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them. That is to say, it is honourable to act in perfect contradiction to the example of the Association. One says, I am sorry I ever joined the Association; I find it hurts my soul, my body, and my business; but he adds, after all I cannot see my way to renounce it. Some say they are miserable because they are Associates; others declare they never were so happy in all their lives; and so said Jonathan Martin while burning down York Minster. Formerly, discussion-public discussion was all the cry; now, since the Leeds meeting, this is by no means allowed. There is also a very curious explanation of what we call the slanders on the characters of the preachers. In the newspapers we find the Association saying, “ we do not object to the private, nor even to the public character of the preachers; our objections are confined to their Conferential character.” — It is reported of a bishop of Bristol, who was also a nobleman, that when challenged to fight, he returned—“I cannot fight you as bishop of Bristol ; but I will as a lord ;" when the reply was- " if then I kill your lordship, pray what will become of the bishop of Bristol ?” If the Conferential character be as wicked as is represented, what shall be said of the men? The same accommodating policy is adopted with regard to the late Chancery decision. Had Dr. Warren been the winner, that would have been most famous: hence the great expense and pains taken to effect it. But now, when the judgment is given on the other side, it is just as it ought to be, capital !—the very thing that was wished and wanted !Thus every thing contributes to the success of the Association. If you throw it into the air, like a cheval de frise, it must necessarily fall upon its legs. The Romish church itself can scarcely show any thing more tortuous, more proteus-like, or more in the genuine spirit of Ignatius Loyola, than this same inexpugnable, yet soft, sliding system of tremendous, trembling opposition to the Methodist connexion.
Among the inconsistencies referred to, it is particularly marvellous, that the stopping of supplies should be aimed at the innocent, such as supernumeraries and their widows, and the souls of the heathen, who, at all events, are innocent of Methodism; and that class-money and quarterage, for the support of the work in any given circuit, should be the only money allowed by the rules of the Association: money that is solely applied to support the guilty oppressors who are marked out as the grand objects of indignation and of vengeance. · One would rather expect, from the avowed principles of the Association, that poor and unoffending widows, for instance, would meet with some generous attention; and that the wicked preachers alone would be deprived of support. And yet, in perfect contradiction to the practice, the object is to starve the tyrants into compliance with the schemes of the Associates. Oh, error! what a shapeless thing art thou! How many are thy heads, and horns, and hoofs !
We ask, in the sixth place, is there any thing in Scripture like the Association? Yes : the Corinthian faction was extremely like it. The malcontents described by St. Jude, very much resemble it; at least, in certain parts of the description given by that Apostle; and Diotrephes would have made a first-rate member of the Association. Among these we find there were “debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults.” They “despised dominion” and “spoke evil of things which they knew not.” These statements of conduct are also disclosures of the principles on which that conduct was founded. The men were influenced by “envyings,” and “loved to have the pre-eminence.”
That modern ministers profess not the infallibility and authority of Apostles is no reason why obedience, should be denied to their office. The grand principles of pastoral rule and of submission are the same in all ages of the church. And because there have been instances of misrule both in church and state, must we say there is no such thing as right government remaining in the world? And if the Association still insist that the connexion at large is in the wrong, and they themselves in the right, we reply, that this again begs the question. Who shall decide between us ? Must the whole body bend to the dictates of a few? The Associates know that if all the parties met in one vast multitude on Salisbury plain, to discuss and determine the questions betwixt us, the Association would be like the gleanings of the vintage, compared with the hundreds of thousands opposed to them. But, no doubt, they rank themselves with the small, but noble band of heroes at Thermopylæ; and look upon the army of a Xerxes as the certain prey of their well-tried power and valour.
On the subject of disregard to pastoral authority, we would recommend the remarks of the Rev. J. A. James, of Birmingham, to the notice of the Association. As proceeding from the pen of an eminent Dissenting minister, they may have more weight than if they had been advanced by some tyrannical Methodist preacher :-“ It is my decided conviction, that, in many of our churches, the pastor is depressed far below his just level. He is considered merely in the light of a speaking brother. He has no official distinction or authority. He may flatter like a sycophant, he may beg like a servant, he may woo like a lover, but he is not permitted to enjoin like a ruler. His opinion is received with no deference, his person treated with no respect; and in the presence of some of his lay tyrants, if he say any thing at all, it must be somewhat similar to the ancient soothsayers; for he is only permitted to peep and mutter from the dust. The tyranny of a minister has some shadow of excuse in the circumstance of his being invested with an office, the duties of which are not defined with accuracy; but the tyranny of a church over their pastor is without apology, for they have no office and therefore no power.”-See On Christian Fellowship, second edition, p. 60.
