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and long-suffering, amidst the very many insults, and injuries, and much ill usage he met with. And as no man was ever more. attached and faithful to his friends, so no man ever more freely forgave his enemies, of which class, it is well known, like all other great and good men, he had not a few.
14. But how remarkable soever he might be for these graces, he was yet more eminent for benevolence, mercy, and charity. His life was one continual good work, one constant labour to do good to the bodies and souls of men. And as he fed thousands and myriads with the living bread, so also not a few with the bread that perisheth. Whatever he could spare from the profits of his fellowship before his marriage, or from the income arising from the sale of his books afterwards, together with the donations occasionally made him by particular friends, was wholly distributed to the sick and needy. He was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame; a light (as it were) to them that sat in darkness, making the hearts of the fatherless and the widows to sing for joy. His generosity and liberality according to his power cannot be described nor hardly conceived by those that did not know him. His temperance also and self-denial must not be passed over in silence. It is true, that, for many years last past, many in town and country, were eager to show their love to him and his friends, by providing very liberally when he was to visit them on his journeys through the kingdom. But it is well known that his general rule was only to eat of one dish. In short, all the graces and virtues that adorn the Christian character, were more or less found in him, and that mixed with such sweetness, affability, courtesy, and good-breeding, that he was the delight of every company he came into; nor was it possible, almost, for any one to be a few minutes present while he was conversing with his friends, in a free and familiar manner, without being at once edified and highly delighted. He had read and seen so much; was so well acquainted with men and things, with the world and with the church, that he had an inexhaustible fund for entertaining and useful conversation: nor could any feast, how elegant and sumptuous soever, afford half the pleasure and delight which his most enlivening and exhilarating discourse afforded
15. As a preacher, he was always heard with deep attention, generally with much profit, and not seldom with surprising and wonderful effect; whether of sorrow in those that were cut to the heart by his word, or of joy in those whose tears were wiped away, and whose wounds were healed by the balm of his doctrine. He was always concise and clear. He never advanced any thing un
necessary, or more than enough, nor delivered himself in a manner that was not intelligible to the meanest of his hearers, if attentive. He was often full, as well as clear, and to such as were intelligent, gave perfect satisfaction upon almost every subject he undertook to explain. And his preaching was so forcible and convincing, that it was hardly possible to hear him attentively, without being as much displeased at one's self, as one was pleased with the preacher. The Lord's word in his mouth was indeed “quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and was a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
16. As a writer, he is much to be admired. He employed his pen on almost all subjects that are useful to mankind, and treated them in a manner always agreeable, and often highly pleasing, His method was easy, natural, and exact. His style, though not laboured and flowery, (a kind of style which he never admired) yet was pure, perspicuous, and manly; much like that of Addison, universally acknowledged one of the most pleasing writers this or any nation has produced. Although most of his publications are in prose, yet they are written in such a lively and entertaining manner, that they are read with as much pleasure as most poetical compositions. Of his abilities in poetry too, he has given us many specimens. And it appears that had his more serious and important studies and labours permitted him to employ himself in that way, he would not have fallen short of his brothers Charles or Samuel Wesley, or the pious and ingenious Dr. Watts.
17. I have only to speak of him in the character of a shepherd and bishop of souls, in which he peculiarly shone, which was his chief calling, and his principal employment, and for which he was most admirably fitted by nature, and by grace. As probably no person has existed since the apostles' days, who ever had so many souls under his care, so many to feed and oversee; so, perhaps, no one was ever better qualified for such a work. The health, strength, and activity, of his body, capable of so much labour and fatigue, the vigour, resolution, and firmness of his mind, regarding neither pleasure nor pain, and recollected and undaunted in the midst of the greatest difficulties and dangers; the retentiveness of his memory, enabling him to recollect the persons, names, and places of abode of such multitudes of people; his extensive knowledge of things, human and divine; his deep and long experience both of the devices of Satan, and of the work of God in the soul, and above all, the grace of God that was in him these and such
like endowments fitted him for this great work; and he executed it in a manner which few have done before, or, I believe, will do after him.
18. Add to this, that in proportion as the societies increased in London, Bristol, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Leeds, Manchester, and all over Great Britain and Ireland; and it became more and more impossible he should superintend and take care of them all, should provide food for their souls, oversee their behaviour, take notice of, and prepare and administer remedies for their spiritual diseases, and lead them forward in the paths of righteousness; and as few or none of the clergy of the established church were willing to expose themselves to reproach, and engage heartily with him in the work; he had wisdom and courage enough to go out of the common tract, to take the Lord Jesus and his apostles for his models, and to avail himself of the gifts and grace bestowed for this very purpose, no doubt, upon many of his people. Hence dividing the societies. into little companies called classes, he appointed the most knowing, the most experienced, and the most pious, to take charge of the rest. Several of these, from praying with and advising their little companies in private, proceeded in consequence of pressing invitations to exhort them and others in public, and in the end even to expound to them, and enforce upon them the word of God.
