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WESLEYAN METHODISM A REVIVAL OF APOSTOLICAL
PREACHED BY APPOINTMENT
THE WESLE YAN CONFERENCE,
ON MONDAY, AUGUST 5, 1839.
ON OCCASION OF
THE CELEBRATION OF THE CENTENARY OF
BY THOMAS JACKSON.
METHODISM, so called, is the old religion, the religion of the Bible, the religion of the
PUBLISHED BY REQUEST.
OFFICE, 200 MULBERRY ST
J. Collord, Printer.
· A SERMON.
“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise ; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: that no fesh should glory in his presence. · But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord," 1 Cor. i, 26-31.
The evangelical prophet charges the people of his time with crimi. nal inattention to those lessons of practical instruction which God intended to teach them by the existing dispensations of his providence and grace. « The harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine were in their feasts; but they regarded not the work of the Lord, neither considered the operation of his hands.” It does not appear that, by “ the work of the Lord” here mentioned, we are to under. stand his works of creation, which, by their magnitude, variety, and wonderful adaptation to their several ends, so strikingly demonstrate his “eternal power and Godhead;" but rather the displays of his justice and love in the infliction of punishment, and in the communicațion of blessings. His mercies call for gratitude and its attendant fruits ; his chastisements call for humiliation and amendment; and when the gracious energy of his Spirit is put forth in the conversion and salvation of men, all are called upon diligently to improve the time of their merciful visitation. The sensual and pleasure-taking Jews saw not the hand of God lifted up among them, either in judgment or in compassion ; and hence they remained uninstructed and unreformed.
A similar charge the Lord Jesus preferred against the people of his day. They manifested considerable sagacity in the ordinary concerns of life. From the aspect of the heavens they shrewdly conjectured the future state of the weather, and ordered their affairs accordingly; 66 but how is it,” said our blessed Lord, “ that ye do not discern the signs of this time?" The passing away of the sceptre from Judah, the appearance of the angels to the shepherds of Bethlehem, the visit of the wise men of the east under the guidance of a miraculous star, the prophetic rapture of Simeon and of Anna in the temple, the impressive ministry of John the Baptist, by which, for a time, the whole nation was affected, and the mighty works of Christ himself, were all lost upon the worldly part of the Jewish nation, who discovered in these things no “signs” of the Messiahship of Jesus, and no indications that they ought to receive him as the incarnate Son of God. For this obstinate and inexcusable indifference to the divine teaching and will, and for their consequent unbelief and disobedience, they were at length given up to the error and sin which they loved, and wrath came upon them to the uttermost.
We would avoid the sin of these people, by a careful consideration of the times in which we live, and of the duties which devolve upon us in the present state of the world and of the church. Within the last hundred years many and great changes have taken place in the general arrangements of society. The hand of God has been lifted up in anger. Wars of long continuance and of terrible severity have afflicted the European nations. That hand has also been lifted up in mercy. Religion has spread with a rapidity unknown for many ages, and agencies have been called into operation which promise the greatest spiritual benefit to the world at large. As a religious community, we have judged it incumbent upon us to celebrate the centenary of our existence by acts of devotion; and it is for this purpose that we are now assembled together. The object which I propose in my present address, is, to endeavour to make you sensible of the greatness of the benefit which we this day acknowledge, by setting before you what I conceive to be the true character of that system of evangelical doctrine and of godly discipline, which, for the sake of distinction, and not with any sinister design, we call WESLEYAN METHODISM. There are persons who regard it as an evil of frightful magnitude, which can admit of no just defence, nor even of palliation; and hence they most earnestly desire its extinction. I have no hesi. tation in avowing my conviction that Wesleyan Methodism, regarded as a system of means for the spiritual good of mankind, and viewed in connection with its direct influence upon the hearts and lives of men, is neither more nor less than a revival of apostolical Christianity; the Christianity which is described in the New Testament as the effect of apostolic preaching, and of that rich effusion of the Holy Spirit's influence which was graciously promised by the Lord Jesus, and which began at the Jewish feast of the pentecost. But as we cannot in one discourse pursue the subject in all its details, I shall confine myself to two points :
First, THE MINISTRY WIIICII WAS EXERCISED IN THE APOSTOLIC AGE; and,
Secondly, THE EFFECT WHICII TIAT MINISTRY WAS A MEANS OF PRODUCING.
Both these subjects are strikingly illustrated in the text before us.
1. The ministry in question was weak and contemptible in the world's estimation. The men who were intrusted with it enjoyed no distinction arising from birth, or rank, or learning. They were mostly selected from the humblest classes of mankind. Yet they laboured under the direct sanction of the Almighty, and were instrumental in raising up a people to whom Christ was made of God “ wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” Such has been the character of the Wesleyan ministry since its commencement; and its direct effects we conceive to be perfectly identical with those which were produced by the preaching of the apostles and that of their fellowhelpers to the truth.
Some commentators have, indeed, given it as their opinion that by the “weak” and “ foolish” things which God is here said to have “ chosen,” and by those who were neither “wise men after the flesh," nor "mighty,” nor " noble,” the apostle meant the Christian converts at Corinth and in other places; but we think that a more minute