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leyan Body.* The Article in the Edinburgh is in a very different tone, and of a widely different spirit. The Times characterizes it as more impartial than friendly,' which is, of course, a euphuistic mode of saying that its author cannot be suspected of any partiality to Methodism; but whatever leanings he betrays, whatever personal likings he indulges, are not for, but rather against, the system and the community which he undertakes to criticise, and about which he is wishful to inform the public. Of course we cannot complain that he mingles blame with praise; on the contrary, we freely admit that some of his strictures are not without force, although defective in candour as coming from a writer who assumes to possess such an intimate acquaintance with existing, or at least very recent, Methodism. What really vitiates and discredits an otherwise able and not useless Article is the cynical superciliousness in which he thinks it befitting to indulge; and, yet worse, his flippant sacrifice of accuracy of statement to smartness of style. He is much more intent on piquancy of putting than on the fairness and correctness of the impression which he conveys to a reader as to the institutions and individuals of whom he writes. He evidently belongs to a somewhat advanced section of the Broad Church party, to which a leading daily paper justly applied the epithet 'sneering' (adopted by the Congregationalist in its article on Dean Stanley), showing how wonderfully the lamented Dean had escaped that ungracious tendency of the school of which he was the ornament. Of late years, no more hard or hasty critic of Wesley or of Wesleyanism has appeared than Mr. Llewellyn Davis. (See Contem
porary Review, December, 1875.) Our anonymous reviewer has unfortunately acquired that easily-learnt bad habit of his chosen coterie.
He acquits Wesley of any 'vulgar ambition to found a spiritual despotism'; but, with a not very successful attempt at caustic railery, he says: 'However, patrons have always had their humours, which clients have condoned for the sake of doles, and Wesley's preachers, ignoring his illogical theories, took the position he assigned them.' (P. 9.) The fact is, Wesley himself, after he became an evangelist, ignored all Church theories, either logical or illogical, either his own or other people's, so far as they interfered with the great work to which he knew himself to be called.
Our anonymous critic sets in a very invidious light John Wesley's nobly catholic repertory of the choicest theological productions of all Churches, and of all ages—The Christian Library. He writes:
Wesley displays the most perplexing eclecticism. His Christian Library and his Arminian Magazine contain extracts from the most opposite divines. With the selfreliant air which was so natural to him, he sat in judgment upon Anglican Divines, Puritan Ministers, Apostolic Fathers, Cambridge Platonists, and French Mystics.' (P. 18.) So, it seems, the leader of a grand evangelistic movement may not, with immense labour, make a selection of the most valuable theological and devotional productions of all schools of thought, for the benefit of the preachers in association with him, and of the Societies which he had formed-who had no facilities for consulting the libraries of the learned, and little money for the purchase of expensive tomes, and as little time for perusing them, and almost as
*See notice of the work on page 788 of this Magazine.
little skill in separating the chaff from the wheat-without being accused of self-reliance and of sitting in judgment upon almost the entire theological world. At this rate, such public benefactors as the Brothers Chambers, of Edinburgh, have earned the scorn and not the gratitude of the whole Englishspeaking race; and Sir Francis Palgrave must be charged with a self-reliant sitting in judgment on the whole choir of British lyrists; and Lord Selborne with forsaking his proper legal functions, and calling into court the hymnists of the whole Christian Church! 'Selfreliant air!' We, of course, concluded at once on reading this sentence that the reviewer could not be aware of the fact of Wesley's having carefully conferred with Dr. Doddridge with reference to the choice of books suitable for his 'young preachers.' But the reviewer at least became acquainted with the fact before his article went to press. On p. 34 we read: 'He (Wesley) consulted with the most eminent Nonconformist Minister of his time, and drew up a course of theological reading which has been well kept in view by these hard-working preachers and evangelists.'
But one sneer is not enough for a writer who is as thrifty in the utilization of material for unfavourable comment as Sheridan was of material for puns. The wit having used a pun once would turn it, as some economical gentleman of small means might turn his coat when threadbare on the one side, to save the cost of a new one. So having treated us to this sketch of Wesley, 'perplexing eclecticism' and 'self-reliant air, sitting in judgment on' the theologians of the Church-our reviewer 'twirls his lithe proboscis' on the other side, and on the same page and in the same paragraph, draws a contrast between Wesley and the existing
race of Wesleyan Ministers, greatly to the disadvantage of the latter. 'He (Wesley) dreamt of a Broad Church Society, liberal in theology, evangelical in doctrine.....He desired breadth of thought amongst his people; but Methodist Preachers do not play the rôle of liberal theologians.' (P. 18.) It is very characteristic of the self-styled 'liberal theologians' to assume their identity with breadth of thought.' That is only what one has learned to expect, but no one competently acquainted with the writings of Wesley could reflectively represent him as yielding to that assumption. What did Wesley care for breadth of thought at the expense of depth of thought, and above all, of truth of thought?
