« ПредишнаНапред »
and do what service we could to our acquaintance, the prisoners, and two or three poor families in the town. But the outcry daily increafing, that we might fhew what ground there was for it, we proposed to our friends, or opponents, as we had opportunity, these, or the like questions:
I. Whether it does not concern all men of all conditions, to imitate Him as much as they can,
so who went about doing good ? "
Whether all christians are not concerned in that coma mand; “ While we have time let us do good to all men."
Whether we shall not be more happy hereafter, the more good we do now?
Whether we can be happy at all hereafter unless we have, according to our power, “ Fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited those that are fick, and in prison," and made all these actions subservient to a higher purpose, even the saving of souls from death ?
Whether it be not our bounden duty always to remember, that He did more for us, than we can do for him, who assures us, • In as much as ye have done it? unto one of the least of these my breihren, ye have done it unto me ? :
upon these considerations we may not try to do good to our acquaintance ? Particularly, whether we may not try to convince them of the new cessity of being christians ?
Whether of the consequent necessity of being Scholars ?
Whether of the necessity of method and industry in order to either learning or virtue?
Whether we may not try to persuade them to confirm and increase their industry, by communicating as often as they can?
Whether we may not mention to them the authors whom we conceive to have wrote best on those subjects ?
Whether we may not allist them as we are able from time to time, to form resolutions upon what they read in those authors, and to execute them with steadiness and perseverance.
III. Whether upon the considerations above-mentioned, we may not try to do good to those that are hungry, naked, or fick? In particular, whether if we know any neceffitous family, we may not give them a little food, clothes, or physic, as they want ?
Whether we may not give them, if they can read, a Bible, Common-Prayer Book, or Whole Duty of Man ?
Whether we may not now and then enquire how they have used them; explain what they don't understand, and enforce what they do ?
Whether we may not enforce upon them more efpee cially the necessity of private prayer, and of frequente ing the church and sacrament?
Whether we may not contribute what little we are 1
able toward having their children clothed and taught to read ?
Whether we may not take care that they be taught their catechifm, and thort prayers for morning and evening ?
IV. Lastly, Whether upon the confiderations abovementioned, we may not try to do good to those that are in prison? In particular, Whether we may not release such well-disposed persons as remain in prison for small fums?
Whether we may not lend smaller sums to those that are of any trade, that they may procure themselves tools and materials to work with ?
Whether we may not give to them who appear to want it most, a little money, or clothes, or phyfic?
Whether we may not supply as many as are serious enough to read, with a Bible, and Whole Duty of Man P
Whether we may not, as we have opportunity, explain and enforce these upon them, especially with respect to public and private prayer, and the blefled facrament?
I do not remember that we met with any person who answered any of these questions in the negative, or who even doubted, whether it were not lawful to apply to this use. that time and money, which we should have spent in other diversions: but several we met with who increased our little stock of money for the prisoners and the poor, by subscribing something quarterly to.it; so that the more persons we proposed our de
figns to, the more were we confirmed in the belief of their innocency, and the more determined to pursue them in spight of the ridicule, which increased fast upon us during the winter. However, in spring I thought it could not be improper to desire farther instructions from those, who were wiser and better than ourselves; and according (on May 18, 1731) I wrote a particular account of all our proceedings to a clergyman of known wisdom and integrity. After having informed him of all the branches of our design as clearly and simply as I could, I next acquainted him with the success it had met with in the following words: Almost as soon as we had made our first attempts this way, fome of the men of wit in Christ-Church entered the list against us, and between mirth and anger made a pretty many reflections upon the Sacramentarians, as they were pleased to call us. Soon after their allies at Merton changed our title, and did us the honour of stiling us The Holy Club. But moft of them being persons of well-known characters, they had not the good fortune to gain any proselites from the Sacrament, 'till a gentleman, eminent for learning, and well esteemed for piety, joining them, told his nephew, That if he dared to go to the weekly communion any longer, he would immediately turn him out of doors, The argument indeed had no success; the young gentleman communicated next week ; upon which his uncle having again tried to, convince him that he was in the wrong way, by shaking , him by the throat to no purpofe, changed his method, and by mildness prevailed upon him to absent from it the Sunday following, as he has done five Sundays in fix ever since. This much delighted, our “ gay opponents," who increased their number apace, especially when shortly after one of the seniors of the college hava ing been with the doctor, upon his return from him, fent for two young gentlemen severally, who had com municated weekly, for føme time; and was so success ful in his exhortations, that for the future they promised to do it, only three times a year. About this time there was a meeting (as one who was prelent at, it informed your son of several of the officers and seniors of the college, wherein it was confulued what would be the speedief way to stop the progress of enga thulalm in it. The result we know not, only it was
Soon publicly reported, that Dr.- and the censors A were going to blow up the Godly Club. This was now our common title, though we were sometimes dignified with that of the Enthusiasts, or the Reforming Club."
