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Methodist New Connection (Wesleyan)

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Methodist New Connection (Wesleyan)

a body of English Independents which separated from the regular Wesleyans on questions of ecclesiastical polity.

I. Origin. The opinion has been held, and is still prevalent in some localities, that the Methodist New Connection had its origin in personal sympathy with Alexander Kilham. Such is not the fact. Most of those who joined the body at its origin were influenced by the publications and public addresses of Mr. Kilham, but the Connection as such originated in principle, not in sympathy. The Methodist; New Connection was originated by a contest for the establishment of the following important and scriptural principles:

1. The right of the people to hold their public religious, worship at such hours as were most convenient, without their being restricted to the mere intervals of the hours appointed for service in the Established Church.

2. The right of the people to receive the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper from the hands of their own ministers and in their own places of worship.

3. The right of the people to a representation in the district meetings and in the annual conference, and thereby to participate in the government of the community and in the appropriation of its funds.

4. The right of the Church to have a voice, through its local business meetings, in the reception and expulsion of members, the choice of local officers, and in the calling out of candidates for the ministry; Not any of these privileges were originally enjoyed in, the parent body; they were for years zealously contended for by the fathers and founders of the New Connection; and when they could not be fully obtained, conscience compelled those men to secede from the parent community and originate a distinct denomination in which such scriptural privileges could be freely enjoyed.

The power of Mr. Wesley was absolute, but it fell into his hands unsought and undesired. It was exercised by him with affection, and solely for the best interests of his societies; and retained from the same motive. He was the father of the community, and was necessitated for a time to be its sole director and governor; but, however proper it was for him to exercise that power during the infancy of the Connection, yet, when surrounded by churches which had grown to maturity, and assisted by ministers and laymen of acknowledged wisdom, integrity, and piety, whose existence and happiness, like his own, were bound up with the prosperity of Methodism, it would have been more conformable to the example of the apostles and the dictates of sound reason to have gradually relaxed his hold of the reins and admitted others to a participation of the same, and finally to have framed a liberal constitution defining the prerogatives of the ministry and the privileges of the people, securing both by suitable regulations and wholesome laws. Mr. Wesley's mind was well qualified for this, but he did it not. He retained absolute power until death; and, instead of framing for the community a liberal constitution, he transferred by legal settlement his own power to the preachers, and made that law which before was only custom, and custom arising from the peculiar relation in which he stood. He made those his successors in absolute power who could not possibly be his successors in paternal relation and influence. That exercise of power was the subject of many remarks and adverse criticism. Just fifty years after the origin of Methodism Mr. Wesley had to defend his conduct in this matter, which he did in these words:

"Some of our helpers say, This is shackling free-born Englishmen;' and they demand a free conference, that is, a meeting of all the preacher is, wherein all things shall be determined by most votes. I answer, It is possible after my death something of this kind may take place, but not while I live. To me the preachers have engaged themselves to submit, to serve me as sons in the Gospel; but they are not thus engaged to any man or number of men besides. To me the people in general will submit, but they will not thus submit to any other." When Mr. Wesley died, in 1791, only two years after he had written and published the above observations, there were 380 preachers in his society, some with active, others passive, dispositions. Among the former were some who were of opinion that, being the regularly appointed ministers of their congregations, they ought to exercise all the functions which belong to the pastoral office; but to be deprived of the privilege of administering the sacraments was felt by some of the preachers to be a great hardship, while the laymen, many of them, considered they had a just right to representation in the properly constituted Church courts.

Mr. Alexander Kilham, one of the preachers who had been specially privileged in his ministerial career was one of the most able and courageous advocates of what was considered the full rights and liberties of both preachers and people. In 1792 he published an address to the Newcastle Society, to whom he was then ministering, advocating liberal views. His address met with favor from Dr. Coke, Messrs. Bradburn, Pawson, Moore, Taylor, Crowther, Bramwell, and others. The Church party among the preachers resisted strongly, and the controversy spread and intensified. Mr. Kilham, impressed with the conviction that permanent peace would never be established in the body until such a constitution was adopted as secured to the people New-Test. rights and privileges, felt it a duty to make another effort for the attainment of this important object. Under this impression he wrote a pamphlet entitled The Progress of Liberty. In this work he adverted to the course of Mr. Wesley in the progress of Methodism, showing that he had acted from time to time as altered circumstances required; he glanced at the alterations which had been effected since Mr. Wesley's death, and analyzed "the Articles of Pacification," pointing out their defects, etc. In the second part of this work he lays down the "Outlines of a Constitution," which he humbly proposes to the consideration of "The People called Methodists." This outline embraces the following particulars:

First, That instead of the preachers having the sole power to admit and expel members, these acts should be done with consent of the people.

