Methodist Episcopal Church, The

Methodist Episcopal Church, The is the official title of the largest body of Methodists in the United States, with branches in different parts of the world.

I. Organization.-This title was assumed by the American Methodists as a distinct body at what is historically known as the "Christmas Conference," which commenced its session on Friday, Dec. 24, 1784, and was continued through Christmas week, and until the second day of the new year. Previous to this period the American Methodists had constituted societies, like those in Great Britain, in connection with and under the jurisdiction of the Revelation John Wesley, whom they all alike reverenced and obeyed as their spiritual father and head. The first Methodist service in America is believed to have been held in the year 1766, in the city of New York, by Philip Embury, an Irish immigrant and local preacher, a carpenter by trade, who was moved thereto by the stirring appeals of Barbara Heck, an Irishwoman, whose name is illustrious in the annals of the denomination. Thomas Webb, a captain in the British army, who was then staying in America, Robert Strawbridge, and Robert Williams, all local preachers, were, with Embury, the prosecutors of the work thus begun, until, in the autumn of 1769, Richard Boardman and Joseph Pilmoor arrived at Philadelphia as missionaries sent out by Mr. Wesley. Seven others afterwards came; but the entire service of all Wesley's missionaries in the colonies was less than twenty-eight years, leaving out of the account Francis Asbury, who alone of them remained in the country during the Revolutionary War, and who became the apostle and bishop of the Church.

Though several of them were not fortunate in their associations with their American brethren, two soon becoming Presbyterians, a third, by his active Toryism, causing grave scandal and even persecution, and none, except Asbury, staying long, they, as a whole, by their labors, zeal, and adherence to the well-proved Wesleyan discipline, were instrumental in settling the cause upon a firm basis, and raising up scores of native preachers to carry on the work.

The first Conference, held in 1773, presided over by Rankin as superintendent, consisted of ten members, all Europeans, with an aggregate in the societies of 1160. In May, 1784, eleven years later, notwithstanding all the adverse influences of the war, they numbered 14,988 members, several hundred local preachers and exhorters, 84 itinerant preachers, with more than sixty chapels, and probably not less than 200,000 attendants upon their worship. By the system of itinerancy, which had been rigidly enforced during this period, Methodism had been prevented from localizing itself, and had established organized societies in every state of the Union outside of New England, become the dominant, popular, religious power in Maryland and Delaware, and at several points planted its standard beyond the Alleghanies. Though thus widely spread, nearly nine tenths of its membership were south of Mason and Dixon's line, and of these a large proportion were in the Middle States, where the Anglican,. or the English Established Church, once so flourishing, had become nearly extinct.

Most of the Methodists of 1784 were without the sacraments; for the English clergy upon whom they had generally depended had, with few exceptions, either left the country or forsaken their parishes. Thousands had been received into the societies without baptism; their children were growing up without that sacred rite; and preachers were ministering in their pulpits who had never even partaken of the Lord's Supper. The growing necessity for some provision for the administration of the sacraments had led to so serious thought and discussion in successive Conferences that the regular session of 1779, deeming the exigency sufficient to warrant a departure from ecclesiastical usage, constituted four of their number a presbyter, who with solemn forms proceeded to ordain one another, and afterwards others of their brethren. At the end of a year the sacramental party yielded to the minority for peace' sake; the administration of the sacraments was suspended; and it was agreed to seek the counsel of Wesley, and abide by his judgment. He advised them to "continue on the old plan until further direction." Wesley found for his American societies no way of relief until subsequent to the conclusion of the war. Then, after long and mature thought, and consultation with his friends, among whom was Fletcher, the saintly vicar of Madeley, he resolved to use the power which he believed himself as a presbyter to possess, and ordain a ministry that should meet the demands of the thousands who sought aid from him as their spiritual founder. He proposed to the Rev. Thomas Coke, LLD., to receive ordination at his hands as their superintendent, to which Coke, whose sympathies were profoundly stirred in their behalf, consented, when study and reflection had convinced him of Wesley's power to ordain to the Episcopal office. It was also arranged that two of the English preachers should be ordained to accompany him as elders. Accordingly, on the first day of September, 1784, at Bristol, using the convenient and solemn forms of the Church of England, and, assisted by Dr. Coke and the Revelation Thomas Creighton, a presbyter of the English Church, Wesley ordained Richard Whatcoat and Thomas Vasey to the office of deacon. On the next day he ordained them elders, and, assisted by Creighton and Whatcoat, he also ordained Coke superintendent, or bishop, as this officer was afterwards called. He then sent them upon their mission, with instructions to organize the societies into a distinct Church, and to ordain Asbury joint superintendent with Coke. To facilitate their work, he furnished them with a "Sunday Service," or liturgy, a collection of psalms and hymns, and also "The Articles of Religion." Upon their arrival in America, a special conference or convention of the itinerant preachers was summoned, and on the 24th of December sixty of them assembled in the Lovely Lane Chapel, in the city of Baltimore. Dr. Coke took the chair, and presented the following letter from Wesley, written eight days after the ordinations, and tersely stating the grounds of what he had done and advised:

"To Dr. Coke, Mr. Asbury, and our Brethren in North America:

"By a very uncommon train of providences, many of the provinces of North America are totally disjoined from their mother country, and elected into independent states. The English government has no authority over them, either civil or ecclesiastical, any more than over the states of Holland. A civil authority is exercised over them, partly by the Congress and partly by the provincial assemblies ; but no one either exercises or claims any ecclesiastical authority- at all. In this peculiar situation, some thousands of the inhabitants of these states desire my advice: and, in compliance with their desire, I have drawn up a little sketch.

"Lord King's Account of the Primitive Church convinced me, many years ago, that bishops and presbyters are the same order, and consequently have the same right to ordain. For many years I have been importuned, from time to time, to exercise this right, by ordaining part of our travelling preachers. But I have still refused, not only for peace' -sake, but because I was determined as little as possible to violate the established order of the National Church, to which I belonged.

"But the case is widely different between England and North America. Here there are bishops who have a legal jurisdiction. In America there are none, neither any parish ministers; so that for some hundred miles together there is none either to baptize or to administer the Lord's Supper. Here, therefore, my scruples are at an end, and I conceive myself at full liberty, as I violate no order and invade no man's right, by appointing and sending laborers into the harvest.

"I have accordingly appointed Dr. Coke and Mr. Francis Asbury to be joint superintendents over our brethren in North America, as also Richard Whatcoat and Thomas Vasey to act as elders among them, by baptizing and ministering the Lord's Supper. And I have prepared a liturgy, little differing from that of the Church of England (I think, the best constituted national Church in the world), which I advise all the travelling preachers to use on the Lord's day in all the congregations, reading the litany only on Wednesdays and Fridays, and praying extempore on all other days. I also advise the elders to administer the Supper of the Lord on every Lord's day.

"If any one will point out a more rational and scriptural way of feeding and guiding those poor sheep in the wilderness, I will gladly embrace it. At present I cannot see any better method than that I have taken.

"It has indeed been proposed to desire the English bishops to ordain part of our preachers for America; but to this I object: (1.) I desired the bishop of London to ordain only one; but could not prevail. (2.) If they consented, we know the slowness of their proceedings; but the matter admits of no delay. (3.) If they would ordain them now, they would likewise expect to govern them and how grievously would this entangle us ! (4.) As our American brethren are now totally disentangled both from the state and from the English hierarchy, we dare not entangle them again, either with the one or the other. They are now at full liberty simply to follow the Scriptures and the Primitive Church. And we judge it best that they should stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has so strangely made them free." After the reading and consideration of this document, it was, without a single dissenting voice, regularly and formally "agreed to form a Methodist Episcopal Church, in which the liturgy (as presented by the Revelation John Wesley) should be read, and the sacraments be administered by a superintendent, elders, and deacons, who shall be ordained by a presbytery, using the Episcopal form, as prescribed in the Revelation Mr. Wesley's Prayer-book;" or, in the language of the Minutes of the Conference, "following the counsel of Mr. John Wesley, who recommended the Episcopal mode of government, we thought it best to become an Episcopal Church, making the Episcopal office elective, and the elected superintendent, or bishop, amenable to the body of ministers and preachers." Asbury refused the high office to which Wesley had appointed him unless it were ratified by the Conference, and, in accordance with the act of organization, both he and Coke were formally and unanimously elected superintendents. On the second day of the session, Asbury was ordained deacon, elder on the third, and superintendent on the fourth, Coke being assisted by Whatcoat and Vasey in the services, and also in the last by Otterbein, a personal friend of Asbury, and a minister in the German Reformed Church. The "'Sunday Service" and " Articles" prepared by Wesley were adopted; the Rules and Discipline were revised and adapted to the new order of things; the establishment of a college was resolved upon; twelve preachers were ordained elders, and one deacon, and the work of the Conference was done.

