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government of the church, has been made by the Methodist New Connexion. Not belonging to the age when this connexion was formed by a division from the old stock, we do not at all participate in the passions and prejudices of those times; and are, we be. lieve, able to look upon it with the same catholic spirit as upon any other branch of the professing church. Our impression is, that their ministers and communion are intelligent, respectable, and pious. They have enjoyed internal peace: there has been no deviation from sound doctrine, and-saviny a few recent matters--they and their old friends have maintained a respectful bearing towards each other. But, as a Methodist Connexion, it has not answered the expectations of its founders and friends. Methodism in most of its branches, has been considered an aggressive system; and its ministers have never evinced much satisfaction unless inroads were being made on the territories of our spiritual foes, sinners converted to God, and the societies constantly augmented. It is in this respect that the New Connexion must have disappointed its friends: for after existing nearly forty years, and having several preachers, abont five thousand members, and numerous chapels to begin with, and we may fairly suppose, an accession at least of individuals from our own body-during the whole period, they only now number about fifteen thousand members! This it will be seen, is not, according to our Methodistic notions, a prosperous growth. Whether the lay delegation has hung as a dead weight upon the wheels of the machine, we have no means of ascertaining; but here is the fact: we have a mixed system of government in Conference, (for out of Conference the old connexion is equally a mised government,) and from some cause or other, it has not increased with the same rapidity as the old connexion : we therefore imagine, that it wants the unity-and, consequently, the energy which unity produces, and wbich is possessed by the old body. We are aware that an argument has been set up founded on the principle of geometrical progression, to shew, that the New Connexion has augmented its numbers more rapidly than the old. This respectable writer must have forgotten to take into consideration the fact, that on this principle every new aggression on the unoccupied territory of the world lessens the amount of material to be operated upon; and, in the nature of things, it may be expected, that a large body cannot, as the sphere of its operations lessens in any particular place, augment with the same rapidity as when they were small; and, as Dr. Chalmers would say, the outdoor population great. It strikes us, that the fair way of comparison would be to take the period when the old connexion numbered five thousand members—follow its progress for forty years; at the end, take the total, and compare it with the progress made by the New connexion. It will then be found by this mode of admeasurement, that the Old system operated with much greater vigour and effect on the masses of the people than the New. We deny all in vidious feeling, or improper motive, in introducing this question : our honest wish is, that this respectable off-shoot of the old tree may thrive and bear good fruit, and our only intention is to shew the members of our own body and the Association that, in the particular adduced, the New Connexion has not come up to our notions of progress and growth. With nothing to begin with no chapels, no coadjutors, no members of society: in the teeth of the world, its prejudices. and passions in array against them : mobs, tumults, and missiles of every description, obstructing their exertions—the two Wesleys laid the foundations of the societies; and with the assistance of the few labourers who came to their aid, increased their numbers from 1744, the period when the first Minutes were published, to 1782—thirty-eight years, (the time the New Connexion has existed) to 46,331 members. This is more than treble the amount of progress made by the New Connexion, in circumstances certainly more favourable, as regards the external state of things, than fell to their lot. We are unacquainted with the internal state of this branch of the Methodist familywe hope it is good; but they have not put forth externally that energy of action which is indicative of united and vigorous colinsels. It is perfectly true that a body of ministers, such as the Wesleyan Conference, may be guilty of some worldly indiscretions, from which the presence of the lay-delegates might save them; but there must be a balance of advantage in favour of the healthy, vigorous, and united efforts of the Old Connexion to extend the gospel, in the fact that their operations are not impeded by these over nice maxims of worldly prudence. We are not advocates for rash and foolish experimenting in religion, but it is highly probable, that if the preachers of the New Connexion had been left to form their own plans, to rest on their own resources and exertions, to contemplate the spiritual ruin and wants of the world, through the medium of those views which their commission teaches, without the patronage, counsels, and calculations of lay delegates, they would have made inuch greater progress. The wants of the world, and the danger and ruin of souls must not be looked at through the medium of worldly notious of prudence; but through the lessons of Scripture and the love of redemption. But perhaps we are troubling ourselves to no purpose on this topic, for-thirdlythe Association, through Mr. Gordon, speaks of establishing a Conference of their own, and transmuting the Association into this new formation :-“You must make yourselie's a Conference, and if you can, place yourselves in the situation in which they have placed themselves, with reference to the Methodist body, and all you want to do will lie dune." It is with extreme dificulty we write this sentence, without yielding to great risibility; a multitude of thoughts rush upon us to excite this feeling-bnt we must forbear.
