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, the most indifferent persons. If it should ever happen that the friends of a mixed Conference gain the ascendant, and a majority be found in that body ready to vote in favour of that proposition, this majority would be of no avail : they could not vote away the legal charter which constitutes their identity, or admit any others to join them.
This being the case, one subject of debate may be considered at an end. If a Methodist preacher sees reason not to unite with a corporate body of Christian Ministers, whose existence, in that capacity, is defined by law, and which he can never alter, he has a right to act on his convictions. He may judge, that it is better to have the rights, doctrines, and discipline of the ministry, fashioned by the public voice right or wrong; but this was not Mr. Wesley's view of the matter. It was his great wish, and desire that, the ministry he had raised should be perpetuated the doctrines he had taught remain unaltered-and the discipline he had established continue in its efficiency; and for these purposes he founded and legalized the Conference, It must be confessed that there is much more glory in a minister being left to model his own system, form for himself a party, give his own name to his creations, and live, in all future history, as the noble founder of a sect, than in yielding his loyal adherence to one already formed. But whether it is not more safe for religion, the good of souls, and even for himself, is another question. Fewer persons are called to the task of sect-making, than assume to them. selves the right of so doing. It is most sickening to see the number of inflated, spiritual coxcombs, of our day, setting up for themselves in the vocation of church legislation. Mr. Wesley saw something of this folly in his own day; and, instead of leaving his connexion to the hazard of being revolutionized, at the option of every upstart aspirant, he took the precaution of establishing Methodism on the basis of law. To those preachers who have had the judgment to see the advantage of this, it has afforded liberty, protection, and the opportunity of doing the greatest good; whilst those who have panted for independence and left the body, have received their reward, and generally sunk into insignificance and uselessness.
Our remark is equally applicable to the people. Many of them may think it better for religion, to leave it altogether to their own patronage and guidance. One of the fashionable dogmas of modern philosophy is, to despise the wisdom of past ages. A more egotistic period never existed than the present. The living race of men think themselves the perfection of wisdom, and scout the lights of former ages, and the discoveries and safeguards of the olden times. This spirit has found its way into the church; and it is thought by our modern quacks that every thing in religion as well as society, needs the benefit of their reforming sagacity. The decisions of the courts of law have taught these gentlemen that, at least, they may save themselves the trouble of one favourite object--the reformation of John Wesley. With strange and provoking forethought, the good old gentleman, it seems, had some apprehension that a class of these mongrel disciples inight rise up, and he took the precaution to place his doctrines, discipline, and connexion, beyond the reach of their attempts. He, no doubt, had the conviction that the external order of any church is only valuable as it administers the blessings of experimental and practical religion; and having examined first principles carefully for himself, and watched the working of his system for many years, he concluded that the best boon he could leave his followers was the inheritance well secured, which he himself, as he believed, had received from God.He was not mistaken. That blessing has been enjoyed by hundreds of thousands since his day-it has afforded them all that religion can give it has led to the conversion of a countless multitude of sinners to Christ-has spread its ample shadow into distant lands-and stands, at this time, one of the finest monuments of enlightened wisdom, and the best gift of Divine Providence, ever possessed by this world. We are thankful that the yast majority of our people are happy in the possession of their privileges ; and it is only a few who would have the hardihood to destroy this goodly fabric. These persons think it an infringement of their rights, that they are not suffered to carry their intentions into effect. It is no doubt an abridgement of liberty of a certain kind, that is the liberty to destroy. But how can they claim the right to pull down that which they had no hand in building up, we are at a loss to conceive. Had their communion with Methodism been the fellowship of persons in a state of perfect lawlessness, having every thing to choose and adopt for themselves, then they would have the power to modify their own system as they please. But Methodism is not theirs, it is not ours; it is the private inheritance of no man, or set of men ; and the members of society have no more right--and, thank God, no more power—to alter its essential principles than the preachers. Both classes have been admitted to its privi
leges; these privileges have been well defined, and secured on both sides; and it will be for their mutual advantage to end the useless dispute on this subject; for the mat. ters in debate are placed beyond the reach of either. The preachers cannot give up their place, if they had the inclination; and the Association cannot occupy it. The building erected on this noble foundation may be demolished by the storms and agitations of the connexion ; but the foundation itself cannot be removed. As long as there are forty preachers to meet annually, they will have the power to appoint to the chapels, and administer all the functions and powers of the Poll Deed ; though they may be assaulted by a multitude without-a thousand fold greater than themselves.
