Зображення сторінки
PDF

bladder between his legs, and the same quantity under each arm. This he obtained through the kindness of the Guard. Then desiring the people to say the Lord's Prayer with him, and to pray for him, he went up to the stake—to which they were proceeding to secure him with three irons—one for his neck, another for his middle, and a third for his legs—when he observed to them, “Ye have no need thus to trouble yourselves: for I doubt not but God will give strength sufficient to abide the extremity of the fire without bands. Notwithstanding, suspecting the frailty and weakness of the flesh, but having assured confidence in God's strength, I am content ye do as ye shall think good.” They then secured him with the iron hoop round the middle; they would still have fastened the other irons round his neck and legs, but he prevailed with them to omit these—adding further, “I am well assured I shall not trouble you.” The preparations being completed, he stood elevated on a stool above the spectators—a situation which, added to his tall figure, enabled him to take a survey of the assembled multitude, amongst whom there was nothing to be seen but weeping and sorrow. Then lifting up his eyes and hands to heaven, he prayed in secret. The executioner came up to him to ask his forgiveness. Learning on what account his forgiveness was sought, he said, “Thou doest nothing to offend me:—God forgive thee thy sins, and do thine office, I pray thee.” Then the reeds were heaped up, and he received two bundles of them in his own hands, embraced, and kissed them, and having disposed them under his arms, with an undisturbed fortitude pointed out how the rest should be placed, and where they were most needed. The pile was then ordered to be kindled, but it was some time before it took fire, there being a quantity of green faggots which retarded the flame, so that it did not quickly communicate to the reeds. The morning also was lowering and cold with wind, which blew the flame from him, so that at first the fire only burned about him, and scarcely touched his person. Some dry faggots were then brought and the pile was rekindled—but still the fire was kept under on account of the direction of the wind, and only tortured him by scorching his skin, and burning his hair. During all this he repeated mildly, as if he felt no pain, “O Jesus, the Son of David, have mercy upon me, and receive my soul.”—The second fire failing, he wiped his eyes with his hands, and called out: “For God's love, good people, let me have more fire.” His lower extremities, however, were all the time under the action of the fire, which continued to burn below though it did not flame upwards. A third fire was kindled a little while after, which succeeded better, for then the bladders of gunpowder burst, but they had little effect in shortening his sufferings. The torments which he now endured are too dreadful to be adequately told. So long as he had power of speech he cried aloud, “Lord Jesu have mercy upon me—Lord Jesu have mercy upon me—Lord Jesus receive my spirit:” —which were the last words he was heard to utter. Soon he became black in the mouth, and his tongue was swoln that he could not speak, yet his lips moved until they were shrunk to the gums. He beat his breast with his hands until one of his arms dropped off, and then con

