Wesleyan Conference, Irish
Wesleyan Conference, Irish.
This is a convenient, if not exact, designation of the body of Methodists in Ireland.
I. Origin and History. — It is a curious and interesting fact that the Palatines, a body of German emigrants, were the cause of introducing Methodism into Ireland; and it is equally interesting to know that some of those very Palatines were the originators of Methodism in America. About the year 1709, these emigrants, a set of sturdy Protestants, were ruthlessly persecuted by the Romish bigots under Louis XIV, and compelled to leave their paternal home in Germany. Some thousands, settled in England, others went to America; but about a thousand found a welcome on Lord Southwell's estate in the County of Limerick, Ireland. Each family was allowed eight acres of ground on lease, at five shillings per acre; arid the government, in order to encourage the Protestant interest in the country, engaged to pay their rent for twenty years. The leases were for three lives; at the end of which exorbitant rents were demanded, and the tide of emigration set in about 1760, which led some of the best families to find a home in America; and soon afterwards Methodism was commenced in New York by some of those emigrants.
Methodism was introduced into Ireland in 1747 by a lay preacher named Thomas Williams. He formed a society in Dublin; and during the same year John Wesley made his first visit to Ireland, examined personally the members gathered into fellowship, and found them strong in faith; and wrote respecting those who gathered to his ministry, "What a nation is this! every man, woman, and child, except a few of the great vulgar, gladly and patiently suffers the word of exhortation." Crowds gathered to hear him, including many wealthy citizens. He wrote in his Journal in August, 1747, "If my brother or I could have been here for a few months, I question if there might not have been a larger society in Dublin than even in London itself." After spending two weeks among them, he returned to London, and immediately afterwards sent his brother Charles, and Charles Perronet, of Shoreham, who remained more than half a year in the country reaping much fruit.
At Christmas following, John Cennick preached a sermon in Dublin on "the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes." A popish hearer, ignorant of the Bible, deemed the text a pure Protestant invention, and called the Methodists "Swaddlers" — a title which clung to them for several generations. During Charles Wesley's visit many riotous proceedings were witnessed from the papists opposing the Methodists; people were killed, and mock trials were held, and the rioters escaped, the papists being so much in the ascendant. God owned the words of the preacher. Charles Wesley was firm, so were his followers; that firmness gave courage to the infant society. On the public Green, out of doors, Mr. Wesley often had as respectable a society as at the Foundry; and the power of the Holy Spirit was so manifest that the prayers and cries of the penitents often drowned the preacher's voice. Additions were made to the society almost daily, and the bulk of the communicants at St. Patrick's were usually Methodists led there by Mr. Wesley himself. During that visit Charles Wesley often preached five times in one day; he collected subscriptions, and had a better chapel erected. The Gospel reclaimed the people from error and sin, and persecution bound them together in bonds of affection.
During that visit Charles Wesley traveled abroad into the country. The singing of the Methodists had a most winning effect on the Irish people. A good work was begun in many places, and in some a spirit of transformation was the effect. This was especially the case at Tyrrell's Cross. The people there had been wicked to a proverb; they became entirely changed. In some places the dragoons had to be called for their protection; the soldiers became converts, and were, the cause of spreading Methodism. When John Wesley returned to Dublin in March, 1748, Charles left for England, with the blessings of hundreds of-converts.
Robert Swindells, a lay preacher, accompanied John Wesley, and, being especially adapted for both the work and the people, was made a great blessing. Mr. Wesley began his work by preaching every morning at five o'clock — a plan not congenial to the dilatory Irish; but they crowded to hear him in most places. During this second visit he found out more of the real Irish character, and formed no sanguine hopes of the success of Methodism among the Irish. He tried both persuasion and threatening in his: sermons; but the people, while eating up every word, did not appear to digest any portion. What was Mr. Wesley's discovery in 1748 was the experience of Henry Moore in 1788, and also of Gideon Ouseley in 1828. The same may also be said of the Irish people today. Traversing Ireland for three months, numerous societies were formed, and, half a dozen excellent preachers from England were laboring among them.
Charles Wesley returned to Ireland soon after John left, and he revisited the places into which he had introduced Methodism a year previously. In Cork he observed a great moral change had come over the people. Swearing was now seldom heard in the streets, and the altars and churches were crowded with devout worshipers. He preached to ten thousand people out of doors; even the clergy came to hear him. Returning to England, a fierce storm of opposition was raised against the Methodists in Cork, led by a ballad-singer named Butler. The mayor of the city favored the persecutors; and when the Methodists applied for protection, the mayor said in reply that "the law protected the priests, but not the Methodists;" after which declaration, publicly, the rioters became furious. The whole city was excited. Charles Wesley and all the preachers who had been in Cork were charged before the assizes as persons of ill-fame and vagabonds. The judge Soon discovered the nature of the case and the character of the witnesses, and the case assumed a better aspect in court; but the mischief done at Cork that year was not remedied for many years afterwards. The preachers were vindicated; yet two years afterwards, when John Wesley as again in Cork, he was assailed with terrible violence; but God has his own way of defending those who do his work. When the mayor encouraged the rioters, some of the soldiers were converted, and they became stanch Methodists, coming in a body to the preaching services; protection was thereby secured, and the work prospered. Methodism took permanent root in that city; and in 1755 Mr. Wesley was received by the mayor at the Mansion-house; and his visit to the place was then considered an honor to the city.
The first Methodist sermon preached in Limerick was by Robert Swindells, in March, 1749. He lad been in Ireland just one year, and had accompanied John Wesley in his tour, and had learned much of the character of the people. He also accompanied Charles Wesley in his Irish journeys. Swindells had not a gracious reception at Limerick; but, though he had a rabble audience, he preached daily on the Parade, which was at that time a courageous act. In his congregation one day was a young man, educated for the Romish priesthood, who was convinced of sin so deeply that he could not rest away from the Methodist services, and who a few weeks after was converted, and joined the society at Newmarket in 1749. That young man was Thomas Walsh, the first-fruit of street-preaching in Ireland, one of the most pious, useful, and accomplished preachers Methodism ever had in her ranks.
Philip Guier, one of the Palatines, was another convert to Methodism at that early period. He carried his religion to the little colony among whom he resided. Mr. Wesley's preachers were invited to preach among them. The colonists greeted them and welcomed them with joy, and soon a society was formed with Guier as the leader of the infant church.
