Rise Of Methodism, Preaching Of The Wesleys And Of Whitefield
Author: Lecky, William E. H.

Rise Of Methodism, Preaching Of The Wesleys And Of Whitefield

1738



Next to the founders of the world's great religions, the principal
figures in religious history are the leaders of its new movements, the
founders of sects or denominations. In this subordinate class few names
outrank that of John Wesley, while those of his brother, Charles, and George
Whitefield, their eloquent colleague, are inseparably associated with that of
the great founder of Methodism, one of the most striking of the epochal
religious movements of modern times.

Although not intending to break with the Anglican Church, Wesley and his
followers were carried out upon independent lines which led to the upbuilding
of a distinct type of religious faith and organization, whose power has been
especially marked in Great Britain and America, and has been increasingly
spread throughout the world.

Between Whitefield and John Wesley, in 1741, a separation occurred on
points of doctrine, Whitefield adhering to a rigid Calvinism, while Wesley
inclined to Arminianism, and thenceforth they followed their several paths.
Although Whitefield founded no sect, he exerted a widespread influence by his
presence and voice. Before their separation both preachers had been in
America, and the personality and eloquence of Whitefield not only wrought a
spell upon the multitude, but even exercised a degree of fascination over such
a philosophical spirit as Franklin. Wesley's work in America was deeper and
more enduring, and is still a growing feature of the country's religious
development.

Nothing could be happier for the present purpose than the treatment of
this great religious movement, in its beginnings, as it is here dealt with by
the dispassionate historian of England during the century in which the
movement arose.

The Methodist movement was a purely religious one. All explanations
which ascribe it to the ambition of its leaders, or to merely intellectual
causes, are at variance with the facts of the case. The term Methodist was a
college nickname bestowed upon a small society of students at Oxford who met
together, between 1729 and 1735, for the purpose of mutual improvement. They
were accustomed to communicate every week, to fast regularly on Wednesdays and
Fridays and on most days during Lent; to read and discuss the Bible in common,
to abstain from most forms of amusement and luxury; and to visit sick persons,
and prisoners in the jail.

John Wesley, the master spirit of this society, and the future leader of
the religious revival of the eighteenth century, was born in 1703, and was the
second surviving son of Samuel Wesley, the rector of Epworth, in Lincolnshire.
His father, who had early abandoned Nonconformity, and acquired some
reputation by many works both in prose and verse, had obtained his living from
the government of William, and had led for many years a useful and studious
life, maintaining a far higher standard of clerical duty than was common in
his time. His mother was the daughter of an eminent Nonconformist minister,
who had been ejected in 1662, and was a woman of rare mental endowments, of
intense piety, and of a strong, original, and somewhat stern character.

Their home was not a happy one. Discordant dispositions and many
troubles darkened it. The family was very large. Many children died early.
The father sank slowly into debt. His parishioners were fierce, profligate,
and recalcitrant. When John Wesley was only six years old the rectory was
burned to the ground, and the child was forgotten among the flames, and only
saved at the last moment by what he afterward deemed an extraordinary
providence.

All these circumstances doubtless deepened the natural and inherited
piety for which he was so remarkable; and some strange and unexplained noises
which during a long period were heard in the rectory, and which its inmates
concluded to be supernatural, contributed to that vein of credulity which ran
through his character. He was sent to the Charterhouse, and from thence to
Oxford, where at the age of twenty-three he was elected fellow of Lincoln. He
had some years before acquired from his brother a certain knowledge of Hebrew,
and he was speedily distinguished by his extraordinary logical powers, by the
untiring industry with which he threw himself into the studies of the place,
and above all by the force and energy of his character.

His religious impressions, which had been for a time somewhat obscured,
revived in their full intensity while he was preparing for ordination in 1725.
He was troubled with difficulties, which his father and mother gradually
removed, about the damnatory clauses in the Athanasian Creed, and about the
compatibility of the articles with his decidedly Arminian views concerning
election; and he was deeply influenced by the Imitation of St. Thomas a
Kempis, by the Holy Living and Dying of Jeremy Taylor, and by Law's Serious
Call. His life at Oxford became very strict. He rose every morning at four,
a practice which he continued till extreme old age. He made pilgrimages on
foot to William Law to ask for spiritual advice. He abstained from the usual
fashion of having his hair dressed, in order that he might give the money so
saved to the poor. He refused to return the visits of those who called on
him, that he might avoid all idle conversation. His fasts were so severe that
they seriously impaired his health, and extreme abstinence and gloomy views
about religion are said to have contributed largely to hurry one of the
closest of his college companions to an early and a clouded death.

