Page images
PDF
EPUB

or indirect ? Again : it is the privilege of Christians to be fully sanctified; but when? Is it a privilege for present or future attainment ? To these serious questions the article makes no response. How dangerously liberal are these doctrines in their construction!

The preachers of this community, when received into full connexion, are required to give, in the presence of the congregation, a statement of the principles which they believe and teach. As some of them choose to comply with this requirement by simply reading over the doctrines, just as their secular and spiritual governors have compiled them, it is evident they may, or they may not, be sound in Methodist theology. We know too much of human nature, and of ecclesiastical history, to believe that ministers whose sentiments are so loosely examined, are likely to preserve in their ministrations “the unity of the faith."

Thé creed of the New Connexion, unlike the Nicene and Athanasian creeds, makes no mention of the divine Sonship of the second person in the holy Trinity. Whether the title Son of God marks his natural relation to the Father, or his official relation to men, is a question so important that it ought not to have been passed over in silence. Some persons have gloried that, on this point, they have no “ Test Act;" but to such we would say, “your glorying is not good.” Genuine Methodism is, emphatically, a testing system ; and when religious teachers so grow in liberalism as to treat doctrinal tests with contempt, we need not be informed to what bourn they are travelling.

Though the eternal Sonship is not to be found in the creed of the body, yet we are thankful to know it is in several of Mr. Wesley's hymns, which the congregations sometimes chant in the solemn worship of Almighty God. The Rev. A. Scott, who has long ornamented the New Connexion as a sound theologian, has published a tract on the divine Sonship, which, for so small a work, is a masterly performance. He proves the doctrine to be according to the scriptures, shows its importance in the Christian system, and justifies the Wesleyan Conference in requiring its avowed belief from all ministerial candidates. This excellent and well-timed publication was most favourably reviewed in the New Methodist Magazine. The same respectable author has compiled a catechism, in which children are taught in the full sense of the passage to “honour the Son even as they honour the Father ;” and this form of sound words is said to have received the sanction of the Conference.

Notwithstanding these facts, Mr. Forsyth, who believes the doctrine to be unreasonable, unscriptural, and mischievous; and who declares it is with him a point of conscience thus to denounce it in his ministrations, is understood to be virtually received as a travelling preacher in the New Connexion !

Some of our readers may inquire, by whom has he been accepted ? We reply—an oligarchy, called, " the annual committee.” It consists of five persons, and it is a great part of their duty to promote the enlargement of the Connexion ; not by sending forth men “full of the Holy Ghost and of faith,” to prophesy to the dry bones in some neglected parts of the valley of death ; no—it is by negociating with the disaffected and insubordinate members of other churches ! When Zion is generally in peace and prosperity, this committee has little employment; but when multitudes are weeping, between the porch and the altar, over agitation and antinomianism among professors of religion, this committee reaps an harvest!

The corresponding member of this committee for the present year is a superannuated minister. Such was our respect for his talents, and character, we were truly sorry to see him laid aside from the work of the ministry, and we cordially desired his last days to be full of peace and honour. But the manner in whịch he has latterly chosen to come before the public, has both surprised and pained us. The bitter hostility which he has manifested towards the Wesleyan body--the unfounded reproaches which, from the worst of publications, he has taken up against her ministers—the party zeal which he has evinced in “compassing sea and land to make proselytes," may have raised him in the estimation of a fraternity of bigots; but among sober Christians, both in his own and in other communities, they have produced a different effect. We would still hope, however, that ere long he will see the evil of his recent proceedings, and will, “ in a more excellent way,” endeavour to promote the tranquillity and enlargement of the church of God. • It is pleasing to know that all the members of the New Connexion do not glory in the accession of Mr. Forsyth and his partizans to the body. Some of them believe that for itinerant ministers to contradict one another in the pulpit, will never answer, inasmuch as such contradictions must generate strife and division, both among preachers and people. It is easy to see that this unhappy state of things must be the result. Moreover, if the New Connexion is to have a “yea and nay” ministry on one doctrine, why not “yea and nay” on a second, and a third until the Connexion is ruined? Intelligent members seeing the danger, have asserted, “ that if the arrangements made by the annual committee be ratified at the ensuing Conference, they shall consider the door opened for Socinianism into the Connexion.” Many other Christians will come to the same conclusion; but not with pleasure. No!—The ardent love of truth which distinguishes the Wesleyan Methodists leads them to depre.cate any branch of the Methodist family becoming Socinianized. It is, we regret to say, in our power to give instances of the New Connexion preachers who, under its liberal polity, have grown so lax in their principles, that they have abandoned its itinerancy, and taken the oversight of Socinian congregations ! May their number never increase! To prevent such an addition of heretical apostates, we believe it highly necessary that the negociation of the annual committee should, at the forthcoming Conference, be quashed! · But such an event, though of immense importance, is, we apprehend, more to be wished than expected; for the negociator's belong to a ruling junto in the Connexion! As so many of the preachers and delegates who attend the Conference are, either from their juniority or their first elections, mere novices in ecclesiastical legislation; almost the whole power of the assembly is wielded by the minority, who, by some means, so manage matters as to be nearly always present; and to distribute the offices and committee business of the body chiefly among themselves. * It is almost certain how this dominant party will speak and vote in Conference, on the conduct of the committee in reference to Gateshead. Mr. Scott may raise his voice against it, and produce strong reasons why the un-Methodistical treaty should be rejected; but we fear he will be “as one who beateth the air,” and his best arguments like seed scattered upon a rock. Great anxiety, especially among the merchants and tradesmen, to keep up the appearance of“ unparalleled prosperity,” by swelling the number of the connexion, though it may be with persons of different creeds, will bear down all objections; and the triumph will probably be celebrated according to the form of the second resolution, in the Minutes of 1834;

