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there who had no legal right to attend; 2nd, its object was illegal, as it was summoned to try the delinquents, and it had no jurisdiction to try either leaders or private members :-"That travelling preachers alone are, by the present constitution of Methodism, amenable to special district meetings; and that the application of the judicial and inquisitorial powers of such meetings, to officers and members of societies, is a novel and unauthorised extension of their jurisdiction, will appear by a simple reference to the rules of Conference, authorising and empowering such meetings. However, this district meeting thought otherwise. It trampled upon the rights of the leaders' meeting, which has alone the power of trying and removing its members." This district meeting "swept the floor" of the Leeds society, turning out a numerous body of local preachers, leaders, and about 1000 members of Society, in the year 1827.
How did the organ party behave, think you, towards their deeply-injured brethren? The organ was opened with a pomp and parade unparalleled in Methodism. Mr. Wesley, the celebrated organist, was called down from London-popular preachers were engaged— the whole country was insulted with this unholy triumph of a few individuals over one of our oldest and most venerable societies-handbills were posted in all the neighbouring towns and in Manchester, and even in London, we saw placards above a yard in length, and printed in the largest and boldest characters! They triumphed; but their triumph planted "the root of bitterness" in the Connexion; it has been growing for years; it has sprung up; and now, like the Banana [Banian] tree, its branches have spread and taken root again-one branch has extended to London, another to Liverpool, and another to Manchester; and its branches are now spreading through the vast empire of Methodism.'
At the commencement of this affair, it will be seen that 1000 members were cut off at Leeds. The quarrel was taken up by the London South Circuit, and an address on the subject was forwarded to the Conference reprobating their conduct on the occasion. This address was rejected by the Conference, and a number of the most influential men of the circuit agreed to a series of resolutions highly condemnatory of the arbitrary conduct of the Conference. The 7th resolution is as follows:
We utterly deny all right, power, or authority, either in the Methodist Conference, or in any district meeting, to interfere in the local affairs of this circuit; or to try, suspend, or expel, any local officer or member of society; and we solemnly and affectionately enjoin and warn all our leaders, local preachers, trustees, and stewards, in case any special district meeting shall at any time assemble within this circuit, on any such matters or affairs, neither to attend nor to hold any communication with such special district meeting, or with any member thereof: and we further solemnly engage and pledge ourselves to oppose, with all our influence, any attempt to introduce into any of our local meetings, on any pretence whatever, any preachers who are not regularly stationed in the circuit, without the special leave of such meeting first obtained, and without a positive engagement, on the part of every preacher so introduced, to withdraw immediately, on being requested so to do by any member of the meeting.
In the London North Circuit the affair was taken up in like manner, and led to the secession of several of its most intelligent and influential officers and members. In this circuit the question could not be regularly discussed, as it had, through the arbitrary conduct of the Conference, been eight months without any circuit steward. Similar proceedings were adopted at Manchester, Liverpool, and throughout the country.
Another instance in which the arbitrary principles of the Conference were displayed, and caused to the society the loss of 500 members, is recorded in the following extract.
