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Centennial of Canadian Methodism
The Methodist Church


By Rev. Dr. Carman.

THE fruitful tree has its roots in the ground, and its robust trunk lifting up the branches into light and air. The godly man is “like a tree planted by the rivers of waters that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” The ancient Church was a “vine brought out of Egypt. The Lord God of Hosts cast out the heathen and planted it. He prepared room before it, and did cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river.” The Christian Church, in its spiritual unity and true catholicity over all the earth to-day, is made up of the living branches in Christ the living Vine, of whose nurture and glorious growth God the Father is the husbandman. “Abide in Me, and I in you,” said our Lord. “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in Me. If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered. I am the vine; ye are the branches.” “ For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.” Hear another parable: “There was a certain householder who planted a vineyard, and hedged it round t about, and digged a wine-press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Last of all, he sent unto them his son. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. . . Therefore I say unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” “Now,” says the prophet, “ will I sing to my well-beloved a song of ray beloved touching his vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill; and he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a wine-press therein; and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes % For the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.” “Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear.”

From all which Scripture statements and instructions— and how otherwise than by Holy Scripture do we know anything of the true Church of God?—some things are very clear and plain, And in the light of these plain and clear things we propose for a little to view the Methodist Church. A “historical sketch” is asked for; but the organization now known as "The Methodist Church” is emphatically, in its present phase, but of yesterday. “ The Methodist Church,” as such, has not had time to make much of a history. Contrasted with those whose boast is in their antiquity, and whose hope is in their sensible, tangible line of descent, it may upon the historic surface make, indeed, but a sorry showing. If venerable and visible externals in boasted succession are the necessary and only credentials of genuine churchhood, we likely are beaten before the argument is begun. But if the descent, the continuity, unity, and identity are in the hidden life, and the demonstrations of churchhood are in the approved manifestations of that spiritual life, we may venture in humility to urge a claim as of the people of God. The history may be brief ; but the philosophy of history is profound and eternal. Changing systems and pretensions, perishable organizations give diversity to history ; its perpetuity, power and progress are found in the constant flow of mighty forces far beneath the surface of events and far down out of ordinary human sight. They are found in the uplifting energies that appear in the development of races and of faiths, as the fertility of the earth and the generosity of the sun appear to day in the flower on the hill-side, and to-morrow in the oak upon the mountains and in the cedars of Lebanon. That is the genuine flower, the real tree, that lives this year or next, one year or a thousand, by these hidden forces. That is the true Church of God that lives by the exhaustless divine energy in this century or that, and brings forth the fruits of holiness, meekness and love from generation to generation; t that, with dead branches pruned out, and fresh shoots grown in, maintains its productiveness from age to age. The one point is to find and hold connection with the hidden divine life, ever moving onward, and bring forth the fruits thereof.

The plain and evident things, manifest in the foregoing quotations from Holy Scripture, in whose light we propose to examine the history, status and prospects of the Methodist Church are:

1. The personal religious life, the spiritual life of the child of God—and there is nothing of this relationship without this life—is an inner and a hidden life, a life hid with Christ in God, a life shown forth in thought, aim, affection, emotion, character and action.

2. This life has its proper and normal expansion, engenders and sustains its peculiar organisms, and fitly nurtured, brings forth abundantly its appropriate fruit, demonstrating at once the nature of the life and its divine energy.

3. The church life is precisely of the same character, origin and results as the personal spiritual life ; arises in the same way out of the ever onflowing life of God, is sustained by the same energy, and gives the same proofs of its existence and activity.

4. The true Christian of one generation as well as of another ; the child of God in one age as well as in another, finds this divine spiritual life a river of life ever flowing, and must find it and keep it to be kept by it. “They did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink j for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them : and that rock was Christ.” Each in his own time has his own connection with the life-giving power.

I, from eternity to eternity ever living, am the vine; ye, from generation to generation, are the branches. Not an outer form, an integument; but an inner fibre, a spiritual organism, conveys the life.

