SermonIndex Audio Sermons
Access over 100,000+ Sermons from Ancient to Modern : Christian Books : CHAPTER 5 The General Conference of 1820

A History Of The Methodist Episcopal Church Volume Iii by Nathan Bangs, D.D.

CHAPTER 5 The General Conference of 1820

This conference assembled in the city of Baltimore, May 1, 1820, and was composed of the following delegates: --

New York Conference: Nathan Bangs, Samuel Draper, Freeborn Garrettson, Samuel Merwin, Daniel Ostrander, Phineas Rice, Marvin Richardson, Peter P. Sandford, Eben Smith, Joshua Soule, Henry Stead, Ebenezer Washburn, Elijah Woolsey.

New England Conference: Oliver Beal, Daniel Fillmore, Elijah Hedding, David Kilbourn, Joseph A. Merrill, Timothy Merritt, Erastus Otis, George Pickering, Main Ruter, Solomon Sias.

Genesee Conference: William Case, Israel Chamberlin, Abner Chase, Charles Giles, Loring Grant, Marmaduke Pearce, Henry Ryan.

Ohio Conference: John Collins, Alexander Cummins, William Dixon, James B. Finley, Walter Griffith, James Quinn, Jonathan Stamper, Jacob Young.

Missouri Conference: John Scripps, Samuel H. Thompson, Jesse Walker.

Mississippi Conference: Thomas Griffin, John Lane.

Tennessee Conference: William Adams, James Anley, Peter Cartwright, Jesse Cunningham, Charles Holliday, Marcus Lindsey.

South Carolina Conference: James Andrew, Daniel Asbury, William Capers, Samuel Dunwody, Samuel K. Hodges, William M. Kennedy, Lewis Myers, James Norton, Joseph Travis.

Virginia Conference: Peyton Anderson, Edward Cannon, William Compton, Matthew M. Dance, Ethelbert Drake, Daniel Hall, James Patterson, John Weaver.

Baltimore Conference: Thomas Burch, John Emory, Lewis R. Fechtig, Joseph Frye, Alfred Griffith, James McCann, Nelson Reed, Stephen G. Roszel, Beverly Waugh.

Philadelphia Conference: James Bateman, Ezekiel Cooper, Joseph Lybrand, Stephen Martindale, Lawrence McCombs, Andrew Monroe, Gerard Morgan, James Ridgway, William Ryland, Solomon Sharpe, James Smith, Thomas Ware, Joshua Wells, George Woolley.

Bishops McKendree, George, and Roberts were present, and the conference was opened by Bishop McKendree by reading a portion of the word of God, singing, and prayer; and he then informed the conference that, in consequence of ill health, he should not he able to discharge the duties of the chair, but should avail himself of every opportunity which his health might permit to assist his colleagues in guiding the counsels of the conference. I regret that I am not able to find a copy of the written address which he afterward presented, containing recommendations of such subjects as he considered worthy the attention of the conference. From the character and duties of the committees, however, it appears that the address referred to the state of the episcopacy, -- the local preachers, -- to the instruction of children -- to the condition of the slaves, -- to the cause of missions -- to the use of spirituous liquors, -- to the condition of our houses of worship, and to the boundaries of the annual conferences -- all which were referred to appropriate committees.

Bishops George and Roberts, in a verbal communication, called the attention of the conference to the state of things in Canada, and to the subject of locating traveling preachers without their consent, which were referred to committees.

The following is an extract from the report of the committee on the episcopacy: --

After approving of the manner in which the bishops had discharged their onerous duties during the past four years, the committee add --

|In relation to strengthening the episcopacy, they have regarded with deep and affectionate concern the declining health and strength of our senior superintendent. Worn down by long, extensive, and faithful labors in the service of God and the Church, your committee feel a solicitude, which they doubt not is equally felt by the conference, that every practicable provision may be made for his relief and comfort, hoping that by a prudent relaxation from labor for a time, the Church may yet be blessed with the benefit of his very desirable services and counsel.|

Whereupon the following resolutions were submitted by the committee and concurred in by the conference: --
1. That it is the wish and desire of this General Conference that Bishop McKendree, during his afflictions and debility, should travel in such directions, or remain in such places, as he may judge most conducive to his own health and comfort, and that he be accordingly, at the close of the conference, respectfully and affectionately requested so to do.
2. That, whenever Bishop McKendree shall think himself able, it is the desire of this conference that he should continue, so far as his health will permit, the exercise of his episcopal functions and superintending care.
3. That the committee appointed by the last General Conference, to make provision for the families of the bishops, are hereby continued, and that the same committee be directed to take into consideration the present state of Bishop McKendree's health, and to provide for defraying any extra expenses which, in their judgment, his afflictions may make requisite.|

This affectionate regard of the conference for the bishop was a source of great consolation to him, and counterbalanced, in some measure at least, the mental anxieties he suffered at this conference, in consequence of the conflicting opinions respecting the manner in which the presiding elders should be appointed, and in what their duties should consist. But as all these things, together with the election and resignation of another bishop, have been fully detailed in vol. ii, page 330 [separate pages not transcribed into the electronic text -- DVM], I shall add nothing more in reference to them here, only to say, that Bishop McKendree expressed his high gratification for the respect and sympathy thus manifested toward him by the conference in his afflictions, and for the confidence reposed in the integrity with which he had administered the government of the Church.

We have before remarked that the cause of education had been abandoned by our Church since the destruction of Cokesbury College the second time by fire, and that the consequences of this long neglect of so important a cause began to bear injuriously upon the character and prosperity of the Church. This had been painfully felt and feelingly expressed by some of the most enlightened members of our Church, both ministers and people, and some incipient steps had been taken by the New England and New York conferences to remedy the evil. In 1817 an academy had been established in Newmarket, N.H., under the patronage of the New England conference, and another in the city of New York in 1819, under the patronage of the New York conference. Wishing to secure also the patronage of the General Conference, as far as might be consistent, and likewise to awaken a spirit favorable to the cause of education generally, the friends of these institutions presented to this General Conference their respective constitutions and plans of procedure, praying that the bishops might be authorized to appoint principals from among the traveling preachers for a longer space than two years. This authority was granted, and the whole subject was referred to a committee, the report of which, in the following words, was adopted by the conference: --

|The committee appointed to take into consideration the propriety of recommending to the annual conferences the establishment of seminaries of learning, having had the subject under deliberation, beg leave to submit the following report: --

|Your committee regret the want of time, as well as talent, to take that extended and comprehensive view of the subject which its importance demands; but it is cause of greater regret still, considering the rapid improvement of society in almost every science, and the extension of our Church through the propagation of those divine principles which we consider so unspeakably precious, that this subject has not sooner claimed the attention of the General Conference.

|Almost all seminaries of learning in our country, of much celebrity, are under the control of Calvinistic or of Hopkinsian principles, or otherwise are managed by men denying the fundamental doctrines of the gospel. If any of our people, therefore, wish to give their sons or daughters a finished education, they are under the necessity of resigning them to the management of those institutions which are more or less hostile to our views of the grand doctrines of Christianity.

|Another capital defect in most seminaries of learning, your committee presume to think, is, that experimental and practical godliness is considered only of secondary importance; whereas, in the opinion of your committee, this ought to form the most prominent feature in every literary institution. Religion and learning should mutually assist each other, and thus connect the happiness of both worlds together.

|On account, however, of the different usages which prevail in the several sections of our widely extended country, originating from state regulations, &c., your committee think it impossible for the General Conference to adopt a system of regulations on this subject uniformly the same for each annual conference. But that each conference should exert itself to adopt some method for such advantages to the rising generation as may be had from literary institutions which combine religion and learning together, it is thought, there can be no doubt.

|Your committee rejoice in being able to say, that two of your annual conferences, namely, New England and New York, have established seminaries, which, in a good degree, answer the description your committee would recommend. These institutions afford an encouraging prospect of usefulness. Your committee therefore recommend the adoption of the following resolutions, viz.:
1. Resolved, by the delegates of the annual conferences in General Conference assembled, that it be, and it is hereby, recommended to all the annual conferences to establish, as soon as practicable, literary institutions, under their own control, in such way and manner as they may think proper.
2. Resolved, &c., That it be the special duty of the episcopacy to use their influence to carry the above resolution into effect, by recommending the subject to each annual conference.3. Resolved, &c., That the following amendment to the second answer of the third question of the fourth section of the first chapter of the Discipline be adopted, viz.: after the word preachers, let there be added, And the presidents, principals, or teachers of seminaries of learning, which are or may be under our superintendence.
4. Resolved, &c., That the principals of the Wesleyan Academy and Wesleyan Seminary be requested to forward a copy of their constitutions to each of the annual conferences.
5. Resolved, &c., That a copy of this report be recorded on the journals of the several annual conferences.|

The adoption of this report by the General Conference, no doubt, tended greatly to subserve the cause of education, and to diffuse among us more generally than heretofore a desire to avail ourselves of the advantages to be derived from literary and scientific improvement.

