Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

cation addressed to another person acknowledgment whatever. Wesley is an unworthy act, is plain from justified this refusal in the followthe very quotation which Mr. Davies ing words: “He is the brother of adduces in “ illustration” of the my dear friend, the son of one that obtuseness of Wesley's “conscience” was my friend till great names in this matter. He says,—“Con- warped him from his purpose." trary to my custom." That the It is plain that Wesley was, for freedom of Wesley's “conscience the time, to this unstable minor in from the slightest suspicion that loco parentis. The distant father there was anything unworthy in " had entrusted his impressible and that particular act resulted from the undecided son Richard to the vigivery exceptional circumstances of lance of the dearest friend of his the case, is also patent from the sainted son William. It is also extract itself. That there may be, clear that this responsibility pressed that there often have been, circum- very heavily on Wesley's sensitive stances in which the reading, “con- 6 conscience.” His young ward detrary to custom,” of a private veloped tastes which occasioned the document incidentally thrown in godly man much solicitude and perone's way, and the making a wise plexity, being, as Wesley says in the and benevolent use of the informa- . very letter from which Mr. Davies tion thus obtained, has nothing un- quotes, “almost daily with .... men worthy in it, the most sensitive who seriously idle away the conscience will admit, which is not whole day, and reputably revel till ignorant of the occasional complica- midnight.” One day Wesley, going tion of human affairs. We will into young Morgan's room, cast his simply state the facts of the case in

eyes upon a paper that lay upon question, and leave our readers to the table,” which might have been an judge whether the charge of an “al- exercise for anything Wesley then ruost incredible” deficiency in delicacy knew. He found it was a copy of be fairly supported by them.

a letter from the youth to his Richard Morgan, into whose father, which supplied the very key room in Lincoln College, Oxford, to the stripling's sentiments and Wesley went, was the younger feelings for which Wesley was at brother of William Morgan, Wes- a loss. Contrary to his custom, he ley's dearest, and then departed, read it; believing that the peculiarity friend, the first Oxford Methodist. of his relations to his ward, and the His father, Mr. Morgan of Dublin, solemnity of his responsibility with had, after the death of regard to him, not only entitled, but William, committed to Wesley's obliged, him to peruse a document guardianship his younger and only which he believed to be "provisurviving son, an unsettled youth dentially” laid before him by the not yet out of his teens. Wesley signal blessing of God.” was not only his college-tutor, but Now, of course, Wesley may his guardian. His trust was not have mistaken the extent of his remerely to further him in his studies, sponsibilities and consequent rights but also “ to incite him to live a with regard to his juvenile charge, sober, virtuous and religious life.” He may also have misinterpreted For this double service, Wesley, the event. But he was certainly with what deficiency in delicacy we sincere in his conviction both as leave Mr. Davies to determine, to his responsibility and the proviresolutely refused any pecuniary | dentiality of the incident. There

soon

as

aware

was in him none of the hypocrisy | father and son, would have been of Jacob's answer to his father's amazed and amused at the stagedemand, “How is it that thou start and “ tragical exclamation,” hast found it so quickly, my son ?” with which the critic emphasizes his “Because the Lord thy God brought indignant disgust :“Such an act”! * it to me.” It is, moreover, obvious Moreover, acute and honourable that, however much better qualified men, biographers of Wesley, have a stranger in another century may spread out this very letter as evibe to decide the nature of Wesley's dence of the nobleness of Wesley's relation to young Morgan, and the character, even in his college days. extent of his responsibilities and But our present point is—Was not rights, than Wesley was himself, the censor, in bringing forward this yet the father and the young man extract, in support of an imputation themselves must have been in a 80 novel and so damaging, bound, in better position to judge of Wesley's the barest justice, to state the ciract immediately after its occurrence cumstances of the case,circumstances than even the most accomplished which many will regard and have critic, well nigh a century and a regarded as entirely exculpatory, half afterwards. Well, the parties and which every one, not misled by most concerned must have been an eagerness of detraction, must "deficient in delicacy” to a quite admit to be at the very least highly

“incredible degree" as Wesley ; | extenuating. But was Mr. Davies since so far from being shocked by

of these circumstances ? "such an act,not only the wealthy The answer to this depends on the father but also the high-spirited reply to another question-Had son, was drawn more closely to him, he read the rest of the letter from and the watchful tutor was richly which he quotes, and the context repaid by gaining for himself an in the authority from whoin the ardent and reverential friend, and letter is derived ? We cannot anwinning for his Master a devoted swer this question, as the reviewer disciple.*

seldom breaks the dashing curIt is no part of our present duty

rent of his criticisms by any reto untie knots in casuistry, to

ference to his authorities. Indeed, determine how far solemn religious throughout his lengthened strictures responsibilities should overrule con- on the character of Wesley, he does ventional codes of social propriety, not quote a single contemporary even the most salutary and binding. writer, and only two of the many Our task is not that of the Ductor nineteenth century biographers of Dubitantium ; although our critic Wesley-Southey and Tyerman, the rightly regards this as a case of former just once. "conscience.”

