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hands of a man in lawn, as "preachers," they referred to them simply as exhorters." A number of these societies were grouped together and placed under the care of an overseer." For elders they had "private exhorters," or "stewards of the societies." Even their meeting-houses were called "houses for religious purposes." For awhile they partook of the Lord's Supper at the Episcopal Church; but the ungodliness of the parsons compelled them to abstain, more or less, from attending any services presided over by them. Of course for this they were "schismatics." A very enlightened Churchman recently gave to one of "ye poor dark Dissenters a very intelligent reason for his fidelity to the church of his Father, that if the Devil were to occupy the church pulpit it would make no difference to him; and probably it would not, and did not. It was doubtless a very stupid and preposterous thing to object to agents of Satan dressed in gown and cassock, and some of the early Methodists were a little exercised at first about the form of their protest, but it must be confessed that they had no sort of love for the Devil, either in secular or ecclesiastical attire, and wherever there was "a wide door" opened for them, the power of Satan and his agents rather encouraged them to go and use the weapons of their holy war.
They very soon realised what this war meant. The confederacy of priest, police, magistrate, and mob was dead against them. It was the old days of persecution over again, and they had often to fight for dear life itself. Woe betide the Methodist who had not been an ordained clergyman; he, more than they all, was to be jostled and beaten. Mr. Howell Harris, on one occasion, had a pistol discharged at him; on another, the mob tore his coat-sleeves, rending one quite off, and “took away my peruke," he adds, "I being now in the rain. O sweet bareheadedness-under the reproach of Christ! Having a little silence I discoursed on, but soon they hallooed again and pelted me with apples and dirt, flinging stones in the utmost rage about me. I had one blow on my forehead, which caused a rising, with little blood. Many friends would have me give over in the tumult, but I could not be free to do that till the storm would be over, and God be glorified over Satan. When we came to Caerleon everything seemed calm and quiet, whilst Brother Seward prayed and discoursed sweetly by the market-house; but when I began to discourse after him, then they began to roar most norribly, pelting us with dung and dirt, throwing eggs, plum-stones, and other hard substances even in our faces, and hallooed so loudly as to drown my voice entirely. Brother Seward had a furious blow on his right eye, which caused him much anguish! and as it affected his left, he was obliged to be led by the hand, blindfold, for some days, till at last he became totally blind of it." At Bala, Mr. Harris's life was threatened, and much endangered through the brutality of the mob, which had been led on by the clergyman of the town. Yet his activities were not lessened, nor indeed did their assailants hinder the men who were determined to spend their lives in teaching men the way of salvation. Some of them could truly say, as one of them did once observe, "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Where physical force was not employed against the Methodist preachers, other means were adopted to silence them. In one place, in Carnarvonshire, the church choir were instructed to sing the 119th Psalm through, and they
sang on for hours, so that the preaching was for the time effectually stopped. Other means, more ludicrous, were tried, and these naturally appealed to the fondness of a crowd for comic and dramatic situations. A useful and energetic friend to the new movement was William Pritchard, a somewhat wealthy farmer. His conversion had been brought about in a marked and singular way. He had been drinking one Saturday evening with a number of low-lived fellows, and did not leave the public-house until later than usual. On his way home, he wandered about in ignorance of the road to his destination. At length he espied a light in a cottage, and hastening to it, he looked in and saw a man reading the Scriptures, and afterwards heard him in prayer. That prayer produced so great an impression upon his mind that he knew no rest until he had cast himself upon the mercy of God. From that time he seems to have befriended the Methodist preachers, whose zeal won his approval, and his interest in them brought upon him the cruel and bitter persecution of the clergy and their friends. He was turned out of his farm, and was obliged to remove to Anglesea. Here his religious views were deemed very obnoxious, and in return for seeking the benefit of his neighbours, they injured his property, broke his agricultural implements to pieces, turned their cattle into his hay and corn crops, mixed all his winnowed barley and oats, and subjected him so repeatedly to annoyances that it could hardly have been a severe trial for him to be compelled to leave the place. The story of the sufferings of some of the brethren is very sad, and is a deplorable commentary upon the brutal and ignorant condition of the Welsh peasants, the vices of the clergy, and the obsequiousness of the heartless squirearchy. They endured the fire, as seeing the Invisible One who walked with them through it," one like unto the Son of God;" and their bravery and self-sacrificing spirit glorified Christ and made the more evident to the people the value of the religion for which they were prepared to submit to the loss of all things.
