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the anniversary of the Branch Wesleyan Missionary Society for the Warrington circuit! Were we not too well acquainted with the anti-missionary operations of this clique of intruders into Warrington, we might have concluded their message was peace; that their object in visiting this town was to allay the spirit of political strife, which had, unhappily, infected the inhabitants of every grade, by inculcating soine hallowing and beneficial truth; that they were desirous of trimming and causing the Wesleyan lamp to shine forth with a sevenfold lustre; and that they were contemplating successfully to arouse the energies of the public in aid of the noble cause of Christian missions ! But no-one of the performers in this disgraceful scene, was Mr. Greenhalgh, who had actually published a pamphlet calling upon all the friends of missions to withhold their subscriptions ! and this whole company have, both from the platform and the press, again and again, publicly declared their determination to follow the plan proposed by Greenhalgh, and now they earnestly exhort others to follow their example. With what took place in the private meeting, anterior to the public one, we have no desire to become acquainted; the results of the latter are before us, and we are convinced that every unprejudiced individual will easily discover the intention of this motley group of wandering orators in visiting Warrington. The bare-faced efforts which they have made to produce a schism in the peaceful society there; and their scandalous attempts to prejudice the minds of the public against the Wesleyan Missionary Society, were such, as brought upon them the just execration of all the well-disposed and peaceable inhabitants of that town; a glorious re-action took place, crowds rallied round the Missionary banner, the services connected with the anniversary were well supported by large and attentive congregations, and the collection was the greatest which that branch society has witnessed for many years !!
We were much amused with the ruse employed by these agitators to draw a congregation to listen to their vagaries. Three handbills were circulated as existing circumstances appeared to demand ; in one of which we found the following announcement:-" The members of the Methodist Society in Warrington appear to be in the dark (!) with respect to the Association; they are earnestly though respectfully invited to attend and hear the truth stated.” It was certainly very kind in these good-natured souls, to feel some degree of pity in behalf of the benighted members of the society in Warrington, a sympathy which our readers will doubtless imagine, was duly appreciated and suitably valued; we are warranted, however, in saying, that it was not. The Methodists there, are too well acquainted with “ what's what," than to be drawn aside from the path of peace and unity by such a group of speculatists, as on this occasion exhibited themselves in that place; including the valiant chairman of the Liverpool Association, our worthy host of the White Lion, Dale-street, Liverpool ; the celebrated anti-missionary hero, yclept Captain Barlow, of Bridgewater-street chapel notoriety; a gentleman who was very pompously introduced on the platform, as an editor of that very celebrated and veracious publication, ominously enough styled the Lantern, with a few others, whose names are too insignificant to be mentioned. The proportionate number of Methodists who attended, was as one to sir, in a congregation confessedly of not more than five hundred; the veracious Lantern gravely informs us of a congregation of eight hundred ; if the gentleman who was introduced as an editor that evening, were the writer of the article concerning the meeting at Warrington, which appeared pp. 203, 204, in that publication, we put the question to him, and ask-is the chapel capable of accommodating four hundred adult persons ? We believe it is not ! Fivesixths of the audience were composed of a strange and unnatural assemblage of the most hostile parties to religion, united in sentiment and effort to hate and destroy Wesleyan Methodism.
We will now to business. A person of the name of Rylands was called to the chair. Of this gentleman we know little more, than that he is very desirous of being an instrument in effecting the dissolution of the union between church and state, and no friend whatever to constitutional Wesleyanism; of which we should judge he knows but little, from the remarks with which he opened the business of the meeting; and, quickly arriving at the end of his chapter, he called upon an old acquaintance of ours, the publican in Dale.street, who very modestly informed the meeting the length of time he had been a member of the Methodist society; the offices which he had filled ; that Methodism had cost him annually a sum of £50; and that he had nothing very particular to complain of! A very seasonable and propera question was proposed to him by the Rev. John Straw, whether or not he had, in " the case without a parallel,” voted his superintendent out of the chair at the leaders' meeting. This question was plain, simple, and very easy of being understood, and also of response. However, this gentleman, “singularly fitted for great actions," as all who know him will acknowledge him to be, answered—“ Who are you, sir? I have made many a better man than you tremble,
highly unbecoming a great action). We are immEASUREABLY the superiors of the Conference men! (of course, for “no honest or upright man can remain connected with them !”). We have broken no law of Methodism-and none of Christianity.” The orator, peaceful soul! certainly forgot the challenge!! Little as we may be supposed to know of the circumstances which led to the expulsion of these reformers from the Methodist society, we have gathered more than enough from their own “sayings and doings,” to convince us, that the Wesleyan ministers of Manchester and Liverpool, would have been guilty of gross inattention to the interests of pure religion and undefiled, had they allowed these agitators to have remained in church fellowship with them.