In 1752 Mr. Wesley was again at Limerick, on which occasion he convened the first Irish Conference. There were present John Wesley, S. Larwood, J. Haughton, Joseph Cownley, J. Fisher, Thomas Walsh, Jacob Rowell, T. Kead, Robert Swindells, J. Whitgood, and J. Morris. These, excepting J. Morris, formed Mr. Wesley's staff of preachers in Ireland in the middle of the 18th century. In l1756 Mr. Wesley again visited Limerick, and now for the first time preached in Ballingarr, the home of Philip Embury and Barbara Heck, both of whom were members of Wesley's congregation. Much of the future of Methodism in the world of America depended upon that visit and those sermons, with Embury and Heck as part of his audience. Wesley says of that service, in his Journal, "I found much life among this plain, artless, serious people. The whole town came together in the evening, and praised God for the consolation. Many of those who are not outwardly joined with us walk in the light of God's countenance; yea, and have divided themselves into classes in imitation of our brethren, with whom they live in perfect harmony." Here are the germs of that Methodism which ten years later originated the first Methodist society in New York, and in America. At the first Irish Conference Mr. Wesley suspected one of the preachers of a Calvinistic leading, of which, he observed, he had as great a dread as he had of the plague. In 1758 Mr. Wesley again held a conference in Ireland, at which fourteen preachers were present; and though the record of its proceedings is compressed within a few lines, yet it is most satisfactory. In 1760 Mr. Wesley was again among the Palatines, when lie "observed the ravages of emigration." How little did he then foresee what immense advantages would follow that emigration, else he would have used other words to describe the events he then witnessed. Popish influence was unsparingly exercised to oppose the progress of Methodism in Ireland. Mobs continued to be gathered, assuming often frightful and perilous severity; while at other times Providence, in a remarkable manner, delivered the worshippers. Once at Clones, a popish rabble violently assaulted the Methodists in the market place, when suddenly a veteran Scotch military pensioner took his post by a tree in the market-place, musket in hand, declaring he would shoot the first man who disturbed the meeting. The terrible earnestness of the man awed the people into submission; and he kept guard there regularly for several weeks. Ireland was helpful to America in more ways than historians record. Soon after the first society was formed in New York, Charles White and Richard Sause, two Dublin Methodists, arrived in New York; and they were liberal contributors to John Street Chapel. Some years afterwards Richard Sause recrossed the Atlantic, settled in London, and became one of the trustees of Mr. Wesley's chapel in the City Road, where he was interred. Methodism won many converts from popery, as well as from the peasantry of Ireland. Mr. Wesley, sent to that country some of the best preachers he had; and with untiring zeal they labored year by, year, witnessing alternately vicissitudes and progress; but the root of Methodism was fixed in the soil, and there can be no doubt that it saved Protestantism in that country. In 1773 the two families of Embury and Heck, with another Irish family named Lawrence, removed to Canada, and they introduced Methodism into that country. In 1775 Lawrence Coughlan, another Irish Methodist, with two others, founded Methodism in the Norman isles; while Remington, another Irish Methodist, established Methodism in Newfoundland. Emigration has impoverished Methodism in every part of Ireland; but that emigration has resulted in an amount of extension which never could haven been realized by other means. Methodism was often carried, to and planted in the new homes of emigrants years before it would have reached them by invitation. Ireland has peculiar claims on those countries to which its emigrants have carried their religion. During Dr. McClintock's visit to his family homesteads in the County of Tyrone, Ireland, he went into a humble cabin inhabited by a poor widow. A friend introduced the doctor as from America. Instantly the aged widow's fading eye brightened as in her early days, and she said, instantly, America? Ah, then, sir, do you know our Eliza?" That may be thought to be a simple question; but remembering that there is scarcely a homestead but has its representative in America, such sympathy is easily accounted for. In 1789 Mr. Wesley presided for the last time at the Irish Conference, then composed mainly of Irishmen, those English preachers who had done such good service having been returned to their own Conference. Mr. Wesley's record is worthy to be transcribed. He says, "I never had between forty and fifty such preachers together in Ireland before, all of whom we have reason to hope are alive to God, and earnestly devoted to his service, men of sound experience, deep piety, and strong understanding." As if foreseeing his own death, Mr. Wesley sent Dr. Coke, in 1790, to hold the first Conference formally. Dr. Coke took that nomination as the yearly president of the Irish Conference, and he continued to occupy that position, in conjunction with John Crook and Dr. Adam Clarke, to the end of his life. In 1790 there were in Ireland 15 circuits, 67 preachers, and 14,000 members. No minutes were published of the early Irish conferences, apart from those of the English Methodists. Historical accuracy makes it necessary to name an unpleasant dispute, which arose in an informal conference held by Mr. Wesley in 1778, to consider and determine a dispute, which had arisen among his societies in reference to the separation of the Methodists from the Church. The Rev. Edward Smythe had been driven from the Irish Church for his Methodist preaching. He had joined the Methodist ministry and had indiscreetly urged the need for separation from the Church. Mr. Wesley heard the arguments, but ruled that separation was not desirable. He visited Ireland more than twenty times, and nothing gave the Methodists there greater pleasure than to see him and to hear his voice. His last visit was attended by circumstances which were not of an encouraging nature. Dr. Coke had been using his utmost efforts to introduce Methodist services in church hours. This innovation was stoutly resisted by the leading laymen, of whom Mr. Arthur Keene and Mr. Richard D'Olier were the chief. They presented a memorial to Mr. Wesley against the action of Dr, Coke. Letters and memorials followed in quick succession, and Mr. Wesley determined against the proposed change, while Dr. Coke had a considerable following among the people of his way of thinking. The result was, before Mr. Wesley's death, a divided society in Dublin. After Mr. Wesley's death, Dr. Coke was able to urge his opinions with more determination, and they served to alienate from the doctor some of his dearest and best friends in Dublin, and the progress of the work of God was proportionally hindered. In 1790 Mr. Wesley was pleased to know that in Dublin he had one of the largest societies in his Connection, very few being larger. Dr. Coke became the apostle of Ireland after the death of Wesley. He visited the country twenty-five times at his own cost; gave freely of his own money to the preachers and the new erections of chapels; traveled and preached all over the country; and the society advanced rapidly under his superintendence. In 1782, when he first presided at their Conference, they had only 15 circuits and 6000 members. In 1813, after a lapse of thirty-one years, there were 56 circuits and 28,770 members. All this was in spite of difficulties, persecutions, and resistance almost insurmountable. From 1795 to 1798, during the prevalence of the Rebellion, the sufferings and even tortures of the Methodists, perhaps the most loyal people in the country, were too horrible to relate. Their very loyalty caused the malignity of the rebels; but God was on their side, and had raised up among them two or three ministers whose labors saved the societies. Especially were the untiring labors of the Rev. Adam Averell made a great blessing to the whole country. Educated for the Church, after a few years service in that body, he became a Methodist, and, having abundant means of his own, began to itinerate all over Ireland, much in the same way as Mr. Wesley had done, encouraging the members, administering the sacraments, attending and presiding over quarterly, meetings, opening new chapels, and introducing Methodism into new localities. During half a century that devoted servant of God ceased not to exert all his energies and influence on behalf of Methodism, while he himself, like Wesley, as an ordained clergyman, was permitted occasionally to preach in churches, and without permission preached continuously, often daily in the open air to listening multitudes. In those excursions which he made he witnessed many extraordinary manifestations of the divine power, both during, his sermons and in prayer- meetings afterwards. During the twenty years of Dr. Coke's superintendence of Methodism in Ireland, Mr. Averell was generally appointed their representative to the English Conference, and for many years accompanied Dr. Coke from Ireland to England for that purpose, the two taking turns in preaching in the towns through which they passed on their journeys When, in 1818, the Irish societies were divided on that sacrament and Church question, Mr. Averell took sides with those who formed "The Primitive Wesleyan Methodists," thought by, some to be the seceders. He was appointed their president, organized their societies, established for them a magazine and book-room, and remained true to their society and interests till his death, Jan. 16, 1847, at the ripe age of ninety- two years. Methodism while struggling with poverty, opposition, and cruelty, yet was often favored in a remarkable manner by Divine Providence. At the time of the great Rebellion Methodism saved Dublin from being sacked by the rebels, whose intention to march on that city was secretly made known to a Methodist citizen. He at once communicated with the lord-lieutenant, who sent out the soldiers to meet the rebels, and they were defeated and the city saved. Dr. Coke came to Dublin, interceded with the authorities, found that Alexander Knox, Mr. Wesley's great friend, was private secretary to lord Castlereagh, then lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and through him obtained permission for the Conference to meet in Dublin, when by law more than five persons were forbidden to meet for any purpose, and secured safe-convoys for the preachers to travel. At that Conference it was resolved to establish home missions, in order to provide preaching for the people in their native language. The two missionaries first appointed were James M'Quigg and Charles Graham. The former was both a scholar amid an able preacher. He toiled as a missionary till his health broke down, then devoted his energies to the preparation and editing of the Bible in the Irish tongue, which the British and Foreign Bible Society published. He brought out a second edition, and, while preparing a third edition for press, closed a career of toil and suffering, leaving behind, in that Irish, Bible, a work which was a blessing to thousands after his death. Charles Graham was a man of dauntless Irish courage. At twenty-five his eyes were opened to see his lost condition. He had been both Churchman and papist, but, finding no soul-rest till he found Methodism, his character was soon discovered by Mr. Wesley, who sent him out as a missionary in Kerry County. Few of the Irish evangelists had more trials than Graham, and few knew better how to meet and conquer them. Bartley Campbell was another who had been an ardent papist, and became an eccentric but enthusiastic missionary. More extensively useful than any who had preceded him in mission work was Gideon Ouseley, who devoted a long life to spreading divine truth in the form of Methodism among the Irish people. The Life and Labors of that eminent preacher and defender of truth, by the Rev. William Arthur, has perpetuated his character and work. He and Graham often traveled together and assisted each other; but Ouseley will always be considered the chief Methodist Irish missionary, which position he occupied for forty years. He labored as hard with his pen as his tongue, and his writings, when published, were at times more helpful to the cause of God than his verbal utterances. The improved religious character of Ireland now is largely due to Gideon Ouseley's labors.
