Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 128.djvu/439

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"True Christians, my dear colonel," said the incumbent, with an air of superiority, "must be instant in prayer and labour for the true doctrine delivered unto them, in season and out of season."

"It seems to me, with all deference, that you are all so busy quarrelling with those Christians who don't agree exactly with yourselves, that you have no time to bestow on the very large number who are not Christians at all. Yet they are the people who stand most in need of your ministrations. If a man is truly religious, it is surely of comparative insignificance whether he is a religious Protestant or a religious Roman Catholic, or whether he is a Churchman or a Dissenter, still less whether he is a High or Low Churchman. Why don't you let him go to heaven his own way, and turn your theological weapons on the large and increasing class who don't believe in Christianity at all, or rather who have never taken the trouble ever to so much as think about heaven or hell?"

"That is very shocking," observed Mrs. Yorke; "but, my dear Arthur, you military men use very strong language."

"Dearest Arthur always was so impulsive," said Rebecca, languidly, from her easy-chair; "but here comes the tea; perhaps you will make it, mamma."

From The Contemporary Review.



It is natural that any reflections upon Wesleyan Methodism should take the form of a comparison between Methodism as it is now and Methodism as it was when it bore the stamp of John Wesley's design. It is not, however, the purpose of this paper to bring out into light once more the most conspicuous difference between the two systems. I should think it superfluous to produce evidence to show that the separation of Methodism from the Church, which may now be taken as an accomplished fact, was regarded by Wesley with strong and declared disfavour. That has been done over and over again. Instructed Methodists must be supposed to know all that can be urged on this point. But from whichever side Methodism be approached — whether we are led to consider its origin under the creative hand of Wesley, or are attracted to the study of the existing condition of the great society which, under this name, is so powerful in England, in America, and in Australia — we find that our inquiries are inevitably drawn onwards or backwards, on towards the development or back towards the beginning of Methodism. At this moment questions of vital importance to the Methodist society are being mooted. What does the Methodist "minister" claim to be? Shall the "laymen" of the communion be admitted to a share in its supreme government? Shall the Methodists join the two great Congregationalist bodies in their assault upon the establishment? It is impossible to give any intelligent thought to these questions without going back to Wesley's legislation. The constitution which he gave to Methodism is still, we find, substantially unaltered, although the ecclesiastical character and relations of the Methodist body are so greatly changed. Then, again, in a day when good Christians of various classes — Churchmen, Dissenters, and Undenominationalists — are casting about for the discovery of the most effective evangelizing agencies, we are reminded of Methodism as a system famed for success in bringing about conversions, and training the converted in spiritual life. What did Wesley preach? How did he preach? What did he do with those who were moved by his preaching? Can we borrow any of his methods for our own use? Can we learn any profitable lessons from their operation? As we look at Wesley's work with such questions in our minds, his life of itself carries us to the length of some sixty years of religious labours; but we are interested to learn what became of his work, and how far his ideas have been acted upon after his death by the organization in which he strove so earnestly to embody them.

The story of Wesley and Methodism is one of contrasts and apparent contradictions, of which the linking together of High Anglicanism and Evangelical Non-conformity is only the chief. One who comes to this story with the ordinary modern impressions is likely to be now and then surprised, and not seldom to be perplexed, by what he learns. It has something to disturb the prejudices of all schools and parties, and is far better calculated to suggest wholesome misgivings to the partisans of any existing school than to confirm them in factious or exclusive prepossessions.

I. Methodism is generally assumed to be "Evangelical," and is associated with those doctrines which the Evangelical school in the Church of England hold in