Page images

CHAP. 22.



tion. They reject a regular Gospel ministry, viewing every person, male and female, as a suitable religious teacher who is influenced by the Spirit, to speak in a public meeting. They reject also the Sabbath, singing, outward ordinances, baptism, and the Lord's supper, giving them a spiritual interpretation. They have no family worship and no religious service at meals. They consider all outward forms as hindrances to true spiritual worship, and think their most precious meetings to be those in which they have perfect silence and communion with God. They practise great abstemiousness in living, renounce all amusements, all forms of politeness, and respect of persons, lest these things should cloud the divine light. They abhor the common name of the months and days of the werk as relics of paganism, and substitute the ordinal numbers.* Their system necessarily excludes the vicarious atonement of Christ and terminates in deism. They refuse to take an oath, to engage in war, to give titles, to pay outward homage, and are uniform and plain in their dress.f A drunken Quaker is seldom seen. Their government is sustained in monthly, quarterly and yearly meetings, and is a kind of presbyterianism.

Of late, there has been an extensive and serious division among them on points of doctrine; one party has struggled for, a considerable degree of orthordoxy and spirituality, while the other has been upholding the lowest kind of Socinianism.

The SHAKERS are a sect formed in England by_one James Wadley ; but its prime leader was Ann Lee. This woman claimed the gift of languages, of healing, of discovering the secrets of the heart, being actuated by the invisible power of God, sinless perfection, and immediate communication with heaven. In 1774, she emigrated with her followers to America. They have a large establishment at New Lebanon, N. Y. and filteen or twenty others in various States. Their number exceeds four thousand. They view Ann as the elect lady, who travails for the whole world, by and through whom alone any blessing can descend upon any person.

They derive their name from a heavy dancing and shuddering in their worship. They reject matrimony-are celebrated for their neatness and worldly thrift; but consider the scripture as obsolete, and really have so little among them of the Gospel of Christ, as to render it questionable whether they should find a place in the history of the Churh.

* In this they were not at first peculiar. The independents and baptists did the same.

† They adopted what was the plain dress in 1650, and this they have never altered.


Moravians. History and discipline. Methodists. Early labors

of Wesley and Whitefield. Their separation. Wesleyan Methodists. Their order, discipline, and increase in Europe and America. Whitefieldian Methodists. Lady Huntingdon. Universalists.

THE Moravians and Bohemians were first converted to the Christian faith in the ninth century, and united in communion with the Greek Church. In process of time, they submitted to the Romans. But animated by the labors and example of John Huss and Jerome, they, in the fifteenth century, renounced the Papal dominion. In the time of the reformation they were called the United Brethren, and formed friendly correspondence with Luther and the principal reformers. But in a civil war in 1620, they were exceedingly distressed, and scattered throughout Europe.

lo 1722, a small remnant of them were conducted by Christian David, a brother, from Fuinech in Moravia, to Upper Lusatia, where they put themselves under the protection of Nicholas Lewis, Count of Zinzendorf, and built a village which they called Hutberg and Hernhut, or Watch-hill, The Count showed them much kindness, and being a zealous Lutheran, endeavoured to gather them into the Lutheran church. But he failed and became himself a convert to their faith and discipline. In 1735, he was consecrated one of their bishops, and became their spiritual father and great benefactor. He died at Hernhut' in 1660, aged 60. He is viewed by the Moravians as one of the greatest and best of men, though he is represented by many as fanatical in his preaching.

Herphut the Moravians have held as the centre of their vast operations in the heathen world. A few have fixed their residence in London and Amsterdam. They profess to adhere to the Augsburg confession of faith, which was drawn up by Luther and Melancthon in 1530. But they have some peculiar views, and a very peculiar government. They know but little of the points which divided Calvinists and Arminians, and speak almost constantly of the Redeemer. They have several congregations, which meet by deputies once in seven years in a general Synod,

CHAP. 23.




for the superintendence of the congregations and missions. All questions of importance are determined by lot, i. e. as they suppose, by the Lord. A subordinate body is appointed at the close of the session, on whom devolves the chief management of the institution. This is called The clders' conference of the Unity, and consists of thirteen elders, who are divided into four departments. 1st. The mission department, which superintends the missionary concerns. 2d. The helpers, department, which watches over the principles and morals of the congregation. 3d. The servants' department, which superintends the domestic concerns. 4th. The overseers' department which looks to the maintenance of the constitution and discipline of the breth

The power of this elders' conference is very extensive. Every servant in the Unity is appointed or removed by it at its pleasure. Bishops and ministers are alike subject with the people.

Each congregation also has a conference of elders for its own government, which is divided into five departments. They have economies or choir houses, where they live together in community; the single men and single women apart, under the superintendence of elderly persons. They take peculiar care in the education of their children. They marry only in their own communion. In the plainness of their dress they strongly resemble the Quakers and Methodists. They have ever been exceedingly devoted to foreign missions, and have set a most noble example to all other denominations of Christians.