The society hardly numbered more than fifteen members, and was the object
of much ridicule at the university; but it included some men who afterward
played considerable parts in the world. Among them was Charles, the younger
brother of John Wesley, whose hymns became the favorite poetry of the sect,
and whose gentler, more submissive, and more amiable character, though less
fitted than that of his brother for the great conflicts of public life, was
very useful in moderating the movement and in drawing converts to it by
personal influence. Charles Wesley appears to have been the first to
originate the society at Oxford; he brought Whitefield into its pale, and,
besides being the most popular poet, he was one of the most persuasive
preachers of the movement.

There, too, was James Hervey, who became one of the earliest links
connecting Methodism with general literature. During most of his short life
he was a confirmed invalid. His affected language, his feeble, tremulous, and
lymphatic nature formed a curious contrast to the robust energy of Wesley and
Whitefield; but he was a great master of a kind of tumid and over-ornamented
rhetoric which has an extraordinary attraction to half-educated minds. His
Meditations was one of the most popular books of the eighteenth century. His
Theron and Aspasio, which was hardly less successful, was an elaborate defence
of evangelical opinions; and though at this time the pupil and one of the
warmest admirers of Wesley, he afterward became conspicuous in the Calvinistic
section of the party, and wrote with much acerbity against his old master.

There, too, above all, was George Whitefield, in after-years the greatest
pulpit orator of England. He was born in 1714, in Gloucester, in the Bell
Inn, of which his mother was proprietor, and where upon the decline of her
fortunes he was for some time employed in servile functions. He had been a
wild, impulsive boy, alternately remarkable for many mischievous pranks and
for strange outbursts of religious zeal. He stole money from his mother, and
he gave part of it to the poor. He early declared his intention one day to
preach the Gospel, but he was the terror of the Dissenting minister of his
neighborhood, whose religious services he was accustomed to ridicule and
interrupt. He bought devotional books, read the Bible assiduously, and on one
occasion, when exasperated by some teasing, he relieved his feelings, as he
tells us, by pouring out in his solitude the menaces of Psalm cxviii; but he
was also passionately fond of card-playing, novel-reading, and the theatre; he
was two or three times intoxicated, and he confesses with much penitence to "a
sensual passion" for fruits and cakes. His strongest natural bias was toward
the stage. He indulged it on every possible occasion, and at school he wrote
plays and acted in a female part.

Owing to the great poverty of his mother, he could only go to Oxford as a
servitor, and his career there was a very painful one. St. Thomas a Kempis,
Drelincourt's Defence against Death, and Law's devotional works had all their
part in kindling his piety into a flame. He was haunted with gloomy and
superstitious fancies, and his religion assumed the darkest and most ascetic
character. He always chose the worst food, fasted twice a week, wore woollen
gloves, a patched gown, and dirty shoes, and was subject to paroxysms of a
morbid devotion. He remained for hours prostrate on the ground in Christ
Church Walk in the midst of the night, and continued his devotions till his
hands grew black with cold. One Lent he carried his fasting to such a point
that when Passion Week arrived he had hardly sufficient strength to creep
upstairs, and his memory was seriously impaired. In 1733 he came in contact
with Charles Wesley, who brought him into the society. To a work called The
Life of God in the Soul of Man, which Charles Wesley put into his hands, he
ascribed his first conviction of that doctrine of free salvation which he
afterward made it the great object of his life to teach.

With the exception of a short period in which he was assisting his father
at Epworth, John Wesley continued at Oxford till the death of his father, in
1735, when the society was dispersed, and the two Wesleys soon after accepted
the invitation of General Oglethorpe to accompany him to the new colony of
Georgia. It was on his voyage to that colony that the founder of Methodism
first came in contact with the Moravians, who so deeply influenced his future
life. He was surprised and somewhat humiliated at finding that they treated
him as a mere novice in religion; their perfect composure during a dangerous
storm made a profound impression on his mind, and he employed himself while on
board ship in learning German, in order that he might converse with them. On
his arrival in the colony he abandoned, after a very slight attempt, his first
project of converting the Indians, and devoted himself wholly to the colonists
at Savannah. They were of many different nationalities, and it is a
remarkable proof of the energy and accomplishments of Wesley that, in addition
to his English services, he officiated regularly in German, French, and
Italian, and was at the same time engaged in learning Spanish, in order to
converse with some Jewish parishioners.

