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Memoirs of the Wesley family : collected principally from original documents online

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* The two first sermons he preached after this affliction were from John
V, 14 : " Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou
art made whole : sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee."

These words, he informed his congregation, he had chosen as most suita-
ble to his own circumstances, and which, he intimated, might not be impro-
per for those of others. The following is the outline. In the context,

The history of the pool of Bethesda.
What is meant b^ the angel which troubled the waters ?
Whether a celestial angel, or the priest's servant only ?
If it was miraculous, the reason of the miracle about that time.
How long we may suppose it lasted, and how it came to cease.
The superiority of this one miracle of Christ, in curing this impotent
man, above all those that were wrought by the angelical operation.
The unreasonable behavior of the Jews on this occasion.
The sensible answer of the man who had been healed.

So much for the context. The text itself contains,

The Saviour's words to the man whom he had healed.

1. The place where our Lord found him, and upon what occasion.

2. What he said to him on that occasion.

(1) To put him in mind of his late deliverance, " Behold," &c.

(2) The use which he told him he ought to make of it, " Sin no more,"
&c.



S. WESLEV, RECTOR OF EPWORTH. 261

made a shift to get more than three parts in four of Job
printed off, and both the printing, paper, and maps, hitherto
paid for. My son John, at Oxford, now his elder brother is
gone to Tiverton, takes care of the remainder of the im-
pression in London, and I have an ingenious artist here
with me, in my house at Epworth, who is graving and
working off the remaining maps and figures for me ; so
that I hope, if the printer does not hinder me, I shall have
the whole ready by next spring ; and, by God's leave, be
in London myself to deliver the books perfect. I print
five hundred copies, as in my proposals, whereof I have
above three hundred already subscribed for, and among ray
subscribers, fifteen or sixteen English bishops, with some
of Ireland.

" I have not yet done with my own impertinent nos-
trums. I thank God, I creep up hill more than I did
formerly, being eased of the weight of four daughters out
of seven, as I hope I shall be of the fifth in a little longer.
When Mr. Lyndal comes down, I shall trouble you, by
him, with a copy of all the maps and figures which I have
yet printed, they costing me no more than the paper, since
the graving is over.

"If you will be pleased herewith to accept the tender
of my most sincere respect and gratitude, you will thereby
confer one further obligation on,

" Honored sir, your most obedient and most humble
servant, Samuel Wesley."

" To James Oglethorpe, Esq.''''

(3) The application of the whole to any one who has been sick, and
whom God has been pleased to restore to health again.

The last two sermons he has left upon record were preached at Epworth,
August 18, 1731, on 1 Sam. xii, 17: "Is it not wheat harvest to-day? I
will call unlo the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain ; that ye may
perceive and sec that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the
sight of the Lord." From hence he endeavors to show,

That unseasonable weather in time of harvest is a just judgment inflicted
by the hand of God for the wickedness of any people.

"I am afraid," continues he, "nay, too well assured, that there are a far
greater nuinljer of you who have hardened your hearts as did Pharaoh, when
he saw there was a little rosi)ite, and the mighty thundcrings ceased, and
the rain was not poured upon the earth ; for otherwise, how came the house
of God so empty here last Sunday? though other churches, I doubt, were
little better for it ; and the jieople went in such shameful droves to do their
own ways, and find their own pleasures, and speak their own words, and
left so very small a flock behind them on their luiees to cry mightily unto
God, as did the poor afl'rightcd Ninevites, that he would have mercy upon
us, that we might not perish."



262 THE WESLEY FAMILY.

It is very likely that Mr. Wesley had learned before he
died that his work, when finished, would be received by
the queen, and that he had permission to dedicate it to her
majesty ; and it must have consoled him ; as it would have
pained him most sensibly to have fallen imder the displea-
sure of one whom he most sincerely reverenced. I shall
now proceed to a description of the work itself.

The Dissertations are thirty-five in number, some of
which are very curious.

From the preface we learn the following particulars : —

1. That he had for a long time carefully read over this
book, first in Hebrew, and secondly in the Septiiagint;
that he collated these together, and formed the result into
notes and observations on the passages which gave them
birth ; that, having procured Walton's Polyglot, he con-
ferred what he had already done with the ancient versions
in that work, and greatly increased his notes and observa-
tions ; and that the fire in his house in 1709 destroyed all
his property, not a leaf, either of his Polyglot or his Col-
lections on Job, escaping the flames.

