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It is impossible for any man, whose mind is not fettered by the prejudices of education, or influenced by an attachment for hypotheses, to read the New Testament without perceiving, that in the days of the apostles there were separáte churches, possessing an identity of existence. Or, in other words, that it did not require all the believers in a province, or a country, much less on a whole continent, to make a church (or congregation of faithful men.) Nay, the plurality of charches is so plain, that nothing but irvincible ignorance, or obstinate prejudice, can help seeing it. And yet, on all this great continent we have not, nor do our rulers ever intend we shall have, if they can prevent it, but one solitary Methodist Episcopal Church, with one bishop, divided, it may be, among a few men: for all the men who hold the episcopal office among us make but one bishop. Our church is one and indivisible. We have no church in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Charleston. We have no church in any one of the states, nor in any number of states, less than the whole. Our church identity extends from the rivers unto the ends of the earth; and our bishop oversees its "temporal and spiritual concerns," having the sole and exclusive jurisdiction, or executive authority, as the head over elders, deacons, and preachers, in all the annual conferences, to send them when and where he thinks proper; to make, form, divide, subdivide, or reunite districts, circuits, stations, &c. &c. It is this one entire indivisible church, this oneness of oversight, which is the glory and boast of our vindicators; and which, in their judgment, constitutes the scriptural character of our church and government. Destroy this identity, this oversight, and then, say they, farewell to the travelling plan; to the discipline, and a thousand other advantages. Many a devout prayer has been offered up, that when the Methodists cease to have these characteristics, they may be rooted out from the face of the earth. Yet, notwithstanding, it does seem strange to some persons, that a church and a ministry, with no power save what is derived from one man, should be defended with so much zeal; they had imagined, that men would shrink from an ocean where all their personal identity as christians and ministers, must be swallowed up. But whoever looks carefully into the

matter, will perceive, that though such may be the fact, it is not perceived by themselves, that classes, and congregations, and stations, and circuits, and districts, conceive themselves to be whole and entire churches; and that class-leaders, and stewards, and travelling preachers, and deacons, and elders, and presiding elders, feel like a sort of bishops, and of course dread a change in the present system. That this, in many instances, is the state of men's views and feelings among us, there is sufficient reason to believe, and these views and feelings account for the tenacity with which they cleave to the present economy,

Mr. Hume, in a very able essay, explains the fact, that the Persians submitted for a long time to their conquerors the Greeks; by proving that the successors of Alexander adopted the policy of the Persian kings. Their policy was the same in civil matters, that ours is in church government. In one view, it seems very humiliating, that a whole community, whether civil or religious, should be entirely dependent upon one man; but in another, it is easy to perceive that such a state of dependence must generate expectation, that the same hand which humbles us, exalts us also. By sweeping away every vestige of aristocratical authority, as well as personal liberty, it is, that all absolute governments, whether in church or state, animate the hopes of all, from the least unto the greatest, so that the men who have no security for their highest honors, are, nevertheless, stimulated to the greatest fidelity and zeal in the service of the superior, knowing that all are waiting and watching for their place. Were it not for this great principle of attachment and hope, all the monarchies, and hierarchies, and ours among the rest, would soon fall into ruins. I can, for myself, endure our government, though by a singular anomaly it excludes me, (in common with the rest of my order) not only from all hope of promotion, or reward, but from the possibility of thinking (as others do) that I have some power or consequence, while I have none. I can endure almost any thing from Methodist preachers, except their attempts to prove that this order of things is scriptural. O this stirs my spirit within me! · Never, no never, shall the glorious gospel of the blessed God be made to father such a system, if it be in the power of my pen, to vindicate it from such a reproach.

In this age and country, it is not surprising that there should be found preachers and members in our church, who in despite of every other consideration, should express their utter repugnance to a system which imposes ecclesiastical laws upon them, without their consent. But it is probable, that few, even among this number, are fully aware of their actual condition, and of the consequences which must almost unavoidably grow out of lay delegation. The bishops and preachers themselves, who are the most opposed to the introduction of such a measure, have only, perhaps, a kind of instinctive apprehension of some calamity, which they cannot clearly define. Mr. A's favorite and common place maxim, "local men have local ideas,'' proves how little he was versed in atomic philosophy. He had often seen amongst us the worst kind of selfishness, which, instead of tracing to its true cause, misguided and misplaced ideas; he strangely attributed to local views. The truth is, that local ideas and feelings are the proper bases of all benevolent and liberal sentiments; and may unite with others to an indefinite extent. We have had abundant occasion to remark, that those who travel away all their localities, travel away all their virtues.