That opposition should be manifested to these efforts to raise the standard of education, by any of the disciples of the illustrious Wesley, whose profound learning added so much splendor to his character as an evangelical minister, may seem strange to some. This, however, was the fact; and their unreasonable opposition, exemplified in a variety of ways, tended not a little to paralyze, for a season, the efforts of those who had enlisted in this cause; while the apathy of others retarded its progress, and made its final success somewhat uncertain. And it has not been without much labor and persevering industry that this opposition has been measurably overcome, and the dormant energies of the Church awakened and excited to action in favor of this noble enterprise. Its onward march, however, has been hailed with no less delight by its friends than deprecated by its enemies, while its success thus far has added greatly to the character which Methodism was acquiring in the public estimation. All we now want, to place our literary institutions on a permanent foundation, and make them eminently useful, is the simultaneous and general effort of the members and friends of the Church to contribute liberally for their support and endowment.

It has been seen in a preceding chapter that difficulties had arisen in Canada, growing chiefly out of the state of things which had been brought on by the war of 1812. In compliance with the request of the brethren in Quebec, and some members of the church in Montre, the British conference had supplied these places with missionaries; and through the solicitations of some individuals in Upper Canada missionaries had also been sent into that province, where our preachers had long labored with great success, amid many privations and sufferings, and were still working to the satisfaction of the great majority of the people.

This state of things had been productive of much irritation among the societies in Upper Canada, protesting conflicting views and interests mutually injurious, and of course tending to impede the progress of pure religion.

At this General Conference the subject came up for consideration, by numerous memorials and petitions from the several circuits in Upper Canada, protesting against the interference of the British missionaries, and praying that they might still be supplied with the ministry and ordinances of religion by the American conference. After a due consideration of the subject, the following resolutions were adopted: --
1. Resolved, by the delegates of the annual conferences in General Conference assembled, That it is the duty of the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church to continue their episcopal charge over our societies in the Canadas, all except Quebec.
2. Resolved, &c., That the following address be sent to our brethren in Canada: --

|Dear Brethren: -- We have received and read with deep interest the affectionate memorials and addresses from the several circuits in the provinces of Canada, in which you have expressed your strong attachment to us, and your ardent desire for the continuance of our ministerial care over you. We most cordially reciprocate the sentiments of brotherly affection and Christian attachment you have expressed, and pledge ourselves to use our best endeavors for your spiritual and eternal interest.

|We sincerely deprecate those evils of which you complain, and which have grown out of the conduct of the missionaries sent by the British conference to labor in Canada. Confiding, however, in the integrity of that conference, and believing they have been misled by partial and erroneous statements, sent by interested persons in Canada, we still hope that the existing embarrassments will be removed, and that an amicable adjustment of this unhappy affair may be brought about.

|We can assure you that no means which, in our opinion, will be likely to produce this desirable result, shall be left untried.

|That you may be convinced that we have neither been inattentive to your interests nor unmindful of the respect due to our British brethren, we beg leave to lay before you a brief statement of what has been done in reference to this subject.

|It is doubtless well known to you that your case was fully laid before us at our last session in this city, and impartially considered in the presence of brothers Black and Bennett, who were sent as representatives by the British conference; and after hearing all that could be said on both sides of the question, it was resolved most expedient, among other reasons because we understood it was your earnest desire, to continue, as we had done heretofore, our ministerial labors among you. That the British conference might be fully apprised of the course we had taken, an address was sent to them, stating the reasons which had directed our decision in relation to Canada, and requesting that some arrangements might be made for an amicable adjustment of the existing difficulties. To this Communication we have received no direct answer.

|Similar communications have been since sent, by Bishops McKendree and George. The letter sent by Bishop George contained a full development of the affairs of Canada; but neither has an answer to this been received. As some of the circuits have petitioned to have a separate annual conference in Canada, this subject has been considered, and it is thought to be inexpedient for the present, because, among other reasons, it might prevent that interchange of preachers, so very desirable, and so essential to your prosperity.

|After assuring you of our unabated attachment to you as a branch of the Church over which we are called, in the providence of God, to extend our oversight, and of our determination, at your earliest request, as well as from a consciousness of imperious duty, to continue to afford you all the ministerial aid in our power, we exhort you to steadfastness in the faith, to unity and love, and to perseverance in all holy obedience.

3. Resolved, &c., That the following note be inserted in the Discipline, under the twenty-third article of our Church, viz.: As far as it respects civil affairs we believe it the duty of Christians, and especially all Christian ministers, to be subject to the supreme authority of the country where they may reside, and to use all laudable means to enjoin obedience to the powers that le: and therefore it is expected that all our preachers and people who may be under the British or any other government will behave themselves as peaceable and orderly subjects.'

4. Resolved, by the delegates of the annual conferences in General Conference assembled, That this conference address the British conference on the subject of a mutual exchange of delegates, as representatives of the one conference to the other.|

The first resolution was afterward so modified as to authorize the delegate who might be sent to England to allow the whole of the lower province to be given up to the British connection: and then the following was added: --

5. That the episcopacy be requested, if practicable, to send a delegate to the British conference at their next session in July, or at any time thereafter, and furnish him with the requisite instructions, and also to draw on the Book Concern for the amount necessary to defray the expense.

6. Resolved, &c., That the episcopacy, by and with the advice and consent of the Genesee conference, if they judge it expedient, previous to the sitting of the next General Conference, shall have authority to establish an annual conference in Canada.|

The Rev. J. Emory was appointed delegate, who, in addition to an adjustment of the existing difficulties in Canada, was instructed to Convey to that body the affectionate attachment of the American conference to their British brethren, and to request a regular interchange of delegates from one connection to the other, at such times as might be mutually satisfactory. As an assurance, however, that there existed a disposition, on the part of the missionary Committee in London, to remove all just cause of complaint, and to prevent any improper interference of their missionaries in the houses and places occupied by our preachers in Upper Canada, the following document had been received by Bishop McKendree and submitted to the General Conference: --

|Wesleyan Mission House, 77 Hatton Garden, London, 25th February, 1819

|Dear Sir: -- We transmit for your information the following resolutions, lately entered into by the committee of the General Wesleyan Missionary Society in London, relative to the British missionaries in Canada, and which resolutions have been transmitted to those missionaries.
1. |Resolved, That it be recommended to the brethren in Canada to preach in a chapel which is now jointly occupied by the American brethren, and, for the sake of peace, to pursue their labor separately, and not to continue their labors in any station previously occupied by the American brethren, except when the population is so large, or so scattered, that it is evident a very considerable part of them must be neglected.
2. |Resolved, That they are to act under the general instruction of the committee of June 26, 1818, viz.:

|1. That it be communicated to the missionaries there that the conference and the committee never intended that the missionaries sent out by them should invade the societies raised up by the preachers appointed by the American conference, and to divide them; but that they should communicate the benefits of the Christian ministry to those parts of the country where the inhabitants are destitute of them, and to labor in those towns and villages where the population is so large that the addition of their labors to those of other ministers is demanded by the moral necessities of the people.

|The foregoing resolutions will, we hope, satisfy yourself and the American conference that the British conference and the missionary committee in London feel sorry that any interference should have ever taken place between your missionaries and those sent by the British conference, who most earnestly wish that their missionaries may labor in harmony with all good men.

|Praying that Christian kindness and good-will may prevail and abound, we are, dear sir, with Christian affection, your obedient servants,

|Jabez Bunting, Richard Watson, Jos. Taylor, General Secretaries.|

Though the final result of this negotiation could not be known until some time after the adjournment of the conference, yet it seems most proper to finish the account of it in this place. And it is recorded with the more pleasure, because it evinces the disposition and determination, on the part of both the English and American conferences, not to allow the collisions which had unhappily occurred in Canada between individual preachers of the two connections to interrupt their harmony, or to weaken the strength of their friendship and fraternal regards.

Mr. Emory bore with him to the British conference the following address: --

|Baltimore, May 27, 1820

|The General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America, to the British conference of ministers and preachers, late in connection with the Rev. John Wesley.

|Reverend and Dear Brethren: -- Grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied to you, and to the Israel of God under your charge, both at home and in foreign countries. With a sincere and earnest desire to establish and preserve the most perfect harmony and peace with you, our elder brethren, we have adopted measures for opening such friendly intercourse as will, we devoutly pray, tend to the accomplishment of this desirable end.

|Situated so remotely from each other, and under different forms of civil government, it is believed that no mode of correspondence will so effectually unite the European and American Methodists as an interchange of delegates from our respective conferences.

