Page images

the laborious and diligent efforts of the careful and intelligent farmer to cultivate his land, and throw in the choicest seed, all his efforts will not prevent the noxious weed from springing up with the good grain, equally healthy and beautiful in its first appearance and, to the eye of a casual observer, of similar form and genus. But not so in reality; the unwelcome intruder finding itself in a rich and fertile soil, pushes its growth to such unbounded extremes that the true grain, valuable as indeed it is, can no longer flourish to perfection, or even exist, unless relieved from the company of its troublesome and encroaching neighbour.

Those who have been expelled complain that they are cast out of the church and thrown back upon the world, a prey to the first wicked spirit that may pass by and find them. If this event should occur, it will be the result of their own folly and wickedness. There are, however, other communions in which-if they repent and forsake their present plans of agitation and discord-they may receive that benefit and comfort whick, as they have proved to themselves and to their late brethren, they never can enjoy amongst us; Christian communities in which the assent from private membership to the higher offices in the church is so easy, and withal to them so delightful, that even the halt, the maimed, and the blind find not the slightest difficulty in making their way to any desirable place on which they may have set their heart. All they have to fear is lest some one more nimble and cunning than themselves should cut off some trifling angle in the road, and so gain the goal before them, No wonder that the minds of these men are kept in a continual state of ferment and excitement that brotherly affection languishes amongst them, and that reverence towards their pastors is extinct. They give honour to that man alone who successfully exerts himself in the work of their promotion, whilst he who perceives that injury to the church must follow their induction to office, and therefore takes steps to prevent it be be a minister or private memberis treated with contempt, if not followed with deadly hatred. Let those who can take a calm, steady, just view of the whole say, whether this state of things can or ought to exist as it is.

There are many amongst us, who, being prepossessed on the one side, or prejudiced against the other, would gladly sacrifice much of their own comfort, and even are willing to suppress their own opinions, if the “breaches might be healed without expelling so many of their friends." We respect their feelings and would patiently listen to what they have to say, as far as Christian charity will bear them out. But will they murmur at the righteous judgment of God, and be ready to resign their seats in glory, because some of their friends whom they have tenderly loved in this world are cast out? We believe not. Well, then, if it be true that Almighty God will execute his own sentence upon every child of man at the last day, equally true it is, that he does now direct and govern the hearts and the actions of his faithful ministers; and if our worthy and esteemed friends would see more of the finger of God, and less of the mere act of man in the present transactions in our Society, they would lay their hands upon their mouths and submissively acknowledge that the judge of all the earth doeth right.


TO THE EDITOR OF THE ILLUMINATOR. Dear Sir I am heartily glad to receive the first number of the Illuminator. No man can read “The Case without a Parallel ” without being illuminated. The dark side of a Watchman's Lantern may be a very convenient place for the men of Leedsstreet vestry, but let the Illuminator bring his torch, and they must retire as bats and owls before the splendour of noon day. At the same time, your readers will start at the sight of such exposures of wickedness with horror and amazement.

...! "Guilt is a monster of such frightful mien,

..! That, to be hated, needs but to be seen." Sir, you must excuse me, but “The Case without a Parallel” has so engrossed my attention that I can scarcely talk or write on any other subject. That article ought to be printed and circulated in a separate form; and wherever any sympathy for the Wesleyan Methodist Members of Leeds-street exists, it ought to be nailed upon the people's doorposts, and like the Pharisees of old, ought to “stand at the corner of the streets,” in the form of a placard, “to be seen of men." -:“The Case without a Parallel” is no cxaggerated title, but a sober truth. It is just what the title expresses : a disclosure of ineffable hypocrisy, guilty scheming, and opposition to the leading men in the Connexion, as malignant as ever disgraced the human character; difficužt indeed would it be to find any thing like it in modern times. Sir, if you want to save your readers from this spare of the devil, so artfully laid to entangle them, shout-shout! as with the blast of a trumpet, Read “ The Case without a Parallel.” If the parties whose conduct is there exposed are incapable of shame, let the world blush for them.

