페이지 이미지

ton better-was his dealing altogether too mercifully with Dr. Whitehead. The “lightning and thunder,” which Mr. Stockton thinks will break unexpectedly upon many, are merely fitful coruscations of electricity from his own overcharged mind. They may glitter and snap for the moment, but are perfectly harmless.

The second charge made against Mr. Moore is that of extensive plagiarism. We have carefully examined the two "Lives," and compared them, and we come to a different conclusion from Mr. Stockton.

The documents which Mr. Moore copies are, to be sure, the same as those published by Dr. Whitehead. But he obtained them from the same source that Dr. Whitehead did from Mr. Wesley's manuscripts, his printed journals and works. There is no more plagiarism or purloining in his case, in this respect, than there is in Dr. Whitehead's. The Analytical Review made the same charge against Coke and Moore, with respect to Hampson. But Dr. A. Clarke, in reply and defense, showed that "each party had alike borrowed from the printed works of Mr. Wesley, and had an equal right to those public sources of information and reference." His “reply set the question for ever at rest."-Life of Moore, p. 124. The same argument, and with the same force, applies here.

At the time Mr. Moore compiled his second Life, he was the only surviving trustee of Mr. Wesley's manuscripts; and, by virtue of his appointment, he had a right to claim and use them. Thus he contends himself. He says:—“Wherever they are found, they belong to me; and those which have been published, either by Dr. Whitehead or any other person, are my property, which I shall freely use according to my best judgment."

But we admit frankly, and, we confess, with some mortification too, that Mr. Moore has not given Dr. Whitehead credit for much that is due. While we do not admit that he is a plagiarist by the publication of the documents, any and all, from Wesley's journals, works, or manuscripts, we do admit, that, in copying Whitehead's composition, as he has done in many instances, he exceedingly erred. Mr. Stockton shall never find us the apologists for plagiarism, whether it be in sermons, histories, biographies, or other works, any more than himself. We fully subscribe to the sentiment of D'Aubigne, that, “ of all property that a man can possess, there is none so essentially his own as the labors of his mind."

In earlier days, when the press did not exercise such severe literary censorship as at present, purloining was a common theft. And we remark-not as a justification of Mr. Moore; for that is a

mode of argument that we do not adopt—that Dr. Whitehead is guilty of the "pious fraud" charged by Mr. Stockton upon Mr. Moore. The account of Mr. Wesley's illness and death, to which Dr. Whitehead and the other biographers of Wesley are indebted for most they have given us of his last moments, was furnished in a pamphlet by Miss Nitchie, afterward Mrs. Mortimer, who was with him in his last hours, and who, he wished, should close his eyes in death. Her biographer very properly notices it as a singular omission, that none of them have given her credit for it.

Mr. Moore's Life of Wesley will ever be valuable as a book of reference. It contains many important documents which illustrate the history of the founder of Methodism; and is the production of one of his strong and faithful friends.

The sixth and last Life of Wesley which we notice is that by RICHARD Watson: London, 1831. Mr. Watson prepared this Memoir for general readers more particularly than for the student who wishes for full and documentary details respecting the life and labors of his subject. He says:

“ Various Lives or Memoirs of the founder of Methodism have already been laid before the public. But it has been frequently remarked that such of these as contain the most approved accounts of Mr. Wesley, have been carried out to a length which obstructs their circulation, by the intermixture of details comparatively uninteresting beyond the immediate circle of Wesleyan Methodism. The present Life, therefore, without any design to supersede larger publications, has been prepared with more special reference to general readers. But as it is contracted within moderate limits chiefly by the exclusion of extraneous matter, it will, it is hoped, be found sufficiently comprehensive to give the reader an adequate view of the life, labors, and opinions, of the eminent individual who is its subject; and to afford the means of correcting the most material errors and misrepresentations which have had currency respecting him. On several points the author has had the advantage of consulting unpublished papers, not known to preceding biographers, and which have enabled him to place some particulars in a more satisfactory light.”

In this Memoir by Mr. Watson, the only Life of Wesley, we believe, now on sale at the Book Roorn, the charges brought against Mr. Wesley, and repeated over and over again by Southcy and others, of credulousness, enthusiasm, and ambition, are satisfactorily disposed of; and many points in his history, mystified or obscured by others, are presented in their proper light. Undoubt

edly this Life is a good one; and the author has accomplished what he undertook—the compilation of a brief narrative of Mr. Wesley for general circulation.

The friends of Mr. Wesley and lovers of Methodism will ever regret that Dr. Clarke was not able to comply with the request of the British Conference to write a Life of Wesley. Had that been done, the name of Wesley would have been wrested from much obloquy and reproach cast upon it either by ignorant or designing men.

The name of Wesley was, with Dr. Clarke, sacred. “I rejoice in it,” says he, “more than in my own." And so late as December, 1831, nine months only before his death, and seven months after Mr. Watson had prepared his work, he remarks :-“When Adam Clarke is no more among men, perhaps the world, or rather the church, may find that John Wesley is not left without a proper notice of the rare excellences in his life, by one whom he affectionately loved; and who valued him more than he does any archangel of God.” But death frustrated his plan, and what he contemplated he never accomplished.