2. Having procured another Polyglot, he read over the
Hebrew text again and again, diligently compared the
Alexandrian and Vatican editions of the Septuagint with
all the fragments of Origen's Hexapla, collated all the
variations in the Chaldee, Arabic, and Syriac texts, with
the principal critics, as exhibited in Pool's Synopsis ; but
not understanding the Arabic and Syriac, he was obliged
to trust to their Latin versions in the Polyglot. He com-
pared also Tindal's and the Bishops' Bible, of which he
says. Qua licet non prorsus infallibili, perfectiorem in uUa
lingua me visurum non spero : " which, although not alto-
gether infallible, anything more perfect in any language I
never expect to see."

3. Having gone through all this previous labor, he then
consulted all the commentators within his reach, princi-
pally relying on what he had been able to acquire from
the above collation of the original text, and ancient ver-
sions in the Polyglot.

4. As he did not design to write a commentary on the
book, he wrote down the titles of subjects on which he
designed to write dissertations for the general elucidation
of the book.



S. WESLEY, RECTOR OF EPWORTH. 263

5. He then relates the assistance he had from books ;
and mentions with peculiar gratitude and respect the help
he received from the library of Lord Milton ; without
whose kindness, hospitality, and munificence, the work,
he says, would have come into the world mutilated, or
perished as an abortion.

6. The authors he consulted were principally Pliny,
Bunting's Travels of the Patriarchs, Salmasius, Mercator,
Jerome, Eusebius, Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, Luitsius,
Sanson, Purchas, Hakluyt, De la Valle, and Peutinger's
Tables, for the geographical part. Bochart, worth all the
rest put together, he had, he says, only for a few days.
Calmet, Pineda, Spanheim, Dr. Hyde, Bishop Cumber-
land, Greaves, Sandys, &c., gave Irim help in the same
line.

7. For the chronology, he consulted Usher, Lloyd,
Marshal, Ptolemy, Cellarius, Reyland, and Maundrell.

8. Mr. Romley, teacher of the Wroote Charity School ;
Maurice Johnson, Esq., founder of the Gentleman's So-
ciety at Spalding ; and his three sons, Samuel, John, and
Charles, were those from whom he had his principal assist-
ance. Samuel corrected the press ; and he and his brothers
did everything in the work that dutiful sons should do for
an aged and most respectable parent.

In the history of the Spalding Society, contained in the
Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica, vol. iii, it is said,
Mr. Maurice Johnson read to the society, in 1730, a dis-
sertation in Latin, drawn up by him, at the instance of the
Rev. Samuel Wesley, in 1727, entitled, " Jurisprudentia
Jobi ;" with critical notes and drawings of the Af0pof , or
scat from whence Job administered justice. Job xxix, 7,
(LXX :) " When I prepared my scat in the street." The
dissertation on this article is very short in Mr. Wesley's
book, (pp. 258-260 ;) perhaps an abridgment of Mr. John-
son's, whose assistance is acknowledged in the preface.

9. By close application to this work for many years, he
greatly impaired his health, and brought on himself both
gout and palsy. He died the year before it was finished,
and his son Samuel completed and edited the work.

10. In this work there are a good many engravings by
Yerlue, Scale, and Cole ; and there jire several plates
anonymous. Of the engravings in general, Mr. Badcock



264 THE WESLEY FAMILY.

says, " They seem to be the first rude efforts of an un-
tutored boy; nothing can be conceived more execrable."
We must except from this censure the head by Vertue,
which is really fine. The crocodile, hippopotamus, and
war-horse, by Cole, are tolerable. The rest are A^ery in-
different ; and the anonymous, which were the work of
Mr. John Whitelamb, his amanuensis and pupil for several
years, whom, as has been observed, he sent to the uni-
versity, and who afterward married his daughter Mary,
are among the worst that ever saw the sun. Mr. Badcock
guessed right, that they were the first rude efforts of an
untutored boy.

