« הקודםהמשך »
The waterman forgets his wherry,
For catching is to take them in.” I now take a final leave of Methodism, with assuring you that, in giving a general idea of the tenets and practices of a numerous sect who have excited much public attention, I have invariably had in view to speak of them as they are, " nothing to extenuate, nor set down aught in malice.” Should you wish to see the errors of the Methodists particularly exposed, you may read bishop La on's • Enthusi. asm of the Methodists and Baptists compared.' It is esteemed a very good work, it will amuse as well as instruct you. In my next I intended to have resumed the account of my own affairs ; but an extraordinary publication will tempt me to add one letter more on the Methodists.
I am, dear friend, yours.
“Religion, fairest maid on earth,
Dear FRIEND, Although I was many years in connexion with Mr Wesley's people, it seems, according to a pamphlet published a few months after the two first editions of my Memoirs, that I was but superficially acquainted with Mr Wesley and his preachers. The pamphlet is entitled, “A Letter to the Rev. T. Coke, LL.D. and Mr H. Moore.' To which is added, 'An Appeal and Remonstrance to the People called Methodists, by an old Member of the Society.' This old member informs us, that he has been acquainted with the Methodists twenty-eight years, and if their preachers are but half as bad as he has drawn them, they are a detestable set of sly, deceiving villains. The letter was occasioned by Dr Coke and Mr Moore's proposals for publishing Mr Wesley's Life, in opposition to that advertised (under the sanction of the executors) to be written by Dr Whitehead.
And we are informed that after Mr Wesley's manuscripts and private papers had been given up to Dr Whitehead, and the doctor appointed to write his Life, and this Life announced to the public by the executors as the only authentic work, on a misunderstanding taking place between Dr Whitehead and the preachers, because the doctor would not submit his work to be inspected, altered, &c. and also because the doctor would not consent to give to the preachers at the conference nearly the whole of the profits derived from his labours, they then sent a circular letter, signed by nine of their head preachers, to all their societies, and advised them to return the subscriptions that they had taken for Dr Whitehead's Life of Mr Wesley, and to procure all the subscriptions in their power for another Life of Mr Wesley, to be written by Dr Coke and Mr Moore.
The following quotations I think will please you, page 8, &c. “That Mr Wesley was a great man is an undeniable truth; that is, comparatively: great amongst little people.”
“Nothing can exhibit his character as an ambitious man more than the following anecdote, whichI can give from the most authentic authority. When a boy he was in the Charter-house school; the Rev. A. Tooke, the author of the Pantheon, was then master, and observing that his pupil, who was remarkably forward in his studies, yet constantly associated with the inferior classes, and it was his custom to be surrounded by a number of the little boys, haranguing them, Mr Tooke once accidentally broke in upon him when in the middle of an oration, and interrupted him, by desiring him to follow him to the parlour. Mr Wesley, offended by being thus abruptly deprived of an opportunity of displaying his superior abilities, obeyed his master very reluctantly, When they had got into the parlour, Mr Tooke said to him: "John, I wonder that you who are so much above the lower forms should constantly associate with them, for you should now consider yourself as a man, and affect the company of the bigger boys, who are your equals.' Our hero, who could hardly stifle his resentment while his master spoke, boldly replied : • Better to rule in hell, than serve in heaven.'
"Mr Tooke dismissed his pupil with this remark. able observation to the assistant master. That boy, though designed for the church, will never get a living in it, for his ambitious soul will never acknowledge a superior or be confined to a parish.'
“That he was superior to the prejudices he incul. cated to his followers, and with what contempt he sometimes treated the lay-preachers, the following will show. Being at supper one Sunday night, (a short time before his death) with several of the preachers, one of them observed that, whenever Mr Wesley travelled, he was always invited to the houses of the neighbouring nobility and gentry; but when the preachers travelled, no notice was taken of them, which he could not account for. Mr Wesley replied, • It was the way of the world to court the great, but I say, love me, love my dog!' enjoying his triumph with a hearty laugh at their expense.”
After this old member's letter comes his Appeal and Remonstrance to the Methodists, which, as coming from an old Methodist, contains 'some very extraordinary assertions and facts, and letters more extraordinary. I shall give you some extracts from it in page 28. “ Faith is the ground-work of (Methodist) evidence; it precludes the necessity of every virtue; it is to be feared it has sent more of its votaries to Bedlam than to heaven; is to wise men a stumbling block, an unintelligible jargon of mystical nonsense, which common sense and common honesty reject.”
Page 30, &c. “ It has been computed that the contributions raised among the members of the different societies in Great Britain and Ireland for these last ten years, has amounted to no less than four hundred thousand pounds per annum. It has been further proved, that about one-eighth part of this sum is appropriated to the purposes for which it was raised, and the remainder is disposed of at the discretion of the conference, the preachers, and the stewards. This calculation does not include the enormous sums known
to be raised privately by the influence of the preachers in their respective circuits, under the various pretensions of distress, &c.
“ However, I do not pretend to vouch for the accuracy of this calculation, yet I think it by no means exaggerated. What has come within my own knowledge I can assert with confidence, and I challenge any one to refute it.
« Of Kingswood school, I can speak with certainty; for this foundation many thousands have been raised which never were, and I believe never were intended to be, applied to that charity. During eight years that I was at Kingswood, it not only supported itself but produced a considerable annual surplus.
“One of the masters of Kingswood school, being deficient in his accounts, he was judged an improper person to enjoy any place of trust, and was accordingly dismissed and appointed to a circuit as a travelling preacher; but any one will do for that, who has but impudence and hypocrisy; no matter whether he possesses a grain of honesty. Now if this was the case with respect to Kingswood, may we not conclude that the same iniquitous principle pervaded the administration of the finances in all the different departments?” Page 33, &c.
“O how long, ye sheep, will ye be
of wolves, who fleece and devour you at pleasure; and, ye fools, be the dupes of knavery and hypocrisy?
* Open your eyes and behold the villain and hypocrite unmasked, in instances of the most flagitious crimes, and deeds of the blackest dye ; perpetrated by wretches whom you tamely suffer to devour your substance, and whom you cheerfully contribute to support in idleness and luxury, which brings into contempt the gospel, and whose example has done more harm to religion than that of the most abandoned and profligate open sinner, admitting at the same time that