Page images
PDF
EPUB

« grace is sufficient for thee.Her own heart led her to assent to the humbling doctrine, “ We are born in sin;" and was relieved by hearing of that spiritual grace by which we have a new birth unto righteousness."

The practice of turning away scholars because they are grown up is disapproved of; for young people want to be warned at sixteen years more than at six. Instructions are given on the Sunday evenings, called the evening schools. These evening instructions are represented to be soon considered not as a task, but as a disadvantage and discredit to those who absent themselves from them. Thus, by presents and insinuating manners, children and adults are gained over, and induced to attend these meetings late and eatly; for the institution is not confined to the instruction of children only. Hester by industry, diligence, good conduct, a renovated temper, sobriety and religion, becomes exemplary to her father and mother; and her mild conversation to him one day, on seeing him sober, when he was expected, according to custom, to be drunk, so affected the father, that walking out, he said to himself

“ Surely there must be something in religion, since it o can thus change the heart. Hester was once a pert girl, “ and now she is as mild as a lamb. She was once an in“ dolent girl, and now she is up with the lark. She was "a vain girl, and would do any thing for a new ribbon; " and now she is contented to go in rags to a feast at which “ every one else will have a new gown. She deprived herself of her gown to give me the money; and yet this

GO

6 very girl, so dutiful in some things, would submit to be “ turned out of doors, rather than read a loose book at my “ command, or break the Sabbath. I do not understand “ this; there must be some mystery in it.” John and Rebecca are also converted.

I hope I shall never think, speak, nor write contemptuously or disrespectfully of any thing that relates to religion. Although this be a ficti. tious story, yet such reformations are maintained by these societies to have often been really true; and there are many of them related in Mr. Wesley's journals. Shall I say there is nothing in it, that it is impossible, that it is false? I will not, I dare not. He that revealed himself. once, can again, and wonderfully deals with the hearts of men. For what purpose do we preach?. To convert; that men may be led from evil to do good, and save their souls alive. But I cannot give credit to those conversions which happen by a sudden paroxysm, of which the patients talk with pride and confidence, as if they had been “ out of the body," and of which they boast as if they had succeeded to a good estate, and still cherish, under much shew and cunning, an evil temper and disposition within. I think more highly of that renovation, which, as it is conducted by the spirit of God, is yet rational, decent, steady in good works, though not exempt from the infirmities of human nature. A higher perfection and purity than this is not attainable ; whereas the instantaneous, momentary, convulsive conversion, which ensures its votary of eter

as

nal life, I consider as a system, a system that may be learned. Persons, at some conventicles, are said to have been retained for the purpose of exhibiting these epileptic conversions, to attract attention, and encourage the craft of the schism.These extravagancies are clearly proved to have been practised by Mrs. More's teachers, with or without her approbation and countenance; and this story of Hester Wilmot and others, are irrefragable arguments that she herself has received this system of puritanical conversions. The foundation is here; private instructions could be easily given.

If this sort of conversion be supernatural, I think it not unreasonable to conclude, that to a natural man, on reasonable principles, it is unintelligible ; and that such a man cannot adequately even discourse on the subject. It is intelligible, and known only to those who have had experience of it, and are really and truly converted. Now as this is the work of God, and he is said to have manifested his grace in an especial manner to render them new creatures, holy, without spot or wrinkle, all those who are converted, are of course holy, new creatures, nor liable or likely to commit sins such as they before conversion were guilty of, or any crime of a flagrant nature. But Mrs. H. More having imagined and written this story, and others of a like nature, she must, if my reasoning be just, be herself converted; for, in a natural state, she could not understand nor discourse of these matters, therefore she is holy, and exempted from those sins and frailties the unconverted are daily guilty of. But H. More has been proved, by the letters of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and of Dr. Crossman, to be guilty of " secret “ accusations," with a view to displace the Curate of Blagdon, and actually procured her own disciple to be nominated and licensed to that cure; and her name is put to the vol. 5, which contains this story of a conversion : Ergo Mrs. H. More is not herself yet converted, and this species of conversion is but a system. I

There is one observation I must not omit to make in this place, and it is a fact I cannot and never could account for. I have uniformly remarked, that all those who adopt this system of non-descriptism, in or out of the church, have no charity for those without their own society. They not only do not love them, but they hate them, and when they dare or can, persecute them. It is for this.“ mark,” I chiefly suspect their christianity. All religions hitherto have, being too frequently engines of states, had but little charity for the professors of different faiths, and there is no hope that it will ever be otherwise, until there is a universal religion, universally professed, i.e. rational christianity..

Let not-my reader imagine, that I mean to ridicule this story of Hester Wilmot, or discourage any endeavours or attempts to reform the wicked. In any thing rationally pious, I would unite éven with Mrs. More, to promote the good of man, pro- . vided there was no danger of fanaticism, or hy.

pocrisy and pride. But this story, pious and good as it may appear, and it really appears so, I consider, and not unreasonably, as the platform of the institution of “ Sunday schools,” the declared proximate object of which is not children only, but adults also, to puritanize the people, and its ultimate object is a revolution, or at least a schisin, in the church. Reforms, however, should be gradual, not upon non-descript principles, but effected by the wisdom of those eminently learned and pious men, the prelates, the other dignitaries, with the assistance of others in inferior situations, sanctioned by the authority of the legislature, and not riotously forced upon us by the blind zeal and violence of a sect, whose principles are not yet known, and remarkable, rather for their cunning and hypocrisy, than their learning or love of truth. Its first fruits have shewn themselves at Blagdon, when the regular clergyman was literally dismissed with disgrace, and a follower of this system of H. More's actually licensed, and declared himself in possession. The regular curate was then down, and, in his person, the church of England. It puts me in mind of a story told by a man in a higher station, who, when some puritan (if I recollect it right) remarked, that the church had had a fall a century and a half ago, replied, yes! but this church has a trick of getting up again. This trick has been repeated in the person of Mr. Bere ; he was re-instated, the Bishop's eyes being opened by the publications of the friends of the establishment; the church was down,

« PreviousContinue »