Different views have been taken of these transactions, though not among Methodists. On the one hand it is held that Wesley did not ordain Coke as bishop, but to an undefined superintendency; that he found fault with Asbury for assuming to be a bishop; that he did not intend the separation of his societies from the Church of England, or an authority by his ordinations to administer the sacraments. The view taken by Methodist writers may be stated as follows:

1. Wesley's letter, above quoted, shows his understanding of the condition of those in whose behalf he acted. Their one great demand was some provision for the sacraments, and this he proposed to answer, not only for the time being, but in perpetuity forever. The Church of England had ceased to exist in the United States, so that he violated no law or regulation of that Church in what he might do for America. He provided for no separation, for there was nothing left to separate from. By the terms. of the letter, Whatcoat and Vasey, whom he ordained, were to administer the sacraments, as they proceeded to do immediately after their arrival. He intended the step taken to obviate forever all necessity for any connection of American Methodism with the English hierarchy. The liturgy which he prepared, with the forms used in the English Church for ordinations to the three distinct offices of the ministry, indicates his intent that the three offices should be perpetuated in the Methodist Episcopal Church. To him the name was not important, but the function was. He therefore said "superintendent" and "elder," instead of bishop and presbyter-more modest titles, perhaps, but the same in import; and any newly elected superintendent was to be presented to the superintendent "to be ordained."

2. For forty years Mr. Wesley had believed that bishops and presbyters constituted but one order, with the same right to ordain. He knew that for two centuries the succession of bishops in the Church of Alexandria was preserved through ordination by presbyters alone. "I firmly believe," he said, "I am a scriptural ἐπίσκοπος, as much as any man in England or in Europe; for the uninterrupted succession I know to be a fable which no man ever did or can prove;" but he also held that "neither Christ nor his apostles prescribe any particular form of Church government." He was a true bishop of the flock which God had given to his care. He had hitherto refused "to exercise this right" of ordaining, because he would not come into needless conflict with the order of the English Church to which he belonged. But after the Revolution, his ordaining for America would violate no law of the Church; and when the necessity was clearly apparent, his hesitation ceased. "There does not appear," he said; '" any other way of supplying them with ministers." Having formed his purpose, in February, 1784, he invited Dr. Coke to his study in City Road, laid the case before him, and proposed to ordain and send him to America. Coke was startled at first, doubting Wesley's right to ordain him, though why, if the ordination were not to the office of bishop, the next higher to that which he already held, is inexplicable. He finally assented, and wrote, "The power of ordaining others should be received by me from you, by the imposition of your hands."

3. History records no other plan as proposed than that of an Episcopal organization. This is what was laid before the few preachers called for counsel immediately after Coke's arrival in- America. The title assumed by the Church is " Episcopal." The Minutes of the organization say that this was done, following the counsels of Mr. John Wesley, who recommended the Episcopal mode of Church government, making the Episcopal office elective, and the elected superintendent, or bishop, amenable to the body of ministers and preachers;" and he had no reproof for the statement or the title, though the document was printed under his eye. The Minutes of 1789 say of him: "Preferring the Episcopal mode of Church government, he set apart Thomas Coke for the Episcopal office, and having delivered to him letters of Episcopal orders, directed him to set apart Francis Asbury for the same Episcopal office, in consequence of which the said Francis Asbury was solemnly set apart for the said Episcopal office," which statements Wesley never disputed, and none of these things did he condemn. If Coke and the Methodists of that day misunderstood or exceeded his intentions and acts, that he took no pains to correct their error is the strangest and most unaccountable thing of all.

4. The language of Charles Wesley is to the point. He certainly knew what was done, and the intention in doing it. He says that his brother "assumed the Episcopal character, ordained elders, consecrated a bishop, and sent him to ordain our lay preachers in America." He wrote bitterly to his brother John of Coke's "Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore," of the readiness of the London preachers to receive orders from him, of Coke's ambition and rashness. Coke distinctly said, after his return to England, that "he had done nothing but under the direction of Mr. Wesley;" and Wesley replied to Charles that Coke "has done nothing rashly." Silence in such circumstances becomes assent.

5. Wesley, then, intended an Episcopal Church. But an Episcopal Church must have an Episcopacy, and therefore an ἐπίσκοπος, bishop, or superintendent, names alike in signification. He preferred the latter, as did Coke, who spoke in his sermon at Asbury's ordination of " our bishops, or superintendents, as we rather call them." When it began to be applied as a personal title to the incumbents of ,the office, Wesley wrote, " How can you, how dare you, suffer yourself to be called bishop ?" though he well knew that an Episcopal Church must have its bishop. To the title, not to the thing, he did object, and most strongly, for as it met him in England, its pomp and pretentiousness were far removed from that character of simplicity which he had so laboriously stamped upon Methodism. "I study to be little," he truly said in the same letter; but when he added, "You study to be great," he took counsel of his fears, and showed how little he knew the real character of Asbury, to whom he was writing. The truth is, he made a bishop, and called him superintendent. American Methodists early saw fit to sometimes use the other word.

6. "The eldership is by scriptural precedent, and by the natural course of things, as embodying the mass of the mature ministry, the main body and trunk of the ministerial strength and power. As such it is naturally and crudely the undeveloped one order. Just as, naturally, and by sacred precedent and expediency, it reserves the diaconate order as its preparatory pupilage, so it flowers up into the Episcopacy as its concentrated representative order. Fundamentally, there may thus be one order; subsidiarily, a second order; and derivatively, yet superior in function, a third order. The ordership and organic permanence is constituted in all three cases, according to sacred precedent, by ordination. The highest of the three orders is especially, as it happens, perpetuated by a series of ordaining hands, passing from predecessor to successor, bishop authenticating bishop, as elder does not authenticate elder, or deacon, deacon. Hence, though, as derivative, it is in origin less an order, and an inferior order, yet, as constituted, it becomes more distinctively an order than either of the other two. The New Testament furnishes, indeed, no decisive precedent of an ordained and permanently fixed superpresbyterial order; but it does furnish classes and instances of men exercising superpresbyterial authority, so that pure and perfect parity of office is not divinely enjoined. Such classes and cases are the apostles, perhaps the evangelists, St. James of Jerusalem, and Timothy and Titus. .. Wesley held that the episcopate and eldership were so one order that the power constituting an Episcopal order inhered in the eldership; but he did not believe that there lay in the eldership a right to exercise that power without a true providential and divine call. Hence, in his Episcopal diploma given to Coke, he announces, 'I, John Wesley, think myself providentially CALLED at this time to set apart,' etc." (D. Whedon, Meth. Quar. Revelation Oct. 1871, p. 676.)

II. Doctrines.

1. The "Articles of Religion" prepared by Wesley for the new Church, twenty-four in number, are an abridgment of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England. Fifteen of the latter are entirely omitted, and several others considerably amended. While all traces of Calvinism, as well as of Romish leanings, are carefully eliminated, there is no insertion of' Wesley's Arminianism, or of his doctrines of the "Witness of the Spirit" and "Christian Perfection." Several important protests against Pelagian, Romish, and other errors, are retained, as are also, in substance, those articles which are in accordance with the sentiments of the universal Church. On the Trinity, the person and work of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Scripture canon, original sin, free will, justification by faith, vicarious atonement, and good works, they speak clearly and in the most orthodox language. The design was to provide a broad and liberal platform upon which the great body of Christians who hold the essentials of Christianity might stand together in love and charity. With a few verbal changes, and the insertion of one new article (the twenty-third), they stand as they were adopted in 1784; and from the year 1832 it has been placed beyond the power of the Church to "revoke, alter, or change" them. SEE ARTICLES, TWENTY-FIVE, of the Methodist episcopal Church.

2. The theology of the Church is thoroughly Arminian, as it has been from the beginning. In this it agrees with universal Wesleyan Methodism. It has been stoutly and bitterly accused of Pelagianism by those who formed their estimate of Arminianism from the writings of men who received a part only of that system, and incorporated with it other and objectionable principles, rather than from a familiarity with the views of Arminius himself. The articles on " Original Sin" and "Free Will" should forever have saved it from that reproach. Wesley's doctrinal sermons, Notes on the New Testament, and other writings, have been its standards of Arminian orthodoxy, while the rigid examination to which all candidates for the ministry are subjected is its chief security that only what is deemed correct- and sound in doctrine shall be preached ill its pulpits.