1.-He denounces the Wesleyan Conference as unlawful: an unjust, 1!!!coustitutional, and, consequently, illegal assembly. This is one of the topics of his discourse. Then he adds, “You must make yourselves into a Conferevce: and, ihat we may understand he does not simply mean a meeting or assembly, hic adds, "place yourselves in the situation in which they have placed themselves, with refereece to the Methodist body," Now this is most amusing! We always thought, the gentlemen of the Association woulii have no great oljection to the exercise of ecclesiastical rule: it is now avowed.
2.-Mr. Gordon tells us that the Methodist Conference stands in a wrong relation to the body of the people. The Conference is unjustly coustituted to be the ruling authority of the body;" “individuals placed under any gorernment sliould, as a natural right, have a share in that government.” Then, with wonderful consistency, he exhorts the Association and ineeting to make themselves a Conference : "in relation to the Methodist body," such as the one now in existence. So then, it seems, that Mr. Gordon and his friends have no objections to stand in the same relation to the Methodist body as the Conference-though that relation, he tells us, ouybt not to exist!! They do not say whether the connexion is to be blessed with two instead of one of these good things. We suppose, their intention is not to favour the Methodist public with an additional Conference, but to subvert the old, rotten borough, and enfranchise a new one: the old black coats, bushy wigs, bright barnacles, and thread-bear theology are to be bundled out; and the “gill men”— but we stop, enthroned in their place.How different things can stand in similar situations, we do not yet understand. For instance-in what way a Conference of laymen can stand in the same relation to the Wesleyan body as a Conference of ministers, we have yet to learn. l'erhaps, Mr. Gordon will inform us the next speech he makes in the Music Hall.
3.—But our Solon and Cicero, united in the same person, tells us in many parts of his speech, in effect-that the goverument by a Conference of preachers is unjust and wrong, because not elective; and the notion of inherent rights is nonsense and the preachers have uo power but what is given by the people. Ou reading this our impression was, that of course the system of representation was that of our oracle. Deceive not thyself, gentle reader, he goes on to exhort the Association to “make themselves into a Conference.” Not to seek for themselves the free, unbiassed, independeut suffrages of the people-but to make themselves a Conference, and place themselves in the same relation to the Methodist body as the present. Our orator knew whom he had to address: that they were the same parties who had formed themselves into a “Grand central Association;" had passed resolutions to affect the interests of the whole connexion-carry confusion into the societiesmuvcrawe and coerce the constitutional meetings and by intimidation and slander bring the people into their views. Prepared by these previous acts of audacious usurpation, he judges that they would not hesitate to do on a larger scale that which, in fact, they had done already; and that the self-elected Association could! not object to become a self-elected Conference. But in the midst of all this, what becomes of the principle of representation and delegated rights? They argue, that the preachers have no inherent rights : their powers are all conferred by the people; and if they claim to exercise any which they do not give, it is a gross fraudl and usurpation; and then, with a strange inconsistency, they propose to "form THEMSELVES irlo r Conference.” From all this, one of two things must be evident to the merest child: the first is, that these men know not what they are saying and doing; or, secondiy, are playing off a gross fraud ou our people aud the world, when they accuse the preachers ard the Conference as possessing and exercising an illegal, arbitrary, and tyrannic power-for they openly propose to possess and wicle it themselves. Let them take which alternative they please. On the horns of this dilemma we place and leave them.