I have no fear for Methodism in this struggle. The enemy has overshot his mark; his designs are assuming too definite a form to do much harm; he has been drawn too much to the dark side of his lantern. That man must be blind indeed who cannot see that the end of this faction is that of revolutionizing Methodism, and trampling the preachers under their feet; and agitation is to be employed to bring about this worthy purpose. The means and the end are certainly worthy of each other!

The cause of God in this circuit is in a state of unprecedented prosperity; this is the testimony of some of the oldest and most influential Members of the Society. Methodism has been assailed by the great and the learned, and yet, in spite of them all, it has prospered far and wide; and can we suppose that after all it iş destined to be uprooted by the “ little creatures” of modern times? As soon may they try to tie up the wind in a bag, or extinguish the sun with a pair of sixpenny snuffers! Wesleyan Methodism will continue to prevail as it has done hitherto, when all the present race of its impugners and defenders are nailed up in their coffins.

You may put my name down as a subscriber for one hundred copies, which your publisher will forward regularly. I confess that by the aid of your Illuminator, I have discovered what I never expected to have seen, viz.-a set of faithless class-leaders, doing all they can to injure that cause they were professing to uphold. If I meet with a man who asks a question concerning the Liverpool faction, my reply is--Have you seen “ The Case without a Parallel pt Read that, and it will give you more light on that subject than any thing I can say ; besides, you can have it for three-halfpence, and where is the man who would go in darkness when he may be illuminated for so small a sum ?

If "The Case without a Parallel” is not an untoward circumstance to the agitators, such an event never can come to them. The prominence given to them in that article will be “as grateful to their feelings as a bottle of vitriol poured upon their beads; and worse by ten thousand times than being placed for half-a-year in the most exalted pillory that could be erected.”--Yours sincerely,



TO THE EDITOR OF THE ILLUMINATOR. Sir-At the late meeting in Leeds, D. Rowland delivered an eloquent speech, and Dr. Warren also appeared to great advantage ; so that, as the French say of the Battle of Waterloo, the English were beaten hollow, according to the rules of war, although, somehow or other, the Duke of Wellington and his men, like Mr. Scarth and his friends, most rudely and clamourously gained the victory at last. But the pink and glory of that great meeting was the Rev. John Gordon; and, therefore, his speech is given at length. This youth left the Methodist itinerancy a few months ago, professedly on account of the decisions of the last Conference on the case of J.R. Stephens. His father, we believe, keeps a gin-shop* in the town of Dudley, where, it is said, he has acquired considerable property; and now this sprig of dissent, after being educated amidst all the enormities and abominations of such an establishment, and, of course, quite reconciled to the doings of the men who, according to John Wesley, “ murder his majesty's subjects by thousands, and drive them to hell like sheep,” feels his conscience to be shocked and wounded beyond measure, because, forsooth, the Conference has professed a friendly feeling towards the established church. Honest dissenters ought to be treated with respect; but the men who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel, entitle themselves to something very different.

Mr. Gordon assures us that his is no “ clap-trap" speech, for it is thoroughly argumentative and quite original. To prove that J. R. Stephens was expelled for “ holding

* Our correspondent is under a mistake. Mr. Gordon, sen. has recently retired from business, and has given up the trade of dram-selling to his son, John Gordon (a ci-divant Rev.!) notwithstanding the Association, for the purpose of eclat, and of continuing this practice of tricking the public, trumpet forth this “ ginseller" as the Rev. John Gordon!'and thus, by their own conduct, countenance“ one of the first corruptions that ever entered the Christian church.” Where is their consistency! See Lan tern, page 36.-Ev.

