Page images


OTHERLAND across the sea,
Home of bards and sages,
Crowned amid the ages,
Shrines unnumbered are in thee
Where the pilgrim reverently
Stands like one upon a shore,
Looking far the billows o'er,
Waiting till the echoes float
From the wastes that lie remote ;
So we lean, with ear attent,
For some winged message sent.

In the distance here we stand ;-
'Tis a deep devotion,
Mother isle of ocean,
Speaks a blessing on thy land,
For thy heroes, strong of hand,
Brave of heart, the ages through;
'Tis a shining retinue

Thou hast given for the lead
Of a world in restless speed;
Seas are wide, but chains of gold
Bind us each, the new and old.

Where the Trent with easy flow
Seeks the Humber, gliding,
Winding oft, and hiding,

Through the "levels" rich and low,
There a manor long ago
Rose beyond, on heights of green,
Looking down the river sheen;
That is Epworth, parish old,
Of a date that is not told;
Hence the echo o'er the sea,
Worthy theme of minstrelsy.
Parsonage of Epworth, where
Came there brighter angel,
With a glad evangel?
Never on the burdened air

Was a sweeter breath of prayer,
Than the words by priest intoned,
When the mother, love-enthroned,
Gave the new-born one caress,
With God's seal of blessedness;
Write that mother's queenly soul,
England, on the royal scroll!

Thatched the cottage where he dwelt,
Shepherd and protector,
Epworth's saintly rector;
Dim the chancel where he knelt,
'Neath the mossy tower that felt
Shock of storm, and sunlight kiss,
Pointing from the world that is
To the higher towers of gold,
In the glory manifold;
Bless St. Andrew's with its chime,
Relic of the olden time!

From the parish of the priest, Humble in its story, Spread a wave of glory; Like the day-star in the East To the daylight broad increased; Till a morning song is heard Like a carol of a bird; Song of prisoned souls unbound Rising all the wide world round; Palaces have heard the strain, And the lowly keep refrain. Epworth born, and Oxford bred, Student, fellow, master, Thence a world-wide pastor; Where the rubric had not led, There his parish field was spread; Mid the Newgate felons bold, On the Moorfields, temple old, Where the Kingswood colliers met, While he spread the gospel net; Wider than a bishop's see, His a priesthood by degree. Westward rolled the glory wave With the wave of freedom; As from ancient Edom Came the mighty one to save, So the stalwart and the brave Entered through the forest doors, Trod the great cathedral floors, With their arches old and dim, Where, as from the cherubim, Fell the beauty and the gold With a rapture never told. Onward is the sacred march Through revolted regions, Filled with hostile legions; Wild sirocco storms but parch All the way to victory's arch; "God is with us," best of all; He will smite the bastion wall; We shall write upon the bells Of the horses as he tells, "Holiness" for his renown, His the glory and the crown.

'Tis a birth-song we have sung;
Whispered as we listened,

When a babe was christened;
When the parish bells were rung,
And two souls together clung,
Child and mother. Onward, time!
'Tis a battlefield sublime;

Turn the kingdoms; islands wait;
Chimes the jubilee elate!-
Parish of the world! behold!
Christ is crowned with stars of gold.

39 DE#36A

[ocr errors]


From "Hurst's History of Methodism," by permission of Eaton & Mains,

[ocr errors][graphic]

JUNE, 1903.




HERE was a man sent from God whose name was John." It is remarkable how often in the history of the Church this saying has been fulfilled. Besides the brave-souled John the Baptist, we have John the Evangelist, the Golden-Mouthed John Chrysostom, John of Damascus, John of Bologna, John Wycliffe, John Huss, John Knox, John Calvin, John Milton, John the Constant of Saxony, and well-nigh twoscore of other Johns famous in ecclesiastical history. And not the least of this galaxy of glorious names, John Wesley, the two hundredth anniversary of whose birth to-day all the world. honours. We condense into a few paragraphs some of the salient features of his life.

