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rights and privileges, on an equitable plan delegate from each circuit and station, of representation, is essential to, and the within the bounds of the district, for each best safeguard of Christian liberty." of its itinerant ministers. The annual
The constitution is preceded by a set of conferences respectively are invested with clementary principles, which may be viewed power to elect a president annually—to as a bill of rights. These bind the church examine into the official conduct of all to the laws of Christ ; secure the rights of their members—to receive by vote such private judgment and the expression of ministers and preachers into the confer. opinion; protect church membership ; de ence as come properly recommended by clare the principles on which church trials the quarterly conference of their circuit or shall be conducted, and guard against un- station—to elect to orders those who are righteous excommunications; point out eligible and competent to the pastoral the residence of legitimate authority to office-to hear and decide on appeals from make and enforce rules and regulations, the decisions of committees appointed to for the proper and wholesome government try ministers—to define and regulate the of the church. The constitution recog. boundaries of circuits and stations-to nises the rights and secures the interests station the ministers, preachers, and misof both ministers and laymen, and grants sionaries—to make such rules and regulaan equal representation to both. By this tions as may be necessary to defray the provision, made permanent under consti- expenses of the itinerant ministers and tutional law, the entire association is fairly preachers and their families. The annual represented in the General Conference, conferences, respectively, have authority which is the legislative department of the to perform the following additional duties: church. The executive, legislative, and 1st. To make such special rules and regu. judicial departments are kept distinct, and lations as the peculiarities of the district in each and all of them, the laity have may require ; provided, however, that no their due weight, and equal power with rule be made inconsistent with the constithe ministers. The government is, there. tution—the General Conference to have fore, representative, and admirably bal power to annul any such rule. 2d. To anced in all its parts.
prescribe and regulate the mode of stationThe General Conference is assembled ing the ministers and preachers within the every fourth year, and consists of an equal district; provided always, that they grant number of ministers and laymen. The to each minister or preacher stationed, an ratio of representation from each annual appeal, during the sitting of the confer. conference district, is, one minister and ence. And no minister or preacher to be one layman for every thousand persons in stationed longer than three years, succesfull membership. This body, when assem- sively, in the same circuit, and two years, bled, possesses power, under certain re- successively, in the same station. 3d. strictions, to make such rules and regula- Each annual conference is clothed with tions for the government of the whole power to make its own rules and regulachurch, as may be necessary to carry into tions for the admission and government effect the laws of Christ; to fix the com- of colored members within its district; pensation and duties of the itinerant min. and to make for them such terms of sufisters and preachers, and the allowance of frage as the conferences may respectively their wives, widows, and children ; and deem proper. Each annual conference is also the compensation and duties of the required to keep a journal of its proceedbook agent, editor, &c., and to devise ings, and to send a copy to the General ways and means for raising funds, and to Conference. define and regulate the boundaries of the The quarterly conferences are the imrespective annual conference districts. mediate official meetings of the circuits
The respective annual conferences as. and stations, and assemble quarterly, for semble annually, and are composed of all the purposes of examining the official the ordained itinerant ministers; that is, charter of all the members, consisting of all ministers properly under the stationing the trustees, ministers, preachers, exhortauthority of ihe conference ? and of one ers, leaders and stewards of the circuit or
station ; to grant to persons properly quali- , the age of twenty-one years. The class, fied, and recommended by the class of of which the accused is a member, nomi. which' he is a member, license to exhort nates two more male members in like or preach ; to recommend ministers and standing, those four persons select a fifth, preachers to the annual conference to and the five persons thus chosen, constitravel, and for ordination ; and to hear tute a competent court of trial. and decide on appeals made by laymen The above particulars constitute a brief from the decision of committees on sketch of the origin and system of the trial.
Methodist Protestant Church. She has The leaders' meeting is peculiar to sta- progressed with an even steady pace, tions, and is composed of the superintend- maintained peace in all her borders, and ent of the station, the stewards and the has contributed her share of usefulness leaders. The superintendent is the minis- towards the general good. As a seceding ter who has the charge of the station. church from the Methodist Episcopal, she The stewards are appointed by the male entertains no unfriendly feelings to that members of the station to receive and dis- denomination of Christians. The docburse the collections made in the classes trines taught by both churches, the means and the church. The leaders are elected of grace and mode of worship being simiby their respective classes and represent lar, the only difference lies in governthem in the leaders' meeting. This meet- ment: the Methodist Episcopal Church ing is the organ of reception of members rejecting lay representation and adopting into the church, and the dispenser of re- an unlimited episcopacy; while the Melief to the poor through the hands of the thodist Protestant Church admits lay restewards. In the circuits, persons are presentation and a parity in the ministry. received into full membership by vote of These points of difference, though very the society. Class leaders, stewards, trus- great, are deemed not sufficient to justify tees, exhorters, and private members, an alienation of Christian affection ; there. when charged with immorality or neglect fore, the two churches are one in Christ of Christian duty, are duly notified by the Jesus, and are both laboring to promote superintendent, sufficient time being al- the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom lowed to make preparation for their de among men, and are to be viewed as two fence, and the right of challenge is granted branches of the great Methodist family in to extend to any number of the committee Europe and in this country. not exceeding the whole number originally For further particulars, the reader is appointed. The committee of trial is ap- referred to the Discipline, to Williams's pointed in the following manner. The History of the Methodist Protestant superintendent nominates two persons in Church, and to Samuel K. Jennings' ful, membership and good standing, over “ Exposition."
