Nor will the attestation of these souls, who with Moses have trodden the Mount of God, and conversed with Him face to face in spiritual communion, be invalidated in the estimation of the wise, by the fact that they have been stigmatized as fanatics, Pietists, Lollards, Mystics, Waldenses, Quakers, and Methodists. For in this series of opprobrious nicknames we find the real apostolical succession, and not in an unbroken chain of prelatical ordinations. The martyr fires, which illumined the dark ages, conserved our spiritual Christianity against councils and inquisitions. What was the heresy of Tauler, Suso, Eckhart, Madame Guyon, Luther, and Wesley, but the manifestation of Christ to the believer, through the Holy Spirit, certifying forgiveness, renewing and sanctifying the soul.
The conscious incoming of the Paraclete into the heart of John Wesley was the secret of that impulse which he communicated to Protestant Christianity throughout the world. These are his words:
Then I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me, that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death; and I testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart.Toward ten o'clock a troop of friends attended him from the Moravian chapel to his brother Charles's, and sang a hymn with joy. Here we find the mainspring of those tireless and herculean labors of Wesley, preaching forty-two thousand and four hundred sermons, editing books by the hundred, and founding Christian charities which shall endure to the end of time, and missions which have already belted the world with a girdle of light.
The three elements of the success of the Wesleyan movement are all found in the experience of its providential founder — the direct witness of the Spirit, an open testimony, and joyful hymns.
Before dismissing Methodism from our witness-stand, we will ask her how she conserves the orthodoxy of her multitudinous Church of more than four millions in all her branches, through nearly a century and a half, without a doctrinal schism. Not by papal anathemas, but by an open Bible, interpreted in the light of a spiritual experience. These, instead of disintegrating the Church into individualism, bind it into a spiritual unity animated by freedom.
— Mile-Stone Papers (1878) Part 1, Chapter 22.
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