3. Wesley's doctrine of the "Witness of the Spirit," known to many by the term "Assurance," holds an important place in the system of the Church. He defines it as "an inward impression on the soul, whereby the Spirit of God immediately and directly witnesses to my spirit that I am a child of God; that Jesus Christ hath loved me, and given himself for me; that all my sins are blotted out, and I, even I, am reconciled to God;" and to effect this persuasion, he supposes that the Holy Spirit " works upon the soul by his immediate influence, and by a strong though inexplicable operation." The possession of this assurance is taught to be the privilege of all believers, and penitents are diligently instructed not to rest until it is received; while it is a constant theme in the pulpit and the social meeting. Such is the emphasis practically placed upon it.

4. Sanctification, or "Christian Perfection," as Wesley preferred to style it, is a doctrine of all Methodism, and is firmly held by the Church. It teaches no state attainable in this life like that of the angels, or of Adam in Paradise, or in which there is an exemption from mistakes, ignorance, infirmities, or temptations; and, positively, that all saints may by faith be so filled with the love of God that all the powers of the soul shall be recovered from the abnormal, perverted, sinful condition, and, together with the outward conduct, be controlled in entire harmony with love. SEE METHODISM.

III. Government.

1. The General Conference, the highest of the five judicatories of the Church, assembles on the first day of May in every fourth year, and is the only legislative body of the denomination. As in the Christmas Conference, it was for many years, constructively at least, an assembly of the whole ministry; but their increasing number, the impossibility of a general attendance from the constantly-extending field, and the felt necessity of settling the doctrinal and ecclesiastical systems upon a basis less easily changed, led to the arrangement, in 1808, that thenceforth it should be composed of ministerial delegates from the several Annual Conferences, acting under certain clearly-defined restrictions. These restrictive rules, or articles, as they are termed, have been modified from time to time, though the most important change was effected in 1872, providing for the introduction of laymen into the body, with equal powers with the clergy. The General Conference now (1873) consists of one minister for every forty-five members of each Annual Conference, chosen by the clergy, and two laymen, chosen by lay electors from the several Quarterly Conferences within the same territory. The regulations defining its functions are as follows: "The General Conference shall have full powers to make rules and regulations for our Church, under the following limitations and restrictions, namely:


I. The General Conference shall not alter, revoke, or change our Articles of Religion, nor establish any new standards or rules of doctrine contrary to our present existing and established standards of doctrine.

"II. They shall not allow of more than one ministerial representative for every fourteen members of the Annual Conference, nor allow of a less number than one for every forty-five, nor more than two lay delegates for any Annual Conference; provided, nevertheless, that when there shall be in any Annual Conference a fraction of two thirds the number which shall be fixed for the ratio of representation, such Annual Conference shall be entitled to an additional delegate for such fraction; and provided, also that no Conference shall be denied the privilege of one delegate.

"III. They shall not change or alter any part or rule of our government, so as to do away Episcopacy, or destroy the plan of our itinerant general superintendeney; but may appoint a missionary bishop or superintendent for any of our foreign missions, limiting his jurisdiction to the same respectively.

"IV. They shall not revoke or change the General Rules of the united societies.

"V. They shall not do away the privileges of our ministers or preachers of trial by a committee, and of an appeal; neither shall they do away the privileges of our members of trial before the society, or by a committee, and of an appeal.

"VI. They shall not appropriate the produce of the Book Concern, nor of the Charter Fund, to any purpose other than for the benefit of the travelling, supernumerary, superannuated, and worn-out preachers, their wives, widows, and children.

Provided, nevertheless, that upon the concurrent recommendation of three fourths of all the members of the several Annual Conferences who shall be present and vote on such recommendation, then a majority of two thirds of the General Conference succeeding shall suffice to alter any of the above restrictions excepting the first article; and also, whenever such alteration or alterations shall have been first recommended by two thirds of the General Conference, so soon as three fourths of the members of all the Annual Conferences shall have concurred as aforesaid, such alteration or alterations shall take effect." These Restrictive Rules, together with the A ticles of Religion and the General Rules, SEE METHODISM, are commonly held to be the Constitution of the Church. They make the General Conference supreme in authority, with entire supervision over all the interests and work of the denomination, and the bond of the whole connectional system. It elects the bishops and other general officers; the bishops, who are its presiding officers, but not members of the body, are subject to its direction, and answerable to it for their moral as well as official conduct.

2. The Judicial Conference is instituted for the trial of bishops who may be accused of wrong-doing, and of appeals of convicted members of an Annual Conference. The Annual Conferences severally elect annually seven "Triers of Appeals." In case of an appeal, the triers from three Conferences contiguous to that whose decision is appealed from, constitute the Judicial Conference, whose action is final, except that all decisions of questions of law are reviewed by the General Conference. For the trial of an accused bishop, the triers from five neighboring Conferences are necessary.

3. The Annual Conference is composed wholly of travelling preachers. It selects the place of its sessions, the bishops appointing the time, and presiding. It possesses no legislative power: its functions are purely administrative. It holds the power of discipline over its own members, inquiring annually. into the Christian character and ministerial efficiency of each by name. It gathers the ecclesiastical statistics of its several societies, though its jurisdiction is over the ministers, rather than over the churches. The proceedings and action of this body, as recorded in its journal, are reviewed by the General Conference, to which it is subject.

4. The District Conference embraces the churches of a presiding elder's district, and is composed of the pastors, local preachers, exhorters, and one steward and Sunday-school superintendent from each pastoral charge. It licenses local preachers, recommends them to the Annual Conference for orders or for admission on trial, and holds jurisdiction over them; it is also charged with a general supervision of the temporal and spiritual affairs of the district. Specifically, it inquires into the work of Sunday-schools, forms plans for the occupation of new fields within its territory, and promotes attention to the charities of the Church.

5. The Quarterly Conference is limited to a single pastoral charge, over which it exercises entire supervision, subject to the provisions of the Discipline. Its members are the pastor, local preachers, exhorters, stewards, and class-leaders, together with the trustees and Sunday-school superintendent, if members of the Church. Besides the functions of the District Conference. which devolve upon it where no District Conference is held, it inquires carefully into the condition and work of every department of the local society.

6. The Leaders' and Stewards' Meeting, presided over by the pastor, and consisting of all the class-leaders and stewards of his charge, is usually held monthly, for the purpose of inquiring after the sick, needy, and any that, by neglect of the means of grace or by incorrect life, may need the admonitions of good discipline. The meeting recommends probationers for reception into the Church, as also candidates for license to exhort or preach. SEE LEADERS MEETINGS.

7. The legislation of 1784 gave new force to the essential features which Rankin and Asbury, who had been trained in the school and under the eye of Wesley. had stamped upon the American societies. Evangelization and supervision, the former to extend the work, the latter to secure and build up what had been won, were fundamental in the methods then adopted, as they were in the measures of Wesley. The bishops were chief evangelists, almost plenary in power, yet sharing with the humblest in fare and labor, inspecting the local societies and classes, meeting leaders and trustees, and holding themselves responsible for even the details of the work throughout the denomination. The preacher in charge of a circuit was the bishop's "assistant," and the other preachers of the circuit were the assistant's "helpers," and under his direction. In still closer contact with the membership was the class-leader, appointed by the assistant, and in his subordinate sphere of pastorship aiding him by watching over the little band while he might be in other parts of the circuit. This "military regimen," as the historian of the Church has styled it, very remote from a democracy, which, indeed, it never pretended to be, gave surprising vigor to all the movements of the system. In all the modifications which have been from time to time effected, and the numerous limitations of power which the ministry have imposed upon themselves, these features of evangelization and supervision have been steadily maintained. The bishop presides in the Conferences; forms the districts according to his judgment; appoints the preachers to their fields, allowing none to remain more than three years in succession in the same charge, except the presiding elders, who may remain four years, and a few others specially designated; ordains; travels through the connection at large, and oversees, in accordance with the prescribed regulations of the General Conference, to which he is subject, the spiritual and temporal business of the Church. The bishops are not diocesan, but have a joint jurisdiction over the whole Church, constituting and "itinerant general superintendency." The arrangement and division of their work is annually made by themselves, giving to each-his portion (though their respective residences are assigned by the General Conference), and for its faithful and orderly performance they are responsible to the General Conference. SEE EPISCOPACY; SEE ITINERANCY.

