Page images
PDF
EPUB

already brought in by the Leaders, we believe that upward of two thousands were truly converted to God in the course of a fortnight. May the Lord preserve them even unto the end! After reading this, you will gladly unite with me in saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who only doeth wonderous things; and blessed be his glorious name for ever; and let the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen, and amen."

"The most blessed effects have resulted from this work. The teachers are of one heart and soul : the people love as brethren: many of the most stout-hearted have fallen subdued before the cross of Christ. The polygamists have cast away their sins, and are truly penitent before God. On many of the islands every individual is meeting in class. We have service every evening: the chapel is well filled. The distress of the people has subsided; for most of them are blessed with sacred peace."

Thus it appears, that God is reviving and extending his work, in the midst of the evils of the times. There is an under current of divine and heavenly influence flowing through the Connexion, and our hope is, that-as in nature when the atmosphere has been cleared by the storm, all things appear in increased freshness and beauty so in the church, when the tempest is stilled, the fertility of summer will appear, and God be glorified in the abundance of spiritual blessings conferred by his grace.

THE SEPTEMBER QUARTERLY MEETINGS.

After a year of unexampled agitation and trial, and the determination of the Conference to enter into no compromise with the Association, as well as on account of the explanations and regulations entered into, the friends of Methodism naturally looked forward to the September Quarterly Meetings with some anxiety. Those meetings are now over, and it is peculiarly satisfactory, that while the principal circuits have expressed their entire and hearty concurrence in the views and legislation of the Conference; only one, has expressed a negative opinion. This fact is illustrative of many very important principles.

. 1.-It demonstrates the entire confidence of the great body of the officers and members of the Connexion, in the constitution and integrity, of the Conference itself. Incessant efforts had been employed, in every way, during the year, to shake the reliance of the people in that body. It had been represented as anti-christian and popish; as resting on no scriptural title; as having exceeded and transgressed the power confided to it by the Poll Deed; as being entirely irresponsible; as “lording it over God's heritage” in a most tyrannical manner; as being venal and corrupt in character; as giving its willing acquiescence to the designs of a dominant faction; and as altogether opposed to the genius of English law and personal freedom. Notwithstanding all this—and they are topics calculated to make a deep impression on the sensitive minds of British Christians the effect has been extremely slight; and it is evident, that undiminished confidence is still exercised in the great body of preachers. Indeed, the people in general have the sense to perceive that the Conference can have no interest in indulging in the vagaries of a mal-administration; but, on the other hand, have a personal advantage in the maintainance of such a state of things as shall comport with truth, on the one hand, and produce satisfaction and comfort, on the other, They have, indeed, clearly seen that the question at issue was not, whether, in certain giyen cases, the preachers had been guilty of error, or of malversation, but whether the pastoral governinent of the Societies should pass from them into the hands of the demagogues of the Connexion? The transactions of the Quarterly Meetings are the reply to that question, and inform all parties concerned, that they prefer the present reyime to the one tendered to their acceptance.

2.-The general satisfaction of the Connexion with the legislation itself is proved, by these transactions. We never ranked amongst those who are represented by the agitators as holding that the Wesleyan system is infallible; and, consequently, incapable of improvement; and in this, we believe, we express the sentiments of the great body of preachers, and members too. But, whilst we make this statement, we hold, and have always held, that, in its great and capital principles and land marks, it is scriptural and useful both. The changes proposed by the Association are organic and fundamental. Against this, the Conference took its stand; and their legislation rested on the avowed principle of preserving the foundations of the Connexion entire, and amplifying the compartments of the building, according to the apparent necessity of the case. It is clear enough, that a change of circumstances, brought about by the lapse of ages, the progress of events, and the growth of the Body, may call for an enlargement of the social system, and the application of the provisions of the constitution to new circumstances. This is not the scheme of the revolutionists—but destruction. They propose that the foundations of the edifice shall be removed, as well as the external fabric. Next to the infinite hazard of such an experiment, it also rests on the assumption that we have hitherto been wrong in our principles. That this was the case with Mr. Wesley himself, and that the great Methodist machine has been wrought on a false principle. Now, the Conference was not prepared to say, in effect, that Wesley, Benson, Clarke, and all the noble spirits of ancient days, misunderstoud the very fun. damentals of Christian polity, and that it was left to John Gordon, David Rowland, and Dr. Warren only, to dig deep enough into the mines of truth to find a solid foundation. We are truly thankful to believe, and know, that our beloved friends in general fully acquiesce in this feeling, and have shown that they approve of the ground taken, and also of the improvements themselves. As usual, all that was done, has been attributed by the agitators, to a sordid motive; and also, to a wish to rivet the chains of despotism more tightly on the people. In the opinion of these gentlemen, Methodist preachers can have neither understanding, conscience, nor benevolence. All flows from a corrupt fountain, and is consequently tainted. It must be mortifying to them to perceive that the great body of officers and people in every part of the nation, repudiate this feeling, and either openly or tacitly receive the regulations as real im. provements, calculated to lead to content and satisfaction on the points needing atten. tion and correction.

