Page images
PDF
EPUB

formation of this legislative assembly. If, however, this equality be fairly examined, it will be found to exist far more in appearance than in reality. THE RIGHT OF CONFERENCE TO LEGISLATE IS LIMITED TO MATTERS OF MINOR IMPORTANCE. If, at the next Conference, some of the preachers, from a conviction that, at the commencement of the connexion, a small number of their predecessors in the ministry, under highly excited feelings, when they knew not what they did, conceded an almost unlimited power to the people, were to bring in a Reform bill which would restore to them and their brethren some portion of their lost authority, the Conference, however willing, could not make it the law of the connexion. The bill would have to stand over for one year, that it might be referred to the people. To prove that we are not unauthorised in our statement we quote the law : “No fundamental law to be altered or repealed by the Conference, without first consulting the quarterly meetings.” It is easy to foresee, without the gift of prophesy, what would be the fate of the bill in these circuit meetings. Overwhelming majorities of the laity, who, it must be remembered, would be almost the only voters, would “throw. it out.” Not only would they reject the measure; but, most probably, take plans to make the following Conference an assembly of anti-reformers ! and this might be done constitutionally! Power is so balanced that every reforming superintendent might be kept at home during the Conference! Superintendents in this connexion are not members of Conference ex-officio. In a truly balanced state of things, it is evident they ought to be. Each circuit has the right to elect a lay delegate; and also to appoint a preacher; and if a preacher were to go to Conference without "a copy of his appointment to attend,” its doors would be closed against him! It is, therefore, utterly impossible for ministers to carry, under this system, any reform in favour of themselves.

We will now shew our readers the limited right of the Conference to legislate from some historical occurrences. A few of the preachers who had grown old and infirm in the work of the ministry, in consequence, were obliged to become supernumeraries ; desired, whenever it might be convenient, to attend the Conference; and they were perfectly willing to submit to any restrictions which a jealousy for equality might impose. This most natural and commendable desire was brought before the Conference of 1825, when the following resolution was proposed in order to grant their prayer. It reads as follows: That superannuated preachers, having travelled twenty years in full connexion, shall be eligible to a seat in Conference; but they shall bear their own travelling expenses. Nevertheless, such preachers shall have no vote in Conference." Even this small boon to the hoary-headed ministers of the body, the Conference had not the power to bestow! The resolution could not become law unless the quarterly meetings consented! It was accordingly submitted to their consideration. What was the result ?—REJECTION. We read, to the great honour of the connexion, in the minutes of 1826– “The Conference is of opinion that it will best perform its duty, by not coming to any determination relative to their admission into Conference." If our readers will examine the minutes from the year just named, they will find that the Conference has not yet been able to determine on their admission!

We judge that we have sufficiently proved that the New system's professed balance of power, is without foundation. The laity have both in and out of Conference a great preponderance of authority ;-a fact to

determined, (under your favour, Sir,) without prejudice to better advocates, whom the occasion might probably call up, to free it from the imputation-the unjust imputation under which, collaterally at least, it lay, from its location among those circuits which had passedresolutions at their quarterly meetings, “ demanding a redress of grievances.” Having the honour--and a high honour I esteem it to be, Sir-to be officially connected with the largest society in that circuit, I felt as I ought to feel, jealous for the honour and reputation of it; being well assured that the societies of which the circuit is composed, generally, during this period of excitement, have no sympathy with those who, unmindful of the directions of our immortal founder, are endeavouring “to mend his rules,” rather than “ to keep them.” Vain attempt! though, no doubt, “they be the men” with whom “wisdom shall die.” Passedwere they—these resolutions ? Aye, Sir, but as “an untimely birth which never saw the sun;" one small adjunct to the word would have set the matter upon a right basis-they were “passed,” Sir, but they were passed by an act of preterition.