Second, That the members should have a voice in choosing their own leaders.

Third, That local preachers, instead of being appointed by the circuit preacher, should be examined and approved by the leaders and quarterly meetings; with which meetings also should rest the power of receiving and dismissing them. Fourth, That as it was impossible to allow the people to choose their own ministers on account of the itinerant plan, yet the quarterly meetings should have a voice in recommending preachers to travel.

Fifth, That lay delegates appointed by the quarterly meetings should attend the district meetings.

And, lastly, he proposes, "with submission to the preachers and the Connection at large, to appoint one or two lay delegates from every district meeting to attend the Conference." Such were the propositions of Mr. Kilham, and such were the principles adopted as elements of the constitution of the New Connection at its origin, and such remain its essential and distinguishing features at the present day. Many of them have since been substantially adopted in the other Methodist bodies. Nevertheless, for publishing the pamphlet advocating these principles of freedom, Mr. Kilham was tried and expelled from the ministry at the ensuing conference (1796). Being left without a circuit, Mr. Kilham published a detailed account of his trial and expulsion, which sold extensively and was read eagerly. It created a strong feeling of sympathy towards the expelled, who was welcomed in many circuits to preach to and address the people. Several large societies expressed their adhesion to the principles Mr. Kilham advocated, and in May, 1797, a chapel was purchased in Leeds, where he gathered large congregations and preached to them.

The Methodist Conference of 1797 was occupied during its session with the altered circumstances arising from their refusal of the liberties, which had been asked by deputations from the people. A Plan of Pacification was drawn up and published by the Conference, which was one of the most important proceedings connected with the history of Methodism. As, however, that plan did not concede all that the people desired, three of the preachers resigned William Thom, Stephen Eversfield, and Alexander Cummins-and united with Mr. Kilham. These brethren, with a number of delegates from the people, met together in Ebenezer Chapel, Leeds, on Aug. 9, 1797, when Mr. Thom was elected president and Mr. Kilham secretary, and the basis of a constitution was adopted in conformity with the principles which had been publicly advocated, the full development and formal statement of these principles were reserved until the ensuing conference. The most important places in which friends declared for the New Itinerancy were Alnwick, Ashton, Bolton, Chester, Hanley, Leeds, Liverpool, Macclesfield, Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle, and Stockport, which became the nuclei of distinct circuits, consisting altogether of over 5000 members.

II. Doctrines. The Methodist New Connection has a creed; the doctrines it teaches are Arminian, purely Methodistic. No written creed was considered necessary at the time the Connection was commenced, its founders being all Methodists who held by Mr. Wesley's writings; they retained his hymn-book, and avowed their unabated attachment to the doctrines he taught. False reports on this head having been circulated in the early years, the Conference of 1800 made a specific declaration of their doctrines, which were briefly summed up under the following heads: namely, first, the fall of man; second, redemption by the death of Christ; third, justification by faith; fourth, the complete sanctification of believers; fifth, perseverance in the divine life, or the necessity of continuing in faith and good works to the end, in order to final salvation.

The Conference of 1816 reviewed the whole question of doctrines, and embodied them in twelve articles or propositions, with Scripture references to each. These are the same as those held by the parent society.

III. Church Organization and Polity. The founders of the Methodist New Connection renounced all connection with the Established Church, and as avowed Dissenters added the administration of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper to the regular duties of the ministry, and laid down as fundamental this principle: "That the Church itself is entitled, either collectively, in the persons of its members, or representatively, by persons chosen out of and by itself, to a voice and influence in all the acts of legislation and government." That principle is embodied in the entire system of government of the Connection. This will be seen from the following statement of the constitution and functions of the official meetings, briefly summed up under five heads.