His character and opinions at this time may be briefly described. He was
a man who had made religion the single aim and object of his life, who was
prepared to encounter for it every form of danger, discomfort, and obloquy;
who devoted exclusively to it an energy of will and power of intellect that in
worldly professions might have raised him to the highest positions of honor
and wealth. Of his sincerity, of his self-renunciation, of his deep and
fervent piety, of his almost boundless activity, there can be no question.
Yet with all these qualities he was not an amiable man. He was hard,
punctilious, domineering, and in a certain sense even selfish. A short time
before he left England, his father, who was then an old and dying man, and who
dreaded above all things that the religious fervor which he had spent the
greater part of his life in kindling in his parish should dwindle after his
death, entreated his son in the most pathetic terms to remove to Epworth, in
which case he would probably succeed to the living, and be able to maintain
his mother in her old home.

Wesley peremptorily refused to leave Oxford, and the reason he assigned
was very characteristic. "The question," he said, "is not whether I could do
more good to others there than here; but whether I could do more good to
myself, seeing wherever I can be most holy myself there I can most promote
holiness in others." "My chief motive," he wrote when starting for Georgia,
"is the hope of saving my own soul. I hope to learn the true sense of the
Gospel of Christ by preaching it to the heathen." He was at this time a
High-Churchman of a very narrow type, full of exaggerated notions about church
discipline, extremely anxious to revive obsolete rubrics, and determined to
force the strictest ritualistic observances upon rude colonists, for whom of
all men they were least adapted. He insisted upon adopting baptism by
immersion, and refused to baptize a child whose parents objected to that form.
He would not permit any non-communicant to be a sponsor, repelled one of the
holiest men in the colony from the communion-table because he was a Dissenter;
refused for the same reason to read the burial-service over another; made it a
special object of his teaching to prevent ladies of his congregation from
wearing any gold ornament or any rich dress, and succeeded in inducing
Oglethorpe to issue an order forbidding any colonist from throwing a line or
firing a gun on Sunday. His sermons, it was complained, were all satires on
particular persons. He insisted upon weekly communions, desired to rebaptize
Dissenters who abandoned their Nonconformity, and exercised his pastoral
duties in such a manner that he was accused of meddling in every quarrel and
prying into every family.

A more unpropitious commencement for a great career could hardly be
conceived. Wesley returned to England in bad health and low spirits. He
redoubled his austerities and his zeal in teaching, and he was tortured by
doubts about the reality of his faith. It was at this time and in this state
of mind that he came in contact with Peter Boehler, a Moravian teacher, whose
calm and concentrated enthusiasm, united with unusual mental powers, gained a
complete ascendency over his mind. From him Wesley for the first time learned
that form of the doctrine of justification by faith which he afterward
regarded as the fundamental tenet of Christianity. He had long held that in
order to be a real Christian it was necessary to live a life wholly differing
from that of the world around him, and that such a renewal of life could only
be effected by the operation of the divine Spirit; and he does not appear to
have had serious difficulties about the doctrine of imputed righteousness,
although the ordinary evangelical doctrine on this matter was emphatically
repudiated and denounced by Law.

From Boehler he first learned to believe that every man, no matter how
moral, how pious, or how orthodox he may be, is in a state of damnation,
until, by a supernatural and instantaneous process wholly unlike that of human
reasoning, the conviction flashes upon his mind that the sacrifice of Christ
has been applied to and has expiated his sins; that this supernatural and
personal conviction or illumination is what is meant by saving faith, and that
it is inseparably accompanied by an absolute assurance of salvation and by a
complete dominion over sin. It cannot exist where there is not a sense of the
pardon of all past and of freedom from all present sins. It is impossible
that he who has experienced it should be in serious and lasting doubt as to
the fact; for its fruits are constant peace - not one uneasy thought; "freedom
from sin - not one unholy desire." Repentance and fruits meet for repentance,
such as the forgiveness of those who have offended us, ceasing from evil and
doing good, may precede this faith, but good works in the theological sense of
the term spring from, and therefore can only follow, faith.

