Imágenes de páginas

risicia LTET. Ease 20% tore to have an uninterLeter att LETE-DELIZ ali red sud era.asting Sabbath.

[ocr errors][merged small]

THE STATE OF THE CONNEXION, AND HOW TO IMPROVE IT. STROSGLT atta-bed, Mr. Editor, to the Erdings, ir dicated s growing desire for prine pies of the Methodist New Con- liberty on the part of the people, as well nezion, and deeply interested in its wel es be ruing hand of God; and hapfare, we watch with anxiety its verious Dening at this ioneture of time, it seems movements. As the tradesman. when more than probable that the revolution his accounts, is filled with which took place in Methodism was propleasurable or painful emotion on ascer duced by God for important purposes, but laing & gradual advance or decline in his through the instrumentality of Kilham. business; so we experience pleasure in Tbat was a division different, in some witnessing the onward movements of our respects, from all subsequent divisions. Connexion, and pain at any appearance It was a ncble contention for principle, of decline.

for religious liberty and Christian priviPossessing the gospel of salration in leges. The Methodist New Connexion its purity and power, enjoying Christian was formed on a scriptural basis, and ordinances, and favoured with a system evidently approved by God. Notwithof Chureh government at once liberal, standing the calumniations of some of sound, and scriptural, it is to us quite its opposers, its friends had just reason evident that we are designed by God to to adopt the language of the dying exert, in common with other Christian founder of Methodism, “The best of communities, considerable influence in all is. God is with us!"" And it is, we forming the character, regulating the con think, impossible to contemplate the dition, and controlling the destiny of our origin and constitution of our Connexion, nation and of the world.

and the circumstances through which it The struggle of 1797, which led to the has passed, without being impressed formation of our Connexion, was one of with the idea that God designed it to no ordinary character. A crisis in Me- form some mighty system by which he thodism had arrived. Useful as the sys will diffuse scriptural light, and freedom, tem of John Wesley had been, it was far and joy, and subdue all nations to from being perfect; and to Kilham and himself. his coadjutors a change in some essen- How far have we answered the design tial matters appeared absolutely neces- of our existence? What influence have sary. In their movements they were un we exerted in ameliorating the moral doubtedly guided by the Divine Being, condition of mankind ? To what extent who had led Wesley, in opposition to his have we made known our distinguishing own preconceived notions and intentions, principles, and aided in extending the to construct the Methodistic Church, and Redeemer's kingdom ! who was now designing its modification It cannot be supposed that we have and improvement to meet the altered existed fifty-four years without exerting and improving state of the times. From some beneficial influence-without doing 1790 to 1800 was an important period of even much good. And, viewing the diftime. Mysterious as was the operation, ficulties with which we had to contend Jehovah was undoubtedly working upon at our commencement, and, indeed, all the nations of the earth. The political through our history, the success which changes of England, France, and other has attended our efforts, and our present hopeful, and, in some respects, pros- pecuniary sense we are undoubtedly pereus condition, we see no ground for more favourably situated than at any the insinuation so often thrown against former period. The noble efforts which us, that we are an insignificant com have been made of late years for the remunity, and that our present small duction of chapel-debts, &c., call for number, and especially our decrease commendation. But we fear the spiduring the last ecclesiastical year, is ritual prosperity of the Church has not proof that our liberal form of Church increased in proportion to its financial; government is not conducive to pros- and at the risk of being censured by perity. Truly, it is better to be free than some, we feel constrained to say, while bound with fetters; to have a constitu- approving of the objects of bazaars genetion which concedes to every minister rally, that they have of late so fully enand member his rights and privileges, grossed the attention of many of our than to live under a despotic sway, our friends, and engendered such a spirit of eyes partially blindfolded, our tongues worldly conformity and pride, as seriously tied, and our minds, as far as priestly to operate against the spirituality of the power can bind them, bound down in Church. With a ministry generally inabject submission. And, were numbers telligent and zealous, and means of grace a criterion of excellence and power, then 0 reviving and refreshing, is it not might we argue against Christianity itself, strange that so little power attends the and almost every wise and benevolent preached word, that we so seldom hear system which has been propounded; and the penitent's cry for mercy, and have so Paganism, Mahomedanism, and other few souls added to the Church? Allowsystems of imposture and error, willing that in some Circuits a revival of claim the palm.

