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Some persons, from what motives it is difficult to say, circulated a manuscript purporting to be a Report of the copy of his Lordship's deliverance at the visitation. This "contained such a declaration of doctrine and experience as speedily exposed him to the stigma of Methodism. This pretended Charge was soon after printed, and was the means of producing several pamphlets in reply, as well as congratulation.. These drew forth a Declaration from the angry prelate, in which he charged the Methodist leaders with being the authors of the fraud. A gentleman, who appears to have had some influence with the Bishop, vindicated the character of Mr. Whitefield, and informed his Lordship that he knew nothing of the spurious Charge, or of the pamphlets occasioned by it. When the former was sent to Mr. Whitefield in manuscript, as the production of the Bishop of Exeter, he immediately said it could not be his. • When I found it printed,' says he, “I spoke to the officious printer, who did it out of his own head, and blamed him very much. When I saw the pamphlet, I was still more offended; repeatedly, in several companies, I urged the injustice as well as the imprudence thereof, and said it would produce what it did,-I mean a Declaration from his Lordship that he was no Methodist. I am sorry he had such an occasion given him to declare his aversion to what is called Methodism; and though I think his Lordship in his Declaration hath been somewhat severe concerning some of the Methodist leaders, yet I cannot blame him for saying that he thought some of them were worse than ignorant and misguided, supposing that he had sufficient proof that they either caused to be printed, or wrote against when printed, a Charge which his Lordship had never owned nor published.'
“ The Bishop's Declaration' obtained a wide circulation, and the bitter invectives against the Methodists were not easily forgotten by those who longed for an opportunity to load them with calumny and reproach. Although well assured that neither Mr. Whitefield or the Messrs. Wesley had any hand in the publication or circulation of the spurious Charge, his Lordship had not the candour to acquit them of the heavy accusations which he had brought against them. Jealous of the reputation of her chaplain, and feeling the aspersions cast upon all professors of the Gospel as most cruel and unjustifiable, Lady Huntingdon determined to interpose, and wrote to his Lordship of Exeter, demanding a candid and honour. able retraction of the libels contained in his . Declaration. In her letter was enclosed an acknowledgment on the part of the printer, that the publication of the Charge was solely his deed: that he had got the manuscript from one entirely unconnected with the Methodists, and that he was ready to verify his statement on oath when required.
“The Bishop had the audacity to suffer Lady Huntingdon’s commu. nication to remain unnoticed, which drew forth a most spirited letter from her Ladyship, announcing her determination to make the transaction public, except his Lordship complied with her demand, and retracted the accusations which he had brought against her chaplain and the Messrs. Wesley. This had the desired effect; and the Bishop sent the following recantation to Lady Hantingdon, which she caused to be inserted in the leading journals of the day:
". The Bishop of Exeter having received the most positive assurance
from the Countess of Huntingdon, and other respectable persons, that neither Mr. Whitefield nor Mr. Wesley, nor any one in connection with, or authorized by them, had any concern in the fabrication and publication of a Charge said to be delivered by him to the clergy of his Diocese, takes this opportunity of apologizing to her Ladyship, and Messrs. Whitefield and Wesley, for the harsh and unjust censures which he was led to pass on them, from the supposition that they were in some measure concerned in or had countenanced the late imposition on the public. The Bishop of Exeter feels that it is imperative on him to make this concession to the Countess of Huntingdon, and requests her Ladyship and Messrs. Whitefield and Wesley will accept his unfeigned regret at having unjustly wounded their feelings, and exposed them to the odium of the world.'