By far the most interesting “Life” of Wesley that has ever appeared is contained in his own journals. We have in these an account of his daily employment, his travels, his preaching, his intercourse with the people, and of his reading; we have criticisms on books, and notices of persons, places, and many curious things; conversations with his friends, remarkable incidents, and strange historical narratives: the whole covering more than fifty years of his life, couched in his own inimitably simple and chaste language.

Mr. Watson says :-“His journals present a picture of unwearied exertion, such as as perhaps never before exhibited; and in themselves they form ample volumes of great interest, not only as a record of his astonishing and successful labors, but from their miscellaneous and almost uniformly instructive character. Now he is seen braving the storms and tempests in his journey, fearless of the snows of winter and the heats of summer: then, with a deep susceptibility of all that is beautiful and grand in nature, recording the pleasures produced by a smiling landscape, or by mountain scenery:-here turning aside to view some curious object of nature; there some splendid mansion of the great: showing at the same time in his pious, and often elegant, though brief, reflections, with what skill he made all things contribute to devotion and cheerfulness. Again, we trace him in his proper work, preaching in crowded chapels, or to multitudes collected in the most public resorts in towns, or in the most picturesque places in their vicinity.

Now he is seen by the side of the sick and dying, and then, surrounded with his societies, uttering his pastoral advices. An interesting and instructive letter frequently occurs; then a jet of playful and good-humored wit upon his persecutors, or the stupidity of his carnal hearers; occasionally, in spite of the philosophers, an apparition story is given as he heard it, and of which his readers are left to judge; and often we meet with a grateful record of providential escapes, from the falls of his horses, or from the violence of mobs. Notices of books also appear, which are often exceedingly just and striking; always short and characteristic; and as he read much on his journeys, they are very frequent.”Life of Wesley, p. 206.

The “Lives" of Wesley, his journals and works, and the "portraitures" of Methodism, drawn by friends and enemies, by adherents to it, and apostates from it, show Mr. Wesley to have been one of the most remarkable men that ever lived. He was versed in the sciences, an excellent linguist, deeply read in history and divinity, unsurpassed as a logician, a master polemic, a holy man, an indefatigable minister of the gospel, and a Scriptural bishop in the church of Christ; feeding the flock of God with pure knowledge, and exercising over them a wholesome Scriptural government. Reproached by the opposers of true piety, and by the bigots of the various “orders of faith,” he steadily pursues his course. Those who opposed the spread of truth, and threw themselves in the way of its chosen advocate, dwindle down into comparative insignificance and obscurity; while he, with an equanimity of temperament peculiarly his own, with a zeal that no circumstances could dampen, with a faith that for sixty years is never known to fail or grow weak, and with humble reliance on God, is seen, far in the advance, still pressing on in his glorious career, only intent on fulfilling the high behests of Heaven. The snarling and barking of a multitude of curs, set on, in some instances, by those whose office it was to teach religion, but whose actions showed them to be instigators and defenders of mobs, do not for a moment arrest his progress. Forsaken by some who professed to be his friends, when they saw that he was not corrupt, and that he could not be corrupted; charged with enthusiasm, credulity, and ambition; and, indeed, whatever else is vile, he falters not. The trial of his faith, being much more precious than gold tried in the fire, is found, in his case, to be unto praise and honor. Nearly eighty-eight years God prolongs his life, and for more than sixty-five years he labors in the ministry. Charged with amassing a fortune, he, after having

made many rich, dies poor. Six poor men carry his body to the grave, and his spirit goes to God who gave it.

Mr. Wesley counted not his life dear unto himself, so that he might accomplish the work he believed God had called him to perform. He was at all times ready to preach, ready to pray, ready to do good in all possible ways, and ready to die. His church polity has stood the test of experiment. He clearly discerned the true policy lying between the high claims of prelacy on the one hand, and the equally unsupported dogmas of congregationalism on the other. And after all the discussion on this subject, its Scriptural character and wholesome tendency become daily more manifest. In the various benevolent and Christian enterprises, which are the glory of the present century, he had already zealously engaged, when the mass of Christendom first waked up to their importance. On the subject of temperance he was nearly one hundred years in advance of his times. He published his "Thoughts on Slavery" thirteen years before the formation of the "Abolition Committee" in England. The system of colporteurage, which is to bless and enlighten many dark portions of our earth, was adopted by him long before the "moderns” dreamed of it. What the "societies” are now doing, in furnishing small and cheap publications, adapted to general circulation, he did three quarters of a century ago. The missionary enterprise, which is sending the gospel to every part of the globe, he entered into in the advance of most others, and wisely adopted a system of itinerancy which continues to spread Scriptural holiness over the lands. In educational interests he early embarked, and his name will ever be associated with those who have founded schools and established institutions of learning.

But Mr. Wesley, it is said, had great defects. Well, what were they ? Failings, such as necessarily attach to men in his lapsed state, he certainly had. And none can be more conscious of this than he was himself. The language of his heart and lips was,

I the chief of sinners am;

But Jesus died for me."

More than these he had not. And it is not a little marvelous, when we consider the relation which he sustained to the church, the society into which he was constantly thrown, the different tempers and dispositions with which he had to deal, the multiplicity of his engagements, the numerous ungentlemanly and unchristian attacks made upon him-not sparing his moral character, and questioning the purity of his motives—and the influence which his

« 이전계속 »