A few hands were held up in favour of some resolutions which were proposed, viz.—thanks to the minister of the chapel (query, who is he ?) to the trustees and the liberal and impartial chairman! and also to form a Branch Association. The results of this meeting on the Methodist society at Warrington, are highly favourable to Methodism as it is '; and the spirit which these orators displayed, together with the objects which they contemplated, have led the followers of Wesley there, to rally round the old standard, with increased zeal and firmness, on which they have inscribed, in characters sufficiently large and distinct to be read by every beholder,
" Nolumus leges et religionem-mutari."
THE MANCHESTER DELEGATES, AND THE CONVICTS IN NEW
The following account of some of the principal delegates, has been kindly furnished by the gentlemen themselves. Dr. Warren said, “he had been tried, cast, and condemned, and, according to the import of the word suspended, he had been hanged also.” Mr. Sigston “ stated farther, that Mr. Mallinson and himself were tried for contumacy and factious conduct- they were expelled from the society.”“Mr. Rowland then alluded to his own expulsion.” Mr. Matthew Johnson said, the preacher, “had refused to him his society ticket, and so he was expelled.”—Mr. John Gordon “ gave a detailed account of his, and Mr. Slocomb's expulsion.”-Mr. Wallace said, “he had himself been expelled from the body, after being nurtured in it for twenty years, and that the members of the Association were, many of them, in similar circumstances.”
Tyrannical as the principles we advocate are said to be, we wish every man to be as free as his own thoughts. Let him be a Methodist or not, just as he thinks most conducive to his “soul's health.” He should be at perfect liberty to renounce Methodism the moment it is felt to be a disadvantage. Only, we think, so long as he chooses to continue in society, he should cheerfully submit to its regulations, and “not mend our rules, but keep them for conscience' sake. "If this be bondage, preachers and people should all be in bondage together. We should take this yoke upon us, not because John Wesley, or the Conference, have any “ dominion over our faith,” but because, by voluntarily submitting to these rules, we can advantageously unite in saving our own souls, and spreading true religion throughout the world. If any number of men think they can make better rules, and find out “a more excellent way,” by all means let them do so; and if they find it out that the preachers and their friends are as bad as the Scribes and Pharisees, treat them accordingly, that is, as the Master says, “let them alone.”
Agreeably to these views, had these delegates chosen to assemble, and to legislate for themselves, we should not have interfered with their Christian liberty; but they intend to take the new code of laws to Sheffield, and, if possible, force them upon the whole connexion, and this, we think, is quite another, and rather an amusing thing.
The influence of the Lord Chancellor's decision upon certain questions and parties in Methodism has already been pointed out in the Illuminator ; and the meeting of delegates has a direct and powerful bearing in the case of a particular, and somewhat numerous class of persons, in New South Wales. The idea of similarity of circumstances, for instance, is irresistible: one of the parties having been “expelled” from religious, the other from civil society. It is true the delegates declare that their expulsion is “quite illegal,” and such observations, we doubt not, are made in Sydney, as well as in Manchester, while the perfect legality of Dr. Warren's suspension has been affirmed by the highest authority.
