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there may be, and I hope there are, some honest and sincere men amongst them.
“ To begin then with the late Rev. J. Wesley. As the founder and head, he must be considered as the primum mobile, or first mover of this mighty machine of hypocrisy, fraud, and villainy. Yet were his mo. tives originally laudable in their intention, virtuous in their object, but unhappy in their consequences. This I will endeavour to make appear by an impartial review of his life, character, and conduct. I flatter myself that I am in some measure qualified, being totally divested of prejudice, and having no interest either in representing him as a saint or a devil.
“ From what I have observed during near twentyeight years that I have known him, I have uniformly found him ambitious, imperious, and positive even to obstinacy. His learning and knowledge various and general, but superficial; his judgment too hasty and decisive to be always just ; his penetration acute, yet was he constantly the dupe to his credulity and his unaccountable and universal good opinion of mankind. Humane, generous, and just. In his private opinions, liberal to a degree inconsistent with strict christianity; in his public declarations, rigid almost to intolerance. From this observation of the inconsistency of his private opinions and public declarations, I have often been inclined to doubt his sincerity, even in the profession of the Christian faith. In his temper, impetuous and impatient of contradiction; but in his heart, a stranger to malice or resentment: incapable of particular attachment to any individual, he knew no ties of blood or claims of kindred; never violently or durably affected by grief, sorrow, or any of the passions to which humanity is subject; susceptible of the grossest flattery, and the most fulsome panegyric was constantly accepted and rewarded. In his views and expectations, sanguine and unbounded, but though often disappointed, never dejected. Of
his benevolence and charity much has been said ; but it is to be observed, benevolence is but a passive vir. tue, and his charity was no more than bribery; he knew no other use of money but to give it away, and he found out that an hundred pounds would go further in half-crowns than in pounds; so that his charity was little more than parade, as he hardly ever essentially relieved an object of distress; in fact, his charity was no more than putting his money to interest, as the example excited his followers to the practice of the same virtue, and doubled their subscriptions and contributions. In his constitution warm, and consequently amorous; in his manner of living luxurious and strictly epicurean, and fond of dishes highly relished, and fond of drinking the richest wines, in which he indulged often, but never to excess. He was indebted more to his commanding, positive, and authoritative manner, than to any intrinsically superior abilities.
Having thus given the outlines of his character, I shall only observe that he appears to have been more a philosopher than a Christian; and shall then proceed to some anecdotes and circumstances which will cor. roborate my assertions, and justify my conclusion.
“ As the work of God, as it is called, was the sphere of action in which he was more particularly and conspicuously engaged, and as I have ventured to question the sincerity of his professions, it is proper that I should state my reasons for so doing. First then of conversion, in the methodistical sense of the word; for, in the true sense, I apprehend it to be neither more nor less than forsaking vice and practising virtue ; but, however, the methodistical sense imports quite a different thing, and it is in that sense we shall view it. I have made it an invariable observation that Mr Wesley, although he was often in the company
of sensible men who were capable of forming an opinion, and presumed to judge for themselves by the light of nature, the evidence of the senses, and the aid of
reason and philosophy; but of such he never attempted the conversion. In his own family and amongst his relations he never attempted, or, if he did attempt, he never succeeded; except now and then with a female in whom he found a heart susceptible of any impression he pleased to give. It is remarkable, that even the children of Mr C. W. were never converted, because they, and most of his relations possessed sense enough to discover hypocrisy, and honesty enough to reject the advantage they might have derived from assuming it. But what is still more extraordinary is, that out of so many hundred who have been educated at Kingswood, in the most rigid discipline of Methodism, hardly any have embraced their tenets, or become members of the society. The reason is'pretty obvious; they were taught too much to imbibe the ridiculous prejudices the founder wished to be instilled into their minds ; philosophy and Methodism are utterly incompatible. When the human mind is formed by the study of philosophy, it expands itself to the contemplation of things.
