The moral and religious condition of England at the beginning of the 18th century was most deplorable. The court was dissolute; the standard of taste was low; the prevalence of skepticism was alarming; the church, both established and dissenting, had lapsed into a state of lifeless formalism; the masses of the people had sunk into incredible vice and brutality. In the year 1720 John Wesley, a fellow of Lincoln college, Oxford, became convinced of the necessity of a deeper spiritual life. With his brother Charles, likewise a student of Oxford, and a few other associates, ho organized a meeting for their mutual moral improvement. The band soon began to manifest increased religious zeal by visiting almshouses and prisons, by instructing the children of the poor, and by a strict and conscientious observance of all the ordinances of the church They were soon joined by others, among them Mr. Hervey and Mr. George Whitefield of Pembroke college, till at the end of six years they numbered 14 or 15 persons.
The rigid exactness of their lives attracted general attention among their fellows; they were objects of ridicule and contempt, and received various designations, but the term "Methodists" was applied to them by a student of Christchurch college, on account of their methodical mode of life and work. On the departure of the brothers Wesley to Georgia in 1735, the band was dissolved, but the new religious life that had there been enkindled manifested itself in the more zealous ministrations of the members of the "Godly Club." After his return, Wesley began to preach in London and elsewhere with great fervor. His sole object was to bring back the church to a pure and holy life, and to save the degraded and neglected. For the same object Whitefield and others had already labored earnestly during the absence of the Wesleys in Georgia. These reformers were at first received with coldness by the public, and their labors were regarded with suspicion or hostility. Wesley was at length debarred admission to the pulpits. In the early part of 1739 Whitefield had set the first example of open-air preaching at Kingswood, near Bristol, where he had addressed an immense crowd of colliers.
Though at first disapproving of Whitefield's attempt, after a brief hesitation John Wesley as well as his brother Charles followed this example. Being denied admission to the churches by the clergy, they were compelled to continue their preaching in private houses, barns, market places, and the open fields, as opportunity was given. Thousands flocked to their ministry, and multitudes were converted. Wesley and his coadjutors were stubbornly opposed by the dignitaries of the establishment, who were strong in condemnation of this violation of ecclesiastical order. Sometimes the mob was stirred up to revile and assault them; sometimes the power of the law was invoked against them as disturbers of the peace. The converts made by their preaching wero either despised or utterly neglected by the church, and hence Wesley, at their own request, formed them into societies for mutual edification and improvement, called "the United Societies." Wesley's own account of their origin is as follows: " In the latter end of the year 1739 eight or ten persons came to me in London, who appeared to be deeply convinced of sin, and earnestly groaning for redemption.
They desired (as did some two or three more the next day) that I would spend some time with them in prayer, and advise them how to flee from the wrath to come, which they saw continually hanging over their heads. That we might have more time for this great work, I appointed a day when they might all come together; which from thenceforward they did every week, viz., on Thursday in the evening. To these, and as many as desired to join with them (for their number increased daily), I gave those advices from time to time as I judged most needful for them; and we always concluded our meetings with prayer suitable to their several necessities. This was the rise of the united society, first in London, and then in other places. Such a society is no other than 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 watch over one another in love, that they may help each other to work out their salvation." The mass of those who had been converted were from the poor and uneducated classes. For the government of these societies a few simple rules were proposed by the Wesleys, which, with slight exceptions, are still recognized as the "General Rules " by all branches of the Methodist church.
The sole condition of membership in these societies was " a desire to flee from the wrath to come and to be saved from sin." But this desire will be shown by its fruits, leading the man to avoid evil and to do good. Hence these rules forbade in the members of these societies the evils then most generally practised, "such as profane swearing, Sabbath breaking, drunkenness, buying or selling spirituous liquors, or drinking them except in cases of extreme necessity; fighting, quarrelling, brother going to law with brother, returning evil for evil or railing for railing; the using of many words in buying and selling; the buying or selling of uncustomed goods; the giving or taking things on usury, i. e., unlawful interest; uncharitable or unprofitable conversation, particularly speaking evil of magistrates or of ministers; doing to others as we would not they should do unto us; doing what we know is not for the glory of God, as the putting on of gold and costly apparel; the taking of such diversions as cannot be used in the name of the Lord Jesus; the singing those songs or reading those books which do not tend to the knowledge or love of God; softness, and needless self-indulgence; laying up treasures upon earth; borrowing without probability of paying, or taking up goods without probability of paying for them." But it was "expected that all continuing in these societies should continue to evidence their desire of salvation, secondly, by doinggood; by being in every kind merciful after their power; as they have opportunity, doing good of every possible sort, and as far as possible to all men; by feeding the hungry and clothing the naked; by helping or visiting them that are sick or in prison; by instructing, reproving, and exhorting; by doing good especially to them that are of the household of faith, or groaning to be so; employing them preferably to others, buying one of another, helping each other in business, etc, and so much the more because the world will love its own, and them only; by diligence and frugality; by self-denial and by submission to bear the reproach of Christ; by attendance upon the ordinances of God, such as public worship, the ministry of the word, the supper of the Lord, family and private prayer, searching the Scriptures, and fasting and abstinence".
These rules were declared to be taught in God's Word, and that they are written on every truly awakened heart. If any violate these rules, they are to be admonished and borne with for a season; but if they persist, then they are to be exscinded. For the accommodation of these societies chapels had been provided at London and Bristol. During 1740-'41 Wesley and his co-workers were preaching and founding societies in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Wales, while White-field had made his second voyage to America, and by his wonderful eloquence had aroused the religious consciousness of the people from Maine to Georgia. On the return of White-field the differences between him and Wesley on doctrinal points caused their separation, and Whitefield organized the Calvinistic Methodists in 1741. By the labors of Whitefield, Methodism was introduced into Scotland and Wales, and, aided by the munificence of the countess of Huntingdon, chapels were provided and a college for preachers was founded. Calvinistic Methodism had many remarkable adherents, who were instrumental in the conversion of multitudes. Next to Whitefield in labors and success was Howell Harris, the apostle of Methodism in Wales; and not less in labors were Romaine, Madan, Venn, Ber-ridge, and others.
In 1744 Whitefield made his third voyage to America, repeating the labors of former visits, and preaching with wonderful effect in the Bermudas in 1748. On his return to Europe in June, 1748, he visited Scotland, and also preached to immense congregations in England. In 1747 Thomas Williams, a lay preacher from England, had formed a society in Dublin. In the same year the Wesleys visited Ireland, and great success attended their ministry, though bitter opposition was experienced from the Roman Catholic population. Among the converts from Catholicism in 1749 was Thomas Walch, who has been styled the apostle of Methodism to the Irish. In 1744 Wesley had invited several clergymen of the establishment and his lay assistants to meet him in London, to give "their advice respecting the best method of carrying on the work of God." Thereafter these "conferences " were held annually, and were occasions of revising the work, laying plans for the ensuing year, and discussing questions of doctrine and polity. In the midst of his severe labors Wesley wrote in defence of the system which he had inaugurated, and devised means for the education of his preachers and the improvement of his churches.
