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tion, and that they were-empowered to ordain others. And it is equally clear, from authentic history, that there has been a succession of persons, derived from God himself, authorized to ordain as the occasion might require. It appears, moreover, that God was pleased and satisfied with the mode of proceeding; for at the death of Judas, Matthias was appointed; and at the day of Pentecost “they were all” (including Matthias) "filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Hence we may conclude, that as the apostles derived their authority from our Saviour, so our bishops derive theirs from the apostles themselves. There is, indeed, no doubt that there has been an uninterrupted succession of ministers, regularly ordained to their sacred office, from the commencement of Christianity to the present time, an unbroken chain of bishops, priests, and deacons: a regular succession has taken place; at the death of one, another has been appointed, and so on until now. Besides, our reason and experience concur to convince us, that unless men be properly educated and duly called to the ministry, individuals of heated fancies, and of very little knowledge, in unbecoming language, will madly rush in“ where angels fear to tread,” and inducting themselves into the priesthood, cause the service of Almighty God to be loathed and laughed at.
It ought to be held no libel to affirm, what is notorious in respect to many of the ministers of the Wesleyans, that they are very illiterate men, and unable to speak their native tongue with correctness, and therefore incompetent to deliver the vital truths of Christianity to sinners accomplished in this world's wisdom. It is true that the apostles were some of the most ignorant men of the Jewish nation; but God chose these persons that the miracle might be the more impressive; and when it was performed, be it remembered, their ignorance departed. Thus the similarity imagined by the Wesleyans vanishes. We read of the Apostles suddenly speaking so many languages which they had never learnt: “ Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, heard them speak in their own tongues the wonderful works of God."* No apology can be made for a system, the teachers of which are “novices” in theology. It is very true that Wesley, when he first heard of laymen undertaking the office of public instructors in religion, was greatly opposed to the presumption. Why then did he not insist on the innovation being abandoned? or at least why did he not shake off and renounce those who persisted in the practice? Because, with all his influence, he could not curb the enthusiasm which he himself had invoked? He saw, to his sorrow, the fatal working of the machine which he had put in motion!
* Acts ü. 12.
Epaphras mentions another practice among the Wesleyans, of suffering females to hold forth publicly. It were almost idle to say any thing upon this head. Women are expressly enjoined to“ keep silence in the churches." So we find it ruled by Scripture; and yet, as if to provoke the anger of the Deity by directly contravening his holy oracles, women are to be met with who, by their chattering, would seem to glory in collecting a crowd, and preaching, as they call it, the solemn word of God.
We come now to the last methodistic practice stigmatized in the work before us; and though the last, it is not the least dangerous in its consequences. We allude to the class-meetings and band-meetings. Upon what authority these meetings are held, we are totally at a loss to conjecture. “The church of England has no such customs.” Confession to God is necessary; but the confessing every secret sin to man, or divulging to the world our inward temptations, and making known the manner we were delivered from them, appears a practice without any scriptural foundation,
In the primitive Church, persons that confessed “did not always make a public declaration of the fact for which they appeared in the rank of penitents. The congregation, to be sure, knew that something was wrong; but what ignorant or conscious sin had been committed they were no otherwise acquainted with.* It is well known how, in after years, this custom came to be abused. The pope, conceiving that it would considerably augment his finances and his power, took the office of confessor general, and granted pardons which were sold publicly under the name of "indulgences," or a "remission of all sins, past, present, and future." Let the Wesleyan recollect, that at the Reformation the church of England brushed away the insidious cobwebs with which, during the entrancement of Christianity, her temples were disfigured. She “ reduced confession to its primitive plan. She neither calls it a sacrament, nor requires it to be used as universally necessary." “ But because it is necessary that no man should come to the holy communion, but with a full trust in God's mercy, and with
a quiet conscience ; she therefore advises, that if there be any one who is not able to quiet his own conscience, but requireth farther comfort or counsel, he should come to his own or some other discreet and learned minister of God's word, and open his grief, that, by the ministry of God's word, he may receive the benefit of absolution, together with ghostly counsel and advice, to the quieting of his conscience, and avoiding of all scruples and doubtfulness. There is here no compulsion; every one is left to his own discretion. Indeed, there is no greater temptation to hypocrisy and mock humility, than to be obliged to confess the sins to man, which are daily committed. But let it not for one moment be supposed that we look slightingly upon humble confession to Almighty God; this is a requisite surety, and when combined with, and followed up by an earnest endeavour to lead a new life, will, through the merits of Christ, save our souls alive.
Art. XII.--The Wesleyans vindicated from the Calumnies
contained in a Pamphlet entitled “ The Church of England compared with Wesleyan Methodism," in a Dialogue between a Churchman and a Methodist. Second Edition. London: J. Mason,
WE are involuntarily led to follow up our stricture upon the Wesleyan seceders by“ last words," in consequence of a little tract having been submitted to our notice. We had brought the preceding paper to a close, but for fear of any misconstruction, we think it better to return to the consideration of the subject, in the same spirit which, from our hearts, we deem most important in every point of view.
