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members, if they were aware of any breach of any of the rules by any of the members, to name the matter as he proceeded. Now one of the rules forbade the putting on of gold or costly apparel; yet several of the members of our class put on both. So when he came to that rule, I asked why it was not enforced. The leader seemed confused. One of the offenders was the wife of one of the travelling preachers, and another was the wife of an influential layman, and both were customers at his store, and he had never entertained a thought, I imagine, of running the risk of offending them by rebuking them for their offences; so he muttered something in the way of excuse and then passed on. The truth was, that the rule, though copied from the New Testament, and regarded by Mr. Wesley as of great importance, was no longer considered binding either by the preachers or the leading members. The reading of the rules in the class was merely a form, and my remarks, instead of inducing my offending class-mates to return to the old Methodist custom, only caused them and those who sided with them, to look on me as a troubler of Israel.
2. I got myself into a little trouble on a later occasion at a local preachers' meeting. It was the custom at those meetings for the superintendent preacher to read over the names of the local preachers, and to request any brother who knew of any breach of rule by any of his brethren, to name the matter. When the name of Mr. H. was read over, I stated that he had been guilty of evil speaking against one of his brethren. I gave the particulars, and the offence was acknowledged, but the offending brother was not without excuse, and the business of the meeting proceeded. But there was a very strong feeling in the minds of many that such attempts as I was making to press neglected rules on the attention of the meeting, ought not to be encouraged; and my endeavors to enforce consistency brought down upon me many sharp rebukes.
3. Among the books that I read in those early days was Mason on Self-knowledge. I found some excellent remarks on temperance and frugality in this work. I met with some similar remarks in translating portions of the writings of Seneca and Cicero. In a conversation that I had with one of the travelling preachers, and a person that was sup
MEETS WITH DISCOURAGEMENTS.
plying the place of another travelling preacher, I quoted the beautiful sentiments which I had been reading and translating, and added some remarks of my own, with a view to recommend attention to the lessons they inculcated. The travelling preacher remained silent, but his companion answered me with a scornful laugh, and said, there was no need to urge such matters on them, for they had not the means to be anything else but frugal and temperate. This was neither true nor courteous, and though I made no answer, it left an impression on my mind by no means favorable to the wisdom and piety of those who, at that time, were placed over me as my teachers and guides.
4. Though I met with such poor encouragement in my early efforts to reform or check abuses among my brethren, I still persisted in my course, even after I became a travelling preacher. It was the custom of the richer members of society to have large parties, to which they invited each other and the preachers and their families. At many of these parties there was a good deal of drinking, and a serious waste of money on many things that were not only useless but injurious. And each family tried to outdo the rest in the costliness of their parties. I regarded this custom as anti-Christian, and tried to get it changed for something better. I thought the money wasted on drink and hurtful luxuries would be better spent in doing good. In some cases I referred to the words of Christ about making feasts, recorded in Luke xiv. 12-14; but no one seemed to think Christ's rule to be binding on professing Christians now. Even my brother ministers thought me 'needlessly particular, and helped to render my efforts for reform both unsuccessful, and productive of disagreeable results.
5. The custom of treating the rich who came to our chapels with more respect than the poor, was as prevalent probably when I became a minister, as it was in the days of James. I often saw the officials of the church conducting gailydressed people to comfortable pews, while they left such as were poorly clad to stand in the aisles, or to find their way into seats themselves; and on some occasions I showed dissatisfaction with such proceedings.
6. It was customary to have society meetings in each place once a quarter, and at these meetings I used to refer to
what I thought amiss in the conduct of professors, and to urge attention to such lessons of Christ and His Apostles as seemed to be generally overlooked or forgotten. On some occasions too on week nights, instead of preaching a regular sermon, I used to give a kind of lecture or exhortation, in which I presented a summary of neglected duties, and read over the passages of Scripture in which they were enjoined, making remarks on them. There were many matters pertaining to marriage, to the education and government of children, and to domestic duties generally; and there were matters pertaining to trade, to social intercourse, to mental improvement, and the like, on which preachers, as a rule, were entirely silent in their sermons, from the beginning of the year to the end. Yet many of these matters were of the utmost importance, and for want of information on them many religious people were neither so happy themselves, nor so useful to others, as they ought to be. On these matters I spoke in as plain and faithful a way as possible. I cautioned the young against wasting their time, advised them to spend their leisure hours in reading and writing, told them what books to read, and how to read them, showed them the most profitable plan of reading the Bible, warned them against bad company, and advised them not to spend too much time even in good company. I urged them, if they thought of being preachers, to endeavor to be preachers of the highest order, workmen that needed not to be ashamed, rightly distributing the word of truth. And whether they thought of being preachers or not, I urged them to improve their talents, and to become as wise, as able and as useful as possible. Many were delighted, and reduced my lessons to practice. Others however took offence, and repaid my endeavors to do them good with uncharitable censures.
