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become the ground-plan of their labours and exertions, on the scale of the truth itself. In virtue of this, the church-principles which they were divinely taught to adopt, were made the rule of preaching, as extensively as the population of the world. Christianity was not with them the symbol of a party, and the watch-word of a sect. It was a great, a grand, a sublime truth, applicable to all times, to all places, and to all men. It spurned the limitations of the Jewish dispensation ; it broke down "the middle wall of partitionbetween them and the Gentiles ; it shone forth as the sun, alike “ the evil and on the good ;' and enthroned the Messiah as the anointed and the universal King.









The true question for consideration is, whether we are Missionary in spirit and in practice. We unhesitatingly say, that we are so in an eminent degree; that, in fact, if we have any marked and striking peculiarity, it is this; and if, above all things, we may glory in—or rather magnifythe grace

of God manifested to us, it must be on this ground in particular. From the beginning, our community has been led into this branch of usefulness, from a deep conviction that good men were bound to care for the conversion of the ungodly. This has ever been the ardent and common feeling of all. The enlarged state of the work, no doubt, originated in the impression of the first converts, that it was their duty to seek the salvation of all the lost sons of Adam.

Every society became a nucleus of religious light and power in its own immediate locality; whilst the more active heralds of the cross flew, as on the wings of the morning, to proclaim the Saviour's love to the largest possible extent. These societies were germinant. Working from their feeble centre, they gained new converts imbued with their own feelings ; and the accessions they gained increased their strength. We find the spirit and principle of the enlarged operation in the very beginning, and in the universally-recognised doctrines and rules of the entire body. The Missionary enterprise, and the duties it involves, are not, with us, of the nature of a new appendage,—a young scion engrafted on an old stock; but the root and primary principle of the church-state itself. It is instructive to trace the operation of this well-understood and universally-admitted obligation among the infant societies at home. Those united bodies considered themselves a sort of Missionary church to the several neighbourhoods around them. By preaching, exhortation, reading sermons, the institution of prayer-meetings, and personal visitations to the habitations of those to


whom they could gain access, they sought to introduce the spirit of fervent piety, to seek the most degraded, to bring them to Christ, and lead them to a present salvation. Their means were limited, their station low, their abilities often humble and unpretending; but the issue shows that piety is power, and united exertions, on a systematic plan, will in the end bring about great results.

These societies were, in the beginning, isolated bodies, often at a great distance from each other, and held no intercourse except through the visits of the Messrs. Wesley, and experimental letters which, in those times, were constantly sent in interchange from one place to another. But then the principle of oneness was acknowledged. They were UNITED SOCIETIES, stimulated by one spirit, and aiming at one object. In proportion as the work advanced, the chasms between the different parts of the community were filled up, and the distance lessened, till they came to meet as one widely-extended whole. And, moreover, that spirit of enterprise which grew up with the little and feeble societies, is now seen to imbue one great system ; just as the streams from the mountain-side fall into the ocean, and become a part of its mighty waters. Hence the evangelical feelings and aggressive action of the body, as displayed at present on the distant fields of the world, are the concentration of the separate waters of the diminutive fountains which flowed from the local societies, to irrigate this country in the first instance, but are now so deep as to send their streams into many of the pagan nations. The faith on which the Missionary enterprise rests; the love of God and man which is its stimulus; and the habit of sacrifice, zeal, and pecuniary assistance which it calls forth; grew up with the religious state of the people from the beginning. There was no need, when the time for the enlarged movement came, to look abroad for precedents, encouragement, motives, and light to guide them, as in a dark, doubtful, and untrodden path. They possessed all this amongst themselves. It constituted an element of their piety ; it belonged to their creed ; it entered into their sentiments; it was the subject of their daily prayers ; it was one mode of the expression of their Christian love ; it formed a part of all their notions of the church-state, and the obligations which it involves.

That the evangelizing spirit and character of our church is no accident, but indigenous, of home-growth, and properly the system of Methodism itself, must now be shown.

1. Our theology embodies the principle, that Christianity is a universal remedy for the sin and guilt of the world.

The visible state and movements of a community, both as regards its individual members and its corporate character, must depend on its doctrines, unless they merely exist as a dead letter. But the fact is, doctrine never does so exist. If the truth is held by a church, and exhibited in her creeds, and yet is not taught and made the groundwork of the living spirit, experience, and habits of the people, the doctrine which supersedes it must influence those who fall under its power.

The sentiments which form the character of, and, indeed, govern, mankind, are not innate, but objective. Truth is of this nature ; and one of the offices of faith is to transfer it to the mind, so as to cause to become the of action, and ead to habits of religion.

The peculiar characteristics of our system, in the point under consideration, are therefore to be traced to the teaching we have enjoyed from the beginning. The doctrine of God's universal grace, and its affiliated truths, were not exhibited on the battle-field of opposing parties, so long and so strenuously, as a matter of curious speculation, but as lying at the very foundation of that great evangelical movement which was then in its commencement. It must be evident, that the doctrines of universal redemption are, to say the least, more calculated to inspire a spirit of enterprise, and lead to exertions to extend the Gospel on a large scale, than the opposite tenets. We grant, indeed, that this effusion of charitable zeal does not necessarily flow from an adherence to this system of doctrine, or that the more restricted notions entertained by others necessarily lead to a limited and narrow scale of evangelical labour. We speak now of the tendency of a form of truth ; and think that those views which embrace the universality of the provisions of the Gospel are more calculated to excite to evangelical exertions, on an extended platform, than those which limit the counsels of God.