3. -A testimony is also borne by the satisfaction of the Quarterly Meetings, to the general excellency of our discipline. It is the height of folly to suppose that so large a body of people, as compose the Wesleyan Societies, would quietly submit to a system which they felt to be calling and oppressive. Indeed, it is a perfect insult on their common sense, to be told that they are bowing their necks beneath a galling yoke of spiritual despotism. Have they not sense enough to know what they enjoy and what they suffer? Are they such idiots as to exist in a prison-house, to be enclosed by dungeon walls, and made secure in darkness, by bars and bolts, and yet be totally ignorant of the fact ? Is it necessary that the torch of discord and agitation should be carried by the hand of the incendiary, to throw its lurid gleam on their darkness ? The people have replied for themselves to these interrogatories, and proved, beyond question, that they are not conscious of any such misery and bondage, as the dreams of the anarchists lead them to believe, that they themselves endure, and, by their vociferations, would teach the whole Methodist community to imagine that they also suffer. Surely a large body of people would never live in a state of degrading misery if they could avoid it. All our people have the means of escape, and yet the vast majority choose to remain; and now, on the trial, in effect, express their approval of the whole Wesleyan economy.

4.-The loyal deyotedness of the Quarterly Meetings and of the Connexion, shows very clearly that the great majority of the people have no sympathy with the agitation. The few disturbances which have taken place since August, is no proof to the contrary. It was well enough known, at that period, and, indeed, long before, that, at these se. veral places, there must be a disruption. When it is discovered that latent fires are pent up beneath the earth, it requires no great sagacity to forsee that there must be a volcanic irruption. Who, that knew any thing of the state of things at Whitehaven and Rochdale, could entertain any doubt whether there would be a separation ? But the opening of the crater at these places, and the issuing of smoke, cinders, fire, and lava, around, is no more evidence that the entire Wesleyan Body is on fire, than the flames of Vesuvius or Etna is proof that the whole interior of the globe is fire, and will one day break out and consume the world. No; if the material of the body had been combustible, it would have ignited long ago. We have an undoubted right to assume, that the great community composing the Societies, have no feeling in common with the agitators. Have they responded to the cukoo-note to “stop the supplies ?

Let the contributions to the funds, furnish the reply.' Have they answered the call to hate, degrade, and combine against the preachers ? Let their increasing kindness and innumerable expressions of affection and confidence, answer the inquiry. Have they sprang from their sleep at the music of the enchanter, as Saul did to the divinations of the Witch of Endor, to dethrone the Conference and place the Association in the vacant seat ? Let the expressions of devoted attachment to the old and well-tried Wesleyan economy on which they have long reposed in peace, furnish the answer.

5.-But, above all, the noble conduct of the Connexion, and, especially, the great body of officers at this crisis, is evidence of a sound and stable piety. It is one of the features of true religion, not “to be tossed to and fro with divers and strange doctripes, and the cunning craftiness of men whereby they lie in wait to deceive.Surely the great majority of the Members of the Wesleyan Society have been in the schonl of Christ long enough to know whether they are, “ following a cunningly devised fable," or whether they have been taught “ the truth as it is in Jesus." Fickleness in religion, is always a sign either of a weak head or an unrenewed heart. Neither has been manifested by the vast majority of the people. They had examined the question of religion for themselves, long before these new lights rose to instruct them; they had been led to Christ and salvation, by the ministry so much maligned; so that when their confidence was attempted, the appeal was made against their own experience; they had enjoyed delightfully the means and communion of the Wesleyan system, to their comfort and edification ; so that when it was sought to allure them into the wilderness, they could appeal to times, seasons, and places, when, in connexion with these people, they had met the Lord, and banqueted on the riches of his grace; and they had long, by prayers, zealous exertions, and costly sacrifices, laboured to extend the Connexion; so that when they were required to pull it down, it happened that they were expected to despoil and demolish that which they and their fathers had long been labouring to build up. They were prepared for this assault--they have taken their stand on experimental truth, and in a spirit of devoted piety, resisted the temptations both of craft and passion.

