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came to feel on the other hand, that the honest avowal and maintenance of the truth required him to overstep the courtesies of private friendship. Two months only after this letter was written, he followed it with another in a different strain. “Hon ored Sir,” it began, “I cannot entertain prejudices against your conduct and principles any longer without informing you. The more I examine the writings of the most experienced men, and the experience of the most established christians, the more I differ from your notions about committing sin, and your denying the doctrines of election and the final perseverance of the saints. I dread coming to England, unless you are resolved to oppose these truths with less warmth than when I was there Jast. I dread your coming over to America; because the work of God is carried on here, and that in a most glorious manner, by doctrines quite opposite to those you hold. God direct me what to do! Sometimes I think it is best to stay here, where all think and speak the same thing: the work goes on without divisions, and with more success, because all employed in it are of one mind. I write not this, honored sir, from heat of spirit, but of love. At present I think you are entirely inconsistent with yourself, and therefore do not blame me if I do not approve of all that you say. God himself, I find, teaches my friends the doctrine of election. Sister H. has lately been convinced of it; and, if I mistake not, dear and honored Mr. Wesley will be hereafter convinced also. Perhaps I may never see you again till we meet in judgment; then, if not before, you will know, that sovereign, distinguishing, irresistible grace brought you to heaven.” Wesley received this letter in a kindly spirit, and thanked him for it. “The case is quite plain," he said in reply. “There are bigots both for predestination and against it. God is sending a message to those on either side, but neither will receive it unless from one who is of their own opinion. Therefore, for a time you are suffered to be of one opinion, and I of another. But when his time is come, God will do what men cannot, namely, make us both of one mind." 'Soon afterwards Whitefield writes to one of his friends in England, "for Christ's sake desire dear brother Wesley to avoid disputing with me. I think I had rather die than see a division between us; and yet how can we walk together, if we oppose each other? And again to Wesley himself, he says, "for Christ's sake, if possible, dear sir, never speak against election in your sermons; no one can say that I ever mentioned it in my public discourses, whatever my private sentiments may be. For Christ's sake, let us not be divided amongst ourselves ; nothing will so much prevent a division as your being silent on that head."
While Whitefield from America was thus exhorting to forbearance from controversy, the Calvinistic Methodists in England were forcing on the separation which he deprecated, while he foresaw. One of the leading members in London, by name Acourt, had introduced his disputed tenets, till Charles Wesley gave orders that he should no longer be admitted. John was present when next he presented himself, and demanded whether they refused admitting a person only because he differed from them in opinion. Wesley answered no, but asked what opinions he meant. He replied, " that of election. I hold that a certain number are elected from eternity, and these must and shall be saved, and the rest of mankind must and shall be damned." And he affirmed that many of the society held the same; upon which Wesley observed that he never asked whether they did or not; "only let them not trouble others by disputing about it.”. Acourt replied, “Nay, but I will dispute about it.” “Why then," said Wesley, “would you come among us, who you know are of another mind.”
“Because you are all wrong, and I am resolved to set you all right." "I fear,” said Wesley, “your coming with this view would neither profit you nor us." "Then,” rejoined Acourt, “I will go and tell all the world that you and your brother are false prophets. And I tell you in one fortnight you will all be in confusion."
Some time before, Wesley had received a letter in which he was reproached for not preaching the gospel because he did not preach the doctrine of election. According to his usual practice at that time, instead of consulting with his friends, or even advising with himself upon the prudence of engaging in controversy, he drew a lot for his direction, and the lot was, "preach and print.” So he preached a sermon against this doctrine, and printed it. Whitefield was then in England, and at his desire the publication was for a while suppressed; but it was sent into the world soon after his departure for America. The rising sect was thus disturbed by a question which had so often carried discord into the schools of theology, which had unhappily divided the Protestant world, and which, when it had risen in the bosom of the Catholic church, neither the Popes with their bulls, nor the Kings of France with their power, nor the Jesuits with all wisdom of the serpent, could either determine or lay to rest. Wesley had begun the discussion, but Whitefield persevered in it, when he would fain have pressed it no further; and he assumed a tone of superiority which Wesley was little likely to countenance. “Give me leave," said he, "with all humility to exhort you not to be strenuous in opposing the doctrines of election and final perseverance, when by your own confession you have not the witness
of the Spirit within yourself, and consequently are not a proper judge. I am assured God has now for some years given this living witness in my soul. I can say I have been on the borders of Canaan, and do every day, nay almost every moment, long for the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, not to evade sufferings, but with a single desire to see his blessed face. I feel his blessed Spirit daily filling my soul and body, as plain as I feel the air which I breathe, or the food which I eat. Perhaps the doctrine of election and of final perseverence has been abused, (and what doctrine has not ?) but notwithstanding, it is children's bread, and ought not in my opinion to be withheld from them, supposing it always mentioned with proper cautions against its abuse. Dear and honored sir, I write not this to enter into disputation. I hope at this time I feel something of the meekness and gentleness of Christ. I cannot bear the thoughts of opposing you: but how can I avoid it if you go
about, as your brother Charles once said, to drive John Calvin out of Bristol ? Alas, I never read any thing that Calvin wrote: my doctrines I had from Christ and his apostles; I was taught them of God; and as God was pleased to send me out first, and to enlighten me first, so I think he still continues to do it. I wish I knew your principles fully; did you write oftener and more frankly, it might have a better effect than silence and reserve.”