Likely as it seemed at one time that the policy of suppression, so vigorously pursued, would end in quieting the Methodists, it was soon found that they multiplied in consequence of it. It took a long time for the obtuse clergy to perceive this inevitable result of their conduct. Their excuse for persecuting the Methodists was that they were against the Church," which was not true at that time, although the Church drove them to the alienation which afterwards manifested itself. "Many of the clergy," writes Mr. Williams, "were men of immoral lives," while there were many more who did not commend themselves as ministers of the Gospel. From these the people turned away, and 'met in dwelling-houses and in barns to pray together and to exhort, admonish, and encourage one another. The clergyman therefore felt insulted when he found his parishioners neglecting his ministrations and showing a preference for those of the blacksmith, the weaver, or the shoemaker. The measures which he would take to put down that which he looked upon as an opposition depended upon his own character. He would head a rabble to mob the preacher, and scatter his hearers; or persuade a magistrate to take legal proceedings against the conventiclers; or make representations to the landlords of these people, with a view to induce them to turn them out of their farms or
habitations." Slowly, but surely, however, the tide began to turn in their favour. Their simple piety commended itself to the unprejudiced; their whole-heartedness in the cause won admiration; and their determination to abide at all hazards by the religion they had espoused secured them respect. It was not a bad reply that a Methodist woman gave to her wealthy brother when he offered her and her husband all his wealth, on his decease, if they would give up their religion, but otherwise she should not have a shilling: "Never mind, brother," was the reply, "if you only gave me three half-pence I would give two of them to the cause of Christ, and keep only a third for myself.”
In the romantic old town of Conway, one of the best known and most picturesque spots of North Wales, there used to preach occasionally a very humble Christian, of slender acquirements. Under the old walls of the town he would make his voice heard in defence of the truths of God's word. The then vicar of Conway must have been a marked contrast to the mild-looking vicar we saw there last summer, an probably the latter would be heartily ashamed of his predecessor's ignorance. The poor exhorter was arrested by order of this sapient vicar, and brought before his reverence, when the following dialogue took place:His Reverence,-"You ought to be a learned man to go about to preach, and able to answer deep questions."
Humble Methodist,-" What questions, Sir?"
His R." Here they are, those which were asked me by the Lord Bishop. Let's see whether you will be able to answer them. Where was St. Paul born?"
His R.-" Hem; I see that you know something too. Well, can you tell me who took charge of the Virgin Mary after our blessed Redeemer was crucified ?"
"Well. Once again: who wrote the Book of Revelation? Answer that if you can."
H. M.-(Not at all confounded) "John, the Apostle."
Perhaps, Sir, you will allow me to ask you one or two
His R.-"O yes, only they must be religious questions." H. M.-"What is holiness? and how may a sinner be justified. before God?"
His Reverence, with great promptitude:-" Ho, we have no business to bother ourselves with such things; and you have no business to put such questions to a man in my position. Go out of my sight this minute." And to the men who had brought him, "Take care that you do not bring such men into my presence any more."
From that time the humble preacher was allowed to do what he liked; and he laboured to good purpose in a neighbourhood almost as unenlightened as its vicar.
Passing over the records of the rupture in the connection between two of the leaders and the establishment by Lady Huntingdon of the college at Trevecca, we come to the year 1762, which was one of great importance to the society. For eleven years previously there had been
no increase, but a very perceptible decrease in the numbers of the connexion; the churches seemed struck with spiritual paralysis. A season of revival at length dawned; there was an increase of piety and zeal, and a large ingathering of converts. In perhaps one village, the minister would be greatly helped in preaching the Word, and the influence of his earnest discourse would be to cause the believers then present to shout for joy; while indifferent hearers enquired, "What shall we do to be saved?" The news would penetrate into the few habitations four, six, eight miles away, and crossing the rugged mountains, where there was (at that time) no footpath, the enquiring men and women would come to the little chapel; God would meet with them, and they would go away to spread the electric fire, until thousands of people in North and South Wales who had been sitting in darkness saw a great, converting light. Sober-minded men reported what they had heard and seen, and attested to the reality of the change that had been wrought over whole districts.
Soon after the commencement of the present century, the connexion broke loose entirely from the Establishment; and this step which cost it some of its more respectable adherents, was soon seen to be approved of by God. The form of church government adopted was a modified Presbyterianism. The connexion is still increasing in 1870 there were 419 ministers, 354 preachers, 1,126 chapels and preaching-places, and 92,735 communicants-an increase of 34,057 in twenty years. Some of the best attended chapels in Wales are those belonging to this earnest and enterprising body.
