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conference, beyond which he has no right to go : that although it belongs to his office, as general superintendent, to appoint the time for holding the several annual conferences, he has no discretionary autho. rity to adjourn them, whatever length of time they may have con. tinued their session, or whatever business they may think proper to transact. From these doctrines we have felt it our solemn duty to dissent. And we will not withhold from you our deliberate and abiding conviction, that if they should be sustained by the General Con. ference, the uniform and efficient administration of the government would be rendered impracticable.

The government of the Methodist Episcopal Church is peculiarly constructed. It is widely different from our civil organization. The General Conference is the only legislative body recognized in our ecclesiastical system, and from it originates the authority of the entire executive administration. The exclusive power to create annual conferences, and to increase or diminish their number, rests with this body. No annual conference has authority or right to make any rule of discipline for the church, either within its own bounds or elsewhere. No one has the power to elect its own president, except in a special case, pointed out, and provided for by the General Conference. What. ever may be the number of the annual conferences, they are all orga. nized on the same plan, are all governed by the same laws, and all have identically the same rights, and powers, and privileges. These powers, and rights, and privileges are not derived from themselves, but from the body which originated them. And the book of Dis. cipline, containing the rules of the General Conference, is the only charter of their rights, and directory of their duties, as official bodies. The general superintendents are elected by the General Conference, and responsible to it for the discharge of the duties of their office. They are constituted, by virtue of their office, president of the annual conferences, with authority to appoint the time of holding them; with a prudential provision that they shall allow each conference to sit at least one week, that the important business prescribed in the form of Discipline may not be hurried through in such a manner as to affect injuriously the interests of the church. The primary objects of their official department in the church were, as we believe, to preserve, in the inost effectual manner, an itinerant ministry; to maintain a uniformity in the administration of the government and discipline in every department, and that the unity of the whole body might be preserved. But how, we would ask, can these important ends be accom. plished if each annual conference possesses the rights and powers set forth in the foregoing summary? Is it to be supposed, that twenty. eight constitutional judges of ecclesiastical law, and these, too, not individuals of age and experience, who have had time and means to thoroughly investigate, and analyze, and collate the system ; bat official bodies, many members of which are young and inexperienced, and without the opportunity or necessary helps for such researches, and without consultation with each other on the points to be decided, will settle different questions of law with such agreement as to have no material conflict between their legal decisions? Is it not greatly to be feared, that with such system of ecclesiastical jurisprudence, what might be law in Georgia might be no law in New-England ? that what might be orthodoxy in one conference might be heresy in another? Where, then, would be the identity of the law, the uniformity of its administration, or the unity and peace of the church?

A well digested system of collegiate education, under the direction and control of the General Conference, is, in our opinion, loudly called for by the present state of the church, and by our widely extended and extending influence, as a religious denomination. Such a system is of such vast importance, in connection with the general principles and designs of Methodism, as to render the policy of submitting its direc. tion and superintendence to sectional control, to say the least, very doubtful. For many years the state of the church was such in these States as to render it impracticable to accomplish much in the cause of education, any farther than as we were associated with other bodies, or were connected with the institutions of the country. And it is not to be denied that there existed among us, to a considerable extent, even down to a recent date, strong opposition to commencing this inportant enterprise among ourselves. But during the last twenty years the spirit of inquiry has been wakened up, and a very general interest excited on this subject; and the energies and means of our preachers and people have been employed to a very considerable extent in the promotion of such a worthy and noble object.