8. Ordinations of preachers were at first designed simply to supply the sacraments to the societies, and soon an elder came for this purpose to be placed in charge of a district containing several circuits. Thus originated the office of presiding elder, a sub-episcopate, with duties of oversight and administration indispensable in the system of the Church. Their constant travel through their districts, their presidency in the Quarterly Conferences, and familiarity with both churches and pastors, enabled the presiding elders to give the bishop the information and counsel necessary for the best adjustment of the appointments. In this work usage has made them his advisers, or, in more popular phrase, his "cabinet," though without authority of law. The wisdom of the Church has judged it best that the sole responsibility of the appointments shall be with the Episcopacy.

9. Admission into an Annual Conference is preceded by a two years' probation in the itinerant work, and a rigid examination in a prescribed course of study; and all preachers thus admitted as members are ordained deacons, and in two years more, on the completion of the required studies, they are ordained elders. It devolves upon the former to "administer baptism, solemnize matrimony, assist the elder in administering the Lord's Supper, and to do all the duties of a travelling preacher;" and upon the latter, in addition to these, to "administer the Lord's Supper" and to "conduct divine worship." But an elder, deacon, or preacher may be in charge of a circuit or station, with no difference in function except in the matter of the sacraments. He is the chief executive officer of the local society, charged to "take care" of its interests in accordance with the provisions of the Discipline, and- is responsible to the Annual Conference both for the proper discharge of his duties and for his moral conduct. While he is the pastor of the flock, sub-pastors, denominated class-leaders, are charged with the oversight of small bodiesof the membership, whom they are to meet weekly "for social and religious worship, for instruction, encouragement, and admonition." The local preachers, without a share in the government of the Church, except in the District and Quarterly Conferences, constitute a lay ministry, a corps of self-supporting evangelists, numerically larger than the travelling preachers, which has been of great efficiency. SEE LAY MINISTRY. All churches and parsonages are the property of the local society, held by trustees chosen in accordance with the law of the state or territory wherever a specific mode is required, and otherwise by the Quarterly Conference.

10. Admission to membership in the Church is preceded by a probation of at least six months, during which period the candidate has opportunity for acquiring that familiarity with the Church, its doctrines, rules, and usages, which enables him to intelligently assume the obligations of a member therein. The one preliminary condition for reception on trial is " a desire to flee from the wrath to come, and to be saved from their sins," which is expected to show itself by such fruits as are specified in the General Rules. Genuine spiritual life is more carefully sought than rigid dogmatic orthodoxy, the only test of the latter sort being "the doctrines of holy Scripture, as set forth in the Articles of Religion," which, as shown above, embrace little more than the fundamentals of Christian doctrine as accepted by evangelical churches. The probationer, having been previously baptized, and also recommended by the Leaders' and Stewards' Meeting, or by his leader if there is no such meeting, may be received into the Church upon giving assurance in presence of the Church of his doctrinal belief as just expressed, his purpose to observe and keep the rules of the Church, and to contribute of his worldly goods, according to his ability for the support of its institutions. Nevertheless, persons coming from other orthodox churches are received at once into full fellowship without the usual probation.

IV. History and Progress. — Under this head we propose to give a rapid sketch of the work performed by the Methodist Episcopal Church and its gradual growths noting, as we pass, its relations to public questions, its changes of internal economy, and the principal controversies that have grown up from time to time, with their effects.

1. Pioneer Work. — "Methodism presented itself to the new nation," says Stevens, "an Episcopal Church, with all the necessary functions and functionaries of such a body; the only one, of Protestant denomination, now in the nation, for the colonial fragments of the English Establishment had not yet been reorganized." Led by Coke and Asbury, the little band of itinerants went 'forth to their self-sacrificing toils with a new sense of consolidation and certainty, and feeling in their souls, as they said, that they were "raised up to reform the continent, and to spread scriptural holiness over these lands.". Under the new system, the eucharist was immediately administered to thousands of disciples who had never partaken of it, and large numbers of both adults and children were baptized, scores of the latter receiving the rite at a single meeting. The work extended in every direction. The post of hardship and severity was the post of honor. Going in the true spirit of evangelists, with the conviction that they had "nothing to do but to save souls," they not only held and strengthened the fields already won, but pressed on to the regions beyond, continually forming new circuits, and proclaiming their message wherever men would hear-in churches, in barns and log-cabins, in the forest and highway. They crossed the mountains, and kept pace with the constantly-advancing frontier; they penetrated Canada, and established themselves in New England and Nova Scotia. Gown, and band, and prayerbook were too cumbersome for their use, and were soon laid aside. The system was providentially adapted to self-propagation. " Its class and prayer meetings trained most, if not all, the laity to practical missionary labor, and three or four of them, meeting in any distant part of the earth by the emigrations of these times, were prepared immediately to become the nucleus of a Church. {The lay or local ministry, borne on by the tide of population, were almost everywhere found, prior to the arrival of regular preachers, ready to sustain religious services-the pioneers of the Church in every new field." Such was their success that in sixteen years, at the end of the century, their 15,000 members had become 64,894, and the 84 itinerants had increased to 287, not counting :the scores who had fallen out of their ranks from pure physical inability to endure the terrible severity of the system, but were still working nobly in their local sphere. Bishop Coke's stay in the country at his first visit was but five months, a fair type of his subsequent visits. After 1787 his Episcopal work was limited to ordinations, presiding in Conference when present, itinerating through the country, and preaching, the stationing of the preachers being left with bishop Asbury.

Coke threw himself with zeal into the work of raising funds for the college at Abingdon, Md., whose cornerstone Asbury laid -three days after his first departure for Europe. In 1789 he stood with Asbury in the presence ῥof Washington, presenting to him, in behalf. of the Church, a congratulatory address upon his inauguration as president, approving the recently-adopted Federal Constitution. and professing allegiance to the government. The Methodist Episcopal Church was the first ecclesiastical body to recognise the Constitution of the United States, and, in its article afterwards adopted, it declared its faith that they are a " sovereign and independent nation," rather than a confederacy of sovereign states. Coke's indefatigable labors in travelling and preaching in behalf of the cause of education, and for the emancipation of slaves, show him worthy of his high position. Yet Asbury was the chief apostle of the Church, giving it his entire energies, becoming an example to his brethren in labors and sacrifices, and carefully attending to even the most minute and local details. meeting classes, trustees, and often visiting pastorally from house to house. He instituted in 1786, in Virginia, the first Sunday-school in America, and four years later the Conference ordered Sunday-schools to be established for the instruction of poor children, white and black, in "learning and piety," being the first American Church to recognise this institution. Official attention was given as early as 1788 to the publication of books, a "book steward" being appointed; and a borrowed capital of six hundred dollars became the foundation of the future "Book Concern." Additional legislation from time to time, as necessity demanded, gave greater efficiency and solidity to the body, but innovations upon well-tried methods found no favor.

2. Early Secessions.-As early as 1792, James O'Kelly introduced into the Conference a resolution permitting a preacher who might feel aggrieved by the appointment assigned him, to "appeal to the Conference and state his objections," and requiring the bishop, if his objections were found valid, to appoint him to another circuit. The proposition was lost by a large majority; but the defeat cost the Church the secession of the mover with a few other preachers and a large number of members, who ultimately styled themselves "the Christian Church." Attempts were made in 1800 to make the presiding eldership elective in the Annual Conferences, to introduce the English method of making the appointments by requiring them to be reading open session, "to hear what the Conference may have to say on each station," and to aid the bishop in making the appointments by a committee of preachers chosen by the Conference for the purpose; but they signally failed, though some of them were revived in subsequent years.

3. Early Emancipation Movements. — The most vexing question of those early, as well as of later times, was that of slavery. The Methodist preachers of those days were thoroughly hostile to the institution. At the organization of the Church they pronounced it "contrary to the golden law of God and the unalienable rights of mankind, as well as every principle of the Revolution;" and their enactments required all members holding slaves to set them free, wherever it could be legally done, and forbade all future admission of slaveholders into the Church or to the Lord's Supper, while all who might buy or sell slaves were "immediately to be expelled, unless they buy them on purpose to free them." Could they have looked forward a century, and seen that either the Gospel or the sword must solve the problem of slavery, these men who believed themselves divinely sent to "reform the continent," would surely, with their clear convictions on the subject, not have failed to discern that it was a part of their mission to destroy the great crime of the nation, and they would doubtless have maintained the high ground they had so firmly taken. But they compromised with the evil because of the great embarrassments attending the execution of their rules, which in six months were suspended never again to be enforced. Yet the Church was always anti-slavery. Its preachers, holding "the power of the keys," effected the liberation of thousands of slaves kept by those who sought admission into its fold. The Discipline never ceased to pronounce a condemnation upon the system; and, from 1804, it perpetually asked, "What shall be done for the extirpation of the evil of slavery ?" while successive General Conferences sought by legislation, addresses to the Church, and measures for memorials to. the state Legislatures, to remove and abolish it.

