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trines only as they themselves be- should regulate their discipline and lieve to be the doctrines of Christ, is practice, as well as doctrine.” This thus strikingly apparent.
question was, at that particular peThe second view of the pastoral riod, one of the greatest importance, office, which has already been estab- as the settlement of it determined lished by an appeal to the New Tes- the peculiar character which Metament, is, that Christ has given to thodism should assume. Many perthe Ministers of the Gospel the keys sons, in different parts of the country, of his church; thus empowering had been awakened by the preaching them to receive members within its of Mr. Wesley and his coadjutors, to pale, and exclude from its commu- a sense of sin and danger, and earnnion those offenders whom admoni- estly desired to place themselves untion and salutary discipline fail to der the care of those from whose correct and amend. It now remains ministry they had already derived so to be shown that this power also is, much spiritual benefit. It remained, according to the original and indis. then, for Mr. Wesley to consult with putable practice of Methodism,exclu- his associates, for the purpose of fix. sively exercised by the stated and re- ing the terms on wbich the wishes gular Preachers of the Wesleyan Con- of such persons should be met; of nexion. Baptism, the ordinance for determining the form which the inadmitting persons into the universal fant community should take; and church, and which, from its very na- of making such regulations as might ture and design, takes the rank of a be deemed necessary for its future gosacrament, is administered only by vernment. A careful examination of the regular Preachers; and this is the early Minutes of the Conference also the case in regard of the sa- will show with how much solicitude crament of the Lord's supper. This the Connexion principle, rather than solemn pledge of continued mem- that of Independency, was laid at bership is never given among the the very foundation of Methodism. Methodists except by those Preachers To preserve the union of the sociewho are wholly set apart to the ties under the care and management work of the ministry. No other of a united ministry was the steady class of officers so much as assist aim of Mr. Wesley' from the beginin the performance of this import- ning. With this view, a common form ant task. The freedom of the of discipline for the societies was proPreachers in the administration of vided ; and the plan of a periodical the sacraments may be further re- change of the Preachers was adopted ; marked upon. They are the judges as well as that of an annual Meeting of the fitness of the candidates for of the Preachers in Conference with baptism, and administer it only in Mr. Wesley, for the purpose of mainthose cases of which they approve; taining discipline among themselves, and it is, moreover, on their own and regulating the affairs of the Conresponsibility to the great Head of nexion generally. It was at this the church, that they admit to the yearly Conference that all the rules table of the Lord, or repel, those ap- for governing the societies were plicants for the privilege of com- adopted during the life-time of Mr. munion, who may not be members of Wesley; and since his death the the Methodist society.
Conference bas remained what the In turning our attention to that Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst, in the discipline by which the Methodist phraseology of law, has denominated, societies, as a section of the univer- the legislative power, or supreme sal Christian church, are regulated, authority, in Methodism. The pracit will be proper to notice the origin tical assertion of this principle must of the discipline itself, previous to ever be regarded as essential to the inquiring as to its administration. maintenance of the union of the At the Conference in 1744, to which Methodist societies. They cannot reference has already been made, remain essentially one body longer one of the questions proposed for than they continue under the effecconsideration was, " How they live control and management of one head. But at the same time that people along with itself in all its lethis is insisted upon, it must be dis- gislative acts, many particular cases tinctly understood, that the Confer- might be inentioned in which the ence, while acting in its legislative Conference has agreed not to act capacity, proceeds on the scriptural without the express concurrence of principle of securing the concurrence the people. The case of Circuits to of the people. The Conference, it be divided may be produced as one is true, has ever refused to admit instance. It is easy to conceive thatan lay-delegates into its