"The following statement will show how the preachers have lost the confidence of the people:-When Grosvenor-street Chapel, in Manchester, was first projected, the idea of erecting that building was abandoned by the superintendent, in consequence of there being so many among the leaders and intended trustees, who were opposed to the introduction of the Liturgy into that chapel. Some time afterwards, another superintendent was appointed, and he made this promise when the project was resumed,-that "it was to be a chapel, not a church; and the question of the Liturgy shall be determined fairly by the three estates of our society-preachers, trustees, and leaders." The subscriptions and building went on-the money was collected, until there was a whisper that the Liturgy was to be introduced. The society then became greatly agitated, and the subject was introduced at a leaders' meeting, and fully discussed, when there was an overwhelming majority against the Liturgy. The superintendent then proposed (at the suggestion of the minority) to refer this matter to the preachers, trustees, and leaders in the vicinity of that
chapel. This arrangement was consented to, and a meeting was therefore held, when 26 to 9 voted against the measure. The meeting separated, and it was expected that the decision would be conclusive, but, to the astonishment of the society, the Liturgy was introduced when the chapel was opened. The superintendent said, in justification of his conduct, at the leaders' meeting, he had found out that the leaders had no right to interfere, that it belonged to the preachers and trustees;" and he discovered ultimately that the preachers alone had the right. He was then reminded of his promise, which he partially denied; but got out of it in this way-that he had not then a correct view of the matter of right. The leaders prepared a very respectable [respectful?] petition to Conference, signed by 108 out of 117, which was presented to that body at Liverpool, who ordered the superintendent to inform them it was the will of the Conference that the Liturgy should be used. The two following years exhibited a loss of 500 members; and at the ensuing Conference, which was held in Manchester, the leaders again presented a petition, and just before the close, a committee of the preachers met a delegation from the petitioners, and because they could not prove that the petition had been read by every man who had signed it, it could not be received; and to complete the farce, the superintendent received a vote of thanks for his successful opposition to the petitioners' !!*
The expulsion of Mr. Stephens, which was resorted to in consequence of his taking part in the Church and State question, or rather, of his taking the wrong side in that question, illustrates the growing intolerance of the high church party in Conference.
'In the case of Mr. Stephens, we have before us a striking anomaly; on a party question, one opponent tries another. We say nothing of the merits of Mr. Stephens's case: he may have been either right or wrong. But here is the injustice towards him; he was tried, not by a tribunal legally and impartially constituted, but by a powerful party bent on his degradation.'+
The expulsion of Mr. Stephens was followed by the expulsion or secession of numerous members at Ashton, Oldham, and many other places. Then comes the adoption of the Theological Institution
The manner of introducing the Theological Institution, is another instance wherein our charter has been violated. As early as 1744 such an one was projected, it has been said, by Mr. Wesley, our venerable founder. This is, however, denied by others. Does it not however appear strange, if it were so desirable an object--a consummation so devoutly to be wished, that it should have been so long neglected? Have the people generally petitioned Conference for it? No, brethren. There is only a small, diminutive party in our connexion, who are anxious for this Institution. These, being in favour of church prayers and organs, are of opinion that an institution or college would be an admirable accompaniment. This party is composed of wealthy laymen, who do not consider themselves Dissenters from the Church; and therefore you cannot wonder at their conformity to the formularies of the Establishment. But the generality of our people are Dissenters, and neither desire the church prayers, organs, nor the institution; and it has not been explained to us as yet, on what principle of justice these Conference pets are to be indulged in their wishes, at the risk of the peace and happiness of the whole family in the
That we may identify this party with the Theological Institution, we have only occasion to refer to the fact, that they sat in committee in London with the preachers appointed to "arrange a plan for the better education of our junior preachers." This is a most singular fact, and might have been attended with very serious consequences. How it came to pass that this respectable committee should so far forget our rules, and venture to call an illegal meeting, remains to be explained. However, this is the fact, and the following rule will convince you of it: "Let no man, nor number of men, in our connexion, on any account or occasion, circulate letters, call meetings, do or attempt to do any thing new, till it has first been appointed by the Conference." Mark! the committee were appointed to arrange a plan, and they were not invested with any power to call a meeting of rich laymen to overawe the Conference in its decisions. This was highly improper, and a direct violation of our charter. Did the Conference ever call this committee of reverends to account? No such thing-they received a vote of thanks; and we contend, by so doing, the Conference has rescinded its own law: and as they have allowed an illegal meeting on one side of the question, the people have now the right to call meetings on the other. The preachers were the first to break the charter which has been maintained inviolate by the people; and as they have set themselves up above the law, our Association has been formed for the purpose of bringing them back again to the laws of 1795, and 1797.'"
Second Affectionate Address, p. 13. Note.
