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sprang from the highest wisdom. Complexity is a sign of expediency; simplicity, of the operation of unembarrassed truth, under the guiding hand of God. One mind, indeed, existed, admirably formed to be the instrument of all this; that mind possessed extraordinary clearness, depth, compass, submissive docility in the things of God, singleness of purpose, unbending firmness, and wisdom at once penetrating and practical, and, withal, untiring zeal, as if a perpetual spring-tide of youth and strength were granted for the purposes of his employment. God works by the human mind as his chief instrument ; and when we see men arise to perform extraordinary services in his church, it would be impious not to acknowledge his guiding wisdom and providential care.

Then, when we examine this church-system, from any point, we may learn our own duties and obligations. Do we refer to its origin? We perceive it to arise from the belief of the truth in the living mind, and thus to spring from the Bible itself. Do we examine the mode of its advancement ? We find the seed sown in the most unpropitious soil, in the midst of sin, ignorance, and barbarity; small in the “blade,"—weak, delicate, and tender,—and yet it grows till a great tree spreads forth its foliage, and gives its shelter and fruit to myriads. Do we look at the agents employed, and the field of their labours? We witness two things, -extraordinary suffering, and forbidding sterility. Yet they labour on, unwearied and undismayed,—“cast down, but not destroyed,till, by repeated strokes, the rock is rent, and the scattered stones form a beautiful temple to the Lord. Do we watch the movement of the "pillar of fire and of cloud,in this march through the wilderness ? We behold it stop to point out the places where water may be found in the arid desert; where a safe encampment may

be adventured

upon ;

and where and when the next movement may be securely undertaken. No: this system bears too many marks of the divine blessing,—it is too vital and full of life,—it has secured to us too many privileges,—it has given nutriment to too many souls,—it has created too wide a field for the Gospel message, and it is endeared to us by too many holy associations, to be abandoned by the present generation of its disciples.

3. In all preceding time our ancestors held themselves at liberty to promote the largest and highest developements of the principles and

power of the kingdom of God: “Let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing."

This is one of the fundamental laws of our system. Our fathers considered it a duty to follow the leadings of divine Providence, in the extension of the work of God. They never bound themselves to one specific mode of doing good and saving souls, or of preaching the Gospel and extending the Redeemer's kingdom, as the divine right of Methodism. A distinction has ever been preserved between things essential, scriptural, and divine, and those which are non-essential,


unsettled, and left very much to the judgment of the living church. The fundamental portions of Christianity they held to be its unalterable and immutable truths ; but to limit the promulgation of these truths to one class of men, and bind even them to a strict canonical code, beyond which they should not be at liberty to sow the seed of life, they esteemed not merely as non-essential, but pernicious; inasmuch as it restricts the church's freedom, prevents the progress of the kingdom of Christ, and interferes with the free action -on merely human authority-of good men in seeking the salvation of their fellow-sinners. It is clear that the New Testament does not enforce

any ecclesiastical code. We have no pattern of the Christian church given in Mount Zion, as was given to Moses in Horeb; no dimensions, furniture, utensils, priestly robes, specific manner of service, as was the case in the Jewish temple. The simple reason is, Christianity is designed to be universal, to embrace the whole family of man, and to give its light, grace, holiness, and blessings to all the world. How, then, can this system minister its mercy in the same modes ? The New Testament furnishes us with great PRINCIPLES, GENERAL RULES, PRECEDENTS, and EXAMPLES, for our guidance ; and then affords freedom as to the circumstantials of time, manner, and the employment of means, for the introduction of the Gospel into uncultivated regions, and the external growth of its truth and grace. Human restrictions have, in all ages, been as a drag-chain on the movements of Christianity itself. The church has never been able to fulfil her commission, because she has placed herself under the cumbersome load of these narrow and restrictive rules.

It is not only her privilege, but her duty, to liberate herself from these chains; that, with mind and heart unfettered and free, she may be in a position to execute the Lord's commission. This freedom has been retained hitherto in our body, and at present it is, if possible, more essential

than ever.

It only requires a very cursory knowledge of the word of God, and of the true nature of the kingdom of our Lord, to perceive, that though no new truth can be expected in Christianity, yet new developements of both truth and grace may be anticipated, on a much larger, deeper, and broader scale than is at present witnessed. How shall the prophecies be fulfilled, Christianity become universal, the world be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God, and the long-predicted period of Messiah's triumph over the false systems now so predominant, be accomplished, except by an enlargement of the basis of the church's operations ? Most assuredly, few things are less like each other, than the picture given us of religion in the

latter-day glory,and its present narrow, sectarian, pugnacious character; and if in this, as in the ordinary affairs of the world,

the foundation is to sustain the splendid building exhibited to view, it is certain that it must be adjusted anew, and the church built not upon the theories of parties, as on Episcopacy, or any other form ; it must be left to repose on its divine foundation,—the counsels of God, the atonement of Christ, and the universal covenant of grace. Then, again, this fundamental truth being preserved in its just and unalterable immutability, the salvation of men may be sought without the labours of Ministers being fettered by technical rules, or party distinctions.