tinued the motion with the other, whilst the blood started from his fingers' ends, until that also, from the fire being renewed, became motionless, cleaving fast to the iron upon his breast. Then bowing forwards, his bowels having gushed out, he yielded up his spirit; having endured the agony of the flames for three quarters of an hour, or more, yet without any signs of impatience, dying “as quietly as a child in his bed ".” Thus was that foreboding, which dwelled on the mind of this truly brave Martyr when he took leave of his friends at Zuric, accomplished in this scene of exemplary suffering: thus was a life of extraordinary exertion and travail, to him, not a passport to rest in old age, but only the prelude to a death of no common agony. The protracted miseries which he had undergone in the long imrisonment which preceded his execution, had prematurely broken the i. vigour of his body, (for he was not more than sixty years of age when he was cut off) but his mind in the mean time had strengthened under the pressure which had been laid on it. In the afflicted sufferer for the Gospel's sake, we see nothing of that too impetuous zeal, which had before led him to resist the authorities both of the Church and the State, in so trivial a point as that of the ministerial vestments. The spirit, which was then bowed down in entire submission to the cross of Christ, no longer glowed with an ardour unworthy of the holy cause to which it was unreservedly devoted. The reconciliation which took place between Ridley and himself, while both of them were imprisoned in the common cause of the Gospel, marks the improved temper of Hooper, who first invited it by letters of kindness, as well as the frank generosity of Ridley, who as cordially received him into his affection. Let it not, however, be understood, as if it were meant to pass too severe a censure on Hooper for his conduct in that matter. Intermperate and injudicious as his behaviour was, his motives were purely conscientious—while he refused to conform to the established ceremonial, he begged also that he might be allowed to decline the proffered bishopric. And if the Church has cause to blame him for originating a controversy, which proved afterwards a fruitful source of division among her members, let her place as an offset to this disparaging circumstance, the triumphant evidence which he gave to the purity of the reformed doctrine, in the display of its sustaining and consolatory efficacy under the sorest temptations of worldly adversity. Let the indiscretion by which he did her hurt, be buried in oblivion in the sincerity of that love with which he loved her, and in the excess of the ood which he conferred on her by the abundant usefulness of his holy life and death. And let the error of this faithful servant be a warning to all, that, however conscientious their zeal may be, it is not sufficient, alone, to warrant their conduct in matters of religious exertion; but that, on the contrary, the more assured they are of the sincerity of their opinions, the more cautiously should they examine themselves, lest they be betrayed into an extravagant mode of defending and asserting them, to the detriment of the Church.

... " Fox, -whose simple and admirable account of this blessed martyr's last suffer. *pgs has been implicitly followed.

REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.

Observations on the System of Wesleyan Methodism, in a Letter to the Rev. R. Johnson, Superintendent of the Hull Circuit. By Mark

Robinson.

“FAs est et abhoste doceri;”—but indeed Mr. Mark Robinson scarcely deserves to be called an enemy; he is a true Wesleyan —a primitive Methodist by principle, though in connection with the Conference Methodists:—the nature of this distinction being not well understood in general out of their own body, a concise explanation of the parties into which they are divided, may be not unacceptable. John Wesley, their founder, having divided the whole country into districts, appointed a travelling preacher for each. The annual assembling of these preachers, to render an account of their charge, and especially of the contributions levied in their respective circuits, forms the Conference: no arrangement could be more natural, or better calculated to serve his purpose, while the Society was yet in its infancy, and its organization not complete. But if Wesley could have foreseen the vast augmentation of wealth and numbers which it has since acquired, he would probably have founded his institution on a broader basis; for now the local preachers, and the leaders of class meetings, consider themselves of no mean importance, and consequently grow more and more impatient of their exclusion from Conference; it is in truth, as one of their own writers confesses, the most singular Aristocracy that ever yet existed: a permanent body of travelling preachers, not in any way chosen by the Society, govern it with absolute and despotic sway. “The Conference,” says our author, “retains to itself the whole and sole power of making any law it pleases;" (P. 16.) the only apparent exception to this sweeping prerogative, is a permission given to the quarterly circuit meetings to object to any law which they think injurious to the district.—Vox et praeterea nihil—for the operation of the law cannot be suspended, unless the preachers, who have already concurred in making it, concur also in the objection; and even then, if the next Conference persist in it, there is no remedy. And as arbitrary governments are not contented with the enjoyment of despotic power, but they must secure themselves against all risks by suppressing freedom of discussion, so Conference muzzles all its loving subjects, and forbids the expression of their opinions. “The chairman of the quarterly meeting can prevent any subject being discussed of which he thinks Conference will disapprove,” (P. 11.) so that every circuit preacher, o at these meetings, is in fact a Dictator, who clothing is own opinions with the majesty of Conference, proscribes at his discretion the subjects of debate: but the prerogative of Conference ends not here; it stretches far beyond the Quarterly meetings themselves; for if they should reject (it should rather be, object to) any new rule, they are prohibited from making it matter of discussion by publications, public meetings, or otherwise.” (P. 12.) It is hard to say what number of radicals have at any time belonged to the Wesleyan Methodists; but it may fairly be assumed that they had their full share in proportion to their members; and there cannot well be a better proof, that the reforming mania was only an unnatural excitement, produced by some mischievous demagogues, than this fact, that, while the radicals in the Methodist Connexion were raving like madmen against political authority, which is so much controlled by popular opinion and other checks, they suffered themselves to be ridden by Conference with a hook in their nose, and a bridle in their mouth, and bore without murmuring a tyranny which levied heavy exactions upon their purses, shackled their opinions, and left them not the shadow of a right to interfere in their own concerns. “The people,” says Dr. Coke, “ have no power—we (i. e. the Conference) the whole, in the fullest sense which can be conceived.” Long before the period we now speak of, this objection was felt so strongly, that in 1797 a large R. separated from the Society, and formed what is called the ew Connexion. In process of time other exceptions were taken to the established discipline: in 1811 the Ranters, as they are commonly called, became a separate community; they maintained, that they best followed the example of their founders, by emancipating themselves from the restraints of buildings and circuits, and preaching wherever they found it expedient, or to use their own language, wherever they had a call, in the open air; and therefore they assumed the title of Primitive Methodists. They also have a representative Conference. Since that time many local preachers, ejected from the Connexion for non-conformity, have established congregational societies, who style themselves Independent Methodists; to this class probably may be referred a considerable party, who in the year 1820 began to be distinguished by the name of Tent Methodists, because they preached in tents, which was deemed by their brethren subversive of all established rules, and contrary to the allegiance which the owed to Conference. All these denominations of Methodists are dissenters from the Established Church ; but there is a considerable body of them in Ireland, who call themselves Church Methodists, because they are in communion with the Establishment, or, Primitive Wesleyans, because Wesley, to the