What appears to be especially necessary at the present crisis, is a well organized system which shall give the best direction to those energies and means. It will not be at all surprising to men who have made themselves acquainted with the former and present condition of the Methodist Church, relative to the promotion of literature, that there should be, at the present time, a spirit of zeal and enterprise in operation, which, if not guided by the soundest principles of wisdom and policy, and concentrated in a general and harmonious system, may fail to accomplish the desirable and important object, and ulti. mately result in injurious reaction. This can hardly fail to be the case, if colleges, or other high institutions of learning, which must depend upon other means of support than the revenues arising from tuition, are multiplied beyond the available means necessary for their adequate and permanent endowment. And it is to be feared that in this respect we are not entirely free from error and danger. scarcely need to say to this enlightened and experienced body of ministers, many of whong are familiar with the polity and fiscal concerns of literary institutions, that such of them as we have just named cannot be considered in a safe and sound condition in regard to their efficiency and perpetuity, until they realize a revenue from permanent endowment entirely sufficient to support their faculties, leaving the fund arising from tuition to meet contingent expenses. If this is a correct rule of calculation in regard to the safety of collegiate institutions, it is very doubtful whether any of our colleges or universities can be considered permanently secure. It appears to us that the time has arrived for the General Conference to take this subject into their deliberate consideration, and adopt such measures as, in their wisdom, May the most effectually secure our colleges already in operation from fiability to failure, and guard against the erection of others till suffi. cient available means are secured to place them on a firm foundation. The circumstance that there are members of the faculties or boards of VOL. XI.-July, 1840.



trustees of nearly, if not quite, all our colleges, present as represent. atives in this body, is in our opinion peculiarly favorable to such a design. We cannot too deeply impress upon your minds the importance of preserving in our own power the direction and control of the system of collegiate and theological education in the church. Perhaps a more favorable opportunity than your present session will seldom, if ever, occur, for devising and adopting a judicious and uni. form course of literary and moral discipline in all the collegiate in. stitutions under our superintendence. And we will not withhold our solemn conviction that any course of study in a Methodist college or university would be essentially defective if it did not embrace the Bible--the most ancient, the most learned, and the most important book in the world. As a Christian community, all our institutions of learning should be sanctuaries of theological science. Do we send our sons to explore the regions of science and literature merely, as did idolatrous Greece and Rome, to prepare them for the senate, the forum, or field? Do we not rather desire that they may be qualified by mental and moral improvement'to diffuse, in every circle of society in which they may move, the influence of the enlightening, peaceful, and benevolent principles of our holy religion? Do we intend them for professional life? In what profession can they be employed in a Christian country in which the Bible is not a most important text book? Are not the civil governments of Christendom based upon

it 3 Is it not the fountain of law, and the charter of rights? When do you see the statesman, the judge, or the advocate, more clear, con. vincing, authoritative, or sublime, than when he appeals to its doc. trines, morals, or sanctions? Do we desire our sons to practice the healing art?

Would we send them forth to mingle in scenes of wretchedness and suffering without the knowledge of those divine truths taught by Him who went about doing good, and healing all manner of diseases? In a word, we cannot but believe that the doctrines, history, evidences, and morals of revelation, should be regarded as forming one of the most important departments in our system of collegiate education.

We are aware that such a feature in the course of study in our colleges would subject them to the too common objection of being theological seminaries. This objection would certainly come with more grace from the lips of infidels than from the tongues or pens of professed believers in the divine authenticity of the Christian revela. tion. While, in our opinion, the science of the word of God should be a paramount branch of instruction in our literary institutions, we desire not to be understood as recommending the establishment of

theological seminaries,” in the common acceptation of the term ; that is, for the special purpose of educating men for the work of the gospel ministry. We feel, with many enlightened Christians and able ministers, both in our own and other religious denominations, the im. portance of an able and efficient ministry. Nor are we unapprized of the great advantages of a thorough education to those whose business it is to preach “Christ and him crucified.” But we are free to acknowledge that the policy of establishing schools of divinity for the exclusive purpose of preparing young men for the sacred office, as for a profession, is, in our opinion, to say the least, of doubtful authority and expedience. The history of such institutions, from their earliest establishment, admonishes us that the speculators of human science have but too frequently obscured and adulterated the doctrines of the revelation of God, and that, in many cases, where they have been commenced on evangelical ground, in their onward course they have wandered into the wilderness of metaphysical disquisitions, or been lost in the still darker regions of “rational Christianity.” When the history, doctrines, evidences, and duties of the revelation of God shall form a distinct and primary department of study in our institutions of learning-our children be dedicated to God, and trained up in his knowledge and fear, and the whole church united in devout and fervent prayer that God would raise up, and send forth into his vineyard, men of his own selection, and Scriptural proofs required of those who profess to be called to preach the gospel, it is believed that human agency will have reached its legitimate bounds in the premises, and that this great concern will be perfectly secure with the supreme