* If any person desire proof of this statement, let them read the Minutes, and they will frequently meet with the same names associated with offices and committees. It is a trite saying, that “when a party is in power it naturally endeavours to strengthen itself.” This remark fully applies to the ascendant few in the New Connexion. The Minutes of 1834, contain a deep scheme, which, there is little doubt, has emanated from these rulers in Israel who have proclaimed war against all tyranny, except, of course, that which may be found ncarest home! It is a proposal that the annual com

" That it is with feelings of sincerest gratitude to God, the source of truth and grace, the Conference has received information respecting the spread of liberal principles of church government.”+

It is only justice to the New Connexion to state, before we close these remarks, that we found subjoined to the doctrinal propositions, a reference made to the sermons and notes of the Rev. J. Wesley, as illustrating their character. There are persons who may think that this reference ought to have shielded the creed from some of our strictures ; and indeed it would, had we not found it so liberal as to be most seriously defective. It is, in the new system, unauthoritative ; and, consequently, to a great extent, uninfluencing. We have read the Minutes and general rules; we have conversed with members of the body; but we cannot find any law, neither can we learn there is any usage which binds the preachers to read

mittee shall, in future, consist of thirteen individuals who shall be members of Conference at the end of the year for which they have served ; and that the Treasurers of the Paternal, Beneficent and Missionary Funds, the Book Steward, the Treasurer of the Book Room, and the Missionary Secretary, shall be ex-officio members of the annual committee. These several posts of honour and influence are, from year to year, commonly occupied by the same persons ; and now, it would appear, they aspire to be de facto the standing government of the body! They wish to be er-officio members of the committee that rules over the Connexion during the intervals of Conference; and then to be ex-officio members of Conference, where they can sway their sceptre over all the newly elected delegates! Yet these oligarchists love liberty and hate tyranny, both in church and state, with all their hearts ! This snug plan for the permanent aggrandisement of the aristocracy in the New Connexion, was to be laid before the quarterly meetings in January last, under the imposing pretext of opening the doors of Conference to the prayers, councils, and votes, of a few họary-headed supernumeraries, who, for many years, have been vainly praying for admission. It is intended to give some of these veterans of Jesus Christ a place among the thirteen, and so pass them, er-officio into Conference! We wish our illumination of this enslaving scheme of a clique of liberals might be seen through all the length and breadth of the New Connexion. If the people do not rise up and crush it, let them give up their boasts of liberty for ever; and no more of their trumpeting !

+ This most singular tribute of Conference thanksgiving refers to the diffusion of republican principles in some American churches. What relation the spread of these levelling politics among Christians has to "the truth and grace of God,” for which He is to be worshipped, we are at a loss to conceive. The resolution rather tempts us to think that there are persons who take a more lively interest in the republicanization of the church of the Redeemer, than in the conversion of the world to his authority. Hence the great zeal which the New Connexion manifests, by means of political tracts and speeches, to make people into ecclesiastical politicians; and the little zeal it has manifested by missionary labours of love, to make sinners into saints! As the body wishes to change its title and adopt one more expressive of its character, there is a most appropriate appellation for it which we might suggest did we think it necessary. “A word to the wise is sufficient."

the standard writings of Wesleyan theology, and requires them to declare that they cordially believe every part of the creed as it is therein illustrated. We have, indeed, in our researches, met with one fact which, to us, is remarkable, and yet characteristic of the system: every preacher is annually tested in drawing up his testimonial which is taken to Conference, on all points, doctrines excepted!

As certain characters in the New Connexion have assumed the office of reforming the Wesleyan body, we submit to their consideration whether they had not better, henceforth, leave the latter to itself, and employ their reforming talents in their own community. If they will “suffer the word of exhortation,” we would say, jealously watch your system; apply some salutary reforms to it ; lest, in its workings, all that is vital and distinguishing in Christianity be ultimately swept away. We can assure them it is our wish that the New community may be in health and prosper” in the salvation of sinners; and it shall be our prayer, that both connexions, in all things essential to life and godliness, may have “one Lord, one faith, one baptism ;” and, also, that the time may shortly come when “Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim." Amen.

