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affliction, for their deceased brethren, exhorting them “ Not to sor. “ row as without hope ;” and what is the hope, by which he teaches them to support their spirits ? Even this, « That them, which sleep « in Jesus, shall God bring with him.” In other words, and by a fair paraphrase surely, telling them they are only taken from them for a season, and that they should receive them at the resurrection. · If you can take off the force of these texts, my dear cousin, you will go a great way towards shaking my opinion ; if not, I think they must go a great way towards shaking yours.
The reason, why I did not send you my opinion of Pearshall was, because I had not then read him ; I have read him since, and like him much, especially the latter part of him ; but you have whetted my curiosity to see the last letter by tearing it out; unless you can give me a good reason why I should not see it, I shall enquire for the book the next time I go to Cambridge. Perhaps I may be partial to Hervey for the sake of his other writings, but I cannot give Pearshall the preference to him, for I think him one of the most scriptural writers in the world.
• April 18, 1766. UY DEAR COUSIN,
HAVING gone as far I thought needful to justify the opinion of our meeting and knowing each other hereafter; I find upon reflection, that I have done but half my business, and that one of the questions, you proposed, remains entirely unconsidered, viz. « whether the things of our present state will not be of too low and mean a nature to engage our thoughts, or make a part of our communications in heaven?”
The common and ordinary occurrences of life, no doubt, and even the ties of kindred, and of all temporal interests, will be entirely discarded from amongst that happy society, and possibly, even the remembrance of them done away. But it does not therefore follow, that our spiritual concerns, even in this life, will be forgotten, nei. ther do I think that they can ever appear trifling to us in any the most distant period of eternity. God, as you say in reference to the scripture, will be all in all. But does not that expression mean, that being admitted to so near an approach to our heavenly Father and Redeemer, our whole nature, the soul, and all its faculties, will be employed in praising and adoring him ? Doubtless, however, this will be the case, and if so, will it not furnish out a glorious theme of thanksgiving, to recollect “the rock whence we were hewn, and the hole of the pit whence we were digged ?" To recollect the time when our faith, which under the tuition and nurture of the Holy Spirit, has produced such a plentiful harvest of immortal bliss, was as a grain of mustard seed, small in itself, promising but little fruit, and producing less? To recollect the various attempts
that were made upon it, by the world, the flesh, and the devil, and its various triumphs over all, by the assistance of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ? At present, whatever our convictions may be of the sinfulness and corruption of our nature, we can make but a very imperfect estimate either of our weakness or our guilt. Then, no doubt, we shall understand the full value of the wonderful salvation wrought out for us : and it seems reasonable to suppose that in order to form a just idea of our redemption, we shall be able to form a just idea of the danger we have escaped ; when we know how weak and frail we were, surely we shall be more able to render due praise and honour to His strength who fought for us; when we know completely the hatefulness of sin in the sight of God, and how deeply we were tainted by it, we shall know how to value the blood by which we were cleansed as we ought. The twenty-four elders in the in 5th of the Revelations, give glory to God for their redemption, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. This surely implies a retrospect to their respective conditions upon earth, and that each remembered out of what particular kindred and nation he had been redeemed, and if so, then surely the minutest circumstance of their redemption did not escape their memory... They who triumph over the beast in the 15th chanter, sing the song of Moses, the servant of God; and what was that song? A sublime record of Israel's deliverance, and the destruction of her enemies in the Red Sea, typical no doubt of the song which the redeemed in Sion shall sing to celebrate their own salvation, and the defeat of their spiritual enemies. This again implies a recollection of the dangers they had before encountered, and the supplies of strength and ardour they had in every emergency received from the great deliverer, out of all. These quotations do not indeed prove that their warfare upon earth includes a part of their converse with each other, but they prove that it is a theme not unworthy to be heard even before the throne of God, and therefore it cannot be unfit for reciprocal communication.