+ Affectionate Address, p. 6.
Second Affectionate Address, p. 9 and 10,
This caused the formation of the United Wesleyan Methodist Association,' to whose addresses reference has been made in the foregoing remarks. This association is composed chiefly of men still retaining their connexion with the Wesleyan body, but united for the purpose of constitutionally obtaining a redress of their grievances. Should they fail in this attempt, it is their intention to secede from the body. The principal objects of the Association are stated to be: 1. That the Conference, to a certain extent, be opened to the Methodist public. 2. That the respectful addresses of the societies be no longer treated with contempt. 3. That all ambiguous laws and equivocal regulations of Methodism be revised, and extricated from that looseness which a cohort of district police may ride through at pleasure. 4. That there be no more Star-chamber courts, or modern district meetings, unknown in Mr. Wesley's time.'
Such are the grounds of contention. To speak, therefore, of organs, of liturgies, or of theological institutions, as the subjects of debate, is marvellously to mistake the nature of the question. These are but the outward manifestations of inward principles. The contention is between two sets of opposing principles. It is the struggling of indignant man against his oppressor-the spirit of reform breaking the shackles of an intolerant hierarchy, and every friend of freedom and of man must wish the Association-God speed.
The Conference, at its recent session in Sheffield (the ninety-second), has decided against conceding any of the demands of the discontented. The two parties were fairly arrayed against each other. The Conference authorities, anticipating the designed attack, had convened influential laymen known to be 'sound' in their attachment to things as they are, from all parts of the country, and from them Dr. Bunting procured a vote of confidence. Thus strengthened, they proceeded to treat the overtures of the reformers with neglect, and at last peremptorily refused even to recognize the opposing phalanx, but promised that if any parties, supposing themselves aggrieved, petition Conference, and refrain from agitation, provision shall be made by existing instruments for doing justice, on the basis of those long-tried and scriptural principles which the laws and usages of Methodism have ever recognized, and from which the Conference, by the blessing of God, are resolved never to depart.' The laws of the Medes and Persians change not. Deprived of hope from the Conference, the complainants have resolved to maintain their separate identity without severing themselves from the parent trunk, and to agitate the kingdom, with Dr. Warren as their leader.
We subjoin a few specimens of the means employed to keep down diversities of opinion, and maintain unassailed the powers that bespecimens for which it is pleaded, in the true spirit of an established misgovernment, and after the manner of a certain Presbyterian clique, that they are in accordance with usage. In the Conference, how
ever, they do try a man before they expel him:-Rev. W. Poinning, who had made use of some expressions derogatory to the dignity of Conference, was to have an admonitory letter. Rev. Jonathan Barker was tried for not attending the Manchester District Meeting, and for having been seen going into Dr. Warren's house.'-' The Rev. Thomas' Rowland was required to apologize for having seconded Mr. Bromiley's motion. Rev. Joshua Fielden was charged with having published a A Report of the Extraordinary Proceedings which took place at a Meeting held in the Music-Hall, Leeds, December, 17th, 1834, p. 1.
pamphlet. The Rev. J. Marsden was charged with having expressed sentiments favourable to the people.'-Rev. Robt. Emmett was expelled because' to use the words of the President- although, in the grosser sense of the word, he was not charged with immorality, yet, by having sown the seeds of dissension, speaking evil of the preachers, attending public meetings, he had rendered himself liable to expulsion.' The severity in these cases of breach of discipline contrast strangely with the lenity observed to certain other delinquents; for instance- Dr. J. C. Alcom was charged with repeated acts of inebriation, and with having preached while in that state; the case was clearly proved, and he was put back on trial.'-' George Birley was charged with intoxication and uncleanness, and was to be received again on trial.'
On occasion of the recent Scientific Meeting at Dublin, the Rev. J. Kenrick, of Manchester College, York, preached a sermon, On the Religious Improvement of Natural Science,' which so delighted the audience, that its publication was requested. The discourse, we are glad to hear, is to appear.
