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more tells us of one of the earliest of the English Methodist preachers, who continued to travel until he wore out all his clothes; but in those days it was customary for the stewards to ask the preachers if they needed any thing, &c.; but none of them took the hint from his tattered garments, and it seems he had too much independence or diffidence to say as Socrates once did in the presence of his disciples: If I had the means, I would buy me a new cloak; he was left to the alternative of going naked, or going in debt, and to jail, or to go to work and earn money. The story bears that he chose the latter; and this Mr. Atmore would fain make out to be a great sin, with which the Lord was so displeased, that he punished him with the loss of the power and comfort of religion, and finally, with death in a prison sure enough.
The stewards and the people, from all that appears to the contrary, suffered no such fearful punishment, though Mr. Atmore thinks, they were quite culpable. But where was Mr. Wesley all this while, who had appointed this man to preach, upon the principle that, if he did not help him as he directed, he should not help him at all? Why did he not ask whether he lacked any thing? If upon Mr. Atmore's hypothesis, there must needs be sin in this business, is it not demonstrable that it lay at the door of the employer ? Jesus Christ did not trust to stewards to ask this important question ; he asked it himself. If you labor among us, says our discipline, you must serve as a son in the gospel, and do that part of the work which we (the bishops) direct. But the bishops are not bound to ask the question, lacked ye any thing? Nor if all the travelling preachers go naked, or starve, or locate to earn food and raiment, are they in any wise responsible. No, indeed, who would be bishop upon such a condition? If the example of the shepherd and bishop of our souls is to be regarded, no man ought to take it upon himself, or to be appointed by others, to send men to preach, without being bound to see that they are provided for. When men make pens for themselves, we ought not to be surprised if they leave a hole big enough to get out at. Let us suppose that the bishop should write a circular to the church to this effect: "Brethren, you have made it my duty to station all the preachers, and they are bound to do that part of the work which I direct. I have asked all of them whether they lacked any thing, and I find that some of them have
no clothes, and that their families are in a naked and stary-
A STEWARD OF THE MAMMON OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.
Wesleyan Repository, vol. ii. December, 1822, No. viii. page 309. Letters to a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
No. I. DEAR BROTHER,
It was a maxim, as you may recollect, of the founder of Methodism, that he loved to have, and to do, every thing openly: and a greater than he, had said long before him, that nothing should be kept secret, &c. So you see that your complaints against the writers for the Repository, are not altogether unanswerable; as, they may plead precedent. Anonymous essays, in a periodical publication, involving men's lives and characters, would, I acknowledge, be infinitely improper; and no less so, are censures upon characters from the pulpit. Every man ought to know his accuser, and to have a proper tribunal before which to vindicate himself, and to produce his evidence. I am often scanda
lized at the facility with which some of our brethren receive the written, or verbal censures, which strangers circulate against those who have exercised discipline upon them hundreds of miles distant. But with matters of opinion, the case is different. All theoretical subjects can be as well discussed, perhaps better, without the knowledge of, or the presence of the writers, than with them. The book of discipline, and our church government, are no secrets. We have no secrets to be revealed, like the initiated in ancient times, to whom our Lord probably alluded. And we attach no infallibility to our General Conference.
As for what you say of the venerable men to whom we look up as fathers and founders, as they thought proper to abandon all theories, and to establish our church polity upon the summary process of "I will and you shall ;” it does not seem to me, that the shadow of any great name, or any lapse of time, or accumulation of patronage, can entitle them, on this account, in an age distinguished for political science, to much deference. Men, who, instead of governing upon principle, thought proper to be governed by circumstances, and the resources of their own genius, can claim little right to establish precedents. Nothing is more notorious than our propensity, from the beginning, to appeal to our success, rather than to abstract reasons for our vindication. And every body knows that the success of all the great conquerors of the earth, is the charter of their successors. It is, indeed, beyond all doubt, that any leader, in church or state, with absolute authority, can do more than if he were fettered by system; and yet, it is a universally admitted fact, that no governments are so liable to sink under their own weight, as absolute ones. cient Romans had their temporary dictators in the emergencies of the state; but, when the dictatorship became perpetual, their liberties were lost forever.