Another important question which this judgment has fairly settled, though in an indirect manner, is the large chapel property of the connexion, and the safety of the Trustees, against the aggressions of the opposing faction. We have the means of knowing that the Association contemplated an aggressive movement on the chapels of the connexion, and threatened that they would even possess themselves of, at least, a fair portion of our places of worship; that a coach and horses might be driven through the Deeds, and they were worth nothing to the Conference, if the people chose to assert their rights, because they were built for their specific use and benefit. It is extremely probable that these Chancery suits arose out of this opinion; and it was intended to make a breach in these securities, for the purpose of letting in a leaven of democratic influence, by which, ultimately, the original design of the settlement of chapels should be vitiated and set aside. It is scarcely to be supposed that the Trustees of Manchester, who espoused the cause of Dr. Warren, would do it from a spirit of pure and disinterested benevolence towards him; or of unsophisticated hatred towards the preachers. Indeed, either of these passions might exist in such strength as to make it pleasant to gratify them; but we cannot think them so purely good as to do this from mere love; or so bad as to do it from sheer malice. They, no doubt, looked farther than the gratification of a passion; and contemplated the admission of such a' food of democracy into the management, through the medium of the districts, as should swamp the rights of Conference on the one hand, and of the Trustees on the other.
Properly understood, their rights are reciprocal; and they are secured by law.The structure of the Chapel Deeds, in conjunction with the Conference Deed-making their security rest on each other-is one of those marks of superior wisdom, or of the merciful interposition of Divine Providence, which so generally marked the proceedings of our venerable founder. By the formation of these two Deeds the rights of both parties are secured, and yet neither are absolute or independent. The Conference has the right to appoint preachers, to conduct the worship, to guide and maintain the spiritual interests of the societies assembling on the premises; and, on the other hand, the Trustees are the legal guardians of the property; the executive to carry the provisions of the trust into effect; and have the power to see that the ministers preach the doctrines of the Wesleyan theology, faithfully and truly. Neither party can act without the other, or invade each other's rights. The Trustees can never appropriate these chapels to any other purpose than that designed by the Deeds; and the Conference can never abrogate the charter which constitutes their title to the religious use of the buildings. And, what is further to be noted, as a mark of great sagacity and care in the formation of those Deeds is, the right of property, and the current rental belonging to both parties; and yet absolutely to neither. It is uniformly so disposed of as not to allow any class of persons to derive any pecuniary benefit from it; and must be devoted to the furtherance and extension of the work of God in some shape or other.
Since our present agitations commenced, and hearing the threats of the Association men, we have heard several very worthy and active Trustees express their uneasiness respecting the security of chapel property; and, consequently, their own insecure position. These worthy and disinterested men may now rest perfectly satisfied. These suits in Chancery, it is true, were not instituted to try the validity of Trust Deedsto define the rights and powers of Trustees; or to express any judgment on the exact posture in which these parties stood. But, these Deeds were in Court-were examined both by the Vice-Chancellor and the Lord Chancellor-no flaw was detected in their structure-no argument raised by counsel, on either side, respecting their being valid indentures; and the Vice-Chancellor asserted and maintained the right of the Courts to exercise their supervision; which supposes that they lie within the pale of law; and both Chancellors adjudicated on the provisions of these Deeds. How, we would ask, could a judgment be made to rest on a legal instrument, without an admission, at the same time, of the validity of this instrument? If any doubt was entertained by our friends the Trustees, on this subject (and we know such doubts did exist), this trial must have entirely dissipated them. The principle is now established stands on the records of the highest court of equity in England in the adjudication of the highest functionary of the law, that the Chapel Deeds of the Methodist connexion are true and valid instruments. The effect of this must be to give both parties an identity in law; so that the Conference, on the one hand, through the Poll Deed, can stand on the floor of our Courts, to sue or be sued; and the Trustees, on the other hand, through their Trust Deeds, can do the same, to vindicate their rights against all aggression. These two instruments are so intertwined, by reference and usage, as to make the security of one the security of both. In like manner the Trustees and the preachers have interests so entirely identical and mutual, as to make the interests of one class the interests of the other. They must stand or fall together. If the Conference violate its own charter, one of two things must follow- the abrogation of its existence, or, the redress of the grievance by the injured parties appealing to the courts of law : so, in like manner, if the Trustees violate the provisions of their trust, in any way, they forfeit their rights; and the courts will compel them to exercise their prerogatives according to the provisions of the Deeds.
