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right bas been assumed, in these places, to legislate ; and in that capacity, inde. pendently to dispose of that which is only held in trust. In most of the Chapel Deeds, as the Conference is an interested party, their representative, the superintendent, has always the right to be present at meetings of business. However, it seems, in some recent cases, the Trustees virtually expelled the superintendent, by purposely holding meetings in his absence, and then proceeding to legislate and dispose of their trust estate, not only without his concurrence, but in express violation of the law of the case. How stands this part of the question with honourable feeling, and upright and honest dealing ?Let us try it in another instance. Suppose some rural village bad, by great exertions, raised sufficient funds for the erection of a school for the instruction of the children of the parish, on the principles of the national faith; and, to secure this point, were to select a dozen of their most reputable neighbours, as Trustees of the institution. In order to carry the design fully into effect, it is provided, that the catechisms of the church shall be used-her liturgy adopted—the parish minister attend all meetings of the Trustees—and if any of these conditions be neglected or violated, the proceeding shall be null and void, or be considered as an offence against the law. But a popish agitator, suppose O'Connell, in one of his tours through the nation, pays them a visit-shakes their confidence in the protestant faitt-and, thinking the faithful parish minister might perchance stand in their way, the Trustees of the school secretly meet, and resolve that it shall be turned into a popish agitation room--that the formularies of protestantism shall be destroyed the poor parson dismissed from his office and the children either sent home about their business, or converted into little papists, and handed over to the keeping of the priest; who does not see that all this would be a gross and palpable fraud ? Where is the difference betwixt this, and the Rochdale case ? Is it a question now, whether the Association is anti-methodistic? Is it doubted, whether the designs and purposes of the agitators are intended to injure, and, indeed, totally to destroy and overthrow the Wesleyan Connexion ? Surely, at this stage of their proceedings, no men of sound mind can doubt the drift and scope of the projected revolution now going on. Yet, in the face of a thousand facts, in proof of the hostile designs of the agitators, the Rochdale Trustees attempt to establish the domination of the Association on the trust premises of which they are the guardians. They do this first, by excluding Mr. Sumner from their meeting. Had they any right to act thus ? We have not seen the Deed, but we presume it made provision for his attendance; and on this presumption we write. This conduct was not only unfair and discourteous, but it was a palpable and positive fraud ; inasmuch, as it went to deprive one of the parties of a right, secured to him by law, and a right of the most valuable, serious, and important kind. Suppose the transaction had been the other way, and Mr. Sumner had been instructed by the Conference to act independently of the Trustees—to foist upon them some new doctrine-introduce the liturgy—and take upon himself the entire management of the trust estate, would they not instantly cry out against the injustice and tyranny of his conduct, consider their just rights invaded, and seek redress in a court of law ? Most assuredly they would do so, and incur the charge of despicable meanness and folly, if they did not so act.
But they not only commit a fraud, by the exclusion of the Superintendent from his lawful place in the meetings, but in his absence, they assume the rights of independent legislation, and resolve that the premises shall be appropriated to purposes not at all provided for in the settlement of the building. We have full proof of this in the fact, that the Vice-Chancellor issued his injunction to restrain them from their purpose. Here, then, we have another breach of trust, and consequent injustice. Are these gentlemen persons of competent judgment and sagacity to manage their own private affairs, and understand the nature of the compacts they enter into in the course of their deal. ings in trade and commerce? We believe they are; they have the reputation of being somewhat sagacious, shrewd, and strong-minded men. Did they possess and peruse the Chapel Deed? We are assured they did. Then, they either knew or did not know, that in their assumed authority in turning the chapel into an arena of strife and agitation, they were transgressing the provisions of their trust. Let them take which alternative they like best. If they plead ignorance, we are ready to admit their plea; but then it shows, that politico-religious fanaticism, party spirit, and prejudice, have blinded their minds. In their own personal affairs, they can act discreetly, comprehend the nature of their engagements and obligations; but, as Methodist Trustees, they are incapable of understanding the plainest principles of justice. But we believe they will not choose this position for themselves. They will tell us that they knew what they were about, and were acquainted with the extent of their powers, and the tendency of all their proceedings. They may have the benefit of this plea if they wish it, and, on its admission, we tell them, they have assumed powers which they knew
did not belong to them, for the purpose of fraudulently alienating the chapel to purposes destructive of the interests of Methodism—which interests, as men of honour and integrity, they were bound to maintain. The principles of justice are immutable; and what such a transaction as this would be considered in any other case, it unquestionably is in this. We believe these gentlemen belong to the liberal school-they hate tyranny-they are in raptures about liberty. Notwithstanding this, they arbitrarily deprive a man of his rights; and, by one most liberal resolution, disfranchise their poor Superintendent, and the parties he represents. They detest and abbor the breach of rule and law in the Conference, and publish to the world that they are determined not to allow what they deem to be a new interpretation of the Rules of Methodism, to be administered amongst them; but they have no hesitation to break the covenants into which they themselves had entered, and solemnly ratified and sealed--a transaction tantamount to an oath. They declaim against chicanery, jesuitism, and doubledealing in their preachers; whilst they themselves are guilty of as clear and palpable a fraud as can be well conceived.