19. In this way a great company of preachers now assembled here, have been providentially raised up, in general without an University education, or even any acquaintance with the learned languages (although some of them are well skilled therein) to supply his lack of service; to oversee and feed, in his absence, the multitudes of flocks he had gathered, and to take care of them, now he is no more. An astonishing instance of the divine goodness this indeed! For had it not been for this, would not you, my brethren, and some thousands of congregations besides, in Great Britain, Ireland, and America, have been this day as sheep without a shepherd? By these, as well as by his life, which will long be remembered, and his writings, which will continue to be published and read, he being dead yet speaketh, and I trust will speak while England is a nation, or while the English language is known upon the earth. May you and I, my dear brethren, have ears to hear and hearts to understand! Many of them will address us during this Conference. May we mark, learn, and digest the blessed truths that shall drop from their lips! the same, I am well persuaded, with those which, in years past, were so frequently dropping from the lips of our aged
and reverend father, now removed from us, when with his sons in the gospel about him, he was wont to discourse to us from this and other pulpits. May we recollect and long remember his salutary doctrine! May it be fixed in our minds as a nail in a sure place! May it have its proper influence upon our hearts and lives! Thus," as my text advises, and as I was, Secondly, to exhort, we shall find it less difficult to follow his faith.
II. Having enlarged so much on the former head, I shall despatch what I have to say on this and the following in a few words.
1. Faith here, as in a few more passages of Scripture, may be put for the object of faith, the truths believed. And the importance of it in this sense must be obvious to all who attend to the mighty, I may say, the infinite difference there is between truth and a lie, and the consequences that do and will follow upon believing the one or the other. There are indeed some, yea, many things relating to the present life, which we may view in a false light, and may believe a lie instead of the truth respecting them, and no bad, at least, no eternally bad and destructive consequences will follow the mistake. And the reason is plain, this life, with every thing in it, is of short duration, and is passing away like a dream of the night. But the case is different with regard to things that appertain to the life to come. To receive a lie for truth with respect to most of these, is to involve ourselves in ignorance, sin, and misery," and to preclude our partaking of the salvation of God.
2. For instance, to entertain mistaken views of ourselves and of the state we are in by nature; to suppose, with the Jews, that we see, when in reality we are blind; or, with the Pharisees, that we are holy and righteous, when we are guilty and depraved; or, with St. Paul, in his unconverted state, that we are doing God service while we are opposing his truth and persecuting his servants, is effectually to prevent our being enlightened, justified, or brought « to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus; it is to keep our selves at an immense distance from that poverty of spirit, that humiliation of soul, that holy mourning, to which alone the Lord hath promised the consolation of his favour, and it is to feed that pride of heart which is an abomination before God. The same may be said concerning the divine nature, the person of Christ, the way of salvation through a Mediator, the will of God, and our duty to have mistaken views of these subjects, must, on the one
hand, preclude those happy effects which would follow upon right views of them, and, on the other, produce consequences proportionably hurtful.
3. The gospel is represented in Scripture as the great mean of turning people "from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God." But will any man say that a lie enlightens, or gives real and useful information, like truth; and that believing a lie will make us free, as the Lord Jesus has assured us, knowing the truth will? St. James informs us that we are "" begotten again by the word of truth :" St. Peter speaks of our "purifying our souls by obeying the truth," and our Lord prays that we may be" sanctified by the truth." But dare any man affirm that a lie will produce the same effects? that we may be begotten again, and made the children of God by a lie, may purify our souls by obeying a lie, and may even be entirely sanctified and fitted for heaven by a lie? Let no man therefore persuade us that it is a matter of no moment what we believe or what sentiments we entertain in religion. If that were the case, zeal for God would be sufficient, and it would not signify at all whether that zeal were according to knowledge, contrary to the express and repeated declarations of St. Paul. Be upon your guard, therefore, in this point, and remember that we are chosen to salvation, as by sanctification of the Spirit, so also by belief of the truth.
4. What this truth is, I need not now stay to declare. It is well known to this congregation to comprehend those grand doctrines which are termed by the apostle the analogy of faith, viz. those that respect the depravity of human nature, the atonement of Christ, the influences of the Spirit of God, justification, sanctification, and eternal life. But it is declared at large, as in many Mr. Wesley's other works, so especially in his Notes on the New Testament, and in his four volumes of Sermons. Those who wish to see it defended more, fully and particularly, will meet with ample satisfaction in reading his Appeals to Men of Reason and Religion, his answer to Dr. Taylor on Original Sin, and his many other controversial pieces. In the meantime, compare what you read with the oracles of God, and bring every doctrine to the test of that infallible touchstone. This, you know, is the only rule, and the sufficient rule of faith as well as of practice Search, then, the Scriptures, for in them ye have eternal life; and if you do this without prejudice, in humility and simplicity, sincerely desiring to know and embrace the truth as it is in Jesus, and looking unto God for the teaching of his Spirit, I have no more doubt of your finding