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DR. REED AND THE AMERICAN METHODISTS.

To the Editor of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine. I shall rely on your sense of what is fair and just for the insertion of this. I was referred yesterday by a friend to your Magazine of March, as containing some free strictures on me and the · Narrative. I confess I was surprised on two accounts :-Ist. That a review in the Congregational Magazine, with which I had nothing to do, should have been made the ground of assault on me. 2d. That any thing in the 'Narrative' should have been deemed unfriendly to Methodism. It is on this last account that I trouble you with this note. The writer asserts, that I have evidently written of Methodism with contempt and ill-will

. Now, sir, as I should be deeply grieved if your Connection should receive such an impression as this, I must claim the liberty of distinctly denying it. For that body of Christians, passing under the name of Methodists, whether located here or in America, I am conscious of having no other sentiment than that of Christian esteem and high consideration. In my whole life and writings, I know not of word or act, that would testify to the contrary. In my visit to the States I sought every opportunity, as a privilege to myself

, of intercourse with them and their ministers. I know not that any thing in the

Narrative,' fairly read, can receive a different construction. In speaking of different denominations, I have spoken with discrimination, but I hope with kindness; and I have said much more that is to be lamented of other denominations, and of my own, than of the one in question.

The writer complains that of three persons who indulged in blamable conversation, I state one to have been a Methodist; and he says, that I might have passed this circumstance over in silence. I can only say that my judgment differs from his. I might have omitted the fact altogether; but had I observed silence on a part of it, I should not have conveyed the same impression to the reader which I had received myself, and this, in my opinion, would be of the nature of falsehood. I had no thought of reproaching Methodism. The party thus misbehaving might have been as readily either Presbyterian or Congregationalist. The circumstance to be noted was, that he was a professor of religion.

Then the writer charges me with reporting incorrectly, that the Methodists were about to have their own version of the Bible. I have stated this, not as a fact, but as report. It was so; and I had just reason to think it true. I was told it in their own book store; and by a person on whom I could rely as readily, as on any one in New-York. I afterwards inquired about it, and the impression was confirmed. After all, sir, circumstanced as America is, I saw no evil in the thing. It would depend not on the fact, but on the execution. A new version might be highly meritorious, or it might be the reverse.

Up to this time I have no reason, beyond the denial quoted in the Magazine, for doubt on this subjeet. Yet of this, and of the whole statements relative to Methodism, I will in all candor say, that, as the work is going to a second edition, I will inquire, and review not only the things stated, but the expressions in which they

are clothed; and if there shall appear any thing doubtful in fact or unguarded in word, I will immediately expunge it, with regret for its having been there. I owe this to myself; I owe this to the times in which we live, which do not require that we should do or say any thing to exasperate our unhappy differences; and I owe this to a religious society which I desire in most things to emulate, and in all to love and respect.

ANDREW REED. Hackney, March 4th, 1836.

We readily comply with Dr. Reed's request, by giving insertion to his letter; but at the same time we feel compelled, in justice to ourselves, and the American Methodists, to make a few brief remarks upon its contents.

1. It is not correct, that the writer of the two articles which appeared in the January and March numbers of this Magazine, containing animadversions upon Dr. Reed's 'Narrative, . asserts' that the doctor has evidently written of Methodism with contempt and ill-will.' The complaint is, that some of the doctor's statements concerning the American Methodists are injuriously untrue; and that others of them are so defective as to answer all the purposes of direct falsehood. Both these positions we maintain. The question of motives we leave him to settle elsewhere. The American Methodists, who are the most deeply interested in the subject, complain bitterly of the doctor's 'Narrative,' and had prepared a copious reply to its statements. This reply, there is reason to believe, would have been published some time ago, had it not been for the destruction by fire of their entire book establishment at New York, with the whole of their stock. Their “Quarterly Magazine and Review,' which was announced as containing an antidote to the doctor's work, and which appears to have been on the eve of publication when the fire occurred, doubtless perished on that occasion.