Here then we have another item struck from the list of litigated questions. No agitation can disturb the security of the chapels, or the rights and privileges of Trustees. They (the trustees) may join the malcontents, if so disposed, and agitate the connexion on other points; but they cannot throw the chapel trusts, as a lone of contention, amongst the dogs of war. Not that we have any apprehension that any great number are disposed to do so. They have been tested by the times the movement of the anti-Methodist party--and the appeals of a few of their brethren; but, as a body, they have stood firm to every branch of our economy. And as the Trustees cannot innovate on the provisions of their trusts, so, on the other hand, they are perfectly inaccessible in their rights; and the swelling flood of radicalism which foams and threatens our institutions, cannot touch them any farther than as it may injure their property by abstracting the congregations. Then we may venture to remind the agitators, that as the connexion is in secure possession of the chapels, they will still be used for those purposes only, which our founder intended : the promulgation of his doctrines-the pure and spiritual worship of Almighty God-the peaceful and pious assemblage of the flock of Christ, for religious edification and the conversion of sinners to the Christian faith.
-That the day is very distant when these monuments of the piety and benevolence of Methodism will be changed into opposition meeting-houses that is, places for debate, agitation, a rampant religious radicalism--where unbounded license shall be given to prating folly, excited passion, inflated vanity, an oppressive and tyrannic rule over their brethren.
This, no doubt, will be considered a very great hardship, and a positive injury inflicted on the rights of the Association. Sympathizing most truly with the sentiments and feelings of the destructives without, they consider it quite within the sphere of their vocation to scatter the church, wherever they are silly enough to allow it, and would inost gladly appropriate its property to uses, as alien from true Methodism as it is possisible. We make not these remarks without some foundation. The chairman of the Liverpool Association remarked at the school meeting, in Mount Pleasant Chapel, that, in all probability, the Lord Chancellor would have to determine to whom the vestries of Leedsstreet Chapel belonges-meaning, by that expression, as we understood him, that it was doubtful whether that building was legally under the control of the Trustees, or of the majority of the leaders' meeting : intending, if the latter had been proved, to establish the jurisdiction of that corrupt body in that place; which would have amounted, in effect, to their permament government over the society. When our ears were saluted by this, perhaps, slip of the tongue, we wondered what it meant; but the matter has since been explained. We can have no doubt, from this expression, and other evidence, that Dr. Warren's suit was only intended as the first of a series. The Association designed to make a lodgment in our chapel property by this first assault, and to follow it up, had they been successful, by other attempts, so as ultimately to possess themselves of the entire control of the whole. Many of the disciples of the confederacy have made no secret of the matter : but have publicly avowed that, at no distant pe riod, they should be in possession of this power. Because the Trust Deeds, they have affirmed, declare that the premises shall be held for the benefit of the respective societies, it follows, that the majorities of those societies have the power to determine every thing respecting their use. This was a fine stretch of thought on the part of the Association. Just as if, because an asylum is built for the use of madmen, the majority of the inmates shall have the right of regulating its government. No; these places of worship will be preserv.. ed for nobler purposes than those which have been contemplated by these men ; they will stand as the sanctuaries of God, in which will flow, for many generations to come, the pure waters of life and salvation, in deeper and deeper torrents, and more blessed effects.