body: first, on injudicious division of Circuits inight the ground that it cannot subvert the prove the cause of great uneasiness, standing order of Christ, by giving to by forcibly rending societies asunder, those who are not Pastors a share in and imposing upon them heavy addi. the pastoral government of the Con- tional pecuniary burdens; but the nexion ; and, secondly, because Mr. Conference has effectually guarded Wesley has in the Deed-poll, which against such painful occurrences, by secures to the Conference its legal agreeing not to divide any Circuit existence, expressly provided that till the Quarterly-Meeting of the none, except the stated and re- Circuit shall consent to such meagular Preachers, can become mem. sure. The case of the appropriation bers of the Conference. Were lay of the Circuit and general Funds men to be introduced as members, may also be especially adverted to. that instant the Conference would In regard of the Circuit Funds, it lose its right to occupy the pulpits may suffice to observe, that the Conof the chapels, and the ruin of the ference bas bound itself not to enact Connexion, as one united commu- any rule for the general augmentanity, must inevitably follow. But tion of the salary of the Preachers, although the Conference cannot, for until it has been previously agreed these reasons, admit lay.delegates to by a majority of the Districtinto its body, it has provided that Meetings, at the time when the Cirthe influence of the people shall be cuit-Stewards, who represent the exerted for all safe and useful pur- various Circuits of the Connexion, poses as effectually, and much more are invited to be present. (See Mi. scripturally, than by the plan of nutes of Conference, 1815.) With relay-delegation. In legislating for spect to the general Funds of the Conthe Connexion, the Conference has nexion, which are considerably raised agreed that no new rule, which it by the voluntary contributions of the may enact for the societies gene- people, it must be stated, that, while rally, shall be definitively confirm the Conference reserves to itself the ed until the acquiescence of the so power of giving directions when such cieties in it has been ascertained. contributions shall be solicited, it The first Quarterly-Meetings which leaves the actual distribution of the are held after the Annual Conference funds, when raised, to Committees, have the right of taking into consider- formed of an equal number of layation, if they choose, any such new men and Preachers.
A careful exarule which the preceding Conference mination of this part of the economy has framed; and if the majority of a of Methodism will satisfy the candid Quarterly-Meeting should be of opi- inquirer, that, although the Confernion that the rule would prove inju- ence, as the collective pastorate of rious to the Circuit which it repre. the Connexion, has the exclusive sents, the Meeting shall have the prerogative of framing regulations for power of suspending its operation the management of the whole body; in that Circuit for the ensuing year. yet the system is so constituted that, By this arrangement the Conference in legislating for the people, the Conaffords to the Connexion the oppor- ference must ever act in unison with tunity of expressing its opinion on any their public opinion, when deliberanew rule for the societies, before it re- tively and generally expressed. ceives final confirmation. In addition When
is considered that every to this general arrangement which the individual Circuit has a voice in Conference has made for taking the those Conference
which relate to its own local affairs; the New Testament, with such reguthat special Circuit meetings may lations as are necessary for securing moreover be held, for the purpose of the ends for which all Christian soaddressing the Conference, by me. cieties are formed. The rule of God's morial, on any question affecting the word must ever be the paramount management of the societies gene- law of every particular church rally ; and that no new general rule founded on scriptural principles; becomes the law of the Connexion and all the rules which may be neuntil it has had the formal or iinplied cessary for the regulation and ma. approbation of the people, as repre. nagement of its affairs ought to be sented in the Quarterly-Meetings of arranged in strict accordance with the various Circuits; it may be suc- that primary rule. This is the case cessfully maintained, that the Confer- in Methodism. The regulations for ence has the concurrence of the people the government of the societies are at large, in its legislative proceedings, framed so fully in the spirit of the as fully as though lay-delegates New Testament, that no one is exwere incorporated with its own cluded from the society so much for body.