We are encouraged to hope that such correspondence will be acceptable to you, from the consideration of the visit of Messrs. Black and Bennett, at our last session, and from the friendly opinion of our dear brother, the Rev. William Black, who has been with us during our present sitting in this city.

|Should such a friendly intercourse be approved, we shall receive with cordiality your representative at our succeeding sessions, and, with the most sincere friendship and affection, reciprocate the visit.

|The prosperity of your missions, both at home and in foreign countries, is matter of praise and thanksgiving to the great Head of the church; and our unceasing prayer is, that they still may increase more and more.

|The last four years have been distinguished by no ordinary success within the field of our labor: our borders have been greatly enlarged, and the wilderness has budded and blossomed as the rose. The last year especially has been attended with an abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the increase of our numbers has exceeded that of any former year.

|The field of missionary labors is opening and extending before us, and the Divine Providence appears to be preparing the way for the conversion of the Indian tribes on this vast continent.

|The bearer, the Rev. John Emory, has been appointed our delegate to your body, and will be able to give you a more particular account of the work under our charge, and especially of our commencement and progress in the missionary cause.

|Most earnestly praying that the Methodists may be identified in their doctrine, experience, and practice, in every part of the world, and that the Father of lights may pour upon you and upon us the Spirit of grace, and preserve us in the unity of faith, and in the fellowship and peace of his Son Jesus Christ, we remain, reverend and dear brethren, yours in the gospel of our common Lord.

|Signed by order and in behalf of the Methodist Episcopal Church,

Enoch George, President, Alexander McCaine, Secretary.|

To this address the following answer was sent, together with the resolutions in relation to the existing difficulties in Canada: --

|To the General Superintendents of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America

|Dear Brethren: -- We inclose to your care the resolutions passed by the conference after the letters addressed to us by the American General Conference, and delivered by the Rev. John Emory, had been read and considered.

|In addition to the expression of our sentiments contained in those resolutions, on the renewal of intercourse between the two conferences, we are directed to request you to convey to your next General Conference our Warmest thanks for those declarations o unabated brotherly affection toward us and the connection which your letters contain, and for the appointment of Mr. Emory as your representative.

|In him we have recognized the purity of your doctrine and the fervor and simplicity of your piety. We have received him, not as a stranger, but as a brother beloved.' Our hearts are as his heart; and it will be remembered as one of the most pleasing circumstances Connected with the conference held in this town, that our personal intercourse with you was here restored, and that this work of love' was committed to so able and excellent a brother, whose public ministrations and addresses in our conference have been equally gratifying and instructive to us and to our people.

|From the statements made by Mr. Emory as to the progress of the work of God in the United States, we have received the greatest satisfaction. We offered our united thanksgivings to God that the doctrines of primitive Methodism, the preaching of which God has so eminently owned in the salvation of men and the edification of believers, are not only continued among you in their purity, but have been so widely extended by your great and persevering efforts; and that the same holy discipline, in all its essential parts, continues, wherever you form societies, to guard and confirm the work which God has made to prosper in your hands.

|For the state of our affairs in Great Britain and Ireland, and in our missionary stations, we refer you to Mr. Emory, who, as health would allow, has attended our sittings, and to those publications with which, before his departure, we shall be happy to furnish him, to be laid before you.

|You will see that we have had to rejoice with you in the great extension of the work of God into the various parts of the British empire, and that the institutions of Methodism, which we have proved to be so well adapted to promote and to preserve true religion, are known and valued in every quarter of the globe. May we, with you, be the honored instruments of turning the disobedient to the wisdom of the just in every place, and of hastening the universal kingdom of our Lord.

|The resolutions on the disputes in the Canadas were adopted after a calm and patient consideration of the case, in which we were greatly assisted by Mr. Emory. We hope that they will lead to a full adjustment of those disputes, and that the affection which exists between the two connections generally will extend itself to the brethren and societies in the Canadas. This is the disposition which we shall earnestly inculcate upon those under our care in those provinces, and we have full confidence that the same care will be taken by you to extinguish every feeling contrary to love among those over whom you have control and influence.

|With earnest prayers for you, dear and honored brethren, in particular, on whom devolve the general direction of the affairs of the great body of Methodists in the western world, and labors so severe, but so glorious, -- that you may be filled with wisdom for counsel, and strength to fulfill the duties of your great office; -- and also praying that all your churches may have rest, and, walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comforts of the Holy Ghost, be abundantly multiplied, we are, dear brethren, yours most affectionately in Christ Jesus,

|Jabez Bunting, President, George Marsden, Secretary. Liverpool, August, 1820.|

|Resolutions of the British Conference on American Affairs 1. That the conference embraces with pleasure this opportunity of recognizing that principle which, it is hoped, will be permanently maintained, that the Wesleyan Methodists are one in every part of the world.
2. That the British conference has frequently rejoiced in the very favorable account which they have received, year after year, of the great and glorious work which God is graciously carrying on in the United States of America; but that it is with peculiar pleasure that they receive a representative from the General Conference in America. The statement given by our beloved brother, Mr. Emory, of the present state of Methodism in America, has been received with much joy; and the conference also expresses its high satisfaction, not only in the declaration, but in the proof, of the love of our American brethren in fully opening the way for a brotherly intercourse between the European and the American societies.3. The conference particularly rejoices in the zeal which is manifested by our American brethren in carrying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Indian tribes, and in the success which God has already given to their labors in that natural and moral wilderness; and hopes that the time is drawing near when the aborigines of that vast continent shall become the mild and gentle followers of our gracious Redeemer.
4. That it is the earnest wish of this conference that the kind and friendly intercourse which is now opened between the British and the American conference should be continued; and that, prior to the time of holding the next General Conference in America, the British conference will appoint one or more of their body to visit our brethren in America, to be present at their General Conference.5. That a letter shall be sent to the American brethren, containing these resolutions, and strongly expressing our high approbation of the selection of our highly esteemed brother, Mr. Emory, as their representative to our conference, and of our earnest desire and prayer that, in the spirit of Christian love, we may ever be one in Christ Jesus.
6. That there shall be a regular exchange of Minutes, magazines, missionary reports and notices, and all new original works, published by the European and American Methodists, from their respective book rooms.

|On the subject of the unpleasant circumstances which have occurred in the Canadas between the American preachers and our missionaries, referred to the conference by the missionary committee in London, with their opinion that Upper Canada shall be left in possession of the American brethren, and that our missionary exertions shall be confined to the lower province, this committee recommend to the conference the adoption of the following principles and arrangements 1. That, as the American Methodists and ourselves are but one body, it would be inconsistent with our unity, and dangerous to that affection which ought to characterize us in every place, to have different societies and congregations in the same towns and villages, or to allow of any intrusion on either side into each other's labors.
2. That this principle shall be the rule by which the disputes now existing in the Canadas, between our missionaries, shall be terminated.
3. That the simplest and most effectual manner of carrying this rule into effect appears to us to be, to accede to the suggestion of the American conference, that the American brethren shall have the occupation of Upper Canada, and the British missionaries that of Lower Canada, allowing sufficient time for carrying this arrangement into effect, with all possible tenderness to existing prejudices and conflicting interests on both sides; the arrangement to be Completed within a period to be fixed as early as possible by the missionary committee. But should insuperable difficulties occur in the attempt to execute this plan, (which, however, we do not anticipate,) either party shall be at liberty to propose any other mode of accommodation which shall assume as its basis the great principle laid down in the first of these resolutions, and which we are of opinion should be held most sacred in every part of the world.
4. That if hereafter it shall appear to any of our brethren there, either British missionaries or American preachers, that any place on either side the boundary line, now mentioned, needs religious help, and presents a favorable opportunity for usefulness, the case shall be referred by the Canada district meeting to the General Conference, or by that body to the Canada district; and if either shall formally decline to supply the place on their own side the boundary, then the other shall be at liberty to supply the said place, without being deemed to have violated the terms of this friendly compact.
5. And it shall be explicitly understood in this arrangement, that each party shall be bound to supply with preachers all those stations and their dependencies which shall be relinquished by each of the connections, that no place on either side shall sustain any loss of the ordinances of religion in consequence of this arrangement.
6. That the missionary committee be directed to address a letter to the private and official members, trustees, &c., under the care of our missionaries in Upper Canada, informing them of the judgment of the conference, and affectionately and earnestly advising them to put themselves and their chapels under the pastoral care of the American preachers, with the suggestion of such considerations, to incline them to it, as the Committee may judge most proper.7. That the bishops of the American connection shall direct a similar letter to the private and official members, trustees, &c., under the care of the American preachers in the province of Lower Canada, requesting them to put themselves and their chapels under the care of the British missionaries.|

The instructions to the missionaries, sent out in pursuance of the above arrangement, are so replete with Christian urbanity and kindness, and so fully exemplified the spirit by which all Christian associations should be actuated in their intercourse with each other, that I am persuaded the reader will be gratified with their perusal They are as follows: --

|Copy of a letter of instructions from the Missionary Committee in London, to the Rev. Messrs. R. Williams and the other British missionaries in the provinces of Canada.|

|Dear Brothers: -- Herewith we transmit you a copy of resolutions, passed at our late conference, on the subject of the disputes which have unhappily existed between our American brethren and us, relative to our missions in Canada.

|The preceding resolutions are general, and refer to the renewal of the intercourse, by personal deputation, between the American and British conferences, by the visit of Mr. Emory. We have given you the resolutions in full, that you may see that we have recognized the principle that the Methodist body is ONE throughout the world, and that therefore its members are bound to cordial affection and brotherly union.

|The resolutions of the committee, passed some time ago, and forwarded for your guidance, prohibiting any interference with the work of the American brethren, would show you that the existence of collisions between us and them gave us serious concern, and that the Committee were anxious to remove, as far as they, at that time, were acquainted with the circumstances, every occasion of dispute.