Part of the Answer I received was as follows:
16 Good Sir, A pretty while after the date yours came to my hand." I waved my answer 'till I had an opportunity of consulting your father, who upon all accounts is a more proper judge of the affair than I am. But I could never find a fit occafion for it. A: to my own fense of the matter, I confess, I cannot but heartily approve of that serious and religious turn of mind that prompts you and your associates to those pious and charitable offices; and can have no notion of that man's religion or concern for the honour of the University, that opposes you as far as your design refpe&ts the Colleges. I should be loth to send a son of mine to any seminary, where his conversing with virtuous young men, whose profelt design of meeting together at proper times, was to aflyst each other in forming good resolutions, and encouraging one another to execute them with constancy and steadiness, was inconsistent with any received maxims or rules of life among the members. As to the other branch of your design, as the town is divided into parishes, each of which has its proper incumbent, and as there is probably an eccleRatic, who has the spiritual charge of the prisoners, prudence may
direct you to consult them : For tho' I dare not say you would be too officious, should you of your own meer motion seek out the persons that want your inftructions and charitable contributions, yet should you have the concurrence of their
proper paftor, your good offices would be more regular, and Jefs liable to cenfure."
Your fon was now at Holt; however, we continued to meet at our usual times, tho our little affairs went on but heavily without him. But at our return from Lincolnshire, in September last,' we had the pleasure of feeing him again: when, tho he could not be fo atlive with us as formerly, yet we were exceedingły glad to
spend what time we could in talking and reading with him. It was a little before this time my brother and I were at London, when going into a bookseller's shop (Mr. Rivington's in St. Paul's church-yard) after some other conversation he asked us, Whether we lived in town; and upon our answering, “ No, at Oxford :" Then gentlemen, said he, let me earnestly recommend to your acquaintance a friend I have there, Mr. Clayton of Brazen-Nose. Of this, not having leisure for contracting new acquaintance, we took no notice for the present. But in the spring following (April 201 Mr. Clayton met me in the street, and giving Mr. Rivington's service, I desired his company to my room, and then commenced our acquaintance. At the first opportunity I acquainted him with our whole design, which he immediately and heartily closed with: and not long after, Mr. M-- having then left Oxford, we fixed two evenings in a week to meet on, partly to talk upon that subject, and partly to read something in practical divinity.
The two points, whereunto by the blesling of God, and your son's help, we had before attained, we endeavoured to hold fast; I mean, the doing what good we can, and in order thereto communicated as often as we have opportunity. To thele, by the advice of Mr. Clayton, we have added a third, the observing the fasts of the church; the general neglect of which we can by no means apprehend to be a lawful excuse for neglecting them. And in the resolution to adhere to there, and all things else which we are convinced God requires at our hands, we trust we shall persevere, 'till He calls us to give an account of our stewardship. As for the names of Methodists, Supererogation Men, and so on, with which suine of our neighbours are pleased to compliment us, we do not conceivė ourselves to be under any obligation to regard them; much less to take them for arguments. To the law and to the testie mony we appeal, whereby we ought to be judged. If by these it can be proved we are in an error, we will immediately and gladly retract it: If not, we have not Jo learned Christ, as to renounce any part of his service, tho' men should say all manner of evil against us, with more judgment, and as little truth as hitherto. Wc do indeed use all the lawful means we know, to pre