- Thomas Vivian (1722-1793) was educated at Exeter College, Oxford, and became Rector of Cornwood in Devon in 1747, where he exercised a successful evangelical ministry. Source: Joseph Foster, Alumni Oxonienses (1891).
From [Thomas] Vivian in Cornwood, Devon. He was grateful for Charles's letter of December 19th. The Catholic spirit expressed in the letter, increased the high opinion which Vivian had of Charles.
It gives him satisfaction that Charles understands why they were unable to meet at Cornwood. Vivian would find it a great pleasure to converse with Charles in some other place.
He is obliged for Charles passing on the fears of some Christians concerning a possible abatement of Vivian's zeal. He will try to discover what foundation they could have for such a belief.
When Vivian examines his own heart, then he sees that there is are grounds for the above accusation. He is afraid that his love and zeal is really colder than was the former case, although he does not feel that this means that he is failing to do his duty with regard to God and the Church. With regard to ministerial matters he feels that he is as active as ever. His conscience assures him that in preaching the Word, he does not hold back. As for spiritual discourse, he lacks the opportunity to enjoy wholesome conversation, and does not know how to rectify this. At first he was much more reserved but discovered that this alienated people. If Charles has any advice to offer, Vivian would be only too willing to follow it.
One thing he would say however is 'that it is IMPOSSIBLE TO BE CORDIALLY RECEIVED AND APPROVED by any sett or party without being entirely especially in little and external things such as they are. This bigotry is very general; & greatly prejudices those who are incapable OF DISCERNING UPON WHAT GROUND others differ from them in some particulars'.
Vivian believes that he has been called to this situation by God, but does not blame those employed on God's work elsewhere. Indeed he loves them although he does not know how to express that love outwardly.
The work sponsored by the Wesleys is making great advances and Vivian wishes to join in. He feels however that he must proceed cautiously, and for that reason is criticised by both sides - his bishop and fellow ministers regard him as a Methodist, while the Methodists consider him to be a time-server. He is pleased that Charles adopts a wider view of things.
[Annotated by Charles Wesley - 'Right judgement of the Mts etc'.]