« AnteriorContinuar »
may grow up in all things into Him who is our Head, even Jesus Christ."
JOHN WESLEY. Mr. Charles Wesley says:
“ I think myself bound in duty, to add my testimony to my Brother's. His twelve reasons against our ever separating from the Church of England, are mine also. I subscribe to them with all my heart. Only with regard to the first, I am quite clear, that it is neither expedient nor lawful for me to separate. And I never had the least inclination or temptation so to do. My affection for the Church is as strong as ever; and I clearly see my calling, which is to live and die in her Communion. This, therefore, I am determined to do, the Lord being my helper."
Twenty years after, in 1778, he says in a letter : " The original Methodists were all of the Church of England; and the more awakened they were, the more zealously they adhered to it in every point, both of doctrine and discipline. Hence we inserted in the very first Rules of our Society, "They that leave the Church, leave us." And this we did, not as a point of prudence, but a point of conscience.
. I myself find more life in the Church Prayers, than in any formal extemporary prayers of Dissenters. Nay, I find more profit in Sermons on either good tempers, or good works, than in what are vulgarly called Gospel Sermons. That term has now become a mere cant word. I wish none of our Society would use it. It has no determinate meaning. Let but a pert self-sufficient animal, that has neither sense nor grace, bawl out something about Christ, or his blood, or justification by faith, and bis hearers cry out, “ What a fine Gospel Sermon!" Surely, the Methodists have not so learned Christ."
But it will be said, that, at the time of the appointment of Dr. Coke as Superintendent of the Methodists in America in 1784, Mr. Wesley also “ordained” Richard Whatcoat and Thomas Vesey as Elders and Presbyters for the American Methodists, for the purpose of baptizing and administering the Lord's Supper; and, that in that act, he did pretend to ordain, John Wesley's own account of the matter is contained
* Wesley's Works, New York: Waugh & Mason, 1832. Vol. VII., pp. 293–8. | Works, Vol. VII., p. 242.
in a paper “On Separation from the Church,” dated August 30, 1785, one year after the appointment of those men. He says :
* Judging this to be a case of real necessity, I took a step which, for peace and quietness, I had refrained from taking for many years ; I exercised that power which I am fully persuaded the Great Shepherd and Bishop of the Church has given me. I appointed three of our laborers to go and help them, by not only preaching the Word of God, but likewise by administering the Lord's Supper and baptizing their children, throughout that vast tract of land a thousand miles long and some hundreds broad.
“ These are the steps which, not of choice, but of necessity, I have slowly and deliberately taken. If any one is pleased to call this separation from the Church, he may. But the Law of England does not call it so; nor can any one be properly said to do so, unless, out of conscience, he refuses to join in the Service, and partakes of the Sacraments administered therein."
To this there are several things to be said. 1. The act of appointing those men was put distinctly by Mr. Wesley on the ground of “real necessity." He had traveled in America, had seen the spiritual destitution, and the unworthy character of many of the Church of England Clergymen there. In 1780 he had earnestly appealed to the Bishop of London to ordain men for America ; but in vain. It will be remembered that our own Bishop White, under the same plea, once suggested a similar temporary expedient. 2. John Wesley was then eightyone years of age, and he was overpersuaded to the act by the importunate solicitations and the very remarkable Letter (we may say management) of Dr. Coke, (which Letter is still
preserved). 3. The act was done privately, and without the request of the American Methodists. 4. Lord King's sophistical argument to prove that Bishops and Presbyters are the same Order, doubtless influenced Wesley's opinion and conduct; but what that argument has to do in sustaining the modern Methodist theory of Episcopal power, is another question well worth asking. 5. Mr. Wesley, in his Letter to the “ brethren in North America,” Sept. 10th, 1784, is careful to say that he “appointed” (not ordained) certain men “ to act as Elders.” 6. In his Sermon, published by Mr. Wesley himself in 1788 or 1789, four or five years after these “appointments,” and
,” and so, decisive upon the point before us, Mr. Wesley says:
“I wish all of you, who are vulgarly termed Methodists, would seriously consider what has been said. And, particularly, you whom God hath commissioned to call sinners to repentance. It does by no
. means follow from hence, that ye are commissioned to baptize, or to administer the Lord's Supper. Ye never dreamed of this for ten or twenty years after ye began to preach. Ye did not then, like Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, .seek the Priesthood also. Ye know, 'no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.' O, contain yourselves within your own bounds !"*
The application to Bishop White on the part of Dr. Coke for the "reordination" of these Methodist preachers, shows conclusively that neither Mr. Wesley nor Mr. Asbury regarded them as having already received a valid ordination. 7. In respect to the Methodists in America, he says:
“Whatever there is done, either in America or Scotland, is no separation from the Church of England. I have no thought of this; I have many objections against it.”+
8. Two years after the appointment, he writes to Rev. F. Garretson, a Methodist preacher IN AMERICA :
" Wherever there is any Church Service, I do not approve any appointment the same hour, because I love the Church of England, and would assist, not oppose it, all I can."