religion is prevailing, this leads to the Has there not, however, been cause for inquiry, Why have we not a general rereproach in many of our arrangements vival ? Why are special efforts needed and proceedings ? While in the past to produce a revival ? And then, Why there is ground for gratitude and rejoicing, are these seasons of special excitement is there not equal cause for humiliation followed by an almost special decline in and sorrow ? Might not more have been the zeal of the Church? Whatever be done by us? How little of Christian the immediate cause of this, it is but too enterprise we have possessed! What a true that it is so. Our congregations and feeble influence, after all, we have com- societies, our prayer-meetings and classparatively exerted ! How often have meetings, our love-feasts and sacraments resolutions for the extension of the Con- evidence this. Where now the overflowing nexion been formed, without being car audiences? the raising of new classes ? ried out — fields of missionary labour the formation of new societies? thrown open before us, but not entered

Should we not endeavour to ascertain opportunities for doing good presented, the cause of this spiritual declension ? but not improved ? And, as we survey A knowledge of the disease will facilithe present condition of the Connexion, tate the cure; and it is in vain to refer the questions involutarily arise, How to the past unless from it we derive much more rapidly might we advance ? warning for the future and a stimulus Cannot we greatly extend our borders to increased activity and zeal. To charge and contribute more largely to the ma this low state of things upon one part of chinery employed to effect the conversion the community only would not be just. of the world ?

For members to condemn ministers only Making every allowanee for peeuniary for the want of prosperity would evi. and other difficulties, which are common dence an absence of Christian charity, to the establishment of a mere commu and would partake too much of the sin pity, and duly considering bow often of Adam in trying to exculpate himself we have suffered from reaction after a by throwing the blame upon his wife ; season of powerful excitement, to which, while for ministers to charge the fault by-the-bye, every other community is solely upon the members would be equally subject, the conclusion nevertheless unfair and unjust. Are we not all guilty forces itself upon us that, had there in the sight of God? As members of been more earnestness and faithfulness, one Church, have we not all contributed more of Christian enterprize and mis- to its decline by our apathy, pride and sionary liberality and zeal, we should unbelief? In the ministry there may How have formed a more prominent and have been wanting simplicity, earnestimportant part among the thousands of ness and faithfulness, and attention to Judah.

pastoral duties; but have not leaders What is our present position? In a and members been guilty in refusing

their co-operation, and ofttimes needlessly indulging in a complaining and censo rious disposition ? How often, after ministers have been beseeching, with all the earnestdess of dying men, sinners to be reconciled to God, have members refased to remain a short time longer to intercede with God for the success of the preached word? Beside frequent absence from class-meetings and other means of grace, has there not often been an indisposition to assist in any effort by which to promote a revival of religion? And for the want of co-operation on the part of the Church, the hands of ministers have hung down, the Church has declined, and those whose duty it was to help have sat at home with folded arms, complaining of the low state of things. While we have reason to be satisfied with our wise and scriptural form of Church government, have we not, in some instances, depended too much upon it, forgetting that, without divine aid, the best forms of governments, and, indeed, all human efforts, are vain ? And has not this tended to our decline? While, by our laws and the precepts of the gospel, peace and unity should be preserved in the community, how lamentable to find in many places the bond of union broken, the principle of Christian charity lying dormant in the heart, if it exist there at all, and strife, envy, and jealousy prevailing! What little of bearing and forbearing with each other! and, in some cases, what a want of confidence among the ministers and people, and at times even among ministers themselves! How much of worldly mindedness has crept in among us, and now prevails! With many business is the Alpha and Omega. The "countinghouse" or “ office" might be the door to paradise. Others are continually complaining of the poverty of their circumstances, and refuse to sopport the mis sionary cause, and give most parsimoniously to the support of the Church at home; and yet they can afford to spend their funds in decking themselves in the fashions of the day, in taking pleasure. excursions, and think the loss of a few hundred pounds by railway.speculations little! What numbers complain of the pressing nature of their engagements, the claims of business, &c., and make this an excuse for absence from class for weeks together, and occasionally from the Sunday-morning preaching; and yet they have time, and disposition too, to attend concerts, evening-parties, political meetings, and even to gossip and smoke! And if these things are mentioned to them, affectionately and faithfully, what

offence is taken! What little attention has been devoted to our young! and how often have the motives of those who have interested themselves in the welfare of the young been impugned by those who have been too proud to see others stand before them, and too idle to do what they ought to do themselves! How little of the spirit of prayer and faith we have possessed, and what a small measure of divine influence has been enjoyed ! When have we special meetings for prayer, as in the ancient days ? How few family altars are erected, and how little is the closet frequented for prayer! When have we scenes similar to those of the Primitive Church or of the early Methodist Church? Poor souls cry, Oh for the simplicity, earnestness and faith of the apostles and primitive Christians

-of Wesley, Whitfield, Fletcher and other devoted and successful ministers of the Church! As the communication of divine influence is essentially connected with human instrumentality, did we more faithfully use the appointed means, how abundantly should we be blest! But to expect the divine blessing without this would be as vain as for the husbandman to expect a fruitful harvest without ploughing his ground and sowing his seed, because the rain descends and the sun shines. How often we have fallen into this error!