Ireland, however, was not to be so much benefited by these labors as other countries. Methodism would have been mighty in that country had not emigration, continuing year by year for half a century, deprived it of thousands of its Methodist converts. In fifteen years fully ten thousand members were reported at successive conferences as having emigrated to America. Nor was this the only drawback to the progress of the work. In 1801 the English Conference, unable to meet the claims of its own societies, and having to borrow money to sustain its own agencies, was obliged to discontinue the pecuniary assistance it had cheerfully rendered the Irish Conference. Dr. Coke immediately visited Ireland. To provide for that emergency a fund of £1200 was raised by special effort, out of which the debts were paid, and a book-room established as a means to raise money. The institution was of great utility to the cause; but instead of being financially helpful, money had to be borrowed to keep it going, and soon the debts were £8000, the interest on which absorbed all the public collection on behalf of the book-room. The preachers taxed themselves yearly for many years to reduce the debt. Their difficulties from limited resources continued nearly twenty years, and after the division in the society in 1818, the burden on the Irish preachers became so oppressive that the English Conference generously granted them £600 a year from the contingent fund. Still the debt was not cancelled, and in 1828 the Irish preachers again taxed themselves, and by a special effort raised £1850 towards clearing off the £8000 still remaining of debt. During the year following the people raised £7200, so the debt was cancelled. But who can tell the sacrifices the preachers had to make to raise that sum in maintenance of their several agencies? During sixteen years they almost staggered under heavy financial burdens, but they slackened not in their devotion for the salvation of their benighted countrymen.
The great trouble of the Methodists in Ireland was the sacramental question. Unlike their English brethren, they were barely content with their position as a society without full church privileges. When the English Methodists agitated for and obtained permission in 1797 for their ministers to administer the sacraments, the Irish, having Dr. Coke and Mr. Averell so frequently with them to administer the sacraments, did not claim for their preachers generally their full pastoral rights. After the death of Dr. Coke the members in society had so often to be taken either to Church or to the Presbyterians for the sacraments, according to the leaning of the preacher, that they became greatly dissatisfied, and in 1816 there arose a strong determination in the minds of many of the people to have the sacraments from their own ministers. There was also another party equally determined to abide by the old rule and go to Church for the ordinances. For more than two years the contention continued, both parties being equally determined to have their own way. The Rev. Adam Averell had long been the apostle of the Irish Methodists, traveling constantly among them, giving his money, relieving their sufferings, directing their official meetings, and administering the sacraments. Several thousands resolved to adhere to the old plan, and at the Conference of 1816, Dr. Adam Clarke presiding, the Rev. Adam Averell and Mr. Tobias were the chief speakers the former for, the latter against, continuing the old plan. Throughout the societies the people were divided, and in the autumn of 1816 a Conference was held at Clones of those representatives who favored the old plan. Through hope of avoiding a separation, there was too much hesitation and deliberation. In 1817 two conferences were held, the second one at Clones, presided over by Mr. Averell, who was unanimously chosen their president. The main body of the preachers voted for the sacraments; the party led by Mr. Averell maintained the original plan. In January, 1818, a meeting of representatives of circuits was held at Clones, when those who adhered to Mr. Averell and primitive custom resolved on a form of general principles, and formed the Primitive Wesleyan Methodist Society. They were not a Church; their preachers claimed no ministerial rank, assumed no ministerial titles, and performed no proper ministerial functions. They preached to the people, and led them to other churches for the ordinances. In that uncertain condition they certainly prospered for a time, and during 1818 over two thousand members were added to them, and in 1819 over four thousand additions were made. This section of the original society was led by Mr. Averell during the rest of his protracted life. In years following they maintained their separate condition amid various vicissitudes, and for just sixty years they endured hardships and privations greater than they need have done. Happily they came to an end at the Conference of 1878. In the address from the Irish to the English Conference of that year is this record, "This Conference has been notable for the consummation of the union with the Primitive Wesleyan Society, so long under consideration. The final discussion of the subject was marked by great thoroughness and good feeling, and the decision arrived at with a hearty unanimity. When the two conferences came together it was a time long to be remembered, and it was evident to all that the spirit of God was eminently in their midst. The only breach which has occurred in Irish Methodism was thus healed." The parent society was known for some time as the Sacramentarians, because the preachers had voted themselves to the privilege of administering the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper a privilege they ought to have had from the first. The vote carried with it an immense amount of pecuniary loss and hardship. During the four years of the struggle (1814-18), an annual decrease of members was reported, and in 1817 no less than 7500 retired; but in 1819 they had an increase of over 3500, and the Separatists had an increase of over 4000, so that neither party could complain of apparent want of success. The greatest hindrance to prosperity was the continued emigration from Ireland to America, by which for many years the society lost not less than a thousand members annually. The yearly visits as presidents of their Conference of such preachers as Dr. Adam Clarke, Richard Reece, Richard Watson, Dr. Bunting, Robert Newton, and other leading ministers from England, greatly encouraged the patient toilers. Their financial, privations were very great; but they labored most energetically, though it was up-hill work all the way; yet in 1839, the centenary-year, they numbered over 150 preachers and more than 26,000 members. During the same year they contributed £14,500 to the Centenary Fund. That liberality in their poverty was marvelous, and shows the spirit of self-denial which animated them all. In addition to all this effort, they established schools in Dublin, Cork, and Belfast, and, aided by the munificent contributions of American Methodists, they built and established a Methodist College at Belfast. The Wesleyan Connectional School in Dublin; opened in 1845, was to secure to Methodists in the South a high-class education. The college in Belfast, opened in August, 1868, combines both a public-school and college. In the former, boys are prepared for a collegiate course of training; and in the college two classes of students are received-one consisting of candidates for the ministry, the other those intended for commercial pursuits. Undergraduates of the Queen's University also attend its classes of instruction.
