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-whereby provision is made for the instruction and training of the child under the Church's eye and according to the Church's rules. family institute is ignored; the rights of the true parents are set aside; the duties of the parents, in regard to the soul and spiritual life and eternal future of their child, are superseded by the introduction and appointment, with all spiritual responsibility and rights, of the godparents.

There are many fine points in the service. Grant its primary principles,-consent to the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, on the one hand, and to the supersession of the parents, on the other, and it must be confessed that the service is beautiful, dramatic, impressive in a high degree. But if such features could give sanction and authority to a service, the Roman Catholic ritual of High Mass would possess the highest sanction and authority, being preeminently beautiful, dramatic and impressive.

Sometimes by a suitable modification in the phraseology, and also by a change of the position of the prayer or formulary in the service, sometimes merely by a change of position, sometimes by nothing else than a slight verbal change-many of the Collects and other forms used in the Prayer-Book service may well be retained in a revised form of evangelical character. Thus, for instance, the sentences which in the Prayer-Book closely precede the act of baptism, by being transposed, so as to follow instead of preceding the baptismal act, become as appropriate as they are touching and beautiful; while, by inserting among them a petition for the parents, the element so sadly wanting in the Prayer-Book is supplied, at a point where all evangelical Christians must feel that its presence is absolutely necessary. I have already quoted these sentences

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as they stand in the Prayer-Book. The sentence which the Revision Committee propose to introduce, placing it as the fourth in the series of brief petitions, is as follows: Grant that the parents of this infant may have grace so to fulfil their vows now made, that they may ever set before their child the example of a godly life, and by their prayers and holy conversation may be the ministers of God to him for good. Amen.'

In the Wesleyan Book of Offices, up to the present period, all that had been done was to omit all that related to godparents, and to remove expressions which seemed to teach very plainly and distinctly, according to the ordinary interpretation of words, the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. But no attempt was made to make the proper compensation for the disappearance of the godparents, by giving the parents their due place and responsibilities in the service. Moreover, the changes necessary in the arrangement of the service, so as to remove the impression, the assumption, conveyed by the whole that the essential benefit of the service was limited to the act and fact of baptism itself,-an impression or assumption consistent enough with the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, but inconsistent with the view of baptism almost universally held by evangelical Christians, required a bolder reconstruction of the order of the prayers than had been attempted in former recensions of the Book of Offices. particular, the petitionary sentences preceding the baptism, as there placed, seemed strongly to favour, if not to imply, the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, while, by being placed after the act, they would become an appropriate and beautiful sequel to the baptism, and find their fit place in regard to the future life and lifediscipline of the baptized child and his training at the hands of his parents.


In this Paper I have made no attempt to define the doctrine of baptism. It was not necessary, and therefore it was better to avoid it. Two things, at least, are certain. One is, that the service for Wesleyans should not teach, or in any way imply, the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. The other is, that the sacred and unique responsibility of the parents of the baptized child, in regard to the training of their offspring, as direct parties to a solemn covenant, should, like a thread of life and of light, be seen and felt through the service from first to last. Upon these principles the Revision Committee have acted in their proposed form of service now under the attention of the Ministers of the Connexion. They have also endeavoured to retain as much as possible of as many as possible of the ancient forms, so as not wantonly to set aside familiar and often beautiful forms of sacred phrase which have become dear to many among our congregations.

In doing this work the Wesleyans have a great advantage. The Church of England has not yet recovered the needful liberty. Yet how great the need is for it is confessed very generally by evangelical and open-minded men, such, for instance, as Dr. Jacob. The Baptismal Service, indeed, is the stronghold of the Ritualists, and it was only by means of complicated and difficult reasonings, aided by some subtle, however necessary, casuistry, that, in the Gorham controversy, a place for evangelical doctrine on the point of baptism was vindicated in the Church of England.

That the Baptismal Service was thoroughly consistent with HighChurch views could not be denied ; that it favoured Evangelical views could not be asserted; that it was capable of being construed in an Evangelical sense was all that could be contended on the Evangelical side. That, so to construe it, some strain must be put upon the language of the service, is what a candid man could hardly deny; certainly Nonconformists in general would not deny this. If the Wesleyans are setting an example of effective ne cension of the Baptismal Service in a sense agreeable to Evangelical doc: trine, the Church of England herself, may have reason to be thankful. Indeed, as respects the supersession of parents by godparents, the need of a reform in the service is generally felt. Already a movement has been made in the right direction by means of the new Canon, originated, I believe, by the late Bishop Wilberforce, which allows parents to stand for their children in baptism, as being also their godparents. But this concession does not remove, it does but confess, the incongruity and impropriety of the service in the form in which it stands in the Prayer-Book,, and according to which it had for centuries been administered without exception, and is still administered with very few exceptions. The work, accordingly, of recension, on which our Conference has now for six years been engaged, may possibly help towards preparing the way for such a revision by the Church of England as cannot fail, in time, to be accomplished.

