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Another cause of complaint was, that during the life of Mr. Wesley, with the exception of the travelling preachers, no one was permitted to be present at their deliberations in the yearly conference, when any thing of an important nature was under consideration. These things finally produced a separation, and now they form two bodies, professing the same doctrines and opinions, but differing only as to the mode of church government. The first, or the immediate followers of Mr. Wesley, are termed the Old Methodists, who do not admit any
delegates from the societies, not being travelling preachers, to assist in their conference, but who themselves in conference, on account of their local knowledge, are the most competent judges, determine where chapels are wanted, and who recommend to the societies the adoption of proper means for defraying the expense, and for carrying into effect the result of their deliberations. The latter are called the New Methodists, who approach nearer to the church government of the presbyterians.
About the same time that Mr. Wesley began to preach Methodism, the Rev. George Whitfield began the revival of Calvinism. He was very eminent as a preacher, was very useful in reclaiming the lower orders of the people: like the Methodists, he preached in houses, fields and public places : his followers were called
This famous reviver of the doctrines of Calvin did not adopt the rigid discipline of the Methodists. He, like them, permitted those to preach who thought they were called to the ministry, and this was one great cause why they became so popular. It is singular, that two men, in imitation of Luther and Calvin, one preaching the doctrines of the church of England, and the other those of Calvin, which two professions embrace threefourths of the whole population of England, should have been able to collect such multitudes into orderly bodies, having chapels in almost every large town in the kingdom.
Some of his followers, however, seeing that the order established, which permitted those to preach, who were not altogether qualified either in language or grammar, did not produce so good an effect with the intelligent part of the hearers, separated themselves from the communion, and resorted to the patronage of the countess of Huntingdon : who, while she lived, was the guardian of a connexion, which, until this period, had never obtained such consequence and respectability. The cause of this prosperity is obvious. The intelligent among them saw how necessary it was for the credit of religion, that their preachers should receive instruction, that men should not be permitted to preach, who, so far from understanding the original languages in which the scriptures were written, did not even understand their own language, so as to deliver their sentiments with that grammatical accuracy which is absolutely necessary for a public speaker. This had long been considered a great evil among them, as it had a powerful tendency to injure the cause of religion in general.
Accordingly, by the exertions and generosity of the above-mentioned lady, a seminary was established at
Cheshunt, in Hertfordshire, for the reception of those who were intended for the ministry, where they go
through a course of learning, which enables them to do
credit to their profession. They have a superintendent, who is well qualified to instruct them in the various branches of useful and necessary learning.
When the above-mentioned pious lady came forward with her property and interest in support of this laudable undertaking, others in affluent circumstances followed her example. A place for public worship was purchased, capable of holding a great number, with a spacious house adjoining, where the ministers reside during the time they officiate. At this place they transact business, relative to their societies, in different parts of England and Wales : it is considered as the centre of their connexion. This division of the followers of Whitfield has been always known as Lady Huntingdon's connexion. They use the liturgy of the church of England. Those who have completed their studies at the academy, are sent to preach in various parts of the kingdom for a time, and are replaced by others.
By this well conducted plan, they have become a useful and a respectable body. It is said, that in Lady Huntingdon's connexion, there are upwards of 100,000, who regularly attend divine service. It must necessarily be allowed, that the Calvinist and Arminian Methodists, the followers of those excellent men, Wesley and Whitfield, have been essentially useful in the hand of divine Providence, in putting a stop to the immorality of the age. And though some enthusiasts have appeared among them in their first coming forth, who have not conducted themselves with a zeal altogether tempered with heavenly wisdom; yet as a body, they are a peaceable, and an upright people ; and their conduct in life renders them worthy of being called the followers of Christ.
SWEDENBORGIANS, OR TRINI-UNII ARIA NS;
So called from Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish nobleman, a learned man, and a voluminous writer. His theological works were all written in the Latin tongue, which, since his demise, have been translated into English, and other languages, by learned men in different nations. He was born in the year 1688, died at the age of eighty-four, and was buried in the Swedish church, Prince's Square, London.
He teaches, in his writings, that God is one, in essence and in person; that he exists in a divine human form, which was the opinion of some professors in the time of the Emperor Valentinian, 338 years after Christ, called Anthropomorphites and Sabellians : but there is a material difference between these early professors and Swedenborgians. Sabellians believe in the personification of the divine essence, or the Father; whereas the Triniunitarians believe in the triune God. The Swedenborgians also believe, that the unity is only to be comprehended in the person of Christ, in whom is a divine trinity, consisting of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; that the Father dwells in him as the soul dwells in the body of man, and that the proceeding from the Father and Son, is the Holy Spirit; that man is a free agent, and an accountable creature ; that faith alone does not justify the sinner; that a genuine faith will produce good works, which are as inseparable from true faith, as effect is from its cause : nevertheless, that good works do not merit salvation, but that salvation is certain issue, if a man loves what is good, and what is true, and is at the
same time in the habitual practice of these virtues from an interior affection ; that true repentance must precede a remission of sin, that sin is not remitted, unless the sin first ceases to be committed, and that this is the true meaning of remission of sin ; that holiness of heart consists in loving that which is good and true, and in hating that which is evil and false ; and also in endeavouring to manifest this principle in life by all our words and actions. Believing in the triune God, they object to the word atonement, as they say he could not alone to himself. But they believe that Christ, by his assumption of human nature in this world, by his temptation combats, the last of which was, that of the cross ; has redeemed man: nerertheless, that it is incumbent on man to overcome also, agreeably to those words, “ he that overcometh shall sit down with me in my throne, even as I have overcome and am set down with my Father in his throne;' that man is to overcome sin as if the power of overcoming was from himself, but at the same time he must be sensible, that the power to overcome is from the Lord, who overcomes in man; that when man dies as to the material body, he rises again immediately in his spiritual, or eternal body, agreeably to the words of the apostle ; " there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body," in which spiritual body, man after death exists in a perfect human form, that the day of death in this natural world, is the day of his resurrection in the spiritual or eternal world, agreeably to the words of the apostle, 6 absent from the body, present with the Lord;" that the scriptures have a spiritual, as well as a literal sense ; and that in their spiritual sense consists their sanctity ; that the spiritual sense refers primarily to Christ, as redeeming man; and secondly, to the regeneration of man; agreeably to those words, " and beginning at Moses, and