« PreviousContinue »
respectful reference, and the final action of the conference upon them, may be seen among the doings of this body, as reported and published. The issue in several instances is probably different from what the memorialists may have thought they had reason to expect. But it is to be hoped they will not suppose the General Conference has either denied them any legitimate right, or been wanting in a proper respect for their opinions. Such is the diversity of habits of thought, manners, customs, and domestic relations among the people of this vast republic, and such the diversity of the institutions of the sovereign states of the confederacy, that it is not to be supposed an easy task to suit all the incidental circumstances of our economy to the views and feelings of the vast mass of minds interested. We pray, therefore, that brethren whose views may have been crossed by the acts of this conference will at least give us the credit of having acted in good faith, and of not having regarded private ends or party interests, but the best good of the whole family of American Methodists.
Radical changes in our economy are conceived to be fraught with danger. After having so long, and under such a variety of circumstances, proved the efficiency of our existing institutions, we conceive that it is now no time to go into untried experiments. The leading features of our excellent book of Discipline, we have every reason to believe, commend themselves alike to the enlightened judgments and to the pious feelings of the great mass of our people. Upon this subject they hold the sentiment expressed in the language of our Lord: “No man having drunk old wine, straightway desireth new, for he saith the old is better.” They desire to continue on in the same tried path, and preserve, in its simplicity and purity, Methodism as we received it fronı our fathers. With these convictions, we should prove recreant to the trust committed to us were we in the slightest degree to yield to the spirit of innovation.
After this free expression of our views and feelings in relation to those great interests which naturally come under review in such a communication, will you, brethren, permit us, as your pastors and servants, for Jesus' sake, to “stir up your pure minds by way of re. membrance," in relation to several important duties, which at the present time especially demand your utmost care and diligence :
1. In addition to the ordinary means of grace to which we are bound to attend as Christians, there are certain duties which are obligatory on us as Methodists ; among these are our class-meetings and love-feasts. Numerous melancholy instances have proved that these means cannot be wantonly neglected by our people without the -loss of their religious comfort, a total paralysis of their spiritual ener. gies, and utter uselessness in the church. As
then desire to be useful, to be happy, and to glorify God in this life and that which is to come, we beseech you, brethren, never for a moment to decline in your attention to these precious means of grace.
2. Exercise the utmost vigilance and care over the moral and re. ligious training of the rising generation. In a very few days we shall be with our fathers : and it is for us now to say what influence our children shall exert upon the condition of society, and the destinies of the world, when we are no more. Give your infant offspring to God in holy baptism. When they are of sufficient age, put them into the
sabbath school, impart to them personal religious instruction, pray, incessantly for their conversion and salvation, and by all means, if possible, give them the advantages of the excellent institutions of learning which have been reared by your benevolent and praiseworthy exertions. 13. We would also apprise you who are
heads of families of the vast importance of supplying those committed to your trust with such reading as will have a tendency to make them wiser and better. Preoccupy their attention with our own excellent books and period. icals, and, to the utmost of your power, guard them against the dread. ful tide of froth and corruption which is making such ravages upon the intellectual and moral character of the age, under the general title of novels. These publications, with very few exceptions, like the dreadful sirocco, blast, and wither, and destroy, wherever they come. Superinducing a state of intellectual languor, and blunting the moral feelings, they prepare the young mind for the more open and decided demonstrations of error, in the various forms of infidelity, or make it an easy prey to the seductions of vice. Recollect that “ to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet. Take care, then, to supply the appropriate aliment of the mind in sufficient variety and abundance, that there may be left no opening for the entrance of these mischievous agents.
4. We furthermore exhort you, brethren, not to forget the high and holy object of our organization. We profess to be a company of men having the form and seeking the power of godliness; united in order to pray together, to receive the word of exhortation, and to help each other work out their salvation.” We are a voluntary association, organized, as we believe, according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, for purposes of a purely spiritual nature. It was with reference to our mutual spiritual edification that we struck hands before God's altar, and gave to each other pledges of future fidelity. Let us then labor to the utmost to do each other good, praying for one another, " bearing each other's burdens, and so fulfilling the law of Christ,"
forgiving one another if any have a quarrel against another.” Our obligations to these duties we took upon ourselves voluntarily, and under the most solemn circumstances. Can we then lightly cast them off, or claim them at the hands of others, when we will not discharge them ourselves? Nay, brethren, they are mutual, perpetual, inviolable.
5. We exhort and beseech you, brethren, by the tender mercies of our God, that you strive for the “mind that was in Christ Jesus.' Be not content with mere childhood in religion : but, “having the principles of the doctrines of Christ, go on unto perfection." The doctrine of entire sanctification constitutes a leading feature of original Methodism. But let us not suppose it enough to have this doc. trine in our standards : let us labor to have the experience and the power of it in our hearts. Be assured, brethren, that if our influence and usefulness, as a religious community, depend upon one thing more than any other, it is upon our carrying out the great doctrine of sanctification in our life and conversation. When we fail to do this, then shall we lose our pre-eminence; and the halo of glory which surrounded the heads, and lit up the path of our sainted fathers, will
have departed from their unworthy sons. O brethren, let your motto be, “ Holiness to the Lord.” “And may the God of peace sanctify you wholly, and we pray God, that your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.” And now, we “ commend you to God and the word of his grace, who is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among them that are sanctified.”-AMEN.
