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books, papers, lectures, associations, and all kindred facilities for his improvement, to study diligently the Holy Scriptures with an earnest purpose of comprehension and edification, and to pray believingly for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to sanctify all knowledge and discipline to his growth, development, usefulness, and happiness.
Especially is this the duty of every member of the Methodist Episcopal Church; for the spirit of the denomination, from the inception of the grand movement, has been, first, salvation by faith in Jesus Christ; and, secondly, the best possible culture and development, and the wisest and most practical use of every talent, whether of endowment or opportunity, for the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom in the earth. Its schools, periodicals, Book Concerns, and educational organizations have precisely this significance. “The higher education of her youth” is an avowed disciplinary object of the Church; and the necessity of seminaries, colleges, and regular educational contributions is recognized and enforced. The Church Lyceum,” a local but important agency, has for its aim "mental improvement," provision for schools and libraries, the dissemination of religious literature, assistance for young men called to the ministry in obtaining an education, and, generally, the fullest ministration which the Church can offer to the varied nature of man.” That particular society exhibits practical wisdom, and will reap a golden harvest, which makes the completest use of these provisions. The youth will be attracted and instructed, the charms of social comminglings will be added to the pleasures of intellectual pursuits, and the paths of learning, like those of holiness, will be directed toward the Zion of God. All will be interested, saved from frivolous and corrupting associations, refined in thought and feeling, and allied by pleasant and profitable intercourse to the Christian Church ; and some, without doubt, will be drawn, not only to the house of God, but also to the altar of prayer, will be changed in heart and life, and will
"by due steps aspire
2. The Church of Christ, which has been the conservator of knowledge in the days of greatest darkness, which saved
ancient learning from founder and wreck in a turbulent sea, which has always gained her surest victories in uplifting and enlightening men, needs now, more than at any period in the past, to ascend every summit of science, to explore every field of knowledge, to speak in every dialect of culture, to use the facts in every domain of learning, to convert every invention and discovery into a resource of power, to rear her battlements on every beetling crag of philosophy, and to fill every realm of art and song with the brightness of her creations and the melody of her sacred hymns.
ART. IV.-SOME HISTORIC PLACES OF METHODISM.
FOREMOST of these places is Epworth, where the leader of the second Reformation first drew breath. In the flat lands of Lincolnshire, where in winter the eye fell on dreary wastes of water, and in summer ague reigned supreme, stood the poor parish town of Epworth.
The minister was that “rugged and granitic man,” Samuel Wesley, who fought hard against poverty within doors and against “the rabble of his parish without.” In those days local politics ran high, and Samuel took sides. The other side fought him with weapons of the baser sort, and took full revenge on “the parson.” They stabbed his cows, cut off his dog's leg, broke down his doors, drummed under his window at night to ruffle him as he wrote sermons; they stole his grain, burned his flax, and twice set fire to his house. Few men worked harder, few fared harder. But he stood his ground, and when timid friends urged him to give up, he said, “No, 'tis like a coward to desert my post because the enemy fire thick upon me.” And so he held on, preached truth boldly, and eked out a scant living by parish rates and the writing of multitudinous, if not immortal, verses, over which thoughts and pen ran so rapidly that a day's work of two hundred lines was an easy task. Thrown into prison for a trifling debt, he lay in confinement three months. But even there he was far less concerned for himself than for his “poor lambs left in the midst of so many wolves.” His brave heart did not sink, and
he wrote with spirit, and even humor, to the Archbishop of York, that he expected to do far more good preaching in his new parish than in the old one.
To this man of firm nerve and iron will was joined a helpmeet ranking foremost among “elect ladies."
Susannah Annesley, the youngest daughter among twentyfive children, in girlhood, in womanhood, in motherhood, in age and feebleness, was a woman such as this world is rarely blessed with. Think of a girl of thirteen examining and settling for herself the points of difference between Churchmen and Dissenters—and, with full knowledge of all her distinguished father had suffered as a Non-conformnist, becoming a zealous Churchwoman.
