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give his Son the Heathen for his inheritance! The number of Blacks that attend the preaching, affects me much."
Mr. Pilmoor visited Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, and preached in those States with considerable success.
About the latter end of the year 1771, Mr. Wesley sent over Mr. Francis Asbury, and Mr. Richard Wright, to the assistance of the former Missionaries. Mr. Asbury was then, as he continued to his death, indefatigable in his labours. He staid not long in the cities. Most of his time he spent in the villages and plantations, forming Societies in many places. He frequently complains in his Journal, which was published in America, that his brethren were too fond of the cities; and justly observes, that no extensive work could be carried on in America, unless the Preachers devoted more of their time to the plantations; the cities and towns being very few, and a great majority of the inhabitants settled in the interior parts of the country.
In 1773, Mr. Wesley sent over Mr. Thomas Rankin and Mr. George Shadford. When they arrived, they found that the Societies in NewYork and Philadelphia had laid aside almost all discipline, and were little better than a rope of sand. Mr. Rankin, who was a strenuous advocate for all the various branches of the economy established by Mr. Wesley, and was invested by him with considerable authority, soon reduced every thing into order. He and Mr. Shadford laboured for near five years on that Continent, travelling through all the States between New-York and North Carolina inclusive, forming Societies and preaching the Gospel with great success.
6 At our first little Conference in Philadelphia, July, 1773," observes Mr. Rankin, in his own printed account, “ we had about a thousand in the different Societies, and six or seven Preachers : And, in May, 1777, we had forty Preachers in the different circuits, and about seven thousand members in the Societies; besides many hundreds of Negroes, who were convinced of sin, and many of them happy in the love of God. Were it not for the Civil War, I have reason to believe, the work of God would have flourished in a more abundant manner; as both rich and poor gladly embraced the truths of the Gospel, and received the Preachers with open arms."
When the Civil War unhappily became general in that country, Mr. Rankin, with other Preachers from England, who had spoken publicly in behalf of the British cause, were obliged to fly for their lives. And of all the European Missionaries, Mr. Francis Asbury alone was determined to bear the heat and burden of that day. Though he had preserved a perfect neutrality, and had spoken nothing in public or private on the merits of the war, yet he was obliged, from the suspicions already raised against the Societies, to conceal himself for two years, in the county of Kent in Delaware, at the house of a Mr. White, a Justice of the Peace and a member of the Society. In the house of this gentle. man, he held two Conferences with all the Preachers he could collect in the midst of the troubles. But a gentleman of Delaware, who became a very celebrated character by his publications, entitled “ The Farmer's Letters,” John DICKENSON, Esq., predecessor to Dr. Franklin in the Government of Pennsylvania, with great candour gave him a strong letter of recommendation, by virtue of which he ventured and continued to travel through the States without any molestation.
Many of the Preachers, who had learned, like Mr. Wesley, to be men of one book, scrupled to take the oaths of allegiance to the States in which they respectively laboured, and were consequently fined or imprisoned. But, in every instance, those who were confined, soon found some powerful friend, yea, often one who had no connexion with the Society, who used his influence with the Governor and Council of the State, and obtained their liberty. Frequent instances there were, when the Preachers were brought before the Judges, that they bore such a pointed testimony against sin, and preached with such power the doctrines of the Gospel, that the Judges were at a loss in what manner to behave to them. Mr. Moore, a Preacher in Baltimore, delivered, on one of those occasions, such a sermon from the bar, as filled the Judges and the whole Court with astonishment. The Assembly of Maryland, partly perhaps to deliver the Judges from the trouble which was given them, and partly out of a spirit of candour, passed an Act, expressly to allow the Methodist Preachers, so called, to exercise their function without taking the oath of allegiance.
Some time before this a remarkable occurrence happened in a county in Maryland. Mr. Chew, one of the Preachers, was brought before Mr. Downs, then Sheriff of the county, and afterwards a member of the General Assembly of the State. The Sheriff demanded, whether he was a Minister of the Gospel. On receiving from Mr. Chew an answer in the affirmative, he required him to take the oath of allegiance. Mr. Chew answered him, that he had scruples on his mind, and therefore could not consent at present. Mr. Downs informed him, that he was bound on oath to execute the laws, and must, in such case, commit him to prison. Mr. Chew calmly replied, that he by no means wished to be the cause of perjury, and therefore was perfectly resigned to suffer the penalty incurred. “ You are a strange man,” cried the Sheriff, “ and I cannot bear to punish you. I will, therefore, make my own house your prison.” He accordingly committed him, under his hand and seal, and kept him in his own house for three months ; during which time, the Sheriff' was awakened, and his lady converted. They soon afterwards joined the Society; and Mr. Downs, with the assistance of some neighbouring gentlemen, built a preaching house for the Society at Tuckaho, the place where he lived.
