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which we sustain towards you. “Are not neither you nor we have laboured in vain, ye our work in the Lord ? If we be not or spent our streugth for Daught. We apostles unto others, yet doubtless we are believe that in addition to the tabulated to you; for the seal of our apostleship results there are effects produced which are ye in the Lord.”
are beyond the domain of statistics. Think nut, dear brethren, that the send. The "day" only will declare the ing of a written Pastoral constitutes the blessings received in our congregawhole share which you have in our de- tions under the ministry of the Divine liberations. You are contemplated, more Word, and in our class-meetings, in the or less, in the whole of our business, not exercise of Christian fellowship. At the excepting those affairs which are consi- same time we would not, in the absence of dered purely ministerial. In the scrutiny tangible results, have you or ourselves to to which we submit our own character be content with the merely inappreciable and work, regard is bad to your claim to and upseen. Believing in a visible Church, a blameless and Scriptural ministry. In we look not unreasonably for visible memthe care taken in the admission of proba. bers. The prosperity which we desire, tioners to the full work and office of the and for which we urge you to work and Christian pastorałe, and in the examina. pray, is that of the times of Pentecost, tion of candidates, we aim at giving you when " the Lord added to the Church daily the best guarantee possible that the men such as should be saved." to whom we commit the sacred trust In regard to our Foreign Missions the previously committed to ourselves are year iu some respects has been remarkable. "faithful men, able to teach others also.” The largest income ever raised by the And so, in relation to the several depart. Wesleyan-Methodist Missionary Society ments into which, for purposes of adminis- has been reported; and a long-standing tration, our great work is divided, we can debt which embarrassed the Society's truly say that, subordinately to God's glory, operations has been completely extinthe well-being of onr people is the end of guished. The numerical increase of all. Your interests are so interwoven with members shown in the returus, indicates our ordinary business, that you necessarily that our great work in foreign lands is inflaence our thoughts and feelings to a carried on with zeal and success. But large extent.
that which will make our present gathering The review of the year, if not satisfac- memorable is the first appearance amongst tory in all particulars, presents much us of an Italian brother, himself the fruit that is gratifying in connection with of our Mission to Italy, who preaches the the work of God. The increase of mem- Gospel with the tongue of a native to bers in Great Britain, after supplying them “which are at Rome also." We thank the large vacancies occasioned by death God that the Divine blessing rests upou and other causes, is one thousand seven our new missive to the city of the Cæsars hundred and thirty. While grateful and the Popes; and that, notwithstanding to Him who giveth the increase for this its pagan aud Papal associations, the work augmentation of our numbers, and for the of God within its walls is full of promise mauy thousands more who must have and hope. beeu broaght into fellowship with us be- Our Home Missionary operations ara fore any numerical advance could be capable of almost indefinite development, reported, yet considering the vastness both in towns and country places. If we of our agencies, and the much larger had the means of multiplying our agencies, additions of some past years, it must be a rich harvest would certainly be reaped. acknowledged with regret that the present An effort, auxiliary to our regular Home increase is not considerable. Still
Missions, has been commenced in London we are persuaded, dear brethren, that by the employment of lay agents to meet,
to some extent, the peculiar requirements To augment its power for good we of the metropolis. But we are persuaded bave projected a plan for a Connexional that, in addition to all salaried agencies, Sanday-School Union, from the operation the necessities of the country demand the of which we expect good results. Nor are united labours of the whole of God's we indifferent to the "intermediate” and Church. This new organization, however the “higher" education. We are anxious widely extended, would be no blessing that the children of our people should be if it led our people to leave all able to pursus knowledge with as little evangelistic work to those specially sepa- damage as possible to their spiritual interrated to it. Brethren, the Lord hath need ests; and that at Oxford, the earliest home of every one of you; and it is ouly by the of Methodism, or at Cambridge or any other self-denying and persevering toil of every university, they should be surrounded by one that the mission of Methodism—the every safeguard which pastoral and parental spreading of Scriptural holiness throughout solicitude can supply. How best to accomthe land-can be completely fulólled. On plish this end is a question to which we are this matter of working for God, we confess anxious to find a practical solution. that we are in doubt of some of you. Of Beloved brethren, as the years pass brethren who stand all the day idle, we away we are reminded that we are removed would ask :-Where is your pity for the further and further from the times of our perishing? Where your valour for the first fathers in this ministry. This thought truth? Where your zeal for God? recurs with additional impressiveness as
