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INTRODUCTION OF METHODISM INTO THE UNITED STATES.
(Continued from page 387.) In the former number we gave an extract from a letter that was written to Mr. Wesley at the time the Society were building their house of worship in New-York. By whom this letter was written we cannot tell
, as only the initials of the name T. T. are given, but from the contents; it seems that he had been a member of the Methodist Society in London. As this letter gives a very clear state of the Society, and of their proceedings in relation to building, &c. we think it will be gratifying to our readers to have it entire. There are some particulars in relation to this subject in the preceding account not alluded to in the letter; but they are derived from an unquestionable source, even from living witnesses, who well remember the circumstances. The following is the letter entire, except only those passages already printed in the preceding number of the Magazine :
New-York, 11th April, 1768. REV. AND VERY DEAR SIR,
I intended writing to you for several weeks past; but a few of us had a very material transaction in view. I therefore postponed writing, until I could give you a particular account thereof: This was the purchasing of ground for building a preaching-house upon, which, by the blessing of God; we have now concluded. But before I proceed, I shall give you a short account of the state of religion in this city. By the best intelligence I can collect, there was little either of the form or power of it, until Mr. Whitefield came over thirty years ago; and even after his first and second visits, there appeared but little fruit of his labours. But during his visit fourteen or fifteen years ago, there was a considerable shaking among the dry bones. Divers were savingly converted; and this work was much increased in his last journey about fourteen years since, when his words were really like a hammer and like a fire. Most part of the adults were stirred up: Great numbers pricked to the heart, and by a judgment of charity, several found peace and joy in believing. The consequence of this work was, churches were crowded and subscriptions raised for building new ones.
Mr. Whitefield's example provoked most of the ministers to a much greater degree of earnestness. And by the multitudes of people, old and young, rich and poor, flocking to the churches, religion became an honourable profession. There was now no outward cross to be taken up therein. Nay, a person who could not speak about the grace of God, and the new birth, was esteemed unfit for genteel company. But in awhile, instead of pressing forward, and growing in grace, (as he exhorted them) the generality were pleading for the remains of sin, and the necessity of being in darkness. They esteemed their opinions as the very essentials of Christianity, and regarded not holiness either of heart or life.
The above appears to me to be a genuine account of the state of religion in New-York eighteen months ago, when it pleased God to rouse up Mr. Embury to employ bis talent (which for several years had been hid as it were in a napkin) by calling sinDers to repentance, and exhorting believers to let their light shine before men. He spoke at first only in his own house. A few were soon collected together and joined into a little society, chiefly his own countrymen, Irish Germans. In about three months after, Brother White and brother Souse from Dublin, joined them. They then rented an empty room in their neighbourhood, which was in the most infamous street in the city, adjoining the barracks. For some time few thought it worth their while to hear : but God so ordered it by his providence that about fourteen months ago, Captain Webb, barrack master at Albany, (who was converted three years since at Bristol) found them out, and preached in his regimentals. The novelty of a man preaching in a scarlet coat, soon brought greater numbers to bear ihan the room could contain. But his doctrines were quite new to the hearers; for he told them point blank, “ that all their knowledge and religion was not worth a rush, unless their sins were forgiven, and they had the witness of God's spirit with theirs, that they were the children of God.'” This strange doctrine, with some peculiarities in his person, made him soon taken notice of; and obliged the little society to look out for a larger house to preach in. They soon found a place that had been built for a rigging house, 60 feet in length and 18 in breadth.
About this period Mr. Webb, whose wife's relations lived at Jamaica, on Long-Island, took a house in that neighbourhood, and began to preach in his own house, and several other places on Long-Island. Within six months, about twenty-four persons received justifying grace, nearly half of them wbites, the rest negroes.
While Mr. Webb was, (to borrow his own phrase) “felling trees on Long-Island,” Brother Embury, was exhorting all who attended on Thursday evenings, and Sundays, morning and evening, at the rigging-house, to flee from the wrath to come. His hearers began to increase, and some gave heed to his report, about the time the gracious providence of God, brought me safe to New-York, after a very favourable passage of six weeks from Plymouth. It was the 26th day of October last, when I arrived, recommended to a person for lodging; I inquired of my host, (who was a very religious man) if any Methodists were in NewYork; he answered, that there was one Captain Webb, a strange sort of man, who lived on Long-Island, and who sometimes preached at one Embury's, at the rigging-house. In a few days I found out Embury. I soon found of what spirit he was, and that he was personally acquainted with you, and your doctrines, and that he had been a helper in Ireland. He had formed two classes, one of the men, and the other of the women, but had never met the society apart from the congregation, although there were six or seven men, and as many women, who had a clear sense of their acceptance in the beloved.
You will not wonder at my being agreeably surprised in meeting with a few here, who have been and desire again to be, in connection with you. God only knows the weight of affliction I felt on leaving my native country. But I have reason now to conclude God intended all for my good. Ever since I left London, my load has been removed, and I have found a cheerfulness in being banished from all near and dear to me, and I made a new covenant with my God, that I would go to the utmost parts of the earth, provided he would raise up a people, with whom I might join in his praise. On the great deep I found a more earnest desire to be united with the people of God than ever before. I made a resolution that God's people should be my people, and their God my God; and bless his holy name, I have since experienced more heartselt happiness than ever I thought it possible to have on this side eternity. All anxious care even about my dear wise and children is taken away. I cannot assist them, but I daily and hourly commend them to God in prayer, and I know he hears my prayers, by an answer of love in iny heart. I find power daily to devote inyself unto him; and I find power also to overcoine sin. If any uneasiness at all affects me, it is because I can speak so little of so good a God.
