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CH URCHMANSniP



Jo JIN WESLEY



JAMES H. JUGG, D.D.



THE



CHURCHMANSHIP OF
JOHN WESLEY,

AND THE

RELATIONS OP WESLEYAN METHODISM
TO THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.

Bt JAMES H. RIGG, D.D.,

AUTHOR OF 'MODERN ANGLICAN THEOLOGY,' ' ESSAYS FOR THE TIMES,'
'THE LIVING WESLEY,' ETC*

NEW AND REVISED EDITION.



3L0ntian:

PCBLISHED FOB THE AUTHOR AT THE

WESLEYAN-METHODIST BOOK-ROOM;

2, CASTLE-STREET, CITY-ROAD ;
AND 66, PATERNOSTER. KOW.



HAYMAN BROTHERS AND LILLY,

PRINTERS.

HATTON HOUSE. 113. FARRINGOON I. CAD,
LONDON, E.G.



PREFACE.



THE pages which follow have not been writ-
ten primarily for Wesleyans, but for non-Wes-
leyans, for general students of history, for
students, in particular, of ecclesiastical his-
tory, for all who desire to understand the
opinions and character of John Wesley, and
the precise position and relation s of Wesleyan
Methodism among the ecclesiastical organi-
sations and communities of England, and, es-
pecially, for the information of earnest Church-
men, those, most of all, who look with con-
cern and uneasiness on the ' schismatic ' posi-
tion and tendencies of modern Methodism.

I have avoided, accordingly, the use of
specifically Methodist phraseology, and, though
myself a Wesleyan, have, except here and
there at a point of application or final inference,
written rather as a general student, outside
of Methodism, might write, than as one using
the freemasonry of phrase and allusion pecu-
liar to the ' people called Methodists.' This
explanation I make more for the sake of
Methodist readers than of any others.

A 2



iv Preface.

^^>^>M^^^vx^^^^^^^-^v^vx^>^^xx^-^vxv^^^^-^^X^-^v

The volume itself is a new composite out
of materials the greater part of which have
already been published. The substance of
about one-half appeared in the Contemporary
Review, in September, 1876, as an article on
' The Churchmanship of John Wesley.' By
the courtesy of Mr, Strahan, I am allowed to
use it for the purpose of this volume. Most
of the remainder had appeared in a former
publication on the ( Relations of John Wesley
and Wesleyan Methodism to the Church of
England,' which was called forth by special
circumstances eleven years ago, and of which
two editions have been sold, but which will
be superseded by the present volume.

As now re-cast, these materials constitute
a small volume which, as I venture to hope,
will have a permanent interest, and will con-
duce, not to division and controversy, but to
settlement and peace so far as regards the
Church of England and Wesleyan Methodism
with their mutual relations,

But far deeper and more abiding than any
inter-denominational or controversial interest
is that which belongs to the natural history
and growth of the character and opinions of
one of the most remarkable men and of the
most influential personalities that the modern
world has known. If I have been able to



Preface to the Present Edition. v

cast any new and steadfast light upon this
subject, my little book will have some perma-
nent value,



JAMES H, RIGG.



WESTMINSTER,

December 10th, 1878.



PREFACE TO TEE PRESENT EDITION.

IN the present edition some corrections
have been made of minor importance, to
which I need not particularly refer, and one
of considerable importance. Mr. Telford, in
his life of John Wesley, lately published*
has proved that John Wesley was never in
any sense a Moravian, and that the Fetter
Lane Society, as he established it, was not a
Moravian Society. I have consequently had
to re-write some paragraphs in the third
chapter of this volume. Elsewhere I have
made a few changes or additions in order to
bring the statistics and some of the references
of the present edition up to date. The book,
however, as a whole, remains unaltered. The
argument is quite unaffected by such correc-

* The Life of John Wesley. By the Rev. J. Telford,
B.A. (Hodder and Stoughton.)



vi Preface to the Present Edition.

tions as I have made in this edition. The
reader will please to remember, especially in
reading the introductory chapter, that the
volume was first published more than ten
years back, and that much of it was written,
and indeed published, several years earlier.
I have not thought it necessary or desirable
to alter the time -references generally so as to
accommodate them to the present year. The
case is the same as it was ten or twenty years
ago. The situation has in no respect materi-
ally altered.