Geo. PECK, Chairman.
In entering upon the duties of our new appointment, we should feel a pleasure in presenting a general view of the department committed to our trust, and of the principles by which we shall endeavor to be governed in the execution of our official duties. But our circumstances forbid our treating these subjects at present at length. We are not yet quite inducted into office. And under the influence of the excite. ment occasioned by breaking up our former relations and associations, and entering into a new sphere of action, we should excuse ourselves from writing a line at present, but for the fact that we are told the present number of the Magazine and Review must be immediately concluded.
Under these circumstances, the most we can undertake is a bare notice of a few of the important matters which we desire to bring especially before the Methodist community, in relation to the Review, and must reserve the rest for a future occasion.
The late General Conference passed the following resolution, viz. :
Resolved, That we recommend to the agents and book committee at New York to commence, at the close of the present year, if in the judgment of the agents the patronage be sufficient to sustain it, a new series of the Quarterly Review, in an enlarged and improved form, to be entitled the Methodist Quarterly Review; and that the agents be directed to issue forthwith a prospectus for the work.”
Under a conviction that it was necessary to expend more labor upon the work, to give it the elevation of character necessary to meet the present standard of literary taste, than under the former arrangement of the editorial department of the Concern, it was possible to bestow, the General Conference provided for a separate editor. The duties devolving upon the editor, under the present arrangement, will undoubtedly be sufficiently responsible and laborious. And we might well tremble for ourselves, and for the cause intrusted with us, if we could make no dependence upon the assistance of able correspondents.
We have long been strongly impressed with the conviction that a Quarterly of high literary merit, one that should be worthy of being considered the standard of Methodist literature and theology in this country, is a desideratum. And we shall put forth our best endeavors to make the new series every thing that is desirable, though we by no means have the vanity to anticipate entire success in attempting to meet the expectations and views of an inquisitive and enlightened age, or in carrying out our own wishes and purposes.' But wherein we are observed by our eagle-eyed and liberal-minded friends and brethren who are interested in the work to fail in the execution, we shall not be more solicitous to enjoy the benefit of their candid and charitable consideration, than we shall be to have them supply our lack of service. For we hope (though we would not profess to be wanting in self-respect) we have a higher and more sacred regard for the safe keeping of the great public interests com. mitted to our care than we have for our own fair fame as a critical reviewer.
We would most respectfully and explicitly pray our brethren in the various fields of labor to give us the benefit of their talents and research, and so not only to oblige us, but to serve the best interests of the church and of the world. Let men who have talents to write, consider, that for the improvement of these talents they are as much responsible to God as for the improvement of any other class of gifts. And as to the character of the matter wanted, it is scarcely necessary to say, it must be characterized by genuine moral principle, and sound orthodoxy. These will in all cases be considered indispensable. It must also be considered as of great importance that articles for publication in the Review should be well got up and properly finished. We shall wish to be excused from the labor of correcting the grammar and the rhetoric, of breaking up the sentences, and changing the phraseology of our correspondents. We shall always prefer leaving writers to appear in their own dress, and to stand upon their own merits; and, consequently, shall not choose, in any instance, to alter a phrase or change a word. But certainly we cannot consent to be at the trouble of new modeling the structure of whole paragraphs, for the purpose of making the writer consistent with himself or intelligible to his readers. We very much want the help of gifted and practiced writers, and when they favor us with
their labors, we hope they will give themselves time so to finish what they undertake, as to be willing to have it appear to the eye of the critic without material correction. As for those who have yet to learn how to spread their thoughts upon paper in an intelligible manner, we would wish to leave them a while with their tutors to complete their novitiate before we present them to our readers.
As to the classes of articles which we want, we would observe, that, as our work, after the present series is closed, is wholly to take the character of a Review, we want a sufficient amount of reviews proper. It will be desirable to have reviews of the most popular of the theological and scientific publications of the day; presenting their spirit, scope, and execution in a lucid and comprehensive man. ner; refuting what is erroneous, and approving what is right; the whole executed in such a manner as to give the reader a general idea of the work, and a correct knowledge of its great distinguishing features and characteristics. In addition to this class of compositions, we want dissertations, essays, Biblical exegeses, biography, sketches, (historical or descriptive,) literary notices, &c.
It may fairly be doubted whether the real importance of such a work has as yet been properly estimated, either by the membership or the ministry. The Methodists may truly be denominated a reading community. But multitudes of them neither have the means to purchase many books, nor the time to wade through ponderous tomes. To them it is of immense importance that they should be furnished with a periodical which presents, in a condensed form, the substance of the great mass of English and American literature, freed from the obnoxious and deleterious principles which often more than neutralize the good with which they are associated.
To the traveling preachers whose itinerating course of life and limited means render it impossible to furnish themselves with exten. sive libraries, and many of whom labor in fields situated at a distance from the publishing establishments and book marts of the country, such a work is admirably suited. This fact appears so obvious, that it is scarcely accountable that so little interest has heretofore been taken by our traveling ministry in the Magazine and Review; a work which, with all the disadvantages under which it has labored, certainly has been worthy of a larger amount of patronage than it has received. More time and attention will be devoted to the matter of the future series, and it is confidently hoped that the entire mass of our ministry, traveling and local, will find it to their advantage to become subscribers for the work, and to aid its circulation among our people and friends.
The theological and literary Reviews which are published in Europe