In 1757 he was joined by John Fletcher, a Swiss by birth, who had been ordained a priest in the established church. In him Wesley found an earnest defender and a powerful apologist for his doctrinal views. During the progress of this wonderful revival work, the strong opposition of the clergy of the establishment continued. Individual examples of sympathy and aid to the itinerants were found, but in many instances the converts, and even Mr. Wesley and some of his clerical fellow workers, were repelled from the eucharist. Under these circumstances it was felt by many that these societies should receive the sacraments at the hands of their own preachers, and some had ventured to administer them. The conference of 1755 was greatly agitated with this question, and the kindred one of separation from the established church was openly discussed; but after a protracted debate, it was decided to be inexpedient to form a separate church. Since the first voyage of Wesley to America in 1735, the Moravians, whom he then met, had by the simplicity and purity of their lives exerted a powerful influence on the Methodist movement. They had societies in London and elsewhere, but their numbers were limited, and they lacked that compact organization necessary for permanent success.
Between 1750 and 1760 Ingham, assisted by Moravian helpers, founded more than 80 societies in Yorkshire and the neighboring counties. These were in close affiliation with the Arminian and Calvinistic societies, but had their separate conferences. In 1760 a small company of Irish, descendants of German Palatines, who had received Methodism, removed to New York, and in 1766, through the influence of Barbara Heck and Philip Embury, resumed the religious services to which they had been accustomed in Ireland. They were assisted by Capt. Webb, an officer in the British army, who had been licensed by Wesley as a local preacher. In 1769 two preachers were sent to America. These found that the country had been greatly awakened by the labors of Whitefield, and they were successful in establishing a church in New York. White-field had crossed the ocean 13 times, but in 1770 his work was terminated by his death at Newburyport, Mass. At this time the members in Wesley's societies amounted to 29,-179. The period between 1770 and 1780 witnessed no cessation of labor by either branch of Methodism. Although a controversy on the points of difference between Arminianism and Calvinism was carried on with great ability on either side, in which Wesley and Fletcher were opposed by Shirley, Toplady, Rowland Hill, and others, not only were the societies cared for and greatly increased, but also the foundations of those great moral enterprises, the Bible, tract, and missionary societies, were laid, and much attention was given to schemes of public philanthropy.
In 1771 Francis As-bury and Richard Wright had been sent to America, where the work had greatly increased, and where the first conference was held in 1773. From 1784 the history of Methodism diverges into two main branches, viz.: Wesleyan Methodism and the Methodist Episcopal church. The first assumed a distinct organic and legal status by the record in the high court of chancery of Mr. Wesley's "Deed of Declaration," and the second became an independent church in America through the ordination by Mr. Wesley and the Rev. James Oreighton of Thomas Coke as superintendent and bishop of the Methodist societies in America, and Richard Whatcoat and Thomas Va-sey as presbyters. Till his death in 1791, Wesley continued to preside at the annual conferences and to plan and direct the work. Methodism had already been introduced into England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the British islands, France, the United States, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and the West Indies. In 1791 it numbered 233 circuits, 540 travelling preachers, and 134,599 members. - Confession. Methodism strove at first only to restore a purified and intensified spiritual life.
The careful discussion by Wesley and his fellow laborers, in the conferences and through published works, of the religious needs of the people and of the obstacles to the progress of the work of evangelization, was the occasion of the development of the Wesleyan theology. Methodism has no such elaborate and authoritative symbol as the Tridentine decrees, or the Heidelberg, the Augsburg, the Westminster, and other confessions. The substance of its doctrines is to be found in the writings of John Wesley, John Fletcher, Richard Watson, and others, and in the generally uniform teachings of the Methodist pulpit. The articles which Wesley prepared for the Methodist church in America were taken substantially from the thirty-nine articles of the church of England. Agreeing with the so-called orthodox churches in most cardinal doctrines of the Bible, the material principle of Methodism, like that of all other independent systems of theology, is to be found in its conception of the mutual relation of God and man with regard to the work of salvation through Christ. Methodism holds that the salvation or non-salvation of each human being depends solely on his own free action in respect to the enlightening, renewing, and sanctifying inworkings of the Holy Spirit. If, in respect to these inworkings, he holds himself receptively, he will be saved both here and hereafter; but if he closes his heart against these influences of the Spirit, he will continue in death both here and in eternity.
With this fundamental view, all the other doctrinal peculiarities of Methodism, such as its dogma of freedom, its emphasis of the work of the Holy Spirit, its views of assurance, Christian perfection, etc, are intimately and harmoniously connected. In accord with this general principle, Methodism is Arminian in distinction from Calvinistic. Teaching the total depravity of the race through the fall of the first pair, and man's consequent absolute inability to recover a state of holiness and obedience, except as aided by divine grace, Methodism teaches that this grace of God in Christ is universal. First, as to the divine purpose: God wills the salvation of all, and Christ died for all. Secondly, as to the work of God for us, or the objective operation of grace: for as by the first Adam "judgment came upon all men unto condemnation," so by the second Adam "the free gift came upon all unto justification of life." Thirdly, as to the work done in us, the subjective operation of grace: it enlighteneth every man, and convinceth every man, thus putting all men under probation; for "the grace of God which bringeth salvation to all men hath appeared." Methodism teaches that none of Adam's descendants are held guilty of Adam's sin until they reject the grace of Christ; i. e., through the atoning work of Christ all men stand in a gracious relation to God, instead of a natural relation, and are subjects of the influence of the Holy Spirit; and they continue in this gracious relation until excluded by virtue of voluntary transgression.
With this view harmonizes its teaching relative to infant baptism and salvation, and the responsibility of man for his own salvation or damnation. Methodism holds to two sacraments, baptism and the Lord's supper. As eligible to the former, it recognizes infant children and believing children and adults; to the latter, professing Christians and penitent seekers of salvation. It prescribes no exclusive mode of baptism, and dictates no exclusive posture in receiving the Lord's supper. Yet its most usual mode of baptism is by sprinkling, and that of receiving the bread and wine is in the kneeling posture. It emphasizes the doctrine of assurance, i. e., that the Holy Spirit bears witness of pardon and acceptance to the justified sinner; but this is only taught as a privilege of believers, and is not made the test of Christian character. It also makes prominent the doctrine of Christian perfection, or perfect love, declaring the object of its organization to be to spread Scriptural holiness over the land.