“It is true indeed, the work was sometimes attended with power among the children at Kingswood. Conversions were frequent, but never durable. I myself was converted some ten or a dozen times, but unluckily my class leader was detected in having stolen a pair of silver buckles. This was a dreadful stroke to the work, and a glorious triumph to the wicked
The whole fabric of faith, grace, and all its concomitant vices, as hypocrisy, &c. &c. experienced a total overthrow. The serious boys, as they are called by way of eminence, fell into the utmost contempt, and ever after the leader of a class was stiled captain of the gang, a convert and a thief were synonymous terms.
“A general conversion among the boys was once effected
by the late excellent Mr Fletcher ; one poor boy only excepted, who unfortunately resisted the influence of the Holy Spirit; for which he was severely flogged,
which did not fail of the desired effect, and impressed proper notions of religion in his mind. Unhappily these operations of the spirit, though violent, were but of short duration.
“ As the conversion of men and women is a more serious concern than that of children, I will describe one, to which I was an eye-witness among the poor colliers at Kingswood. One of those presumptuous and impious fanatical wretches, who assume the character of ministers of God, and take upon them in his most holy name to denounce his curses and vengeance against those who are far less guilty than themselves; a fellow of this description, of the name of Sanderson, preaching to a congregation of ignorant, but harmless people; this fellow took upon himself, in the name of God, to condemn them all to eternal damnation, painting their deplorable state in the most dreadful colours: some of his hearers were soon evidently affected by this discourse, which he took care to improve, and, taking the advantage of the kindling spark, addressed himself more particularly to them, whom he soon 'made roar for the disquietude of their souls. The whole congregation were quickly affected in the like manner; one and all exclaimed, What shall I do to be saved? Oh, I'm damned ! I'm damned ! I'm damned to all eternity! What shall I do! oh! oh! oh!' Our performer observing to what a state he had reduced his audience, redoubled his threats of divine wrath and vengeance, and with a voice terrible as thunder, demanded, 'Is there any backslider in the presence of God?' A dead and solemn pause ensued, till he exclaimed, Here is an old grey-headed sinner;' at the same time striking with his hand violently on the bald pate of an honest old man who sat under the desk; the poor man gave a deep groan, whether from conviction, or from the pain of the blow, I know not, for it was far from being gentle. The farce was not yet concluded: when they were strongly convulsed with these convic.
tions, he fell down upon his knees, and with the greatest fervency, accompanied with abundance of tears, he intreated the Lord in mighty prayer, to have compassion on the poor desponding sinners whom he had brought to a proper sense of their danger ; the prayer continued about ten minutes, accompanied by the sighs and groans of the converted and alarmed sinners in concert, making a most divine harmony; when suddenly starting up, he pretended to have received a gracious answer to his prayer, and with a joyful and smiling countenance, pointing towards the window, exclaimed—Behold the lamb!' Where! where ! where!' was the cry of every contrite and returning sinner, (and they were all of that description). “There ! (continued the preacher, extending his arms towards the window where he pretended first to have espied the lamb.) 'In heaven! in colo! making intercession for your sins! and I have his authority to proclaim unto you that your sins are forgiven-depart in peace.-0, my dearest brethren, how sweet is the sound of those extatic words. "Behold the lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world.' But could you but feel the peculiar energy, the divine force, the rapturous and cheering import of the original, your mouths would be filled with praise, and your hearts with divine joy, holy exultation, and unspeakable gratitude. Only mark the sound of the words, even that will convey an inexpressible pleasure to your souls, 'Hecca Hangus Dei! Ki dollit pekkaltus Monday.' The school boys (who were seated in a pew detached from the congregation on account of a prophane and contemptuous behaviour during service) immediately burst into a loud laugh, on one of the congregation saying, “0, the blessed man! we shall see him again on Monday.”
In some pages following we have an account of the Methodist preacher's first converting his benefactor's daughter, and then debauching her; also of a preacher at Beverly, in Yorkshire, that collected fifteen pounds