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thought upon his name.” And to meetings of this kind, we conceive the Apostle Paul alludes, where he advises the Colossians thus : “ Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wife dom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” And where this company is thought too large to speak their minds freely, many meet also once a week in smaller companies called Bands, consisting of four or five persons, men with men, and women with women. Nothing can be more simple than these meetings. And we think the Apostle James's words arę best understood, by supposing something of this kind, — "Con. fess your faults one to another, and pray one for another that ye may be healed.” But let it be well observed, there is noihing in these assemblies like the confession of sin to a priest, in order to obtain absolution from him; but the speaking freely of their Itate of mind to one another, that they may know how to rejoice with those that rejoice, and to weep with those that weep, which they could not do without some acquaintance with each others condition. .

2. “ In large places the minister meets the Society all together, on Sunday evenings after public service, and gives general or particular directions, according to the account he has received ihrough the preceding week; he then also mentions any business that is to be done, respecting either the spiritual or temporal con. cerns of the Society ; relates any remarkable accounts he may have heard of the prosperity of the work of God in other places, and concludes with prayer. These meetings, when judiciously managed are of admirable use. The people are frequently much refreihed therein, and their union greatly strengthened.

3. “To prevent our being imposed upon by bad people, the su. perintendent minister, or another by his direction, meets every Class {eparately, once a quarter, and speaks personally 10 each member. Those that have walked agreeable to the gospel the past quarter receive tickeis with a portion of Scripture printed on them, also the Month and Ycar, and a letter of the Alphabet, which being the same in all places, an impostor can generally be detečted. And we conceive that something of this nature was used in the primitive Church, especially when any of them went, to strange places. ("These Tefferæ, as the ancients called them, being of just the same force with the commendatory letters mentioned by the Apostle.) These are likewise of use in other refpets. By shewing these to the persons appointed to regulate the Society, whenever it meets apart, it is easily known who are meinbers. These also furnith us with an easy method of re, moving any disorderly member. He has no new ticket at the quarterly visitation, and hereby it is known, that he is no longer of our community,”

4. “There are two other kinds of meetings which wę observe, and which were both of ancient usage. These are Love-Feasts * Vide Plin. Ep. ad Traj. Lib. X. Ep. 97. Lard. Telt, Heath. ij. 9. p. 40.


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and Watch-Nights. The former is alluded to by St. Jude, ver. 12. where speaking of the evil doers who associated with the Christians, he says, “these are spots in your Feasts of Love."

" And of thele it is generally supposed Peter speaks, 2 Epift. ii. 13. At these, which are kept in large Societies once a quarter, each person takes a bit of plain cake and a little water. We fing a few hymns, two or three of the minifters pray, and if any person has any thing particular to say concerning Christian experience, none are hindered, if they be short, as the whole should conclude in about an hour and an half. But there have no relation at all to the Lord's Supper. The elements of the Lord's Supper are bread and wine, which we receive exactly agreeable to the form in the Common Prayer Book) whereas at the Love-Feasts we use only cake and water. The design being simply to testify our christian love to each other.

“ The Watch-Nights were anciently the vigil kept on the evene. ings preceding the grand festivals. Our custom is, about four times a year in the large places, to meet between eight and nine at night; and after one of the Ministers has preached, several others pray and exhort, giving out at intervals suitable hymns, which the congregation join in singing, concluding at 12 o'clock. Exceeding great are the blessings we find on these occasions. They are times of great folemnity, and often tend, to animate qur devotions, and stir up our minds to a more earnest concern for our eternal welfare.

5. “ For the management of all temporal affairs, there are ner. sons of kpown piety, as well as having skill in accounts, cholen, to whom the care of these things is committed. These Stewards, or (as they were called in the primitive Church) Deacons, receive what money has been collected by the Leaders in their Classes, either for the poor, or for the expences of carrying on the work. They keep exact accounts of all they receive and disa burse, which accounts are audited once a quarter, when there is a meeting of the Ministers of the Circuit with the Stewards from every place, at which meeting every thing relating to temporal concerns is publicly settled. * The Stewards being changed every two years, prevents jealousies and evil-surmisings, and gives every proper person in the Society an opportunity of serving in his turn. Nothing can be more reasonable than this. If being a Steward be an honour, why should not all who are capable, share it? If it be a cross, why should not all take it up?