In accordance with this view, its preachers, previous to being received into its conferences, declare that they are going on unto perfection and expect to be made perfect in love in this life. - Polity. Methodist polity, like the Methodist confession, is to be understood only by regarding Methodism as a revival and missionary movement. Wesley thought as little of establishing a separate church polity as of publishing a separate theology. The rapidly increasing work caused him and his coadjutors great anxiety. It was their wish and purpose to leave those who had been converted through their ministrations to the pastoral care of the clergy of the establishment. But the neglect and frequent ridicule of the converts by the clergy caused many to turn back and plunge again into sin. Hence Wesley on his departure from London appointed Mr. Maxfield, a young layman, to meet and encourage the members during his absence. Maxfield, through unusual zeal, was led to take a passage of Scripture to expound. Much good followed this attempt. Wesley, however, hastened to put an end to what he regarded a disorderly procedure; but on listening to the earnest and persuasive preaching of Maxfield, he was convinced that this was God's providential way of providing for the wants of the growing societies.
About the same time John Nelson, a'mason of Bristol, began to explain to his neighbors the way of salvation which he had found, and to compare and explain the Scriptures. This was the origin of lay preaching, which afterward became so important an element in the economy of Methodism. As the number of lay preachers increased and the number of converts multiplied, Wesley invited several clergymen and these lay assistants, as before mentioned, to meet him in London, " to give him their advice respecting the best method of carrying on the work of God." This first assembly that took the name of "conference" was held in the Foundery, London, June 25, 1744. That Methodism was yet but a revival within the establishment is seen from the view taken by Wesley and his associates of the relations of the Methodist societies to the church of England. Secession was discouraged, and they distinctly denied that they were dissenters. The hope was still entertained that the regular clergy might be faithful in their care of the people, and administer to them the sacraments.
No provision was made for a future assembly, but conferences were held annually thereafter, and the record of their proceedings was published under the title, "Minutes of the several Conversations between the Rev. Mr. Wesley and others." Previous to the conference of 1744 the greater portion of England had been divided into "circuits," and provision had been made to supply these with preachers for such time as the need of the work seemed to indicate. Here are thus found the elements of the circuit and itinerant systems, which have been so generally maintained. During the life of Wesley the conferences were occupied in consultation respecting the best methods of conducting the evangelical work for the ensuing year, in the discussion of doctrinal questions, and in advising the lay preachers as to the proper manner of spending their time in study, preaching, and pastoral labors. Till the close of the American revolution there had been no organization of a separate church de jure, although since the conference of 1744 there had been a church de facto, of which John Wesley was the chief head and executive.
While in his work as an evangelist he recognized the sole and exclusive authority of the established church wherever the English civil authority was exercised, the discussions of the several conferences, as well as Wesley's writings and conduct, clearly show that his views of ecclesiastical authority and polity underwent radical changes, and led him, at the recognition_ of the independence of the American colonies, to provide a separate church organization for the Methodists of America, and at his death to perpetuate his work by constituting the "United Societies" a distinct ecclesiastical body in regular legal form. Methodism holds to no inspired or divinely imposed church polity. While it believes that certain types of church organization are found in the New Testament, it teaches that no uniformity of church government is obligatory, but that a church is at liberty to adapt its polity and government to its varying exigencies. So with the orders of the clergy. Methodism concedes that three orders early appeared in the church, but denies that these are enjoined in Scripture. Thus in Great Britain it recognizes but one order, while in America it has provided two.
Agreeably with its original character as a revival and missionary movement, it feels at liberty to adjust its polity to the demands of its work. Nevertheless its government and usages are essentially similar in all its divisions, as will appear from the separate accounts of them.
The original body of Methodists in Great Britain are called Wesley ans or Wesleyan Methodists. The principal secessions from this parent body are the Cal-vinistic Methodists, the Methodist New Connection, the Primitive Methodists, the United Methodist Free church, the Bible Christians, and the Primitive Methodists of Ireland. There are also several minor divisions.
Although the "United Society," organized in 1739, was the real origin of Methodism, the Wesleyans had no legal status till 1784, and the societies had been under the exclusive control of the Wes-leys. They had assembled the conferences, and had directed the religious work. The chapels and preachers' houses had been deeded to trustees for the use of such preachers as John or Charles Wesley should send to them, and, after the death of the Wesleys, of such as the conference should appoint. Near the close of his life, John Wesley drafted the so-called "Deed of Declaration," a plan for the perpetuity of the societies. In this instrument 100 preachers named by Wesley were declared to be the legal conference, and their character and powers were clearly defined. To them was intrusted the duty of filling vacancies as they might occur. By the enrollment of this document in the high court of chancery the conference secured a corporate existence and legal status. The provisions of this deed have remained substantially the same to the present tune. These members are technically called "The Legal Hundred." After the death of Wesley the church was greatly agitated by controversies relative to its polity, as well as by the political questions to which the French revolution hud given rise.
The celebration of the sacraments by its own preachers independently of the establishment, the powers of individual societies, and the relation of laymen to the government of the church, were among the chief subjects in controversy. These were substantially adjusted in 1795 by the adoption of a plan called "Articles of Agreement for Genera] Pacification," although soon after a secession under the leadership of Alexander Kilham resulted, and took the name of the Methodist New Connection. After Wesley's death the progress of the Wesleyan Methodists was rapid and substantial. As a revival power it was unceasing in its labors for home evangelization, and as a missionary movement it organized conferences in Ireland, France, Australia, Canada, and the other British provinces of America, and established missions in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, continental India, Ceylon, China, western and southern Africa, the West Indies, Australia, and many of the islands of Oceania. It developed a wise and efficient financial system; it has taken active part in the great questions of emancipation and civil liberty; it laid broad the foundations of its educational system, and wonderfully developed its literary and theological character by the works of Thomas Coke, Jabez Bunting, Adam Clarke, Robert Newton, Joseph Benson, Richard Watson, Thomas Jackson, and many others.
The doctrines of the Wesleyan Methodists have already been sufficiently indicated. While they have no written confession of faith, they find in the thirty-nine articles of the established church a proximate expression of their doctrinal belief; but the deeds of their churches and the courts of England recognize Wesley's notes on the New Testament and a portion of his sermons as a standard of doctrine. Its polity and government are substantially defined in the " Deed of Declaration." By this instrument the supreme ecclesiastical government is vested exclusively in the hands of the clergy. These meet annually in conference, and continue in session not less than five days and not more than three weeks. The legal conference has power to receive preachers on trial, to receive into full membership on ordination, to pass upon the character of all the preachers, to try charges against any, and to reprimand, suspend, or exscind. It is its prerogative to review and revise the proceedings of the subordinate judicatories.
These are: first, the district meeting or conference, composed of ministers and laymen residing within a certain district, embracing from 10 to 20 circuits; second, the quarterly meeting, composed of local preachers, stewards, and class leaders, at which meeting, thus composed largely of the lay element of the church, candidates for the ministry are first proposed, and can be rejected without appeal; thirdly, the leaders' meeting, held monthly, and composed of the minister or ministers of a circuit, the leaders of . classes, and stewards, the last having in chargo chiefly the temporalities of the societies. The members of the various churches are divided into "classes," each numbering from 12 to 20 persons and placed under a "leader," who is to meet tho class weekly to inquire after their spiritual condition and give such counsel and exhortation as each may need. The ministry is itinerant, preachers being appointed to a church for a single year, and eligible to continue in one circuit not more than three consecutive years.