latest hour of his life, strenuously opposed separation from the Church; he wished them to be auxiliaries, and not antagonists; he wished that their bond of union should be catholic, and not sectarian; that their zeal should be shown in promoting the interests of religion, and not the interests of a party;—in compliance, therefore, with his earnest and repeated exhortations upon this subject, they do not renounce communion with the Establishment: they do not administer the sacraments in their meetings, and they do not suffer their hours of worship to interfere with the service of the Church. In England these principles are not publicly professed by any society of Methodists, but they are adopted by a great many individuals in the Connexion, and among the rest by Mark Robinson, the author of this pamphlet; he was a class leader and local preacher for fourteen years, and is therefore a very competent witness as to the state of the Society. Though friendly to the Church, he is a staunch Methodist, and therefore his statements are not likely to be overcharged: he is a straight forward writer, who wishes to reform the abuses of their system by a plain exposition of facts, and therefore his statements are likely to be accurate.

“The Connexion,” says he, “is rapidly growing both in numbers and respectability.” (Intro. p. v.) Now if they recruited their host out of the camp of the common enemy, if their numbers were increased only by deserters from the cause of infidelity, where is the Christian who would not say—“Ride on because of the word of truth—we wish you good luck in the name of the Lord?" But there can be little doubt that many of those whose minds are prepossessed by Calvinistic doctrines, slide through the connecting medium of Wesleyan Methodism into direct hostility to the Established Church; and it is observable, that although the adults in close connexion with the Society amount only to a quarter of a million, yet these “are but a small part of the body of the people who regularly attend in the Methodist Chapels.” (Intro. p. xxxvi.) . It may be useful therefore to shew the feelings and views of those who govern the mighty mass, to exhibit them in their proper colours, and to demonstrate upon data of unquestionable authority, that they are bigoted, selfish, and ambitious.

Of their bigotry we have a striking specimen in their treatment of the Tent Methodists, who relate the circumstances of their separation thus:—

“Among all the different classes of professors or profane, none but the Methodists attempted to arrest our progress; among them many were found who spoke against us privately, and preached against us

« НазадПродовжити »