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The meeting last week was at West Haven, and the Conference resolved, that after the places which have applied or may apply for visits, have been gone through, they would commence re-visiting those churches which may apply for a second visit. Three applications for second visits were made, and it was stated by the delegates that many churches stood ready to apply for a renewal of the visits. The meetings of the western Conference have been signally blessed by the Holy Spirit, and probably from forty to fifty revivals of religion have taken place through their instrumentality. They excite intense interest. Christians are awakened to labors and prayers, and sinners are converted by God from sin to holiness. With respect to my being a “prime mover in the engine,” I state, that I have attended but four of these Conferences, exclusive of those held in New Haven.
2d. You say, “I do not know whether it is compatible with your principles to have communication with any of the clergy on this subject, but if it be not deemed inconsistent, it would be gratifying to me and to my church and people to understand the terms of your union.” I am not conscious that I have personally, or that any member of the Conference, has ever refused to have communication with ministers of the Gospel, on this or any other subject, relative to the advancement of religion among us. The Conference of the churches, is a meeting of brethren chosen as delegates by those churches who choose to
be represented at the Conference. The Conference make visits every week when they are invited. Of course the delegates are chosen every week by the brethren, and they send one, two, or more delegates from each church ; generally two are sent. It is a meeting of the churches, and not of the ministers ; and I have yet to learn that the churches have not the same right, and as much power, to appoint meetings of their own, to promote revivals of religion, as ministers have to form associations, consociations, presbyteries, synods, &c. And I shall adhere to this opinion, until I can learn from the Bible, that churches were organized on account of, and for the sake of ministers; and not that ministers were appointed for the sake of the churches. The number of churches usually represented in the Conference is from thirty to fifty, and the number of delegates is from forty to eighty. I have never heard that any minister in the bounds of the western Conference has been opposed to these meetings, except in one instance. Our ministers generally are hearty in their approbation; and if any, through ignorance or prejudice, feel jealous of these meetings, I would say to them, come and see what the Lord has done through their instrumentality; and be very cautious that you do not oppose the work of the Spirit of Truth.
3d. The next inquiry is, " What do you enjoin upon any church as prerequisites to the favor of a visitation?” Before the Conference agree to visit a church,
they always inquire, are the church prepared for a visit? This preparation is understood to be,that the church have appointed committees to visit every brother and sister, and inquire whether they have any controversy, or hard and unchristian thoughts toward any individual of the same church. If so, all disputes must be settled, and heavenly love restored, before the Conference will consent to make the visit desired; in many places, these committees converse with each member on the importance of a revival of religion, and before their departure, make a prayer with them. The Conference will not visit a church unless they pass a vote, to make an acknowledgment of their past delinquencies as to their Christian duties, which is to be read in the public meeting by one of the brethren ; and the church must likewise vote that they will renew their covenant with God, and each other, in the same public manner. When these preparatory steps are complied with, the Conference, giving previous notice of two or three weeks, make their visit to that church, whenever their turn comes, which is in the order of time that the applications are made.
4th. The next inquiry is, “What is the established and indispensable order of exercises ?” There is no indispensable order. The common course is this. The Conference meet at the place appointed, on Wednesday, after dinner, at one o'clock, at a school house or conference room. The names of the churches which have sent delegates, and the names of the delegates, are taken down on a list, by some brother present. As soon as it is supposed that a majority of those who are coming have arrived, they proceed to choose a clerk and a moderator. They also choose a committee of five or seven members to make arrangements for the addresses, &c., at the public meeting.
the minister of the church, as a matter of courtesy, is invited to preside. In some instances he does so, and when he declines, the moderator of the Conference presides. The meeting on Wednesday afternoon, is occupied with accounts of the state of the churches represented, and usually is held from two to three hours. District conferences are appointed in different parts of the parish, for Wednesday evening, the places of holding them being fixed some time before; and after the public meeting is over, six or eight brethren are appointed to conduct each of the district conferences, and it is expected that at the same places, on Thursday morning at sun-rise, a prayer meeting will be held for one hour, by the brethren who conduct these several conferences. On Thursday morning, at 8 o'clock, the general Conference assemble, transact any business which is brought before them, and hear the statements relative to the meetings of that morning and the preceding evening. At 9 o'clock, Thursday morning, the public meeting commences. The narrations relative to the state of the churches are now concluded. Remarkable incidents relative to revivals, and individual conversions, are related when there is time. The addresses are then made. The order, however, is not uniform. Usually the first address is made to the impenitent; then, an address to the youth ; then, one to the aged; then, one to those who are hoping that they are christians, and yet remain with the world. The church then rise in their seats, or come forward in the broad aisle, and their confession is read; they then renew their covenant, and are addressed before going to their seats. All these addresses are made by brethren of the Conference, and usually occupy. from fifteen to twenty minutes each. It is then customary, but of this the Conference has no control, for the minister of the place to address the church and congregation, acknowledging his own unfaithfulness in his pastoral duties; then a neighboring minister, selected by the minister of the place, addresses him on the same subject, urging the importance of more watchfulness, more labors, and more earnest prayers, for the salvation of his people. It is then customary for an address to be made to the Conference by a neighboring minister. A silent prayer for the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit on the church and society visited, follows, for six or eight minutes, while all keep their seats, and this is interrupted by the closing prayer by the pastor of the church. The blessing is then invoked, and the