|Certainly the case of Montreal chapel was one which we could never justify to our minds, and the committee have in many instances had but a partial knowledge of the real religious wants of the upper province, and of its means of supply. The only reason we could have for increasing the number of missionaries in that province was, the presumption of a strong necessity, arising out of the destitute condition of the inhabitants, the total want, or too great distance of ministers.

|On no other ground could we apply money raised for missionary purposes for the supply of preachers to Upper Canada. The information we have had for two years past has all served to show that the number of preachers employed there by the American brethren was greater than we had at first supposed, and was constantly increasing.

|To us, therefore, it now appears, that though there may be places in that province which are not visited, they are within the range, or constantly coming within the range, of the extended American itinerancy; and that Upper Canada does not present to our efforts a ground so fully and decidedly missionary as the lower province, where much less help exists, and a great part of the population is involved in popish superstition.

|We know that political reasons exist in many minds for supplying even Upper Canada, as far as possible, with British missionaries; and however natural this feeling may be to Englishmen, and even praiseworthy, when not carried too far, it will be obvious to you that this is a ground on which, as a missionary society, and especially as a society under the direction of a committee which recognizes as brethren, and one with itself, the American Methodists, we cannot act.1. Because, as a missionary society, we cannot lay it town as a principle that those whose object is to convert the world shall be prevented from seeking and saving souls under a foreign government, for we do not thus regulate our own efforts.
2. To act on this principle would be to cast an odium upon our American brethren, as though they did not conduct themselves peaceably under the British government, which is, we believe, contrary to the fact.
3. That if any particular exceptions to this Christian and submissive conduct were, on their part, to occur, we have not the least right to interfere, unless, indeed, the Americas conference obviously neglected to enforce upon the offending parties its own discipline. Upon any political feeling which may exist, either in your minds or in the minds of a party in any place, we cannot therefore proceed. Our objects are purely spiritual, and our American brethren and ourselves are one body of Christians, sprung a common stock, holding the same doctrines, enforcing the same discipline, and striving in common to spread the light of true religion through the world.

|In conformity with these views, we have long thought it a reproach, and doing more injury, by disturbing the harmony of the two connections, than could be counterbalanced by any local good, that the same city or town should see two congregations, and two societies, and two preachers, professing the same form of Christianity, and yet thus proclaiming themselves rivals to each other, and, in some instances, invading each other's societies and chapels, and thus producing party feelings. The purposes of each, we are ready to allow, have been good, though mistaken; and we rather blame ourselves for not having obtained more accurate information on some particulars, that intimate any dissatisfaction with the missionaries la the Canadas, with whose zeal and labors we have much reason to be satisfied.

|A part of the evil has also arisen from the want of personal communication, by deputation, between the two conferences, now happily established. These considerations had long and seriously occupied our minds before the arrival of Mr. Emory, charged by the General American Conference to bring these matters under our consideration. The committee, previous to the conference, went with him fully into the discussion of the disputes in the Canadas, and recommended those principles of adjustment which the conference, after they had been referred to a special committee during the time of its sitting, adopted, and which we now transmit to all the brethren in the Canada station.

|You will consider these resolutions as the fruit of a very ample inquiry, and of serious deliberation.

|None of the principles here adopted by us do indeed go farther than to prevent interference with each other's labors among the American and British missionaries, and the setting up of altar against altar' in the same city, town, or village; but, knowing that circumstances of irritation exist, and that too near a proximity might, through the infirmity of human nature, lead to a violation of that union which the conference has deemed a matter of paramount: importance to maintain, we have thought it best to adopt a geographical division of the labor of each, and that the upper province should be left to the American brethren and the lower to you. The reasons for this are, -- 1. That the upper province is so adequately supplied by the American conference as not to present that pressing ease of necessity which will justify our expending our funds upon it.
2. That Mr. Emory has engaged that its full supply by American preachers shall be, as far as possible, attended to.3. That this measure at once terminates the dispute as to Montreal.4. That it will prevent collision without sacrifice of public good.5. That Lower Canada demands our efforts rather than Upper, as being more destitute, and the labors of the brethren there being more truly missionary.

|A transfer of societies and places of preaching will of course follow. Our societies in Upper Canada are to be put under the care of the American brethren; theirs in the lower province under yours.

|It is clear that this, under all circumstances, will require prudent and wise management, and we depend upon you to carry the arrangement into effect in the same spirit of kindness and temper in which the question has been determined by the conference and Mr. Emory.

|Feel that you are one with your American brethren, embarked in the same great cause, and eminently of the same religious family, and the little difficulties of arrangement will be easily surmounted; and if any warm spirits (which is probable) rise up to trouble you, remember that you are to act upon the great principle sanctioned by the conference, and not upon local prejudices. The same advices Mr. Emory has pledged himself shall be given to the American preachers, and you will each endeavor to transfer the same spirit into the societies respectively. When the preachers recognize each other as brethren, the people will naturally fall under the influence of the same feeling.

|We have appointed our respected brethren, Messrs. Williams and Hick, who are to choose as an associate a third preacher in full connection, to meet an equal number of preachers to be appointed by the American bishop, who shall agree upon the time in which the chapels and societies shall be mutually transferred, and the arrangements of the conference be carried into effect. The place of the meeting they are to fix for their mutual convenience, but the meeting is to be held as early as possible after the receipt of the instructions of the committee, that the report of the final adjustment of the affair may appear in your next district minutes.

|We conclude with our best wishes for your personal happiness and usefulness. May you ever go forth in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of peace,' and be made the honored instruments of winning many souls to the knowledge and obedience of the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.

|We are, dear brother, yours very affectionately,

|Jos. Taylor, Richard Watson, Secretaries. |Wesleyan Mission House, 77 Hatton Garden; 23d August, 1820.|

As it was agreed that our bishops should send similar instructions to those brethren to whom the carrying the above resolutions into practical effect should be committed, the following communication was sent to the Rev. William Case: --

|Alexandria, (D. C.,) Oct.16, 1820.

|Dear Brother: -- I transmit you herewith a Copy of the resolutions of the late British conference, received through brother Emory, our representative to that body, on the subjects embraced in his mission; and also of the instructions of the missionary committee in London to the Rev. Messrs. R. Williams and the other British missionaries in the provinces of Canada, predicated on those resolutions.

|From these documents you will perceive that the desire of our General Conference, both for the establishment of a personal intercourse by deputation between the two connections, and for the amicable adjustment of the afflicting differences in the Canadas, has been happily accomplished. Indeed it appears, not only from those papers, but from the communications of our representative, that this desire was met, both by, the British conference and the missionary committee, with a promptness and brotherly affection which we should take equal pleasure in acknowledging and reciprocating.

|This it now devolves upon me (my colleagues being necessarily at a great distance, in the discharge of their official duties in the south and west) to enjoin it upon you to do; and to promote the same spirit of kindness toward our British brethren, among all the preachers, traveling and local, and all the official and private members within your district, to the utmost extent of your power.

|To remove the prejudices and allay the unpleasant excitements existing will, no doubt, require much prudent care. But in this labor of love' I expect in you a ready mind. Let the difficulties you may meet with only stimulate you to the exertion of your best and most persevering efforts in this behalf. Remember, Blessed are the peacemakers.' Seek peace, then, and ensue it.' If it even seem to flee from you, follow it: Looking diligently, lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness, springing up, trouble you, and thereby many be deified.'

|In the present state of things, (your acquaintance with which renders detail unnecessary,) we have thought it best to agree to a division of our field of labors in the Canadas by the provincial line. In the expediency of this measure you will see that the missionary committee in London and the British conference have concurred; so that our labors there are to be confined, in future, to the upper province, and those of the British missionaries to the lower.

|A transfer of societies and places of preaching will of course follow. Our societies in Lower Canada are to be put under the care of our British brethren, and theirs, in the upper province, under ours.

|For the execution of these arrangements I have appointed brother Ryan and yourself, with authority to associate with you a third preacher in full connection, to meet the Rev. Messrs. R. Williams and Hick, appointed by the missionary committee, and such other preacher as they may associate with them. The time and place of meeting you will agree on with them, for your mutual convenience. The missionary committee have instructed their agents that the meeting is to be held as early as possible after the receipt of the instructions of the committee, that the report of the final adjustment of the affair may appear in the next district minutes. In this we concur. You will, therefore, immediately on the reception of these instructions, in conjunction with brother Ryan and your associate, correspond with the Rev. Messrs. Williams and Hick and their associate on the subject; and fail not to use every means in your power for the prompt execution of the arrangements in the best faith, and in the most harmonious and affectionate manner. In the language of the missionary committee we cordially unite to say, Feel that you are one with your' British brethren, embarked in the same great cause, and eminently of the same religious family, and the little difficulties of arrangement will be easily surmounted; and if any warm spirits rise up to trouble you, remember that you are to act on the great principles now sanctioned and avowed by the two Connections, and not upon local prejudices.' If each endeavor to transfuse this spirit into the societies respectively, the people will much more easily be brought under the influence of the same feeling, when it shall be found to possess and actuate the preachers. In any event, let there be no deficiency on your part in spirit, word, or deed. We commit to you a sacred work, which you are bound to perform, not only as to the matter, but in the manner, in the temper, in which, as these instructions are intended to show you, we ourselves would perform it, could we be present. Attend strictly to this, that we may have joy and consolation in your love, the bowels of the saints being refreshed by you; and forward to us, as early as possible, regular and full copies of all your correspondence and proceedings in this business.