There have been heroic men in their ranks, who have fought and labored with marvelous zeal and energy. Charles Graham was a gray-headed veteran of seventy-four years, who died in triumph in April, 1824. William Hamilton broke down in 1816, but he ceased not to labor until October, 1843, when he closed a ministerial career of fifty-six years, aged eighty- two. Gideon Ouseley was abroad preaching out-of-doors at seventy-four, active as ever, and delivering twenty sermons in the week. He died a victor's death, in Dublin, May 14, 1839, aged seventy-eight. To these may be added Richard Boardman, James Morgan, Andrew Blair, James M'Mullen, John M'Adam, Thomas Barber (who sent Adam Clarke into the ministry), Laiktree, Tobias, Stewart, Waugh, and others. Besides these, how many Methodists from Ireland have entered the ministry both in England and America — such men as Henry Moore, Adam Clarke, William Thompson, Walter 'Griffith, and William Arthur, all of whom were presidents of both the English and the Irish Conference, and the transplanting of whom impoverished the Church which reared them! Think also of the ministers from Ireland now in America! But these we have not space to name. Irish Methodists have helped to found their denomination in America, Canada, Australia, Africa, and India; and while thus helping others everywhere with their best men, they were left to struggle on, in their own land, with but little help from any but themselves. Irish Methodists have a roll of honor which will never be surpassed in the Church militant; and in the Church triumphant none will receive greater commendation than those whose names have just been given, and hundreds of others who were their co-laborers and joint sufferers. Rev. William Crook, D.D., has a copious history of Irish Methodism nearly ready for publication.
In 1877, as a preparation for the union with the Irish Primitive Wesleyans, the Irish Methodist Conference first admitted laymen to participate with the ministers in the Annual Conference. This act of grace was done in Ireland one year before it was adopted by the English Conference. In 1878 the Primitive Wesleyan Conference came, in a body to the Conference of the parent society, and both united to form one community, after having had a separate existence for just sixty years. The highest number of members the Irish Conference ever had at one time was in the year 1814, when the agitation commenced for the sacraments. That year the membership was 29,388. The year 1818, when the separation took place, they were reduced to 19,052. The society never fully rallied from the shock that division caused. In 1844, when in their divided state, the parent society numbered 28,409; but having to struggle against the continued drain arising from emigration, when the two societies were united in 1878, they only reached a total of 25,487 members, and at the present time they are below that number. A careful examination of the statistics of the body will enable the reader to understand the difficulty of the preachers in laboring, against such varied discouraging forces. The disruption, which took place in England in 1849, reached Ireland in its paralyzing influence, and the Irish Conference, which in 1849 had a membership of 22,000, in 1855 had been reduced to a little over 18,000. The highest number of members reported by the Irish Conference during the thirty years following 1849 was only 23,500 in the year 1861.
Year Ministers Members 1816 1 20 1817 1 30 1818 2 70 1819 3 70 1820 5 83 1821 8 90 1822 9 141 1823 9 178 1824 12 168 1825 12 142 1826 11 160 1827 12 162 1828 12 162 1829 10 164 1830 13 341 1831 14 736 1832 16 892 1833 15 2,702 1834 19 4,311 1835 24 7,929 1836 27 8,579 1837 32 9,313 1838 40 9,188 1839 53 10,980 1840 51 10,921 1841 52 11,656 1842 52 12,136 1843 53 13,140 1844 54 12,667 1845 54 13,236 1846 56 14,040 1847 60 15,353 1848 61 15,933 1849 64 16,469 1850 67 17,453 1851 70 18,137 1852 83 18,938
1853 91 19,135 1854 102 18,956 1855 116 19,897 1856 131 21,168 1857 142 21,247 1858 154 24,461 1859 174 28,138 1860 153 32,180 1861 159 33,964 1862 204 25,307 1863 213 38,075 1864 215 39,695 1865 243 42,642 1866 281 47,695 1867 303 49,433 1868 302 50,674 1869 319 52,222 1870 328 55,556 1871 347 59,384 1872 352 59,649 1873 383 59,819 1874 383 60,571 1875 388 60,165 1876 391 52,692 1877 392 54,200 1878 394 62,683 1879 423 66,905 1880 426 66,832
III. Literature. — But few of the Irish Methodist preachers, as such, have had either leisure or disposition to make free use of the press. Some preachers who left Ireland and joined the English Conference have written and published extensively. Dr. Adam Clarke, Henry Moore, William Arthur, A.M., William Myles, and James Creighton have each left their names permanently in the annals of English literature. With two or three exceptions, the literature of Ireland has not been much enriched by the preachers; not from: want of ability, but owing to more pressing duties.
Rev. W. P. Applebee, LL.D., has published three pamphlets one on The Genuineness and Authenticity of Holy Scripture: — one Calvinism Not the Theology of the Bible: — and A Vindication of the Wesleyan Catechism.
Rev. George Alley has published Our Class Meetings, Their Scriptural Authority and Practical Working (1868, 136 pp.).
Rev. J. C. Bass has published a poem, Life's True Beatitude; or, Who is Wise? — also, Glimpses in America. Rev. Robert G. Cather, LL.D., made very free use of his pen in newspapers, as secretary of the Systematic Beneficence Society.
Rev. G. W. Campbell, A.M., has become widely known by his Life of the Rev. Charles Graham, published in 1868 as The Apostle of Kerry (8vo, 324 pp.).
Rev. William, Crook, D.D., is the most prominent author now in connection with the Conference. He has published, Funeral Services, on the death of his father: Christian Consolation in Relation to the Dead in Christ, a sermon for W. H. Barkin : — The Memory of our Fathers, sermon on the death of John Nelson: — Our Heavenly Home, sermon for John Carey: — Paradise; or, The Present State of the Holy Dead, a sermon: — Lay Preaching in Ireland, and the New Gospel: — Ireland, and the Centenary of American Methodism, an octavo volume of 263 pages. He has in press a History of Methodism in Ireland (in 2 vols.). He has also been the editor of the Irish Evangelist for many years. Rev. John Dwyer has published Christian Thoroughness, a memorial of T. A. Shillington, Esq., of Portadown.
Rev. Thomas Pearson is the author of, The Irish of the Irish Church, published anonymously, and a work of deep research: The Bible and Temperance; or, The True Scriptural Basis of the Temperance Movement. This is one of the most exhaustive works on the wines of the Bible, an octavo volume of 296 pages issued in 1881.
Rev. William Reilly has published A Memorial of the Ministerial Life of the Rev. Gideon Ouseley, Irish Missionary. The Rev. William Arthur has also published a Life of Gideon Ouseley.
Mr. Ouseley himself was the author of thirty-four separate publications, with his name attached. They were chiefly letters of a controversial character, which were clear, powerful, and convincing; and were of immense service, when published, in opposing the spread of popery, and in defending Methodist agency in Ireland. The two principal works published by Mr. Ouseley were, Old Christianity against Papal Novelties, an octavo volume of 446 pages: — and Calvinism-Arminianism (1831, 18mo, 220 pp.). Rev. George Vance has published a pamphlet, Calvinism Not the Theology of the Bible.
Rev. Samuel Weir, in 1867, published a small volume, 18mo, Onward to God.
Rev. G. E. Wedgwood has published a lecture entitled Liberty. (G. J. S.)
(Wesleyan) Methodist New Connection a body of English Independents which separated from the regular Wesleyans on questions of ecclesiastical polity.