Mr. A. I know, was as sincere as he was indefatigable in his endeavors to make the hierarchy independent on the people; but he was my father, and we agreed to disagree. It was always a mystery to me, how a man of his great reading and penetrating views of men and things, could so entirely lose sight of the danger of an unbalanced government. Of the ability of Mr. Wesley to govern, no one has a more exalted opinion than myself; but, who will say that his system was the best that could have been devised ? Mr. Locke understood the science of government much better
than Mr. W.; though the latter had the benefit of the writings of the former. Upon the maxim, “Necessity is the mother of invention," it might be argued, that men of the greatest talents for governing, would be less apt to invent or make discoveries in the science, than others of fewer resources in themselves. I can never be brought to believe that it argues any extraordinary sagacity in men, to take for themselves and their successors, as much power to do good as is possible, without any regard to the power which it would give them to do evil. Nothing is more evident, than that this latter object never entered into the plans of our predecessors. To this day, it makes no part of our discipline. Travelling preachers have no check from any body, but themselves. Yours, &c.
Wesleyan Repository vol. ii. December, 1822. No. viii. page 314. The Addresses contrasted: 1st-To the Representatives of
the Preachers only. 2nd-T, the Delegates of the Preachers and Members. By the Presidents of the General Conferences. To the Delegates of the Travelling Preachers, and those Preachers who only travel
from one station to another, once in two years. DEAR BRETHREN,
You are now assembled in General Conference to represent all the travelling preachers in full connexion on this vast continent, and of course all the Methodist Episcopal Church. This being "the order which God hath established in his church;' it behooves you to beware of those restless spirits, prompted by pride and vain conceit of their own abilities, who rebel against the order God hath established, and thus rebel against GOD."! In the blessed times of priestly supremacy in Europe, that pious land of our forefathers, under the christian emperors of Rome, both in the west and in the east, and likewise under its modern sovereigns and governments, those "ministers whom God selected to be the shepherds of his flock, and the guardians of his people, possessing the right of governing themselves
* See “Vindication of Methodist Episcopacy."
in religious matters, and all those committed to their care,"* had the means of punishing all the people, who were bound to submit to their authority in all matters. of church government and discipline”t if they rebelled; but in this land, our civil rulers suffer those "restless spirits" to "rebel” against us with impunity. Thus, brethren, you see, that though we claim a divine and indefeasible right, to govern christians without their consent, as well as the Pope, and our other predecessors, yet there is no secular arm in this country to punish "rebels" against the domination of preachers, but they must be left to "receive their own punishment.”+ I mention these things, lest in your zeal to emulate holy priests, whether Roman or Reformed, you might forget that circumstances alter cases, and begin to wield those spiritual thunders which used to strike so much terror into the hearts of the “proud and vain conceited of their own abilities.” Bear it in mind, then, brethren, that there is not in the political elements of this country, electricity enough to give effect to spiritual thunder; but that it dies like a harmless sound upon the lips of those who utter it. We
this useless breath, while with a tenacity worthy of the successors of those who have claimed undivided power over the church in every age, we refuse to give up one jot or tittle of it into the hands of the christians.
Address to the Delegates of the Ministers and Members of
the Church. DEAR BRETHREN,
Permit me on this occasion to congratulate you on the continuance of our civil and religious rights and privileges. This day we can not only join in the Te Deum, and sing, "the noble army of martyrs praise thee," but we their children praise thee! Brethren, I hail you as the children of the martyrs.
If aught beneath them, happy souls attend, let them look down from their blessed abodes, and witness the glorious fruits of their blood among us, who sit together in this mansion of liberty and love. If we cannot realize
* See “Vindication of Methodist Episcopacy.”