Such, as clearly as I can state it, was the fundamental doctrine which
Wesley adopted from the Moravians. His mind was now thrown, through causes
very susceptible of a natural explanation, into an exceedingly excited and
abnormal condition, and he has himself chronicled with great minuteness in his
journal the incidents that follow. On Sunday, March 5, 1738, he tells us that
Boehler first fully convinced him of the want of that supernatural faith which
alone could save. The shock was very great, and the first impulse of Wesley
was to abstain from preaching, but his new master dissuaded him, saying:
"Preach faith till you have it; and then because you have faith you will
preach faith." He followed the advice, and several weeks passed in a state of
extreme religious excitement, broken, however, by strange fits of
"indifference, dulness, and coldness." While still believing himself to be in
a state of damnation, he preached the new doctrine with such passionate fervor
that he was excluded from pulpit after pulpit. He preached to the criminals
in the jails. He visited, under the superintendence of Boehler, some persons
who professed to have undergone the instantaneous and supernatural
illumination. He addressed the passengers whom he met on the roads or at the
public tables in the inns. On one occasion, at Birmingham, he abstained from
doing so, and he relates, with his usual imperturbable confidence, that a
heavy hailstorm which he afterward encountered was a divine judgment sent to
punish him for his neglect.

This condition could not last long. At length, on May 24th, a day which
he ever after looked back upon as the most momentous in his life - the cloud
was dispelled. Early in the morning, according to his usual custom, he opened
the Bible at random, seeking for a divine guidance, and his eye lighted on the
words, "There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, even
that we would be partakers of the divine nature." Before he left the house he
again consulted the oracle, and the first words he read were, "Thou art not
far from the kingdom of God." In the afternoon he attended service in St.
Paul's Cathedral, and the anthem, to his highly wrought imagination, seemed a
repetition of the same hope. The sequel may be told in his own words: "In the
evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one
was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter
before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart
through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed; I felt I did trust
in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he
had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.
I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner
despitefully used me and persecuted me. I then testified openly to all what I
now first felt in my heart."

Pictures of this kind are not uncommon in the lives of religious
enthusiasts, but they usually have a very limited interest and importance. It
is, however, scarcely an exaggeration to say that the scene which took place
at that humble meeting in Aldersgate Street forms an epoch in English history.
The conviction which then flashed upon one of the most powerful and most
active intellects in England is the true source of English Methodism. Shortly
before this, Charles Wesley, who had also fallen completely under the
influence of Boehler, had passed through a similar change; and Whitefield,
without ever adopting the dangerous doctrine of perfection which was so
prominent in the Methodist teaching, was at a still earlier period an ardent
preacher of justification by faith of the new birth. It was characteristic of
John Wesley that ten days before his conversion he wrote a long, petulant, and
dictatorial letter to his old master, William Law, reproaching him with having
kept back from him the fundamental doctrine of Christianity, and intimating in
strong and discourteous language his own conviction, and that of Boehler, that
the spiritual condition of Law was a very dangerous one.

It was no less characteristic of the indefatigable energy which formed
another and a better side of his nature, that immediately after this change he
started on a pilgrimage to Herrnhut, the head-quarters of Moravianism, in
order that he might study to the best advantage what he now regarded as the
purest type of a Christian church. He returned objecting to many things, but
more than ever convinced of his new doctrine, and more than ever resolved to
spend his life in diffusing it. In the course of 1738 the chief elements of
the movement were already formed. Whitefield had returned from Georgia.
Charles Wesley had begun to preach the doctrine with extraordinary effect to
the criminals in Newgate and from every pulpit into which he was admitted.
Methodist societies had already sprung up under Moravian influence. The
design of each was to be a church within a church, a seed-plot of a more
fervent piety, the centre of a stricter discipline and a more energetic
propagandism, than existed in religious communities at large.

In these societies the old Christian custom of love-feasts was revived.
The members sometimes passed almost the whole night in the most passionate
devotions, and voluntarily submitted to a spiritual tyranny that could hardly
be surpassed in a Catholic monastery. They were to meet every week, to make
an open and particular confession of every frailty, to submit to be
cross-examined on all their thoughts, words, and deeds. The following, among
others, were the questions asked at every meeting: "What known sin have you
committed since our last meeting? What temptations have you met with? How
were you delivered? What have you thought, said, or done of which you doubt
whether it be sin or not? Have you nothing you desire to keep secret?"

Such rules could only have been accepted under the influence of an
overpowering religious enthusiasm, and there was much truth in the judgment
which the elder brother of John Wesley passed upon them in 1739. "Their
societies," he wrote to their mother, "are sufficient to dissolve all other
societies but their own. Will any man of common-sense or spirit suffer any
domestic to be in a band engaged to relate to five or ten people anything
without reserve that concerns the person's conscience, how much soever it may
concern the family? Ought any married person to be there unless husband and
wife be there together?"

