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seems most strangely and wickedly wilful ; and it is impossible to read the letter she addressed to him on the subject without great indignation against him, and sadness to see how, not long ago, the habit of authority and obedience could enable a man to dispense with the need and claim of genuine reverence.
Yet he was, in the main, good, and his influence upon his chil. dren good, as he sincerely sought, and encouraged them to seek, the one thing needful. He was a father who would never fail to give noble advice in cases of conscience; and his veneration for intellect and its culture was only inferior to that he cherished for piety.
As has been generally the case, however, with superior men, the better part, both of inheritance and guidance, came from the mother. Mrs. Susannah Wesley was, as things go in our puny society, an extraordinary woman, though, we must believe, precisely what would be, in a healthy and natural order, the ordinary type of woman. She was endowed with a large understanding, the power of reasoning and the love of truth, animated by warm and generous affections. Her mental development began very early, so that, at the age of thirteen, she had made, and on well-considered grounds, a change in her form of theological faith. The progress so early begun, did not, on that account, stop early, but was continued, and with increasing energy, throughout her whole life. The manifold duties of a toilsome and difficult outward existence, (of which it is enough to say that she was the mother of nineteen children, many of whom lived to grow up, the wife of a poor man, and one whose temper drew round him many difficulties) only varied and furthered her improvement by the manifold occasions thus afforded for thought and action. In her prime she was the teacher and cheerful companion of her children, in declining years at once their revered monitor and willing pupil. Indeed, she was one that never ceased to grow while she stayed upon this earth, nor to
foster and sustain the growth of all around her. Even the little pedantries of her educational discipline did more good than harm, as they were full of her own individuality. And it would seem to be from the bias thus given that her sons acquired the tendency which, even in early years, drew to them the name of Methodists. How much too may not be inferred from the revival effected by her in her husband's parish during his absence, in so beautiful and simple a manner! How must impressions of that period have been stamped on the minds of her children, sure to recur and aid them whenever on similar occasions the universal voice should summon them to deviate from the usual and prescribed course, and the pure sympathies awakened by their efforts be the sole confirmation of their wisdom! How wisely and temperately she defends herself to her husband, winning the assent even of that somewhat narrow and arbitrary mind! With wisdom, even so tempered by a heart of charity and forbearance, did John and Charles Wesley maintain against the world of customs the bold and original methods which the deep emotions of their souls dictated to them, and won its assent; at least we think there is no sect on which the others collectively look with as little intoler. ance as on Methodism.
(It may be remarked par parenthese that the biographer, Mr. Jackson, who shows himself, in many ways, to be a weak man, is rather shocked at Mrs. Wesley on those occasions where she shows so much character. His opinions however, are of no consequence, as he fairly lays before the reader the letters and other original documents which enable him to judge of this remarkable woman, and of her children, several of them no less remarkable--As we shall not again advert to Mr. Jackson, but only consider him as a cup in which we have received the juice of the Wesleyan grape, we will mention here his strange use of the work superior in ways such as these : “ This book will be
read with superior interest” ; Lady — met him with superior sympathy,” &c.)
The children of the Epworth Rectory were, almost without exception, of more than usual dignity and richness of mind and character. They all were aspiring, and looked upon a human life chiefly as affording materials to fashion a temple for the ser. vice of God. But, though alike in the main purpose and ten. dency, their individualities were kept distinct in the most charming freshness. A noble sincerity and mutual respect marked all their intercourse, nor were the weaker characters unduly influenced by the stronger. In proportion to their mutual affection and reverence was their sincerity and decision in opposing one another, whenever necessary ; so that they were friendly indeed. The same real love which made Charles Wesley write on a letter assailing John, “Left unanswered by John Wesley's brother," made himself the most earnest and direct of critics when he saw or thought he saw any need of criticism or moni. tion.
The children of this family shared, many of them, the lyric vein, though only in Charles did it exhibit itself with much beauty. It is very interesting to see the same gift taking another form in the genius for Music of his two sons. The record kept by him of the early stages of development in them is full of valuable suggestions, and we hope some time to make use of them in another connection. It is pleasant to see how the sympathies of the father melted away the crust of habitual opinions. It was far otherwise with the uncle, where the glow of sympathy was less warm.
The life of the two brothers was full of poetic beauty in its incidents and conduct. The snatching of the child, destined to purposes so important, “ as a brand from the burning ;" their college life ; Charles's unwillingness to be made a saint of all at once ;” and his subsequent yielding to the fervour of his brother's spirit,-- John Wesley's refusal to bind himself to what seemed at the time a good work, even for his mother's sake, because the Spirit within, if it did not positively forbid, yet did not say “I am ready,” thus sacrificing the outward to the inward duty with a clear decision rare even in great minds,—their voyage to America, intercourse with the Moravians and Indians, the trials to which their young simplicity and credulity there subjected them, but from which they were brought out safe by obeying the voice of Conscience, -their relations with Law, Böhler and Count Zinzendorf,—the manner of their marriages, their relations with one another and with Whitfield, -all are narrated with candour and fullness, and all afford subjects for much and valuable thought. As the mind of John Wesley was of stronger mould and in advance of his brother's, difference of opinion sometimes arose between them, and Charles, full of feeling, protested in a way calculated to grieve even a noble friend. His conduct with regard to his brother's marriage seems to have been perfectly unjustifiable, and his heart to have remained strangely untaught by what he had felt and borne at the time of his own. Even after death his prejudices acted to prevent his mortal remains from resting beside those of his brother. In all those cases where John Wesley found his judgment interfered with, his affections disappointed or even deeply wounded, as was certainly the case in the breaking off his first engagement, while he felt the superior largeness and clearness of his own views, as he did in exercising the power of ordination, and when he wrote on the disappointment of his wish that the body of his brother should be interred in his own cemetery, because it was not regularly “consecrated earth ;" “ That ground is as holy as any in England,” still the heart of John Wesley was always right and noble; still he looked at the motives of the friend, and could really say and wholly feel in the spirit of Christian love, “Be they forgiven for they know not what they do."
This same heart of Christian love was shown in the division that arose between the brothers and Whitfield; and owing to · this it was that division of opinion did not destroy unity of spirit, design and influence in the efforts of these good men to make their fellows good also. “ The threefold cord,” as they loved to call it, remained firm through life, and the world saw in them one of the best fruits of the religious spirit, mutual reverence in conscientious difference. This rarest sight alone would have given them a claim to instruct the souls of men.
We wish indeed that this spirit had been still better understood by them, and that, in ceasing to be the pupils of William Law, they had not felt obliged to denounce his mode of viewing religious truth as “ poisonous mysticism.” It is human frailty that requires to reäct, thus violently, against that we have left behind. The divine spirit teaches better, shows that the child was father of the man, and that which we were before has prepared us to be what we now are.
One of the deepest thinkers of our time believes that the exaggerated importance which each man and each party attaches to the aims and ways which engage him or it, and the far more odious depreciation of all others, are needed to give sufficient impetus and steadiness to their action. He finds grand correspondence in the laws of matter with this view of the laws of mind to illustrate and sustain his belief. Yet the soul craves and feels herself fit for something better, a wisdom that shall look upon the myriad ways in which men seek their common end—the development and elevation of their natures,—with calmness, as the Eternal does. For ourselves, in an age where it is still the current fallacy that he who does not attach this exaggerated importance to some doctrinal way of viewing spiritual infinities, and the peculiar methods of some sect of enforcing them in prac. tice, has no religion, we see dawning here and there a light that predicts a better day—a day when sects and parties shall be