1. Conference. This is held annually, and is composed of an equal number of preachers and laymen, each circuit sending one of its preachers and one of its lay members. When only one representative is sent, the circuit selects a preacher and layman in alternate years. Should any circuit be unable to send a representative, a letter accompanied by the required documents, details, and collections is sufficient. The treasurer of the Connection, the corresponding member of the annual committee, the steward and treasurer of the book-room, the general secretary of the missions, the superintendent of the Irish mission, a deputed minister or layman, alternately, from the Irish Conference, and the guardians of the Connection, under the deed executed in 1846, are, by virtue of office, members of Conference, without interfering in any way with the privilege of the circuits in which such individuals may reside. The business of Conference is to make laws for the government of the Connection; to decide impartially on charges affecting the character of preachers or other officers, and on appeals referred to it by the quarterly meetings; to disburse the various funds of the Connection; to station the preachers for the year ensuing; to investigate the condition of each circuit; to adjust differences, and to promote, by friendly co-operation and advice, harmony and love throughout the community; and to devise and put into operation means for the more extensive spread of the Gospel both at home and abroad. Its sittings are open to members of the Connection, subject to the judgment of the president. In addition to the above, a committee of seven persons is chosen at each Conference, by ballot, to transact I the business of the Connection between one Conferenon and another; four of the members are preachers and three are laymen, one year, and vice versa the following year. It is the duty of this committee to see that the resolutions of Conference are carried into effect; to give advice in all matters of dispute and difficulty, and to make provision for such circuits as may through death, new openings, or other causes, need supplies during the ecclesiastical year. A report of its proceedings is prepared by the corresponding member, and annually presented to Conference.

2. District Meetings. These meetings are composed of all the circuit preachers in the district, with an equal number of laymen (including the representatives to the last Conference), who are elected by the respective quarterly meetings. These meetings are designed to form and carry out plans for the revival of the work of God in the district; to investigate the condition of the societies, chapels, and Sabbath-schools, and to prepare correct returns of the number of members; probationers, Sabbath-school teachers and scholars, etc., for the use of Conference; to ascertain the amount raised in each circuit for the different Connectional funds; to investigate all claims on the yearly collection and chapel fund; to receive applications for the division of circuits; to examine candidates for the ministry; to lay before the district any resolution of the Conference affecting the circuits, and to ascertain whether they have been carried into full effect. These meetings are designed and calculated to shorten the duration of Conference, to strengthen the executive, to secure more correct information on points of local interest than can be done at a greater distance, and to afford a legitimate channel through which many evils may be altogether prevented or speedily rectified.

3. Quarterly Meetings. These are held in each circuit, and are composed of the circuit preachers, the circuit stewards, the secretary of the local preachers, and representatives of the people chosen from the local preachers, leaders, trustees (being members), and other experienced persons from the different societies. Each society sends one or more representatives according to the number of its members. Any member of society has free admission to the quarterly meetings, with liberty to give his opinion, but without the power to vote. It is the business of the quarterly meeting to pay the preachers salaries; to determine the amount that each society is to contribute for the support of the ministry; to make by-laws for its own regulation and for the management of the circuit, providing they do not contravene the rules of the Connection; to appoint persons to make the preachers plans for the circuit; to recommend local preachers to be taken into the regular ministry; to determine respecting the qualifications of candidates for the local ministry, and to examine and decide upon the affairs, both temporal and spiritual, of the circuit generally.

4. Leaders Meetings. These consist of leaders, society stewards, one or more of the circuit preachers, a male representative for each of the female and circuit preachers classes, and a representative from the trustees of the chapel, provided such representative be a member of society. Leaders meetings are held weekly, or once a fortnight, and regulate the affairs of each society and place of worship. It is the province of these meetings to inspect the class-books, and to receive the weekly or other payments; to inquire after the sick or absent members, that they may be visited; to determine on notices for the pulpit; to fix the hours for public worship, and appoint the times for making the collections for its support; to recommend persons to act as exhorters or local preachers; to judge and decide upon the fitness of candidates for Church membership; to ascertain whether any members are walking disorderly; and prayerfully to devise plans for the advancement of the work of God, and for the general improvement of the society.

5. Local Preachers' Meetings. These are held previously to the circuit quarterly meetings, and are composed, of the circuit and local preachers. Their business is, in addition to mutual counsel and encouragement, to consider the recommendations given by the leaders meetings of persons to be employed as local preachers or exhorters; make suitable inquiries respecting probationers, and any alleged irregularities in the conduct or preaching of any of the brethren; ascertain if any alterations are required in the places or times of preaching, and report thereon to the quarterly meeting through the medium of their secretary.

The religious, social, and society meetings of the New Connection are conducted in the same manner as the like meetings of the Wesleyan body, the parent society.