I. Origin. — The opinion has been held, and is still prevalent in some localities, that the Methodist New Connection had its origin in personal sympathy with Alexander Kilham. Such is not the fact. Most of those who joined the body at its origin were influenced by the publications and public addresses of Mr. Kilham, but the Connection as such originated in principle, not in sympathy. The Methodist; New Connection was originated by a contest for the establishment of the following important and scriptural principles:
1. The right of the people to hold their public religious, worship at such hours as were most convenient, without their being restricted to the mere intervals of the hours appointed for service in the Established Church.
2. The right of the people to receive the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper from the hands of their own ministers and in their own places of worship.
3. The right of the people to a representation in the district meetings and in the annual conference, and thereby to participate in the government of the community and in the appropriation of its funds.
4. The right of the Church to have a voice, through its local business meetings, in the reception and expulsion of members, the choice of local officers, and in the calling out of candidates for the ministry; Not any of these privileges were originally enjoyed in, the parent body; they were for years zealously contended for by the fathers and founders of the New Connection; and when they could not be fully obtained, conscience compelled those men to secede from the parent community and originate a distinct denomination in which such scriptural privileges could be freely enjoyed.
The power of Mr. Wesley was absolute, but it fell into his hands unsought and undesired. It was exercised by him with affection, and solely for the best interests of his societies; and retained from the same motive. He was the father of the community, and was necessitated for a time to be its sole director and governor; but, however proper it was for him to exercise that power during the infancy of the Connection, yet, when surrounded by churches which had grown to maturity, and assisted by ministers and laymen of acknowledged wisdom, integrity, and piety, whose existence and happiness, like his own, were bound up with the prosperity of Methodism, it would have been more conformable to the example of the apostles and the dictates of sound reason to have gradually relaxed his hold of the reins and admitted others to a participation of the same, and finally to have framed a liberal constitution defining the prerogatives of the ministry and the privileges of the people, securing both by suitable regulations and wholesome laws. Mr. Wesley's mind was well qualified for this, but he did it not. He retained absolute power until death; and, instead of framing for the community a liberal constitution, he transferred by legal settlement his own power to the preachers, and made that law which before was only custom, and custom arising from the peculiar relation in which he stood. He made those his successors in absolute power who could not possibly be his successors in paternal relation and influence. That exercise of power was the subject of many remarks and adverse criticism. Just fifty years after the origin of Methodism Mr. Wesley had to defend his conduct in this matter, which he did in these words:
"Some of our helpers say, 'This is shackling free-born Englishmen;' and they demand a free conference, that is, a meeting of all the preacher is, wherein all things shall be determined by most votes. I answer, It is possible after my death something of this kind may take place, but not while I live. To me the preachers have engaged themselves to submit, to serve me as sons in the Gospel; but they are not thus engaged to any man or number of men besides. To me the people in general will submit, but they will not thus submit to any other." When Mr. Wesley died, in 1791, only two years after he had written and published the above observations, there were 380 preachers in his society, some with active, others passive, dispositions. Among the former were some who were of opinion that, being the regularly appointed ministers of their congregations, they ought to exercise all the functions which belong to the pastoral office; but to be deprived of the privilege of administering the sacraments was felt by some of the preachers to be a great hardship, while the laymen, many of them, considered they had a just right to representation in the properly constituted Church courts.
Mr. Alexander Kilham, one of the preachers who had been specially privileged in his ministerial career was one of the most able and courageous advocates of what was considered the full rights and liberties of both preachers and people. In 1792 he published an address to the Newcastle Society, to whom he was then ministering, advocating liberal views. His address met with favor from Dr. Coke, Messrs. Bradburn, Pawson, Moore, Taylor, Crowther, Bramwell, and others. The Church party among the preachers resisted strongly, and the controversy spread and intensified. Mr. Kilham, impressed with the conviction that permanent peace would never be established in the body until such a constitution was adopted as secured to the people New-Test. rights and privileges, felt it a duty to make another effort for the attainment of this important object. Under this impression he wrote a pamphlet entitled The Progress of Liberty. In this work he adverted to the course of Mr. Wesley in the progress of Methodism, showing that he had acted from time to time as altered circumstances required; he glanced at the alterations which had been effected since Mr. Wesley's death, and analyzed "the Articles of Pacification," pointing out their defects, etc. In the second part of this work he lays down the "Outlines of a Constitution," which he humbly proposes to the consideration of "The People called Methodists." This outline embraces the following particulars:
First, That instead of the preachers having the sole power to admit and expel members, these acts should be done with consent of the people.
Second, That the members should have a voice in choosing their own leaders.
Third, That local preachers, instead of being appointed by the circuit preacher, should be examined and approved by the leaders and quarterly meetings; with which meetings also should rest the power of receiving and dismissing them.
Fourth, That as it was impossible to allow the people to choose their own ministers on account of the itinerant plan, yet the quarterly meetings should have a voice in recommending preachers to travel.
Fifth, That lay delegates appointed by the quarterly meetings should attend the district meetings.
And, lastly, he proposes, "with submission to the preachers and the Connection at large, to appoint one or two lay delegates from every district meeting to attend the Conference." Such were the propositions of Mr. Kilham, and such were the principles adopted as elements of the constitution of the New Connection at its origin, and such remain its essential and distinguishing features at the present day. Many of them have since been substantially adopted in the other Methodist bodies. Nevertheless, for publishing the pamphlet advocating these principles of freedom, Mr. Kilham was tried and expelled from the ministry at the ensuing conference (1796). Being left without a circuit, Mr. Kilham published a detailed account of his trial and expulsion, which sold extensively and was read eagerly. It created a strong feeling of sympathy towards the expelled, who was welcomed in many circuits to preach to and address the people. Several large societies expressed their adhesion to the principles Mr. Kilham advocated, and in May, 1797, a chapel was purchased in Leeds, where he gathered large congregations and preached to them.
The Methodist Conference of 1797 was occupied during its session with the altered circumstances arising from their refusal of the liberties, which had been asked by deputations from the people. A Plan of Pacification was drawn up and published by the Conference, which was one of the most important proceedings connected with the history of Methodism. As, however, that plan did not concede all that the people desired, three of the preachers resigned — William Thom, Stephen Eversfield, and Alexander Cummins-and united with Mr. Kilham. These brethren, with a number of delegates from the people, met together in Ebenezer Chapel, Leeds, on Aug. 9, 1797, when Mr. Thom was elected president and Mr. Kilham secretary, and the basis of a constitution was adopted in conformity with the principles which had been publicly advocated, the full development and formal statement of these principles were reserved until the ensuing conference. The most important places in which friends declared for the New Itinerancy were Alnwick, Ashton, Bolton, Chester, Hanley, Leeds, Liverpool, Macclesfield, Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle, and Stockport, which became the nuclei of distinct circuits, consisting altogether of over 5000 members.
II. Doctrines. — The Methodist New Connection has a creed; the doctrines it teaches are Arminian, purely Methodistic. No written creed was considered necessary at the time the Connection was commenced, its founders being all Methodists who held by Mr. Wesley's writings; they retained his hymn-book, and avowed their unabated attachment to the doctrines he taught. False reports on this head having been circulated in the early years, the Conference of 1800 made a specific declaration of their doctrines, which were briefly summed up under the following heads: namely, first, the fall of man; second, redemption by the death of Christ; third, justification by faith; fourth, the complete sanctification of believers; fifth, perseverance in the divine life, or the necessity of continuing in faith and good works to the end, in order to final salvation.
The Conference of 1816 reviewed the whole question of doctrines, and embodied them in twelve articles or propositions, with Scripture references to each. These are the same as those held by the parent society.