The frontispiece by Vertue is well imagined, and well
done ; except the arch and portcullis in the ancient gate,
under which Mr. Wesley, in the character of Job dispens-
ing justice, is sitting in an ancient chair, with a sceptre in
his hand, and two pyramids in the distance. The arch
and portcullis most certainly did not exist in the days of
Job. Over the top of the gate is written, JOB PATRI-
ARCHA ; and at the bottom of the leaf are these words
upon a label ; —

An. Etat. circiter LXX.
quis mihi tribuat, ut scribantur

SeRMONES MEI, UT IN LIBRO EXCULPANTUR.*

A correspondent in the Gentleman's Magazine, 1785,
(p. 758,) says that this inscription " marks it out as the
quaint device of a man in years, who thought himself neg-
lected." I cannot think there was any such design, or
that Mr. Wesley thought himself neglected. In no part
of his private correspondence have I found even the shadow
of such a complaint. He rather spoke of what he had as
something, in the way of providence, beyond anything he
had either sought or expected. The words are taken,
with a slight alteration, from Job xix, 23, as they stand in
the Vulgate : —

Quis mihi tribuat ut scribantur scrmones mci ?
Quis mihi det ut exaTayitur in libra ?

O that my words were now written !

O that they were written in a book !

* Only three words were inserted, agreeably to the statement of a friend,
who refers to the work itself; further remarking, that "a small plate was
printed with both lines." — Editor.



S. WESLEY, RECTOR OF EPWORTH. 265

Of this work there were five hundred copies printed, as
stated in a preceding letter ; and he had a Hst of three
hundred and forty-three subscribers.*

The most useful part of this volume, and what must have
cost the author incredible pains and trouble, is the last part,
entitled, Libri Jobi Textus Hebraicus, cum Paraphrasi
Chaldaica et Versionibus plurimis collatus — "The Hebrew-
text of the Book of Job, collated with the Chaldee Para-
phrase and numerous Versions."

The following are the versions : —

The Septuagint, in the Aldine, Grabean, and Bossian
editions, and in the Complutensian Polyglot, with the
fragments of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion.

The Chaldee Paraphrase.

The Syriac and Arabic versions.

The Latin version of Castellio.

of Arias Montanus.

of St. Ambrose.

of Junius Tremellius.

• of Piscator.

of the Zurich divines.

The English version of Tindal.

The present authorized version.

Every verse of the whole book has been collated as
above, and all the variations set down ; and this part of
the work occupies no less than one hundred and eighty-
four folio pages. It is one of the most complete things of
the kind I have ever met with ; and must be invaluable to
any man who may wish to read this book critically.

The work having been dedicated by permission to the
queen, Mr. John Wesley was appointed to present it in
the name of his deceased father ; which he did on Sunday,
October 12, 173.5. Himself told me, that "when he was
introduced into the royal presence, the queen was romping
with her maids of honor ; but she suspended her play,
heard, and received him graciously, took the book from
his hand, which he presented to her kneeling on one knee,
looked at the outside, said, ' It is very prettily bound,' and

* In the Gentleman's Magazine for Febniaiy, 17.1G, (p. 99,) the work is
thus advertised : " Dissertationes el Conjocturaj in Librum Jobi ; Tabulis
et Geographicis et Figuris seneis illustratae. By S. Westley. Sold by C.
Kivington and S. Bort."

12



266 THE WESLEY FAMILY.

then laid it down in a window, without opening a leaf.
He rose up, bowed, walked backward, and withdrew.
The queen bowed and smiled, and spoke several kind
words, and immediately resumed her sport."

In a letter from Mr. Badcock, published by Mr. Nichols
in his Literary Anecdotes, vol. v, p. 219, and also in the
Gentleman's Magazine, mention is made of Mr. John
Wesley presenting the book to Queen Caroline. He says,
" Mr. John Wesley, in a letter to his brother Samuel, ac-
knowledges the very courteous reception he was honored
with from her majesty, who gave him ' bows and smiles,
but nothing for his poor father.' "

That this cannot be correct will appear from the follow-
ing advertisement of Mr. Wesley's death, in vol. v, of the
Gentleman's Magazine for 1735, p. 276, Avhich is thus re-
corded : " Died, April 25, at Epworth, in Lincolnshire, the
Rev. Mr. Samuel Wesley, M. A., rector of that parish, a
person of singular parts, piety, and learning ; author of
several poetical and controversial pieces. He had for
some years been composing a critical dissertation on the
Book of Job, which he has left unfinished, and almost print-
ed. He proved ever since his minority a most zealous
asserter of the doctrines and discipline of the Church of
England."

Mr. Samuel Wesley thus appears to have died April 25,
1735, and the work in question bears date 1736. It was
in this year it was published, and it certainly was not
finished when he died ; for in the account of his father's
death, which Mr. Charles Wesley wrote from Epworth to
his brother Samuel, dated April 30, 1735, we find these
remarkable words : " The fear of death he had entirely con-
quered ; and at last gave up his latest human desires, of
finishing Job, paying his debts, and seeing you." The
book could not have been presented before it was finished ;
there must, therefore, be a mistake in Mr. Badcock's state-
ment, which represents Mr. Samuel Wesley, sen., as alive
when his son John presented the book to the queen : " Her
majesty gave him bows and smiles, but nothing for his
poor father."