the breach of those rules, as for the Having glanced at the legislative violation of some moral precept power of the Conference, the admi. which required his strict obsery. nistration of discipline remains as ance. The case of those persons the question for consideration : and who have been cut off from the sothe inode of investigating this sub- ciety during the recent agitation ject will serve to show that, whether serves to illustrate this principle. the terms of membership, or the Their endeavours to disturb the soprescribed method by which disci. cieties, and effect subversive changes pline is enforced, are considered, the in the economy of Methodism, were regular Preachers use the keys in a violation of the solemn engage. accordance with the scriptural rights ments into which they had entered. and privileges of the people. The On becoming members of the soconditions of membership were ciety they plighted themselves to obsketched at a very early period in serve its rules, and submit to its disMethodism, and will be found in cipline; and when they changed strict harmony with the word of their views in reference to those subGod. On the principle, that the jects, it was their duty silently to church is the school in which the withdraw, and seek another society way of Christ is to be learned, -the more in conformity with their newlyhospital in which the sin-diseased acquired taste. When, instead of soul must look for its cure,-oneonly acting this honourable, Christian part, condition is previously required from they strove to keep their place in those who desire admission into the the society, and break its peace by Methodist societies. In the General attempting to change its form of Rules, bearing the signature of John government, they violated tbe imand Charles Wesley, and dated May mutable moral law of God, by de1st, 1743, this one condition is de parting from the rule of common scribed, as “ a desire to flee from honesty. Or the question respecting the wrath to come, and be saved those persons may be put on another from their sins." Whoever, believing ground. One of the principal means in the fundamental doctrines of the adopted by them, for the purpose of Christian religion, professes to have agitating the societies, was speaking such desire, is eligible for admission evil of the Preachers ; against whom into the society, after a previous the most groundless charges of tytrial of some weeks, for the purpose rannica), unchristian conduct, and of of ascertaining whether good reason acting from the worst of motives, exists for believing that his profes- have been preferred. But this, it is to sion of sorrow for sin, and desire be reinembered, is a breach of one of for salvation, are genuine. The terms the standing rules of the society, which of continued membership are, an ob- prohibits, under pain of sorfeiture of servance of the moral precepts of membership, “uncbaritable or un.
profitable conversation, particularly clude that an individual, who has speaking evil of Magistrates or of been the usual time on trial, ought Ministers ;” which rule is only an not to become a member, the Superecho of the ninth commandment of intendent shall not admit him.' In. the decalogue, “Thou shalt not bear such restrictions, it is very obvious, false witness against thy neighbour.” the people have every possible secuSuch are the terms of membership in rity, that the Preacher will rightly the Methodist societies. But as per- exercise his authority in receiving sons are not, in the first instance, persons into the society. admitted as members without pre- In the life-time of Mr. Wesley, vious trial, so neither are they ex- the Superintendent (or, as he was cluded with precipitancy. Due for- then called, Assistant) acted on his bearance is exercised towards the of- own responsibility in excluding offender, in the hope that reproof and fending persons from the society, adınonition may reclaim him. The and was not subject to any other following is the language in which control than the paternal interferthe societies are addressed in refer- ence of Mr. Wesley; but in the year ence to the standing rules : “ If there 1797 the Conference agreed to imbe any among us who observe them pose certain restrictions upon the not, who habitually break any of Preachers, in the exercise of this imthem, let it be made known unto portant branch of the pastoral authothem who watch over that soul, as rity. Previously, the Preachers were they that must give an account. We at liberty to consult any Leaders, or will admonish bim of the error of others, as they might see fit, before his ways; we will bear with him for they proceeded to an act of expulsion ; a season. But then, if he repent but at that period it was settled that, not, he hath no more place among for the future, the Preachers should us, we have delivered our souls.” not expel a person from society, un
The admission of persons into so- til the offence with which he was ciety on these conditions is the bu. charged had been proved to the sasiness of the regular Preachers. The tisfaction of the Leaders' Meeting. economy of Methodism does not A careful examination of the transacprovide for the performance of this tions of the year 1797 is necesimportant pastoral function by any sary for the purpose of showing, other class of officers whatever. that it was not the intention of the But while the reception of members Conference to divest the Preachers of is the exclusive act of the regular the pastoral office itself, but merely Preachers, the people have ample se- to introduce such guards as would curity that all due care will be taken prevent them froin abusing their auto prevent improper persons from thority. Extravagant claims were being received. In the first instance, at that time set up. In the propothe Conference has agreed, that no sals made to the Conference by Mr. Superintendent or Preacher shall Kilham and his party, the following give a note, admitting a person on plan for expelling improper persons trial, until he has had a recommen- from the society was laid down :dation of such person, by some one
“ The Preacher shall, if the majority in whose judgment and character he (of the Leaders' Meeting) judge them has confidence. In the next place, unworthy of a place in the society, the Preacher cannot give a ticket to exclude them, by crossing their any individual, admitting him as a
out of the class-papers.” full member into the society, until This scheme, it is obvious, was subrecommended by the Leader with versive of the authority of the whom he has met in class on trial, Preachers. Were the Leaders to de. for at least two months. And, as termine by their vote whether a per. an additional security against the son should or should not remain a receptioa of unfit persons into the member of society, they would be society, it was further agreed by the the persons exercising the pastoral Conference in 1797, that if the authority, and the Preacher only the Leaders' Meeting sees reason to con- executioner of their will. To such a proposal the Conference could not authority committed to them; and possibly agree, any more than to the therefore are in a special manner to plan of admitting lay-delegates into be heard, according to their special its own body, without violating its authority. (3.) To be the stated allegiance to the great Head of the teachers of particular churches, as church, and, at the same time, be- their Pastors and guides ; (though traying the rights and liberties of they may sometimes permit a layman, the people.
