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AN ACCOUNT OF HIS FAMILY ; OF HIS EDUCATION IN THE EARLY PART
PRINTED AT THE conFERENCE-oFFICE, 14, CITY-RoAD;
THE PREFA CE,
ONSIDERING how much the Works of the late Rev. John Wesley have been read, and how well they are known, not only in the Societies of his Connection, but by the more serious part of the Nation at large, it seems quite unnecessary to say much here in commendation of them. The topics which he treats are, in general, among the most important that can possibly come under the consideration of the human race. And his clear and concise manner of treating them is peculiarly calculated to give every attentive Reader the most just and satisfactory views of them in the fewest words, and with the least expense of time and trouble possible. His style, at the same time that it is pure and elegant, is also so luminous and clear, that the Reader must be dull of apprehension indeed, that has need to peruse any one of his sentences or paragraphs twice in order to understand it. And what is a peculiar excellence in many of his
Writings, they are addressed not merely to the understand- .
ing or judgment of the Reader, but also to his heart and
conscience, and are adapted not only to enlarge his know
ledge, but also and especially to regulate his life and trans
form his soul into the Divine image; to make him a better
man, and a better Christian. - Having, as early as the year 1725, when he was in the
twenty-second year of his age, made a resolution to dedicate WOL. I. A
all his life to God, from that period his design in writing, as well as in all his other labours and pursuits, was to glorify God and profit mankind, especially with respect to their best interests. "I have thought," says he, in the preface to his Sermons, “ that I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God : just hovering over the great gulph; till a few moments hence I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity." Under a deep sense of these things, it was his continual care to work while it was day, and to serve God and his generation to the uttermost of his power. And on all Divine subjects, that he might neither be misled himself nor mislead others, his care was to keep close to the Holy Scriptures. "I want," says he, in the same place, "to know one thing, the way to heaven, to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach me the way: for this very end he came down from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book At any price give me the Book of God! I sit down alone : only God is here. In his presence I open, I read his book for this end, to find the way to heaven. I lift up my heart to the Father of Lights. I meditate thereon with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. And what I thus learn, that I teach.” Such was the spirit in which he wrote most or all of his Treatises on Sacred subjects; and especially his Sermons, which, in general, are written with as great energy as clearness, and all with the benevolent design above-mentioned. "I design," says he, “ plain truth for plain people. Therefore, of set purpose, I abstain from all nice and philosophical speculations; from all perplexed and intricate reasonings; and, as far as possible, even from the shew of
learning, unless in sometimes citing the Original Scriptures." The thoughts, however, in many of these Sermons, are deep and high, worthy of one who, standing on the verge of time, looked forward into eternity, which he had long and earnestly contemplated. r
His Appeals to Men of Reason and Religion have generally been considered as most masterly productions. "They were written," say his biographers, “ in the fulness of his heart: while beholding the world lying in the wicked one, he wept over it. We could almost venture to assert, that ho unprejudiced person can read them without feeling their force, and acknowledging the justice of the observations which they contain." The pious and learned Dr. Doddridge intimates that he read them with great emotion; and tells us, that having gone through them, he wrote on the back, 'How forcible arc right words !' It is certain they have convinced many persons who were before deeply prejudiced, and utterly opposed to the Methodists, and some of these men of considerable learning. - “.
We may give nearly the same character of many of his Controversial Pieces. "They were written as need required: first, to preserve those who were in danger of being seduced from the plain Religion of the Bible; and secondly, to recover those who had already fallen into the snare." His Treatise on Original Sin, is perhaps one of the most laboured of these performances: For he knew and respected the abilities of his oponent, and therefore bestowed much time and attention in a careful investigation of the subject. Whether Dr. Taylor was convinced or not, his esteem was gained; and, as he never would answer Mr. Wesley, so he always spoke of him in terms of great respect.
Indeed it has generally been acknowledged that Mr.