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To provide for the safety of travellers, and prevent for the future such disastrous consequences, we have projected an ILLUMINATOR, which shall not only serve as a beacon to enable such as have deviated, and, wearied with their fruitless wanderings, to find their way back ; but, by its broad and steady light, keep those who are right, from swerving from their legitimate path.
In addition to this, a trusty Watchmun is appointed “to cry aloud and spare not,” to point out the imminent peril to which those will be exposed who may be tempted to pursue so devious and ruinous a course ; and especially to warn the young and inexperienced against being so captivated by specious appearances as to be induced to err, to their ultimate destruction, by plunging headlong into a slough from which they will never be able to extricate themselves.
But to be more serious. It must be obvious to the most superficial observer of passing events in this town and neighbourhood, that the objects proposed by the supporters of the Association calling itself the “ Granit Central Association," involve religious and constitutional questions, not merely of high moment as concerns the practical operation of the Methodist economy, but also the very existence of the connexion. The causes leading to this state of things will be judged of differently by different persons. It will answer the designs of the reformers, no doubt, to fix the odium of tyranny, jesuitism, priestcraft, and mal-practices of every description, on the Conference and the preachers, as forming the ground of their proceedings. We have no doubt, however, but other and perfectly different influences are in operation, to stimulate the assailants to their fierce and somewhat militant attack on the bulwarks of our Zion. If we mistake not, many of these causes are perfectly tangible. We remind the champions of anarchy that there are such passions as VANITY, DISAPPOINTED AMBITION, LOVE OF PRE-EMINENCE, and REVENGE.
And in times like the present, of great and stirring public excitement, when every quack has his nostrum for the cure of the ills of the world, it is not surprising to find eren religious empirics, in the warmth of their zeal for ecclesiastical changes, and, in the plenitude of their Wesleyan patriotism, though they may not sus. pect it, endeavouring to introduce the spirit of worldly policy into questions purely religious.
One circumstance may be considered favourable even in the present stage of this concussion of public opinion. It is, that the mask is thrown off, and there is now little disguise. Some of the most influential and uncompromising adherents of the Association have openly avowed their intention to agitate the connexion to its centre. This is honest, and their proceedings prove them to be sincere. We apprehend, however, that both the term, and the threat contained in it, are somewhat novel in their application to a religious community; but words are significant of things, and the adoption of the phrase clearly indicates from what school our opponents have taken their lessons: not, we fear, from that of Him who said* Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart;" but in that of the great “AGITATOR” of a neighbouring island.
Whether this new method of settling religious controversies, and the nature of religious rights and privileges, savours of the spirit and wisdom of this world, or of that which is “from above," remains to be shown by the effect. When calm and dispassionate reason, grounded on an appeal to the authority of the word of God, is abandoned for associated violence, inflammatory appeals to the pas. sions, and an organization of the multitude, with a view to effect great changes, the matter assumes an unequivocal character, and is, then, beyond suspicion-evil. If our notions of the genius and spirit of the gospel, as well as its written revelation, do not deceive us, Christianity cannot bear the rudeness of such assaultş, and its holy and lovely character must be destroyed by them.
The institutions of religion are only valuable as they tend to promote its own spirit, enjoyment, and practical observance. Both friends and foes have allowed that Methodism has hitherto been remarkable for this—that, by the blessing of God, it has been instru. mental in leading great numbers, both in this country and in distant lands, to the knowledge of Christ, and a state of joyous happiness both in life and death. To say the least, a system which has thus the broad seal of heaven affixed to its operations, should be touched, and especially by its disciples and friends, with caution and jealous affection ; if not on account of the wisdom and scriptural purity of its economical arrangements, yet on account of the blessing which has hitherto been upon it, and the spiritual peace and safety of those who repose beneath its shadow.
As this moderation cannot now be hoped for, the conductors of the Illuminator, though with great reluctance, enter the stormy region of public debate, convinced that the time is fully come when an effort must be made to arrest the course of anarchy, and that in the place where the press is employed to disseminate poison, the remedy ought to be provided ; and, having deliberately entered the arena with no sinister motives, but to serve the cause of truth, religion, and God, despite of difficulties, calumny, and reproach, they are resolved to the utmost of their ability, to hurl back the enemy's thunder on himself, and defend our Institutions, for the sake of the benefits they confer on our people and the world! In prosecuting this design, the objects proposed are few and simple:
1.-It is intended to examine the proceedings of the confederacy, and also to vindicate the system of Methodism by the authority and rules of Scripture. With all our heart we say—let the Word of God be enthroned, and that which cannot endure its light, sink into oblivion. .