Mr. Embury lately, has been more zealous than formerly; the consequence of which is, that he is more lively in preaching : and his gifts as well as graces are much increased. Great numbers of serious persons came to hear God's word as for their lives; and their numbers increased so fast, that our house for this six weeks past would not contain half the people.
We had soine consultations how to remedy this inconvenience, and Mr. Embury proposed renting a small lot of ground for twenty-one years, and to exert our utmost endeavours to build a wooden tabernacle; a piece of ground was proposed; the ground rent was agreed for, and the lease was to be executed in a few days. We, however, in the meau time, had two several days for fasting and prayer, for the direction of God and his blessing on our proceedings; and providence opened such a door as we had no expectation of. A young man, a sincere Christian, and constant hearer, though not joined in society, not giving any thing towards this house, offered ten pounds to buy a lot of ground, went of his own accord to a lady who had two lots to sell, on one of which there is a house that rents for eighteet pounds per annum. He found the purchase money of the two lots was six hundred pounds, which she was willing should remain in the purchasers possession, on good security. We called once more on God for his direction, and resolved to purchase the whole. There are eight of us who are joint purchasers : among whom Mr. Webb and Mr. Lupton, are men of property. I was determined the house should be on the same footing as the Orphan-House at New-Castle, and others in England: but as we were ignorant how to draw the deeds, we purchased for us and our heirs, until a copy of the writing is sent us from England, which we desire may be sent by the first opportunity.
Before we began to talk of building, the devil and his children were very peaceable: but since this affair took place, many ministers have cursed us in the name of the Lord, and laboured with all their might to stop up their congregations from assisting us. But he that sitteth in the highest, laughed them to scorn.
Many have broke through and given their friendly assistance. We have collected above one hundred pounds above our own contributions; and have reason to hope in the whole, we shall have two hundred pounds : but the house will cost us four hundred pounds more, so that unless God is pleased to raise up friends we shall yet be at a loss. I believe Mr. Webb and Mr. Lupton will borrow or advance two hundred pounds, rather than the building should not go forward : but the interest of money here is a great burden-being seven per cent. Some of our brethren, proposed writing to you for a collection in England: but I was averse to this, as I well know our friends there are over burdened already. Yet so far I would earnestly beg: If you would intimate our circumstances to particular persons of ability, perhaps God would open their hearts to assist this infant society, and contribute to the first preaching-house on the original Methodist plan in all America, (excepting Mr. Whitefield's Orphan-House in Georgia) but I shall write no more on this subject.' * * * *
In regard to a Preacher. If possible we must have a man of wisdom, of sound faith, and a good disciplinarian : one whose heart and soul are in the work; and I doubt not but by the goodness of God such a fame would be soon kindled, as would never stop until it reached the great South-Sea. We may make many shifts to evade temporal inconveniences; but we cannot purchase such a preacher as I have described. Dear Sir, I entreat you for the good of thousands, to use your utmost endeavours to send one over. I would advise him to take shipping at Boston, Liverpool, or Dublin, in the month of July or early in August; by embarking at this season he will have fine weather in his passage, and probably arrive here in the month of September. He will see before winter what progress the gospel has mnade. * * * *
I most earnestly, beg an interest in your prayers, and trust you and many of our brethren will not forget the church in this wil. derness. I remain with sincere esteem, Rev. and Dear Sir, Your very affectionate brother and servant,
T. T. (To be continued.)
From the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine. DESCRIPTION OF THE MONUMENTS, ERECTED IN THE CITY-ROAD
CHAPEL, LONDON, IN MEMORY OF THE REV. JOHN WESLEY, THE REV. CHARLES WESLEY, THE REV.
JOHN W. FLETCHER, AND THE REV. DR. COKE. MONUMENTS having recently been erected to the memory of the late Dr. Core, and Mr. FLETCHER, and those of Mr. John Wesley and Mr. CAARLES WESLEY having been considerably improved, some description of the sculpture, and copies of the inscriptions, have been requested by several of our subscribers.
The new Monuments are placed under those of Mr. John WESLEY and Mr. CHARLES WESLEY; which, as many of our readers will recollect, are situated within the Communion-Recess, one on each side of the Altar, in the City-Road Chapel, London,
That to the memory of Dr. Coke is composed of a white marble Tablet, bearing the inscription, upon a ground of dovecoloured marble, surmounted by statuary. On the right hand is the figure of a Negro, pointing to the following words, on an expanded scroll, “ Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God,”—Dr. CokE's favourite text when he pleaded the cause of Missions in the pulpit, and expressive also of the great success of the Missions so long superintended by him, anong the Negroes in the West India Colonies, in the United States of America, and on their native Continent. Beneath this inscription is another passage of Scripture, “And the Isles shall wait for his Law," . which is explained by the figure on the left, a native of CEYLON, in the costume of the country, sitting and perusing with apparent earnestness a Volume, which, by the characters on the open page, is designated to be a copy of the New-Testament, translated into the CINGALESE ;--thus justly connecting the extensive and successful Wesleyan Mission in Ceylon with the memory of him by whom it was planned; and who died on his passage to that long-desired scene of the labours of his closing life, leaving his companions to take up the mantle of his zeal, and to prosecute to completion the work which he was only perinitted to commence. A Medallion below the Tablet represents the Sun setting in the waves of the Ocean ;--an appropriate emblem of the termination of the career of one, who had diffused the light of evangelical truth in so many parts of this benighted world.
The inscription on the Tablet is as follows: