« PreviousContinue »
at a subsequent meeting, when questioned as to his intentions in reference to ulterior proceedings, he stated, that he did not then intend any legal process, but that he should avail himself of the advice of his friends, and judge accordingly. Notwithstanding, several of the Trustees, (whose names we spare,)-destitute of prudence, and anxious for the introduction of fell democracy ere they ingloriously, but most salutarily, left the Body-went so far as to require from him the pledge which the foolish Samuel Warren, ludicrously enough, imagined our excellent Superintendent of Rochdale was possessed of weakness enough to concede, but which Mr. Sumner, most properly, expressly, and peremptorily refused to give. In corroboration of the truth of this statement, we refer to the following testimonial, drawn up and signed by three of the Trustees resident in Rochdale, who are still faithful to the trust reposed in them, and who were present at the meeting referred to.
“As it appears that public statements have been made by certain persons, in various places, that our highly-esteemed Superintendent, the Rev. John Sumner, previous to his obtaining a perusal of the Rochdale chapel Deed, gave a promise or pledge, in a Trustee meeting, that he would take no legal proceedings against the Trustees—We, the undersigned, having been present on the occasion referred to, hereby declare that no SUCH PROMISE OR PLEDGE WAS GIVEN BY MR. SUMNER. But that on the question being put to him, first by one Trusteee and afterwards by another, whether he had any intentions of going to law, he replied-Since I am pressed on this point, I will be candid with you. I have no present intentions of going to law. Not having seen the Deed, I cannot tell what my powers are, or whether I have any ; but I will give you no pledge as to my future course.'
“HENRY CARTWRIGHT." In a contemptible publication, notorious only for the malignant spirit whieh it breathes, and for the gross misrepresentations and falsehoods which it contains, entitled “Explanations explained,” (!) bearing the signatures of John Howard and John Hoyle, it is asserted that Mr. Sumner had been guilty of intentional deception, in not communicating with the refractory Trustees after he had perused the Deed. Now, the only distinct understanding which existed between the parties, when they separated, was, that no further proceedings should be taken until a communication should take place between them, after Mr. Sumner's perusal of the Deed. The persons who were to make the communication were not named, Mr. Sumner distinctly stating, at parting“I can see you, or you can see me.” This understanding was, however, flagrantly violated by the disaffected Trustees, within a few hours after it was entered into, by their attending an Association committee, and issuing placards announcing the meeting. To have communicated with such characters, reckless of all honor and decency, would, in our opinion, have been the very madness of folly.
On Friday, the 25th-the fourth day after the Trustee meeting—the second day after the copy of the Deed was returned to the Trustee who had furnished it—and the day following that on which the towns of Rochdale and Manchester were inundated with the placards advertising the illegal meeting, Mr. Sumner went to Manchester, not to commence a legal process, which the precipitate proceedings of these lawless Trustees demanded there and then, but to consult with his brethren the Preachers of the Manchester Circuits, and to take the advice of Mr. T. P. Bunting about holding a watchnight in the chapel, instead of their public meeting, and to have a sufficient and legal notice drawn up, to be read from the pulpit the ensuing Sabbath day for that purpose. So reluctant was Mr. Sumner to contemplate a process in equity, that this was all the law he intended up to that period. From Mr. Bunting he was made acquainted with the utter insufficiency of this pacific scheme, and that the only method of preventing the meeting and preserving the chapel for its legitimate purposes was, to obtain a special injunction from his Honor the Vice-Chancellor. In this opinion the friends of Mr. Sumner fully concurred, and further suggested the propriety of Mr. Bunting accompanying Mr. Sumner that evening to Rochdale, as a legal friend, and to use his influence in persuading the refractory Trustees to alter their proceedings. This task Mr. Bunting kindly undertook, but failed in the attempt. He then made a formal demand of the Trust Deed ; first of George Ashworth, who denied having the custody thereof, but after a lengthened conversation acknowledged, that the required Deed was in the possession of a Mr. John Howard. Of him, therefore, did Mr. Bunting demand a sight of the Deed, but which Mr. Howard positively refused to grant. It ought be known that Mr. Samuel Heape, who figured away at the meeting of August 19, as chairman
Steward, Local Preacher, Leader, and Trustee, in the Rochdale Circuit-was present, and counselled Mr. Howard to tender such refusal. We also strongly suspect that it was this Samuel Heape who declared, at a subsequent Trustee meeting, that if Mr. Bunting had called upon him on such an errand, he should have been disposed to hand him into the canal, which is contiguous to his house! Pretty language this, for a Local Preacher and Leader !
On Saturday evening, the 26th, the Trustees called a meeting of themselves, and
invited Mr. Sumner to attend ; which he did. In answer to a question which the Trustees proposed, respecting the adoption of legal measures, Mr. Sumner said"If you, as honorable men, will give me your promise that you will not hold the meeting in the chapel, I will pledge myself that no legal proceedings that I may have contemplated shall affect you." This proposition was most contemptuously spurned, and Mr. Sumner then, for the first time, avowed in what manner he intended to frustrate the holding of the reform meeting in the chapel; and then asked what they, (the Trustees) in such a case, would do? To which they replied “Two magistrates and a sufficient police force will be in attendance to prevent disturbance and to keep the peace;" and desired to know from Mr. Sumner whether he had not already adopted legal proceedings; whose reply was—“It is stated that you have a right to hold the reform meeting in the chapel; I say, let it be tried; but I shall do every thing in my power, between this and next Thursday, to prevent it."
Thus was the excellent Superintendent of the Rochdale Circuit, driven by these Leaders and infatuated men, into the highest court in the land to crave protection for himself, his colleagues, and the Society committed to his care, in the exercise of their civil and religious liberties. That Divine Providence, however, which illumined the steps of our beloved Connexion in the affair of Warren, in the same court, shone upon the path of Mr. Sumner; and although the period of time in which this measure was to be achieved was short, and his Honor the Vice Chancellor at a distance from the Metropolis, nevertheless, a variety of circumstances transpired, all favourable to the grand result, and early in the morning of Thursday, October 1, Mr. Sumner, in company with his indefatigable and talented solicitor, Mr. T. P. Bunting, arrived in Rochdale with the injunction.
No time was lost in giving official intimation to the Trustees of the steps which had been taken; therefore, before Mr. Sumner saw his family, he hastened to the printer, that he might issue a formal notice of the injunction to the public; this was published soon after twelve o'clock at noon, and nineteen copies of the notice, specially for the Trustees, each nearly filling a folio page, were written out, and the greater part served before three, P. M. That Messrs. Howard and Hoyle should, in common with their co-refractory Trustees, feel great anxiety in knowing what the nature of the legal proceedings were, which they had recklessly compelled Mr. Sumner to adopt, we are not at all surprised, for we have noticed the anxiety depicted on the countenances of certain culprits at the bar, when waiting for the verdict of the jury, and the sentence of the judge; it appears also that Mr. Sumner has given these worthies huge offence, because he did not give the Trustees a verbal intimation of what was going on, in answer to certain cynical and obtrusive questions which some of them proposed. Here, in our opinion, Mr. Sumner acted with all due propriety. These obstinately-perverse Trustees had passed the rubicon, the day of verbal communication had gone by, they had drawn the sword and foolishly thrown away the scabbard, they had pertinaciously refused to relinquish the meeting in the chapel, and with most unblushing impudence, actually caused the platform for the reform meeting, that very morning, to be erected in the chapel. If these Trustees suspected that their Superintendent could have been guilty of such weakness, as to communicate verbally any more with them on this subject, we are heartily glad they have mistaken their man. No, no: Mr. Sumner's conduct has our hearty approval, in making these gentry stop a bit, until they should learn the object of their inquiry from the public advertisements, and from the official notices which were shortly served upon themselves.
On the forenoon of the last mentioned day, a document signed by several of the Trustees was presented to Mr. Sumner, stating, that if he would release them from their responsibilities as Trustees, they would peaceably retire from all association with the Wesleyan body. The ludicrous nature of such a proposition is obvious to every one ; but the object which those had in view who proposed such a scheme, was so far answered, that it furnished subject of animadversion at the reform meeting, which subsequently took place. The common sense of the refractory Trustees, if any of this useful commodity was in keeping, would convince them of the utter impossibility of Mr. Sumner entertaining such a proposition for a single moment.
Immediately after the notice of the injunction was served on the several Trustees a placard was published by themselves, announcing the adjournment of the reform meeting from the Wesleyan chapel to the Baptist chapel and to St. Stephen's church, a meeting house belonging to the late Lady Huntingdon's connexion. In allusion to that meeting, the following paragraph appeared in the Manchester Times of October 3, which is equally distinguished for falsehood and misrepresentation, together with nu merous other articles which have been inserted, from time to time, on the unhappy disputes now existing among the Wesleyan Methodists.
without hazard make use of
public meeting wors that no leg
"The Trustees of the Wesleyan chapel, Rochdale, conceiving themselves aggrieved by the conduct of their Preachers, and finding the responsibility of their engagements too heavy to be borne, were desirous a short time ago, of making a public statement of their grievances, with the view of procuring assistance in their trust; in short, a mere consultation with the people was all they sought, in order that the work of religion might proceed without hazard or danger. They applied to the constituted authorities in such cases, the Preachers, for permission to make use of the chapel for this purpose; but the Preachers unanimously refused to grant this moderate request. A public meeting was called, to be held in their own chapel: a step which they took upon an assurance from the Preachers that no legal proceedings would be adopted."
A more numerous assemblage of gross misrepresentation and black falsehoods were never crowded together in so small a compass. " It is not true that they were aggrieved by the conduct of their Preachers; for they professed great respect and affection for them, and never complained of any thing they did, until-in consequence of the public and avowed determination of the Trustees to hold public Association meetings—the Conference pastoral address was read to the Societies. It is not true that their responsibilities were too heavy to be borne ; for the Trust estate was in good condition, and had actually cleared nearly £200 during the year ending 1835. It is not true that they wished to get assistance in their trust, or to state their grievances, or to consult with the people for this end; neither did they consider these things necessary that religion might prosper. It is not true that any application was ever made to the Preachers for permissioni to hold a meeting in the chapel for such a purpose, or for Association or any special purposes whatever; consequently, it is not true that any such application was refused; the public meeting was called in accordance with their own placard, which, in their own words, declares that it was " for stating the subjects which now unhappily agitate the Wesleyan Connexion, and of fülly explaining the principles of Wesleyan reformers." In our humble opinion, the expelled gentry, Warren, Livsey, and Rowland, with the dram-merchant, Gordon, are not over and above qualified to explain the nature and extent of the pecuniary embarrassments of the Rochdale Trustees! It is not true, as we have already stated and confirmed, that any pledge had been given respecting the suspension of legal proceedings; and further, it is not true that the Preachers thought the meeting would be effectually prevented by these legal proceedings, for it was currently reported for several days previous to the time appointed for the public meeting, that other chapels had been kindly offered, provided they could not have the use of the Wesleyan chapel. We are aware that it has been said, the above untruths are but the twaddle of a newspaper; well, be it so : but that sewer of all iniquity, the Christian Advocate, declares they were uttered by the quondam Methodist Preacher, Samuel Warren, LL,D. in the public meetings which were held in the Baptist and St. Stephen's chapels.Query did the consistent Doctor in vent, and then give publicity to these lies, or did these veracious Trustees teach that puppet of the Association so to speak, and then sit, complacently to enjoy the recital of those abominable falsehoods, the invention of their own depraved imaginations !
