« ElőzőTovább »
Christ, and dedicated to his praise, in promoting the great work for which he came into the world, and for which he shed his precious blood. Let us not think it too much to bestow a little care, labour, or money, upon that for which he was pleased to give up his life. And let us not fail to second and enforce all our endeavours, this way, by a conduct according to the gospel. Let our example speak, and show others, what it is to be won over to God, and how such ought to walk and please him in all things. Thus let us “ show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light,” by imitating him who “ came to seek and save that which was lost," and who “went about doing good ;"? And “our labour will not be in vain, in the Lord.” He will, undoubtedly, give success, more or less ; and being the children of God ourselves, we shall rejoice over many lost brethren and sisters in Christ, brought back to their heavenly Father's family. These will be our companions here, in our way to the kingdom, and our crown of rejoicing in the kingdom itself hereafter. They will surround, with us, the eternal throne, and spend everlasting ages in shouting • salvation to God and the Lamb,” and ascribing “ blessing, and honour, and praise, and glory, to him that hath loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and made them kings and priests unto God and his father.”
ON THE LIFE AND LABOURS OF THE LATE
REV. JOHN WESLEY.
PREACHED BEFORE THE CONFERENCE AT MANCHESTER, JULY 26, 1791,
AT THEIR FIRST ANNUAL MEETING
AFTER HIS DEATH.
HE BEING DEAD YET SPEAKETH.
Remember them that had the rule over you, who spake to you the
word of God, whose faith followe, considering the end of their conversation. Hebrews xiii, 7.
1. I MAKE no apology for reading the passage thus, though not quite according to our common translation, because that must appear improper even to an English reader, as being manifestly contradictory to itself. For it supposes the persons here referred to, to be dead, and yet speaks of them as now presiding over the Hebrews. Bishop Lloyd, in his funeral sermon for bishop Wilkins, gives it as his opinion that the words may refer to the two James's viz. James the elder, the Son of Zebedee, the brother of John, who was beheaded by Herod in the year of our Lord 44, and James the less, the son of Alpheus or Cleophas, the brother, that is, the kinsman of our Lord, who also, it seems, was taken hence before the writing of this epistle, suffering martyrdom, as is supposed, in the year 62. And when it is considered that both of these apostles had resided at Jerusalem, and had had the oversight of the church there, and that the latter James had been removed only a few months when this epistle was written, having been preserved · to instruct and oversee the Hebrew Christians almost twenty years after the death of the former, it must appear highly probable that, the bishop is right in his conjectures. At the same time, however, the apostle expresses himself in such a manner as to include all, who, under the direction of these apostles, had spoken the word of God to the Hebrews, and had presided in their assemblies.
2. But as no Scripture is of any private or particular interpretation, but is intended to be of general use, may we not consider this apostolic advice as given to ourselves, with a reference to those eminent servants of God whom the Lord has lately removed from among us, viz. the Rev. John Fletcher, the Rev. Charles Wesley, and the Rev. John Wesley? men famous in their day, and eminently distinguished in the churches, for their abilities, their labours, and their success in spreading the gospel of the grace of God. In particular, we seem, on this occasion, to be called upon to remember the person last mentioned, who, though the first of them in the work, and more advanced in age than either of the others, was yet spared to outlive them both, and almost all his contemporaries, and was under God our father and overseer; who presided over us and spake to us the word of God for above half a century, and whose presence amongst us at these meetings was of peculiar use and importance to us.
3. Indeed, him we cannot but remember, especially now, when we find such a want of his parental instruction, advice, and authority. However, while we bewail the loss we have sustained, and lament the day when the Lord took away our head from us ; and while we humble ourselves before God for our great unfaithful. ness, and misimprovement of our privileges, let us not forget how long he lent his honoured servant to us, and to what an advanced age he lengthened out his useful life. And while we praise him for this, as well as for many other instances of his undeserved kindness to the community with which we are united, let us earnestly pray that he would sanctify the dispensation, and in some degree make up our loss, by causing a large measure of his Spirit to descend upon all his servants before him, employed in publishing the gospel of his grace!
4. As my intention in this discourse is to recommend the faith of our departed Father to your imitation, it will not be foreign to my purpose to endeavour to bring to your remembrance,
1. A few particulars that respect his life and character as a man, as a scholar, as a Christian, and as a minister of Christ, a shepherd and bishop of souls. This, I hope, will prepare the way for your receiving more favourably,--
II. The exhortation I purpose giving you to follow his faith,considering,
III. The end of his conversation.
And, first, I am to remind you of a few particulars that respect the life and character of that great man.
1. Though the true faith of our Lord Jesus Christ may certainly be found, and often is found, in persons of small intellectual abilities, yet it must be owned that it appears in such to great disadvantage. Their ideas of the great doctrines of the gospel are neither clear nor distinct, nor are they able to arrange them in proper order, for the improvement of their own knowledge, or the edification of others. The precious truths of Christianity lie in their minds like gold, or silver, or precious stones in the earth, mixed with much dross, and in great disorder. In persons of greater discernment, and of a more enlarged mind and refined taste, they may be compared to precious stones cut and polished, and set in tablets of gold, or to gold and silver refined from their dross, and formed into beautiful and useful vessels. Such was our late Rey. father and pastor, a man of a most comprehensive mind and sublime genius. His judgment was clear, his fancy lively, his reason strong, and his memory tenacious. No man could be better qualified by nature for discerning the truth, or for representing it to others in the most clear and convincing point of view.
2. And he had every help which education could well give him. He was perfect in those ancient languages in which the holy Scriptures were originally written, and particularly so in Greek, the original language of the New Testament. This, as a tutor, he taught many years at Oxford, and it seems, Hebrew also, if not publicly and professionally, at least to some individuals in private. For we find the late Rev. James Hervey, in one of his letters to him, thanking him, as for many other favờurs, so especially " for teaching him Hebrew.” He understood several of the modern tongues, as French and German. He excelled in Logic, was well skilled in Natural Philosophy, as his many volumes published on that subject show, and was an accurate historian. And what perhaps affords yet greater help towards the discovery of truth, than any of the branches of literature already mentioned, as tending to habituate a person to think closely upon a subject, and to distinguish between probability and certainty, he was well read in Mathematics, especially in those branches of them which have the