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wish them well, and rejoice in their multiplication, if it be done fairly. The least they can do for us is to provoke us to good works; and the more stimulants we have in this direction, the better. Some thousands, probably, withdrew from the church and turned Protestants. The number, how. ever, could not have been very great, or else the church was peculiarly favored, for we observe by the minutes, that our increase in 1829 was about thirty thousand members, and one hundred and seventy-five preachers, notwithstanding the loss of eight or nine thousand by the separation of the Canada Conference. The next year it was nearly the
The Protestants now report 423 travelling preachers, 250 local, and 65,000 church members. Whether they are more happy or useful under their new system is a question. It is, however, certain their expectations have not been realized ; nor can they be, while the old church displays the piety, good serise and conciliation which have characterized her past history.
GREAT REVIVAL OF RELIGION
-AND THE GENERAL CONFERENCES OF 1840 AND 1844.
From the year 1840 to the year 1844, a general revival of religion prevailed throughout the country. This has been attributed to various causes. The real exciting cause was, doubtless, the out-pouring of the Spirit of God upon the public heart, directing attention to the subject. While we believe that the Spirit operates more or less at all times, and upon all minds, and that all good thoughts, purposes, and emotions, are attributable to its influence, we cannot doubt that it is occasionally shed forth in peculiar copiousness and power, arousing Christians to an unusual degree of spiritual interest, and begetting tenderness on the minds of others. This seems to have been the case at the time referred to; one evidence of which was, that numerous little prayer meetings were instituted, to pray especially for a revival of religion and the conversion of sinners. There was a pretty general conviction among evangelical Chris. tians that it was time for God to work, and they were so anxious to see a revival they exerted themselves with a degree of earnestness, appropriateness, and energy, scarcely ever witnessed among some of them since the days of Whitefield. While, therefore, we attribute the work to God, as its efficient author, we recognize peculiar Christian exertion as its means. If it originated in a remarkable out-pouring of the Spirit, it was encouraged and carried forward instrumentally by a remarkable effort. Measures which had been repudiated as repugnant to the true philosophy of revivals, were now introduced and pushed with much fervor. The laity were called into action, foreign aid was invoked, evan. gelists were flyirg from field to field, and the work of saving souls was made the all-absorbing object.
Another circumstance probably had considerable effect. We refer to the emphatic inculcation of the doctrine of Christ's second coming and the transactions which are to follow. Various ministers of different denominations heralded these truths all over the land with great pathos and power. The errors with which they were associated did not lessen their influence, but rather rendered them more impressive. Taken together, the presentation was an alarming affair. Some of the sermons delivered on different occasions were almost enough to frighten“ the very elect," and it would not have been wonderful if many had plunged into hopeless despair. For the argument was so nicely drawn that few could see its fallacy; the honesty and devotion of many of the speakers so manifest, they could not well be questioned; and the sentiments inculcated so exciting in their tendency, that none but very good or very bad people could hear them proclaimed without trembling for their own safety. Hence, while few believed the doctrine that Christ would come in 1843, many feared it; and having full confidence in the divine reality and importance of religion, they were impelled to seek it then, whereas, under other circumstances, they might have remained impenitent. But still they were really converted. Though it was a mistake which stimulated them to action, the process they pursued was right, and the result pure. The mistake had no other influence in this regard, than to prompt them to seek religion then; which done, they found peace in believing. But it afterwards became identified with so many other heresies it poisoned all who came under its influence, and interposed one of the greatest obstacles to the progress of religion that has ever been contrived. This we believe to be a just view of the subject, in general. There were, doubtless, instances in which religion and Millerism were so combined, that, when the error of the latter was demonstrated, all confidence in the former was abandoned.
Under all these circumstances, it is not improbable that some improper measures were employed, or that others were carried to extremes, and operated to produce more chaff than wheat. But, notwithstanding, there was much wheat gathered. It is true many fell away, but not a larger proportion, we think, than is usual. When it is said that the Methodist Episcopal Church suffered a net decrease of more than fifty thousand members, between the years 1844 and 1847, it should be remembered that in 1843 her net increase was 154,634; and the year following, 102,831 ; making a net increase in two years of 257,465 members; thus exceeding all precedent by tens of thousands. The ordinary ratio of apostasies, therefore, accounts for an appalling decrease, without disparaging the character of the work in the least.
But other items come into this account that are important to the calculation. During this time, there was a vigorous effort made by come-outers of different classes to break down the churches, and scatter them to the four winds, While the revival was in progress, their influence was partly counteracted; but as the excitement abated they became more successful. This, taken in connection with the fact that there was scarcely a revival in the country, and that
thousands of church members die annually, goes far to explain the decrease conceded, and leaves little to charge to the mismanagement of the revival under consideration ; and especially if it be remembered that many of the converts were treated by certain ministers and laymen more as dupes or hypocrites, than as the lambs of Christ's flock.
But some, we are aware, take other views of the subject, and, we fear, have so far fallen out with God's method of converting sinners that they will do little good at present. It is certain they will never make many genuine converts by preaching against excitement and ridiculing revival
But still there is hope for them. Some have already run so low, their churches become so sleepy and cold, and their congregations so thin, they are about willing to let the Lord work in any way, and by whomsoever he will. And others will have to come to the same point, and abandon their freezing operations, or they will find themselves forsaken of both God and man, as is really best they should, unless they change their course.
Another question intimately connected with the history of the church in those times was that of slavery. Mr. Wesley having early taken a bold stand against this evil, and published a tract condemning it and its abettors, in the inost sweeping terms, his followers emigrating to the country, or coming as missionaries, were in no mood to treat it with the moderation the popular sentiment required. The first Conference, which was held in 1780, came down upon it with a vengeance, declaring it to be " contrary to the laws of God, man, and nature, contrary to the dictates of conscience and pure religion, and doing that which we would not that others should do to us." Here the war began, which continued with more or less severity until the year 1824, when the Discipline received its present form. But