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three Methodist chapels thére. Dr. Clarke, when in Birmingham, used to make our friend's house his home. Soon after the fatal Conference which sanctioned the proceedings of the late special district meeting, in 1827, the Dr, came to his house as usual, happening to pass through Birmingham; and in the course of conversation touching on this topic, observed " The Conference have spent so many days in doing the devil's work, and they have done it as the devil wished.” And though they say “we would not, willingly, insert any thing calculated, in the slightest degree, to injure the personal character of any individual, whether priest or layman,” yet this was such a choice morsel of slander that they could not resist the temptation of repeating it in No. 9.
Should any of our readers suppose that the most “respectable gentleman ” and the “ friend” whose house was Dr. Clarke's home, is one and the same person, and that the "anecdote” was given on his authority, and is, therefore, true'in itself; it is to be feared they do not yet understand the true character of either the paragraph or the party. The following letter, addressed to the Rev. John Waterhouse, having illuminated ourselves, perhaps may do the same for others.
« Vauxhall Grove, Birmingham, March 6, 1835. “Dear Sir-I am surprised to see it stated in the Watchman's Lantern, of Feb. 25, 1835, that my venerable and highly esteemed friend, Dr. Adam Clarke, in a conversation when at my house, after the Leeds special District Meeting, in 1827, on that subject said “The Conference has spent so many days in doing the Devil's work, and they have done it as the Devil wished." It is true the Dr. paid me a visit at that time, and I hope I shall not forget or lose the benefit of his conversation and prayers. But I do solemnly declare he never made use of such expressions as the above, or any thing like them; nor do I believe he was capable of doing so. He always spoke well and most affectionately of his brethren the preachers; and although Mr. Moore and he differed on some points, he always said "He is a great and good man."
" I wish this to appear in contradiction of the false statement in the Lantern; you will please to use it for that purpose in what way you think proper.
“I am, Sir. respectfully yours,
"SAMUEL HICKLING.". “There is nothing new under the sun.” Some centuries ago, the two spirits of lying and liberty, of falsehood and freedom, appeared in a state of alliance. It was the high born spirit of freedom which said "We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man;" but it was connected with a spirit derived from a " father" who had no "truth in him.” What has happened once may happen again. The Methodists and their friends may be deceived by counterfeit tickets, and other devices, as the eleven were with the man who dipped his finger with them in the dish. These tricks may be associated with violence as great and as successful as that which said, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us ;" but when the wielders of such weapons begin to talk of the great good they have done or will do to Methodism, or to the general cause of human salvation, it is just like Judas and his employers taking to themselves the credit of having redeemed the world.
THOUGHTS ON THE ASSOCIATION. “ Combustible materials !"_“ Application of the match to the train !"_" Watchman's Lantern !”—“ Dark Lantern !”—“Mine sprung !”—Guy Fawkes : gunpowder plot and the Association !”— These words and thoughts—and your readers have met with them before-shot past each other in my mind, with the rapidity of lightning, while reading your introductory remarks in the first number of the Illuminator ; in which you have humorously characterised and justly denounced that contemptible publication, called the Watchman's Lantern. The whole scheme of the infamous gunpowder plot of 1605mits origin, plan, contrivers, and failurerushed into my mind : presenting itself as the prototype of the ridiculously called, “ Grand Central Association,” in its “organized determined opposition” to the unity, order, and prosperity of the Wesleyan societies ; and in its subterranean and desperate, but futile attempts to “ blow up” the Conference and constitution of Wesleyan Methodism. The history of that infernal design of
Popish malignity, and hostility against the Protestant religion and liberties of our country, recurred to my mind; and the “gunpowder plot” of 1605 against Protestantism, and the “ Association's ” plot of 1835 against Wesleyan Methodism appeared so to assimilate in spirit, counsel, design, and work, while one point of resemblance after another presented itself to view, that I could not help snatching up a fragment of paper, and recording the coincidence of which, with a few alterations, the communication that I now send you, is a copy. : I thought-Why look at the spirit of the Association, as breathed forth in all the speeches, publications, and proceedings of that “grand” body-with all their professions of piety. How little of that “charity which envieth not-vaunteth not itself—is not puffed up-doth not behave itself unseemly-rejoiceth not iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth,” &c.! On the contrary-how factious, inflammatory, suspicious, and malevolent! Or look at the counsels of those sapient reformers : how little of the “wisdom that is from above—that is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated; full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy”! Rather-what crooked policy, intrigue, and artifice-with weekly meetings held for the purpose of collecting, talking over, and then spreading abroad the idle stories and wicked calumnies, which have been forged during the week, to injure the character of Methodist preachers generally, and those preachers and members in particular who have, by their firm and consistent conduct, become most obnoxious to these enemies of genuine Methodism-spreading also their inflammatory addresses and earnest appeals, for pecuniary aid to carry on law proceedings, among our Sunday School and factory children!