There are, moreover, several hints and suggestions thrown out by this great meeting, which can scarcely fail to be understood in that distant part of the world. How emphatically, for instance, does it teach the necessity of caution! While “expelled” persons loudly proclaim their innocence, they should take particular care to say nothing about an “appeal,” and make no motion for a new trial. The first is a vulgar and often a successful method of impressing the ignorant and unwary in favour of the guilty ; but the latter may poggibly prove a serious and expensive thing. Some time ago Dr. Warren raised the cry of “illegality,” and nothing would satisfy him but an “appeal” to Cæsar. But, alas ! Cæsar has proved himself to be as bad as the Conference; for, instead of removing the dear Doctor's suspension, he has saddled him with the costs of the law-suit, and thereby hung “a millstone” about his neck, and sent him "through the length and breadth of the land,” to solicit the hand of charity to to take it off. It will be strange, if all persons similarly circumstanced do not hence perceive, that although the cry of “ innocence” may be kept up; yet that of “a new trial ” might as well be dropped, as it would probably end in a renewed conviction, and an “affirmed” sentence.
Yet this caution is connected with no small share of encouragement, for if the proceedings of the “delegates" are founded in wisdom and truth, then it is possible for the “convicts," not merely to emerge from their present degradation, but to rise to respectability, nay to honour and distinction, and even to transmit their names to posterity as the benefactors of their kind.
If-any person ask, how can this be ?--we answer, by the very same means which the Association are now employing for the purpose of securing the objects they have in view. They can scarcely fail to take the hint about the “omnipotent” press; and how it may be employed for the purpose of ruining the character of the government which expelled them, by bringing all its laws and functionaries into utter contempt. A periodical filled with doleful accounts, from week to week, of their own “trials,” and detailing, not the evidence, but the sentence-not their crimes, but their sufferingswould, perhaps, do something towards convincing the world that the administrators of law are cruel tyrants, and that it is the “worst species of persecution ” to expel such people as themselves from the land in which they had been “nurtured twenty years." Having given to their new publication the old title, they will feel quite confident of final and complete success ; for that which has so often stricken terror into their own hearts will seem, most likely, to frighten all the world beside, and having so often run away at the approach of the “ Watchman's Lantern,” they will naturally conclude that no man can stand before it.
Such a publication too would be an excellent mode of enlightening the mother country; for all who do not take part with the expeiled citizens against the civil authorities, it is presumed, are yet “in the dark.” It is true, there is a seeming incongruity in those persons undertaking to give good advice who have been sent to Botany-bay for neglecting it. But this difficulty may be got over. The Dudlev “delegate” is at present the great instructer of the Methodist connexion, and has inundated the land with what he calls argument. Yet, it is certain, no convict ever paid less attention to good advice than a gin-seller does to “argument.” A host of philosophers and philan thropists have demonstrated, ten thousand times over, that the indiscriminate retailers of ardent spirits “murder his majesty's subjects, and drive them to hell like sheep.” But what do the “squires” in gin-palaces care for that? Having no need at all of any argument for their own conviction, they have the more to spare for other people; and on this principle, none so likely to give good advice, and set the nation right, as the people in New South Wales.
And why should not these convicts at once erect themselves into a parliament, as the delegates have “made themselves" into a Conference ? It may, indeed, admit of a a question, whether those who have so notoriously broken old laws are the most proper persons to make new ones. But then there never was a more flagrant outrage upon all Methodistic rule, than the so-called “Grard Central Association;" yet the projectors of this monstrosity are the very men who now come forward to give a new code of laws to the connexion. If any difficulty should arise from the consideration of an unauthorised few undertaking to give laws to many, let them remember, that, according to the Lantern, eighty-five delegates many of them not even members of society-have felt themselves quite competent to give the plan of “lay delegation ” to the thousands of our Israel; and the thing is already in such a state of forwardness, that it only awaits the formality of a Conference sanction, which, we are told, is sure to be given, as the preachers are to be frightened out of their wits by agitation. Why, then, may not a few ship loads of men in another hemisphere, at once, give a new constitution to the British empire ? In a word, if men in desperate circumstances are to be relieved by a coup de main, they must uot be squcamish and bashful; for as there is but a step between the sublime and the ridiculous, so there is a close connexion between inatchless impudence, and being “singularly fitted for great actions."