In Epworth parsonage, amid the scenes and sufferings just alluded to, the mother of nineteen children, all blessed with grace
of person and rare intellectual gifts, she brought out the rich treasures of her great soul. There is not an aspect of female character in which she is not a model. Cheerful in all fortune, good or ill, following to the grave nine beautiful lambs of her fold, selling her little trinkets and slipping the rings from her fingers to feed and comfort her husband in prison, ordering her household with a precision of Christian rules that tolerated no deviation, leading the minds of her children upward with a patience that amazes all fretful and impatient mothers, she was a living benediction in that humble household
What a lesson we have in that family scene, when the irritable Samuel asked her, snappishly, “Why do you tell that boy the same thing twenty times over ?” “Because," said the wise woman, “ nineteen times were not enough.” See her holding service in the kitchen for the poor of the parish while her husband is absent, reading the most awakening sermons with sweet, womanly eloquence to the crowd of eager listeners, and gently lead. ing them to the Fountain of Life. Note her answer to her husband's letter of rebuke, when his stupid curate, who could not interest the people, had reported to him that his wife was holding unlawful conventicles: “If you do after all (she had in her letter defended her course unanswerably) think fit to dissolve this assembly, do not tell me you desire it, for that will not satisfy my conscience. But send me your positive command in such full and express terms as may, absolve me from all guilt and punishment for neglecting this opportunity of doing good when you and I shall appear before the grand and awful tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ”-words and sentiments worthy of a loyal wife and a Christian woman.
The rarest and richest gifts were bound up in the character of the mother of the Wesleys. Her portraits show a classic beauty of face and form, while dignity, firmness, gentleness, strong common sense, far-seeing sagacity, clear penetration, and intense religious fervor blend and form a model for the study of all who can reverence one of the noblest works of God-a Christian mother. She has been well described as "a queen uncrowned and saintly:"
“Not perfect, nay, but full of tender wants;
The crowning scene in this rare life was reached when it was yielded up in the room fitted up for her by her son John in the old Foundry. As the noble woman felt death draw near, she calmly said, “ Children, as soon as I am released, sing a hymn of praise to God.”
That old rectory, with its peaked and thatched roof; its mysterions noises from the visits of “Old Jeffrey,” as the children called the familiar ghost, which and its pranks Isaac Taylor explains to his own satisfaction, at least, by his conceit of “idiotic creatures” of the spiritual world, “not more intelligent than apes or pigs,” which “by some mischance are thrown over their proper limits and disport themselves among things palpable, and go to the extent of their tether in freaks of bootless mischief ;” the fire at midnight when John Wesley was six years old, from which he was saved by one man standing on the shoulders of another and dragging him from the window just as the roof crashed in, which scene so impressed itself on the imagination of the thoughtful child that in manhood he kept it ever before him by the motto on his seal: “Is not this a brand plucked from the burning?”
And Epworth church-yard, with its strange and awe-inspiring scenes, what a place it holds in Methodist history! There for eight successive nights John Wesley stood on his father's toinb in the midst of a great multitude and preached with amazing power. “While I was speaking,” he says of one occasion, “ several dropped down as dead; and among the rest such a cry was heard of sinners groaning for the righteousness of faith as almost drowned my voice."
Such was Epworth, never to be forgotten, for it cradled John Wesley, the prince of preachers in modern times, and Charles Wesley, the prince of Christian hymn writers for all time.
London is full of sacred places. In the west rises the mausoleum where rest beneath turret and tower in the aisles. and chapels of the venerable pile the bones of kings and nobles,, philosophers, poets, and statesmen renowned in English story. In the east stands the gloomy tower where the best and bravest have languished in cell and dungeon and found exit from earth and its sorrows beneath the headsman's ax.
In Smithfield, where thousands now rush daily to the vast meat-market, thousands once gathered around the blazing fires of persecution, while the souls of undaunted witnesses to the true faith ascended in the flames.
The memories that cluster about such shrines can never perish. The light that broke from them in the midst of dense moral darkness can never grow dim. But to me the historic places of Methodism have as rich memories and as strong a light. The achievements in war and peace, of Raleigh and Nelson, of Wellington and Burke, of Peel and Palmerston, all combined have not done for England and for the world what the Wesleys and Methodism have done. For without the reforming, renewing, and restraining power of their preaching on the ignorant and degraded masses of the English people, neither the eloquence of Burke nor the sword of Wellington could have saved that country from the red dragon of the French Revolution.
Near to Smithfield stands the famous old Charter-house to which the loyal Methodist may well make pilgrimage. It was at first, and hence its name, a monastery of the Carthusian monks, and fell, with more than a thousand other such houses of various monkish orders, under the wrath of that royal and
FOURTH SERIES, Vol. XXXV.-44