4. Completed Organization.-The absences of Dr. Coke in Europe rendering an additional bishop necessary, Richard Whatcoat was elected to that office in 1800,. as was William M'Kendree in 1808, the first native American elevated to the episcopate.

The latter year is the epoch of the plan of a delegated General Conference, adopted to "preserve, strengthen, and perpetuate the union of the connection," and to render " the doctrine. form of government, and General Rules, sacred and inviolable." - The "Council" devised by the bishops, composed of themselves and the presiding elders, had proved abortive after two trials, and the General Conference, as then constituted, practically placed the doctrinal and administrative systems of the denomination in the power of the more centrally located ministers. The new plan was conservative of every fundamental principle of the Church, and at the same time gave to the remotest Conference equal power with the most central, in proportion to its number of ministers. The first session, held in 1812, was composed of 90 members, representing 688 preachers, and a membership of 195,357; the sixteenth, held in 1872, was composed of 421 members, 292 clerical and 129 lay, representing, according to the Minutes of 1871, 9699 travelling preachers, 11,382 local preachers, and 1,421,323 members and probationers. Taking a fresh departure with the adoption of this measure, the "Church pressed forwards in its practical work with added zeal.

5. Denominational Institutions. — The Book Concern, already (in 1804) removed from Philadelphia to New York, multiplied its publications, and scattered a vigorous Methodist literature through the circuits by the agency of the preachers. They were too busy to make books, but they could sell them, and thus educate a people trained in the truth as they received it. In 1818 the Methodist Magazine was started-the beginning of the periodical literature of the denomination. It is now known as the Methodist Quarterly Review, one of the ablest of the quarterlies, with the largest circulation of all. The first weekly, The Christian Advocate, was issued in 1826, though Zion's Herald, under the auspices of New England Methodists, preceded it nearly four years, and in its second half-century it is fill of beauty and power. A second publishing-house was established in 1820 in Cincinnati; and depositories are located in several of the principal cities of the country. The increase of the business led in. 1833 to a removal from Crosby Street, in New York, where it had been carried on for nine years, to Mulberry Street. The whole establishment was swept away by fire early in 1836, at a loss of at least a quarter of a million. New and better buildings soon rose on the same spot, which, with their subsequent additions, have been used as-a manufactory of the house since the date of the removal of the principal office to its present location (805 Broadway), procured for it and the Missionary Society at the cost of about a million dollars. Its entire capital in 1873 was $1,052,448. There is also a " Western Methodist Book Concern," with a capital of $467,419.

To the relief of worn-out and needy preachers, and the widows and orphans of preachers, the denomination has always been attentive. At first, in 1784, the preachers themselves instituted a "Preachers' Fund," each paying out of his poverty a specified sum annually into its treasury. It was afterwards merged in the " Chartered Fund," instituted in 1796 for the same purposes. This fund has never been a favorite charity; it amounts to only about $40,000, and its dividends to the Conferences have, of course, always been small. Many of the Annual Conferences hold trust funds, whose proceeds are devoted to the same end. Surplus profits of the Book Concern were for many years employed for their relief, but the chief reliance is on the annual contributions of the congregations, amounting, now yearly to $150,000.

The missionary work of the Church took an organized form in 1819, when its Missionary Society was instituted. Methodism was itself a missionary system, " the great home-mission enterprise of the North American continent, and its domestic work, demanded all its resources of men and money." The Conference of 1784 ordered an annual collection in every principal congregation to provide a fund for " carrying on the whole work of God," chiefly for the expenses of preachers sent to new or feeble fields. Missionaries were early sent among the slaves and Indians, and the constant extension of the Church, whether in the older states or on the ever-advancing frontier, has been a missionary movement. The society, organized primarily to aid the home-mission work, grouped with it the foreign field; and now, besides more than 2000 missionaries in the English- speaking Conferences, 161 in the German Conferences, and' 90 among the Indians and other peoples of foreign birth in the United States, supported in whole or in part by the society, its foreign missionaries, including native preachers and teachers, number 679, and are scattered in Africa, South America, China, India, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway,' Sweden, Bulgaria, Italy, and Mexico. Its receipts in 1872 amounted to $661,056 60. It is supplemented by the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society, and by other organizations of a quasi missionary character, equally with, it under the control of the General Conference, its Sunday- school Union, its Tract, Freedman's Aid, and Church Extension societies.

The educational movements of the Church began with. the Church itself. John Dickens, afterwards the first book agent, suggested to Asbury the plan of an academic institution as early as 1780. and at their first meeting the latter submitted it to Coke, who heartily approved it. It was laid before the Christmas Conference, which agreed upon measures to establish a college. Five thousand dollars-a large sum for those days-were raised for it before the building was begun; its foundations were laid at Abingdon, Md., in the following June, and in the last month of 1787 it was solemnly dedicated under the name of Cokesbury College. The curriculum embraced' "English, Latin, Greek, logic, rhetoric, history, geography, natural philosophy, and astronomy, and, when the finances will admit of it, Hebrew, French, and German." More than seventy students were at one time within its halls. Unfortunately it was burned down in 1795: " a sacrifice of £10,000 in about ten years," says Asbury. A new edifice was soon provided in Baltimore, and the college reopened with fair prospects, but in a year it also was lost by fire. Another college was projected in Georgia in 1789, and several academies were opened before the close of the century. The disastrous fate of Cokesbury led Asbury to think the Lord had " not called Methodists to build colleges," a saying of his that has been most sadly perverted. He would have had the same thing, but would have called it a "school," and not a "college," and he would place one in every Conference. He actually framed a scheme to bring "two thousand children under the best plan of education ever known in this country." In 1818 a second attempt was made to establish a college in Baltimore, but without success. The educational plans of the early Methodists were simply broader than their financial ability. At no time has the slander been just that they were enemies to education. In 1817 an academy was opened in Newmarket, N. H., since removed to Wilbraham, Mass.; and in 1819 another in New York City. In 1820 the General Conference took up the subject, and recommended that each Annual Conference establish as soon as practicable a literary institution under its own control. This action was followed by new efforts. Several Conference seminaries were soon opened, and, to meet the increasing demand for higher education, within twelve years no less than five colleges were put in successful operation. Theological schools are of a later date, and assumed at first the modest title of " Biblical Institute." The first, projected in 1839, after various fortunes, was located at Concord, N. H., in 1847; in 1867 it removed to Boston, and in 1871 became the school of theology in the Boston University. The Garrett Biblical Institute, at Evanston, Ill., founded in 1855, received an endowment of $300,000 and its name from a liberal Methodist lady of Chicago. The Drew Theological Seminary was originated in the Centenary movement at Madison, N. J., through the munificence of the gentleman whose name it bears. There is also a mission institute at Frankforton-the- Main, in Germany, named Martin Institute, after the gentleman whose munificence mainly endowed the school; and there are similar schools in India, and at two or three points in the Southern States.' By the close of the centennial year of American Methodism, "the Methodist Episcopal Church alone reported no less than 25 colleges (including theological schools), having 158 instructors, 5345 students, about $4,000,000 in endowments and other property, and 105,531 volumes in their libraries. It reports also 77 academies, with 556 instructors, and 17,761 students, 10,462 of whom are females, making an aggregate of 102 institutions, with 714 instructors, and 23,106 students. The Southern division of the denomination [the Methodist Episcopal Church, South] reported before the Rebellion 12 colleges and 77 academies, with 8000 students, making an aggregate for the two bodies of 191 institutions and 31,106 students" (Stevens's Hist. of Am. Meth. p. 540). In the thank-offerings of the Centenary, education was made a prominent object of the contributions of the people.

6. Later Divisions.-Various causes have operated to prevent the continued unity of the denomination whose origin and progress are here traced, but it should be noted that no division has ever occurred on doctrinal grounds. ' The separation of O'Kelly and his friends, as already stated, took place in 1792, because the Conference refused to restrict the power of the bishops in the appointments of ministers to their fields of labor. In 1816 the colored members of Philadelphia and its vicinity withdrew and organized the "African Methodist Episcopal Church;" and in 1820 a secession in New York City originated the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. They are large and useful bodies.

