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joined in the sacramental service and Wesley secured five or dained clergymen to help him.8

No objection was made to this administration on the part of Wesley. The "good old” dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, in Ireland, Dr. Francis Corbett, desired him to come within the rails to assist him at the Lord's Supper' And after some of the heat of controversy had cooled a little, Wesley was "well pleased to partake of the Lord's Supper with my old opponent, Bishop Lavington.” 10

All was well, so long as Wesley and regularly ordained ministers, alone, administered. But as the resentment of the Methodists against immoral clergymen increased, they more and more refused to receive the sacrament from them. This refusal was against the spirit and intention of Article XXVI which said regarding the ministrations of unworthy priests: “Neither is the effect of Christ's ordinance taken away by their wickedness.” 11 The Article was formulated to meet the objections of the Anabaptists who separated from the Lord's Table because of improbitate ministrorum. When the Church was so outspoken on this doctrine the Methodists could expect little sympathy from it, if they objected to receiving the sacrament from its clergy for reasons similar to those given by the Anabaptists. 12 Then too, other clergymen were accused of singling out the Methodists and refusing to give them communion. Many people went into dissenting churches, or came to the Methodist societies, it was alleged, because they would have the sacrament, but would not receive it from any immoral clergyman.13 Other laymen who were educated would not stand such treatment. They either stayed away from Church, or, like Joseph Cownley and Thomas Walsh, "occasionally administered the Lord's Supper to the people who were like-minded with themselves, and also to one another.” 14



& Sermon, Works, vol. vii, p. 7.
Jour., vol. vi, p. 59.

Ibid., vol. iv, p. 527.

Cf., Article xxvi. 12 Charles Hardwick: History of the Articles of Religion, p. 104, note 3.

Jackson: Life of C. Wesley, p. 524.



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This migrating of the people from the Church to the Methodist societies put an extra burden upon the preachers so that there were not enough ordained men to administer the Lord's 1 Supper. The people felt this lack keenly; and at Norwich, they urged their preachers to give them the sacrament. These menPaul Greenwood, John Murlin, and Thomas Mitchell—were not ordained; but they began to administer the sacrament. Charles Wesley summoned these men to London. He wrote to John Wesley, saying that other Methodists were quite ready to take the step which was taken at Norwich, therefore John Wesley should come out in the open and make a decision in this matter. Charles Wesley was quite aroused. He wrote to Nicolas Gilbert, “My soul abhors the thought of separation from the Church of England. You and all the preachers know, if my brother should ever leave it, I should leave him, or rather he me. Indeed, you must become at last either Church ministers or Dissent

These lay preachers were stopped from administering | and Wesley avoided making a decision at this time by serving the communion himself. “I administered the Lord's Supper as usual to the society, and had at least fifty more communicants than this time last year. In the evening, many hundreds went away not being able to squeeze into the room.” 16 The people of Norwich still were not adequately furnished with the opportunity to receive the sacrament, while they desired it as much as

But Conference was firm and noted that “Mr. Walsh and his friends engaged to desist from the administration of the Lord's Supper." 17 This was a makeshift, not a final settlement.

The clergy, too, had their troubles in connection with this question of the eucharist. They thought the Methodists too particular about receiving the eucharist from certain clergy. They complained that the Methodists came in large numbers to receive communion in churches not their own, putting the minister to great inconvenience because he could not administer to such




16 Jackson: Life of C. Wesley, p. 774ff.
Jour., vol. v, p. 487.

large numbers properly. He was either obliged to turn these new comers away, or else run the risk of giving the sacrament to strangers unfit to receive it. This was a practical objection and would lead some to infer that the rules of the Church were “not only broken, but notoriously despised by the new sect of Methodists." 18