But there is in this proposition respecting the election of themselves into a Coufere uce a most laughable proviso. It is found in the term, if you can: “You must make yourselves into a Conference, and, if you can, place yourselves in the situation in which they have placed themselves, in reference to the Methodist hody." Yes: here is the rub_"if you can.” This misgiving seems hardly to comport with the firm and couragcons bearing of this noble phalanx of reformers in other parts of their proceedings. We were given to understand, that the old fabric was tottering to its fall; and after losing heart, i he residents wcre about to quit it! What, then, do the Association, after all, really believe that there is some doubt respecting their success! That the old garrison have hardilood enough to stand a siege! Yes; and we can tell these gentlemen that they are not only prepared to stand a siege, but are resolved to repel every attack of theirs ; and they would deem themselves the most dastardly and base betrayers of a noble cause that ever turned their back on an enemy, if they yielded one iota to foes of their size and strength. Let Mr. Gordon and his friends read the fate of their frantic and mischievous procecdings in the declarations of the connexion. We do not despise them: we despise no men; but if the Methodist coonexion is to fall before this array of imbecilily, it is wot worth preserving: for it cannot have vigour enough to keep it for any levgth of time from self-decomposition. But we know the amount of intelligence, principle, and piety of the connexion too well to have any apprehension for its safety. We tell Mr. Gordon and his compeers that they cannot carry their point; and the sooner they come to their sober sonses the better, both for themselves and all parties concerned.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ILLUMINATOR. Sir-The party, which arrogates to itself the title of “ Wesleyan Methodist Association,” may be said to have had their “field day” at the Music Hall, on Thursday, the 22d of January. They mustered all their forces, tried their newest system of tactics, and practised their manæuvres. Of the efficiency of that system, and the nature of their manæuvres, I may, perhaps, give you my opinion one of these days. For the present, I shall content myself with some little notice of one of their preliminary arrangements.
Advertisements were inserted in the public papers, calling the meeting of the Association at the Music Hall, in which was included this announcement :-" The preachers of both circuits have been invited to attend.” Now the preachers had not “been invited to attend,” and the statement contained a falsehood; but, as invitations were subsequently sent, though days afterwards, I will not dwell on that point, but proceed to notice the intent of the framers of the advertisement, in “inviting the preachers to attend." To the mass of readers, it would doubtless, as intended, convey an impression of fairness and honesty on the part of the associators. To all who had any knowledge of the character and previous conduct of the Association, it seemed, what it afterwards proved to be, the semblance only of fairness, and a mask of honesty. “Invited to attend !” For what? To hear themselves and the whole body of the preachers called “ despotic,” “ tyrannical," “ dishonest,”. “ men with whom no honest man can longer associate," &c. To be insulted, as in the Leeds-street vestry, and reviled, as they have been in all places, whether absent or present? To hear the whole structure of Methodism, which they know to be
blessed of God, to the salvation of hundreds of thousands, and which they have spent their whole lives in upholding, condemned, as “not based on truth and righteousness”? No, no! The associators could not hope for this. Again—for what? To afford them an opportunity calmly to discuss the points in dispute ? Oh! No, no! The preachers could not hope for this. Even by demeaning their sacred office and character, and consenting to meet, in a public and packed assembly, their rebellious and expelled disciples, they could not hope for this. The meetings at Leeds, Bolton, and elsewhere, proved too plainly how much danger the associators apprehended from, and their dread of, discussion. That their temper and feelings have not been altered by time, I will show before I have done. “Invited to attend,” then, implied no more than a hypocritical assumption of fair play, intended to impose on the uninformed and on the unwary. It pledged the associators to nothing.* They knew the preachers could not attend; and, if by chance it should have happened otherwise, they had not promised any thing.
