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proposed a variety of plans, which, if acted upon, would certainly have this effect. There is, however, another feature of the subject, which to my mind is, at least of equal, if not of greater importance, and that is,--How we may secure the permanence of the good effected, and ensure the stability of our members. It has ever been, and still is, a source of pain to the minds of all good men, that so many who run well for a season are hindered, fall from their steadfastness, and bring discredit on the cause of God; and that many of those who are steadfast in their liberty, bring forth so little fruit to the glory of God. To prevent or remedy these evils appears to me vastly important to the spiritual prosperity of our Churches. It perhaps may not be possible to discover a complete cure for them ; but this should not deter us from making an attempt to reduce their magnitude. A partial cure is better than unmitigated disease ; and improvement, however slight, is a step towards perfection. It has been said, that “a knowledge of the disease is half the cure.” What then, I would ask, are the causes of spiritual declension and apostacy in our Churches ? One of these causes undoubtedly is, resting in present attainments instead of going on to perfection. Another is, the neglect of the means of grace, public, private, and social. And a third is, the too slender and superficial knowledge of the word of God, with which many members of Churches rest satisfied. These I am persuaded are among the primary causes of spiritual declension and backsliding
To remedy the first of these evils, let those who preach the Word” follow in the track of some of the first Methodist Preachers, and press upon the consciences of the people the necessity of entire holiness, constant growth in grace, and in the knowledge and love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The leaders of our classes must pursue the same course in their addresses ; and the sum of our united exhortations must be the words of the Apostle, “ Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrines of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.” Young converts should especially be reminded that it is only by growing in grace, they can be either happy or useful; and that the neglect of this exposes them to the danger of making “ shipwreck of faith and a good conscience.” The first requisite to our Spiritual prosperity is, that we be holy, that we be filled with the Spirit. This cannot be too often or too forcibly impressed upon our minds. It should be engraven upon the palms of our hands, that “ without holiness we cannot see the Lord,”-in the manifestations of his love and mercy-in the displays of his gracious presence-in the conversion of sinners-and in the building up of Zion. Let but every member of our beloved Association seek, and never rest satisfied without the enjoyment of the “perfect love of God.” And “ Peace shall be within her walls, and prosperity within her palaces.” The work of God shall appear unto his servants, and “his glory unto their children;" and he shall* establish the work of our hands."
Neglect of the means of grace is another cause of spiritual declension, and this is usually consequent on a low state of grace in the heart, for when the love of God is supreme in the heart, His tabernacles will be amiable. The courts of his house will be esteemed the most delightful place on earth; and the communion of saints will form our choicest pleasure. In the spirit of love I would say to the elder members of our Societies, Be in this respect, ensamples to the younger; who will naturally be disposed to copy what they observe in you; be patterns worthy of imitation in your regular attention to every ordinance of God.
The Word of God contains the great rule of our faith and practice. It is easy to perceive, therefore, that if we have but a slight and superficial knowledge of the contents of that Word, our faith may be easily shaken; our practice may fall far below the standard which that Word erects; and we may be soon turned away from the hope of the Gospel. To this cause we may attribute a very large proportion of the numerous defections which take place
every year from Christian Churches. If such be the case, a diligent, prayerful, and connected reading of the Scriptures, would tend greatly to promote our holiness, usefulness, and steadfastness; and thus be the means of securing the spiritual prosperity of our Societies. To all our members I would therefore say, “ Search the Scriptures.” “ Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read ;" that you may be “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;" and, “That you may be filled with the knowledge of His will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” “ The Word of God,” says an old writer, “ is a magazine and storehouse of all comfort and consolation-a touchstone by which we are to try all our joys, hopes, and assurances--an apothecary's shop, or physician's dispensatory, out of which we may fetch all manner of medicines to cure all the diseases of our souls-a Spiritual Armoury, out of which we may fetch all manner of weapons, to conquer the devil and his temptations :--the sun of the Christian, his compass to sail to heaven by, and his staff to walk withal to heaven.” By every individual, and in every family, some portion of God's Word should every day be read; and I would recommend also, where it is practicable, the adoption of a plan which was pursued by a Society in one of the Circuits in which it was my lot to labour: they had no Sabbath morning service in the place to which I refer, and so they agreed to meet together at that time for the purpose of reading the Scriptures, and conversing on the portion read for their mutual edification ; in this way truth was elicited; their faith strengthened and con. firmed ; and their knowledge of the things of God greatly enlarged; their piety became enlightened, rational, manly, and consistent ; and their liability to err from the right way lessened. They became men in understanding.
I shall conclude this letter, which has already, I am afraid, exceeded the proper limit, with one remark on the other branch of our spiritual prosperity, viz, an increase of numbers; this I conceive may generally be regarded as consequent on the eminent piety of the Church. If we are eminently holy, it will appear in our zeal for the Lord of Hosts, in the fervency of our prayers; in an unwavering faith in the promises of God; in burning, unquenchable love for souls ; and the pleasure of the Lord will prosper in our hands. In proof of this, I refer to the history of the Church as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. It is worthy of remark also, that the most eminently useful individuals have been eminently holy. I might instance such men as Fletcher, Bramwell, Longden, Smith, Stoner, Martyn, Hicks, Carvosso, and a list of others of whom the world was not worthy; and what is true of individuals in this respect, we may assume as true of Churches also. Let us put on holiness, and see if the Lord will not open to us the windows of heaven, and pour us out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. May the Spirit of God influence us to try and prove him now herewith!