* On Saturday evening, October 3, subsequent to the operation of the famous injunction, the Trustees had a notice printed, and posted in every avenue to the chapel, as well as on the doors and door-posts of the chapel and Sunday school, forbidding all meetings of whatever kind on the premises, except in the presence of one of the Travelling Preachers. This step was taken according to the advice of the solicitor employed by the dissentient Trustees, and professedly out of respect to the injunction of the Vice-Chancellor. Even the chapel-keeper had orders from these disappointed and defeated Trustees not to open a door for the morning prayer-meeting, or to admit a child into the school until a Travelling Preacher made his appearance. The objects contemplated by this ruse were, in a great measure, frustrated by a counter-note which was issued by the Preachers. So utterly inconsistent and base were they in enforcing the prohibition, that while they seriously threatened to shut up the class-rooins altogether, if one of the faithful Trustees, who is also a Leader, should attempt to speak in the usual way to the members of his class, until the Preacher, after opening the meeting, went to an adjoining room to commence another class-they allowed those teachers who were of their own party to conduct the teaching of the children in seven or eight rooms of the same premises, at the same hour; nay, such were their professed reverence and dread of the injunction, that on one Sabbath, during the period of teaching, when the Preacher in attendance had retired for a few minutes into his own house-part of which is literally under the school-room, and consequently on the same premises one of the litigious, but terrified Trustees penned, and another of the same kidney, brought to the Preacher the following hasty note :
“Rev Sir-Under existing circumstances, I request your personal attendance in some one or other of the school-rooms, as I shall feel justified in desiring the teachers and scholars to return home, that I may not incur any risk or blame from my brother Trustees.- I am, Rev. Sir,
“Your injured Brother,
We need scarcely say, that the Preacher was speedily in attendance, to dissipate the fears of these inconsistent and hypocritical Trustees. · Mr. Sumner having been successsful in securing the chapel for its legitimate uses, was naturally anxious to hold out the olive-branch of peace to all who might still be willing to unite with the Wesleyan Society, for purposes of religious edification and comfort. The terms which he proposed were as follow :
“). That in future you have no connexion with the Association; and refrain from promoting, in any wise, directly or indirectly, the interest of that or of any similar confederacy, whose object is to disturb and injure the Methodist Society.
"2. That shoul:l you entertain opinions on points of discipline differing from our written and published documents, you engage to hold those opinions privately, and at the same time statedly attend the means of grace instituted in our Body, peaceably submit to our discipline and conform to the usages of our Connexion.
“3. That should you at any future time see cause to change your mind with regard to this engagement, you will in that case send in your resignation to the Superintendent, and quietly retire from the Society."
These propositions were, however, rejected. [We regret that our limits compel us to postpone the account of the subsequent proceedings of
these Trustees, until our next number.]
· THE NEW CONNEXION AND ITS LEGAL ABANDONMENT OF
To prevent the Trustees of Methodist chapels from acting as though they were proprietors of them, by having these sacred edifices legally secured to the Connexion for whose benefit they were built, was once most fiercely denounced as a very arbitrary and tyrannical measure. We happen to live, however, in an age of reform. A procedure which our adversaries formerly censured as crafty, illiberal, and unjust, they have lived to learn, by many painful occurrences, that it is so really excellent as to deserve and require their imitation. The New Methodists are, at length, doing their utmost to secure their chapels to the Connexion; and to accomplish this object a Deed of Trust has been forined, an abridgement of which is contained in their Magazine for December, 1835.
We have carefully perused this document, on which, it is said, many chapels are founded; and though we might remark at considerable length upon some of its provi. sions, we shall merely select the one which defines what is to be taught in the pulpits to the congregations. As it is so brief as not quite to fill up nine lines in the Magazine, we shall transcribe it, for the information of our readers.
« And it is hereby agreed and declared that the doctrines and articles of faith to be from time to time preached in the said chapel shall be such as are contained in God's holy word that is to say):-the selfexistence, attributes, and perfections of God; the divinity of Christ; the personality and Godhead of the Holy Ghost; the inspiration of the Scriptures; the fall of man, through Adam's transgression the depravity of his posterity; the general redemption of mankind by Jesus Christ; repentance towards God; justification by faith ; sanctification through the Spirit; the necessity of abiding in faith and good works to the end; the resurrection of the dead; the general judgment at the last day; the eternal blessedness of the righteous; and the everlasting misery of the wicked.'
As the adoption of the Deed from which we have made the above extract is strongly recommended, in some introductory, observations, by an old supernumerary Preacher and two lay-gentlemen, one of whom has recently given £20 to uphold the sinking Advocate, it is, probably—at least in substance-their own production. It is indeed worthy of such an origin. We respectfully and earnestly invite the attention of the more candid and sound part of the New Connexion to the exceedingly loose and imperfect doctrinal paragraph of this Trust Deed. It is true that Arminianism may be made to accord with this summary of doctrines; and may not Calvinism? Do not moderate Calvinists believe in “ the general redemption of mankind by Jesus Christ, and in the necessity of abiding in faith and good works to the end” to prove the reality of grace, to honor religion, and to glorify God? It is evident, therefore, that there is not any thing in the Trust Deed which can prevent moderate Calvinism from being, some time or other, preached in chapels that belong to the New Connexion ! But this is not the worst of the case. Even Arianism may be introduced into these temples of God in conformity with the creed included in their form of settlement. Though it asserts “the divinity of Christ and the personality and Godhead of the Holy Ghost,” yet as it is silent respecting the co-eternity and co-equality of the Son and Spirit with the Father, it is undeniably susceptible of an Arian interpretation! It likewise declares “the fall of man through Adam's transgression, and the depravity of his posterity;" but this gene. ral position easily gives way to a Socinian mode of explanation. What is there in these “ articles of faith" to determine whether the fall of man be moral or physical ; and whether the degeneracy of his descendants be natural or acquired-total or partial? -Nothing!