The Moravians have bishops, ministers, deacons and deaconesses : but their bishops are superior to the ministers only in the power of ordination, and can ordain none but such as are designated by the elders' conference.


The revolution in England in 1688, had given such perfect toleration to the various Protestant churches, that care for selfpreservation was supplanted by a worldly spirit, and infidelity entered and overflowed, and threatened to sweep Christianity from the kingdom. At this momentuous period, when not merely vital piety was the subject of ridicule, but the learned divines of the nation found it difficult to defend the outworks of Chris. tianity, the Methodists arose, producing a prodigious religious excitement among the common people throughout England and America.

This sect may be traced to Mr. John Wesley. That extra

ordinary man was born 1703. He received his education at Oxford University, and in 1725, while a tutor there, was ordained to the ministry in the established church. Being deeply impressed with the subject of religion, be conversed with a friend on the means of improvement, who told him that he must find companions or make them;--that the Bible knew nothing of a solitary religion." This led him to associate with him in 1729, his brother Charles, Mr. Morgan and Mr. Kirkham, and a few years after, Messrs, Ingham, Hervey, Broughton and George Whitefield, then in his 18th year-all students in College. Their meetings for religious improvement were so regularly attended by them, and so methodical did they become in all things, as to be called by the licentious students, methodists and the godly club. This society continued about 5 years,

and rendered itself very popular with many by their religious and charitable efforts, while by others it was calumniated and abused. But none of the members seem to have known much of the religion of the gospel, Whitetield pursued the course of a pharisee, and by ascetic austerities nearly brought himself to the grave, while Wesley, directing his attention to the inner man, but not knowing there was an Holy Ghost, labored at his great work, “ the recovery,” as he expressed it, “ of that single intention and pure affection, which was in Christ Jesus.”'

The popularity of these young Methodists, induced some of the trustees of the new colony of Georgia to invite the Wesleys to go thither, and preach to the Indians. With this request they complied, and sailed 1735, in company with some Moravian missionaries from Germany, whose humble faith and holy joy, even in the storm, showed John that notwithstanding his ardent pursuit of inward holiness, he was yet a stranger to vital piety. Charles returned the next year 10 England. John remained three years, but without effecting much good.

Whitefield early turned from his austerities to the gospel scheme of justification by faith, and by studying closely Paul's Epistles, and Henry's commentary, entered fully into the views of Calvin. In 1736, at the age of twenty-one, he commenced preaching the gospel, with a popularity unknown before by any man in England. To a rich curacy he was invited in London ; but on Mr. Wesley's return, he chose to take his place, and embarked for Georgia in 1738. On his voyage he became instrumental of a thorough reformation in the ship's crew. At Georgia he established an orphan house ; which led him to travel

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

through New England to procure assistance for it, where also he preached with wonderful power and success. For the same purpose he recrossed the ocean and was received with the most enthusiastic applause by thousands of hearers. From many of the pulpits of the establishment he was shut, as an enthusiast, and to this circumstance may be traced the formation of a new sect. For he now found it necessary to set up for himself to effect any good. I thought," said he, “it might be doing the service of my Creator, who had a mountain for his pulpit, and the heavens for his sounding board ; and who, when his gospel was refused by the Jews, sent his servants into the highways and hedges.” He accordingly went among the poor colliers near Bristol, and preached on a mount in the open air, often to twenty thousand people, and with the greatest success. “His first discovery of their being affected was,” he observed," in the white gutters made by their tears, which plentifully ran down their black cheeks as they came out of the coal pits. Several hundreds of them were soon brought under deep convictions, which as the event proved, ended in a sound and thorough conversion. The change was visible to all, though numbers chose to impute it to any thing rather than to the finger of God. As the scene was quite new, and I had just begun to be an extemporary preacher, it often occasioned many inward conflicts. Sometimes when twenty thousand people were before me, I had not, in my apprehension, a word to say. But I was never totally deserted, and frequently (for to deny it would be lying against God) so assisted, that I knew by happy experiance, what our Lord meant by saying,' he that believeth in me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living waters.' The open firmament above me, the prospect of the adjacent fields with the sight of thousands on thousands, some in coaches, some on horseback, and some in trees, and at times all affected and drenched in tears together, to which was sometimes added the solemnity of the approaching evening, was almost too much for me, and quite overcame me.”

From Bristol, he went into Wales, where he again preached to admiring thousands : and from thence, to London, where, in Moorfields, and on Kensington common, he addressed the most astonishing assemblages of people, on the subject of salvation. After this, he revisited America, and left the field to Wesley.

That extraordinary man, on his return to Eogland, learned he said, (what he least of all suspected) that he who went to

« PreviousContinue »