The Jubilee Singers of Fisk University.*
E are thereabout certain that even the best informed of our readers have not heard of the existence of The Jubilee Singers of Fisk University, who are now on their way to this country, Do any of our friends know anything about the American Missionary Association, which nearly thirty years ago set up its standard in the South to declare itself the uncompromising friend of liberty, and of a pure gospel, when the advocates of the rights of the slave were not so plentiful and outspoken as now? This society chose for its own the roughest and most despised work in the Christian service. Its agents stood forth as the apologists, and sometimes as the defenders of abolitionists long before the war of freedom was thought about, while they were the instructors of Canadian fugitives, and even of wild Indians and Chinese emigrants, during the most humiliating days of American history. This society is at present giving attention to the education of the millions of freed slaves now at Jarge in the South, and in this great work one of its latest achievements is the founding of Fisk University at Nashville, Tennessee, an institution which is likely to exercise a powerful influence in spiritually and morally raising the multitudes who have been lately released from bondage. the most beautiful and productive of the Southern States, it is safe to prophecy of its future," we are told; "No more healthful climate on the continent is found than that which rests like a perpetual charm over this section of our country. Orchards abound, bearing all manner of fruits; grasses cushion the landscape, affording sweet and nutritious sustenance for the herds that
Situated in one of
The Jubilee Singers of Fisk University and their Campaign for Twenty Thousand Dollars. With Photographs by Block. (Hodder and Stoughton.)
luxuriate through the valleys and over its mountains; the soil produces cotton, corn, wheat, and all manner of vegetables, in great abundance; mountains and plains, rivers and brooks, forests and groves give the most pleasing variety, and charm the traveller like a romance." It is to provide funds for endowing this college that the Jubilee Singers have been lately travelling over the Northern States of the Union, and they will probably have landed in England for the same purpose by the time that this magazine reaches the hand of the reader.
These talented negro singers of hymns and sacred pieces, and whose portraits adorn the volume before us, owe their musical education to the enterprise and self-denial of George L. White, an enthusiastic abolitionist, who, when threatened by slave-holding fanatics, or, when cautioned against instructing the blacks at all, assembled his class in the woods or fields out of sight or hearing of enemies. The personal history of each singer is also narrated, and some are able to tell strange histories. Thus one youth of the number, in the late war-time, served as page or waiter at table in a family down South, and from him we learn how the slaves in general regarded the Northern army as a delivering host. "About this time," he tells us, "the old slaves told me that something was going on, and I must listen sharp up at the house and tell them what the white folks said. There were about a dozen slaves on the plantation. One was a preacher; he could read a little. I was table-waiter there; and, after talking over the news at table, Missus would say, "Now, Tom, you mustn't repeat a word of this." I would look mighty obedient, but-well-in less than half-an-hour, some way, every slave on the plantation would know what had been said up at Massa's house. One would see sad faces when the Yankees got whipped, and then the preacher would have prayer-meetings. I was too young to know what they prayed for, but heard the old slaves talking about freedom. By-and-bye the rebels kept getting beaten, and then it was sing, sing, all through the slave quarters. Old Missns asked what they were singing for, but they would only say, "because we feel so happy!"
When these Jubilee Singers, as they are now called, started on their first tour in the Northern States under the leadership of Mr. White, they found that they would have to conquer the deeply-rooted prejudice of the populace against coloured skins, before they could hope to succeed in their mission. They set themselves the task of collecting twenty thousand dollars, but during many weary days it seemed that the design must be abandoned in despair. Attracting only scanty audiences in one town, and refused ordinary hotel accommodation in others on account of their negro origin, they must have retired from the inhospitable climate to the sunny south defeated and disheartened had not a few friends opportunely come forward to give encouragement. They were also further blessed in having a leader with a cool head, and one who could persevere under difficulties. Not, however, till they reached New York did the tide of prosperity finally set in, for which they had long hoped and prayed. In the Capital they were warmly welcomed by Mr. H. W. Beecher, by Drs. Talmage and Cuyler, and by other persons of influence. People were now drawn together in thousands to hear the sweet melodies of these negro youths and girls, while the cause they had at heart was powerfully aided by criticisms and reports appearing in the newspapers whose editors bore the singers no good will. Mr. Beecher assures us that "they will charm any audience. They make their mark by giving the spiritual and plantation hymus as only they can sign them who know how to keep time to a master's whip. Our people have been delighted." "Allow me to bespeak a universal welcome through the north for these living representatives of the only true native school of American music," writes Dr. Cuyler in the Tribune. "We have long enough had its coarse caricature in corked faces; our people can now listen to the genuine soul music of the slave cabins, before the Lord led his 'children out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.'
Thus supported, the Jubilee Singers were not long in collecting the sum at