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“ When I had satisfied myself on the above heads, I still had my doubts as to some of the mysteries of the Christian religion. The divinity of Christ, the doctrine of the Trinity, and the atonement made by Christ, &c., I could not believe, because I could not compreheud them. I believed that Christ was sent by God to give mankind a pure sytem of morality, to assure us of the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, ahd future rewards and punish. ments: and that by his perfect life, his sufferings and death, he had given us an excellent example. Further than this I could not believe, until I had again, and again, consulted the scriptures, various commentators, and the works of many other learned divines; from whom I received great assistance, particulary from Jenkin, and also from bishop Butler's Analogy of Religion, an exceedingly valuable work. In this study I have employed a very large portion of my time, and in it I have found a lasting source of pleasure and delight.
“ After all my investigation, although I assent to the truth of those doctrines, I do not pretend that I comprehend them. I only believe them because I think they are taught in the Old Testament, and by Christ and his apostles in the New Testament.”
The passage about to be supplied furnishes a curious specimen of the light careless manner in which virulent scandals may be disseminated; and certainly Mr Lackington makes a poor story of it as regards himself, as no man should have printed such very suspicious documents without being fully satisfied of their authenticity.
“ I am also sorry that in my Memoirs I inserted two letters said to be written by Mr Wesley. When I inserted them I informed my readers that I copied them from a pamphlet entitled “A Letter to the Rev. T.
Coke, LL.D. and Mr Moore, by an old Member [of Mr Wesley's Society). I was induced to believe those letters to be genuine, partly by their bearing some resemblance to Mr Wesley's style and manner, but more so from the notice which was printed at the end of the second letter, and is as follows:
“«Should any one entertain a doubt concerning the forgoing letters being written by Mr Wesley, the author can produce the originals, for the satisfaction of such, if they will take the trouble to call on the publisher, who has his address, and will refer them to him.'
“ When I transcribed these letters from the above pamphlet, the third edition of my Memoirs was in the
press; and as the printer was nearly come to the part where I wished them to be introduced, I sent the copy
off in a hurry, and then set off to my house at Merton.
“ Some time after these extraordinary letters had been printed in my Memoirs, I was not quite satisfied that I had omitted to see the originals. Upon which I sent my head shopman, with my compliments to the author of the pamphlet, and requested a sight of those original letters; but, instead of complying with my request, he returned for answer, that he had returned the letters to the persons to whom they were written.
“ When I found that he could not, or would not produce the originals, I was more dissatisfied with myself for having inserted them in my Memoirs.
“ In all subsequent editions of those Memoirs I should have left them out; but after they had found a place there, had they been omitted, I thought my readers might be displeasel, and think that I had not . done right in omitting them; others that never saw the pamphlet from whence I informed my readers I had transcribed them, might think they were fabricated by me, and that I had from conscious guilt left
them out. Upon the whole, I thought it best not to omit them: so that they are to be found in about twelve thousand copies of the Memoirs of my Life.
“ I have ever, in subsequent editions, informed my readers that I could not be certain as to their authen. ticity, as I had sent to the author and requested a sight of the originals, and that he had returned the above answer. I also shewed the pamphlet from whence I transcribed them to all that desired to see it; and I still keep it by me. It was printed for J. Luffman, Alfred buildings, Windmill street, Moorfields; H. D. Symons, No. 20, Paternoster row; J. Phillips, No. 27, City road; and J. Cottle, Bristol.
Supposing Mr Wesley to be the author of the first of these letters, he could not have been an honest man, or sincere in what he professed to believe, as I ever believed him to be until I saw that letter. Even while I was an infidel I respected him so much for these qualities, and his unwearied disinterested labours, in what he believed to be the cause of God and the good of mankind, that it always gave me pleasure to see him pass by my shop. After I had seen those letters I was often in doubt as to his real character. When I reflected on his primitive manner of living, his sufferings, his unparalleled labours for more than sixty years together, &c., I could hardly think it possible for a human being to be for such a length of time, and in such a manner, only acting a feigned part;
for had he been the author of the first letter he he must have been a hypocrite, or a freethinker, or both.”
The complete recovery to Methodism of our wandering bibliopolist is thus narrated.
“ In a former letter I told you that I sent for Mr Wesley's Life, but I did not inform you of some particulars relating to that circumstance. About a year ago, a respectable clergyman frequently called on me,
and I told him that I was sorry that I had inserted in my Memoirs the two letters that were ascribed to Mr Wesley. He joined with me in wishing that I had not been so imposed upon. Not long after this he brought from Bristol Dr Whitehead's Life of Mr Wesley, .2 vols. 8vo., I having expresssed a wish to see in what state of mind Mr Wesley died. After having satisfied myself on that head, I returned the set of books, as I had no intention to read any more of the work but the account of his death. In spring last, I wished again to see the account of his death, and I sent to the Temple of the Muses for the work; and after I had again read the account of his death, and his character, as drawn by several hands, and transcribed them, as in two former letters you have seen, I put by the set of books, having no inclina. tion to be made acquainted with his ministerial pro. ceedings. But after having read such a number of tracts, as mentioned above, and various volumes in divinity, and much in the bible, I again took up Dr Whitehead's Life of Mr Wesley, and as I saw by the title-page that it contained an account of Mr Wesley's ancestors and relations, the life of Mr Charles Wesley, (whom I had often heard preach,) and a history of Methodism, I requested Mrs L. to help me in reading it through.
“To describe the conflict, and the different commotions which passed in my mind while we were reading this excellent work, is impossible. I have been instructed, delighted, much confounded, and troubled. That divine power which has been felt by thousands and tens of thousands under the preaching of Mr Wesley, his brother Charles, and others of his preachers, again humbled me in the dust. I sunk down at the feet of Christ and washed them with my tears. Sorrow, joy, and love, were sweetly mingled together in my soul. I once more, after so many years, knew a little of what these lines express :
• The godly grief, the pleasing smart,
“I was now convinced that the pardoning love of God, which forty years since was first manifested to my soul, was a divine reality, and not the effect of a heated imagination. Thousands, and tens of thousands, who are gone to glory, have borne testimony to the truth of this doctrine; and I learn that there are still tens of thousands of living witnesses to the same glorious truth.”
In respect to his own conduct, certain practical results are thus described.
“ Having those serious views of sacred subjects, I was more than ever desirous that the poor ignorant thoughtless people in my neighbourhood should be awakened and made sensible of their dreadful state; but how to effect this I was at a loss : for in giving away the religious tracts, I found that some of the farmers and their children, and also three-fourths of the poor, could not read; that some of the farmers hated the clergy on the score of tythes ; so that some of those that now and then went to church were not likely to receive benefit from those they hated. Others of them would neither go to church themselvers nor let their families go. Many of the poor also lived in the total neglect of all public worship; and spent the