As to the doctrinal meaning of baptism and the baptismal service, I may be allowed to refer to an article on Baptism, contained in the Sixpenny Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine for April and May, 1869 (by the Editor), and to a passage in The Life of Thomas Collins by the lamented Mr. Coley (p. 7), who has long been known by those intimate with him as a no less masterly theologian than attractive and powerful Preacher. And, as regards Mr. Wesley's views on the subject of baptism-especially as these appear to have been modified in his later years-I may venture, perhaps, to refer to Fome remarks contained in my volume on The Churchmanship of John Wesley, pp. 40-44. Wesley never formulated any doctrine on this subject for the acceptance of his Preachers,



It has been commonly recognised as a feature of Cornish Methodism, that in its first centres of influence it was not introduced by the Wesleys. Before the arrival of themselves or their Preachers, an account had reached them of the good people there: Some time since, Captain Turner, of Bristol, put in here (St. Ives), and was agreeably surprised to find a little Society formed upon Dr. Woodward's plan, who constantly met together. They were much refreshed and strengthened by him, as he was by them. This was the occasion of our first intercourse with them.'* On his arrival Mr. Wesley found a hundred and twenty who were thus accustomed to meet, near a hundred of whom had found peace with God.' Amidst fierce storms, and the rough handling of the Rector, the Curate and the gentry, who set the mob upon them on all occasions,' he found a flourishing Society, putting forth its orthodox branches. This is singularly true of Methodism in the eastern part of the county as well as in St. Ives. But whilst St. Ives is familiar as the first home, the very cradle of Methodism in the West, it is strangely forgotten that before that, in the east of the county, Methodism was doing good work.

Methodism in St. Ives was probably imported from Bristol. The fire that was kindled early in the busy metropolis of the West was carried thence to St. Ives, just as Captain Webb carried it with him across the Atlantic. But in the Eastern home Methodism grew up spontaneously. Of all the out-ofthe-way places in Cornwall (and where else are there so many?) there is scarcely one so hard to


get at as St. Gennys. way between Bude and Boss, perched almost on the edge of the thundering coast, stands the little parish-church, with its 'church-town' consisting of a single farm-house. Here Methodism had its first home. Here lived and preached the first of Cornish Methodists. Some years before Mr. Wesley was converted, this good Vicar was defying the powers of darkness, the Bishop of the diocese, and much other opposition, and had his church crowded with earnest seekers after God. It was good Parson Thomson.


His name frequently appears in the accounts of Mr. Wesley's earlier visits to Cornwall; then it suddenly vanishes, until the Journal gives us a touching glimpse of the old man on his death-bed. Since his death his name has been allowed to fall into a strange and most unmerited oblivion; the only reason being that he found himself more in harmony with Mr. Whitefield's opinions than those of Mr. Wesley, and connected himself more especially with the Calvinistic branch of the Methodist people. In this year of grace, 1881, when we are going to forget fiercer quarrels and sadder divisions than that of so long ago, it surely is a fitting thing that good Parson Thomson, the first Cornish Methodist, should have his story told with due honour.

To-day the little church of St. Gennys stands spick and span, fresh from the hands of the restorer. A hundred years ago it was much more in keeping with its surroundings, gray and weather-stained, patched with moss and lichen. But still it crouches as of old together with a few wind-shorn trees behind a little hillock, as if to save itself from being

A Short History of the People called Methodists.-Wesley's Works, vol. xiii., 13. 8vo. edition.

swept away in the fearful blasts that rush up from the tumbling seas and go roaring across the moorlands beyond. The tower had been blown down, the blame of which had been laid upon the great father of all mischief, and the tradition is still preserved how trembling builders toiled might and main, and troubled priests sprinkled plentifully the holy water muttering spell and charm, and yet each night the Prince of Darkness came and hurled their work remorselessly to the ground. The church itself was kept from following the tower by an iron bar that stretched from wall to wall and held the fabric together.

The REV. GEORGE THOMSON, who belonged to a good old Devonshire family, was born at Brynsworthy, near Barnstaple. He studied at Oxford from 1716 to 1719; so that he left the University before the influence of the Wesleys had begun to be felt there. In 1722, he was ordained as Curate of Jacobstow, a parish adjoining St. Gennys. Gay and even dissolute according to some accounts, the sober duties of his calling were a troublesome burden. With an

income that made him fairly independent, and a love of society that fretted for more indulgence than he found in his parish, he soon resigned this charge and sought a more exeiting life as Chaplain on board H.M.S. Tyger; and afterwards, it would seem, in a regiment of foot. In 1732, when about thirty-five years of age, Mr. Thomson was presented to the living of St. Gennys, and returned once more to Cornwall; as ill-fitted as ever for the office he had undertaken.