7. It was the custom in the Body to which I belonged to keep the doors of the annual conference closed against all but those who were sent as delegates by the circuits. I and a few others thought this course led to inconsiderate, and, in some cases, to unjust and oppressive measures, and in 1835 I wrote a letter on the subject to the Christian Advocate. My remarks were not agreeable to the leading members of conference, and I was instantly called to account and
MEETS WITH DISCOURAGEMENTS.
severely censured, and threatened with the heaviest punishment if ever I offended so grievously again. The reason why my letter proved so offensive was probably its truthfulness, for the change I recommended was afterwards adopted, though not till the old objectionable system had produced most disastrous consequences.
8. One rule of the Connexion to which I belonged forbade the preachers to marry till after they had been engaged in the ministry from four to five years or upwards. This regulation seemed to me to be the cause of serious evils. Some of these evils I had myself experienced, and others I had seen in the conduct and mishaps of many of my brethren. The reason assigned for the law seemed to me to be not only insufficient, but to be a disgrace to a body of Christians situated as we were. I urged an alteration or a repeal of the law, recommending conference to take out the best and ablest men as ministers, whether they were married or not, and to allow such ministers as were single to marry whenever they thought fit, and to urge the churches to provide for the additional expense of married preachers by a little additional liberality. There were members that wasted as much on one foolish and mischievous party, as would have made up the difference between a single man's salary and a married man's salary. There were members that spent as much in intoxicating drinks as would have kept a married preacher or two out and out. There were tradesmen that could have supported five or six preachers out of their yearly profits, if they had been as liberal as the old selfish Jews were required to be. If they had been as liberal as Christians are required to be,-if they had loved their neighbors, or Jesus, or God, as they loved themselves, they could have supported twenty preachers, and still retained enough to keep their families in comfort and plenty, and to carry on and extend their businesses too. To shut good men out of the ministry because they were married, and take in doubtful men because they were single, was, in my view, disgraceful and inexcusable. But in this also I was considered wrong by the rulers of the Connexion, and was once more censured and admonished for what was considered my presumptuous interference.
9. Fifty years ago, and for some years after, almost every
body used to drink intoxicating drinks. Ale and beer, wine and spirits, were as freely used as tea and coffee, and were taken in great quantities by many even in the church and ministry. I remember once, while yet a local preacher, going round with Mr. Etchells, a new minister in my native town, on his first pastoral visits, to show him where the principal members of the church lived. He was invited to drink at every house, and never failed to comply with the invitations. I saw him drink sixteen glasses of beer, wine and spirits, on that one round, occupying only two or three hours. This same minister prosecuted Mr. Farrar, his superintendent, for drunkenness, and got him suspended. Whether his superintendent drank more than he or not, I do not know, but he did not keep up appearances so well. He showed himself drunk in the pulpit,-so drunk, on one or two occasions, that he was unable to speak plainly, or even to stand steadily. He also fell down in the streets sometimes, and had to be carried home. His colleague did not commit himself in such ways, though he drank enough at times in one day to make half a dozen sober people drunk.
The leading member in the Methodist church, Richard Wilson, opened the first wine and spirit store at Bramley, and corrupted the whole country round with his wares, doing far more for the devil and sin than the preachers could do for God and holiness. Yet no one seemed to think there was anything dishonorable or diabolical in the busi
At a social party to which I was invited at Leeds, consisting of preachers and leading members of the church, one man, a preacher, got so drunk, that he became a most distressing spectacle. I cannot describe his mishaps. There were others who ought to have committed themselves in the same sad way, for they drank as much, and even more, but they had stronger constitutions, or were better seasoned.
At Liverpool, my first station, every one on whom the preachers called in their pastoral rounds, asked them to drink. Even Dr. Raffles, the popular Congregational minister, had wine and cakes brought out, when I and my superintendent called on him one morning. Wine and cakes, or cakes and spirits, were placed on the table by all who were not too poor to buy such things, and