2. It is not correct that the writer of the articles in question says,' or even intimates, that the doctor "might have passed over in silence' the case of the blaspheming colonel, who admitted himself to be a Methodist.' The complaint in this instance is, not that the doctor published the account, but that he published it without inquiry, and without explanation. Before the doctor assumed that this wretched man really was a 'Methodist,' and introduced him to the world under that character, it is contended that inquiry should have been made whether the man, who was evidently accustomed to blasphemous and corrupt conversation,' was not also accustomed to the utterance of untruth, or at least the indulgence of waggery ; and whether it was not more probable that something of this kind was practised, than that a person so brutally wicked would voluntarily submit to the discipline of Methodism, or that a Christian society would tolerate, as a member, a person who was so entirely devoid of all moral decency. Suppose an American Methodist should visit England, and in a 'Narrative of his adventures should state, without caveat or explanation, that, in travelling from London to Brighton, he was grievously annoyed by the disgusting conversation of a gentleman who sat opposite to him in the coach, and who was 'evidently accustomed to blasphemous and

1

corrupt conversation ;' and that this profligate man 'admitted himself to be a member of the Dissenting Church under the pastoral care of Dr. Andrew Reed: thus leading the public to understand, that, if the doctor does not teach a theology which countenances the grossest outrages upon Christian morals, yet he and his people tolerate among themselves such foul abominations. Would the doctor and his friends in this case deem themselves treated with ordinary candor? Would they not justly say, that their character as a body of Christian people should have screened them from imputations so hateful and calumnious, however indirectly cast upon them? Were some member of the doctor's Church, in defence of himself and his brethren, to show that the blasphemer could not be what he professed, and that he most probably intended to play a hoax upon his fellow-traveller ; would it become the writer of such a 'Narrative to reply, 'I am conscious of having no other sentiment than that of Christian esteem, and high consideration, towards Dr. Reed and his Church? In my whole life and writings I know not of word or act, that would testify to the contrary.' And what would be thought of him, if he should actually speak of himself as assaulted,' when the injured parties remonstrated, and attempted to prove that either the blasphemer was not trustworthy, or that his meaning had not been correctly apprehended ? Whatever credit such a traveller might claim for goodness of 'sentiment,' we think the general opinion would be, that he had a very unfortunate mode of expressing it: and we are much mistaken, if Dr. Reed himself would not concur in this opinion.

3. On the subject of a Methodist translation of the Bible, a few words only will be necessary. Dr. Reed says he heard the report of this at the Methodist book store in New-York; but from whom he does not state. There are two or three Methodist ministers who are officially connected with that establishment as editors. These gentlemen declare, on reading Dr. Reed's book, “This is the FIRST TIME we ever heard it affirmed, that we are about to have our own version of the Bible: and so deeply do they feel on the subject, that they add, 'We think that a man who will deliberately write and publish such a palpable misstatement, with the means of correct information within his reach, forfeits all title to public confidence.' Had the report in question rested upon any competent authority, or had it been extensively prevalent, these gentlemen must have heard of it before they read it in Dr. Reed's · Narrative." The doctor does not indeed absolutely say, that the American Methodists are about to have their own version of the Bible ; but he states his belief that such is the fact; and this amounts to the same thing. The possible character of the version' has nothing to do with the question. The Methodist translators of America might, by possibility, produce a 'version' as far superior to that of King James, as this was superior to all the English versions that preceded it: or it might be as bad as the burlesque version of the New Testament, which was published by Dr. Macey about a century ago, or the dishonest · Improved Version of modern Socinian

· Circumstanced as America is,' Dr. Reed says, he saw no evil in the thing.' Perhaps not; but he adduced it in proof of the 'sectarian’ spirit of the American Methodists. His words are,

ism.