The precise duties, both of the pastor and the people, have, no doubt, in many cases, been left undefined; perhaps, with the intention to leave more room for the exercise of the Christian graces, which, when they freely operate, will be sure to set all right, without any profound process of conflicting argumentation. We admit that all parties ought impartially to examine themselves on this point. And while we call our own hearts to this personal inquiry, so far as the spirit of our resistance is concerned, we take the liberty to ask the members of the Association to inquire into the manner in which they have made and carried on the attack. The public, at least, will judge by their overt acts, whether due Christian diffidence of themselves, meekness, gentleness, humility, and teachableness all springing from the hallowed fountain of supreme love to God, and to man, not excepting, of course, their cruel task-masters, have shone out very conspicuously in their part of this great conflict. We confess, we see very little of these virtues in the various transactions of the Association. We think we see much, very much, of a contrary character; though this charge we rather confine to the leaders of the ring than extend it to the body of their deluded followers, many of whom, indeed, have but very little to do in the active operations of the party.
An uncandid and unkind bias of the heart is, we think, evinced in al. most every step of their procedure. This is at once unscriptural and unmanly. They have not dwelt upon the excellencies of church government amongst us in any due proportion, as compared with our alleged corruptions. A stranger to Methodism reading their productions, would be inclined to think that the evils of the system vastly preponderate, for the Associates have taken care not to strike the balance. Nor have they come to the subject of reform, as Burke says the evils of the state should be approached—“with tenderness, as to the wounds of a father;" but with a recklessness that seems to merge all regard for the feelings of others. They have dashed into the controversy as if they took a real pleasure in it: as if garbage were their sweetest food, and the faults of others the most delightful objects of their contemplation; and all these alleged corruptions are, in perfect opposition to the genius of Christianity and of Methodism, dragged before the world, obliging their brethren to follow them to detect their misconceptions.
These reflections, it is obvious, might be continued to a much greater length. We might illustrate the subject, for example, by referring to a number of similar instances of factious hostility, and utter failures in the end-except so far as regards a mischievous and cruel rending of unity and affection among Christian brethren-recorded in church history. We might inquire whether the Association, as either ipso facto, or by rule, expelled from fellowship with their brethren, can be considered as a church at all; for they have not yet joined any other Christian body; and remain without chapels, and ministers, and ordinances; thus manifesting a mistaken or proud antipathy to the whole Christian world; because the whole, themselves excepted, is supposed, of course, to be essentially defective or corrupt. But we conclude for the present. We have not, in this article, extended our remarks to the questions of church government debated by the parties; but have chiefly confined them to the single fact of a coercive combination formed to carry its intentions into effect by the unusual and unlawful methods by which its conduct is so avowedly and notoriously marked; a combination begging the question, as we have said, and practically assuming that the question is no question; that no argument is necessary to be used on either side ; and that, therefore, the whole connexion opposed to them is the rebellious party, and ought at once to submit to the infallible dictation of the Associates. Whether the Conference be right or wrong makes no difference as to the character of this self-elected junto of censurers, under the sanctimonious name of Christian reformers.
From the hints contained in these brief reflections, whether taken as a whole, or viewed in their several particulars; if they be correct in substance, and not a perfect tissue of falsehoods and of nonsense; we think it will appear to all impartial judges, that the Association, as such, is utterly indefensible. Viewed in all its aspects, it is still a distortion, otherwise our vision is most lamentably distorted, which we know will be asserted by our opponents as the fact, beyond all doubt. The variety of points in which we have looked at the Association, all of them harmonizing in the same unfavourable conclusion, has, to our own minds at least, something of the form of truth and argument. Let the Christian public judge between us. With such an authority we can confidently trust the question,
May we be permitted, finally, to ask, what are the probable effects to result from the Association ? On this subject many fine things are predicted by its members. Nay, the future is become matter of history rather than of prophecy. Hence we read in printed placards— “ Monstrous Methodism is no more!" On their principles they may predict with perfect safety. For, success, or no success, they must succeed. The grand catastrophe will always be either come or coming. But we will also take the liberty of prophesying. The Association, we believe, will secure its own defeat. The men are not the persons likely to accomplish our reform-if reform be really wanted. A very different class of individuals must undertake the work. This, however, it will be said, is matter of opinion. Be it so; time will shortly determine. In the meanwhile, the spiritual interests of numbers are suffering. Several members of the Association confessed to a clergyman the other day, that they were losing their religion. This, we fear, implies a similar state of things with regard to many more. Nor will the controversies into which the connexion is forced be very favorable to the piety of some of its loyal members. It is for the Association to ascertain, whether their supposed reforms are worth this mighty sacrifice. The injury done to the usefulness of the preachers, through indecent attacks upon their character and office, is another of the mischievous consequences of this business.
