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Art. V. Causes of the Increase of Methodism, and Diffenfion. By
Robert Acklem Ingram, B. D. Hatchard.
This is the production of an honest man, poffeffed of a fait,
1 share of understanding. He cries out lustily (and not before it is time), upon the increase of Methodism; proposés various remedies for the diminution of this evil ; and speaks his opinions with a freedom which does him great credit, and convinces us that he is a respectable man. The clergy aré accused of not exa érting themselves. What temporal motive, Mr Ingram asks, have they for exertion ? Would a curate, who had served thirty years upon a living in the most exemplary manner, secure to himfelf, by Tuch a conduct, the lightest right or title to promotion in the church? What can you expect of a whole profession, in which there is no more connexion between merit and reward, than between merit and beauty, or merit and strength ? This is the substance of what Mr Ingram says upon this subject; and he speaks the truth. We regret, however, that this gentleman has thought fit to use against the diffenters, the exploded clamour of Jacobinism ; or that he deems it neceffary to call in tò the aid of the Church, the power of intolerant laws, in spite of the odious anď impolitic tests to which the disenters are still subjected. We believe them to be very good subjects, and we have no doubt but that any further attempt upon their religious liberties, without reconciling them to the Church, would have a direct tendency to render them disaffected to the State.
Mr Ingram (whose book, by the by, is very dull and tedious) has fallen into the common mistake of supposing his readers to be as well acquainted with his subject as he is himself; and has talked a great deal about diflenters, without giving us any distinct notions of the spirit which pervades these people-the objects they have in view or the degree of talent which is to be found among them. To remedy this very capital defect, we shall éndeavour to set before the eyes of the reader, a complete section of the tabernacle ; and to present him with a near view of those fectaries, who are at present at work upon the destruction of the orthodox churches, and are destined hereafter, perhaps, to act as conspicuous a part in public affairs, as the children of Sion did in the time of Cromwell.
The sources from which we shall derive our extracts, are the Evangelical and Methodistical Magazines for the year 1807; works which are said to be circulated to the amount of 18 or 20,000 each, every month ; and which contain the sentiments of Arminian and Calvinistic methodists, and of the evangelical clergymen of the church of England. We shall use the general term
cat dered with mintake by, is
of Methodism, to designate these three classes of fanatics, not troubling ourselves to point out the finer shades, and nicer discriminations of lunacy, but treating them all as in one general confpiracy against common sense, and rational orthodox chriftianity.
In reading these very curious productions, we seemed to be in a new world, and to have got among a set of beings, of whose existence we had hardly before entertained the flightelt conception. It has been our good fortune to be acquainted with many truly religious persons, both in the Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches ; and from their manly, rational, and serious characters, our conceptions of true practical piety have been formed. To these confined habits, and to our want of proper introductions among the children of light and grace, any degree of surprise is to be attributed, which may be excited by the publications before us; which, under opposite circumstances, would (we doubt not) have proved as great a source of instruction and delight to the Edinburgh reviewers, as they are to the most melodious votaries of the tabernacle.
It is not wantonly, or with the most distant intention of trifling upon serious subjects, that we call the attention of the public to these sort of publications. Their circulation is so enormous, and so increasing, they contain the opinions, and display the habits of so many human beings,--that they cannot but be objects of curiosity and importance. The common and the middling classes of people are the purchasers; and the subject is religion,-though not that religion certainly which is established by law, and encouraged by national provision. This may lead to unpleasant consequences, or it may not; but it carries with it a sort of aspect, which ought to insure to it serious attention and reflection.