The work of chapel-building has been new names are inscribed upon our deathcarried on during the last twelve months roll. It is some years since the last sur. upon the extensive scale of recent years. vivor of Wesley's own preachers passed to This kind of progress we koow is some. his reward ; and now, by the decease of a times spoken of, half disparagingly, as venerated father, whose ministry dates "material prosperity.” But the material from the fourth year of the present century, does not necessarily exclude the spiritual. we are warned that other links are breakWe may have the Shekinah within the ing, and that those of ourselves who had temple ; and showers of blessing too for earlier colleagues some who had been copious to be contained may not fall until the later associates of our Founder, are the Lord of Hosts is proved by the becoming fewer and fewer in number. bringing of all the tithes into His store. With the memories and traditions of the house. With an admitted deficiency in past waning dimmer and weaker through the country in church and chapel-accom- the lapse of time, it is neither unnecessary modation, we cannot but rejoice in the nor unwise to inquire whether the work of multiplication of places of worship in which God called Methodism has been warped the pure Gospel will be preached, and from its original course by the new bands which to succeeding generations will prove, to which its direction has been necessarily we doubt not, centres of spiritual ipfluence committed With the sad lessons of
ecclesiastical history before us, such an With regard to education, it is gratifying to inquiry cannot be deemed inappropriate. be able to inform you that, notwithstanding An accurate knowledge of the Connexion the coutroversies of the day, and the effects enables us to say, with gratitude to God, which recent legislation must have upon that Methodism is, as it ever has been, a pre-existing schools, our own training living, spiritual, evangelical power. A colleges and day-schools are sustained in comparison with the past yields us much general vigour and efficiency, and in un- satisfaction. The doctrines taught by the diminished number. Upon our Sunday early Methodist preachers are at this day school system, in connection with which “ those things which are most surely not a few of you are usefully engaged, believed among us," and believed with
are bestowing increased attention. unbroken uparimity. Whatever be our
reproach, it is not that of holding con• closeness ard constancy of holy fellowship. flicting views, or of bewildering onr congre
When a Church declines in spiritual life, gations with contradictory teachings. And there is a corresponding loss of appetite as to the spiritual life of the Connexion for Christian communion. To a man ye, brethren, the members of our churches, únblessed with experimental piety, oppor. are the snhjects of that life, and ought to tunities for intercommunion of thought, know sometbing of its condition. We are and the disclosure of inner religious feelaware, of course, that it exists amongst you ing, appear unnecessary and undesirable. in different degrees, from the secble pnlsa. On the other hand, it is a good indication tions of a weakly piety to the full vigour of spiritual prosperity when the believer, of spiritual manhood. That our Societies, gearning for sympathy, calls upon all who upon the whole, are not an aggregation of fear the Lord to listen whilst he declares dead but of living churches, there is
what God has done for his soul. Iu nothing abundant evidence to show. This may be did Methodism meet the urgent need of asserted whilst the admission is made that the regenerated heart more than in the there have been periods in our Connexional provision which it made for intimate history more prosperons than the present; religious fellowship. During its earlier * ben the life-giving Spirit was more days, as during the earlier days of Chrisplentifully bestowed; when the Word tianity, there was a continuing in "fellowpreached was more overwhelming!y power-ship,” as well as in "the Apostles' docful; when meetings for prayer and public trine," and " in breaking of bread, and in worship were more largely attended by prayers.” And if, brethren, onr Churchmore earnest crowds; and when iostilu- system is to descend undamaged to postions, services, and people were more fully terity, it must not only be by the instinct with spiritual life than appears to uncorrupted preservation of our doctrines, be the case in many instances now.
