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were unanimous against it.” In one of his sermons preached the same year b he said, “The Methodists are still members of the Church ; such they desire to live and die.. I hold all the doctrines of the Church of England; I love her Liturgy; I approve her plan of discipline; I dare not separate from the Church; that I believe it would be a sin to do." In one of his last sermons he asked his people : “Did we ever appoint you to administer Sacraments? To exercise the Priestly office? Such a design never entered into our mind; it was farthest from our thoughts. ... It does by no means follow that
you are commissioned to baptize and administer the Lord's Supper. Ye never dreamed of this for ten or twenty years after ye began to preach ; ye did not then, like Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, seek the Priesthood also; ye knew no man taketh this honour upon himself, but he that is called of God as was Aaron. Oh, contain yourselves within your own bounds." Only a year before his death he wrote: “I live and die a member of the Church of England, and no one who regards my judgment will ever separate from it."
Yet almost immediately after his death the Methodists took up a deliberately schismatical position, and their connexion with the Church soon ceased. Four years afterwards, at the annual Conference held at Manchester in 1795, a “ Plan of Pacification” was agreed to, by which the preachers were authorized to celebrate the Holy Communion as the Conferences should appoint; at that date, therefore, the history of Wesleyan Methodism, as a Society within the Church, ends, and now the Methodists constitute the largest body of separatists from the Church 4.
b Sermon cxv.
e On his tombstone it is recorded that his life had been devoted “to revive, enforce, and defend the pure Apostolical doctrines and practices of the Primitive Church, which he continued to do for more than half a century.”
• Immediately after their separation from the Church divi. sions sprung up amongst them. In 1797 the “Methodist New Connexion” was formed ; in 1810 the “Primitive Methodists,"
Ranters," broke off; in 1815 the “ Bible Christians ;' in 1835 the “Wesleyan Methodist Association;" in 1849 the “Wesleyan Methodist Reformers."
THE AMERICAN CHURCH.
Twould be impossible to convey anything like an
adequate idea of the condition of the Church in the eighteenth century without giving some sketch of the ecclesiastical condition of our Colonial Empire during that eventful period. Abroad, our dominion, whether by conquest or colonization, was rapidly extending itself, but no attempt was made either to convert the heathen, or to prevent the colonists from retrograding into barbarism. No collegiate institutions were fostered, no churches, no schools, were planted in their midst. As the century advanced, Clive brought under our sway a large portion of the vast empire of India, with which, as traders, we had been long connected. But it was to the zeal of the Roman Catholics, and the liberality of the King of Denmark, that our greatest dependency was indebted for the knowledge of Christ. Such blindness to the first duties of a Christian nation is almost incredible a We had intended to confine the limits of this work to a history of the Church in England, but we propose
* Church Quarterly Review, viii. 347.
for a short space to deviate from our plan; and as the same reckless neglect was meted out to all our colonies, we shall confine ourselves to one, at that time the most important of all our possessions, North America.
From the year 1607, when the first small band of English settlers landed in Virginia, to the close of the American Revolution in 1783, it can scarcely be said that the Church existed in America. There were indeed, here and there, a few erratic Clergymen, mostly supported through the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, and their congregations, composed of those who were reared in the bosom of the Church of England ; but the most material part of the Church's system was wanting; the Church was prevented by the State, under pain of Præmunire, from sending out Bishops; there was no one in America to confer Confirmation or Orders; the Clergy were under the supervision of the Bishop of London ; and those who sought Con. firmation or Orders were obliged to undertake an expensive and perilous journey of three thousand miles each way, from and to America.
The most marked feature (if not its very origin) in the colonization of America was the religious element. Those who in the seventeenth century left their homes in England to seek a new home in the American provinces were men who were instigated by religious convictions. Church of England men in Virginia, Puritans in New England, Quakers in Pennsylvania ; all sought in the New World religious freedom, and all obtained a much larger measure of religious liberty than could be found in Europe. Driven from home by the antipathies which differences in religion had excited, and united by no religious bond beyond such as hatred of authority, embittered by spiritual pride, had produced, the emigrants left the shores of England without a sigh and without regret. Seekers after toleration themselves, they had no idea of tolerating those who differed from them; sufferers for conscience' sake, and desiring freedom from those who persecuted them, they had only one bond of union, and that bond was an unmitigated hatred to the Church of their birth. And this hatred of the Church, at a time when the Church's hands were tied by the State, only gathered strength. Here, then, was a fine field for the Church to work in ; the State hampered it and prevented it from performing its task ; Dissent consequently had an unfair advantage, and grew and prospered whilst the Church languished.
A few preliminary words on the history of American colonization may not be out of place. Virginia (which, however, received little more than its name from Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen) was settled in 1607 by an English colony, the first seeds of that race of Englishmen which was to multiply in time into the great American Nation.