Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

that the conditions upon which it was based having failed, it was found to be null and void, and was so declared; that the separation was not the result of a necessity found to have been produced by the action of the General Conference, but of a necessity created by the revolutionary action of the fifty-one delegates ; that the proceedings of the Louisville Convention had only nominally any connection with the report of the Committee of Nine; and that the formation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, being an illegal withdrawal from a legal jurisdiction, was, and is, a SECESSION.

To our General Conference of 1848 there came Dr. Lovick Pierce, accredited as a delegate of fraternal courtesy from the Church South, but not empowered to negotiate in regard to their encroachments upon our territory, or violation of our rights of property. His official mission was by us rejected. The charge has latterly been bandied from paper to paper of the Southern Methodist press that Dr. Pierce was personally treated by our General Conference with discourtesy. This is their settled and resentful assumption. On what proof they rely we know not; but we have the best of proof, namely, Dr. Pierce's own statement, that the personal treatment he received required his grateful acknowledgment. The response of the General Conference was to the following effect :

Whereas, a letter from Rev. L. Pierce, D.D., delegate of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, proposing fraternal relations between the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, has been presented to this Conference; and whereas, there are serious questions and difficulties existing between the two bodies; therefore,

Resolved, That wbile we tender to the Rev. Dr. Pierce all personal courtesies, and invite him to attend our sessions, this General Conference does not consider it proper, at present, to enter into fraternal relations with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

The following amendment was added by the Conference:

“Provided, however, that nothing in this resolution shall be so construed as to operate as a bar to any propositions from Dr. Pierce, or any other representative of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, toward the settlement of existing difficulties between that body and this.”

Dr. Elliott says:

“Dr. Pierce did not come to settle or acknowledge difficulties on the part of the Church South. He came, “in the unity of

[ocr errors]

Wesleyan Methodism,” to be received, and, through him, the Church South to be received as a sound branch of Wesleyan Methodism, after all that had passed. .. Dr. Pierce, however, was treated with eat courtesy by all. He was invited, by subsequent resolution, to a seat within the bar, with the explanation that such was the meaning and design of the action of the Conference in his case.

Dr. Pierce's final letter to our General Conference was as follows: To THE BISHOPS AND MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL CONFER

ENCE OF THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH:

REV. AND DEAR BRETHREN: I have received two extracts from your Journal of the 4th and 5th instant. From these extracts I learn

you decline receiving me in my proper character as the accredited delegate of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and only invite me to a seat within the bar as due to me on account of my private and personal merits. These considerations I shall appreciate, and will reciprocate them with you in all the private walks of Christian and social life. But within the bar of the General Conference I can only be known in my official character.

You will, therefore, regard this communication as final on the part of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. She can never renew the offer of fraternal relations between the two great bodies of Wesleyan Methodists in the United States. But the proposition can be renewed at any time, either now or hereafter, by the Methodist Episcopal Church. And if ever made upon the basis of the Plan of Separation, as adopted by the General Conference of 1844, the Church South will cordially entertain the proposition.

With sentiments of deep regard, and with feelings of disappointed hope, I am yours, in Christian fellowship,

L. PIERCE, Delegate from the M. E. Church, South. PITTSBURGH, May 9, 1848. The above testimony appears conclusively to exonerate our General Conference from the charge of personal discourtesy ; at the same time it strikes the key-note of a fraternization upon the basis of an imaginary “Plan of Separation.” Whether our next General Conference should or should not take any action on the subject of fraternal interchange with the Church South we offer no opinion. But it is clear that if a settlement of all outstanding complaints is to be a condition precedent to fraternity, the account runs over a long back series.

NOTE.—Our Southern friends will please not identify the writer of the above article with the editor of our Quarterly.

W.

a

ART. VII.- WESLEY'S SEPARATION FROM THE

MORAVIANS.
An Appendix to Dr. L. S. Jacoby's new History of Methodism.*

TRANSLATED BY W. F. WARREN.

We have already stated the causes on account of which Wesley separated from the Moravian Brethren; nevertheless, for the sake of placing the character of the Founder of Methodism and the real nature of these causes in their proper light, we will here explain them more at length.