On but by the perpetuation of the simple the other band, it would not be impossible institution to which our fathers gave the to fiod periods in our denominational unpretendirg, unecclesiastical name of annals marked by suspicion, dissension, class-meeting;” in which the social and other evils unknown to our own more
elemn nts of our sanctified nature are called peaceful times; periods also which, iu
into hallowed exercise, thought is interintelligent and consistent piety, and in changed, and sympathy and help mutually examples of holy living, can scarcely be given and received. God forbid that our said to be equal to the present. What, churches, ceasing to be households then, we and you want, dear brethren, is resounding with the cheersul conversation not another life, but "more abundant " of familiar voices, should be changed into vigour of the life which we already have; cemeteries where death and silence reiga n't another Spirit, but a richer baptism of —where eren the living few are mutes and that Spirit, a measure of which we already mourners, and where the stiilness is possess. "Now the Lord is that Spirit: broken only by the voice of one solitary and where the Spirit of the Lord is, th: re man! is liberty.”
The distance which separates our times A more exalted spiritual life would from those of our Founder is suggestive of show itself. in an increased desire for the immense difference between the Eng. Christian intercourse. The religion of the lard of 1740 and the Eng'and of 1873. glorifed in heaven, according to the inti. We have evidence of alteration in the matious of Scripture, is eminently social; increase of population, in the growth of and when the Church below approaches cities and towns, in the development of most nearly in holiness and joyousness of industrial resources, in the augmentation feeling to the Church above, the result is and wide distribution of wealth, in seed amongst the saints in the increased methods of locomotion, in the general
spread of physical comforts, and in the and respectability, they have suffered unintermitting stimulus applied to the serious spiritual loss in passing from public mind by a cheap press. The result localities where religious advantages is that men live at so rapid a rate, the abound to places where they have few or mind is so constantly excited by the end none, Is it not deplorable and strange less succession of subjects harrying that families professing godliness should through it, that habits of reflection can not, in selecting a new home, consider scarcely be formed, and a thoughtful, first and foremost the soul's health? And meditative piety becomes difficult. The yet in the migratory tendencies of the age high pressure at which business is carried an aggressive evangelism should find an on, and the multiplication of all kinds of incentive to zeal and liberality in chapel. engagements, are unfavourable to devotional extension and Home Missionary work, so retirement and attendance on the week. that it may become difficult for any of night means of grace. The principle of our members, be they merchauts, artisans, organization applied to philanthropy, intel. miners, or agriculturists, to find themlectual improvement, recreation, amuse selres, wherever they go, at a considerable ment, and a hundred other objects, tells in distance from a Methodist chapel and a the same way. Many institutions, never Methodist class. designed to come into competition with our The age in which we live, dear brethweek-night services, nevertheless do present ren, requires from ns vigilance in watching counter-attractions which draw away from against errors, and earnestress in living chapels and class-rooms not a few of the and working for God. There are two lukewarm and the young.
forms of error which direrge from the add, beloved brethren, that the plea of fruth in opposite directions,—the unbelief promoting intellectual culture, or of speculation, and the misbelief of superphilanthropic work, cannot justify the stition ; forms of evil which existed in the " forsaking the assembling of ourselves times of our Lord, and which are cotogether, as the manner of some is "?