A third consequence of this great law-suit is, the confirmation of the pastoral and spiritual jurisdiction of the Conference, in the intervals of its yearly meetings, by the Districts. Ever since what is technically called “the Leeds case," the connexion has þeen, more or less, agitated respecting the authority of Districts. It was strenuously argued at the time, that Districts had no jurisdiction in circuits, and that the whole of that proceeding was an outrage on the laws of the body. This has been reiterated a thousand times, and is made one of the matters of agitation with the Association. We are quite aware that the District Meeting brought before the Courts of Chancery was constituted to try an accused preacher, and in the matter on which its jurisdiction was exercised, it differed from the subjects on which the Leeds District exercised its functions. Let this point be conceded, yet, we think, the decision which goes to affirm the legality of the District which tried Dr. Warren will hold good in respect to Districts in general. We will give our reasons for this by and bye.
In the mean time, it is of immense importance to the purity of the ministry and the success of the work of God, that, by the discomfiture of Dr. Warren, the old practice is fully established : viz.--the trial of preachers by a District of their own body. In fact, at every regular District Meeting, each preacher is put on his trial annually. Had this authority of the new tribunal been established, this would have been nullified and when the usual question came to be proposed, the person might say, “No; I refuse to answer any question : your tribunal is not legal; your jurisdiction does not, consequently, extend to me, and I claim my liberty of not answering your question.”Great inconvenience must have attended this. The examination must have been transferred to Conference itself, or not gone into at all; and as all the preachers could not attend, the latter alternative must have been the consequence. In this state of things, if a preacher could contrive to keep clear of the charges specified in the Plan of Pacification, and ward off any visitation of that tribunal, though defective in evangelical sentiment, his ministry, while free from positive errors, might possibly pass. Those who have attended the examination of the Districts, know well that they are not farcical : great searchings of heart, humiliation, prayer, purposes of renewed devotedness to God, and resolution to prosecute the duties of the ministry with increased fidelity, usually follow. The moral effect of these examinations would be lost, if the new tribunal were established. But even this would not be the worst evil to be apprehended. It would only be necessary for a preacher, so disposed, to establish a party in his favour, strong enough to protect him during the year, and then he might dispose of his duties as he thought proper. It is possible, that this supposed contingency may be denied; it may be affirmed, the people are not likely to gather round a preacher to protect him in any delinquency; their purity would be sufficient security against this. We ask-what did they do at Manchester, when Dr. Warren chose to deny the authority of his brethren, and throw himself into their arms ?-They nobly bore him on their shield, revolted with him, placed themselves in a state of separation, and laid the foundation of a new a Warrenite connexion. Let the appeal be to the people, instead of our usual tribunals, when preachers are accused of any delinquency, and these results inust be constantly taking place. It is, indeed, true that the Conference will in every year arrive, and then the disputed matter will be settled; so will next August arrivé, and yet, notwithstanding this, the mischief is done-- the connexion convulsed, divided, and bleeding at every pore--as the simple consequence of Dr. Warren demurring from the decision of his brethren, and raising a party to support and protect him. It is now established that this protection cannot be afforded by any of the local tribunals; that every preacher is amenable to the Distriet for the whole of his ministerial conduct, which may exercise its discipline in his case at any time; and it is in vain for him to attempt to shield himself behind the favoritism or the factious 'purposes of any body of men. This ought to be a matter of thankfulness to all our people, as they are deeply interested in the purity and efficiency of their own ministry. As we have no desire for the perpetuity of Methodism except, as a system of pure and under filed religion, we are truly grateful to God that its strict and salutary discipline over the preachers has not been ruined by these proceedings. Ministers, like other men, need The restraints of discipline; and we have no doubt, but the chief secondary cause of the prosperity of Methodism, has been the pains taken to keep them pure and
boly. Whilst sufficient scope has been given for the exercise of those various gifts and talents which God has, from time to time, conferred on his servants, it has been the constant aim of the Conference, after the example of Mr. Wesley, to keep the preachers devoted fully to the work of saving souls. By the establishment of their excellent discipline over the ministry, through the Districts, they will be still able to secure this benefit to the church; had Dr. Warren succeeded in gaining the esta. blishment of his new tribunal, we believe in our consciences, that in a short time this advantage would have been endangered and ultimately lost. We now return to give our reasons for believing that the judgment of the two Chancellors has established the pastoral and spiritual authority of the Conference through the medium of its Districts.