IV. History. The incidents of history in the Methodist New Connection are comparatively few, and they relate chiefly to the personal history of the preachers and the steady spread of the movement. At the first Conference the number of adherents was five thousand and thirty-seven. Surrounded by difficulties of more than ordinary urgency and gravity, the society made very slow progress, not so much from want of sympathy on the part of the people as from want of funds and agents to commence new circuits. The new itinerant commenced with seven circuits and seven preachers. In 1798 seven other preachers entered the ministry Messrs. W. Haslam, W. Styan, John Revil, Charles Donald, W. Driver, G. Wall, and John McClure. That fact inspired cheerful hopes of progress, but in five years, only two hundred and forty-three additions were made to the membership. A monthly magazine was commenced in 1798, which has been continued ever since. The first and second conferences were presided over by Mr. William Thom, the secretary being Mr. Kilham The Conference of 1799 was presided over by John Grindell, the secretary being Mr. Robert Hall, of Nottingham, a holy man, and a generous supporter of the cause. In December of the previous year the first heavy blow and discouragement came by the unexpected death of Mr. Kilham; many were disheartened, and some among Mr. Wesley's followers were glad, they viewing the occurrence as a judgment upon him personally. All the surrounding circumstances, calmly considered apart from prejudice, show that Mr. Kilham's death was more the result of earnest overwork and exposure in bad weather. Viewed from any human standpoint, the premature death of that able minister was much to be regretted, and the good work for which he lived and labored was considerably retarded by the occurrence. Exactly two months after Mr. Kilham's death, the Connection suffered another serious loss by the death of their very liberal and zealous layman, Mr. William Smith, of Hanley, who; expired peacefully Feb. 20,1799. He had been brought up in Mr. Wesley's society, but his sympathies were with Mr. Kilham, whom he visited at Nottingham, Dec. 19,1798. He was born at Walsall, Staffordshire, in December, 1763; was religiously brought up; frequently preached as occasion offered; attended the first Conference of the New Connection; opened his house at Hanley for preaching, and soon afterwards had a chapel erected there, which became the central home of one of the largest and most prosperous societies in the Connection.

The Conference of 1799 recognized a society in Ireland, and the Rev. John McClure commenced a cause at Lisburn. The same year the few preachers then associated agreed to contribute ten shillings and sixpence yearly to found a fund for the support of aged ministers.

The Conference of 1803 commenced what is known as the Paternal Fund. It is sustained by public collections in the chapels and private subscriptions. Allowances are made from it towards the support of the children of the preachers in their early years. The Beneficent Fund was originated at the same Conference by Mr. Samuel Higginbottom of Manchester, who gave fifty pounds as a benefaction, and became the first treasurer of the fund. The resources are obtained from public collections and subscriptions, and its objects are the relief of aged and infirm ministers and their widows. In 1880 the Paternal Fund produced £2698; the Beneficent Fund, £5303.

The year 1804 was made memorable by the celebrated Rev. Richard Watson joining the ranks of the New Connection. He traveled for eight years in that body, and they claim the honor of bringing that extraordinary man out of obscurity. Two of the sermons in his published works were first preached in New Connection chapels. During his itinerancy with them he was a member of the Annual Committee, and three times secretary of the Conference. Dr. Bunting reintroduced him into the Wesleyan body, but he ever held in very high esteem his brethren in the New Connection.

In 1808 the law was made which requires preachers, at the end of their probation, to answer in public questions relating to their religious experience, call to the ministry, their doctrinal views, etc.

It will be instructive to the present race of Methodists to read the financial conditions on which Methodist preachers consented in 1812 to devote themselves wholly to the ministry. Serious complaints had been made respecting the inadequacy of the income of the preachers to meet their necessities. A committee was appointed by the Conference of 1812 to examine and report thereon. After a candid consideration of the subject, it was resolved that, in addition to the use of a house and furniture at the expense of the circuit, every married preacher in full connection should receive, for himself and wife, £12 per quarter; "not less than £2 per quarter for a servant;" and, in addition to these items, "not less than 14s. per week for board." The allowance from the Paternal Fund for boys under eight years of age, and for girls under twelve, to be £6 per annum; then they retire from the fund. Charge for medical attendance and traveling expenses are to be paid by the quarterly meeting. Considerable uneasiness and anxiety was felt in many parts of the Connection in the years 1814-i6 with regard to the legal safety of some of the chapels which had belonged to the parent society before the year 1797. Those anxieties were not favorable to the spread of the word of God.

