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and a few of the senior ministers. If approved
of by them, they are introduced to the Confer- '
ence, in whose presence they are subjected to
another, and usually a lengthened examination.
Should the result be satisfactory, they are sub- 1
sequently brought before the whole congrega- '
tion (which on such an occasion generally over-
flows the largest chapel in which the service
can be held), and after an introductory state- '
ment by the president, as many of them as
time will admit, are called on to declare pub-
licly their conversion, their present religious!
experience, their conviction of being moved by
the Holy (S^host to undertake the work of the
ministry, and their purposes of future devoted-
ness to (^d. In a separate service afterwards,
they are ordained to the sacred office, by the
solemn imposition of the hands of the president,
the ex-president, and the secretary of the Con-
ference, and some of the senior ministers nomi-
nated by the president. The ordination service

* The right of the Chrlitian people to chooee their own
ministers, ur. at least, to have an absolute veto on their
election, Is thus clearly recognised in the Wesleyan polity ;
practically recognlged in the only way which the peculiari-
ties arising out of the itinerant system would permic No
man can possibly be introduced into the ministry until the
voice of that portion of the people to whom he is known
best— probably the only portion to whom he Is known at all
—has been distinctly given In his favour. Moreover, when
desires are expressed by Quarterly Meetings as to particular
appointments, the sUUoning committee and the Conference
treat them with the utmost consideration; and, atallevenu,
the appointment b not to the perpetual and »ote care of a

the appointment . .

flock, but for a single year at once, and. at the longest, for
three years, and to a joint pastorate, shared with one or
more other ministers.

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employed is that of the Church of England,
with such alterations as adapt it to the use of
the Wesleyan Church. A charge to the newly-
ordained ministers is then delivered by the
out-going president; and the administration of
the Lord's supper to the assembled ministers
at large concludes the services.

There is nothing in the ** Deed " to prevent
the election of any minister who has been a
year or upwards ''in full connexion,'* to be
one of the Hundred constituting the 1^^ Con-
ference; but the commonest dictates of pru-
dence would obviously limit the choice to men
of mature years and judgmoit. The mode of
election now in operation, the adoption of which
was arranged in 1814, is as follows: Three out
of every t'uur vaoandee are filled up on the
ground of seniority ; but in every fourth case,
the iniiiisters who haire travelled fourteen years
or upwards, nominate by ballot one of their
number (he must have travelled at least four-
teen years), and the Hundred are requested to
elect the person so nominated as a member of
the legal Conference. Ten of the Hundred are
chosen by the Irish Conference from its own
membOTS. The president and secretary of the
Conference are elected in a manner similar to
that just described. The secretary may be
re-elected to his office for several successive
years, as the present secretary, Dr Newton, has
actually been; but, by a regulation, made in
1792, and strictly observed since, an interval of
eight years must elapse before the same person
can again occupy the presidential chair. When
the Conference is assembled, the constant pre-
sence of forty of its l^gal members is necessary
to render its acts valid ; but it should be under
stood, that fhe legal Hundred cordially admit
all the ministers (in full connexion) to equal
votes with themselves on every question that
comes before them, subject only to limitation
in the cases of the elections just referred to,
and the final confirmation of the journal of
proceedings. The duration of the yearly assem-
bly of the Conference is fixed; it must not be
less than five, nor more than twentv-one days.
In the present extended and extendug state of
the connexional concerns, it would not be
possible to transact all the i/usinees within this
period, were it not for the aid afforded by
various committees which meet previously, and
enter into details, and originate propositions,
which greatly facilitate future progress.

