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I was, 'a man came who had been long ill of an incurable distemper. Prayer was made for him, and he was restored to perfect health.
Suppose now, that this were real fact, perhaps you would scarce have patience to hear the account of it: but would cut it short, in the midst, with, Do you tell this as something supernatural? Then miracles are not ceased!' But if you should venture to ask, Where was this? And who was the person that prayed? And it was answered, “At the Foundry near Moorfields; the person who prayed was Mr. Wesley:' What a damp comes at once ! weight falls on your mind, at the very first setting out ? It is well if you have any heart or desire to move one step further. Or if you should, what a strong additional propensity do you now feel to deny the fact? And is there not a ready excuse for so doing? O! they who tell the story are doubtless his own people : most of whom, we may be sure, will say any thing for him, and the rest will believe any thing.'-But if you at length allowed the fact, might you not find means to account for it by natural causes ? “Great crowds, violent heats, with obstructions, and irregularities of the blood and spirits," will do wonders. If you could not but allow it was more than natural, might not some plausible reason be found for ranking it among the lying wonders, for ascribing it to the devil rather than God? And if, after all, you were convinced it was the finger of God, must you not still bring every doctrine advanced, to the Law and to the Testimony, the only sure and infallible test of all ?-What then is the use of this continual demand, Shew us a sign and we will believe?', What will you believe? I hope no more than what is written in the Book of God. And thus far you might venture to believe, even without a miracle.
7. Let us consider this point yet a little farther. What is it you would have us prove by miracles? The doctrines we preach?' We prove these by scripture and reason; and, if need be, by antiquity. What else is it then we are to prove by miracles? At length we have a distinct
reply—“ Wise and sober men will not otherwise be convinced,” (i. e. unless you prove this by miracles), “ that God is, by the means of such teachers, and such doctrines, working a great and extraordinary work in the earth,” (Preface, p. 6.)—So then the determinate point which you, in their name, call upon us to prove by miracles, is this, 16 That God is, by these teachers, working a great and extraordinary work in the earth.”—What I mean by a great and extraordinary work, is, the bringing multitudes of gross notorious sinners, in a short space, to the fear, and love, and service of God, to an entire change of heart and life.
Now then, let us take a nearer view of the proposition, and see which part of it we are to prove by miracles.
Is it, 1. That A. B. was, for many years, without God in the world, a common swearer, a drunkard, a sabbathbreaker ?
Or, 2. That he is not so now.
Or, 3. That he continued so, till he heard these men preach, and from that time was another man? Not so.
The proper way to prove this fact, is, by the testimony of competent witnesses. And these witnesses are ready, whenever required, to give full evidence of them.-Or would you have us prove by miracles,
4. That this v was not done by our own power or holiness ? That God only is able to raise the dead, to quicken those who are dead in trespasses and sins ?-Surely not. Whosoever believes the Scriptures, will want no new proof of this.
Where then is the Wisdom of those men, who demand miracles in proof of such a proposition ? One branch of which, “That such sinners were reformed by the means of these teachers,' being a plain fact, can only be proved by testimony, as all other facts are: and the other, "That this is a Work of God, and a great and more than ordinary work,' needs no proof, as carrying its own evidence to every thinking man. 8. To sum up this. No truly wise or sober man can
possibly desire or expect miracles, to prove, either, 1. That these doctrines are true: this must be decided by scripture and reason; or, 2. That these facts are true : this can only be proved by testimony; or, 3. That to change sinners from darkness to light, is the Work of God alone; only using what instruments he pleases; this is glaringly self-evident; or, 4. That such a change wrought in so many notorious sinners, within so short a time, is a great and extraordinary work of God. This also carries its own evidence. What then is it which remains to be proved by miracles? Perhaps you will say, it is this : That God hath called or sent you to do this.' Nay, this is implied in the third of the foregoing propositions. If God has actually used us therein, if his Work bath in fact prospered in our hands, then he hath called or sent us to do this. I entreat reasonable men to weigh this thoroughly, whether the fact does not plainly prove
the call: whether he who enables us thus to save souls alive, does not commission us so to do? Whether by giving us the power to pluck these brands out of the burning, he does not authorize us to exert it?