|Should it be found practicable to complete the arrangements previously to the next Genesee annual conference, you will of course take care to provide for the supply of those circuits, societies, and places of preaching in the upper province which may be transferred to us by our British brethren, as they are to provide for those which are to be simultaneously transferred to them in the lower province. You will also take care, from time to time, to extend supplies to any remaining places which may be found destitute in the upper province, as far as possible.

|There are several circuits, I believe, in Lower Canada, attached to the New York and New England conferences. These are included in the arrangement. You will therefore forward a copy of these instructions to each of the presiding elders within whose districts those circuits are embraced, and request them to be prepared to cooperate with you in the final execution of the business, and to report the same at their ensuing annual conferences respectively.

|The missionary committee in London having kindly furnished us with a copy of their instructions, we shall transmit a copy of these I now send you to them. You will also show them, when you meet, to the Rev. Messrs. Williams and Hick and their associate, and, if they desire it, give them a copy, that you may go on in this good work as we have happily begun, with that frankness and kindness which become brethren in such a cause.

|By the sixth resolution of the British conference on the Canadian business, it is provided that the missionary committee be directed to address a letter to the private and official members, trustees, &c., under the care of the missionaries in Upper Canada, informing them of the judgment of the Conference, and affectionately and earnestly advising them to put themselves and their chapels under the pastoral care of the American preachers, with the suggestion of such considerations to incline them to it as the committee may judge most proper. And by the seventh resolution it is provided that we shall address a similar letter to the private and official members, trustees, &c., under our care. I accordingly inclose a letter which you will use for this purpose, after you have met with Messrs. Williams and Hick, &c., and agreed with them on the time of making the transfer of the societies, chapels, &c., but not to be used before. At the same time, after this meeting and agreement, you will also forward a copy of this letter to each of the presiding elders in the New York and New England conferences whose districts embrace circuits in Lower Canada, to be used by them.

|Confiding in your faithful discharge of the several trusts committed to you, I commend you to the Lord, and remain, dear brother, yours in love.

|Wm. McKendree.|

The following was also addressed to the brethren therein mentioned in Lower Canada: --

|To the private and official members, trustees, &c., of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Lower Canada

|Very Dear Brethren: -- You are aware that, for several years past, very unpleasant collisions have occurred in various parts both of the upper and lower provinces, between the British missionaries and some of our brethren. This has been a source of great affliction to us, and has led to the adoption of various and successive measures for the correction of the evil.

|Our late General Conference, being earnestly desirous of restoring the amicable relations of the two connections, authorized the deputation of a representative to the British conference for this purpose. One was accordingly sent. And, after a deliberate investigation, it has been mutually thought best, for the sake of peace and love, under all the circumstances of the case, to divide our labors in the Canadas in such a manner as to guard effectually against all collisions in future.

|With this view, it has been agreed that our British brethren shall supply the lower province and our preachers the upper; yet so that no circuits or societies on either side shall be left destitute by the other. This has been sacredly attended to, and mutual pledges for the performance of it have been passed. It now becomes our duty, therefore, to inform you of this agreement, and to advise you, in the most affectionate and earnest manner, to put yourselves and your chapels under the care of our British brethren, as their societies and chapels in the upper province will be put under ours.

|This communication to you, we confess, is not made without pain; not from any want of affection for our British brethren, but from the recollection of those tender and endearing ties which have bound us to you. But a necessity is laid upon us. It is a peace-offering. No other consideration could have induced us to consent to the measure. Forgive, therefore, our seeming to give you up. We do not give you up in heart, in affection, in kind regard, in prayers.

|The British and American connections have now mutually recognized each other as one body of Christians, sprung from a common stock, holding the same doctrines, of the same religious family, and striving in common to speed the light of true religion through the world; and they have agreed to keep up a regular intercourse by deputation, in future, for the maintenance of this brotherly union.

|Let any past differences, therefore, be forgotten. Let them be buried for ever. Confirm your love toward our British brethren, and receive them as ourselves; -- not as strangers, but as brothers beloved. By this shall all men know that we are Christ's disciples, if we love one another. Love is of God, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. May the God of love and peace be with you, and crown you with the blessedness of contributing with us to heal the wounds of the Church, and to establish that fellowship of the Spirit' which shall enable us to say, Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down to the skirts of his garments. As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountain of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.'

|For any farther information that you may desire I refer you to the presiding elder, to whom it is given in charge to make this communication to you; and remain, dear brethren, with the same affection for you, in the bonds of the gospel of peace, and the best wishes and prayers for your happiness and salvation,

|Wm. McKendree. |Alexandria, (D. C.,) October 16, 1820.|

These proceedings gave general satisfaction, and tended not a little to allay the uneasiness which had resulted from the collisions of individuals in the two provinces, as well as to soften the asperities of those who had suffered the heat of party zeal to carry them beyond the bounds of Christian moderation. This result also shows how little the individual and local interests of a few affect those whose position gives them a commanding and impartial view of the whole ground of controversy, and who consequently feel for the whole as for every part, and for every part as for the whole. And it is no small commendation of the Christian spirit by which each of the contracting parties was actuated, to find them thus ready to sacrifice individual and local interests for the sake of binding the entire Methodist family together in one great brotherhood.

An improved edition of our Hymn Book was ordered by this General Conference to be printed by the book agents. The first hymn book printed in this country for the use of the members and friends of our Church was small, containing, to be sure, a choice selection, but not a sufficient variety of hymns to suit the different states of the human heart, and the several subjects which might be introduced into the pulpit, and other exercises of social worship and private devotion. This had been remedied, as was supposed, by adding, in 1808, a second book, consisting chiefly of hymns taken from the original hymns of John and Charles Wesley; but, unhappily, those who made this selection had taken the liberty to alter many of the hymns, by leaving out parts of stanzas, altering words, shortening or lengthening hymns, without much judgment or taste. By this injudicious method the poetry was often marred, and the sentiment changed much for the worse.

These things led the New York conference, at its session in 1819, to request the book committee in New York, in conjunction with the book agents, to prepare a revised edition of our Hymn Book, to be presented to this General Conference, which was done accordingly. The conference approved of the copy, and ordered it to be printed. The following extract from the preface will show the extent of and reasons for the alterations: --

|The Hymn Book heretofore in use among us has been thought by many to be defective, partly on account of the mutilated state of some of the hymns, and partly because of its being divided into two books. To remedy these inconveniences, measures have been adopted to prepare a revised edition of our Hymn Book, such a one as should exclude the defects and retain the excellences of the one heretofore published.

|The greater part of the hymns contained in the former edition are retained in this, and several from Wesleys' and Coke's collections, not before published in this country, are added. The principal improvements which have been made consist in restoring those which had been altered, as is believed, for the worse, to their original state, as they came from the poetical pen of the Wesleys; for the following hymns were, except a few which have been taken from other authors, composed by the Rev. John and Charles Wesley -- names that will ever be held dear and in high estimation by every lover of sacred poetry.|

This edition of the Hymn Book has been in use ever since, unaltered, except the addition of the names of the tunes at the head of each hymn, and, in 1836, of a supplement, which was prepared in conformity to the recommendation of the General Conference of 1832. Up to this time our people had not been furnished with a tune book suited to the various meters of our most excellent hymns. This General Conference ordered the editors to adopt such measures as they might judge most fit to supply this deficiency; and they accordingly, soon after the adjournment of conference, appointed a committee of competent persons to make a selection of such tunes as were needed to enable our congregations to use, in their devotional exercises, any and every hymn in the published collection they might choose, without being compelled to omit, for the want of a suitable tune, those particular meters especially, which are among the most experimental, spiritual, and poetical in the book. The following preface to this collection of tunes will show the reasons for and the manner in which the work was accomplished: --

|Singing forms such an interesting and important branch of divine service, that every effort to improve the science of sacred music should meet with corresponding encouragement. Nothing tends more, when rightly performed, to elevate the mind, and tune it to the strains of pure devotion. Hence the high estimation in which it has been constantly held by the Christian church. Indeed, every considerable revival of true godliness has been attended, not only with the cultivation and enlargement of knowledge in general, but of sacred poetry and music in particular. Singing and making melody in the heart to the Lord is the natural result of having the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit. The melodious notes of many voices, harmoniously uniting to sound the praises of God, cannot but inspire the heart of the Christian to devotion, and elevate the affections to things spiritual and divine. Who, then, can be uninterested in the improvement of a science so beneficial to the church of God! What hear t that has ever vibrated to the inspiring sounds of sacred and vocal music, but must exult in every attempt that is made to cultivate and diffuse the knowledge of this useful auxiliary in spreading the knowledge of God our Saviour!

|Though the Methodist Episcopal Church has never been insensible to the advantages resulting from the knowledge and practice of vocal music, having always used it perhaps more than most other denominations of Christians -- in public assemblies and private associations; yet a suitable tune book, adapted to the various hymns and meters of its Hymn Book, has long been a desideratum in its spiritual economy. Several efforts, indeed, have been made, by individuals, to supply this deficiency. The subject was brought before the General Conference at its last session; and it was finally referred to the discretion of the book agents.

|Believing such a collection of tunes, as should be suited to the various meters and subjects of our hymns, would be highly advantageous to the members and friends of our Church, soon after the conference closed its session, the agents adopted measures to accomplish this very desirable object. For this purpose a committee, consisting of members of our Church, was appointed, who, besides their competency to this undertaking, felt a deep interest in the reputation and utility of this very important part of divine service. They were requested, in conformity as nearly as practicable to the requisition of our Discipline, to make a selection of tunes from authors of approved merit, keeping in view the various sections of our widely extended connection, that the peculiarity of taste, in the choice of tunes, might, as far as possible, be gratified. They entered upon their labor with cheerfulness, and persevered with conscientious care and diligence until they brought their work to a close: and the tunes comprised in the following selection will evince the result of their exertions, and their communication to the agents, with which we close this preface, will explain the manner in which they executed the trust confided to them.

|Dear Brethren: -- Your Committee, whose task it has been, by your request, to compile a book of tunes for the use of the Methodist Episcopal Church, report: That they have been fully aware of the extreme difficulty of making such a collection of tunes as should in all respects be accommodated either to the fancy or taste of every section of our widely extended connection. In the use of any particular style of tunes, so much generally depends upon education, local feelings, or mental constitution, that, except with those who are skilled in the science of music, the choice of a tune is seldom Caused by a discovery of its intrinsic worth, or its adaptation to the solemnities of Christian worship. Your committee, therefore, will neither be surprised nor disappointed if their selection, in coming before the public, meet with some of those discouragements which have attended works of a similar nature.

|Your committee, however, have not been regardless of the partialities of our societies in different parts of the Union. They have availed themselves of standard works which have obtained celebrity in the eastern and southern states, as well as those that are in general use among us. The best European authors have also been consulted. Books edited by members of our Church, or with a design to suit our Hymn Book, have received particular attention. They have neglected no means of ascertaining the wishes of our friends, and of accommodating, as far as possible, their plan to those wishes.

|It may be proper to suggest that the primary object of your committee has been, not to prepare a collection of tunes for social circles or singing associations, (though they hope the work will not be unacceptable even in this light,) but, according to your own directions, for the use of worshipping congregations. They have therefore, in the first place, carefully avoided the choice of all such tunes as, from the intricacy or unsuitableness of their style, are incapable of being easily learned by ordinary congregations; for one of the most important objects of public singing is lost when every tuneful voice in the house of God cannot join in the solemn exercise.

|Secondly, In cordial approbation of that clause of our Discipline which disapproves of fugue tunes, they have (with the exception of a very few, the use of which has been established by general practice) passed by those distinguished by that peculiarity.

|Thirdly, In order to assist leaders of singing, they have carefully affixed over each hymn in the new Hymn Book the name of such tune as, in their opinion, is suitable to that hymn.

|Your committee have thought proper to insert brief instructions in the rudiments of music, which will be found of great utility where the work is introduced into singing schools.

|Thus, after the labor of nearly a twelvemonth [a quaint term for |year| -- DVM], your committee have the pleasure of delivering into your hands the result of their joint exertions: they are happy in having this opportunity of contributing their part toward the improvement of one of the most delightful, as well as one of the most devotional parts of divine worship. Uninfluenced by the expectation or desire of any pecuniary recompense, they only wish as a reward for their labors the approbation of their brethren, beloved in Christ, who compose the general and annual conferences, and that of the membership of the Methodist Church. We have long needed a work which might be considered as a standard of music for our connection in America. That which your committee present to you is an attempt for this, according to the best of their judgment.

|Finally, praying that the blessing of Heaven may accompany their efforts, they would subjoin the language of our bishops as a just expression of their own sentiments: |We exhort all to sing with the Spirit and with the understanding also; and thus may the high praises of God be set up from east to west, from north to south; and we shall be happily instrumental in leading the devotion of thousands, and shall rejoice to join them in time and eternity.| -- All which is respectfully submitted.

|New York, October 23, 1821.'|

This book continued in use until 1832, when a revised edition of these tunes was published, in obedience to the orders of the General Conference. In 1836, believing that a greater variety of tunes was needed to meet the wants of our growing Church, better suited to the various tastes and peculiar habits of the several sections of our country, our book agents and editors adopted the very judicious course of selecting a committee composed of a member from Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, who prepared the edition now in use, and which, I believe, gives general satisfaction.

With a view to prevent, as far as practicable, our people from running heedlessly into debt in procuring houses of worship, to secure them permanently for the use of the ministers and members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the places where they should be built, as well as to check the practice of selling or renting the slips, the following resolutions were adopted, and ordered to be incorporated in the Discipline, in answer to the question, |Is any thing advisable in regard to building?|
1. That from this date no house of worship under our charge shall be built, or the building commenced, until the site or ground on which such house or houses are to be located is secured to the church as our deed of settlement directs, and said deed is legally executed.2. That from and after this date no house of worship under our charge shall be commenced until three-fourths of the money necessary to complete the building be in hand or subscribed. The estimate of the sum necessary for the whole expense of said house or houses to be made by a judicious committee, to consist of at least three members of our Church, to be chosen by the quarterly meeting conference of the circuit or station in which such house or houses are designed to be built.
3. That it be made the duty of each presiding elder and preacher in charge to make proper inquiry in their districts, circuits, and stations respecting the title we have to our houses of worship; and in all cases where a title is found deficient, to adopt the most judicious and prudent measures to have them secured as directed in our deed of settlement, and whenever a vacancy is found in the trusteeship to have it filled, as directed in the Discipline.4. That the practice of building houses with pews, and the renting and selling said pews, is contrary to our economy, and that it be the duty of the several annual conferences to use their influence to prevent such houses from being built in future, and, as far as possible, to make those free which have already been built with pews.
5. That in future we will admit of no charter, deed, or conveyance for any house to be used by us as a house of worship, unless it be provided in such charter, deed, or conveyance that the trustees of said house shall at all times permit such ministers. and preachers, belonging to the Methodist Episcopal Church, as shall from time to time be duly authorized by the General Conference of said Church, or by the annual conference, to preach and expound Gods holy word, and to execute the rules and discipline of the Church, and to administer the sacraments therein, according to the true meaning and purport of our deed of settlement.|

The rule in reference to the preliminary steps to be taken in regard to procuring funds for building churches has been but little heeded, our people thinking, probably, that they understand this matter better than the General Conference, and hence, in many instances, debts have been contracted to such an amount as to render the situation of the trustees extremely embarrassing, if not indeed almost ruinous. Nor has all that has been said and done to prevent the renting or selling of slips checked the practice, for it has gone on steadily increasing among us in most of the northern conferences. It would seem, however, that the advocates for the exclusive free seat system were determined at this conference to make a strong effort to annihilate the practice; for in the first answer to the above question, which until now read, |Let all our churches be built plain and decent,| were added the words, |and with free seats.| This amendment, however, was not carried without great opposition from those delegates who felt the necessity, either to have no houses at all, or to permit them to be built with a view to rent or sell the seats.

A very important alteration was made at this conference in respect to local preachers. Until now they had been identified with the quarterly meeting conferences, had received their license to preach on the recommendation of this meeting, and were amenable to it for their moral, Christian, and official conduct, with the privilege of an appeal to an annual conference in case they had been censured, suspended, or expelled by the quarterly conference. A little uneasiness had been manifested at times, by some of the local preachers, because they thought they had been abridged of some of their rights, in not being permitted to be examined, licensed, and tried by their peers exclusively. To remove the cause of their dissatisfaction by granting the privilege of transacting the business which related to themselves exclusively, this General Conference created a District Conference,| to be composed of |all the local preachers in the| (presiding elder's) |district who shall have been licensed two years.| Of this meeting the presiding elder of the district, or, in his absence, such person as the district meeting might elect for the purpose, was to be president. This conference was authorized to grant licenses to proper persons to preach as local preachers, to renew their licenses, to recommend to annual conferences suitable persons for deacon's or elder's orders in the local ministry, for admission on trial in an annual conference, to try, suspend, expel, or acquit such local preachers as might be accused; but it could not license any man to preach unless he were recommended by a quarterly meeting conference: in fact, all the powers formerly belonging to the quarterly conference, which related to local preachers, except simply the privilege of recommending the candidates to the office of local preachers, were transferred to this district conference.