THE REFORMED METHODIST CHURCH.
BY REV. WESLEY BAILEY, UTICA, NEW YORK,
The writer, in the following article, can own likeness on the hearts of the itinerant give but an outline, a brief and hasty superintendents. And in order to regain, sketch of the history of the body of and, if possible give a more abiding effect Christians with which he stands connected, to the true and free spirit of the gospel, viz. : The Reformed Methodists. Want which, in their belief, had been departed of time and documentary facts prevent, at from in practice; to remove every inward this time, his laying before the public as and outward obstruction, and in hope of extended and correct a view of this branch establishing rules of discipline and selfof the Methodist family, as he could wish government more in conformity with the for the excellent forthcoming “history of simple principles and primitive method of the whole Church.”
prescribed in the gospel : they felt them. The Reformed Methodists took their selves impelled by their conscientious origin from a feeble secession from the scruples “to come out from creature Methodist Episcopal Church, in the towns bondage into the greater freedom of divine of Whitingham and Readsborough, Ver- example.” To evince to those with whom mont, January 16th, 1814. We say feeble they had been on terms of fellowship that secession, because their entire number did their motives were such as brethren and not exceed fourteen persons, and these in Christians should be governed by under no way distinguished for talent or learn these circumstances, they issued their ing; but were plain, unassuming me- manifesto of grievances, which, if not rechanics and farmers, none of whom held moved, presented no other alternative than any higher relation to the Methodist Epis- that of separation. Failing in the hopedcopal Church, than that of local preachers for object, they on the 16th of January, and exhorters.
1814, met in convention at Readsborough ; We trust the first Reformed Methodists Elijah Bailey was called to the chair, and entered upon the work of reform with Eżra Amadon, chosen secretary. lowliness of mind, and not through strife At this convention they formed them. and vain-glory. They felt straitened in selves into a church under the above name, their religious rights and privileges un. and appointed a conference to be held on der the Episcopal mode of church govern. the following 5th of February, at which ment. The gospel precept is : to “ Es. they adopted articles of religion and rules teem each other better than ourselves ;" | of church government. At this confer. but they feared that this precept of humil. ence their number was somewhat increas. ity, under the practice of the Episcopal ed. Wm. Lake, a local preacher of the mode of church government, had been lost Methodist Episcopal Church, united with sight of, and that this anti-democratic form them at this time; of him we shall speak of church organization tended to beget its in another place. Whether the govern. ment of an Episcopacy had obtained or have not been enabled to see from the rewas verging to the state and pageantry of cords of truth any limitations interposed ambassadors of pomp, instead of being since apostolical times, and hence they ambassadors of bonds, or not; whether conclude that we may now, in this age, ministerial oppression and selfish affections pray for the removal of temporal as well were wasting the new covenant blessings, as spiritual diseases; and that “ according and all the gentle and unassuming intiu- to their faith it will be done unto them." ences of brotherly and loving kindness, It is not our object to discuss this point, one toward another, in godly fear-it is but it is proper that we should notice it as sufficient that they feared and believed it. a characteristic of the Reformed MethoWith “ fear and trembling" they entered dists, a point for which they have suffered upon the course they had chosen, in the reproach ; but how justly we leave others hope that equality and union with each to judge. In leaving the Methodist Episother, would bring the connexion into copal Church, they aimed at a reform ex. nearer and fuller union with Christ, the tending farther and deeper than the exterHead of the Church.
nal organization of the church—to a re. The Reformed Methodists hold the fun- form that should infuse new vitality and damental doctrines of the Methodist Epis. living faith into the body. That God has copal Church. On the Trinity and the heard the prayer of faith, and raised up Sonship of Christ, they are with John the sick among them in numerous inWesley, Fletcher, Benson, and Watson, stances, is what they most firmly believe, and opposed to the views of Dr. Adam and is to them a subject of devout thanksClarke. Their articles of religion are few giving to his blessed name. That those in number, embracing those points only holding and preaching this doctrine should peculiar to Methodism. Their system of be liable to extravagances is quite obvious ; church government is essentially Congre- and we frankly confess, that in some in. gational in its character, all power being stances the truth may have been blamed in the primary bodies, the churches, and by the unskillfulness with which some of delegated from time to time with a rigid the Reformed Methodists have treated this accountability to the bodies by whom it is subject. But we believe that unbelief has conferred.
