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NOTES ON WESLEYAN-METHODISM.

171

III. TIE ECCLESIASTICAL COCRTS OF WESLEYAN

METHODISN.

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hiin by the sight of his preciousness. Have piety; his knowledge and belief of Wesleyan you thus followed him, prized him--as a drown- doctrine; his acquaintance with, and attaching sinner cleaved to him! Then he will in no

ment to, Wesleyan discipline; his health; and wise cast you out—in no wise, not for all you brances. The general rule, from which, but

his freedom from debt, and secular incumhave done against him. “But I spent my best very rare, exceptions have been permitted, is days in sin"-Still I will in no wise cast you that only unmarried men are received. If the out. “I lived in open sin”-I will in no wise candidate's answers prove satisfactory, the cast you out. “ But I have sinned against light minutes of the meeting (in which these and conviction”-Still I will in no wise cast answers are recorded) are transmitted to the you out. “But I am a backslider”_Still the

next Conference; and, the case having been arms of his love are open to infold your poor finally determined whether he shall be taken

again investigated by the Conference, it is guilty soul, and he will not cast you out. on trial.” Of those who are accepted, as many

as are required to fill existing vacancies are

immediately appointed to circuits; the remainNOTES ON WESLEYAN-METHODISM.

der are admitted into the “ Theological InstiBY DR JOHN B. BENNETT, LONDON.

tution," or placed on the “ list of reserve,” from which the president is authorized to supply any vacancies that may occur during the year.

The term of probation is four years, during

which the probationer is placed under the The frame-work of Wesleyan-Methodism, re. superintendence of senior ministers, whose espegarded as an ecclesiastical organization, may cial duty it is to watch over his religious, inhere be best exhibited by a rapid survey of the tellectual, and ministerial improvement; and at nature, constitution, and powers of its Courts, each annual district meeting his progress is and the objects and operations of its principal inquired into. At the termination of the four INSTITUTIONS.

years, if recommended by his district meeting, According to the “ Deed of Declaration ” of he undergoes his final trials, preparatory to his 1784 (already referred to), the CONFERENCE is admission into “ full connexion.” The candii established as the Supremne Ecclesiastical Court. dates are examined privately by the president || As this body is composed exclusively of mini- and a few of the senior ministers. If approved sters, this may be the most appropriate place, in of by them, they are introduced to the Conferthese papers, for a sketch of the mode of in- ence, in whose presence they are subjected to troduction into the Wesleyan ministry. another, and usually a lengthened examination.

The recommendation of a candidate must Should the result be satisfactory, they are subalways originate with the chief minister (or sequently brought before the whole congregasuperintendent”) of the circuit in which the tion (which on such an occasion generally overindividual resides. It is his duty, in the first flows the largest chapel in which the service instance, to satisfy himself of the young man's can be held), and after an introductory state. eligibility, by private conversations with him, ment by the president, as many of them as by repeatedly hearing him preach, and by con- time will admit, are called on to declare pub. sultation with those inost competent to aid him licly their conversion, their present religious in forming a right judgment. The next step experience, their conviction of being moved by is the nomination of the candidate at the the Holy Ghost to undertake the work of the " Quarterly Meeting,” which includes the princi ministry, and their purposes of future devotedTal office-bearers and other leading laymen of ness to God. In a separate service afterwards, the circuit. The questions on which the mem- they are ordained to the sacred office, by the bers of this meeting are called to give their solemn imposition of the hands of the president, judgment, are three : 1. “llas the candidate the ex-president, and the secretary of the Congrace?" that is, is there every reason to believe ference, and some of the senior ministers nomithat he is truly converted to God? 2. “ Has nated by the president. The ordination service he gifts?" and, 3. “ Has God given him fruit of his labours ?” If they, by a majority, decide * The right of the Christian people to choose their own in the negative, the noinination is set aside, at ministers, or, at least, to have an absolute veto on their least for that year.* If, on the contrary, their practically recognised in the only way which the peculiari. judgment be in favour of the candidate, his

tes arising out of the itinerant system would permit. No

mar can possibly be introduced into the ministry until the case is brought before the annual “district voice of that portion of the people to whom he is known meeting,” composed of the ministers of the best-probably the only portion to whom he is known at all

