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whether churchman, Wesleyan or dissenter, called a Methodist.
'I do not wonder,' said the teacher, at your puzzle; but people who have no true piety themselves, delight to give a nick-name to those whose religion shames them.' 'I have been told,' said John, 'that the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch, from the same spirit.'
William remarked, 'that he supposed the leading men at Oxford, at the earlier part of the last century, were anxious to promote an improvement in the religious views and feelings of the students, and of the nation. How singular,' he added, that Wycliffe, Latimer and Ridley, and Wesley and Whitfield, should all have been educated at Oxford.'
The rise of Methodism then, sir,' John remarked, 'proves what you often tell us-that true religion begins and flourishes by the influences of the Holy Spirit.'
'You are very right, my dear boy, and may you all pray that the Holy Spirit may regenerate and quicken your souls.
'There has indeed,' was the answer, been a very remarkable Providence watching over that school ever since the days of Alfred. Some of the greatest blessings to the church and the world have come from Oxford; may she never send forth those who will try to undo the work of the Reformers and of the revivers of religion. I am obliged, however, to say, that much of the good has rather been opposed in that University than promoted; and God has there prepared his servants, by his own spirit, notwithstanding the popish superstitions of the place at one time, and the dull formality of another period. Old systems do not reform themselves; but receive improvement from the few who urge on correction against the will of the many. You remember some of the Reformers burned at Oxford, and Methodism was generally an object of pity and contempt; and at one time, six young men were expelled that seat of learning, not for being wicked, but for being pious-for praying, and reading, and expounding the Scriptures !'
'Mr. John Wesley and his brother Charles were a few years older than Mr. Whitfield, and were brought under serious impressions before him. They were, with others, useful to that extraordinary preacher, although they themselves, at that time, were too legal and mystic in their views and feelings to lead their young friend into a clear knowledge of the gospel.'
William asked, 'but did not all these good men know that we are saved by GRACE?'
'I have no doubt they did, at last,' was the teacher's answer, but they had many painful struggles to make themselves better, before they distinctly saw this precious truth. The fire you notice often smokes before it blazes.
"This little band of brothers all, indeed, grew in this knowledge, though not all equally; and as they left Oxford and travelled about both in Great Britain and in America, they preached the gospel with so much love and earnestness,-with such heartstirring eloquence, and God so blessed their labours, that thousands were turned from profligacy or formality to Jesus Christ; and tens of thousands startled at the strange sounds, and either secretly disliked or openly mocked. There was such an uncommon degree of simplicity and fervour, and so much about Jesus Christ in their preaching; and something so extraordinary in clergymen going into fields and fairs and market places, to address the multitudes; and their appeals to the conscience
were so pointed and forcible, that the public were taken by surprise, and each asked the other, what these things meant.'
'Then,' enquired the boys, 'did these good men teach a NEW RELIGION?'
'I may answer this question,' resumed the master, 'as Bacon, the sculptor, did a nobleman, who, looking on a bust of Whitfield, said, "He was a great man, he founded a new religion." "No, my lord," replied Bacon, "it was the old religion new revived, and taught as if the preacher meant what he said."'
'How was it, sir, that while many opposed these good men, —and, I have been told, some of their opponents were magistrates, and even clergymen who aided the riotous mobs,-how was it, that some of the clergy and the nobility favoured methodism ?'
'It is beautiful, my dear young friends, to see how God works out his own plans. What an unseen power is exerted in a corn field before the blades appear! and what a secret power was preparing the hearts of the people of all classes, for the reception and the support of the truth!' *The late Countess of Huntingdon, though most conspicuous, was not alone in her order, but was joined by several in high rank, and countenanced by a considerable number.'
'Now I remember,' said John, 'you once explained this to us, by telling us how easily the servant lights the fire when care has been taken to prepare and dry the wood.' 'A good recollection,' was the minister's answer. 'Human zeal and eloquence may make a great smoke; but it is
*The attentive reader of The Life and Times of the Countess of Hunt ingdon, will be struck with this fact. He will see how mysteriously this work of preparation had preceded the appearance of the Revivalists, and amongst those who were thus pre-disposed he will read of "honourable women,-and men not a few."
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for the reception of the sacred fire of his love. Often pray that he may prepare your hearts.'