when there is cause, to teach them, 1. It would have been contrary to 'pro tempore.') These three are prothe allegiance which the Conference per to the ministerial and Pastor's owed to Jesus Christ, had it taken office." away the pastoral authority from the If all these particulars must concur Preachers and given it to the Leaders, in the teachers who alone can claim who are not Pastors. It being so im- the scriptural character of Pastors, portant that this point should be fully and who, as such, have exclusive understood, it may not be improper authority to govern the flock which to make a more particular inquiry they feed, then is it most obvious, than has yet been instituted, respect that the Conference could not, with ing the teaching qualifications in- out a great dereliction of its duty, dispensably necessary to constitute a divest the Preachers of the pastoral Christian Pastor. Allusion has al. authority, and impart it to the ready been made to the views of one Leaders' Meetings. So far from the whose name sheds a lustre on the Leaders answering this description page of our national history, and of the Christian Pastor, they do not whose writings remain an enduring so much as profess to have a divine monument of his talent, industry, call to the work of the Christian and piety; and it is preferred to ministry; nor do they, as Leaders, give his statement of the teaching engage in public preaching at all. qualifications of a Pastor, rather It was impossible, therefore, that the than select a definition from any Conference should so far violate the recent author. He, at least, ca standing order of the church of be suspected of having written with Christ, as to allow the pastoral authe sinister view of supporting any thority to be exercised in the socieparty. scheme in the present day. ties by those who, however valuaIn his Christian Directory, while ble and important their services, are considering the question, "May a not themselves Pastors in the corlayman preach or expound the rect, scriptural sense of the term. Scriptures? or what of this is pro- While the demands made by Mr. per to the Pastor's office ?” Bax- Kilbam and his party could not be ter first mentions several eminent supported by the proof of the Leaders laymen, who had rendered signal being Pastors, as no such proof exservices to the cause of Christianity, isted; neither was it possible that (such as Casaubon, Grotius, and Eras- they could be maintained on the al. mus,) for the purpose of showing that leged ground of a defect in the “there is some preaching, or teach- claims of the regular Preachers to ing and expounding, which a layman the character of Pastors. Had any may use ;” and then observes :
flaw in their title to the pastorship “ But that which is proper to the been discovered, it might have apMinisters, or Pastors, of the church peared plausible to argue, that, as is, (1.) To make a stated office of the pastoral authority must necessait, and to be separated, set apart, rily lodge somewhere, the safer way devoted, or consecrated and appro- would be to entrustit to the Leaders' priated, to this sacred work; and not Meetings. But all the characteristics io do it occasionally only, or some- of the Christian Pastor concur in the times, or on the liye; but as their regular Preachers. They make a calling, and employment of their stated office of the ministry, and lives. (2.) To do it as called and devote themselves to it as the sole commissioned Ministers of Christ, employment of their lives; it being who have a nunciative and teaching a standing law of the Conference,