Page images
PDF
EPUB

tual labours of these men before the world in their writinys, but their pious and charitable achieveinents as well. These exist now in means provided for public worshipthe education of the poor-the preaching of the gospel through this nation and the world-and in the establishment of every institution tending to promote the religious and civil happiness of the nation and the world. And who is Dr. Warren, and his buzzing and noisy disciples ?-ihe world will ask, in astonishment. We never heard of him before. The Wesleyan ministers and friends have taken their full share in the great movements going on in the church, but we never heard of his zeal, enterprize, eloquence, and devotedness, till now. They will attribute his present conduct to its right motive; and the agitators may be assured that the public is not so easily gulled as they imagine. It may suit some of the sects to co-operate with them in their cause, for purposes of their own; but as to the principles and the character of the parties themselves, They may make their account to be held in unmixed contempt by every man of honorable feeling in the country.

The long-tried excellencies of the system of Methodism, and the men who have been its ornament and support, will be one of the chief means of its preservation in the storm. It is beyond the possibility of even human mutability of sentiment and attachment, that any but selfish and ambitious men, and their dupes, should prefer the companionship of the agitators, and the chaotic, fruitless, foaming and forinless mass of absurdity which their united genius has, by its first act, produced, to the Wesleyan fellowship and the constitution under which they live. It would indeed be strange if any but men warped by ambitious or party feeling, should be found to repudiate a Connexion which has stood the trials of a hundred years-presents to its disciples the richest and clearest written theology in the world-provides ordinances of the most edifying nature, to nurture their piety—can present a long list of varied and pious example-has done more to spread Christianity through this country and the world than any other Body—and can point to a series and succession of triumphs among heathen nations of the most animating description ; we say, it would be an inexplicable phenomenon in human frailty, if any but interested persons could abandon this Society, for the Association.

But, as the great end of communion with the Wesleyan Body is spiritual and religious, so the principle most to be depended on in the attachment of the people is of the same description. Most of them have been converted to God by its instrumentality.This produces a strong and sacred affection. The change is so important, and is associated with so many interesting feelings and hopes, that the means employed by God in bringing it about, can never be reflected upon but with deep emotion of gratitude anıl love. How should it be otherwise ? Attachment to a church which has been instrumental in leading us to the faith and salvation of the gospel, is a species of piety towards God; because it has been employed by His Spirit to impart the privileges of His grace. When men living in a state of ignorance, guilt, and depravity, have lound God-or rather, have been found of Him-in any particular community; have obtained the remission of sins received the principles of a new nature, in regeneration-been led to enjoy fellowship with God, and to taste all the happiness of reconciliation and assurance; as the state itself is one of the highest possible importance, so it will create feelings (we do not say, of fastidious and passionate, but) of conscientious and well-principled attachment to the divinely-selected instrumentality by which it has been accomplished. This must, in the nature of things, exist to a large extent in our community. Without any extensive patro:.age or countenance from the public -any rich and splendid endowments—any great pretensions to the higher and more ornamental branches of learning and literature-any dazzling, attractive, and meritricious ornaments to captivate the senses-or, any worldly and civil distinctions by which to advance the interests of her disciples, Methodism has chiefly, and indeed, only, had to depend on the truth she taught and the saving effects it produced on the souls of those who embraced it. These effects, for a century, have been most extraordinary. By the force of the truth and the influence of divine grace, the Societies have not only been constantly augmenting, but that which is of more difficult attainment, they have been preserved. The great and only element of this is religion. The voice of God has awakened the tens of thousands now constituting these Societies to a sense of their lost state as sinners! The mercy of God in Jesus Christ has conferred on thein the privileges of justifying grace and adopting love! The power of God, through the Holy Spirit, has created them anew in Christ Jesus! Methodim is a moral creation, in which all the great provisions, principles, and agencies of the kingdom of God are seen in harmonious, but vigorous operation. And as in nature, the plastic power of the Creator's will is essential to preserve the otherwise repulsive bodies in a state of unity; in like manner, the Spirit of God, who is the real author of all experimental religion, in his influences of wisdom, power, and love, is essential to the continuance of a work