Embarrassments arose in Canada after the War of 1812, through jealousies of the Conference, because of its connection with a foreign ecclesiastical body, which finally became so severe that in 1828 the General Conference was formally requested to set off the Canada Conference as a distinct Church. The General Conference, after full deliberation, held that it had no power to divide the Church, as it was constituted to preserve, not to destroy, its unity. Deeming the case to be one of necessity, it consented to the voluntary withdrawal of the Canada brethren; allowed the bishops, if requested, to ordain the bishop whom the separating Conference might elect; and proposed to the Annual Conferences such a change in the Restrictive Rules as would permit a pro raeta division with them of the common property in the Book Concern. The requisite vote not being obtained, the property was not divided; but a satisfactory arrangement was effected through heavy discounts in sales of books, giving what was on all hands considered a full equivalent. The Canada Conference separated itself from the Church; but between the two sections the most friendly relations have ever subsisted.

The circumstances which led in 1830 to another secession, and the formation of the "Methodist Protestant Church," were of a more serious sort. The subject of lay representation in the General Conference, though from an early day deemed by a few to be important, began about 1820 to agitate the Church. The measures of the "Reformers," as the friends of the movement styled themselves, were unfortunate, leading not only to a most acrimonious controversy, but to such disorders as rendered necessary ecclesiastical trials and expulsions. Out of the controversy arose Emory's masterly production, "The Defence of Our Fathers." The subject came before the General Conference by petitions and memorials, and received the fullest attention. The report refusing the radical change asked for, written by Dr. Thomas E. Bond, a local preacher, and not a member of the body, and presented by Dr. Emory, was unanimously adopted. "The great body of our ministers, both travelling and local, as well as of our members perhaps not much, if any, short of one hundred to one oppose their wishes," says the report; and Bangs thought that "nine tenths of our people were decidedly opposed to the innovation." The result was a new denomination, starting with 83 preachers and 5000 members, and a long and bitter controversy that finally died of exhaustion.

The subject of slavery, which for many years agitated the whole country, and finally plunged it into a civil war, could not fail, in the progress of events, to involve in its complications a Church which constantly put slavery under its ban, but did not make absolute non-slaveholding a test of membership. Two important secessions resulted-one in the North, the other in the South. One of the General Rules-the moral code of the Church from the beginning-forbade " the buying or selling of men, women, or children, with an intention to enslave them." The legislation of the Church was steadily adverse to the institution, 'though always embarrassed by the obstacles which the civil laws placed in the way of a legal emancipation. The prohibition, however, of buying or selling slaves with any other intent than their freedom, remained unchanged. Moreover, from the year 1800, the Discipline provided that "when any travelling preacher becomes an owner of a slave or slaves by any means, he shall forfeit his ministerial character in the Methodist Episcopal Church unless he execute, if it be practicable, a legal emancipation of such slaves, conformably to the laws of the state in which he lives;" from 1816, that "no slaveholder shall be eligible to any official station in our Church hereafter, where the laws of the state in which he lives will admit of emancipation, and permit the liberated slave to enjoy freedom;" and from 1824 it contained provisions for the religious instruction of slaves, and concerning colored local preachers. These regulations were in force at the commencement of the " abolition movement," and continued unchanged until 1860, when the formula in the Discipline declares that " the buying, selling, or holding of human beings, to be used as chattels, is contrary to the laws of God and nature, and inconsistent with the golden rule;" and both preachers and people are admonished to " keep themselves pure from this great evil, and to seek its extirpation by all lawful and Christian means." The discussions in Great Britain from the year 1823, that resulted in emancipation in all the British colonies in 1834, drew attention to the system of slavery as it existed in the United States, which was not greatly unlike that of the West Indies. Philanthropic men became aroused by numerous well authenticated facts of the wicked and inhuman treatment of slaves. They were led to examine the system of chattel slavery and its practical workings, and found them so adverse to the right to himself of every person of full age and sane mind, except for the commission of crime, that they pronounced slaveholding to be a crime in God's sight, and immediate, unconditional emancipation a duty. Leading ministers, chiefly in New England at first, espoused these views, and advocated them in the pulpit, at camp-meetings, in conventions, through the press, and by all those means that could act upon the public mind. In the controversies that followed, in, which some of the most able pens of the denomination were engaged, the question was examined in all its aspects. 'The subject was introduced into Quarterly and Annual Conferences, and ultimately became involved with questions of Conference rights, Episcopal prerogatives, and the rights of the laity. The General Conference of 1836 passed a vote of censure upon two of its members who had attended and spoken at an anti-slavery meeting in Cincinnati, where the session was held, (a resolution which in 1868, so greatly had opinion. changed with events, it rescinded and pronounced void), and exhorted the "members and friends" of the Church "to abstain from all abolition movements and associations, and to refrain from patronizing any of their publications." But Methodism had not overlooked the welfare of the slave. At the culmination of these troubles, a hundred thousand colored persons, mostly slaves, were enrolled as members of the Church, amounting to one tenth of the whole. But many apologics for quietness and tolerance of the legal relation of master were nullified by a resolution of the Georgia Conference, "that slavery, as it exists in the United States, is not a moral evil." At length, the General Conference of 1840 having found it "inexpedient to express any opinion, or to adopt any measures additional to those already in the Discipline," many began to abandon all hope of seeing the Church purged of slavery, and to regard withdrawal as necessary to free themselves from the guilt of connection with it. Others, who had been prominent in the anti-slavery ranks, and had advocated such modifications in the law of the Church as would prevent the holding of slaves as chattels, maintained that the Discipline was against slavery, and that secession was not an anti-slavery measure. They preferred to fight the battle within the Church. But Orange Scott, Jotham Horton, Luther Lee, and others, felt impelled by their consciences to withdraw. At a convention held at Utica N. Y., in 1843, they organized the "Wesleyan Methodist Connection.". This was but the beginning of a struggle in which churches were rent in twain through most of the Northern States. The organization thus formed numbered at one period a considerable number of preachers and members; but time and events have produced such changes that many of its first leaders and warmest friends have returned to the old Church in the belief that the denomination has accomplished its mission.

But a severer convulsion was preparing in the South. The discriminations of the Discipline against slaveholding had come to be distasteful to a generation that held views on slavery widely different from those of the fathers, though six Conferences, lying wholly or partly in slave states, the Baltimore being one, rigidly enforced the old rule requiring ministers to emancipate the slaves of whom they might become owners by inheritance, marriage, or any other means, wherever the civil law allowed it, and never permitted slaveholders in their ranks. It was also the ancient and settled policy and constant usage to place no slaveholder in the Episcopacy; and in 1832 James O. Andrew was put in nomination for that high office by Southern delegates, because, though of the South, he was free from all personal connection with slavery, and was elected. This was upon the principle that a bishop, in a system of general superintendency which gave him equal jurisdiction in Massachusetts and South Carolina, must be free from whatever would prevent the exercise of his functions with acceptance in any part of the Church. A slaveholding bishop could never have presided in the Northern Conferences, and the election of one would be an infraction of the law forbidding the General Conference to " destroy the plan of our itinerant general superintendency." The increasing restiveness under this exclusion from the highest office of the Church led to an attempt by Southern delegates, in 1836, to elect to it a slaveholder, and, upon its failure, to great agitation and threats of secession, if what was termed "this proscriptive system" should not be abandoned. The renewal of the effort in 1844 was fully determined upon, and the purpose of resistance on the part of the Northern Conferences was equally firm, when the marriage of bishop Andrew, in January of that year, with a lady who was the owner of slaves, suddenly gave the friends of the movement precisely what they wanted, but could not have obtained by the suffrages of the General Conference-a slaveholding bishop. That trouble was ahead was evident, and the Southern ministry became at once a unit in sustaining him. It could not be expected that the Church would quietly submit to the revolutionizing of its ancient policy by a marriage; and nothing could have more astounded the Northern delegates to the General Conference of 1844 than the intelligence, which met them upon their arrival in New York, the place of the session, that slaveholding was already intrenched in the Episcopacy. Early in the session an appeal of the Revelation Francis A. Harding from the action of the Baltimore' Conference was presented. That gentleman having become by marriage the owner of five slaves, the Conference, in pursuance of its old purpose to "not tolerate slavery in any of its members," required him to legally emancipate them within the year, and, upon his refusal, suspended him from the ministry. The General Conference, after a. full hearing of the case, it being clear that emancipation could be legally effected in Maryland, affirmed the decision of the Baltimore Conference by a vote of 117 to 56. That body, though few were "abolitionists," certainly was in no mood to yield further to the encroachments of slavery; and it was equally evident that should bishop Andrew be touched. secession would ensue. His voluntary resignation could have saved both the South and the Church; and this step he promptly resolved to take, but he was overruled by the Southern delegates. They preferred disruption to a non-slaveholding Episcopacy. The committee on the Episcopacy was instructed to ascertain and report the facts in relation to the bishop's alleged connection with slavery, when it was found that, besides the legal ownership of several others, he had married a lady owning slaves, and had secured them to her by a deed of trust, thus putting their freedom out of his power. A resolution, with a preamble reciting the facts, was promptly offered by Mr. Griffith, a delegate from Baltimore, affectionately requesting him to resign his office; but the final action, after ten days' debate, was the adoption of the following substitute by a vote of 111 yeas and 69 nays:

