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nearest relation to usefulness in life. As to divinity, I need say nothing. His voluminous writings show how much he had studied, and how well he understood that subject.
3. But it will be objected here, and that with great reason, that all these and such like endowments, are not sufficient to qualify a man for understanding the truth as it is in Jesus. It will be urged, that the « natural man,” (Yuxixos, the man who has indeed a rational soul in his body, but no divine inspiration in his soul,) " discerneth not the things of God, nay, that they are foolishness unto him, and that he cannot know them, because they are spiritually discerned;" and that “the things of God knoweth no man but by the Spirit of God." This is freely granted, and therefore his natural abilities, and his advantages of education, would not have been se much as hinted at in this discourse, could we not have given, also, good proof, that“ He that commanded light to shine out of darkness, had shined into his heart, to enlighten him with the knowledge of his glory in the face of Christ Jesus.''
4. It is well known to this congregation, that although he had been strictly educated, and was unblameable as to his outward conduct from a child, yet it was not till about the twenty-second year of his age, when he was pressed by his father to enter into holy orders, that he became acquainted with the nature and necessity of inward religion. By reading that incomparable book, Thomas a Kempis's Christian Pattern, which a kind Providence threw in his
way, he was brought to see that true religion is seated in the heart, and that to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, is of as great necessity as to have our practice regulated by the commandments of God. This religion he now began to aim at, and though not yet properly convinced of sin, nor acquainted with the depravity of his nature, he soon tasted much sweetness in aspiring after it. Meeting also, as he informs us, with a religious friend, he began to alter the whole course of his conversation, and to set himself in earnest upon living a new life. He set apart an hour or two a day for religious retirement. He communicated every week. He watched against all sin, whether in word or deed, and aimed at, and prayed for, inward holiness. 5. “Soon after this,” says he,“ removing to another college,
I executed a resolution which I was before convinced was of the utmost importance, viz. to shake off, at once, all my trifling acquaint
I began now to see, more and more, the value of time, and to apply myself closer to study. I watched more carefully against actual sin, and advised others to be religious according to that
scheme of religion by which I modelled my own life. And meeting now with Mr. Law's Serious Call and Christian Perfection, I was convinced more than ever of the exceeding height and depth, length and breadth of the law of God. The light now flowed in so mightily upon my soul, that every thing appeared in a new view. I cried to God for help, and resolved not to prolong the time of obeying him, as I had never done before. Accordingly, I began visiting the prisons, assisting the poor and sick in the town, and doing what other good I could by my presence or little fortune to the bodies and souls of men. To this end I abridged myself" (would to God, my brethren, we were all disposed to do the same !) “ of all superfluities, and of many of what are called the necessaries of life. A little after I began observing the Wednesday and Friday fasts, commonly observed in the ancient Church, tasting no food till three o'clock in the afternoon.”.
6. All this while, however, he was in a great measure a stranger to faith in Christ, and indeed was but little acquainted with himself. Hence," being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish his own righteousness, he did not submit himself to the righteousness of God." Accordingly, he was still uncertain as to his acceptance with God, and in bondage to the fear of death. “ At this,” says he, “ I was then not a little surprised, not imagining I had all this time been building on the sand, and that other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid by God, even Jesus Christ.”
7. But in a little time God opened his eyes, and manifested in him, as he has done in many others, the truth of that promise, “ If any man will do my will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God.” Observing, on shipboard, in his passage to America, the calm and composed behaviour of a few Germans, during some very tremendous storms, he was convinced they were in a very different state from himself, as they were manifestly raised above the fear of death. Some conversation he had with Mr. Sprangenberg, a German minister, after he landed, was a means of giving him still farther light; and before he set sail to return to England, December 22, 1737, about two years and four months after he had left his own country, the hardships and persecutions he had met with in that remote part of the world, had been so sanctified to him, that he was brought to a very full acquaintance with his own heart, and thus was prepared for that discovery of the love of God in Christ Jesus, which it pleased God soon after to afford him. 8. It was on the 8th of January, 1738, that, being on his passage
home, he wrote as follows: "By the most infallible of proofs, inward feeling, I am convinced, 1. Of unbelief, having no such faith in Christ as will prevent my heart from being troubled. 2. Of pride, throughout my life past, inasmuch as I thought I had what I find I have not. 3. Of gross irrecollection, inasmuch as in a storm I cry to God every moment, in a calm not. 4. Of levity and luxuriancy of spirit, recurring whenever the pressure is taken off, and appearing by my speaking words not tending to edify; but most by my manner of speaking of my enemies. Lord save, or I perish! Save me, 1. By such a faith as implies peace in life and death. 2. By such humility as may fill my heart, from this hour for ever, with a piercing uninterrupted sense, ' I have done nothing hitherto,' having evidently built without a foundation. 3. By such a recollection as may cry to thee every moment, especially when all is calm. 4. By steadiness, seriousness, sobriety of spirit, avoiding every
word that tendeth not to edification, and never speaking of that oppose me or sin against God, without all my own sins set in array
my face." Could he who wrote these words be unacquainted with himself ? ; 9. A fortnight after, he speaks yet more clearly : some of his expressions are, “ I went to America to convert the Indians, but oh! who shall convert me? Who, what is he that will deliver me from this evil heart of unbelief? I have a fair summer religion. ! can talk well, nay, and believe too, when no danger is near; but let death look me in the face, and my spirit is troubled. Nor can I say,To die is gain.
