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no immediate occasion of alarm. The experiments which have been made in vain at all these points, form ground of confidence in the integrity both of the Conference and the civil government
Hence, instead of the societies being scattered at the death of Mr. Wesley, as was anticipated, they struck their roots still deeper, and extended their branches wider. Sayz Mr. Jackson : 66 Extensive revivals broke out in several places; new societies were formed, and older ones were quickened and augmented; and many chapels, of various sizes, were erected and enlarged. Within ten years after Mr. Wesley's death the societies were increased in Great Britain alone more than forty thousand members, and in twenty years they were increased upward of one hundred thousand."
Mr. Wesley continued his labors and triumphs after this as before, without much interruption of health, till March 2, 1791, when he departed this life in glorious hope of a blissful immortality, in the cighty-eighth year of his age, and the sixty-fourth of his ministry ; leaving numerous and flourishing societies throughout Great Britain and Ireland, the Isle of Wight, the Isle of Man, the United States, Canada, and Newfoandland, all cherishing the same faith, enjoying the same religion, and walking by the same rules. The socie. ties in America were then divided in thirteen Conferences, and embraced 250 itinerant preachers, and more than 63,000 members.
The latter part of Mr. Wesley's career differed in one respect from the former. His early travels were constantly interrupted by mobs, and other persecutions, which not only embarrassed his work but often endangered his life. But God permitted him to live to command the respect and veneration of his greatest enemies. His old age was honored
with all the attention that was safe for any man to receive. “The churches in London were generally closed against him in 1738; but now he had more applications to preach m those very churches, for the benefit of public charities, than he could possibly comply with. His visits to many places in the country created a sort of general festival. The people crowded around him as he passed along the streets; the windows were filled with eager gazers; the children waited to catch the good man's smile, which the overflowing benignity of his heart rendered him ever willing to bestow. When he first went into Cornwall, accompanied by John Nelson, he plucked blackberries from the hedges to allay the cravings of hunger; and slept upon boards, having his saddle-bags for a pillow, till the bones cut through his skin. Now he was received, in that county especially, as an angel of God. On the 17th of August, 1789, on visiting Falmouth, he says, “The last time I was here, above forty years ago, I was taken prisoner by an immense mob, gaping and roaring like lions. But how is the tide turned! High and low now lined the street from one end of the town to the other, out of stark love, gaping and staring as if the king were going by.'” — Cent. of Methodism, p. 143.
Thus, integrity to God is often honored even in this world. Whatever injustice, prejudice, and calumny, may heap upon our names for a time, if we take it patiently, and plod on in the way of well-doing, redemption will come, and Haman shall be compelled by his own convictions to honor the same Mordecai he would have hanged.
DIFFICULTIES ABOUT THE SACRAMENTS,
PLAN OF PACIFT
CATION," AND MISSIONARY OPERATIONS.
THE tenacity with which Mr. Wesley adhered to the Established Church has already been mentioned. He required nothing as a condition of membership in his secieties, nor indeed allowed any conduct among his adherents which was inconsistent with his relations to the church, or conformity to its lawful requisitions. He held no service in the chapels during the time of regular service in the church, but attended that service himself, and enjoined upon his followers to do the same. Nor would he allow the preachers to administer the sacraments, but required the members of the society to attend upon the sacrament in the church. His preaching places must not be called churches, but chapels ; his helpers, not clergymen, but lay preachers; and the assemblies of his people, mere societies.
But he did not maintain this course without considerable difficulty, nor without strong apprehensions that something like a separation would ultimately take place. The repulsion of Methodists and Methodist preachers from the sacrament, and the infliction of cruel persecution from a domineering priesthood, created a general distrust of the piety of its incumbents, and a consequent disinclination to attend upon their ministry. Of course, there was a loud call for the sacraments in the chapels, which could not be fully answered without seeming to dissent from the establishment. Mr. Wesley's personal influence went far in moderating this demand, but was hardly sufficient. At all events, he found it necessary to administer the sacrament himself in some of the chapels, and to secure similar service from several others of the regular clergy who were interested in his objects.
This was the state of things at his death, when all eyes turned to the Conference for some accommodation. To prevent the administration of the sacraments to the people by their own preachers was impossible. The Conference had no power to do it, had it been disposed. “The question, ” says Mr. Watson, “stood on plain practical ground : "Shali the societies be obliged, from their conscientious scruples, to neglect an ordinance of God? or shall we drive them to the dissenters, whose peculiar doctrines they do not believe ? or shall we, under certain regulations, accede to their wishes?!"
The Conference was very unwilling at first to do any thing on the subject. They were delicately situated. They had always been taught to regard themselves as a society in the church, and not a church by themselves. With this understanding, many of their most wealthy and pious members had been induced to join, and were at that moment holding important offices of trust, who still regarded the church as their mother, and looked only to her for the valid administration of the ordinances. The Conference was aware how the change demanded would affect such people, and felt compelled to move cautiously. But their prudent tardiness and delay did not quiet the public mind. Discus sion waxed warmer and warmer. The leading men in the Conference were on opposite sides, and the prospect for peace was dubious. A majority, however, agreed that the
preachers might administer the ordinances where a majority in the society was in favor. This gave the high church party great offence, and created no little disturbance. They next, for peace's sake, retracted a little, and allowed the sacraments only where there was no objection. This only increased the difficulty, as it gave the power to a single churchman to bind all the rest of the society. The contention now became intolerable. High church trustees shut several of the chapels against low church preachers ; con gregations were divided; many seceded from the society, and things looked threatening indeed. What could be done ? The conference was as much divided as the people. Mr. Benson was high church, Mr. Moore, Mr. Wesley's biographer, was low church, and both had been in the same circuit, serving different parties to the controversy.
The opening of the Conference of 1795 was a critical period. Excitement had reached the culminating point. Argument was exhausted. All seemed to feel that the decisions of this session would decide the fate of the Wesleyan body; and yet it was obvious that no action, however wise, would please all, and prevent a separation of some from the connection. The alternation of hope and fear could be distinguished in every countenance. Many a pious heart trembled for the ark of God. Trustees and stewards from all parts of the kingdom were assembled in the lobby, to speak for themselves and their constituents, and by all lawful means to persuade the Conference to favor the preferences of their respective parties. Some would secede if the Conference should do thus and thus; and others would secede if it should not. The Conference heard all; and, fully impressed with the delicacy of their position, entered upon their work like men of God, determined to take no advantage that did not belong to