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time give us the knowledge of His truth. But where shall we find even this slender instance of love? Has not every one who has wrote at all (I do not remember so much as one exception) treated us as incorrigible ? Brethren, how is this? Why do ye labour to teach us an evil lesson against yourselves ? O may God never suffer others to deal with you as ye have dealt with us !"*
Such is the close of the reply of Mr. Wesley to Bishop Smalbroke's charge, which was directed chiefly against the Methodists ; and we will leave it to all impartial judges to decide who has the advantage. Bishop Smalbroke died on December 22nd, 1749, in the seventy-seventh year of
THE APPROACHING CONFERENCE IN NOTTINGHAM. This year the Wesleyan-Methodist Conference will meet for the first time in the goodly town of Nottingham. London has had thirty Conferences; Bristol, twenty-nine; Leeds, twenty-three; Manchester, fifteen; Sheffield, ten; Liverpool, nine; Birmingham, four; Newcastle-uponTyne, four; Hull, three; Bradford, in Yorkshire, two; Camborne, two, and Burslem, one. The great centres of our mining and manufacturing industry and commercial activity have in gradually increasing number received the visits of this great ecclesiastical Assembly; the capability to entertain the Conference has marked the growth and consolidation of Methodist influence and the development of Methodist organization in town after town and district after district throughout the land; and it was quite time that the important midland counties of Nottingham, Leicester, and Derby were represented on the list of places in which the supreme annual Council of the Methodist Church is held. Many valuable purposes are served, doubtless, by this transference of the Conference in periodical succession to different localities : it helps to maintain our Connexional unity, and the blessed brotherhood of ministers and people, which is one of the main secrets of our strength; and is a diffusion of obligation and privilege over our wide-spread Connexion which must have a wholesome and beneficial influence. The hospitality of the Methodist people, as well as their liberality and sociableness, is proverbial; and we are satisfied that Nottingham, which, with the neighbouring towns associated with it, is the last candidate for the honour of being ranked among the Conference homes, will not be behind its older compeers in this respect. Methodism has hardly kept pace in the central counties of England with the rapid growth of the population; we scarcely occupy the commanding position in the principal towns, as to the number of our chapels or of members in our Societies, or in general influence, which our Church has in some localities attained ; and we would indulge the hope that the approaching visit of the Conference will give, by the blessing of God, an impulse to the energies of local Methodism, which may be productive of large and lasting results.
The circumstances under which the first Conference in Nottingham
Wesley's Works, vol. viii., pp. 78-111. Third Edition. VOL. XXII. - FIFTH SERIES,
will assemble are eminently auspicious. Our condition as a Church is encouraging. In the midst of the religious distractions of our times, we have peace in all our borders. In the midst of doctrinal errors and corruptions, and prevailing religious unsettlement, we have preserved among us uncorrupted Scriptural simplicity and purity, both of evan. gelical faith and of spiritual life and worship. The past year has been a season of quickening; we have shared with other Churches in that spirit of revival which has been abroad in an unwonted measure ; and we have to record one of the largest increases with which we have been blessed for many years. We may look forward with expectations of increasing prosperity. If we are faithful to our Providential vocation and opportunity; if we improve to the utmost the advantages which our ecclesiastical principles and organization give to us; above all, if we unitedly seek with believing and persevering importunity & still more abundant ontpouring of the Holy Spirit, the coming years may he, we are profoundly persuaded, among the brightest in the annals of Methodism. We must never forget that the presence of the Divine Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, is the one condition on which depends the progress of true and living Christianity. The day on which the Christian religion burst upon the world lifted up this truth into full supremacy. It stands emblazoned in imperishable characters over the portals of that Dispensation which can never be superseded, which has perfection and finality impressed on all its provisions. The marvels that glorified the birth-day of Christianity, the rapidity and magnitude of the triumphs that marked the inauguration of the Spirit’s dispensation, all combine to teach us that the life, the th, the glo of Christianity is its spiritual power. This is the great resource on which it relies for the mastery of all difficulties, and the achievement of moral triumphs over human and Satanic enmity.