ON THE CONNEXIONAL DEBT.
To the Members of the Association.
The statement, which has been put forth by the Connexional Committee, respecting a debt of £800 due on account of our Home and Foreign Missions, must excite uneasiness in the minds of those, who feel deeply interested in the welfare and prosperity of the Association. But, it is to be
hoped, during these times of commercial embarrassment and distress, in which so many of the poor of our Society are prevented from contributing, in a pecuniary way, what they could wish, that those, of our more wealthy members, who can better afford to assist in seasons of great emergency, will feel them. selves bound, in consideration of their awful responsibility, their debt of gratitude, and their obligations to God, to make a little sacrifice of their worldly substance, by additional subscriptions, over and above their ordinary contributions, to meet the deficiency in our fund; for it is to them only that we can look with confidence for that additional support which we need, when the poor are labouring under the pressure of temporary difficulties, which must occasionally and unavoidably occur in the revolution of mercantile and worldly affairs ; and which now not only prevents them contributing, as they have been accustomed to do, towards the support and extension of the cause of God; but even prevents them obtaining a sufficient supply of the common necessaries of life with such sacrifices as those which are now called for God would be well pleased ; and his providence which watches our footsteps, and numbers the hairs of our head, would most assuredly confer a blessing in some way or other, on our more wealthy friends for their self-denial and sacrifice.
The devout Christian will be disposed to view the present distress and suffering, as a temporary providential chastisement, which has been permitted by the sovereign disposer of events, as a trial of the faith and patience of God's people, and as a rod of correction and reproof : but may we not add, that it has also been permitted, because of the want of deep humiliation, watchfulness, prayer, and self-devotedness on the part of God's heritage, who perhaps are not so fully alive to the enjoyment of those great privileges with which they are favoured, and so entirely given to the pursuit and spread of practical godliness as they might be, and as the necessities of the times so loudly demand ?
From age to age, various schemes have been devised for the amelioration of man's temporal condition, and for the removal of those moral and physical eyils, which oppress and afflict our species ; but in all the worldly schemes of politicians, sages, philosophers, and moralists, there is much to be found of uncertainty and disappointment. The only sure remedy, and that which will spread universal happiness and peace, is in the enjoyment of the blessings of the Gospel, and in the diffusion of those blessings among the millions of the human race. How great, then, is the danger, during these severe and trying times, of many of our Christian brethren being imposed upon by mere political adventurers, and thereby becoming associated with a class of restless and disaffected men, who are always ready to take advantage of such seasons as the present, for the purpose of drawing into the vortex of political excitement, all those over whom they can gain any influence, and in whose minds they sow the seeds of prejudice and dissatisfaction, and a restless determination to oppose in an unjustifiable and seditious manner the powers that be. As Christians, we ought to keep a conscience void of offence, both towards God, and towards man. And as we know of nothing equal to the Gospel, which can give to men the common rights and privileges of citizens, and which can rescue the suffering thousands of our fellow creatures from a state of oppression and temporal evil, as well as from everlasting death; how highly culpable are we if we do not co-operate with God, who has called us to be co-workers with Him, in carrying the glad tidings of salvation to earth's remotest bounds, and in blessing the whole of the human family by endeavouring to introduce them into the sweet and peaceful sunshine of Gospel liberty and happiness ! It ought to be borne in mind that Christianity enjoins upon us, the duty of endeavouring by our prayers, by our example, by our incessant labours, by our money, and by a hearty and united co-operation to benefit mankind. In these, and in every other respect, let it then be asked, have we individually done what we might have done, to make known to others the unsearchable riches of Christ? Has our love for the Redeemer's cause, and our zeal for the promotion of his
glory, been commensurate with the abilities and opportunities afforded us? Are we not verily guilty concerning our brethren ? Let it be remembered, that to a great extent their destinies are in our hands; and it is for us to decide whether they shall continue to perish in their sins, or whether they shall believe in Him, who is the propitiation, not only for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world—While we are pleading they are perishing-While we are deliberating, they are passing into an awful eternity, exclaiming as they sink into the caverns of hell, “ No man cared for my soul.” O let us be up, and be doing, for this I say, Brethren, that time is short-our fathers, were are they ? and the prophets, do they live for ever? The night in which no man can work, has ended their day of activity and probation they rest in the silence of the tomb. And with us the drama of life is closing the period of our labour is drawing to an end. The Saviour asks your aid-perishing millions ask your aid, eternity strongly enforces it upon you-Give ! O give! of your oil, brethren, to those whose lamps are gone out, and your own shall shine the brighter; and it will be to your unspeakable joy in the great decisive day, to see heathens, and your own countrymen, and fellow-townsmen, and neighbours, rise up and call you blessed-then shall you realize the privilege and blessedness of being useful on earth. You shall also share in the triumphs and conquests of the Redeemer; and hereafter be permitted to behold the glorious consummation of all the purposes of divine mercy, in reference to the family of man ; for the word of inspiration declares that “ the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the face of the great deep.'