A word or two as to the facts of the case. At a late quarterly meeting, after the excellent superintendent of the circuit, the Rev. Joseph Hollingworth, had enquired from the stewards whether they had any other business to bring before them, and was answered in the negative, intending to close the meeting, he gave out the first line of the doxology, “ Praise God, from whom all blessings flow," when he was interrupted by one of the leaders of the Bridgewater-street society rising, and stating that he had "some resolutions which he wished to read to the meeting.” Mr. Hollingworth very promptly and judiciously cut his speech short by enquiring from him whether he were a member of “the Association.” To this he did not reply, but said again he wished “ to read the resolutions.” Mr. H. then told him he required an answer to his question before he suffered him to introduce any resolutions to that meeting. The individual, however, still persisted in endeavouring to obtrude himself on the meeting, claiming his right to do so, and by an evasive answer to avoid the drift of the inquiry -Mr. #. as resolutely reiterating his question, in which he was supported by the great body of the meeting. The course which the affair was now taking evidently chagrined the projectors and partizans of this notable scheme; and one of them was so exasperated at the failure which his friend was likely to make of this whole joint-stock business, that he became absolutely frantic with rage, and clamoured most vociferously for a hearing. This, however, was denied them, for the very obvious reason 'above noticed; and the superintendent leaving the chair, the meeting was dissolved. Not content, however, with this procedure, one of the party-seven or eight of whom constituted this inconsiderable opposition-moved that a certain brother should “ take the chair;" but here a second difficulty was interposed, by the stewards politely informing them that they should not have the room in which they were then assembled, for any such purpose.An adjournment to the chapel-yard was recommended to them, which suggestion they signified their intention to profit by; but “discretion” being judged, most probably, in this instance also, “as the better part of valour,” this was subsequently abandoned; and it must have been that “resolutions demanding a redress of grievances, &c. were passed”-if passed at all—at a “quarterly meeting” of their own. I may be allowed here to add," that to my own knowledge, had not the introduction of these resolutions been anticipated so summarily as they were, an amendment, deprecatory of the proceedings of the “ Wesleyan Methodist Association," and declaratory of the confidence and affection of the meeting to the Conference and constituted order of Methodism was intended to be proposed, and would have been carried by an overwhelming majority!

I should judge, Sir, that the secretaries of the Branch Association in Liverpool, being honourable men, would be glad to have an opportunity of amending their report and of revoking a misrepresentation to which they were not, I am ready to believe, wittingly and voluntarily committed. Estimating them both from the slight knowledge which I have of one of them, I conclude that some less worthy individuals have palmed upon them a surreptitious record of a fact, the counterpart of which has, in reality, neither identity nor existence. Perhaps, “the wish has been father to the thought” with those who have thus interpolated, mediately, the name of the “ Man. chester Fourth” circuit. Be that as it may, if I should not be thought presumptuous by those gentlemen, whom I can have no reason wantonly to seek to offend, and from whom, could I contemplate such a case, I should be very sorry to shield myself under an anonymous signature, in any animadversions they might think proper to make upon me; I would respectfully recommend them to receive reports such as I have had to comment upon above with extreme chariness, if they would wish to escape imposition, and the possibility of any conjecture that they might be accessory to the proinulgation of 2.

information which may be transmitted to them, through vehicles of communication which justly render such communications liable to suspicion.--"Fas ab hoste doceri." #

TO THE EDITOR OF THE ILLUMINATOR. Sir-It was with as much surprise as pain that I read in a late number of the Christian Advocate a letter, signed by Mr. James Russell, a local preacher in the Wrexham circuit. If Mr. Russell dreant that the Christian Advocate never fell into the hands of any but those who wink at the violation of truth, or if he imagined that the specific paper in which that letter is inserted would fortunately escape the notice of those who might possess, at least, as intimate an acquaintance with the nature and circumstances of the subjects upon which he so confidently writes as himself, then it would have been less strange that he should have so directly violated the great principles of Christian charity and truth, as it is evident he has done in that anti-Christian letter. But, sir, fortunately for the cause of truth and for those whose characters he has so unsparingly traduced, it is not so. As I, perhaps, am as well acquainted with the circumstances of the various cases he has presented to the world as he may be, I feel it to be my duty to show to the public how far his statements are correct, and can be borne out by fact.

His first grand thrust is made at the character of the superintendent of the Wrexham circuit, the Rev. Jos. Griffith-against whom he brings several charges. The first is that he refused to read, publicly, the paper relative to the re-opening of the chapel at Cefn Mawr; this statement is correct-for which refusal the followirg reasons may be assigned :-1st, Mr. Russell had engaged Dr. Warren and Mr. David Rowland to preach at the above place, (being in the Wrexham circuit,) without having at all consulted Mr. Griffith, as superintendent of that circuit, which was a direct violation of one of the most explicit laws of Methodism; 2nd-neither Dr. Warren nor Mr. Rowland was eligible to preach in any Methodist chapel : the one having been suspended, and the other expelled from society. Now, had Mr. G. published the re-opening of the above chapel, under such circumstances, would he not have subjected himself to the just rebuke of the Conference ? But, in the second place, he charges Mr. Griffith with having basely reflected upon the character of Dr. Warren. As for myself, I never heard a word fall from his lips which at all reflected upon the character of the Doctor; and, by the authority of that experienced and peaceable minister of Jesus Christ, I presume to ask Mr. Russell for the proof of a single instance wherein he has, in that way, debased himself; and until he can prove such an instance, will he not be esteemed by the world as a vile slanderer ? But again : he asserts that at the Wrexham December quarterly meeting, when he attempted to introduce the subject of the present agitated state of the connexion, the superintendent, after having expressed his determination not to suffer the discussion of that subject in that meeting, exclaimed—“I'll give you my opinion, but I'll not have yours.” Now, sir, I was in that meeting from its commencement to its conclusion : I have also spoken to several of my brethren who were there also—and they, with myself, unhesitatingly and solemnly declare that no such words were uttered by Mr. Griffith, in that meeting, nor any which could possibly bear that construction; therefore, as a palpable falsehood, with all the reprobation which it merits, we hurl it back upon its author. And in reference to his assertion that the above meeting was closed by Mr. Griffith in a most unbecoming spirit, while I allow that he might have been troubled and even agitated, I contend that he did not manifest a spirit at all unbecoming a Christian minister. Therefore, hoping that what I have said in answer to Mr. Russell's charges will be sufficient in the estimation of the public to rescue the character of our much esteemed pastor from that disgrace to which such a foul attempt has been made to consign it, I proceed by observing that Mr. Russell has, in his memorable letter, represented one of our leaders as preaching the doctrine of human infallibility. He says—“One leader told me, a short time ago, that the preachers were infallible that they were incapable of doing wrong.” The gentleman to whom he thus refers I know well ; and whose unblemished character, cheerful liberality, and devotedness to the cause of Christ, entitle him to the respect and esteem of all our societies. I waited upon him a few days ago, when he solemnly