As was foreseen by some who were opposed to this startling innovation upon a long established usage, this conference by no means worked well. Many of the local preachers themselves were much dissatisfied with it, and hence, in various parts of the country, it was difficult to convene a sufficient number to do business; while in others, where they were most active in procuring the passage of the law creating and defining the powers of this conference, a spirit of insubordination, incompatible with the rights and privileges of the itinerancy, began to manifest itself; and there can be no doubt that this injudicious measure, which had been presented to and carried through the conference with some precipitancy, tended to foment that spirit of radicalism which ended in the secession of the party who styled themselves |Reformers,| and who have since organized under the name of the |Protestant Methodist Church.|

In consequence of witnessing these effects of the present organization, the powers of the district conferences were from time to time somewhat abridged, replacing in the quarterly meeting conference the power of transacting the affairs relating to local preachers, where and when the district conference did not assemble, until finally, in 1836, the district conference was dissolved, and its rights, powers, and privileges reverted back to the quarterly meeting conference, where they have been and are now exercised, to the general satisfaction of all concerned.

As the constitution of our Missionary Society contemplated the co-operation of the General Conference, having given authority to that body to incorporate an article for the appointment of missionaries, and for regulating the manner in which the funds for their support should be drawn, the subject came up for consideration before this General Conference, and its deliberations resulted in the adoption of the following report, which was drawn up, I believe, by the late Bishop Emory: --

|Your committee regard the Christian ministry as peculiarly a missionary ministry. Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,' is the very foundation of its authority, and develops its character simultaneously with its origin.

|The success which attended the itinerant and missionary labors of the first heralds of salvation farther establishes the correctness of this view, and demonstrates the divine sanction of this method of spreading the gospel.

|In process of time, however, the missionary spirit declined, and the spirit of genuine Christianity with it. Then it pleased the Lord to raise up the Messrs. Wesleys, Whitefield, and others, through whose itinerant and missionary labors a great revival of vital piety was commenced, the progress and extent of which, at present, your committee cannot but regard as cause of unbounded thankfulness and pleasure.

|The missions of Boardman and Pilmoor, of Wright, of Asbury, and others, are events in our history not soon to be forgotten. A grateful people feel their happy influence and hold their memory dear, and generations yet unborn will rise up and call them blessed.

|Can we, then, be listless to the cause of missions, We cannot. Methodism itself is a missionary system. Yield the missionary spirit, and you yield the very lifeblood of the cause.

|In missionary efforts our British brethren are before us. We congratulate them on their zeal and their success. But your committee beg leave to entreat this conference to emulate their example. The time, indeed, may not yet be come in which we should send our missionaries beyond seas. Our own continent presents to us fields sufficiently vast, which are opening before us, and whitening to the harvest. These, it is probable, will demand all the laborers and all the means which we can command at present.

|You will permit your committee to mention some of those missionary grounds which may have a peculiar claim to your first attentions. They are the Canadas, the Floridas, the state of Louisiana, the territories of Arkansas and Missouri, our western frontiers generally, having regard to those who use the French, Spanish, or other foreign languages, as well as to those who use the English; together with any destitute places in the interior in which circuits may not yet have been formed, and where it may be judged important to have efficient missions.

|In a particular manner the committee solicit the attention of the Conference to the condition of the aborigines of our Country, the Indian tribes. American Christians are certainly under peculiar obligations to impart to them the blessings of Civilization and Christian light. That there is no just cause to despair of success, through grace, in this charitable and pious undertaking, is demonstrated by the fact that there are already gathered into Church fellowship about sixty members of the Wyandot tribe, in the state of Ohio; and that a successful mission, under our direction, is now in operation among them. Why might not similar success attend other missions among other tribes? Is the Lord's arm shortened that he cannot save our brothers of the forest? or is his ear heavy that he will not hear in their behalf?

|The government of the United States has manifested a disposition toward the Indians which may contribute much, not only to their civilization, but to their evangelization. Ten thousand dollars annually have been appropriated by congress for the establishment of schools among them. By this act it is required that the plan of education embrace, for the boys, in addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic, the practical knowledge of agriculture, and of such of the mechanic arts as are suited to the condition of the Indians; and for the girls, spinning, weaving, and sewing. This your committee consider a very judicious regulation, and perfectly compatible with the duties of missionaries, if men of families who might be established among them, as teachers in those schools, while their wives would assist in the instruction of the girls in their appropriate departments. The civilization of the Indians will promote their evangelization.

Indeed, your committee are decidedly of opinion, that it is the rising generation among the Indians to whom your attention should be chiefly directed; and that the institution of schools among them, on the government plan, and under the government patronage, should be your first care. It will be necessary, at the same time, in the appointment of teachers to select suitable persons, with a view to the ulterior object of Christian instruction, both to the youth and the adult; which object, it is evident, will be greatly promoted by means of a common language; by the influence which a teacher will have over the youth; and by the free access which will be gained, through them, to their parents and friends. This is the course which has been pursued by our missionary brethren of the British connection in the island of Ceylon, and, your committee believe, with great success.

|Several denominations have already availed themselves of the proffered aid of government above mentioned, and have flourishing schools, of a missionary character, now in operation among different tribes.

|The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions have an establishment of this kind on the Chickamaugah, in the Cherokee country, and another among the Choctaws. At the first are about one hundred Indian Children, and at the second from forty to sixty. This board have also directed their attention to the country west of the Mississippi, and an establishment similar to those above named is already in a state of forwardness there. Besides these, branches are organized in different parts of the Cherokee and Choctaw Countries; and measures are in operation to establish two other principal schools, one for the benefit of the Creeks and the other for the Chickasaws.

|The Baptist society have a school in Kentucky, at the Great Crossings, to which fifteen or twenty Indian children have been sent from the Indian country: and they are about to organize a school at the Valley Towns, in the Cherokee country.

|At Spring-place, in the Cherokee nation, there has been a school for fourteen years, under the care of the Moravians, which is said to have been productive of much good.

|The United Foreign Missionary Society of New York are about organizing a school west of the Mississippi, and also for the benefit of the emigrant Cherokees. It is supposed they will go into operation in the course of this spring and summer.

|Your committee had felicitated themselves on the pleasing and inviting openings for such institutions which had appeared, particularly among the Wyandots; of which tribe many, through the instrumentality of our missions, have already been turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. But while we have been delaying, others have stepped in. The agent of that tribe has informed a member of your committee that he has written to the secretary of war to place the proportion of the ten thousand dollars per annum, allowed by congress, which may be allotted to that agency, at the disposal of the committee of Friends on Indian concerns, in this city; and they have it in contemplation to open three schools, the ensuing summer, in the said agency.

|Your committee hope not to be understood as expressing any regret at the zeal of other denominations in so good a cause. Far from it. The mention of this is intended rather to provoke ourselves to love and to good works. There yet is room.

|From the above sketch it will be seen how the spirit of missions is diffusing itself in our country. It ought to be cherished and rightly directed. If we do not cherish it, others will. It is of God, and will prevail.

|Indeed, many of the Indians themselves, bordering on our improved settlements, are roused to a sense of their deplorable condition. With outstretched arms they cry to us, and say, Come and help us!' Your Committee believe it a call of Providence, which should be obeyed.

With these views they submit the following resolutions, viz.: --

|Resolved, by the delegates of the annual conferences in General Conference assembled,
1. That this Conference do highly approve of the institution of the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the City of New York, and, on the recommendation of the managers thereof; do agree to and adopt its constitution.
2. That it be, and hereby is, earnestly recommended to all the annual conferences to take such measures as they may deem most advisable for the establishment of branch societies, auxiliary to the parent Methodist Missionary Society at New York, in all convenient and practicable places within their bounds; and that it be the duty of the general superintendents to communicate this recommendation to the said conferences, and to use their best endeavors and influence to have it carried into speedy and general effect.
3. That this conference do fully approve of the plan of education for the civilization of the Indians, required by a circular, in conformity with an act of congress, issued from the department of war, by the Hon. J. C. Calhoun, on the 3d of September, 1819, and by a supplement thereto, issued from the department on the 29th of February last; and that they do hereby authorize the general superintendents of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and any others who, under their direction, may be engaged in establishing, organizing, or conducting such school or schools, to act in conformity therewith.
4. That the superintendents be, and hereby are, requested to, keep in view the selection of a suitable missionary station westwardly or southwestwardly -- where a person may be appointed, as soon as they may deem it expedient, to have charge of the missions which are or may be in that direction, in the absence of the general superintendents.
5. That a more particular and regular attention ought to be paid to the instruction of the destitute souls in our cities, towns, and country places; and that the same be and is hereby earnestly urged on all our preachers who may be appointed to such places respectively; and more especially in stations where such instructions may be given with the greatest regularity and effect: in which good cause the said preachers are advised and requested, by all prudent and affectionate means, to engage, as far as possible, the aid of our brethren the local preachers.6. That this conference do highly approve of the pious zeal which caused the institution of the Mite Society of Philadelphia, for promoting domestic and foreign missions; that the thanks of this conference be, and hereby are, rendered to the said society for the same, and for their friendly address to this conference on the subject; but that, having adopted a modified constitution of a missionary society, to be established in New York, from the objects of which the publishing of Bibles has been separated, for the reasons contained in the said address from Philadelphia, and also on the recommendation of the society in New York, and contemplating very important advantages from having the parent missionary society located where the Book Concern is conducted, so that the editor and general book steward for the time being may always be treasurer thereof, this General Conference do respectfully and affectionately recommend to the society in Philadelphia to become auxiliary to that in New York.

|All which is respectfully submitted. |Wm. Ryland, Chairman. |Baltimore, May 15, 1820.|

It will be perceived from the sixth resolution of this report that our brethren in Philadelphia had also presented an address to the conference, in reference to their missionary society, and likewise the reasons for the preference given to the one which originated in the city of New York; the chief of which was, that the location of the parent society might be in the same place with the Book Concern, as it was expected that these two institutions would greatly aid and mutually support each other, and experience has proved that the expectation was well founded.

