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without my confent or knowledge. It now ftands as it was wrote; without any addition, diminution, or amendment: It being my only concern herein, nakedly to declare the thing as it is.
4. Perhaps my employments of another kind may not allow me, to give any further anfwer, to them who fay all manner of evil of me falfely, and feem to think that they do. GOD fervice. Suffice it, that both they and I fhall fhortly give an account, to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.
OXON, October 18, 1730.
HE occafion of my giving you this trouble is of a very extraordinary nature. On Sunday last I was informed (as no doubt you will be e'er long) that my brother and I had killed your fon: That the rigorous fafting which he had impofed upon himself, by our advice, had increased his illness, and haftened his death. Now tho', confidering it in itself, "it is a very small thing with me to be judged by man's judgment; yet as the being thought guilty of fo mifchievous an imprudence, might make me lefs able to do the work I came into the world for, I am obliged to clear myself of it, by obferving to you, as I have done to others, that your fon left off fafting about a year and a half fince, and that it is not yet half a year Since I began to practise it.
I must not let this opportunity flip of doing my part towards giving you a jufter notion of fome other particulars relating both to him and myself, which have been industriously mifreprefented to you.
In March last he received a letter from you, which being not able to read, he defired me to read to him; feveral of the expreffions whereof I perfectly remember, and shall do, 'till I too am called hence. I then determined, that if GOD was pleased to take away your fon before me, I would juftify him and myself, which I now do with all plainnefs and fimplicity, as both my character and cafe requires.
In one practice for which you blamed your fon, I am only concerned as a friend, not as a partner. That therefore
therefore I shall confider firft: Your own account of it was in effect this, "He frequently went into poor people's houfes in the villages about Holt, called their children together, and inftructed them in their duty to GOD, their neighbour, and themfelves. He like wife explained to them the neceffity of private as well as public prayer, and provided them with fuch forms at were beft fuited to their feveral capacities: And being well apprized how much the fuccefs of his endeavours depended on their good-will towards him, to win upon their affections, he fometimes diftributed among them a little of that money, which he had faved from gaming, and the other fashionable expences of the place." This is the firft charge against him; upon which all that I fhall observe is, That I will refer it to your own judgment, whether it be fitter to have a place in the catalogue of his faults, or of those virtues, for which he is now numbered among the Sons of GOD.
If all the perfons concerned in that ridiculous Society, whofe follies you have so often heard repeated,” could but give fuch a proof of their deferving the glorious title which was once beftowed upon them, they would be contented that their lives too fhould be counted madness, and their end thought to be without honour. But the truth is, their title to holinefs ftands upon much lefs ftable foundations; as you will eafily perceive when you know the ground of this wonder. ful outcry, which it seems England is not wide enough to contain.
In November, 1729, at which time I came to refide in Oxford, your fon, my brother, myfelf, and one more, agreed to spend three or four evenings in a week together. Our defign was to read over the Clafficks, which we had before read in private, on common nights, and on Sunday fome book in divinity. In the fummer following Mr. M. told me he had called at the gaol, to fee a man who was condemned for kil ling his wife; and that, from the talk he had with one of the debtors, he verily believed it would do. much good, if any one would be at the pains of now and then fpeaking with them. This he fo frequently repeated, that on the 24th of Auguft 1730, my brother
The Holy Club.
and I walked with him to the Castle. We were fo well fatisfied with our conversation there, that we agreed to go thither once or twice a week; which we had not done long, before he defired me, to go with him to fee a poor woman in the town who was fick. In this employment too when we came to reflect upon it, we believed it would be worth while to fpend an hour or two in a week, provided the Minister of the parish, in which any fuch person was, were not against it. But that we might not depend wholly on our own judgment, I wrote an account to my Father of our whole defign; withal begging that he, who had lived seventy years in the world, and feen as much of it as moft private men have ever done, would advise us whether we had yet gone too far, and whether we should now stand still, or go forward?
Part of his Anfwer, dated Sept. 21, 1730, was this:
"And now as to your defigns and employments, what can I fay lefs of them than Valde probo: And that I have the highest reason to blefs GoD, that he has given me two fons together at Oxford, to whom he has given grace and courage to turn the war against the world and the devil, which is the best way to conquer them. They have but one more enemy to combat with, the flesh; which if they take care to fubdue by fasting and prayer, there will be no more for them to do, but to proceed fteadily in the fame courfe, and expect the crown which fadeth not away. You have reason to blefs GoD as I do, that you have so fast a friend as Mr. M. who I fee in the most difficult fervice is ready to break the ice for you. You do not know of how much good that poor wretch who killed his wife has been the providential occafion. I think I must adopt Mr. M- to be my fon, together with you and your bro ther Charles: and when I have fuch a ternion to profecute that war, wherein I am now Miles Emeritus, F fhould not be afhamed, when they (peak with their enemies in the gate."
