Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

represented within the number of her members. But by this opposition, those who wished the people to control, compelled the Conference to become more definite, and less compromising. Conference was compelled to step down from the fence, even though so doing meant further estrangement from the Established Church.

Thus far, we have seen the struggle over the sacrament, in which Conference sought to compromise, and the struggle with trusteeism, which has not at this point been settled. By anticipation we have seen the advocates for a broader democracy lose their fight while a conservative, compromising Conference still held sway. But this sway was over a shaky type of Methodism. It was a Methodism made of individuals, both solicitous and careless regarding the Church. Those careless about the Church were constantly increasing Faction was spread. Methodism divided against herself could not survive. We must now consider the method adopted to reconcile the warring factions and unite Methodism, though completing the rupture with the Established Church.

SECTION VII. PLAN OF PACIFICATION AND REGULATIONS OF

LEEDS The leaders of Methodism at last became thoroughly aroused to the dangers of the situation.106 Moore, the advocate of the power of Conference, and Bradburn, who was inclined to favor the trustees, met at the breakfast table of Benson, a prominent leader. Here Thomas Coke visited them. They made mutual concessions and the resulting document was afterward called The Plan of Pacification.107

This "plan" dealt first with the sacrament. The sacrament was not to be administered in any chapel unless the trustees, stewards, and leaders, as representatives of the people, favored the use of it by a majority. If there was not a chapel, then the decision rested with the leaders and stewards. 108 method was to be used in ascertaining whether or not the people

This same

106

107

Minutes, vol. i, p. 321ff.

Stevens: vol. iii, p. 58.

wished service in Church hours, or their preachers to baptize or bury their dead. The Lord's Supper could not, however, be withdrawn from the people when once it had been granted to them. And none but preachers appointed by the Conference could so administer the sacrament. To appease those who were against separation, the "plan" provided that the Lord's Supper should be celebrated only according to the rite of the Established Church. And furthermore, to see that this question was settled once and for all, the "plan" concluded by ordering: that if any local preacher, steward, or leader should disturb the peace of any society by advocating or objecting to the use of the sacrament, he should be tried, and if found guilty, expelled from Methodism.109

This plan was in a sense a compromise; but yet it did actually and officially indorse: the services out of Church hours; the administration of the baptism and the Lord's Supper; and most important of all, it distinctly provided against the returning to the old order. If the people of any vicinity once chose to offend the Established Church, Methodism gave them no way of avoiding the giving of this offense a second time. This was actual separation.

The "plan" also dealt with the question of trusteeism. It said: “The appointment of preachers shall remain solely with the Conference; and no trustee, or number of trustees, shall expel or exclude from their chapel or chapels, any preachers so appointed.”110 Trustees could not control Methodism. A way, nevertheless, was provided, so that any preacher inefficient, or immoral, could be temporarily removed until Conference should meet and investigate the preacher in question. But the controf of the preachers rested with the Conference and the "plan" distinctly said that if the trustees expelled any preacher of their own separate authority, the Conference after proving such a fact, would expel the offending trustees from Methodism and use their chapel no more, but build a new one.111 In this way, the power

109

110

Ibid., p. 325.

Ibid., p. 323.

of the trustees was denied, and the power of the Conference to conduct the affairs of Methodism vindicated.

The Plan of Pacification was adopted by the Conference of 1795. The trustees in a letter to Conference agreed to abide "cheerfully” by the decision of the Conference in this matter. Thus was the strife between the trustees and the Conference settled, while unity again came to its own in Methodism, leaving Conference as the victorious party. The matter of the Lord's Supper was thus settled in such a way as forbade any true harmony between the Methodists and the Established Church. When Conference adopted the Plan of Pacification, it did away with any pretense of subserviency to the wishes of the clergy and the Established Church.

In this was the "plan" a real pacification between the conservative and the ultra-conservative party. But what of the radical party represented by. Kilham and his followers? This "plan” made no attempt to make peace with the radical party, but rather, it ignored the radicals when they protested, and then drove them out of the connection. Democracy, as we understand it, was not present in this “plan.” It was purely a victory for the Conference as over against the trustees on the one hand, and those who wished the people to rule, on the other. Methodism would have done a far wiser thing, had she kept the radical party within her fold.

After the adoption of the Plan of Pacification, others, besides Alexander Kilham and his radicals, still troubled the Conference. There was much uneasiness among the Methodists. Kilham still demanded lay-representation; but it was felt that this was not adapted for so large a body, and that it would incapacitate the Conference.112 When, in 1797, this was refused, the radicals left the Wesleyan Methodists and formed the Methodist New Connection. The Conference feared that many more might leave and follow Kilham. For this reason, it was compelled to modify somewhat its independent attitude, and outline its powers and purposes.1 The Lord's Supper, baptism, and

113

112

Apology for the New Connection, part iii.

ordination were to continue, the new Church was not to be forsaken, but Conference was to be more conciliatory. These modifications were called The Regulations of Leeds. The need for these regulations shows the lack of complete harmony among the Methodists.

Many of the older men signed The Regulations of Leeds. To offset the accusations that the old men in the form of a party machine were controlling Conference, the younger men put forth a statement asserting their satisfaction with the state of affairs and their desire to stay in the connection, insisting that no ecclesiastical aristocracy existed.114 This would seem to show that within the Conference itself harmony and peace was on the increase. The adoption of these regulations did away with most of the uneasiness within Methodism.

Methodism was now, after all of this controversy, more of a unit than it was before Wesley's death. Its internal strife had eliminated all who would cause defection. Only loyal and more or less satisfied members remained within its ranks. But as a result of this strife, it was no longer an integral part of the Church of England. That movement, which had begun early to develop an organization for furthering certain doctrines and practices, now was more solid than ever in advocating even more distinct practices. In spite of strife, Methodism emerged claiming and practicing the right to ordain, bury the dead, and administer the sacraments within its own organization. It did not now claim, as when Wesley was alive, that it was a part of the Established Church. It knew differently. The Established Church had failed to take advantage of a movement that comes extremely rarely to any institution. It had opposed, and neglected Methodism, and done so to its own hurt.

Methodism realized that it was an independent entity. It · laid down rules for its dissatisfied members.115 It strongly urged

the purchasing of land upon which to build its chapels.116 It established its preachers' fund upon a more substantial and more

114 Minutes, vol. i, p. 360ff.
115 Ibid., pp. 346-347.

workable basis.117 And in 1808, its Conference openly sought to fix its doctrines; and adopted and established the Twenty-five Articles of Religion. 118 It actually was an independent Church. “Any organization organized for carrying on a particular activity, or for achieving some special social end, is a constituent society."119 Sociologically, Methodism had fulfilled all the requirements of this definition. She was fully organized. Her social end was clearly outlined in her doctrines, Articles of Religion, and elsewhere. This was a constituent society. Opposition met within herself and without, had transformed her “consciousness of kind" into the more solid and distinct realization that she was an independent society—and therefore no part of the Established Church.

[blocks in formation]
« FöregåendeFortsätt »