of grace amongst a people. This, in the main, has been sccured. The separations arising out of change of sentiment, declensions in experience, conformity to the world, and ambitious, factious, and party designs, have hitherto left the Body in both its compactness and efficiency. We attribute this to the spirit of vital religion which still lives and breathes in the system ; and as long as it remains, a conserving power exists, which will not only repair the wastes and desolations occasioned by the frailty and sin of its professed adherents, but will also increase its strength and multiply its triumphs. There is infinite delicacy in the tastes of a spiritual nature, as there is great accuracy of discernment in a mind retaining the vigour of its faith, and the freshness of its love. To persons in this state, one of two things must be done before they can be led astray. They must be led into a state of sin, and thus have their spiritual faculties benumbed and brutalized ; or, otherwise, they must be rendered discontented, and have the promise of some higher and richer spiritual provision made for their entertainment. How often, in imitation of the old mode of allurement, when some design is intended against the pious and simple-minded, they are told that if they will only eat of the forbidden fruit they shall be as gods." We should like to know whether, in any known instances, a separation from the Wesleyan Societies by those wbo had derived their good amongst them, has led to increased enjoyment, elevated piety, purity of heart, and usefulness of life? We know of many instances of a contrary character ; none of the nature supposed. Those who are now in a state of spiritual health have proof, in that circumstance, that the home they inhabit, the atmosphere they breathe, The food they eat, and the fountain at which they quench their thirst, are all conducive to that end; and the maxim of the honourable and honest part of the profession, “ to let well alone,is a piece of advice which we are sure the intelligent portions of our people will apply to themselves, and leave the quacks to dispose of their nostrums in other quarters as they can.

THE RULES OF 1798 AND 1800, WITH OTHER RULES, AND THE

WAY IN WHICH THE ASSOCIATION KEEP THEM.

A reprint of the pamphlet published by the Book-room in 1798, and about which the agitators have made such a stir, has recently made its appearance. The avowed reason for this is, that the pamphlet contains the following woris : “Neither can any Member of the Society be excluded but by a majority at a Leaders' meeting.” This sentence, it is maintained, compared with the Minutes of 1835, proves that Methodism has been changed. All the attempts to connect this publication with the Conference have utterly failed. It has now become a part of the Apocrypha of Methodism.

But, even allowing the book to possess all the authority for wbich its advocates contend, still it fails to establish the point for which it has been adduced. Two things are perfectly obvious:

1.--The author, whoever he might be, was not a very careful and correct scribe. Some of his expressions are singularly loose and inaccurate. Page 4—"a Steward of the Society” means both a Society and a Circuit Steward. “Neither can any Member be excluded but by a majority.” The Minutes of the preceding year had truly stated“ the far greater number exclude themselves by utterly forsaking us,” and are quietly dropped without any “majority" at all. Again, page 8—" to prevent imposters from defrauding our brethren, the “real Members," " when obliged to remove into other parts,” are “enjoined to receive a note of recommendation from a Travelling Preacher before their remoyal.” Then follows a note of reference to Prov. 3-6, “ In all thy ways acknowledge him,” which, if strictly construed, would 'mean, acknowledge the Travelling Preacher. This, we suppose, would accord neither with the feelings of the agitators, nor with the intentions of the writer.

2.-All the difference between the Minutes of 1835 and the present pamphlet is the one states the whole truth respecting expulsions, and the other only a part. The Minutes teach that expulsion is an effect, produced by the concurrence of several different causes, some of which are specified. There is-1, Violation of rule-2, An accusation preferred-3, A trial demanded-4, A decision on the case, by the vote of a “majority” of Leaders-5, The sentence pronounced by the Preacher. This offhand sort of writer, wishful to say what he deemed most important about Methodism, within the compass of a penny pamphlet, refers to only one of these causes. Desirous, it would seem, to quiet the minds of soine weak people, needlessly disturbed about the possibility of their own expulsion, by the agitators of the day, he just says, “Neither can any Member of the Society be excluded, but by a majority at a Leaders' Meeting.” “ There,” says Mr. Eckett, “by a 'majority of Leaders,' and, therefore, the Preacher has nothing at all to do with the matter.” Yet no plant can be matured, but by the rain of heaven. Does this exclude the influence of the sun ? No man can be hanged in this country but by the verdict of a jury. Will it be said, that, therefore, the judges are mere cyphers in the affair ? No man is justified, but by faith. Will Mr. Eckett say, therefore, the Supreme Judge does nothing in this work, when the Bible says, “it is God that justifieth ?"

