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be difficult to prove from the New Testament, that in the churches which Paul planted among the gentiles, the principles of religious liberty exceeded the then existing standard of civil freedom : what other construction can be put upon 1. Cor. vi. 1. 8. Certainly if the tribunals of the un. believers had been more free and equitable, than Paul would have admitted in the church, it would have been an outrage past all endurance, for him to have prevented the brethren from appealing to them for justice.
Mutual Rights, vol. ii. May, 1826, page 236. Thoughts on Legal Changes and such Matters. What objection do brethren make to the having of the form of our government so altered, as to admit lay delegates into the General Conference? One of their most weighty objections is, the Methodist discipline will become changed in consequence of such a measure. If there be any truth in this objection, it must be predicated upon example or analogy; but is the example or analogy to be found? was this the fact in regard to the change of the form of government in our country? With us, the form of government was changed from a hereditary monarchy, to an elective republic, and this change was the result of force and compulsion. A war of several years, in which much blood was spilt and passions and prejudices were inflamed to the highest degree, one might suppose would have led the people in whom was the sovereign power, if any thing could have led them, to reject the laws of England as well as its government; and yet they adopted the common law of England, and retained the outlines of its system of jurisprudence. What was there in the English laws worth preserving, which the good people of these states did not preserve ? And what laws have the British parliament enacted since our independence, which our government have refused to imitate because they were British? The whole history of changes and revolutions in the forms of governinent, will go to shew that the tendency in the public mind is to retain ancient laws and customs. Have we not a striking example of this in the Jews who embraced the gospel, who could not be prevailed upon to give up the Levitical ritual, even by apostolical argument and eloquence. In Louisiana and Hayti, not the common law of England, but the code de Napoleon has been adopted: and it is probable that the Mexican and South American republics, will copy more of their laws from Spain than from France or England. Laws are changed by foreign conquest and emigration, rather than by revolutions or constitutional changes in governments. The old Romans extended their laws by colonization in the conquered countries; and the barbarians who conquered the empire transplanted themselves and their customs, and thus suspended the Roman laws. Our brethren are no doubt quite serious in believing, that lay delegates will lead to a change in all the rules of discipline, because they cannot conceive how the form of disci. pline can be maintained without exclusive power in travelling preachers. Their sincerity, however, was equalled by that of the opposers of our national independence, who believed, that with the loss of kingly power the common law of England would be lost forever. They too could not conceive how laws which had been administered for hundreds of years in the name of the king, could be respected and enforced for their own sakes. It was not the majesty of the laws which they revered so much as the majesty of the king. The tendency of all absolute principles of governments, is, to make the ministers of justice, more fearful than justice itself.
It is now forty years sinee the common law of England has been reduced into practice in this country, without the name of a king, and at this day, the principle of attachment and obedience to the laws in the great body of the people, is quite as strong as it ever was among the English people. Those men who are so confident in their own minds, of the destructive effects of lay delegation upon the discipline, are in duty bound to state to us the mode of the operation. A delegate, it is well known, is the servant of his constituents, and if he betrays his trust, may be left at home, and thus deprived of the power of misrepresentation. Let the question be put to any one among us, in or out of the ministry, opposed to lay delegation; do you believe that there ever will be a time, when a number of lay delegates may be found in any General Conference, large enough to move together simultaneously, so as to secure a majority of votes against any rule of Methodist discipline ? and will not the answer be in the negative? The thing is incredible—it is impossible. For if the lay delegates were an actual majority of the General Conference, they could not at any one election, be all chosen by the members of the church, for the express purpose of changing any old rule, in opposition to the travelling preachers. An attempt to innovate, if made at all by the lay delegates, could only be made at most for the first time by a few, the matter of course would then take wind : and is it to be supposed that the travelling preachers would all sleep, or remain tongue-tied until the next General Conference? They would have four years to secure a sufficient number of delegates to place themselves in a majority, supposing them not to be a majority on this particular question. But the truth is, that the lay delegates, under the most favorable circumstances, would never be able to out vote the preachers; and it betrays something worse than inattention, for brethren to urge danger from this quarter. A body of men who have the use of the pulpit, have no great cause to complain of the want of power, for the pulpit itself is an engine of great power.