certain political opinions," he adduces a quotation from the Minutes, which says, it was for attending “public meetings," delivering certain "speeches,” and refusing to give a pledge to abstain from such « proceedings” in future. He also proves that Methodist preachers have nothing to do with politics, by the example of John Wesley, who wrote on the American war, Catholic Emancipation, and other political questions. That every Methodist preacher ought to be at liberty to hold any opinions he chooses, without any interference from the Conference, he proves, from Mr. *Wesley's own words,” who executed a deed, and caused it to be enrolled in Chancery, binding his preachers to the end of time, to believe and preach no other doctrines than those contained in his four volumes of Sermons, and his Notes on the New Testament. And that the Conference ought not to interfere with the affairs of Societies, as the special district meeting did at Leeds; but leave all such matters to be settled by the “local authorities," he proves, by the conduct of St. Paul, in reference to the incestuous Corinthian, 1 Cor. 5: because, 1-This was a clear case of foreign interference, inasmuch as the Apostle was "absent in body," viz. not at Corinth but at Philipi. 2-Instead of leaving the matter to the “ local authorities," he takes it for granted that they had not done their duty, and, therefore, begins by reproving them. 3-He took upon himself to be both judge and jury in the case, saying, according to Doddridge, “ I have both judged and passed sentence upon him.” 4-He did this without a trial, on the evidence of common report: “it is reported commonly.” 5-He left nothing to the local authorities,” but the secondary duty of a sheriff, which was to see that the sentence he had pronounced was duly carried into execution. Ergo, the Conference ought not to interfere in any case whatever.

Further, he says, if his principles were adopted, there would not be “any contention,” as the “minority would submit to the majority,” and then leaves us to see how finely all this is exemplified in the case of Dr. Warren and himself. “Ministers of the gospel" ought to be “ on an equality” with the people. This he proves by a text which assumes that there is a great difference in the circumstances of the parties. Ministers are likely to be tempted to arrogate lofty titles to themselves, and are therefore cautioned not to be “called, Rabbi, Rabbi.” The people, from their different situation, are in no such danger, and therefore have received no such caution. Finally, we find this gentleman in Leeds, helping the members of the Association, though he says he does not hold the opinions" held by them; and opposing the Conference on account of its opinions about church and state, although on that very point he seems to have adopted their confession of faith : his words are “ I have a friendly disposition to the established church, which has been supported from the persuasion of its utility; and, under the present circumstances, the necessity of an established religion may be maintained, as securing to the nation such an amount of religious instruction as could not be provided by the voluntary principle;” so that he quarrels with the Conference because they are of the same mind with himself.

This, sir, is logic in a lantern ; according to which it seems, by some unknown law in optics, every thing is reversed; for, certainly, if this gentleman's arguments prove any thing, it is just the contrary of what he intended. This principle enables us to account for the result of the meeting. The party went to Leeds to recommend the Association to immediate and general adoption, and they did it in the way of which this is a specimen; the issue was, that Mr. Scarth's motion, declaring it to be a very needless and wicked thing, was carried by a large majority.


As every person possessed of the least discernment must have foreseen, the Association is widening the breach already produced, and new subjects of complaint and vituperation increase in their imagination with every step of their progress. They began their career by declaring that they desired “nothing new in Methodism;" that their sole object was to redress grivances, and restore the system to its primitive simplicity. By this specious artifice, the leaders of the agitation succeeded in decoying great numbers of unsuspecting leaders and others to join their ranks.

How does the matter now stand? Let the speeches delivered at the Music Hall furnish the reply.

