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The country was divided into circuits, to each of which, according to its size, two or three preachers were assigned, and over them was placed a superior preacher or superintendent. It was one of Wesley's plans, which he engrafted permanently on Methodism, that no preacher should occupy the same station long. They were often removed at the end of

year.

Two

years was the usual period of their stay. The Conference was not permitted to extend it beyond three years.

But the preacher was advised by Wesley, in his itinerancy, rarely to occupy a preaching station above six or eight weeks.

“Were I to preach one whole year in one place,” he says, “I should preach both myself and my congregation asleep. Neither can a man find matter for preaching every morning and evening, nor will the people come to hear him.”

No doubt the rule was effectual for its object. It stimulated and attracted an audience. But it marks, in Wesley's mind, a misunderstanding of the nature of the pastoral office, and of the true source of pastoral influence. The idea arose indeed from Wesley's peculiar character and his sphere of action. His work was to rouse and awaken men--and to pass on. But in making this, the preparatory work of the missionary, the regular function of the minister, he introduced a principle of weakness into his polity, and lowered as well as limited its sphere.

The office of the Methodist preacher was to visit the towns or hamlets within his district, to preach every

evening, teach from house to house, visit the sick, and meet the members of the Society.

It was necessary further to make provision for the preachers' maintenance. Their demands were at first small, and their life, in the early stage of Methodism, was one of hardship. When one of the early preachers died, all the money he left was one shilling and four pence; not enough for his burial, but “enough,” says Wesley, “for any unmarried preacher of the Gospel to leave to his executors.” But, when monied men joined the body, some more adequate provision became indispensable. The Stewards were resorted to, and the funds gathered from the Methodist Society were put under contribution. Four shillings * a day was the allowance to a wife, during the absence of her husband; twenty shillings a quarter to each child; eighteen-pence (we smile at the stint) was added when the preacher was at home; four-pence for breakfast, six-pence for dinner, four-pence for tea, and the same for supper.

The school at Kingswood, built by the liberality of the richer converts, superintended by the minute directions of Wesley, was to serve as the Refuge for the preachers' sons. The worn-out preacher, or the preacher's widow, were to receive ten pounds yearly; the children a gift of ten pounds. But, on the other hand, every travelling preacher was to pay one guinea when he entered on his work in the Society, and half a guinea yearly.

* Wesley says (vol. viii. p. 314, 315) that every circuit was to provide her with a lodging, coal, and candle, or allow her £15. a year.

CHAPTER V.

THE TEACHERS.

WESLEY felt it to be indispensable to impress on those who co-operated with him, a general impulse, and to preserve unity of purpose, and uniformity of teaching. During Wesley's life, the machine felt the pressure of the master's hand. None ever enjoyed greater confidence on the part of his followers, or exercised over them a more undisputed sway. No Grand Master of the Templars, or Jesuits, ever reached so absolute a power. For Wesley's power was not that of force, but of affection. It grew out of the reverence felt by the disciple for a teacher whom he loved. Wesley called the preachers to labor under him, as "sons in the Gospel;” and filial was the deference with which they regarded him.

Their feelings towards him furnished interesting evidence of the single-mindedness as well as energy of the

There was indeed, in his handling of his follow

man.

ers, no effeminacy, but the firmness of a strong mind. The discipline was austere : early rising-hard work frugal fare. “Do you eat,” he says,* “no more at each meal than is necessary? Do you drink water ? Why not? Did you ever ? Why did you leave it off? If not for health, when will you begin again ? to-day ? How often do you drink wine or ale ? every day? Do you want it?” Again,

“Be diligent; never be unemployed a moment; never be triflingly employed.

“Do not affect the gentleman. You have no more to do with this character, than with that of a dancing-master. A preacher of the Gospel is the servant of all.”

“Be ashamed of nothing but sin; not of fetching wood (if time permit) or of drawing water; not of cleaning your own shoes, or your neighbours.”

Wesley exacted entire obedience. “Be punctual," he says ; “Do everything exactly at the time; and, in general, do not mend our rules, but keep them."

“Act in all things not according to your own will, but as a son in the Gospel. If you labour with me in our Lord's vineyard, it is needful that you should do that part of the work which we advise, at those times and places which we judge most for His glory."

He watched over the preachers' studies with the

* Vol. viii. p. 311.

minute direction of a schoolmaster, adapting his counsels to the individual case. One was no reader of books. “You do not read; hence your talent in preaching does not increase ; there is little variety, no compass of thought. Reading only can supply this, with daily meditation and daily prayer. Oh, begin !

Fix some part of

every day for private exercises. Whether you like it or not, read and pray daily! It is for your life. There is no other way; else you will be a trifler all your days, a pretty superficial preacher." *

Writing to another, who was clever, but desultory, he bids him follow the exact course of reading he prescribed; and take it in the order he advised. “If you want more books, let me recommend more, who best understand your scheme.”

To one that ran the risk of being a bookworm, he says-—"Beware you be not swallowed up in books; an ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge.”

His directions on preaching were practical and wise.t

“Always suit your subject to your audience. Take care not to ramble, but keep to your text. Take care of anything awkward or affected, either in your gesture, phrase, or pronounciation. Avoid quaint words. Do not usually pray above eight or ten minutes (at most) without intermission; and conclude the service in an hour."

His own style was sharp and clear. He enforced this on others. I

“ Clearness is necessary for you and Southey ii. 78. * Vol. viii. 305. # Southey ii. 79.

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