But Mr. John Wesley's letter to his brother puts the
matter beyond dispute. It is dated



S. WESLEY, RECTOR OF EPWORTH. 267

" Gravesend, on board the Simmonds, Oct. 15, 1735.
" Dear Brother, — I presented Job to the queen on
Sunday, and had many good words and smiles. Out of
what is due to me on that account, I beg you first pay
yourself what I owe you ; and if I live till spring, I can
then direct what I would have done with the remainder."

Here is the whole that Mr. J. Wesley says on the sub-
ject. And thus we see the book was not presented till
more than six months after Mr. Samuel Wesley's death.
Mr. J. Wesley embarked on Tuesday, the 14th. The book
was presented on Sunday, the 12th.

On returning to the personal narrative of the rector of
Epworth, we shall find, by referring to his correspondence,
a lew of the subjects which occupied his attention, and
exercised his feelings, during the few past months of his
life. James Oglethorpe, Esq., has been noticed ; and his
further letters to that gentleman will show the deep inte-
rest he took in the prosperity of Georgia.* But previously
to the introduction of these, the following letter may be
noticed, as expressive of his concern for the spiritual wel-
fare of his friends : —

'^ Epioorth, near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, July 11, 1734.
" Dear Friend, — Though I have not been worthy to
hear from you, or to have seen any letter of yours since I
saw you last, yet I cannot but retain the same warmth of
Christian afiection for you which I conceived at our first
sight and acquaintance, as I believe you did the like for
me and mine. Your friend of Queen's, whom we call
Nathaniel, and who brought us the last good news of your
health, is gone to his relations in Yorkshire, but pro-
mises to return and meet you here, when you and your
friends come down to sec us at our fair in August next.
If Charles is short of money, pray tell him he is welcome
to twenty shillings here, to make liim easier ijubis journey.

* It is remarkable that, none of Mr. Wesley's biographers have adverted
to the friendship subsisting Ijctween Mr. Samuel Wesley and Mr. Ogle-
thorpe, as one of those links in the chain of cause and effect which led to
the selection of Mr. John Wesley for the mission to Georgia ; and more
especially, as the appointment of the latter followed so soon after the date
of the correspondence. — Editor.



268 THE WESLEY FAMILY.

But I think I can tell you of what will please you more ;
for last Sunday, at the sacrament, it was darted into my
mind, that it was a pity j'ou and your company, while you
are here, should be deprived of the benefit of weekly sa-
craments, which you enjoy where you are at present, and
therefore resolved, if you desire it, while you are here, to
have the communion every Sunday ; and lest some of the
parish should grumble at it, the offerings of us who com-
municate will defray the small expense of it ; and if there
be anything else which you can desire, that would be
more acceptable to you while you are here, (though I am
sure there cannot,) and which is in my power to grant or
procure, you are hereby already assured of it. If I could
write anything kinder, my dear friend, I would ; and I
shall see by your acceptance of it, and compliance with it,
whether you believe me,

" Your sincere friend and half namesake,

"Samuel Wesley."

As in the preceding letter it will be found that he con-
templated the religious prosperity of his friends at home,
so the following will show he was not less anxious for the
happiness of persons abroad.

TO JAMES OGLETHORPE, ESQ.
" Epworth, near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, Nov. 7, 1734.
"Honored Sir, — I am at length, I thank God, slowly
recovering from a long illness, during which there have
been few days or nights but my heart has been working
hard for Georgia, and for my townsman, John Lyndal. It
is in answer to the favor of yours, and of his last, that I
write these to both. I am extremely concerned lest an
inundation of rum should break in upon your colony, and
destroy that, as it has almost done some others. But I have
some better hopes, because I hear you do not design to
plant it with canes, but with some more innocent, and I
hope as prdRtable, produce ; any of which, whether mul-
berries or saffron, I should be glad to hear were yet begun
in Georgia. I confess I cannot expect God's blessing,
even on the greatest industry, without true piety, and the
fear of God. I had always so dear a love for your colony,
that if it had but been ten years ago, I would gladly have



S. WESLEY, RECTOR OK EPWORTH. 269

devoted the remainder of my life and labors to that place,
and think I might before this time have conquered the
language, without which little can be done among the na-
tives, if the bishop of London would have done me the
honor to have sent me thither, as perhaps he then might :
but that is now over. However, I can still reach them
with my prayers, which I am sure will never be wanting.