The delegates of the preachers, and of the members of our church, in General Conference assembled, would make the important discovery, which was hid from the sagacious minds of our Wesleys, and Cokes, and Asburys, that there can be no universal church liberty, without particular freedom. They would find, with some surprise, perhaps, that instead of a travelling connexion, we have no parts to be connected. The want of ministerial, and church identity, would almost innmediately begin to be felt, in the first session. The amalgamated and indivisible mass, would prove too unwieldy for management. Scarcely would the subject of liberty begin to be agitated, before it would be perceived that neither travelling preachers, nor members of the church, have either house or home,-that the boasted maxim of freemen, "every man's house is his castle, would be idle and fallacious in our lips. Our districts, and circuits, and stations, and congregations, have no stability, but may be more or less changed or modified every year by the bishops, who have the plenary power. No sooner then, would these workmen attempt to fix their fulcrums and levers, than they would find occasion to cry out, "give me where to stand !" We have no foothold! None but free men can make a free government, none but free churches can make a free eonnexion. What is it that makes one mass of matter a rock, and another water? The same cause,

relatively, which makes one community free, and another not free. The particles of water, though capable of intimate union, have the power also of moving freely in all directions among themselves. The first thing, then, that would probably result from a lay delegation, the first important change, which it would produce in the present state of things, would be, the establishment and security of individual church identity; the second step would be to maintain and perpetuate a confederated union among these identified churches; and the third, a modification and accommodation of the travelling plan, bishops' power, &c. to this state of things, upon a basis of ministerial identity, so that every preacher might say his soul is his own.

All this, it is evident, would be a work of time, and great labor. In such an event, no General Conference must attempt to limit its successor. The highest efforts of wisdom and theory must go hand in hand with experience, and nothing practical must be sacrificed to hypothesis. Having free men, and free churches, for their materials, a General Conference would be able to raise a noble and glorious superstructure, every way worthy of this new world—this blest land of civil and religious liberty. The only insurmountable difficulty, would be, the name ; for, "Episcopal Church,' not churches, under all changes, must remain to us, to shew (the hole of the pit from which we were digged.” This badge of our original sin, like our mortal bodies, can only be put off with our death. From the beginning, we ought to have been confederated churches, and our name ought to have answered to our nature. "An itinerant minister of the confederated Methodist Churches in the United States of America,” is a title, which would have avoided all the evil consequences of reviving those odious distinctions, which tend to foster old prejudices and enmities. Episcopal, and Presbyterian, and Congregational, "moniti meliora sequamur.”

While we dislike the governments which are stained and spotted with human wrongs, we can have no great reverence for their names. But as a republican may inherit the name of "king,” so must we retain the name of our fathers; it is our name in law. Yours,


A View of the Primitive Church and its Government. As our fathers and brethren gave us, in their wisdom, a form of church government without furnishing us with any scriptural rules, principles, or doctrines, by which to illustrate and defend it, does it not behoove us to go to the source and fountain head of all information and authority, instead of taking the scriptural character of our discipline for granted, and continuing to build upon a foundation which we have not proved? What would be our condition, were our religion as destitute of scripture support as is our discipline? Nothing can be more plain than our plan of salvation; nothing more perplexed than our plan of government. In the one case, rules and precedents are furnished to us at all points; in the other, all is dogmatical. Our church government may be compressed into the following maxim: All power must be in the hands of the preachers ; none in those of the members of the church.

A principle may be given, or it may be found, which, in either case, will answer equally well for practical uses, and whether given or found, will prove equally true. Nature, in almost all cases, imposes upon her disciples the task of finding the rules and principles of her operations; and even the disciples of revealed religion may, in some minor cases, merely temporal, be placed in the same predicament. In order to find a scripture principle, which is not formally announced, it becomes necessary to examine all the facts and circumstances, in all their bearings and relations, as they are stated in the bible. In regard to church policy, I am not sure that any principle is formally given in the New Testament; but if not, then it must be found. We find, from the apostolical writings, that there were churches in the plural, and that there were several in the same coun. tries, regions or provinces. Thus: "Then had the churches rest through all Judea"-"Paul went through Syria, confirming the churches”—“As I have given orders to the churches in Galatia"-"The

grace bestowed on the churches of Macedonia"-"Ordain I in all the churches”-"In all the churches of the saints”-"John to the seven churches of Asia, grace to you." Each and every church possessed an identity of existence, whether in the same or in other countries. "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them"-"We have no such custom, neither the churches of Christ"-"But was chosen of the churches to travel with

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