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try of the word, either read or expounded; the Lord's Supper; family and private prayer ; searching the Scriptures, fasting, &c. These are the general rules of the society. If any of the members do not observe thein, or habitually break” any of them, they are admonished, and borne with for a season ; but if they repent not, expulsion follows.
A number of these societies, united together, form what is called a circuit. To one circuit, two or three preachers are appointed, one of whom is styled the superintendant; and this is the sphere of their labour for at least one year, but never more than two years. A number of these circuits form a district. A preacher is appointed by the annual conference to superintend the district, called Presiding Elder. It is his duty to visit each circuit once a quarter, and hold quarterly meet. ings. These meetings generally commence on Saturday, when a sermon is preached, to the members assembled, from the different parts of the circuit. After sermon they hold a quarterly conference, composed of local preachers, stewards, exhorters and leaders. Here they receive appeals from any of the members that have been expelled, and recommend candidates to an annual local conference, to preach, and to receive license to transact necessary business. The next morning, a love-feast is held, after which one (or more) sermon is preached, and the sacrament is administered.
The Methodist Episcopal church in the United States is divided into twelve annual itinerant conferences. They now have three bishops, one of whom presides over these conferences, consisting of travelling preachers, and none are eligible to a seat in the conference, until they have travelled two years. From these conferences they receive their appointments.
They have a general conference, which is held once in four years, which consists of delegates from each annual conference. It is generally held at Baltimore.
Class Meetings are each composed of from twelve to twenty persons, one of whom is styled the leader. When they assemble, which is once a week, the leader gives out a few verses of a hymn, which they join in singing. He then makes a short prayer; after which he converses with each member respecting Christian experience, gives suitable advice to all, and concludes by singing and praying.
Band Meetings consist of about three or four members, who are nearly of the same age, in nearly similar circumstances, and of the same sex, who meet together once a-week, in order to speak their minds more freely than it would be agreeable to do in a promiscuous assembly of members, such as a class meeting. The meeting is conducted in nearly the same manner as a class-meeting. At stated periods, those who meet in these private bands, meet all together, forming a public or select band, when, after singing and prayer, any of the mem bers are at liberty to rise and speak their experience. After a few
of them have spoken, the meeting, as usual, is concluded by singing and prayer. · Waich-nights are rather similar to the vigils of the ancients, which they kept on the evenings preceding the grand festivals. They are held once a year. On these occasions, three or four of the preachers officiate, and a great concourse of people attend. The service commences between eight and nine at night. After one of the ministers has preached, the rest pray and exhort, giving out at intervals suitable hymns, which the congregation join in singing till after twelve o'clock, when they usually conclude.
Love-feasts are held quarterly, which are designed particularly for the members of their own church. No person is admitted, who is not a member, above twice or thrice. The meeting begins with singing and prayer. Afterwards, small pieces of bread, or plain cake, and some water, are distributed ; and all present eat and drink together, in token of their Christian love to each other. Then, if any persons have any thing particular to say concerning their present Christian experience, or the manner in which they were first brought to the knowledge of the truth, they are permitted to speak ; when a few of them have spoken, a collection is made for the poor, and the meeting is concluded with singing and prayer. This institution has no relation to the Lord's Supper. The elements of the Lord's Supper are bread and wine ; but at the love-feasts, bread and water only are used. The Methodists consider the former as a positive institution, which they are bound to observe as Christians; the latter as merely prudential. They have also numerous prayer-meetings, at which it frequently happens that some one will give an exhortation to the people.
Their Funds. They have a small fund located in Philadelphia, called the Charter-fund. The avails of it go to the support of the travelling Preachers ; together with the profits arising from the sale of Books which are published by them. They have an increasing book-establishment located at New York, which furnishes their Societies with books throughout the United States.
Their Salaries.-Each travelling Preacheris allowed 100 dol. lars. If married, bis wife is allowed $100. Each child under 7 years, $16-over 7 and under 14 years, $24. They have collections in each class once a quarter, and in their congregations. Those Preachers who are superanuated are allowed the same as when they travelled. The widows of those Preach@rs who have died in the travelling connection, continue their claim. Though they are allowed what is above stated, yet if their funds and collections are not sufficient to pay them in full, they have no demand, Their twelve Conferences are divided into seventy-four Districts, which are under the care of seventy-four Presiding Elders. In these districts six hundred and sixty-three circuits and stations are included.
The number of Methodists in the United States, according to their Minutes of 1823, are 312,540. They have 1226 travelling Preachers, besides nearly four thousand local preachers. In 1769 the first regular Methodist Preacher came to America-their first conference was held in 1773.
THE WHITFIELDIAN, OR CALVINISTIC METHO.
Are an extremely numerous sect of Christians; and, in general, form a very respectable body of men. About the year 1741, or. soon after Mr. Whitfield's second return from America, which in the course of his life he is said to have visited seven times, he en. tirely separated from Mr. Wesley and his friends, “because he did not hold the decrees.” Those who held general redemption, had no desire to separate, but those who believed particular redemption, being determined to have no fellowship with men that “ were in such dangerous errors,” would not hear of any accommodation. So that, from the difference of the doctrines which each party maintained respecting the decrees of God and free-will, the body of Methodists, already immense, divided into two separate communions, the Calvinistic and the Arminians ; these holding general, and those particular redemption.
