« הקודםהמשך »
« With labour, toil, all second means dispence,
And live a rent-charge upon Providence.' To give you a better idea of methodistical ignorance and neglect of ordinary means of living, &c. I will relate one instance more. Mary Hubbard (an old woman of Mr Wesley's society) would often wash her linen, hang it out to dry, and go away to work in the fields, or to Taunton market, four miles from her house, and when blamed, she would answer, “That the Lord watched over her, and all that she had, and that he would prevent any person from stealing her two old smocks, or if he permitted them to be stolen, he would send her two new in their stead.” And I seriously assure you, sir, that there are many thousand Mary Hubbards amongst the Methodists.
As I had been bound to my mistress as well as my master, I was of course an apprentice still. But after my master's death I obtained more liberty of conscience, (as I called it,) so that I not only went to hear the Methodist sermons, but was also admitted into their society; and I believe they never had a more devout enthusiastical member ; for several years I regularly attended every sermon and all their private meetings.
“ 1, like a hackney-coachman, knew
That guided to the blest abode." As you are probably unacquainted with the nature of these private meetings, a short account of them may perhaps afford you some amusement.
Mr Wesley instituted amongst his people, besides the public preachings, several kinds of private meetings; and as the prayer-meeting is the least private of any of them, I will first take notice of that.
To the prayer-meetings, which were in general held in private houses, they often invited people who were
not of their society. A hymn was first sung, then they all knelt, and the first person who felt a motion made an extemporary prayer; when he had done, another began, and so on, for about two hours.
“ There every soul a face of sorrow wears,
YOUNG OFFICER. It so happened sometimes, that one of the brethren began to pray without having the gift of prayer, (as they call it,) and then he often stuck fast, like some of the young orators at Coachmaker's Hall, &c. Prayermeetings were held in such high esteem amongst them, that they asserted, more were “ born again,” and
made free from all the remains of sin, other words of their own, “made perfect as God is perfect,” in these kinds of meeting, than at public preaching, &c. Thus, as Pomfret says,
“ The spirits heated will strange things produce.” But it is impossible for you, my friend, to form any just idea of these assemblies, except you had been present at them: one wheedles and coaxes the Divine Being in his addresses; another is amorous and luscious; and a third so rude and commanding, he will even tell the Deity that he must be a liar if he does not grant all they ask. In this manner will they work up one another's imaginations until they may actually be said to be in a state of intoxication, and whilst in this intoxicated state, it often happens that some of them recollect a text of scripture, such as,
thy sins are forgiven thee,” or “go and sin no more,” &c., and then they declare themselves to be born again, or to be sanctified, &c.
They have another kind of private meeting after the public preaching on Sunday evenings, in which
the preacher meets all the members of the society, who stay behind after the general congregation is dismissed. To this society the preacher gave such advice as he deemed better suited to a godly few than to a promiscuous multitude of “ outward-court worshippers.”
Their Love-feast is also a private meeting of as many members of the community as please to attend; and they generally come from all parts, within several miles of the place where love-feasts are held.
When all are met they alternately sing and pray; and such amongst them as think that their experience (as they call it) is remarkable, stand up in their place and relate all the transactions between God, the devil, and their souls.
“ Discussing evils, which begin
Pious INCENDIARY. At such seasons as this, I have heard many of them declare that they had just received the pardon of all their sins while brother such-a-one was in prayer; another would then get up and assert that he was just at that instant made perfectly free from sin.
At these times the Spirit is supposed to be very powerfully at work amongst them; and such an unison of sighing and groaning succeeds, that you would think they had all lost their senses. In this frantic state, many apply to themselves such texts of scripture as happen to come into their heads.
In the love-feasts they have buns to eat, which are mutually broken between each brother and sister, and they have also water to drink, which they hand from one to another. These meetings begin about seven o'clock, and last till nine or ten.
In London, Bristol; and other large places, they have some private meetings, unknown to the com
munity at large. These meetings consist of all married men at one time, young and unmarried men at another time: the married women by themselves, and the single women by themselves : and to each of these classes Mr Wesley went, and gave such advice or ex. hortations as he thought suitable to their situation in life, seldom failing to speak much in praise of celibacy to the maids and bachelors under his pastoral
will in my next give you an account of their watch-nights, class-meetings, bands, and other particulars.
I am, dear friend, yours.
Here Gamaliel sage
discipline of prayer;
Dear FRIEND, The watch-night begins about seven o'clock. They sing hymns, pray, preach, sing, and pray again; then exhort, sing and pray alternately, until twelve o'clock. The hymns which they sing on those nights are written for such occasions, and abound with gloomy ideas, which are increased by the time of night; and it must be remarked, that the major part of those
who attend these nocturnal meetings, having fasted the whole of the day, (according to Mr Wesley's orders,) are in a very proper state of mind to entertain the most extravagant whims or enthusiastic notions that can possibly enter the heads of any visionaries. So that such nights are often very prolific, as numbers are said to be born again, and become the temples of the Holy Ghost on watch-nights, which makes those nights esteemed by them.
Mr Wesley, in every place where his people were numerous, had divided them into classes, consisting of twelve or fourteen brothers or sisters. Sometimes men and women met together in the same class (as they called it), and other classes consisted of all men or all women. Each of these classes had one in it who was called the leader. In such classes where men and women met together, the leader was always a brother; and so of course when the class consisted of men alone. But in the women's classes a sister was always the leader.
When they met together, the leader first gave out a hymn, which they all sang; after the hymn they all knelt, and their leader made an extempore prayer ; after which they were seated, and when the leader had informed them of the state of his own mind, he enquired of all present, one after another, how they found the state of their souls. Some he found were full of faith and assurance, others had dreadful doubts and fears; some had horrid temptations. “ It doth affect
FANATICISM DISPLAYED. Others complained of a lukewarm state, &c. In these meetings some of the members spoke of themselves as though they were as pure as angels are in heaven ; but with the generality of them it was far