Mr. Eckett has chosen the function of an agitator, and delivers very long lectures on the subject of “breaches of rule.” The infringements of the Preachers on the rules of 1797, is a topic which he has almost hacknied to death. We shall take the liberty of presenting him with a few new cases. If, instead of always dwelling upon the Preachers and the rules of 1797, he will occasionally introduce the people and his own rules of 1798, it will be a great relief both to himself and his hearers. In page 4 of this very book, it is said to be the business of a Leader “to inform the Preacher of any that walk disorderly, and will not be reproved.” We know that he has met large knots of these disorderly people in Manchester, London, and elsewhere; but did he ever inform the Preacher of ary one of them ? Nay, he would not admit his own disorderly conduct when charged with it; but attempted to quibble, and to save himself at the expense of his friend, saying that the positive testimony of John Stephens was no evidence of the truth of what he said. There is also a rule which forbids “the using many words in buying and selling,” or in making compacts. We have not arithmetic enough to say how many words he has used, for years past, in seeking to make a new compact with the Conference. The Queen-street people say they have heard his speeches so often that they have almost got them by heart. We shall not soon forget the feeling with which a gentleman from that Circuit hailed the regulations of the last Conference, and for this special reason, that they brought some hope of deliverance to himself and friends, who were almost dogged to death by Eckett's oratory. Another of these rules forbids “uncharitable or unprofitable conversation," and "evil speaking, particularly of magistrates and ministers." All who have heard the three hours' speeches know how little the speaker cared for such a rule as this. There is also a rule against “dancing, cards, plays, balls, or horse races.” We are not sure that Thurston and his billiard-tables are in perfect accordance with this law, whether he was the author of the diabolical “ Appeal to the British Public,” or not. These rules are also against “brother going to law with brother.” Mr. Eckett cannot have forgotten Dr. Warren and his “unsuccessful appeal,” nor the conduct of his own Mr. Barford who dragged a younger brother before the mayor, without any sufficient cause. There is also the rule against “buying or selling spiritous liquors,” to be applied to the chairman of the Liverpool Association, and to the Dudley wine and spirit merchant,” whose establishment for despatching “his majesty's subjects,” is said to be so very respectable. Finally, the book says, that “a Steward of the Society ought to be a man of upright conversation," and, we submit, that the Steward was not of upright conversation, who retained upwards of £18 and a Society's book; and, after keeping the money several weeks, returned it, through a fear of consequences; but still keeps the book, in the hope that so petty a theft will not be inade the subject of a law suit. So that, if Mr. Eckett will follow the profession of lecturer on “breaches of rule,” there is no necessity for him to be for ever harping upon one string. We can enable him to diversify his topics, and entertain his hearers with vast variety.

There is another case or two, which, although not written in the book of 1798, are entitled to a place in the Illuminator. Such, for instance, as that of the young sparks who carried off a library in Liverpool. This library contained a considerable number of books, which had been accumulating for years, and its fundamental law was, that it should always remain connected with the Methodist Leeds-street Sunday School. The teachers were the principal proprietors. This was their own law. When

a division in the Society becaine inevitable, the disposal of this library became a subject of consideration, and this rule was pleaded as a reason why it ought to remain on the premises, connected with the school, still to be continued there, the right of every individual in the property, of course, being strictly respected. A young Associationisi. named Wood, said, in reply, that “the power which made the law could repeal it.” No sooner said than done. The law was repealed in a few seconds. The teachers' meeting became a mob. A general scramble took place, and the books were all carried off on the Sunday evening. This law was supposed to partake of the nature of a promise. It was thought that the shareholders had, for various reasons best known to themselves, entered into an engagement-with each other-the Trustees of the premises -the Society—and the public generally, to the effect, that, the books should always remain on the same premnises, and connected with the school, while one existed. “ Very well,” says moral philosopher Wood, but “the power which made the law can repeal it;" — which means, we suppose, that when a man has made a promise, he can repeal it whenever he finds it convenient to do so. We shall not controvert this position at present. It is useless to argue with robbers, when they happen to be the “ majority.” We may say, however, that the Almighty himself does not possess this power. “ He abideth faithful.” “He cannot deny himself.” “He cannot lie.” As far as we know, this power was never forinally claimed, except by the spirit who “ abode not in the truth,” the pope, and the Liverpool limb of the “Grand Central.” The majority of the teachers say the law has been repealed. The minority, who remain in peaceable connexion with our Society, say it has been broken, and that they have been robbed of their property. The thing is not worth a Chancery suit, and perhaps these injured people have no other means of redress; but Mr. Eckett and his friends have undertaken to defend the oppressed, and to bring the breakers of rule before the bar of public opinion.

Then there are the Rochdale Trustees. All the world knows how little they cared for rules, whether of 1797 or 1798, when they determined to bring in the Grand Central, in flat opposition to the provisions of the Deed, which themselves had signed, in the presence of witnesses, and nothing could restrain their madness short of a Chancery injunction.

