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The stewards, for this reason, were given complete charge of all temporal matters. As early as 1747 directions were given them in writing, for the governing of the London Society. If the stewards disobeyed these rules after three times, they would be put out of their stewardship.136 Wesley laid down eleven rules governing the stewards of the Foundry at London. Each steward was to be present at the Foundry every Tuesday and Thursday morning to transact the temporal affairs of the society. The meetings were to be regular and orderly, and they were to consider the needs of the poor. They were always to treat the poor kindly; even though they were unable to grant them assistance. Whosoever broke this rule ceased to be a steward. It was the duty of the stewards to keep an exact account of all expenses and expenditures, and their records show how faithful they were, even with the numerous small items which they dealt with.138 They also had charge of an account from which they were to loan money to the needy. This was done on a somewhat extensive scale. 139
Besides meeting the stewards in their work in connection with the local societies, Wesley also used to meet them in a body four times a year at what was called the "quarterly meeting.” This quarterly meeting enabled Wesley to come into contact with many stewards especially those from the country. "Stewards from the country were present,” he wrote.140 And in another instance he noted, "Stewards met from the societies in the country.” And again we read, “We had a quarterly meeting, at which were present all the stewards from our Cornish societies. From this it would appear that Wesley laid great stress upon the fact that stewards from the country places came out. This gave him an increased opportunity for strengthening Methodism in those remote places.
The leaders also came to this quarterly meeting and each
Works, vol. vii, p. 486ff.
Ibid., vol. iii, p. 197.
one brought with him his class paper showing what money he had actually received and turned over to the stewards. Bills were presented for payment. Preaching and worship took place.143 But the quarterly meeting was held primarily to attend to the financial needs of the work.144 It could not have been welcome to the stewards, for Wesley said of one such meeting: “This is frequently a dull and heavy meeting; but it was so lively a one to-day that we hardly knew how to part.” 145 Not only the leaders but also the stewards rendered accounts at the quarterly meeting. These accounts were to show the progress or retrogression the societies had made. 146
As the quarterly meeting tended to become a permanent institution within Methodism, it concerned itself with the work of one, and more and more, of but one circuit.14 So it is that we read that the circuit of Yarm showed an increase of the poor; but the rich did not seem to care about religion.148 Because the poor entered the societies and the rich remained without, it was always with difficulty that the quarterly meeting handled the item of money. A quarterly meeting of London reported that the income of its circuit was still less than expenses.149 As late as February 29, 1790, Wesley recorded: “We had our general quarterly meeting, whereby it appears that the society received and expended about £3,000 a year; but our expense still exceeded our income.” 150 Thus the quarterly meeting served to unite the stewards together in a greater sympathy for their common task, and to "diligently inquire both into the temporal and the spiritual state of each society.” 151
SECTION IV. THE METHODIST PRESS Far more powerful in developing Methodist ideas and spirit, than any of the before-mentioned institutions, was the Methodist
143 W. H. S. Proceedings, vol. vii, p. 8off.
Ibid., vol. vi, p. 38.
press. Wesley himself was a great lover and reader of books.162 While travelling, he read the classics and the standard works of his day. His Journals tell of his opinion of what he read: Blackwell's Sacred Classics Illustrated and Defended he liked; a long book review was the result of his reading Dr. Parson's Remains of Japheth.153
While he was going through Scotland, in one week he read The History of Scotland by Stuart.154 He thought that Dr. Hunter's Lectures were too florid to be real good.155 And as for a Description of China and Chinese Tartary he said, "Du Halde's word I will not take for a straw", for Du Halde was a Jesuit.156 When Wesley considered reading to be so important for himself, it was most natural that he should esteem books and reading matter equally vital for his followers. In fact, this was his attitude, and he worked most diligently to meet the need.
While he was travelling from place to place, it was his custom to read many things for his Christian Library.157 This library contained 233 volumes which Wesley felt his followers ought to read, not of original works, or even works that were rewritten; but rather, it was a plan of correcting the works of others, and publishing them. Wesley crossed out what he did not like in a given book, and this book was then printed with these omissions which Wesley had indicated. 158 This library was begun in 1749. Wesley also had good writers among his followers to support him in teaching his people the spirit and principles of Methodism, and in defending it before the world. John Fletcher, Joseph Benson, and Adam Clarke—no mean writers—contributed to the support of the Methodist press.