Enough for us to The other twin-support on which say that the “almost incredible" our critic rests his charge against obtuseness of Wesley's conscience Wesley of an almost incredible defiin this matter was shared by all the ciency in delicacy is also a quotation parties concerned. The Morgans, from a letter ; this time, to his sis

ter Emily. She was “maintained * See Letter of Charles Wesley to Samuel, July 31st, 1734 (Jackson's "Life Compare Hamlet : of Charles Wesley,” Vol. I. P. 33); and

Such an act Letter of young Morgan himself to That blurs the grace and blush of modesty, Wesley, Nov. 27th, 1735 (Tyerman, Vol I. Calls virtue hypocrite, etc.,'

with Psalm vii, 3.-"If I have done this"!

P. 131).

entirely by her two brothers," * | privileges, as placed by the favour and lived at their headquarters in of Providence close beside the very London, “ the preachers' house” at hearthfire of the religious earnestness the Foundery, where her temporal of her day. He is shocked to find her requirements were met, and, as her as unconscious of her affluence in brother thought, her spiritual ad evangelical privilege as she is disvantages were of the highest order. contented with the frugal sufficiency But Emily was not at that time in of her temporal lot. He writes with a state of mind to appreciate the the freedom which a brother may latter, and was so far discontented blamelessly use to a sister, and with with the former as to urge her bro which no - stranger” can, with any ther to be at the expense of taking degree of delicacy, intermeddle. He lodgings for her elsewhere. But, concludes with the very strong senunhappily, Wesley had so distress tences which Mr. Davies cites : ingly embarrassed himself by the

“I have now done with myself, and have purchase and adaptation of the

only a few words concerning you. You Foundery, and by his charities, espe are of all creatures the most unthankful cially to his poor relations, that he

to God and man. I stand amazed at you.

How little have you profited under such owed his escape from bankruptcy and

means of improvement! Surely, when. the Fleet prison, or the humiliation

ever your eyes are opened, whenever you of begging for himself, entirely to see your own tempers, with the advanhis creditors' ignorance of the state tages you have enjoyed, you will not of his finances. Whilst itinerating

['make no,' in Tyerman] scruple to pro

nounce yourself ( and murderers not in the North he received from his

excepted) the very chief of sinners." sister a letter full of bitter com

This is very strong language inplaints ; charging him with want of “natural affection”in not devoting

| deed; but will it, on candid examito her more time and more money

nation, bear the weight of the heavy than he had at his command. He

charge against Wesley, which the was sensitive enough to feel keenly

critic rests upon it ? does it prove the ingratitude of these reproaches,

him to have been “ deficient in deliand his depressing, almost distract

cacy to an almost incredible degree?”

The alternative is not to put forth ing pecuniary perplexities put a

these sentences as a model of frasharper edge on the thoughtless selfishness of his sister's demands.

ternal reproof. Seeing that Wesley His reply from Newcastle begins

“was a man subject to like passions thus :

as we are,” it may well have been

that his letter betrayed the vehe“ Dear Emily,–Once, I think, I told you my mind freely before; I

ment throbbings of cruelly wounded

affection. am constrained to do so once again.”

Ingratitude is proverHis letter, though full of fraternal

bially biting; frankness and affectionate appeal : “ And to be wroth with one we love. “O, Emmy, etc.," is both plain

Doth work like madness in the brain." spoken and strong-spoken. What To receive no return for self-sacrigrieves him most is the discovery ficing kindness, but the bitter rethat his sister has derived so little proach of being “without patural advantage from, and entertains so affection," and the demand that he light an appreciation of, her spiritual should provide, with his creditors'

money, comforts which he did not * Tyerman, Vol. I. P. 424.' Also Clarke's

allow himself, this surely is one of " Wesley Family," Vol. II. P. 267.

those provocations to which the

popular phrase " enough to craze a of knowledge,” and it seemed to him saint” is especially applicable. But that the craving, angry earthlywill not a little calm comparison of mindedness of the well-taught and these sentences with the facts of well-trained was less excusable than the case divest them, to a consi- the vice and crime of the ill-trained derable extent, of the repulsiveness and badly taught. It was impossiwhich they seem to wear in their ble that his sister should miss his rugged isolation ?