A body composed of one representative from each district meeting constitutes a stationing committee, which prepares a draft of the stations of all the ministers for the ensuing year, and submits this to the conference, where appeals are made and the scheme of appointments perfected in accordance with the demands of the work. Important improvements have been made in this polity from time to time, by which the seemingly oligarchical character of the "Legal Conference " has been modified, and the methods have been made consonant with the voice of the large body of the conference. Yet the essential principles of the original " Deed " are still retained. - In the progress of its history, Wes-leyan Methodism has developed various " con-nectional" enterprises, as its needs have suggested. Among these are the contingent fund, established in 1756, for the support of home missionaries, for deficits of preachers on poor circuits, etc, which is sustained by an annual collection in all the societies, by donations and bequests, and by appropriations from the book room; the children's fund, founded in 1819, for equalization of the support of the children of preachers, according to the numbers and ability of the societies; the general chapel fund, founded in 1818, to relieve embarrassed chapels and stimulate the liberality of the people in repairing and building chapels and preachers1 houses, by affording them help according to their own exertions; and the preachers' auxiliary fund, for the relief of superannuated preachers, their widows and orphans.
This denomination had early been very zealous in the planting and support of missions both domestic and foreign. These local and unmethodical efforts were succeeded in 1818 by the " General Wesley an Missionary Society," by which its entire missionary operations were consolidated under a regular board of managers. The amount disbursed in 1873 was about £175,000. It supports missions in every quarter of the globe. The distribution of books and tracts by the preachers in their circuits was early insisted on by Wesley. In 1782 he and Coke instituted the "Society for the Distribution of Religious Tracts among the Poor." To supply the needs of the people Wesley early had a book store and printing house of his own, which has developed into the Wesleyan book concern, one of the largest publishing houses in England, whose interests are supervised by a book steward and two editors. These have also the general oversight of the official periodicals of the denomination. The originators of Methodism early gave attention to education.
In 1739 Whitefield laid the corner stone of a charity school at Kings-wood for the neglected miners, which was afterward completed by Wesley. It also became the anxious inquiry at the conferences, Can we have a seminary for laborers? Its school fund was designed for the education of preachers' children at Kingswood, and afterward at Wood House Grove and New Kings-wood. In 1837 the Wesleyans formed the "Wesleyan Education Committee," and they have since manifested great interest in educational matters. They have under their control a "Proprietary College" at Sheffield, and a collegiate institution at Taunton, both standing in collegiate relations to London university; a college at Belfast, Ireland; and two theological schools situated respectively at Didsbury and Richmond. They also support an extensive system of day schools, amounting in 1871 to 889 schools and 150,765 scholars, for which teachers are trained at the Wesleyan normal school in Westminster. The statistics for 1873-'4 of the British Wesleyan church, including Great Britain, the Irish, French, and Australasian conferences, and the foreign missions, are: members, 507,107; on trial, 32,361; travelling preachers, 1,917; Sunday schools, 7,032; scholars, 261,740.
This branch of the original revival movement arose from a diversity of view between Wesley and Whitefield on doctrinal points, the former advocating the Arminian theology and the latter the Calvinistic. Aided by his patron, the countess of Huntingdon, Whitefield first erected the celebrated "Tabernacle" near the site of Wesley's "Foundery" in London, and was instrumental in building churches in various parts of the United Kingdom. This branch of Methodism divided into three sects, the "Lady Huntingdon Connection," the " Whitefield Methodists," and the "Welsh Calvinistic Methodists." The first of these branches adhered to the liturgy of the established church, and adopted a settled pastorate. Their numbers are limited, yet they still maintain the Ches-hunt college, which was founded by Lady Huntingdon. The Whitefield Methodists have been almost entirely absorbed into the Independent church. The third branch has been successful in labors especially in Wales and among the Welsh population in America. It numbers about 60,000 communicants in Wales, and 4,000 in America, the latter divided into four annual conferences.
The Wesleyan body had been agitated by various questions of doctrine and polity. Great uneasiness was felt by numbers of preachers and laymen because by the "Deed of Declaration" the supreme government had been vested in the clergy. This dissatisfaction manifested itself in various serious charges made against the ministry by Alexander Kilham, an ordained travelling preacher. These charges were judged by the conference of 1796 to be slanderous, and after trial Kilham was expelled. He drew after him about 5,000 members. Tho outlines of a constitution were published by a conference convened in 1798, and these laws and rules have been revised from time to time. The conference is composed of equal numbers of clergy and lay members. It has power to make laws and rules every seven years, but any proposed changes in the general rules must be submitted to the quarterly conferences for examination, and must be approved by two thirds of the ensuing conference. In doctrine and general church usage this body agrees with the parent church.
In addition to the home work in England, they support missions in Ireland, Canada, Australia, and China. The "Minutes" for 1874 give: chapels, 677; soci-eties, 827; circuit preachers, 244; local preachers, 1,270; members, 33,563; Sunday schools, 500; officers and teachers, 11,566; scholars, 80,483. - L The Primitive Methodists originated in 1810, in consequence of a controversy about the propriety of holding camp meetings. These meetings had been introduced into England by Lorenzo Dow, and had proved an efficient means of good to the common people. They were defended and advocated by Hugh Bourne, a zealous layman, but were declared by the Wesleyan conference of 1807 " improper" and "likely to be productive of considerable mischief." On the persistence of Bourne in his labors he was expelled in 1808; and William Clowes, a fellow laborer of Bourne, was expelled two years later. They nevertheless continued their labors with increased zeal and success. In Lancashire and Cheshire a schism in the "Wesleyan church led 16 congregations and 28 preachers to be mostly absorbed into the Primitive Methodists. This church is chielly Wesleyan in theology and discipline.
Its annual conference in England is composed of two thirds lay and one third clerical members; in the United States the clerical and lay elements are equal in the annual conference. It lias churches in Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania, and Africa. According to the " Minutes " of 1874, its numbers are as follows: preachers, itinerant and local, 15,904; members, 160,772; Sunday school teachers, officers, and scholars, 356,276; chapels and other preaching places, 0,425..5. The Bible Christians were organized in 1815 by William O'Bryan, a Wesleyan Methodist local preacher, who separated himself from that body on account of irregularities in his methods of work, and visited a destitute district in E. Cornwall and W. Devonshire, where he formed his first class. They have missions in Canada (these became independent in 1854) and Australia. They have a publishing house in England and one in Bowrnansville, Canada. In doctrine they are essentially Wesleyan. In all minor courts the laity are in the majority, but every fifth conference must be composed of equal numbers of preachers and laity; to the intervening conferences the laity send one rep-Jentative from each district.