III. Church Organization and Polity. — The founders of the Methodist New Connection renounced all connection with the Established Church, and as avowed Dissenters added the administration of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper to the regular duties of the ministry, and laid down as fundamental this principle: "That the Church itself is entitled, either collectively, in the persons of its members, or representatively, by persons chosen out of and by itself, to a voice and influence in all the acts of legislation and government." That principle is embodied in the entire system of government of the Connection. This will be seen from the following statement of the constitution and functions of the official meetings, briefly summed up under five heads.
1. Conference. — This is held annually, and is composed of an equal number of preachers and laymen, each circuit sending one of its preachers and one of its lay members. When only one representative is sent, the circuit selects a preacher and layman in alternate years. Should any circuit be unable to send a representative, a letter accompanied by the required documents, details, and collections is sufficient. The treasurer of the Connection, the corresponding member of the annual committee, the steward and treasurer of the book-room, the general secretary of the missions, the superintendent of the Irish mission, a deputed minister or layman, alternately, from the Irish Conference, and the guardians of the Connection, under the deed executed in 1846, are, by virtue of office, members of Conference, without interfering in any way with the privilege of the circuits in which such individuals may reside. The business of Conference is to make laws for the government of the Connection; to decide impartially on charges affecting the character of preachers or other officers, and on appeals referred to it by the quarterly meetings; to disburse the various funds of the Connection; to station the preachers for the year ensuing; to investigate the condition of each circuit; to adjust differences, and to promote, by friendly co-operation and advice, harmony and love throughout the community; and to devise and put into operation means for the more extensive spread of the Gospel both at home and abroad. Its sittings are open to members of the Connection, subject to the judgment of the president. In addition to the above, a committee of seven persons is chosen at each Conference, by ballot, to transact I the business of the Connection between one Conferenon and another; four of the members are preachers and three are laymen, one year, and vice versa the following year. It is the duty of this committee to see that the resolutions of Conference are carried into effect; to give advice in all matters of dispute and difficulty, and to make provision for such circuits as may through death, new openings, or other causes, need supplies during the ecclesiastical year. A report of its proceedings is prepared by the corresponding member, and annually presented to Conference.
2. District Meetings. — These meetings are composed of all the circuit preachers in the district, with an equal number of laymen (including the representatives to the last Conference), who are elected by the respective quarterly meetings. These meetings are designed to form and carry out plans for the revival of the work of God in the district; to investigate the condition of the societies, chapels, and Sabbath-schools, and to prepare correct returns of the number of members; probationers, Sabbath-school teachers and scholars, etc., for the use of Conference; to ascertain the amount raised in each circuit for the different Connectional funds; to investigate all claims on the yearly collection and chapel fund; to receive applications for the division of circuits; to examine candidates for the ministry; to lay before the district any resolution of the Conference affecting the circuits, and to ascertain whether they have been carried into full effect. These meetings are designed and calculated to shorten the duration of Conference, to strengthen the executive, to secure more correct information on points of local interest than can be done at a greater distance, and to afford a legitimate channel through which many evils may be altogether prevented or speedily rectified.
3. Quarterly Meetings. — These are held in each circuit, and are composed of the circuit preachers, the circuit stewards, the secretary of the local preachers, and representatives of the people chosen from the local preachers, leaders, trustees (being members), and other experienced persons from the different societies. Each society sends one or more representatives according to the number of its members. Any member of society has free admission to the quarterly meetings, with liberty to give his opinion, but without the power to vote. It is the business of the quarterly meeting to pay the preachers salaries; to determine the amount that each society is to contribute for the support of the ministry; to make by-laws for its own regulation and for the management of the circuit, providing they do not contravene the rules of the Connection; to appoint persons to make the preachers plans for the circuit; to recommend local preachers to be taken into the regular ministry; to determine respecting the qualifications of candidates for the local ministry, and to examine and decide upon the affairs, both temporal and spiritual, of the circuit generally.
4. Leaders Meetings. — These consist of leaders, society stewards, one or more of the circuit preachers, a male representative for each of the female and circuit preachers classes, and a representative from the trustees of the chapel, provided such representative be a member of society. Leaders meetings are held weekly, or once a fortnight, and regulate the affairs of each society and place of worship. It is the province of these meetings to inspect the class-books, and to receive the weekly or other payments; to inquire after the sick or absent members, that they may be visited; to determine on notices for the pulpit; to fix the hours for public worship, and appoint the times for making the collections for its support; to recommend persons to act as exhorters or local preachers; to judge and decide upon the fitness of candidates for Church membership; to ascertain whether any members are walking disorderly; and prayerfully to devise plans for the advancement of the work of God, and for the general improvement of the society.
5. Local Preachers' Meetings. — These are held previously to the circuit quarterly meetings, and are composed, of the circuit and local preachers. Their business is, in addition to mutual counsel and encouragement, to consider the recommendations given by the leaders meetings of persons to be employed as local preachers or exhorters; make suitable inquiries respecting probationers, and any alleged irregularities in the conduct or preaching of any of the brethren; ascertain if any alterations are required in the places or times of preaching, and report thereon to the quarterly meeting through the medium of their secretary.
The religious, social, and society meetings of the New Connection are conducted in the same manner as the like meetings of the Wesleyan body, the parent society.
IV. History. — The incidents of history in the Methodist New Connection are comparatively few, and they relate chiefly to the personal history of the preachers and the steady spread of the movement. At the first Conference the number of adherents was five thousand and thirty-seven. Surrounded by difficulties of more than ordinary urgency and gravity, the society made very slow progress, not so much from want of sympathy on the part of the people as from want of funds and agents to commence new circuits. The new itinerant commenced with seven circuits and seven preachers. In 1798 seven other preachers entered the ministry Messrs. W. Haslam, W. Styan, John Revil, Charles Donald, W. Driver, G. Wall, and John McClure. That fact inspired cheerful hopes of progress, but in five years, only two hundred and forty-three additions were made to the membership. A monthly magazine was commenced in 1798, which has been continued ever since. The first and second conferences were presided over by Mr. William Thom, the secretary being Mr. Kilham The Conference of 1799 was presided over by John Grindell, the secretary being Mr. Robert Hall, of Nottingham, a holy man, and a generous supporter of the cause. In December of the previous year the first heavy blow and discouragement came by the unexpected death of Mr. Kilham; many were disheartened, and some among Mr. Wesley's followers were glad, they viewing the occurrence as a judgment upon him personally. All the surrounding circumstances, calmly considered apart from prejudice, show that Mr. Kilham's death was more the result of earnest overwork and exposure in bad weather. Viewed from any human standpoint, the premature death of that able minister was much to be regretted, and the good work for which he lived and labored was considerably retarded by the occurrence. Exactly
two months after Mr. Kilham's death, the Connection suffered another serious loss by the death of their very liberal and zealous layman, Mr. William Smith, of Hanley, who; expired peacefully Feb. 20,1799. He had been brought up in Mr. Wesley's society, but his sympathies were with Mr. Kilham, whom he visited at Nottingham, Dec. 19,1798. He was born at Walsall, Staffordshire, in December, 1763; was religiously brought up; frequently preached as occasion offered; attended the first Conference of the New Connection; opened his house at Hanley for preaching, and soon afterwards had a chapel erected there, which became the central home of one of the largest and most prosperous societies in the Connection.
The Conference of 1799 recognized a society in Ireland, and the Rev. John McClure commenced a cause at Lisburn. The same year the few preachers then associated agreed to contribute ten shillings and sixpence yearly to found a fund for the support of aged ministers.