But to what purpose is this complaining? Alas! we have too much of a complaining spirit, and here is one cause of our want of success. It is with delicacy we have made the preceding remarks; but are they not true? and does not the state of our Connexion call for them ? To remedy the evil is not, however, impossible. The disease is not incurable. What course shall we adopt?

Humiliation and sorrow evidently form the first part of our duty. Have we been 80 unprofitable, unfaithful, worldly. minded, &c.? Ob, how deeply should we be humbled before God on account of this! Clothing ourselves with sackcloth and ashes, we should mourn between the porch and the altar, in the family and the closet. Vain will be our future efforts unless we see and acknowledge our past offences and unfeignedly repent of them. How can God bless us while our sins are uprepented of, and while we are indulging in the very sins which have led to our decline ? Ministers and people! away to your closets, and there, retired from business, noise and care, afflict your souls, and weep and mourn! Review the past, consider the present, look to the future! Recal your sips, one by one-pride, unbelief, covet ousness, rashness of temper, worldlymindedness, unfaithfulness in the performance of duty, opportunities of doing good slighted, means of grace neglected. What a catalogue! Bring thein before the Lord, and with a sincere heart and nufeigned lips confess, repent, forsake, and you shall find mercy. Intercede for yourselves, your families, the Church. Do it immediately, without any other call than a sense of duty. But may it pot also be done simultaneously, at the call of the Connexion ? If danger threatens our country, or the destroying angel is passing through the land, days of humi. liation, fasting, and prayer are then appointed. Our hearts are humbled before the Lord, and we repair to our closet and sanctuaries. It is right. But shall we do this for our country and not for our Church? Is the temporal of more importance than the spiritual ? On behalf of the Connexion letsuch a day be called, and we believe it will be responded to lfa Consexional fast be not called, let the approaching quarterly meeting in each Circuit take the matter into consi. deration, resolve, appoint and perform : and while ministers and people are pour ing forth their lamentations, and tears and prayers, the Lord, we believe, will have mercy upon us, and build up the walls of our Jerusalem!

With humiliation and sorrow we must not rest. Increased exertion is required. We must avoid the sins of the past and do more for the time to come.

Unity and co-operation are needed. The unity of the laity with the ministry - the distinguishing characteristics of our community-should be exemplified, dot merely in matters of business, but in the spiritual operations of the Church. Is it not true that there has not always been that close union and co-operation between the ministers and people there should have been ? By the latter the whole responsibility of the Church has been thrown upon the former. Because ministers should take the lead, it is often supposed that they are to carry on the cause by their own efforts, just as though they were capable of fulfilling every office and performing every duty. This is a mistake. Ministers are only men, and, when they have done their best, much remains for others to do, and if it is not done the Church cannot prosper. Let every man, then, do his duty, mivis. ters preaching with increasing earnestness and faithfulness, and devouing increasing attention to pastoral duties ; but

the work must not be left with them. Where are our leaders and members ? And what shall they do? Let everyone be found at bis post, and by individual effort and combined exertion much will be done. When plans are proposed for the benefit of the Church, let all the members zealously co-operate, and not each apart wait to see whether the proposed plans will succeed before they express their hearty concurrence; and if they happen to prove a failure, to blame the pour ministers and few friends who united with them. When meetings are called for the transaction of business-whether they be leaders' meetings or of another character-let the members of them punctually attend and take their share in the business of the Church, and not remain at home, fearful lest some unpleasant circumstance should occur, or some additional responsibility have to be borne, and then complain that business is not properly transacted and that things are in a loose way. When the sanctuary is open for divine worship, whether on the Sabbath or week-nights, for preaching, or prayer.meeting, or classmeeting, let all its ordinances be attended, that ministers may not so often have the pain of preacbing to small congregations and then be complained of for not drawing more to hear them. We are fearfully defective on this point. Many of our ordinances are miserably attended ; and if members will not come to the house of the Lord to have their strength renewed, it is natural that they should decline. But who is to blame in the matter? An improvement in this respect would leave great means of producing a more prosperous state of things. Let increasing attention be devoted to our young; let day-schools be commenced, and plans devised and adopted for securing our elder scholars as members of the Church. And then, let us comply with the two grand requirements of the gospel, prayer and faith. We need more of these. Where is now the importunity and earnestness of Jacob, or the faith of Abraham and Moses? How often when we pray are our minds full of unbelief! A revival of religion should be the con. stant burden of our prayer, and our preachings, plans and efforts should be directed to this. Special meetings for prayer should be appointed; protracted religious services should be held; and ministers and people thus united, ever aiming at the accomplishment of one obiect, the salvation of men and the pros. perity of the Church, Jehovah's blessing would, ere long, come down upon us as sbowers upon the unmown grass; our grace would revive,our members increese, our borders be extended, and the little one

