1788 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Wesley

Anonymous, in Catalogue of five hundred Celebrated Authors (1788).



He is the son of a very ingenious clergyman, a Mr. Samuel Wesley of the county of Devon. Mr. John Wesley commenced his career, as the leader of a sect of religionists, in the year 1727. An enumeration of his works since that time, would be much too extensive for the bounds it would be proper to assign to an article in this catalogue. His Complete Body of Divinity, extracted and abridged from various authors, consists, if we remember, of fifty volumes in octavo; and his other publications are not less voluminous. Those which are best known are, a Commentary on the Bible in twelve volumes quarto; a Journal of his Labours for the Conversion of Sinners in three volumes duodecimo; Free Thoughts on the State of Public Affairs during the business of Mr. Wilkes; a Calm Address to the American Colonies respecting the Civil War; Primitive Physic in one volume duodecimo; and a History of England, chiefly taken from doctor Goldsmith's history, but interspersed with proper notions of divine providence, in four volumes duodecimo. Mr. Wesley has also written several pamphlets on Liberty, Slavery, Necessity, Predestination, the Trinity, Original Sin, Imputed Righteousness, and Irresistible Grace. The labours of this celebrated man are truly extraordinary; and the discipline of his sect constitutes a complete system of policy. Every hour of his day from four or five o'clock in the morning, is completely distributed, and often includes the preaching four sermons, besides the giving audience to different classes of his followers, who attend him at stated hours. His preachers reside in different towns of the kingdom, and leave those towns exactly according to his direction. His hearers make confession of their own sins and miscarriages, and report those of their neighbours of the same religion, at uniform and short distances. These reports indeed are not, and cannot be, all heard by the leader in person; but all the circumstances of the report are conveyed to him through regular and constant mediums. And the labours we have described are not relaxed, though the great leader of the sect be more than eighty-four years of age. Thus the discipline of this party of methodists will scarcely yield in comparison to that of the Jesuits in Paraguay; with this additional circumstance, that the Jesuits formed their subjects into a distinct community, while Mr. Wesley has maintained the constitution he has established, among a people, scattered through every part of a great, a powerful, and a luxurious nation.