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than Crowther, the esteemed Treasurers and Secretaries; and to the valuable co-operation of Messrs. Thomas Crook, William Naylor, and John Mason.
To render the Wesleyan ministry increasingly efficient, and better adapted to the character and circumstances of the present times, the Theological Institution was formed in the year 1834. None are admitted as students there but such candidates for the ministry as are approved, in the first instance, by the Circuits to which they belong, and the District Committees before whom they are severally examined; as well as by the Conference, to whom the case of each person is reported. The undertaking has been already crowned with a success far surpassing what could have been reasonably anticipated in so short a time. The theological and literary training which the students have received has been of the greatest advantage; and the benefits are strikingly apparent both at home and on several of the Mission stations. The managing Committee are particularly happy in having obtained the services of the Rev. Dr. Hannah, Tutor in the several provinces of Theological instruction, and those of the Rev. Samuel Jones, A.M., of Trinity College, Dublin, for the Classical and Mathematical departments. Recent occurrences in the Institution forcibly remind one of what took place in a similar establishment at Trevecka, of which that holy man, John Fletcher, of Madeley, was the head. When he visited “the sons of the Prophets” who were under his care, it is said by his friend and biographer, Joseph Benson, who witnessed what he describes, that,
being convinced that to be filled with the Holy Ghost was a better qualification for the ministry of the Gospel than any classical learning, (although
that, too, is useful in its place,) after speaking awhile in the school-room, he used frequently to say, “As many of you as are athirst for this fulness of the Spirit, follow me into my room. On this many of us have instantly followed him, and there continued two or three hours, wrestling like Jacob for the blessing, praying one after another, till we could bear to kneel no longer. This was not done once or twice, but many
times. And I have sometimes seen him, on these occasions, once in particular, so filled with the love of God, that he could contain no more.” * Guarded as the Institution is, and teaching as it does the pure principles of the Wesleyan theology, it cannot fail to be an extensive and permanent blessing to the Connexion.
Occupying a distinct and peculiar position between strict Churchmanship and systematic Dissent, the Wesleyan Methodists, amidst the collision of parties, have, within the last few years, been the objects of severe censure both on the right hand and on the left. They have, however, steadily adhered to the principles upon which their fathers acted from the beginning; and judging from their past conduct, they are not likely soon to alter their course. Their great calling is that of spreading spiritual religion in the world ; the religion which makes men partakers of the divine nature, and prepares them to share in the glories and happiness of the heavenly state, when the turmoils of party, and all the transitory concerns of earth shall have passed away, and be forgotten. The principles of strict Dissent, including that of the unlawfulness of religious Establishments, and the sin of being connected with them, they never can profess without a direct
• Life of Mr. Fletcher, p. 156. Edit. 1806.
of their revered Foundmuch less can they be parties in any attempt to effect the subversion of the established Church of this country : and such a formal union with the established Church as implies an abandonment of their own ministry, and of their peculiar form of discipline, would be equally a violation of Mr. Wesley's design. He executed the Deed of Declaration, as we have already seen, “in order to fix them” (the Methodists) “upon such a foundation as is likely to stand as long as the sun and moon endure.” The Church, with its three orders of Ministers, can never sanction the ordination which the Methodist Preachers have received; and those Preachers can never resign their charge without sinning against Christ, by whom they conscientiously believe they are called to the office and work of Ministers in the church of God. Nor have they any right so to trifle with the consciences of mankind as to withdraw from more than a million of people the religious ordinances and means of salvation which they prefer before all others. There are principles concerned in questions of this nature more deep and momentous than superficial declaimers ever imagine.
CONCLUDING REMARKS. 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 denominate“ 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 over them ; they hate it, and abstain from all appearance 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. “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. 13.) It is He that sends forth the Spirit of his Son into the hearts of believers, “ crying, 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. “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