Besides the unjusť ejection of their Superintendent from his place in their meetings, and thus injuring the rights they were bound to respect, they next proceed to pass a resolution, that the chapel they held in trust for Wesleyan Metbodist interests, shall be employed for the purpose of their overthrow and destruction. To further this object, an invitation is addressed to the agitators, a platform is erected, and a public meeting convened. The creed of these parties is before the world, and a thousand overt acts of aggression on the peace, polity, and prosperity of Methodism, stand out, practically to illustrate its nature. The trustees resolve that they shall have the opportunity of essaying their skill in the art of devastation and ruin at Rochdale, and not merely that they shall enjoy their accustomed facilities in the enterprise, in some Kil. hamite or Dissenting place, but that they shall have free ingress into the chapel which was built by the money of Methodists, set apart to perpetuate their worship, and secured to them by law. No doubt, the revolutionary party would feel much obliged for the favour shown them. Trustees have usually treated them in so very different a manner, that it must have elated the mountebank orators to the skies, to think of being allowed to perform their pranks in so elegant and spacious a place. It must have been put down by anticipation in the calandar of reform as a grand gala day. Magistrates with the king's commission, and the insignia of their office-constables and policemen mar, shalled, staff in hand-scouts and patrols planted here and there, to reconnoitre and communicate by telegraph any news from the streets or hills. Something like the battle of the barricades, and the three glorious days, appear to have been calculated upon. And who was the enemy against whom all this amunition is collected, and these pecautions taken ? Who will believe it when we say, the poor, quiet, peaceful, praying Methodists! No; there would have been no fisty-cuff battle. The heroes of Rochdale need not have gone to this cost of warlike genius, skill, and preparation, to put to flight poor brother Suinner and his legion. They, good souls, know nothing about war, except against “the world, the flesh, and the devil.” “The weapons of their warfare are not carnal.” It does, indeed, appear from this affair, that the dissentients have wrought themselves up into fighting trim; like Don Quixote, they have long been contending with wind-mills; they imagined that, at Rochdale, they had come in sight of an enemy of their own specieswhen, lo and behold, it turned out to be a cloud on a mountain, instead of an army of fighting men. No; the Wesleyan Methodists have but to trust in God and the justice of their cause; and, whatever may be the truth in other cases, they are convinced that a religion which must be maintained by battle is not worth maintaining at all. They had only to appeal to the tribunals of justice; and the injunction of his Honour the Vice-Chancellor, as by magic, dispersed the host of heroes then and there assembled to fight the battles of agitation. Magistrates, constables, scouts, orators, and trustees, by this single fiat are at once discomfited ; and, with faces elongated, retire from the place which rests securely on the palladium of British justice, to pour forth their vapid fury in quarters more congenial with their low and grovelling objects.
