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“Yes, Methodists of Sheffield, go and hear the Rev. R. Newton, who has immor. talized himself in the annals of infamy by the blackness of his treachery, the malignity of his spirit, and the baseness of his ingratitude, to one of his best friends and warmest adınjrers. In short he has set at defiance the commands of God, trampled under his feet every thing that is pure and holy, and violated every principle of truth and honour, in order to blast the character of Mr. Bromley, and to please the Rev. Jabez Bunting.
“To be serious; will you support such men ? Will you sanction such conduct? Will you let your tyrants trample you under their feet ? No! If you have the love of God within your hearts-if you value that liberty with which Christ has made you free-arouse yourselves, and, with a voice loud as ten thousand thunders, demand your * rights and liberties. FIDES.
“ November 22, 1834.”
We leave this production to make its own impression, with one remark—it is this :-If the bland and amiable spirit, uniform Christian deportment, unsullied honour, laborious services “in season and out of season,” together with kindness and courtesy towards all-whether rich or poor, which have rendered him next to universally beloved, could not protect the Rev. R. Newton from so foul and diabolical an attack, let all honest, honourable, and Christian people judge of the animus of the faction, which could, in its cold blooded malice, hurl the assassin's dart at a character so spotless and a name so endeared, not only to the Wesleyan connexion, but to the religious public at large. And when they see behind the hollow professions of a superior liberality a dark and fiend. like plotting to blight the usefulness of good men—to stop the current of private charity, and undermine all the institutions of the church-let them determine whether or not the time is come for them to unite in every place to frown down this unholy confederacy—protect the character of each other-vindicate the cause of God against this desecration of its purity—and throw around the institutions of the connexion the shield of their defence, by meeting manfully the assault of an enemy, more wicked - because less honourable—than the avowed opposition either of infidelity-or the world.
THE CASE “WITHOUT A PARALLEL;" Or, David Ronland and the late Leeds-street Leaders' Meeting,
Liverpool. i Their attack having been repulsed and their charge converted into a retreat, they affect to forget that they were the assailants, and, with a meanness worthy of their presump. tion, they now complain of harshness and severity.”—British Magazine, 1834, p. 669.
“ The following case of Mr. Rowland, and the others of the Liverpool North Cir. cuit, we venture to assert, is hitherto without a parallel in the annals of eyen Methodistic despotism.”—Lantern, p. 4.
“ Thus ended a series of the most extraordinary exhibitions of arbitrary power, that ever disgraced the annals of Methodism, in which a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which publishes peace and good-will towards men, is found doing all he can, not to save souls, but to cut them off from communion with the Church of Christ, and again turn them over to the temptations and snares of the world.”—Lantern, p. 11.
That the “charge” was made by the very men who can now whine so very affectingly, is known to the town of Liverpool, and is pre-supposed
by the proceedings narrated by themselves. They profess to give us an account of a “trial.” Now this is generally a thing which follows the commission of an offence. The transgressors are commonly the first in the march of criminal justice, and the executors of the law bring up the rear. So it was in this case. Private consultations were held, articles were published, large meetings were openly called, and the character of the preachers fiercely assailed. All this was done in a tone of the most bold and arrogant defiance. The cry of victory and triumph over the humbled preachers and fallen Methodism was already raised. To be sure it was a cruel thing to put such meek, modest, and peaceable people on their “ trial” at all! “Such a case,” they “ venture to assert, is hitherto without a parallel in the annals of even Methodistic despotism." If so, the Methodists must have lived under a very lenient government.
That these trials were altogether uncalled for will not now be main. tained. Even the members of the Association allow that they have violated the laws of Methodism. Mr. Farrar, the chairman of the illegal Association, when on his trial, admitted, that the two institutions could not exist together. At the Leeds meeting, David Rowland, in his speech after reading the rule of 1796, said, “Do you want to know who has violated that law? I have; yes, I have, and I glory in it; and I would scorn to bear the name of an Englishman if I had not."* The parties who brought the matter forward in the leaders' meeting acted under the same impression. They knew that David Rowland had violated the law, and that he “gloried in it;" all hope of any thing like repentance and amendment was taken away ; and, therefore, he was put upon his trial. The partizans of David Rowland will not hesitate to say, that his avowal of such a sentiment in public, was a bold, noble, and meritorious action. But for persons in Liverpool to act upon the principle which he 80 solemnly avowed in Leeds, they “ venture to assert is hitherto without a parallel in the annals of even Methodistic despotism !”.
