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theology which deprives the Deity of his absolute freedom, and makes of him something less than an ever-living Will. On the one hand we must repudiate the science (falsely so called) which makes creation a 'necessary evolution of matter and force, even if that force be dignified by the name 'God.' And on the other hand we must reject that theology which limits the divine will to the single act of a sudden miracle of creation in the beginning,' and leaves the universe to the predestinated roll of an unchangeable and inflexible mechanism. A living will must ever be a living will, and must have a ceaseless exercise. God must for ever be the Lord. The universe must still be under his control. The limited freedom which is permitted to man, and by which he produces new results, and adapts his action to new conditions, must for ever be to us an intimation and an illustration of the exercise of the unlimited power by which the Deity“ worketh his own will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.”

In the light of the facts and principles above presented all the objections to a supernatural religion seem to us to vanish in thin air.

Among most scientific men the prevalent conception of the “miraculous ” is that of power acting independent of all means,

, and in conflict with all natural laws; whereas the true conception is that of a power exercised through the use of means which are beyond our knowledge and control, and which exercises of power belong to a realm of moral order which is above the order of nature.

It is not incumbent upon us that we shall regard a miracle “as an event opposed to and in conflict with natural law.” Such a definition exposes the defense of Christianity to insurmountable difficulties. Christian theology does not require that we shall regard a miracle in any other light than the intervention of a Being of superhuman power, modifying, controlling, collocating, and adjusting the operation of natural laws to secure higher purposes, and to accomplish ends which are not secured by the uniform action of mere nature alone. 6. The miracles of revelation, with all the objective supernaturalness essentially belonging to them, are in truth somewhat accordant with natural laws, partly in reference to the higher order of circumstances to which the miracles relate, and which order is also a world, a nature of its own kind, and operates upon the lower order of things according to its mode; partly in regard to the analogy with that common nature, which miracles in some way or other retain, and finally on account of their teleological perfection." *

Man, in the exercise of his intelligence and freedom, is perpetually interfering with, modifying, controlling, and collocating natural laws. He does so if he but disturb one pebble in a state of rest, or stay the fall of another before it reach the ground. He does so on a larger scale when he lifted the dome of St. Peter on its arches, and thus resists the law of gravitation, or projects a cannon ball to the distance of miles, or tears the rocks asunder, or freezes water in red-hot crucibles, or constrains the winds, or steam, or light, or electricity, or chloroform to accomplish his intelligent purposes and fulfill his will.

Man's acting upon nature proves that there is in him a power above nature. The results of many of his actions may be properly and strictly pronounced "supernatural.” God's action upon nature may be conceived as analogous to man's action upon nature. The difference between finite power and infinite power constitutes a miracle, that is, it is not only supernatural, but superhuman.

To our mind, therefore, it is just as easy to believe in a “miracle," say the turning of water into wine, as to believe that water can be frozen in a red-hot crucible, or the thoughts and words of man transmitted on insulated wires over thonsands of miles in a few seconds. Finite power achieves the one, infinite power achieves the other.

* Nitzsch's System of Christian Doctrine, page 84.

Art. V.-MINISTERIAL TRANSFERS. Minutes of the Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church for the

Years 1868-9. " THE Minutes of the Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church” open to our view a most remarkable record. As a chronicle of our itinerant work, they show how a small band of men, beginning a century ago in a chamber in the city of New York, have spread out the net-work of cir. cuits and stations across the entire continent. More than a million of members are embraced in the expanding fold. The small corps of preachers has grown to an army of more than eight thousand. Nor does the first impulse given to the work appear to have spent its force; the revival progresses, and affords promise of continuing, if not with unabated strength, yet with remarkable vigor, for another century.

The circuits of some of the first itinerants were as large as the kingdom of Great Britain. They often spread over whole States. In our day, annual conferences have been carved out of primitive circuits. The ministry were, emphatically, a circulating medium. Broad as were the fields, those men, inspired with an irrepressible zeal for God and for the spread of scriptural holiness, swept like a flame through the continent. In all the land Methodism breathed the same spirit, uttered the saine sentiment, and displayed a power which no obstacles could successfully oppose.