It is gratifying to know that the volume
has not been written in vain. It has been
recognised, and its argument accepted practi-
cally, if not with explicit acknowledgment,
by some of the most distinguished recent
authorities on the history of the Church of
England since the rise of Methodism. There
are still to be found a few writers who cavil,
more or less, at its conclusions. But they
do not meet its arguments, nor are they
authorities on whom the standard historians
of England or the English Church, now or
hereafter, will rely for either opinion or in-
formation.

JAMES H. RIGG.
WESTMINSTER,

Christmas Eve, 1886.



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I. PACK

INTRODUCTORY . . . . . . . 1

CHAPTER II.
WESLEY'S CHURCHMANSHIP IN HIS

EARLIER LIFE . . . . ' . .18

PERIOD OP RITUALISTIC HIGH CHUECHMANSHIP, 1725-
1738 WESLEY'S CONVERSION.

CHAPTER III.

THE REVOLUTION IN WESLEY'S ECCLESI-
ASTICAL VIEWS AFTER HIS CONVER-
SION . . . . . % , . . ' . 52

SOME REMAINS OF HIGH CHURCH PRINCIPLES FOR
SEVERAL YEARS RITUALISM AND HIERARCHICAL SUPER-
STITION FINALLY RENOUNCED AND ABANDONED HIS
CHURCHMANSHIP MUCH MORE BROAD THAN HIGH.

CHAPTER IV

RELATIONS OF WESLEY, AS A METHODIST,
AND OF PRIMITIVE METHODISM, WITH
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND ... 83

CHAPTER V.

THE POSITION OF WESL EYAN METHODISM
IN REGARD TO THE CHURCH OF ENG-
LAND SINCE THE DEA TH OF WESLEY . 110

APPENDIX 124



THE CHURCHMANSHIP OF
JOHN WESLEY,



AND THE



RELATIONS OF WESLEYAN METHODISM
TO THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.



CHAPTER I.
INTRODUCTORY.

TTTESLEY'S opinions as to questions of
* ecclesiastical principle are interesting
to the philosophical historian or biographer in
their own right, as I trust the following pages
will show. There are few more curious or
more instructive studies in the development
of character and opinion than the study of
Wesley's mind as his views in regard to
church principles and polity varied from
period to period of his course, in accordance
with the changes of his theological sympa-
thies and opinions, until at length he settled
down permanently into the position which he
held for almost half a century at the head of

B



2 Wesley* s Ecclesiastical Opinions.

the Methodist Conference and of * the people
called Methodists ' ; during nearly the whole
of which prolonged period his ecclesiastical
opinions varied as little as his theology.

But, for another reason also, it is a matter
of interest and importance that the history
of Wesley's ecclesiastical opinions and the
matured form which they permanently as-
sumed during the later and much the longer
period of his life, should be conclusively in-
vestigated and determined. It is in regard
to this point, beyond any other, that Church-
men are accustomed to press Wesleyans,
pleading against the modern position and
claims of Methodism the opinions and
authority of John Wesley. This aspect of
the subject, accordingly, as possessing some
polemical importance, is the one which excites
the keenest present interest, although the
other aspect that which belongs to the
province of the philosophical biographer or
historian is the one which possesses much
the greater permanent and intrinsic im-
portance.

In the following pages the subject will be
regarded from both points of view. Some
introductory remarks relating to the question
in its inter- denominational and more contro-
versial aspect will occupy the remainder of



An Interesting and Important Inquiry. 3

this chapter, and will clear the way for the
strictly historical chapters that are to follow.

One of the very noteworthy facts of the
present age is the perseverance with which
attempts are made, on the part of the Church
by law established in England, to bring back
the Wesleyan Methodists into communion with
that Church. If, indeed, there was any possi-
bility of such an attempt succeeding, nothing
would be more natural than that it should
be made. But the peculiarity of this case
is, that there is no such possibility ; that the
reasons which prove the impossibility are clear,
and absolutely decisive ; that these reasons
have been again and again set forth by the
literary and connexional organs of Wesleyan
Methodism, and by individual writers of emi-
nence and authority ; and that the overtures
and attempts on the part of the Established
Church appear to have been made without any
encouragement whatever from the expressed
sentiments of any known Wesleyan, whether
in speaking or in writing. It is yet more
remarkable that in the letters, the pamphlets,
and the discussions in Convocation, relating
to this subject, the question is never raised as
to how the Wesleyans have received former
overtures, or whether their authorities have

B 2



An Illusion.