That this principle has ever been regarded in our own body, may be easily illustrated. The provision made by Mr. Wesley to meet the wants of Scotland, already referred to, may be adduced. It was found that the usual mode of doing good in England did not suit the state of things in that country; and, in consequence of this absence of adaptation, the work of God did not prosper as in other places. Did the Founder of our societies determine, doggedly and pertinaciously, to adhere to on mode of operation ? Instead of this, he deviated entirely from his accustomed practice, ordained Ministers for that portion of the Gospel-field, and sanctioned church principles which, to say the least, were very different from those he adopted in this part of the nation. In the American case, we have another illustration of the point on which we are dwelling. When the United States had effected their emancipation from the mother-country, Mr. Wesley considered himself at liberty to act with perfect freedom in the new territory, and, we may say, to develope his views and opinions fully; and, if we mistake not, it is to the American Methodist Episcopal Church that we are to look for the real mind and sentiments of this great man. Obstructions removed, he instantly seized the opportunity of appointing an entire church-system, on the principle of moderate Episcopacy. And if we may judge of the wisdom and piety of the design by its usefulness and success, certainly we shall be prepared to consider it most providential. No church in modern times has made any thing like the progress which is seen in this branch of our community. But the question was introduced not so much to state the amount of success which followed the establishment of this scheme, as to point out the principle of adaptation observable in its adoption. We see,

in this case, that when it was discovered to be essential to the well-being and growth of a particular section of the body, that a somewhat different form of discipline and order should be established from that which existed at home, the change was at once effected.

The determination of the Conference to allow the administration of the sacraments, and the rules made on that subject, are a further illustration of the same principle. The history of this is well known, The societies found themselves in an altered position after Mr. Wesley's death. The ordinances were earnestly desired, and it was deter

mined to allow of their administration under certain regulations. Many parties imagined that this and other litigated points must break up the whole body. But no sane man, unless biassed by party feeling, would say that the non-ordinance system then prevailing must, as an essential and necessary thing, prevail for ever. Hence the alteration was made, the remedy applied ; and, instead of the Connexion being broken up and scattered, the sacraments became a bond of union, and the means of life.

The formation of the Missionary Society is another case in point. When the world opened scenes of increased usefulness, and God indicated his will that we should enter these open doors, it was not considered necessary that the old system of evangelical enterprise should be adhered to. Hence a new spring was added to the machine ; a society was formed, not independent of the church, not with an action and movement of its own; but as the channel of the church's bounty and zeal, in the conversion of the world.

By these several examples we see that Methodism has always held itself free to follow the commands of the Head of the church, and to act on the largest teachings of the truth. We are not at liberty to compromise any portion of the Gospel ; but we are not limited in the mode of making it known. The atonement, for instance, as a truth, is unalterably and eternally fixed : and this not only as a fact in the annals of the universe, but in its relations to justification, holiness, and all the blessings of religion. No church is at liberty to tamper with this great verity. But this is not the question. It is, Whether this doctrine of the Saviour's death shall only be announced, and its benefits administered, Episcopally, or in some other limited channel. We repudiate this notion, and hold that no such limitations are found in the word of God itself, and that no human authority possesses the right to impose them. And on the much-disputed matter of church principles, we say, that, as found in the New Testament, they are incapable of the restrictions attempted to be imposed. We believe that, had our fathers been called to it, they would have sealed their attachment to the truth of God with their blood. But they distinguished betwixt this truth and the vehicle of its transmission. Let us, then, firmly adhere to the real doctrines and precepts of the Gospel ; but let us, at the same time, cautiously guard against restrictive

We have hitherto held ourselves free to do good on the largest scale ; we know not to what extent it may please God to employ us in the salvation of the world ; and it is obviously our duty to be in readiness to obey his counsels and his calls.

4. Our position amongst the churches has always been held in a catholic spirit, so as to fraternize with them in every thing evangelical. Let us " still “walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing."



The annals of our history cannot furnish an instance in which we have been the aggressors on the much-debated points of ecclesiastical order. Having never bound ourselves down to any merely human scheme, imagining it to be divine, we have been under no temptation to dispute with others on account of their peculiar forms.

We acknowledge a “common salvation,belonging to all true believers in Jesus Christ, whatever may be the external form of church-communion by which they profess and exhibit their faith. The truth of God is one, complete, and perfect in its own beautiful fulness, irrespective of any human modes of symbolizing and setting it forth to mankind. This is catholic, eternal, immutable; which cannot possibly be mutilated, narrowed, minified into the insignificance of sectarianism, whether ancient modern. Where is this truth to be found but in the holy Scriptures? Hence those churches which believe in the inspired word of God, so far as that point is concerned, repose on the largest possible foundation. It follows that their catholicity does not depend on the form they take, but on the doctrines they embrace. It would be just as reasonable for the turbaned nations to affirm, that the proof of manhood lay in flowing robes,—or for the western nations to controvert this by arguing that the evidence rather lay in the close dress of the Europeans, as to attempt to fasten the immutable and ethereal verities of God to any specific forms, or to put them into one uniform costume, and affirm that the dogmas not found in that particular dress had no right to the claim of catholicity. Can any absurdity be greater than this? Yet such is the pretence of Popery and its mimic followers. The glorious attributes and grace of God are not, on this assumption, the same, if exhibited in the Bibles or the pulpits of real Protestants, as they would be if set forth in the Bibles and services of the holy Catholic Church ! The same objection lies against all the other verities of the Gospel. The Deity of Christ, the atonement, the Mediator's grace, and the influence of the Holy Spirit, when represented beyond the Tweed, or taught by Dr. Chalmers, are not the same as when found on this side of the Tweed, and taught in the “holy Catholic Church" established on the south side of the border ! In one of these cases the doctrine taught is heretical, or, if not in itself, it is made so by passing through the lips of a certain class of men, and loses its effect; in the other, it is perfectly orthodox, be its substance what it may, and is consequently effective and saving. This mere modus, as far as are able to understand the matter, is considered to constitute the essential attributes of catholicity; for it will not be denied that most of the Protestant bodies as truly hold all the Articles of Faith contained in the Creeds of the Church of England, as the most zealous disciples of that form of Christianity. Will it then be said, that the



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