5. The individual Christian may lose this life, and be cast forth as a branch. “ Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away.” And the conditions and results of the loss of this spiritual life are the same in all generations. “ If a man abide not. in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered.” If, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

6. A true Church—which expression the Scriptures justify, as they speak of the Church at Cenchrea, the Church at Corinth, the Churches of Galatia, the Churches of Judea—composed as it is of true believers, living members of the living body, living branches of the living vine, may also lose this life and be cast forth as a branch. A Church, being many persons, and bound together not only by the inner spiritual life, but also by many external bonds, may live beyond the natural life of this or that member, and may appear to live even when its individual members may all have lost their spiritual life. For often the political, social or financial forces may hold it together as a society when it is dead as a Church. It is in such a case, as with the ancient people of God, the Jewish Church and nation, it is said: “Well, because of unbelief they were broken off. If God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee.” It is in such a case that it is said to the Church at Sardis: “I know thy works that thou hast a name, that thou livest and art dead. If, therefore, thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief; and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee and to the Church of the Laodiceans: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hoh, I will spew thee out of my mouth.”

7. The Lord God that rejects a faithless, disobedient race, calls and exalts a people faithful and obedient; for the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, always on moral and spiritual grounds; as with Abraham in the ancient day: “Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all nations of the earth shall be blessed in him; for I know him that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.’’ Again, the governing principle of our own era and clearly evident of God’s ancient people, in our own sight: “They being ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. Because of unbelief they were broken off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in : for God is able to grafl them in again.”

8. How vain are the pretensions and claims that God’s connection with His Church in these centuries is a mere chronological bond; and that the credentials of the people of God must come out of the calendar and almanac ! You are the true Church, and the only true Church, if you date your visible organization in the first Christian century. In tactual line from Melchizedek; in tactual line from Abraham, as though God could not from the very stones raise up children unto Abraham; in tactual line from Peter; in tactual line from His Holiness of Pome, or His Grace of Canterbury. What a nonsensical clamour! How often God has broken the line to restore the life, and demonstrate divine power ! How often man has broken the line in his faithlessness and shame ! Dead roots and dead branches are cut off to be burned. It is a poor tree that cannot send up vigour enough to sprout limb on limb in the upper air. A strange vine, indeed, that lifts but one stem, a far-reaching trunk, it may be, without spreading branch, or twig, or flower ! Yet this is the high ecclesiastical assumption: “We are the only Church of God, because we alone began at the beginning, and alone preserve the unity and continuity, in our beautiful, limbless, branchless, fruitless shaft through the centuries. There can be no offshoots from the one true Church.” What a dethronement of Christ and enthronement of church in His stead is this. Is Christ verily dead? Did He not live before Abraham'? Was He not the foundation of the prophets 1 Is He not living today h And while there may have been epochs of revelation, beginnings of economies, decisive acts of government in this century or that, cannot an effete Church yet be pulled up by the roots ai)d thrown out, and a living Church find root by living waters in nutritious soil Or did He only live when for a little, in the fulness of time, He descended to earths Did He at such a juncture give all goodness and spiritual power into a few hands, and then, Brahma-like, withdraw Himself from the moral world.

9. A living Christ in a living Church is the only Biblical conception and presentation of the Church of God. Christ was before the creation of the world. Christ was in Eden. Christ was with Noah and the patriarchs. Christ was with His Church in the wilderness. Christ was with His ancient people, and a bright light in their temple. Christ was in the incarnation, expiation, resurrection and glorious ascension. Christ is in the mediation and everlasting sovereignty, possessed, as of old, of infinite wisdom and power, directing His Church, leading and comforting His people, unfolding His doctrine, establishing His kingdom, displaying His saving grace and energy, and fulfilling His promises by the Holy Ghost from age to age. He is alive now, almighty, and alive for evermore, and holds the keys of hell and death ; able, as ever, in providential government and grace, to discipline mankind, to uproot and destroy evil, and to plant, establish and fructify good. The true Church of to-day is the Church that derives its life and energy from this living Christ, and proves this vital connection in bringing forth the fruits of the spirit—love, joy and goodness, in meekness, charity and peace. How vain to boast, “ The Church of God, the Church of God are we,” and then, with a spirit of tyranny, assumption and pride, crush and grind the masses in ignorance, and even in vice and crime ! How unlike Christ, who came to lift up and to save. Yea, how true to the mind and way of antichrist, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God ! How preposterous to recite and chant, “ I believe in the Holy Ghost,” and then deny the very works of the Holy Ghost in regeneration, assurance and sanctification! Epochs of decisive divine administrative acts, of divine demonstration, there have been ; epochs and acts without which there had been no Church. Yet certainly the pre-existent, now existent, alway existent, eternal Son of God is not to be wholly located in or confined to any one crisis, to any one purpose, or its executive completion, no matter how indispensable that covenant and its fulfilment to the great and constantly developing scheme of human redemption.

