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fiable that is capable of abuse. Upon the same principle he must condemn the Reformation from Popery, on account of the licentiousness of speculation by which it has been dishonoured; and even Christianity itself, because of the Antinomian purposes to which it has sometimes been applied.
Or does the charge of “ wretched expediency” refer to Mr. Wesley's ordinations? If so, we will remind Mr. Sidney of a few facts, with which he can hardly be unacquainted, but over which he has chosen to throw a veil. Mr. Wesley and Mr. Walker were both intent upon promoting a revival of spiritual religion in the Church of England. This was their avowed object. Yet they adopted different methods in order to the attainment of it. Mr. Wesley was irregular. Mr. Walker adhered to the prescribed order of the Church. They carried on a correspondence on the subject; and Mr. Sidney awards the prize of wisdom and just argument to Mr. Walker, whom he describes as vastly superior to Mr. Wesley in these honourable qualifications. Mr. Wesley, with all his irregularity, laboured to the end of his life to preserve his people in union with the established Church ; yet he could not succeed, his object being in most cases defeated by the Clergy. He therefore did consent, that some of his societies should have the Lord's supper administered to them by their own Preachers. With a reference to this he performed his ordinations. Many years after his death, his people generally fell into this plan, and are now a distinct community. Yet their public conduct has demonstrated to the whole nation that they are not hostile to the Church, as such. They have refused to join in the cry for its subversion; they quietly contribute to its support; and they would be still more friendly, if they were not so often treated as “heathen men and publicans.”
The piety of Mr. Walker was unimpeachable, and so was the sincerity of his attachment to the Church : yet, with all his regularity, his ministry resulted in a direct and formal separation from her pale. After his death the more devout part of his congregation attended the church, as usual ; but they felt that the “apostolical succession ” was interrupted there. They “knew the voice of the good Shepherd ;” but “a stranger would they not follow;" they therefore formed themselves into an Independent church, which continues to
this day, perhaps the most powerful Dissenting body of the kind in the entire county of Cornwall.
Hence it appears that unwillingness to receive the Lord's supper at the hands of immoral Clergymen was not peculiar to the Methodists. It characterized Mr. Walker's people, and those of Mr. Venn; for they also became a congregation of Independents when he resigned his charge at Huddersfield. Mr. Wesley could himself receive the memorials of his Saviour's death from an ungodly man; but he confessed that he could not answer the objections which some of his spiritual children urged against the practice. His respect for the conscientious scruples of good men, which he could not remove, and which were justified by arguments that he could not answer, was a higher principle than "wretched expediency." However such writers as Mr. Sidney may choose to speak, if Christians are solemnly “commanded, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw themselves from every brother that walketh disorderly ;” (2 Thess. iii. 6 ;) and “if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner," it is their duty "not to keep company with such an one,” nor so much as “to eat with him ;" (1 Cor. v. 11;) it will be difficult to prove that they ought publicly so to recognise “such an one" for a Minister of the Lord Jesus, as at his hands to “eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” Mr. Wesley laboured through a long life to secure this; and when he could not succeed, he met the case in a manner which he believed to be justifiable on Scripture principles, and by the practice of the primitive church. Mr. Walker's ministry in Truro led to the establishment of strict and systematic Dissent, and such Dissent as has been connected with riotous proceedings in opposition to churchrates. Why was Mr. Sidney silent concerning this fact, when he was extolling Mr. Walker, and depreciating the founder of Methodism?
The official and solemn appointment of Dr. Coke as a Superintendent in the Methodist Church of America, may appear to Mr. Sidney a a " presumptuous act," and "a useless ceremony;” and yet the proof of these assumptions is perhaps less easy than he apprehends them to be. Granting that the Doctor “having been regularly ordained” a Pres
byter, before what is called “his consecration” took place,
was as good a Bishop” as Mr. Wesley himself; he could only exercise the episcopal office among those who were willing to receive him under that character. He could ordain no Ministers but such as would accept his ordination ; he could superintend no societies, but such as would submit to his rule. Intelligence was communicated to him, that he would not be received in America, except under Mr. Wesley's express appointment. It was therefore his own special request that he might receive such appointment by imposition of hands and prayer; and that a written declaration to that effect should be given to him. A copy of his letter to Mr. Wesley, containing this request, and assigning this reason, has been preserved. It states that Mr. Fletcher's advice was, that letters testimonial of the different offices to which Mr. Wesley should appoint the Doctor and his companions should be received by them respectively.