6 I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore.
“ I think verily if the gospel be true I am safe.-But in a storm I think, What if the gospel be not true? Then thou art of all men the most foolish. For what hast thou given thy goods, thy ease, thy friends, thy reputation, thy country, thy life? For what art thou wandering over the face of the earth ? A dream, a cunningly devised fable? O! Who will deliver me from this fear of death? What shall I do? Where shall I flee from it???
10. Again, a little after, he says, “ It is now two years and almost four months since I left my native country, in order to teach the Georgian Indians the nature of Christianity ; but what have I learned myself in the meantime? Why (what I least of all suspected) that I, who went to America to convert others, was never myself converted to God. I am not mad though I thus speak, but I speak the words of truth and soberneşs ; if, happily, some of those who still dream may awake and see, that as I am, so are they."
* This have I learned in the ends of the earth, that I am fallen short of the glory of God; that my whole heart is altogether corrupt and abominable, and consequently my whole life (seeing it cannot be that an evil tree should bring forth good fruit :) that alienated as I am from the life of God, I am a child of wrath, an heir of hell : that my own works, my own sufferings, my own righteousness, are so far from reconciling me to an offended God, so far from making an atonement for the least of those sins which are more in number than the hairs of my head, that the most specious of them need an atonement themselves, or they cannot abide his righteous judgment: that having the sentence of death in my heart, and having nothing in, or of myself to plead, I have no hope but that of being justified freely through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: I have no hope but that if I seek I shall find Christ, and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith."
11. Of this faith he seems to have had, at this time, a very clear notion, although not so clear as he afterwards obtained, partly by conversing with Peter Bohler, and some others, and partly by continually searching the Scriptures upon this head. In this way it pleased God soon to convince him that saving faith (as our church expresses it) is “a sure trust and confidence, which a man gath in God, that through the merits of Christ his sins are forgiven, and he is reconciled to the favour of God.” He saw too, that holiness and happiness, that love, peace, and joy,' are the never-failing fruits of this faith, and that it is frequently given in a moment. But still he himself was not in possession of it: and
for some weeks, a source of great bitterness and distress to his soul. “ I feel what you say,” (says he, in a letter to a friend) " at this time, though not enough ; for I am under the same condemnation. I see that the whole law of God is holy, just, and good. I know every thought, every temper of my soul, ought to bear God's image and superscription. But how am I fallen from the glory of God; I feel that I am sold under sin. I know too, that I deserve nothing but wrath, being full of all abominations; and having no good thing in me to atone for them, or to remaove the wrath of God, All my works, my righteousness, my
prayers, need an atonement for theinselyes. So that my mouth is stopped. I have nothing to plead. God is holy; I am unholy. God is a consuming fire; I am altogether a sinner meet to be consumed. Yet, I hear a voice (and is it not the voice of God ?) saying, • believe and thou shalt be saved. He that believeth is passed from death to life.' ”
12. He who wrote these words could not be far from the kingdom of God. Deeply convinced of sin, as he manifestly was,
of his depravity and weakness, as well as of his guilt, and groaning for redemption in the blood of Jesus, even the forgiveness of his sins, and a new nature, he could not be long without finding mercy. Accordingly a day or two after, while at a meeting in Aldergatestreet, he was enabled to cast his soul on Christ, and to trust in him alone for salvation, and an assurance was given him, that his sins were blotted out, and he reconciled to the favour of God. The peace and love he immediately felt in his soul, and the spirit of prayer which he found for his enemies, were sufficient evidences that the work was genuine. 13. But the grand and most satisfactory evidenec of any
man's conversion is his subsequent temper and conduct. These in the Rev. Mr. Wesley, I trust, were such as confirmed his profession. This congregation, I am persuaded, will not think I exaggerate, if I represent him as remarkable for almost every grace and virtue that does or can adorn a follower of Jesus." He was strong in faith and mighty in prayer, not a few, in the course of his sixty years? labours in the Lord's vineyard, having been healed in body or mind, or both, while he was engaged in prayer to God with or for them. His resolution in undertaking and prosecuting whatever he believed would be for the glory of God and the good of mankind was unconquerable. Nor was he discouraged by difficulties, how many or great soever. His confidence in God, his courage, and tranquillity, amidst tumults of the people, waves of the sea, dangers and deaths, were equally remarkable. He trusted in the Lord, and, therefore, was kept in perfect peace; nay, was as Mount Zion which cannot be removed. And what shall I say of his humility? Of the very deep and constant sense he manifestly had of his infirmities and imperfections, and of his continual need of the mercy of God and of the merits of Christ? This was undoubtedly, to his dying day, the uninterrupted temper of his mind, and language of his lips and life. His resignation, likewise, to the divine will, and patience under the dispensations of his providence, were equally manifest, as also his meekness, gentleness,