Sidor som bilder

man invention, and that, in fact, if men could have invented it, they could have made no use of it. It would have remained in their hands, as a mere theory, for the want of the inspiring spirit of love. Of what avail would it have been, for the human inventor of such a system, to have sent forth his apostles, into this world of strife and war, like lambs among wolves ? Even the sober minded disciples of Jesus, who were made free indeed, and as fearless and as innocent as they were free, could have made no true converts to him, without the spirit of love.

The productive principle, in all religions, is feeling ;-some modifica. tion of love or hate, in the heart of the preacher. When religious orders become cold and formal, they make no proselytes; but owe almost all their increase and stability, to family progression.

To found a religion-to originate and propagate a new system or order of religion, fear or folly, love or hatred, must be brought into operation. Old customs, immemorial traditions, prejudices of education, national partialities and enmities, parental authority, &c. all may strengthen old systems, and in so far as they are so employed, they must countervail new ones. "He," the Messiah, says John, "came to his own, and his own received him not. “But, to as many as did receive him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God,” and then adds, "who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man; but of God:” thus, embracing the usual, if not the only means of making converts among mankind.

Now, if all the denominations of christians in our country, were to be weighed in these balances, in what would they be found wanting? We have all had a beginning, and a progress; but may it not be doubted, whether the inference we usually draw from these premises, is perfectly logical. It is the nature of the fact which is to be proved to be true, and yet we produce the fact, itself, to prove its truth. The antiquity or duration of a religious denomination, is no proof of the truth of its principles or dispositions; as these are constantly liable to change, while they retain the same name. Anxiety, in a religious order, to prove the purity and excellence of their founder and first foundation, may be unreasonable and excessive. A disposition to improve an improveable subject, is always more commendable, than tenacity of mere ancestrial opinions. We are persuaded, that as long as we have the New Testament, the age of a denomination, the great names to which it owes its reputation, the number and distinction of its members, and other things of this kind, cannot be of indispensable importance or amount to decisive proof, that the truths of christianity, are exclusively possessed and practised within its pale. The spirit of fear, for instance, may have been in a greater or less degree employed by a religious leader, and his followers may have corrected or reformed this part of the system. Or, the founder may have been opposed to all servile and superstitious fear, and those who come after, greatly degenerated in this respect. The same nominal order of men, may be conspicuous for the spirit of love at one time, and equally so at another for the want of it. "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge, is a proverb, which, in this point of view, is no more to be used in our Israel. For as we all may degenerate, so we may all-improve. Rules and forms of ministerial and church government injurious or oppressive in their nature or tendency, may be altered or repealed; or if they continue in the statute book, the more enlarged and liberal views of the times, may render them a dead letter.

If our analysis is correct, or our tests to be relied upon, the religion of none of the churches or religious orders in our country, our own not excepted, is perfectly pure or scriptural. We all have either too much fear, or too little love. Either too little power, or too little soundness of mind. When our religion shall degenerate into a compound of fear and folly, and ill-natured or inhuman feelings, the measure of our depravity will be well nigh filled up; the candlestick be about to be removed, and Ichabod to appear like the hand writing upon the wall against us.

God, in the gospel, hath given us liberty and intellectual capacity, and all the means, the truths, and the graces, necessary to enlarge our hearts, and inspire them with the most devout and benevolent affections. What folly, what madness will it be it be in us, to prefer to these excellent gifts, a cowardly and timid spirit, or a vicious heart and infatuated mind?


No. 52.
Mutual Rights, vol. i. April, 1825, page

Dokemasius to the Editors of the Mutual Rights.

I cannot reasonably object to pay,

A tax that all must pay ;From those who scribble, up to those who pray ;Nor would I say one word in reply to "One of the Laity," if the matter to which he adverted had been published in the Mutual Rights, or if he had given a fair and full quotation of my words. Several of your readers, it may fairly be presumed, will have never seen the letters from Dokemasius" to "Amicus ;' and, if disposed to see them, may not be able to procure the 2d volume of the Wesleyan Repository. My words are—"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.”.

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 among 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 basis 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." “Mark that word endure,” says One of the Laity, "a great deal of meaning is couched in it." It is, indeed, a most significant and comprehensive word when it undergoes the operation of his pen, for he makes it to mean cannot endure. “But here,” he says, "I cannot forbear to ask, is such a man worthy of what he so plainly appears to be seeking, who can, unblushingly, tell the world, that that great man of God, the late venerable Bishop Asbury, by having travelled away all his 'localities,' had travelled away all his 'virtues ?' This, to be sure, he advances in a covert and rather an indirect manner; but any one, possessed of two ideas, who will take the trouble to compare his conclusion with the premises which he had just laid down, will not, I think, say that I have misrepresented him.” Now, it seems, that if any man who has two ideas can clearly prove that this writer has misrepresented me, he has not the smallest objection to make a suitable acknowledgment. Who is to be the judge of this suitableness? If Mr. A. ever had any localities, they must have been those of an old English Methodist preacher, and one among the number must have

been, that all church government ought to be in the hands of travelling preachers. Will any man, save this one of the Laity, say that I unblushingly, or in a covert and rather an indirect manner, tell the world that Mr. Asbury, by coming from England to America, and travelling year after year through these states, travelled away the opinions which he held in England respecting the powers and prerogatives of travelling preachers ? No man knew better than I did, Mr. Asbury's unalterable attachments to Wesleyan powers and prerogatives; and no man, I presume, took the liberty to converse more freely with him respecting his national prejudices—and it is due to his memory to say, that, in most cases, he took my remarks in good part. He was the last man in the world that I could have suspected of travelling away his localities.

Can this writer appeal to the Searcher of hearts, that he really believes that I meant or intended, that Mr. Asbury travelled away all his virtues ? If he can, he will do well to waste no more ink upon me; and I can assure you that I shall trouble you with no more remarks upon the productions of his pen. Yours, &c.


An address to the Ministers and Members of the Methodist Episco pal Church, appears in April, 1825 ; by Bartimeus. (Rev. A. Shinn.)

Mr. M'Caine writes in the 1st volume of the Mutual Rights, with the signature of Nehemiah.

Volume II, of Mutual Rights, &c. begins with August. Dr. S. K. Jennings, chairman of the editorial committee.

Revd. James Smith withdraws from the Mutual Rights cause. Waters. Gideon Davis, Esq. writes with the signature of Zuingle.

No. 53,

Mutual Rights, vol, ii. November, 1825, page 82.

The Necessity of Union. The motto, "united we stand, divided we fall," is peculiarly applicable to us, as our professed object is not so much to obtain abstract rights, as those which are mutual. What but a downfall can happen to the men who cannot agree upon the "do as you would be done by" plan? Some of our brethren being judged according to outward appear

« FöregåendeFortsätt »