"Whereas, The Discipline of our Church forbids the doing anything calculated to destroy our itinerant general superintendency; and whereas bishop Andrew has become connected with slavery by marriage and otherwise, and this act having drawn after it circumstances which, in the estimation of the General Conference, will greatly embarrass the exercise of his office as an itinerant general superintendent, if not in some places entirely prevent it; therefore, "Resolved, That it is the sense of this General Conference that he desist from the exercise of his office so long as this impediment remains." Evidently this was the mildest action possible without the abandonment of the established principles and usage of the Church. It left him still a bishop, free to choose his own course, and with unquestioned right to the full exercise of his powers the hour the "impediment" should be removed; and private individuals vainly opened the way for his relief by offering to bind themselves to purchase all his slaves and their connections, and set them free. The Southern delegates took no steps from first to last towards an amicable settlement of the difficulty ; and acquiescence in the doctrine of a non-slaveholding bishop or separation from the Church were the only alternatives left. All their measures were in the latter direction. First, Dr. Capers proposed a plan of two independent General Conferences, with a joint interest in the Book Concern and the Missionary Society. This, being in reality a division of the Church, was held impossible. Then, as a second step, the following declaration was presented, signed by fifty-one delegates from the thirteen slaveholding Conferences, and one from Illinois:

"The delegates of the Conferences in the slaveholding states take leave to declare to the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, that the continued agitation on the subject of slavery and abolition in a portion of the Church; the frequent action on that subject in the General Conference; and especially the extra- judicial proceedings against bishop Andrew, which resulted, on Saturday last, in the virtual suspension of him from his office as superintendent, must produce a state ofthings in the South which renders a continuance of the jurisdiction of this General Conference over these Conferences inconsistent with the success of the ministry in the slaveholding states." This paper was at once referred to a committee of nine, who were afterwards instructed (according to the Journal), in case they could not frame an "amicable adjustment of the difficulties now existing in the Church on the subject of slavery, to devise, if possible, a constitutional plan for a mutual and friendly division of the Church." But Mr. Hamline (afterwards bishop), one of the committee, refused to go out with such instructions. " Being urged to go, he said, ' I will not go out with instructions to devise a plan to divide the Church.' 'Then will brother Hamline go if the instructions be so changed as simply to read, if the South should separate, to make provision in such a contingency to meet the emergency with Christian kindness and the strictest equity?' Mr. Hamline said, 'I will go out with such instructions'" (Hamline's Life and Letters, p. 165). The instructions were modified accordingly. On the next day a protest against the action of the majority was read, affirming in stronger terms the position of the Declaration, which was followed some days later by a Reply. Whether, after this formal notice of the coming separation, it would not have been the wiser to allow events to take their course, is an open question. The protesting delegates, about to renounce the jurisdiction of the General Conference, could claim nothing, as of right, at its hands; and it was certainly an act of the highest magnanimity on the part of the two-thirds' majority to prescribe for itself beforehand a law of most liberal treatment of the withdrawing Conferences, and to provide for the conditional division with them of the property of the Church. Yet this was done in the report of the committee on the Declaration. (See the paper quoted in full under SEE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, SOUTH.) This document was adopted with great unanimity. An analysis of it shows that

(1) it is based upon one fundamental condition, namely, a necessity to be found by the slaveholding Conferences for a distinct ecclesiastical connection, produced by the action of the General Conference.

(2) It assumes that such distinct organization, if formed at all, will come into being by the action of those Conferences, and upon their own responsibility.

(3) It does not arrange a division of the Church. For this the General Conference had no power, as was agreed in the Committee; aid that it did not and could not divide the Church was as freely asserted by Southern as by Northern delegates, both during and after the debate. The term "division" does occur, but solely with reference to property.

(4) It is not a "plan of separation," as it afterwards came to be styled, for it does not authorize, direct, or sanction any step of the withdrawing party; but is purely an enactment of the rules to be observed by the Methodist Episcopal Church in case a "not improbable contingency" becomes, by the sole action of the South, an accomplished fact.

(5) To avoid the strife and bitterness that so generally attend a disruption, it enacts that, in case a new Church is formed, the Methodist Episcopal Church shall exercise no jurisdiction beyond certain limits, if the Church South shall act upon the same friendly principle. The Church simply lays down for itself the rule of non-interference.

(6) Nine of the twelve resolutions relate entirely to property, which, even if a Southern Church should be formed, can have no force whatever without the three-fourths concurrent vots of the Annual Conferences for the proposed change of the Restrictive Rule. All this was well understood at the time.

By this eminently Christian enactment the General Conference made provision for peace and quiet in view of the threatened withdrawal of a large and powerful portion of the Church. History must, however, record that the Southern delegates, at a meeting held on the day following 'the adjournment, and without waiting for the " necessity" to develop itself, and to be found by the Conferences, called a convention of delegates from the slaveholding Conferences, with a defined ratio of representation, to assemble at Louisville, Ky., on May 1, 1845, invited bishop Andrew to attend and preside in their Conferences, and also issued an address to the ministers and members in the South, stating what they term "the facts and reasons connected with the proposed separation of the Southern Conferences into a distinct organization." This precipitated and virtually decided the question of separation. In the controversies that followed this summary proceeding, the whole Church was stirred. The various questions involved were discussed in public meetings, in Quarterly and Annual Conferences, in Church periodicals and pamphlets. Bishop Soule, the senior bishop of the Church, in September called bishop Andrew into the field, to attend with himself the Conferences, in contravention of the expressed judgment of the General Conference. The slaveholding Conferences appointed delegates to the proposed convention, although several of them had not found the ' necessity" for a separate organization. The recommendation to change the sixth Restrictive Rule failed by 269 votes to receive the concurrence of the Annual Conferences. The Louisville Convention met May 1, 1845; bishops Soule and Andrew were in attendance, and upon invitation presided over its deliberations. On May 17 the new Church was organized by the adoption of the following resolution, whose language may seem singular to the curious reader who remembers that what is styled the " provisional plan of separation" gave no direction, authority, or consent for the assembling or action of the convention, and that the provisions referred to relate solely to the action of the Church separated from, and not at all to the action of the parties separating:

"Be it resolved, by the delegates of the several Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the slaveholding states, in general convention assembled, That it is right, expedient, and necessary to erect the Annual Conferences represented in this convention into a distinct ecclesiastical connection, separate from the jurisdiction of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, as at present constituted; and accordingly we, the delegates of said Annual Conferences, acting under the provisional plan of separation adopted by the General Conference of 1844, do solemnly declare the jurisdiction hitherto exercised over said Annual Conferences by the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church entirely dissolved; and that said Annual Conferences shall be, and they hereby are, constituted a separate ecclesiastical connection, under the provisional plan of separation aforesaid, and based upon the Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, comprehending the doctrines and entire moral, ecclesiastical, and canonical rules and regulations of said Discipline, except only in so far as verbal alterations may be necessary to a distinct organization, and to be known by the style and title of THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, SOUTH" By this secession the Methodist Episcopal Church lost 1345 travelling and 3166 local preachers, and 495,288 members. Bishop Andrew at once gave in his adhesion to the new Church, and bishop Soule followed him at its first General Conference in May, 1846.