And what is the meaning of the distinction which Wesley is here said to have made between theology and doctrine? A Broad Church Society, liberal in theology, evangelical in doctrine.' Assuredly, Wesley had no wish that his people should have an esoteric theology (liberal') and an exoteric 'doctrine' ('evangelical.') But, after all, he only dreamed' it. Wesley is often accused of making too much of dreams; but, though fairly familiar with his Journals, we never met with any record of this particular dream. We are sure that he never in his waking moments desiderated for his Preachers a theology of one complexion and a doctrine of another.
Our reviewer also lays before his 'readers, in some detail, the organization, belief and results of Methodism.' (P. 1.) Here also his supercilious mannerism cleaves to him. But before we also lay before' our readers, 'in some detail,' this newest Portraiture of Methodism, we must make a preliminary observation. When an anonymous writer assumes the position of ability to instruct the general reader, not only as to
Methodism but also as to his contemporary Methodists, one naturally asks for an authentication of his statements and descriptions, particularly if many of them be very disparaging and some of them loftily contemptuous. Now the only book which this critic puts at the head of his article relating to English Wesleyan-Methodism, is an American production, which, of course, makes no pretensions to original authority as to English Methodism, but throughout authenticates its information from English sources. About the smaller Bodies and American Methodism the reviewer says very little, not pretending to any personal acquaintance with them; English WesleyanMethodism, on the contrary, he attempts to depict or to caricature according to his changing mood, with all the positiveness of protracted and widely extended internal familiarity. His most graphic and telling touches are given without
reference to this or that source of information, and with confidence and vividness, as of an eye-witness and an ear-witness. For all his fresh and forceful delineations he is his own authority. He takes in hand to depict Methodism as it is in actual working, and claims to know all about its privileged Church gatherings-Class-meeting, Lovefeast, etc. -its Courts to which only Ministers and Lay-officebearers have access— Leaders' Meeting, Local Preachers' Meeting, Quarterly Meeting, District Meeting, etc. He speaks with posiHe speaks with positiveness, as of personal knowledge, of Methodism, especially in Cornwall and in some parts of the North of England. (P. 7.) He claims a knowledge of our Theological Institution. He makes the following the following declaration Its younger members are taught to notice the defects of all other communions-Roman, Lutheran, Anglican, Reformed, Friends, Brethren, minor Methodist bodies
and then their tutor utters this panegyric over Methodism,' etc. (P. 25.) Either our critic has himself been an accredited' Wesleyan-Methodist Minister, or he paints a mere fancy picture with the circumstantiality and confidence of an eye-witness; for after stating that 'The Wesleyan Conference meets annually in some large and generally antique chapel, the doors of which are jealously guarded. No layman, no representative of the public press, no unaccredited Minister can enter'; he proceeds to analyse the atmosphere of the assembly,' which he pronounces to be 'unique,' and to give a description of the Conference in actual session, and of its modes of procedure; a description enlivened by such gracious strokes as this: 'priestly benedictions roll over the chinking of the coins on the money-changers' tables.' (P. 24.) This is one of the ever-recurring sneers which betray the animus of the writer. Because same Financial Secretaries of District Committees take the convenient opportunity of paying in to departmental secretaries such collections and subscriptions as had not been remitted, or to hand over to the Secretary of the Annuitant Society the payments of the brethren in his District, this sinister allusion to our Lord's cleansing of the temple, with all its accusatory associations, is wantonly affixed to a blameless body of Ministers. Whoever knows anything about the Conference knows perfectly well that Ministers do not choose a time of 'benedictions' for paying in Church moneys, and that no priestly benedictions' are ever uttered in the Conference at all. But let us follow 'in some detail' the representation of our various institutions which the reviewer lays before his readers.