The proceedbgs of the assembled Conference
may be thus generally described : After devo-
tional exercises — the supply of the vacancies
in the Hundred — the election of president and
secretary, and some subordinate officers — the
introduction of the representatives annually
sent by the Irish Conference — and the appoint-
ment of various committees — attention is direct-
ed to the individual cases of the preachers
recommended by their respective district meet-
ings for admission to the full work of the mini-

stry, probationers, and candidates for admission
on truJ. The " death roll " is examined, and
the district reports respecting ministers who
have died during the year are considered. The
ministers are, one by one, without respect of
persons, subjected to a disciplinary inquiry. |
When there are objections, the cases are re- 1
ferred to by special conmiittees, who subse- 1
quently report to Conference. Reproof and ,
admonition; temporary suspensidn from office, i
with a view to ultimate recovery; and total '
and final expulsion, are the several exercises
of discipline, according to the gravity of the
offence. The stationing of the ministers for
the ensuing year is then proceeded with; and
now that the circuits are so numerous, and
the eonnexiona], local, and personal interests '
which claim more or less consideration are so
extensive and diversified, this department of
the business would occupy no small portion of
the allotted time of the Conference, but that the
principal part of it is previously transacted by
the •* stationing committee." This committee
(which is constituted of a representative from
each district^ chosen by balk>t, the presidlant
and secretary of the preceding Conference, one
of the missionary secretaries, and one of the
officers of ^e Theological Institution) meets
sufficiently early to have a plan prepared, which ,
the Conference, having made any alterations
that seem expedient, adopts and confirms. The
stations having been fixed, the chairmen of
districts are chosen by ballot The number of
members in the various parts of the Connexion
is ascertained; the reports of the several con-
nexional conmiittees are received and consider-
ed; motions, of which previous notice had been
given, are discussed; the pastoral addresses
of the Conference to the Societies, and the
answer to the annual address from the Irish
Conference, are read; miscellaneous orders are
attended to; arrangements are made respect-
ing the next Conference; and, finally, the
''minutes" of the proceedings having been
read and confirmed, the annual session is con-
cluded as it commenced (and as all the inter-
mediate sittings were begun and ended) — with
solemn prayer.

The District Mbbtino is the second of the
Wesleyan Ecclesiastical Courts. It was insti-
tuted immediately after Mr Wesley's death,
not so much for the regular transaction of
specified business, as to provide against emer-
gencies which might unexpectedly arise be-
tween one Conference and another, and which,
had Mr Wesley continued alive, would have
been submitted to him. Now, however, it has
regular and important functions, in several
respects similar, although subordinate, to those
of the Conference. The Conference possesses
both legislative and executive authority; the
district meeting is executive only, governed by
the laws of the Conference, and subject to a
revision or reversal of its decisions by that

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court. Its power is also limited to the affairs
of the circuits within its own bounds. There
is, moreover, this difference in its constitution:
lajmen, although they form a most important
and esteemed part of the connexional commit-
tees, yet cannot, according to Wesleyan-Metho-
dist law, have seats in im Conference; but the
stewards of the respective circuits, and the.
treasurers of certain funds, are ex-officio mem-
bers of the district committee during the trans-
action of its financial business, though not at
its other sittings.

Of the district meetings as now recognised,
^two are regular, and three occasional. About
two months before Conference in each year,
the regular annucd district meeting is held, and,
generidly speaking, all the matters relating to
the district into which the Conference will
inquire are considered and arranged. In the
month of September, the financial district meet-
ing is regularly held. This, as its little imports,
h^ chiefly to do with the finances of the several
circuits — ascertaining what the pecuniary de-
mands for the coming year will be, and con-
sulting how they may most effectually be met.
jThe occasional and rare meetings are, the
/* ipeota/ district meeting," which may be called
for by the resistance of a local (circuit) court
I to the constitutional administration of discip-
jliBe by the pastor, or by the unfaithfulness of a
' minister who betrays his trust and joins with
' factious men in fomenting discord and disloyalty
' in the societies; — the ^ mixed district meeting,"
which may be summoned by the trustees,
{stewards, and leaders of a society, for the trial
of a preacher whom they accuse of immorality,
! doctrinal unsoundness, or want of abilit^r, and
in which tkey may sit and vote, exercising a
co-ordinate ri^t with the ministers to judge of
I the guilt or mnocence of the accused party;
I and the ^ miwr district meeting," composed of
; five ministers — two chosen by the accused or
I the aggrieved party, and two by the accuser or
I the ^eged aggressor; these four, with the
' chairman of the district, having authority to
j try certain cases in which it does not deem
necessary to assemble the whole district com-
niittee. From the decision of this minor court,
, there is an appeal to the regular district meet-
ing; but from the decision of all these inferior
! jurisdictions there is reserved to all parties the
jri^t of appeal to the supreme court — the
I Conference.

