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managed matters, both civil and religious, much in their own way, and excluded all dissenters from their territory. They now number 3,233 ministers, 323,679 church members. The Baptists have had nearly the same time to multiply, their first church having been formed by Roger Williams in 1638. The regular Calvinistic Baptists now number 12,598 min. isters, and 1,633,939 members. The first presbytery in the country was organized in 1705, about eighty years before the organization of our church ; and, in common with the other leading denominations, the Presbyterians have done a great and good work. The Old and New Schools together embrace 6,241 ministers, and 675,042 members. The Protestant Episcopal Church has been less successful, though it commenced its operations in the very infancy of the colonies, and had much to favor it till after the Revolution. It at present numbers 3,095 ministers, and 254,857 members. Other denominations have done well, and have contributed greatly to the religious influence of the country, but are less numerous.
Now, when it is considered that the first Methodist missionary to this country arrived in 1769, and that the church was not organized until 1784, and has since had to contend with poverty and prejudices incident to no other Christian body that has attained to any considerable importance in the community, and that Methodism now numbers in its sereral divisions 19,156 ministers, and 3,031,988 members, it must be conceded that it has been wonderfully favored.
Another view of the subject will indicate this truth with equal distinctness. In 1795 the different Methodist Churches numbered 60,604 members, which was about one to every sixty of the whole population of the country. They now embrace about one in every six of the present population --showing a proportionate increase, exceeding that of
the rapid increase of the population of the country, as three to one. Now, with all respect to sister denominations, and we certainly entertain a high regard for them, we affirm that the like advancement is not to be seen in the progress of any one above mentioned. Indeed, several of them have fost nearly in the proportion that we have gained, and no one of them has increased in the same ratio by a very large per centum, notwithstanding tens of thousands who have been converted among us have united with them.
What has given us this peculiar distinction, is a question that wise men have solved differently. Some say one thing and some another; but all, who trace it to any single circumstance abstract from others, evidently err, not fully comprehending the system in all its parts.
It cannot be attributed to our doctrines, merely, for others have preached the same. Nor to our literary attainments, for in this respect we are frank to acknowledge ourselves behind some other denominations. Though many of our preachers are literary men, and have astonished the world by their productions, the mass lay no claim to this character. They have, however, been grossly misrepresented by certain clerical pretenders, who have not distinguished themselves for modesty and good breeding, however profound their learning. But some of these have had their reward in the mortification of seeing their enlightened hearers forsake them to attend upon the more tangible and effective ministrations of their itinerating neighbors. They may yet learn that ministerial education does not consist in mere sheepskin diplomas, and that it is not policy to ridicule whom God and his people “delight to honor."
Had Methodists been rich in this world's goods, their success might have been attributed to this cause ; but, like the Saviour and his early disciples, they have generally been poor. They could not appeal to the pride and vanity of the world, by erecting splendid churches, and otherwise making a great display, if they were disposed. They have had to preach in private dwellings, school-houses, barns, and in the open air, till they could erect churches. And many of these, for the want of means, have had to be small, an:1 often out of place, and uninviting. And the world has looked on and mocked, and professors of religion have not unfrequently joined in the sport. This same cause has been an occasion of reproach to preachers, who have often had to live in a style directly calculated to lesser. the respect of community for them, and also for their enterprise.
We cannot trace this prosperity to any one instrumental cause,
se, and say, that is it; for it is evidently attributable to many causes.
Our doctrines, our style of presenting them, our itinerancy, and other prudential regulations, have all had an influence. No one item in our economy has been without effect in pushing forward this grand consummation ; and we think some of the least prominent of our measures have been most effective. God has seemed to approve the whole movement, and crown every honest and faithful endeavor with his blessing. To him we ascribe all the glory. He has gone before his people, and led them as a shepherd his flock, into green pastures and beside the still waters. He has attended them in dangers, and made a way for their escape. In difficulties he has been their helpei, suggesting measures, suppressing prejudices, converting foes to friends, and begetting interest and liberality where there was enmity and covetousness.
Numerous instances have occurred where the influential, supported by the rabble, as usual, have determined the Methodists should not make a stand among them, and united to prevent it; and not unfrequently the ininister of
she place has taken a leading part in the conspiracy. But, notwithstanding their vigilance and power, Methodism has taken root, and become established; and would have been alike successful in more places of the kind, had its friends been true to their principles.
From this hasty sketch it must appear to every reader, who is not blinded by prejudice, that Methodism has been peculiarly successful. A little more than one hundred years ago, it had no organized existence upon the face of the earth. Some eight or ten persons then came to Mr. Wesley, who appeared to be deeply convinced of sin, and earnestly groaning for redemption. Here was the nucleus around which we now behold this mighty array.
Has not the little one,” indeed, “ become a thousand ?” This movement occurred in the city of London, and, for aught that was known to the contrary, was to be limited to that great metropolis. No mortal could then foretell that it would be reënacted in any other place. It was a mere trifle, a circumstance that might have occurred a hundred times without public notice, and indicated nothing remarkable. But, like the “grain of mustard seed (which is the least of all seeds") that became the “greatest among herbs,” this germ has shot forth its branches over the four quarters of the globe, and innumerable birds lodge therein.
What its destiny is, we are unable to foretell. But if, with such means, against such fearful odds, and under so many discouraging circumstances, it has achieved such results, what may we not anticipate if we walk by the same rules and mind the same things? The gospel is no less eficacious now than formerly, and people are, probably, about as susceptible of being affected by it. Only let the church maintain the simplicity and faith of the fathers, and employ her improving facilities for doing good as she ought, and