Yet, it is not so much with the ridiculous, as the venal, that we have to do in this case. The Rochdale trustees know as well as we, that the objects of the Association are diametrically opposed to Methodism, whilst they themselves are bound to maintain its integrity. Then, on what principle, except a dishonest betrayal of their duties, could they introduce the agitators into the precincts of the temple of which they were the guardians, for the well-known and avowed purpose of destroying the interests of Me. thodism. Will these gentlemen have the kindness to tell us, if the Association gained any of the numerous points they have at different times broached, and if they succeeded in palming any one of their chimerical constitutions on the Connexion, that the thing they
established would be Wesleyan Methodism? It would be no more the systein left us by our great founder, than American republicanismo, put in the place of the three estates of these realms, would be the British Constitution. If, in case of war with that coun. try, some jacobin garrison should betray their trust to the enemy, for the purpose of establishing republicanism in the place of English institutions, they would just do in a national point of view, that which these gentlemen have done in Methodism. A war is raging between the old Wesleyan constitutionalists, and an army of spiritual republicans, collected not merely from amongst ourselves, but from all other quarters, and with whatever circumlocution they please to deceive the world—this is the true question at issue, It answers their purpose to accuse the Conference and loyal friends of Methodism with tyranny, breach of rules, and all kinds of crimes and misdemeanours; whereas, if the parties would be honest, they would abandon these regions of slander and falsehood, and take their ground on the broad and manly principle we have adverted to. We abhor all trick and cant. If we are wrong, let that be demonstrated ; and if religious republicanism is scriptural, let that theory be advocated and established. We have often challenged our opponents to the proof of this proposition, but in vain. It is obvious that the Rochdale Trustees hold this sentiment, and sympathise with the ideas of the persons maintaining it. They may do so; but they have no right to betray the citadel entrusted to their care into the enemy's hands. They have attempted to do this, and as certainly as all honest men and true patriots would brand with infamy the traiterous commander who should open the gates of his castle, and admit the enemy of his country; so certainly, will honest men brand them with a traiterous betrayal of true and constitutional Methodism to factions, which are endeavouring to put in its place a sys. tem of low democracy.
Although we mourn over sin and anarchy wherever they may be found, yet we cannot but rejoice that this Rochdale case has been brought to an issue, and under the guidance of leaders who are evidently well fitted to the task. In the Christian church there are worse things than separations. To say nothing of sin, if a part of the Members of Society become incurably hostile to the constitution of Methodism, their continuance in the Connexion can only be as a dead weight to its operations; and, consequently, their withdrawal, though leaving a chasm for the time, must be for its benefit in the end. A state of things has long existed at Rochdale which any one might easily forsee, must at some time break itself up. It was only necessary for the spark to be put to the train, and ignition must take place. Now that the trial, song,forseen, has approached, we are thankful that men have been placed there who have proved themselves fully able to meet it. Nothing could be more judiciously, ably, and skilfully man. aged than the measures taken by the preachers and their legal advisers on this oc. casion. As in the Manchester case, right has gained the victory; and British justice has interposed to protect the violated and outraged privileges of innocent parties. But the authority of the Vice-Chancellor, must have the effect of intimidating any other parties who may be deluded enough to entertain the design of imitating their brethren at Rochdale.
We indeed expect that “railing accusations” will, in abundance, be brought against our brethren and ourselves, on account of this appeal to the law for protection. At his late performance in the Music Hall, Mr. Gordon denounced the inconsistency of the Conference for condemning the appeal of Dr. Warren to a court of justice, and then placing the chapels of Dudley under the same protection. As if there was no difference betwixt appealing to Chancery on a case of ecclesiastical discipline, and the alienation of property. It would, no doubt, suit this gentleman admirably, to put the law in abeyance, whilst he and his party committed an absolute robbery, and appropriated property, to the amount of many thousand pounds, to their own use. No, let them at least be at the trouble and cost of rearing their own system and places of worship, as the Wesleyan body has done; and not steal those of others. The same outcry will be raised respecting this new case; and the wicked preachers will be stigmatized as under the influence of an indomitable and incurable love of power, when they dare to assert and maintain their rights, and the integrity of Methodism. There is an authority, which declares, that “ihe law is made for the lawless ;” and, if parties amongst us prove themselves so devoid of honour, integrity, and religion, as to outrage the plainest principles of justice, it is only proper to place them under its controul. Those who refuse to govern themselves on the precepts of religion, and the well understood rules of conventional law, must be governed by the application of its power to their actions and conduct.
THE SPIRITUAL STATE OF THE WESLEYAN CONNEXION.