point. She had grown up amidst It would be an insult to the accom- | the religious seclusion of the Epplished reviewer to suppose that he worth parsonage under the influence lays any stress upon the word which of one of the noblest of Christian he leaves unwritten. He knows mothers; she was then living at the perfectly well that, a hundred and very focus of religious earnestness : thirty years ago, certain vernacular after such culture and in such a expressions, which now sound to us climate she had brought forth the as offensively coarse, had not yet wild grapes of a thankless, querubeen superseded by delicate euphem lous and exacting selfishness. She isms, but were employed in conver was then in her fifty-second year. sation and correspondence in the Her revivalist brother foretells her most reputable society. Wesley what hues true repentance will give cannot be fairly blamed for writing to all this when its stern light streams in the English of his own century, upon her soul. She will then see and not that of the nineteenth. For herself to be- What? What St. the rest, it is fair to remember that Paul saw himself to be; what John the Wesley family were wont to Wesley saw himself to be, when the speak and write their minds to each hallucinations of self-love had passed other with undiluted frankness and away. Without excepting any class force. Charles Wesley's unpub- of criminals, she will rank herself lished satires on those acts of his amongst the chief of sinners. That, brother which he did not approve in Wesley's idea, a deep sense of the (some of which we have in our immense aggravation which slighted possession) were most startling in " advantages,” and misused “ means their severity and their audacity of of improvement” give to sin, is of style: and “ Emmy" in her stric the very essence of repentance, is tures on “ dear Jacky," was wont strongly indicated by his hymns; "not to put too fine a point upon it.” the very first of which gives proIt should also be noted that Wesley minence to the Pauline sentiment of does not describe his sister's spiritual profound self-condemnation. This state-her social blamelessness is is the prevailing tone in the hymns assumed—but forecasts what her on Repentance and For Mourners own view of it will be when her Convinced of Sin, notably the touch"eyes are opened” by the tears of | ing hymn with the refrain “I the true repentance :“You will make no chief of sinners am, etc.," and the scruple to pronounce yourself, etc.” verseIt must further be observed that he

o Me, the vilest of the race, compares her spiritual “ tempers”

Most unholy, most unclean, etc." with her “means of improvement,” “the advantages” she has “en- | The fact that Wesley's ideas of joyed.” Wesley had now for some the nature of true repentance, as of years been preaching to the unin- | sin, Law, Gospel and judgment, structed masses, perishing " for lack | approached much more nearly to

some

those of Scripture than to those of his The next feature of Wesley's censor, cannot fairly be ascribed to an personality which our critic puts almost incredible want of delicacy. before us is that he was "obviously His was not the new “ Gospel,” the incapable of the more spiritual gospel of the impenitent, but the appreciations of thought and life.” old one, which Christ and His apos

(P. 136.) Now, as the obviousness tles preached, the Gospel of the of this is such that Mr. Davies is broken and the contrite heart. And the very first to have discovered in his sister's case, as in that of or even suspected it, and as it is young Morgan, the result justified simply an oracular reversal of the the treatment, proving that he un- judgment of Wesley's contempoderstood her spiritual habit, better raries, and of his biographers and even than his censor does, although critics, from Southey to Matthew the latter has the advantage of the Arnold, our only expedient for progressive enlightenment of the in- making sense of it is to assume that tervening hundred and thirty years. the word “spiritual” is here used Her subsequent experience verified in

other than its obvious his faithful forecast, and for thirty signification. And this is confirmed years after this rebuke she was her by the first proof which the clerical brother's grateful and congenial critic adduces of the spiritual inguest.*

capacity and "superficiality.(Ibid.) It strikes one as rather curious of the greatest spiritual awakener that when our critic turns from and educator in modern times, the Wesley to Wesleyanism, one of the originator of the very organization indications which he alleges of a which our censor himself describes falling off in modern Methodism a system famed for success in from the spiritual energy of the bringing about conversions, and Founder is, that “the spirit of re- training the converted in spiritual proof,' which Wesley valued and life." (P. 115.) That proof is the prayed for as a divine gift, appears following: “The phrase which was to have been superseded, etc.” so often on his lips, the saving (Second Article, P. 196.)

of souls' expressed the aim which We think it will be seen that the swallowed up all other aims. To two excerpts, from letters written in save his own soul, and the souls of the earlier half of Wesley's long and as many other men as possible, was fruitful life, as sufficient evidence in the object for which he lived." support of a very lowering imputa- Truly here, at least, is no miscontion, have, by keeping out of sight ception. That is Wesley: obviously, the circumstances in which they were Yes, in this respect his “spiritual written, been allowed to produce on superficiality” might almost rival the critic, and through him on the that of Paul, whose life-aim is thus uninformed and confiding reader, confessed :-" That, by all means, an unfavourable impression alto- I might save some,

" and whose gether out of proportion with their charge” to a minister of Christ real significance; and that harsh and is based

upon this consideration : hasty misconstruction has found it “ In doing this, thou shalt both sare easy to bring out of them the evil

thyself, and them that hear thee.” which it had first put in.

Of a truth, this impeachment is un* See Clarke's “Wesley Family,” Tyer

answerable.

Wesley did emulate man, and Stevenson's “ Memorials of

the sublime, the Divine “spiritual the Wesley Family."

superficiality” of Him, who left

as

« AnteriorContinuar »