HINDE-STREET QUARTERLY MEETING.

(From The Watchman.) We have received the following letter from Mr. Peter KRUSE, of Chelsea, and agree with him in the propriety of its publication, which would have taken place last week but for an accident. TO THE SECRETARY OF THE QUARTERLY MEETING OF THE SIXTH LONDON CIRCUIT.

Dear Sir-Not being pleased with the spirit and demeanour of our Quarterly Meeting held at Hinde-street chapel, on Wednesday last, and being in some degree pained at the absence of the cordiality which ought to have prevailed, I am desirous of informing you, that if we look round, a better spicit and example may be discovered even at our own door. Last Thursday, I attended a meeting held at Great Queen-street chapel, being anxious to see how others thought and felt on subjects connected with the general welfare of Methodism.

Never have I paid a more agreeable visit. The proceedings at that meeting were conducted with great spirituality and profit. Though several matters were discussed with the amplest freedom, the frankness and candour of disposition shown by all, were truly honourable, and, as might be expected, led to a satisfactory and agreeable termination. I refer most particularly to the judicious, convincing, and friendly manner by which the meeting was addressed, as occasion required, by the chairman, the Rev Mr. Waterhouse; and by the other excellent preachers present, the Rev. Messrs. Cubitt and Beal, and our long tried friend, Rev. W. Jenkins.

I must here be permitted to say, that the sum total of what I heard at this meeting amounted to a noble and complete defence of the impartial and well intended conduct of the late Sheffield Conference towards the flock comprising the Methodist Societies. That I went to the Queen-street Quarterly Meeting with some small dissatisfaction on my mind, I am free to acknowledge; and I must now state with equal freedom, that every feeling of that sort was removed. I esteem the preachers very highly for their works sake, and for the benefit I have derived from their ministrations. I have always, acted, so far as I am able to judge, without submitting my understanding to the influence of The event is likewise given in the Lantern as a demonstration of the triumphant progress of Association principles. It is placed before the readers of that godly periodi. cal, as "a glorious victory," which ought to call forth bursts of joy from all the soldiers of radicalism. To produce this encouraging effect, it was necessary not to enter into any particulars. I shall, therefore, Mr. Editor, supply this omission. Your readers will judge the chapel to be of no great magnitude, when I inform them that the Society contained only ten members. And even these have not all continued with Mr. Burgess. Some of them are determined to hold no fellowship with the Association. A new Society is formed; and more of the inhabitants wish to hear the gospel from Methodist preachers, than the house in which divine worship is conducted will accommodate. Tokens for good have been already vouchsafed, and a revival of the work of God is confidently expected.

The Lantern's correspondent also mentions the Rev. Mr. C. Dixon's visit to Norley. He exults that Mr. Dixon had “the mortification” to preach to a very small congregation in the chapel, and to find the people who have joined the Association fixed in their principles. This writer, however, found it expedient to pass over the same minister's visit to a neighbouring village, called Kingsley, where a re-action has taken place. It was not to be expected that he would tell the melancholy tale in the Lantern, that nearly the whole of a numerous Society have been surfeited with agitation and Associationism, and have, consequently, returned to their old and best friends.

There is one thing, Mr. Editor, asserted at the close of the Frodsham epistle on which I have animadverted, that rather pleases me. At the quarterly meeting of the Association held in Northwich, it was unanimously agreed is that they should lend their influence and example to promote the cause of temperance." I know many pious souls in Frodsham and its vicinity that will say, Amen.-Yours affectionately,

.