XSXXXXXXX^y^X^^XX^fcX^X'N-^N-^

ever pronounced upon this subject of reunion
with the Church of England. It seems as
if this were a point not worth inquiring about.
The Wesleyan Magazine, the London Quarterly
Review, i\\e Watchman newspaper, have repeat-
edly, during the last twenty years, discussed
this subject in detail with complete frankness,
with an explicitness and fulness which could
leave no doubt on any point ; but all this is
ignored. The venerable Thomas Jackson, a
Methodist of the elder school, was not less
explicit nearly forty years ago in his pamphlet,
Why are You a Wesleyan Methodist ? than the
Rev. W. Arthur was twenty years ago in the
pages of the quarterly journal to which I have
just referred, in denying, with ample reasons
assigned, that there can be for the Church of
England any place for repentance in regard to
its rejection of Methodism from its borders,
or for Methodism itself any possibility of or-
ganic union with the Church of England.
And yet it would seem as if almost every
Churchman regarded it as a thing of course,
that, if the Church to which he belongs can
but show the way to attach Methodism to
itself as a privileged dependency, Methodism
will only be too happy to be absorbed. The
leading ministers, it seems to be imagined,
would feel it to be a wonderful elevation and



Vain Imaginations.

consolation to themselves, if episcopal hands
could be laid on their heads ; the ministerial
commonalty would be content to abdicate their
pastoral character, and subside into preaching
laymen constituting a kind of subdiaconate
provided only that the hope of attaining to
ordination might rise before them in the dis-
tance; the people, like sequacious sheep, would
en masse humbly follow their preachers into
the Anglican fold ; trustees would make no
question or scruple about the deeds by which
the chapels are secured to the Wesleyan Con-
nexion, and for the ministrations of Wesleyan
itinerant preachers; the Methodism of England
would be more than content, for the sake of
union with the ancient and established Church
of this English realm, the territorial and en-
dowed and decorated Church of the Queen
and Parliament, to sever itself from union and
communion with the Methodism of all countries
besides, and thus to mar the integrity of the
greatest sisterhood of evangelical churches
which the world has known ; nay, would be
ready to isolate itself, as the Church of England
is isolated, from the entire family of Reformed
Christian churches of every nation ; and Par-
liament would he forward to dispose of all
legal difficulties, and to ease the way to the
recommunion and absorption desired.



A Comparison.

All this, I repeat, is very surprising, and,
on the whole, by no means flattering to
the self-respect of the Wesleyan Connexion.
It is as though a fashionable gentleman of
noble family and extensive property had
again and again sought the hand of a lady
of middle rank and of country breeding, but
of good looks and good property, and not-
withstanding repeated and most decisive
refusals, still persisted in his overtures with
bland assumption, as if no denial had been
given to his suit, or rather continued to write
letters of inquiry as to the time, the place, and
all other arrangements for the marriage, as
though his rejection by the lady were a thing
inconceivable, as if her refusal of such a person-
age as himself had been a mere ignorant mis-
take which could never be allowed to stand.*

I recommend Churchmen in general, who
feel any interest in this subject, for their
own sakes to procure Mr. Jackson's and Mr.
Arthur's excellent publications, of which the
titles will be found in the Appendix at the

* The passage in the text was first published before
Dr. Pnsey addressed his letter to the Rev. J. Bedford,
the President of the Wesleyan Conference, during its
Session in 1868, and before the cartoon and verses
relating to that letter and to the answer of the Confer-
ence had appeared in a facetious contemporary journal-



Fraternal Union Desirable.

end of this volume. I may also be allowed to
quote here, for the sake of Churchmen, my own
deliberate testimony, printed in 1866, in a
volume entitled Essays for the Times. ' I have
no hesitation,' I then said, 'in saying that there
is not the remotest possibility of the Wesleyan
Methodist Church ever being absorbed in the
Church of England. And I doubt whether
out of the many hundreds of Wesleyan minis-
ters, and of the hundreds of thousands of
Wesleyan communicants, there are altogether
a score of persons who would not smile with
supreme amusement if such a proposal were
presented to them.' *

Let me not be misunderstood. Neither my-
self, nor any of the authorities to whom I have
referred, must be supposed to be indifferent to
the question of Christian union. If the proposal
were in very deed one for drawing close the
bonds of union between Christians of all denom-
inations, or for establishing, as the late Dean
Alford and as Dean Stanley have sought to es-
tablish, intercommunion on equal and fraternal
terms between the Church of England and
Nonconformist churches, the Wesleyan Church
included, all that might be done in favour of it
would be gladly done by such men as the late

* Essays, Sfc., p. 1, 2. See also a very powerful
paper in the Wesleyan Magazine for June, 1856.



