of the philosophers, and set aside the learning of the scribes, as useless, by rendering the preaching of Christ crucified more effectual than either, in reforming and converting the world." For the same reason, the apostle further asserts,