N. N. E. !

[ocr errors][merged small]

We have again to thank our Prescot friend; his communication not only pleases us, but will interest our readers :-“A more than usual interest is excited in the various means of grace; and, if we may judge by the number, and the spirit manifested by our congregations, 'Ichabod' is not yet written upon our ruins."

“Misfortune gives a man strange bedfellows." In a town not ten miles from Liverpool, objections were made by certain individuals to the services of two or three local preachers, who were in the habit of occasionally visiting their chapel. It appears, however, that these objectors have had fresh light and knowledge thrown not only upon themselves, but also on their once despised friends; for we find the objectors first and foremost in heading an opposition against Wesleyan Methodism in the town, and then inviting, receiv ng, and entertaining these said objected men--to preach for them !-aye, and on two successive Sabbaths too!! So much for the consistency of the “Grand Central!"

Communications have been received from N. N. E.-Y. Z.—Epsilon-Urbane-Sylvia-Principius.'

We have also seen a “third epistle" from Ignatius, which was thrust under the door of our publisher. We advise him-poor simple fellow !-not to intermeddle with such subjects as he attempts to treat upon; his element is near the dock side.

Printed and Published by R. DICKINSON, 67, Pool-lane, Liverpool, to whom all communications (post

paid) to the editor, are to be addressed; Sold also by J. MASON, 14, City-road, J. HUTTON, 16, City road, and WHITTAKER and Co., Ave Maria-lane, London, Love and BARTON, Manchester; SPINK and CULLINGWORTH, Leeds ; DEARDEN, Nottingham; ATKINSON, Bradford ; SAXTON and CHALONER, Sheffield; the CHRONICLE Office, Chester ; PEART, Birmingham; OGLE, Bolton ; WILSON, Whitehaven; JEFFERSON, Carlisle; DICKINSON, Workington; and may be obtained, by means of the Methodist Preachers, or respectable Booksellers, in any part of Great Britain and Ireland.

ILLUMINATOR;

DESIGNED TO EXHIBIT THE TRUE PRINCIPLES OF THE WESLEYAN CONSTITUTION;

TO VINDICATE THE CHARACTER OF ITS AUTHORITIES; TO GUARD THE MEMBERS AGAINST THE ATTEMPTS MADE TO SEDUCE THEM FROM THE SOCIETY ; AND EXPOSE THE SPIRIT AND OBJECTS OF THE SO CALLED “ GRAND CENTRAL ASSOCIATION.

TO BE PUBLISHED EVERY FORTNIGHT.

No. 20.

LIVERPOOL, NOV. 4, 1835.

Price 2d.

THE PROSPECTS OF METHODISM.—No. 1.

THE MINISTRY.

In forming an opinion of the probable destinies of Methodism, it seems natural to begin with the class of men who are most fully engaged in working the system. All history informs us how intimately the state of religion in any branch of the church, and the character, piety, and attainments of its pastorate, are connected. This is not surprising; for the experimental and effective enunciation of the doctrines of the gospel from the pulpit, must depend very much on the spiritual maturity of those who teach them. There is a state of mind which cannot reflect the saving truths of religion: they fall like the rays of the sun on the eyes of the blind; and if ministers do not perceive, themselves, the importance, adaptation, and urgent necessity of the separate doctrines of Christianity to the state of ignorant and unregenerate man, they cannot announce them to others.-Besides this, in an irreligious ministry, there can be no sympathy with the great objects of the gospel, but rather a feeling of repugnance towards them. The cries of penitence, the anxious inquiries and sorrows of persons seeking God—the assurance, peace, and joys of a state of libertythe new character, tastes, and pursuits of the truly converted—the selfdenial, spirituality, and zeal of men living in the love of God—and the scrupulous desire to keep a good conscience, and to attain a state of holiness, would, even if found, be a great annoyance to ministers destitute of religion; and, instead of encouraging and promoting this order of things, they would invariably discountenance every such indication, and stigmatize this work of God as fanaticism. But a stronger reason than this exists, for the want of success in the case of an unconverted and unevangelical ministry; it is, such men are not sent of God, and consequently cannot be employed as the ministers of his grace. As God is the fountain and author of experimental religion, and ministers are the messengers of his mercy and love, it follows, that their commission must be received from him, and the amount of good communicated, will depend, not on their own abilities, but on the divine influence resting on them, and transmitted through their ministry.

« PreviousContinue »