But good effects will also incidentally and providentially ensue. It is earnestly to be desired that the body of the Association will yet return to their allegiance; but a certain class, who have, for many years, been thorns in the sides of the church, are now happily separated from us; and, it is hoped, may never be permitted to resume their power of doing mischief. The preachers will be led to observe a stricter caution in putting men into office. Measures also may possibly be adopted by the Conference to prevent the recurrence of such revolutionary opposition. Our sound brethren will be more confirmed in their principles, and by a happy reaction exert themselves more than ever to defend and support the connexion. Discipline will be more diligently studied, and better understood. And the body at large will now probably set a higher value on their Christian privileges than they have ever done, and be far more indefatigable in the improvement and extension of them. These consequences we deem to be inestimable. But no thanks to the Association. Thanks be to Him alone, of whom it is most justly said, “surely the wrath of man shall praise him, and the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.”
THE NEW CONNEXION AND ITS THEOLOGY. Once more do we reiterate the assertion that the venerable Wesley was under the guidance of “the Father of lights” when he, by the Deed of Declaration, legally prevented the introduction of lay delegates into Conference. We will assign a third reason for our position. By the exclusion of lay delegation, he greatly contributed to the preservation of ORTHODOXY in the connexion.
The Methodist society was established in 1739; and though nearly a century has since gone into eternity, Wesleyan theology exists in all its purity and unction in the body. Its doctrines were never more clearly understood, firmly believed, and faithfully preached than they are at this day. Attempts, indeed, have been made, at sundry times, to corrupt and neutralize them; but they have been powerfully and effectually resisted. This wholesome resistance to heresy would, we believe, have been much less powerful and, consequently, much less effectual, had the connexion been under the rule of the laity. Lay influence when it rises into domination in the church, is perilous to sound doctrine. Is not this principle corroborated by truly painful facts ?
The Presbyterian churches in England admitted the order of lay eldership, and what has been the result? They have, scarcely without an exception, “ denied the faith once delivered unto the saints.” It is not difficult to account for this melancholy issue of an earthly policy. Heresy never comes on an orthodox church with all the instantaneous sweep of a flood. No. It is usually so small in its commencement, and so cautious in its progress, that some laymen want discernment, some want spirituality, and others want courage to qualify them to raise against its intrusion a vigorous and effective opposition; and when they have once, by a misplaced lenity, indulged heterodoxy, it necessarily becomes a growing evil. The Socinianism into which the Presbyterian churches have sunk, admonishes the laity of every church not to aspire after offices which God has never required them to fill, especially such as examining the theological sentiments of candidates for the ministry, and “separating them for the work whereunto the Holy Ghost has called them.”
• Knowing that the New Connexion has made one of the most recent trials of the secular and pastoral character, in the government of the church, we honestly confess that we have fears lest, there should be a deterioration of Methodist divinity in that community. We admit that an itinerant ministry is the least exposed to corruption; for “running streams are not so apt to corrupt; nor itinerant as settled preachers :” still there is a liability to error, even among travelling preachers, which calls for the watchfulness of a godly jealousy. Convinced there is danger of the New Connexion, from its being principally a lay government, departing from the faith, we have carefully examined its “ form of doctrine;" as appended to the general rules, to see whether its several articles are so strictly guarded in their expression as to constitute some strong barrier in the way of any heretical innovation, The investigation has painfully disappointed us.
Certain doctrines, deemed, by right-hearted Methodists, of great consequence, are so vaguely worded that it would appear as if persons of very different sentiments may gain access to the ministry among this body of Christians. If we were to be told, or if any of our readers were to say that they have been told, that doctrines, both Wesleyan and antiWesleyan, are to be heard from some of their pulpits, the announcement would not in the least surprise us. To justify these sayings, we will lay before our readers that part of their creed which relates to two important Methodist doctrines, viz.-the Witness of the Spirit, and Christian Perfection.
It reads as follows:-“6. We believe that justification is by grace, through faith, and he that believeth hath the witness in himself; that it is our privilege to be fully sanctified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.”—The believer is here said to have the witness in himself; but what kind? Is it divine or human ? Direct