The Conference of 1803 commenced what is known as the Paternal Fund. It is sustained by public collections in the chapels and private subscriptions. Allowances are made from it towards the support of the children of the preachers in their early years. The Beneficent Fund was originated at the same Conference by Mr. Samuel Higginbottom of Manchester, who gave fifty pounds as a benefaction, and became the first treasurer of the fund. The resources are obtained from public collections and subscriptions, and its objects are the relief of aged and infirm ministers and their widows. In 1880 the Paternal Fund produced £2698; the Beneficent Fund, £5303.
The year 1804 was made memorable by the celebrated Rev. Richard Watson joining the ranks of the New Connection. He traveled for eight years in that body, and they claim the honor of bringing that extraordinary man out of obscurity. Two of the sermons in his published works were first preached in New Connection chapels. During his itinerancy with them he was a member of the Annual Committee, and three times secretary of the Conference. Dr. Bunting reintroduced him into the Wesleyan body, but he ever held in very high esteem his brethren in the New Connection.
In 1808 the law was made which requires preachers, at the end of their probation, to answer in public questions relating to their religious experience, call to the ministry, their doctrinal views, etc.
It will be instructive to the present race of Methodists to read the financial conditions on which Methodist preachers consented in 1812 to devote themselves wholly to the ministry. Serious complaints had been made respecting the inadequacy of the income of the preachers to meet their necessities. A committee was appointed by the Conference of 1812 to examine and report thereon. After a candid consideration of the subject, it was resolved that, in addition to the use of a house and furniture at the expense of the circuit, every married preacher in full connection should receive, for himself and wife, £12 per quarter; "not less than £2 per quarter for a servant;" and, in addition to these items, "not less than 14s. per week for board." The allowance from the Paternal Fund for boys under eight years of age, and for girls under twelve, to be £6 per annum; then they retire from the fund. Charge for medical attendance and traveling expenses are to be paid by the quarterly meeting. Considerable uneasiness and anxiety was felt in many parts of the Connection in the years 1814-i6 with regard to the legal safety of some of the chapels which had belonged to the parent society before the year 1797. Those anxieties were not favorable to the spread of the word of God.
In 1818 a Home Mission was established to introduce Methodism into new localities. The sum of £424 was given by the circuits to aid that mission. In 1824 the mission was relinquished, and Ireland was selected as the place on which to concentrate their efforts, and one of the English preachers was appointed to superintend the work. It has continued with varying success to the present time. In 1880 there were seven stations in Ireland, with a total membership of 715, being only an average of 102 members per station. The home missionary operations were resumed some years afterwards, and in 1880 they occupied eleven stations in England, with a membership of 1249, and for their support the circuits contributed £1158 during the year 1879-80. In 1823 the general rules of the Connection were considered, amended, and published, with the sanction of the Conference.
The same Conference ordered the publication of a monthly magazine for Sunday scholars at the price of 2d. The Conference of 1827 ordered the publication of a Catechism for the use of children, which was prepared by the Rev. Abraham Scott. A larger Catechism for the use of elder children was written by the Rev. William Cooke, D.D., and published about the year 1848. The same minister is preparing a new and enlarged edition of that Catechism to be published in 1881. A Connectional magazine was commenced in January, 1798, at the price of 6d. monthly. It has been continued to the present time. To promote the circulation of these several publications, a book-room and an editor were indispensable. The former was located at Hanley from 1798 to 1832, when it was removed to Manchester. In 1827 the Rev. W. Shuttleworth was appointed editor and steward, and the business rapidly advanced. In 1827 the capital stock amounted to £1305, and the annual profits to £113. Five years afterwards the capital was £2500, and the yearly profits over £500, while the magazine was greatly improved; the third series was commenced in 1833. In 1844 it was found expedient to remove the book-room to London, where it has since remained, and the Rev. John Bakewell was appointed editor. In 1848 the Rev. William Cooke, the eminent theologian and divine, was the editor of the magazine, and in that capacity and as book-steward he has rendered more valuable service to the Connection than any other minister. The Rev. Charles Dewick Ward, D.D., was appointed editor and book-steward in 1880; the capital stock that year was £2980, and the profits £243.
The Methodist hymn-book had been used in the New Connection from 1797. In the year 1834 a new hymnbook was prepared and published, which was intended more as a source of profit to the Connection than as a superior book to the one, which it supplanted. This also was displaced by another and very much improved collection, including 1024 hymns, compiled chiefly by the Rev. Henry Piggin, and published in May, 1863. It was at that time the best collection in use in any branch of the great Methodist family. Its marked superiority soon led to the preparation of other improved and enlarged collections for the use of "the People called Methodists." The years 1836 and 1837 were periods of unrest in many Methodist societies, owing to the trial and expulsion of the Rev. Dr. Warren from the Wesleyan body. At Dudley and Sturbridge large numbers left the Wesleyans and joined the New Connection, adding greatly to their influence and usefulness in those towns. An effort was made to bring all those who had left the parent society into union with the New Connection, but some of the Separatists made such radical changes in the constitution a condition of joining that the New Connection decided not to make such concessions, though many changes were made. Those who did not unite with this body formed themselves into a new branch of the Methodist family, known for some years as the Wesleyan Association. They afterwards relinquished most of those extreme views, which prevented their proposed union.
The year 1841 was a painfully memorable one to the New Connection, owing to the necessary expulsion of two of the ministers, J. Barker and W. Trotter. Joseph Barker had used his position to advocate low socialist and infidel opinions. Much mischief was done, for twenty-nine societies, including 4348 members, were lost to the Connection. After trying his new doctrines for some years, he found out the delusion into which he had fallen, returned to the Christian faith, and endeavored to the uttermost to undo the mischief he had done. He is said to have joined the Primitive Methodists; wrote and published his autobiography in 1869, in which he recanted all his errors; was reconciled to most of his former brethren in the New Connection; and died in 1879 (or 1880) a penitent Christian. It was not until 1855, fourteen years afterwards, that the number of members in society reached the total at which they stood at the date of Mr. Barker's expulsion. A small work was published in 1841 entitled The Beacon, and also some tracts by the Rev. W. Cooke, D.D., which prevented the breach becoming wider than it otherwise would have been. The Connection suffered greater losses through Mr. Barker's unfaithfulness and treachery than from any other cause in its whole history of over eighty years. The financial difficulties of the Connection became so great and oppressive that in 1842 nearly £900 were collected to lessen them, £840 more in 1843, and the Conference of that year ordered a special collection to be made through the circuit, which secured £5000 more towards the same object.. The Conference of 1837 originated a mission in Canada, which became a great blessing to that country. Mr. William Ridgway one of the leading New Connection laymen, having visited that locality, made such representations of the claims of Canada for the Gospel that the Rev. John Addyman became the pioneer missionary there. He was joined two years afterwards by the Rev. Henry Only Crofts, D.D. Mr. Addyman still survives, having been in the ministry forty-eight years. Dr. Crofts entered into rest in the year 1880. The Canadian mission was a success; but a few years ago, in 1875 it was united to the other branches of Methodism in Canada, in order to make one large undivided Methodist Church in that dominion.
The jubilee of the New Connection was a time of great rejoicing. The Jubilee Conference was held at Manchester, the Rev. Thomas Allin presiding. The sittings commenced June 1, 1846. The first important special business done was the final consideration and adoption of a deed- poll, which provides for the security of the property of the Connection, the preservation of its doctrines, and the continuance of its principles and discipline. By the deed-poll a legal identity is given to the Connection in the persons of twenty-four guardian representatives-twelve ministers and twelve laymen whose names are inserted in the deed, with provisions for filling up the vacancies that will necessarily occur. The attendance of six of the guardian representatives is requisite to legalize the Conference. After its adoption, the deed-poll was executed by every member of the Conference; and it has since been duly enrolled in the High Court of Chancery. A model trust-deed, and a form of conveyance of freehold land for Connectional chapels, schools, and parsonages, were also decided upon; and a book-room deed also agreed to, each of them adapted to the deed-poll.