" My letter to Mr. Lyndal relates to his own particular
affairs here in the country ; for, though his effects are not
large, they ought by no means to be neglected, and I have
given him the best advice that I am able ; but if your wis-
dom should think otherwise, I desire the letter may be
sunk, or else go forward to him by the first opportunity.
With all the thanks I am capable of, I remember your good-
ness to my son, formerly at Westminster, to myself, and to
my parishioner Lyndal ; and am, with the truest respect
and gratitude,

" Your honor's most obliged, and most humble servant,
" Samuel Wesley, Sen."

" Epworth, near Gainsborough, Nov. 7, 1734.
"Mr. Lyndal, — I have not been a little concerned for
the unsettledness of your affairs at Wroote, and in this
country, which it is likely might have been in some con-
fusion if I had dropped, as I lately narrowly escaped two
dangerous sicknesses. Indeed, what little concerns of yours
I had in my hands, being somewhat above £10, the remain-
der of the brief money, I have taken what care of them I could ;
and think the best and honestest way you could do would be
to pay that money, as far as it will go, toward the interest
of what your father had taken up upon his estate, while he
was living. Mr. Epworth has been with me several times
from his mother. The last time he came, he brought me
a letter from her, wherein she says there was a bond of
jGIO, and a note of X'20, as I remember, due to Mr. Ep-
worth's father. She desired that you would pay off the
jCIO with hiterest, and they would stay for the X'20. I
told him that could not be done, because there was so little
money among us all ; and therefore I thought the fairest
and wisest way was to divide the money I had in my hand,
to pay the interest proportionally, as far as it would go, for
then it would, at least, sink some of it.



270 THE WESLEY FAMILY.

" As for your estate, which is in the tenure of Robert
Brumby, I suppose about £5 or £6 a year, I cannot think
it at all advisable to put him under such a temptation as to
leave it entirely in his disposal, but think it would be much
better for you to fix two or three trustees, and make him
yearly accountable to them. If you like it, I will be one
of them myself, as long as I live ; my son Whitelamb would
be another ; and we think we could persuade Mr. Romley,
the schoolmaster, to be the third, who so well understands
the whole matter.

" And now I have some little inquiries to make of your
new country. Whether there is any of our ministers un-
derstands their language, and can preach to them without
an interpreter ? Whether they speak the same language
with those Indians who are near them, of Saltzburg and
Carolina ; or of those of New-England, who, I know, have
the Bible translated into their language ? Whether your In-
dians have the Lord's Prayer in their own language ? which
if they have, I desire you would send me a copy of it in
your next. In all which, especially in loving God and
your neighbor, you would exceedingly oblige
" Your sincere friend,

" Samuel Wesley, Sen.

" P. S. I have just now sent for your uncle, John Bar-
row, and find your father owed him £4 lOs., borrowed
money, and Goody Stephenson, of our town, (left her by
her sister of Wroote,) £5. John Barrow is willing to take
it when you can pay him, without interest ; and so should
Stephenson too, but only she is poor ; and therefore, I'll
give her 5s. on your account, if you think fit. Let me
hear from you as soon as you can, after the receipt of this."

TO MR. OGLETHORPE.

"Ejiworth, Dec. 7, 1734.
" Dear Sir, — I cannot express how much I am obliged
by your last kind 'and instructive letter concerning the
aff'airs of Georgia. I could not read it over without sigh-
ing, (though I have read it several times,) when I again
reflected on my own age and infirmities, which made such
an expedition utterly impracticable for me. Yet my mind
worked hard about it ; and it is not impossible but Provi-



S. WESLEY, RECTOR OF EPWORTH. 271

dence may have directed me to such an expedient as may
prove more serviceable to your colony than I should ever
have been.

" The thing is thus : — There is a young man who has
been with me a pretty many years, and assisted me in my
work of Job ; after which I sent him to Oxford, to my son,
John Wesley, fellow of Lincoln College, who took care of
his education, where he behaved himself very well, and
improved in piety and learning. Then I sent for him
down, having got him into deacon's orders, and he was
my curate in my absence in London ; when I resigned my
small living of Wroote to him, and he was instituted and



Online LibraryAdam ClarkeMemoirs of the Wesley family : collected principally from original documents → online text (page 25 of 62)