-has been distinctly given in his favour. Moreover, when several circuits, comprehended within the desires are expressed by Quarterly Meetings as to particular bounds of the district, and avalogous to the appointments, the stationing committee and the Conferente

treat them with the utmost consideration; and, at allerents, Scottish presbyteries, as the Conference re

the appointment is not to the perpetunil anid sole care of a sembles the General Assembly. llere he is ex- fuck, but for a single year at once, and, at the longest, for amined by the chairman, respecting his personal more other ministers.

three years, and to a joint pastorate, shared with one or

employed is that of the Church of England, stry, probationers, and candidates for admission with such alterations as adapt it to the use of on trial. The “ death roll” is examined, and the Wesleyan Church. A charge to the newly. the district reports respecting ministers who ordained ministers is then delivered by the have died during the year are considered. The out-going president; and the administration of ministers are, one by one, without respect of the Lord's supper to the assembled ministers persons, subjected to a disciplinary inquiry. at large concludes the services.

When there are objections, the cases are reThere is nothing in the “Deed” to prevent ferred to by special committees, who subsethe election of any minister who has been a quently report to Conference. Reproof and year or upwards " in full connexion,” to be admonition; temporary suspension from office, one of the IIundred constituting the legal Con- with a view to ultimate recovery; and total ference; but the commonest dictates of pru. and fiual expulsion, are the several exercises dence would obviously limit the choice to men of discipline, according to the gravity of the of mature years and judgment. The mode of offence. The stationing of the ministers for election now in operation, the adoption of which the ensuing year is then proceeded with; and was arranged in 1814, is as follows: Three out now that the circuits are so numerous, and of every four vacancies are filled up on the the connexional, local, and personal interests ground of seniority; but in every fourth case, which claim more or less consideration are so the ministers who have travelled fourteen years extensive and diversified, this department of or upwards, nominate by ballot one of their the business would occupy no small portion of number (he must have travelled at least four the allotted time of the Conference, but that the teen years), and the Hundred are requested to principal part of it is previously transacted by elect the person so nominated as a member of the "stationing committee.” This committee ! the legal Conference. Ten of the Hundred are (which is constituted of a representative from chosen by the Irish Conference from its own each district, chosen by ballot, the president members. The president and secretary of the and secretary of the preceding Conference, one Conference are elected in a manner similar to of the missionary secretaries, and one of the that just described. The secretary may be officers of the Theological Institution) meets re-elected to his office for several successive sufficiently early to have a plan prepared, which years, as the present secretary, Dr Newton, has the Conference, having made any alterations actually been; but, by a regulation, made in that seem expedient, adopts and confirms. The 1792, and strictly observed since, an interval of stations having been fixed, the chairmeu of eight years must elapse before the same person districts are chosen by ballot. The number of can again occupy the presidential chair. When members in the various parts of the Connexion the Conference is assembled, the constant pre- is ascertained; the reports of the several consence of forty of its legal members is necessary nexional committees are received and considerto render its acts valid; but it should be under ed; motions, of which previous notice had been stood, that the legal Hundred cordially admit given, are discussed; the pastoral addresses all the ministers (in full.connexion) to equal of the Conference to the Societies, and the votes with themselves on every question that answer to the annual address from the Irish comes before them, subject only to limitation Conference, are read; miscellaneous orders are in the cases of the elections just referred to attended to; arrangements are made respecto and the final confirmation of the journal of ing the next Conference; and, finally, the proceedings. The duration of the yearly assem- "minutes" of the proceedings having been bly of the Conference is fixed; it must not be read and confirmed, the annual session is conless than fire, nor more than twenty-one days. cluded as it commenced (and as all the interIn the present extended and extending state of mediate sittings were begun and ended)--with the connexional concerns, it would not be solemn prayer. possible to transact all the business within this The District MEETING is the second of the period, were it not for the aid afforded by Wesleyan Ecclesiastical Courts. It was instivarious committees which meet previously, and tuted inmediately after Mr Wesley's deatii, enter into details, and originate propositions, not so much for the regular transaction of which greatly facilitate future progress. specified business, as to provide against emer

