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remorse! Sloth and luxury we allow are general among us; but profaneness is well nigh universal. Whoever spends but a few days in any of our large towns, will find abundant proof, that senseless, shameless, stupid profaneness is the true characteristic of the English nation.
Meantime we say, (in effect, if not in terms,) " Is there knowledge in the Most High? Tush, thou God carest not for it.”
But are we sure of this? I doubt, he does : I doubt, if this is still added to all the other instances of impiety, he will soon say, “Shall I not visit for these things ? Shall I not be avenged on such a nation as this ?" Let us be wise in time! Let us be as wise, at least, as the inhabitants of Nineveh ; let us make our peace with God, and then we may defy all the men upon earth! A nation God delights to bless,
O might we, Lord, the grace improve, Can all our raging foes distress,
By labouring for the rest of love,
The soul-coinposing power!
Bless us with that internal peace, Nor see the bloody waste of war,
And all the fruits of righteousness, Nor hear the trumpet's sound.
Till time shall be no more! LONDON, Feb. 20, 1778.
A COMPASSIONATE ADDRESS
TO THE INHABITANTS OF IRELAND.
LIMERICK, May 10, 1778. My Dear BRETHREN,-1. Before I left London (two or three months ago) a general panic prevailed there. Some vehemently affirmed, and others potently believed, that the nation was in a most desperate state; that it was upon the very brink of ruin, past all hopes of recovery. Soon after, I found that the same panic had spread throughout the city of Bristol. I traced it likewise wherever I went, in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, and Lancashire. When I crossed the Channel, I was surprised to find it had got before me to Ireland; and that it was not only spread through Dublin first, and thence to every part of Leinster, but had found its way into Munster too, into Cork, Bandon, and Limerick: in all which places people were terrifying themselves and their neighbours, just as they did in London.
2. “ How is it possible,” say they, “that we should contend with so many enemies together? If General Washington has (as Mr. Franklin of Limerick computes) sixty-five thousand men; if the powerful fleet and numerous armies of France are added to these ; if Spain, in consequence of the family compact, declares war at the same time; and if Portugal join in confederacy with them, what will become of us? Add to these the enemies of our own household, ready to start up on every side; and when France invades us from without, and these from within, what can follow but ruin and destruction ?"
3. I would fain speak a word of comfort to my poor neighbours, that they may not be frightened to death. Perhaps, my friends, things are not in altogether so desperate a situation as you imagine. When I was at Cork last week, I conversed largely with some persons who were just landed from Philadelphia. I could thoroughly depend upon the account they gave, as they had had full means of information, and had no possible
interest to serve by misrepresenting any thing. The substance of their account was this: “In December, General Washington had seventeen or eighteen thousand men in his army. From that time thirty, forty, sometimes fifty of them died in a day by a pestilential fever; and in two months' time, upwards of fifteen hundred deserted to General Howe. So that many were inclined to believe he had not when we came away much more than five thousand effective men left.” Never fright your selves, therefore, about General Washington's huge army, that melted away like snow in harvest. The English forces meantime are in perfect health, (about sixteen thousand,) and have plenty of all things.
4. “ But there are twenty or thirty thousand recruits to join him in a month or two, and what will General Howe do then ?" Just as he does now; he will regard any number of them as much as he would so many sparrows. For what could fifty thousand raw men do, that had never seen the face of an enemy? especially when, by the tenure of their service, they were only to stay in the army nine months ? (The circumstance concerning which General Washington so earnestly expostulated with the congress.) Will these dead-doing men, do you think, be in haste to cut off all the old, weather-beaten Englishmen? Otherwise they will not have made an end of them, before the time comes for their returning home!
5. “But I do not believe the American army is in this condition." If you do not, I cannot help it. And you have no more right to be angry at me for believing it, than I at you for not believing it. Let each of us then, without resentment or bitterness, permit the other to think for himself.