I The QuAKTE&LT MiiTiNO is a local court,
! confined to the bounds of one circuit, but with-
in those bounds, highly influential. Its consti-
I tution has not been very clearly defined by any
official regulation; but it includes, with the
ministers, at least some of the trustees, stewards,
local preachers, and leaders, and other members
of the society, specially appointed to take part
in its proceedings. It has no judicial power t^
try or censuve any parties. Its ordinary busi-
ness is to audit the accounts of the circuit and

society stewards — to consider claims on the
contingent fund, preparatory to their being
laid before the district committee — and pro-
posals respecting the building and enlargement
of chapels, in order to their being submitted to
the chapel building committee, and contem-
plated divisions of circuits, and (as before
stated^ the fitness of candidates nominated for
the nunistry. The September quarterly meet-
ing has power to suspend, for that year, as
respects its own circuit, the operation of any
new general rule made by the preceding Con-
ference. The March quarterly meeting has
the right to fix upon the ministers whom they
desire for the ensuing year, and to request the
Conference to appoint them.

The Lbadebs' Mebtino is constituted of the
leaders of the several ^ classes " in a society.
It meets weekly. The local powers of leadera*
meetings are considerable. I^^y ^^^ ^^^
summed up by the Rev. Edmund Grindrod, in
his well-digested ^Compendium of the Laws
and Regulations of Wesleyan-Methodism:" —

They have now a veto upon the admittance of
members into the society, when appealed to in such
cases by anjr parties concerned; they possess the
power of a jury in the trial of accused members;
without their consent, no leader or steward can be
appointed to office or removed from it, excepting
when the crime proved merits exclusion from mem-i
bership, in which case, the superintendent can at
once acpose the offender from office, and expel him
from the societv. Without their consent, m con-
junction with the trustees of the chapel to which
their meeting is attached, the sacrament of the'
Lord's supper cannot be administered [ introduced i
for the first time] in the said chapel; and the fundi
for the relief of poor and afflicted members of the
society is distributed under their direction and manage-

The Local Pbiaohbbs* MiZTiiro is held quar-
terly. It is composed of men -who are during
the week engaged in secular business, but who,
under the influence of a love for souls, have
felt it a duty to warn sinners to flee from the
wrath to come, and have, after due trials, been
placed on the local preachers' plan. It is
impossible to calculate bow much Wesleyan-
Methodism owes to the labours of its local
preachers. The meeting examines into the
official conduct of its members, and considers
the qualifications of probationers and new can-

The TRnsTBEs* MaBTiiro consists of persons,
necessarily members oi the Wesleyan Church,
who have been appointed to hold certain parts
of the connexional property in trust, subject,
to the connexional rules and ussges. Their
meetings are held in accordance with the pro-
visions of their respective deeds, and its busi-
ness relates altogether to the execution of their
different trusts.

From this notice of the Church Courts of
Wesleyan-Methodism, we proceed to take a
brief view of its Connexional Institutions.

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Kind parents 1 why those tean?

And why those bursting sighs ?
No weeping here bedims

Your little loved one^ eyes.

The shades of ere, you know,

Were hastening along,
When my freed spirit left,

To soar the stars among.

Yet long before the night

Had drawn her reil around
The home I left below,

A better had I fonnd.

So rapidly the soul

Unbodied takes its flight,
Thftt scarce earth*s scenery failed.

When heaTen's broke on my sight.