The proceedings of the assembled Conference gencies which might unexpectedly arise bemay be thus generally described : After devo- tween one Conference and another, and which, tional exercises-the supply of the vacancies had Mr Wesley continued alive, would have in the Hundred--the election of president and been submitted to him. Now, however, it has secretary, and some subordinate officers—the regular and important functions, in several introduction of the representatives annually respects similar, although subordinate, to those sent by the Irish Conference--and the appoint of the Conference. The Conference possesses ment of various committees-attention is direct both legislative and executive authority; the ed to the individual cases of the preachers district meeting is executive only, governed by recommended by their respective district meet- the laws of the Conference, and subject to a ings for admission to the full work of the mini- revision or reversal of its decisions by that

NOTES ON WESLEYAN-METIIODISM.

173

court. Its power is also limited to the affairs society stewards--to consider claims on the of the circuits within its own bounds. There contingent fund, preparatory to their being is, moreover, this difference in its constitution: laid before the district committee--and prolaymen, although they form a most important posals respecting the building and enlargement and esteemed part of the connexional commit of chapels, in order to their being subunitted to tees, yet cannot, according to Wesleyan-Metho- the chapel building committee, and contemdist law, have seats in this Conference; but the plated divisions of circuits, and (as before stewards of the respective circuits, and the stated) the fitness of candidates nominated for treasurers of certain funds, are ex-officio mem- the ministry. The September quarterly meetbers of the district comınittee during the trans- | ing has power to suspend, for that year, as action of its financial business, though not at respects its own circuit, the operation of any its other sittings.

new general rule made by the preceding ConOf the district meetings as now recognised, ference. The March quarterly meeting has two are regular, and three occasional. About the right to fix upon the ministers whom they two months before Conference in each year, desire for the ensuing year, and to request the the regular annual district ineeting is held, and, Conference to appoint them. generally speaking, all the matters relating to The LEADERS' Meeting is constituted of the the district into which the Conference will leaders of the several “ classes ” in a society. inquire are considered and arranged. In the It meets weekly. The local powers of leaders' month of September, the financial district meet meetings are considerable. They are thus ing is regularly held. This, as its little imports, summed up by the Rev. Edmund Grindrod, in has chiefly to do with the finances of the several his well-digested “Compendium of the Laws circuits--ascertaining what the pecuniary de- and Regulations of Wesleyan-Methodism:"i mands for the coming year will be, and consulting how they may most effectually be met.

They have now a veto upon the admittance of The occasional and rare meetings are, the members into the society, when appealed to in such

cases by any parties concerned; they possess the " special district meeting,” which may be called

power of a jury in the trial of accused members; for by the resistance of a local (circuit) court without their consent, no leader or steward can be to the constitutional administration of discip- appointed to oflice or removed from it, excepting

line by the pastor, or by the unfaithfulness of a when the crime proved merits exclusion froin memminister who betrays his trust and joins with bership, in which case, the superintendent can at factious men in fomenting discord and disloyalty from the society. Without their consent, in con

once depose the offender from office, and expel him in the societies;--the “ mixed district meeting," junction with the trustees of the chapel to which which may be summoned by the trustees, their meeting is attached, the sacrament of the stewards, and leaders of a society, for the trial Lord's supper cannot be administered (introduced of a preacher whom they accuse of immorality, for the first time) in the said chapel; and the fund doctrinal uusoundness, or want of ability, and for the relief of poor and aflicted members of the in which they may sit and vote, exercising a

society is distributed under their direction and manageco-ordinate right with the ministers to judge of the guilt or innocence of the accused party; The Local PREACHERS' MEETING is held quarand the “minor district meeting," composed of terly. It is composed of men who are during five ministers-two chosen by the accused or the week engaged in secular business, but who, the aggrieved party, and two by the accuser or under the influence of a love for souls, have

the alleged aggressor; these four, with the felt it a duty to warn sinners to flee from the 1 chairman of the district, having authority to wrath to come, and have, after due trials, been try certain cases in which it does not deem placed on the local preachers' plan. It is necessary to assemble the whole district com- impossible to calculate how much Wesleyan. mittee. From the decision of this minor court, Methodism owes to the labours of its local there is an appeal to the regular district meet- preachers. The meeting examines into the ing; but from the decision of all these inferior official conduct of its members, and considers ii jurisdictions there is reserved to all parties the the qualifications of probationers and new can. right of appeal to the supreme court—the didates. Conference.