During the Civil War, the societies were destitute of the Sacraments, except in two or th of the cities. They could not obtain Baptism for their children, or the Lord's Supper for themselves, from the Presbyterian, Independent, or Baptist Ministers, but on condition, that they would leave the society of which they were members, and join those churches respectively: And almost all the Clergy of the Church of England had left the country. The Societies in general were so grieved on this account, and so influenced the minds of the Preachers by their incessant complaints, that, in the year 1778, a considerable number of them earnestly importuned Mr. Asbury to take proper measures, that the people might enjoy the privileges of all other churches, and no longer be deprived of the Christian Sacraments. Mr. Asbury's attachment to the Church of England was, at that time, exceedingly strong : He, therefore, refused them any redress. On this, the majority of the Preachers withdrew from him, and consequently from Mr. Wesley, and chose out of themselves three senior brethren, who ordained others by the imposi
tion of their hands. The preachers thus set apart administered the Sacraments to those whom they judged proper to receive it, in every place where they came. However, Mr. Asbury, by indefatigable labour and attention, and by all the address in his power, brought them back one after another ; and, by a vote of one of the Conferences, the ordination was declared invalid, and a perfect re-union took place.
When peace was established between Great Britain and the States, the intercourse was opened betwixt the societies in both countries. Mr. Wesley then received from Mr. Asbury a full account of the progress of the work during the war ; and especially of the division which had taken place, and the difficulties he met with, before it was healed. He also informed Mr. Wesley of the extreme uneasiness of the people's minds for want of the Sacraments ; that thousands of their children were unbaptized, and the members of the Societies in general had not partaken of the Lord's Supper for many years. Mr. Wesley then considered the subject, and informed Dr. Coke of his design of drawing up a plan of church-government, and of establishing an ordination for his American Societies. But, cautious of entering on so new a plan, he afterwards suspended the execution of his purpose, and weighed the whole for upwards of a year.
At the Conference held in Leeds in 1784, he declared his intention of sending Dr. Coke and some other Preachers to America. Mr. Richard Whatcoat and Mr. Thomas Vasey offered themselves as Missionaries for that purpose, and were accepted. Before they sailed, Mr. Wesley abridged the Common Prayer-book of the Church of England, and wrote to Dr. Coke, then in London, desiring him to meet him in Bristol, to receive fuller powers ; and to bring the Rey. Mr. Creighton with him. The Doctor and Mr. Creighton accordingly met him in Bristol ; when, with their assistance, he ordained Mr. Richard Whatcoat, and Mr. Thomas Vasey, Presbyters for America : And, being peculiarly attached to every rite of the Church of England, he afterwards ordained Dr. Coke a Superintendent, giving him letters of ordination under his hand and seal, and, at the same time, the following letter to be printed, and circulated in America :
“Bristol, September 10, 1784. “ To Dr. Coke, Mr. Asbury, and our Brethren in North
America. “ By a very uncommon train of providences, many of the provinces of North America are totally disjoined from their mother country, and erected into independent States. The English Government has no authority over them, either civil or ecclesiastical, any more than over the States of Holland. A civil authority is exercised over them, partly by the Congress, partly by the Provincial Assemblies.
But no one either exercises or claims any ecclesiastical authority at all. In this peculiar situation, some thousands of the inhabitants of these States desire my advice; and, in compliance with their desire, I have drawn up a little sketch.
“ Lord King's account of the Primitive Church convinced me, many years ago, that Bishops and Presbyters are the same order, and consequently have the same right to ordain.* For many years I have been importuned, from time to time, to exercise this right, by ordaining part of our Travelling Preachers. But I have still refused, not only for peace sake, but because I was determined, as little as possible, to violate the established order of the National Church to which I belonged.
“But the case is widely different between England and North America. Here there are Bishops who have a legal jurisdiction. In America there are none, neither any parish Ministers. So that, for some hundred miles together, there is none either to baptize or to administer the Lord's Supper. Here, therefore, my scruples are at an end ; and I conceive myself at full liberty, as I violate no order, and invade no man's right by appointing and sending labourers into the harvest.
“I have accordingly appointed Dr. Coke and Mr. Francis Asbury to be joint Superintendents over our brethren in North America ; as also Richard Whatcoat and Thomas Vasey, to act as Elders among them, by baptizing and administering the Lord's Supper. And I have prepared a Liturgy, little differing from that of the Church of England, (I think, the best constituted national church in the world,) which I advise all the Travelling Preachers to use on the Lord's-day, in all the congregations, reading the Litany only on Wednesdays and Fridays, and praying extempore on all other days. I also advise the Elders to administer the Supper of the Lord on every Lord's-day.