But you doubt whether there is any communication between the blessed at all, neither do I recollect any scripture that proves it, or that bears any relation to the subject. But reason seems to require it so peremptorily, that a society, without social intercourse, seems to be a solecism, and a contradiction in terms, and the inhabitants of those regions are called you know in scripture an innumerable company, and an assembly, which seems to convey the idea of society as clearly as the word itself. Human testimony weighs but little in matters of this sort, but let it have all the weight it can: I know no greater names in divinity than Watts and Doddridge ; they were both of this opinion, and I send you the words of the latter :
“Our companions in glory may probably assist us by their wise and good observations, when we come to make the providence of God, here upon earth, under the guidance and direction of our Lord Jesus Christ, the subject of our mutual converse."
Thus, my dear cousin, I have spread out my reasons before you for an opinion which, whether admitted or denied, affects not the
state or interest of our soul:-May our Creator, Redeemer and Sanetifier, conduct us into his own Jerusalem, where there shall be no night, neither any darkness at all, where we shall be free even from innocent error, and perfect in the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
HUNTINGDON, Sept. 3, 1766. MY DEAR COUSIN,
IT is reckoned, you know, a great achievement to silence an opponent in disputation, and your silence was of so long continuance, that I might well begin to please myself with the apprehension of having accomplished so arduous a matter. To be serious, however, I am not sorry, that what I have said, concerning our knowledge of each other, in a future state, has a little inclined you to the affirmative. For though the redeemed of the Lord shall be sure of being as happy in that state as infinite power, employed by infinite goodness, can make them, nd therefore it may seem immaterial whether we shall, or shall not, recollect each other hereafter; yet our present happiness at least is a little interested in the question. A parent, a friend, a wife, must needs, I think, feel a little heart-ache at the thought of an eternal separation from the objects of her regard : and not to know them, when she meets them in another life, or never to meet them at all, amounts, though not altogether, yet nearly to the same thing. Remember them, I think, she needs must. To hear that they are happy, will indeed be no small addition to her own felicity : but to see them so, will surely be a greater. Thus at least it appears to our present human apprehension ; consequently, there. fore, to think, that when we leave them, we lose them forever, that we must remain eternally ignorant whether they, that were flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone, partake with us of celestial glory, or are disinherited of their heavenly portion, must shed a dismal gloom over all our present connexions. For my own part, this life is such a momentary thing, and all its interests have so shrunk in my estimation, since by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ I became atten. tive to the things of another, that like a worm in the bud of all my friendships and affections, this very thought would eat out the heart of them all, had I a thousand ; and were their date to terminate with this life, I think I should have no inclination to cultivate and improve such a fugitive business. Yet friendship is necessary to our happiness here, and built upon Christian principles, upon which only it can stand, is a thing even of religious sanction--for what is that love, which the Holy Spirit, speaking by St. John, so much inculcates, but friendship? The only love, which descrves the name; a love which can toil, and watch, and deny itself, and go to death for its brother. Worldly friendships are a poor weed compared with this, and even this union of spirit in the bond of peace, would suffer in my
mind at least, could I think it were only coeval with our earthly man. sions. It may possibly argue great weakness in me, in this instance, to stand so much in need of future hopes to support me in the discharge of present duty. But so it is—I am far, I know, very far, from being perfect in Christian love, or any other divine attainment, and am therefore unwilling to forego whatever may help me in my progress.
You are so kind as to enquire after my health, for which reason I must tell you, what otherwise would not be worth mentioning, that I have lately been just enough indisposed to convince me, that not only human life in general, but mine in particular, hangs by a slender thread. I am stout in appearance, yet a little illness demolishes me. I have had a severe shake, and the building is not so firm as it was. But I bless God for it with all my heart. If the inner man be but strengthened day by day, as I hope under the renewing influences of the Holy Ghost, it will be, no matter how soo.. the outward is dissolved. He who has in a manner raised me from the dead, in a literal sense, has given me the grace, I trust, to be ready at the shortest notice, to surrender up to him that life, which I have twice received from him. Whether I live or die, I desire it may be to His glory, and it must be to my happiness.- I thank God that I have those amongst my kindred to whom I can write without reserve of sentiments upon this subject, ås I do to you. A letter upon any other subject is more insipid to me than ever my task was, when a schoolboy, and I say not this in vain glory, God forbid! But to shew you what the Almighty, whose name I am unworthy to mention, has done for me, the chief of sinners. Once he was a terror to me, and his service, Oh what a weariness it was! Now I can say I love him, and his holy name, and am never so happy as when I speak of his mercies to me.