Are we not borne out in our position, that the same laws may exist under a monarchical and a republican form of government: and in a country which has changed one of these forms for the other ? The example is at home, it is before our eyes.' Is there a monarchist, who will stand forth before the American people to prove, that they cannot have, cannot make, or cannot execute as good laws as any monarchy in the universe ? Men may slander and backbite the republican form of government, but they can produce none more potent in doing good. Let any monarchy exhibit laws better than those we have; and we will follow the example. But it will be said, that no parallel can be run between a civil and a religious government. Why do not brethren speak out? Why do they not tell us what they mean? For really if they mean any thing, it is, that no form of government in the church is right, save the monarchical or the hierarchical one.
It will, however, be asked by way of retort, if the same laws may exist under the two different forms of administration, why a wish should be entertained for a change? The answer is, that men are not governed by laws or morals only, manners and opinions, are scarcely less influential. The monarchical and the republican forms of government, have their own peculiar manners and opinions : under the most equitable system of laws, manners and opinions may be very inequitable. The agents and ministers of monarchs, whether civil or religious, in passing to and from court like comets, are observed to shine with greater lustre after they pass their perihelion. The governor returns to the province under a new excitement of loyalty. The latent energies of power are wonderfully quickened by royal interviews. The same process is observable under hierarchies; the subordinate agents rise in importance, according to the attention which they receive from above. When it comes to be known, that a reverend gentleman was most graciously received at the spiritual court, will not his respect be increased within and withoui!
Before our revolution, the governors of the provinces, where the representatives of majesty, and the seats of the provincial governments, were as the court of St. James in miniature.
Are not our travelling elders, as the shadow of the wings of the bishops? We are opposed to the manners and the opinions which all absolute principles in church government, have a tendency to produce. It is inherent in the nature of all governments, to beget ambition; for they are the centre-points of power and honor. Instead of rebuking, or encouraging ambition in any society, civil, or religious, we think it should be directed towards the source and fountain-head of liberty. All the power, all the honor, which the people can give, consistently with their rights and liberties, their servants may lawfully seek and enjoy. The ambition of the human heart, can only be matched by the liberties of the people; and the one, is the measure of the other. Is it required to be known how much liberty is necessary under any government; the answer will be, just so much, as to check and control, the ambition of every man, in and out of office. Mr. Wesley had no difficulty, in finding a hundred men, on whom to devolve his power : and Mr. Asbury, though he failed in his council project, found no serious scruples among the preachers, in taking all the law-making power, from the people. How is this to be accounted for? Very easily. if the English and American preachers had been taught to look to the people, for power and honor, not one of a hundred of them, would have taken the crown of supremacy. Alas! for these men, they had been taught to believe that the church was made to be governed, and they were made, for its governors; and their manners have proved to be, not discordant with their opinions. Travelling preachers must be grievously beset with ambition;
they are destined to covet more power, or to fear and tremble for the loss of what they have, until they are taught to respect the power of the church : but then, and not till then, will all their temptation vanish away, like a shadow.
Volume iii. of Mutual Rights begins August, 1826.
Notice of the expulsion of Reformers in Granville circuit, North Carolina, appears November, 1826.
A convention for Maryland and the District of Columbia, was held in Baltimore, November 15, 16, 1826.
Rev. Mr. Bascom appears again as a writer in December, 1826.
Timothy (the Rev'd George Brown) addresses the Junior Bishop, December, 1826.
Mutal Rights, vol. jii. February, 1827, page 169. An abridgement of a Sermon, delivered before the Maryland
Convention of Reformers of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in the English Lutheran Church in Lexington street, Baltimore—by the Rev. NICHOLAS SNETHEN. “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.”
Eph. V. 30. Very important results have been anticipated from the conversion of the Jews to christianity. As this is an event clearly predicted in the New Testament, divines look forward to its accomplishment, as to the final triumph of revelation over infidelity. But it seems to us, that several of the ancient opinions of the Jews are still maintained in our churches; we therefore calculate upon consequences scarcely less favorable to the internal state of religion, from the conversion of that people, than to the external relations of infidelity. We have thought that we could trace the non-redemption and non-atonement doctrines, so earnestly inculcated by many modern divines, to the Jewish church. The opinions which appear to have prevailed among the Jews, respecting the external and temporal glories of the Messiah's kingdom, cannot, it is evident, be reconciled with those prophecies which relate to his sufferings and