Head of the church, to whom alone belongs the authority to perpetuate the ministry of his gospel to the end of the world. But should this body differ from us with regard to the expediency of establishing institu. tions for theological education separate from our literary establish. ments, and for the exclusive purpose of preparing the students for the work of the ministry, we cannot too strongly recommend to you the propriety and importance of having the whole subject under the direc. tion and control of the General Conference. We are well persuaded that your wisdom and experience will lead you to apprehend the great impropriety of sectional institutions in the church for such a purpose. To intrust a matter of such vast moment to a self-organized association, or to an annual conference, or connection of annual conferences, we apprehend would be a precedent of dangerous tendency, which might ultimately affect the church in matters of vital im. portance.

A regular and uniform course of study for the under graduates in the ministry has, in our judgment, a special claim to your attention at your present session. At a former session it was made the duty of the general superintendents to point out a course of study for the candidates, preparatory to their admission into full connection, with dis. cretionary privilege of appointing a committee for that purpose. By this rule, no provision is made for a course of study for preachers for the two years previous to their induction to the office of elders. This has been thought to be a defect in the system, and, at the request of many of the annual conferences, an advisory course has been prepared, embracing these two years. The result, as far as we have knowledge, has been very advantageous in the improvement of the ministry. And we recommend to the General Conference to extend the course so as to embrace the whole period from the time of admission on trial until the full powers of the ministry are conferred. The situation of the superintendents is such, in visiting all parts of the work, extending over all the states and territories, as to render it ex. tremely difficult, and for the most part impracticable, without great labor and expense, to meet for consultation with each other on this, or any other, important interest of the church ; and their duties are 80 various and weighty as to incline them to the opinion that the

great object contemplated in this provision would be better accom plished by a uniform course of study prepared by this body, and published in our form of Discipline.

The local ministry is to be regarded as forming an important de partment in our system. They are truly helpers in the work of the Lord. As such we should always esteem them. And nothing should be neglected which has a tendency to preserve and strengthen the bonds of affection and confidence between them and the itinerant connection. Many of this useful class of ministers have deeply felt the necessity of a regular system of study, adapted, as far as practicable, to the condition and circumstances of local preachers, embracing studies preparatory to their receiving license, and extending to the time of their graduating to the office of elders. Many and great advantages might doubtless be derived from such a course, judiciously formed in adaptation to the circumstances of our local brethren, whose time must necessarily be employed, to a greater or less extent, in secular avocations. We recommend the subject to your deliberate consideration.

We invite your particular attention to a review of the process pre. scribed in the Discipline in the provision for locating a preacher without his consent. The course directed in case of the trial of a superannuated preacher, residing without the bounds of the annual conference of which he is a member, is found to be attended with great inconvenience, and is liable to result in injustice to the accused, or injury to the church. A considerable number of superannuated preachers (and the number is constantly increasing) have their residence many hundred miles from the bounds of the conferences where they hold their membership. The consequence is, that it repeatedly occurs, that the communieations which the Discipline requires them to make to their own conference fail to be received, in which cases the passage of their characters may be involved, and they are liable to be deprived of their regular allowance, even when they sustain the fairest reputation, and when they are in real need of the amount to which they have a lawful claim. But these points are far from being the most important, though they are certainly entitled to consideration. The subject embraces deeper interests, both to the individuals and to the church. In case of the trial of a superannuated preacher within the bounds of a conference remote from his own, as provided for in the Discipline, there are several difficulties which experiment can hardly fail to make obvious. It is provided that the presiding elder, in whose district the accused may reside, shall bring him to trial, and in case of suspension, shall forward to the annual conference of which the accused is a member exact minutes of the charges, testimony, and decision of the committee in the case, and on the testimony thus furnished, the conference must decide. The great difficulty of deciding important cases equitably, from minutes of testimony thus taken, is well known. This difficulty is increased in proportion to the com. plexity of the case, and the conflicting character of the testimony. Add to this, that it will rarely be practicable in such cases for the accuser and accused to be brought face to face, or for either to be present to plead in the premises. Distance of place, length of time required, and the labor and expense involved, would, in most cases,

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