From this time the leaders of the movement became the most active of
missionaries. Without any fixed parishes they wandered from place to place,
proclaiming their new doctrine in every pulpit to which they were admitted,
and they speedily awoke a passionate enthusiasm and a bitter hostility in the
Church. Nothing, indeed, could appear more irregular to the ordinary
parochial clergyman than those itinerant ministers who broke away violently
from the settled habits of their profession, who belonged to and worshipped in
small religious societies that bore a suspicious resemblance to conventicles,
and whose whole tone and manner of preaching were utterly unlike anything to
which he was accustomed. They taught in language of the most vehement
emphasis, as the cardinal tenet of Christianity, the doctrine of a new birth
in a form which was altogether novel to their hearers. They were never weary
of urging that all men are in a condition of damnation who have not
experienced a sudden, violent, and supernatural change, or of inveighing
against the clergy for their ignorance of the very essence of Christianity.
"Tillotson," in the words of Whitefield, "knew no more about true Christianity
than Mahomet." The Whole Duty of Man, which was the most approved devotional
manual of the time, was pronounced by the same preacher, on account of the
stress it laid upon good works, to have "sent thousands to hell."

The Methodist preacher came to an Anglican parish in the spirit and with
the language of a missionary going to the most ignorant heathens; and he asked
the clergyman of the parish to lend him his pulpit, in order that he might
instruct the parishioners - perhaps for the first time - in the true Gospel of
Christ. It is not surprising that the clergy should have resented such a
movement; and the manner of the missionary was as startling as his matter.
The sermons of the time were almost always written, and the prevailing taste
was cold, polished, and fastidious. The new preachers preached extempore,
with the most intense fervor of language and gesture, and usually with a
complete disregard of the conventionalities of their profession. Wesley
frequently mounted the pulpit without even knowing from what text he would
preach, believing that when he opened his Bible at random the divine Spirit
would guide him infallibly in his choice. The oratory of Whitefield was so
impassioned that the preacher was sometimes scarcely able to proceed for his
tears, while half the audience were convulsed with sobs. The love of order,
routine, and decorum, which was the strongest feeling in the clerical mind,
was violently shocked. The regular congregation was displaced by an agitated
throng who had never before been seen within the precincts of the church. The
usual quiet worship was disturbed by violent enthusiasm or violent opposition,
by hysterical paroxysms of devotion or remorse, and when the preacher had left
the parish he seldom failed to leave behind him the elements of agitation and
division.

We may blame, but we can hardly, I think, wonder at the hostility all
this aroused among the clergy. It is, indeed, certain that Wesley and
Whitefield were at this time doing more than any other contemporary clergymen
to kindle a living piety among the people. It is equally certain that they
held the doctrines of the Articles and the Homilies with an earnestness very
rare among their brother-clergymen, that none of their peculiar doctrines were
in conflict with those doctrines, and that Wesley at least was attached with
an even superstitious reverence to ecclesiastical forms. Yet before the end
of 1738 the Methodist leaders were excluded from most of the pulpits of the
Church, and were thus compelled, unless they consented to relinquish what they
considered a divine mission, to take steps in the direction of separation.

Two important measures of this nature were taken in 1739. One of them
was the creation of Methodist chapels, which were intended, not to oppose or
replace, but to be supplemental and ancillary to, the churches, and to secure
that the doctrine of the new birth should be faithfully taught to the people.
The other, and still more important event, was the institution by Whitefield
of field-preaching. The idea had occurred to him in London, where he found
congregations too numerous for the church in which he preached, but the first
actual step was taken in the neighborhood of Bristol. At a time when he was
thus deprived of the chief normal means of exercising his talents his
attention was called to the condition of the colliers of Kingswood. He was
filled with horror and compassion at finding in the heart of a Christian
country, and in the immediate neighborhood of a great city, a population of
many thousands sunk in the most brutal ignorance and vice, and entirely
excluded from the ordinances of religion. Moved by such feelings, he resolved
to address the colliers in their own haunts. The resolution was a bold one,
for field-preaching was then utterly unknown in England, and it needed no
common courage to brave all the obloquy and derision it must provoke, and to
commence the experiment in the centre of a half-savage population.