ON THE PRINCIPLES OF THE ASSOCIATION.
To The Editor,-Dear Sir, The annexed is so suitable in continuation of my former, as to induce mę to extract it from a popular periodical. I hope it may help to arouse the members of our connexion to exert themselves in the advancement of the cause of Scriptural truth.
Yours truly, T. P. R.
In regard to the Wesleyan Methodist Association no man can object that they choose to construct machinery for self-defence. But if they imagine that by such means, they are discharging that full amount of duty imposed upon them by their principles, they are egregiously mistaken. They have not done all that truth necessarily requires of them,in thus taking care for themselves. Were their organization a hundred fold more complete than it is—were their position so fortified that ecclesiastical tyranny could not assail them at any one point without meeting with an instant repulse-were they strong enough to resist further aggression, and, like valiant men behind the Lines of Torres Vedras, able to maintain their ground against any amount of hostile forcesstill it is to be borne in mind, their main duty would yet be wholly neglected. They are entrusted with sacred principles which they are bound to promulgateand however wise it may be, however agreeable, to assert the right and vindicate their power to hold such principles, without thereby subjecting themselves to worldly loss; all is not done—when that is done. They are under obligation to seek something more than their own freedom from persecution. Their real mission is to enfranchise Christian Truth, not merely to shield themselves from wrong. Religious freedom-Primitive Christianity, rather than mere Methodism--this should be their proper aim. They should war for principle, and not as against men.
The real and proper spirituality of Christ's kingdom-its subjection to His sole and exclusive authority-its entire distinction from the world-its indignant repudiation of force as a means to its own ultimate triumph-the fundamental basis upon which its whole system of ordinances is made to rest-are no unimportant portion of the revealed will of heaven. Do these constitute principles which men who hold them, may teach or with hold at pleasure ? Is not the progress of true religion bound up with them~and inseparable from them? Can they be systematically, and by the authority of “ any man, or number of men," in the name of Methodism, or of Christianity itself-be overturned, without endangering the most important interests of man? And is it becoming in men, who themselves pretend to do homage to them, to stand by in silence and coldly look on, when vitalities like these are strangled by “commixed powers," under the guise of anxious concern for the religious well-being, of a body of Christians, called by the name of an Apostolic iman, Wesleyans ? This is hard to be understood by any truly enlightened mind. It seems hard to be understood-how men, pledged by virtue of office to impart truth to their people, can, in conscience, allow them to grow up ignorant of, and indifferent to, the prevalence on all sides of a grand imposition of an unscriptural discipline, whereby tens of thousands are deluded, and Christianity exposed to contempt and obloquy. Some one's duty it must be to rebuke the monster evil. Upon whom then does the duty devolve ? Upon whom, but upon the Wesleyan Association, which has been raised up and set for the defence of the truth? This obligation is not to be discharged by proxy-not to be performed by substitutes-a few for the many, but by the many for themselves the responsibility is to be on the right shoulders. For what are our now numerous Association Churches raised up by Divine providence ? For what are our ministers ?
Every one of our members ought to be at work, each in his own spherelabouring to disseminate the knowledge of our principles, of which none need be ashamed. From every one of them there should emanate constantly streams of light serving to reveal want of scriptural conformity, in the system from which we have seceded. If the truths the Association holds are important- they are important for others, equally as for themselves. If they be trivial and insignificant, why have we agitated the Wesleyan body and the world with our real or supposed grievances? There is no secure standing place between our heretofore conformily with the Conference system and advancement and aggression on our part. Idle non-conformity must be wrong -continuous expositions of our principles and aggressive movements right.
There is a certain class of truths, the continued existence of which in the world depends on the vigorous adoption of the aggressive system-inaction is a sure presage of not distant destruction. Whilst such remain stationary, the weeds around grow apace. The moment we cease to gain upon errorerror gains upon us. Our safety is in attack and aggression on erroneous principles. The very nature of inaction precludes the possibility of our growth -or rather growing into notice; we must battle ourselves into it. The progress of the Association, unlike that of the falsehoods to which it is opposed, is never spontaneous. In mere defence-success cannot be expected. From invasion-triumph must be the consequence. Such are the general truths of Christianity—such are the leading principles of the Wesleyan Association based on the Scriptures of Truth-recognizing as it does, “and holding, as the only sufficient rule of both faith and practice, and also of church government, the holy Scriptures, especially the New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and regarding as matters indifferent, so far as membership with a Christian church is concerned, whatever is not manifestly enjoined in those infallible records." These last as well as the first, are then most surely and securely held, when they are most ACTIVELY WIELDED substantially, and in their integrity, they can make way only through the door of con