temporary still. The disciples of Jesus Amongst the altered customs of the have as much need as ever to be warded people, that of the removal of their residence against "the leaven of the Sadducers," by influential families from the centre to the add "the leaven of the Pharisees." Specu. suburbs of large towns, however excusable lation, never very modest, has reached in or even commendable in itself, has acted in onr day a perfection of audacity is dogmasome instances prejudicially to the interests tizing upon things "too wonderful" for of religion. Old chapels, some of them of the minds of men. Rationalism bas hallowed associations, have been left strug- united the heresies of science with the glivg with diminished congregations, and heresies of theology in attacking the very these made up largely of one class, – the foundations of the Christian faith. At very poor. On the other band, some the same time, an extensive revival of suburban congregations are co distant superstition affords humiliating evidence from the quarters inhabited by the indi. that culture and advanced civilization gent, that wealthy members of them have afford no certain guarantees against the little opportunity of showing kindness to retrogression of the human mind in the fellow-worshippers in poverty, and of direction of idolatry. spreading amongst the poor, by efforts of The progress of Popish doctrines and their own, the blessings of the Gospel, “a practices in this country is awakening work which the Lord Jesus referred to as serions apprehensions in the minds of not one proof of His own Messiahship. Not a few eagacious observers of current a few families, moreover, have been lost events. With regard to Roman Cathoto us altogether by this modern custom. licism proper, although it has been greatly Drawn
to pleasant neighbourhocds extended in England through Irish immiby such considerations as salubrity gration, yet taking the United Kingdom
apon the whole, it would be difficult to watch, and witness, and work. Worldiiprove that it has increased in Dumbers, Dess, stimulated by the trading activities relatively to the greatly-increased popula- of this prosperous country, and its tion, or to its own numerical condition abounding facilities for making baste to thirty years ago. And if it be true that be rich, is the great sin of the age. The there are not more Roman Catholics in love of amusement was perhaps never Great Britain and Ireland now than then, general than it is
In why, it may be asked, should the audacious combination with intense and eager demands of the Romish Hierarchy for worldliness there is found an excessive exceptional privileges be listened to ? levity, with a literature of its own,-the Why should this particular sect bave con- literature of frivolity. With enlarged cessions made to it which Methodist and resources there has come increased luxury Nonconformist Churches do not ask for in living; and, it is to be feared, an themselves, and which the Roman Catholic increase of the giant evil of intemperance. Governments of Europe persistently refuse To this national sin and the means for to yield to the priesthood ?
remedying it, we are giving anxious attenThere is another enemy to truth and tion. We need scarcely remind you that, liberty, more to be dreaded than the his. from the carliest periods of our Coones. toric for which gives open and honest ional history, Methodism has been strongly allegiance to the Pope. This more in- on the side of sobriety, and has discoua. sidious and treacherous adversary is the tenanced intemperance and the habits that Popery which has arisen of late gears lead to it. We are resolved, in the interests within the pale of Protestantism, and of the national morals, to renew our vigilwhich, occupying the vantage which it ance in this matter, and to use every effort possesses as a power within the National to arrest the progress of drunkenness and Church, is employing many of the pulpits to preserve the sober against falling into of the Establishment, and much of its this most degrading form of siu. rich revenues, in endeavouring to undo In conclusion, brethren, we urge you the work of the Reformation and lead the to cultivate personal religion. Let no country back to Rome. We invite you, public qnestions, however important in brethren, to co-operate with us in witness- themselves, or Church-work, however ing for God's truth against this dishonest praiseworthy, ever divert you from this. party, and in resisting, as best we can, this Alas for those who, while rendering public anti-Scriptural movement.
Let us en- service to patriotism, to philanthropy, to courage our brethren of the Church of religion, have forgotten the culture of their England who are faithful to the Gospel of own hearts, and must bewailingly acknow. Christ, and who stand by the national ledge at the last: "They made me the keeper Protestantism, in the efforts which they of the vineyards; but mive own vineyard make against the spread of Sacerdotalism, have I not kept”! For our own part we with its superstitious mass and demoral- are determined to dedicate ourselves anew izing confessional. We especially ask you to our Divine Master and His work, and to to oppose this evil by outworking its seek to have coustantly the presence of agents in Nome Missionary operations. the Holy Spirit. We invite our peoplo Let the women of Methodism show that, to join us in this. The harmonious without the organization and garb of and blessed Conference we have had is, we Romish or Anglican sisterhoods, or the trust, the carnest of a prosperous year. severance of social ties, they can devote That it may be so is, we are sure, the wish time, talents, and personal efforts to the of all of you. And now, beloved, service of Christ and for the benefit of souls. “ seeing ye have purified your souls in
Against the many social and insidious obeying the truth through the Spirit unto vices of the day, you are called upon to unseigned love of the brethren, see that