In 1873 this body had 1,991 itinerant and local preachers, 1,072 chapels and other preaching places, 26,427 members, and 58,089 Sunday school teachers and scholars.
The lesser secessions from the Wesleyan church are chiefly the "Band-Room Methodists," who originated in Manchester in 1806; the Primitive Methodists of Ireland, 1816; the Protestant Methodists, 1828; the "Wesleyan Methodist Association," 1835; and the "Reformers," 1849. The last three have recently been merged under the name of the " United Methodist Free Church," which in 1872 numbered 66,907 members.
1. The Methodist Episcopal Church is the original and largest body of Methodists in the United States. Wesley and Whitefield, during their visits to America, had organized no Methodist societies. The nucleus of the first Methodist church in America was composed of immigrants from Ireland who had been members of Mr. Wesley's societies. In 1760 these were formed into a class and instructed by Philip Embury, who had been a class leader and local preacher in Ireland. He was greatly assisted by Capt. Thomas Webb, an officer of the British army stationed in New York, who had been licensed as a local preacher by Wesley in 1765. Webb preached and formed classes during 1768 on Long Island, and in New Jersey, Delaware, and Philadelphia. In the same year the first chapel was dedicated in John street, New York; and in 1770 the first Methodist church in Philadelphia was erected. In 1769 Boardman and Pilmore, the first missionaries sent to America by Wesley, arrived in New York and took charge of the work in that vicinity. Nearly contemporaneously with Embury, Robert Strawbridge, a local preacher from Ireland, settled in Maryland and formed a society in Frederick co., and afterward organized classes in Baltimore and Harford counties.
About the same time Robert Williams had immigrated from England, and had formed the first circuit in Virginia and preached in North Carolina. In 1771 Francis Asbury arrived, and the next year ho was appointed by Mr. Wesley superintendent of the American societies. He was soon superseded by Thomas Rankin, an experienced and able minister and disciplinarian. The first American conference was held in 1773, and consisted of ten preachers, all of European birth. The societies then aggregated 1,160 members. At the beginning of the revolutionary struggle nearly all the preachers of English descent, except Asbury, sympathized with the cause of the mother country, and returned home. During the war the English church in America was nearly extinguished, and the dependence of the Methodists on the English clergy for the sacraments almost entirely failed them. For this cause a majority of the Methodist preachers determined to provide for their administration independently of the English clergy. This threatened a serious rupture of the peace and harmony of the church. Under these circumstances Wesley in 1780 applied to the bishop of London to ordain at least one presbyter to administer the sacraments among the American Methodists, but was refused.
Therefore in 1784 Wesley, assisted by the Rev. Thomas Creighton and Richard Whatcoat, presbyters, ordained the Rev. Thomas Coke, LL. D., as superintendent of the American Methodist churches, with the instruction that Asbury should be assistant superintendent. On Coke's arrival a general conference of 60 ministers met in Baltimore, Dec. 24, 1784, and approved Wesley's action by unanimously electing Coke and Asbury superintendents. This conference adopted the episcopal form of government, made the episcopal office elective, and held the superintendents amenable to the body of ministers and preachers. The " Sunday Service " and twenty-five "Articles of Religion," were adopted. Thus the church first assumed organic form. From this time the progress of the denomination was rapid and assured. Before the close of the century Methodism had reached the Mississippi valley, had been established in the eastern British provinces and Canada, had been successfully preached in New England, and had met with great success throughout the middle and southern states. It was the first church to recognize officially the constitution of the United States, and to pledge its loyalty to the government.
It had greatly developed its internal polity and divided its territory into annual conferences; had laid the foundations of its benevolent and educational enterprises; had introduced the Sunday school into America; had established a publishing house; had taken advanced ground on temperance; had been active in attempts to ameliorate the condition of the slave population; and had been positive in declaring the general incompatibility of slaveholding with membership in its communion. In 1800 Richard Whatcoat was elected bishop, and in 1808 William Mc-Kendree. In 1808 the plan of a delegated general conference was adopted. This body, composed of 90 members, held its first session in 1812. The church, from a single class of five members in 1766, had now increased to 195,357 members and 688 preachers. - Doctrines. These are expressed in the twenty-five "Articles of Religion," which, with the exception of the 23d, were prepared by Mr. Wesley from the thirty-nine articles of the church of England. With the addition of the 23d and a few slight changes, they remain as they were adopted by the conference of 1784. Article I. is the enunciation of the usual orthodox view of the nature of God, and the trinity of persons in the unity of the Godhead. Art. II. enunciates the orthodox doctrine of the incarnation, natures, suffering, crucifixion, death, burial, and the conciliatory and • sacrificial character of Christ's passion.
Art. III. recognizes his real resurrection and ascension. Art. IV. asserts the co-equality of the Holy Ghost. Art. V. declares the sole authority of the Holy Scriptures, and defines the canonical Scriptures. Art. VI. defines the relation of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, and affirms the binding power of the moral law. Art. VII. defines original sin, guarding against Pelagianism. Art, VIII. describes the condition of man after the fall of Adam, and declares his utter inability "to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us when Ave have that good will." Art. IX. enunciates the Protestant doctrine of just justification by faith. Art. X. describes the character of good works. Art. XI. protests against the doctrine of supererogation. Art, XII. treats of sin after justification, declaring that "the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after justification: after we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and, by the grace of God, rise again and amend our lives." Art. XIII. defines the visible church of Christ. Art. XIV. protests against the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory, pardon, worship, and adoration, as well of images as of relies, and the invocation of saints.
Art. XV. declares against the practice of the Roman Catholic church in conducting her services in a language not understood by the people. Art. XVI. defines the nature and number of the sacraments, declaring against their necessarily saving efficacy. Arts. XVII., XVIII., and XIX. define more fully the nature and significance of the sacraments. "The baptism of young children is to be retained in the church." The supper of the Lord is to be administered in both kinds. Transubstantiation and the elevation of the host are condemned as unsupported by Scripture or reason. Art. XX. declares the sutticiency of the one and only offering of Christ for all the sins of the whole world, and condemns the sacrifices of masses as blasphemous and deceitful. Art. XXI. affirms the lawfulness of marriage to Christian ministers. Art. XXII. denies the necessity of uniformity in the rites and ceremonies of the church, and announces that " every particular church may ordain, change, or abolish rites or ceremonies, so that all things may be done to edification." Art. XXIII. recognizes that " the president, congress, the general assemblies, the governors, and the councils of state, as the delegates of the people, are the rulers of the United States of America according to the division of power made to them by the constitution of the United States, and by the constitutions of their respective states." Art. XXIV. denies a community of goods in the Christian church, but enforces the duty of almsgiving, etc.
