Did that right honourable wretch...know the heart of man - he that so earnestly advised his own son "never to speak the truth, to lie or dissemble as often as he speaks, to wear a mask continually - that earnestly counselled him "not to debauch single women" - because some inconvenience might follow - "but always married women". Would one imagine this grovelling animal ever had a wife or married daughter of his own? O rare Lord Chesterfield! Did ever man so well deserve, though he was a peer of the realm, to die by the side of Newgate?
Did Mr David Hume, lower, if possible, than he, know the heart of man? No more than a worm or beetle does. After `playing so idly with the darts of death', do you now find it a laughing matter? What think you now of Charon? Has he ferried you over Styx? At length he has taught you to know a little of your own heart! At length you know, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!
And what shall you say to Charon....Wesley and Methodism intrigues me slightly. Compared to the usual churchman or theologian, Wesley seems fairly authentic (I am not thereby proclaiming Methodism or Christianity to be True, however). Wesley and his methodists devoted themselves to assisting the poor of England, to prisoners, and to ending slavery. His support of abolition was legitimate, unlike say Jefferson or Madison's few hypocritical words in favor of abolition. He visited Georgia in the 1730s, and seems to have been quite nauseated by the yankee slave trade (assisted by the Brits at that time).
Wesley's writing and sermonizing may be sentimental at times, yet he had read the classics, knew latin, and was acquainted with the "new sciences", Newton, Locke and the experimentalists. Lockean empiricism itself influenced Wesley's thought.
While not quite a Godwin or Shelley, Wesley did consistently protest Tory and royalist excesses (as evidenced in his remarks on Chesterfield and Hume). He stands for something nearly respectable --and rare--in the history of judeo-christianity. ST Coleridge admired Wesley to some extent. Reading one of Wesley's sermons, Coleridge uttered, "I venture to avow it as my conviction, that either Christian faith is what Wesley here describes, or there is no proper meaning in the word" .
Wesley also spoke against Calvin (and Calvinist orthodoxy) and preferred the theological school know as Arminianism (wiki 'er!). The two schools are not in principle significantly different--both hold to a version of predestination, as monotheism itself implies (perhaps absurdly). Jacobus Arminius however did not think Scripture supported orthodox calvinism, which in effect holds that since God knows all a priori by definition (doesn't He?), your spiritual fate was known before you were born--so much for freedom, accountability, even sin. Arminius argued that Calvinist determinism in effect makes God the author of evil-- (some precedent existed for Arminian views in the doctrine of "Pelagianism"--not well-received by that early catholic henchman, St Augustine). Arminius grants a certain freedom to human decision-making that Calvin does not, and he's not adamant on total Depravity as were the Calvinist moralists. Liberty still exists for the Arminian--though calvinists considered that a bit too close to catholicism--of some sort--and thereby beheaded a few Arminian Remonstrants.
Wesley's comments on Chesterfield could be read as expressing the Arminian code. Why shouldn't a determinist, even a christian one, follow Lord Chesterfield's advice to the young esquire to "Never to speak the truth, to lie or dissemble as often as he speaks, to wear a mask continually"? You are either saved and "Elect"
or not per Calvinist orthodoxy. Only by insisting on some type of duty (say, truth-telling) does the message of the New Testament seem justified. Arminianism indeed seems slightly related to Kant's thinking on ethics; the Categorical Imperative depends on a view of human liberty. We act and make decisions and are not merely automatons (whether programmed by God, or Nature). Acts thus should be considered in light of all the consequences (including possibly spiritual ones).