In order that the reader may be furnished with a key to the subsequent proceedings on this case, there is one fact which specially claims his attention. The culprit and the jury were accomplices, and perfectly understood one another! Even by the glimmering light of the Lantern, it will be seen that Brook and Co. sat upon Rowland's trial, and Rowland, though expelled, continued to sit upon theirs. They “protested” against his expulsion, and then he, of course, as in duty bound, “protested" against their's in return. That a majority of the leaders were deeply pledged to the Association is perfectly notorious. During the proceedings, indeed, the complainants who brought the charge objected to this very strange state of things, and ventured to suggest, that such leaders as could be proved to be particeps criminis, should retire from the rest and leave the case to be decided by men of clean hands. This proposition was rejected with contempt! It was declared to be an unconstitutional
* Leed: Times, Dec. 2.
interference with the "rights” of the leaders! They were utterly amazed that any man should imagine, even for a moment, that accomplices were not perfectly competent to act as jurors ! The case must be tried by themselves or not at all. Yet the authors of this monstrous injustice, as if they had endured, instead of inflicting it, can now turn round and say, such are the injuries that we have received, that “we venture to assert, our case is hitherto without a parallel in the annals of even Methodistic despotism.”
A jury of accomplices, trying a brother, would be very likely to find out a flaw in the indictment, or some other informality in the mode of procedure. So it actually came to pass. As soon as the charges against Da. vid Rowland had been read, an honest juryman jumped up and begged leave to ask, whether the direction given by our Lord, in Matthew xviii. 15—17, had been strictly and literally observed ? The plaintiff said that he had seen the accused person, and told him his fault between themselves alone. So far so good. But then, as he had not taken with him one or troo more, it was submitted that the case could not proceed. Another juryman (who was himself put upon his trial a fortnight after !) observed with vast solemnity, that the objection was fatal, and, therefore, the case must fall to the ground. The ineffable hypocrisy of all this is indeed " without a parallel !” The very men who, together with the other members of the Association, had assailed the character of the Methodist preachers generally, and that of Mr. Bunting in particular, in every form that malignity can assume; but which of them ever complied with the direction—"go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone"? It seems, the race of men referred to by St. Matthew, chap. xxiii. 4, is not yet quite extinct :-“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers." In order that the offenders and their partizans might be left without excuse, they were allowed to have the thing in their own way. Accordingly, the complainant “ took with him one or two more," and in the course of the following week, David Rowland was honoured with a visit by three gentlemen who, at any rate, were quite equal to himself. As men are generally pleased when their advice is followed, it was hoped that this proceeding would have given satisfaction. But no! As it was now apparent, that the evil day was only put off, and that, after all, the trial must proceed, this visit, so respectful in itself, and the very thing themselves had requested and prescribed, they now “venture to assert, is without a parallel, in the annals of even Methodistic despotism.”
There is another method by which a jury may conveniently help an accomplice on his trial before them, though it requires a little impudence to adopt it; and that is, by returning a verdict before the evidence has been heard. This grand expedient was tried at Leeds-street. The charge having been read, the honest* juryman was instantly on his feet, to pro
* Our readers ought to know who the conscientious juryman is: he is none other
pose that, "in the opinion of this meeting, the said charges are frivolous and vexatious.” The motion was seconded by Brook, who was himself placed on his trial the following week (!) and, therefore, did not act without a reason. The proposition so moved and seconded was generally hailed by the meeting. Now, David Rowland was charged with being present at certain meetings, taking part in their proceedings, and especially with being connected with the Association. All this might be very good, or it might be very bad. The quality of these acts depended upon what was said and done at the meetings in question, and what were the principles and objects of the Association; these points were to be ascertained by the evidence about to be adduced. But before one question was asked, or a single witness had opened his mouth, did this matchless jury propose the above resolution, as their honest and conscientious ver. dict. The Lantern says, page 5, “Mr. Jackson said, the motion was too hastily proposed.” Why, to be sure, when jurymen intend to give a verdict according to the evidence, they generally think right to hear the evidence first of all. And a very high authority hath said (Prov. xviii. 13), “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” Of this " folly and shame" the chairman did not wish either himself or the meeting to be guilty, and, therefore, naturally observed, that the motion had been “too hastily proposed :" he refused to put it, and insisted on the evidence being heard before the verdict was given. Honest men would have freely chosen this course, and marked it out for themselves. Here it became a matter of compulsion, and is therefore complained of as a tyranny; for they “ venture to assert, that the case is hitherto without a parallel in the annals of even Methodistic despotism.”