Christ was the life of the Adamic and Melchizedekan Church, of the Abrahamic covenant and Mosaic economy, of the Aaronic dispensation, and that of John the Baptist; as He is also the centre of the Christian system, the spring of the Lutheran reformation, and the source of the Wesleyan revival. There is as much vigour in the vine as ever ; as much force and vitality in the ever-flowing river. If a branch dies, a Church apostatizes, it can be cut off as well as in the time of Moses or of Christ Himself. If one plant bring forth the wild grapes, it can be plucked up and a new seed dropped by the rivers of water. Methodism may not have great age, \ enerable history, but the Methodist Church may still be a true and fruitful branch of the living vine. And the Methodist Church has no special charter or immunity from the religious compacts and moral constitution of the ages. If she is a true branch of the living vine, and is so to continue, overcoming all temptations, she must abide in the ever-living Christ, and with watchful eye and humble and prayerful heart, bring forth the fruits of righteousness in honest dealing and godly living. In all church law; in all ecclesiastical forms, provisions and arrangements; in all doctrine, discipline and instruction; in all sacraments and ordinances, in all usages and enterprises; in all organizations and labour ; in all knowledge and experience; in all official management and fraternal intercourse; in mutual affection, humility of mind and brotherly regard ; this our one care, this our only security, we must abide in Christ. Christ is our life, as present, as positive and as vigorous as ever to the Church of past ages. We must die with Him in the baptism of fire, of consecration, if need be, of suffering, that we may rise and live with Him by the faith of the operation of God. Losing our hold of the present living Christ our glory is departed, as surely as if we lose our hold of a past creating, a past atoning Lord and Saviour. In such a light, how appears the Methodist Church.

I. ORGANIZATION AND POLITY.

Methodism, a child of providence in Britain, seems in the counsels of God to have been especially designed for the American continent, and for the reflex action of Christianity upon Asia, Africa and the Isles of the Sea. In the United States, contemporaneous with the American Revolution, and in Canada, with laying the foundation of the British North American autonomy, it has grown with the growth and strengthened with the strength of these two Anglo-Saxon commonwealths, forming at once very largely the national mind in regard to religion, and itself, invigorated by the spirit of freedom, so congenial to all the institutions of the New World. There is a wonderful coincidence in the precision of dates, marking in both cases the national and ecclesiastical origin. Inspired from on high, these two American giants started in their race. In the United States, the year 1784 gave the people the Methodist Episcopal Church, under the direction of John Wesley, and the treaty with Great Britain acknowledging and confirming the independence of the Republic. In Canada, the year 1791 is monumental both as the epoch of the Constitutional Act, establishing Upper" and Lower Canada as separate Provinces, and of the introduction of Methodism in different forms both in the east and west. And these different forms, through conflict and change, multiplied and strengthened in the progress of the country for more than three quarters of a century.

In 1874, after earnest longings for union in all Canadian Methodisms, and sincere efforts to secure it, the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Canada, the Wesleyan Conference of Eastern British America, and the Wesleyan Methodist New Connexion Church, united under the name, a The Methodist Church of Canada.” As all were not ready, there still remained apart from this united Church and from each other, the Methodist'Episcopal Church of Canada, the Primitive Methodist Church of Canada, the Bible Christian Church in Canada, and the German and African Methodists. In 1880-81, again arose stirrings of heart for the healing of dissensions and for closer unity in the body of Christ. Ministers of the several churches, afflicted in soul by the unseemly strife, and by the frequent reproach of the work of God and hindrance of its progress, set their hearts upon bringing together the various sections of Methodism in this land. Their conversations resulted in conventions larger and smaller, which shaped public opinion on the question and prompted to more definite constitutional action. At the General Conferences of 1882 committees were appointed on the subject of Methodist Union, to confer with any others that might be appointed and jointly to prepare, if possible, a basis of union for the consideration of the Churches. These committees met first in Hamilton in September of 1882, and then in November in Toronto, and formulated a basis of union, which was sent forward to the various Churches for their action. This basis was dealt with by each Church respectively, according to its constitution and discipline, and adopted by all. Then was called together the General Conference of the proposed uniting Churches in