O that it were possible for you to consider calmly, whether the success of the gospel of Jesus Christ, even as it is preached by us, the least of his servants, be not itself a miracle never to be forgotten! One which cannot be denied, as being visible at this day, not in one but a hundred places : one which cannot be accounted for, by the ordinary course of any natural cause whatsoever; one which cannot be ascribed with any colour of reason, to diabolical agency; and, lastly, one which will bear the infal, lible test, the trial of the written Word.
VI. 1. But here I am aware of abundance of objections. You object, first, that to speak any thing of myself, of what I have done, or am doing now, is mere boasting and vanity, This charge you frequently repeat. So, p. 102, “ The following page is full of boasting”-P.113." You boast very much of the numbers you have converted.” And again, “ As to myself, I hope I shall never be led to imitate you in boasting."-I think therefore it is needful, once for all, to examine this charge thoroughly; and to shew distinctly, what that good thing is, which you disguise under this bad
From the year 1725 to 1729, I preached much, but saw no fruit of my labour. Indeed it could not be that I should; for I neither laid the foundation of repentance, nor of believing the gospel : taking it for granted, that all to whom 1 preached, were believers; and that many of them needed no repentance. 2. From the year 1729 to 1734, laying a deeper foundation of repentance, I saw a little fruit. But it was only a little; and no wonder. For I did not preach faith in the Blood of the Covenant. 3. From 1734 to 1738, speaking more of faith in Christ, I saw more fruit of my preaching, and visiting from house to house, than ever I had done before: though I know not, if any of those who were outwardly reformed, were inwardly and thoroughly converted to God. 4. From 1738 to this time, speaking continually of Jesus Christ, laying him only for the foundation of the whole building, making him all in all, the first and the last : preaching wholly on this plan,
The kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye and believe the gospel :' The Word of God ran as fire among the stubble; it was glorified more and more: multitudes crying out,
What must I do to be saved ?' And afterwards witnessing, By grace we are saved through faith. 5. I considered deeply with myself, what I ought to do? Whether to declare the things I had seen or not? I consulted the most serious friends I had. They all agreed, I ought to declare them : that the work itself was of such a kind, as ought in no wise to be concealed; and, indeed, that the unusual circumstances now attending it, made it impossible that it should. 6. This very difficulty occurred, Will not my speaking of this be boasting? At least, will it not be counted so?' They replied, " If you speak of it as your own work, it will be vanity and boasting all over: but if you ascribe it wholly to God, if you give him all the praise, it will not. And if, after this, some will account it so still, you must be content, and bear the burden. 7. I yielded,
and transcribed my papers for the press ; only labouring, as far as possible, to render unto God the things which are God's, to give him the praise of his own work.
2. But this very thing you improve into a fresh objection. If I ascribe any thing to God, it is enthusiasm. If I do not (or if I do) it is vanity and boasting, supposing me to mention it at all. What then can I do to escape your censure? " Why be silent, say nothing at all. I cannot. I dare not. Were I thus to please men, I could not be the servant of Christ.'
You do not appear to have the least idea or conception of what is in the heart of one, whom it pleases him that worketh all in all, to employ in a work of this kind. He is in no wise forward to be at all employed therein; he starts back, again and again : not only, because he readily foresees, what shame, care, sorrow, reproach, what loss of friends and of all that the world accounts dear, will inevitably follow : but much more, because he (in some measure) knows himself. This chiefly it is which constrains him to cry out, (and that many times, in the bitterness of his soul, when no human eye seeth him,) 'O Lord! Send by whom thou wilt send! Only, send not me!- What am I? A worm ! A dead dog! A man unclean in heart and lips!'-And when he dares no longer gainsay or resist, when he is at last thrust out into the harvest,' he looketh on the right hand, and on the left, he takes every step with fear and trembling, and with the deepest sense (such as words cannot express) of, "Who is sufficient for these things?' Every gift which he has received of God, for the furtherance of his Word, whether of nature or grace, heightens this fear, and increases his jealousy over himself: knowing that so much the stricter must the inquiry be, when he gives an account of his stewardship. He is most of all jealous over himself, when the work of the Lord prospers in his hands. He is then amazed and confounded before God. Shame covers his face.. Yea, when he sees, that he ought “ to praise the Lord for his goodness, and to declare the wonders which he