9. The formal act of separation by the Methodists was not done in England, it was done in America, Dec. 25, 1784. Mr. Wesley's views as to that assumption of power on the part of the Methodists in America, may be seen in his Letter four years after, Sept. 20, 1788, to Mr. Asbury, above quoted, and to which we again ask the reader's attention. If, in this whole matter, Mr. Wesley is inconsistent with himself, we shall not attempt to explain that inconsistency; but we do
Sermon, 39. + Works, Vol. VII., p. 315. Works, Vol. VII., p. 185. VOL. XIV.NO. I.
put the question, whether Methodism as an institution can afford to stand on such a foundation ?
The facts which we have given above in the Life of John Wesley, we trust will come before not a few of our Methodist brethren. His views upon other points, especially the Sacraments, we should like to present. We believe there are large numbers of their Preachers, who, to-day, have far more real sympathy with the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, than with Methodism in the present stage of its development. Methodism in a great degree has finished its work. It is not what it was. Its old badges of distinctive unworldliness, its old tone and spirit, which made Methodism what it was, are gone. Its strongly marked teachings, both as to the Institutions and Doctrines of Grace, have given place largely to a modified German Rationalism. The influences, under which this change has been silently going on, we are not now seeking; the fact itself is indisputable, and many of the Methodists of the old school freely confess it. The Church from which it went out, on the contrary, is growing in life and efficiency; and in its late “ Memorial Movement,” it has prof'fered the fraternal hand to all who are yearning for Unity in the One Body of Christ, that we may labor for one great end, the salvation of the souls for whom Christ died, and the glory of God. The Protestant Episcopal Church will meet this great question fairly. Certain great principles she can never abandon ; for they rest, not upon mere opinion, but upon undoubted Facts, and are cherished by her in the deepest convictions of her conscience. But there is no good reason why multitudes of the Methodists, whose best life came from the Church of England, who are one with us in Doctrine, and are so like us in Organization and Ritual, and who will find our Government more representative as well as Scriptural than theirs,--we say there is, we believe, no sufficient reason why Methodists and Churchmen should not link their hearts and hands together, in one and the same blessed work,
ART. IV.-EARLY ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN CHURCH.
1. The third and Last Volume of the Voyages, Navigations,
Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation. Collected by RICHARD HAKLUYT, Preacher and sometimes Stu
dent of Christ's Church in Oxford. London, 1600. 2. The General Historie of Virginia, New England and the
Summer Islies. From their first beginning, Ano. 1584 to the present 1624, by CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH, Sometymes
Governor of those Countries. London, 1624. 3. PURCHAS; His Pilgrims, in Five Books. Vol. IV. Lon
don, 1625. 4. The History of the first Discovery and Settlement of Vir
ginia, by WILLIAM SMITH, A. M., President of the College
of William and Mary in Virginia. London, 1753. 5. Contributions to the Ecclesiastical History of the United
States of America, by FRANCIS L. Hawks, D. D., Vol. I.
New York, 1836. 6. The Historie of Travaile into Virginia Britannia : Col
lected by WILLIAM STRACHEY, Gent., The first Secretary
of the Colony. Hakluyt Society, London, 1849. 7. Collections of the Protestant Episcopal Historical Society.
Vol. II. New York, 1853. 8. The History of the Church of England in the Colonies and
Foreign Dependencies of the British Empire. By the Rev. JAMES S. M. ANDERSON, M. A., Chaplain in ordinary to
the Queen. London, 1856. 9. Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia. By
BISHOP MEADE. Philadelphia, 1857.
CHAPTER I. 1578 to 1609. If there is one department of Ecclesiastical History more than another, in which American Churchmen need to be inter