Shortly after settling in his new parish a mysterious event resulted in the complete change of his character and in the whole purpose of his life. He dreamt one night that in a month from that very time, and at an hour that was made known to


him with startling exactness, he was to be called before God to give an account of his wasted life. awoke greatly terrified; then fell asleep, only to dream the same thing again. The thought of his guilty life and of the approaching hour filled him with agony. He sent for the graver of his parishioners and told them of the dream, earnestly entreating their prayers. Then he shut himself up alone to study the Scriptures, and to pray for forgiveness. For a fortnight the terrors of the broken law pursued him day and night. His soul was overwhelmed. At last, as he read on, light dawned; through the tender mercy of God there came the Dayspring from on high; he saw the righteousness of God declared in Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of sin. The clouds were scattered, and he rejoiced with great joy in the God of his salvation. Now with a bright hope he waited for the coming of the Lord. The day arrived. He stood ready with his light burning, listening for the Master's voice, whilst his friends kneeled in earnest prayer. Then the clock struck the hour;-and he was spared. God had heard prayer.

Henceforth he resolved that his life should be wholly consecrated to Him Who had graciously warned him thus. He came forth to tell his people of the great change he had undergone, arousing them by the terrors through which he himself had passed, and pressing upon them that salvation in which his soul exulted. The whole parish was stirred, and many began to seek the Lord, Tidings of this strange deliverance and these wonderful doings at St. Gennys reached adjoining parishes, and were quickly followed by the Vicar himself, who could not be content that his own people only should learn of this great and glorious discovery. So strange a sight-a man in earnest about religion, set the

little world around him agape with wonder. Earnestness in business or politics; in grinding corn or in hoeing turnips; or even in fox-hunting or smuggling brandy, was common enough, and generally commended. But to be earnest in serving God was enthusiasm-madness! So said alike Broad Church, High Church and all; and they shook their heads solemnly over it in real concern for Parson Thomson's wits.

But the good Vicar, denied the friendship of those about him, sought fellowship with the godly of other Churches, finding that the love of Christ is the strongest bond of union between His people. He writes a fervent letter to Dr. Watts, entreating a place in his prayers, and sends Dr. Doddridge an account of his conversion, to which Doddridge makes reference in his Life of Colonel Gardiner. Speaking of such sudden conversions and by such unusual means, he says: There is at least a second whose story may be told whenever the Established Church shall lose one of its brightest living ornaments, and one of the most useful members which that or any Christian Church can boast.'*

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preached at Fremington, the parish in which his Brynsworthy estate lay. As soon as the Benediction was pronounced, up rose a young man in his pew and startled the congregation by asking them to remain for a few moments. With tears filling his eyes and a voice choking with emotion he told them that under the word of the Preacher that day he had believed with his heart unto righteousness, and urged upon them all the same great salvation. It was Charles Hill, the son of the resident Vicar; he became Rector of Tawstock, in North Devon; and died in 1801, leaving behind him a blessed memory and much good fruit.

Through the Orchards of Stoke Abbey, near Hartland, Mr. Thomson first made the acquaintance of one of the Oxford Methodists, James Hervey coming there on a visit in 1738. The good Clergymen were not long in finding one another, and their hearts were knit together in a lasting friendship. Now the name of the Wesleys and their work would become known to the Vicar, and their coming eagerly looked for. One result, definite and tangible, of that friendship endures to this day; for it was as Hervey was riding into Cornwall to visit his friend at St. Gennys that he turned aside into the church at Kilkhampton, and there, whilst musing on the monuments of the Grenvilles, found the suggestions that led to his Meditations among the Tombs; and to Mr. Thomson's sister he dedicates the book.

In Hervey's letters we have a pleasant sight of the Vicar at home. He stays with him for some weeks, enjoying the scenery from the vicarage, on rising ground upon the edge of the ocean, whence I have daily


'Remarking on this passage, the late Mr. Palmer, of Hackney, in his correspondence with Mr. Newton, has supposed Mr. Grimshaw was the Clergyman referred to; but Mr. Davidson, who, in June, 1748, had the account from Dr. Doddridge's own mouth, says it was Mr. Thomson....His letter to Dr. Watts, printed in Gibbon's Memoirs, is well worth perusal.' (Life and Times of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, vol. i., p. 126.)

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