“If any one will point out a more rational and Scriptural way, of feeding and guiding those poor sheep in the wilderness, I will gladly embrace it. At present, I cannot see any better method than that I have taken.
“ It has, indeed, been proposed, to desire the English Bishops to ordain part of our Preachers for America. But to this I object, 1. I desired the Bishop of London to ordain only one, but could not prevail. 2. If they consented, we know the slowness of their proceedings; but the matter admits of no delay. 3. If they would ordain them now, they would likewise expect to govern them. And how grievously would this entangle us ? 4. As our American brethren are now totally disentangled both from the State and from the English hierarchy, we dare not en. tangle them again either with the one or the other. They are now at full liberty, simply to follow the Scriptures and the Primitive Church. And we judge it best, that they should stand fast in that liberty, wherewith God has so strangely made them free.
“ John Wesley." Dr. Whitehead, true to the party for whom he wrote, and contrary to his own well-known principles, and earnest wishes, so manifest in the statement set forth in the Preface to this work, lampoons this whole proceeding, in language that not only sets all sobriety at defiance, but even borders on impiety. He begins by introducing what he calls “ part of a letter from one Preacher to another,” concerning this solemn transaction. I cannot but suspect, that the letter was really written by the Doctor himself, as it manifests so much spleen, as could hardly be
* A pious Prelate, (the late Rev. Dr. Horne, Bishop of Norwich,) remarks on this transaction, “ If a Presbyter can ordain a Bishop, then the greater is blessed of the less, and the order of all things is inverted.” No; not if Mr. Wesley's position be true, that they are the same order. The Bishop should have overthrown this position, (if he could,) to have established his own.
felt by any but a disappointed man. If it were really written by any other Preacher of that day, I should think it the production of his friend the Book-Steward, recently mentioned ; as he was the only Preacher who spoke against Mr. Wesley's ordinations in the Conference, some time before he accepted the call of those Trustees, by whom the chapel, already noticed, (and, so far as their influence extended, a society also,) was wrested from their spiritual Fathers and Brethren. and be came the property of that Preacher during his life. A few expressions in that rancorous epistle will show the spirit of the writer :
“So we have Methodist Parsons of our own !- greatly fear, the Son of Man was not Secretary of State, or not present, when the business was brought on and carried.-Who is the father of this monster, so long dreaded by the Father of his people, and by most of his sons ? Whoever he be, time will prove him a Felon to Methodism, and discover his assassinating knife sticking fast in the vitals of its body. Years to come will speak in groans our religious madness for gowns and bands. Will it not sting a man, that has been honoured by his Lord and Master for many years, to have a black-robed boy, flirting away in the exercise of his sacred offiee, set over him ?”' &c. Poor Dr. Whitehead! He was, indeed, stung almost to madness, when he wrote, or published to the world, this vulgar Philippic.
The Felon, with his knife, &c, so charitably mentioned, was Dr. Coke, whose zeal had literally provoked many. When his incensed calumniator had got possession of Mr. Wesley's MSS., as related in the Preface, he found among them a letter written by the Doctor to Mr. Wesley, which he thought would answer his wretched purpose.
This document Dr. Whitehead has given entire. I shall also present it to the reader, not doubting but, in this day, when every malignant prophecy has failed, when no “ black-robed boys” have appeared among the plain Preachers of the Gospel, when no madness for gowns and bands has been manifested, when no such “ flirting” novices have been set over, the Lord's favoured servants, and when the circumstances of that day are considered, it will appear, that Dr. Coke had much ground for the apprehensions which he expressed, and for the request which he preferred in that letter.
It being determined at Leeds, that the Ministers, who were to assist Mr. Wesley, should meet him at Bristol ; August the 9th, Dr. Coke sent him the following letter :
“ HONOURED AND DEAR Sir,— The more maturely I consider the subject, the more expedient it appears to me, that the power of ordaining others should be received by me from you, by the imposition of your hands; and that you should lay hands on brother Whatcoat and brother Vasey, for the following reasons: 1. It seems to me the most Scriptural way, and most agreeable to the practice of the Primitive Churches.-2. I may want all the influence in America, which you can throw into my scale. Mr. Brackenbury informed me at Leeds, that he saw a letter in London from Mr. Asbury, in which he observed,
that he would not receive any person deputed by you to take any part of the superintendency of the work invested in him ;' or words which evidently implied so much. I do not find any the least degree of prejudice in my mind against Mr. Asbury; on the contrary, a very great