Yours, dear cousin,
WM. COWPER. *** ** WESLEY'S REASONS, &c.
[Concluded from page 304.] Copy of a Letter from the Rev. CHARLES Wesler to the Rev. Dr. CHANDLER, just before the Doctor's embarkation for America.
London, April 28, 1785. REVEREND AND DEAR SIR,
AS you are setting out for America, and I for a more distant country, I think it needful to leave with you some account of myself, and my companions through life. At eight years old, in 1715, I was sent by my father, Rector of Epworth, to Westminster school, and placed under the care of my oldest brother Samuel, a strict churchman, who brought me up in his own principles. In 1727, I was elected student of Christ Church. My brother John was then fellow of Lincoln.
The first year at college I lost in diversions. The next, I betook myself to study. Diligence led me into serious thinking. I went 348
Wesley's Reasons for not separating from the Church.
to the weekly sacrament, and persuaded two or three young scholars to accompany me; and likewise, to observe the method of study pre. scribed by the statutes of the university. This gained me the harm. less nickname of Methodist. In half a year my brother left his curacy of Epworth, and came to our assistance. We then proceeded regularly in our studies, and in doing what good we could to the bodies and souls of men.
I took my degrees, and only thought of spending all my days at Oxford ; but my brother, who always had the ascendant over me, persuaded me to accompany him and Mr. Oglethorpe, to Georgia. I exceedingly dreaded entering into holy orders; but he overruled me here also ; and I was ordained Deacon by the Bishop of Oxford, one Sunday, and the next, Priest by the Bishop of London.
Our only design was to do all the good we could, as ministers of the Church of England, to which we were firmly attached both by education and principle. My brother still acknowledges her the best national Church in the world.
In 1736 we arrived as missionaries in Georgia. My brother took charge of Savannah, and I of Frederica ; waiting for an opportunity of preaching to the Indians. I was, in the mean time, secretary to Mr. Oglethorpe, and also secretary of Indian affairs.
The hardships of lying upon the ground, &c. soon threw me into a fever and dysentery, which forced me in half a year to return to Eng. land. My brother returned the next year. Still we had no plan but to serve God and the Church of England. The lost sheep of this fold were our principal care ; not excluding any Christians of whatever denomination, we were willing to add the power of godliness to their own particular form.
Our eldest brother Samuel was alarmed at our going on, and strongly expressed his fears of its ending in a separation from the Church. All our enemies prophesied the same. This confirmed us the more in our resolution to continue in our calling; which we constantly avowed both in public and private, by word, and preaching, and writing ; exhorting all our hearers to follow our example.
My brother drew up rules for our society, one of which was, constantly to attend the Church prayers and sacrament. When we were no longer permitted to preach in the churches, we preached (but never in church hours) in houses or fields, and sent from thence, or rather carried, multitudes to Church, who had never been there before. Our society, in most places, made the bulk of the congregation, both at prayers and sacrament.
I never lost my dread of a separation, or ceased to guard our societies against it. I frequently told them, “ I am your servant as « long as you remain members of the Church of England, but no longer. Should you ever forsake her, you renounce me.” Some of our lay-preachers very early discovered an inclination to separate, which induced my brother to publish reasons against a separation. As often as it appeared, we beat down the schismatical spirit. If any one did leave the Church, at the same time he left our society. For fifty years we kept the sheep in the fold, and having fulfilled the number of our days, only waited to de part in peace.