Art, XXV. defines the nature and asserts the right of a Christian man's oath. These articles purposely avoided the questions of Calvinism and Arminianism, and were intended as a broad platform on which all real Christians might unite. - Polity. The polity of the church is clearly defined in the book of its doctrines and discipline. There are five judicatory bodies, termed respectively the " General Conference," the "Judicial Conference," the "Annual Conference," the " District Conference," and the "Quarterly conference." Prior to 1872 the general conference was composed exclusively of preachers elected by annual conferences, also composed exclusively of preachers, so that the constituent body and the delegated body were both wholly clerical. In 1872 a plan was completed for the introduction of a lay element. The general conference now consists of one minister for every 45 members of each annual conference, chosen by ballot by the ministers themselves, and two laymen, chosen by lay electors from the several quarterly conferences within the territory of the annual conference. It meets quadrennially on the first day of May, and is presided over by the bishops.
The ministerial and lay delegates meet as one body, though a separate vote can bo had provided one third of the ministers or laymen demand it. In case of a separate vote, a majority of both orders is necessary to pass a measure. It is the sole legislative bodv of the church, limited by cer-tain "Restrictive Rules," all of which rules are subject to revision except the first, which forbids the conference to revoke, alter, or change the articles of religion, or to establish any new standards or rules of doctrine contrary to the present existing and established standards. It elects bishops, missionary and educational secretaries, book agents, and editors of its periodicals, and is also the court of final appeal. The judicial conference is composed of "triers of appeals," seven of whom are elected by each annual conference. It tries bishops who may be accused, and also appeals of members convicted in an annual conference. To try the latter cases, the triers of three conferences must unite; to try the former, the triers of live conferences are required. Their decision is final, except that law questions may be reviewed by the general conference. The annual conference consists of travelling preachers. A bishop is the presiding officer, or in his absence the conference may appoint its president.
Its powers are simply administrative. It holds its members responsible, passing their character under examination each year. Its action is subject to review by the general conference. The district conference is composed of the presiding elder of the district, pastors, local preachers, exhorters, and one steward and Sunday school superintendent from each pastoral charge. It licenses local preachers, and recommends them to the annual conference for admission or for ordination. The local preachers are amenable to this body, which also cares for the general financial, benevolent, and educational interests of the district. The quarterly conference consists of the pastor, local preachers, exhorters, stewards, class leaders, and trusters and Sunday school superintendent (if members of the church) of a single pastoral charge, over which it exercises supervision. The leaders and stewards' meeting composed of the pastor, class leaders, and stewards, cares for the sick and needy, guards the discipline of the members, and has power to recommend for membership and for license to exhort or preach. In common with the Wes-leyans, the M. E. church divides its members into classes under appropriate leaders. This church recognizes two orders in the ministry.
Its bishops are not diocesan, but have a joint jurisdiction over the whole church. They are, however, since 1872, required to reside severally within certain districts into which the territory was then divided. They preside over the annual and missionary conferences, arrange the presiding elders' districts, station the preachers annually, and exercise a general superintendence over the spiritual and temporal interests of the church. The ministry is itinerant, the ministers not being allowed to remain in the same pastoral charge more than three consecutive years. Admission to the annual conference is preceded by a probation of two years, and the completion of a prescribed course of study. The local preachers are usually lay preachers who are helpers of the regular pastor. Admission to membership is preceded by a probation of six months, to give the candidate time to acquaint himself with the doctrine and discipline of the church; but members of other churches in regular standing are received without probation. The Methodist Episcopal church has rapidly developed its educational and benevolent institutions. It discussed plans of education as early as 1780, and in 1787 it dedicated its first college.
In 1817 it opened its first permanent academy, and in 1820 the general conference recommended that each annual conference establish and maintain a seminary. Its first Biblical school, projected in 1839, established at Concord, N. H., in 1847, was removed to Boston in 1867, and now forms a school of the Boston university. In 1874 it had under its supervision and control 27 universities and colleges, with 5,250 students; 69 seminaries and academies, with about 14,500 students; and 5 theological schools, one in Germany and one in India, with 428 students. The total value of school property is about $8,500,000. Its publishing interests received early attention. Its book concern, begun in 1789 on a borrowed capital of $600, has become the largest publishing house in America. The New York concern in 1873 had a capital of $1,052,448, and the Western Methodist book concern at Cincinnati a capital of $467,419. Besides these there are depositories in nearly every chief city of the United States. It publishes a quarterly review, and 5 monthly and 13 weekly periodicals. The missionary society, organized in 1819, superintends both the domestic and foreign missionary work.
In 1873 it appropriated $843,149. Its board of church extension was established in 1864; its receipts in 1873 were $115,296 05. The Sunday school union and tract society manage its immense Sunday school and tract interests. It has also a woman's foreign missionary society, and a board of education. Its statistical returns for 1874 give the following figures: bishops, 13; annual conferences, 80; itinerant ministers, 10,845; local preachers, 12,706; members, 1,345,089; probationists, 218,432; Sunday schools, 18,958; officers and teachers, 203,409; scholars, 1,383,227; value of churches and parsonages, $78,516,693.
Methodism was firmly established in the southern states at an early day. It embraced alike in its membership slaves and slaveholders, and slaveholders were found in its ministry. The subject of slavery occupied the attention of the American Methodists even prior to their organization into a distinct church. The members were at first advised to emancipate their slaves. Their local preachers were warned, and suspension and expulsion threatened in case they failed to manumit their slaves, or bought slaves for the purpose of holding them. On the organization of the church in 1784, provision was made for the spiritual care of the blacks, and slavery was-declared to be contrary to the law of God and every principle of the revolution. A method was likewise adopted for the extirpation of what was affirmed to be an "abomination." It was' determined that persons who should buy, sell, or give away slaves should be immediately expelled, unless they bought them with the purpose to free them. In 1796 the disciplinary question read: "What regulations shall be made for the extirpation of the crying evil of American slavery?" In the answer recommendation was made to the " yearly conferences, quarterly meetings, and to those who have oversight of districts and circuits, to be exceedingly cautious what persons they admit to official stations in our church; and in the case of future admission to official stations, to require such security of those who hold slaves for their emancipation, immediately or gradually, as the laws of the states respectively and the circumstances of the case will admit." The church was requested to consider the subject of negro slavery with deep attention till the ensuing general conference, " in order to take further steps in eradicating this enormous evil from that part of the church of God to which we are united." One of the disciplinary provisions of 1804 was that a travelling preacher, the owner of slaves, should forfeit his ministerial character in case of failure to emancipate them where the laws might permit.