EPSILON.

THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE DISS BRANCH ASSOCIATION!!

We know of nothing so detrimental to the best interests of the reli. gious public, and so utterly opposed to the principles and maxims of the sacred scriptures, than for Christian societies to be found neither in communion with each other, nor in a state for such communion. Schism in the mystical body of our Redeemer is deeply to be deplored, as pregnant with evil of the most awful character; the bond of charity is dissolvedinfidels are supplied with the most plausible terms of invective-the consciences of the irreligious are hardened—the hands of the good are weakened and hang down—the efficacy of prayer is fearfully impededand, as the Holy spirit, with His gracious influences, is promised in answer to the united entreaties of the militant church, where the fiend of discord reigns, the angel of peace and unity has fled, and that divine power, without which nothing is wise, holy, or strong, is withheld.

It was only the other day that we obtained sight of a precious document, entitled “An appeal to the members of the Wesleyan Methodist societies in the Diss circuit,” and which professes to emanate from the members of the Diss branch of the Manchester Central Association!!" It bears the name of “Thomas Gosling, Secretary,” to whose hands, it appears, this “appeal" came, “ cut and dried;" for as one born out of due time, Mr. G. was elected to the honourable office of secretary, on the eve of its publication, his predecessor feeling some awkward qualms of conscience concerning the propriety of his conduct, was led to refuse appending his name to this production, and ultimately to bid good night to this band of Norfolk reformers. Mr. Gosling, therefore, without much difficulty flew upon the saddle the ex-secretary had occupied. A very ominous event truly, as it respected the fate of this branch Association !

The origin of this far-famed company of Associates ought not to be overlooked, inasmuch as it is another proof how “ some men,” who “ are singularly fitted for great actions, and superior to discouragement, can press through difficulties which to others appear to be insurmountable !" Who would have thought of a branch Association at Diss, a circuit which has received, to our certain knowledge, from the contingent fund of the connexion alone, upwards of £700 in order to meet its ordinary necessities, to say nothing at the present of the grants which have been made to it for extraordinary deficiencies, and from the children's fund! By the blessing of God on the labours of the preachers who have been stationed there, and on the liberality and public spirit of the body, the Diss circuit has become independent of the contingent fund, and, therefore, to evince their gratitude, one of the first steps a few persons have taken, is to exhort the members of the society, to cease all contributions to a fund by which other circuits would be similarly benefited! The English language is destitute of a word which sufficiently expresses the sense we entertain of such a nefarious transaction; and we are powerfully reminded of what is said of the eagle in the Greek apologue:

“ The eagle saw her breast was wounded sore,
She stood, and weeped much, but grieved more ;
For when she saw the dart was feathered, said

'Ah! woe is me, my kind hath me destroyed.'” We are well convinced that ever since the memorable Leeds affair, when those highly salutary and strictly constitutional measures were successfully taken to put down an insolent and illegal faction, which threatened destruction to Methodism in one of its most interesting and venerable societies, there have been a few discontented creatures in Diss and its neighbourhood, who have now and then displayed much disaffection toward the constitution of our body. These, under the influence of an unhallowed excitement produced by the circumstances in which poor Dr. Warren has been placed, assembled, about a dozen in number, around the fire-side of a friend, where they concocted, and then and there formed themselves into the Diss Branch Association. Four out of this paltry number forsook this gosling Association almost as soon as they had joined it, and the remainder, being thrown upon their mettle at the appearance of the well-timed declaration of the preachers of the Norwich district, circulated the “ appeal,” which now lies before us. So much for the history of this trumpery production!

But what has the Association of Diss done ? What have these reforming worthies effected? Why, their “Appeal” has produced the very opposite effect to that which they contemplated! The missionary collections have exceeded those of the past year by £20; and all the other contributions bear a proportionate advance. The various officers, in conjunction with the excellent preachers, have attended to the work of God, and God has eminently blessed them; they having had an accession to the society, since the last Conference (those on trial included), of 200 members. The prospects of Methodism in that circuit were never so cheering as at present. The beautiful new chapel in the town is crowded with attentive hearers ; two chapels in other parts of that circuit have been recently opened, and the friends are about enlarging two others. At such indications of prosperity of the very best kind, we are not surprised; nor do we regret to learn that this insignificant confederacy has sickened, and GIVEN UP THE GHOST!

“ In our own quagmire 'tis provoking,
That folks should think to stop our croaking;
Sons of the swamp, with lungs of leather,
Now is our time to screech together !”-ARISTOPH.

« PreviousContinue »