• 6. “ The last thing I shall mention which relates to our Disci. pline, is the constant change of the Preachers. We read in the Acts of the Apostles, and in many of the Epistles, that the first Preachers went from place to place as the providence of God

* N. B. The other office among us, namely, that of the Trustees, is a legal concern. As Trustees of the Chapel, they have no authority at all to interferę either with the spiritual or temporal concerns of the people. The first belongs to the Preachers and Leaders; The second to the Preachers and Stewards.


opened their way. And many years experience has proved to us the utility of this plan. The three kingdoms are divided into a number of districts : each of these districts is divided into cire cuits : and each circuit has, two, three, or four Preachers, according to its situation and importance. Again, each circuit has a Superintendent, * who has the care of every thing entrusted to him. Not that he is exempted from any part of the work; or has any temporal advantage from his office : much less has he any power to lord it over either his brethren, or over the people; only fome one must keep the various accounts of the circuit, and fee that every thing. be done agreeable to the Rules of the So. ciety and the Minutes of the Conference. Every diftriết has a chairman, to whom either ministers or private members may com. plain, in any case that cannot be redressed in his own circuit. The chairman can then summon the preachers of the district, and their judgment is conclufive till the annual meeting of the Cona ference, (which consists of at least one from every circuit) whose decision is final. At Conference, every Preacher's character is examined, and if any objection be proved against him, he re. ceives suitable punishment, whether it be reproof, the being put from the office of superintendent, (if he have been in it) the being suspended for a time, or entirely excluded. .

" The ministers are then stationed, according to the best judge ment that can be formed, where they are most likely to be useful, no one continuing above two years successively in one circuit, unless God has been pleased to use him as the instrument of a remarkable revival; and even then, no one ever stays above the third year. Thus every thing is carried on with decency and order. The quarterly meetings are subject to district meetings, and these are subject to the Conference, or General Assembly, over which among us, there can be no control, and from whose determinations there is no appeal.”

If we add to these their frequent Prayer-Meetings, in which a select number of the members assemble together for the purpose of mutual edification ; and consider the general uniformity of their conduct, that when visiting one amongst another, their con. versation is chiefly confined to subjects of a religious nature, and that they scarce ever part without singing a hymn or praying, we must admit that they have abundant means afforded them of in-, creasing in the knowledge and love of God, and encouraging each other to persevere in the paths of holiness and virtue.

Archdeacon Paley observes, that the original teachers of the Christian Religion, in consequence of their new profession, en. tered upon a new and singular course of life. “After men be. came Christians, much of their time was spent in prayer and devotion, in religious meetings, in celebrating the eucharift, in con

* While the Rev. John Wesley lived, this Preacher was called the Afitant, on account of affilling him. Now he is dead, that word is no longer lense, seeing that it has no relative to which it can with propriety be referred.


ferences, in exhortations, in preaching, in an affectionate intere course with one another, and correspondence with other So.

cieties." *

How exactly conformable are the habits and practice of the Methodists in our day, to the above account of the circumstances attending the early propagation of Christianity! May the Lord prosper their labours with his blessing; and crown with success the honest endeavours of every faithful disciple of Jesus Chrift! SECT. II. On the Mode of performing Divine Service among

the Methodists. The service commences with singing, in which the greatet part of the congregation joins. The preacher next makes an extemporary prayer, and after a few more verses of an hymn have been sung, the Termon follows, which is likewise delivered extempore. The people now join in another hymn, and the whole is concluded with a prayer and blefsing from the minister. This, though a very plain and simple, is nevertheless a solemn and edi. fying manner of celebrating Divine Worship. There are few devotional exercises which more powerfully raise the soul to God, than the singing of psalms. When the language of an hymn is poetical, fluent, and intelligible, when the sentiments expressed in it are truly pious and scriptural, the music solemn, and the people serious and earnest, I know of no employment better cal. culated to excite awful impressions of the Divinity, and to stir up our minds to a closer communion with God.

