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the writer seems to have lost 'sight of that third element of Methodism which he promised to show us—or to be so dazzled by its brightness that he forgets to show it to his readers. Certainly he nowhere says distinctly what is. We infer, after our repeated readings of the whole section relating to this third element, that it is a vivid consciousness of personal, present salvation through the Sou of God, and an habitual fellowship between the redeemed and restored human spirit and the personal Redeemer, the shepherd and bishop of souls.
The fourth element is 'evangelic philanthropy.' This is given to us in large type in the-second sentence of the section. We are thankful not to be left to inference, and obliged to doubt whether our inference is correctly drawn. As to the section itself we pass it over as a digression—a digression relating to Christian missions in connexion with the epistles of the New Testament, well deserving of separate discussion, but having scarcely any connexion with that analysis of Methodism which we are now considering.
Our present question is—' Do these four elements constitute a true analysis of the Methodism of the last century?' Was it distinguished, by these four characteristics, from the religious condition by which it was preceded, and from that which now surrounds us? For ourselves, with the reverence of which even reviewers need not be destitute, when studying the opinions of a prince in literature, we must say that we cannot receive the analysis as correct—we cannot recognise the features as really distinctive. To us it seems that these four elements belong to genuine Christianity, always and everywhere; nor have we perceived any more marked and powerful manifestation of any one of them, or of the whole of them, in Methodism, than in every revival of the spirit and the power of Christianity, from the beginning until now.
To have the eye of the understanding opened to behold the Righteous Judge, the final tribunal, the world of retribution ;— to have the heart broken in godly sorrow for sin, healed by the assurance of a Father's pardon and a Saviour's sympathy and care, and filled with love to God and love to mankind—with evangelic philanthropy—these are the elements not of Methodism only, or chiefly, or in any way distinctively, but of Christianity— Apostolical, Reformed, Puritan, Nonconformist — of the Christianity which gives peace to our own hearts and hallows our homes. Retribution, reconciliation, restoration—for ourselves and for our race, to the love and the likeness of God in Christ—these were the thoughts and words which kindled the soul of Paul, and ' turned the world upside down;' these words Luther read, believed, spake as in thunder, till Europe reverberated with the awful yet joyful sound; these words Baxter proclaimed in piercing tones, and Doddridge echoed in tones milder, but not less sincere; these words Robert Moffat translates into the barbarous languages of Africa, and the heathen believe and tremble—believe and love. If we were asked for the distinctive characteristics of Methodism, we should point to two, not to four. The first would be traced to the religious condition of England at the time when Wesley and his fellowlabourers began to preach; the second would be found in the prominence given in the Methodist preaching to the doctrine of the New Birth, in the likeness of God, and the enjoyment of the peace of God. The religious condition of England was that of professed faith in Christianity and real ignorance of it. The people were roused to think of the meaning of their own words—the words read in their churches, printed, though rarely read, in their family Bibles; recognised in baptisms, marriages, funerals, in courts of law, as well as in churches and houses. The masses of the people, when these truths were clearly and powerfully set before them by the Methodist preacher, did not deny, as would an infidel nation, like the French; or dispute, as would a sceptical nation, like the German; or reject, as would a popish nation, like the Spanish; but, in vast multitudes, they believed and turned to the Lord. The truth taught to them by these preachers was not chiefly the doctrine of justification bjr faith alone, as in Luther's day and to his hearers. Luther's (which is Paul's) doctrine on this subject was taught both by Wesley and Whitfield and the fellow-workers with them both; but in Wesley's ministry the chief place was given to the doctrine that we are born again through the truth, by the spirit; and that, by this new birth we enter upon a spiritual life, in which holiness secures happiness, purity gives and guards perfect peace, and the soul, bearing the image, is a partaker of the felicity, of the blessed God.
For description of the spiritual life, as a life of sanctity and bliss, Wesley's later writings are richer than those of any divine whose works were read currently in his day, or are so read in our own day in English homes.
It would be scarcely possible, even were it desirable, to consider the Form of Wesleyan Methodism apart from the unhappy and most baneful controversies which now agitate and convulse the Methodist Connexion. Mr. Taylor wishes to shun these waters of strife, but cannot entirely avoid them. He formally disclaims any intention of meddling in these disputes :—' Are we, then,' he says ' so bold as to entertain the thought of schooling the extant Wesleyan body; or do we propose to advise "Conference," or to utter judgment in causes now pending between it and any of its unruly members? Certainly to no such high purposes as these is the reader, in the present instance, to be made a party.' We make no such disclaimer. On the contrary, we apply ourselves to this part of the book mainly that we may gather from it suggestions to which thoughtful and dispassionate Wesleyans will do well to take heed. Mr. Taylor modestly asks—' May there not be room for the intervention of any whose only solicitudes and whose only jealousies relate to that Christianity which is common to all evangelic bodies?' We are sure there is both room and need for such intervention: and though the Wesleyan Conference and its official writers have hitherto met with frowns or sneers all the counsels offered to them by persons not of their own body, we shall not be deterred from laying before such of the Methodist preachers and people as may read these pages some counsels suggested by Mr. Taylor's book in its bearing on the present state of the Wesleyan church, and prompted by a sincere and prayerful desire for the healing of their divisions and the restoration of their prosperity and peace.