At the end of fifty years, the number of members in the Connection was only 20,002, namely in England, 15,610; Ireland, 932; Canada, 3460.
It was resolved to raise a Jubilee Fund of not less than £20,000, but the result was only £7721. Towards that fund there was raised in 1847 £2829; in 1848, £1567; in 1849, £3402. About £5100 was voted to remove chapel debts, £1300 to promote missions; and various sums were given or loaned to the Paternal Fund, the Beneficent Fund for a theological college, for aged ministers, and to lessen other financial burdens which fettered the agencies of the Church. On June 5 a jubilee tea-meeting was held in the Free-Trade Hall, Manchester, which was attended by more than four thousand persons. Several important schemes for the extension of the work, which it was hoped the fund would enable the Connection to undertake, could not be commenced for want of finances. One result, however, was attained, which will be a permanent memorial. The Revs. Thomas Allin, William Cooke, Samuel Hulme, and Philip James Wright conjointly wrote a jubilee volume, which had a reasonable sale, and which chronicles much important and valuable information, both historical and biographical, relating to the Connection during the previous fifty years. From that work many facts in the notices preceding are obtained. Baggaly's Digest and the Minutes of Conferences supply the details which follow.
At the Conference of 1848 arrangements were made for the establishment of home missions in England; but the work grew slowly, and ten years afterwards, in 1857, a plan was adopted for the management of home mission chapels. In 1865 the present Home Missionary Society was inaugurated. In 1880 there were thirteen mission stations, with 1249 members.
Although the Jubilee Fund had been of much use in relieving the Connection of some financial burdens, yet great embarrassment was felt in many places from inadequate funds in 1849, and at the following Conference a plan was adopted which entirely extinguished the debts of the Connection at that time.
In 1851 the Methodist societies in England were in a very painful state of unrest, owing to the expulsion in 1849 from the Wesleyan Conference of several prominent preachers — the Revs. James Everett, Samuel Dunn, William Griffith, James Bromley, Thomas Rowland, and others. Although in three years more than one hundred thousand members were separated from the parent society, very few of them were attracted to the New Connection. In 1851, 1853, and 1854 this body had to report to each Conference a decrease, which was a source of much anxiety and solicitude, and a special service of humiliation before God was held at the Conference of 1853. In 1851 overtures were made from the Wesleyan delegates — the seceders from the parent society-towards union with the New Connection, but no union took place. In 1854 an effort was made to change the name of New Connection, as it was not then new, and many thought the name was a hindrance to others uniting with them. It was, however, resolved by the Conference of that year not to change the name, as the new deed-poll had only been adopted a few years. The rules of the Connection were revised in 1854.
The Manchester Conference of 1859 was memorable for the establishment of a mission to China. From a conviction that the encouragement of foreign missions would not hinder home work, that step was taken. The Rev. William Cooke was the president, and by his genial advocacy a successful work was commenced in that country, which in 1880 reported 43 chapels, 27 societies, and 902 members, under the superintendence of the Rev. John Innocent, who is the principal of a training institution in China. In 1862 a mission was established in Australia, which has but two societies at present — one at Adelaide and one at Melbourne — with two missionaries and 115 members. At the Conference of 1860 a Trustees Mutual Guarantee Fund was established against losses by fire, to include all Connectional property.
A training institution for the preparation of young men for the ministry was for some years under consideration. The Conference of 1861 resolved upon having one; and owing to the noble generosity of Thomas Firth, of Sheffield, such an institution was erected at Ranmoor, near that town. Its trustees were appointed in 1862, and the college was opened and a tutor selected in 1864. In 1880 there were nine students in residence, who paid £10 per annum. The president of the Conference was the principal and only tutor at that period. The college building cost £8710.
The Conference of 1865 resolved that a copy of Bagster's Bible, the Conference Journal, the deed poll, and the general rules of the society should in future be the insignia of office of the president, to be handed down in succession. The same Conference resolved that all future, conferences of their body should meet on the second Monday in June, instead of Whit-Monday as previously, the latter being a movable date, which was often attended with much inconvenience to both ministers and laymen. Mr. Alderman Blackburn, of Leeds, a wealthy layman, presented to each of the ex-presidents of Conference for fourteen years previously to the year 1863 a copy of Bagster's Bible and the new hymn-book, then first published. A new tune-book, adapted to the hymn-book, was prepared by the Rev. J. Ogden, and published in 1866.
The Conference of 1868 resolved on a new departure from existing usage, and consented to ministerial appointments being continued for five successive years in circuits where two thirds of the quarterly meeting request it. The limit had previously been three years.
A further attempt at union was made at the Conference of 1870, when the terms for a federal union with the Bible Christians were considered, and resolutions recorded thereon. The same Conference resolved that home missionaries of fourteen years standing be allowed to attend the Conference, but not to vote.
The Conference of 1871 approved of the raising of a fund to extinguish the Chapel Fund debt. The sum of £4672 was raised, which accomplished the object desired.
The Conference held at Manchester in 1872 was presided over by the Rev. Joseph H. Robinson, the secretary being the Rev. J. C. Watts. Both these ministers had spent many years in the Canada mission. Methodist union in Canada was fully considered in 1873, and the union was consummated in 1874.
It was resolved in 1875 to establish a training institution in China for native teachers. The principal is the Rev. John Innocent.
The Conference of 1876 was made memorable by acts of fraternization of considerable interest. The Methodist Church of Canada sent as a deputation to the Conference the venerable and Rev. Egerton Ryerson, D.D., and Mr. David Savage, who presented an address of brotherly fraternization. They were most cordially welcomed. Dr. Ryerson remained some time in England as the guest of various friends of the Connection. His portrait was ordered to be engraved and published in the magazine as a pleasant memorial of his visit. At the same Conference, the Rev. Alexander Clarke, D.D., presented a fraternal message from the General Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church in the United States of America. Fraternal messages were returned to both documents. The same Conference sent its first fraternal message to the Primitive Methodists of England, which greetings were continued and reciprocated for three years, when, in 1879, the New Connection Conference, seeing how kindly their written messages had been received, appointed two of the members of the Conference to visit the ensuing Primitive Methodist Conference, two others to visit the Methodist Free Church Conference, and two others to visit the Wesleyan Conference. Each of the conferences appointed representatives to return these visits of fraternal good-will, and the good work has since been continued with very happy results; and the feeling of surprise now is that such pleasant reunions by representation should have been so long delayed. They serve to facilitate the arrangements for holding the AEcumenical Congress in 1881. At the Conference of 1876, Mr. Mark Firth presented £1000 to the endowment fund of the college, and the home and foreign missionary societies were united under one committee of management.
In 1877 a loan fund was commenced for the purpose of aiding chapel trusts and of encouraging the erection of new chapels.
The Conference of 1880 was remarkable for its record of deaths among the ministers, no less than six of whom, all men of distinction, had died during the year. Their names were Parkinson Thomas Gilton, William Baggaly, Henry Only Crofts, D.D., John Taylor, Charles Mann, and Benjamin B.
Turnock, A.B. The four first named had been presidents of the Conference. As many as six ministers had never before died in one year.