8 Absorption.

^-^^^^r^^^r^^f^^^^^^^^

Mr. Jackson and as Mr. Arthur, and, I hope I
may add, by myself. But what has been so often
talked of in Church Congress or Convocation,
what has been suggested in so many letters
and pamphlets, is not any union of churches,
as such, or any fraternal recognition or
intercommunion a between the Episcopalian
clergy and the pastors of Wesleyan or other
Nonconformist churches, or anything, in a
word, which would imply an acknowledgment
of non-episcopal denominations as true Chris-
tian churches, or Nonconformist ministers as
true ministers of Christ, but merely the reab-
sorption of the denominations into the Estab-
lished Church, by the submission of their clergy
to pass under the yoke of ecclesiastical depend-
ence, and by the subordination of all the rules
and privileges of the denominations to the
clerical assumptions and prerogatives of the
high Episcopalian theory. The bearing of the
advocates of what is called reunion towards the
Greek Church is most deferential, not to say
obsequious ; in this case what is contemplated
is a real reunion of churches on terms of
honour and equality for both parties, and with-
out disbanding or subordination on the part
of either. The proposals on the part of the
Church of England in regard to Wesleyan
Methodism, which have from time to time



Obstacles to Union.

been brought forward, are altogether of a
different character. If Wesleyans accordingly
regard them with an interest which, although
not unkindly, is rather critical than cordial or
grateful, they must not on that account be
condemned as indifferent to the question of
Christian union. None long for such union
more ardently than they perhaps none are so
favourably situated for realising it ; if only the
obstacles which arise from error and miscon-
ception as to the principles and feelings of the
Methodist ministers and people canberemoved.
That such obstacles should be removed
is, however, of the highest importance. At
present Wesleyans are apt to feel themselves
affronted by the condescending overtures of
Churchmen. When the latter intimate their
hopes of a closer union with Wesleyans, Wes-
leyans themselves understand that the dissolu-
tion of their church-existence is held in view ;
and Wesleyan ministers who use any expres-
sion of friendly regard towards the Church of
England, or even towards particular efforts
and undertakings connected with that Church,
are liable to be annoyed and humiliated by
finding their friendliness construed into a will-
ingness to see the way made open for their
return into the * bosom of the Establishment.'
I have undertaken the discussion, at this time,



io Wesleyan Methodism Singled Out.

of the question of reunion, or absorption, as
it respects Wesleyans in particular, in the hope
that I may set it at rest by a fundamental
investigation, and to show that the aims and
hopes of the well-meaning men who are
perpetually raising it rest upon a tissue of
fallacies and illusions.

Why do Churchmen perpetually single out
Wesleyan Methodism from among the de-
nominations as the one to be absorbed ? Its
mass and unity, no doubt, attract their ad-
miration. Congregational churches could only
be annexed one by one ; Congregational pas-
tors would hardly be likely to go over in a
mass. But Methodism acts collectively : and,
if it could be imagined that the body as a
whole, under the leading of the Conference,
could be brought back into the Church of
England, of course the gain would be immense,
especially in these times of schism and dis-
traction within that Church. But might it not
naturally occur to Churchmen that the vaster
the system, the more highly organised in its
unity, the more complete in its manifold in-
tegrity, the more massive in the bulk of pro-
perty which it holds, the more multitudinous
in its aggregate of churches and congrega-
tions, so much the more improbable it must
be that it could ever be brought to consent



Intermcdiatt Position of Methodism, i r

to be reduced by absorption to the condition
of a mere dependency within a church, with
its pastors, except such as might have received
the privilege of re-ordination, reduced to the
rank of laydeacons, and its various, and in-
dependent life suppressed within the limits of
a mere ecclesiastical order, sanctioned in its
irregularity, but inferior and subordinate, sub-
ject to Anglo-episcopal control, and adjusted in
some way to the framework of the Established
Church, with its antique system of prescrip-
tion and stereotype ?