In 1818 a Home Mission was established to introduce Methodism into new localities. The sum of £424 was given by the circuits to aid that mission. In 1824 the mission was relinquished, and Ireland was selected as the place on which to concentrate their efforts, and one of the English preachers was appointed to superintend the work. It has continued with varying success to the present time. In 1880 there were seven stations in Ireland, with a total membership of 715, being only an average of 102 members per station. The home missionary operations were resumed some years afterwards, and in 1880 they occupied eleven stations in England, with a membership of 1249, and for their support the circuits contributed £1158 during the year 1879-80. In 1823 the general rules of the Connection were considered, amended, and published, with the sanction of the Conference.

The same Conference ordered the publication of a monthly magazine for Sunday scholars at the price of 2d. The Conference of 1827 ordered the publication of a Catechism for the use of children, which was prepared by the Rev. Abraham Scott. A larger Catechism for the use of elder children was written by the Rev. William Cooke, D.D., and published about the year 1848. The same minister is preparing a new and enlarged edition of that Catechism to be published in 1881. A Connectional magazine was commenced in January, 1798, at the price of 6d. monthly. It has been continued to the present time. To promote the circulation of these several publications, a book-room and an editor were indispensable. The former was located at Hanley from 1798 to 1832, when it was removed to Manchester. In 1827 the Rev. W. Shuttleworth was appointed editor and steward, and the business rapidly advanced. In 1827 the capital stock amounted to £1305, and the annual profits to £113. Five years afterwards the capital was £2500, and the yearly profits over £500, while the magazine was greatly improved; the third series was commenced in 1833. In 1844 it was found expedient to remove the book-room to London, where it has since remained, and the Rev. John Bakewell was appointed editor. In 1848 the Rev. William Cooke, the eminent theologian and divine, was the editor of the magazine, and in that capacity and as book-steward he has rendered more valuable service to the Connection than any other minister. The Rev. Charles Dewick Ward, D.D., was appointed editor and book-steward in 1880; the capital stock that year was £2980, and the profits £243.

The Methodist hymn-book had been used in the New Connection from 1797. In the year 1834 a new hymnbook was prepared and published, which was intended more as a source of profit to the Connection than as a superior book to the one, which it supplanted. This also was displaced by another and very much improved collection, including 1024 hymns, compiled chiefly by the Rev. Henry Piggin, and published in May, 1863. It was at that time the best collection in use in any branch of the great Methodist family. Its marked superiority soon led to the preparation of other improved and enlarged collections for the use of "the People called Methodists."

The years 1836 and 1837 were periods of unrest in many Methodist societies, owing to the trial and expulsion of the Rev. Dr. Warren from the Wesleyan body. At Dudley and Sturbridge large numbers left the Wesleyans and joined the New Connection, adding greatly to their influence and usefulness in those towns. An effort was made to bring all those who had left the parent society into union with the New Connection, but some of the Separatists made such radical changes in the constitution a condition of joining that the New Connection decided not to make such concessions, though many changes were made. Those who did not unite with this body formed themselves into a new branch of the Methodist family, known for some years as the Wesleyan Association. They afterwards relinquished most of those extreme views, which prevented their proposed union. The year 1841 was a painfully memorable one to the New Connection, owing to the necessary expulsion of two of the ministers, J. Barker and W. Trotter. Joseph Barker had used his position to advocate low socialist and infidel opinions.

Much mischief was done, for twenty-nine societies, including 4348 members, were lost to the Connection. After trying his new doctrines for some years, he found out the delusion into which he had fallen, returned to the Christian faith, and endeavored to the uttermost to undo the mischief he had done. He is said to have joined the Primitive Methodists; wrote and published his autobiography in 1869, in which he recanted all his errors; was reconciled to most of his former brethren in the New Connection; and died in 1879 (or 1880) a penitent Christian. It was not until 1855, fourteen years afterwards, that the number of members in society reached the total at which they stood at the date of Mr. Barker's expulsion. A small work was published in 1841 entitled The Beacon, and also some tracts by the Rev. W. Cooke, D.D., which prevented the breach becoming wider than it otherwise would have been. The Connection suffered greater losses through Mr. Barker's unfaithfulness and treachery than from any other cause in its whole history of over eighty years. The financial difficulties of the Connection became so great and oppressive that in 1842 nearly £900 were collected to lessen them, £840 more in 1843, and the Conference of that year ordered a special collection to be made through the circuit, which secured £5000 more towards the same object.. The Conference of 1837 originated a mission in Canada, which became a great blessing to that country. Mr. William Ridgway one of the leading New Connection laymen, having visited that locality, made such representations of the claims of Canada for the Gospel that the Rev. John Addyman became the pioneer missionary there. He was joined two years afterwards by the Rev. Henry Only Crofts, D.D. Mr. Addyman still survives, having been in the ministry forty-eight years. Dr. Crofts entered into rest in the year 1880. The Canadian mission was a success; but a few years ago, in 1875 it was united to the other branches of Methodism in Canada, in order to make one large undivided Methodist Church in that dominion.