But, as the work became developed and churches multiplied on the territory, the magnificent field was unfortunately fenced off into conferences; and the preachers, by this process, became

, restricted to narrower limnits, till at length annual conferences are often smaller, territorially, than the circuits of the fathers. Still more unfortunately, as this restricting process advanced, the difficulty of transcending conference boundaries also increased. With the fathers, conference boundaries were mere imaginary lines, drawn for ecclesiastical convenience, but liable to be passed without challenge; while in our day they have grown into hirsute iron fences, so high that no one can venture to scale them without exposing himself to the danger of being impaled.

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In the early days, in the absence of railroads and steamboats, and even of good carriage-roads, when the itinerant must proceed on horseback, there was some excuse for restricting and narrowing the fields of travel; but in our more favored time, when the passage from Boston to Chicago is easier than it then was from New York to Albany, we have every inducement to diffuse our ministerial gifts—to break out of the old grooves, to seek new channels, to become free of the continent. But, somewhat strangely, as facilities for inter-communication have improved, our ecclesiastical lines have become more closely drawn, insomuch that with us the interchange of ministerial talent with distant fields is less frequent than in other denominations. In the Congregational, Baptist, and Episcopal Churches, ministers pass frequently and freely from east to west, and from west to east, while with us the transfers are the exceptions, are effected with difficulty, and are regarded as objectionable, and to be rendered as infrequent as possible. The conferences have come to be a series of ecclesiastical

pens, where the members are kept close; and if any chance to escape, he is pursued as a stray till he can be inclosed and held till property is proved and costs paid. Instead of being the most itinerant, we have, perhaps, become the most localized of American Churches.

This departure from the early usage of the denomination is to be deprecated. The primitive efficiency and power of the body is attributable, in no small measure, to the frequent and wide interchange of ministerial talent. The fire of the South, and the reckless daring of the West, gave intensity to the more staid society of the East; while the intellect and disciplined zeal of the East lent strength and steadiness to the remoter and newer sections of the country. That equal advantages, at the present time, would inure to all parts of the work by a similar practice, cannot be doubted. Different sections of the country are complemental of each other, and if we would have a harmonious country or a symmetrical Church, each must feel the influence of the other. The ministry, as the sympathetic band uniting the Churches, should be somewhat more general, more diffusive, touching more distant points in the field of labor. By such a diffusion of the talents of the ministry, it cannot be doubted that great advantages to both preachers and people

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would be realized. Only a few of them in passing can be enumerated.

1. Transfers would facilitate the arrangement of the appointments. The appointments are the hinges on which the itinerancy turns, and whaterer can aid in adjusting them will tend to remove friction from the machinery, and to render the system successful. The ground of the appointment is fitness ; the gifts selected to fill the pulpit are to be adapted to the wants of the people. That the arrangement is arbitrary, is altogether a mistaken view of the case, and one sure to prove fatal in practice. The wise and successful administrator endeavors, in each case, to ascertain the application of this law of fitness, and, of course, the wider the field from which he may draw, the more likely is he to secure a suitable appointment. Contined to a single presiding eider's district, however clearly he may discern the demands of the work, he will find it in many cases impossible to secure a happy adjustment; but allow him a wider scope, through an entire conference or a dozen conferences, and he will, by this law of affinity, approximate an harmonious adjustment of all the gifts. The brilliant talents, however obscured, will gravitate, as by some unknown law, to the dominant charge; while the brother who has failed in one section, transferred to a more genial clime, to a more fertile soil, affording him a new probation, under favorable conditions, will earn a higher name for himself and the Church.

2. More extended transfers would tend to maintain the unity of Methodism over the entire Republic. In the primitive Church, the spiritual union of the faithful was regarded as an infallible sign of discipleship, as well as the most potent argiiment with which to convince the unbelieving of the truth and excellency of the Gospel. By this weapon the foe was repelled, while the body of believers, as in solid phalanx, pressed to the conquest of the world. What men had denied to power, to intelligence, to moral beauty, they yielded to love and fraternal unity. The world rushed to the embrace of a united Church. In this respect Methodism was a copy of the apostolic Church. It was a gospel of love—a system in which the hearts of the disciples were closely cemented in a common experience and a common mission. The whole Church gathered by an itinerant ministry in troublous times," was of one mind."

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