II.-Whilst various technicalities of Methodistical law are dwelt upon for the purpose of blinding the public, and establishing the charge of dishonesty and tyranny against those who are called upon to administer it, the nature of the constitution and the unity of the whole is totally lost sight of. It is, therefore, intended to bring out the real, and, as far as possible, the whole code of Methodistic discipline, and show its bearing on this and all similar cases. III.- As exparte statements must, in the nature of things, be false in the impression produced, it is the design of the conductors of the Illuminator to give a full and fair statement of facts, and thus to supply the defects, and correct the errors of the Watch. man's Lantern. It may not be a very dignified task to follow the murky and crooked wanderings of that deceptive guide ; but duty calls, and—the call must be obeyed.
IV.-One of the weapons employed by the agitation is the defamation of character, on the pretence that public men are public property :—the agitators are reminded that they also now emerge from the obscurity of private life, and become public men. On their own principle, therefore, their deeds are open to criticism ; and if, in self-defence, we become assailants in our turn, they can have no ground of complaint. But whilst we promise to throw the shield of protection around the character of pious and honourable men, we hope it may not be necessary to descend to personalities in opposing the views of our assailants-not that we fear them, but we fear breaking in upon the decencies and courtesies of life. and we especially fear sin in ourselves, or provoking it in others.
And, finally, as the members of our society are liable to have their minds greatly disturbed, their peace interrupted, and suspicions infused as to the soundness of that system which has hitherto fostered their piety, and afforded them the means of great enjoyment and usefulness, we hope to be able to afford them some assistance in establishing their confidence, and leading their minds to a calm and fixed determination to remain faithful. And whilst the friends of old Methodism would cordially receive again those who have erred and strayed from them, they must be aware that they owe a special obligation to those who remain. Our advice to them at present is :- Take no hasty step. Wait a-while. You have hitherto heard only one side of the question. You will now have the opportunity of hearing the other. If, when you have calmly, dispassionately, and prayerfully examined the whole case, judge that it will be more edifying to your piety, honourable to
your character, useful in life, and safe for your souls, to abandon the Wesleyan Methodist society-to unite with agitation and walk by the obscure light of a Watchman's Lantern, rather than in the broad light of that great truth which you have professed and em. braced-nothing remains for us but the exercise of tender pity for human weakness, and prayer to God for the bestowment of a sounder discretion, and more noble and elevated feeling.
ORIGINAL ANECDOTE Of the late Rev. John Wesley, communicated to the preachers assem
bled in Conference, at Liverpool, August 1820, by the late Rev. Robert Miller :
“The first time I had the pleasure of being in company with the Rev. John Wesley, was in the year 1783. I asked him what must be done to keep Methodism alive when he was dead ?-to which he immediately answered:-“ The Methodists must take heed to their DOCTRINE-their EX, PERIENCE—their PRACTICE—and their disCIPLINE. If they attend to their doctrines only, they will make the people antinomians; if to the experimental part of religion only, they will make them enthusiasts; if to the practical part only, they will make them Pharisees; and if they do not attend to their discipline, they will be like persons who bestow much pains in cultivating their garden, and put no fence round it, to save it from the wild boar of the forest.”
THE SPIRIT OF THE FACTION.
“By their fruits ye shall know them,” is a test of conduct rarely deceptive. We intend to judge of the spirit and works of the faction now agitating the Methodist connexion, by this divine axiom.
As a first specimen, we present to our readers the literal copy of a hand-bill, industriously circulated in the town of Sheffield, the day previous to a sermon being preached on account of some public charity :.“ TO THE FRIENDS OF THE IMMACULATE ROBERT NEWTON.
- "The principal friends of modern Methodism in Sheffield, highly approving of the meek, upright, and truly Christian spirit, in which the Rev. R. Newton conducted himself towards those vile brethren, the Rev. J. R. Stephens, the Rev. Dr. Warren; and the Rev. J. Bromley, have taken the earliest opportunity of publicly expressing their approbation of the whole of his conduct, by inviting him to preach at Brunswick chapel on the evening of Tuesday the 25th instant.
"When all the supporters of despotism and priestcraft, the loyers of the corrupt; the unnatural, the unholy union of church and state, the friends and admirers of the Right Reỹ. Lord Bishop Bunting's Theological Institution--in à word, all' who love Bunting and slavery more than they love God and their libertywho will court the favour of liars, and flatter and foster the ambition of unprincipled tyrants, will do well to attend and support the eloquent lackey of an ambitious and priestly despot.