But I said an invitation was at length sent to the preachers. Having fortunately obtained a copy of the precious document, I send it you, and will illuminate it, in order to save you so much trouble. En voici--
« Rev. Sir--A Meeting of the Members of the Methodist Society will be held at the Music Hall, Bold-street, on Thursday next, 22 January, at half-past six o'clock in the evening, for the purpose of hearing a report of the proceedings of the Wesleyan Methodist Association, and of discussing the topics which now agitate the Connexion. ..." As it has been held out repeatedly to the public by means of the press, that the statements of the Association are untrue, and their alleged grievances fictitious, full opportunity will be given at this Meeting for any preacher or official character to reply to the instances brought forward of repeated violations of the laws of 1795 and 1797.--Yours very respectfully,
J. A. PICTON, Liverpool, 19th January, 1835.
JOHN BRIDSON, Secretaries. The first paragraph I pass with the observation only, that the word discussing is either not understood, or its meaning has been foolishly perverted by the associators at their meetings, where they have substituted for discussion a new topic of statements, be they true or false. . The second paragraph is more pithy, “as it has been held out,” &c., conveys to us the intelligence, that the associators were aware and winced under the fact, of the press having branded their statements with falsehood, and their grievances as fictitious. By the notable promise of “ a full opportunity of reply," which follows they flattered themselves they would remove the stigma. But when I find how “false” and “ fictitious” was this promise itself, as demonstrated by the result of the meeting, I am bound to say the press was right. “Preachers and official characters” are promised “ a full opportunity of reply.” Here we have the associators venturing upon a little more than was contained in the advertisement.
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-- - -* * As if, and, to all appearance, for the pupose of making assurance doubly sure, and effectually secure themselves from the dreadeil interruption, the meeting was suddenly ordered to take place a day -oorher than intended, and a Thursday evening was selected, of all others, in order to give the "a ful opioitunity;" that is, an evening when they were all engaged, as the associators were well aware, in the service ol their respective chapels.
Here is a private assurance of fair play on the part of the Association, which they dared not make publicly, lest the public should have expected its fulfilment. What they feared to publish, you, Sir, shall publish for them; and though it will be too late to keep them honest, it will, at least, expose their fraud.
Well, then, “ statements” were made in abundance, and “ grievances” alleged by the associators (including the Reverend innkeeper), and an “official character” did rise to reply. His party had been ridiculed—his pastors slandered-his church government held up to contempt and abhorrence—and all this by men who professed to love that church, and to desire its welfare and extension. He might well expect to be favourably heard while pleading its cause—while endeavouring to dispel erroneous views—to reconcile conflicting statements—and to promote harmony among its members. In addition to this reasonable expectation, there was the plain, irrevocable promise of the Association, signed by its secretaries, that he, an “official character,” should have “a full opportunity of reply.” Such honour as the Association had, was pledged to secure to him this full “opportunity.” And how was that honour redeemed? What became of the sanctity of the pledge ? Scarcely was a sentence uttered when he was met by a storm of uproar, cries, and threats, that lasted for several minutes. Again he threw himself upon the candour of the meeting, and ventured on the honour of the Association, for the “ full opportunity of reply.” What the meeting might, per· haps, have granted, the Association took care to refuse. Candour and honour fled at the prospect of opposition and confutation. The Reverend (? ) Mr. Gordon demanded the interference of the chair, and the honourable, impartial chairman (Farrar, by name-let him be immortalized !) nothing loath, extinguished by his authority, the unfounded hopes of fair play, which the “official character" had entertained. Even the garbled report which the associators themselves have circulated in their organ, the Lantern, cannot cover the enormity of this breach of a plain promise. What are their own admissions ? They confess the “ official character” was stopped by “much cheering and laughter" (the Association's terms for immense uproar, cries of “turn him out,” “sit down," &c.) Again, says the Lantern, “one Walthew was proceeding with his observations upon the dispute between the Conference and the Association, when
Mr. Gordon (not reverend this time) put it to the chairman, whether any individual had a right to interrupt the meeting, except for the sake of explanation.
The Chairman (Farrar !) thought they certainly did not come there to hear speeches against their right to associate.” !!! - Excellent Farrar! Inimitable chairman! Embodied emblem of the principles of the Association !
I ask you, Sir-I ask any man, not an associator, was there