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To the Members of the Methodist Episcopal
DEARLY BELOVED BRETHREN: It is our privilege and duty to recommend most earnestly this volume to you, which contains the DOCTRINES and DisCIPLINE of our Church, which we believe are agreeable to the Word of God, which is the only and the sufficient rule of faith and practice. Yet the Church, in the liberty given to it by the Lord, and taught by the experience of many years, and by the study of ancient and modern Churches, has from time to time modified its Discipline in order to secure the end for which it was founded.
We believe that God's design in raising up the Methodist Episcopal Church in America was to aid largely in evangelizing the continent' and “to spread scriptural holiness over these lands.” As a
proof we have seen since that time an extraordinary work of God extending throughout all the United States and Territories and throughout the British possessions in North America, and the planting of successful Missions in South America and Mexico. The Methodist Episcopal Church, in its organic form and in spiritual power, has been successfully planted also in Africa, Asia, and Europe, where God has given it great prosperity.
During the period in which this work has been extending, the Church has revised and enlarged its legislation to meet the demands created by its own success, as well as by the conditions of the different peoples among whom it strives to build up the kingdom of God. The Book of Discipline, at first small and simple, has thus gradually become larger, more varied in its topics, and more important by the activities which it has inspired and regulated. Its provisions for our expanding educational, missionary, and publishing work are illustrations of this statement. The peculiar Constitution and Administrative
Rules of our Church, to which its success is largely due, deserve careful study. The Itinerant Ministry, the Sub-pastorate through Classes, the Episcopacy, the District Superintendency, the Conferences in their gradation, the Local Ministry, the Judicial Administration, the Interdependence of the Ministry and the Laity, with the welldefined duties and rights of each, are severally parts of a system which can be truly valued, profitably used, or wisely modified only by those who through loving and faithful study have become familiar with it.
Therefore we earnestly wish that this volume may be found in the home of every member of the Methodist Episcopal Church; and the more so because it contains the Doctrines maintained, in part or in whole, by every evangelical Church.
The Order of Worship herein set forth we commend to your scrupulous observance. In substance, it has been received from our Fathers, has been approved by judgment and enjoined by the authority of the Church. If uniformly observed,
it will continue to be both a token and bond of
unity throughout our widespread communion.
We remain your very affectionate Brethren and Pastors :