Notwithstanding the irony and sarcasm of John Gordon, we cannot rid ourselves of the old-fashioned habit of taking divine providence and grace into our reflections on the progress of events in the world, and especially the church. Indeed we are quite willing to allow that the contentions and divisions now going on in the Connexion, ought to be regarded as chastenings from the Lord, and to induce a state of deep humility, searchings of heart, confessions of sin, and increased devotedness to the quiet and holy interests of true religion. In accordance with these sentiments, every true friend of Methodism must be anxious to ascertain, on good evidence, whether a blessing still rests on the Connexion or not. Judging of the state of things, by one class of publications, a stranger would be led to conclude that the Body was ready to fall to pieces by the process of moral decomposition ; that all signs of vitality had departed, and a state of noxious putridity only appeared to offend the senses of by-standers. We are, however, thankful to perceive signs of life and health; and, although the depletions which have taken place, in various societies, have tended to reduce the corpulency of the Body, we believe its pulse is now regular, natural, and vigorous.
We are thankful to know, on good evidence, that in the most disturbed districts such as Manchester and Liverpool, there are tokens of good. In the former town, the congregations are beginning to increase, and accessions are being made to the Society ; and, in the latter, numerous conversions have taken place at the different meetings. These are encouraging indications. While we have to mourn over the desolations of Zion, and to grieve on account of the loss of so large a number of persons, once living in happy fellowship with the Societies, it is consoling to perceive any proofs of the divine presence, and of the approach of brighter and better days. We trust that these will soon appear. Only let all classes of persons be true to their principles and duties cherish a spirit of fervent prayer-diligently attend the ordinances-recommend religion by their temper and conversation-train their families in the fear of God, and use their utmost exertions to bring sinners to the Saviour, and the work of God will prosper and revive. In existing circumstances, two things are especially necessary-dependence on God, and brotherly affection and union. It would be useful for us to keep the spiritual and religious interests of Methodism constantly in view, and then fully and simply to intrust the matter to God. His protection afforded, and his Spirit poured out, the ark will not only be safe, but the work prosper. Our disputes and divisions began by having the attention diverted from the essential and spiritual glories of the gospel, to subjects of doubtful disputation on church polity; and a return of prosperity must begin at the same point, only in the reverse order. The minor questions must be lost sight of as much as possible; and the higher duties of extending the truth, of supporting the spiritual objects of the gospel, and bringing sinners to God, must be sought. This, diligently attended to, the wilderness will soon blossom as the garden of the Lord.
We have other unequivocal proofs of progress. The erection of chapels, successful anniversaries, and the progress of Christian education, are signs of, at least, an existing, if not a growing and triumphant, work of God. We are quite sure, that if the Association had opened a tabernacle, established its principles in any new place, and succeeded in gaining a numerous attendance and good collections, they would consider these as signs of success. Why may we not have the same indulgence? It is only necessary to consult the Watchman or the Magazine, to find that new chapels are springing up in various parts of the Connexion, old ones are being enlarged, the anniversaries numerously attended and well supported, and Sunday and other schools pivusly patronised and encouraged. It is not for the sake of recording these facts that we now advert to them, but to draw one consolatory inference-that, in the midst of the con fusion of the times, the real work of God is in progress. It is known to those who are read in the history of the church, that external difficulties and spiritual triumphs have often, and, indeed, generally, co-existed. If God has greater work for the Wesleyan Body to accomplish for his glory, he will make the present trials of the Connexion
conducive to the increase of its wisdom, purity, stability, and strength. We look out for indications, and anxiously wait to see whether the roots of the tree are so rotten as to be unable to steady the trunk in the storm, or whether they are striking deeper and deeper in the soil, and sending out a more blooming foliage, and ripe and beautiful fruit. At present, we see nothing to alarm, but many things to encourage us. The facts now adverted to, show that our people have not lost heart; their courage and confidence are not gone ; and, with renewed diligence and devotedness, they are giving themselves to promote the work of God. This is valuable on its own account, but more so as a symptom of trust in God, and the cause they have espoused. Men would not be found in large numbers to lend their influence, their experience, their counsels, and their property, if they had not a persuasion of its being a divine work. The loss of confidence would lead to a loss of courage, and we should see them in consternation, ficeing in every direction, and seeking shelter from the storm by a thousand cowardly expedients. But more than this, we hail the zealous support of the institutions of Methodism as a proof of the continued presence and blessing of God. If some persons choose to attribute the stability and growth of religion to accident and chance, they are welcome to their opinion; but, with St. Paul, we are obliged to believe that “the increase is of God.”