The jubilee of the New Connection was a time of great rejoicing. The Jubilee Conference was held at Manchester, the Rev. Thomas Allin presiding. The sittings commenced June 1, 1846. The first important special business done was the final consideration and adoption of a deed- poll, which provides for the security of the property of the Connection, the preservation of its doctrines, and the continuance of its principles and discipline. By the deed-poll a legal identity is given to the Connection in the persons of twenty-four guardian representatives-twelve ministers and twelve laymen whose names are inserted in the deed, with provisions for filling up the vacancies that will necessarily occur. The attendance of six of the guardian representatives is requisite to legalize the Conference. After its adoption, the deed-poll was executed by every member of the Conference; and it has since been duly enrolled in the High Court of Chancery. A model trust-deed, and a form of conveyance of freehold land for Connectional chapels, schools, and parsonages, were also decided upon; and a book-room deed also agreed to, each of them adapted to the deed-poll.

At the end of fifty years, the number of members in the Connection was only 20,002, namely in England, 15,610; Ireland, 932; Canada, 3460.

It was resolved to raise a Jubilee Fund of not less than £20,000, but the result was only £7721. Towards that fund there was raised in 1847 £2829; in 1848, £1567; in 1849, £3402. About £5100 was voted to remove chapel debts, £1300 to promote missions; and various sums were given or loaned to the Paternal Fund, the Beneficent Fund for a theological college, for aged ministers, and to lessen other financial burdens which fettered the agencies of the Church. On June 5 a jubilee tea-meeting was held in the Free-Trade Hall, Manchester, which was attended by more than four thousand persons. Several important schemes for the extension of the work, which it was hoped the fund would enable the Connection to undertake, could not be commenced for want of finances. One result, however, was attained, which will be a permanent memorial. The Revs. Thomas Allin, William Cooke, Samuel Hulme, and Philip James Wright conjointly wrote a jubilee volume, which had a reasonable sale, and which chronicles much important and valuable information, both historical and biographical, relating to the Connection during the previous fifty years. From that work many facts in the notices preceding are obtained. Baggaly's Digest and the Minutes of Conferences supply the details which follow.

At the Conference of 1848 arrangements were made for the establishment of home missions in England; but the work grew slowly, and ten years afterwards, in 1857, a plan was adopted for the management of home mission chapels. In 1865 the present Home Missionary Society was inaugurated. In 1880 there were thirteen mission stations, with 1249 members.

Although the Jubilee Fund had been of much use in relieving the Connection of some financial burdens, yet great embarrassment was felt in many places from inadequate funds in 1849, and at the following Conference a plan was adopted which entirely extinguished the debts of the Connection at that time.

In 1851 the Methodist societies in England were in a very painful state of unrest, owing to the expulsion in 1849 from the Wesleyan Conference of several prominent preachers the Revs. James Everett, Samuel Dunn, William Griffith, James Bromley, Thomas Rowland, and others. Although in three years more than one hundred thousand members were separated from the parent society, very few of them were attracted to the New Connection. In 1851, 1853, and 1854 this body had to report to each Conference a decrease, which was a source of much anxiety and solicitude, and a special service of humiliation before God was held at the Conference of 1853. In 1851 overtures were made from the Wesleyan delegates the seceders from the parent society-towards union with the New Connection, but no union took place. In 1854 an effort was made to change the name of New Connection, as it was not then new, and many thought the name was a hindrance to others uniting with them. It was, however, resolved by the Conference of that year not to change the name, as the new deed-poll had only been adopted a few years. The rules of the Connection were revised in 1854.