In framing the new code, of course, the Botany-bay legislators will keep in view the pole star of the “delegates." They never lost sight of themselves and their own particular “case.” In Leeds, for instance, a few years ago, a majority of the leaders were accomplices in a daring violation of law; so that, either the law must be superseded, and Methodism changed, or the minority must try the majority. To meet this “critical case," the constitution had provided a special district meeting, armed with power, not to set aside, but to execute the discipline of the connexion. The consequence was, that this daring majority was obliged to subinit to the law, just like a single and obscure individual. These parties having been reached once, are determined never to be reached again; so they propose that special district meetings be done away the local meetings rendered independent—and that the decision of a majority be final, even when that majority happens to be combined for the avowed purpose of breaking the law! Again; a few leaders connected with Leeds-street chapel, Liverpool, have been expelled for lawless and destructive agitation; but a far greater number have excluded themselves, by assuming powers not their own, and voting the preacher out of the chair, and another man into his place. With all this fresh in their recollection, the delegates now naturally propose, that henceforth agitation and expelling preachers are to be no crimes. Agitators are to call all sorts of meetings, at all times, and discuss and decide all sorts of subjects, and the preacher may sit in the chair until he happen to displease his masters, and then be sent about his business! Surely, in such proceedings as these, the “expelled ” people in New South Wales may behold the high road to respectability and honour. A meeting can easily be called in some central place. Should any gentleman recollect that he was once surrounded by a faithful band of accomplices, who vowed to defend him to the last, but that a foreigner, called a constable, sent by a distant bench of magistrates, came, notwithstanding, and arrested him, according to law, he could state his case most pathetically; and the assembly could then decree, that such tyranny is intolerable, and that henceforth, in all cases, the opinion of a majority of accomplices shall be decisive. Any gentlemen who happened to have been expelled for shop lifting or picking pockets, might also detail the cruel hardships experienced by themselves; when the indignant assembly would probably decree, in a voice of thunder, that the laws making such things offences be rescinded, and that they be considered crimes no more.
The effects of this legislative legerdemain would be splendid beyond conception. Every man, as if touched with the wand of a magician, would become a respectable character in a moment. For every man is respectable whose conduct is according to law; and if he find it inconvenient or difficult to change his conduct, so as to make it agree with the law, provided he changeil the law, so as to make it agree with his conduct, who shall deny his respectability? By this means, too, an elevation would be attained far beyond that of mere respectability. Lycurgus, Justinian, Alfred, and others have attained immortal renown by legislating for mankind. And would it not be a fine thing, for a band of convicts to give laws to this great country? Or, for a handful of lawless and expelled demagogues to become the regenerators of Methodism? Well may the Catechism say, “some men are singularly fitted for great actions.”
These reflections give rise to others, which it is not necessary to pursue. It might be asked, for instance, how far the British parliament and the British public would be likely to receive such a code of laws, coming from such a quarter? How they would work for the country, provided they were once to receive the stamp of authority ? We might also ask how far the “ delegates," who are at present so evidently above all law, would be likely to submit to the new enactments ? What sort of a thing Methodism would be, if these wonderful recommendations were once to become law! What reli. gion or common sense there would be, by restoring the malcontents to their former places—to re-unite the two parties, with their present views and feelings, and thus to revive a domestic quarrel which, having existed for years, to the disgrace of Methodism, has now ended-as in that case it would assuredly end again-in a separation ! It might also be asked, how far the approaching Conference dareyes, we say, “ dare,”make a bargain with Sigston, Warren, and Co., on the proposed terms of lay delegation ? Sisisson, of Hall, indeed, is for throwing the Poli Deed “overboard, as was done with a famous matrimonial engagement; but then, it happens to be in the custody of the Lord Chancellor. Our opponents have now shewn us the way to the Court of Chancery, and having been once, and fared well, we perhaps may be inclined, if necessary, to go again. Dr. Warren, however, has invented a notable scheme, by which he thinks to bring in lay delegation, and cheat the Lord Chancellor. But, although a