But we find especial marks of prosperity and success in the missionary department. As this part of the work was specially assailed, and the corruption was thought to lie at the very core of this noble institution, it is most grateful to witness a state of prosperity almost unexampled in the annals of the church. We subjoin the following extract from a letter of Mr. Tucker, Missionary, in the Friendly Islands, and published in the last Notices :
4 Two persons were blessed with pardon on Sunday, the 3d of August; but on Saturday, the 9th, the work of God proceeded in a most glorious and wonderful manner. We met the Leaders in the afternoon, and had a kind of class and prayer meeting : the Lord was present of a truth; many were so deeply wrought upon by the Holy Spirit that they wept aloud, and were unable to express their feelings. We adjourned to the chapel. There were from four to five hundred persons present. As soon as the service began, the windows of heaven were opened, and the Spirit was poured out from on high. Men, women, and children were weeping on every side, and praying for mercy in an agony of soul. I never saw or heard of any thing to equal it; the arrows of the Almighty stuck fast in their souls; their cries were piercing; some were weeping aloud, some were smiting on their breasts like the publican, and breathing forth the sinners only plea: “God be merciful to me a sinner." We had plenty of work in going about among the penitents, pointing them to “the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world," and praying with and for them. God was present to heal as well as to wound; many were soon enabled to lay hold by faith on Jesus as their Saviour, and found redemption throngh his blood, even the forgiveness of all their sins. Our opinion is, that not less than one hundred souls experienced the salvation of God that evening. Many remained on their kness throughout the meeting, and it was with difficulty that we persuaded them to separate when it became dark, though we promised to assemble again at daylight in the morning. Many others went home with a heavy heart; they were deeply wounded by the Spirit of conviction, and refused to give sleep to their eyes or slumber to their eyelids; but wrestled, Jacob-like, with the Angel of the Covenant until the day dawned; and, blessed be God! many found him to the joy of their souls. In the morning we repaired to the house of prayer as soon as it was light. Some hundreds were obliged to remain in the chapel-yard. The Lord made the place of his feet glorious: the stouthearted began to tremble; there was a mighty shaking among the dry bones. As soon as the service began, 'the cries of the people began; they were melted into tears on every hand, and many of them cried aloud, by reason of the disquietude of their souls. ( what a solemn, but joyful sight. to behold! One thousand or more individuals bowed before the Lord, weeping at the feet of Jesus, and praying in an agony of soul! I never saw such distress ; never heard such cries for mercy, or such confe sion of sin before; these things were universal, from the greatest Chiefs in the land to the meanest individuals; and of both sexes, old and young. The Lord heard the sighing of the prisoners; he bound up many a broken-hearted sinner in that meeting, and proclaimed liberty to many a captive. We were filled with wonder and gratitude, and lost in praise, on witnessing the Lord making bare his arm so gloriously in the sight of the Heathen. We met again about nine o'clock, and had a similar meeting, hundreds wept aloud, and many trembled from head to foot, as though they were about to be tried at the bar of God. We were engaged nearly the whole day in this blessed work. I attended five services, and witnessed hundreds of precious souls made happy by a sense of the Saviour's love on that day and the preceding evening. There never was such a Sabbath in Haabai before; it was indeed one of the days of the Son of Man. Many will remember it with pleasure throughout eternity, as the day of their adoption into the heavenly family. During the following week the concern of the people was so great, that they laid aside their work. We had service twice every day but one; the chapel was always full. It was a week of Sabbaths, and of much prayer and praise. Not a day or a night passed but several were disburdened of their load of guilt and fea", by believing on Jesus with their hearts unto righteousness. This blessed work was not confined to this island (Lifuka), but spread like fire among stubble, until it had extended over the whole group: before a week had rolled round, every island had caught the flame; the people were earnestly seeking the Lord, or rejoicing because they had found him. Many were greatly surprised and frightened at first; some ran away from the chapel, under the idea that a fearful disease had broken out here (contagious, of course,) and that the people were dying in great numbers. The Lord cut short bis work in righteousness in a most wonderful manner. We have not yet received an account from all the islands of the number who have obtained peace with God during this revival; but, from the hunber