It also attests “justification by faith ;" but as it stops short of saying, by faith alone, without the works of the law, it will bear, in the hands of an Arian, a liberal exposition !
Of this creed it may be correctly said, many are its sins of omission. Its authors seem as though they had studiously avoided giving it a Methodistical character. Concerning numerous scriptural and Wesleyan doctrines, it is still as death. It neither avows nor contradicts them. The particular providence of God-the Divine Sonship of Christ the personality and evil agency of Satan—the authority and obligation of the Christian Sabbath-the necessity of a divine influence to produce repentance for sin, and trust in the Saviour-the direct witness of the Spirit to the adoption of believers into the family of God—the privilege of Christians now to be made perfect in love -the possibility of God's servants proving unfaithful, and falling finally from grace &c., make no part whatever of “the doctrines and articles of faith” incorporated into this Deed of Trust! So much for liberalism, which, by refusing to legalize the public cation of so many doctrines of Wesleyan Methodism, has virtually abandoned them !!
We are aware that some of our readers may inquire, whether some reference is not made in this document to Mr. Wesley's first four volumes of Sermons, and Notes on the New Testament, as illustrating its compendium of doctrines. Truth compels us to answer, none whatever. There is an allusion in one section of the general rules of the Body to these invaluable performances; but we have asserted in a former number of the Illuminator—and a New Connexion Minister in the Lantern has confirmed the declaration—that “this reference is a dead letter.” It is not, therefore, to be found in the Deed of Trust; and its non-insertion is an abandonment of these standard works of Wesleyan theology!! And if the Preachers now consult these important writings at all, it is not with the impression that they are bound to believe and teach their great principles as doctrines according to godliness. The works of Mr. Wesley are thus placed on a level with those of Dr. Dwight; and the productions of the American Calviuistic divine are in as strict accordance with the legalized creed of the New Connexion as those that were penned by the celebrated founder of Methodism !!!
We have a right to exhibit and censure this state of things in the New community, because some of its principal advocates are guilty of making efforts to delude the public mind. The author of a proselytiny tract, denominated, “An exposition of the principles of church government adopted by the New Connexion," is justly involved in this sentence of condemnation. This plausible, but unsound publication, which a burning zeal to make proselytes has extensively circulated, declares, that “the New Methodists retain the doctrines of Wesleyan Methodism; from which they differ only in church government and dissent from the Church of England.” This statement is chargeable with delusion, for the New Connexion differs from the old one in theology as well as in polity. The doctrinal difference is both legal and practical. Is not the standard of orthodoxy under the guardianship of British law in the Deeds of chapels, widely different in the two communities ?- Most certainly; for a considerable portion of the doctrines of Wesleyan Methodism has been denied a legal settlement in the newly-formed Deed of Trust belonging to the New Methodist Body. And it is owing to this legal rejection of Mr. Wesley's doctrines that Mr. Jones, Mr. Forsyth, and, of course, any other Preacher who pleases, are allowed in the New Connexion to denounce some of these theological principles as an outrage upon both Scripture and reason! Common honesty, therefore, as well as Christianity, requires that the disciples of Mr. Kilham should, under existing circumstances, give up their profession of having “ retained the doctrines of Wesleyan Methodism.”
We cannot conclude our remarks without stating, that the contents of this article have led us to thank God with all our heart, that Mr. Wesley legally established, in his Connexion, the preaching of all those truths which have been of immense benefit to mankind; and thereby prevented them from ever falling a prey to the rampant sovereignty of lay-delegation. Liberty to legislate on subjects of divinity we neither possess, nor desire, in the Wesleyan Body.