Did not you, mother, see

That bright celestial band
That smiled and beokoned me.

And held the inriting hand P

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 hearen we flew —

The cherubs led the way ;
But my rapt spirit smiled

As joyously as they.

Father I Inererknew
^Twa8«aeh a plaoe as ilus—

That hearen you told me of
Was quite so full of bliss.

Oh! there is music here !

The softest, sweetest strains
Float constantly along

0*er these ethereal plains.

List ! mother— father, list !

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

^Tis heard all OTcr heaTcn.

And shall I tell you who

Stood ready to embrace
Your little diirling one.

In this most glorious plaoe P

^Twas grand-pa— honoured name !

No more with age opprest,
Or toil— for in tlus woild

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.

His trembling voice is changed;

The trace of earthly cares
Is banished from his cheek,

And God has wiped his tears.

And Mary! sister's here;

She has a cherub's wing-
Can reach their loftiest flights—

Their noblest anthems sing.

Dear parents! weep no more
For those you loved so well.

For glories here are ours.
And joys we may not teU.

Oh! live and serve the Lord,
The dear Redeemer love;

Then when you've done with earth.
We'll welcome you above.


Fkw dangers are more formidable to the yoitng
than that of forming flattering but pemioioiit
friendships. Thu is the snare into which I
have seen many faXL — the rock on «whick thou-
sands have been destroyed. Many who have
left the paternal roof with good principles and
good habits, or even with the roost promising
symptoms of piety, have yielded to the seduc-
tions of Irreligious friends, or of pleasing con-
nections; 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 ob- ,
served in pious young persona^ when they are
entering upon life, are, their too great confi-
dence in the outside appearance of human
friendships ; an unwillingness to ask the advice
of experienced and judicions friends; and a
want of settled principle in the formatioii of
the matrimonial connection. It is in reference
to this latter point that I have enjoyed the
opportunity of extensive observation, and have
in my recollection, at this moment, several in-
stances of the lamentable results to which an
unequal and prohibited union between the re-
ligious 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 peril
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 I
enjoyed the privilege of attending on the mini-
stry of a vaiued and venerable minister. In
connection with many pious young persons, I
was engaged in various designs of usefulness —
sometimes in visiting the sick, in teaching
schools, in circulating tracts, and itinerating

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to tiie neighbouring villjBges. These occupa-
tions brought me into connection with various
exoeUent and devoted individuals, some of
whom have passed to their reward, while others,
like myself, are still sojourning in the wilder-

I Among these was a youth to whom, on ac-
count of his affectionate disposition and great
devotedness to the labours of Christian love, I
felt powerfully attracted. We were companions
in many an errand of mercy. We laboured
strenuously in the same Sabbath-school. We
often penetrated together the haunts of poverty
aud sickness, and frequently mingled our peti-
tions and thanksgivings at the throne of grace.
In short, I have reason to think that our fnend-
ship was mutually pleasant aud profitable, and
that it bade fair to last as louff as life. This
youth paid an occasiooal visit, ror a few weeks,
to the metropolis. Here he was thrown into
company with a young lady, for whom he con-
tracted a strong regard. Some time passed by
before I became acquainted with the fact. A
correspondence had been opened, and mutual
pledges of affection offered and received, before
I discovered either that the connection was alto-
gether an improper one, or that any such ac-
quaintance had commenced. At last, however,
I heard the report with grief and astonishment.
I took the earliest opportunity of inviting my
friend to a private walk, when I introduc^ the
subject, and expressed my concern to know
whether he had carefully considered the evi-
dence of the young lady's piety, or whether he
had weighed the scriptural injunctions against
unsuitable connections in marriage. He con-
fessed readily that such an acquaintance had
commenced, and that he had no satisfactory
evidence of the lady's piety; but alleged, that he
had known people become pious after marriage;
that he could see no great sin in his marrying
an unconverted woman, provided he did not
himself forsake the ways of Grod; stating at the
same time his hope, that he should be able to
lead his young female acquaintance into the
paths of piety. Here, for the present, the mat-
ter ended; and I resolved to wait a few weeks,
and observe carefully the effect of this new and
thoughtless step upon his mind, reserving my
main attack upon his resolution for a future
period, when I might be better prepared to
show the positive evils that must result from
the consummation of his purpose, and when I
might hope the ardour of his first feelings
would have subsided. I accordingly waited a
month or two, and then chose my opportunity,
and selected two young friends, who, like my-
self, were intimate with the individual, and
were grieved to find into how bewitching and
ruinous a snare he had fallen. We had already
observed, with deep pain, the decline in bis
spiritual feelings which had begun to work, and
the undermining power of this new attachment,
which seemed already to threaten the ruin of