There is no limit to human ingenuity! This jury of accomplices sought to help a brother on his trial, in the next place, by turning sulky! Though abundantly ready to give a verdict before the evidence was heard, yet, not being permitted to do that, they then determined, after it was heard, to return no verdict at all! The fact, indeed, of David Rowland's con. nexion with the Association had all the certainty that human eyes and ears could give, and was as notorious as the newspapers could make it ; but whether a majority of the leaders were convinced or unconvinced of its truth, is a matter at which we can only guess, as they observed a total silence on the subject. The question was asked, “are the charges proved or not proved ?" But the great bulk of the hands were unlifted up either the one way or the other, just like the congregation of Elijah, who could not open their mouth in defence of Baal, and would not open them in acknowledgment of the true God. So they were silent as death. “ The people answered him not a word.”-1 Kings xviii. 21.
Yet some half-dozen men could see no reason in the world why they should not believe a fact which scores could attest, and which no man
than our worthy host of the White Lion, Dale-street, Liverpool, who has exhibited himself for some years among the advertisements of the Methodist Magazine, under the patronage of the names of the Rev. Messrs. Bunting and Stephenson; and in con. sequence of which his house bas been the resort of the Methodists, of every grade, who were emigrating to America. The non-appearance of the advertisement in the Maga. zine for this month leads us to imagine that he is, at lenyth, conscious his recent condaet and the auspices of those respectable names are in very sorry keeping.-Ed.
had the hardihood to deny. Nor did they hesitate to declare their belief by holding up a hand; this remnant of common honesty spoiled the whole affair. For when six hands were held up in affirmation of his guilt, and not a finger presumed to attest his innocence, the chairman was compelled to treat him as a convicted man. That a small minority should be convinced by irresistible evidence, that they should avow their belief in a fact which no man living denied or doubted, and that they should do all this, although a large majority did not choose to be convinced at all, or to speak at all, is doubtless intolerable tyranny, and loudly calls for a radi. cal reform. The friends of the Lantern, of course, respect the rights of private judgment, but the daring conduct of this minority, they ven. ture to assert, is hitherto without a parallel in the annals of even Methodistic despotism !”
From these statements it will be seen, that the system of sulkiness, however plausible in the theory, was found not to answer in practice, as it could not effectually prevent the conviction of the accused parties. In order to avoid this unpleasant result, when Brook and Co. were put upon their trial, this jury of accomplices determined that the perilous question of “guilty, or not guilty,” should not be submitted to the meeting at all! The evidence had been adduced in the midst of indescribable uproar and confusion, when the chairman proceeded to speak in substance as follows:-“The names of these brethren have appeared in the newspaper, as members of the managing committee of the Association. If this was done with their own consent, they belong to that body, and the charge is proved. If not, a forgery has been committed by somebody, and the Association has been practising an imposition upon the public. The accused will say nothing on the subject themselves, as they refuse to plead; you will, therefore, say by your vote, which of these two things, in your judgment, is åecording to truth.” Before this statement could be concluded, the chief actors were on their feet, in a state of the most violent excitement, and “I object to that question,” and “it shan't be put-it shan't be put,” were vociferated in every direction. To prevent the possibility of such an obnoxious question going to the meeting, a new chairman was called for, who immediately began to exercise the functions of 'his office! As to the poor superintendent preacher, after having been loaded with insult and abuse for hours together, he was formally rejected, and was, therefore. compelled to retire. Yet these fierce and lawless men, now speak of themselves as prodigies of innocence and suffering ! Their case, they “ venture to assert, is hitherto without a parallel in the annals of even Methodistic despotism!”.
These agents of the Association believed themselves born to set the Conference right, and to guide the Methodist connexion ; and, by way of showing the world how well they were qualified to fill the situation to which they aspire, they commit an act of official suicide! A body of leaders, without a preacher at its head, is ucknown to Methodism. It can claim no privilege. It is enti tled to no protection. As the expelled superintendent deemed it his duty to give them no further trouble, they were, of course, informed by the trustees, that they could no longer be suffered to assemble on the trust premises! The meetings have since been held at the Pilot-effice, in the Old Church-yard. After declaring a hundred times that they were officers in the Methodist society, and that no power on earth should put them out, they have fairly ex