The Manchester Conference of 1859 was memorable for the establishment of a mission to China. From a conviction that the encouragement of foreign missions would not hinder home work, that step was taken. The Rev. William Cooke was the president, and by his genial advocacy a successful work was commenced in that country, which in 1880 reported 43 chapels, 27 societies, and 902 members, under the superintendence of the Rev. John Innocent, who is the principal of a training institution in China. In 1862 a mission was established in Australia, which has but two societies at present one at Adelaide and one at Melbourne with two missionaries and 115 members. At the Conference of 1860 a Trustees Mutual Guarantee Fund was established against losses by fire, to include all Connectional property. A training institution for the preparation of young men for the ministry was for some years under consideration. The Conference of 1861 resolved upon having one; and owing to the noble generosity of Thomas Firth, of Sheffield, such an institution was erected at Ranmoor, near that town. Its trustees were appointed in 1862, and the college was opened and a tutor selected in 1864. In 1880 there were nine students in residence, who paid £10 per annum. The president of the Conference was the principal and only tutor at that period. The college building cost £8710.

The Conference of 1865 resolved that a copy of Bagster's Bible, the Conference Journal, the deed poll, and the general rules of the society should in future be the insignia of office of the president, to be handed down in succession. The same Conference resolved that all future, conferences of their body should meet on the second Monday in June, instead of Whit-Monday as previously, the latter being a movable date, which was often attended with much inconvenience to both ministers and laymen. Mr. Alderman Blackburn, of Leeds, a wealthy layman, presented to each of the ex-presidents of Conference for fourteen years previously to the year 1863 a copy of Bagster's Bible and the new hymn-book, then first published. A new tune-book, adapted to the hymn-book, was prepared by the Rev. J. Ogden, and published in 1866.

The Conference of 1868 resolved on a new departure from existing usage, and consented to ministerial appointments being continued for five successive years in circuits where two thirds of the quarterly meeting request it. The limit had previously been three years.

A further attempt at union was made at the Conference of 1870, when the terms for a federal union with the Bible Christians were considered, and resolutions recorded thereon. The same Conference resolved that home missionaries of fourteen years standing be allowed to attend the Conference, but not to vote.

The Conference of 1871 approved of the raising of a fund to extinguish the Chapel Fund debt. The sum of £4672 was raised, which accomplished the object desired.

The Conference held at Manchester in 1872 was presided over by the Rev. Joseph H. Robinson, the secretary being the Rev. J. C. Watts. Both these ministers had spent many years in the Canada mission. Methodist union in Canada was fully considered in 1873, and the union was consummated in 1874.

It was resolved in 1875 to establish a training institution in China for native teachers. The principal is the Rev. John Innocent.

The Conference of 1876 was made memorable by acts of fraternization of considerable interest. The Methodist Church of Canada sent as a deputation to the Conference the venerable and Rev. Egerton Ryerson, D.D., and Mr. David Savage, who presented an address of brotherly fraternization. They were most cordially welcomed. Dr. Ryerson remained some time in England as the guest of various friends of the Connection. His portrait was ordered to be engraved and published in the magazine as a pleasant memorial of his visit. At the same Conference, the Rev. Alexander Clarke, D.D., presented a fraternal message from the General Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church in the United States of America. Fraternal messages were returned to both documents. The same Conference sent its first fraternal message to the Primitive Methodists of England, which greetings were continued and reciprocated for three years, when, in 1879, the New Connection Conference, seeing how kindly their written messages had been received, appointed two of the members of the Conference to visit the ensuing Primitive Methodist Conference, two others to visit the Methodist Free Church Conference, and two others to visit the Wesleyan Conference. Each of the conferences appointed representatives to return these visits of fraternal good-will, and the good work has since been continued with very happy results; and the feeling of surprise now is that such pleasant reunions by representation should have been so long delayed. They serve to facilitate the arrangements for holding the AEcumenical Congress in 1881. At the Conference of 1876, Mr. Mark Firth presented £1000 to the endowment fund of the college, and the home and foreign missionary societies were united under one committee of management.

In 1877 a loan fund was commenced for the purpose of aiding chapel trusts and of encouraging the erection of new chapels.

The Conference of 1880 was remarkable for its record of deaths among the ministers, no less than six of whom, all men of distinction, had died during the year. Their names were Parkinson Thomas Gilton, William Baggaly, Henry Only Crofts, D.D., John Taylor, Charles Mann, and Benjamin B. Turnock, A.B. The four first named had been presidents of the Conference. As many as six ministers had never before died in one year.

V. Statistics We exhibit these in a tabular form:

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Methodist New Connection (Wesleyan)'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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