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love and esteem ; and I am determined not to stir a finger without his consent, unless mere sheer necessity obliges me, but rather to lie at his feet in all things. But as the journey is long, and you cannot spare me often, and it is well to provide against all events, and an authority formally received from you will, (I am conscious of it,) be fully admitted by the people ; and my exercising the office of ordination without that formal authority may be disputed, if there be any opposition on any other account; I could, therefore, earnestly wish you would exercise that power, in this instance, which, I have not the shadow of a doubt, but God hath invested you with for the good of our connexion. I think, you have tried me too often to doubt, whether I will, in any degree, use the power you are pleased to invest me with, farther than I believe absolutely necessary for the prosperity of the work.
3. In respect of my brethren, (brother Whatcoat and Vasey,) it is very uncertain indeed, whether
any of the Clergy, mentioned by brother Rankin, will stir a step with me in the work, except Mr. Jarrit ; and it is by no means certain, that even he will choose to join me in ordaining : And propriety and universal practice make it expedient, that I should have two Presbyters with me in this work. In short, it appears to me, that every thing should be prepared, and every thing proper be done, that can possibly be done this side the water, You can do all this in Mr. Chouse, in your chamber ; and afterwards, (according to Mr. Fletcher's advice,)* give us letters testimonial of the different offices with which you have been pleased to invest us. For the purpose of laying hands on brothers Whatcoat and Vasey, I can bring Mr. Creighton down with me, by which you will have two Presbyters with you. In respect to brother Rankin's argument, that you will escape a great deal of odium by omitting this, it is nothing. Either it will be known, or not known; if not known, then no odium will arise ; but if known, you will be obliged to acknowledge that I acted under your direction, or suffer me to sink under the weight of my enemies, with, perhaps, your brother at the head of them. I shall entreat you to ponder these things.
6. Your most dutiful,
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Dr. Whitehead indulges in some splenetic remarks on this letter, and on Mr. Wesley's conduct in this whole transaction. Not choosing to attack Lord King's position, that Bishops and Presbyters were,
the Priınitive Church, the same order, (of the truth of which he had no doubt,) he insists, that it does not justify Mr. Wesley; and asserts, that, according to the position laid down, “ Dr. Coke had the same right to ordain Mr. Wesley, that Mr. Wesley had to ordaiu Dr. Coke." If this should be granted, what will it amount to? As presbyters of the church, they had, certainly, the same right to ordain ; and if Dr. Coke had been the Father of that great work which is called Methodism, he would, in that case, have had a right to ordain Mr. Wesley, to superintend any part of that work. But Dr. Coke was not the father of that work; he was still a babe, a son in the Gospel, but remarkable for zeal
* Mr. Fletcher attended the Conference in 1784, and was one of the meeting which Mr. Wesley called, in order to consider the subject.
+ Dr. Whitehead observes, “ This letter is taken from an attested copy of the Doctor's letter, in Mr. Charles Wesley's handwriting.”
and activity. His education, rank in life, and station in the Established Church, pointed him out, however, as a proper person to be employed in that new and very delicate situation, in which the Methodists were placed, by the recent revolution in America. The Doctor, certainly, needed all the authority and influence which Mr. Wesley could give him; and if he chose to give it to him, according to the forms of the Church of England, which he loved, and which is so truly venerable, who has a right to find fault with him? Certainly, not Dr. Whitehead, who, in all he has said on the subject, has contradicted his own principles.
The Doctor concludes his lampoon with supposing, that “the three gentlemen were highly gratified with their new titles, as we see both young and old children gratified with gilded toys.”—To these suppositions, I shall only say, that those good men, being then called to exercise the duties of the entire Christian ministry, were, no doubt, much comforted and strengthened, in receiving from the father of the work, and from his reverend assistants, that full Scriptural authority, which, in every age of the church, and among all people, has been counted essential to the full exercise of that sacred function, in its entire duties; which they were, at length, so imperiously called to perform; and concerning which, we may hope, they said with the great Apostle, Who is sufficient for these things ?' We need not be at a loss, however, to suppose, what were the feelings of Dr. Whitehead, on being refused that Scriptural authority, which he sought in the most earnest manner, and, to obtain which, he was willing to make considerable sacrifices.