The Rev. W. Johns has it in contemplation to publish a small volume on the Proem to John's Gospel; from which, knowing his extensive reading in what we regard as essential to a full understanding of the Evangelist's meaning-the early Fathers of the Christian church, we expect considerable light will be thrown on a very interesting but much perverted portion of Scripture.
Many of those families who resort to SOUTHPORT for the benefit of their health, must have felt much inconvenience from want of the means of worshipping in public in agreement with the convictions of their minds. It is, therefore, with great satisfaction we learn that arrangements have been made for services, in which the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the sole object of adoration; and we hope that the liberality of Unitarian Christians, especially of those who enjoy the advantage, will provide ample means for their continuance.
TRINITARIAN CONTROVERSY.-In consequence of the Rev. Mr. Bagot having addressed three sermons to the Unitarians, and challenged their Ministers to a discussion on the doctrine of the Trinity, the Rev. H. Acton, of Exeter, delivered a lecture on Sunday night last to a very crowded audience. He will deliver another lecture in continuation on Sunday night. Reporters are engaged to take notes of the discourses on behalf of Mr. Bagot, who will probably return and reply to the Rev. Gentleman. The subject excites great interest from the known talents of each of the champions.-Exeter paper, Aug. 15.
Dr. H.'s MSS. have come to hand: also J. B. H. and 'A Layman, A. was anticipated in his strictures. M. shall receive attention.
J. H. T. will be good enough, in the promised Review of Mr. White's work on 'Heresy and Orthodoxy,' for our next number, to advert to the announcement below, relatively to time. The MS. is safe. W. came too late for the present number.
N. B. Communications designed for the out-coming number of the Christian Teacher, must be in the Editor's hands at the latest by the 15th of the current month.
Forrest and Fogg, Printers, Manchester.
THOUGHTS ON BAPTISM.
It would be for the interest of Christianity, and the peace, internal as well as external, of those who profess it, if the followers of Jesus were attentively to mark how frequently, and upon what a variety of things, which many consider as essentials, the New Testament baffles all efforts to settle the existing questions. This is a most important fact. God cannot be supposed to demand from his rational creatures any thing which he has not afforded them means to accomplish. If, therefore, we have no power to ascertain any one point, supposed to be essential to our eternal happiness, the supposition that it is our duty to be convinced some way or other about it, must be false. I cannot conceive a clearer demonstration on a moral subject.
But we are constantly told that essentials are clearly stated in Scripture. It would, however, be much more correct to say that nothing can be essential which is not clearly stated. But let us, if possible, understand each other. Clear, expresses a relative notion. Clearness, applied to subjects of mental perception, must be measured by the power which the object, said to be clear, has of producing the same impression on the minds of different men, under a great variety of circumstances. We may easily illustrate this by a reference to the organs of vision. Suppose (what the merciful Author of Nature has not allowed in any important case) that there were objects in the external world, which, offering themselves constantly to the eyes of men, produced such various, and even contrary impressions on the retina, that mankind, to maintain the truth and accuracy of some one of those impressions in opposition to all others, had divided itself into hostile, irreconcileable parties. Could such objects, however great their importance might appear, be said to be clear? In regard to the pictures on the eyes of individuals, the word clear might be used in the sense of definite and vivid; but objects capable of producing many definite and vivid, but dissimilar pictures or impressions, could not be clear in an absolute sense they would not be clear to mankind.
Just like this is the case of the Scriptures respecting many points which divide the professed followers of Christ. The Scriptures are anxiously studied by a vast number of men, all equally desirous to find the exact meaning of those writings on things which they suppose to be of more value than life. Yet, few who think for themselves, few who do not receive the impressions of others as if in reality they were their own, see the same things in the same passages. Every individual declares that he sees clearly what many others assure they themselves cannot see; asserting besides, that they perceive quite a diffe