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ers continued united and faithful in their calling, how deeply those men repented of their conduct in this instance. In vain they represented to the man of their unhappy choice, how lamentably their congregations had declined, and how hardly they could sustain the expences they had incurred. The answer was short: They might employ other Preachers, if they should think it proper ; but the dwelling-house and the stated income belonged to him!
We need not wonder, that Dr. Whitehead should speak with such deep concern, and indulge such a spirit of calumny, concerning this important measure of settling the chapels. The Doctor, and many others who had departed from the work, had, through that wise measure, but little prospect of succeeding, like his friend the Book-Steward, to occupy chapels, built for the people by Mr. Wesley's influence, and the labour of the Preachers. The favour of those Trustees, who might be disposed to forget their sacred obligations, and incur such an awful responsibility, held out but little hope to such men, now that a legal definition was given to the phrase—The CONFERENCE: And, in fact, every appeal made to Equity has fully succeeded, on this very ground.
In that day of uncertainty and surmise, there were not wanting some, even among the Itinerant Preachers, who entertained fears respecting a settlement of this kind. They had but little hope, that the work would continue, after Mr. Wesley's death, as it had during his life ; and they thought it probable, that the largest Societies, and, of course, the principal chapels, would become independent. In such a case, the favour of the chief men, and especially of the Trustees, would insure considerable advantages to those Itinerants, who might wish to become settled Ministers. Of all this Mr. Wesley was fully aware, and he determined to counteract such wisdom. He found it, however, very difficult to do so, without breaking with them, which love forbade ; or assuming, in a questionable case, an authority contrary to that of a father in Christ: One of those Preachers, and of considerable eminence, attacked the Deed of Settlement, and declared, that Mr. Wesley might as justly place all the dwelling-houses, barns, workshops, &c, in which we had preached for so many years, under the authority of the Conference, as he had done the chapels; and that he thus assumed an authority that the Lord had not given him. This seemed far too strong to be generally received, and it was quickly answered. A Preacher, in reply, observed, " that; certainly, there was as much justice in the one case as the other, provided those dwelling-houses, barns, workshops, &c, had been built in consequence of the preaching, and by the subscriptions of the connexion ; and in order that those erections might continue to be used for the purposes for which they were thus built !" This closed the debate for that time ; but the Preacher first mentioned, soon after he got to his circuit, rallied again, and wrote Mr. Wesley a long and earnest expostulation on the same subject, which I read to him in course. To this, Mr. Wesley thus shortly replied :
“MY DEAR BROTHER,—I do not love to dispute ; and, least of all, to dispute with you, who will dispute through a stone wall. It seems a little thing with you, who shall appoint the Preachers ; with me it is, under God, every thing, both for the prosperity and the continuance of the work.”—He concluded with some fatherly advice, not to be so very sure of his own opinion, or so wise in his own conceit.
The first charge which Dr. Whitehead brings against this important transaction is, that “neither the design of the deed, nor the words of the several clauses, are to be imputed to Mr. Wesley.”-I answer,
the Doctor here asserts that of which he had no knowledge. He had, several years before, departed from the work, and from all fellowship with the Preachers or people. When he again joined the Methodist Society in London, he heard the surmisings and complaints of some who had taken offence at this measure, and this he detailed at a convenient period. Some of the Itinerant Preachers brought the same charge, at the first Conference after the deed was enrolled ; and declared, that it was the work of Dr. Coke, who had joined Mr. Wesley a few years before. Mr. Wesley only replied to this in the words of Virgil, Non vult, non potuit ! “ He had neither the will nor the power.”
The truth is : The Conference had requested Mr. Wesley to get such an instrument drawn up, as would define or explain what was meant by that expression, used in the various deeds of the chapels so settled; viz. “THE CONFERENCE OF THE PEOPLE CALLED METHODISTS,” upon the meaning of which terms, the authority so appointing must rest, so long as there should be an Itinerant Ministry. The elder Mr. Hampson, mentioned in the preface to this work, was particularly earnest with Mr. Wesley, to have such an instrument executed without delay. He immediately set about it; and having given directions to his solicitor, who took the opinion of Counsel upon the most proper and effectual way of doing it, he committed it chiefly to the care of Dr. Coke, as his own avocations would not admit of a constant personal attendance. He, however, wrote, with his own hand, a list of a hundred names, which he ordered to be inserted, declaring his full determination, that no more should be appointed ; and as there never had been so great a number at any Conference, and generally from twenty to thirty less, the number. so fixed would not, it was thought, have excited either surprise or displeasure.