Troubles soon occurred upon the border line of the two churches. The Southern General Conference took summary possession of the newspapers within its territory, and of the Charleston Book Depository, with their books, notes, presses, etc., all of which belonged to the Book Concern. The understanding in relation to boundaries was not kept. Though the rule had not been changed, a pro rata division of the Book Concern was demanded on pain of a suit at law. In this state of affairs, the General Conference of 1848 was met by the Rev. Dr. Lovick Pierce, as delegate from the Church South, bearing the " Christian salutations" of that body, and proposing fraternal relations between the two churches; but the existing difficulties were so evidently incompatible with the proposed fraternity, that it could not " at present" be entered into, though all personal courtesies, with an invitation to a seat within the bar, were tendered to Dr. Pierce. As the report on the Declaration was an enactment of the General Conference, it was, like any other enactment, repealable at its pleasure; and in the exercise of its wisdom it said, " Having found, upon clear and incontestable evidence, that the three fundamental conditions of said proposed plan have severally failed, and the failure of either of them separately being sufficient to render it null and void, and having found the practical working of said plan incompatible with certain great constitutional principles elsewhere asserted, we have found and declared the whole and every part of said provisional plan to be null and void." But in its desire to amicably adjust the claims made by the Church South upon the funds of the Book Concern, it authorized the book agents to offer to submit them to disinterested arbiters, provided eminent counsel learned in the law should advise them that it could be legally done: otherwise, and in case a suit at law should be commenced, to propose an arbitration under authority of the court; and in case they could not offer arbitration, and no suit should be commenced, it was recommended to the Annual Conferences to " so far suspend the sixth Restrictive Article of the Discipline as to authorize the book agents at New York and Cincinnati to submit said claim to arbitration.". This was going to the utmost limit of its power. The question of the suspension of the sixth article was midway in its progress through the Annual Conferences when it was arrested by the commencement of suits in the civil courts. The case in New York came to a hearing before judge Nelson, but before the issuing of the final decree the matter was amicably adjusted through the friendly offices of judge M'Lean. The Cincinnati case resulted in favor of the defendants in the Circuit Court; but on a hearing of the appeal by the Supreme Court, to which it was carried by the Southern commissioners, the decision of the court below was reversed, on the alleged ground that the General Conference had full power to divide the Church, and that that body did, in the adoption of the report on the Declaration, actually divide the Church, when the division of the property follows, as a matter of course. The Church at once obeyed the decision; but no intelligent minister or member of the denomination has ever accepted the exposition given by the Supreme Court, through the lips of judge Nelson, of the law of the Church, the facts of its history, or the action of the General Conference of 1844. The relations between the two churches have not as yet become cordial. The bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1869 made some advances towards a reunion, which were ungraciously received; but the General Conference of 1872 ordered the appointment of a delegation of two ministers and one layman to convey its greetings to the General Conference of the Church South at its next ensuing session.

Aside from these troubles, and others growing out of the increasing intensity of the conflict between freedom and slavery, the work of the Church was vigorously and successfully pressed. It stood arrayed with its full moral power on the side of the Union in the war provoked by slavery, and more than a hundred thousand of its members gave themselves to the armies of their country. Before the close of the war it entered upon preparations for the celebration of the centenary of Methodism in America, by all the churches and people, " with devout thanksgiving, by special religious services and liberal thank-offerings;" setting apart the month of October; 1866, for that purpose. The Church had attained by the end of the century, notwithstanding its losses by the several secessions, more than a million of members, and it was hoped that " not less than two millions of dollars" would be contributed to render its' agencies more efficient in the future. Appropriate services were held throughout the Church, and at the close of the joyful month the aggregate contributions amounted to $8,709,498 .39.

7. An important organic change in the economy of the Church was effected in 1872 by the introduction of laymen into the General Conference. In 1860 that body expressed its approval of the measure " when it shall be ascertained that the Church desires it," and also provided for the submission of the question to the votes of both the ministry and members. The result showed a large majority against the proposed change. Nevertheless, while the General Conference felt precluded by this expression of the popular will from adopting it, it reaffirmed in 1864 its approval of it upon the same condition as before. At its next session it took up the subject anew, recommending a definite plan to the consideration of the Church, ordering the submission afresh of the question of lay delegation to the vote of the laity, and proposing to the Annual Conferences the requisite alterations in the second Restrictive Rule. A large majority of the former, and more than the necessary three fourths vote in the latter, having been obtained in favor of the change, the General Conference, with the assent of 283 out of its 292 members, concurred in the same. The lay delegates, who had been provisionally elected in anticipation of this action, were at once admitted to their seats. It is provided that " the ministerial and lay delegates shall sit and deliberate together as one body, but they shall vote separately whenever such separate vote shall be demanded by one third of either order; and in such cases the concurrent vote of both orders shall be necessary to complete an action."

8. The Bishops: are assignee to certain residences, and some of them are limited to particular foreign fields. The following are their names, with the year of their ordination, and other facts:

Thomas Coke.......1784 — Died at sea, May 3, 1814, aged 66. Francis Asbury .....17 84.-Died in Virginia, March 31,1816, aged 70. Richard Whatcoat .... 1800 — Died in Delaware, July 5, 1806, aged 71. William M'Kendree .... 1808.-Died in Tennessee, March 5, 1835, aged 77. Enoch George .......1816.-Died in Virginia, August 23, 1828, age 60. Robert R. Roberts .....1816. — Died in Indiana, March 28, 1843, aged 64. Joshua Soule E......184. -Ent. M. E. Church, South, 1845; died March 6,1867, aged 85. Elijah Hedding . ....1824.-Died in Poughkeepsie, April 9, 1852, aged 72. James O. Andrew .....1832.-Bishop M. E. Church, South, 1845 ; died March 2,1871, aged 77. Then Emory .......1832.-Died in Maryland, Dec. 16, 1835, aged 46.

Beverly Waugh......1836.-Died in Maryland, Feb. 9, 1858, aged 69. Thomas A. Morris ..... 1836.-Died in Ohio, Sept. 2,1874, aged 80. Leonidas L. Hamline ...1844.-Resigned, 1852; died in Iowa, March 22, 1865, aged 67. Edmund S. Janes .....1844.-Died in N. Y. City, Sept. 18, 1816, aged 69. Levi Scott ........ 1852. Died in Odessa, Del., July 13, 188n , aged 80.

Matthew Simpson .... 1852.-Died in Philadelphia, June 18,1884, aged 73. Osmon C. Baker .....1852.-Died in Concord, N. H., Dec. 20, 1871, aged 58. Edward R. Ames.... 1852.-Died in Baltimore, April 25, 1879, aged 73. Francis Burns ......1858.-Miss. Bp. to Liberia; died in Baltimore, April 18,1863. Davis W. Clark -......1864.-Died in Cincinnati, May 23, 1871, aged 59. Edward Thomson 1864. Died in Wheeling, W. Va., March 22, 1870, aged 59. Calvin Kingsley .... 1864.-Died in Beirut, Syria, April 6, 1870, aged 57. John W. Roberts ..... 1866.-Died in Liberia, Jan. 30, 876, aged 54. Thomas Bowman .....1872.-Residence, St. Louis. William L. Harris .... 1872.-Died in N. Y. City, Sept. 2, 1887, aged 69. Randolph S. Foster .... 1812.-Residence, Roxbury, Mass. Isaac W. Wiley ... 1872.-Died in Foochow, China, Nov. 22, 1884, aged 59. Stephen M. Merrill ....871.-Residence, Chicago Ill. Edward G. Andrews ... 1872.-Residence, New York City. Gilbert Haven ...... 1872.-Died in Malden, Mass., Jan. 3, 1880, aged 59. Jesse T. Peck ......1872.-Died in Syracuse, N. Y., May 15, 1883, aged 72. Henry W. Warren ....1880.-Residence, Denver, Col. Cyrus D. Foss...;.... 1880.-Residence, Philadelphia, Pa. John F. Hurst ......1880.-Residence, Washington, D. C. Erastus 0. Haven....1880. Died in Salem, Ore., Aug. 2, 1881, aged 61. William X. Ninde ....1884.-Residence, Topeka, Kan. John M. Walden .....1884.-Residence, Cincinnati, O. Willard F. Mallalieu... 1884.-Residence, New Orleans, La. Charles H. Fowler ....1884.-Residence, San Francisco, Cal. William Taylor ......1884.-Miss. Bishop to Africa. John H. Vincent..... 1888.-Residence, Buffalo, N. Y. James N. Fitzgerald.... 1888.-Residence, Minneapolis, Minn. Isaac W. Joyce...... 1888.-Residence, Chattaniooga, Tenn. John P. Newman.....1888.-Residence, Omaha, Neb. Daniel A. Goodsell.... 1888. — Residence, Fort Worth, Tex. James M. Thoburn... 1888.-Miss. Bp. to India and Malaysia.

V. Statistics. — There are in the denomination 76 Annual Conferences, whose statistics show in 1872 10,242 travelling preachers, 11,964 local preachers, 1,458,441 members and probationers. 17,471 Sunday-schools, with 1,278,559 scholars and 193,691 officers and teachers, and 14,008 churches and 4484 parsonages, valued together at $8,575,877. The baptisms for the year were 53,459 children and 61,311 adults. The benevolent contributions for the year were, for the Missionary Society,

$671,000 21; Woman's Foreign Missionary Society, $18,755 34; Church Extension Society, $94,572 63.; Tract Society, $21,585 67; Sunday-school Union, $22,674 15; American Bible Society, $42,528 35; Freedman's Aid Society, $12,048 97; Education, $6,660 42; and for necessitous ministers, $150,140 62-making an aggregate of $1,039,966 36. SEE METHODISM. (D.A.W.)

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