his piety. We accordingly obtained an inter-
view, and each, in turn, besought our friend to
pause, and listen to our united remonstrances.
For hours we pursued our argument, and viewed
his case on allsides. He heard us, I cannot say
with indifference, but without conviction; and
we parted, without any satisfactory evidence, '
either that the object of his affection was likely ^
to prove a help meet fur him, or that he was
likely to cast off the guidance of passion, and
yi^d himself to the laws of Jesus Christ.

From this time, as might be expected, our
friend avoided our society; declined engaging
in those labours of Christian benevolence in
which we had formerly been united; and, though |
he did not forsake the public means of religion, |
evinced an awful d^Murture from that life and'
power of godliness which former days had wit-|
nessed. The regret felt by his religious con-
nections, who had been interested in his charac-|
ter and labours, was indeed great and general;
but it was too evident that an unlawful affec- \
tion had got the mastery of his heart, and that
ever3rthing would be prostrated before it.

Time rolled on, and in a few months our
fnend was united to ihe objeot of his choice.
She had promised fidr, and flattered his hopes
upon the subject of religion. All his fears were
quieted, under the expectation that aft«r (his
union, he should certainly be able to draw her
to God, and to return himself to the fervour and
activity of former days. The union led to the
removal of our friend fnua amidst the circle of
his religious acquaintance. He settled in the
metropolis — attended a large place of worship,
where little notice was taken of him, and no
pastoral eye extended over his movements.
For a short time he was steady, and his partner
conformed; but at length he yielded to worldly
temptations — his resolution relaxed, and step
by step he began to go back, till worldly amuse-
ments and extrava^ces, tigether with a rising
family, involved him in embarrassments, which
he had no means of overcoming. Trouble b^
gan to hedge up his way and to make it thorny,
but still be returned not to the Lord his God.
Ruin in his circumstances soon followed, and
with a wife and four or five children he was
cast upon the world. Yet, in the midst of
these calamities, he continued insensible to the
sin of his former conduct, and satisfied with the
steps he had pursued. So truly was the Word
of God fulfilled in this backslider, he had har-
dened his neck against reproof~he had refused
the instruction of wisdom, and the admonitions
of his Christian brethren, and God had given
him up to his own heart's lusts. Some Christian
friends visited him in his troubles, but they
found him neither humble nor well-disposed to
retain their friendship. The consequence was
an entire alienation in both parties.^ I have
sometimes since thought, perhaps, we did wrong
in altogether allowing him to escape from our
view. We might have led him to repent, and

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return to the Lord from whom he had revolted;
but, in the immense population of London, we
lost sight of him for a considerable period. At
length some of his earlj acquaintances dis-
covered that he had been reduced to the neces-
sity of keeping a public-house. They found
him out, visited him, but could make no spi-
ritual impression upon his mind. He had sunk
into a state of total apathy, and though he re-
ceived them in a respectful manner, yet it was
too evident that -he had totally declined from
the ways of God.

Thus was this promising youth reduced from
a station of respectability, to a line of life little
compatible with d<»nestic comfort, and from

Online LibraryThomas CarlyleThe Christian treasury, Volume 2 → online text (page 43 of 145)