John Wesley freely acknowledged that he had been led to a living faith by these brethren, and he cherished feelings of warm affection and regard toward them. He greatly desired to personally acquaint himself with the Church, members of which had become such loved instrumentalities to the salvation of his soul. Hence his journey in 1738 to Marienborn and Herrnhut. Of the ensuing events an impartial author, Dr. K. H. Sack, Professor and Councilor of the Consistory at Bonn, has recently given the following account. “ What delightful, yea, blessed impressions Wesley received from this people, appears in every paragraph of his Diary.t But, alas! it did not, perhaps could not and should not, so continue. From the close of the year 1739 Wesley believed he saw dangerous Antinomian and mystical opinions in the London Moravian Society with which he and his friends had united, also opinions which involved the doctrine of the universal restorationism. This pained him the more, from the fact that a portion of his hearers and adherents were disturbed and alienated from him by these opinions. In view of Wesley's profound conviction, that those who by grace have obtained justification throngh faith must feel themselves impelled to the greatest moral earnestness and to a zealous observance of God's commandments, there is no sort of necessity for assuming any selfish motive in explanation of the opposition which he now commenced.* During the first half of the year 1740 Wesley exerted himself to combat, by sermons and conversations, the errors which showed themselves in the Society. But the dissension became ever greater until Wesley, whom his opponents had repeatedly charged with heresy, on the 20th of July of that year publicly read, in a meeting in Fetter Lane, a paper in which he designated those points in their doctrine which, according to his judgment, were contrary to the word of God. On that day he disconnected himself from the Society, and from that time forward held his own meetings in another place. Thereupon he addressed a letter, under date of Aug. 8, 1740, to the Society in Herrnhut, with this superscription, “John Wesley, a presbyter of the Church of God in England, to the Church of God at Herrnhut, in Upper Lusatia.” In this epistle he shows them what is taught among them contrary to the Gospel, or what it is, at least, not forbidden to teach. His language is free, and here and there strong; but most of the propositions and opinions quoted in the letter are, beyond a question, suspicious in the highest degree, while others perhaps could be condemned only from a one-sidedly moral standpoint. He especially declared himself against the following doctrines and practices, to wit: that believers properly have nothing more to perform as commandment or duty; that one can have justifying faith and not know it; that there is no such thing as weak faith; that one need not use the means of

* Geschichte des Methodismus seiner Entstehung und Ausbreitung in den verschiedenen Theilen der Erde. Erster Theil: Geschichte des Brittischen Methodismus, und der Ausbreitung desselben in den Brittischen Colonien. So wie die Geschichte seiner Missionen. Von L. S. Jacoby. Bremen. 1870.

+ The following remark, therefore, in the History of the Renewed Church of the Brethren must be pronounced incorrect, as far as it relates to Wesley: “At this time there came to Marienborn, from England, the Methodists Benjamin Ingham and John Wesley; the former was mightily attracted by the spirit of the Society and the frankness of the brethren, not so the latter-he found more in Halle." Part I, p. 330.

grace, not even prayer and the reading of the Scriptures, until by faith one has obtained a pure heart; that the brethren were not open enough toward such as sinned before their eyes; that they undervalued good works, etc. Nevertheless, love beams through the earnestness of the warning, for he writes at the commencement, “I believe you to be dear children of God, through faith which is in Jesus."

In the spring of 1741 Spangenberg came to London, and having been commissioned by Count Zinzendorf to seek for a reconcilia

* We may therefore designate as an unfair judgment what Risler says in his Life of Spangenberg, p. 178, (Barby, 1794,) namely, that Wesley was envious of the Moravian Brethren because many of his followers joined them.

[ocr errors]

tion, exerted himself to effect it. To use his own language, “On account of our mother's children who are still angry with us, we have given ourselves great pains."* All was in vain. The divergence of opinions and modes of feeling had already become too considerable. Toward the end of this year the last attempt at reconciliation took place, but it also failed. Zinzendorf had come to London the first of September, 1741, and already on the third of the month he made appointment for a conference with Wesley.t

Of the conversation, which was held in Latin, the following is a literal translation. The original is found not only in Wesley’s diary, but also in Büding's “Collections,” published under Zinzendorf's own supervision, in which it appeared in the

year 1745.

In that,

Zinzendorf. Why have you changed your religion.

Wesley. I am not aware that I have changed my religion. Why do you think so? Who has told

you

this? 2. Plainly, yourself. I see it from your letter to us. having abandoned the religion which you professed among us, you profess a new one.

W. How so? I do not understand you.

Z. Yea, you say there that true Christians are not miserable sin. ners. This is most false. The best of men are most miserable sin. ners, even unto death. If any say otherwise, they are either wholly impostors, or diabolically led astray. Our brethren, teachers of better things, you have opposed; and have refused peace to them desiring it.

W. I do not yet understand what you mean.

Z. When you wrote to me from Georgia I loved you very much. I perceived that you were then simple in heart. You wrote again; I saw that you were still simple in heart, but disordered in your ideas. You came among us; your ideas were then still more disordered and confused. You returned to England. Some time after I heard that our brethren were contending with you. I sent Spangenberg to effect a reconciliation between you. He wrote to me that the Brethren had injured you. I wrote back that they should not only desist, but even ask your pardon. Spangenberg wrote again that they had asked it; but that you, boasting of these things, were unwilling to be at peace. Now, being come, I hear the same.

W. The matter by no means turns on that point. Your breth

* See “Life of Spangenberg," p. 178. The remark on page 177, “When others preach of their perfection, we glory in our misery and weakness, and that a lamb is slain for us," must be understood as referring to Wesley.

+ The diary of John Wesley on his journey to Germany in 1738, and his con. ference with Zinzendorf, anno 1741. Niedner's “ Zeitschrift für historische The. ologie.” 1864. 2d Heft. [The foot-notes are all by Dr. Sack. TR.]

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »