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§ 112. Calvinistic Methodism.
George Whitefield labored with Wesley until 1741, when they parted on the question of predestination and free will; the former taking the Calvinistic, the latter, with his brother and the majority of Methodists, the Arminian side, and henceforth they pursued different paths, like Paul and Barnabas. Personally they became cordial friends again, and their friendship continued until death. This should not be forgotten when we read the bitter predestinarian controversy which their friends and followers carried on and renewed from time to time. When Whitefield heard of the dangerous illness of Wesley, who had already written his own epitaph, he sent him an affectionate letter (Dec. 3, 1753), saying, 'I pity myself and the Church, but not you. A radiant throne awaits you, and ere long you will enter into your Master's joy.'17101710 See the whole letter in Tyerman, J. Wesley, Vol. II. p. 175. When Whitefield died in Newburyport (Sept. 30, 1770), Wesley preached his funeral sermon (Nov. 18) at Whitefield's Chapel in Tottenham Court Road and at the Tabernacle, near Moorfields, on the text Numb. xxiii. 10, 'Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!' Without alluding to their temporary separation, he speaks of him in the highest terms as an eminent instrument of God, who in the business of salvation put Christ; as high as possible, and man as low as possible, and who brought a larger number of sinners from darkness to the light than any other man. He praises his 'unparalleled zeal, his indefatigable activity, his tenderness of heart towards the afflicted, and charitableness to the poor, his deep gratitude, his most generous aud tender friendship, his modesty, frankness, patience, courage, and steadfastness to the end.'17111711 Sermon LIII. Vol. I. pp. 470 sqq.
Whitefield was free from sectarian spirit and cared little for organization. His sole purpose was to convert sinners to Christ, and to revive Churches to new zeal and energy.17121712 In this unselfish zeal he has a worthy successor in our day in Mr. Moody. His labors were crowned with signal success. The day of judgment alone will reveal the number of his converts, and the amount of good which he kindled by his flaming sermons among Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and other denominations, as well as among the crowds of ungodly people who were attracted by his eloquence.17131713 'Whitefield's preaching was such as England never heard before—theatrical, extravagant, often commonplace, but hushing all criticism by its intense reality, its earnestness of belief, its deep, tremulous sympathy with the sin and sorrow of mankind. It was no common enthusiast who could wring gold from the close-fisted Franklin and admiration from the fastidious Horace Walpole, or who could look down from the top of a green knoll at Kingswood on twenty thousand colliers, grimy from the Bristol coal-pits, and see as he preached the tears "making white channels down their blackened cheeks."'—Green, History of the English People, p. 718 (Engl. ed.). Dr. Abel Stevens, an Arminian Methodist, calls Whitefield 'the most eloquent, the most flaming preacher that the Christian Church has known since its apostolic age, whose eloquence sanctified, wakened the whole British empire' (Centenary of Amer. Methodism, p. 24).
But although most of his converts fell in with existing denominations, a considerable number of them formed three separate organizations. One of them, called 'the Whitefield Methodists,' were lost among the Independents. The other two still remain.
THE COUNTESS OF HUNTINGDON'S CONNECTION.
Selina, Countess of Huntingdon (1707–1791), a lady of true nobility of heart and intellect as well as rank, devoted, after the death of her husband and four children, her time and fortune to the spread of vital religion among the nobility and the court as well as the common people. She purchased halls and theatres in London, Bristol, and Dublin, built over sixty chapels, supported ministers, founded a college at Trevecca, in Wales, and stirred up others to similar liberality. She dispensed with her luxurious equipage and sold even her jewels for the benefit of this work. She took Whitefield, with whose Calvinism she sympathized, under her special patronage, and made him her chaplain, and exercised a sort of leadership over his congregations. Hence they became known as the 'Countess of (or Lady) Huntingdon's Connection.
Whitefield bequeathed to the Countess his benevolent institutions and lands in Georgia, and this resulted in a mission to America.
The ministers of this connection are almost identical in doctrine and Church polity with the Independents, but in public worship they use to some extent the Anglican Liturgy. Their principal institution is Chesunt College, in Herts.
THE WELSH CALVINISTIC METHODISTS.