Whitefield, however, had a just confidence in his cause and in his
powers. Standing himself upon a hillside, he took for his text the first
words of the Sermon which was spoken from the Mount, and he addressed with his
accustomed fire an astonished audience of some two hundred men. The fame of
his eloquence spread far and wide. On successive occasions five, ten,
fifteen, even twenty thousand were present. It was February, but the winter
sun shone clear and bright. The lanes were filled with the carriages of the
more wealthy citizens, whom curiosity had drawn from Bristol. The trees and
hedges were crowded with humbler listeners, and the fields were darkened by a
compact mass. The face of the preacher paled with a thrilling power to the
very outskirts of that mighty throng. The picturesque novelty of the occasion
and of the scene, the contagious emotion of so great a multitude, a deep sense
of the condition of his hearers and of the momentous importance of the step he
was taking, gave an additional solemnity. His rude auditors were electrified.
They stood for a time in rapt and motionless attention. Soon tears might be
seen forming white gutters down cheeks blackened from the coal-mine. Then
sobs and groans told how hard hearts were melting at his words. A fire was
kindled among the outcasts of Kingswood, which burned long and fiercely, and
was destined in a few years to overspread the land.

It was only with great difficulty that Whitefield could persuade the
Wesleys to join him in this new phase of missionary labor. John Wesley has
left on record, in his journal, his first repugnance to it, "having," as he
says, "been all my life (till very lately) so tenacious of every point
relating to decency and order, that I should have thought the saving of souls
almost a sin if it had not been done in a church." Charles Wesley, on this as
on most other occasions, was even more strongly conservative. The two
brothers adopted their usual superstitious practice of opening their Bibles at
random, under the belief that the texts on which their eyes first fell would
guide them in their decision. The texts were ambiguous and somewhat ominous,
relating for the most part to violent deaths; but on drawing lots the lot
determined them to go. It was on this slender ground that they resolved to
give the weight of their example to this most important development of the
movement. They went to Bristol, from which Whitefield was speedily called,
and continued the work among the Kingswood colliers and among the people of
the city; while Whitefield, after a preaching tour of some weeks in the
country, reproduced on a still larger scale the triumphs of Kingswood by
preaching with marvellous effect to immense throngs of the London rabble at
Moorfields and on Kennington Common. From this time field-preaching became
one of the most conspicuous features of the revival.

The character and genius of the preacher to whom this most important
development of Methodism was due demand a more extended notice than I have yet
given them. Unlike Wesley, whose strongest enthusiasm was always curbed by a
powerful will, and who manifested at all times and on all subjects an even
exaggerated passion for reasoning, Whitefield was chiefly a creature of
impulse and emotion. He had very little logical skill, no depth or range of
knowledge, not much self-restraint, nothing of the commanding and organizing
talent, and, it must be added, nothing of the arrogant and imperious spirit so
conspicuous in his colleague. At the same time a more zealous, a more
singleminded, a more truly amiable, a more purely unselfish man it would be
difficult to conceive. He lived perpetually in the sight of eternity, and a
desire to save souls was the single passion of his life. Of his labors it is
sufficient to say that it has been estimated that in the thirty-four years of
his active career he preached eighteen thousand times, or on an average ten
times a week; that these sermons were delivered with the utmost vehemence of
voice and gesture, often in the open air, and to congregations of many
thousands; and that he continued his exertions to the last, when his
constitution was hopelessly shattered by disease. During long periods he
preached forty hours, and sometimes as much as sixty hours, a week. In the
prosecution of his missionary labors he visited almost every important
district in England and Wales. At least twelve times he traversed Scotland,
three times he preached in Ireland, thirteen times he crossed the Atlantic.

Very few men placed by circumstances at the head of a great religious
movement have been so absolutely free from the spirit of sect. Very few men
have passed through so much obloquy with a heart so entirely unsoured, and
have retained amid so much adulation so large a measure of deep and genuine
humility. There was indeed not a trace of jealousy, ambition, or rancor in
his nature. There is something singularly touching in the zeal with which he
endeavored to compose the differences between himself and Wesley, when so many
of the followers of each leader were endeavoring to envenom them; in the
profound respect he continually expressed for his colleague at the time of
their separation; in the exuberant gratitude he always showed for the smallest
act of kindness to himself; in the tenderness with which he guarded the
interests of the inmates of that orphanage at Georgia around which his
strongest earthly affections were entwined; in the almost childish simplicity
with which he was always ready to make a public confession of his faults.

 

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