The form of Wesleyan Methodism Mr. Taylor considers as fourfold, namely:—
I. A scheme of evangelical aggression. II. A system of religious discipline and instruction as toward the people;
III. A hierarchy, or system of spiritual government;
IV. An establishment or body corporate, related to civil law and equity.
With the section on evangelic aggression, few, if any, persons will differ. Itinerancy, with the greatest and best of the preachers as the chief, the most laborious itinerants, all will confess to be one of the mightiest agencies for spreading the knowledge of Christ and for arousing the attention of those in whom even the name of Jesus had ceased to inspire intelligent reverence and love.
The section on religious discipline brings forward matter which, when present controversies have subsided, must give rise to discussions not inferior in importance even to those now so violently agitated. At present all the divisions of the Wesleyan family adhere to itinerancy. The old body is bound to it by civil law. We fear some of the younger bodies have forged similar fetters for themselves. All of them prefer an itinerant ministry, either from prejudice, or choice, or a sense of its necessity, in the absence of pastors fully educated for their work. Yet in the different Methodist churches there are individuals— preachers and laymen also—who begin to see and feel that, however efficient the preaching of itinerants may be in the work of aggression, it is most painfully inefficient for the discipline and instruction of the people, and especially of those among the people who had received a good education, and have been trained in Christian families. To the preacher himself, the itinerant plan is almost an unmixed evil. It deprives him of the stimulus to systematic study, which nearly all minds find to be indispensable, especially in these days of desultory reading and attendance upon public meetings. It tends to injure the minister in respect to some of the highest moral qualities which a pastor should possess, depriving him of that permanent interest in the peace and prosperity of his flock, which would render it almost impossible that he should rend and scatter it in deference to any of the maxims promulgated by the Conference regarding pastoral power. Nor are the evils of itinerancy chiefly felt by the preachers. The people are deprived by it of the complete instruction in religious truth and moral duty to which the resident pastor is led for the refreshment and solace of his own heart, as well as for the benefit of his hearers. In particular, it renders next to impossible that continued exposition of entire books of scripture which has long been cultivated by ministers and valued by congregations in Scotland, and is becoming more common in England. Such expository discourses can be given only by the minister who has leisure 'among his lexicons and his commentaries, in his study, the blessed place of his converse with all minds and with heaven, for perpetually extending and retaining his acquisition as a Biblical expositor,' and who addresses the same congregation regularly and frequently from year to year. There is to the people a greater disadvantage even than this forfeiture of the chief benefits of pulpit instruction, in the absence from their homes of that pastoral influence which can be acquired only when the pastor is the faithful and beloved friend, the friend whose tears have often mingled with his people's tears in their sorrows, and whose smiles have reflected and multiplied their joys; whom they have known so long and so well, that he is nearer to their hearts than any earthly friend, except those who form their own family circle.
The class-leader is not unfrequently thus endeared by sympathy, in gladness and in grief, to the members of his class. The travelling preacher, however gentle and affectionate, cannot be so to his flock. Itinerancy sternly forbids the formation of a relationship so tender and so pre-eminently Christian, or rudely breaks it as soon as its strength and sweetness are beginning to be felt. To one who knows what it is to be a pastor, or to have one, in the true meaning of the term, it is most mournful to read the hard disputes about the pastoral authority which now fill Wesleyan publications. The struggle for the power to expel is indeed a sad spectacle. The true pastor obtains power without struggling for it, or even speaking of it, or thinking about it; but it is power not proclaimed and paraded, not seen, except by its results. It is the power of superior knowledge, wisdom, and piety; and of counsels given in the meekness of wisdom, and obeyed not of constraint, but willingly,—obeyed from the heart.
Mr. Taylor has sketched such a pastor. We may venture to conjecture that it is no fancy picture, but one drawn from the hallowed remembrace of the pastoral home in which his own early years were spent. He speaks of—
'The exhibition—from year to year, of fervent, consistent piety, in its aspects of wisdom, meekness, self-command, devotedness, in the person of the loved and revered father of his congregation—the man who is greeted on the threshold of every house by the children, and whose hand is seized as a prize by whoever can first win it—the man who is always first thought of in the hour of domestic dismay or anguish—the man whose saddened countenance, when he must administer rebuke, inflicts a pain upon the guilty, the mere thought of which avails for much in the hour of temptation. It is the pastor, an affection for whom has, in the lapse of years, become the characteristic of a neighbourhood, and the bond of love among those who otherwise would not have had one feeling in common.'—p. 244.
As the local preachers, whom Mr. Taylor unduly depreciates, are most efficient allies in the 'aggressive' work of Methodism; so the class-leaders are more than allies, they are the chief agents in the work of Christian training. With respect to classmeetings, Mr. Taylor is completely mistaken. We may be sure, as we read his pages, that he has never 'met in class.' Had he done so with a class-leader of not more than average intelligence and experience in the Christian life, he would not have supposed that the class meetings resemble the confessional, and that those who attend them listen to those polluting disclosures of inward corruption which are poured into the ear and defile the soul of the Romish priest. The class-leader does not demand an'unrcserved' exposure of a week's sin and temptation. Still less do the members * disgorge before all, with remorseless disregard of delicacy, reserve, and diffidence, all the moral ills of the past seven days.' The real defect generally is just the opposite of these. The answers to the leader's question tend to become almost as stereotyped as the question itself, and the meeting degenerates into a formal routine, like the questions and answers of a catechism. Still, notwithstanding defects to which all human institutions are liable, the class ,