Some of those Preachers, however, whose names were omitted, were deeply offended, as I have stated in the Preface to the first Volume. But I can state with the fullest certainty, that what Dr. Whitehead has asserted, respecting Mr. Wesley having repented of this transaction, is totally unfounded. On the contrary, he reviewed it always with high satisfaction; and praised God, who had brought him through a business, which he had long contemplated with earnest desire, and yet with many fears. The issue, even to this day, proves the wisdom of the measure ; and that it was in the order of HIM, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy." Many chapels have been restored to the Societies, to whom they, in justice, belonged, by the upright decisions of our Courts of Equity, so that now no fears are entertained of any chapels settled according to this Deed.
Dr. Whitehead's second objection is a poor cavil. He strives, in the strongest language, to fix the charge of falsehood on those who drew up this Deed, and on Mr. Wesley, who signed and sanctioned it, because of the term, “ The CONFERENCE OF THE PEOPLE CALLED Methodists.” I cannot but fear, that this charge might be retorted against the Doctor with truth ; for he well knew, when he wrote thus, that the term was inserted in this explanatory and authoritative instrument, because it was not only the term used in common speech for many years, but also because it was used in every record, and in all the Deeds of chapels which were settled in this way. It was, therefore, absolutely necessary, that, in such an explanatory Deed, the same term should be used, as in the Deeds of the particular chapels to which it referred. Had not the Doctor, therefore, an intention to deceive, when he cried out, “ It is well known, that the People called Methodists never held a Conference since Methodism existed !". Certainly not ; nor will they ever come together till they all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ. But there was no deception in thus using the term. Every member of the connexion knew, that it meant the assembled Preachers of the people called Methodists. The Doctor brings in the People, as he does the Church, when it suits his purpose. His observations on this point are only suited to the theories of our wildest demagogues. This absolutely necessary work was done for the people, who could, in no other way, retain their property, and have an Itinerant ministry. They now enjoy these blessings, and are thankful to God and man.
The Deed of Declaration is dated February 28, 1784. It is entitled, “ The Rev. John Wesley's Declaration and Establishment of the Conference of the People called Methodists :" And, in the attested copy, is said to be, “ Enrolled in his Majesty's High Court of Chancery." I shall endeavour to state the substance of the Preamble to this Deed, as concisely as possible, to retain the sense complete :-It says, that, “WHEREAS divers buildings, commonly called chapels, with a messuage and dwelling-house, situate in various parts of Great Britain, have been given and conveyed, from time to time, by the said JOHN Wesley, to certain persons and their heirs, in each of the said gifts and conveyances named- UPON TRUST; That the Trustees in the several Deeds respectively named, and the survivors of them, and the Trustees for the time being, to be elected as in the said Deeds is appointed, should permit the said John Wesley, and such other persons as he should, for that purpose, nominate and appoint, at all times during his life, to have and enjoy the free use and benefit of the said premises, therein to preach and expound God's holy word : And, upon farther trust, that the said respective Trustees, &c, should permit CHARLES WESLEY, brother of the said John Wesley, and such other persons as the said Charles Wesley should, for that purpose, nominate and appoint, in like manner, during his life. And after the decease of the survivor of them, the said John and Charles Wesley, THEN UPON FARTHER TRUST, that the said respective Trustees, &c, should permit such persons, and for such time and times as should be appointed at the Yearly Conference of the people called Methodists, in London, Bristol, or Leeds, and no others, to have and enjoy the said premises for the purposes aforesaid : AND Whereas divers persons have, in like manner, given or conveyed many chapels, &c, situate in various parts of Great Britain, and also in Ireland, to certain Trustees, in each of the said gifts and conveyances respectively named, upon the like trusts, and for the same uses and purposes as aforesaid, (except only, that, in some of the said gifts and conveyances, no life estate or other interest is the eby given and reserved to the said Charles Wesley :) AND WHEREAS, for rendering effectual the trusts created by the said several gifts or conveyances, and that no doubt or litigation may arise with respect to the interpretation and true
meaning thereof, it has been thought expedient by the said John Wesley, on behalf of himself, as donor of the several chapels, &c, as of the donors of the said other chapels, &c, to explain the words, Yearly Conference of the people called Methodists, contained in all the said Trust Deeds, and to declare, what persons are members of the said Conference, and how the succession and identity thereof is to be continued : Now, therefore, these presents witness, that, for accomplishing the aforesaid purposes, the said John Wesley doth hereby declare, that the Conference of the people called Methodists, in London, Bristol, or Leeds, ever since there hath been any yearly Conference of the people called Methodists, hath always heretofore consisted of the Preachers, commonly called Methodist Preachers, in connexion with, and under the care of, the said John Wesley, whom he hath thought expedient, year after year, to summon to meet him, to advise with them for the promotion of the Gospel of Christ, to appoint the said persons so summoned, and the other Preachers also in connexion with, and under the care of, the said John Wesley, not summoned in the yearly Conference, to the use and enjoyment of the said chapels; the names of all which persons so summoned and appointed, with the chapels to which they were so appointed, together with the duration of such appointments, with all other matters transacted at the said yearly Conference, have, year by year, been printed and published under the title of • Minutes OF CONFERENCE.'»
