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R R E V. JOHN WESL EY, A. M.
SOMETIME FELLOW OF LINCOLN COLLEGE, OXFORD,
FOUNDER OF THE METHODIST SOCIETIES.
BY RICHARD WATSON.
By cómous tepicsoripus.- CORINTHIANI.
NOTES AND TRANSLATIONS, BY THE AUTHOR.
. THOMAS GEORGE, JR. 162 NASSAU STREET
VARIOUS Lives, or Memoirs, of the founder of Methodism have already been laid before the public. But it has been frequently remarked that such of these as contain the most approved accounts of Mr. Wesley, have been carried out to a length which obstructs their circulation, by the intermixture of details comparatively uninteresting beyond the immediate circle of Wesleyan Methodism. The present Life, therefore, without any design to supersede larger publications, has been prepared with more special reference to general readers. But, as it is contracted within moderate limits chiefly by the exclusion of extraneous inatter, it will, it is hoped, be found sufficiently comprehensive to give the realer an adequate view of the life, labors and opinions of the eminent individual who is its subject; and to afford the means of correcting the most material errors and misrepresentations which have had currency respecting him. On several points the author has had the advantage of consulting unpublished papers, not known to preceding biogra. phers, and which have enabled him to place some particulars in a more satisfactory light.
LONDON, May 10.
LIFE OF THE REV. JOHN WESLEY.
I the non-conformists, whose views of discipline they John and CharlES WESLEY, the chief founders had renounced. They had parted with Calvinism; of that religious body now commonly known by the but, like many others, they renounced with it, for name of the Wesleyan Methodists, were the sons of want of spiritual discrimination, those tru: hs which the Rev. Samuel Wesley, rector of Epworth, in were as fully maintained in the theology of Armini. Lincolnshire.
us, and in that of their eminent son, who revived, Of this clergyman, and his wife, Mrs. Susannah and more fully illustrated it, as in the writings of Wesley, who was the daughter of the Rev. Dr. Annes- the most judicious and spiritual Calvinis:ic divines ley, as well as the ancestors of both, an interessing themselves. Taylor, Tillotson, and Bull, who beaccount will be found in Dr. Adam Clarke's "Me- came their oracles, were Arminians of a different moirs of the Wesley Family," and in the “Life of class. Mr. John Wesley," by Dr. Whitehead, and in the The advantage of such a parentage to the Wes more recent one by Mr. Moore. They will be no- leys was great. From their earliest years they had ticed here only so far as a general knowledge of an example in the father of all that could render a their character may be necessary to assist our jud - clergyman respectable and influential; and, in the ment as to the opinions and conduct of their more mother there was a sanctified wisdom, a masculine celebrated sons.
understanding, and an acquired knowledge, which The rector of Epworth, like his excellent wife, they regarded with just deference after they became had descended from parents distinguished for learn- men and scholars.' The influence of a piery so ing, piety, and non-conformity. His father dying steadfast and uniform, joinel to such qualities, and whilst he was young, he forsook the Dissenters at softened by maternal tenderness, could scarcely fail an early period of life; and his conversion carried to produce effect. The firm and manly character, him into high church principles, and political tory- the practical sense, the active and unwearied habits ism. He was not, however, so rigid in the former of the father, with the calm, reflecting, and stable as to prevent him from encouraging the early zeal qualities of the mother, were in particular inherited of his sons, John and Charles, at Oxford, although by Mr. John Wesley; and in him were must hap, it was even then somewhat irregular, when tried pily blended. A large portion of the ecclesiastical by the strictest rules of church order and custom; principles and prejudlices of the rector of Epworih and his toryism, sufficiently high in theory, was yet was also transmited to his three sons; but whilst of that class which regarded the rights of the sub- Samuel and Charles retained them least impaired, ject tenderly in practice. He refused flattering in John, as we shall see, they sustained in future life overtures made by the adherents of James II., to in considerable modifications. duce him to support the measures of the court, and Samuel, the eldest son, was born in 1692; John, wrote in favor of the revolution of 1688; admiring in 1703; and Charles, in 1708. it, probably, less in a political view, than as rescui Samuel Wesley, junior, was educated at West. ing a protestant church from the dangerous infu- minster School; and in 17ll was elected to Christ ence of a popish head. For this service, he was Church, Oxford. He was eminent for his learning, presented with the living of Epworth, in Lincoln- and was an excellent poet, with great power of shire, to which, a few years afterwards, was added satire, and an elegant wit. He held a considerable that of Wroote, in the same county.
rank among the literary men of the day, and finally He held the living of Epworth upwards of forty settled as head master of the free school of Tiver. years, and was distinguished for the zeal and fidelity ton, in Devonshire, where he died in 1739, in his with which he discharged his parish duties. Of his forty-ninth year. talents and learning, his remaining works afford Mrs. Wesley was the instructress of her children honorable evidence.
in their early vears, “I can find," says Dr. While. Mrs. Susannah Wesley, the mother of Mr. John head, “no evidence that the boys were ever put to Wesley, was, as might be expected from the eini- any school in the country; their mo: her having a nent character of Dr. Samuel Annesley, her fa- very bad opinion of the common methods of instruct. ther, educated with great care. Like her husband, ing and governing children.” She was particularly she also, at an early period of life, renounced non- led, it would seeni, to interest herself in John, whó, conformity, and became a member of the established when he was about six years old, had a providential church, after, as her biographers tell us, she had and singular escape from being burned to death, read and mastered the whole controversy on the upon the parsonage house being consumed. There subject of separation; of which, however, great is a striking passage in one of her private meditaas were her natural and acquired talents, she must, tions, which contains a reference to this event;' and at the age of thirteen years, have been a very im- indicates that she considered it as laving her under perfect judge. The serious habits impressed upon a special obligation " to be more particularly careful both by their education, did not forsake them ;-of ihe soul of a child whom God had so mercifully "they feared God, and wrought righteousness;" provided for.” The effect of this special care on but we may perhaps account for that obscurity in ihe part of the mother was, that, under the divine the views of each on several great points of evan- blessing, he became early serious; for at the age of gelical religion, and especially on justification by eight years, he was admitted by his father to parfaith, and the offices of the Holy Spirit, which hung take of the sacrament. In 1714, he was placed at over their minds for many years, and indeed, till the Charter House," where he was noticed for his towards the close of life, from this early change of diligence and progress in learning:"+ "Here, for their religious connections. Their theological read- his quietness, regularity, and application, he became ing, according to the fashion of the church people of that day, was now directed rather to the writings
* The memory of his deliverance, on this ocasion, is of those divines of the English church who were low
the head, the representation of a house in Aames,
preserved in one of his early portraits, which has, be. tinctured more or less with a Pelagianized Armini- l with the motio, "Is not this a brand plucked from the anism, than to the works of its founders; their suc. burning ? cessors the paritans, or of those eminent men among Whiteheaul's Life