Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

expected on the occasion. These extensive arrangements appeared to have been exclusively prepared by the friends and votaries of the old Scotch minister. In truth, he saw no one who appeared to be at all inclined to favor Mr. Cook, or his cause. As the people began to assemble, he occasionally heard the name of Cook pronounced, and being anxious to know all that was going on, he passed round from group to group, and heard much that was being said. Here, Cook was represented as a mere ignoramus—that, if he should chance to appear on the ground, there would be but little of him or his Methodism left by the time Mr. had done with him. Upon the whole, it was perfectly clear, from all that he could see and hear, that a great victory, in the estimation of the dominant party, was that day to be achieved on the side of Calvinism. By this time his fears had become so aroused, he was strongly inclined to wish that Mr. Cook might not attend. But it was soon announced that the Methodist preacher had arrived. He found him a little beyond the limits of the congregation, quietly seated on the trunk of a fallen tree. But two or three individuals approached him, or gave him the hand of friendship. His presence, however, appeared to put a quietus for the time being on the rampant spirit of the opposition, especially as their champion had not yet made his appearance.

At length the old Scotchman drove up, as large as life; nor did he rein up his noble steed until he had well-nigh reached the center of the crowd. He was a well-set, broad-shouldered, venerable

.

The par

looking man, of about sixty. His features were

. strongly marked, and indicated a due proportion of iron as well as intellect. When interrogated by one of his friends as to the cause of his delay, he promptly replied, with a heavy Scotch brogue: "I'm here in ample time to gi'e the youngster a dose from which he 'll not soon recover.' ties had never seen each other, and, of course, had no personal acquaintance. When introduced, as they soon were, though in a very awkward manner, Mr. Cook was treated with marked incivility and rudeness.

"What!' said the old Scotchman, is this the young mon who has had the impertinance to assail the doctrines of grace?'

“No, sir,' was the prompt reply of Mr. Cook, ‘I have never assailed the doctrines of grace, though I have entered my protest to the prominent peculiarities of the Calvinistic system, believing, as I do, that they cannot be sustained by the word of God.'

"An effort was then made to adjust the propositions to be discussed, as well as rules of order for the debate; to all of which, however, the old Scotchman peremptorily demurred. He would agree to nothing proposed by Mr. Cook. It was his purpose to occupy the stand as long as he might think proper; and then, if the stripling had any thing to say, he might say on. With an air of selfconfidence he ascended the pulpit, and, without prayer, explanation, or any thing of the sort, he commenced a most furious attack on Mr. Wesley and Methodism in general. He soon became greatly

excited--raved, stamped, and literally foamed at the mouth. By the time he entered on the support of Calvinism properly so called, his voice was wellnigh gone. He, however, screwed himself up as best he could, and held on for a considerable length of time, relying almost exclusively on the opinions of distinguished men and learned bodies of ecclesiastics for the support of the prominent features of his theology. At the close of about two hours, he brought his weak and very exceptionable remarks to a close, and sat down greatly exhausted.

“Mr. Cook then rose in the pulpit, and after a most solemn and fervent appeal to Almighty God, for wisdom and help from on high, to maintain and defend the truth, he commenced, though evidently laboring under much embarrassment. His hand trembled, his tongue faltered, and at times it was with difficulty he could articulate with sufficient clearness to be heard on the outskirts of the assembly. He first took up in order, and refuted with great power and effect, the allegations that had been made against Wesley and Methodism. By this time his embarrassment had passed off, his voice became clear and distinct, and, withal, there was a strange sweetness in his delivery, that seemed to put a spell on the whole assembly. He then entered his solemn protest to the exceptionable features of the Calvinistic theory. He opposed to the opinions of reputedly great and learned men, on which his opponent had mainly relied, the plain and positive teachings of Moses and the prophets, of Christ and his apostles; and in conclusion, presented an outline view of the great gospel scheme of human salvation, as believed and taught by Wesley and his followers, both in Europe and America; not in its theory only, but in its experimental and practical bearings on the present and future destiny of the world. At an early period in his discourse, the venerable champion of Geneva rose to his feet, and exclaimed, with all the voice he had left, • Wolf! wolf! wolf in sheep's clothing !' Mr. Cook, however, had become so perfectly self-possessed, and so thoroughly occupied with his subject, that this excessive rudeness on the part of the old Scotchman had no effect whatever upon him. As he advanced in the discussion, he appeared to acquire additional strength, physical, mental, and spiritual. The fixed attention of the vast multitude seemed to inspire him with new powers of investigation, argument, and eloquence. His voice, though soft and soothing, rolled on, in thunder-tones, over the vast concourse, and echoed far away in the depths of the forest; while his countenance lighted up, kindled, and glowed, as if newly commissioned from on high to proclaim the salvation of God to a perishing race. The

old Scotchman could endure it no longer; he again sprang to his feet, and bawled out at the top of his shattered voice: ‘Follow me, follow me, and leave the babbler to himself!' Only some two or three obeyed his mandate. Mr. Cook was engaged in too important a work to pay the slightest attention to the ravings or flight of his opponent. He pressed directly forward with his argument, dealing out at every step the most startling demonstrations against error in Christian faith and practice. Long before the mighty effort was brought to a close, the whole assembly were on their feet, all eagerly listening, and insensibly pressing toward the speaker. Every eye was fixed, every ear was opened, and every heart was tremblingly alive to the importance of the theme. When Mr. Cook took his seat, all faces were upturned, and, for the most part, bathed in tears. The great multitude stood for some time like statues, no one appearing disposed to move, utter a word, or leave the place. All seemed to be overwhelmed, astonished, and captivated. When the crowd began to disperse, the Bishop said, he started down to the spring, in company

poor

with
many

others. For some time all was as silent as a funeral procession. At length a goodlooking old gentleman turned to his companion, and said: "Did you ever hear such a man?' Never,' was the prompt reply. A free conversa

ion ensued. It was readily admitted that he must be a very great and learned man, and that they had never wept so much under a discourse in all their lives before. It was perfectly evident that they were strongly inclined to set him down as a good as well as a great man.

In the midst of their conversation, another elderly gentleman—all of Scotch descent, and evidently of the same persuasionspoke up, and said, with a good deal of apparent excitement and solicitude: "Sirs, I perceive that ye are in great danger of being led captive by the de’il at his will. Ha'e ye never reed how that Satan can transform himsel' into an angel of light, that he

« ZurückWeiter »