Whitefield indeed partook so largely of the gifts and consolations of the Spirit, that it is no wonder that he should attribute his belief in this doctrine to that spiritual discernment which cometh only from above. The alternate frames of spiritual ecstacy and dejection through which he was made to pass, may be understood from the following among his recorded meditations. “I have now," he says, “such large incomes from above, and such precious communications from our dear Lord Jesus, that my body sometimes can scarcely sustain them.” “I have a garden near at hand, where I go particularly to meet and talk with my God, at the cool of every day. I often sit in silence, offering my soul as so much clay, to be stamped just as my heavenly potter pleases; and whilst I am musing, I am often filled, as it were with the fullness of God. I am frequently at Calvary, and frequently on Mount Tabor, but always assured of my Lord's everlasting love." "Our dear Lord sweetly fills me with his presence. My heaven is begun indeed. I feast on the fatted calf. The Lord strengthens me mightily in the inner man." At other times he “ abhors” himself “in dust and ashe He is
no man." He “ deserves to be the outcast of the people.”-_“Why do so many of my Lord's servants take notice of such a dead dog as I am ?"
These heaven-ward impulses would often lead him to contemplate with perfect satisfaction the prospect of persecution, or even of martyrdom. “Dear brother,” he says to one of his American coadjutors, “ both you and I must suffer, and that, great things before we enter into glory. My work is scarce begun; my trials are yet to come.
What is a little scourge of the tongue? What is a thrusting out of the synagogues? The time of temptation will be when we are thrust into an inner prison, and feel the iron entering even into our souls. Then perhaps even God's people may be permitted to forsake us for a while, and none but the Lord Jesus to stand by us. But if thou, O dearest Redeemer, wilt strengthen me in the inner man, let enemies plunge me into a fiery furnace, or throw me into a den of lions!” Ănd he writes as if he were realizing the fact that persecuting rulers were again about to employ lions' dens and burning fiery furnaces! “I am now looking,"
“ for some strong attacks from Satan." “Let us suffer for Jesus with a cheerful heart! His love will sweeten every cup, though never so bitter. Let us pledge him willingly, and continue faithful even to death! A scene of sufferings lies before us. Who knows but we may wade to our Savior through a sea of blood? I expect (O pray that I may be strengthened if called to it !) to die for his great name's sake. "Twill be sweet to wear a martyr's crown." “Suffer we must, I believe, and that, great things. Our Lord by his providence begins to show it. Ere long perhaps we may sing in a prison, and have our feet set fast in the stocks. But faith in Jesus turns a prison into a palace, and makes a bed of flames become a bed of down."
This was safe boasting; and yet if Whitefield had lived in an age of persecution his metal would have borne to be tried in the flames. The temper from which it arose made him as ready now to stand up in opposition to Wesley, as he had formerly been to follow him.“I am sorry," he says to him, “honored sir, to hear by many letters, that you seem to own a sinless perfection in this life attainable. 'I think I cannot answer you better than a venerable old minister in these parts answered a Quaker, 'bring me a man that hath really arrived to this, and I will pay his expenses let him come from whence he will. Besides, dear sir, what a fond conceit is it to cry up perfection, and yet cry down the doctrine of final perseverance ? But this and many other absurdities you will run into, because you will not own election : and you will not own election because you cannot own it without believing the doctrine of reprobation. What then is there in reprobation so horrid ?”
Whitefield continued, “Oh that you would be more cautious
in casting lots! Oh that you would not be too rash and precipitant! If you go on thus, honored sir, how can I concur with you? It is impossible. I must speak what I know. Thus I write out of the fullness of my heart. I feel myself to be a vile sinner. I look to Christ. I mourn because I have pierced him. Honored sir, pray for me. The Lord be with your dear soul.” The same week produced a letter in a higher tone of rebuke: “Dear brother Wesley, what mean you by disputing in all you letters ? May God give you to know yourself, and then you will not plead for absolute perfection, or call the doctrine of election a doctrine of devils. My dear brother, take heed ! See that you are in Christ a new creature! Beware of a false peace: strive to enter in at the strait gate; and give all diligence to make your calling and election sure: remember you are but a babe in Christ, if so much! Be humble, talk little, think and pray much. Let God teach you, and he will lead you into all truth. If you must dispute, stay till you are master of the subject; otherwise you will hurt the cause you would defend.” And in a subsequent letter he says, “Oh dear sir, many of God's children are grieved at your principles! Oh that God may give you a sight of his free, sovereign, and electing love! But no more of this. Why will you compel me to write thus ? Why will you dispute ? I am willing to go with you to prison and to death ; but I am not willing to oppose you." And again, “Oh that there may be harmony and very intimate union between us, yet it cannot be, since you hold universal redemption. The devil rages in London. He begins now to triumph indeed. The children of God are disunited among themselves. My dear brother, for Christ's sake avoid all disputation! Do not oblige me to preach against you: I had rather die."
He soon, however, began to fear that he had been sinfully silent. The children of God, he thought, were in danger of falling into error: many who had been worked upon by his ministry had been misled, and more were calling loudly upon him to show his opinion also. “I must then show," said he, “ that I know no man after the flesh, and that I have no respect to persons any further than is consistent with my duty to my Lord and Master.” And therefore he took
in hand to write against Wesley, protesting that Jonah could not go with more reluctance against Nineveh.* “ Were nature to speak,” said he “I had rather die than do it; and yet if I am faithful to God, and to my own and other's souls, I must not stand neuter any longer.” In this letter Whitefield related
* The reader will find this most labored of Whitefield's extant writings in the after part of the volume.