“Such was the recantation of this wily prelate ; but it was only in the language of hypocrisy....... This implacable enemy of all Methodists had flattered himself that Lady Huntingdon would have been fully satisfied with the submissive apology he wrote, and that it would obtain a circulation only among the Methodist body : but his Lordship’s indignation rose to its utmost height when informed that his humiliation was made public by the Countess; and from that period he became the bitter and malignant reviler of her Ladyship and the Methodist leaders.”*
Mr. Foster, the writer of “The Life and Times of the Countess of Huntingdon," rightly designates Lavington a "wily prelate," and his language “the language of hypocrisy." There can be no question that the Bishop's annoyance led to the publication of that infamous book, “The Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists compared.” As respects the enthusiasm, so called, of the Methodists, and the enthusiasm of the Papists, there could, strictly speaking, be no just comparison instituted. The enthusiasm of the Methodists, if it might be so designated, when compared with the enthusiasm of the Papists, and the object aimed at by the one, when compared with the object aimed at by the other, and the effects produced by the one, when compared with the effects produced by the other, were as far as the poles asunder. Bishop Lavington, as a man of reading and some reflection, knew all this; and if he had been honest enough to act according to his convictions, the book would never have seen the light. But he was witty and facetious; he loved to excite a laugh ; and he was the more ready to provoke one at the expense of the Methodists. He hated Methodism intensely, and he did all that his cultivated powers enabled him to do, by coarse language, base innuendos, and bitter invectives, to caricature and vilify it, in order to bring it into contempt in the estimation of all classes of society.
The Rev. Vincent Perronet, vicar of Shoreham, an intimate friend of John Wesley's, published three Letters in reply to Lavington's “ Enthusiasm, etc.” The first was issued in 1749, and the last in 1752. Of this, the editor of the “ Monthly Review,” (January, 1752, p. 80,) says :—"A Third Letter to the author of a piece entitled tha. Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists compared,' containing some remarks on the third part& smart controversialist and the most formidable antagonist which has entered the lists against the comparer, in defence of the Methodists."
* “ The Life and Times of Selina Countess of Huntingdon,” vol. i., pp. 95, 96.
Mr. Whitefield also replied to Lavington in “Remarks on a Pamphlet entitled, The Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists compared, wherein several Mistakes in some parts of my past Writings and Conduct are acknowledged, and my present Sentiments concerning the METHODISTS explained. In a Letter to the Author. "Out of the eater came forth meat.'--Judges xiv. 14.” About 1750, Mr. Whitefield went to the Land's End, preaching at a great number of places as he went. “One reason," says the writer of “The Life and Times of Lady Huntingdon," " for Mr. Whitefield's visit to the west at this time, was to see how his Letter to the Bishop of Exeter had been received. He found in his own circle there, that it had been much blest.' He learnt also that 'my Lord of Exeter had said, he writes like an honest man, and had recanted several things, but,' (added Lavington,) 'he goes on in the same way yet.' He did. He went to Exeter, and appeared in the fields again. The Bishop, therefore, threatened another pamphlet. Lavington could do no more against the Methodists than write." Then, after referring to the conversion of Mr. Thompson, Vicar of St. Ginny's, Cornwall, which had been effected through the instrumentality of a remarkable dream, and to his subsequent usefulness as a minister of the Gospel, the writer proceeds to state: “In March, 1748, all the neighbouring ministers shut their pulpit doors against him; and he was soon after summoned before his diocesan to answer the charges made against him. The Bishop threatened to strip the gown from him’ for his . Methodistical practices,' and for daring to countenance Mr. Whitefield. His Lordship was saved the trouble; for that moment Mr. Thompson stripped himself, and throwing his gown at Lavington's feet, said, “I can preach the Gospel without a gown,
' and retired. Astonished at such independent conduct, the Bishop stood amazed, and on recovering his surprise, sent for Mr. Thompson, and soothed him; but he indemnified himself for his condescension, by publishing immediately the second part of his . Enthusiasm Compared.' Mr. Whitefield had good reason, as well as great provocation, to say of both parts, The Bishop has served the Methodists as the Bishop of Constance served John Huss, when he ordered painted devils to be put round his head before burning him.' He did not answer him. He did better. He went to Exeter, accompanied by a rural dean, to preach the Gospel as usual, and Divine influence accompanied the word. “This,' he says, 'is, I think, the best way to answer those who oppose them. selves.' He preached there twice on the same day. In the evening the Bishop and several of his clergy stood near to him, and saw ten thousand persons awe-struck by his appeals. They saw also three large stones thrown in succession at his head, one of which cut him severely; but neither the high priest nor his Levites interfered, although one of their own parishioners was felled to the ground at the same time.” *
But to return to this vile publication by Lavington, notwithstanding that the Rev. Vincent Perronet and George Whitefield wrote against it, it must be admitted that the most trenchant and vigorous and conclusive answer to it proceeded from the pen of John Wesley himself, in “A Letter to the Author of The Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists Com.