First: The Class-Meeting. He rightly recognises the Class-meeting as the very core of Methodism; he also heartily admits not a few of its ad
vantages, in a passage which indicates his present point of view, and affords one of many indices to his present position and associations: 'In skilful hands it (the Class-meeting) has combined the results obtained from well-conducted confirmation classes, communicants' classes and Bibleclasses, adding a social and fervent spirit peculiar to itself. A large staff of zealous and able men have in it found occupation and an outlet for the energy of religious life; while the personal contact of men in the smaller circles it has formed, has removed religion from the isolation of the pulpit and brought it to the home and the heart.' (P. 4.) 'The Methodist Class-leader, in his best type, has been a devout man, not devoid of practical shrewdness. He has made a study of his Bible, especially the New Testament. He has endeavoured to instruct his members in the essentials of religion, and has had many devotional aids put within his reach. He has sedulously watched over his Class, sympathized with them in their troubles, advised them in their difficulties, visited and consoled them in the hours of sickness and death. In country places he has gathered a few simple souls together, and preserved alive a flame of devotion in obscure hamlets,' etc. (Pp. 5, 6.) This is a faithful description evidently drawn from the life. But our critic forthwith acidulates his drop of sweetness: Fluent talkers gain an audience duly attentive, because each hopes in turn to take up his parable.' This statement is at best a gratuitous misjudgment of motive; and, as a matter of fact, Class-leaders and Ministers are much more troubled with reserve and reticence than with fluency and eagerness to speak. The reviewer also unjustly charges 'the ruling minds of Methodism with attaching more importance to the Class-meeting than did Wesley himself. In proof of
this he quotes the Pastoral exhortation: "Watch over Class-meetings with holy jealousy; use every effort to maintain them strictly in all their efficiency." The Class-meeting is a test of membership.' (P. 4.) Meeting in Class was made a condition of 'membership' in the United Societies' by Wesley himself. To give up that condition would be to render optional what Wesley insisted on. Admission to the Lord's Table of those who do not meet in Class is at least as easy now as in Wesley's own time. Wesley declared his readiness to amend or even supersede the Class-meeting, if any one would show how the one could be done at all, or the other with advantage; but he resolutely refused to relax his requirement of its use, until some other more effective 'regulation' for securing fellowship and oversight should be forthcoming. Wesley never contended; the leading minds of Methodism' do not contend that the Class-meeting is, in form, an Apostolic institution. Wesley and the Conference of 1881 alike maintain that fellowship and oversight are essential to a Christian Church, and that the Class-meeting is the best 'regulation' which has yet been suggested for securing these two indispensable elements of Church life.
Our reviewer sums up the powers of a Leaders' Meeting in this one observation: The Leader is never anything but an assessor when the Minister sits in judgment on offenders.' (P. 6.) Every moderatelyinformed Methodist knows that this is an egregious understatement of the rights of a Leaders' Meeting. But this is only one of many instances in which our critic keeps back part of the truth, especially when that keeping back tends to exaggerate the picture of the prerogatives of the Methodist Ministry, and to minify that of the people's power.
In ascribing to the Quarterly Meet
ing certain functions in matters of discipline, when specially constituted for that purpose' (p. 6), the reviewer confounds the Quarterly Meeting with the Special Circuit Meeting.
Of the Lovefeast our critic gives an account much more spirited than spiritual, although he admits that 'healthy piety' forms an element of 'a whole not easily forgotten.' But here, too, we have the irrepressible sneer: The members find themselves at a Barmecide banquet. The meal consists of buns and water, which is to be drunk out of huge cups passed from hand to hand. After this grotesque formality, the Lovefeast becomes a kind of gigantic Class-meeting under the direction of a Minister.' Wherein consists the grotesqueness of this so-called 'formality'? unless, indeed, grotesqueness be made a synonym for simplicity. Is it in the water? The poets, as much as the teetotallers, would protest against that notion, unless it were some bard like Burns in his wild Anacreontic moods? Cannot 'a cup of kindness' be drunk in the pure lymph of nature's free providing?
that too is 'the cup.' 'But,' protests our æsthetic reviewer, they are huge cups. They are not at all Cyclopean cups, as he himself implies in noting the fact that they are 'passed from hand to hand.' The fact is they are not cups at all, but 'good earthenware pitchers, Sir!-of an excellent quaint pattern and sober colour.' Perhaps the grace before meat might, with advantage, be dispensed with.
But our critic commiserates, or makes merry at, the disappointment of the guests at the Lovefeast, on
finding the provision for bodily regalement imaginary. The members find themselves at a Barmecide banquet.' If any such disappointment were felt, St. Paul's enquiry would be answer enough: What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?' How differently this aspect of the Lovefeast is viewed by a different class of mind will be seen in the following extract from a letter in the handwriting of a sister of Rowland Hill, dated Plymouth Dock, January 8th, 1777,' and headed The Methodist Club: They, like other Clubs, have a Feast. I have been at many a feast where there has been more meat than grace, but here, it is evident, there is more grace than meat, and none of the guests here are disturbed by superfluous compliments and searching after dainty bits, but each takes his portion of meat and drink with thankfulness and cheerfulness, and, however small it may appear to be, all are satisfied to the full. It brought to my mind Moses and his manna, when "he that gathered little had no lack"; and withal so merry are they at their feast, that it is no uncommon thing for them to sing a song in the midst of their meal; and, when they depart, no alderman from a turtle-feast goes home with half the satisfaction.'
But the most sacred and simple of all symbolic acts might easily be held up to ridicule by any one so minded, and that by reason of its extreme simplicity.
Our reviewer makes a point of Wesley's 'justifying his prosaic "tickets" by the Apostolic GTOλai συστατικαί. (P. 8.) 'Prosaic "tickets!"" From all that ecclesiastical archaeologists have been able to gather, the certificates of membership employed in the Apostolic times were as prosaic, in other words, as simple and sensible and suited to their purpose, as the text-bearing Methodist certificate of membership