After the report had been read, containing various details respecting the partial agitation of various circuits--the usual flourish of trumpets, and heroic fight against the preachers-rich men, organs, liturgies, and the Brunswick "TEMPLE,”—more serious matters came under the review of the patriotic and liberty-loving speakers. Amongst other subjects of debate, we observe that the rules of the Methodist body which disallow such meetings as the Association from the plain principle, that regnum in regno cannot exist very safely, and by which laws, now as at various former times, it has freed itself from turbulence and faction--became special objects of displeasure. We are not much surprised at this ; it would indeed be expecting too much from the virtue of agitators, to find them on the side of laws and order. The passions and principles which inspire them to the noble task of reform, will keep them from feeling much veneration for the laws which arrest them in their career, and preserve all who choose to take shelter under their protection from the power of their associated tyranny. These laws, which will not allow "unthinking and unreasonable men” to agitate the Societies—form them. selves into associations-set up an independent government-and stretch over the regularly-constituted meetings the sceptre of their dominion, are thrown at their feet, and trampled upon as anti-Christian and antiBritish. Not exactly so. It may be information to these gentlemen to be told, that neither Christianity nor English law will be found to tolerate principles analogous to theirs. If the primitive Christians had formed themselves into an association, we rather think, judging from various passages respecting individual disturbers, that they would have soon experienced the utmost punishment of the church-ejectment from its communion; and we know that English law does not tolerate a government by private juntas of self-elected patriots. .

If ever the well-principled and peaceful part of the Methodist community wished for proof of the absolute necessity and great utility of these laws, let the present proceedings furnish the demonstration. For ourselves, we hope that whatever alterations of law may be deemed proper, now, or at any future period, it will be seen that these laws connot be dispensed with; but ought rather to be amplified and strengthened. This will, of course, be considered illiberal and cruel. It can only be so considered by the breakers of the law; but if Methodism, in its institutions, is worth preserving, a rampart must be thrown up against the aggressions of these assailants; and especially the peace and piety of the people must, if possible, be rendered more secure against the pestiferous influence of men, who, to gratify some personal effront, or desire of pre-eminence, are not afraid to throw whole Societies into disorder.

But whilst these particular rules were made the matter of low and vulgar vituperation, the whole constitution of Methodism was caricatured

and held up to the scorn and contempt of the assembled people. ". Such is the natural progress of this fanaticism. These very parties set out in their career of infringement with professions of unmixed admiration of the constitution of Methodism, and avowed it as their duty, purpose, and intention, to bring the Connexion back again to the Plan of Pacification -the magna charta of our liberties; from which, they affirmed, we had departed. But now, at the Music Hall meeting, after the lapse of only a few weeks, they have received additional light, and discover that the constitution itself is corrupt; and much of the speaking was addressed to the assembly on the principle of the obligation of the Methodist body to break the rules of this most admirable constitution, for the purpose of its entire destruction, and establish another regime in its place. We are glad the matter has come to this; we now fully 'understand each other. · In the midst of much special pleading, garbled statements, and misrepresentations of the whole case, one of the speakers arrives at the conclusion--that the present government of Methodism ought not to exist; and that the object of the agitation is to prepare a government of “Methodism suited to these times.” One of the objects proposed is definite, the other not so; that which is definite and of easy comprehension is that the Association, imitating the conduct of a certain party in the state, propose the destruction of the present constitution and government of the Connexion. We never indeed entertained any doubt respecting this from the beginning; but certainly the Music Hall meeting has placed the fact beyond the shadow of a doubt. Their object is to annihilate the Conference, as it now exists, and consequently all those interests which stand associated with it. As we prefer open and manly warfare to bushfighting, we thank the Association for these avowals; and all the friends of Wesleyan Methodism have to determine whether the system they have hitherto cherished is still worth preserving. If they judge it to be so, they now know what they have to do; it is—to take their stand, firmly and decidedly, to resist, by all the means in their power, the now undisguised intentions of the destructives.

What is meant by “Methodism suited to these times" does not exactly appear from any thing said by the Rev. (!) speaker. It is probable the party are not fully prepared with any new system of church polity; and if we mistake not, they will find destruction a much easier task than the re-edification of the ruined fabric. But although the new constitution is not announced, it is perfectly easy to divine what its leading provision will be the transfer of the power now exercised by our mixed constitution into the hands of the Association. We really feel some curiosity to know how they would manage to exercise their newlyacquired functions. The Conference, they say, ought not to have the government; and on their principles, no Conference, however constituted, ought to possess this power. Their objections lie against any

« PreviousContinue »