The church was advised to forward through appointed channels addresses and petitions to state legislatures to secure the gradual emancipation of the blacks. In 1808 it was declared that no slaveholder should be eligible to the office of elder, where the laws will admit of emancipation. In 1812 each annual conference was authorized to make its own regulations relative to buying and selling slaves. The conference of 1816 substantially reaffirmed the regulation of 1808, but extended the ineligibility to all official members. The disciplinary statements were changed from time to time, ever maintaining a distinct protest against the evil of slavery, but guarding the rights of members and ministers in those states where the laws did not admit of the manumission of slaves. The general conference of 1840 declared that "mere ownership of slave property, in states or territories where the laws do not admit of emancipation and permit the liberated slave to enjoy freedom, constitutes no legal barrier to election or ordination of ministers to the various grades of office known in the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal church." At the general conference of 1844, the appeal of the Rev. Francis A. Harding from the decision of the Baltimore conference, suspending him from the ministry for failure to manumit slaves obtained by marriage, was argued, and the decision confirmed, it being held that the laws of Maryland allowed manumission.
The case of James O. Andrew, a bishop of the church, who had come into the possession of slaves subsequently to his election, also came before the conference for examination. A resolution " that it is the sense of the general conference that he desist from the exercise of his office, so long as this impediment (slave-holding) remain," was passed by a vote of 111 to 69. After many attempts at reconciliation, the delegates from 13 annual conferences presented a declaration that this action of the conference " must produce a state of things in the south which renders a continuance of the jurisdiction of the general conference over these conferences inconsistent with the success of the ministry in the slaveholding states." This was referred to a committee of nine, who reported a plan in which provision was made for a separation, in case such a contingency should arise. It provided for the peaceful adjustment of boundary lines, and an equitable division of property. The next day after the adjournment of the conference, the southern delegates published a call for a convention of the slave-holding conferences to meet in Louisville, Ky., May 1, 1845. This convention declared the conferences there represented to bo a distinct connection under the name of "The Methodist Episcopal Church, South." It also provided for its first general conference, which met at Petersburg, Va., in May, 1846. By a decision of the supreme court of the United States, the property was divided with the southern church in accordance with the provisions of the plan.
This church now consists of 37 annual conferences, composed of travelling ministers and lay delegates, four of the latter from each district. The general conference is composed of an equal number of clerical and lay members. In economy and doctrine it is very similar to the Methodist Episcopal church. It has a publishing house at Nashville, Tenn., and a prosperous missionary society. Previous to the civil war it had 21 colleges for males, and 55 collegiate and academic institutions for females. It published one quarterly, two monthly, and eight weekly periodicals. Its missionary, publishing, and educational interests were greatly crippled by the war, but are now reviving. Its "Minutes" for 1873-4 give the following figures: 3,134: travelling preachers, 5.344 local preachers, 663,100 members, and 370,102 Sunday school teachers and scholars.
The refusal to accord equal privileges in church sittings, in the administration of the eucharist, etc, to the colored members of the Methodist church, had caused great uneasiness and dissatisfaction. In 1787 they had discussed their grievances in a convention.at Philadelphia, in 1816 a general convention of colored Methodists organized a separate church, "in order to secure their privileges and promote union among themselves." At the first general conference in 1816, Richard Allen, a principal leader in the movement, was elected first bishop. The doctrines and government of this church agree with those of the parent body. It has a book concern in Philadelphia, a weekly periodical, one college, and church property to the value of $4,500,000. There are 10 conferences, 7 bishops, 600 travelling preachers, 1,300 local preachers, and 200,000 members. In 1819 a secession from this church was organized, under the title of the "African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church." They annually elect their superintendent, and in 1873 had 694 preachers and 164,000 members.
The "Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America," organized in 1870 from members of the Methodist Episcopal church, South, and in sympathy with her, has 3 bishops, 1,318 preachers, and 67,888 members.
This body was organized by former members of the Methodist Episcopal church in 1830, primarily for the alleged reason that its government secured to the itinerant ministers the unlimited exercise of the legislative, executive, and judicial powers of the church, to the exclusion of all other classes of ministers, and of all the people. Members of several general conferences had exhibited marked dissatisfaction with some leading features of the government, and a very respectable minority struggled hard to effect important changes. A periodical, "The Wesleyan Repository," was commenced in 1820, and continued to the general conference of 1824. Numerous petitions Wi-re presented to that body, praying for a representation of ministers and laymen in the lawmaking department. Immediately after the adjournment of that conference a meeting was held in Baltimore, when it was determined to publish a periodical, entitled "The Mutual Rights of the Ministers and Members of the Methodist Episcopal Church," "for the purpose of giving the Methodist community a suitable opportunity to enter upon a calm and dispassionate discussion of the subjects in dispute. ' This meeting resolved itself into a union society, and recommended that similar societies be organized in all parts of the United States, "in order to ascertain the number of persons in the Methodist Episcopal church friendly to a change in her government." This measure was followed by persecution and expulsion of .some of the reformers.
In 1826 the Baltimore union society recommended state conventions to be held in the several states to inquire into the propriety of preparing one united petition to the general conference of 1828, praying for representation, and to elect delegates to meet in a general convention for the purpose. Conventions were accordingly held, and delegates elected. In North Carolina several members of the Granville union society were expelled for taking part in this convention. In 1827 11 ministers were suspended, and finally expelled, from the Methodist Episcopal church in Baltimore, and 22 laymen, for being members of the union society. They and their friends immediately organized under Mr. Wesley's general rules, taking the title of the "Associated Methodist Reformers." In November, 1827, the general convention, composed of ministers and lay delegates elected by the state conventions and union societies, assembled in Baltimore. This convention memorialized the general conference of 1828 that the government of the church might be made representative, and more in accordance with the mutual rights of the ministers and people. To this memorial the general conference replied adversely.
The reformers then withdrew in considerable numbers, in different parts of the United States, and called another general convention in Baltimore, Nov. 12, 1828. This convention drew up 17 "Articles of Association," to serve as a provisional government for the Associated Methodist churches. A subsequent convention, which was held in Baltimore, November, 1830, adopted a constitution and discipline for the government of the Methodist Protestant church. The Rev. Francis Waters, D. D., of Baltimore, was elected president. This constitution opens with the enunciation of certain elementary principles which lie at its foundation. It consists of 17 articles, defining the government and discipline of this body. This church agrees with the parent body in doctrine, but differs in ecclesiastical government. The general conference is composed of equal numbers of clergy and laity, elected by the annual conferences in the ratio of one delegate of each order for every thousand communicants. The office of bishop is not recognized, but the president of general conference is chosen by ballot. The annual conference consists of all the ordained itinerant ministers within a district, and it elects its own president.
The composition, duties, and prerogatives of the general, annual, and quarterly conferences are quite similar to those of the like bodies in the parent church. In 1858 most of the annual conferences in the free states became intensely anti-slavery, and demanded of the general conference which met in Lynchburg, Va., in the month of May, such legislation as should exclude slaveholders from the communion of the church. As the general conference refused to comply, 19 annual conferences sent delegates to a convention which met in Springfield, O., Nov. 10, 1858. This convention suspended all official connection with the other portions of the church so long as they tolerated slaveholding. Subsequently these conferences seceded from the Methodist Protestant church, and with a few from the other non-Episcopal Methodist bodies organized the "Methodist Church." This secession reduced the numerical and financial strength of the original church fully one half, leaving to it only 20 annual conferences. The Methodist Protestant church has about 65,000 members, and about $1,500,000 worth of property. The denomination has a book concern in Baltimore, and publishes three periodicals.