* It is but fair to state that in the Notices to Correspondents of Lantern, No. 8, we are told that

have been printed, had been proposed," in reference to the case about which our respectable correspondent complains. This considerably alters the case. To propose a resolution, and to pass a resolution are widely different affairs. We should wish to know how many other circuits have been served in the same manner by our benighted contemporary. We hope the Editors of the Lantern will profit by the above advice. It is painful to be under the necessity, again and again, of exposing the gross mis-statements, to say nothing, at present, of the falsehoods with which that publication has recently abounded.--En.

declared that he never said any such thing, which I confidently believe. And in re. ference to Mr. Russell's insulting assertion, that those of his brethren who refuse to engage in his wild proceedings are as much under the influence of the preachers as any Papist he ever met with-if he means to say that they are as much under the influence of the preachers as the illiterate laity of the Romish church are under the influence of their priests, I take this opportunity of assuring him that he is much mistaken in his opinion of them, and cannot but express my surprise that he, as a local preacher, should make such a foul attempt to stigmatise their character.

But one more remark, sir, and I have done. According to Mr. Russell's own account the subject of dispute between the Conference and the Association, was not even discussed at the Wrexham December quarterly meeting, which is correct. But on the first page of the Watchman's Lantern, for January 28, we are told that at a meeting of the friends of the Association, held on the 22d of that month, in the Music Hall, Bold-street, Liverpool, it was publicly declared, that resolutions, demanding redress of grievances were actually proposed, read, and passed by that meeting. Now, sir, these things need no comment-they loudly speak for themselves; and, of themselves, hold out an answer to the following question :-Are these men fit to reform or govern the Church of Christ ? Leaving you to think and speak of them just as you think proper, I conclude by assuring Mr. Russell, that unless he is in future more careful in his assertions, and sparing in his reflections upon the characters of his brethren, he must expect the developement of something which will prove as surprising to his ears, and as grateful to his feelings, as the ignition and explosion of the sulphureous fire-damp of a Čefn-mawr coal-pit, would be to the eyes and feelings of an operative collier, employed in those subterranean regions.-I am, Dear Sir,

Yours respectfully, EDWARD JONES.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE ILLUMINATOR. . Sir-Your kindness in inserting my last is an inducement for me to trouble you again, especially as, I think, a statement made in the Lantern demands a reply.It is stated that the Conference had departed from the example of Mr. Wesley, in the examination of candidates for the ministry, by insisting upon a belief in the “ eternal sonship of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Those who are acquainted with the history of Me. thodism; and certainly none but such, and not even all those, should set themselves up to reform the constitution ; those, I say, will be aware of the fact, that if the question was not proposed in its present form, one was proposed which involved it: viz. Have you read, and do you believe, Mr. Wesley's first four volumes of sermons, and his Notes on the New Testament. Now the above mentioned doctrine is most expressly laid down in those works. And according to the old axiom, “the whole is equal to the sum of all its parts,” which, by the bye, the Editor of the Lantern seems to have forgotten (if he ever learnt it); when a man believes the whole of what is contained in a book, he certainly believes each particular.

“'Tis strange, passing strange,” to observe how a kind of infatuation-a love for change, cloaked under the imposing name of Reform (and no matter be the change from good to bad) has taken possession of these individuals, though we may believe the great mass of the faction are led on-they know not why or wherefore. Their credulity has been imposed upon by a few designing men, always ready for change, and who would fain have them to believe they are deprived of their lawfnl rights ! I myself have had occasion to be acquainted with some of the leaders of the opposition; and believe, that if peace were once more established amongst us, she would not long be allowed to maintain her seat, whilst certain characters remain with us.