The hymns used in the Methodist chapels, appear to me in a peculiar manner to have this effect. They are adapted to all ftates and conditions of the mind, and to all situations in life. The finner is here awakened to a sense of his own corrupt nature; the soul that is panting after God, and seeking redemption through the blood of Christ, is encouraged to supplicate with boldness the throne of grace; and those who have already expe. rienced the pardoning love of God, may feel their devotion strengthened, their confidence renewed, and their hearts re-kindled with holy zeal. The power, wisdom, and goodness of God in the Creation, the love of Christ in the redemption of the world, and the efficacy of the Holy Spirit in cleansing us from all unrighteousness by his fanctifying grace, are here particularly infifted upon. The misery of the wicked, and the happiness of the just, are painted in glowing colours, forcibly calculated to inspire terror in the one, and joy and perseverance in the other. Many of the hymns are fimply expressive of reverence, praise, and gratitude to the Supreme Being. Many are hortatory, and are full of seasonable advice and instruction adapted to all ages, all ranks of men, all denominations of Christians. Some are consolatory, calculated to revive the drooping spirit, to inspire * Vide Paley's Evidences of Christianity, page 38.


holdne to the pardorconfidence

right the efficace the love power

patience and resignation under afflictions, to dispel our fears, and to animate our hopes. In short, the general tendency of these hymns, is to enforce sentiments of piety to God, love to our fela low creatures, and a due resignation of our own thoughts and disa pofitions.

And if we add, that the Singing is usually conducted with fo. lemnity and order, and accompanied with an appearance at least of respectful devotion, we shall not wonder that this form of worship constitutes fo considerable a part of the service.

I pals on to consider the subject of prayer. Prayer is the life and soul of religion. It opens a door of communication betwixt God and man, and is the means we are required to make ufe of to obtain any promised blessing. It is a duty which we, as Chrif. tians, are peculiarly bound to perform. God has commanded it; Christ has given us an example of it in his own person, by pray. ing himself to his father ; and we are not only enjoined, but even invited and encouraged to present ourselves as suppliants at the throne of grace. What a privilege is this ? What an unspeakable honour, that man is permitted to address his Maker, with full assurance that his prayers shall be heard and his requests granted? How ought he to love and praise God for such condescension, and how earnestly solicitous should he be to perform this duty, in the most acceptable manner ?

Now one of the chief purposes of prayer is edification, “ Let all things be done to edifying," saith the Apostle, i Cor. xiv. 26. And surely this advice can never be more applicable than when we are addressing the Majesty of Heaven. How can we expect our petitions will be heard, or our praises accepted, if we ap. proach God with our lips at a time when our hearts are estranged from him ? Is it not a species of mockery to beg of the Lord to pardon our sins, and give us grace to amend them, when at the fame instant we neither feel remorse for the one, nor fee any ne. cessity for the other ? And how inconsistently does that man act, who, while on his knees at church, can pray for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and in a few minutes after positively deny that there is any such thing as inspiration in these days ? Is it to be wondered at, that such a one should live and dię a stranger to its influences ? In short, if we reflect that God is a Spirit, and that He is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth, we cannot ex. pect to render Him an acceptable service, unless our whole affections be centred in him alone, and our souls animated with a · sense of his perfections.

“ Prayer, (as an excellent writer expresses it, * ) is the.cona tinual panting or breathing of the heart after God; it stays for no particular hours; its petitions are not picked out of mánuals of devotion; it loves its own language; it speaks most when it says leaft."

* Dr. WATTS.

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