The Deed then states the declaration and establishment of the Conference in the following words : “ And these presents farther witness, and the said JOHN WESLEY doth hereby avouch and farther declare, that the several persons hereinafter named, to wit.”- After mentioning by name one hundred of the Preachers, it farther states that these “Being Preachers and expounders of God's holy word, under the care of, and in connexion with, the said John WESLEY, HAVE BEEN, NOW ARE, and do, on the day of the date hereof, constitute the members of the said Conference, according to the true intent and meaning of the said several gifts and conveyances, wherein the words, Conference of the people called Methodists' are mentioned and contained. And that the said several persons before named, and their successors for ever, to be chosen as hereinafter mentioned, are, and shall for ever be construed, taken, and be, the Conference of the people called Methodists. Nevertheless, upon the terms and subject to the regulations hereinafter prescribed ; that is to say,
“ First. That the members of the said Conference, and their successors for the time being for ever, shall assemble once in every year, at London, Bristol, or Leeds, (except as after mentioned,) for the purposes aforesaid ; and the time and place of holding every subsequent Conference shall be appointed at the preceding one, save that the next Conference after the date hereof shall be holden at Leeds, in Yorkshire, the last Tuesday in July next.
" Second. The act of the majority in number of the Conference assembled as aforesaid, shall be had, taken, and be the act of the whole Conference, to all intents, purposes, and constructions whatsoever.
“ Third. That, after the Conference shall be assembled as aforesaid, they shall first proceed to fill up all the vacancies occasioned by death or absence, as after mentioned.
- Fourth. No act of the Conference, assembled as aforesaid, shall be had, taken, or be the act of the Conference, until forty of the members thereof are assembled, unless reduced under that number by death, since the prior Conference, or by absence as after-mentioned ; nor until all the vacancies occasioned by death or absence shall be filled up by the election of new members of the Conference, so as to make up
the number one hundred, unless there be not a sufficient number of persons, objects of such election : And, during the assembly of the Conference, there shall always be forty members present at the doing of any act, save as aforesaid, or otherwise such act shall be void.
“ Fifth. The duration of the yearly assembly of the Conference, shall not be less than five days, nor more than three weeks, and be concluded by the appointment of the Conference, if under twenty-one days; or otherwise, the conclusion thereof shall follow, of course, at the end of the said twenty-one days, the whole of all which said time of the assembly of the Conference shall be had, taken, considered, and be the yearly Conference of the people called Methodists; and all acts of the Conference, during such yearly assembly thereof, shall be the acts of the Conference, and none others.
“ Sixth. Immediately after all the vacancies, occasioned by death or absence, are filled up by the election of new members as aforesaid, the Conference shall choose a President and Secretary of their assembly out of themselves, who shall continue such until the election of another President or Secretary in the next, or other subsequent Conference ; and the said President shall have the privilege and power of two members in all acts of the Conference during his Presidency, and such other powers, privileges, and authorities, as the Conference shall, from time to time, see fit to intrust into his hands.
“ Seventh. Any member of the Conference absenting himself from the yearly assembly thereof for two years successively, without the consent or dispensation of the Conference, and being not present on the first day of the third yearly assembly thereof, at the time and place appointed for the holding of the same, shall cease to be a member of the Conference, from and after the said first day of the said third yearly assembly thereof, to all intents and purposes, as though he was naturally dead. But the Conference shall and may dispense with, or consent to the absence of, any member from any of the said yearly assemblies, for any cause which the Conference may see fit or necessary; and such member, whose absence shall be so dispensed with, or consented to by the Conference, shall not, by such absence, cease to be a member thereof.
Eighth. The Conference shall and may expel and put out from being a member thereof, or from being in connexion therewith, or from being upon trial, any person, member of the Conference, admitted into connexion, or upon trial, for any cause which to the Conference may seem fit or necessary; and every member of the Conference, so expelled and put out, shall cease to be a member thereof, to all intents and purposes, as though he was naturally dead. And the Conference, immediately after the expulsion of any member thereof as aforesaid, shall elect another person to be a member of the Conference, in the stead of such member so expelled.
“ Ninth. The Conference shall and may admit into connexion with