'I am often puzzled,' said John, ' with the term Methodist; I can understand why it should be applied by worldly people to all who are of earnest religion, but I hear the followers of Mr. Wesley, and those of Mr. Whitfield and be the Countess of Huntingdon; nay, the people in South Wales, who revere the memory of Rowlands, Harris, Williams and others, and the friends of Mr. Charles, in North Wales, call themselves Methodists. Mr. Hill in London, and Mr. Oliver in this city, are both known by the same name.' The minister added,—'I am not surprised at your difficulty. The name itself is almost without a meaning, and may, therefore, bes applied to almost any class of persons: and, at first, Mr. Wesley and Mr. Whitfield, with their common friends, were all united in one great and good work; but, as they grew in experience, and studied the minor doctrines of the gospel more, they began to see and to feel differently on some points. Mr. Wesley had a strong leaning to that high tone of feeling which cannot be defined, and which we call mysticism; and he was perplexed on the subject of man's accountability to God; Whitfield, on the other hand, thought more of man's depravity and of the grace necessary to induce him to seek pardon and holiness, as well as to enjoy those blessings. Wesley thought more of the effects of Divine grace in the believer. Whitfield, of the cause of that grace. The former looked at the elevation of the temple, and admired the beautiful design; the latter was desirous of understanding the foundation plan, and the kind of ground on which it was placed. Hence, these master builders differed a little in
their views, and perhaps more in beginning of the last centurytheir tastes.'
'Please, sir,' said William, 'can you make this a little plainer?' 'I mean then, my dear boy, that Mr. Wesley seemed to think, that men made themselves willing to seek Jesus Christ, though he did not exactly mean this; that Mr. Whitfield believed, that men are so unwilling to be saved, in God's way, that nothing short of the power of the Holy Spirit can make them willing; and that if God thus work on the will, he intended to do so. This intention is what Whitfield meant by the doctrine of election.'
'On these questions, and others connected with them, these good men parted, and methodism became divided into what may be called Wesleyan Methodism and Calvinistic Methodism.'
'Was it not a pity, sir,' said John, 'that these good men should divide ?' 'So indeed,' replied the teacher, it seems to us; but it is not likely that a number of even good men should all think exactly alike; the very separation too had extended the gospel, and each has been a check and a stimulus to the other. Perhaps the Weslevans would have sunk into the errors of Pelagius had they not been kept alive to danger by their rivals; and perhaps Whitfield's followers would have been injured by Antinomianism, but for the correcting influence of Wesley. The pity was, as it is in most religious disputations, that men so good, and so set on doing good, should have lost their temper and lowered their tone of affection for each other. My dear boys, think for yourselves, but never let any little difference of view lessen your love to any gracious man.'
'I hope we shall remember, sir, what you have so kindly told us,' said John, namely, that religion was in a very low state at the
that there were many secret disciples, and many who, although they made a holy profession, were too quiet; that the work began at Oxford, spread over the land, and was the means of quickening the minds of the people, and especially of the ministers, both in the national church and among all good dissenters, as well as of forming distinct bodies of methodists,-and that this blessed work is still going on in Great Britain and America; and by the late establishment of missions promises to spread itself throughout the whole world.'
'You have summed up our conversation very well; and all I will now add is, my hearty prayer that you and all your schoolfellows may be quickened by the Spirit, who is indeed-THE LORD AND GIVER of life.'
SUNDAY SCHOOL CONFERENCES.
THE second annual Conference of Sunday school teachers of various denominations, for England, was held in Liverpool on Good Friday, April 2. The weather was most unpleasant. But, steady to their purpose-blind to difficulties, and deaf to the suggestions of ease, the brethren assembled in crowds. Special trains poured in their hundreds, and by about ten o'clock the noble and spacious chapel in Great George-street presented a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. The chair was taken by C. Robertson, Esq., and, after prayer and praise, the business of the day opened by an admirable address from the beloved chairman; who also gave an outline of the intended proceedings of the day. The Rev. Wm. Roaf, the delegate of the Wigan Union, entered his decided protest against the omission of the Government scheme of education: Mr. Hall, on the part of the committee, explained the
reason of its exclusion; and Mr. Roaf then announced that a special meeting would be held in the afternoon against the Government plan. Papers were then read, and free discussion on them followed. The first was by Mr. Lee of Manchester, giving an outline of the last Conference: the second by Mr. Hall, on Sunday school statistics, developing facts at once striking and instructive: the third by Mr. J. O. Jones, on Sunday school institutes, eliciting repeated applause: the fourth by Mr. Cuthbertson of London, on Ragged schools, enlisting the best sympathies of the audience on behalf of those admirable institutions and the last by Mr Griffiths, of Manchester, on the general arrangement of a Sunday school (as developed in the Roby schools, of which he has long been an honored superintendent), exciting the wonder, gratitude, and joy of every soul present.