"They are, in fact, exceedingly like their kindred body in our own country. There is a considerable measure of ignorance and extravagance in that as there is in this; and they are certainly quite as sectarian. They have their own papers, their own books, their own tracts, their own psalmody, and, I believe I may say, are about to have their own version of the Bible,' vol. ii, p. 98. It is no proof of a sectarian' spirit, we presume, that the Methodists in America have their own books, hymns, and periodical publications. There is nothing peculiar in this. Every denomination of Christians, both in England and America, has the same, in effect; yet nobody thinks of charging them with an unbecoming sectarianism? on that account. Had the tale of a Methodist version of the Bible' been true, it would have served to substantiate the doctor's charge; but as it is a fabrication, it goes for nothing. He seems, however, to cling to this idle report. Up to this time,' he says, 'I have no reason, beyond the denial quoted in the Magazine, for doubt upon this subject. And what further reason' can he require? Surely the men who are officially appointed to superintend and direct the current literature of the American Methodists must know whether a new version of the Bible,' intended for the special use of the body, and, of course, to be introduced into all their pulpits, has been either agreed upon at the General Conference, or is in a course of preparation. The names of these ministers are given to the world, in the printed Minutes of the American Conferences; and Dr. Reed will hardly impugn their veracity. Indeed what motive can these men have for concealing the truth? If a Methodist Bible be forthcoming in America, it must soon be as public as the press can make it; and why should ministers, occupying official situations in the body, solemnly deny that they ever even heard of the project till the intelligence was conveyed from England in Dr. Reed's volumes ? Whatever may be intimated to the contrary, we will venture to affirm, that the Methodists in America, like their brethren in Great Britain, teach a theology which well accords with the authorized version of the English Scriptures; a version which is not only venerable for its age, but admirable for its general fidelity and beauty.

4. Dr. Reed avows his esteem and respect for the Methodists, wherever located ;' and far be it from us to question the sincerity of his friendship. If the specimen which he has given of the American Methodists, indeed, be fairly selected, and the generality of them really are what his · Narrative' would lead one to suppose; and if 'their kindred body' in England are 'exceedingly like them,' as the doctor avers; we cannot help thinking that in neither country are they entitled to very high consideration. Ignorance, vulgarity, extravagance, and impiety, appear among their most prominent characteristics. We fully agree with Dr. Reed, that the times in which we live do not require that we should do or say any thing to exasperate our unhappy differences.' The men who thus act sin against our common Christianity; and it is because we think Dr. Reed and some of his Dissenting brethren have, without any provocation, offended against the Methodists, that we have freely animadverted upon their conduct. It may be, after all, that they have a cordial regard for the people whom they thus dispar

age, and had no intention of offending to the extent imputed. They will, however, allow us to remind them, in the words of Cowper,

· The man who hails you Tom or Jack,
And proves by thumps upon the back

How he esteems your merit,
Is such a friend, that one hath' need
Be very much his friend indeed
To pardon or to bear it.'

Edit.

In view of the whole affair we will subjoin a few remarks. Dr. Reed's communication to the editor of the Wesleyan Magazine is by no means satisfactory. It renders the case still worse than it was before.

Believing that the review of the Narrative in this work, and the notice our brethren have taken of the subject in England, sufficiently settle the other points, we shall limit our ·remarks to the subject of a new version of the Bible. In regard to this there is at least the appearance of disingenuousness on the part of the doctor. His communication in the Wesleyan Magazine goes to affirm that he made the report on good authority, as the fact was told him in our own book store, and by a person in whom he could place confidencc; that he had good reason to believe it correct; and that he saw no evil in the thing is correct. Up to the moment of his writing the communication he had no reason, beyond the denial quoted in the Magazine, for doubt on the subject. Yet he will inquire, and if there shall be any thing doubtful in fact or unguarded in word he will expunge it when the work goes to a second edition. Whether there would be evil in the thing or notwhether the public would place it to the account of our virtues' or our 'failings—is a matter which concerns us and not him. And it belongs to us also to know how much we are interested in having such misrepresentations corrected. Though he may see no evil in the thing, there are enough to make evil of it. But this quieting salvo of 'no evil in the thing ill comports with the evident design of introducing it in the first instance. We are not willing hastily, or without good evidence, to pronounce upon the motives of any man. Yet we are accustomed to believe that no man acts without motive; and in most cases the character of the motive may be seen in the relation of the words or actions in question to certain other words or actions. In this case, as the editor of the Wesleyan Magazine has well shown, the author could have had no conceivable motive other than to sustain his allegation, that the Methodists are exceedingly sectarian' in their spirit and conduct. It appears evident that he had a desire to fix such an impression respecting them in the minds of the read

Vol. VII.-April, 1836. 16

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