would soon become a thousand, and the small one s strong nation.


Pendleton, Manchester.


Me EDITOR,–We have already heard with pleasure of the glorious work of God that broke out on the Lisburn mission, Ireland, in the month of July. What a cheering report of this revival we have in the October missionary notice! About two hundred souls converted ! Wbat an accession to the Church! what a rich harvest of precious blood-bought souls! We are informed that the above delightful work commenced by temperance meetings, united prayer, open air services and special attention to the young, Sabbath-school instruction, and by the distribution of some thousands of religious tracts every Lord's-day throughout every part of the neighbourhood The leaders' meeting also, in July, appointed special revival services to be held a week in each chapel on the station. These meetings were begun at Broomhedge by singing and prayer; after which, a lec. ture was delivered for twenty minutes by a leader, or one of the preachers, on the Adaptation of the Gospel," the “ Will. ingness and Ability of Christ to save," on “ Decision in Religion," the “ New Birth," or on some other like plain, prac. tical and important subject. After this, a prayer-meeting was conducted for about an hour, preachers and leaders praying short, singing two verses of an appropriate hymn at intervals, and praying for present blessings. It was consi. dered inconvenient for all to remain longer; but the leaders and praying friends remained with the penitents for an hour longer; and on one or two occa sions, the after-meeting could not be closed till midnight Oh, what a time of Pentecost! for hours to hear the cry of new-born sonls emerging from dark. ness into light, and from the bondage and power of Satan into the glorious liberty of the children of God! The like was never witnessed in the New Connexion in Ireland before. Like the missionaries in Tahiti and the South Seas, who preached twenty y ars without fruit, we have laboured fifty years with out seeing any great outpouring of the Spirit until now. The blessing has come. It is no delusion. Many wandering prodigals, are brought home and are sitting at the feet of Jesus. “Not unto us, not

unto us be the glory;" but we will ascribe the praise to Father, Son and Holy Ghost!

But we long to know that the revival is more general. Say, can there not be a revival in every part of the mission in Ireland. There is wondrous power and mighty energy hidden in that little word, try. “Try me," says God, “ and prove me." (Mal. iii. 10; Isa. i. 16-19; Hosea x. 12; Joel ii. 28; Acts ii.) Let us depend upon the promises of our God. Let us arite by solemn prayers to God; by close self-examination to find if we are "justified" and " sanctified.” Have we, as professing Christians, the “ witness of God's Spirit ?" Are we walking before the world in "all holiness and righteousness of life?" Are we“ burning and shining lights” for Christ in the midst of the gloom of hellish night that surrounds us? Are we“ living epistles, known and read of all men?" Filled with love, knowledge, faith, zeal? Can we with satisfaction answer the above queries ? If not, we at once decide we need a revival. If we find, upon impartial in. quiry, that we have “ the life of God within us," we are then “fit instruments for the Holy Ghost to honour" and use to his own glory. The vessels must be clean that carry the Gospel to a perishing world! Let us cry with the prophet, “Awake! put on thy strength, O Zion! Arm of the Lord, awake as in the ancient days, as in the generations of old." (Isa. li. 9, 17.) “Awake! awake! put on thy strength, 0 Zion ! put on thy beautiful garments, 0 Jerusalem, the Holy City." (Isa. lii. 1.)

The Church languisheth and who is to blame? “Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened ?" asks the prophet Micah (ii. 7). Does the fault attach to God? Every person acquainted with the Divine government, with God's character and purposes in redemption, must reply, No. ( Ye are straitened in your own bowels," says St. Paul (2 Cor. vi. 12). The blame, then, falls upon ourselves. We have “limited the Holy One of Israel." We have acted much like the Papists. The church, the minister, the nice little well-arranged sermon, the prayer including subject and Sovereign, the filling-up

« AnteriorContinuar »