Mr. Wesley well knew the difference between the office and the title. He knew and felt the arduous duties and high responsibility which attaches to the one, and the comparative nothingness of the other. In this respect, his brother, with all his High-Church zeal, has stated the truth, concerning the church which he loved :
Whatever shines in outward splendour great,
I give it up,-a creature of the State. I say comparative nothingness; for who can, with sobriety, say, that titles are nothing in a national church? Would it have been wise, considering the state of this nation, and, indeed of Europe, at the time of the Reformation, to have abolished these titles altogether, which men had been used to identify with those offices for so many generations ? Have not real shepherds borne those titles ?-men who naturally cared for the flock, and who proved it by laying down their lives for them? If we allow, that these things are, in truth, “a creature of the state,” yet it may be asked, Could we, humanly speaking, ever have had å thorough. deliverance from the yoke of Popery, identified as it was with the State, if the civil government had not adopted the Scriptural creed of the Reformers? It is certain, however, that the Lord took that way, and did the work of deliverance by that aid : And while such freedom is given to those who think it their duty to dissent, and also to us who do not, but who are irregular, yet only for the Lord's sake,-may we not at least innocently pray, that no rude or ungodly hand may be permitted to hurt that goodly fabric ? It still does good; and if we contrast her greatness with the meretricious greatness of former days, we must acknowledge it to be National Christianity. Those who wish to learn the way of God more perfectly,' have entire liberty so to do. VOL. II.
With respect to the title of Bishop, I know, that Mr. Wesley enjoined the Doctor and his associates, and, in the most solemn manner, that it should not be taken. In a letter to Mrs. Gilbert, the widow of the excellent Nathaniel Gilbert, Esq., of Antigua, a copy of which now lies before me, he states this in the strongest manner.-In this and in every similar deviation, I cannot be the apologist of Dr. Coke ; and I can state, in contradiction to all that Dr. Whitehead and Mr. Hampson have said, that Mr. Wesley never gave his sanction to any of these things; nor was he the author of one line of all that Dr. Coke published in America, on this subject. His views on these points were very different froni those of his zealous son in the Gospel. He knew, that a work of God neither needed, nor could be truly aided, nor could recommend itself to pious minds, by such additions.
When pressed and goaded by his brother's severe remarks, concering his thus acting as a Bishop, he answered, " I firmly believe, that I am a Scriptural ERITXOTOS, as much as any man in England, or in Europe ; for the UNINTERRUPTED SUCCESSION I know to be a fable, which no man ever did or can prove. But this does, in no wise, interfere with my remaining in the Church of England; from which I have no more desire to separate, than I had fifty years ago.” He gave to those Emoxofoi whom he ordained, the modest, but highly expressive, title of Superintendents, and desired, that no other might be used. That the Lord has greatly blessed this boon to the American Societies is evident, by their great and continued increase. The numbers in the various societies, when Dr. Coke went over, were about fifteen thousand. Six years after, they had increased to nearly seventy thousand; and, in the year 1820, they were two hundred and eighty thousand !
Tradition is old, and ought to be respected; but the Bible is older, and contains “the only religion of Protestants.” • He that is of God heareth God's word. A man of one book, like Mr. Wesley, must wonder to see the office of Bishop made thus the head of the Christian ministry. In the Apostolic church, it was, certainly, a limited and inferior office, appointed by the Apostles and Evangelists, for the care of a particular flock, while they continued, according to the original commission, 'to preach the Gospel to every creature.'— This was their great and awful charge! to proclaim the Saviour to all the world'—their immense Diocess !-Mr. Wesley, having obtained the same faith, felt the same call, and surprised the sons of tradition by declaring, that he “ looked upon all the world as his parish.” When the Apostolic church became enlarged, and this original commission was forgotten, it is no wonder, that the Bishops, in every place, should be considered as the head and fountain of all authority. It answered the design of the civil rulers also, who adopted Christianity as the religion of the Empire. By thus setting up the Local Shepherds, they gained the flock in every place. But from the beginning it was not so. The “ booted Apostles," as Mosheim calls those who were sent forth by Constantine and his successors, to proclaim the religion of the Empire, laboured for the Emperor and for his Bishops, rather than for the Lord. Hence the corruptions that followed, until the Chief SHEPHERD removed the golden candlesticks, and the man of sin enthroned himself in the church; while the impostor Mohammed spread darkness and desolation through those fields which the Lord had so greatly blessed.
With respect to titles, what a simplicity do we find in the book of God! Not one of the Apostles calls himself Bishop. They call themselves Presbyters or Elders, sometimes Deacons. “God,' says St. Paul, • has made us able Ministers,' in the original, Alaxovoi, Deacons,) of the New Testament ;' while he calls his sons in the Gospel, AT050dos, Apostles of the churches. So simple is the language of these men of God !-So little anxious were such respecting any distinguishing title, where only the propagation of truth was aimed at !
Dr. Whitehead also takes much pains to affix blame on Mr. Wesley, on account of the ordinations being secret, that is, not performed before the congregation. When Dr. Whitehead wished to share in the privilege, he did not object to that circumstance. There were witnesses enough present on those occasions. In vain the Doctor brings forward passages from ancient writers, which declare, that Ministers should be ordained before the church. Certainly, they ought, when they are to minister to that church. But the ordination that is the subject of these remarks, was the ordination of Evangelists, truly so called, and who, however lightly esteemed among men, took up the original commission, and were confined to no particular flock. That a competent number of those in the same office should be present, was all that was needful ; nor do we read of any other way of setting such apart in the Apostolic Church, where the authority was not limited, as in the case of Bishops or Pastors and Teachers. The jealousy also of that day, which Dr. Whitehead strove to fan into a flame, rendered greater publicity improper. In the present day, large congregations assemble to see our Missionaries set apart, in the Scriptural way, for their arduous work. The Lord has stilled the enemy,' and his people praise him for the consolation.