In the first place we have to demur to two verbal errors in the indictment, both strongly indicative of an uncandid, not to say unchristian temper.
What can be intended by the word "calumnies?" Can the writer of the Dialogue be aware of the definition of the term he has chosen to employ? We sincerely hope not. We, however, beg to acquaint him that a clergyman of the church of England has too proud a consciousness of his ministerial character were he not otherwise deterred by motives of more solemn and therefore more stringent obligation) to “bear false witness,"—to be the medium of deception,-to avouch in the face of the
See the conclusion of the first exhortation to the Holy Communion. Also, refer to Mal. ii, 7; 1 Thess. v. 14; Luke xxii. 32; John xx. 23.
world, that which he knows to be false. Nay, we maintain, with all due deference to the author of this tract, that were he inclined, the christian minister of our Establishment dare not publish wittingly an untruth. We have no such custom." If, in the present instance, certain obnoxious exposés of Epaphras should turn out to be unfounded, we hope that, at all events, good will be educed out of evil, and that the Wesleyans will recognise the propriety of their having articles of their faith properly drawn up and substantiated, ere they presume to charge their fellow-Christians with “ promulging calumnies. Let this be done, and we shall not be liable to any misapprehension, but know what they really do believe in common with churchmen, and what, with or without reason, they find fault with. This would be justice to all parties. They must have some grounds or other for their secession. It rests with them to say what they are. It is quite clear that the respected, learned, and orthodox Editor of the British Magazine is held in no good esteem by the inventor of this Dialogue. We discover symptoms of chagrin in almost every page; and the cause which would seem to be assigned, brings us to the second verbal misstatement of the defendant.
The title-page of the Vindicator is disfigured by a "calumny." He has there asserted, that “the Church of England compared with Wesleyan Methodism" was “recommended by the British Magazine to the clergy and laity of England for general distribution.” It is not for us
It is not for us to assume the liberty to speak for the journal in question, which is well able to defend itself; but we are bound to observe, that the declaration of the Vindicator is not founded in fact, and shall merely refer the reader to the British Magazine for February last for the explanation of our meaning. But to let that pass. How the editor of a periodical can be supposed to make himself responsible for the contents of a work which he introduces to his readers ; how, in any sense, he can be said to pledge his character for their correctness, passes our understanding. For our parts, we should be sorry to be responsible for the contents of the pamphlet under consideration, although we certainly would recommend it for general distribution, that men may know upon what slight foundation the Wesleyan seceders have built their creed, and how lamentable is their failure, when they are called upon to "give a reason for the hope and the faith that is in them."
The preface of “ The Wesleyans vindicated,” is insidiously drawn up. The author gives us to understand, that the Wesleyans are strong supporters of the Church. He states that he might have made his pamphlet “ a vehicle of invective against the Establishment, but this he could not do consistently with
his own principles. The church of England he has long been taught to venerate; and he cherishes a growing conviction that her preservation, in all her integrity, is essential to the wellbeing of these realms. It is with no pleasure, therefore, that he contemplates the combination which is formed to effect her overthrow. With that combination he has no sympathy whatever.” This we are bound to believe, and to return him our sincere thanks for his good wishes; and therefore, we cannot say of his performance, as the author himself has affirmed of the tract which has given him so much sorrow,” that it is “ destitute of all candour;" that it is “void of even the semblance of truth;" we cannot say that it is “ poison," or that " it is characterized throughout by a scandalous disregard of truth ;” we cannot use such hard terms, lest peradventure we endanger our respectability, or forfeit that character which is the essential attribute of a gentleman. We repeat, that we are bound, and willing, to take for granted, that the feelings of amity here professed are meant in all sincerity, so far as the author is himself concerned; but it by no means follows, that the whole body of the Wesleyans is impressed with similar sentiments of attachment or respect. His representation is to his credit; but he may be an exception, and exceptions are not so rife as in the days of Wesley. But we will not set to work upon this point ere we have done with the preface, which savours, like the rest of the performance, of “ human perfection.” What say our readers to the following specimen ? “ The true pillars and saviours of the Church, under God, are the men of peace and love, who faithfully preach the doctrines of the Reformation.” Men the saviours of the Church!We will not pause for their reply, but remark in sincerity and kindness, that the word must have been a lapsus, a carelessness of the moment, and could never have been intended by the writer. We are sure he will not defend his use of the word, by any example in the Old Testament; he must know that it is now holy, and not to be taken in vain. We would however at the same time caution him, not for the future to scatter abroad his invectives against others, who is liable to stumble so fatally himself.
The argument of the pamphlet before us is carried on in the form of a dialogue, between a (pseudo) Churchman and a Methodist. The disguised churchman brings the tract we have noticed in the preceding article to one whom, as he tells us, he has “ known as a peaceable and upright neighbour, for many years." At first, he “ hesitates dislike," hinting “ a doubt of the truth of the statements.” Then comes an apprehension, that “ it is a tissue of falsehoods;" and is easy to “ the wish was father to the thought." The tract, however, is left with the Methodist for his " candid" judgment; and the