The TRUSTEES' MEETING consists of persons, The QuarterLY Meeting is a local court, necessarily members of the Wesleyan Church, confined to the bounds of one circuit, but with who have been appointed to hold certain parts in those bounds, highly influential. Its consti- of the connexional property in trust, subject tution has not been very clearly defined by any to the connexional rules and usages. Their official regulation; but it includes, with the meetings are held in accordance with the proministers, at least some of the trustees, stewards, visions of their respective deeds, and its busilocal preachers, and leaders, and other members ness relates altogether to the execution of their of the society, specially appointed to take part different trusts. in its proceedings. It has no judicial power to From this notice of the Church Courts of try or censure any parties. Its ordinary busi- Wesleyan-Methodism, we proceed to take a ness is to audit the accounts of the circuit and brief view of its Connexional Institutions.

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So rapidly the soul

Unbodied takes its flight,
That scarce earth's scenery failed,

When heaven's broke on my sight.

Did not you, mother, see

That bright celestial band That smiled and beckoned me,

And held the inviting hand ? They let me stay a while,

To hear my mother pray, And see her close my eyes,

And kiss the unconscious clay. And then to heaven we flew

The cherubs led the way; But my rapt spirit smiled

As joyously as they.

Father! I never knew

'Twas such a place as this That heaven you told me of

Was quite so full of bliss.

Oh! there is music here!

The softest, sweetest strains Float constantly along

O'er these etherëal plains.

THE FATAL MARRIAGE. Few dangers are more formidable to the young than that of forming flattering but pernicious friendships. This is the snare into which I have seen many fall-the rock on which thousands have been destroyed. Many who have left the paternal roof with good principles and good habits, or even with the most promising symptoms of piety, have yielded to the seductions of irreligious friends, or of pleasing connections; and have either been at once turned from the paths of virtue and religion, or have entered into some rash and unwise engagement, which has made the rest of life wretched, and supplied matter for unceasing regret and re pentance. The great errors which I have observed in pious young persons, when they are entering upon life, are, their too great confidence in the outside appearance of human friendships; ; an unwillingness to ask the advice of experienced and judicious friends; and a want of settled principle in the formation of the matrimonial connection. It is in reference to this latter point that I have enjoyed the opportunity of extensive observation, and bare in my recollection, at this moment, several in. stances of the lamentable results to which an unequal and prohibited union between the religious and irreligious has proved introductory. The following narrative may serve as a speci: men of a numerous class of cases, and will illustrate to the young reader the extreme perii to the interest both of body and soul, of being guided by the impulse of passion, rather than by sound judgment and scriptural rules.

In my youthful days I was placed by Provi dence in a large and populous town, where ! enjoyed the privilege of attending on the ministry of a valued and venerable minister. In connection with many pious young persons, I was engaged in various designs of usefulnesssometimes in visiting the sick, in teaching schools, in circulating tracts, and itinerating

List! mother-father, list!

A harp to me is given, And when I touch the strings,

'Tis heard all over heaven.

And shall I tell you who

Stood ready to embrace Your little darling one,

In this most glorious place ?

'Twas grand-pa-honoured name !

No more with age opprest, Or toil--for in this world

Are youth and endless rest.

Those hoary hairs no more

Stray o'er his furrowed brow, But locks of brightest hue

Adorn his temples now.

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to the neighbouring villages. These occupa. his piety. We accordingly obtained an intertions brought me into connection with various view, and each, in turn, besought our friend to excellent and devoted individuals, some of pause, and listen to our united remonstrances. whom have passed to their reward, while others, For hours we pursued our argument, and viewed like myself, are still sojourning in the wilder- his case on all sides. He heard us, I cannot say

with indifference, but without conviction; and Among these was a youth to whom, on ac- we parted, without any satisfactory evidence, count of his affectionate disposition and great either that the object of his affection was likely devotedness to the labours of Christian love, I to prove a help meet for him, or that he was felt powerfully attracted. We were companions likely to cast off the guidance of passion, and in many an errand of mercy. We laboured yield himself to the laws of Jesus Christ. strenuously in the same Sabbath-school. We From this time, as might be expected, our often penetrated together the haunts of poverty friend avoided our society; declined engaging and sickness, and frequently mingled our peti in those labours of Christian benevolence in tions and thanksgivings at the throne of grace. which we had formerly been united; and, though In short, I have reason to think that our friend. he did not forsake the public means of religion, ship was mutually pleasant and profitable, and evinced an awful departure from that life and that it bade fair to last as long as life. This power of godliness which former days had wityouth paid an occasional visit, for a few weeks, nessed. The regret felt by his religious conto the metropolis. Here he was thrown into nections, who had been interested in his characcompany with a young lady, for whom he con- ter and labours, was indeed great and general; tracted a strong regard. Some time passed by but it was too evident that an unlawful affecbefore I became acquainted with the fact. A tion had got the mastery of his heart, and that correspondence had been opened, and mutual everything would be prostrated before it. pledges of affection offered and received, before Time rolled on, and in a few months our I discovered either that the connection was alto- | friend was united to the object of his choice. gether an improper one, or that any such ac- She had promised fair, and flattered his hopes quaintance had com:nenced. At last, however, upon the subject of religion. All his fears were I heard the report with grief and astonishment. quieted, under the expectation that after this

took the earliest opportunity of inviting my union, he should certainly be able to draw her friend to a private walk, when I introduced the to God, and to return himself to the fervour and subject, and expressed my concern to know activity of former days. The union led to the whether he had carefully considered the evi- removal of our friend from amidst the circle of dence of the young lady's piety, or whether he his religious acquaintance. lle settled in the had weighed the scriptural injunctions against metropolis—attended a large place of worship, unsuitable connections in marriage. He con- where little notice was taken of him, and no fessed readily that such an acquaintance had pastoral eye extended over his movements. commenced, and that he had no satisfactory | For a short time he was steady, and his partner evidence of the lady’s piety; but alleged, that the conformed; but at length he yielded to worldly

had known people become pious after marriage; temptations-his resolution relaxed, and step 1 tbat he could see no great sin in his marrying by step he began to go back, till worldly amusean unconverted woman, provided he did not ments and extr agances, to gether with a rising himself forsake the ways of God; stating at the family, involved him in embarrassments, which same time his hope, that he should be able to he had no means of overcoming. Trouble belead his young female acquaintance into the gan to hedge up his way and to make it thorny, paths of piety. llere, for the present, the mat- but still be returned not to the Lord his God. ter ended; and I resolved to wait a few weeks, Ruin in his circumstances soon followed, and and observe carefully the effect of this new and with a wife and four or five children he was thoughtless step upon his mind, reserving my cast upon the world. Yet, in the midst of inain attack upon his resolution for a future these calamities, he continued insensible to the period, when I might be better prepared to sin of his foriner conduct, and satisfied with the show the positive evils that must result from steps he had pursued. So truly was the Word the consummation of his purpose, and when I of God fulfilled in this backslider, he had har, might hope the ardour of his first feelings dened his neck against reproof – he had refused would have subsided. I accordingly waited a the instruction of wisdom, and the admonitions month or two, and then chose my opportunity, of his Christian brethren, and God had giveu and selected two young friends, who, like my him up to his own heart's lusts. Some Christian self, were intimate with the individual, and friends visited him in his troubles, but they were grieved to find into how bewitching and found him neither humble nor well-disposed to ruinous a snare he had fallen. We had already retain their friendship. The consequence was observed, with deep pain, the decline in bis an entire alienation in both parties. I have spiritual feelings which had begun to work, and sometimes since thought, perhaps, we did wrong the undermining power of this new attachment, in altogether allowing him to escape from our which seemed already to threaten the ruin of view. We might have led him to repent, and

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