* “ The Life and Times of Selina Countess of Huntingdon,” vol. i., pp. 125-127.
pared;'"and in “ A Second Letter to The Author of the Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists Compared.'"
We have now lying before us a copy of the first edition of the first part of “The Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists Compared,” which once belonged to Mrs. Piozzi, the widow of Mr. Thrale, a friend of Dr. Johnson's, who married an Italian musician of that name, containing marginal notes in her own handwriting. Some of them are judicious, and some comical. We give some quotations from Dr. Lavington, with Mrs. Piozzi's remarks thereon, in parallel columns, thinking this may interest some of our readers : DR. LAVINGTON.
MRS. Piozzi. Quoting Whitefield, he says, “I never opened my mouth so freely against the letter. learned clergymen of the Church of England. I should not die in peace,-unless I bore my testimony against them. If I want to convince " It is not difficult so Church of England Protestants, I must to do." prove that the generality of their teachers do not preach, or live up to the truth as it is in Jesus.'” (P. 16.)
“Woe unto such leaders of the blind.- “He says right,--the How can you escape the damnation of Hell ? Methodists do." Wolves in sheep's clothing.–Numbers of such as would tell people, that a decent, genteel, and fashionable religion, is sufficient to carry them to heaven." (P. 16.)
" What a wickedness is it to throw out so “It did good, howmuch gall of bitterness against persons whose over, and made the clergy chief power of doing any good, and promot- a little less supine than ing the common salvation, depends upon they were." their character! And how much greater to impute this black art of calumny to the Spirit and power given from God.” (P. 17.) “ How grievously the Seraphic Machtildis
does Hannah disciplined and tortured herself for having More, I believe.” once spoken an idle word; and what a heinous sin she deemed it to laugh." “A certain abbot refused to assist his
So Mawworm says, friend in getting his ox out of a quagmire humorously, 'I begins to for fear of meddling with worldly things." think, my Lady, as it's a
heinous sin to keep a
shop.'' “ St. Phil. Nerius was such a lover of pov- “That is really comi. erty that he frequently besought Almighty cal.” God to bring him into that state as to stand in need of a penny, and find nobody that would give him one." (P. 25.)
“Mr. Wesley sets forth pathetically, and “A very cruel and unnot without some degree of insult, on the fair inference."
VOL. XXII,-FIFTH SERIES,
MRS. Piozzi. regular ministers who stay at home-their desire of going on in toil—in weariness, in painfulness, in cold and hunger-summersun, and winter-rain and wind upon the naked head; perils by land, perils by water; hurried away to America—& readiness to go to Abyssinia or China. And much more in the spirit of rambling, sufferings, and martyrdom." (Pp. 26, 27.) Quotes Wesley as saying,
" It is in imitation of “But if Thy stronger love constrain,
the famous French sonLet me be saved by grace.”
net by Despreaux; but by an awkwardness of es. pression seems to lay the Supreme Being under constraint of destiny, and that is neither good philosophy nor good religion. In the French Sonnet
there is no such fault.” · Amongst some enthusiastic Ranters, “ There is nothing in all Papistical mystics, and others, such an this but that which we all excessive and disinterested love of God bas know; that Enthusiasm been insisted on as should oblige us to love in Papists or Methodists Him, though we were sure of being damned; is a slight species of madand even to keep up that love during the ness; it does not make whole eternal state of damnation." (P. 34.) Methodists or Papists
alike. An enthusiastic Faquir is guilty of more extravagance than either; yet that does not make the Hindu religion the
same as Christianity." “Mr. Wesley plainly adopts the doctrine " Well! I am of Wesfor his own, when he says, “I was surprised ley's mind, that such an to find one of the most controverted questions
was admirable, in divinity, disinterested love, decided by a and such as a very good poor old man, without education, or learning, Christian ought to make." or any instructor but the Spirit of God. I asked what he thought 'of Paradise ? He said, To be sure it is a fine place. But I do not mind that. I do not care what place I am in. Let God put me where He will, or do with me what He will, so I may set forth His honour and glory.'” (P. 35.)
“We have a Pope's Bull to assure us that “I dere say that was Catherine of Sienna was often 80 carried true. She was, as we beyond herself that when pricked or beaten say, beside herself." she had not the least feeling of pain." (P. 38.)