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publicly; numbers of them shunned us as they would the pestilence ; several made it their business to dissuade people from attending our ministry, and especially from joining us in religious communion, and when many of their members wished to join with us in our devotions, they passed a law prohibiting every Methodist from assisting us either by preaching, exhortation, or prayer, upon pain of expulsion from their Society.” P. 68.
Professors and profane—for the information of those who are not acquainted with the new fangled jargon lately introduced. into religion, it may be necessary to state, that the professors of vital godliness distinguish themselves by that title #. the profame multitude, who have not undergone their own sensible regeneration. The doctrine of Election pushed too far is always the parent of intolerance: but what is principally remarkable in the extract given above, is the popishness of the excommunication which they attempted to enforce. The animosity engendered by so small a difference of opinion—a difference, by which no doctrine was impeached, no practice recommended by Scripture was affected—marks a spirit congenial with the Inquisition, and that would have loved an auto da fê.
“Where only opportunity doth want, not will,
“For modes of faith let zealots fight,” and if these modes be momentous, we will defend them from the censure of the poet; but that zeal must surely be graceless and bigoted, which fights bitterly and uncharitably for a regulation imposed by Conference or Wesley. If any one thinks this matter may have been misrepresented by a party who felt themselves aggrieved, let us turn to Mark Robinson's open avowal of the truth.
“Some of narrow and contracted minds among us, imagine that our system itself is as sacred as even the first principles of our religion, and that, therefore, to refuse our assent to the one, is as great an evil as to disbelieve the other; that to take a part in diffusing even the same religious truths, under a different form of Church government, as, for instance, under a system allowing representatives of the people in Conference, would imply that such persons had lost their piety.” P. 38.
Again: “a certain preacher in the Old Connexion has taken upon himself to aver publicly in different pulpits, that all who have left them as a body of people, have died under a cloud;” (p. 40.) which, according to the explanation of Mr. Watson, one of their travelling preachers, is “damnation poetically expressed.” It is true that Watson condemns such rancorous effusions of party zeal; but then his liberality can be accounted for : he had himself been a seceder from the Connexion. Nei
ther is it a solitary instance; others have used the same, or stronger language.
“A travelling preacher finding that a female member had neglected attendance on the class, observed: Some people will say, that if we turn them out of the Methodist Society, we cannot turn them out of heaven. He then, in a very solemn manner, added: I don't know that; there is more meaning in that text of Scripture than many people think of—“Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
i. whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.'"— . 41.
This claim of power might have been ranked among the proofs of their ambition; but it will be observed, that the occasion which produced it, was the neglect of an ordinance invented by themselves. Like the Pharisees, they “lay heavy burthens upon men's shoulders," and if the least point of ceremonial observance be infringed, they denounce the vengeance of heaven, or, which is the same thing, of Conference.
2. The principles by which the Society is governed, are selfish, mercenary, and worldly. To prove the truth of this charge, it might be sufficient to adduce evidence, that while they fret and fume at the least breach of discipline, they “eulogize those for their attachment to Methodism, who are publicly arguing on principles, which the Conference acknowledge to be dangerous to Christianity itself.” (P. 8. Introduction.) For if the leaders of a religious sect be plainly not animated by a zeal for religion in the conduct of their affairs, baser motives must of necessity be inferred. But the Methodist preacher shall decide the point himself: his testimony, that it is a secular and worldly spirit which actuates them, is most decisive.
“The tent preachers,” he says, “were acknowledged to be men of piety and talent; their doctrines were approved of; many hundreds of persons had been converted by their preaching; but they were concerned in building places of worship, which they did not make over for the use of the Preachers: and for this, according to the superintendent's own account, Mr. Pocock was ejected. Now, let the impartial contrast this with the fact, that it is acknowledged by the Conference, that some of the preachers hold and publish religious doctrines dangerous to the welfare of people's souls; and yet they are retained and publicly praised for their attachment to Methodism." P. 68.
* Begging," said Mr. Bramwell, one of their most eminent men, “is too much the business of the year. How can I raise the monies? appear fair at Conference? &c. are considerations, which, it is to be feared, affect some of us more deeply than the salvation of souls. A preacher has been known to labour two years in a circuit, without ever being questioned concerning the spiritual state of the people. The enquiry has uniformly been, Did you make the collections? Have you got the money?" P. 25.
yoi.. WII, No. ii. N
But not only are they thus convicted of worshipping Mammon, their worldliness is besides altogether selfish, and their views extend not beyond their own advantage. “When the local preachers in two of the principal circuits met, for the purpose of establishing a local preacher's fund, the superintendents threatened to silence them as local preachers, if they persisted.” (P. 24.) The local preachers receive nothing for their labour. What then becomes of the preacher's fund? It goes entirely to the travelling preachers, who receive salaries averaging 200l. per annum, and sometimes more. Truly these are spolia opima— these are great inducements to act upon the principle satirized by Horace—Conficias rem, si possis, recte; sinon, quocunque modorem. Their emoluments, according to this statement, exceed the average income of livings in the Established Church. But this is not all; there is another fund, into which hundreds and thousands have been poured, year after year, besides the annual subscriptions of the preachers, the appropriation of which is buried in most mysterious concealment. The Conference are afraid to publish any account of it to the world, “ lest the magnitude of the amount should deter their adherents from subscribing.” (p. 22.) O fortunati mimium sua si bona norint. That the Conference preachers themselves, however, know how to appreciate their advantages is obvious; for
“Some have supposed, that there is ground for apprehension, that the Methodist ministry may become hereditary, and that the sons of the preachers may issue from the two public schools, and fill the vacancies as they occur, to the almost entire exclusion of those who would, on the whole, be more acceptable to the people.” P. 35.