In the social and political movements of the world there may be a wide range of resources; for the extension of a merely external Christianity outward appliances may be sufficient ; but for victory over the powers of darkness, the unbelief and enmity of human hearts, the Church is shut up to reliance on one power, that of the Spirit of God. Let ministers and people concentrate their attention and hope on this great gift, and we shall have an era of unprecedented blessing. We want life,and still more life. So, by the presence of the Spirit of life, will God give it to us, to rebuke the pretensions of a proud hierarchy, and to com. bat the hard materialism, the fleshly philosophy, the sensuous worship of our time. The existence of spirituality, devotion, purity, of holy character in our Churches, in the midst of modern society,-luxurious, worldly, and materialistic,- this is the strongest argument against infidelity, and the mightiest protest against unspiritual tendencies of thought and life.
We utter this word of warning lest haply we should think too mach of material and external enlargement, and should not sufficiently recog- . nise in this year's ingathering of the thousands into our fellowship the true sources of our might as a Christian Church, and the direction in which our supreme efforts should now and ever be pointed; and also lest, unwittingly, almost unconsciously, our attention should be diverted from this central, commanding, spiritual interest by any discussion on questions of ecclesiastical government and administration, whatever may be their seasonableness and value. We do not for a moment underrate the importance of those adaptations of our Church system which from time to time the exigencies of altered circumstances may require; we believe that the ordering Hand of a gracious Providence has been signally manifested in shaping our polity and moulding our institutions, so as to bring them into full harmony with the conditions and needs of existing society; nor are we so sentimental as to suppose that there is anything necessarily detrimental to our spiritual welfare in the right handling of ecclesiastical, social, or political controversy. We merely indicate the relative rank of spiritual and economical questions.
Let everything be made subordinate and subservient to the maintenance and increase of the inner life, and to the accomplishment of saving results, and then all will be well. Indeed, we regard the tranquillity and prosperity with which the great Head of the Church is blessing us as supplying the very conditions most favourable for the wise, calm, and harmonious settlement of all administrative difficulties, and the accomplishment of all constitutional changes which experience and thought may have ascertained to be necessary. The kindly, conciliatory spirit in which the difficult and delicate question which now awaits decision has been approached by both ministers and laymen, and the utter freedom from factious or angry contention, are surely omens of good in regard to the satisfactory solution of this vexed problem. We have no disturbing elements of popular agitation to contend with; there is no spirit of suspicion, distrust, or disaffection breathing its deadly blight upon us. No attempt is made by any section of our people to encroach on the spiritual rights and powers of the ministry; expressly and with emphatic reiteration have those whose views are most decided declared their conviction that the changes proposed will not impair the integrity of the pastoral office, the inviolability of the Connexional principle, or the authority of the District Committees, and their determination to uphold intact and inviolate these essential principles of Wesleyan-Methodism. In this important respect the present movement differs toto cælo from thoso tumultuous crises through which, at various periods of our history, we have had to pass. There is no clamour on the one part, and no alarmed resistance on the other, but a spirit of mutual concession and confidence pervading the whole. The initiative, indeed, has been gracefully taken by the Conference itself, which twelve months ago resolved" that the time is approaching when a comprehensive plan should be devised for some direct and adequate representation of the laity in the transaction of the business of the Conference, in consistency with the recognised principles of our economy, and the provisions of the Deed Poll; but that the difficulties which present themselves, after much deliberation, are so serious that the Conference resolves to appointtwo Committees to further consider the whole subject,” empowering the Ministerial Committee so designated“ to take such counsel as they may judge expedient on the legal aspects of the case.”
In what form this closer participation of the laity in the financial and economical business of the Connexion may be finally realised, the forthcoming Conference will probably decide. We earnestly bespeak the prayers of the thousands of our Israel that the “spirit of
love, and of a sound mind” may rest upon us, so that we may be guided to right conclusions. We have no fear as to the result. The criticism of outsiders who are not acquainted with the interior arrangements of our system we can afford to pass by. There is no body of ministers in the world who are further removed from the spirit of an arrogant and domineering sacerdotalism than the ministers of Methodism, nor any who view with greater aversion the exclusive pretensions of priestly prerogative ; nor is there any Church, however democratic its basis, where the people have a larger measure of real power and influ. ence. The laity share with the ministry, in a fuller measure thap is to be found elsewhere, in the teaching and pastoral functions of the Church. Where can be found any Community that employs such an army of Local-preachers and Class-leaders, to assist in feeding, guiding, and overseeing the flock? These offices are almost unknown in many Churches that boast of their free and popular Church-principles. The door of admission both to the ministry and to membership among us is in the hands of courts that are almost exclusively non-ministerial. Laymen are the legal guardians of all our Connexional property, and watchers over the purity of the doctrines preached in all our sanctuaries. The power of the purse is entirely with them, and the continuance of a minister in a Circuit is dependent on their pleasure. They are present in the District Meetings as representatives of the Circuits, and speak and vote in the transaction of all matters of finance and economics. They sit side by side, in equal numbers, with the ministers, on all our Departmental Committees, and for many years past have been summoned, or elected, annually in large numbers to deliberate with the ministers in the Connexional Committees of Review; and the cases have been extremely few and far between in which their recommendations have been set aside. The laity have already in every direction a recog. nised place and power in all our Church work, save that with which they disclaim all intention or desire to interfere ; and we are therefore but proceeding on the established lines of our constitutional practice in seeking to make their co-operation with the ministry, within certain defined limits, more direct, manifest, and effective. Many matters of vital interest must occupy the attention of the coming Conference; but if this complicated question of Lay Representation shall receive a settlement satisfactory to all parties and conservative of all interests, the Nottingham Conference will have achieved a distinction and conferred a benefit inferior to none that have gone before in the providential history of our Church.
