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James Nichols' very able and faithful “Translation of the Works of Arminius,” published a few years ago, in two octavo volumes. It is one of the most important publications of modern times.
2. Mr. Conder asserts that serious differences on this great question exist even now in the Wesleyan body; and that, in some parts of the connection, the doctrine of justification by faith is even “ openly impugned," and a doctrine taught which is substantially the same as that of the Church of Rome. That church, according to the Council of Trent, pronounces a curse upon all who assert the doctrine of justification by faith; and maintains that men are justified by personal holiness. I have been connected with the Wesleyan ministers, as one of their body more than thirty-four years. During this time, I have conversed with hundreds of thern, at district-meetings, conferences, and on other occasions; have heard them preach, have corresponded with them by letter; and have been present with them times without number, when doctrinal questions have been under examination : and I solemnly declare, that I never met with one to whom Mr. Conder's description applies ; nor did I ever hear of such a man. This matter cannot be allowed to rest. Mr. Conder must either produce proof of his most astounding assertion, or, as a man of truth, he must cancel the injurious statement.
A person who teaches the doctrine which Mr. Conder attributes to parts of the connection" of Wesleyan Methodists, is no more à Wesleyan than Mr. Conder is a Jew. If the Wesleyan “ trumpet” has, on any subject whatever, given “a certain sound,” and that for a hundred years, it is on this one, --That sinners are freely justified from the guilt of all past sin by the simple exercise of faith in the sacrifice of Christ ; a faith preceded and accompanied by repentance, and followed by peace of conscience, and by inward and outward holiness. This is the very substance of Methodist preaching. Those
parts of the connection" where a contrary doctrine is taught, Mr. Conder is bound to specify. For myself
, I know them not. I never heard of them. Their existence I deny.
The confusion and inconsistency of Mr. Conder's account must indeed, of itself, awaken suspicion of its truth. It would seem, from one part of his statement, that the popish error concerning justification is the current doctrine of the Wesleyan body; for it is made a matter of wonder, as we have seen, that “their popular preachers” have not scrupled to use the language of Protestants, as if they knew tha popery was the doctrine of their brethren. The reader is left to infer that the preachers who are not popular," teach the popish tenet that men are sanctified before they are justified, and that they are justified not by faith but by
sanctification. And yet afterward Mr. Conder intimates that it is only “in some parts of the connection” that popery is taught, and the doctrine of justification by faith is “impugned. His words imply the contrary propositions, that in the Wesleyan eonnection popery is the rule, and Protestantism the exception; and that Protestantism is the rule, and popery the exception. And what does he mean by
some parts of the connection" as holding the Romish theology? Does he not know that the Wesleyan ministers itinerate; so that the same “parts” are alternately occupied by “popular” and unpopular men ? that is, according to his account, by men who teach doctrines diametrically opposed to each other. Does he think that the congregations are so blind and ignorant as to endure this?
He states, also, that the Protestant doctrine in question is " either incautiously or more boldly impugned.” It seems, then, that there are two modes in which the Wesleyans "impugn” this great truth. Some do it "incautiously,” and others do it “ more boldly.”
Will he tell us the meaning of this? We have always been accustomed to think that the absence of caution implies boldness. But if popery, on the subject of justification, really be the doctrine currently taught in many Wesleyan pulpits, as Mr. Conder declares, if his words have any meaning, we ask, in the name of wonder, what need there is in this case for "caution ?” When men are violating truth, it is difficult to preserve consistency in their statements.
We strongly suspect that if the Wesleyam body had consented to concur with Mr. Conder in certain political measures, to which he attaches importance, but which they presume te think would be positively injurious, we should not have heard of their popery in his present publication.
NOTE B, PAGE 158. The last aspersion upon the Wesleyan body that we have observed, as coming from the friends of the Established Church, is that of Dr. Croly. In a note to his Sermon on the Reformation, just published, we have the following statement:~"There is no intention in these remarks of including in schism all who may not adopt the discipline of the Establishment. The Church of Scotland differs from the Church of England in little more than name. The labours of Dr. Chalmers in the cause of establishments have done honour to himself and to his country. There are sects whose discipline and doctrines are decorous. The Wesleyans even declare themselves friends of the Establishment. Yet why can they not perceive the proverbial weakness of neutrality,
or how near the inactive Video meliora, proboque is to the Deteriora sequor ?"