September, 1883, which, under the basis, completed the union, adopted the constitution of the united Church, enacted its discipline, inaugurated its enterprises, and set its machinery in motion. This spiritual and providential movement brought together the Methodist Church of Canada, the Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada, the Bible Christian and the Primitive Methodists into “ The Methodist Church.” The German-speaking Methodists known as “The Evangelical Association,” were not embraced in this Union, nor were the African Methodists.; the larger scheme, even now somewhat spoken of; awaiting the leadings of providence and the development of events. There is yet opportunity for enlargement and reorganization, and there will be on through the ages. If truth be ever-living, and Christ ever-living, no matter when the supreme and indispensable covenants and executive acts transpire, connection should be as easily effected with this living line in this century as in any other, else Christ-life were less than an electric cord or submarine cable that can send up its power through any attachment. Immobility, unchangeableness in policy or polity, is no recommendation or proof of the true Church ; but rather immutability of truth and doctrine and symmetry and continuity of holy living. It is not to say a Church is not a true Church because it arose, or was organized, or reorganized in this age or that; but because it has renounced Christian doctrine and lost Christian life. Any branch that beareth not fruit shall be cut off.

From what has been already said of the character and growth of the true Church of God, it may be readily inferred that if Methodism will bear that description at all, it would esteem more highly the inner and spiritual life than any outer form. And it may be as readily concluded that if the different branches of Methodism before the unions spoken of possessed this true spiritual life, there would be a marked similarity, if not actual identity, of doctrine as based on Holy Scripture, while there might be considerable variety in forms of government and modes of administration. If any ask why the people of God should differ at all in these latter regards, it may be effectually answered that in Holy Writ itself, without touching specific divine commands on religious life, public or private, and 011 personal obligation and experience, large discretion is allowed as to what shall be the relation of ministers and laymen in the government of the Church; what shall be the plans of supplying the people with a regular ministry; what shall be the balance of connexional and congregational functions, and in what series of assemblies and courts ecclesiastical legislation and jurisprudence may be vested. Thus far even the most hierarchical establishments, with all their struggles for an outward uniformity, acknowledge and practise. Such questions were rife in the Christian Church of the first centuries; and such questions may be expected to press for adjustment, if not for final settlement, wherever spiritual life and personal freedom have not been crushed out by the iron hand of relentless system and the cruel usurpations of godless spiritual pride, all the worse because in the name of God ; and of inhuman ecclesiastical assumption, all the worse because professedly for the good of man.

Hence we may not be surprised or grieved if early Methodists, like early Christians, awaking with the throb and breath of a new religious life, should differ on how much or how little laymen should have to do in Church courts and Conferences, or on how closely concentrated or broadly spread should be the governing and appointing power of the ministers. There needs be no astonishment that men with ’ a new-found spiritual energy, demonstrating itself as divine, breaking away from a dead ceremonialism, an evidently effete ecolesiasticism, and the terrible substitute for saving grace of an enforced civil and legislative conformity, should not be in immediate harmony on many matters of polity and expediency, a field wherein good men may oppose and love. On such grounds divisions arose and, too often, contentions.