SELECT LITERARY NOTICES.
[The insertion of the title of any publication in this list is not to be considered as pledging us to the approbation of its contents, anless it be accompanied by some express intimation of our favour able opinion. Nor is the omission of any such intimation to be regarded as indicating a contrary opinion. Our limits, and other reasons, impose on us the necessity of selection and brevity.]
The Living Wesley, as he was in James H. Rigg, D.D. Published his Youth and in his Prime. By for the Author, at the Wesleyan Conference Office. 1875.—This the “Contemporary Review” a very book is parıly a study and partly a explicit expression to his views both critique. In the latter aspect, it about Wesley and Methodism. Noth. will, we fear, be rather unwelcome ing struck us more in reading that to a certain class of readers. Keen gentleman's observations than the controversy is not, except to a fow fact that Dr. Rigg's work is nearly temperaments, very congenial; and as completeand thorough an answer there is a tone of keen controversy beforehand to almost all his mishere. Some good Methodists takes as if it had been written after especially will be sorry to see perusing Mr. Davies's animadvertwo Wesleyan ministers differing sions, and with the express purpose so seriously in their view, as do Dr. of resuting them. Rigg and Mr. Tyerman ; especially In the Introductory Chapter, the when the subject in dispute happens author gives us a summary of“ Westo be the character of the founder ley's Biographers and Critics,” and of Methodism. But they need not an estimate of each of them at once be revolted by this little book, or very discriminating and entirely afraid of any serious results from just. Wesley's career and character this controversy. Dr. Rigg is with- are dealt with under two heads; out doubt very searching in his namely, his “ Character and criticisins, and sometimes not a Opinions in his earlier Life to the little outspoken and even trenchant period of his Evangelical Converin his mode of expressing himself. sion: "and" John Wesley after his But, so far as appears to us, he is Conversion and in the Maturity of never unjust; but, on the whole, his Powers.” Each of these parts scrupulously fair; while he does is divided into chapters. The first emphatic justice to Mr. Tyerman's chapter of the first part deals with industry and research, and to the Wesley's “Boyhood and Youth.” unsurpassed value of his “ Life and The chief topic of this chapter is a Times of Wesley” as a storehouse discussion of Mr. Tyerman's severe of historical material. And no one remarks on Wesley's Charterhouse can deny Dr. Rigg the merit of life: “Terrible is the danger when constant courtesy and dignity. & child leaves a pious home for a However bard bis arguments may public school. John Wesley entered be, his words are as soft as the the Charterhouse a saint, and left it proverb requires: the fortiter in re a sinner.” Dr. Rigg, in our judg. is admirably tempered by the sua- ment, completely disposes of this viter in modo. And his treatment sweeping condemnation,-a conof Miss Wedgwood's Essay is a demnation founded on too literal an model of the style in which a gentle- acceptance of Wesley's own selfman should discuss the sentiments depreciatory confessions. He was of a lady, whose spirit he admires, not certainly & partaker of experibut some of whose statements he mental religion. He was a High feels compelled to call in question. Churchman even then ; but he was
But, since the appearance of Dr. a singularly devout and orderly Rigg's little work, another critic has youth, pure in his morals, and i stepped into the lists. The able strictly observant of the outward and highly popular rector of St. duties of religion. Mr. Llewellyn Marylebone, the Rev. Llewellyn Davies appreciates this : “He grew Davies, has given in the pages of up, through his boyhood at the