The hymnals of early Methodism were an important product of the Methodist press. The Hymns for the Nativity of our Lord, wherein such hymns as, “Come thou long expected
152 Jour., vol. vii, p. 258.
Ibid., vol. vi, p. 333. 154 Ibid., vol. vii, p. 139.
Ibid., vol. vii, p. 232. 158 Ibid., vol. vii, p. 241. 157 Ibid., vol. vi, p. 325.
Tyerman: vol. ii, p. 65ff.
Saviour” appeared.160 In 1756 a hymnal of twenty-four pages was published. To be sure, none of the great hymns of the Church appear in this early work; but when one remembers the fantastic hymns which the Moravians were producing at that time, this hymnal stands well by comparison. Between the years 1737 and 1767, John and Charles Wesley published not less than twenty-one different hymnals between them. Their first volume contained nine hymns; but their hymnal of 1789 contained 525 hymns. 161
Liturgy was not forgotten. Wesley loved it and ever sought to have his services dignified through its use. “I believe there is no liturgy in the world, either in ancient or modern language, which breathes more of a solid, scriptural, rational piety, than the Common Prayer of the Church of England.” 162 But in spite of this opinion, Wesley proceeded to publish a liturgy for his followers both in America and England, which differed from the Established Church and shortened most of its seryices.163 This Book of Prayer contained: prayers for each day in the week, morning and evening; questions for personal interrogation; a collection of prayers for families, for morning and evening; prayers for children, which were quite theological and long; prayers for relatives; and grace to offer before and after meals. It was quite complete, and the Methodist who used it freely, would not be likely to resort to the Book of Common Prayer.164
The products of the press aided in the fixation of doctrine as well as the devotion in worship. Wesley published among other things his Notes on the New Testament. The ideas contained in these notes were not unique to Wesley. He laid no claim to originality, but frankly said that he borrowed from such celebrated men as: John Albert Bengel, professor in the theological seminary at Denkendorf, and a well known editor of a critical edition of the New Testament; Dr. John Heylin, a well known mystic who became prebendary of Westminster and a
160 Vide, p. 14:
W. H. S. Proceedings, vol. i, pp. 118-119. 182 Sunday Service of the Methodists, p. 2. T. Jackson: Life of C. Wesley, p. 719.
chaplain in ordinary to George III; Dr. John Guyse, an independent minister then known for his vigorous attacks upon Arianism; and Dr. Philip Doddridge, a nonconformist divine who wrote much in prose and many good hymns—these were some of the helpers of Wesley. In these notes, the cardinal beliefs of Methodism were put forth; and because of this, they became the standard creed of the Methodist meeting houses. In this way, one result of the press was to voice and also to solidify Methodist belief into a rigid mould. Each preacher was obliged to promise loyalty to the doctrines expressed in Wesley's Notes ere he could be permitted to preach.165
The great attempt to acquaint the people of England with the tenets of Methodism was the publishing of the Arminian Magazine. Wesley issued a prospectus for this undertaking, November 24, 1777. The magazine itself was to appear January 1, 1778. The purpose of it was to foster Methodism.166 It would contain “no views, no politics, no personal invectives” but would be devoted to the uses of theology and vital religion.167 Wesley superintended the editing and circulating of it. He instructed Joseph Taylor, the printer, to send copies of this magazine by sea to Bristol or London and if any copies were damaged en route, they could be sold for half price.168 Concerning his toils as editor he said, “I looked over all the manuscripts which I had collected for the Magazine, destroyed what I did not think worth publishing, and corrected the rest.” 169 One of the trials of Wesley's life was to keep this magazine free from errors. “This week I endeavored to point out all the errata in the eight volumes of the Arminian Magazine. This must be done by me; otherwise several pages therein will be unintelligible.” 170 And when Wesley could stand the tribulation of a poor printer no longer, Thomas Olivers was dropped; because he made too many errors in his work, and because he inserted many pieces
185 W. H. S. Proceedings, vol. ix, p. 97.
Jour., vol. vi, p. 168, note ii.