6. “0, but the French will swallow us up.” They will as soon swallow
Pray, which way is it they are to come at us, unless they can fly through the air ? It is certain our fleet, notwithstanding the shameless lies told to the contrary, is now every way in a better condition than it ever was since England was a nation. And while we are indisputably masters at sea, what can the French do but gnash their teeth at us? Nay, but Spain will join them.” That is by no means clear. They have not forgot the Havannah yet. But, if they do, we are well able to deal with them both ; full as able as we were the last war.
7. “ Yea, but Portugal too will declare against us." I do not believe one word of it. The Portuguese (to say nothing about their gratitude) are not such arrant fools; they understand their own interest better; they need no one to inform them, that if the English were only to stand neuter, the Spaniards would eat them up at a mouthful. They well know the present war will not last always; and, in the end, either England will prevail
, or not. If it does not, if Spain prevail over England, England cannot defend Portugal. If England prevail over Spain, she will not. She will doubtless leave bis most faithful majesty to receive the reward he has so justly deserved from the fleet and army of his neighbour.
8. “ But do not you know the French squadron is sailed to assist them, with four thousand soldiers on board ?" I really do not, nor you neither; nor any man in Ireland. That they are sailed, I know; but not whether to Africa, or Asia, or America. But have they four thousand soldiers on board ? And is that all ? I heard they were twelve thousand. But in how many transports did they embark ? We could not hear of one. Where then were the soldiers to be put? in the hold of the men-of-war, or on the shrouds? This story is not well devised; it manifestly confutes itself. But, suppose twelve thousand are sailed, are they sure to land ? Do they command the winds and seas? And, if they do, are they sure the English fleet will not speak with them by the way? If they escape these, are they sure of landing without opposition? Is it certain that all our soldiers will stand meantime with their fingers in their mouth? How great then is the odds against the French ever joining the American army! Although, if they did, there is no doubt but General Howe would give a good account of them all.
9. " • Why, to say the truth, we are not so much afraid of Portugal or Spain, yea, or of France itself, as we are of those intestine vipers, who are always ready to tear out their mother's bowels. And how should we defend ourselves against these, if they made a general insurrection?" This is worth considering. It is certain, it is undoubtedly plain, it is beyond all contradiction, if they gave a large dose of laudanum to all his majesty's liege subjects; if every man, woman, and child in the four provinces fell fast asleep all at once; if they all continued to sleep till the insurgents had brought their matters to bear in every city and town in the kingdom; if then the conspirators came all in the same hour, and cut off their heads at a stroke; the nation certainly, without all doubt, would be in a very fearful condition! But till this is the case, you need no more be afraid of ten thousand White Boys, than of ten thousand crows.
10. There is no need at present that a handful of men should oppose themselves to a multitude. Blessed be God, there are still within the kingdom some thousands of regular troops, of horse as well as foot, who are ready to march wherever they shall be wanted; over and above the independent companies at Birr, at Mount Mellick, at Bandon, and at Cork; at which city alone no less than six of these companies are formed already; which it is supposed, when they shall be completed, will contain at least two thousand men. And as they exercise themselves every day, they are already expert in the whole military exercise. So that were any so mad as to attempt making an insurrection, it would be crushed in its very infancy.
11. “ But is there not another ground of fear? Is there not a God that judgeth the earth?' And have not England and Ireland (to speak in the language of Scripture) • filled up the measure of their iniquity ?!” I answer, (1.) I allow that wickedness of various kinds has overspread the land like a flood. It would be easy to enlarge upon this melancholy truth; it cannot be denied that,
The rich, the poor, the high, the low,
Have wander'd from his mild command :
And deluge all the guilty land:
And Tophet yawns to take them in. But yet, (2.) I totally deny that either England or Ireland have yet “ filled up the measure of their iniquities.” “Why, what have they not done? What abomination can be named or conceived which they have not committed ?" I will tell you: They have not done what was done
of old, before God delivered up the Jews to destruction. They have not " shed the blood of the, just in the midst of Jerusalem.” Neither in London, Dublin, nor any other of our cities, has there been any instance of the kind. To which of our governors in either England or Ireland can those words of our Lord be applied ? Behold, I send unto you prophets; and some of them ye will kill; and some of them ye will scourge, and persecute from city to city. 0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee!" Matt. xxiii, 34, &c. Now, neither England nor Ireland has done this, at least during the present century. Therefore, it cannot be affirmed that they have “filled up the measure of their iniquities.” Consequently we have no reason to believe that our Lord will yet say, “ Behold your house is left unto you desolate !"