1.-It has been clearly demonstrated, especially by the Lord Chancellor, that the Plan of Pacification did not annul the other rules, on the subject of Districts; that those rules related to a particular point of discipline only; and on this opinion, he founded his judgment, affirming the legality of Dr. Warren's trial. This has been strenuously denied by Dr. Warren in his pamphlet, relied upon by his adherents, and has often been argued in our meetings, in this town, in relatior to other subjects. We have heard it asserted, again and again, that the Plan of Pacification abrogated all the other rules of the Connexion ; but now, on the opinion and decision of an impartial judge, the contrary is affirmed, establishing the principle that all preceding laws for the appointment and regulation of these meetings remained entire.
2.-The trial of preachers is only one particular of a general provision ; but it has been affirmed by the courts that this one particular, drawn from this general provision, is valid; and if so, then the whole series must be so too. If, as adjudged by the Lord Chancellor, the rules of 1791–2–3, appointing and regulating the functions of Districts remain in force, then it follows that their entire provisions do so. It will be found, on examination, that these rules only relate to the trial of preachers incidentally, and as one article of jurisdiction, which the exercise of a spiritual supervision contemplated. On the establishment of Districts, we find this was the avowed reason : • “Question-What regulations are necessary for the preservation of our whole economy, as the Rev. Mr. Wesley left "it ? Answer-Let the three kingdoms be divided into Districts.” The establishment of these local jurisdictions then, it is here seen, had relation to the “ whole economy" of Methodism. It is decided by the Lord Chancellor that the Plan of Pacification did not annul any of the laws on the subject and consequently, that they still relate to the “ whole economy" of Methodism. The subsequent enactments of Conference regulate these meetings, as to the manner of their proceedings, but nothing has been done to alter their original design.
3.-The deed of Declaration which is now recognised as a legal document, expressly provides for the exercise of this disciplinary power, through its President and officers. After making provision for the election and duties of the President, the Deed enacts, that, he shall possess“ such other powers, privileges, and authorities, as the Conio.ence shall from time to time see fit to cntrust into his hands." It is clear from this that ine Conference may entrust its President to hold districts; and, if instead of existing in the regular form in which they have been long arranged, still the whole nation being divided into circuits alone, it would be competent to give the Presi, dent a power in any critical case,” to form a District or Committee for the occasion. If instead of the wise and salutary exercise of discipline intrusted to a number of preachers united on the present plan, the power had been left solely with the Presi, dent, there would have been a much greater probability of its abuse. The division of authority amongst many is much more likely to be justly and liberally exercised than by one.
We have not space to enter at greater length into this subject; and have been induced to make these remarks to show that another topic of agitation on the part of the Association, may be abandoned as hopeless. We only wish that the “ Leeds Case” had been taken before the courts of law in conjunction with the Warren case. We have no fear as to the result. Our opinion, of course, will not be taken by the Association ; but we are bold to affirm that no transgression of law took place in that case; and it would have afforded us the highest gratification to have seen the Lord Chancellor's; or, indeed, the judgment of any competent and impartial tribunal, on the question. Then, on this principle it follows, that our circuit meetings can never become independent judicatories. This is the favourite object of many of our reformers. The genius of Methodism as well as its legal constitution is opposed to the notion.Such a principle could not be adopted without splitting the connexion into independent churches. A common system of laws and mutual aid and co-operation, presupposes a common government. Ours has been established for us by our founder