With this remark, on the question of tendencies, it is proper to add, that, in point of fact, many of those who have held the highest doctrinal sentiments respecting the extent of the love and designs of God, in the mission and death of Christ, have practically worked much within the bounds of their own theoretic circumference; whilst, on the other hand, many of those who hold particular redemption, with its collateral doctrines, go infinitely beyond their creed in pious efforts to save a lost and ruined race. In the one case, we have religious feeling and zeal operating above and beyond the theoretic line marked out; and in the other, we have these qualities shrinking much within the limits of an admitted rule of truth and duty. But though this may be the fact as regards parties exposed to all the deteriorating influences of human infirmity, it must be obvious that the admitted principle, that an atonement was made for all men, and therefore that all men may come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved, is much more likely to lead to large and unembarrassed labours to bring them to Christ, than the old, stern doctrine, that, by an irresistible decree, these benefits were only designed for a few.

It must, however, be granted, that, by almost all parties holding the doctrine of general redemption, from the time of Arminius—who is perfectly evangelical himself—to the rise of Methodism, notions were usually associated with the subject which tended to neutralize the effect of that truth as an instrument of evangelical exertion. We instance in one point only,—the opinions entertained on the sufficiency of what is technically called natural religion. On the ground of this imagined sufficiency, heathen virtue, if sincerely cultivated, was often represented as being as good and acceptable before God as Christian faith. On this principle general redemption was not considered as a provision for universal faith, grace, conversion, and holiness,

- in a word, of a universal Christianity ; but a sort of medium through which every thing else might be equally pleasing to God. The Christian sacrifice, and the Mediator's throne, on this theory, were supposed to gain access to God for the worship of Pagans, Jews, Mahommedans, and Papist idolaters, equally and in common with the humble believers in these great verities.

In consequence of these loose and erroneous notions, generally held in connexion with this important doctrine, it failed to produce any such result as we now contemplate, till it was adopted by Mr. Wesley, and made the foundation of his system of evangelical toil. Hence its usefulness, in connexion with efforts to enlarge the kingdom of God, must depend on the manner in which it is held, and the other truths which, as satellites, revolve around it.

We believe that, in this, as in many other matters, Methodism has wrought a most beneficial change even in our systems of theology. For a long course of time it was thought by controversialists, that the doctrine of universal redemption could not be held consistently with a thorough and perfectly evangelical creed; that, for instance, the entire fall and depravity of man, salvation by grace, justification by faith only, the sanctification of the soul through the Spirit, and this doctrine, could not exist in harmony with each other. This opinion has been shown to be ill-founded : it is now seen that these truths can coexist; that a purely evangelical system, founded on this theory, is in perfect unity with itself, and in agreement with holy Scripture; and that a church, in its services, communion, polity, and entire plan and scheme of evangelical operations, can be made safely and permanently to rest on this great principle, this fundamental truth.

On the other hand, we perceive, in modern times, a very great revolution in the Calvinistic theology. The universality of the atonement is generally admitted ; and, as the admission of one truth must necessarily draw others after it, it is held to be the duty of Ministers to make a general offer of salvation to their flocks, together with the obligation of churches to seek the conversion of all mankind. This is very important; and, no doubt, stands intimately connected with the highly praiseworthy exertions we now witness amongst different bodies of Christians holding these opinions. From all this it is evident, that the theological systems of Christian bodies must be taken as the inspiring cause, the living spirit, and the impelling power of their evangelical labours,—in conjunction, of course, with a true faith on the part of the people, and the effusions of the Holy Ghost. By this rule, it is easy to trace the spring of the Missionary feeling, which we behold in our own church-system, to our theology. In addition to the one leading doctrine already mentioned, it will illustrate this, if we point out two or three particulars in connexion with our entire creed.

(1.) One of these particulars is, that our doctrinal system assumes, as a leading principle, that Christianity is not of the nature of an abstraction, made known for the mental amusement and pleasure of mankind, but that it is given for USE.

This, if we mistake not, will furnish a key to all the writings of Mr. Wesley; and especially to the standards which he prepared for the instruction and guidance of his people. In his hand every truth is practical ; it has a direct bearing on the state of mankind; it is connected with some privilege or duty; and its use is plainly pointed out. We have no curious speculations on the divine essence, counsels, providence ; but a clear, full, and intelligible exhibition of all that is revealed of the Godhead, but especially in relation to the salvation of man.

His great love, the freeness of his grace, his readiness to forgive, the manner in which he makes himself known to the believing heart, his indwelling life and power, and the liberty of access he grants in prayer and communion, are all points which are dwelt upon in the fullest and plainest manner. The imagination is not taught to revel in ecstasies, amid the glories of a fancied deity; but the whole heart is led to bow in humble adoration at the footstool of the divine Majesty, to learn his will, to feel his power, to taste his love. The same is the case with the doctrine of atonement, of the Holy Spirit's influence, and of all the promises and duties of the Christian covenant; the use of these great provisions of Christianity is constantly pointed out. But it is to that branch of theology which is connected with the personal enjoyments, hopes, and duties of the people of God, that we are to look for the most perfect exhibition of this principle. Every privilege is constituted the element, the power, the motive of active pietythe inspiring spirit of the religious life. The foundation of all useful or good works is laid in the blessings of the grace of God; but then this grace can never exist in the heart without bringing every faculty, gift, distinction, and opportunity under requisition to the glory of God. Never did a system of teaching more lucidly, powerfully, and with more uncompromising fidelity, enforce the practical duties of religion, than that of our venerable Founder. He insisted on faith ; but it was

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