been the damning sin of the church, and The only point of religious faith which that it is far better to believe too much has distinguished the Reformed Methodists, than too little ; better to become a "fafrom other branches of the same family, natic” in faith and love, than be the heartis perhaps, the extent which some of our less worshipper of a God, as ruthless as leading men have given to faith and its the rocks, and as merciless as the waves operations. They have held and taught -a God who has tied himself up by phy. that the same faith now, would produce sical laws, which govern him as arbitrarily the same effects it did in primitive times. as they do the universe of matter. So That the lapse of ages cannot render void much for the “ fanaticism ” of the Rethe promises of God, or a living faith in formed Methodists. Let it be placed upon Christ powerless, whether such faith be the record of time-let it be placed upon exerted with respect to the temporal or the records of eternity, as a point in their spiritual wants of man. And while some faith, a trait in their religious sentiments. of the more “ orthodox” have regarded the If the Reformed Methodists have stead. “Reformers as fanatics,” on this point, fastly insisted upon any one point in the they (the Reformers) have considered the gospel more than another, it is the doccharge as having its origin in their own trine of the attainableness of entire sancti. infidelity and unbelief. They have be-fication in this life, through faith in the lieved that the church has apostatized ; all-atoning blood of Jesus Christ. Indeed, that as all blessings given in answer to they have regarded the disbelief of this prayer are suspended upon the condition great truth, and the consequent neglect to of faith, that therefore faith is the restoring seek for the blessings, as the primary principle. They dare not limit faith, ex- cause of the disbelief of the sentiment cept by a “ thus saith the Lord.” They above noticed, – sanctification, which cleansing the heart from all sin, and POLITY OF THE REFORMED METHO. bringing the whole soul into communing
DIST CHURCH. with him, naturally begets faith in God, That the polity of the Reformed Me. as a living God; and the clear and abi. thodist Church may be the better underding conviction that God is faithful to one stood, we shall examine it under three difpromise, naturally leads to confidence in ferent heads. all his promises.
1. The Church.—The local churches The Conditions of Fellowship and are regarded as the origin of power. All Membership.—The Reformed Methodists officers in the church must derive their hold these as the same, or make them run authority from the people, either by a di. parallel in admitting members to their so. rect election or by their delegates chosen cieties. The “fruits of righteousness for the expressed purpose. A number of witnessed by taking up the cross and fol. believers may ordain for themselves elders lowing Christ,” says the Discipline, “ shall or bishops, and do all things necessary to be the only test of Christian fellowship.” constitute themselves a church of Christ. All who “ walk according to this rule," Acting upon this principle in the infancy are, on application, received into the of their organization, the Reformed Me. church ; its ministers are required to sub-thodist connexion set apart a few of their scribe to their articles of religion, but per- number by prayer and the laying on of sons are received to membership on the the hands of a committee, to the office of simple test of their experience, without elder. They hold this as a right which a requiring an assent to all the doctrines of local church may, in cases of necessity, the Discipline. The Church of Christ is exercise—but still as a prudential regulaa spiritual body. They are made one, tion, have placed the ordination of elders brought into spiritual sympathy, not by in the hands of the annual conferences. the letter of a creed, or by the subscribing Churches are divided into classes accordto certain doctrines, but by the Spirit of ing to their numbers, with a leader for God. Hence the Reformed Methodists each class, chosen by themselves. The hold that a union of spirit should be made churches have the right of selecting their indispensable to a union of Christians in own ministers, the ministers the right of visible church bonds; and when that union selecting their own fields of labor, without is broken, the spirit of love departed, then the interference of a higher foreign or centhere should be a dissolution of the con- tral power, and this with respect to length nexion. Consequently, the Reformed Me. of time and salary. thodists hold that the door out of the The Annual Conferences.-An annual Church should the same as into it, conference is composed of delegates from that as evidence of sins forgiven and heart all the churches in a given district, the renewed, is the only condition of admis. number of delegates from each church or sion to the church, so the want of these circuit being proportioned to their numcontinued fruits is regarded as sufficient bers. Ministers may be chosen delegates, occasion for expulsion. They believe this but are not delegates by virtue of their term of church membership is the only office. The object of the annual confer. one on which a living spiritual church can ence is to transact business which equally be maintained. Their views of Christian interests all the local, primary bodiesfellowship are equally liberal with respect such as the examination of preachers as to other Churches. They hold that all of to their moral character, gifts and useful. the children of God have a right to all the ness, the ordination of elders, the provision ordinances of God's house in all places of of ways and means for missionary opera. his people—and that no rite dependent on tions, the support of feeble and destitute human sanction, can lawfully bar a Chris- churches, and general objects of common tian from the table of the Lord. Baptism interest. These conferences are held an. is administered to all, according to their nually, and ordinarily hold their session consciences, and enforced upon none, and three or four days. The annual conferin no case made a test of church-fellow-ence has power to withdraw fellowship ship.
from a disorderly church, but no power to