There is also the recent exploit at Whitehaven. This also is a Sunday school case, and shows that villany is progressive; as, in some respects, it is an advance upon that at Liverpool. The rules of the Sunday school there say, “ This Institution shall be managed by a committee of twenty, consisting of the Itinerant Preachers, Treasurer, and other persons. The comunittee shall meet for the despatch of business, in the chapel, once a quarter, or oftener is necessary.-Five shall be competent to act, and every thing shall be determined by a majority.” So much for the rule. Mark what follows. “The thing which has been done was not done by a committee, or any meeting of the committee ; for there has been no meeting of the committee.” Our correspondent adds, under date, Nov. 18, 1835, “On Friday evening last, the men of the Grand Central Association in this town, who have fitted up a place of their own for worship, and other purposes, came to our chapel in a body; and, while some of them were pretending to do some business in the vestry, in order to amuse a few of our friends who staid in the vestry after the prayer-meeting,-others of them putting out the lights in the chapel, began to carry a way the Sunday school books, and were detected by one of our friends in the coinmencement of their work He met a ringleader of them, with a box of books, in the doorway of the chapel; and, perceiving what he was doing, raised a cry of thieves—they are stealing the school books,' and attempted to prevent him from carrying the box away. But this served only as a signal for the rest of the party. Our friends endeavoured to put some obstructions in their way; but there being perhaps ten centrals to one of us, our efforts only exposed us to their fury and rage, and I would not have given two-pence for any man's life, who might have persisted to resist them. They plundered the chapel of the books, took away the boxes, a chest for clothes to lend to poor children on the Sunday, in order that they might come to the school, desks, writing desks, the library, and left nothing at ail which they could find belonging to our school, except leaves, and pieces of old spelling. books, which were to be seen, like withered leaves in autumn, on the morning after this enterprize took place. They were more than an hour in the chapel in all, and some of them, before they departed,

which I choose not to name." .

It is said that misery makes strange bed-fellows; and indeed how else could such a genteel young man as Mr. Wood, and the amiable Dr. Warren,' ever come to be associated with such brutalities as these. We suppose it will be said that some of the men had been “illegally expelled,” and, therefore, all the rest was right. Be this as it may, they have clearly broken their own rules, for this exploit of mingled robbery and nastiness,

was not done by the vote of “a majority” of the committee, nor was it ever submitted to their consideration at all. Our correspondent, asks rather feelingly, “what shall we do?!" We doubt not but that good counsel will be forthcoming in due time. In the meanwhile, we advise the friends at Whitehaven to humble themselvis for not having "purged out” this vile leaven long ago, to be thankful that the antinomians are gone at last, on any terms, and then calmly to hope for better days; for, beside having the sympathy of the wise and good, even orator Eckett must now either speak a word in their favour, or stand convicted before the world as a member of that ancient sect, who are said to “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.”

ANOTHER DOCTOR OF THE GRAND CENTRAL! OR, A MAN

"SINGULARLY FITTED FOR A GREAT ACTION.”

Wonders will never cease. It was only the other day that our irfatuated contemporary published an account of the defection, from the Old or Conference Connexion, of the Society at Helsby, in the Chester Circuit, and that the chapel, the property of a person of the name of Burgess, had been closed against the Travelling and Local Preachers. We now have heard of a glorious Missionary Meeting in that village, the barn in which it was held crowded to excess, and the collection considerably more than was ever obtained on a similar occasion in the place of worship formerly occupied by our Preachers.

What tended to increase the popularity of this Meeting was the novelty of holding it in a barn, and the threats held out by a certain baby of Esculapius, that he would attend and break up the Meeting. We spare the name of the person of the pestle, out of respect to his family connexions, but to assist conjecture, it is very similar to bully or gully! Can you guess, gentle reader ? The persons who assembled to take an active part in the proceedings of the Meeting, were Mr. Thomas Bowers who presided, " the redoubtable Mr. Stamp,” (we thank the Association for teaching us that word), and I'r. Straw. Prior to the opening of the Meeting, this gentleman of the faculty was seen to enter a public house, from whence he came, no doubt fully charged, to the barn ; and, mounting the platform, took possession of a conspicuous place. Several persons noticed a considerable number of the workmen employed in the neighbouring quarries occupying exclusively a particular part of the premises; and, on a little enquiry it was found that they were there at the beck of the Doctor (!) under the promise of being remunerated for the loss of time their presence there would occasion; and, also, of receiving a quantity of the publican's best, when the work at the barn should be finished. After Mr. Straw had concluded his address, the Doctor rose and demanded a hearing. The chairman very properly wished to know on what subject he wished to occupy the attention of the meeting, and he replied, on that of Methodist missions. Mr. Stamp stated that on that topic he for one had no objection that he should be heard. and pledged himself to reply as soon as he had finished, and therefore requested of the chairman a hearing for this Doctor ; stating, however, that as soon as he departed from that subject, he for one would call him to order. The Doctor immediately commenced by styling himself the great defender of the civil and religious rights of the poor, and commenced a coarse attack on the conduct and character of certain persons in the Connexion in terms the most unguarded and abusive, and what our small friend, James Russell, of Ruabon, would call libellious ! He was, of course, called to order; this made the poor Doctor almost frantic; he said he had a guard in the barn, who would rise in his defence, and insist upon his being heard. On his guard he called; but, alas, they were silent as the grave, and as motionless as the walls of the barn in which they were assembled! His rage became ungovernable--he stamped-he swore ; but all the effects he produced were alarming the ladies, and compelling gentlemen present to adopt means to eject him from the barn. To the latter step, they had the authority of the owner of the premises. A stout man on the platform and a local preacher, was de

« PreviousContinue »