It is impossible to arrive at any knowledge of a religious sect, by merely detailing the settled articles of their belief: it may be the fashion of such a fect, to insist upon some articles very flightly; to bring forward others prominently; and to congder some portion of their formal creed as obsolete. As the knowledge of the jurisprudence of any country can never be obtained, by the perufal of volumes which contain some statutes that are daily enforced, and others that have been filently antiquated : in the fame manner, the practice, the preaching, and the writing of fects, are comments absolutely necessary to render the perufal of their creed of any degree of utility
It is the practice, we believe, with the orthodox, both in the Scotch and the English churches, to infist very rarely, and very discreetly, upon the particular instances of the interference of Divine Providence. They do not contend that the world is govern$d only by general laws, -that a Superintending Mind never intera
feres for particular purposes; but fuch purposes are represented to be of a nature very awful and sublime,—when a guilty people are to be destroyed, when an oppressed nation is to be lifted up, and some remarkable change introduced into the order and arrangement of the world. With this kind of theology we can have no quarrel; we bow to its truth; we are satisfied with the moderation which it exhibits; and we have no doubt of the salutary efa feet which it produces upon the human heart. Let us now come to those special cases of the interference of Providence as they are exhibited in the publications before us.
An interference with respect to the Rev. James Moody. • Mr James Moody was descended from pious ancestors, who resided at Paisley ;-his heart was devoted to music, dancing, and theatrical amusements; of the latter he was so fond, that he used to meet with some men of a fimilar caft, to rehearse plays, and used to entertain an hope that he should make a figure upon the stage. To improve himself in music, he would rise very early, even in severely cold weather, and pra&tise on the German flute : by his skill in mufic and singing, with his general powers of entertaining, he became a defireable companion : he would sometimes venture to profane the day of God, by turning it into a season of carnal pleasure ; and would join in excurfions on the water, to various parts of the vicinity of London. But the time was approaching, when the Lord, who bad designs of mercy for him, and for many others by his means, was about to flop him in his vain career of pin and folly. There were two profefling servants in the house where he liva ed; one of these was a porter, who, in brushing his clothes, would say, “ Master James, this will never do you muft be otherwise employed you must be a minister of the gospel.” This worthy man, carnestly wishing his converfion, put into his hands that excellent book which God hath so much owned, Allein’s alarm to the unconverted..
About this time, it pleased God to visit him with a disorder in his eyes, occafioned, as it was thought, by his fitting up in the night to improve himself in drawing. The apprehenfion of losing his sight occafioned many serious reflections ; his mind was impressed with the importance and neceflity of seeking the salvation of his soul, and · he was induced to attend the preaching of the gospel. The firit sermon that he heard with a defire to profit, was at Spa-fields Chapel : a place which he had formerly frequented, when it was a temple of vanity and dissipation. Strong convictions of fin fixed on his mind; and he continued to attend the preached word, particularly at Tottenhan-Court Chapel. Every sermon increased his forrow and grief that he had not earlier sought the Lord. It was a considerable time before be found comfort from the gospel. He has stood in the free part of the chapel, hearing with such emotion, that the tears have flowed from his eyes, in torrents; and, when he has returned home, he has conti. nued a great part of the night on his knees, praying over what he had heard. • The change effected by the power of the Holy Spirit on his heart,
hrin became visible to all. Nor did he halt between two opinions, as feme perfons do; he became at once a decided character, and gave up for ever all his vain pursuits and amusements ; devoting himself with as much resolution and diligence to the service of God, as he had former. ly done to folly.' Ev. Mag. p. 194... .
An Interference respecting Cards. A clergyman not far distant from the spot on which these lines were written, was spending an evening, not in his clofet wreitling with his Divine Master for the communication of that grace which is lo pe. culiarly necessary for the faithful discharge of the ministerial function, not in his study searching the sacred oracles of divine truth for materials wherewith to prepare for his public exercises and feed the fock ander his care, --not in paftoral visits to that flock, to inquire into the state of their souls, and endeavour, by his pious and affectionate conversation, to conciliate their esteem, and promote their edification, but at the card table. '-After stating that when it was his turn to deal, he dropt down dead, · It is worthy of remark (says the writer) that within a very few years this was the third character in the neighbourhood which had been summoned from the card table to the bar of God.' Ev. Mag. p. 262.