Many of the modern Calvinistic Methodists do not follow all the rigid notions of Calvin ; but endeavour to soften down and explain away the doctrine of the absolute predetermined repro-, bation of a large portion of the human species.
Some, however, are so liberal in their opinions respecting the divine decrees, as to embrace what is called Baxterianism, from the celebrated puritan divine Richard Baxter, whose book, entitled “ A Call to the Unconverted,” will live as long as the English language is known, or Christian piety is revered.
Mr. Baxter's design was to reconcilė Arminianism and Calvinism ; and, for this purpose, he formed a middle scheme between those systems. With Calvin, he taught that God had selected some whom he is determined to save, without ang foresight of their good works ; and that others to whom the gospel is preached have common grace, which if they improve, they shall obtain saving grace, according to the doctrine of Ar.. minius. This denomination allow, with Calvin, that the merits of Christ's death are to be applied to believers only; but they also assert, that all men are in a state capable of salvation. Mr. Baxter maintains, that there may be a certainty of pere. severance here ; and yet, he doubts whether a man may not possess so weak a degree of saving grace, as again to lose it.
KILHAMITES, OR NEW CONNEXION METHODISTS.
In the year 1797, a separation took place of several members from the old Wesleyan connexion.
The Methodist New Connexion declare the grounds of this separation to be church-government and discipline, and not doctrines. They object to the Old Methodists, for having formed a hierarchy, or priestly corporation ; and they say, that in so doing, they have robbed the people of those privileges, which, as members of a Christian church, they are entitled to by reason and Scripture. The New Connexion, have, therefore, attempted to establish every part of their church government on popular principles, and profess to have united, as much as possible, the ministers and the people in every department of it.
These Methodists are upon the increase, but not with a rapidity usually attendant on their elder brethren. Their pres. ent numbers are about 7000, or 8000.
THE MORAVIANS, OR UNITED BRETHREN.
This sect deserves to be ranked amongst the most respectable and valuable of all the Dissenters from the established church in Great Britain. By their own account, this community derive their origin from the ancient Bohemian and Moravian Brethren, who existed as a distinct people ever since the year 1457, when, separating from those who took up arms in desence of their protestations against Popish errors, they formed a plan for church-fellowship and discipline, agreeable to.. their insight into the Scriptures, and called themselves, at first, Fratres Legis Christi, or Brethren after the Law of Christ, and afterwards, on being joined by others of the same persuasion in other places, Unitas Fratrum, or Fratres Unitatis. By degrees they established congregations in various places, and spread themselves into Moravia and other neighbourirg states.
Though the brethren acknowledge no other standard of truth than the sacred Scriptures, they in general profess to adhere to the Augsburg Confession of Faith. Both in their Summary of Christian doctrine (which is used for the instruction of their children,) and in their general instructions and sermons, they teach the doctrine of the Trinity, and in their prayers, hymns, and litanies, address the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the same manner as is done in other Christian churches. Yet they chiefly direct their hearers to Jesus Christ, as the appointed channel of the Deity, in whom God is known and made manifest to man. They recommend love to him, as the constraining
principle of the Christian's conduct ; and their general manner is more by beseeching men to be reconciled to God, than by alarming them by the terrors of the law, and the threatenings against the impenitent, which they, however, do not fail occasionally to set before their hearers.
All the great festivals celebrated in other Protestant churches, are attended to by them with due solemnity; and, during the whole of the Passion-week, they have daily services for the contemplation of our Lord's last discourses and sufferings. On Maunday Thursday they celebrate the Lord's Supper, and also on every fourth Sunday throughout the year. They have prescribed forms of prayer for baptisins, both of children and adults, and for burials ; a litany, which is read every Sunday morning, and one for early service on Easter-morning, besides others which they call liturgies, and which are chiefly sung and chaunted.
Some of their services consist entirely in singing, (the whole congregation joining,) when a succession of verses forms a connected contemplation of some Scripture subject. Two texts of Scripture are appointed for every day in the year. Their ordination services, their manner of celebrating the Lord's Sup. per, and other church transactions, peculiar to themselves, are very solemn and impressive. Their chapels are without pews, but have moveable benches. Plainness, neatness, and convenience, are their chief study in their construction. Persecutions originally, and afterwards inclination, caused the Moravian Brethren to have a predilection for forming settlements, where they may live without disturbance, and in which their children and young people are not exposed to the alurements of vice, nor obliged to see and hear the conduct and language of the profane and dissolute. In these settlements they have separate houses for single men, single women and widows. In these houses, all persons who are able, and have not an independent support, labour in their own occupation, and contribute a stipulated sum for board and lodging. Community of goods, does not, nor ever did, exist among them, though it has been often reported and very generally believed. Even the contributions towards their charitable establishments and missions are perfectly voluntary. · Their church is episcopal ; hut though they consider episco-pal ordination as necessary to qualify the servants of the church for their respective functions, they allow to their bishops no elevation of rank or pre-eminent authority. The Moravian Church, from its first establishment, has been governed by Synods, consisting of deputies from all the Congregations, and by other subordinate bodies, which they call Conferences. According to their regulations, episcopal ordination, of itself, does not confer any power to preside over one or more congregations ; and a bishop can discharge no office except by the appointment of a Synod, or of its delegate, the elder's conference of the unity. Presbyters among them can perform every function of