Matters were in this unsettled state at the death of Wesley. Alfter his death there was an agitation for greater freedom in receiving the sacraments. In 1792, some Methodists announced: “We are not contending for a general separation of the Methodists from the Church, but for every person in our community to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience. If

any who are with us wish to attend the service of the Church, 1 and receive the sacraments as they have done before, we lay no restraint upon them: they are at full liberty to enjoy what privileges they please with us and go to Church without opposition. If any persons wish to attend any Dissenting Chapel and meet 1 with us as usual, we give them full liberty to do as they think is right before God. Many of our societies cannot go with peaceable mind to the Church for the sacrament. They will either neglect the sacrament or go from us to the Dissenters. All we contend for is, that persons of this determination may have the sacrament from their own preachers.” 19 Methodists were becoming tired of the restrictions placed upon them by the Church, and were even becoming friendly with the Dissenters in their desire to receive the sacrament. The situation annoyed them. “Mr. Cownley has preached the gospel upwards of fifty years;

this man must refuse the sacrament to his own children,

though they entreat him to give it to them with tears; this man, we say, must send them from himself to a drunken parish priest, who neither fears God nor regards man, to have the sacrament 'duly administered to them.'” 20 The Methodists felt the situation intolerable, and insisted that the Church should provide for them better, or else that their own

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18 Gibson: Observation, etc., p. 6.

Address to the Members and friends of the Meth. Soc. in Newcastle, Intro. pp. v-vi.

preachers should give them the sacrament. But the Church remained either hostile or negligent; so the latter happened.


The Methodist propaganda was not started to take men out of the Church; but to transform their lives and make them more helpful to the Church. In view of this fact, 1 Wesley would not conduct any of his services at the time when services were taking place in the Established Church. At Athlone, though it was Easter, he preached at three in the afternoon—not during Church hours.21 At Portarlington, Ireland, he preached at eight and two o'clock.22 The services in the Church came at another time. Once in Bristol, he preached three times during one Sunday; but never once preached while the services were going on in the Church.23 At Zennor, as soon as the Church service ended, he preached.24 Another time “at eleven we went to Church, and heard a plain, useful sermon. At two I preached.” 25

Not only did Wesley refrain from preaching during Church hours; but he attended Church himself and urged his 1 preachers to do so. In Liverpool, he said: "I received much comfort at the old Church in the morning, and at St. Thomas's in the afternoon. It was as if both sermons had been made for me. I pity those who can find no good at Church.” 26 And in the Large Minutes, the Methodist preachers were directed while in the Church as follows: "Repeat the Lord's Prayer aloud after the minister as often as he says it. Repeat after him aloud every confession, and both doxologies in the communion service. Always kneel during public prayer. Six rules were laid down by the Conference governing the assistants in this matter. They were to: a. exhort all our people to keep close to the Church and sacrament, b. warn them against despising the prayers of

" 27


11 Jour., vol. iii, p. 344.
* Ibid., vol. iii,

Ibid., vol. v, p. 232.
** Ibid., vol. iv, p. 408.
25 Ibid., vol. iii, p. 340.

Ibid., vol. iv, p. 312.


hours.” 28

the Church, c. against calling our society, “The Church,” d. against calling our preachers “ministers”; our houses “Meetinghouses”; call them plainly, preaching houses or chapels, e. do not license them as Dissenters.28 The Methodists intended to worship in the Church and remain in it.

Wesley later, however, modified his position, Coke, planned services at Dublin in Whitefriar Street during Church hours for every three Sundays out of four in the month. Wesley said, “We must have no more services at Whitefriars in the Church

Later on, however, Wesley wrote a letter to Moore granting such services.30 And in his sermon on the Ministerial Office, he defended his action on the ground that by permitting services during Church hours in Ireland, he prevented separation from the Church.31

Methodists were not in hearty accord with Wesley on this matter. In 1774 it was needful to remind the Methodists that Conference had decided that they should attend Church even though the officiating clergyman were not eminent for piety. Grace could be conveyed by wicked ministers; so the Methodists 1 were urged to stay in Church services and get this grace.32 This argument was not accepted, and in 1781, three preachers wrote to Wesley asking him whether or not they should attend the Church: a. when they heard Calvinism preached, b. when the sermon filled them with prejudice, c. and when they were obliged to tell the people that they did not like the sermon. They asked Wesley to publish his answer. He answered: “If it does not hurt you, hear them; if it does, refrain. Be determined by your own I conscience. Let every man in particular act as he is 'persuaded

in his own mind.' "33 An actual change of front on this question took place; for Wesley was fully aware of the state of mind of his preachers. He knew they were but looking for the opportunity to avoid attendance upon the services of the Church.





Works, vol. v, p. 227.
Tyerman: vol. ii, p. 543.
Ibid., vol. iii, p. 543.
Sermons, Works, vol. ii, p. 543.

Works, vol. ii, p. 368ff.


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