In 1856, indeed, the self-constituted
committee for promoting the absorption of
Methodism into the Church of England took
encouragement from the fact that Methodists
have never professed themselves Dissenters ;
and it is likely that the same consideration
has still some weight with Churchmen. The
reasons, however, for the intermediate position
occupied by Methodism are sufficiently plain.
Methodism did not originate in any active
Dissent, and does not now require of its mem-
bers, or even its ministers, any profession of
Dissent, from the Church of England. It grew
into a separate body, almost unconsciously,
and very reluctantly, by a process of separate
development, the steps of which I shall pre-
sently enumerate. Neither does Methodism



1 2 Neither English Churchmen nor Dissenters.

understand that it is any part of its duty to
profess any polemic principle, or to assume
any offensive or critical position in regard to
the Establishment, or any other Christian
communion. In the eye of the law the
Methodists may be regarded as Dissenters ;
but they raise, as Methodists, no question of
political relation, or of ritual or doctrine, as
regards the Church by law established. A
day may come when the connection between
Church and State in this country will be at
an end. The designation ' Dissenters ' will
then be out of date and out of place (there
are no Dissenters in America) but the posi-
tive principles of Wesleyan Methodism will
still remain.

It is a fact, indeed, that, some years ago,
a distinguished Methodist minister gave evi-
dence before a Committee of the House of
Lords in favour of Church-rates, and incident-
ally also in support of the Church of England,
as an eminently valuable religious and political
institution. But it must be remembered that
that evidence was given on the sole and per-
sonal responsibility of the witness. I have
elsewhere set down my own assurance, that
* undoubtedly the great majority of Wesleyans
were passively opposed to Church-rates ; they
heartily disliked them, although few of them



A High Authority Quoted. 13

may Lave joined in any agitation against
them.'* And in an able and temperate paper
published in the Wesley an Magazine for April,
1868, and understood to be from the pen of
the distinguished minister to whom I have
referred, which deals with the very subject of
' The Union of the Methodists with the Church
of England,' I find the following passage :

' We tope it now appears that in every point of
view these proposals for union are impracticable, ill-
considered, and inexpedient. If those who make them
would expend their time and talent in maintaining the
Protestant character of the Established Church, they
would do far more (though indirectly) towards accom-
plishing their object than by any such overtures as we
have lately heard of. They would conciliate the feel-
ings of many now grieved, beyond expression, at the
unfaithfulness of those who claim to be the only author-
ised guides and instructors of the English people.
Another method of usefulness in the same direction is
open to them. They may, in their several neighbour-
hoods, treat their Methodist neighbours with gentleness
and consideration, and respect their legal rights and
liberties. Many of the clergy appear to think a Methodist
preacher a being almost beneath notice, and debarred
from the courtesies of society. Union in a smaller
sphere they do not contemplate, though they talk about
it on a large scale. Wisdom, however, would reverse
this course of proceeding, and proceed from less to
more. Nothing is lost by civility; something may be
gained by it.'

* Essays, fyc., p. 7.



14 Increasing Stedfastness of Methodists.

There can be no greater mistake, indeed,
than to suppose that there is, or ever has
been, at least in the present generation, any
party within Methodism, whether of ministers
or among the people, who have felt the slightest
concern as to union with the Church of Eng-
land. Such a union has been regarded as
simply out of the question. There has never
been within my knowledge the faintest move-
ment in its favour. It was a complaint of
Mr. Crowther,* in 1795, that the ' children of
Methodists, alas ! too seldom grow up Method-
ists.' It is not an uncommon complaint of
Methodists to-day that their children, when
they grow up, migrate into the Church of
England. On the whole, however, the attach-
ment of Methodists to their own denomination
is firmer now than at any former period.
And, so far as I am able to judge, the number
of young persons brought up among the
Congregationalist Nonconformists who pass
across into the ranks of the more fashionable
and ecclesiastically open and undisciplined
State Church, is not smaller than of the child-
ren of Methodists. So, also, the number of
ministers now in the Church of England who
received their early training (in some instances

* The elder Jonathan Crowther, one of Wesley's
preachers.



Loyally to their own Church. 15

as ministerial candidates) in the ranks of Con-
gregational Dissent is probably larger in pro-
portion than of those who passed their early-
years in Methodism. It is scarcely to be
questioned that more ministers of mature age
and respectable position pass over to the
Church of England from the Independents
and Baptists than from the Methodists. The
Rev. George Venables, in his paper on Non-
conformists and the Church, read before the


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Online LibraryJames Harrison RiggThe churchmanship of John Wesley, and the relations of Wesleyan Methodism to the Church of England → online text (page 1 of 10)