The History, Constitution, Rules of Discipline, and Confession of Faith of the Calvinistic Methodists in Wales. Drawn up by their own Associated Ministers. Third ed. Mold, 1840.
John Hughes: History of Welsh Methodism, (in Welsh). Liverpool, 1856, 3 vols.
William Williams: Welsh Calvinistic Methodism. An Historical Sketch (in English). London, 1872.
Whitefield's preaching through Wales, and the kindred labors of Howell Harris, of Trevecca, Griffith Jones, Daniel Rowlands, Howell Davies, and William Williams—most of them clergymen of the Established Church who joined the Methodists—produced a powerful and extensive revival, and resulted in a new connection in 1743, and more fully in 1785, when the Rev. Thomas Charles, of Bala, one of the most zealous and useful preachers of his day, joined it.17141714 Charles graduated at Oxford as A.B. in 1778, labored seven years as a clergyman of the Established Church, united himself with the Calvinistic Methodists in 1785, and drew up in 1790 a series of Rules for conducting Associations or Quarterly Meetings. He was one of the founders of the British and Foreign Bible Society.
For many years the Welsh Methodists existed without a settled form of government or doctrinal confession.
In 1823 it was unanimously agreed at the Associations of Aberystwith and Bala to issue in the Welsh language such a document, together with a sketch of the origin and early history of the denomination. An English edition was published in 1827.
The Confession of Faith consists of forty-four chapters, and accords substantially in spirit and arrangement with the Westminster Confession, though it is far inferior to it in ability and accuracy.
The articles in which it differs from the Wesleyan scheme are Arts. V., XII., and XXXIV., which are as follows:
V.—Of the Decree of God.
God, from eternity, according to the counsel of his own will, and for the manifestation and exaltation of his glorious attributes, decreed all things which he should perform in time and to eternity, in the creation and governing of his creatures, and in the salvation of sinners of the human race; yet in such a manner that he is neither the Author of sin, nor does he force the will of his creatures in the fulfillment of his decree; and this decree of God is not depended on any thing in a creature, nor yet on the foreknowledge of God; but rather God knows that such and such circumstances will take place, because he has ordained that it should be so. God's decree is infinitely wise, perfectly righteous, and existing from eternity; it is a free, an ample, a secret, gracious, holy, good, an unchangeable and effectual decree.
XII.—Of the Election of Grace.
God from eternity elected and ordained Christ to be a Covenant Head, a Mediator, and a Surety to his Church; to redeem and to save it. God also elected in Christ a countless multitude out of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation, to holiness and everlasting life; and every means were employed to effect this purpose most securely. This election is eternal, righteous, sovereign, unconditional, peculiar or personal, and unchangeable. It wrongs none, though God has justly left some without being elected, yet he has not wronged them: they are in the same condition as if there had been no election; and had there been no election, no flesh had been saved.
XXXIV.—Of Perseverance in Grace.
Those whom God has made acceptable in the Beloved, whom he has effectually called, and whom the Spirit sanctifies, can not completely and forever fall from a state of grace, but they shall assuredly be supported unto the end, and they shall be saved. Their perseverance depends not on their own will, but on the unchangeableness of the purpose of God, the election of grace, the power of the Father's love, the sufficiency of the propitiation of Christ, the success of his intercession, union with him, the indwelling of the Spirit within them, the seed of God implanted in their souls, the nature and strength of the covenant, and the promise and oath of God. Founded on these things, perseverance is certain and unfailing. Though they may, through the temptations of Satan and the world, the great power of their indwelling corruption, and the neglect of using the means for their support, fall into sins, and remain in them for some time, and thus displease God, grieve the Holy Spirit, injure their grace, lose their comfort, harden their hearts, sting their consciences, draw a temporal judgment upon themselves, harm others, and disgrace the cause of God, yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith to salvation, though their falls will be felt most bitterly by them.
Those who continue to live quietly in sin, and comfort themselves that they are in a gracious state, show evident signs that they are self-deceivers. For by perseverance in grace is not meant the continuing to enjoy and to inherit external Gospel privileges merely; but a continuance in holiness, diligence, watchfulness, a holy temper and walk, and a scrupulous observance of every duty. There is nothing more opposed to sin than a perseverance in grace; and whosoever shall thus continue in grace to the end shall be saved.
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