Its church organ is "The Methodist Protestant," published in Baltimore. It has likewise under its control four literary institutions. The Methodist church had in 1874 28 conferences, 924 preachers, and about 65,000 members. It has a book concern and publishes a paper at Pittsburgh, Pa., and supports a mis-sionarv board, a board for ministerial edu-cation, and one college
The Wesleyan Methodist Connection Of America was organized by a convention of 151 members, ministerial and lay, convened in Utica, N. Y., May 31, 1843. Prominent among its founders were Orange Scott, president of the convention, first editor and publishing agent of the denomination; Luther Lee, an able controversialist and theologian, author of " Elements of Theology;" Edward Smith, and others of large experience and good ability. In doctrine and religious usages this body is strictly Methodistic. Its distinctive features appertain to questions of morality and church polity. Opposition to slavery was a principal cause of its organization. The argument ran thus: Slavery is sin per se; therefore slaveholders should be denied a place in the Christian church. A stringent rule was enacted, excluding from church communion not only all slave owners and slave traders, but also all who claimed that the institution is right. This denomination did much to educate the public to the point of positive opposition to slavery. A strong position was also taken against intemperance, forbidding the manufacture, sale, or use of intoxicants as beverages, and even the intentional aiding of others so to do. Fellowship with freemasonry and kindred societies is forbidden, as incompatible with the spirit and precepts of the Christian religion.
The polity of this denomination unites the connectional and congregational elements. In interests merely local the churches are independent, but those which are general are placed under the supervision of the conferences, general and yearly. In the former, which meets quadrennially, rests the supreme legislative authority, while the latter are for the most part administrative. These conferences respectively elect their own presidents.
Equal representation of the laity with the min-istry is secured in all the conferences by spe-cific provision. There is but one order in its ministry, that of elders; it is believed that, in the sense of the Scriptures, bishops are but pastors, and deacons supervised the temporalities of the church. Its itineracy is voluntary, and the pastorate is purely the subject of agreement between pastor and people. There are 16 yearly conferences, mostly confined to the northern states. The connection owns a publishing house at Syracuse, N. Y., where two papers are issued, the "American Weslevan," organ of the denomination, and the "Children's Banner." The assets are estimated at $40,000. These interests are supervised by a publishing agent, editors, and a book committee consisting of six ministers and six laymen, all of whom are elected by the general conference. The connection has contributed liberally to the cause of Christian education, has a well organized missionary society, and a society incorporated for the aid of superannuated ministers and the needy widows and orphans of deceased ministers.
It had in 1874 about 250 ministers and 20,000 members.
Methodism was introduced into the eastern British provinces by Wesleyan missionaries as early as 1765, and was afterward greatly advanced by American itinerants sent out by Coke. Chief among these was Freeborn Garrettson, who reached Nova Scotia in 1785. Though there were classes prior to this time, William Losee, who entered Canada in 1790, is regarded as the first Methodist itinerant minister in that province. Methodism was greatly promoted by laborers from the United States, William Case, Henry Ryan, Nathan Bangs, and others, who in the face of great opposition established societies in both Lower and Upper Canada. Till the war of 1812 this work had been chiefly directed by the Methodist Episcopal church of the United States. The war interrupted this intercourse, and at its close preachers appointed to Canadian stations by the Genesee conference were regarded with suspicion. The rival claims of the American and English Methodists were adjusted in 1820 by giving to the English conference the jurisdiction of Lower Canada and to the Genesee conference that of the Upper province. This adjustment did not prove satisfactory.
In 1828 the Canada conference, organized in 1824, became an independent Methodist church, with an episcopal form of government, but in 1833 a union with the British conference was effected. A portion of the church resisted this union, and has continued under the title of the Methodist Episcopal church of Canada. In government and doctrine it is like the parent body. It has three annual conferences, 228 travelling preachers, 225 local preachers, 21,818 members, 30,000 Sunday school scholars, and church property to the amount of $2,149,776, and has charge of two collegiate institutions.
The union of the larger body of the Canadian Methodists with the British conference was discontinued in 1840, but resumed in 1847. In 1873 the British conference granted the petition of the Canadian and East British conferences to exist as independent organizations. In June, 1874, the Wesleyan conference of Canada was divided into three annual conferences; but in October a union was formed of this conference, the East British American, and the New Connectional Methodists of Canada, under the title of "The Methodist Church of Canada." This new organization has 956 travelling preachers, 100,178 members, more than 100,000 Sunday school scholars, one university, and four collegiate and academic institutions. - Other Methodist bodies are the Evangelical Association, organized in 1800, largely German, which in 1874 had 2 bishops, 15 annual conferences, 1,213 preachers, 1,184 churches, and 90,249 members; the United Brethren in Christ, also mostly German, organized in 1800, which in 1872 had 42 annual conferences, 1,709 preachers, 3,912 organized churches, and 120,445 members; and the Free Methodist church, organized in 1860, which in 1874 had 2 superintendents, 8 annual conferences, 170 preachers, and 6,000 members.
Of the immense literature of Methodism, besides the works and biographies of its founders and early promoters, may be mentioned the following: "Annual Minutes of the Methodist Conference;" "Minutes of the Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church " (29 vols. 8vo); "Journals of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church " (12 vols. 8vo); " History of the Religious Movement called Methodism," by Abel Stevens, D. D. (3 vols. 8vo, New York, 1861); " History of Methodism," by George Smith (3 vols. 8vo, 1862); "History of the Methodist Episcopal Church," by Nathan Bangs, D. D. (4 vols. 12mo); "History of the Methodist Episcopal Church," by Abel Stevens, D. D. (4 vols. 8vo); "History of the Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church," by Robert Emory, with additions by the Rev. W. P. Strickland; "History of the Great Secession," by Charles Elliott, D. D.; "The Oxford Methodists," by the Rev. L. Tyerman (London, 1873); "History of the Organization of the M. E. Church, South," bv A. H. Redford,D. D.; "Annals of Southern Methodism," by the Rev. Charles F. Deems; " History of Methodism in Canada," by G. F. Playter; "History of Canadian Methodism," by the Rev. John Carroll (4 vols. 8vo); " History of the Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church," by the Rev. W. P. Strickland (Cincinnati, 1850); "Theological Institutes," by the Rev. Richard Watson, D. D., with an analysis by the Rev. John McClintock, D. D.; St/stematische Theologie einheitlich lehandelt, by William F. Warren, D. D. (8vo, Bremen, 1865); "Defence of our Fathers," by Bishop Emory; and "Church Polity," by Abel Stevens, D. D. For a complete bibliography of Methodism down to 1865, see the above work of Dr. Warren.