With the Doctor's request Mr. Wesley complied; and when he said, “I think myself to be providentially called at this time to set apart some persons for the work of the ministry in America,” he did not speak doubtingly. In his Journal, he expresses himself thus : “ Being clear in my own mind, I took a step which I had long weighed, and appointed Mr. Whatcoat and Mr. Vasey to go and serve the desolate sheep in America." In the circular letter which he sent to America, he speaks with similar confidence: “Here, therefore, my scruples are at an end ; and I conceive myself at full liberty, as I violate no order, and invade no man's right, by appointing and sending labourers into the harvest."
When Mr. Sidney says that “the plain answer which he gives to Mr. Wesley's “act,” in “setting apart ” Dr. Coke for the work assigned him in America, "seems never to have occurred to either Wesley or Coke," and thus claims the merit of readily perceiving what they could not discover, he is very
much mistaken; as he would at once have ascertained had he examined the history of the transaction which he is so forward to condemn. Mr. Wesley stated to the Doctor, “that as he had invariably endeavoured, in every step he had taken, to keep as closely to the Bible as possible ; so, on the present occasion, he hoped he was not about to deviate from it: that, keeping his eye upon the conduct of the primitive churches in the ages of unadulterated Christianity, he had much admired the mode of ordaining Bishops, which the church of Alexandria had practised : that to preserve its purity, that church would never suffer the interference of a foreign Bishop, in any of their ordinations; but the Presbyters of that venerable apostolic church, on the death of a Bishop, exercised the right of ordaining another from their own body, by laying on of their own hands; and that this practice continued among them for two hundred years, till the days of Dionysius.”*
The ordination of Mr. Whatcoat and Mr. Vasey can only be pronounced “presumptuous” on principles which invalidate half the ordinations in Protestant Christendom; principles which place Protestant Scotland, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, and France, out of the pale of Christianity : and the ordination of Dr. Coke we think fully justifiable from Scripture precedent. Let the following passage of holy writ be duly considered : “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain Prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” (Acts xiii. 1-3.)
At the time of this solemn transaction, St. Paul had been about ten years in the apostolic office; and Barnabas had long been an efficient teacher of Christianity, and a “man of note among the disciples." St. Paul was not an Apostle “ of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.” He was not appointed to the apostolic office, nor did he receive his apostolic qualifications, from any man, or any number of men ;
and therefore was not now ordained to the work of the ministry, nor raised to any new order in the church. The theory of Dr. Hammond, that St. Paul was ordained at Antioch the Bishop of a diocess, and that of Archbishop Wake, that he was there ordained to the apostolic office, are
• Drew's Life of Dr. Coke, pp. 63, 64.
both directly opposed to his own express declaration, Gal. i. 1.
useless." It did not raise Dr. Coke to an order essentially different from that which he already occupied ; nor was it intended thus to raise him ; but it was a solemn and becoming recognition of his appointment to a work of pre-eminent importance and responsibility. The assumption of the name of Bishop was the Doctor's own act, and was opposed to Mr. Wesley's design. The humble title of Superintendent was that which he assigned both to the Doctor and Mr. Asbury. And yet the appointment of a Bishop by Presbyters is no novelty, as the early history of the church of Alexandria demonstrates, as well as that of the Lutheran Church in Germany. In the appointment of Dr. Coke, Mr. Wesley did no more than the great German Reformer had done to meet the wants of the people whom God had given him.
Every reader of ecclesiastical history knows that