The “ Wesleyans” can bear without a murmur the incessant railings of the Church's Gathercoles, and even the mendacity of the Church of England Quarterly Reviewers. Persons who write invectives for bread are generally harmless in proportion to the noise which they attempt to make. But when respectable men, like Dr. Croly, come forward, as in the case before us,
Willing to wound, but yet afraid to strike,” and determined to keep up a perpetual irritation in the minds of those who wish them no harm, we think we have just ground of complaint. The “Wesleyans” are not the people he describes. They have neither been “neutral” nor "inactive” in the cause of religion, morality, social order, and the institutions of the country. When one of their ministers, a few years ago, assumed the character of an agitator against the Establishment, and refused to abstain from such work in future, they dismissed him; and would do the same again, if there were the like occasion. What does Dr. Croly wish us to do? Does he want us to declare our approbation of all that is taught in the national Church, and of all the men that officiate within her pale? Does he wish us to avow our conviction that the Church meets all the religious and moral wants of the community ? If we should do this, there is not a man in England that would believe us, not even Dr. Croly himself. Does he wish us to burn our hymn-books, turn our chapels into warehouses, trample on the bones of our fathers, who sleep around our places of worship, scatter our societies and congregations, recall our missionaries, break up our negro schools and congregations, and the schools and congregations of converted savages in Southern Africa and in the South seas, and let them all relapse into heathenism? He cannot think that an act which would, as we conscientiously believe, involve sueh an unparalleled amount of guilt, could really conduce to the glory of God, and the benefit of mankind. Can he certainly tell us what would be the effect, upon his own church of the dissolution of the Wesleyan connection? What then does he mean? He insinuates evil against us in Latin. We repel his insinuation in plain English, for we have nothing to conceal, and we think that the conduct which the body has pursued for a hundred years should have screened us from such a suggestion as that which he has placed upon record. With all deference to the Doctor, whom we sincerely esteem, especially for the noble Protestant heart which beats in his breast, we not only see and approve what is right, but follow it too, though not with the diligence and ardour that become us,
Such are the leading facts connected with the rise and
progress of what is called “Wesleyan Methodism.” The entire system, comprehending all its arrangements, some writers have attributed to the genius of John Wesley, stimulated partly by piety and benevolence, partly by an indefinite something which they have called “ enthusiasm," and partly by ambition. He had no preconcerted plan whatever, when he entered upon his career as an itinerant preacher, but followed what he believed to be the openings and guidance of divine Providence, often in direct opposition to his own prejudices and habits; and it is remarkable that he never had occasion to retrace any of the steps which he had taken, or to abandon any of the measures which he adopted for the advancement of religion. What the world called “ Methodism” he was accustomed to denoininate “ the work of God,” especially when considered in reference to its effects upon individuals. And such it unquestionably is, if we are to judge according to the principles laid down in the gospel. The members of the Methodist societies are, in the first instance, convinced of sin, and weep and pray under a consciousness of their guilt and danger, as did the three thousand Jews on the day of pentecost, Saul at Damascus, and the jailor at Philippi. Like those ancient penitents, they obtain relief, not by works of law, much less by worldly amusements, or gay company, but by believing in Christ as the great and only atonement. When they have thus come to Christ, trusting in his sacrifice and intercession, they find rest to their souls. Their consciences are purged from dead works; guilty fear gives place in their minds to filial love ; sin ceases to have the dominion .ver them; they hate it, and abstain from all appear.
nce of it. They love God; they sanctify his sabbaths; they reverence his name ; they delight in his ordinances; and they daily worship him in spirit and
in truth. They love one another ; they take pleasure in each other's society, and delight to serve each other in love ; joyfully anticipating an endless union in heaven with Christ, their common Lord and Saviour. At the same time they cherish a kind and generous concern for the welfare of the whole human race; and hence their exertions to bring mankind, both at home and abroad, into the same holy and happy state with themselves. It cannot be said that all have attained to this ; but this is the standard to which they are all taught to aspire: and all this is unquestionably realized by tens of thousands of people in these realms, whose spirit and conduct are daily open to the public observation.
Wherever these fruits of righteousness are, there God is present in the power of his Spirit. They are not produced by any mere efforts of human nature. 6. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean” but God himself? Repentance is the gift of Christ, Acts, V, 31. The Holy Spirit takes away the heart of stone, and gives the heart of flesh, Ezek. xxxvi, 26. “ It is God that justifieth,” Rom. viii, 33. It is “ the God of hope” that "fills” men with “all joy and peace in believing,” Rom. xv, 18. It is he that sends forth the spirit of his son into the hearts of believers, ing, Abba, Father;" and bearing witness with their spirits that they are the children of God, Gal. iv, 6; Rom. viii, 16. It is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that makes men free from the law of sin and death, Rom. viii, 2. The holy love of God and man is an emanation from him, the fountain and pattern of all excellence. 5 Love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God," 1 John, iv, 7. It is the Father that makes men meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, Col. i. 12; and of those who, possessing this meetness, groan to be clothed upon with their house which is from heaven, it is said, “ He that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God," 2. Cor. v, 5.
The religion which is taught in the Methodist pul. pits, and exemplified in the experience and conduct of the Methodist societies in general, has ever been re. garded by its adherents as the very Christianity which