"I am afraid left the main objection you make against your going on in the bufinefs with the prifoners, may fecretly proceed from flesh and blood. For who can harm you if you are followers of that which is so good ? *I greatly approve.
And which will be one of the marks by which the Shepherd of Ifrael will know his sheep at the last day?Tho' if it were poffible for you to fuffer a little in the cause,'you would have a confeffor's reward. You own none but fuch as are out of their fenfes would be prejudiced against your acting in this manner; but fay, "Thefe are they that need a physician." But what if they will not accept of one, who will be welcome to the poor prifoners? Go on then in GOD's name in the path to which your Saviour has directed you, and that track wherein your father has gone before you! For when I was an under-graduate at Oxford, I vifited thofe in the Caftle there, and reflect on it with great fatisfaction to this day. Walk as prudently as you can, tho' not fearfully, and my heart and prayers are with you.
"Your first regular ftep is to confult with him, (if any such there be) who has a jurifdiction over the prifoners, and the next is, to obtain the direction and ap probation of your Bishop. This is Monday morning, at which time I fhall never forget you. If it be poffible I fhould be glad to fee you all three here in the fine end of the fummer. But if I cannot have that fatisfac tion, I am sure I can reach you every day, tho' you were beyond the Indies. Accordingly, to Him, who is every where, I now heartily commit you, as being Your most affectionate and joyful Father.
In pursuance of thefe directions, I immediately went to Mr. Gerard, the Bishop of Oxford's Chaplain, who was likewife the perfon that took care of the prisoners when any were condemned to die, (at other times they were left to their own care) I purposed to him our design of lerving them as far as we could, and my own intention to preach there once a month, if the Bishop approved of it. He much commended our design, and faid he would answer for the Bishop's approbation, to whom he would take the first opportunity of mentioning it. It was not long before he informed me he had done fo, and that his Lordship not only gave his permiffion, but was greatly pleafed with the undertaking, and hoped it would have the defired fuccefs. Soon after a gentleman of Merton college, who was one of our little company, which now confifted of five perfons,
perfons, acquainted us, that he had been much rallied the day before for being a member of The Holy Club' and that it was become a common topic of mirth at his college, where they had found out feveral of our customs, to which we were ourselves utter ftrangers. Upon this I confulted my father again, in whose anfwer were these words: Dec. 1.
"This day I received both yours, and this evening in our courfe of reading, I thought I found an answer that would be more proper than any I myself could dictate; tho' finée it will not be easily tranflated, I fond it in the original. 2 Cor. vii. 4. Пoλ por Kavynois, υπερ υμων πεπληρωμαι τη παρακλήσει, υπερ περισσεύομαι τη χαρά. + What would you be? Would you be angels? I queftion whether a mortal can arrive to a greater degree of perfection, than fteadily to do good, and for that reafon patiently and meekly to fuffer evil; For my part, on the prefent view of your actions and defigns, my daily prayers are, that GOD would keep you humble; and then I am fure that if you continue to fuffer for righteoufnefs fake, the it be but in a lower degree, the Spirit of GOD and of glory fhall in fome good meafure rest upon you. Be never weary of well-doing: Never look back, for you know the prize and the crown are before you. Tho' I can fcarce think fo meanly of you, as that you would be difcouraged with "the crackling of thorns under a pot." Be not high-minded, but fear; preferve an equal temper of mind under whatever treatment you meet with from a not very juft or well-natured world. Bear no more fail than is necessary, but fteer fteady. The lefs you value yourselves for thefe unfashionable duties, (as there is no fuch thing as works of fupere rogation) the more all good and wife men will value you, if they fee your actions are of a piece; or, which is infinitely more, He by whom actions and intentions are weighed, will both accept, efteem and reward 1: [.. j' you.”
Upon this encouragement we still continued to meet together as ufual; and to confirm one another as well as we could in our refolutions, to communicate as often as we had opportunity (which is here once a week ;) + Great is my glorying of you. I am filled with comfort. I am exceeding joyful.