THE ORDINATION AND SACRAMENT QUESTION, &c.
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At ten o’clock the London and Bristol trustees were admitted. Mr. Pine was spokesman. He read an address and resolutions. They were:
1. That there be no ordination, no ecclesiastical titles among the preachers; that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper never be administered by any who are not episcopally ordained; and that there be no preaching in church-hours in any place, except where the people without a dissenting voice are for it.
Here I cannot help remarking their wonderful [in]consistency. They agree that the spiritual concerns of the Societies be left to the preachers: yet they pretend to interfere with the Lord’s ordinances, times of preaching, &c. Are not these the spiritual concerns of the Society? And does not their first proposition contradict this latter? Lastly, they make a proposal “that all the preachers who are of their mind do unite with them, (unless the Conference grant their request,) and pledge themselves to give them all countenance and support.” Here you see they fully intend to divide us, that they may rule the roast. But know all men by these presents, that A. C. will never be a trustee-preacher. They would abolish ordinations and titles, merely that, being kept in a lower character, they might with the more propriety lord it over us. — If ordination and the sacraments be given up, some preachers will undoubtedly withdraw, among whom A. C. will be found. — Letter from the Bristol Conferences, 1794.
The regular Conference business is not yet entered into. Not one character yet examined. Yet we have been doing important business: you will see all, by and by. I told you J. Dutton was here. He is exactly the same thing he was. There are, it seems, objections against his preaching; and Mr. P., who has had them all detailed from Mr. B., says he thinks he will not be received into full connection. He told me the objections. They appear to me to be supremely ridiculous. Judge from a specimen: — J. Dutton has a text for every day in the week, which he takes from the calendar: J. B. made an electrifying-machine at Howden: J. B. uses hard words in his preaching, which the people cannot understand; such as exhibit, exaggerate, manifest, &c. Ha ha ha fbb1 Ibid.
The diameters were next gone into. Not one charge of moral evil against a soul. Three or four have left us, whom we would have expelled had they remained among us. What a mercy it is that God has permitted me to travel seventeen years, and there never was the smallest objection brought against me at any Conference, directly or indirectly! May He continue to preserve me! — Letter from the Manchester Conference, 1799.
THE ESSAY ON TOBACCO
I can tell you a piece of strange news. The Methodists of Congleton were remarkable for their immoderate attachment to tobacco, &c. When my pamphlet got to the place, it was read by several. Mr. and Mrs. Shadford, who had used this pernicious weed for forty years, gave it up at a stroke: the rest of the Society followed the example. They then began to mourn and pray for forgiveness. God poured out His Spirit upon them, and such a revival has taken place as hath seldom been heard of. The Society is more than doubled; and Mr. Reece, who is the assistant, and Mr. Shadford, both declared in Conference today that the whole of the revival was, under God, owing to the pamphlet. Mr. Shadford added, that both himself and his wife had great reason to magnify God for it, as they were now better in their health, in their souls, and in their circumstances. Mr. R. said, the pamphlet has got into all the neighboring Societies, and is doing immense good.
THE USEFUL SERMON 1794. —
With me it is a maxim, “The sermon that does good is a good sermon.” You remember Mr. Berwick mentioning a Mr. and Mrs. Broadhurst: he found peace at his class last Friday, and she found a clear sense of pardon under the sermon yesterday. This is worth my visit to Manchester. I dined at Mr. A_____’s, where I met Miss and Mary Marsden. I then met the select band, and great was our rejoicing together. In the evening I preached at Oldham-street to a very large congregation; but, as usual in that chapel, I made very poor work. I met the Society, which was at least two-thirds of the congregation, for most would stay; and found it a time of enlargement and power.