Interference respecting Swearing,-a bee the instruinent. • A young man is ftung by a bee, upon which he buffets the bees with his hat, uttering at the same time the most dreadful oaths and imprecations. In the midst of his fury, one of these little combatante ftung him upon the tip of that unruly member (his tongue), which was thén employed in blaspeming his Maker. Thus can the Lord engage one of the meanest of his creatures in reproving the bold transgressor who dares to take his name in vain." Ev. Mag. p. 363. Interference with respect to David Wright, who was cured of
Atheism and Scrofula by one sermon of Mr Coles. . This case is too long to quote in the language and with the evidences of the writers. The substance of it is what our title implies.-David Wright was a man with scrophulous legs and atheistical principles ;-being with difficulty persuaded to hear one sermon from Mr Coles, he limped to the church in extreme pain, and atrived there after great exertions;-during church time he was entirely converted, walked home with the greatest ease, and never after experienced the slightest return of scrofula or infidelity.-Ev. Mag. p. 414. The displeasure of Providence is expressed at Captain Scott's goitig
to preach in Mr Romaine's Chapel. The sign of this displeasure is a violent storm of thunder and lightning just as he came in to town.--Ev. Mag. p. 537. · Interference with respect to an innkeeper who was destroyed for hav
ing appointed a cock-fight at the very time that the service was
beginning at the Methodist Chapel. “ Never mind,” says the innkeeper, “ I'll get a greater congregatiop than the Methodist parson ; -we'll have a cock-fight," But what is
man! how insignificant his designs, how impotent his ftrength, how ill. fated his plans, when opposed to that Being who is infioite in wisdom, boundless in power, terrible in judgment; and who frequently reverfes, and suddenly tenders abortive, the projects of the wicked! A few days after the avowal of his intention, the innkeeper fickened.' &c. &c. And then the narrator gocs on to ftate, that his corpse was carried by the meeting-house, on the day, and exaëly at the time, the deceased had fixed for the cock-fight,'-Meth. Mag. p. 126.
In page 167. Meth. Mag. a father, mother, three sons, and a sister, are destroyed by particular interposition.
In page 222. Meth. Mag. a dancing-master is destroyed for irrea ligion,-another person for swearing at a cock-fight, and a third for pretending to be deaf and dumb. These are called recent and authentic accounts of God's avenging providence.
So much for the miraculous interposition of Providence in cases where the Methodists are concerned : we shall not proceed to a few specimens of the energy of their religious feelings.
Mrs Roberts's feelings in the month of May 1793. • But, all this time, my soul was Aayed upon God; my defires inerealed, and my mind was kept in a sweet praying frame, a going out of myself, as it were, and taking shelter in Him. Every breath I drew, ended in a prayer. I felt myself helpless as an infant, dependent upon God for all things. I was in a conftant, daily expectation of receiving all I wanted ; and, on Friday May 31st, under Mr Rutherford's sera mon, though entirely independent of it, (for I could not give any account of what he had been preaching about), I was given to feel that God was waiting to be very gracious to me; the spirit of prayer and supplication was given me, and such an assurance that I was accepted in the Beloved, as I cannot describe, but which I Mall never forget.' Meth. Mag. p. 35. Mrs Elizabeth Price and her attendants hear sacred music on a
sudden. • A few nights before her death, while some neighbours and her hufband were fitting up with her, a sudden and joyful sound of music was heard by all present, although some of them were carnal people : at which time she thought fhe saw her crucified Saviour before her, speaking these words with power to her foul, “ Thy fins are forgiven thee, and I love thee freely." After this the never doubted of her acceptance with God; and on Christmas-day following, was taken to celebrate the Redeemer's birth in the Paradise of God. MICHAEL Cousin.'- Metb. Mag. 137. · T. L. a Sailor on board the Stag frigate, has a special revelation
from our Saviour. . Daober 26th, being the Lord's day, he had a remarkable manifes. tation of God's love to his soul. That bleffed morning, he was much grieved by hearing the wicked use profane language, when Jesus revealed himself to him, and impressed on his mind those words, “ Follow Me." This was a precious day to him.'-Meth. Mag. p. 140.
VOL. XI. NO. 22.