Observe, ton, the “ combustible materials" which these desperate men tell us “ have been long collecting ;” and with which they are filling their “ magazine” and “mine,” in “ Christian Advocates "_"Watchman's Lanterns "_" affectionate addresses ” —“Little Sermons "_" Chancery proceedings ”—with personal invective, misrepresentations, slanders, and falsehoods, in abundance. It is by the explosion of these precious materials that they hope to see the “ turrets quiver," the “ citadel totter," and the sacred edifice of Methodism “blown up,” which has stood, though frequently assailed, and from various quarters, for more than a century—and has acquired beauty from age, and stability from time.
We may remark also, that as the conspirators against the religion and liberties of these realms, in 1605, had their Guy Fawkes and tool, who declared that he was ready to blow himself up with those whom he intended to destroy, and to bury himself beneath the ruins which he intended to create : so it appears that the Association have their tool, which they are handling and employing in this conspiracy. He has been detected “ dressed in a cloak and boots, with a dark lantern in his hand--the matches and other combustibles being found in his pockets; the atrociousness of his guilt and the despair of pardon inspiring him with resolution,” having embarked in this enterprise, and pledged himself to his employers, he seems determined to go all lengths and to run all risks, and all from love to Methodism!
And then the design of this “grand Association." True, it is not to blow up, with gunpowder, the king, his nobles and his commons; or, to sever and scatter, high in air, the mangled limbs and bodies of men : but it is to separate friends—to sow discord among brethren—to disturb, divide, and scatter peaceable and united societies of Christian men, contented with, and thankful for the religious ordinances and privileges which they enjoy. It is by stigmatising the ministers of religion with the epithets of Popes, tyrants, mercenaries, &c.—to alienate from them the people of their charge, and to induce them not only to withdraw their esteem, but to withhold their support from their institutions, and to leave them, their aged and afflicted fathers and brethren, their widows and orphans, to poverty and want. It is by re-echoing the popular cry about the people's rights” and “religious liberty,” to promote a spirit of insubordination—to set at defiance all ecclesiastical order and discipline-and to “organize a determined opposition” to all scriptural, legitimate pastoral authority in the church of God. It is by destroying an imaginary domination among the preachers, to establish over them a real and oppressive one among themselves ; and to shew, that they are generally the greatest tyrants, when they get the power, who are loudest in their cry against oppressions and tyranny. In a word—it is to revolutionize Wesleyan Methodism, and to make it something essentially different from what it ever was, and from what, I hope, it ever will be.
And I ask also, what have these conspirators against the wellbeing of our connexion already effected? They have said, “ Come with us and see our zeal for the Lord,” and it must be acknowledged that they have done much. They have succeeded in beguiling many simple-hearted and pious persons—they have produced discord in families—they have separated leaders from their members, and members from their leaders—they have annihilated classesthey have disturbed and injured congregations—they have poisoned the minds of Sunday school children, and taught them to contemn their ministers—and what is most to be deplored, they have injured if not ruined many precious souls ; their public meetings and inflammatory speeches, have produced a most withering and baneful influence on the piety of many who have been persuaded to attend them, and listen to the slanders that have there been propagated ; and having been tempted to leave those Christian ministers and friends with whom they had been happily united, and through whose instrumentality they had been brought into the fold of Christ; are now without a fold and without a shepherd, and
many of them, it is to be apprehended, will never more be united to the church of God.
Now I fearlessly charge all this upon the spirit and counsels, the designs and doings of this “grand central association ;” and from what I have seen and known of its working and influence, and I happen to know a good deal too much about it, I denounce it as a most wicked conspiracy against the just and scriptural rights of the preachers-a most base attempt to divide a happy and united people, and an experiment made upon the piety and intelligence of the Methodist connexion, which, succeed as it may, must ultimately cover the contrivers and agents of it with confusion and disgrace. In conclusion, I may observe, that I am no party man; and though I love Methodism as it is, and thank God for it, I am far from thinking that it cannot be improved ; but from my soul do I abhor the whole scheme of the anti-Wesleyan “Assuciation." Manchester.
THE METHODIST NEW CONNEXION, AND ITS REPORTED PROSPERITY.
" He that is first in his own cause seemeth just, but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him."
Successful exertion to promote the cause of Christ in the world is an object which, to every religious community, and especially to its pastors and teachers, must be exceedingly desirable. This desideratum has, by the blessing of Almighty God, been realized in the Wesleyan Methodist connexion to a most gratifying extent. Its triumphs of faith, hope, and charity are to be found in many parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. When the ministers and friends of this community have appealed to its success, to demonstrate that the system which the New Connexion avow to be both unscriptural and tyrannical, “works well,” it has been customary to refer them to the system of Popery, and to the vast amount of territory over which it has diffused its power. The sophistry of this mode of reply is, we trust, at length seen by some of the more respectable members of that body. They now appear to see what we have long seen that the case of the Romish church spreading a corrupted Christianity, accommodated to the passions and habits of fallen beings, and that of the Methodist body, extending an unadulterated Christianity, at open war with all that is “earthly, sensual, and devilish” in the world, is without analogy, and cor sequently without illustration. We are now grarely informed, by their most talented writer, that the numerical prosperity of the connexion to which he belongs, exceeds that of the Wesleyan Methodists
and he has selected the last ten years for the demonstration of his principle! But this kind of reasoning has, in a former number of the Illuminator, been proved unsound. We have appealed to facts, which are known to be " stubborn things,"mand these bear undeniable testimony that the Old system, during thirty-eight years-from 1744 to 1782-operated, under circumstances far more inauspicious, with greater vigour and effect on the masses of the people than the New. Its prosperity was above treble the ainount of the New system, with all its announced superior claims to the patronage of scripture, reason, and the British constitution. Having put our readers in remembrance of these things, we may ask-Why has the respectable minister to whom we have made reference, confined himself to the last ten years ? Why did he not increase the number? An examination of the Minutes of the New Connexion will, we are inclined to think, supply the reason. Beyond this chosen ground is to be seen "the nakedness of the land.” It is true, the Minutes of 1824, report an increase of thirty-one members ! But the Minutes of 1823 report a decrease of members! The Minutes of 1822 report another decrease of members! And another decrease is reported in the year 1820 !