Of the bodies named above, when the question of uniting pressed upon the Churches, it was quickly found that in methods of administration there were wide divergencies. All had Annual Conferences and District Meetings, Circuit Boards and Boards of Trust; and all had societies and classes. But with some the Annual Conferences were composed wholly of ministers, and were purely administrative ; while with others these same Conferences comprised both ministers and laymen, and were both legislative and executive in character. In the cases where the Annual Conferences were purely administrative, the legislative power was vested in a Quadrennial General Conference made up equally of ministers and laymen. One of the bodies had an episcopacy of the Wesleyan type, in which was vested the stationing power, limited by the advice of a travelling presiding eldership. Here, then, were the principles of Church government to be reconciled and to be incorporated into an acceptable, and if possible, an effective polity for the united Church, viz.: (1) The autonomy of Annual Conferences and the freedom of ministerial action; (2) lay representation and the preservation of the rights of the laity ; and (3) an efficient supervision and satisfactory maintenance of the connexional bond and unity. And this great work appears to have been accomplished in love and with the divine approbation. For, as will appear from the figures given in this paper, the united Church has grown beyond expectation in all departments, even to this day. The Conferences were all constituted of ministers and laymen; the Stationing Committee was composed of ministers alone, and connexional affairs were placed under the oversight of a General Superintendency. A Quadrennial General Conference was made the legislative body, and all other courts of the Church were vested with the judicial and executive functions. Thus the connexional bond was made strong, while personal and local rights were guarded. The great connexional institutions and interests, as the Missionary Society, the educational work, the book and publishing houses, the Sabbath-school operations, and the various connexional funds, still farther secure and emphasize the unity of the Church and increase its power. Let it but maintain the true spirit and life of Christ in all its membership and machinery, in all its operations and ordinances, and there is unquestionably before it, with these enlarged facilities and power, greater usefulness than even that with which the loving Lord has, beyond all our merit and of His abounding grace, crowned our unworthy labours in the past.

II. SPIRIT AND DOCTRINE.

How shall we put it, Spirit and Doctrine; or, Doctrine and Spirit*? If we come from God down through agencies to men, we likely shall say, Spirit and Doctrine ; if we go up from men through agencies to God, we likely shall say, Doctrine and Spirit. Methodism at its beginning was a revival of spiritual and experimental religion, a realization and demonstration of divine life in the soul and in the Church. To this idea of life and experience in all its divisions it has ever adhered. Hence, though there have been many branches of Methodism, many Methodist Churches, there has been among them all very little diversity of doctrine ; indeed, we might say, there has been practically no diversity of doctrine except as between Wesley himself and Whitefield at the start, that is, between the Calvinistic and Arminian sections of the movement in its earliest days. In doctrine, there was no appreciable difference whatever in Canadian Methodism at any time of its history. When the Union Committees and first General Conference came to define the doctrinal standards and set the doctrinal guide-posts of the United Church, the first chapters of any one of the books of Discipline could have been adopted en bloc, as that part of the Discipline of the Methodist Church of Canada was adopted cordially and unanimously. And as the usages in all had grown out of their view and experience of the Christian doctrines, and the use and proclamation of them, all had their class-meetings and prayer-meetings, and similar public worship ; their circuit boards and trust boards, their Sabbath-schools and missionary and evangelistic agencies; so that their coming together was the ready fusion of homogeneous societies, the quick solution and admixture of happy affinities. Whatever difficulties arose in the consolidation of Canadian Methodism, came more out of the works of man than out of the will of God ; out of divergencies in polity and government, out of clashing interests, institutions and organizations, sometimes the creatures of necessity, sometimes of strife, and always enlarging and multiplying with the accretions of the years. It had been easy for the breach to grow wider and wider, had there not been the potent doctrinal unity and the essential spiritual fraternity. When it came to be seen that the very urgency of Methodist evangelism was begetting strife, dividing the spiritual forces and lessening the spiritual momentum in many neighbourhoods; building two or three churches, or attempting to sustain two or three ministers, where one might serve the purpose; planting two or three missions where only one should be attempted ; doubling and tripling agencies at unjustifiable expense of men and means; which things, and others like them, of course could not be seen till they came to pass—by the occupancy of the whole country in the growth of the Churches—this very unity of doctrine and spiritual kinship rendered the corporate union not only desirable, but readily practicable. Forms, usages and agencies could be easily surrendered or adapted, if what each considered the essential life and power was fully maintained.

Each held with all evangelical Christian Churches the common body of doctrine as to existence and attributes of God—the Trinity of divine persons in the one God, and the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures; the nature of sin and atonement; the resurrection of the dead and the universal judgment; and the future life in its penalties and rewards. And while holding and claiming these essential articles of the Christian faith, which might be supposed sufficient to bring all Churches together, and would avail to bring them together, were it not for the human additions and impositions; all branches of Canadian Methodism, as of true Methodism everywhere, emphasized the spiritual, personal and experimental doctrines of our holy religion, as conviction of sin, true repentance, justifying faith, the regeneration of the nature by the Holy Ghost, and perfect love in the heart and holiness in the life through an all sufficient atonement by the same Divine Spirit. Who could , enjoy the power of such doctrines and remain apart in strife] Canadian Methodism, drawn by this inner spiritual force, when the times were ripe soon found a basis of union. And to God they, united, ascribe the glory.