The Wesleys were of an ancient family, probably, as is inferred from the "scallop shell" upon their coat of arms, descended from crusading ancestors. It is remarkable that both the father and grandfather of the Rev. Samuel Wesley were clergymen of the Established Church, who, refusing to obey the Act of Uniformity, were driven from their homes and pulpits. By

For the numerous engravings which illu trate these articles we are indebted to many sources, chiefly to the splendid edition of Wesley' Journals issued by the Wesleyan Conference ffice, under the title "Wesley his own Biographer."


VOL. LVII. No. 6.

THE REV. SAMUEL WESLEY. John Wesley's father.

the Five Mile Act they were prohibited from approaching their former parishes or any borough town. Driven from place to place, fugitives and outcasts for conscience' sake, they preached wherever they could, enduring persecutions similar to those with which the early Methodists were afterwards so familiar. Four times was the father of Samuel Wesley thrown into prison-once for six, and again. for three months; and at length he sank into the grave at the early age of thirty-four. His aged father, heart-broken by his griefs and sorrows, soon followed him to heaven.

The poetical faculty with which John and, especially, Charles Wesley, were so highly endowed, was

[graphic][merged small][merged small]


Pope knew the elder Wesley well, and commends him to Swift as a learned man whose prose is better than his poetry."

In the little rectory of Epworth was reproduced one of the noblest phases of what Coleridge has called the one sweet idyl of English society-life in a country parsonage. Here in a quiet round of domestic joys and religious duties, was trained, for usefulness and for God, a numerous family, numbering in all nineteen children. Mr. Samuel Wesley was zealous in pulpit and pastoral labours and bold in rebuking sin, whether in lofty or lowly. Evil livers, to whom the truth was obnoxious, soon resented his plainness. They wounded his cattle, twice set fire to his house, and fired guns and shouted beneath his windows. For a small debt he was arrested while leaving his church.

1 thrown into prison, where he

remained three months. "Now I am at rest," he wrote from his cell to the Archbishop of York, " for I have come to the haven where I have long expected to be."

The Epworth rectory was a humble, thatch-roofed building of wood and plaster, and venerable with moss and lichen, the growth of a hundred years. The rectory family was a model Christian household. Godly gravity was tempered by innocent gaiety, and the whole suffused with the tenderest domestic affection. "They had the common reputation," says Dr. Clarke, "of being the most loving family in Lincolnshire."

The centre and presiding genius of this fair domain was Susannah Wesley. Like the Roman matron, Cornelia, she cherished her children, of whom she had thirteen around

[graphic][merged small]


her at once, as her chief jewels. They all bore pet nicknames," which they found used, like an uttered caress, in the family circle and in copious correspondence that was kept up after they left home.

Her son John writes to her from Oxford at a time when her health was precarious, in strains of loverlike tenderness, and hopes that he may die before her, that he may not endure the anguish of her loss.

"You did well," she writes him, in unconscious prophecy, "to correct that fond desire of dying before me, since you do not know what work God may have for you to do before you leave this world."

By her daughters she was beloved almost to filial idolatry. Death and sorrow many times entered that happy home, and several of the nineteen children died young. But upon the survivors was concentrated the affection of as warm a mother's love as throbbed in human breast. children seem to have been worthy of that mother. They were all intelligent; some of them noted for






their sprightliness and wit, and others for their poetic faculty, and several of the girls were remarkable for their beauty and vivacity. Fun and frolic were not unknown in this large family of healthy, happy children, and the great hall of the rectory became an arena of hilarious recreations.

The tranquil rectory of Epworth was not, however, without its visitations of sorrow. Time after time, death visited its charmed circle, till nine of the loved household were borne away. And there were sadder things even than death to mar its happiness. The beauty and native grace of several of the daughters led to marriages which proved unfortunate. In anguish of soul their sympathizing mother writes thus to her brother of this saddest sorrow which can befall a woman's life: "O brother! happy, thrice happy are you. Happy is my sister, that buried your children in infancy, secure from temptation, secure from guilt, secure from want or shame, secure from the loss of friends. Believe me, it is better to mourn ten children dead than one living, and I have buried many."

The pinchings of poverty also were only too familiar in this family, and sometimes even the experience

« PreviousContinue »