12. I have another reason to believe that God will yet have compassion upon a sinful land : what was it which he said of old time to Abraham interceding for guilty Sodom? "I will not destroy the city, if there be fifty, twenty, yea, ten righteous men found in it." And are there not ten, twenty, fifty righteous men to be found in our Sodom? Dare you affirm, or have you reason to believe, that there are only twenty hundred? And will God “ destroy the righteous with the wicked! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Besides, will not all these righteous men wrestle with God for their people and nation? And does he not hear the prayer?
Let Moses in the spirit groan,
May rise the wicked to consume!
It cannot seal the sinner's doom.
And Jesus forces me to spare. 13. I add but one reason more, why we may rationally hope that these kingdoms, sinful as they are, will not yet be given up to destruction. Religion, true, Scriptural religion, the love of God and our neighbour, inviting men to avoid evil and to do good, to practise justice, mercy, and truth, is not decreasing therein ; no, it is continually increasing in every part of the kingdom; as an impartial inquirer cannot but observe, whether he turn east, west, north, or south. Now, I know no instance in all history, from the earliest ages to this day, of the Governor of the world delivering up a kingdom to destruction, while religion was increasing in it. I believe no such instance can be found. And indeed it seems to be totally inconsistent with his wisdom and goodness, and with the rules whereby he hath governed all nations from the beginning of the world. Fear him therefore with a filial fear; and you need fear nothing but him. In this sense also, one thing is needful,—the making God your friend. And when we have “a conscience void of offence toward God and toward man," we may say with boldness, " The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge: therefore will we not fear, though the earth be moved, and though the hills be carried into the depth of the sea. The flood thereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High."
HOW FAR IS IT THE DUTY OF A CHRISTIAN MINISTER
TO PREACH POLITICS?
1. It is impossible to answer this question before it is understood. We must, First, therefore endeavour to understand it; and then it will be easy to answer.
2. There is a plain command in the Bible, “ Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.” But nothwithstanding this, many that are called religious people speak evil of him continually. And they speak many things that are palpably false; particularly when they affirm him to be a weak man; whereas a nobleman, who is not at all prejudiced in his favour, when he was pressed to speak, made this honest declaration : “Sir, I know him well; and I judge the king to be one of the most sensible men in Europe. His ministers are no fools; but his majesty is able to wind them all round his finger.”
3. Now, when a clergyman comes into a place where this and many more stories, equally false, have been diligently propagated against the king, and are generally believed, if he guards the people against this. evil speaking, by refuting those slanders, many cry out, “0, he is preaching politics!"
4. If you mean this by the term, it is the bounden duty of every Christian minister to preach politics. It is our bounden duty to refute these vile aspersions, in public as well as in private. But this can be done only now and then, when it comes naturally in our way. For it is our main and constant business to 6
preach Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
5. Again: Many who do not so freely censure the king, speak all manner of evil of his ministers. If any misfortune befalls us at home or abroad, by sea or land, it is "all their fault.” If one commander in America is surprised with all his forces when he is dead drunk, “ Lord North deserves to be hanged.” If General Burgoyne or Lord Cornwallis is betrayed into their enemy's hand, all the blame is laid on our ministers at home. But still the king is wounded through their sides ; the blame glances from them to him. Yet if we say a word in defence of them, (which is in effect defending him,) this also is preaching politics.
6. It is always difficult aud frequently impossible for private men to judge of the measures taken by men in public offices. We do not see many of the grounds which determine them to act in this or the contrary manner. Generally, therefore, it behooves us to be silent, as we may suppose they know their own business best; but when they are censured without any colour of reason, and when an odium is cast on the king by that means, we ought to preach politics in this sense also ; we ought publicly to confute those unjust censures : only remembering still, that this is rarely to be done, and only when fit occasion offers; it being our main business to preach “ repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ."
JOHN WESLEY. LEWISHAM, January 9, 1782.