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into the magazine without Wesley's consent.171 Wesley clearly saw the value of the Arminian Magazine.
The organization of the press was further completed by the appointing of certain men to act as "book stewards”. As early as 1753, T. Butts and W. Briggs, both Methodist preachers, were appointed in this capacity. They strove to be business like; they demanded that an exact account be kept with each church; they required that payments for all stock be made at least every quarter; and they objected strenuously to the habit of the local stewards of taking money belonging to the book stewards and using it for other purposes. These men had the powers of an attorney to collect money for the books they had sold.172 Unfortunately, all of the book stewards did not have equal ability or inclination. John Atlay, a book steward for fifteen years, made a report, September 20, 1788, and told Wesley that the value of the stock in the book room was £13,751, and not less. But Wesley complained after that it was less.173 Indeed, he found that Atlay had overvalued his stock to the extent of £9,000 and that he was in a bad financial position. Selling books, hitherto, had not been very profitable from a financial point of view.174
After his trouble with John Atlay, Wesley appointed a committee to audit his accounts and business at the book room. He wished it to be better managed in the future. Wesley died, and George Whitefield in behalf of the Conference took charge of the book room until 1804. At that time, a committee of fifteen members of Conference were responsible for Methodist publications; but it could not serve in this capacity for more than six successive years.175 Conference also took the pains to aid the book business by ruling in 1782, for a second time, that preachers should not publish anything without the consent of John Wesley, or at least his corrections, and that all funds coming from such publications should go into the common fund. This was done to
Ibid., vol. vii, p. 525ff.
prevent manuscripts with ideas distintegrating to the spirit of Methodism, and injurious to Methodism before the public, from being printed. 176 Later at the Conference of 1796, this was changed. To stop outside publishing, the author was to receive 100 copies of every 1,000 of his production that was sold; and if his articles were published in the Arminian Magazine, he was to be paid. 177 At last the press was upon a workable basis, and when such men as Adam Clarke, Samuel Bradburn, and Henry Moore, all well known Methodist historians, labored in its behalf, its success was quite assured. 178
Wesley did all that he could to establish the press as an institution of Methodism, and to spread its publications abroad. He urged all of his people to adopt the habit of reading. “The societies are not half supplied with books; not even with Jane Cooper's Letters, or the two or three sermons which I printed
Wesley firmly believed that loyal Methodists should buy Methodist publications.
In this way was the Methodist press developed. . Of its value, Jackson, who wrote Methodist works after Wesley's death, said: “One of the most important and successful means adopted by the two Wesleys for promoting the interests of religion, was the publication, in a cheap and popular form, of a large number of interesting and instructive books.” 180
The Methodist press aided immeasurably in binding the Methodists more firmly together in harmony of spirit. It freed them from dependence upon unsympathetic or unfriendly publications for their reading. It educated them to a greater loyalty to all Methodist institutions including itself. It worked with other organizations in promoting the doctrines and beliefs, the spirit and practices, of the Methodists. Around it centered a feeling of unity for Methodist principles. So long as the Methodists had this vigorous press, just so long was the opportunity for further unity with the Established Church impossible; for the Methodist press, as
Minutes. vol. i, p. 153.
Centenary of Wesleyan Methodism, p. 84.
an organization to further Methodism, constantly advocated Methodist unity and independence. To it in a large part, Methodism owed its very life.
SECTION V. SUMMARY
We have seen the extent to which the Methodists went in their organization. They grouped themselves into societies that they might find the necessary sympathy to fortify one another to do what Methodists ought. Then the preachers of these societies met in their Conferences at least once a year to determine the general policies, and to fortify each other to preach what Methodists ought to preach. And after the societies were established, they were further divided into classes, that individual training in the practices and purposes of Methodism might take place. Later these classes were further subdivided in order to more intensively and individually carry on the work which the classes had undertaken to do. That financial support might not be neglected, certain ones were delegated as stewards to attend to this matter, and to nothing else. Stewards were required to attend the quarterly meetings for their edification and to gain wisdom and zeal in the conduct of financial matters.
Furthermore, all of this efficient detailed activity was kept under the direct supervision and control of Wesley and his assistants and preachers as they met in the Annual Conference. The Conference looked into the least detail. All things were done by rule, and in a legal, orderly fashion. This gave to it added strength as a centralizing power. It prevented the energies of Methodists from becoming scattered and consequently ineffective.
All of this was done to advance Methodist doctrines and Methodist practices. It was an evolution of an organization arising from a deep seated desire to save England. No one part of this organization was consciously planned a long time in advance, but grew out of the needs of the day. The important fact is: that after the Methodists had adopted every plan and method to spread their doctrines and their practices, they found themselves in possession of a strong, developed, and useful or
ganization, which good sense would not allow them to discard lightly, and to keep which, added to their sense of unity, while it took away their feeling of need and dependence upon the Established Church.
Whatever might have been the avowals and desires of the Methodists, that their various organizations should force and teach loyalty to the Church, the very existence of these organizations worked in quite the opposite direction. The Methodists could not have an organization of their own, and have unity with the Established Church furthered at one and the same time. This was sociologically impossible.
DEVELOPMENT OF METHODIST SOLIDARITY
SECTION I. WESLEY's OPPOSITION TO THE UNIFICATION OF
MENTAL and practical differences such as peculiarities or standards of conduct are socializing forces, and to this the Methodists were no exception. There were practical differences between Churchmen and Methodists from the very beginning of the movement. As we have seen, the Methodists differed from the Church in the emphasis they placed upon doctrines such as the New Birth, and Christian Perfection. Then too, their preaching in the fields; their establishment of the itineracy; their use of lay preachers; their ordinations: all of these practices were considered by the Churchmen unnecessary and unjustifiable innovations. And finally, the various phases of Methodist organization such as the Conferences, classes, and quarterly meetings constituted a real difference.
The continuance of these practical differences had its effect upon the social grouping of the Methodists, for endlessly varied modes of love and hate tend ever to reconstruct and dominate social grouping. The Methodists were fully aware of how much
Giddings: Readings in Descriptive and Historical Sociology, p. 275.