The delegates and many of the teachers then repaired to the Music Hall, Bold-street, where they dined at half-past two-C. Robertson, Esq. presiding. After dinner a vacation of an hour or two was allowed, some of the friends visiting the noble Sunday school institute in Lime-street; others repairing to the special meeting held to petition Parliament against the new educational measure At five, all re-assembled to tea-the Rev. Dr. Raffles in the chair. An important paper was read after tea by C. Robertson, Esq. on the relation of the school to the church; and a communication was made from Elihu Burritt, by Mr. Miller of Manchester, on Sunday school brotherhood. Remarks were then made on various subjects connected with sabbath schools by several friends -by Mr. Oakey of London, on the state of our Sunday school literature, and the power of schools to diffuse sound literary truths
over the empire; and reporting that twenty-seven millions of copies of trash were at present annually sold in this country by Mr. Cuthbertson of London, on the strong claims of the ragged urchins of our streets: by Mr. Hicks of Leeds, on the qualifications of teachers: by the Rev. F. Patton of Philadelphia, on the spread of Sunday schools since the days of Raikes: by the Rev. W. Roaf, on the growing desire of the best schools in the kingdom to have none admitted hereafter, as teachers, who are not decided for God and connected with churches by Mr. Needham, the devoted secretary of the Manchester union, on the fine results of these annual gatherings : so also by Messrs. Swallow, Oldham, Hanson, etc.; and at about halfpast nine the assembly dispersed, edified and delighted with the proceedings. This generous reception given by the Liverpool committee to the friends from different parts of the kingdom was beyond all praise. At eight o'clock, when the last special train was about to start, Dr. Raffles most affectionately commended to God the friends who had to leave, and all sung:
'Bless'd be the dear uniting love,
That will not let us part;
SUNDAY SCHOOL FESTIVALS.
CARLISLE.-A tea meeting of the teachers and friends of the West Walls Sunday school, Carlisle, was held on the 22nd March, at which both the scholars and their friends were present. The latter had been all personally visited and invited, and the greater number attended. The proceed. " ings of the evening were of rather a novel and improved character, and it is hoped that a short record of them will be interesting to all engaged in sabbath school instruction.
The children were first supplied with their tea and cake, and were then conducted to another room, to witness a magic lantern exhibition, while the teachers, friends, and parents partook of tea. After this was concluded, and the children had returned, Mr. Mimpriss, the devoted superintendent of the school, addressed the parents on their responsibility as parents, and urged them to aid the teachers in their endeavours, to promote the real welfare of their children. He then proceeded to explain to them the system of instruction pursued in the school, and the advantages their children thereby enjoyed. By that system every scholar in the school regularly and simultaneously progressed through the whole history of our Lord's life and ministry-the highest grade in the school reading the full 'harmony of the gospels,' and each of the other grades as much of the same subject-in the words of Scripture, as they would be able fully to receive. Mr. Mimpriss then examined the children, the different grades separately, that the parents might know the improvement which their children had made; and the answers given showed that they possessed an amount of knowledge of gospel history, geography, parallels, and doctrine, very much beyond what is even attempted to be imparted in sabbath schools generally.
The examination being concluded, Mr. Mimpriss described a number of papers which had been prepared by the elder scholars during the previous week, pointing out the excellencies and deficiencies of each, without naming the writer; and he then proceeded to give to the children reward books, varying in size according to the attendance and general conduct of each scholar. After this was over, which occupied the chief portion of the evening, a dessert of dried fruit and oranges
was handed round to all present. Besides what is above stated, two other brief addresses were delivered, sacred songs were sung, and interesting and instructive objects exhibited at intervals during the evening; and the effect of the whole was exceedingly pleasing, and evidently beneficial, and calculated to promote the future usefulness of the school. A TEACHER. HULL-Easter Monday, solong devoted in Hull to Sunday schools, was this year a busy and happy season. The scholars amounting to several thousands were assembled in various chapels, and affectionately addressed by ministers of different denominations. They were then regaled with tea, etc. In the evening the public meeting was held. Sir William Lowthrop in the chair. The report announced a decrease of eleven teachers, and an increase of two hundred and sixty-four scholars. The totals now are, schools 147; teachers 3239; scholars 13306, with 99 adults. Of the teachers 2059 are church members; 185 had been advanced from the classes to the office of teachers during the year, and 82 scholars had lately professed in public their faith in Christ. During the year, the schools had purchased 2939 Bibles and Testaments, and 26,484 other publications. The strongest indignation was expressed at the meeting against the New Government Scheme of Education. Long may this union prosper.
SUNDAY SCHOOL HONORS.On Thursday, the 4th of March, a highly gratifying and interesting meeting of the friends and teachers connected with the Chapel Sabbath School, Harrold, Beds. was held in the vestry of the said chapel, on which occasion a very neat edition of 'Henry's Exposition of the Scriptures' was presented to the superintendent, on