The united Church holds fast by these doctrines, and with them, through God, expects still to grow and conquer. This positive knowledge of sin, conviction of sin by the Holy Ghost, is known to be indispensable to a true repentance, a hearty loathing of sin and a resistless determination by the grace of God to escape its defilement, its dominion and its danger. How shall men seek pardon, but under a sense of guilt; cleansing, except they know their pollution 1 This true repentance, this sense of helplessness, vileness and impending ruin, must precede personal saving faith; so that a man may flee to Christ and to Him alone. This apprehending of Christ in simple trust is the one condition of pardon; and pardon, the logical and essential antecedent to regeneration and adoption; which again, in the divine order, precede the entire sanctification by the Holy Ghost, and the inworking and indwelling of perfect love. These are experiences, these are realizations of the believer, these are demonstrations of the power of God. The character that in His purpose and covenant He foreknew, He predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son. Whom He predestinated, He called ; whom He called, He justified ; whom He justified, He glorified. The divine order in purpose and covenant is steadfast and unalterable, that we who first and foremost trust in Christ are predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will, that we should be to the praise of His glory. We trusted after we heard the word of truth, and we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise after we trusted or believed. For faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. For the Scripture saith, “Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.” “And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” With these grand old doctrines of a covenanted, experienced salvation offered to all—a salvation free, full, present, perfect and eternal, Methodism has won its way till now. It was the genius of these doctrines that swept the var'ous divisions into a united Church. It is the spirit and life of these doctrines—salvation from all sin now, clear assurance thereof, and the consequent baptism of fire—that we must preserve if we are to advance to victory. These are the consecration doctrines, the missionary doctrines, the doctrines of holiness and power, which we must sacredly guard, unceasingly promote and boldly proclaim, if we are to maintain the character and fruitfulness of a living Church, a living branch of the living vine.

III. LABOURS AND RESULTS.

The first General Conference of the .Methodist Church, composed of ministerial and lay representatives of the four uniting Churches, held in Belleville, in the month of September, 1883, in accordance with the provisions of the Basis of Union, was a solemn and historic assembly. Men who had strenuously opposed union, and men who had vigorously advocated it, were upon the floor with a purpose that, now it had been decreed, to make it successful. Men who did not want to take the responsibility themselves rejoiced that others had done so. The opening prayers, by Rev. Dr. Gardiner, who had promoted the movement, and by Rev. Dr. Williams, who had earnestly resisted it, were attended with great power in the demonstration of the Spirit, and all hearts were melted in the overflowings of divine love. Devotion to God and His Church, what is now the best thing for the common Methodism, was evidently the pervading and ruling thought of the Conference. Differences sank out of sight; and while principles were guarded and maintained, when mutual concessions could open the way to brotherliness, peace, and spiritual power, they were, as a rule, cheerfully made. This very peace was a realization of the Saviour’s promise to His people, was regarded as a divine approbation of the Union so happily consummated, and a pledge of better things to come. Where there had been forebodings of ill and great fears, the spirit of consecration came upon the Church, and the cheering outlook of faith and hope. The steady increase of the years and the quadrenniums in all departments of the work is accepted as the loving attestation of the good pleasure of our Heavenly Father, and the evident occasion of increasing gratitude and humility on the part of all our people.

The following figures show, in small part, the returns of the several uniting Churches to the General Conference of 1883 : The Methodist Church of Canada had at the time of the Union 1,216 ministers, 128,644 members, 2,202 churches, valued at $4,438,435; 646 parsonages, valued at $712,906 ; 1,968 Sabbath schools, with 132,320 scholars, besides the Connexional educational institutions and extended missions at home and abroad.

The Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada returned 259 ministers, 25,671 members, 545 churches, valued at $1,314,204; 126 parsonages, valued at $113,110; 432 Sab-bath-schools with 23,968 scholars, as also missions and educational institutions. The Primitive Methodist Church had 89 ministers, 8,090 members, ‘230 churches, 50 parsonages, 152 Sabbath-schools, with 9,050 scholars. The Bible Christian Church gave in 79 ministers, 7,398 members, 181 churches, 55 parsonages, 155 Sabbath-schools, with 9,690 scholars.

Thus the total membership of the United Church at its start in 1883, was 169,803, with 1,643 ministers, 3,158 churches, 877 parsonages, 2,707 Sabbath-schools and 175,052 scholars. The churches and parsonages were valued at $9,130,897. These figures do not include the connexional property in missions, superannuation fund, book and publishing establishments, and universities and colleges, which would run up to about $5,000,000 more. At the General Conference of 1886, there were returned 197,479 members, and in 1890, 233,868. In scholars in the Sabbath-school, the summary for 1886 gave 191,185, and for 1890, 226,050. Church property and other statistical items have kept pace in their proper ratio with this increase in membership and the attendance upon the Sunday-schools.

From this, it is at once evident that because of the Union the revival power has not left the Church. An increase of 64,000, or 38 per cent, in our membership in seven years, in a country like ours, with a comparatively small population, and with many other active Churches, by the grace of God, winning their share, is indeed reason of joy and gratitude to God. It was feared,, as did to a small extent transpire, that some of the membership of the former Churches would not consent to the roll-call after Union, but would transfer themselves to other communions Quite a number fell out of the ranks and joined the Salvation Army, which possibly had in this regard, as in others, a providential mission. Yet so decisive was the increase, that some minds accepted it as a proof of the divine sanction, and rejoiced after trembling in the work wrought. Nor was the spirit of liberality diminished. The Mission Fund increased year by year, and never was stronger than to-day. The schools and colleges have been fully sustained and considerably enlarged and improved. The publishing interests have grown to grand proportions ; churches and parsonages have been increased and beautified, and nearly all funds strengthened up to demand. So, in humble trust in God, the outlook is eminently cheering. The one thing required is the perpetuated and intensified spiritual life.

The General Conference of 1883 laid out the territory occupied by the Church into ten Annual Conferences. Since that date two others, British Columbia and Japan, have been organized. At the same date the papers and printing establishments of the several uniting Churches so far as they had them, were merged in the Book and Publishing House of the Methodist Church of Canada, on King Street, Toronto. In 1889, the noble and commodious structure on Richmond Street, erected at an expense of nearly $120,000, was first occupied; and now the book and publishing business and the connexional offices have accommodations and facilities of the highest order. .

The term betwixt the General Conferences of 1886 and 1890 is declared by the Book Committee to have been “one of enlargement, extension and general prosperity.” Also in the Educational Work a great change has been affected. The General Conference of 1886 determined upon the federation of Victoria University with the University of Toronto, under the provisions of an Act of the Legislature of Ontario in that behalf. As this had not been accomplished at the time of the General Conference of 1890, this last Conference took decisive measures for the prosecution of the work, which, under the hand of the Board of Regents, is now vigorously in progress. The Mount Allison University, in the Eastern Provinces, prospers abundantly upon the old foundations. The call and qualification of men for the sacred ministry is energetic and effective as ever hitherto in the Church; and the Theological Schools at Cobourg, Montreal and Sackville, are making an unmistakable impress upon the Church, and aiming more and more to be centres of sound learning and divine power. The education of women has received the most earnest attention and liberal support of the Church ; and the Ladies’ Colleges at Hamilton, St. Thomas, Whitby and Sackville, and the successful co-educational Schools at Belleville, Stanstead and St. John’s, Newfoundland, are raising a generation of mentally and morally disciplined womanhood that, in alliance with similar achievements elsewhere, must even revolutionize the means and methods of Christian toil, and stir the whole world with a new and heavenly impulse. What with the organization of sisterhoods, the promotion of Epworth Leagues, the operations of Collegiate Missionary Societies, and the splendid results of the Woman’s Missionary movement, the Church has surely agencies and enterprises to exercise her talent and develop her resources under the leadership of Jesus Christ. Only this our anxiety and prayer, that she live by the true Spiritual life and abide constantly therein.


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