With the whole power and the whole emoluments of the Society they cannot be content, unless they perpetuate the sovereignty in their families, by legitimate descent and hereditary succession. Why does not the spirit of Wesley rise before the aspiring conclave, and admonish them like Wolsey, “I charge you fling away ambition—by that sin the angels fell !" and therefore, doubtless, angels elect may do the same. No, no: there would be an immediate cry of heresy and schism; for grace is indefectible and Conference infallible: and so the venerable Founder's ghost would soon be rejected from the connexion,
3. Ambitious, however, they are, and their ambition cannot be altogether a matter of indifference to the Established Church, if the assertion of one of their travelling preachers has any truth in it: “We Methodists can do any thing.” (p. 20.) We have already seen one of them laying #. to St. Peter's keys, and the power of excluding from heaven; it is not, therefore, any matter of wonder, that they aspire to the dignity, as well as to the authority, of Apostles. “An attempt has been made to introduce episcopal ordination into the Conference." (p. 33.) : “Several leading preachers assembled at Lichfield, to contrive how certain of them could be made Bishops.” (p. 14.) This is a strong measure for a sect who have recorded a resolution in their Minutes, that their Preachers should not becalled Ministers, nor assume the title of Reverend, and is properly regarded by the writer of this letter to the Reverend R. Johnson, Superintendent of the Hull circuit, as an evident attempt to establish a rival Church. It may be thought that the apprehension of rivalry from the Methodists is extravagant and visionary and overstrained; it may be thought too wild a flight even for ambition, to contemplate the seizure of our endowments, the . usurpation of our Parish Churches, and the stripping our Establishment of its alliance with the State; it may be thought that it were full as “easy a leap to pluck bright honour from the e faced moon.” $1. ambition aspires with the eagle, though it soar with the wings of a goose. There is little danger from a conspiracy, when }. conspirators kindly inform us of their intentions: but what those intentions are, there is no longer room to doubt. Mark Robinson deprecates the contingency of Methodism becoming the Established Religion of the country, and possessing the ability of demanding temporal supplies, in its present form; and one of their leading preachers was heard, it seems, to express a hope in Conference that the time was not distant, when Methodism would attain that distinguished preeminence, (p. 13. Let the established Clergy, therefore, be watchful at their posts; let them redouble their vigilance to counteract the schemes of these schismatics. The time, we trust, is not so near as they seem to hope, when they will be able to shoulder us out of our pulpits, and to denounce us heretics ea cathedrá, for not obeying Conference: but they have a direct interest, in separating as many as they possibly can, from the Church. Wealth and power, it has been proved, are more objects of solicitude to the travelling preachers, than purity of doctrine, and religious truth: it is their own kingdom, and not Christ's, which they labour to advance. . With this view, they compass heaven and earth to make proselytes to their schism; resembling again the Pharisees of old, who took the same pains, because, as Lightfoot quaintly remarks, “the more they could draw over to their religion, the greater draught they should have for gain, and the more purses to fish in.” . With the wisdom usually observed in the children of this world, they fling away conciliation, and inflame the liberality of their followers with the ardour of sectarian zeal: for they know that the exactions of party spirit will be readily submitted to by those, who would not sacri-s N 2 -
fice a single farthing to the support of simple truth; and that the love of contradiction to established order will open many a hand, which would have been firmly clenched against the appeal of reason. Interested, therefore, as they are, in alienating the minds of the people from the Establishment, some conjecture may be formed, how much it is the object of their direct hostility, from the intolerance with which they are proved to have treated the seceders from their own body. We shall have done our duty to the public, by bringing before them facts so little known in general; and to the É. by warning them of the active war carried on against them every where, by stealing away the affections, as well as the subscriptions, of their flocks: and they who incessantly labour, for their own ends, to subvert the Church, cannot complain, if we endeavour to clip the wings of aspiring envy, and to lower their credit and influence, by exposing their real motives, and pointing out their probable designs.
The Book of the Roman Catholic Church, in a Series of Letters, addressed to Robert Southey, Esq. LL.D. on his Book of the Church. By Charles Butler, Esq. pp. 346. Murray. 1824.
This work, like all the writings of Mr. Butler, displays great kindness and courtesy of temper, and an unaffected liberality of sentiment, and we think that no one has a better right to take for his motto, the golden sentence of St. Francis of Sales, that “a good Christian is never outdone in good manners.” But, we are bound to say, that mere politeness in a controversialist, is no sufficient substitute for want of vigour, and that, with all our love of the civilities and compliments of Mr. Butler, we must whisper in his ear the advice of our old friend Gil Blas to the Archbishop of Grenada—“such works as your's are not to be criticized—there is nobody but what is charmed with it. However, since you have charged me to be free and sincere, I will take the liberty to tell you that your last discourse does not seem to have the energy of the rest.—Are you not of the same opinion?" “This work,” we say, “is not to be criticized,”—for how is it possible for a critic to answer at least five hundred questions, and to give an account of eighteen letters, which are broken down into sixty-two sections, and each of which would require at least one of our pages to investigate 2 So far as any specific charges are made against Mr. Southey, for misquotation or misrepresentation of his authorities, it is his duty to clear himself, and we have no doubt that he will do it satisfactorily. All that we shall attempt is, to give our readers a short account of