Convinced that we have said more on this humbling state of things, than in certain quarters is likely to be welcome, let us test the working of the New system for the last half-score years. The assertions which are industriously propagated of its prosperity for this given period, are calculated to mislead the uninformed. Minds of this elass will be led by such statements to believe, that the increase of the New Connexion consists of a multitude of persons who, by the application of its moral machinery on the " out-door population,” have been converted from sin to holiness. But such a belief would not be in accordance with the facts of the case. This augmentation of numbers is partly out of the world, and partly out of other churches ! The number of their circuits in Great Britain was, in 1824, twenty-four. It amounted, in 1834, to thirty, making for ten years an increase of six. Had not New Connexion Methodism in Scotland expired during the interval, this increase would have been a little larger, How have these additional circuits been formed ? Some by the division of old ones, and the rest chiefly by the dissentions of other religious societies. Truro, Dawley Green, &c., have become circuits of the New Connexion, under circumstances which justify us in saying "you reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour : other men laboured, and ye have entered into their labours.” In some of their old circuits whose numbers stand higher in 1834 than they did in 1824, they have societies which their Conference never sent a Paul to plant, nor an Apollos to water. No. These societies through the influence of self-willed and unruly men, seceded from those pastors who, « in Christ Jesus had begotten them through the gospel.” We wish this Christian community would henceforth cease to proselyte, and begin, in good earnest, to evangelize the neglected and the perishing.
We are fully aware of the existence of difficulties which are peculiar to its form of government in the way of carrying on any grand plans for the salvation of the lost. There was formed, some years since, by its Conference, a Home Missionary Society. Its designs were excellent. Its pecuniary supplies were ample. It was a great honour to the Connexion. Yet it soon disappeared. Wo are utterly at a loss to account for the extinction of this noble institution, except on one principle. Lay delegation, by its cold and narrow counsels, calculations, and jealousies, breathed a deadly influence over it. Notwithstanding this failure of the Missionary enterprise, it was felt that something of the kind must be a second time attempted. “The spirit of the age," of which the public, with great modesty, have been recently told they were in advance nearly half a century-had left them so far in the rear, in reference to Missionary efforts, it was agreed in 1825 to commence another mission. The Conference of the year just named decreed that, “ Ireland shall be considered a Missionary station.”
This law-to use the style we once heard of an Independent minister applying to it-"gave the old thing a new name.” They had long possessed a few languishing societies in the sister country, and now some laudable efforts were put forth to multiply them. A degree of success has recompenced this pious toil. Still, in looking over the Minutes for 1834, we find cause to suspect that the mission to Ireland is not, in its results, altogether satisfactory. If the statements which, in regard to the moral. wickedness of the Irish population, are made on platforms be worthy of credit, the New Connexion, as they are able, ought to be willing to increase their seven missionaries,* for Ireland's salvation. This good work the Minutes do not warrant us to expect. “The time is fully come” for their missionary activities on a more distant theatre. A committee is appointed “to look out” for some eligible station either in British North America, or the West India Islands. From what is known of the tactics of these Masters in Israel who are thus commissioned to the watch, we night saya though at the risk of being branded as the most uncharitable of men—what kind of events are almost sure to be designated “providential openings” for sending missionaries into distant lands—but, we forbear.
Onet of their senior preachers made, on a late public occasion, a declaration which did not in the least surprise us. A declaration which, while it tacitly admits the want of satisfactory success, is important as expressing one of the principal reasons to which it is to be assigned. “As a body, we have depended too much on our system of church goverpment, and depended too little on the influence of the Holy Spirit.” We cannot better manifest our good will towards this section of the universal church, than by earnestly wishing that this candid confession of one of its aged ministers may be echoed by its members. Then there would, in all probability, commence such a reform among them as we shall be happy to witness. It is our decided conviction, that if they would abandon, at once and for ever, their discreditable policy of cherishing discord and rebellion among religious people, in order to fatten on the spoil-depend less on the reed of their ecclesiastical order, and more, in enlarged works of faith and labours of
* All their travelling preachers in Ireland are included in this small number.