« السابقةمتابعة »
HISTORY AND MYSTERY
A GLANCE AT
"THE INSTITUTIONS OF THE CHURCH,
AS WE RECEIVED THEM FROM OUR FATHERS."
BY ALEXANDER M'CAINE.
ELDER IN THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
We can do nothing against the Truth, but for the Truth.....St. Paul.
He who has no right to the thing he possesses, cannot prescribe or plead any length of time, to make his possession lawful......Dr. Barrow.
DISTRICT OF MARYLAND, TO WIT:
[L S. BE IT REMEMBERED, that on this thirtieth day of March, in the fifty-first year of the Independence of the United States of America, ALEXANDER M'CAINE of the said District, hath deposited in this office, the title of a Book, the right whereof he claims as Author, in the words following, to wit:
"The History and Mystery of Methodist Episcopacy; or, a Glance at "the Institutions of the Church, as we received them from our fathers." By Alexander M'Caine, Elder in the Methodist Episcopal Church.
We can do nothing against the Truth, but for the Truth.-St. Paul.
He who has no right to the thing he possesses, cannot prescribe or plead any length of time, to make his possession lawful.-Dr. Barrow."
In conformity with the act of Congress, of the United States, entitled "An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned;" and also to the Act, en titled "An Act supplementary to the Act, entitled An Act, for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending the benefits thereof, to the arts of de signing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints. PHILIP MOORE, Clerk of the District of Maryland.
It may be thought extraordinary, that the writer of the following essay, should call in question, the validity of the claims of the bishops and travelling preachers of the Methodist Episcopal Church, after having himself been a preacher in connexion with them, for upwards of thirty years.
Previous to the general conference of 1824, his attention had been invited to a consideration of the complaints and demands, of the laity and local ministers; and being fully convinced of the justice of those demands, he could not avoid looking with deep solicitude to the fate of the many memorials, which were about to be sent up to the general conference. After the conference had risen, a circular appeared, in which, they declare, they "know no such rights, they comprehend no such privileges" as were asserted in the memorials, praying for Representation. To those who urged the necessity of introducing the representative principle into the legislative department of the church, no room was left to hope, that any abatement would be made, at a future day, in the pretensions of the travelling preachers; for the conference declared, in terms sufficiently intelligible, their purpose to have and to hold forever, all power, legislative, judicial and executive, as a legacy which they had inherited from their "fathers."
Such declarations, coming from the general conference, were sufficient to rouse every man who knows how to respect his rights, whether civil or religious. The writer of this essay was alarmed at such declarations, because he considered them to be indications of priestly domination; and moreover, he considered them offensive, because they were addressed to citizens of these United States. New thoughts were waked up, and forebodings felt, which he had never before experienced. He determined, therefore, to examine the grounds of such unheard of claims. He was resolved, if possible, to ascertain, the means by which travelling preachers had arrived at these pretensions, and find the authority which Mr. Wesley had given to justify them in saying, he "recommended the episcopal mode of church government." When, lo! the first discovery he made, was, that whilst Mr. Wesley the testator, was yet living, the title
of bishop was assumed, and the episcopal mode of government adopted without his recommendation; and more, that his most solemn remonstrance and entreaty did not avail in causing them to relinquish the one, or change the other. Still pursuing the investigation, he found, that a more extended research served only to increase his conviction, that claims had been set up, for which there was no warrant; and authority was said to have been given, which, he believes, can no where be found.
The result of his investigation was read before the Union Society of reformers in Baltimore; and the writer was requested to print it for the information of his brethren. But before he would consent to its publication, he thought it would be fair and honourable to apprize the bishops of his purpose, and signify to them the probable effect it would have, on the office which they fill. He accordingly addressed to each of them the letter No. I. in the appendix; but from neither of them, has he received one word in reply. Failing to obtain information from this quarter, he addressed the letter No. II. in the appendix to each of six of the oldest preachers in the connexion, men who were in the general conference of 1784. And from the answers he has received from them, collated with other documents, he is fully established in the opinion that there never was a document, letter or paper, received from Mr. Wesley, in which he recommended the episcopal mode of church government, to the American Methodists.
In presenting this view of the origin of our episcopacy to his readers, he wishes it to be distinctly understood, that the doctrines of the Methodists-the general rules which have had their approbation since the days of Mr. Wesley, and which indeed are an epitome of the gospel rules of morality and vital godliness-class meetings-love-feasts, &c have his unqualified approbation. That having, himself, been twice in the travelling connexion, he heartily approves of an itinerant ministry. And that he has no personal misunderstanding, with either of the bishops, nor any other man in authority.
It may be asked, what are his reasons then, for making this publication? He will answer this question candidly. He felt it to be his duty to make this investigation, and having made it, he now feels it his duty to set forth the measures that were taken to lay the foundation of claims which are so much at variance with the rights of the people. He thinks, by having these things before them, the laity and local ministry, may be induced to persevere in demanding their rights, the enjoyment of which, he deems to be necessary to the purity of the ministry and the unity of the church,
He conceives it to be his duty, and the duty of every friend to mutual rights, to resist the first obvious encroachments on the liberties of the people, made by men in power: and to expose the pretensions of those who could hold such language to their equals, as "pardon us if we know no such rights, if we comprehend no such privileges.”
He thinks this exposure will tend much to lessen, if it will not totally overcome, the opposition of travelling preachers to "representation." For he cannot conceive, how the bishops and present race of travelling preachers, who are clear in this matter, can deny representation to the laity, when they learn by what means their "fathers" contrived to monopolize exclusive legislation to themselves.
It is due to Mr. Wesley, that he should be exculpated from the charge of "recommending the episcopal mode of church government" and the creation of bishops, after saying, "Lord King's account of the primitive church, convinced me many years ago, that bishops and presbyters are the same order." And especially, after he had expressed himself in the following manner: Men may call me a knave, or a fool, a rascal, a scoundrel, and I am content; but they shall never by my consent call me bishop."
It is believed that a community living under the influence of such a form of government as that of the Methodist Episcopal Church, where the members are not permitted to participate in legislation, will sooner or later prefer a monarchical form of civil government to the pure republican institutions of our happy country. And it is desirable that the government should be revised and placed on such a foundation, that the rights of all our ministers and members shall be secured, and that posterity may be able to look back with veneration at the institutions of the church, as they shall have received them from their fathers. Baltimore, April, 1827.