That Mr. Wesley should never before this time, so late in life, exercise that authority, which he had no doubt he possessed, is easily accounted for. He never before had such a reason for exercising it, as fully satisfied him. That word of God seemed written on his heart, "render to all their due.' He well knew, and ever acted
that principle, that real religion no more needs the violation of any relative duty in bodies of men, than in individuals. He always deplored and condemned that zeal that would unnecessarily violate established order. He saw no precedent for such a zeal in the oracles of God. That a portion of this zeal, however, should never appear in any individuals, in the best constituted churches of Christ, is more than we have any right to expect, in the present state of human nature, notwithstanding the great advantages which the history, both of the world and the church, affords us, to bring about a more charitable and reasonable conduct. That Mr. Wesley should, however, maintain this Scriptural and sober principle for so many years, notwithstanding the earnest wish of the Preachers to be Scripturally ordained, and the almost incessant opposition and slander which he had to encounter, is truly surprising; and perhaps, no part of his conduct more strongly proves his divine commission.
Dr. Whitehead quotes a passage from a sermon, which Mr. Wesley published about two years before his death, as fully corroborating what the Doctor has said against Mr. Wesley's ordinations. The text was Hebrews v, 4 : “No man taketh this honour to himself, but he who is called of God, as was Aaron. “In this discourse," says the Doctor, "he has clearly shown, that the office of a Priest was totally distinct
and separate from the office of a Preacher or expounder of God's word and will, sometimes called a Prophet ; that from Adam to Noah, and from Noah to Moses, the first-born in every family was the Priest, by virtue of his primogeniture : But any other of the family might be a Prophet or expounder of God's will to the people. In the time of Moses, the priesthood was restricted to the tribe of Levi; while the Preachers, or expounders of God's law might be, and afterwards were, of different tribes. In the New Testament, these expounders of the law are called vouixos, or Scribes : But few, if any of them, were Priests.
“ The Lord Jesus Christ, the great High Priest of our profession, sent out Apostles and Evangelists, to proclaim the glad tidings of peace to all the world. Afterwards, Pastors were appointed to preside over, and to build up in the faith, the churches that were formed. But,' says Mr. Wesley, 'I do not find, that ever the office of an Evangelist was the same with that of a Pastor, frequently called a Bishop. I cannot prove, from any part of the New Testament, or from any author of the three first centuries, that the office of an Evangelist gave any man a right to act as a Pastor or Bishop. I believe, these offices were considered as quite distinct from each other, till the time of Constantine.'
“Mr. Wesley then goes on to observe, that, among the Presbyterians, in the Church of England, and even among the Roman Catholics, the office of an Evangelist or Teacher does not imply that of a Pastor, to whom peculiarly belongs the administration of the Sacraments. All Presbyterian churches, that of Scotland in particular, license men to preach throughout the whole kingdom, before they are ordained. And it is never understood, that this appointment to preach gives them any right to administer the Sacraments. Likewise,' says he, 'in our own church, persons may be authorized to preach, yea, may be Doctors in Divinity, as Dr. Atwood, at Oxford, was, when I resided there, who are not ordained at all, and, consequently, have no right to administer the Lord's Supper. Yea, even in the Church of Rome itself, if a Lay-brother believes he is called to go on a mission, as it is termed, he is sent out, though neither Priest nor Deacon, to execute that office, and not the other.' And Mr. Wesley declares,” says Dr. Whitehead, “that he and his brother considered the Lay-Preachers in the light of Evangelists, or Preachers only, when they received them as helpers in the work, or they never should, have admitted them.”
I was with Mr. Wesley in London, when he published that sermon. He had encouraged me to be a man of one book, and he had repeatedly invited me to speak fully whatever objection I had to any thing which he spoke or published. I thought, that some things in that discourse were not to be found in the book, and I resolved to tell him so the first opportunity. It soon occurred. I respectfully observed, that I agreed with him, that the Lord had always sent, by whom he would send, instruction, reproof, and correction in righteousness, to mankind; and that there was a real distinction between the prophetic and priestly office in the Old Testament, and the prophetic and pastoral office in the New, (where no Priesthood is mentioned but that of our Lord ;) but I could not think, that what he had said, concerning the Evangelists and the Pastors, or Bishops, was agreeable to what we read there ; viz. that the latter had a right to administer the Sacraments, which the former did not possess. I observed, “Sir, you know, that the Evangelists Timothy