At the formation of this society it was intended to print and circulate Bibles and Testaments gratuitously, in connection with spreading the gospel by means of missionary labors; and hence it was called the |Missionary and Bible Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church;| but being convinced, upon more mature reflection, that the American Bible Society, which was now in successful operation, was fully adequate to the task of supplying the community with the sacred Scriptures, the society recommended to the General Conference to strike the word Bible from the title, that it might confine its efforts exclusively to missionary labors, and so more effectually fulfill the primary design of its organization. This was accordingly done, and the word |America| was also stricken out, as this was unnecessary to designate the character of the society, there being no other missionary society of the |Methodist Episcopal Church| in existence.

As the original constitution of this society has been altered from time to time by the General Conference, on the recommendation of the board of managers, that the reader may see at once how the affairs of the society are conducted, and for what ends, I will insert the constitution as it now stands, (1839,) without referring to the minutiae of those amendments by which it has been brought to its present improved character. It is as follows: --


Of the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church

Article 1. This association, denominated The Missionary Society of The Methodist Episcopal Church,' is established for the express purpose of enabling the several annual conferences more effectually to extend their missionary labors throughout the United States and elsewhere; and also to assist in the support and promotion of missionary schools and missions in our own and in foreign countries.

Article 2. The payment of two dollars annually shall constitute a member; the payment of twenty dollars at one time a member for life.

Article 3. The officers of this society shall consist of a president, vice presidents, clerk, treasurer, and assistant treasurer, who, together with thirty-two managers, shall form a board for the transaction of business. They shall all be members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and he annually elected by the society. Each annual conference shall have also the privilege of appointing one vice president from its own body.

Article 4. There shall also be a resident corresponding secretary appointed by the General Conference, whose salary shall be fixed and paid by the board of managers, who shall be exclusively employed in conducting the correspondence of the society, and, under the direction of the board, in promoting its general interests, by traveling or otherwise. With the approbation of the managers, he may employ such assistance, from time to time, as may be judged necessary for the interests of the cause; the compensation for which shall be fixed by the board. He shall be, ex officio, a member of the board of managers. Should his office become vacant by death, resignation, or otherwise, the board shall have power to provide for the duties of the office until the next session of the New York conference, which, with the concurrence of the presiding bishop, shall fill the vacancy until the ensuing General Conference.

Article 5. The board shall have authority to make by laws for regulating its own proceedings, to appropriate money to defray incidental expenses, and to print books at our own press, for the benefit of Indian and other foreign missions, fill up vacancies that may occur during the year, and shall present a statement of its transactions and funds to the society, at its annual meeting, and also shall lay before the General Conference a report of its transactions for the four preceding years, and the state of its funds.

Article 6. Ordained ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church, whether traveling or local, being members of this society, shall be, ex officio, members of the board of managers.

Article 7. The annual meeting, for the election officers and managers, shall be held on the third Monday in April, in the city of New York.

Article 8. At all meetings of the society and of the board, the president, or, in his absence, the vice president first on the list then present, and in the absence of all the vice presidents, a member appointed by the meeting for that purpose, shall preside.

Article 9. Twenty-five members, at all meetings of the society, and thirteen at all meetings of the board of managers, shall be a quorum.

Article 10. The minutes of each meeting shall be signed by the chairman.

Article 11. It is recommended, that within the bounds of each annual conference there be established a conference missionary society, auxiliary to this institution, with branches, under such regulations as the conferences shall respectively prescribe. Each conference, or other auxiliary society, shall annually transmit to the corresponding secretary of this society a copy of its annual report, embracing the operations of its branches, and shall also notify the treasurer of the amount collected in aid of the missionary cause, which amount shall be subject to the order of the treasurer of the parent society, as provided for in the thirteenth article.

Article 12. Any auxiliary or branch society may appropriate any part or the whole of its funds to any one individual mission, or more, under the care of this society, which special appropriation shall be publicly acknowledged by the board: but in the event that more funds be raised for any individual mission than is necessary for its support, the surplus shall go into the general treasury of the parent society, to be appropriated as the constitution directs.

Article 13. The treasurer of this society, under the direction of the board of managers, shall give information to the bishops annually, or oftener, if the board judge it expedient, of the state of the funds, and the sums which may be drawn by them for the missionary purposes contemplated by this constitution: agreeably to which information the bishops shall have authority to draw upon the treasurer for any sum within the amount designated, which the missionary committee of the annual conferences respectively shall judge necessary for the support of the missions and of the mission schools under their care; provided always, that the sums so allowed for the support of a missionary shall not exceed the usual allowance of other itinerant preachers. The bishops shall always promptly notify the treasurer of all drafts made by them, and shall require regular quarterly communications to be made by each of the missionaries to the corresponding secretary of the society, giving information of the state and prospects of the several missions in which they are employed. No one shall be acknowledged a missionary, or receive support out of the funds of this society, who has not some definite field assigned to him, or who could not be an effective laborer on a circuit.

Article 14. Whenever a foreign mission is to be established, either among the aborigines of our country or elsewhere, it shall be the duty of the bishop making such appointment immediately to notify the treasurer of the missionary society of the place, the number of missionaries to be employed, together with the probable amount necessary for the support of any such mission; which information shall be laid before the managers of the society; and they shall make an appropriation according to their judgment, from year to year, of the amount called for to sustain and prosecute the mission or missions designated; for which amount the missionary, or the superintendent of the mission or missions, shall have authority to draw on the treasurer of the society, in quarterly or half-yearly installments.

Article 15. In all cases oft he appointment of a missionary, the name of such missionary, and the district in which he is to labor, together with the probable expenses of the mission, shall be communicated by the bishop or the mission committee of each annual conference to the treasury of this society; that a proper record of the same may be preserved.

Article 16. This constitution shall not be altered but by the General Conference, upon the recommendation of the board of managers.|

It was ordered that five hundred copies of the report on missions together with the amended constitution, should be immediately printed, that the delegates might furnish themselves with copies to carry to their respective districts and circuits.

These doings of the conference in relation to the Missionary Society exerted a most favorable influence upon the cause, and tended mightily to remove the unfounded objections which had existed in some minds against this organization.

Having witnessed much confusion in the conference when appeals from the lower tribunals had been presented, the following clause was added to the Discipline, with a view to regulate the manner in which appeals should be hereafter conducted

|In all the above-mentioned cases it shall be the duty of the secretary of the annual conference to keep regular minutes of the trial, including all the questions proposed to the witnesses, and their answers, together with the crime with which the accused is charged, the specification or specifications, and also preserve all the documents relating to the case, which minutes and documents only, in case of an appeal from the decision of an annual conference, shall be presented to the General Conference, in evidence on the case. And in all cases when an appeal is made, and admitted by the General Conference, the appellant shall either state personally or by his representative (who shall be a member of the conference) the grounds of his appeal, showing cause why he appeals, and he shall be allowed to make his defense without interruption. After which the representatives of the annual conference, from whose decision the appeal is made, shall be permitted to respond in presence of the appellant, who shall have the privilege of replying to such representatives, which shall close the pleadings on both sides. This done, the appellant shall withdraw, and the conference shall decide. And after such form of trial and expulsion, the person so expelled shall have no privileges of society or sacraments in our Church, without confession, contrition, and proper trial.|

These are all the acts and doings of this conference worthy of record, except what has been heretofore noticed concerning the election and duties of presiding elders, and the resolutions regarding the Book Concern and slavery, which will be noted in another place. It may be proper, however, to add, that Nathan Bangs was elected principal, and Thomas Mason assistant agent and editor of the Book Concern; and as this conference resolved to establish a branch at Cincinnati, Martin Ruter was appointed to its agency.

The conference adjourned May the 27th, to meet again in the city of Baltimore, May 1, 1824.

The conflicting opinions in relation to the presiding elder question, on slavery, and concerning renting pews in churches, and some other matters, had elicited considerable debate, and sometimes, as is usual on such occasions, not of the most hallowed and conciliatory character, by which means the feelings of some of the members were somewhat chafed, and they went home under a state of mind not the most friendly one toward another. Time for calm deliberation, however, and the mutual interchange of sentiments and feelings in their respective annual conferences, gradually wore away this momentary irritation, and restored them to that fervor of spirit and devotion to the cause of God by which they had been heretofore distinguished.

<<  Contents  >>

Promoting Genuine Biblical Revival.
Affiliate Disclosure | Privacy Policy