I have heard one-one who can try to be eloquent upon a platform-one who is distinguished by longer legs and less sense than his neighbours-one who is “consummately” vain of his own productions, and one who has “ a name and local habitation” not fifty miles from Great Ancoat’s-street, Manchester; I have heard this man declare, and this publicly, that he will never rest until lay delegation is established, and every member has a voice in the election of those delegates; and, after a few sentences, he declared he should be content if local preachers and leaders had a voice—and they only. Perhaps, it may be said, he might then see the subject in another light. Admitting that what dependence can be placed upon a man who so soon finds reason to change his opinion? Or, does it speak much for his having considered, and weighed well the circumstances of the case, before he came there in public to deliver two such contradictory statements ?--Certainly not. Instances of this kind might be multiplied ; but the above is sufficient to show whom we have to deal with.

PHILALETHES.

THE ASSOCIATION-SOLOMON-AND MR. JOHN WHITTINGĦAM.

« We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, viewing with dismay, the continued determination of the Conference to exercise an absolute sway over the people—and fearing that if that body longer pursue such a career, no honest and upright man can remain connected with them,do, in the fear of God, form ourselves into a Grand Central Association, for the following purposes :-Ist, To obtain from the Conference a disavowal of powers exercised." We want “ a share in the government."-J. Gordon's Speech at the Music Hall, Liverpool.

“We agree that until the Conference grant these our reasonable requests, we will withhold our contributions from the Missionary, Contingent, Chapel, and all funds whatsoever which are under its control." -Resolutions signed by 54 Official Members in Liverpool, at a meeting, held Nov. 10, 1834.

It would seem as if the members of the Association were not all Solomons, as they differ a little from the judgment of that wise man, on more points than one. It was his opinion, that when a claim to govern a child, as its true parent, is connected with a proposition to destroy it with a sword, the claim is coinpletely invalidated by that circumstance, and ought, on that account, to be rejected. When a woman appeared before the king, requesting to be constituted sole guardian of an infant, which, she said, was her own son, and at the same time, in order to settle a dispute between herself and another, who made the same demand on the same ground, went on to say, « let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it,”- [1 Kings, iii. 26.)—the judge thought her proposition disproved her claim, and constituted a reason why it ought not to be allowed. But the Association, it seems, are not exactly of the same opinion. In the first place, they say, we want “ a share in the government,” which is a modest way of saying, they want Methodism to be placed substantially under their controul. Then they propose to deal with some of its most vital and important institutions in the following way :

“ We will withhold our contributions from the Missionary, Contingent, Chapel, and all other funds whatsoever, which are under the control ” of Conference. Not only so; but they go on to provide for “posting," "printing,” “ deputations," and what not, in order to bring other people generally to adopt the same resolution. Here hundreds of missionaries, embarrassed trustees, widows, and orphans, are at once devoted to temporal ruin. Not indeed to die like the child in question ; for “ they that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger, for these pine away stricken through for want of the fruits of the field.”—(Lam. iv. 9.] Besides this-thousands of ignorant people at home and abroad are doomed to “perish for lack of knowledge.”

And this scheme of wholesale destruction is not merely thrown out; but they report its progress, and their sanguine hopes of its ultimate success, in strains of the highest exultation; not very unlike the false mother, whose eyes would probably glisten with savage delight, when she saw the sword drawn from its sheath, and marked the consequent agonies of her rival. For proof of this we refer to the exploits of that great warrior, Captain Barlow,and to the way in which a few instances of failure in public collections, have been reported in the Lantern. The reason assigned for this outrage is, that the Conference has refused to accède to some “respectful addresses” which have been presented to it. Yes; and the “ respectful addresses" of Dr. Coke, to commence a mission in the east were “rejected” till he was ready to break his heart; but did he ever talk of humbling the Conference, by “stopping the supplies," and ruining the West India missions ? When Dr. Clarke thought his “respectful addresses” were not treated with proper respect, by what some choose to call the dominant faction, did he ever talk of humbling his opponents, by “stopping the supplies," and destroy. ing the work in Shetland ? Did the true mother ever, for a moment, countenance the horrible notion of " dividing” the child with the “sword,” by way of enforcing her “respectful addresses ?” For a woman to call for a sword to “divide" the child, she declares to be her own, and whom she, therefore, wishes to govern; and for men to insist upon ruling those religious institutions, which they profess to love, and at the same time, purpose to destroy, is to exhibit a system of heartless imposture, destitute at once of tenderness and truth, and it becomes the duty of all to resist such unfounded and extravagant demands.

« PreviousContinue »